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  • in reply to: Why Lincoln Invaded the South? #15362

    The South was providing about 75% of federal revenue via taxes and trade tariffs, the majority of which was being spent in the North. The Morill Tariff was passed by Congress in 1861, a few days before Lincoln’s inauguration and signed into law by President Buchanan. The Bill immediately raised the average tariff rate from about 15% to 38% and expanded the list of items the tariff applied to. Shortly thereafter the tariff rate was raised again to 48%. That money flowed to the federal government and, just like today, is used to grant all kinds of favors in exchange for power and influence.
    In his first inaugural address Lincoln stated that he would collect all tariffs and imposts: “In doing this there needs to be no bloodshed or violence, and there shall be none unless it be forced upon the national authority. The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the Government and to collect the duties and imposts; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people anywhere.”
    With regard to slavery, many countries had eliminated slavery without going to war; only the U.S. and Haiti resorted to war. Great Britain had emancipated its slaves by buying them from slave holders. Lincoln, on the other hand, killed between 600,00 and 800,000 Americans (by proportion to today’s American population a death toll of about 6 million!) and destroyed about half the economy.
    Look at a picture of the Lincoln Memorial. Beneath each of Lincoln’s hands is a fasces; fasces is the root of the word fascist and a symbol closely associated with Imperial Rome, Hitler and Mussolini.

    in reply to: NAP: Legal or Moral Principle? #21188

    I’m curious about this statement in your post: “Walter Block, to use one example, seems to think that the NAP is a legal principle which has nothing whatever to do with moral theory. It is simply a legal justification for force.” How can the NAP be used to justify force? Can you provide a link or some other reference to Block’s argument to this effect?

    And you write “And since the conflation of the moral and the legal in its institutional form is called “the nanny state”, I have a hard time seeing how the NAP can be both.”

    It doesn’t seem to me that the conflation of the moral and the legal in institutional form is necessarily the nanny state. Isn’t the U.S. Constitution a conflation of the moral and the legal which, by attempting to enumerate government’s legitimate powers , would largely negate government’s inclination to become a nanny state?

    in reply to: Usury #21182

    The political thoughts of Murray Rothbard did in his book “History of Economic Thought”. Ron Paul does as well. And Austrian economist Robert Murphy does too – here’s a link: http://mises.org/daily/4499.

    There are those who claim that the “Money Multiplier” is a myth but I must admit I don’t really understand their reasoning. Here’s an example: http://www.forbes.com/sites/johntamny/2012/07/29/ron-paul-fractional-reserve-banking-and-the-money-multiplier-myth/

    I’ve just started this particular course on political thought and don’t know if this is covered in the course or not.

    in reply to: Rollback, Chapter 1 – Is it Too Late? #20124

    It isn’t possible to know; the problem is both complex and political, i.e. doubly complex. An example of a “simple” problem- by comparison- would be that of two cars, each with passengers, colliding head on at 70 miles an hour and trying to predict fatalities, injuries, structural damage to the vehicles, etc. All that we can safely predict is 1) we can’t avoid it and 2) it will be a horrific calamity.

    Presently we can’t even guess when the political will to acknowledge the problem will surface and then become sufficient to motivate change. The political left, for example, sticks to their Keynesian delusions and when shown the adverse results of their monetary policies continue to assert that we simply haven’t spent enough.

    George Washington’s doctors diagnosed “inflammatory quinsy” and recommended more bleeding. That’s essentially the Left’s diagnoses today and their recommended remedy is the same: more bleeding!

    We were warned well in advance of the dot com and mortgage bubbles. But they took a long time to burst; the capacity to lie, deceive and delude staggers the imagination. And the jeers were loud and prolonged (web search “Peter Schiff was right” for examples).

    And it’s worse than we think. I’ve created a web page, thefrogpot.com that displays the bureaucratic structure of the 15 cabinet-level departments of the federal government + the EPA & GSA; it’s mind-numbing and stomach turning – and those are the smaller part of the problem! But between the federal bureaucracy and the taxpayer are, additionally, city, county and state bureaucracies as well.

    If I were younger, I would be a “prepper” but even they may simply be setting themselves up to be targets; “hard” targets perhaps but targets, nevertheless, for the numbers will be large. Mad Max is perhaps an exaggeration but if one wants to plan for “worst case” it’s a good template.

    in reply to: 3-5 Most Libertarian Societies in World History #19933

    True, he ain’t. But by that standard, most historians aren’t either. :0)

    in reply to: 3-5 Most Libertarian Societies in World History #19931

    Jonah Goldberg has a good response to Lind in today’s (Friday, June 14, 2013) National Review Online. The title is “Freedom: The Unfolding Revolution” with a sub-title of
    “The libertarian idea is the only truly new political idea in the last couple thousand years.” He points out that every other “progressive” political idea is just another flavor of statism.

    in reply to: Hidden inflation of the 20s? #16039

    I guess I had to go through the process of creating this question before I could see that this is exactly what Tom is saying in the lecture: that if it weren’t for inflation of the money supply by the Fed, prices would have gone down. But the decrease in prices that would have been anticipated from the increases in productivity was offset when the Fed inflated the money supply, thus resulting in prices remaining the same.

    To quote Gilda Radner “NEVER MIND!”

    in reply to: 3-5 Most Libertarian Societies in World History #19929

    I think Tom’s answer in his blog is the best answer.

    Additionally, the Heritage Society publishes an annual index of economic freedom. The most recent list of almost 200 countries is at http://www.heritage.org/index/.

    But it also occurs to me that liberty is a work in progress and it’s being tried all the time, every where, to different degrees.

    If your job was to set the destination year on the time machine, how far back would you set it to go to a culture that thought the earth was a flat surface located in the center of the universe and that any attempt to create a democratic, self-governing political system was absurd and insane.

    Once there, whenever that was, as you gradually reverse the time dial and return to the present, liberty was incrementally growing (admittedly in fits and spurts and not without setbacks) in virtually every sphere of human society.

    We’ve actually arrived at a time and place where individuals freely communicate globally over the internet with such an unprecedented degree of liberty that they can assiduously avoid regressive publications like The New York Times and Salon!

    With regard to “world history” and libertarianism, a few examples that come readily to mind as advancements of liberty – the central tenet of libertarianism – Magna Carta and the English Bill of Rights pop up, along with America’s Bill of Rights, the U.S. Constitution and the 13th amendment.


    Human history demonstrates that we are curious, risk-taking explorers.

    Economic history demonstrates that individual incentive and initiative create the most innovative, entrepreneurial, risk-taking, imaginative sources of material wealth imaginable.

    Now conjure a scenario in which America somehow manages to have a political convulsion – a seizure if you will – of such magnitude that the highest political office in the land is held by a collectivist.

    As hard to imagine as this might be, if it did somehow occur, one might speculate that NASA’s budget would be so constrained (in order that bloated, corrupt federal bureaucracies like the IRS had sufficient funds to give its staff line-dancing lessons) that in order to get Americans into space we had to pay to hitch rides on launch vehicles from a Communist country like Russia.

    The point of such a hypothetical feat of imagination isn’t that government cripples such privately-funded space exploration projects with excessive taxation and regulation, nor is it to imply that government bureaucrats can’t be curious, exploring, risk-taking, entrepreneurial, innovative, imaginative creators of wealth.

    Well … yes it is.

    in reply to: Money in politics #19712

    The video has it that “This isn’t the America we were promised.”

    No, the America we were promised has Article 1, Section 8 in its Constitution, which enumerates and limits the powers of Congress. Additionally, the America we were promised has the 9th and 10th amendment which provide that the enumeration of
    powers shall not be construed to deny rights retained by the people, and powers not delegated are reserved to the States or the People.

    Thomas Jefferson and James Madison warned us of our present situation should we ignore Article 1, Section 8 and the 10th amendment:

    “With respect to the two words ‘general welfare’, I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.”

    “For what purpose could the enumeration of particular powers be inserted if these and all others were meant to be included in the preceding general power? Nothing is more natural nor common than first to use a general phrase, and then to explain and
    qualify it by a recital of particulars.”

    Letter from James Madison to James Robertson

    “I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground:That all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States or to the people.”

    “To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specifically drawn around the powers of Congress is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible of any definition.”

    Letter from Thomas Jefferson to George Washington on the Constitutionality of the Bank of the United States, 1791

    But what we have today is a Congress with a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible of any definition.

    Greed is in the human DNA and it can’t be legislated out of existence. But power is what corrupts so diluting it by preventing its centralization is the best we can do, not hoping to alter human character by legislation. As Madison wrote in Federalist 51:
    “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”

    Rather than affiliate with the impossibility of legislating corruption out of existence while, simultaneously leaving the Central Authority with all its powers as, of course, socialists would have it, I would rather affiliate with the possibility of restoring our Constitution and decentralizing power, thereby returning our country to the “… America we were promised.”

    in reply to: A new argument against the 2nd Amd.: Slavery #19654

    Most history about our right to bear arms relates to resistance to the British Crown, resistance to militias both in England and the colonies, and the assertion that we are endowed with individual rights, the source of which is higher than government, therefore unalienable.

    The British Empire in that era was the largest the world has ever known and, in addition to the North American colonies, included colonies in the Caribbean, Africa, Canada, and the entire country of India. Those colonial subjects did not have the rights of Englishmen. A major issue leading to the colonialists declaring their independence from Britain was that they believed they were being denied the “Rights of Englishmen”.

    The history of England is that of British subjects resisting the Central Authority, i.e. the Crown, a resistance that was formalized in the early 1200s with the Magna Carta and again in 1689 with the English Bill of Rights of 1689 – “An Act Declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and Settling the Succession of the Crown”, which included this provision: “That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law”.

    Militias were another issue. In the English Civil War of 1642 – 57 militias were formed by opposing groups and were, in effect, state-sanctioned paramilitary groups. To defend against such militias, the citizens required the ability to form their own armed militias and separate colonial militias existed when the Constitution was ratified.

    George Mason was the founder who argued most strenuously for the 2nd amendment and presents us with a puzzling paradox. He intensely disliked and disapproved of the institution of slavery and argued against it, writing “[Slavery is a] slow Poison, which is daily contaminating the Minds & Morals of our People. Every Gentleman here is born a petty Tyrant …” And yet Mason was the largest slave holder in Virginia, second only to George Washington.

    There may be an element of fact in the assertion that the 2nd amendment’s ratification was for the purpose of suppression of slaves, but it is far too simplistic to argue this was its sole purpose because that right has a long historical development in struggle against the Central Authority in England, i.e. the British Crown.

    “The American Revolution” chapter of U.S. History to 1877 covers the issues that motivated the North American colonies to declare independence from the British Crown, central to which was the Rights of Englishmen.

    And even if some individuals abuse a right, I don’t believe that should be an argument that it isn’t a human right. Think of all the instances when an armed citizenry might have prevented genocide perpetrated by government.

    Here are a few instructive links.




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