So You Say You Want a Revolution?

by Luna Flesher

A significant percentage of conservatives seem ready for a revolution. They are mad as hell, and aren’t going to take it anymore. They carry guns to town hall meetings. They wave Gadsden flags.  They wistfully evoke memories of historical 1776. They quote Jefferson about the evils of tyranny and the need for blood.

I listened to a man named Dominick call into Michael Medved this week.  Medved had on polling expert Frank Luntz, who found 76% of Americans describe themselves as “mad as hell”.  Though most of those are not necessarily conservatives or the Tea Party set, 3% of Americans are like Dominick — outraged enough to revolt.

The recent 9-12 Tea Party march on DC had a disproportionate number of those people.  This enlightening video interview gives us some idea of what they’re so angry about:

Certain members of the media seem perfectly willing to stoke the fire. Yes, I’ll name names. Fox News. Glenn Beck. Rush Limbaugh. Michael Savage. They not only perpetuate the myths that make people feel their liberty and lives are in serious danger, but often come just short of actual calls to violence. They do so in a way that gives them plausible deniablity, so that they can feign innocence. But should disaster strike (as it already has to a limited extent), they are in every way as responsible as someone who shouts “Fire!” in a crowded theater.

I used to be one of that 3%, long before it was popular with anyone to be so.

I felt oppressed. I own such books as, “101 Things To Do ’til the Revolution“.  Though I never got around to reading them, I planned all sorts of activist activities to spread the word. I thought of provocative slogans, like “Dan Rather is a Commie”, and “You Are A Welfare Slave”.  I plotted methods for organizing fellow revolters into anonymous cells similar in organization to ELF, but with additional rules against harming property or people.

And should it have come to firing actual weapons at the Government, I was ready to do that, too.

So I understand the anger, but at the same time feel ashamed to admit I was once one of them. Because now, I realize what a terrible, horrible thing a violent revolution would be.

Like Dominick, I had not fully thought through my vision. I assumed we would dodge some bullets, raise up the fallen as martyrs, defeat the military, and then simply kick the bastards out.  Everyone would see the error of their ways, and the country would return to the Constitutional libertarian liassez faire utopia the Founding Fathers intended.

But that isn’t what the Founders intended.  Yes, Jefferson may have written about the benefits of periodic revolution. But he also co-wrote a much more important document: The Constitution.

(more…)

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Published in: on September 21, 2009 at 4:51 am  Comments (2)  
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My Libertarian Credentials

A lot of people lately have doubted that I’m for small government. I’ve had to fend off long litanies and lists of examples of why government is bad.  Yet no one seems to believe me when I say, “Yes, I know government is bad.”  Honestly, I know that. That’s old, old news to me.

But I sometimes have some additional points to make, like, “It’s a fallacy to say all of anything is bad,” or “Sometimes government is good,” or “Sometimes big business needs a kick in the rear.”  And those points keep getting lost because some of you feel the need to convert me even though I’m already converted.

So I feel the need to list my credentials, to “show my papers” to the border guard of your judgment.  I hope you will view these bona fides with approval, and nod me on so that I can get back to writing on topics I prefer.

A lot of you may not know what libertarianism is, so here it is in a nutshell.  I’m for small government.  On both sides of the aisle.  If you’re conservative, I agree with you on half of the issues — that generally government should stay out of our finances.  If you’re liberal, I generally agree with you on half of the issues, that government should stay out of our personal lives.  I prefer individualism to collectivism, innovation to control, freedom to tyranny.  If you need further details, go google it.

Just how small-government am I?  A portion of my mind is constantly dedicated to figuring out ways to privatize everything without causing mass chaos, much the same way a sci-fi authors ponder how to get between stars in a human lifetime without defying the laws of physics.  If I could think of a safe way to privatize even the military, I’d be for it!

Here are my creds:

  • I voted for Ruth Bennett in 2000, the candidate who got 7% of the votes, making the LP temporarily a major party in Washington State.
  • In 2001, I bought a handgun simply to exercise my Second Amendment right to do so.
  • In 2002 I was an election volunteer (“Observer”) representing the LP in Benton County, Washington.  I observed the delivery of ballot boxes, as well as the testing of counting equipment.
  • I helped with the Bruce Guthrie Senate campaign in 2006.
  • I started the Wikipedia article on Neo-Objectivism (It persisted several years, but since, sadly, has been unfairly merged into the Objectivist Movement article. Those bastards!)
  • I subscribed to Reason magazine for several years, and have one of the coveted personalized issues that has my name and satellite image of my house printed on the cover.
  • My copies of Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, and Anthem are very underlined, dog-eared, and annotated in pencil.
  • Have a look at the books I have tagged as “Changed My Life” on Librarything.com.  These books had a profound effect on my outlook.
  • I convinced an anthropology-majoring, socialist-leaning, pot-smoking lesbian that mandatory recycling is wrong.
  • I regularly donate to the EFF, ACLU, and other civil liberties organizations.
  • My major heroes include Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, Ayn Rand, Wendy McElroy, Penn & Teller, Ron Paul, David Brin.
  • Karl Marx is a scumbag.

So why do my posts sound Liberal/Socialist/Right-Wing/[insert evil side you oppose here]?  Because there are already millions of information resources for Libertarian/Objectivist/Civil Liberties/Small Government Conservative philosophies.  There are organizations like CATO, ACLU, EFF, and the Reason Foundation.  There are blogs like the Agitator and Below the Beltway. Anyone can go out and read Adam Smith and Ludwig Von Mises books until their eyes swell.

And of course for every one libertarian evangelist, there are 100 right wing or left wing authors repeating the same things.  (Since again, libertarians are half-breeds.)

I don’t merely want to parrot all of the above.  Why should I when I can link to them, or reference them, or just rest assured those voices are out there saying what needs to be said?  If I repeated the same old lines, this blog would be boring, and you wouldn’t be here reading it.

In fact, it is because I am a true individualist that I choose to not be a parrot.  Instead, I choose to be an innovator.  I want to think of original ideas and new twists on old ideas.  I want to look at issues in a fresh way.

As a blogger I get to write about what I am most interested in.  I find most interesting those areas where I disagree with the rank and file.

This is not so I can be a contrarian, to disagree for disagreement’s sake.  I simply hold reason above ideology. So while my core values match those of core libertarianism, I am always asking questions. “Where does my ideology break down?  Are there exceptions to my ‘rules’?  How do my core principles really apply to this topic?” I am not comfortable with jumping to a conclusion based solely on my old assumptions.  Nor am I comfortable arguing for something I know very little about, even if doing so would follow some party line.

I find exceptions to the rule extremely fascinating and worthy of discussion.  Just because I disagree with you on one point, or a dozen, doesn’t automatically put me on The Same Side As The Enemy.  That is a thought terminating clichè which could be disabling your ability to thoughtfully consider what could otherwise be very good ideas.

So before you go getting all excited, please rest assured: I believe government sucks.  There are major problems with the EPA, FDA, IRS, Federal Reserve, SEC, NSA, CIA, DEA, and most every other member of the Government Acronym Soup.  I love liberty and support our troops and red meat is tasty and the internet should be free.  People should be responsible and personally accountable for all their actions.  Hard work and innovation should be rewarded.  Capitalism and democracy are the greatest human forces yet discovered to increase happiness and quality of life of every person on earth.

Honest.  I get that.  I really do.

So now that I’ve regurgitated the party line, I hope to get back to the business of being an individual.  Like writing about something you haven’t heard before.

Published in: on August 31, 2009 at 9:54 pm  Comments (1)  
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On Tyranny and Health Care: A Libertarian’s Plea for Government Interference

by Luna Flesher

If liberty is one of my chief values, and tyranny is its opposite, then tyranny is my adversary.

By liberty, I mean individual freedom from oppression by another; the ability to move about, act as I choose, and reap the consequences.  In order to fairly protect liberty, freedom must be limited when it begins to infringe on the freedom of others.  I was raised with the phrase, “Your freedom to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.”

To be clear, I do not mean freedom from want.  Being handed unearned resources may increase choice, but this is not the kind of freedom a government can easily grant without violating the rights of someone else.  Nor do I mean the freedom to escape rightful consequences, both positive and negative.  You may act on your rights, but it is not freedom if you unfairly avoid what’s coming to you.  That usually indicates someone else’s rights are being violated, someone else is being cheated.

Tyranny, the antithesis of liberty, can come from any source.  Most libertarians and conservatives are rightfully wary of the tyranny of government.  Typically only a government has police power, military might, power of imprisonment, and the backing of society.

However, tyranny can come from many other sources — any individual or organization who wishes to impinge upon your rights.  They do this through the use or threat of physical force, breaking of contracts, and gaining consent through misinformation.  They avoid the negative consequences of harmful actions, reaping only rewards through unfair advantage, force, and fraud.

Besides governments, large-scale tyranny can come from corporations, outside governments, unions, organized religion, organized crime, academia, political groups, etc.

On a smaller social level, it can come from independent criminals, bullies, abusive families, cults, small businesses, private security organizations, friends and associates, or random people on the street.

We spend so much time thinking of government as the bad guy.  However we forget that its most legitimate purpose is to protect individual liberties from other powers that would exert force or fraud.  That’s why we have allowed the government military and police power in the first place.

We need to look around and ask what other large-scale tyrannies exist in America today.  A good measuring stick to judge this by is, “Does it initiate force or fraud?”  Since it is the topic du jour, let’s look at the health care industry.  Here are three ways it has initiated both.

1. When you or your employer pays for health insurance, you have a contract with the insurance provider to cover certain costs if you become sick.  Your contract is too probably long to read, too confusing for you to understand, and full of loopholes.  This is a form of fraud or uninformed consent.

Even if your contact in fact covers your expensive illness, as soon as you are diagnosed the insurer is likely to drop your coverage.  You will be stuck with prohibitive bills and likely bankruptcy.

You may think this is a rare occurrence, but it is not.  The leading cause of bankruptcy is due to medical bills of people who were already covered by health insurance.

If it happens even once, it is the government’s job to protect all individuals from fraud.

2. Various factors have driven up costs so that access to health care is barred to anyone except those with insurance or those who are very rich.  It is no longer possible for a middle class person to save a percentage of their income and pay directly for health services.

Insurance has created a non-level playing field.  It is a form of privatized socialism.  Doctor’s charges go up to subsidize insurance discounts.  Hospital bills are increased to cover those without health insurance who show up on the hospital steps.

The least advantaged are the employed middle class without employer-provided insurance, small business owners, and the temporarily unemployed.  The system basically forces you to choose between being insured or not having any health care.  The latter choice leads to bodily harm or even death.

If you decide to buy insurance on your own, the costs are prohibitive.  And if you have a “pre-existing condition” like a past treatment for a yeast infection or acne, you will be denied insurance.

It boils down to this:  If you choose to run your own business or freelance, or if you choose a small employer which does not provide health care, or if you are involuntarily laid off, you risk bodily harm.  Contrary to popular belief, “hard work” is not a factor for successful health in this system.

3. In most states, employees cannot choose their insurance provider.  They cannot choose their coverage.  In this sense, they are forced into a contract made between their employer and insurance company.  This limits consumer choice when it comes to doctors, level of care, customer service, price, level of bureaucracy, and reputation.  If my insurance drops my doctor from the network, I must find a new doctor.  If my insurance company raises rates or lowers coverage, I can’t walk away.  I’m trapped.

Conclusion

There are numerous valid sources that show how insurance companies extort, defraud, cheat, and oppress.  The evidence is overwhelming.  There are examples of corruption at every level of the health care industry.  The industry as a whole is the very socialist dictatorship we so fear.

The government seems to be the only entity powerful enough to reinstate the balance and protect the people.  This is the proper role of government.  Health care reform should be embraced by everyone who cares about individual liberty.

This is one time when it is proper to plea for government interference.

Published in: on August 7, 2009 at 10:47 pm  Comments (11)  
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