In a country of sold-out, compromised (and compromising) politicians, who coax and woo their voting constituency with promises of pork and "reform", and who could scarcely be said to even have principles, never mind to be acting on them...in such a country (it's America I'm talking about, by the way), Representative Ron Paul stands out. He's not perfect, but he's trying very hard to be -- and he gains a lot of respect for his efforts.
He's been nicknamed "Dr. No", because he's a doctor by trade, and he relentlessly votes "No" on bill after bill. He's got this weird mental condition, see, wherein he believes in individual liberty -- and if that's not nutty enough, he also thinks the Constitution imposes limits on what government is supposed to do. Somehow he's managed to stay in Congress while voting almost 100% in accordance with those beliefs. And we should all be glad he has, even if he is a Republican. (I told you he wasn't perfect.)
"And why, exactly, should we be so glad Dr. Paul has managed to stay in Congress?" you ask? Fair enough.
This is why, exactly: "Neo-conned". That's a speech that Ron Paul gave to Congress this July. It is, as they say, essential reading.
"What's so great about this speech?"
I'm glad you asked.
Here's what's so great about Ron Paul's "Neo-conned" speech:
Best of all, it provides a convenient way for me to generally summarize my political stance, at least to the politically well-read. I can say, "You know the trend/movement that Ron Paul describes with trepidation in his 'Neo-conned' speech?" And they'll be like, "Yeah." And I'll be like, "I'm the opposite of that."
It's just about that simple. Obviously that doesn't get you all my own proactive ideas, but if you want to know what I'm against, just read that speech of Ron Paul's. It's my life's ambition to oppose the movement he describes there, and to help speed up the process of arriving at the moment he describes here:
Once enough of us decide we’ve had enough of all these so-called good things that the government is always promising—or more likely, when the country is broke and the government is unable to fulfill its promises to the people—we can start a serious discussion on the proper role for government in a free society. Unfortunately, it will be some time before Congress gets the message that the people are demanding true reform. This requires that those responsible for today’s problems are exposed and their philosophy of pervasive government intrusion is rejected.
That's what I'm working on. That exposing "those responsible for today's problems", and "their philosophy of pervasive government intrusion" being rejected business -- that's what I'm all about. I live, sleep and breathe it. Exposing the power players, and their plays, and getting them rejected. That's the goal of StopCarnivore.org (whch was doing alright until 9-11), of PNAC.info (which is playing a part in turning the tide on exactly the folks Ron Paul names), of the Nevada County Bill of Rights Defense Committee (which is part of one of the most revolutionary movements in US history), and of all my other projects, including Future Solutions and this here campaign for president. Even my work for my company PeoplesForum.com has involved empowering the individual toward self-determination while opposing the heavy hand of authority and control. In terms of organization and control, I feel safe in saying that PeoplesForum.com is one of the most libertarian online communities out there. (I can't say the same for the political views of the community members, which span the whole dial.)
So, to review: "Neo-conned" is essential reading (and Ron Paul is essentially great, even though he's a Republican). The agenda and movement he describes stands for that which I oppose, on virtually every point and matter. They are, in almost all instances, pro-authority. I am, in almost all instances, anti-authority. They are pro-state -- I am pro-individual. They are the future's greatest enemy, and I hope to do everything I can to counter their efforts.
That doesn't tell you much about what I'm for, specifically, but it lets you know what team I'm on, in case you were wondering.
Really the main point of this post is to get you to read the speech, and to pass it around to anyone who's willing to read it. It's a little long for the bubblegum politics folks, but people who take their politics seriously should find cause to take Ron Paul's speech, and the warnings within, seriously as well. (...And then join the liberty team, because ultimately we're going to boot the neo-cons right the hell out of Dodge.)
This page has links to three different formats of the speech -- regular, print-friendly, and PDF.
I wanted to post an entry about my first (silly) personal encounter with the "USA-PATRIOT Act", when conveniently the ACLU wrote to ask me to write my congresspeople a letter about it. I dumped most of their suggested form letter, and ended up going for the throat in a pretty surly letter. (I actually meant to dump all of it, but just noticed that I left the first pre-written sentences in.)
My congresspeople are Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, government-loving sellouts, and Representative John Doolittle, a meddling conservative Republican who voted for the proposed anti-flag burning amendment (maybe someday I'll show you the letter I wrote to him on that one). I don't expect any of them to lift a finger to do anything about the USA-PATRIOT Act anytime soon. Feinstein and Boxer both voted for it, and Doolittle probably wishes he was in office then so he could have.
So my letter is pretty cynical and harsh. I think there's a slight chance that John Doolittle actually reads his e-mails, and with luck he'll click on either of those links and wake up just a smidgen. The subject line of my letter was "Wasting my time, surely".
Here it is:
As your constituent, I urge you to support corrections to the USA PATRIOT
Act, investigative guidelines and other government actions that threaten
civil liberties. Congress must act to ensure government powers are in line
with the guarantees of the Bill of Rights.
I don't expect for a minute that you will take any sort of action to
reform or repeal the USA-PATRIOT Act, but I would be negligent if I didn't
at least try.
Many provisions in the USA-PATRIOT Act are blatantly in violation of the
Constitution and the Bill of Rights. If you took the time to read it, you
would see that yourself.
I've finally been impacted by the "Patriot Act" in my own life, in a silly
and obstructive way. I have an account with a service called c2it -- it's
a paypal-like service run by Citibank. I made one small transaction
through their service over a year ago, and haven't used it since. I've
decided I don't trust them with my private info (they have my SS#, my
mother's maiden name, my birthdate, address, bank account numbers, etc.),
and yesterday I tried to get them to purge my information from their
records. They refused, and cited the USA-PATRIOT Act as one of their
justifications for keeping that info. The guy conceded that I was clearly
not using the account for money laundering or terrorism, but he didn't
care. So now a company whose practices I don't trust has some of my most
private personal info.
You might also want to read this article "Patriot Raid":
It's a first-person account of a raid that was conducted on a restaurant
in NYC, and it's quite revealing. The raid produced no fruit in terms of
law enforcement, but it did threaten and violate the many victims of it,
including restaurant workers and patrons.
While you're at it, read my article "The USA-PATRIOT Axe", where I
challenge supporters of the Act to face up to the reality of what they're
supporting. Here it is:
Both articles are reasonably short, and provide interesting perspectives
you should keep in mind as you abandon your responsibility to the
Constitution and shy away from the necessary step of reversing the foul
This is the part where the ACLU form letter says "I look forward to
hearing your thoughts on the issue." I don't look forward to that,
however. I look forward to your press release announcing your vocal
opposition to the USA-PATRIOT Act and the DSEA, called Patriot II by most.
Patriot II is like most sequels -- it's lamer, with less substance than
I posted the ACLU's e-mail as an action item over at E-Actions for Freedom, so drop your own congressfolk a line if you're so inclined. You might want to be slightly less rash and spiteful than I. ;-)
My entry into the discussion starts here, a few posts before my mega-message. You can read there for context. The folks in that thread had been discussing energy regulation, mostly in California. It sprang from a discussion about recalling Gray Davis, and his energy "deregulation" scheme.
In my mega-post, I make my general case against regulation, and monopoly "utilities". It starts with an italicized excerpt from "osage"'s reply to my first inquiry. I've edited it a bit so it's a little more essay-like. Here you go:
Thanks for your answer.
There simply isn't enough space in/above/under the public streets to allow for multiple distribution systems for the same service.
That may have been the case back in the day, but I would argue it's no longer the case, as you sort of acknowledged. Electricity can be gotten through solar or wind equipment, or via a generator. Advances in technology have made it so that small power stations could serve small areas, thus eliminating the need for much of the distribution infrastructure we use today. Gas is readily available in independent containers which can be filled up by trucks, effectively eliminating the need for in-ground gas lines. There is a growing array of options for phone service which don't involve traditional phone line distribution-- or any lines at all. Water is also transportable independent of infrastructure, perhaps the least practically of all so far, but it is feasible.
In each of these cases, the monopoly/utility framework has impeded (and continues to impede) the advancement of the new, competing methodologies-- at the same time instilling a dependency in the utility users, which further impedes the ability of new (or old) innovative technologies to take hold.
I submit the same thing would have taken place had our predecessors decided to treat food and clothing in the same way they've treated utilities. Where would rayon and other synthetics have fit in if the cotton industry had been granted monopoly control over the distribution channels and technologies? Presumably, less "essential" fabrics like silk and mohair and such would have been relegated to being second-class providers, using the distribution channels owned by the real "utilities"-- similiar to the dilemma faced by modern-day telephone providers and others who seek to compete now that they are allowed. They "compete" in a tightly restricted atmosphere over which they have almost no control (other than buying/controlling politicians, which is a double-edged sword, and in which they are still second in resources to the original resident provider).
In all the analyses I've seen, so-called "deregulation" of utilities would be more accurately described as re-regulation-- just a political-corporate shell game, a deal made to save face and keep the public calm, so that the politicians will get re-elected and the most politically powerful corporations will keep making the green. Any real benefit to consumers or the market is generally in spite of re-regulation, not due to it.
Meanwhile, there sure is a huge variety and supply of food readily available, eh? Even moreso with clothing. Coincidentally (or not), the clothing industry is far less regulated than the food industry. The last essential, shelter (aka housing) is almost as highly regulated as the utility industries, and the result is similar -- less choice, less variety, less innovation, higher costs, more dependence on the infrastructure.
on the other hand, look at two of the (as of yet) least-regulated industries, computers and the Internet. Innovation, choice, variety, independence, and low prices.
Look at Ebay for a hypothetical. As Ebay (and Internet auctioning in general) becomes a more essential part of the economy, the pressure will mount to regulate that industry. The probable consequences are easy to predict. Less sellers would be judged "qualified" (there would probably be mandatory licensing or certfication), so there would be less competition-- i.e., less choice, less variety, less quality, higher prices. Less places would qualify as approved "auction houses", and so there would be less competition on the macro level as well, with the resultant inevitable effect on that market. Those places that did qualify, and those sellers that were licensed, would have to spend significant resources understanding and complying with regulations, and would function with less choice and flexibility in their internal operations. The regulations would also impact the industries those folks do business with in a similar fashion-- restricting choice, flexibility and innovation, and driving up costs.
I understand the desire to control massive companies and industries, I just think that regulation as we know it is a very poor way to do so, with harmful effects that are incalculably vast. The wedding of industry and government can be found at the root of many of our country's (and our society's) problems, from overconsumption to environmental degradation to union busting to health care, and so on and so on. In almost all of those cases, the marriage took place as an effort to regulate and control so-called essential industries or resources, or just to generally protect the economy, to ensure the safe and sure provision of goods and services. In reality, regulation tends to end up serving corporations and the economy to the detriment of consumers.
Meanwhile, much more powerful mechanisms for control and consumer/employee empowerment are available in the free market, but they are hobbled by regulation, while at the same time the majority of the energy and resources devoted to control and empowerment are directed toward tinkering with the regulatory model. Consumers and workers get less and less powerful and more apathetic and lazy about being informed and proactive actors in the economy.
If all the people energy devoted to urging the government to do this or that to companies was devoted to boycotts, big industry would get cleaned up quick-like. And if all the energy devoted to protecting the environment was devoted to pollution lawsuits (which can't currently happen because pollution is "regulated", i.e. allowed, by legislation and the EPA), it would accelerate environmental improvement exponentially.
I share most of the broad, positive goals of the Green Party, but I think that further reliance on government management to control the provision of goods and services is unlikely to result in anything but the gradual strangling of the economy, and a continued lessening of consumer and employee power. Direct interaction between customer or employee and business is more effective, and much more healthy for society and the economy.
I can almost guarantee that if government had never gotten involved in the fuel, energy, and transportation industries, we would be infinitely better off right now. It would be a whole different world -- a much better one -- and most of what we consider negative about those industries would be a non-issue by now. I shudder (in a positive way) to think of what the free market could have come up with as solutions for us if it had been allowed.
Instead -- oil. Oil oil oil oil and highways. Since the late 1800's -- the first dawn of modern regulation.
My Personal Self-Government Score is 100%.
My Economic Self-Government Score is 100%.
Military service should be voluntary (No draft).
Lance's response: Yes, military service should be voluntary. The government has no right to force you into any activity, unless you first use force on another. Thus, it may not force you to serve in the military. To force a person to engage in the killing of others, especially in this day and age of frivolous wars, is morally perverse.
Government should not control radio, TV, the press or the Internet.
Lance's response: Yes- the government should not control any media. The amount of control that is already exercised through the FCC is far too much. It is just as much of a crime against free speech to smother broadcasters in regulations as it is to prohibit content- our government does both. In addition, the government has taken the airwaves out of the hands of all and given them to a select few- all under the guise of protecting us from audio and visual harm. The Internet will likely suffer the same ultimate fate - presumably to "protect us" from "digital harm." The only harm the government should be protecting against is physical harm- the loss of or damage to life or property.
Repeal regulations on sex for consenting adults.
Lance's response: Yes, absolutely. Any regulations on sexual conduct in America have their foundation in religious doctrines, traditions, and beliefs- claims to the contrary are almost universally a subterfuge. Our inability to truly separate church and state shows most clearly in regulations on sex for consenting adults. Our government should pursue and prosecute acts of physical harm only.
Drug laws do more harm than good. Repeal them.
Lance's response: Yes. The War on Drugs can be linked to almost every negative social trend in our country. Every drug addict has become one, in part, because our government has criminalized drugs. If you look at the massive failure of Prohibition in the 1920's (the "Roaring Twenties"), a clear parallel can be seen in the Drug War. Because use of "illicit drugs" was so low when the War started (in the 1930's), the massive disruptive problems that were seen during alcohol prohibition were not seen for a long time with the Drug War. But clear trends can be seen with EVERY illegal drug: that usage, abuse, and drug-related crime all rise when the drug becomes illegal- and it never goes back down to its pre-War levels.
No matter what the consequences may be, we MUST end the prohibition of drugs if we ever want to solve the "drug problem." The government is hoping that Prohibition will get far enough away in history that they can obscure the fact that their Drug War is nothing more than Prohibition II- and that it is just as much of a failure as its predecessor.
Let peaceful people cross borders freely.
Lance's response: Yes. Immigration is such an essential part of our country's heritage. In a very real way, every American (with the exception of, obviously, Native Americans) is from an immigrant family. My ancestors immigrated here on the Mayflower. Waves of immigrants from various countries have flooded our shores since our country's founding- and the times that we have turned them away are marks of shame on our national history. It is bad enough that we stomped all over the people who originally welcomed us into their country- we can at least show respect to our legacy as a refuge from tyranny. If we are unable or unwilling to accept that historical responsibility, then maybe we should send everyone in America back where they came from. At least then we would be giving it back to a people who knew enough to respect the land they lived upon (again, the Native Americans.)
Businesses and farms should operate without government subsidies.
Lance's response: Yes- the free market, and the laws of nature and human nature, are a far safer bet for economic regulation than the government. The government is inherently going to have to favor one industry, company, or trend over another. This is clearly unfair to the unfavored, and has created our current economy, where consumers (and even most companies) have little control, and Big Industry and Big Government have much control. The inevitable result- higher prices, less choice, less information.
It is important to remember that when government is subsidizing certain industries, projects, and companies, it is automatically punishing certain other industries, projects, and companies. If one day it is favoring your ideals, the next day it may be on the side of your enemy. I call this the "favor your friend/favor your enemy" rule.
People are better off with free trade than with tariffs.
Lance's response: Yes. All of the above arguments apply equally here. If the government wants to take any role in the market at all, it should offer itself as an impartial information clearinghouse- to provide consumers with the information they need, should they choose to use it. Any other role for government initiates the "favor your friend/favor your enemy" rule stated above, and all of its implied problems. Also, government's involvement in the market amounts to it telling us what to buy, which is well beyond its proper role.
Minimum wage laws cause unemployment. Repeal them.
Lance's response: Yes- minimum wage laws should be repealed, regardless of whether they cause unemployment. Businesspeople should be allowed to run their businesses as they choose, as long as they do not initiate the use of force upon anyone. It is not the business of government to be the guiding hand of our economy- more often than not it ends up slowing it down. Minimum wage laws and other government smothering can largely be held responsible for the mass exodus of large manufacturing firms to foreign countries.
End taxes. Pay for services with user fees.
Lance's response: Yes- all current taxation in America is almost inherently "taxation without representation." The process of governance here is so convoluted that there is only a superficial connection between the will of the people and the mandates of government. The news media plays a larger role in lawmaking in America than the people do.
User fees allow for more accurate representation, more efficient government, and much more accountability for government agencies. Agencies which serve little or no public need would, by nature of economics, wither up and fade away. There are plenty of non-profit and charitable entities, with more private funding than ever. If we ever needed vast government programs before, we don't any more. User fees and donations should be plenty to fund government's truly essential activities.
All foreign aid should be privately funded.
Lance's response: Yes- in fact, all aid should be privately funded. The words "aid" and "help" are not in the definition of the word "govern." Nor do the words "govern" or "public" appear in the definitions of "help" or "aid." There is a role for government- to protect us and our country from harm, so that we can pursue life, liberty, and happiness. Anything else can be taken care of by our citizens, public interest groups, churches, families, companies, and charitable foundations. It may be that there was a time when we needed government to "help out." If so, that time has surely passed. Government stifles where it tries to help. This includes "foreign aid," where our government is in pursuit of American-izing the world- setting up developing countries with all of our wonders and toys- and all of our problems.