Independence: I Still Seek It, 2nd Edition
Preface to the Second Edition:
One year later, I think it would be beneficial to look back on both my own efforts to gain full Independence over the past year, the state of Liberty in America, and the greater movement.
In the last year I have travelled from Qatar to India and America (3 times). I have seen first hand how the so-called recovery is nothing but a cover for greater theft of private pocketbooks and greater control of private lives. Government payrolls and salaries continue to expand (no deflation there, surprise!), while private business and salaries continue to shrink. Unemployment, warned to be 8% without the Keynesian stimules when it was passed, now sits at 9.5% if you believe in unicorns and more likely the high teens if you actually concern yourself with finding work. The government's centrally planned disaster relief agency failed spectacularly in the Gulf for the second time in six years, this after the government used financial incentives to encourage deepwater drilling among one of its favorite cartelized industries. Sadly, the free market, as usual, takes the blame.
The violence in Iraq and Afghanistan rages on with no end in sight for these unwinnable wars. As predicted by libertarians, America's rush to revenge has morphed into wars of conquest and occupation. While top generals pass out or get booted out; horrific American atrocities finally escape the censorship of the MSM and arrive on your laptop in streaming video; the corruption of local Iraqi and Afghani governments skyrockets; and more soldiers die in a poorly conceived policy of Muslim subjugation. The only surprise is that half of the new Tea Party coalition still hasn't figured out that liberty is not born through central planning. It is no surprise that Democratic voters have turned a blind eye to Obama's increasingly hawkish foreign policy. It is truly sad that he is considering yet another pre-emptive strike on a nation (Iran) that poses no threat to America. As Randolph Bourne say presciently noted, "war is the health of the State."
Meanwhile, liberty in America has taken more hits. The nomination of a career civil servant to the Supreme Court, a person who has never voluntarily exchanged her labor or a product of her labor in the market economy, should be enough to raise protests from Americans who still believe that prosperity is only brought about by voluntary exchange. Instead, many Americans seem resigned to their fate. Police brutality continues to spread, finding new definitions of 'threatening posture' - even 86 year old bedridden grandmother's surrounded by ten police officers can't escape the taser, if these cowardly cops feel threatened when she rightfully points out that they have no business being in her home.
I will not spend too much time discussing liberty in my life, but I feel very happy that I was able to provide liberty of sorts to someone very close to me. Someone very dear to my heart was stuck in Baghdad late last year, serving the cabal of US occupiers, and witnessing their horrific abuse of local Iraqis first hand. With my help, that person is now out of the military and going back to college. On the home front, my study of both my career field and libertarianism has continued. The passion is higher that it ever has been. Among the great libertarian works I discovered this year, the early 20th century author Garet Garrett deserves special mention. I highly recommend him to those inclined.
Despite all the bad news that is laid before us concerning the state of Liberty in America and the world, there are great reasons for optimism. The libertarian movement is stronger that it ever has been. There seems to be no stopping the growth in America's appetite for a return to freedom. Keep in mind, that just fifty years ago there was no libertarian movement. The number of influential libertarians (Lane, Read, Hayek, Mises) could be counted on one hand. Today one doesn't get very far without running into another young person scratching the surface in his or her discovery of liberty. It is a great time to be a libertarian.
Happy 4th everyone! May you all find Independence in your own way.
David in Qatar
July 4th, 2010
Independence: I still Seek It
David in Qatar
July 4th, 2009
Today I spend Independence Day as I normally do, working and studying. This is a joy for me and an exercise of my limited freedom. Thankfully, I get to exercise this freedom every day, not just on a State designated holiday. I also get the opportunity to express my thoughts on this blog and share with others - a subject that I will return to later.
I know that I am different. I am not moved to tears by the singing of the National Anthem. I am not captured in awe by the roar of fighter planes or the pomp and circumstance that surrounds State gatherings. I don't repeat patriotic slogans like "Support the Troops" or "Freedom isn't Free," although I do spend a great deal of time (too much time) wondering what motivates people to say these things. I would like to see good young men and women working in America, rather than combing the desert in search of the boogeyman. I don't volunteer my labor for strangers. I don't even think it's a good idea.
I've spent my fair share of time serving the State. I have regrets and I occasionally feel guilty. During my time as a tax consumer I was woefully ignorant and downright hostile to any opinion or idea that ran contrary to those pre-approved for me by the system. I was an enabler for the State to crush the free exchange of ideas and property among individuals, usually with the blessing of our gang of witch doctors and cranks we call Intellectuals. Unfortunately, there is little that can be done about this.
Some may argue that I am being too hard on our rulers. After all, didn't the State invent the Internet? Even Motley Fool CEO Tom Gardner has said so. I suppose it would be biting the hand that feeds me if this were true. However, the Internet as you see it today is the product of the free market. The Internet under State control was a weapons system. The State attempted to employ the inventions of private citizens as a system to kill other human beings. The fact that these targets of State wrath may or may not have been "evil doers" is irrelevant. To compare the DARPA-Net to the Internet is to compare nuclear weapons to nuclear power. The fact that the State uses a technology for death, while private citizens use them to improve society, should not be a reason to applaud our masters. I applaud them only for liberating this technology from their illiterate mandarins.
With that being said, my struggle for Independence is only made possible because others have struggled as well. I love the community here, even the ones who despise my political beliefs, because they have forced me to think about stock market investing in new ways. I have improved a great deal as an investor because of Motley Fool. The bloggers here deserve much of the credit, as does TMF staff. Enjoy your day off. You deserve it. The accumulation of wealth brings greater independence. This website is proof that anyone who wishes to improve their financial well-being can find the resources - as long as they can plug into a router.
Finally, I wish to say two positive things about America.
The two greatest things about America, as opposed to some of the places I have lived or visited, are the American's tolerance of other views and the American's understanding that the free exchange of ideas and property creates wealth.
Tolerance does not mean acceptance. You don't have to agree with me, but as far as I am aware, no one is plotting to jail me on my next visit to America for speaking my mind. That is a wonderful thing. Freedom of speech is not granted by the Constitution. It is protected by the Constitution. If I needed a piece of paper to tell me what my rights are, they would only be priviliges. Rights need to be protected, not granted.
No country has ever risen from the ashes by virtue of coercion. People can not be forced to engage in productive behavior. Almost all Americans understand this, even if few understand how the State causes market failure. There is no central plan from Lords on High that will deliver people from poverty. Only by allowing people the freedom to exchange what they own - namely their own bodies and minds - has society advanced. But that free exchange of ideas and property must extend beyond the arbitrary borders of the State, to individuals everywhere. The protectionist ideas of central planners have destroyed liberty in the past. Should they succeed again there will be tremendous suffering.
If we still seek our Independence, rather than celebrating that which we don't have, we can avoid the fate of previous generations. I don't wish to be the next Carl Menger, bitterly watching the world slip towards destruction. I would rather be surprised by our resilience.
So let us celebrate our continuing struggle for Independence rather than accepting the priviliges currently granted to us by the State. We are not free, nor are we enslaved. We are somewhere in between. It is only a question of which direction we wish to travel.
David in Qatar