google-site-verification: google2cfa6877cbf464e2.html The Grand Theory of Libertarianism

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Sympathy for Monsanto?

President Obama will soon be signing a law that will place fewer restrictions for labeling genetically modified organisms.  In an article on it is pointed out how this legislation favours Monsanto a large producer of GMO's.  The article also gives a brief history of the close relationship between Monsanto and the U.S. Government.  The main gist of the article is that it is wrong for the U.S. government to interfere with the labeling requirements set by individual States such as Vermont.

A Libertarian analysis would be quick to point out that it is wrong for any company to use state power to accomplish what they cannot achieve peacefully in the market place.

Behind every tax and regulation is the threat of force.  Fines, imprisonment, or death (if you decide to resist).  Now if a company like Monsanto enters the market and wants to sell products made with GMO's, I think they should be allowed to do so.  It is not the responsibility of the government to protect us from harm.  And just as individuals should not be subject to coercion, neither should companies.

I can hear the objections already, the non-aggression principle states that no-one is allowed to initiate force against another and GMO's are known to be harmful.  But I would reply, then do not buy them.  No one is forcing you to purchase products with GMO's.

The market is fully capable of weeding out bad actors without the help of government.  If a company does not list their products as containing GMO's, then it is likely that they do.  It is a market advantage for a company to voluntarily list their products as non-GMO and people who are concerned can go ahead make their choices based on the presence or absence of a label.

Neither do we need the government to police products as being certified organic or non-GMO.  Third party agencies can easily do this job.  Companies who are not transparent or who break faith with their customers will summarily be judged in the market.  With the availability and instant nature of communication in the modern era, it just makes sense to be up front with your customers.

Our focus should be on breaking the relationship between government and business so that we can punish or reward bad actors directly by withholding our dollars or exchanging them for good products.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Captain Trump

When evaluating Donald Trump it is necessary to look at the current state of the two-party system over the last 20 or so years.  What we have seen is endless wars, record debts and deficits and record levels of cynicism towards politicians due to constant lying and general sense that the economy is getting worse not better.  Political correctness has become stifling and amounts to thought control when people are hectored and badgered as racists and bigots simply for holding dissenting opinion.

Into this milieu we see the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.  Sanders who gave Hillary a good scare in the primaries was seen as an anti-establishment candidate as is Trump on the Republican side.  The thing Libertarians can appreciate about Trump in all this is that he has shaken up a rotten party structure intent on giving us more of the same.  If we never see another war-loving, fiscally conservative (while in practice not being able to say "no" to any new spending) neo-con from the RNC, then the Donald will have done us a great service.

On the negative side, while NAFTA does have a lot of problems, our trade set up could become much worse if we go back to a system of tariffs and trade wars.  What we need is real free trade where the government steps back completely and does not interfere with my dealing with customers and suppliers from other countries.

With regards to war, he has been not as bad as most of the Republican candidates who he demolished, or Hillary the despicable who has so far proven to be above law and did a great job of destabilizing Libya and Syria thereby making the war on terror much worse.

Trump is no Libertarian but he seems to be part of the turning of a massive ship away from the destructive path the Democrats and Republicans have been on for decades.  If we don't do a complete 180 degree turn the Donald's approach will have some good and bad but ultimately may not be able to save from another economic crisis which has been brewing since the 2008.   All the screwy attempts of fighting debt with more debt are doomed to fail.  He represents a 45 or 90 degree turn but we need more.  There are rocks and ice bergs in those directions just a little further off.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Census, Freedom, And More....

In an article today comparing the former Harper government to Justin Trudeau and his Liberals after 100 days in office Michael Den Tandt gives a short list of things the Liberals are doing better.

Not to mention the beginnings of a new law on assisted death, as the Supreme Court has required; restoring the long-form census, the abolition of which was idiotic and misguided from the start; un-gagging federal scientists, public servants and diplomats, whose silencing during the Harper years was outrageous and un-democratic; gender parity in cabinet, which was long overdue, and re-starting federal-provincial relationships that had rotted on the vine for a decade.

I am going to give a quick Libertarian view of each of these points.  Initially I was only going to talk about the census but instead I will foolishly wade into the other points as well.

  1. Assisted Death.  This is a nice anti-septic term for assisted suicide or euthanasia.  While I have not heard or read many libertarians on this issue, I think that this would simply be left up to the individual and their doctor.  The state would have no business interfering in these matters one way or another.  Personally I am not against the idea if all avenues have been attempted to keep a person alive and if they are only being sustained unnaturally.  I think that Libertarianism as a political philosophy comes up short here.  Taking of one's own life cannot be contemplated properly unless it is first seen as sacred.  
  2. The Long-Form Census.  Why does the government need this information?  I only want to give out my information freely to private companies and individuals with whom I am doing business.  While the government may want to use this data to provide better services it can also be used for nefarious purposes.
  3. Un-Gagging Federal Scientists.  Yes they never should have been gagged but then the government doesn't need scientists.  R&D is best left to the private sector.
  4. Gender Parity.  Are we not past this?  If I were a woman I would be insulted if I was given a position just because I was a woman.  Merit is the only reason to give a position to anyone.  Period.
  5. Federal-Provincial Relations.  This can be good or bad.  Bad if provinces try to suck more money out of the Federal government.  Good if the Federal Government gives more independence to the provinces.  Decentralization is better if we are moving closer to the end goal of individual liberty where I am not forced by any majority or minority to do or pay when I have not given my consent.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Isolationistism? Recognising War-Monger Speak ...

Brave is the politician who calls for an end to involvement in foreign wars and thereby risks being branded and isolationist!  Who will keep Russian from taking over the Ukraine?  Who will bring democracy and peace to Islamic dictatorships? Of course it will be from Canada, the USA and their Nato allies with properly executed military strategies.This will bring the same freedom and democracy that we enjoy to these politically immature countries who are presently stuck with dictators and oligarchs.

The counter to this line of thinking for a Libertarian is that we do not promote isolation but non-intervention.  What in fact isolates us is our political involvement and interference with countries who do not want our armies in the region.  We are isolating these countries by our misconceived wars.  It is not simplistic to ask, "how would we feel if another power was imposing their influence in our region"?
What we should be pushing for is less intervention (sticking our nose in the affairs of  other countries with out military) and less isolation  But less isolation actually means more.  More trade!

I am not talking about government initiated trade, because politicians don't seem to be able to understand the power of laissez-faire.  When governments try to promote their brand of free-trade, which many give lip-service to, you get Frankenstein-like deals such as NAFTA and the TPP.   Government free-trade is a misnomer in that businesses are bogged down with a dizzying amount of regulations and paper-work.
No, the kind of free-trade we need is the kind that would develop naturally between individuals and businesses with out third party involvement. What right does anyone have to interfere with what I am buying and selling or where my trade partners come from?

Focusing once again on the conflict zones where we are involved, I am not saying that non-interventionism and trade would solve all the problems in these conflict zones.  Far from it.  But it is hard to imagine how things could have been worse if we had not been there militarily.  I would point to an article from showing how US policy helped create Isis.  Repeatedly the unintended consequences of our war-efforts in the Middle East seems to be fuel on the terrorist fires.

So maybe I am an isolationist after all. I would like to isolate our armies from countries who are not attacking our borders.  After that if they want to cozy up to us in unrestricted free-trade, then so be it.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

A Response To Rona Ambrose: Who are we in and age of terror? Canada's Air Strikes Should Continue

Before making the case for more airstrikes Rona Ambrose paints a picture of compassionate Canadians who help others in need in times of "conflict and peace".  Conservatives feel the need to present themselves this way because in contrast to the Liberals who like to give away through government programs, they often seem harsh when they want to cut spending.  But the way to be compassionate in the Middle East right now she offers, is by helping the refugees.

This may be, but how many of these people would have been refugees if Canada, the U.S. and their allies had not been dropping bombs and destabilizing the the region since before the first Gulf War? Whereas in the past I was swayed by the rationale for war in the Middle East, all that is left now is a thin veil of lies which when pulled away reveals a band of war profiteers who love the War on Terror because it never ends.

I have thrown a lot of votes to the Conservatives because I wanted smaller government.  Never have I voted Liberal or NDP.  But I did have hope that Justin Trudeau would get us out of the whole mess.  But the political parties who are supposed to be less war-like still to get entangled in foreign theatres often due to pressure from our "allies".

  When one considers that Christians for example were relatively safe and free under Sadam Hussein and Assad but now have been murdered and displaced by ISIS, it leads to the conclusion that we have no clue where our war actions will lead, except that they always seem to make things worse.  We have learned nothing it appears, from Vietnam or any conflict since.

Christians have a saying that "the blood of the Martyrs are the seeds of the Church".  This means that the Church has often grown stronger and in numbers in times of persecution.  I would suggest that a similar principle works for Islamic Terrorists.  The blood of their martyrs and our bombs are the seed of more Terrorists.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Can There Be Anything Positive From A Liberal Majority?

It has been a few weeks since the Liberals won a majority government under the leadership of Justin Trudeau.  I felt confident based on the polling numbers that we would have a minority government but margins of error being what they are, we wound up with a majority.

What now?  I could be expected as one who has never voted Liberal in my life to be entirely negative and say the sky is falling but I can point to some positives and points of hope.

Less War

When I shifted from self-identifying as a conservative to a libertarian I moved from being unsure to okay with war to feeling that there are very few cases where it is justified at all.  So here is my first positive with Justin Trudeau.  Bringing back some of our jets from bombing in Syria.  This will keep us out of a messy war in the Middle East which has been going on for decades (I am lumping together everything from the first Gulf War up to and including the present conflicts), hopefully prevent some blow back, save the lives of innocent civilians and save us money from operating in that theatre.

Marijuana Legalization

On this issue the Conservatives have been quite behind on the direction the public is moving.  I do not by any means think that the public is alway right, in fact they are often very wrong.  But it is hard not to see the parallels between the war and drugs and prohibition in the 1920's.  Prohibition turned many people into criminals who were doing no harm to anyone else and created a class of violent criminals as well.  One of the unintended consequences of drug laws is to make drug more potent and deadly.  When you think about it this makes a lot of sense when you think of it in terms of economics.  Mark Thornton of the Mises Institute points out that by raising the stakes, criminals will make drugs more potent and concentrated in order to make it more worth the risk they are taking.  It seems that if you calculate the cost of the war on drugs and drug prohibition is much more costly than allowing people to bear the responsibility of their bad decisions themselves.  I think private charities, individuals and families can do a much better job of helping people with addictions than police, jails and courts.

Debts and Deficits

While it is not likely we do have examples in recent history of Liberals being pretty good with the purse strings.  The question for Justin Trudeau is will he follow in the steps of Jean Chretien and Paul Martin, or his father?  This could go wildly in either direction.

The Big Negative

The problem with the Liberals that differentiates them from the Conservatives is the degree to which they think they know better than I do what is good for me.  They feel they know how to engineer society and the economy better than anyone else.  But from a Libertarian perspective, this is the great delusion of politics, the assumption that any one person or group of individuals is either smart enough or more importantly has the right to run our lives and tell us what to do.

It is the lack of government meddling that is characteristic of the most prosperous countries in the world.  So when Justin Trudeau comes to realize that the government not only has no business in the bedrooms of Canadians but neither do they in our boardrooms, bank accounts or pay-stubs!  But this is a fantasy for it would make them Libertarians and not Liberals!

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Federal Election Day In Canada

What will happen?

Tomorrow is election day in Canada.  It seems likely based on the polls that we will end up with a Liberal minority government.  The only other possibility would be a Conservative minority if enough people have a change of heart.

Does it make any difference?

Yes.  It does.  Assuming that most readers have read the finer points of the various party positions, it comes down to Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair promising balanced budgets and Justin Trudeau wanting to stimulate the economy with infrastructure spending.  Balanced budgets or deficits?  Which do you want?

As a Libertarian I want less government interference in my life which almost by definition means less spending.  This would actually make me favour Harper and Mulcair over Trudeau.  If I actually trusted the NDP balance a budget I might vote for them because they also want to get out of the wars in the middle east which to me a are a waste of life and money.  The only thing we have done in the middle East since the first Gulf War is to help destabilize the region.  This seems especially clear after we supported democracy movements during the Arab Spring which has given us some very clear examples of the "tyranny of the majority".  But getting back to the Canadian election, if I am choosing between the "big three", I still choose Harper because philosophically he wants to leave more money in my pocket.  Where I fear the Conservatives almost as much as the others is in the case of an economic melt down (which I feel is inevitable) where I would expect them to behave just as they did in 2008.  Major bail outs of banks and car companies where I feel that the best thing now would be to say "No!".  Never again.  Then the banks and car companies would be forced to act responsibly and prepare for a worst case scenario.

The Libertarian Perspective.

From my perspective there will be very little difference in terms of tax levels and personal freedom no matter what happens tomorrow.  To me the problem remains in Canada and all Western democracies for that matter, one of  coercion.  I am forced, by the majority, to pay for all kinds of things, by the majority.   A minor technicality is that there is almost never a true majority with our "first-past-the-post" electoral system in Canada (a majority of seats in the house of commons can be obtained with as little as 37 - 40% of the popular vote).  All the services that I now receive from the Federal Government would be better provided privately with lower costs and more innovation, not to mention that if I didn't want a service myself I wouldn't have to pay for someone else to have it.

To Vote or Not to Vote.

Tomorrow I will vote Libertarian even though some might say it is a wasted vote.  But for me it is a relatively new experience to not vote Conservative.  It makes me feel a little giddy because it feels so radical and anti-establishment!

Another alternative for me is to not vote at all.  This may in fact be the more philosophically and ethically consistent position.  Is it not implying a certain amount of consent to participate in a system that I feel is fundamentally immoral?  But I do not consent!  Democratic forms of government force people to do all kinds of things they would never do otherwise.  In a libertarian system, contracts and daily business would be entered by on a voluntary bases the way they mostly are now, but without the phantom menace lurking in the background.  The government nose in almost every business transaction through some form of taxation or regulation.

To vote or not to vote?  For the fist time I feel like not voting is a respectable option but old habits die hard!