Friday, October 21, 2011

Occupy for Liberty, not the Left

Occupy Oakland protester gets testy

To all the libertarians participating in the Occupy Wall Street movement and the various springboard protests across the country: break free while you can.

Okay, for all my agreement with their unalienable right to protest as protected under the First Amendment and my belief the overall "Occupy" movement is getting a few points right, this item is a bit much to swallow: as reported by the Associated Press, out of the $435,000 raised thus far to financially support the protest efforts on Wall Street itself, approximately $350,000 of it has been donated via online credit-card transactions.

Why does this matter? This movement is founded on the notion that financial sector greed is at the root of almost all of the evils gnawing and rotting away at America. So to combat that evil, OWS protesters are funding their effort via the very financial machinery against which they claim to be locked in righteous struggle.

Next, common sense dictates that for any grassroots movement to successfully win over popular support from the public at large they need to be willing and able to interact with traditional media in addition to the new media of the digital age.

When that same common sense employed in the previous paragraph is applied toward a situation where men donning masks engage in open hostility toward a local television reporter in Oakland because she simply is trying to give them news coverage, that should lead most people who choose to use it to realize the movement's radicalization is careening down an irreversible course.

And that is a shame. Occupy Wall Street began with genuine promise for affecting something positive in America. Instead, it has been so thoroughly overtaken in sheep-like manner by the Left it makes the Right Wing's effort to co-opt the Tea Party pale in comparison.

In my final appeal to common sense, take a moment to read a Bloomberg article explaining how there now is a greater concentration of wealth in Washington, D.C., than in Silicon Valley.

But Wall Street remains the central focus for protesters… The things that make you go, "Hmmmm…"

Or, as Lew Rockwell has pointed-out, the wrong 1% in America is being protested.

So, my fellow libertarians and voluntaryists trying to co-opt this movement, the left's infernal hypocrisy in most corners and radical agenda in others are too much to overcome. Splinter off and form you own movement – "occupy" in front of the Federal Reserve, Securities & Exchange Commission, and other public and quasi-public financial entities – but don't be afraid to piggyback on the left's efforts.

If they believe so much in redistribution, they won't mind sharing some of the media attention a few of them are so eager to spurn...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Occupy Wall Street… It’s not just for leftists anymore

Establishment co-opting of a grassroots political movement is nothing new.

Just ask Ron Paul supporters their thoughts on former-Senator Trent Lott’s remarks in 2010 about the Tea Party movement.

While there has been no shortage of commentary and analysis of how various groups and limousine-comfortable celebrities – ranging from left-leaning to radical-far-left in nature – have been rabidly injecting themselves into the Occupy Wall Street movement, the coverage has been missing an important portion of this story.

The leftists are not the only ones active in this expanding scene of protests.

A steadily growing contingent of libertarian protesters has been present all the while. You’re just not hearing about them.

The only ones making mention of them have been libertarian news media figures such as John Stossel and Andrew Napolitano as well as entities led by the Reason Foundation.

With Occupy Wall Street, much like the Tea Party, the libertarians are being widely disregarded by those who blindly seek to disagree with that movement – zeroing-in on the co-opters and making them their focus.

Amidst a sea of so-called 99%-ers holding signs decrying their mounting student-loan debt stand pockets of legitimate activists holding “End the Fed” signs and other displays along that thread. The principle misstep being made by these libertarian and voluntaryist “occupiers” is they’re allowing themselves to blend-in with the kooks.

I appreciate the desire to highlight what ought to be the common thread shared with the left-wing so-called anti-establishment types: the understanding that the unholy marriage of major corporate interests with government regulatory authority is destroying our free market way of life by driving small local competitors out of business through oppressive, ungodly complex rules of operation.

That message is a far cry from the self-described 99%-ers who simply want to exact their pound of flesh from Corporate America. But, messengers for liberty are being largely ignored… unfortunately.

My advice for those who are part of the voluntaryist and libertarian camps in this movement is if you really want to get your views noticed while making a few sphincters tighten in the process, then depart from the corporate offices and march in front of the public institutions that are at the heart of the problem. Migrate away from Wall Street and begin protesting in front of the New York Federal Reserve and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

For those in Ohio who are looking to participate locally, don’t bother converging on Columbus. Instead, occupy Cleveland – in front of the city’s branch of the Federal Reserve Bank there (by the way, the Cleveland Fed is located at 1455 E. 6th Street).

Forget about Wall Street: Occupy for Liberty.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Thank you, Barack Hussein Obama

Recently, it struck me that I have reason to be thankful Barack Obama is the 44th President of the United States.

Many conservatives have argued at length over the last 35 months that Americans elected the wrong candidate back in November of 2008.

I am not so sure about that.

That statement, however, is made for very different reasons than our more illustrious right-wing mouthpieces would have their viewers or listeners believe.

I am diametrically opposed to the vast majority of his party’s initiatives as well as his core ideology of redistribution as well as philosophy of social justice. Obama’s pace of spending in 2 3/4 years of governance has alarmingly accelerated the United States’ advance toward fiscal insolvency beyond anything perpetrated by George W. Bush and congressional Republicans.

On the other hand, there is no denying that if Senator John McCain had been elected, instead of recklessly hitting the gas pedal on irresponsible spending he would have sought to maintain what was then the status quo: the incremental march toward an all-encompassing, all-consuming federal government that swells to unsustainable proportions.

Most likely, if we had President McCain instead of President Obama, government’s bloat would have continued its creep toward the brink of fiscal collapse just slowly enough so that when Americans finally awoke to the need to reverse course it – in all probability – would be too late to do so.

Personally, there are additional reasons I am thankful events went the way they did three years ago.

If McCain were our president I’d likely still be in my Republican partisan intellectual slumber.

I’d still be embracing intellectually lazy talking points instead of researching constitutional arguments.

I would not have been motivated to research the Libertarian Party.

The idea of making a run for Congress two years ago would have been utterly ridiculous to me.

And, I wouldn’t be chair of a newly-formed county-level political party.

For society as a whole, in addition to the continuation of the incremental advance toward total statism (and being met with only token resistance), renewed interest in understanding the Constitution wouldn’t have arisen.

The Tea Party movement would not be the prominent force it is today.

We would not be discussing Progressivism and contrasting it against Free Market Liberalism (reference F.A. Hayek’s The Road To Serfdom).

So, thank you again, President Obama.

Thank you for beating Senator John McCain by employing a hokey, ill-defined campaign slogan. Thank you for setting the stage for millions of people to realize how positively ludicrous it is to vote for a candidate based on nothing more than an artfully meaningless catch-phrase such as “Hope & Change.”

Thank you for being so arrogant in your pursuit of redistributive legislation.

Thank you for being so disingenuous in your arguments and dismissive of those who disagree with you.

Thank you for buying into the “Astroturf” rhetoric by your fellow leftists and then being so smug toward the Tea Party during its early days.

Thank you – for awakening again the Sleeping Giant.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Don’s Debates – a new chapter

As I have posted before, sometimes my most earnest work as a "self-styled, self-employed pundit" takes shape while engaged in social media banter on various topics (almost all of which has to do with politics and government).

This one is no different.

A fellow Libertarian was seeking feedback on a pair of issues when the topic landed on agricultural subsidies in the United States. One of his acquaintances kept insisting the elimination of farm subsidies would cause the price of food to go up. That is when I made the courageous decision to dive in via the comfort and safety of my keyboard.

Below is my contribution (lengthy as always) to the thread – cleaned-up a bit and made ready for primetime…

Actually, eliminating farm subsidies would steadily drive down the price of food.

Genuine farmers who receive the subsidies typically are urged by the USDA to do so for two purposes: either to literally grow less produce (typically grains) or in exchange for opting to grow particular kinds of produce.

The reason this is done is to control and moderate the price of food within our own borders. By offsetting the difference in potential revenue farmers would/could make if they were to grow the amount of crops they see fit, the federal government enjoys a much higher rate of participation in the endeavor to control food pricing.

The theory is that if food production were left to true free market forces, the price of food would potentially go up and down too dramatically for people in lower income brackets to keep up.

What this theory ignores, though, is the fact the United States overall now is producing much less food than what its true capacity for it is. This means we are exporting less food than we otherwise could and should be. That is important because by having less overall food to enter into the marketplace farmers are missing-out on foreign markets for additional revenue sources.

It's Economics 101: if farmers did not have subsidies nudging and steering them into various government-ordained agricultural endeavors, they would do what any entrepreneur would do – generate as much product as is within their capability and try to command the best market share possible.

If their overall output increases but domestic demand/consumption does not, then they need to adjust their prices lower to make their wares more competitive and appealing to consumers. This is how the price of food would go down in the abolition of agricultural subsidies. It also would in turn make food more affordable for all (and, yes, especially for poor/lower income Americans).

The farmer, on the other hand, does not take the financially crippling hit that most people would assume happens in this instance because even though the price per unit may go down the increase in total units harvested compensates for the price adjustment and balances it all out.

Next, my contention is that by encouraging lower agriculture output the way the federal government does (based on all the arguments laid-out above) this has a grotesquely negative impact on international famine relief and the worldwide fight against hunger.

Remember, if farmers are left alone to produce what they have the capacity to do, the overall supply of food increases and the price of food decreases. Not only can the average person here in the U.S. better afford food, so can those non-profit organizations which are dedicated to feeding the disadvantaged across the globe (and, of course, here at home).

Instead, we have the Nanny State in high gear manipulating our food supply and meddling with what once was the single-purest sector of the free market mankind has ever known.

Related side note
Earlier, I used the phrase "genuine farmers." This is because there are a growing number of subsidies being offered at the federal, state, and local levels for activities that go well beyond what people typically envision as traditional farming.

In other words, government at all levels is torturing the very definition of agriculture.

For example, one item which made the news earlier this year was the State of New Jersey's agriculture subsidy for honey bee farmers. The subsidy consists of a generous discount on one's property taxes for those who engage in this form of agriculture.

The problem, however, is the fact that equally as generous is New Jersey's definition of the minimum capacity to qualify for a subsidy.

It turns out that of all the people residing in rural New Jersey and taking advantage of this program, no one is making out as handsomely as multimillionaire recording artist Jon Bon Jovi – who opted to setup such a honey bee operation that meets the state minimum standards on his property.

So now, despite owning a home and plot of land worth millions of dollars Mr. Bon Jovi pays a fraction of property taxes than that of any of his surrounding neighbors – whose properties are valued much less than his.

That all sounds fair, doesn't it?