The Origin of Liberty

You were born free; a gift from God. Or, as someone else once wrote, we are all “endowed by (our) Creator with certain unalienable rights” including “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Yet those rights have been pretty alien to most of humanity. From the beginning, roving bandits raided farmers and travelers, depriving them of life, liberty, and any opportunity for happiness. Eventually they became stationary bandits and called themselves kings.

Thus formed governments, which used their monopoly of the legitimate use of force to deprive all their people of liberty in exchange for a measure of security.
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The Curse of Socialism

Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery. – Winston Churchill

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Saudi Arabia has an estimated 269 billion barrels of crude oil reserves ready to be extracted. They used that oil to turn a desert full of nomads into a player on the world stage. Despite having almost no other valuable industry, Saudi Arabia has used it’s oil exports to make it the 15th wealthiest country in the world, sitting two spots above Canada. That is what oil can do for a somewhat well managed country even while virtually ignoring all other industries. Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world with an estimated 300 billion barrels of crude, yet it’s economy is in free fall.

3,000 miles to our south, a country that should be prosperous is falling apart. At this point, some Venezuelans cannot even join bread lines, instead they line up outside bakeries for the chance to dig through the trash. Everyday items like toilet paper or eggs are nearly impossible to find in some places. The fortunate few who can find these items need to bring stacks of Venezuelan bolivars because inflation is through the roof. The Venezuelan economy is in shambles. But why? Why is a country rich in natural resources so broken that millions of its people take to the streets to protest their starvation?

Because years ago, socialists took power and began to faithfully implement their ideology.
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Preserving the First Amendment

In 2014, Democrats tried to “repeal the First Amendment.” You may have heard that phrase before, because during the 2014 midterm elections just about every Republican uttered it. It’s a bit of an exaggeration, but not entirely untrue. Democrats did not try to repeal the whole First Amendment, just part of it.

In 2014, Congressional Democrats launched a quixotic quest to pass a Constitutional Amendment that would allow the government to regulate political donations, a power that would easily and obviously be abused for political gain. But Democrats did not have a chance of ever passing their Amendment, it was just about virtue signaling to their base voters who think elections are bought by evil corporations.

Despite the Amendment’s inevitable failure, Republicans were right to make it a major issue. The First Amendment is one of the things that makes America special, that makes America great, that makes us who we are. Any threat to it, no matter how small, needs to be combatted forcibly.

That is why I was proud of Republicans in 2014, and so, so disappointed in them in 2017.

On Wednesday, President Trump made statements about the media that go way over the line. In answering a reporter’s question, he said “it is frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write, and people should look into it.” Then Trump clarified his views when he tweeted “Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked.”

Let’s ignore the purely politically motivated self interested reasons Republicans have to oppose this. If the president is granted the power to take a news network off the air because he doesn’t like its reporting or thinks it’s fake, what will happen when Democrats inevitably regain power? It’s entirely possible Elizabeth Warren would be making these decisions in a few years. And let’s not forget the entirely justified anger Republicans showed when Obama simply tried to exclude Fox News from White House briefings. Imagine what President Warren would do if it was up to her to decide if Fox News was even allowed to be on the air.

That self interest should not even be necessary for any Republican to oppose this.

Don’t look at this as a Republican or a Democrat, but as an American, as someone from a country that prides itself on being born from the pursuit of liberty. If any other world leader had said what Trump said, our State Department would have released a statement about the worrying trend towards authoritarianism.

I completely agree that NBC is biased and has been for a long time. But if Trump is concerned that a news organization is reporting inaccurate data or even lying, he can use all of the trust and goodwill he has built up by always telling the unvarnished truth and never making wild, exaggerated claims.

All joking aside, consider for a moment what Trump is proposing. The press should not be able to write whatever it wants to write, and any network that publishes a report Trump deems unfair (aka anything critical of him) might be taken off the air.

On Wednesday, the leader of the free world came out against a free press.

Even if initially implemented purely as a check against news organizations actually inventing reports instead of ones who criticize trump or just get the story wrong, such a policy would be almost immediately abused. It is not only thin skinned politicians like Trump who would want to avoid criticism or who thinks they are unfairly maligned by the press. In this incredibly polarized environment, opposition can easily be viewed as intentional lying.

In our early years, America actually tried what Trump proposed. It was called the Sedition Act and was supposedly intended to combat a lying press at a time when a still new and fragile nation was threatened by war. It was quickly used to silence newspapers critical of the party in power, while the opposition party remained fair game.

Any limit to a free press is a danger to our democracy and the values we cherish. It is the very foundation of a free society.

No, I do not think Trump will actually make a move to pull the licenses of networks he doesn’t like (and not just because that’s not how it works). But he is not just some celebrity with a TV show anymore; he is the president of the United States and his every utterance is important.

Most people will move on from this. But a few dedicated Trump supporters will rationalize their way into supporting whatever their man says. Day by day, more and more people who called themselves small government, liberty loving conservatives come to support big government, authoritarian policies because the president of the United States proposed it. The Overton Window is steadily widening, and one day we may wake up to find that instead of shrugging at these authoritarian ideas, our neighbors are nodding in agreement.

It is frankly disgusting that the president would oppose the First Amendment, and people should look into it.

Gun Control and Benjamin Franklin 

 

Late Sunday night, Las Vegas was the scene of America’s worst mass shooting in our history. As of this writing, 59 innocent people are confirmed dead, and over 500 are wounded. It is a horrifying tragedy that is difficult to comprehend. At this point many details are still unclear, including a motive.

As expected, there was immediate and sustained demands for increased gun control. I am not one to criticize gun control advocates for politicizing a tragedy. If someone has a plan they believe will save hundreds of lives, I won’t tell them to keep it to themselves. But this debate has gone on for so long I think I could carry on both sides. Which is why I want to discuss a different aspect I don’t think gets brought up enough.

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3 Cheers for Alex Jones

If you don’t know who Alex Jones is, he’s what medical professionals would call “a nut job.” He’s a loon. He promotes conspiracy theories that people with tin foil hats think go too far.

Among other conspiracy theories, he is a 9/11 truther, thinks the Sandy Hook massacre was a false flag operation to push gun control (and maybe never even happened), promoted the pizzagate conspiracy that a DC pizzeria secretly operated a child sex ring with Hillary Clinton, believes the moon landings were faked, that a shadowy global organization (Illuminati?) secretly run things, and most famously, that the Pentagon is turning frogs gay. He has threatened to kill agents of the CIA, NSA, FBI, FEMA, or any other tentacle of the New World Oder that might try to stop him from telling the “truth.” Look it up. He really said those things.

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The Immorality of Taxes

Sally Kohn is a very liberal woman who gets paid to talk about politics on TV. She also has a history of making ridiculously false statements. Most are not worth taking the time to refute, but she recently wrote something that includes so much ignorance it is actually a useful demonstration in what not to do.

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Second and Third Order Effects

“The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.” – F. A. Hayek

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The American military is often perceived of as an institution with a simple mindset: see bad guy, blow up bad guy. Truth be told, American service members do little to counteract this impression with their often macabre humor. But throughout my stint in the Army, I was repeatedly reminded to consider second and third order effects. In other words, for any action we took, how would the enemy and Iraqi civilians respond, and what would be the response to that response? With many of their policies, this is a question liberals do not seem to have learned to ask.
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