Monday, December 26, 2011

A Teachable Moment for the Republicans

Last Friday afternoon, December 23, 2011, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry were notified that they had not turned in enough valid signatures to qualify their names for Virginia's Republican primary ballot. Predictably, this has caused feathers to fly, complete with threats of lawsuits against Virginia petitioning requirements.

Gentlemen, welcome to the world where adherents of the Libertarian Party, the Greens, or the Constitution Party live: where their exhausting effort and huge expense meets bureaucracy, unending paperwork and needless legal hurdles -- before we are even allowed our place at the starting line.

Virginia’s primary petition requirements were copied from the laws originally written to keep independents and third parties off the ballot. For a century, Democrats and Republicans colluded to establish and tighten ballot-access standards so much that voter choice has become practically nonexistent. This makes it difficult for us in the alternative & independent candidate sector to feel much sympathy for the ‘major’ candidates when their own laws snare them.

One would hope that the Republicans would take this as an educational opportunity. Rick Perry, especially. In 2003, Perry vetoed Texas bill # HB 1274 (which had passed both houses of the legislature unanimously). The measure would have deleted a Texas law that required petition circulators to read a 93-word statement to every voter they approach. The statement, which is still in the Texas law, thanks to Perry’s veto, said:

I know that the purpose of this petition is to entitle the ___________ Party to have its nominees placed on the ballot in the general election for state and county officers. I have not voted in a primary election or participated in a convention of another party during this voting year, and I understand that I become ineligible to do so by signing this petition. I understand that signing more than one petition to entitle a party to have its nominees placed on the general election ballot in the same election is prohibited.”

Forcing people who wish to petition their government to read such a long statement makes it a lot harder to obtain signatures -- which was the original intent of the requirement. It was designed to make political expression via new parties and alternative candidates harder to engage in.

Perry’s veto indicated he had no interest in fair ballot access in 2003. In the last 60 years, only one other Governor -- besides Perry -- vetoed any bill that would have improved ballot access. Maybe his failure in Virginia will improve his attitude.

Petitioning laws were originally built -- the strictest of them by majority-Democratic legislatures between 1910 and 1970 -- to shut out third parties like the Libertarian Party. The laws did the job, too -- in some states, third parties have not been allowed on the ballot for over half a century, and counting.

Petitioning requirements force new, upstart third parties to exhaust themselves asking several hundred thousand voters to help them qualify for the ballot. Unless those new parties have the money and activist backing of the wealthy and political elite already, just getting on the ballot so they can then present their ideas to voters is an expensive, time-consuming task.

Republicans should be wary of restrictive ballot access. Some states in the past century could have been regarded as one-party Democratic Party oligarchies. Think of Massachusetts, where the Democrats are so dominant that Republicans sometimes are the political ‘afterthought’. Do Republicans really wish to help set up the system that could hamstring them in the future?

Nor should the Democrats, in their glee about the Republicans' difficulties, forget how restrictive ballot laws sometimes snare them as well. For instance, Indiana Democrats were worried enough about getting Obama and Clinton onto the state primary ballot in 2008 that they felt compelled to falsify their petitions.[1]

Democrats and Republicans alike have forgotten that elections are for voters. When voters can't vote for the candidate they wish to vote for, they are being hurt and our political discussion is being disrupted.

Perhaps the Republicans who now control the state legislature should take this as a message that Virginia's restrictive ballot-access laws are overdue for some overhaul.

The Libertarian Party’s position is that primaries are essentially state subsidies for political parties. Therefore, the only real reform needed to the “primary process” is to eliminate government-run primaries altogether, and allow political party members to determine who they wish to represent them during the general election – at their own expense.

Failing that, then reform can be easily accomplished by simply reducing the petition requirement (for all candidates and parties, primary or general) to 1/10th of the current number, rounded up to the next nearest 10. This would reduce statewide petitions to 1,000 signatures for president, governor, US Senate, etc; and congress to 100 signatures; Delegate to 20 signatures.

One of the more disturbing aspects of the reaction to the Republicans’ failure to make the primary ballot is the opinion of some that a candidate doesn't “deserve” to be able to appeal to voters unless they're organized enough to get __________ volunteers to waste several of their weekends collecting signatures. This attitude plays to the power of the media to spoon-feed candidates to the American public, because the candidates the media choose to publicize are the ones who will find all the volunteers they need. So Republicans especially: Do we *really* want the media to decide not only who wins, but even who gets to compete?

I have personally collected thousands of petition signatures for dozens of candidates at different levels. Anyone who thinks requiring thousands of signatures to get on the ballot is compatible with a free society needs to research the history and justifications for these oppressive laws a bit more.

Forcing alternative candidates -- who haven't been given the chance to appear in the modern "public square" that is the media -- to utterly exhaust themselves collecting signatures is a reprehensible practice in a “free” society.

Governments should not have any ability to control ballots at all. Open ballots not printed or controlled by government [2]gave us men like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. Compare them -- even with all of their faults -- to the modern crop of corruptocrats.

Making Virginia’s Ballot Laws Better

Reform of Virginia’s ballot access laws should begin with the following:

  1. Reduce signature requirements for all offices and all candidates -- Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, Green, or independent -- by 90 % (rounding to next 10). A statewide candidate petition (Governor, president, etc) would then require 1,000 signatures; a candidate for congress would need to collect 150, a state delegate candidate, 20.
  2. Introduce a full-party access petition, 10,000 signatures to place a new party on the general election ballot for two statewide cycles.
  3. Eliminate the witnessing requirement for petition signatures.
  4. Eliminate the residency requirement for petitioners.
  5. Eliminate petition sheets, and move to a postcard petition -- where individual voters would fill out a post card stating they wish a candidate (or party) to be placed on the ballot.
  6. Get with the last decade and allow petitions to be ‘signed’ by voters online.

************************************************************

Marc Montoni serves as the Secretary of the Libertarian Party of Virginia and he is a resident of Rockingham County, VA.

To request more information about Libertarian ideas, call 800-ELECT-US or visit http://www.LP.org

************************************************************

Monday, November 14, 2011

Private Police The Only Way To Real Reform

A Virginia citizen named Myron Rhodes recently wrote a letter to the editor of the Harrisonburg, VA Daily News-Record, criticizing "administrative forgiveness" extended to an inebriated local police official last year. He correctly equated "professional courtesy" with "corruption". I agree with that assessment.

However, there is absolutely no chance that the solution Mr. Rhodes advocated -- "make a better choice at the ballot box" -- will have any effect whatsoever on the behavior of the law enforcement bureaucracy. Policing in America cannot and will not be reformed in its current configuration.
When Average Joe is accused of a crime, long before trial the police eagerly release his identity and mug shots. This is public shaming and perhaps a stained or ruined life. In contrast, when a member of The Brotherhood perpetrates the exact same act, and the bureaucracy decides it doesn't want to prosecute, it is forever locked away as a "confidential personnel matter". There is a word for this: hypocrisy.

The sort of corruption Mr. Rhodes describes has become almost universal among government police agencies. The "blue wall of silence", treating "their own" as above the law is rapidly turning this country into a third-world laughingstock. While the individuals within the system bear full responsibility for taking advantage of it, it is the system itself that has created the conditions necessary for otherwise upstanding individuals to become corrupt.

Remember, "thou shalt not tempt".

The only real way to reform the police is to get government out of policing and thus remove the corrupting influence of taxpayer funding. Coercive funding always means fat, out-of-control ballooning budgets; and constant bailouts for law enforcement managers who refuse to properly manage their department within its budget. Coercive funding means police "services" are paid for before you receive any good or service. If you refuse - or fail - to use such service, the government takes your money anyway. Even if you are falsely arrested or assaulted by a government cop, you don't get a refund -- and usually nothing ever happens to the offending officer, either.

With all things, money means power, and American police are rapidly becoming the Sheriffs of Nottingham -- enforcing increasingly unsustainable levels of taxation. Of course, like all government employees, confiscatory taxation supports ever-higher pay and pensions for themselves -- the job itself becomes a perverse incentive. Police unions and bureaucracies are increasingly establishing themselves among the nation's largest Taxpayer-Funded Lobbying Organizations; meddling in politics to get laws implemented that their supposed "bosses" -- the taxpayers -- don't want. Witness the recent outlawing of open carry in California -- passed largely at the behest of the police unions and bureaucrats.

Real reform of the culture of corruption can only be achieved by replacing bloated, inefficient government policing with privatized police protection.

What would private policing look like? Some parts of it are already familiar to most people. Anyone who has a Yellow Pages can find private police operating now, under the heading "Security Guard & Patrol Service" or similar. As government police departments are closed, the listings in that category will only expand as competent former officers start their own companies. Locally, Massanutten has a private police force paid for by the residents.

It is a rule that those of us in the private sector must compete to win customers. Bad behavior on the part of employees in a competitive market tends to be weeded out rather quickly. A store that has an employee who frequently yells at customers will lose them to the next store down the block; similarly, if a person subscribes to "police protection company A" and one of its officers treats the subscriber like dirt, well, that subscriber can cancel his subscription and his dollars will then flow towards "police protection company B". But this moderating effect can only happen in a free market.

Private police protection could be provided at the level of individual neighborhoods, where neighbors would contribute to hire police protection that closely serves their needs. Other people might simply purchase better insurance coverage; or perhaps some would rely on neighborhood watch groups.

As long as governments operate police agencies, their monopoly, "you can't go elsewhere" outlook will prevail simply because the need to win over customers just doesn't exist. Law enforcement by bureaucracy will remain stubbornly inefficient, expensive to maintain, and difficult to reform. And "professional courtesy" -- call it "corruption" -- will continue to be an ever-bigger problem.

************

The above article was printed by the Daily News-Record on Wednesday, November 9, 2011, as an "Open Forum" article on the editoarial page.

Additional resources on private policing:

1.  Mises Wiki on private policing.

2.  Reason TV interview: Matt Welch of Reason interviews economics professor Edward Stringham about private police.  Hat tip to Frunkus Baldwin.

3.  Fed Ex has its own police force: "Two years ago, after intense lobbying by FedEx of the Tennessee state legislature, the company was permitted to create a 10-man, state-recognized police force. FedEx police wear plain clothes and can investigate all types of crimes, request search warrants and make arrests on FedEx property."

Note that Libertarians would NOT approve of the level of cooperation FedEx gives to law enforcement further up in the cited article.  But even this can be traced to the government's need to know everything about you.

4.  About 80 private cops protect the 50k residents of the 35-building "Co-Op City" residential complex in New York.

Note that Libertarians would NOT approve of people being allowed to walk off their jobs without the employer being able to replace them at-will.  Unless, of course, the employer freelyt agreed to such a condition.

5.  Jarrett B. Wollstein in his article "Police Forces" describes how they might be funded without resorting to coercion.

6.  Patrick Tinsley, writing in Journal of Libertarian Studies 14:1 (Winter 1998–99): 95–100: Private Police: A Note.  Describes the inability of public police to reform, how a free-market in policing might be different.

-- end --


Monday, October 31, 2011

EnviroLibertarian

In the lamestream media today was a lapdog-type article about an alleged "former skeptic" named Richard Muller.

This seems to be another in a long line of breathless media front-page hyping of the warmist agenda; especially as the articles printed in most outlets didn't report on any contrarian views.

By the way, Muller is not a 'skeptic'. Having a couple of questions about the 'facts' his fellow alarmists have put forth does not make an alarmist a skeptic. He has been an alarmist for a long time, and in fact has received a not insubstantial amount lot of money from the government and alarmist NGO's.

I think the science is wholly unsettled and it will have to be studied for a long time at length with real science and accurate data, rather than politicized claims based on corrupted data with less-than-reliable measurements and falsified reporting. Climate will probably need to be studied for a good century or two -- before humans will have acquired sufficient data to be able to accurately predict climate changes due to anthro activity.

There is also the question of what to do about it if science really does eventually prove beyond a reasonable doubt that human activity causes climate change. In essence, "so now what do we do?"

Doing some simple math might help put it all in perspective.

That said, solar power is in my future and I practice recycling to a greater extent than most "greens" I know.

I think practicing enviro "harm reduction" should be done by individuals at the individual level -- rather than at the collective level:

- Have fewer children (of course, the responsible already do; the irresponsible are still having huge families and don't care what they do to the planet as a result)

- Stop buying new Toyotas and Buicks, and bike, walk, or ride the bus. "recycle" an older car by fixing it up and using it until the seats fall through the floor.

- If government is going to force people to reduce their emissions, it is government that should lead the way.

- Grow your own no-till garden, without pesticides or chemical fertilizers.

- Stop using chemicals and pesticides on your lawn. [Our neighbors -- who include a number of Democrats and at least two families who are Green Party supporters -- use them and many have perfect monculture lawns as a result. We don't. I am slowly expanding our tree, bush, and flower plantings to cover more of our yard, so I can stop mowing it. I regard mowing lawns as a very strange habit that we Americans have gotten into due to cheap oil.]

Some of this I do because I find the idea of [essentially] giving my money to 8th century racist, sexist, violently intolerant religious bigots in the Middle East utterly repugnant.

But some of it I do because I really see no point in stripping the planet to the point where it can no longer support the population we have. I recycle because I consider burying perfectly good raw materials in landfills to be a complete waste.

Label me a skeptic of global warming if you wish. But before you throw stones, you'd better clean up that glass house of yours.

  • If you DRIVE to an environmental rally, YOU are the problem.
  • If you don't recycle, YOU are the problem. Yes, even if your county or city does not offer pick-up recycling, YOU can still recycle -- even counties that don't offer curbside recycling still have recycling units at their landfill; so get yourself a bunch of large garbage bags to store recycling in until it makes sense to take them to the dropoff yourself. Heck, You don't need curbside pickup -- most Targets and Wal-Marts now have a bunch of recycling bins in the front of the store, so you can just combine recycling with shopping. Some of the recycling centers even pay you for your trash!
  • If you have a new or new-ish car, even if it's a Prius, YOU are the problem. Buy one of the millions of small cars from the 80's and 90's still out there, and use it until it drops dead beyond all repair.
In the meantime, I remain a skeptic.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

In Praise of "Faithless" Electors And Third Parties

The Libertarian Party's first presidential candidate, John Hospers, died at 93 last Sunday in Los Angeles.

Hospers was chairman of the philosophy department at the University of Southern California when he was nominated on June 18th, 1972, to be the new party's presidential candidate. The convention, held in Denver, Colorado, also nominated Theodora "Tonie" Nathan for vice president. Hospers and Nathan were on the ballot in two states and received 3,671 votes. Despite the result, several facts combined to make the campaign absolutely revolutionary:

- Although Hospers did not carry any states, the Libertarians nevertheless received an Electoral College vote. That vote came from right here in the Old Dominion, and it was cast by a man named Roger MacBride of Charlottesville.

- Hospers was the first-ever openly gay candidate for president.

- With MacBride's vote, Hospers also became the first gay presidential candidate to receive an Electoral College vote.

- His running mate, Tonie Nathan, became the first woman ever to have won an Electoral College vote - years before Geraldine Ferraro.

- Lastly, the ideology of the Libertarian Party itself simply had no parallel in any other American political party. The Libertarian platform of 1972 called for (among other things) the repeal of all laws on voluntary sexual relations, drug use, gambling, and attempted suicide; the repeal of all pornography laws; the abolition of the draft; the repeal of the National Labor Relations Act; the elimination of all legal tender laws and a return to a gold standard; the abolition of the Federal Reserve System; the abolition of all government subsidies to business, labor, education, agriculture, science, or the arts; the abolition of all tariffs and quota regulations in foreign trade; the repeal of all compulsory education laws, an end to government operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools, as well as an end to compulsory busing; the abolition of the minimum wage; an end to all corporate and individual welfare; elimination of all foreign aid, and withdrawal and de-funding of the United Nations.

Predictably, MacBride was widely vilified for his Electoral vote. He was labeled a "faithless elector", and worse. However, the Electoral College was intended to be a last check against a manipulative tyrant winning the Presidency. Delaying the one and only meeting of the College for months after the popular vote was a chance for civic-minded citizens appointed by the voters at large to watch, learn, and listen to the winner of the popular vote. If they collectively decided he would be a dangerous, infirm, or poor choice, it was understood they had every right to choose someone else.

In other words, the Electoral College was created to slow down mob rule before handing an intensely powerful position over to a tyrant. MacBride, therefore, was a hero: he was one of the rare electors who took his job seriously. Very late in Nixon's 1972 campaign, it became clear even to many of his ardent supporters that he had seriously abused his power. MacBride acted on that knowledge.

The value of new alternative parties lies in their ability to bring ideas the establishment ignores into the political marketplace. This happened with the birth of the Republican Party in the mid-1800's, with its abolitionist position on slavery. Unfortunately, once abolition was realized, Republicans contrived with Democrats to turn everyone into slaves of the state.

The Libertarian Party formed in an era when the two legacy parties refused to end the draft and the pointless war in Viet Nam, while colluding to debase the currency and strip away cherished rights. Today, Libertarians continue to push for peace and justice; and a Libertarian presidential choice is normally on most state ballots. The political party and the wider movement that Hospers helped bring into being is still a going concern today, 39 years later.

Hospers served as an inspiration for many young people in the seventies, including this author. Although he turned away from the LP and libertarianism altogether and towards interventionism and conservative ideology in his later years, he remained larger than life to many among the libertarian community.

Creative Commons License

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Using the Language for Fun and Profit

Sometimes, we Libertarians forget that it is often how one presents ideas that is perhaps more important than the ideas themselves. I present the below essay to illustrate a couple of mistakes we make when presenting our points of view on self-defense and private consensual behavior.

Notice I have not used neither the phrase "gun control" nor "illegal drugs". That is because, in my estimation, these phrases give legitimacy to the activities of the Control Crowd.

What do most people think of when they hear the word "control"? What are they thinking when they try to envision the opposite of control? Maybe: Out of control? Aimless? Anarchy? Violence?

Yes! Those, and a bunch of other terms that should make anyone uneasy.

What mental image comes to mind when we hear "illegal drugs" or the other phrases drug warriors use, like "crack babies", "drug addict", "pushers", "narco-terrorist", and "dope"? Do you think such images would be positive?

What I am here to suggest -- emphatically -- is for all libertarians to consider more carefully what we are really doing when we use establishment terms in support of our positions.

When discussing drugs, what term might be used to cast a negative image on drug law instead of drug users and dealers?

Prohibition”.

The average American knows Alcohol Prohibition was a dismal failure. I don't think you'll find many Americans supportive of the idea of making alcohol illegal again.

So use that word, instead. Any time you speak of the government's war on private consensual behavior, be it recreational substances, contractual sex, private or non-state-lottery wagering, or the employment of weapons for self-defense, speak of these things in terms of Prohibition.

Tie it to Alcohol Prohibition immediately, without even mentioning the word "alcohol"!

Your audience's first reaction upon hearing the word should be visions of the mayhem caused by that law. This forces them to quickly quell their own internal argument about prohibition; then, they must then come up with arguments to defend continuing Prohibition -- instead of attacking legalization.

Never ask, "should we legalize drugs?"

Instead, ask "should Prohibition be repealed?" Or "Why should Prohibition be continued?"

Doing so immediately shifts the burden of the debate from our court to "theirs".

I am sure other terms could be used effectively, also. But in no case should we lend our opponents the advantage by using the terms they have chosen!

Purely as an example of this tactic in action, think of the abiortion debate. Do people who favor keeping abortion legal call themselves "pro-abortion", which carries the stigma of the actual abortion; or do they call themselves "pro-choice"? Isn't it harder to explain why an individual's "choices" should be taken away? Likewise, people who favor outlawing abortion call themselves Pro-Life, for similar reasons, instead of “anti-abortion”, or “anti-choice”. No one likes to be an "anti" anything, the word itself is negative. On the other hand, who can justify being against life?

Gun control is not gun control. It is "victim disarmament", or even "gun Prohibition."

Don't legitimize the language of tyrants. Use proper English and use it to your advantage.

Listen to the following sentence carefully:

"And now, since I favor allowing others to speak, I will return to my seat." Some of you might notice that sentence contains no negative sounding phrases like "in closing".

Remember: use that language FOR what you believe in, not against what they believe in!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The "Step In, Justify, and Kill" Procedure

Anyone who has ever watched "Cops" will have witnessed car-chase scenes where a suspect almost hurts a police officer, with a predictable police response of immediate deadly force. The first few times a casual viewer sees one of these sequences, he would probably think the force was justified. However, after dozens upon dozens of these events, it becomes clear that the escalation to deadly force is part of a predetermined pattern:

  1. A "perp" is trying to get away from police in a car.
  2. He aims to escape via escape route "A".
  3. A cop walks calmly into the line of Route "A", placing himself in "harms way" just as the car begins or already is moving.
  4. The car, as it is already moving in his direction, and regardless of whether the perp attempts to steer around or away from the cop, is now "evidence" that the cop's life is in danger.
  5. The cop, "justified" by his own stepping in front of an object with intertia, SHOOTS -- often emptying his clip into the "perp".
  6. Perp dies, back-slapping all around, everyone goes home a hero.


This is what I call the "Step In, Justify, and Kill Procedure". (SIJK).

Watch a "Cops" episode -- you'll be able to pick it out sooner or later. The SIJK procedure is invoked any time a person is *perceived* as attempting to elude police. Very simply, one or more of the police officers will carefully maneuver into a position that will put him (or them) directly in the path of a suspect's already-moving vehicle. This then gives them 'cover' -- the presumption that they now are in a situation where they must act in self defense; they were "in fear of life or limb".

Once an officer is in position, the suspect is immediately shot in a hail of gunfire. It's always a hail, too -- never just a shot or two. Can't have the case go to court, after all.

After seeing this in action multiple times in multiple jurisdictions, it becomes obvious that government police bureaucracies are actively training officers how to do it and get away with it. Think about it: A generation of officers has been trained to manipulate suspects into a position where they can be given an immediate death sentence.

According to a whole bunch of non-government employed witnesses, it has apparently happened again -- with yet another young life ended prematurely and for no apparent reason. The money line:

"An officer then 'ran in front of the car, weapon drawn, and started firing within seconds...'"

Read more about this tragedy here.

UPDATE 2012-01-02: Private security guards don't kill their suspects in a hail of gunfire. They simply step away and catch the guy later. Privatizing government police forced is the only way to abolish the SIJK practice -- at least then they will be subject to the same liability as company actors in any other company.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Assassin Kills 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, Five Others

Here we go again.

So a lone nutcase shoots several individuals in Arizona, and the media -- within minutes of the shooting -- begin parroting the "it's all the fault of the Tea Party, gun nuts, Libertarians, conservatives..." line. Yadda, yadda, yadda... Haven't we heard this story before?

It's no wonder the lamestream media is losing eyeballs in droves. Increasing numbers of Americans are aware of the fraud and manipulation the government and its media lapdog engages in, which is why most people now get their news from the Internet. Of course, that can't be allowed to continue: predictably, it is the left (and the government) that wants the Internet regulated.

Think about it. The left's mantra for years has been that thousands of terrorists killing thousands of innocents in the name of Islam has nothing to do with Islam. Yet one loon -- who we know nothing about -- attempts to kill a Democrat Congresswoman, and somehow we're supposed to immediately agree the blame lies with adherents of the Tea Party?

Politically-motivated shooting rampages like this needn't happen at all. Were government small and irrelevant enough that no one really cared about politicians and other government bureaucrats, those politicians and bureaucrats would be very safe. In essence, power-hungry fat-government wannabes creat a self-fulfilling AND self sustaining prophecy: create a crisis that provokes unrest, knowing full well that some statistically insignificant remnant will regard that crisis as the "last straw" and go nuts. Then, use the results of whatever mayhem the statistically insignificant extremist has managed to do, to further your government-fattening, victim disarming, Constitution-busting, power-grabbing childish agenda.

Six people were killed. But it was interesting to note that as of 6:00 p.m. Saturday evening, January 8, 2011, out of 1,800 Google News search results for news of the shootings, almost none of the news stories mentioned the name of the little girl who was killed, much less said anything about her ended-too-soon, innocent life. Nor have the names of four of the other five citizens killed. The only dead victim named in the stories was another government employee -- a federal judge.

The victims the media forgot are:

-Gabriel Zimmerman, 30, Giffords' director of community outreach

-Dorwin Stoddard, 76, a pastor at Mountain Ave. Church of Christ.

-Christina Greene, 9, a student at Mesa Verde Elementary

-Dorthy Murray, 76

-Phyllis Scheck, 79

To the left, life is only important if that life is that of the nobles of government.

To hell with us Mundanes.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Can War Ever Be Justifiable?

A recent article by EJ Dionne noted the upcoming 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War, and it urged the widespread adoption of the leftist view of that war: that it was all about slavery. Unfortunately, the article ignores the fact that, as in all things politic, "it ain't so simple".

There is no such thing as a "good war".

Ever.

The desire to go to war is all about one thing, and one thing only: Money. The slavery issue was just a way for Lincoln to make war into a “moral imperative”. In our time, “terrorism” is similarly used to justify government aggression.

Conquest is little more than a means for the elites -- who profit from the endless financial rape of mass numbers of people -- to either gain or retain "tax territory".

Tax territory simply translates into "wealth" -- money. Control more territory, and you control more people and the wealth they create. The more tax territory a government seizes, the more powerful an army and spoils system it can support. A powerful army makes possible further conquests of additional tax territory. Of course, if anything comes along that threatens a government's tax territory, expect a brutal response.

Which brings us back to the Civil War.

To believe the North's fight was motivated by an altruistic purpose, such as abolishing slavery, is to believe in fairy tales and Santa Claus. It, like every other fight in history, was about tax territory. The United States government didn't want to lose a large chunk of its tax territory, and so a fight was inevitable when the southern states decided they didn't want to continue being the cash cow for the Northern-dominated congress and its decades-long transfer of billions in southern wealth to the North.

Had Lincoln allowed the South to secede, slavery as an institution would have collapsed on its own. Besides the fact that it had become a huge political liability, there were pricey related expenses (enforcement, social, uprisings, mistreatment) which were rapidly overtaking any profitability. One can look at modern examples of subsidized industries that collapsed even after decades of government protection and subsidization -- steel, autos, textiles, etc.

The Fugitive Slave Act was in effect a direct subsidy to slaveowners at the expense of federal taxpayers. It worked to an extent, socializing the costs of capturing runaway slaves. But even with it, slaves still escaped. Had individual owners been required to pay their own enforcement costs for chasing down runaways, the entire institution would have collapsed before the War. Fugitive slave laws were subsidies that skewed the actual costs of the chattel slavery system, thereby helping it compete in the market against free labor.

Economic reality would have caught up with slavery in very short order under an independent south. Private slavery was subsidized by the public treasury and in that respect it functioned only as well as any other implementation of socialism: it externalized the costs of its activities on others. But eventually, all socialized industries collapse on their own.

"Two wrongs don't make a right". The principle applies to governments as much as it applies to children on a playground. While the slaves were freed from private owners as a result of the Civil War, the entire population of the country became enslaved to overbearing government bureaucracy that intruded into daily life with surveillance, subsidies, taxes, the draft, speech prohibitions, and regulation. That government has only continued to grow to the point where it now steals half of all wealth individuals create every year. Americans to this day are enslaved to the colossus that emerged from the Civil War.

Can one justify freeing slaves by enslaving free men? Can altruistic motives be ascribed to northern politicians who dragged 168,649 young men off the streets to fight for the freedom of others? Lincoln’s draft caused the death of about a fifth of them. One must not deny the fundamental injustice done to those young men. An instructive read on this subject is Jeffrey Rogers Hummel’s 'Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men'.

Can one justify freeing slaves at the price of subjecting non-slave-owning women and children to rape and murder? Unleash an army and rape and plunder will always travel with it. The Civil War was no exception. In her treatise “Rape in the American Civil War: Race, Class, and Gender in the Case of Harriet McKinley and Perry Pierson”, Maureen Stutzman found few rapes (335) prosecuted by the Union army. Most of the recorded instances were limited to 1863 and 1864 . One wonders why there were no rape prosecutions recorded earlier in the war, or in 1865. Lack of records does not equate to a lack of rapes. Southern legal records were often destroyed – so civilian reports of rapes and other crimes by invading troops are hard to come by. In addition, in an environment of subjugation of the southern citizenry, there was considerable reluctance to report rapes committed by conquering troops.

Can one justify freeing slaves at the price of slaughtering non-slaveowners? Various estimates suggest over 50,000 southern civilians were killed as ‘collateral damage’ due to the indiscriminate shelling of towns and cities – many of which were occupied mostly by women and children.

Slavery could have been ended the same way it was done within the limits of Washington, D.C., as well as in many other places in the world, and without bloodshed: simply by compensating slaveowners for the change in national rules. But apparently, that was too much to ask of the northern states, which had been transferring southern riches in a northerly direction since 1783.

Another bloodless alternative could have been simply an official declaration of an end to all enforcement of fugitive slave laws. The resulting uncontrollable exodus of slaves would also have brought collapse.

The slavery issue was a great propaganda tool for Lincoln – a white supremacist and separatist who cared little for the black race. John Wilkes Booth’ bullet elevated the man into a myth; otherwise Lincoln’s blathering about shipping blacks back to Africa would have ruined his legacy.

Lincoln, in his first year of office, rapidly implemented an unreconstructed Whig agenda of a centralized sultanate of government meddling and subsidization of the railroads, tripled protectionist tariffs, and federalization (and debasement) of the money supply.

A few years ago, liberals were criticizing George Bush for imprisoning people without charges, access to counsel, the right to confront accusers, or even a trial. Of course, now that Obama is doing the same thing, they are silent – but the point is that it was Abraham Lincoln who showed Bush & Obama that a president can get away with it.

Far from encouraging peace and compromise, Lincoln’s actions fanned embers into flames.

-------------

Addditional reading:

Are you aware of the extent to which free blacks held slaves?  Then check out "Did Black People Own Slaves?" by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.