Article Archives by Subject:  Independence

02-13-2013

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Sunset or Sunrise?
Subject: Have You Shrugged Your Country Today?

    Be strong enough to stand alone,  be yourself enough to stand apart,
    but be wise enough to stand together when the time comes.
     —  Mark Amend


The Loss of the American Spirit

When the American spirit was in its youth, the language of
America was different: Liberty, sir, was the primary object.
 —  Patrick Henry


At a monthly meeting of a group of liberty-oriented people, when the subject of the recent election came up, the speaker asked the audience, "How many of you are still on suicide watch?" I believe he was only half joking. I have taken some time since the November 6th election to reflect on the outcome, while trying to formulate a new perspective on the state of this country and where I stand in relation to it. These are some of my thoughts.

Ayn Rand wrote about a person's "sense of life" as being the integrated sum of their basic values. She also said:

    A culture, like an individual, has a sense of life or, rather, the equivalent of a sense of life—an emotional atmosphere created by its dominant philosophy, by its view of man and of existence. This emotional atmosphere represents a culture's dominant values and serves as the leitmotif of a given age, setting its trends and its style.   [The Age of Envy, 1971]

    Just as an individual's sense of life can be better or worse than his conscious convictions, so can a nation's. And just as an individual who has never translated his sense of life into conscious convictions is in terrible danger—no matter how good his subconscious values—so is a nation.

    This is the position of America today.

    If America is to be saved from destruction—specifically, from dictatorship—she will be saved by her sense of life.  
    [Don't Let it Go, 1971]

In 1971, what qualities did Rand see as forming the basis of the uniquely American culture? The independence of self-made, self-reliant, self-confident individuals; a common sense respect for knowledge; a trusting, generous and benevolent spirit; and an innocence as to the depth of evil that could exist in others. Fourteen years after publishing Atlas Shrugged, she still maintained a guarded optimism regarding America's future when she penned the following warning:

    If America drags on her present state for a few more generations (which is unlikely), dictatorship will become possible. A sense of life is not a permanent endowment. The characteristically American one is being eroded daily all around us. Large numbers of Americans have lost it (or have never developed it) and are collapsing to the psychological level of Europe's worst rabble.   [Don't Let it Go, 1971]

Here we are, forty years later, living in a country with a population that has increased 54%, from 203 million in 1970 to 313 million today, having imported all manner of cultural ideologies from other parts of the world. During that period, two more generations have pass through a decidedly left-leaning, government-controlled, educational system. And consider the increase in the size and scope of government, based upon these numbers from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB):
    Description

    1970

    2012

    % Increase

    Total Federal Outlays $1,158 billion $3,796 billion 228%
    Total Outlays as % of GDP

    19%

    24%

    26%

    Human Resources Outlays $446 billion $2,473 billion 455%
    Human Resources as % of Outlays 39% 65% 69%
    Human Resources as % of GDP

    7%

    16%

    115%

    [1970 figures are shown in inflation-adjusted 2012 dollars]

Not only has total government spending increased by 228%, but there was a dramatic shift in allocations from other areas into Human Resources—which includes all of the welfare and entitlement programs—roughly doubling the percentage of the populace whose lives were, to some extent, directly dependent upon government-enforced wealth redistribution. Rand's hope that Americans would continue to live up to their unique heritage of liberty and individualism has not been realized. And nothing drives that fact home with more power than the results of this past election.

Writing at American Thinker, Daren Jonescu concluded that the 2012 election was "a referendum on the principles of modern civilization itself". I agree. While I do not think that the election was the actual tipping point for this country—I'm afraid that that event occurred a while ago—it certainly was the symbolic marker of our entry into a new era where concerns for the last vestiges of individual rights have been set aside by a majority of voters.

If we are to move forward from this point, it is critically important that we squarely face the truth concerning this fundamental shift that has occurred in our country and incorporate that knowledge into all future strategies.

  • In place of the "rugged individualism" that was once a predominant American virtue and to which one could proudly appeal, today we face an entitlement culture built upon a foundation of learned helplessness—the result of our leaders and educators ensuring everyone that we are neither responsible for our successes ("You didn't build that!") nor for our failures ("You're the victim here!")

  • That common sense respect for knowledge that Rand once observed has been critically eroded from every quarter. The scientific method which grounds theory on a foundation of objective and repeatably observable facts has been replaced by any number of "ends-justify-the-means" ideologies that begin with agendas and then manipulate or manufacture "facts" to produce the required results. Whether it's the right's biblical attack on evolution, the left's ecological attack on human progress, the administration's program to promote unsustainable "sustainable" energy, the indoctrination of children trained to parrot ideas they cannot possibly understand, or any number of other situations where this methodology is used, the results are always the same: the undermining and destruction of critical thinking ability in a broad segment of society.

  • While Americans remain highly generous, and charitable, the baseline level of trust and goodwill that once existed between people has been severely diminished if not outright extinguished. The primary factor responsible for this societal shift is the expansion of an ever more invasive government into our lives. As psychologist Dr. Michael Hurd states:

    It would never be wise to depend on a corrupt mafia boss to do your bidding, as the American voters now depend on corrupt politicians to do their bidding for almost everything: unemployment insurance, education, medical care, retirement insurance, the list will never stop growing.

    Sooner or later, this dependence-via-coercion comes back to bite you. When you make people do things through coercion, you destroy any sense of good will. Good will is necessary for all human relationships, and it's necessary to keep civility, including respect for individual and property rights, in place.

    Another aspect of progressive politics is its need to dehumanize individuals by categorizing them into various groups, and then pitting those groups against one another. Whether the divisions occur along racial or ethnic lines, or play out in the form of worker vs. management; wealthy vs. middle class; women vs. men; able vs. disabled; the haves vs. the have-nots; productive vs. entitled; religious vs. secular; and so on, the result is to:
    1. Disempower individuals from acting in their own behalf, based upon their own values

    2. Generate suspicion and fear towards those outside of your group designation

What this all means is that without a unifying spirit (i.e., a shared sense of life) to provide a common bond, it becomes more difficult to organize the populace towards common goals. The reduction in the ability of the average person to reason deeply, combined with an education that is woefully deficient in a basic understanding of recent American and world history, make it problematic whether one can successfully communicate complex political ideas to a wide audience. This also leaves people much more susceptible to misinformation and lies. When you couple all this with a growing sense of suspicion, resentment and sometimes outright hatred towards others, then organizing a majority of people for any purpose becomes nearly impossible. Unfortunately, these are the conditions we face today.

Lessons from the 2012 Election

Big Hat, No Cattleby Randy Newman

But when it came down to the wire
I called my family to my side
Stood up straight, threw my head back,
And I lied, lied, lied


In a post-election analysis, Thomas Sowell wrote:

    Most of Obama's arguments were rotten, if you bothered to put them under scrutiny. But someone once said that it is amazing how long the rotten can hold together, if you don't handle it roughly.
    ...
    On election night, the rotten held together because Mitt Romney had not handled it roughly with specifics. Romney was too nice to handle Obama's absurdities roughly.

Sowell is a great thinker, but here he shows precisely what is wrong with the Republican party and the conservative movement. While his first point concerning the need to clearly identify the rotting essence of Obama's core philosophy is correct, it is irrelevant to evaluating Romney's election performance. Romney did not fail to rout Obama because he is too nice. He refrained from attacking because, at his own core, he agrees with everything that Obama stands for. It is true that Romney had no "coherently articulated vision," but had he been able to formulate one, it would have been indistinguishable from his opponent. There is nothing special about Romney—he is just another in a long line of marketable mouthpieces for the loose "me-too" ideology that defines the GOP. And so long as conservatives continue to blind themselves to this fact and look for ways to excuse Republican ineffectiveness in one case after the next, they will simply be squandering their time, effort, money and hopes for a better future on a party that has designed itself for, and pledged itself to inevitable defeat.

And do not expect to see the Republican party reformed. To present a vision that opposes the progressive agenda requires articulating some basic truths which are unpleasant, and to a large extent the general public is not interested in this. Instead, a majority now crave the "Big Lie" which evades our current sociological, economic and political reality by replacing an awareness of troubling facts with a fear-soothing story—a narrative—offering safety, entitlement, and full-time, cradle-to-grave care emanating from The Great and Powerful Oz—or as he is known in these lands, Uncle Sam. Both Republicans and Democrats lust after Oz's power as much as the public wishes to suppress its own fears. And so, working hand in hand, the power-seekers and the fearful will continue to embrace this fairy tale view, right up until the moment of immolation. And that is the real and important message of the last election.

Just how far will the GOP go in service of the "Big Lie?"

  • Faced with uncomfortable facts such as a $16.5 trillion debt and annual deficits exceeding $1 trillion for the foreseeable future, what do Republicans do? Why they simply extend more credit. But wait, that's not all! They go the extra mile to eliminate any cap and inform the Administration that it can spend as much as it likes, while they sit there, grinning at the American people and stammering, "What, Me Worry?"

  • Whether you calculate the unfunded liability of the government's pension commitments and entitlement programs at $87 trillion, $222 trillion, or somewhere in between, the inescapable fact is that there is no possible way to come close to meeting these obligations as currently structured. So what do Republicans do? Absolutely Nothing. They craft up their own budget legislation which "contains no spending cuts." After all, there's no need to upset the folks in Peoria by confronting them with these troublesome facts — at least there's apparently no pressing need to do it today! And besides, despite what some Republicans might mumble on the campaign trail, most are just as firmly committed to maintaining all of the welfare and social safety net programs as Mitt Romney was to Obamacare—oops, excuse me, I meant Romneycare. (Oh well, as Hillary Clinton so eloquently expressed it, at this point, what difference does it make?)

  • Recognizing the history–proven fact that taxing the middle and upper income earners diverts critical financial resources from investment and production, placing a brake on economic recovery and job creation, do Republicans stick to their long-standing pledge of not increasing taxes? I'm Afraid not. That too was just another lie.

  • Republicans often tell us that they believe in individual rights, but few back up those words with action. The party in power in 2001 that gave us the Patriot Act, has also been the largest supporter of the NDAA, voting with an overwhelming majority to make sure that even the provision for indefinite detention of American citizens without due process, remains firmly in place.

  • And just in case any rabble rousers might try to upset the GOP's cushy apple cart, there is always gatekeeper Karl there to beat back the riff raff and continue to insure the Republican's rightful place on the looser's throne. We're No. 2! We're No. 2!

While there are a few elected Republicans in Congress that, somewhat inconsistently, take a stand for individual rights and speak the truth when the Emperor clearly has no clothes, the great majority remain committed to the party ideology that produces results like those above, and that is unlikely to change in the near future. Despite having had four years to observe the practical consequences of the Republican's inability to deal effectively with Obama, not only was a McCain clone nominated in order to lose once again, but the voters decided that it was important to send 89% of the running Republican incumbents back to Washington. While Tea Party forces might ultimately be able to effect a slow change within the GOP, the past two election cycles have shown that whatever can be achieved through these political means will be too little and come much to late.

If the Republican Party cannot be effectively salvaged, then what about the possibility of an alternative third party rising to replacing it? While this has certainly happened in the past—the Republican Party itself replaced the Whigs in 1860—this appears unlikely in today's climate. In 2012, the strongest alternative to Obama and Romney was Gary Johnson. Yet, despite having performed over twice as well as past Libertarian presidential candidates by garnering 1.28 million votes, this still amounted to less than 1% of the total vote and failed to influence the outcome in even a single state. If this is the best that could be accomplished after forty years of Libertarian Party effort, I think we can dismiss this as being any sort of hopeful prospect in the near future.

It was Ayn Rand's position that political change could only come about after the culture—the predominantly accepted ideas by a majority of people—had first been transformed. I agree. Rand presented her philosophy through novels in order to dramatize and communicate to the widest possible audience the implication of certain fundamental principles in action. Over the past fifty years Objectivist scholars and intellectual activists have devoted a significant effort to spread an understanding of exactly what provides the necessary foundation for freedom, individual rights and limited government, and it is undeniable that all of these efforts have had a very visible and positive impact upon a great many people. And yet, despite all of those years devoted to educating our society about the value, source and meaning of freedom, on November 6th, a majority of people went to the polls and sent a clear message that liberty was no longer their predominant value and therefore no longer their goal. With their ballots they proclaimed that they had formally switch allegiance from an implicit philosophy founded upon individual sovereignty and personal responsibility to one of collective subservience in exchange for relief from any accountability. Unfortunately, despite heroic measures, the past methods used by Objectivists have been unsuccessful in changing the direction of our culture.

And if we cannot look to a better educated populace which has been made consciously aware of the forces currently at play in our society, it is equally foolish to expect to rely upon the general common sense of even a minority of voters. In an article titled, Virginians Vote to Defend Property Rights, Ari Armstrong discusses how, in the last election, 82% of the state's citizens voted for a constitutional amendment to limit the abuse of eminent domain, while at the same time voting 51% for Obama, and concludes that this:

    shows that many Americans care deeply about individual rights, even if they do not fully understand them in principle or always defend them in practice.

Oh, were that only true. But isn't this conclusion simply wishful thinking? No one that actually cared about property rights could possibly vote for Obama, the great nationalizer, if they were at all conscious of what has occurred in this country over the past four years. Yes, people are voting for this amendment, but it is not an actual respect for property rights that is driving many of them.

Or consider the call to reduce federal spending. The most vocal group demanding significant cuts are the Tea Partiers. Yet, according to this Wall Street Journal article:

    In the poll, Americans across all age groups and ideologies said by large margins that it was "unacceptable'' to make significant cuts in entitlement programs in order to reduce the federal deficit. Even tea party supporters, by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, declared significant cuts to Social Security "unacceptable."

There is no common sense operating here. Disaster knocks at the door and yet most people refuse to consider even semi-realistic half-measures let alone real solutions to these problems. The longer we continue to rationalize the actions of the general public to fit our desire to find breakout flashes of true rationality, the longer we waste our time hoping that they will, as a large group, be convinced to see the light and become mobilized as a positive force for political change. As I stated above, it is time to accept the fact that a majority of U.S. citizens have implicitly chosen collectivism, while certainly failing to comprehend the full consequences of that choice.

Just as our economic system is in a significantly mixed state as it continues it progression away from free markets towards centrally planned interventionism, our social-political system is also a mongrel, incorporating remnants of freedom along with rapidly expanding elements of totalitarian control. While these trends have been observed developing over a long period, for many, there has been an ongoing assumption that there was still time to work within the system to alter the ultimate outcome. Another critical lesson of this election has been to signal that the time for that approach has now expired. When living under a government of strict, constitutionally-limited powers, with a court system that objectively identifies and upholds individual rights, it remains possible to affect change by way of the ballot box. But once a country has significantly transitioned into collectivism, with a relatively unconstrained totalitarian polity that holds the individual subservient to the state's interests, then the idea that one's vote is an effective tool in the cause of liberty becomes just another aspect of the "Big Lie"—the soma—being dolled out by the entrenched political masters to keep their subjects pacified by false promises of empowerment and control.

It's Time for a Change of Plans

Insanity:  Doing the same thing over and
over again and expecting different results
 —  Albert Einstein


The world of even a little more than a decade ago has significantly changed and we are now fighting a different type of battle—one that is going to demand the adoption of a completely different strategy from those of the past. Understanding this requires a recognition of three points I addressed in the previous two sections:

  1. Time to act in service of our liberty is running out.

  2. Expecting even minimal positive change in the near future through the standard political system is unrealistic.

  3. Changing the culture through a trickle-down process, by first educating an intellectual class in Objectivist philosophy or libertarian principles has shown itself to be insufficient to the task at hand.

This is not to say that we should forsake trying to influence the type and quality of political candidates elected, or that we should abandon efforts to educate as many people as possible to the philosophical principles that freedom requires. The point is that we can no longer make these activities the primary focus of our efforts if we are to have any hope of salvaging our future.

There is a fundamental mistake lying behind the assumption that we must first educate a large enough group of people to value and respect rights, freedom, capitalism and personal responsibility, and then convince them to join with us in voting these things back in as the "law" of the land. In some ways, this is a collectivist error that implies that these things are dependent upon—that they rise and fall—with the attitudes of society as a whole. We are speaking about individual rights here, and as the Declaration of Independence so clearly points out, our rights are inherent and unalienable. Or as Ayn Rand formulates it:

    "Individual rights are not subject to a public vote;
    a majority has no right to vote away the rights of the minority.
    "

If this is something that we truly accept, then there is no need to beg others to help us obtain, or grant us permission to exercise our rights. All we must do is choose to assert them. A clear awareness of this choice is the change that needs to occur in order to chart a new course forward.

Politics is a homeopathic undertaking that dilutes the effectiveness of every participant down to zero. Instead of accepting the rules of this game which has been crafted solely for the benefit of those in power, we must reject the political system and begin acting with independence, taking back control over our own lives and directly pursuing our own values in a manner that makes the achievement of success possible. And while, on the global stage, the action of a single individual often may not be seen producing a measurable result in itself, the aggregate of many people working towards small but real change can add up to something significant and extremely important.

Independent action must always be carried out with care and intelligence, taking into account the current context and state of our society. On the other hand, calm intellectualizing about issues is never going to get the job done. What is required is a proper fusion between the intellect and the emotional. Passion is what motivates action, while rationality is what insures meaningful results. I would suggest that up to this point, we have been far too accommodating in our response to events that have transpired during just the past two administrations. In that short time, along with a great many other things, our government has saddled us with:

  • An Open-Ended War on Terror
  • Afghan and Iraq Wars
  • Pointless Nation-Building Exercises
  • Enhance Interrogation Techniques
  • The New-START Russian Arms Treaty
  • Sale of Jets and Tanks to the Muslim Brotherhood
  • Fast and Furious
  • The Benghazi Embassy Attack
  • The Patriot Act
  • Warrantless Surveillance and Wiretapping
  • National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)
  • Indefinite Detention of American Citizens
  • Suspension of Habeas Corpus
  • The TSA
  • Obamacare
  • Dodd-Frank
  • Expansion of the IRS
  • The Housing Bubble
  • The Financial Crisis
  • Recession and Unemployment
  • Inflation
  • Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)
  • American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)
  • Failure to Pass a Federal Budget
  • Massive Annual Deficits
  • A $16.5 Trillion Federal Debt
  • $87-$220 Trillion in Federal Unfunded Liabilities
  • Nationalization of the Financial and Automotive Industries
  • Nationalization of the Insurance and Medical Industries
  • Nationalization of the Higher Education Loan Industry
  • Legislation by Executive Order
  • Gun Control
  • An Open Attack on All Constitutional Limits Imposed upon the Government

Given the abrogation of our rights, the curtailment of our freedoms, and the wholesale theft of our property, both present and future, we have every right to be, not just mad, but furious! And while there is certainly a growing level of resentment and disgust occurring across the country, there is nothing like the appropriate level of anger being expressed. I'm encouraging everyone to consider the list above and the impact that these things have on your life. How do they curtail you freedom of action? How do they rob you of opportunities? How do they destroy the pursuit of your personal happiness? What are the eventual implications of each? Then I want you to get Mad As Hell and, like Howard Beale in Network, let everyone know that You Are Not Going to Take it Anymore!

Network Movie Clip Making the Rounds

Never lose your head, but do unleash your passion and allow it to motivate you to act in any and every way possible to push back at the forces that are actively working to destroy freedom by replacing your right to pursue your own life as you desire it, with an imposed and open-ended obligation to society—which is government Newspeak for being relegated to the status of a slave. We cannot afford to dilly-dally while waiting for some nascent cultural change that is not going to arrive in time, if ever.

Independent action is our last remaining line of defense. If we do not stand up for ourselves, no one else is going to do it for us.

Don't Take it Lying Down

The degree of liberty or tyranny in any government is, it follows, in large
degree a reflection of the relative determination of the subjects to be free
and their willingness and ability to resist efforts to enslave them.
 —  Gene Sharp


I was recently introduced by a friend to the political scientist, Gene Sharp, who has devoted his career to the study of nonviolent resistance directed against tyranny. Drawing upon his studies of the thoughts and actions of political activists and thinkers such as Gandhi, Thoreau and others, Sharp distilled out his theories for effective nonviolent resistance and presented them in his writings, as an organized strategy. The 2005, 600 page Waging Nonviolent Struggle (WNS) is a comprehensive volume detailing his latest thinking on the subject, while the slender From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation, (DTD) first published in 1993, is more a handbook for those interested in the practical aspects of mounting an effective opposition to despotism.

While the United States has not yet reached the level of political dictatorship that has and continues to be observed throughout many parts of the world, as I and many others have passionately argued, we are on an accelerating path with clear historic parallels that, if unchecked, will inevitably lead to this result. In reading Sharp's books, I was struck by a number of strategies that could also be applied to the battle in which we are currently engaged—strategies that could be just as effective in derailing our totalitarian train without first having to wait for it to reach its final destination. In what follows, I will share some passages from DTD and discuss how they might apply to our struggle to restore freedom in America.

Sharp starts off by making a few observations about the futility of attempting the wrong sorts of actions.

    In the past some people may have attempted resistance. Short-lived mass protests and demonstrations occurred. Perhaps spirits soared temporarily. At other times, individuals and small groups may have conducted brave but impotent gestures, asserting some principle or simply their defiance. However noble the motives, such past acts of resistance have often been insufficient to overcome people's fear and habit of obedience, a necessary prerequisite to destroy the dictatorship. Sadly, those acts may have brought instead only increased suffering and death, not victories or even hope.
    . . .
    Whatever the merits of the violent option, however, one point is clear. By placing confidence in violent means, one has chosen the very type of struggle which the oppressors nearly always have superiority.

Remember that in his writings, Sharp is talking about full blown, repressive dictatorships as you would find in places such as China, North Korea or Cuba, so we need to scale back some of the rhetoric a bit to fit our circumstances. Nevertheless, there are critical points being made here that certainly concerns us.

One of the most important observations is that energy, resources and hope invested in actions that fail to produce meaningful results can actually be counterproductive, leading to dispare and demotivation. Take for example the rise of the Tea Party movement that began about one year into the Obama administration. This grassroots undertaking lit the fire of activism under many people and steadily gained momentum, resulting in a series of successful protest rallies across the country, massive letter-writing campaigns directed at congressional representatives, while propelling otherwise non-political people to become actively engaged in the campaigns of 2010 and 2012. And while a very respectable level of results were achieved by these efforts, the overall effect was still extremely disappointing for many, and the movement is, unfortunately, now only a shadow of what it once promised.

Another of Sharp's points is that, while answering government force with force can be emotionally satisfying, it is imprudent since it is playing to totalitarian strength, not its weaknesses. As I previously noted, passionate emotion is critical to providing the necessary motivation to act, but is of no use if those actions are headstrong and foolish.

Sharp delineates four tasks that are required in order to take down a dictatorship:

    • One must strengthen the oppressed population themselves in their determination, self-confidence, and resistance skills

    • One must strengthen the independent social groups and institutions of the oppressed people

    • One must create a powerful internal resistance force

    • One must develop a wise grand strategic plan for liberation and implement it skillfully

Refer to DTD for a full explanation of what is implied by each of these points, but whether your intent is to dismantle a dictatorship or to turn a country on the brink of becoming a socialist welfare state back towards freedom, Sharp is saying that it is a monumental task that requires serious commitment, coordination and planning. In the United States, very little in the way of these four points have been addressed by those committed to liberty. Instead, the actions taken so far have been sporadic, ad hoc, and uncoordinated. I do see recent and encouraging signs that, to a limited degree, things are improving. However, without that "wise grand strategic plan for liberation," I agree with Sharp, that success is unlikely.

    In some situations where no fundamental issues are at stake, and therefore a compromise is acceptable, negotiations can be an important means to settle a conflict.
    . . .
    When the issues at stake are fundamental, affecting religious principles, issues of human freedom, or the whole future development of the society, negotiations do not provide a way of reaching a mutually satisfactory solution. On some basic issues there should be no compromise.
    . . .
    Negotiations are not the only alternative to continuing war of annihilation on the one hand and capitulation on the other. The examples [cited], illustrate that another option exists for those who want both peace and freedom: political defiance.  [Emphasis added]

It is very encouraging to see that Sharp is no moral relativist. He believes in standing firm and fighting for one's fundamental principles—something that should be well appreciated by Objectivists and libertarians alike. And now we get to the thrust of the books—the use of political defiance as a powerful tool to fight back against, and ultimately slay totalitarianism.

Sharp next analyzes the source of true power, which is briefly summarize in the following excerpts:

    Whence Comes the Power?

    Achieving a society with both freedom and peace is of course no simple task. It will require great strategic skill, organization, and planning. Above all it will require power. Democrats [i.e., those seeking democracy] cannot hope to bring down a dictatorship and establish political freedom without the ability to apply their own power effectively.

    Necessary sources of political power

    The principle is simple. Dictators require the assistance of the people they rule, without which they cannot secure and maintain the source of political power. These sources of political power include:

    • Human resources, the number and importance of the persons and groups which are obeying, cooperating with, or providing assistance to the rulers
    • Skills and knowledge, needed by the regime to perform specific actions and supplied by the cooperating persons or groups
    • Intangible factors, psychological and ideological factors that may induce people to obey and assist the rulers
    • Material resources, the degree to which the rulers control or have access to property, natural resources, financial resources, the economic system, and means of communication and transportation
    • Sanctions, punishments, threatened or implied, against the disobedient and noncooperative to ensure the submission and cooperation that are needed for the regime to exist and carry out its policies

    All of these sources, however, depend on acceptance of the regime, on submission and obedience of the population, and on the cooperation of innumerable people and the many institutions of the society. These are not guaranteed.
    . . .
    As the political scientist Karl W. Deutsch noted in 1953:
      Totalitarian power is strong only if it does not have to be used too often. If totalitarian power must be used at all times against the entire population, it is unlikely to remain powerful for long. Since totalitarian regimes require more power for dealing with their subjects than do any other types of government, such regimes stand in greater need of widespread and dependable compliance habits among their people; more than that they have to be able to count on the active support of at least significant parts of the population in case of need.

Here Sharp points out that much of the rulers' political power actually rests in the hands of the populace, and through non-cooperation it can be withdrawn. Again, this should sound very familiar to Objectivists as it is really nothing more than an application of Ayn Rand's principal of the Sanction of the Victim. When enough individuals realize that they actually hold the power, then the jig is up for all authoritarians!

Karl Deutsch also shows us that while governments may hold the majority of cards when it comes to the ability to wield force against its citizens, that force may only be of limited use, as resistance builds quickly in proportion to the level of force employed. This is even more true in the case of America, where there is still a reasonably strong expectation of rights and where those rights still remain in effect to some degree. The current push-back against encroachments on the second amendment is a good example, where even the discussion of using the power of government to restrict or collect firearms from private citizens is creating a furor.

    Weeknesses of dictatorships

    Among the weeknesses of dictatorships are the following:
    1. The cooperation of a multitude of people, groups and institutions needed to operate the system may be restricted or withdrawn.
    2. The requirements and effects of the regime's past policies will somewhat limit its present ability to adopt and implement conflicting policies.
    3. The system may become routine in its operation, less able to adjust quickly to new situations.
    4. Personnel and resources already allocated for existing tasks will not be easily available for new needs.
    5. Subordinates fearful of displeasing their superiors may not report accurate or complete information needed by the dictators to make decisions.
    6. The ideology may erode, and myths and symbols of the system may become unstable.
    7. If a strong ideology is present that influences one's view of reality, firm adherence to it may cause inattention to actual conditions and needs.
    8. Deteriorating efficiency and competency of the bureaucracy, or excessive controls and regulations, may make the system's policies and operations ineffective.
    9. Internal institutional conflicts and personal rivalries and hostilities may harm, and even disrupt, the operation of the dictatorship.
    10. Intellectuals and students may become restless in response to conditions, restrictions, doctrinalism, and repression.
    11. The general public may over time become apathetic, skeptical, and even hostile to the regime.
    12. Regional, class, cultural, or national differences may become acute.
    13. The power hierarchy of the dictatorship is always unstable to some degree, and at times extremely so. Individuals do not only remain in the same position in the ranking, but may rise or fall to other ranks or be removed entirely and replaced by new persons.
    14. Sections of the police or military forces may act to achieve their own objectives, even against the will of established dictators, including coup d'Útat.
    15. If the dictatorship is new, time is required for it to become well established.
    16. With so many decisions made by so few people in the dictatorship, mistakes of judgment, policy, and action are likely to occur.
    17. If the regime seeks to avoid these dangers and decentralizes controls and decision making, its control over the central levers of power may be further eroded.

    With knowledge of such inherent weaknesses, the democratic opposition can seek to aggravate these "Achilles' heels" deliberately in order to alter the system drastically or to disintegrate it.

Almost every item on the list above applies to our government, and each can be exploited to good effect, given a well thought out and coordinated overall strategy. Recognition of this fact should be very empowering to activists striving to restore liberty!

    Exercising Power

    What techniques of action will capitalize on the theory of political power? ... The alternative of choice is political defiance. Political defiance has the following characteristics:

    • It does not accept that the outcome will be decided by the means of fighting chosen by the dictatorship.
    • It is difficult for the regime to combat.
    • It can uniquely aggravate weakness of the dictatorship and can sever its sources of power.
    • It can in action be widely dispersed but can also be concentrated on a specific objective.
    • It leads to errors of judgment and action by the dictators.
    • It can effectively utilize the population as a whole and the society's groups and institutions in the struggle to end the brutal domination of the few.
    • It helps to spread the distribution of effective power in the society, making the establishment an maintenance of a democratic society more possible.

    The workings of nonviolent struggle

    Nonviolent struggle is a much more complex and varied means of struggle then is violence. Instead the struggle is fought by psychological, social, economic and political weapons applied by the population and the institutions of society. These have been known under various names of protest, strikes, noncooperation, boycotts, disaffection, and people power.
    . . .
    About two hundred specific methods of nonviolent action have been identified, and there are certainly scores more. These methods are classified under three broad categories: protest and persuasion, noncooperation, and intervention.

Sharp provides the framework for the design and execution of campaigns which have been successfully applied in the past to battle oppression. His books are filled with many specific suggestions and are well worth reading by anyone interested in further thinking on this subject. However, he constantly returns to the most important point: that ultimate success can be measured in proportion to the advance work done in preparing a well thought out plan.

    The Need for Strategic Planning

    Very careful thought based on a realistic assessment of the situation and the capabilities of the populace is required in order to select effective ways to achieve freedom under such circumstances.

    If one wishes to accomplish something, it is wise to plan how to do it. The more important the goal, or the graver the consequences of failure, the more important the planning becomes. Strategic planning increases the likelihood that all available resources will be mobilized and employed most effectively.
    ...
    Some individuals and groups, of course, may not see the need for broad long-term planning of a liberation movement. Instead, they may na´vely think that if they simply espouse their goal strongly, firmly, and long enough, it will somehow come to pass. Others assume that if they simply live and witness according to their principles and ideals in the face of difficulties, they are doing all they can to implement them. The espousal of humane goals and loyalty to ideals are admirable, but are grossly inadequate to end a dictatorship and to achieve freedom.
    ...
    There are also activists who base their actions on what they "feel" they should do. These approaches are, however, not only egocentric but also offer no guidance for developing a grand strategy of liberation. ... What is needed instead is action based on careful calculation of the "next steps" required to topple the dictatorship. Without strategic analysis, resistance leaders will often not know what that "next step" should be, for they have not thought carefully about the successive specific steps required to achieve victory.
    ...
    It is also just possible that that some democratic movements do not plan a comprehensive strategy to bring down dictatorship, concentrating instead only on immediate issues, for another reason. Inside themselves, they do not really believe that the dictatorship can be ended by their own efforts. Therefore, planning how to do so is considered to be a romantic waste of time or an exercise in futility.
    ...
    Unfortunately, because comprehensive strategic plans for liberation are rarely, if ever, developed, dictatorships appear much more durable than they in fact are. They survive for years or decades longer than need be the case.

    Planning Strategy

    Particularly, strategists will need to answer many fundamental questions, such as these:

    • What are the main obstacles to achieving freedom?
    • What factors will facilitate achieving freedom?
    • What are the main strengths of the dictatorship?
    • What are the various weaknesses of the dictatorship?
    • To what degree are the sources of power for the dictatorship vulnerable?
    • What are the strengths of the democratic forces and the general population?
    • What are the weaknesses of the democratic forces and how can they be corrected?
    • What is the status of third parties, not immediately involved in the conflict, who already assist or might assist either the dictatorship or the democratic movement, and if so in what way?

    [Emphasis added]

There is a lot of truth conveyed in these few paragraphs. It is time for people to decide whether or not they are really serious about fighting for their freedom, or are mearly content to complain about its loss. And if the choice is to fight, then are they willing to take the steps that are realistically required of them in order to be successful in their pursuit?

    Planning for democracy

    It should be remembered that against a dictatorship, the objective of the grand strategy is not simply to bring down the dictators but to install a democratic system and make the rise of a new dictatorship impossible. To accomplish these objectives, the chosen means of struggle will need to contribute to a change in the distribution of effective power in the society.
    ...
    When the grand strategy of the struggle has been carefully planned there are sound reasons for making it widely known. The large number of people required to participate may be more willing and able to act if they understand the general conception, as well as specific instructions. This knowledge could potentially have a very positive effect on their morale, their willingness to participate, and to act appropriately.

    Spreading the idea of noncooperation

    For successful political defiance against a dictatorship, it is essential that the population grasp the idea of noncooperation. ... Once the general conception of noncooperation is grasped, people will be able to understand the relevance of future calls to practice noncooperation with the dictatorship. They will also be able on their own to improvise a myriad of specific forms of noncooperation in new situations.

Objectivists, libertarians and many conservatives understand that democracy is a fatally flawed goal, and that a properly implemented constitutional republic, founded on a respect for individual rights and which strictly limits the power and scope of all government, is what is actually required. Nevertheless, the points Sharp raises remain fully applicable. It is never enough to fight against something. One must be able to articulate what one is fighting for, and always keep a vision of that positive goal in mind as the driver of one's actions.

An Example of How Small Actions Can Produce Large Results

Madness, and then illumination.
 —  Orson Scott Card


When reading about nonviolent political defiance in Gene Sharp's books, I was reminded of a small, but very powerful scene from Orson Scott Card's science fiction novel, Shadow Puppets, which perfectly illustrates this method in action.

The story is set in Earth's future and deals with geopolitical conflict, primarily between the countries of Asia and the Middle-East. At this point in the story, China has invaded India and is attempting to occupy the country. India's chief political strategist, a young girl named Virlomi, is struggling with how to mount a resistance. The following passages are selected excerpts from Chapter 5, titled, Stone in the Road.

(Note: The entire chapter may be read here.)
 

    India was simply too large to digest all at once, and like the British before them, the Chinese found it easier to rule India by dominating the bureaucratic class and leaving the common folk alone.

    Within a few days, Virlomi realized that this was precisely the situation she had to change.
    . . .

    There was no solidarity. As always before, the conquerors were able to rule India because most Indians did not know what it meant to live in "India." They though they lived in this village or that one, and cared little about the great issues that kept their cities in turmoil.
    . . .

    The indian people had to be roused from their slumber now, while there were still allies outside their borders who might help them, while the Chinese were still overextended and dared not devote too many resources to the occupation.

    I will bring war down on there heads to save them as a nation, as a people, as a culture. I will bring war upon them while there is a chance of victory, to save them from war when there is no possible outcome but despair.
    . . .

    She set down the pitchers at the side of the road, picked up a few stones and carried them to the middle of the road. There she set them and returned for more, arranging them in a broken line right across the road.

    Only a few dozen stones, when she was done. Not a barrier of any kind. And yet it was a wall. It was as obvious as a monument.
    . . .

    Virlomi looked around at the others. "It's what they told me in the other towns that had a wall. It's the Great Wall of India. Too late to keep the barbarian invaders out. But in every village, they drop stones, one or two at a time, to make the wall that says, We don't want you here, this is our land, we are free. Because we can still build our wall."
    . . .

    Virlomi went from village to village, each time pretending that she was only passing along a custom she had seen in other places.
    . . .

    In the third week she came for the first time to a village that really did already have a wall. She did not explain anything to them, for they already knew — the word was spreading without her intervention. She only added to the wall and moved quickly on.

    It was still only one small corner of southern India, she knew. But it was spreading. It had a life of it's own. Soon the Chinese would notice. Soon they would begin tearing down the walls, sending bulldozers to clear the road — or conscript Indians to move the stones themselves.

    And when the walls were torn down, or the people were forced to remove their walls, the real struggle would begin. For now the Chinese would be reaching down into every village, destroying something that the people wanted to have. Something that meant "India" to them. That's what the secret meaning of the wall had been from the moment she started dropping stones to make the first one.

    The wall existed precisely so that the Chinese would tear it down. And she named the wall the "flag of India" precisely so that when the people saw their walls destroyed, they would see and feel the destruction of India. Their nation. A nation of wallbuilders.

    And so, as soon as the Chinese turned their backs, the Indians walking from place to place would carry stones and drop them in the road, and the wall would grow again.

    What would the Chinese do about it? Arrest everyone who carried stones? Make stones illegal? Stones were not a riot. Stones did not threaten soldiers. Stones were not sabotage. Stones were not a boycott. The walls were easily bypassed or pushed aside. It caused the Chinese no harm at all.

    Yet it would provoke them into making the Indian people feel the boot of the oppressor.

    The walls were like a mosquito bite, making the Chinese itch but never bleed. Not an injury, just an annoyance. But it infected the new Chinese Empire with a disease. A fatal one, Virlomi hoped.

And I hope you can see how this little act implements many of the strategic points that Sharp identifies as effective means of resisting despots. I also hope it is clear how similar strategies could be developed to resist the totalitarian acts of our government. Consider the many ways that our current political system disrupts your life, and try to think up small ways that you can become the pebble in the shoe of our politicians and the sand in the machinery of our government. Then find ways to spread your ideas to others so that they can join in and help turn a minor annoyance into a serious impediment.

If you found Card's little story interesting, then you might like to read just the introduction to Chapter 12: Putting out Fires, where Han Tzu, the Chinese military strategist, come up with his own plan to address the "flag of India." And this shows exactly why Thomas Jefferson was correct when he observed that, "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." Because there is always someone, right around the corner, who is actively working to undermine your right to be free.

The Right to Your Rights

Get up, stand up,
Stand up for your rights.
Get up, stand up,
Don't give up the fight.
 —  Bob Marley


Over the past 100 years, We, the People of the United States, became complacent and allowed our freedoms to be taken from us, bit by bit. It probably started in 1788, soon after the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, but the clearance sale didn't really take off until 1913 when Woodrow Wilson nationalized the banking system, launched the income tax, and reintroduced the military draft, among other serious transgressions. This was the point when the citizens should have rightfully risen up in revolt, just as the colonists had done at the original Tea Party rebellion. But instead, by accepting these gross violations of our rights with quiet resignation, a signal was sent that this, and more, would be tolerated. And "more" was soon to follow, and then "more" after that, leading us to the sorry place we find ourselves today.

We must throw out all of the rationalizations and accept the plain fact that the true fault lies neither in the actions of politicians, nor in the structure of government, but in the failure of enough free citizens to act in the manner necessary to demand an uncompromising respect for their rights. Our rights have become devalued because we stopped valuing them ourselves!  Ayn Rand wrote:

    "'Value' is what one acts to gain and/or keep."

Failure to take action in defense of one's rights is a clear statement that they are not considered worth defending. Having assumed that position, it is no wonder that others then refuse to honor them. They are merely following your lead. So here we are, and as Dirty Harry might put it:

    "You've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do you want your rights back?'   Well, do ya punk?"

Assuming that the answer is "Yes!," then it is now up to us to fight for and retake that which is our birthright.

The next question then becomes:  "Exactly what are you willing to risk, invest and do to ensure those rights?"

Pushing Back

Here in America we are descended in spirit from revolutionaries and
rebels — men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine.
 —  Dwight D. Eisenhower


Once again, quoting psychologist Michael Hurd from another excellent article:

    The ongoing federal budget and national debt crisis reminds me of a bad—and frankly hopeless—marriage. Each side blames the other, without any implied ownership of the problem itself.
    . . .

    This leaves the responsibility on the backs of the American people themselves, the vast majority of whom are not elites, intellectuals, economists or anything of the sort.

    But the American people are not going to do anything, either. They have assumed there's nothing they can do, and it's really just a matter of waiting and seeing what happens, and hoping for the best.
    . . .

    What will it take? Will America go the way of the few other free republics who have perished throughout history? Or will the resurgence of freedom emerge as, itself, an unprecedented event in human history to date?

    Know it or not, like it or not, this is the story of our times. Most of us will probably live to know the answer. America had the Revolution, the Civil War, the Great Depression and the second World War.

    This may be the biggest crisis yet. Its outcome will, for better or worse, change everything.

This is certainly something to ponder. Do not be one of those who has assumed that there is nothing that you can do. Don't sit back, hoping for a white knight to rescue us from the advancing calamity. Be an active participant in "the story of our time" and help move us towards a positive outcome. But let's learn from our past mistakes, and be sure that we adopt a sounder, more effective strategy as we move forward.

Yes, the last election showed us that a majority of people (at least of those willing to vote) have chosen collectivism over individualism. However, that is only a small majority—which means that something like 48% of people do not actively support the current trend—which means that, with the proper incentives, there are up to 150 million people who might be recruited into a visible and vocal protest movement. As Samuel Adams famously said:

    "It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate,
    tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds.
    "

From among that deep pool of potential recruits, our task is to locate, activate and coordinate the important minority still in possession of that evaporating American Spirit, and who, like the Founding Fathers, are still willing to "mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor" in the service of liberty. For it is this small group who will make all the difference by leading the way, blazing the path which many others will then follow.

Earlier, I said that I agreed with Rand's position that cultural change must necessarily precede political change. To restore a political system that truly upholds freedom and rights, it will be necessary to alter the fundamental moral basis of society, moving it from its current implicit and explicit message of self-sacrificing altruism to one promoting self-actualization, responsibility, and personal happiness as virtues. And this is why I support the actions of the intellectuals who are planting the philosophical seeds that will yield long-range result.

However, there are other more immediate methods of influencing people and soliciting their participation that appeal to their better emotions and self-interests. These tactics may not produce fully consistent and long-lasting results, but they can still be valuable in generating more immediate action required to avert some aspects of the crisis we now face. Let's investigate some possibilities in this category and see how they could also have a positive effect upon our culture.

Tactics: From the Bottom Up

If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins.
 —  Benjamin Franklin


No more quiet resignation. It's time to get active and noisy — and I mean really active and really noisy! Over the past four years there have been polite Tea Party protests and letter writing campaigns which have certainly conveyed a message and had some impact. But it is time to raise the bar and start leaving some indelible slap mark on the faces of those that demonstrate such contempt for our lives, our rights and our autonomy. We must harness the frustration, disgust and anger of people across the country and refocus it as a passionate demand for liberty, in ways that cannot be ignored. We have to create a protest movement that grows louder by the day, coupled with individual actions that work to cripple those who abuse their positions of power. Here are some suggestions:

Secession:
    If a province wants to secede from a dictatorship, or even from a mixed economy, in order to establish a free country—it has the right to do so.  —  Ayn Rand

    After the November 6th election, citizens across the country felt so alienated from their government that they immediately began filing petitions on the White House petition website for their state to secede from the union. By November 15th, petitions for all 50 states had been created and hundreds of thousands of signatures had been submitted—not by cranks, but by once free people who were shouting that they had had enough and were unwilling to passively stand by for another four years as their liberties were further violated! Of course, the White House petition site is a ridiculous joke intended to amuse, distract and disempower the masses. All of the petitions were summarily dismissed, and yet, I do not think this was a foolish act on the part of the people.

    I support a continuing and expanding secessionist movement, not because I think that secession is a particularly good geopolitical idea, nor because I think that it is likely to be successful. I support it because it is an excellent form of very visible and vocal protest against the loss of freedom citizens and states are experiencing at the hands of the federal government, and it brings to the forefront of debate the critical issues of liberty, individual rights and a constitutionally limited government. Currently, the state of Texas has an organization called the Texas Nationalist Movement which fights on for state independence, and I would encourage groups in other states to organize similar movements as a means of keeping this issue active. This is a perfect example of becoming a very bothersome pebble in the shoe of the federal government, and every moment that the Obama administration is forced into focusing on states' rights issues is a moment they are unable to function elsewhere.

    However, I don't think that these state-based movements are necessarily the most effective form of protest. Because they require organized group efforts, they are difficult to manage and impose considerable overhead. So, in addition to those actions, I suggest a personal secessionist movement, where individuals declare that because of the violations of their rights, along with the many illegal actions taken by the legislative and administrative branches which overstep the enumerated powers authorized by the constitution, that we, as individuals, no longer recognize the legitimate authority of the government. As the Declaration of Independence says:

      "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government"

    At this point, I see this particular action, not as any form of civil disobedience or illegal activity that could get one arrested, but strictly as an exercise of free speech—a pronouncement declaring the withdrawal of moral support for our current corrupt form of government. There are a number of creative possibilities that could be employed to communicate one's stance. Individuals could write blog articles or letters to the editor expressing their support for this grassroots movement and the reasons why. We could wear T-shirts with a clever personal secessionist message, or put up yard signs and employ bumper stickers in order to generate dialog with others, allowing us to express our concerns and invite others to join us.

    With enough participation and promotion, I think this idea could eventually go viral and take on a life of its own, much like the "Flag of India" wall building in Card's story. And like all the truly effective forms of protest, this secessionist idea really turns the government's actions against itself. While preferring to ignore the entire thing, The more they are ignored, the more dissatisfied people will become, causing the movement to expand. And the more vocal and widespread the protest, the more the government is then forced to respond, creating its own uncomfortable political dialog.

    I would be interested in hearing from others who think this is an interesting idea and would like to pursue it further.
Nullification:
    Nullification is the doctrine, originally proposed by Jefferson and Madison, that the States, having formed the Union, sit in final authority on the exercise of federal powers, and may nullify (i.e., reject) federal laws that are judged to exceed the powers delegated to it by the U.S. Constitution. With the expansion of federal powers in the 20th Century, the theory of nullification has been revived, and is being actively investigated in relation to a number of recent federal actions. For example:

    • In the 2012 election, the states of WA and CO have effectively nullified federal narcotics laws by legalizing the sale and use of marijuana.
    • A number of states have passed or are proposing legislation to nullify all or part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes provisions for the suspension of Habeas corpus and the indefinite detention of American citizens. This includes: AZ, FL, MI, MO, NV, SC, TN, TX, VA, WA, WY, and possibly others as well.
    • Texas is actively fighting to nullify aspects of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) law.
    • Idaho enacted the Health Freedom Act to nullify aspects of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). Other states are also working on similar legislation.
    • States and Sheriffs are actively preparing in advance to nullify any gun control legislation passed by the current administration. For example, Tim Mueller, Sheriff of Linn County, OR, notifies VP Joe Biden of his intentions here.

    • Localities, such as the town of Sedgwick, Maine, are passing "Food Sovereignty" laws to nullify the recent draconian interventions of the FDA.

    All of these actions, and others like them, are extremely important in reasserting control over a runaway federal government that has simple assumed the ability to legislate anything and everything without limits, while not just ignoring, but actively trampling citizens' rights. If you find one or more of these issues relevant to your life, then I strongly recommend that you become involved with an organization in your state that is pursuing nullification legislation, and contribute your support to the cause. It is much easier to influence the policies of your state than it is at the federal level, so apply pressure where you have a better chance of having impact.

    Just as the concept of nullification applies to the relationship between the Union and its constituents, the states, the same argument can be made concerning the relationship between the various states and their constituents, the citizens—which means you! And just as the states are learning how to reassert their sovereign rights, we citizens must once again do the same for ourselves. When states act to violate our rights, then it is incumbent upon us to declare the state's actions null and void and be prepared to uphold those convictions through our actions. Winston Smith of NY (a pen name to be sure) fully understands this, and on January 20, 2013, he crafted an open letter titled, Declaration To Defy The NY SAFE Act Of 2013, which reads in part:

      We the People of New York State, that is, the natural persons lawfully residing within this state, do hereby order and direct, The governor and the senate to immediately repeal the NY SAFE act of 2013.

      This is not a request or a demand, but an order and directive, as it is unlawful, null and void, being in direct opposition to the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of New York Civil Rights — Article 2 — § 4.

      This is the will of the people, and as you are our duly appointed representatives, you will see to it that our will is carried out.

      The RIGHT to keep and bear arms is the RIGHT of all the people. This RIGHT is not subject to registration. Registration means surrendering our lawful RIGHT in exchange for permission, which may or may not be granted, or can be taken away, at the behest of the magistrate. This goes beyond infringement or diminishing our RIGHT. It is direct violation of the very principle upon which this RIGHT was declared in our constitution.
      . . .

      Listen here now: We will not comply. We will not register our firearms, let alone surrender them. We will not be your subjects. You may deem us criminals for doing so, but it is you who have broken the law, and we who defend it.

    Read the entire letter. This may be the most important document of this decade, since it sets the framework for what must happen if we are ever to regain our liberty in this country. The People—the individual citizens—you and I—must learn how to reestablish control over our own lives. We must reassert our desire for personal freedom. And we must recognize that our freedom require that we act in service of it—that we must defend it in the face of those who constantly seek to invalidate it and render us their slaves.
Starving the Beast:
    Obama and his minions are doing everything within their power to destroy your wealth. They have institutionalized unemployment by following New Deal policies which long ago were proven failures. They interfere with business at every level to insure a minimum of customers and a maximum of regulatory overhead. They are tightening the screws in order to extract wealth from every possible source. They are destroying savings by holding interest rates near zero while devaluing cash through inflation and massive debt accumulation.

    Virginia is not waiting around for the collapse of the dollar, and has joined 13 other state who have or are considering minting their own alternative currencies backed by gold and silver rather than a wish and a prayer.

    On the economic front we should do whatever we can to starve the government, and we should do it immediately so that the consequences of Obama's policies are experienced while he is still in office where he receives the well deserved blame. To whatever extent possible, consider adjusting you finances to best protect yourself for the future while minimizing any support for the state.
    • Reduce your taxable income to a minimum
      • Maximize contributions to IRA/401k/HSA
      • Avoid capital gains where possible
      • Relocate to a state without an income tax
      • Work part time
    • Reduce spending to avoid additional sales taxes
      • Avoid unnecessary purchases
      • Barter when possible
      • Avoid restaurants — eat at home
      • Purchase used rather than new
      • Order online to avoid sales tax
      • Relocate to a state with low or no sales tax
    • Reposition your finances
      • Withdraw all cash from the banking system
      • Dump all government bonds and securities
      • Convert dollars into gold and silver
      • Invest in commodities
      • Invest in emerging overseas markets
      • Invest in foreign countries with strong currencies

    California, one of the most mismanaged states in the country, attempts to tap its residents for more and more money. The predictable response is that companies close up shop and relocate to other more business-friendly states, while, on average, a quarter-million residents flee each year, depriving the state of billions in lost revenue. Illinois tries the same thing and produces the same results. Maryland imposes a huge new taxes on on the wealthy, and ends up losing 31,000 residents in a four year period.

    Tired of being abused by their governments, Facebook co-founder, Eduardo Saverin and France's Gerard Depardieu relinquish their citizenship. Like these and so many others, you can always vote with your feet and deprive oppressive regimes of all of your talent, effort and capital. And as an added benefit, there is nothing quite so satisfying as seeing the sad look on the face of progressives' as revenues actually fall as a result of their tax increases!

    Starve the propaganda wing of government by canceling subscriptions to all newspapers and news magazines, and refuse to watch or listen to news outlets that promote a totalitarian agenda.

    When possible, boycott all businesses that advocate for a public-private partnership. Translated, this means they support using the government to act as their mob enforcers, either requiring that you do business directly with them, or else transferring some of your wealth to them through their government goons. Promote their competition.
Organizing:
    Let's revisit Mark Amend's quote from the opening to this article:

      "Be strong enough to stand alone, be yourself enough to stand
      apart, but be wise enough to stand together when the time comes.
      "

    Many important forms of protest can be executed individually, with the impact accruing from the additive effect of numerous singular acts. However, there are also certain tasks that are more successfully accomplished through group actions. It is also true that the closer you operate to the source, the more effective your actions will typically be. This is why small groups, functioning locally can often achieve more meaningful results than those working at the state, national or international levels.

    In my area, I have recently found two liberty-oriented activist groups that are making a real difference at the city and state level. The first is the Citizens' Alliance for Property Rights which works to insure that the property rights of all individuals are not infringed by tyrannical government action. The second is Liberty 21, a group which is fighting at the city level to halt and then reverse the imposition of the United Nations' Agenda 21/ICLEI action plan.

    I recommend that you seek out the worthwhile local activist groups operating within your community and contribute your efforts to seeing their objectives realized.
Going Galt:
    About one year into Obama's first term, for many people the writing was already on the wall as to where this country was headed, and from a number of sources there were concurrent calls to follow the lead of the heros in Atlas Shrugged and simply withdraw in one form or another from a decaying and abusive society. This spontaneous movement came to be known as "Going Galt."  Wendy McElroy wrote an article titled, When to Say: Enough! where she does an excellent job of explaining this in greater detail:

      "Going Galt" refers to the process by which an individual removes support from the political system as an act of disgust, protest or self-respect. Usually, the withdrawal involves a financial disconnect but it also can involve the decision to withdraw one's talent and skill. For example, an industrialist may decide not to run a factory, a doctor might cease to practice medicine. The decision could be prompted by myriad factors: disgust with paperwork, an agonizing lawsuit... An increasingly common motive: people prefer not to earn money that is snatched away by taxes and "redistributed" to those who produce nothing. The situation is akin to a farmer plowing under a field rather than sell at a price that is tantamount to theft.

      "Going Galt" does not refer to forming a new society. For many if not most people, the withdrawal is partial and a matter of commonsense [sic] as much as political protest. The economic and social equation has changed. When a government penalizes your productivity to the point of seizure through taxes, paperwork, possible lawsuits etc., then ceasing to produce is a way to remove yourself as a target and alleviate stress. Suddenly, spending time with your children or hobbies becomes far more attractive.
      . . .

      "Going Galt" is a destination at which people arrive from different directions and intentions. My intention is as a political protest and in a desire for personal freedom. I am tired through to the marrow of my bones of supporting the thieves and hypocritical looters who call themselves "public servants." I am far from alone in this utter visceral disgust. Remember again, at the end of Atlas Shrugged, a slew of ordinary people who have no political ideology "Go Galt" by refusing to contribute their energy to a parasite society or even by sabotage.

    Everyone can participate in Going Galt by finding one or more aspects of your life that can be changed in order to increase personal happiness while withholding one's time, energy, money or sanction from social structures that have been engineered to usurp rather than preserve your liberty. While the individual actions you choose to take may seem small and even petty, when you add up those withheld efforts across a large group, the overall effect can be quite large and very meaningful.

    For example, I have stopped making contributions to all charities, as I will no longer pretend that I have a voluntary choice in dispose of my income when it is already being taken and redistributed by force. Those voluntary contributions simply help prop up a criminal enterprise. Take the case of natural disasters such as hurricanes Katrina or Sandy. In the aftermath of these events, compassionate people might wish to extend a helping hand to those who suffer through these events. But while they are making a voluntary monetary contribution or offering aid in other forms, the government is saddling all of us with an involuntary bill in excess of $155 billion—much of which goes to fraud, waste, or unrelated activities. Any voluntary contributions simply help make more of this type of theft possible.

    For a number of other examples of people who have Gone Galt, see my 2011 article, The Straw.
Civil Disobedience:
    Passive resistance can be an effective weapon against the state. In another interesting essay titled, Two Attitudes toward the State, Wendy McElroy reflects on an enlightening example set by Henry David Thoreau:

      An invaluable resource ... has been Henry David Thoreau's essay "On Civil Disobedience." Specifically, I turned over and over the story of his famous one-night stay in jail for refusing to pay a tax...and what happened directly after his release. And here I'll let Thoreau speak for himself...

        "It was formerly the custom in our village, when a poor debtor came out of jail, for his acquaintances to salute him, looking through their fingers, which were crossed to represent the jail window ... My neighbors did not thus salute me, but first looked at me, and then at one another, as if I had returned from a long journey. I was put into jail as I was going to the shoemaker's ... When I was let out the next morning, I proceeded to finish my errand, and, having put on my mended shoe, joined a huckleberry party..." Thoreau journeyed off with a swarm of children who moved joyfully through the fields and forest. At one point, Thoreau paused and noted to himself, "in the midst of a huckleberry field, on one of our highest hills, two miles off, and then the State was nowhere to be seen."

      Upon his release from jail, Thoreau felt no rage toward his neighbors, no bitterness. He did not brood or rail against the injustice of his arrest. He shed everything but the insights he had gathered from the experience. And, then, he went about what he called "the business of living." That is a wonderful phrase. The business of living.

      When a tax collector knocked on his door and confronted him with the demand to pay up, Thoreau probably asked himself the same question I've been asking myself since 9/11. Namely, what is my relationship to the State? In answering, it is important to understand that Thoreau's refusal to pay the tax was not the act of a determined political dissident; it wasn't part of a pattern in his life through which he fought for the ideal of freedom. Thoreau refused to pay because he knew the specific tax would support the Mexican-American war, which he thought was immoral; rendering support to the war violated his sense of decency. In short, he did not want to cooperate with evil.

      But unless and until the state literally knocked on his door, Thoreau was happy to go about the business of living as though the state did not exist. His insight while standing on a high hill is simple but profound: "and then the State was nowhere to be seen."
      . . .

      Oddly enough, the attitude of ignoring or obviating the State — again, as much as possible — may well be the most effective strategy for countering it. That's not my purpose; my purpose is the business of living. But by privatizing your own life, you make the state increasingly irrelevant, which is what politicians fear most. They are desperate to be part of our lives, to teach our children, to regulate our work, to read our messages and hear our phone calls, to dictate our medical choices... And the most effective personal response when the State knocks at your door may well be to not answer even by the act of raising your fist.

    Thoreau, like Gandhi, adopted methods of passive resistance in response to government actions judged to be morally wrong. Unlike active resisters such as the Occupy Wall Street crowd or the anarchists, who choose to destroy property, disrupt business, inconvenience others, or commit murder, passive resistance can actually be more insidious, because, as McElroy so accurately points out, nothing is more important to totalitarians than meddling in and controlling your life—just ask NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg!—and nothing get under their skin more than being denied that opportunity. This sort of irritant can anger politicians, which may cause them to act rashly in response and end up hurting themselves politically, in the process.

    Any form of civil disobedience includes risks, but the level of risk must be weighed against the possible objectives to be obtained. Individual acts of non-cooperation can often fly under the radar, but are easily punished when so deemed "necessary" by the authorities. On the other hand, well coordinated acts of mass non-cooperation spread out over a dispersed population can be effective, both as a means for generating publicity and for making it difficult for the government to single out any small group or individual for selective punishment.

    Everyone is encouraged to consider how acts of civil disobedience might play a role in their life. And also think about how those ideas you have might be communicated to others and leveraged into coordinated means of protest. Here are a few ideas from Fort Liberty to get the juices flowing:

    • Comply with government orders as slowly as possible
    • Fill out government forms incompletely and illegibly
    • Pay all taxes and fines at the last possible moment
    • Take a job with the government and then do it poorly, or not at all
Withholding Services:
    If you are a business owner, one way to really gum up the day-to-day workings of government is to withhold normal services upon which these these agencies have come to rely. Yes, this may incur a cost for refusing to do business, but you must calculate just what price you are willing to pay to fight for your personal freedom. For example, if you are a provider of office supplies to your local city hall, informing them that you will no longer be selling to them will create a number of problem and costs that those administrators will have to bear as they search for alternative sources. If you are located in a small town and know that the owners of other similar businesses share your concerns over the abuses of government reach, you might be able to organize them in a boycott which would then make city operations much more difficult.

    USA Today reports that the Burlington, VT city council put forth a measure to ban semi-automatic rifles and large-capacity magazines. A firing range in a nearby town was used by the Burlington police for target practice. In response to the proposed legislation, the range informed the police department that all privileges had been suspended, effective immediately! Now that's the sort of strong, immediate feedback that can have impact.

    If you cannot completely withhold services from the government, then another possibility is subterfuge or sabotage. I'm thinking of something along the lines of what Oskar Schindler did when he ran a munitions business in Nazi Germany, but never actually produced a functional shell in his factory, thereby undermining the German war effort.
Politics:
    As indicated above, I believe that spending time, energy or money attempting to directly influence politics, either through the voting booth or by trying to persuade entrenched politicians to vote a particular way on specific legislation, to be mostly a waste of time. A much more effective approach would be to use those resources to engage in one's own form of protest and in convincing other liberty-minded individuals to honor their anger at what is happening in this country by getting involved in some form of protest as well. An organized and growing protest movement that visibly demonstrates its rising ire at our current form and method of government will get considerably more attention from the politicians, while making it increasingly more difficult for them accomplish their own goals.

    However, if political activism is to be a part of the mix, then I would suggest that great effort be put behind a call for the inclusion of an opt-out provision being part of all existing or new social/economic programs. Until the time where government is once again fully constrained by proper constitutional limits, the next best way to fight the collectivism being rammed down our throats is to allow each person a choice of participating in these enterprises, or going it alone.

    Rather than arguing over a myriad of details concerning how to reform public education, or entitlements such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, welfare, etc., on which politicians will never agree, let's put control back in the hands of the individual by allowing each person to decide for themselves, based upon their own personal context, whether they wish to remain in these various institutions, or would prefer to opt-out. People sticking with the program would continue to pay taxes and receive benefits, while those opting out would have their taxes reduced by a specified amount in exchange for agreeing to forgo all future benefits. This solves the problem of deciding where cutoffs should be made in phasing out these programs, by letting every person decide for themselves. One person may believe that they have "invested" in Social Security to such an extent that it is in their best interest to stick with the program, while another may see the opportunity to flee the Ponzi scheme and take full control of their retirement investment as an opportunity, and jump at the chance. Whatever the choice, individuals would once again be empowered to make choices concerning their life, rather than being forced into the one-size-fits-all approach of the central planners.

    For a fuller discussion of this idea, see my 2011 article, An Open Letter to Politicians and Political Candidates.

Tactics: From the Top Down

We cannot fight against collectivism, unless we fight against its moral base: altruism.
We cannot fight against altruism, unless we fight against its epistemological base: irrationalism.
We cannot fight against anything, unless we fight for something —
and what we must fight for is the supremacy of reason, and a view of man as a rational being.
 —  Ayn Rand


Up to this point, this article has focused on what is wrong with the world at large, with our government, with our country, with our culture, and what steps we can still take to fight to preserve and restore our freedom. That is the "Bottom Up" perspective which begins by identifying low level problems and then seeks ways to address them. This approach relies on negative emotions such as anger to fuel passion, which in turn motivates a willingness to act.

But the Bottom Up approach is insufficient for getting the job done. It's insufficient because, while it identifies what is disliked and needs to be escaped, it provides no vision—no goal—to guide a forward direction of travel. It provides no hope! For that, we require a "Top Down" approach; a perspective which starts by identifying where we wish to go, and then formulates a plan to get there.

The beauty of the American political experiment was that it recognized that there was no single, ultimate goal that applied to everyone. It recognized that people were individuals, differing in untold ways, and therefore left it up to each to pursue their own unique vision of happiness, providing only the framework necessary to make that possible.

Throughout this article I have often spoken of restoring liberty or freedom. But freedom is not an end-goal. We do not cherish freedom for freedom's sake. We cherish our freedom because it affords us the opportunity to pursue self-chosen goals which bring us happiness. It is easy to lose sight of this when one is mired solely in a bottom up mindset. And this is why we must be careful to always maintain that top down view which keeps us anchored to reality.

With that thought in mind, I would like to conclude by sharing a few observations made by Bill Whittle that may inspire optimism in a better and brighter future, so long as we continue to fight for it.

I was introduced to the following hour long video titled, "Where do we go now?", by a friend. Filmed on November 13, 2012, this is basically Whittle's postmortem on the election. There are two segments here that I find particularly relevant to setting a positive vision for our future. The first, from 0:38:200:45:40 (7:20 minutes) is a very interesting discussion of the transformation of 18th century agricultural America which, by necessity, established a decentralized (horizontal) form of government, into a 20th century industrialized America with a highly centralized (vertical) government. The encouraging thing is the observation that we have now moved on to a 21st century information economy, which is once again decentralized and incapable of being centrally managed, meaning that our current form of government is as inevitably doomed as the makers of buggy whips and film cameras.

The second interesting segment in the video above begins at 0:57:10 and runs to the end (5:42 minutes), where Whittle discusses his vision for the future of private space travel and man's inevitable return to the moon.

But to really get become inspired, I do not think anything can beat the following 2013 virtual presidential inaugural address (20 minutes). Just knowing that there are others out there capable of articulating these thoughts cannot help but fill any of us with renewed hope for our future. Enjoy.



Conclusion

Think of your life, your goals and your values more as a personal state of mind rather than as an element of the society in which we find ourselves. We are not the product of our society; society is the product of that which we individuals pursue and achieve. So I would say that regardless of what external events are occurring at this moment, our rights and the meaning behind the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence remain intact and in force for any of us who chose to honor them with our words and our deeds. Let's go forward, reclaiming that which is ours by right, and work to build that better world in which we wish to live.




External links to reprints of this article:
12-24-2011

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Subject: The Straw

Back on September 17th, during his weekly radio address, President Obama proclaimed that Americans must finally start paying their "fair share" in order to reduce the federal deficit. Of course this is all just verbal misdirection used to hide the fact that what he is actually talking about is merely another run at one of the most important goals of his administration — wealth redistribution — from those who have earned it to those that covet it, with the ruling government class taking their usual handling fee in the process.

And who is it that is not paying their fair share? Of course it is certainly not the virtuous bottom 50% of wage-earners who contribute little to nothing in income and payroll tax. (The bottom 47% pay no income tax at all, and that is precisely what makes them virtuous!) No, according to Obama, it's the greedy, cheating, wealthy households and businesses — the now famous 1% — that have been holding out on the rest of us, and justice demands that they must finally be forced to pay up.

And how are the top 1% fleecing us? By currently carrying only 40% of the total income and payroll tax burden (up from 18% in 1980). And if you increase that pool to the top 1.5% of households, representing the magic $250,000 income number, then that group pays roughly half the total. (For more details, see this article.)

So one is forced to ask, in Obama's mind just what level of tax burden does he deem to be fair to impose upon that small minority of Americans? Is it sixty percent? Seventy percent? More? He never tells us, because there is no hard and fast answer. For Obama, merely earning more than someone else is all the evidence required to condemn that person and justify the use of government force to confiscate their ill gotten "surplus."

Billionaire businessman Warren Buffett seems to agree with Obama's egalitarian philosophy, and famously issued his call to "Stop Coddling the Super-Rich", demanding that the government raise taxes on him and other wealthy people. Taking up the cause, a group of twenty-four "Patriotic Millionaires" descended upon the Capitol to demand that Congress raise taxes on the wealthy in order to deal with the serious federal budget deficits and growing national debt. And just how serious were they? When confronted by reporter Michelle Fields of The Daily Caller (video below) and offered the opportunity to use their great wealth to make a voluntary debt reduction contribution to the Treasury Department, they all refused. And neither can I recall Buffett volunteering some or all of his fortune towards that end. It does make one wonder whether these patriots are truly concerned about the debt. Or instead, is it possible that their actual motives are not quite so altruistic, having more to do with seeing the chains restricting the freedom and property rights of others pulled ever tighter, even if it ends up impacting them as well?


    "Patriotic Millionaires?"

In 1957, the author and philosopher Ayn Rand published the novel Atlas Shrugged, depicting the consequences that inevitably result from government intervention in the realm of economics. As that story unfolds, we see the government exerting more and more control over business activities. However, instead of achieving the promised improvement, we observe conditions continuing to deteriorate at an ever accelerating pace. As government policies tie the hands of competent business leaders, making it increasingly difficult for them to act on their independent judgment and in service of their own goals, we do not find them running to the politicians and begging to be altruistically sacrificed on the pyre of subjugation as we witnessed with our patriotic millionaires. No. Possessing far too much integrity to abase themselves in that way, these men and women decide to go on strike by simply disappearing and leaving the problems of managing economic production to those who condemn them for their ability to successfully do so.

Over the past few years more and more people have been shocked to see in how many ways Atlas Shrugged has proved to be prophetic in anticipating the specifics actions and consequences that have resulted from bad political actions driven by an underlying evil philosophy. And the idea that men of ability, when pressed too far would choose to strike, is one literary device that has dramatically presaged today's reality. As Rand put it in a conversation between her characters, Francisco d'Anconia and Hank Rearden:
    "If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders-what would you tell him to do?"

    "I . . . don't know. What . . . could he do? What would you tell him?"

    "To shrug."

Here are some examples of real-life strikers in action:

Stealing from the rich isn't an idea original to Obama; people have been trying it ever since Ogg caught his first wild boar and Yuup decided that he would like his "fair share" of that. But hiring a group of thugs, called "politicians", and getting them to do all the hard work for you was certainly a civilizing advancement! In 2008, the Maryland "Yuups" identified their "Oggs", and they were called millionaires. Here's what happened, as reported in the Wall Street Journal:
    Maryland couldn't balance its budget last year, so the state tried to close the shortfall by fleecing the wealthy. Politicians in Annapolis created a millionaire tax bracket, raising the top marginal income-tax rate to 6.25%. And because cities such as Baltimore and Bethesda also impose income taxes, the state-local tax rate can go as high as 9.45%. Governor Martin O'Malley, a dedicated class warrior, declared that these richest 0.3% of filers were "willing and able to pay their fair share." The Baltimore Sun predicted the rich would "grin and bear it."

    One year later, nobody's grinning. One-third of the millionaires have disappeared from Maryland tax rolls. In 2008 roughly 3,000 million-dollar income tax returns were filed by the end of April. This year there were 2,000, which the state comptroller's office concedes is a "substantial decline." On those missing returns, the government collects 6.25% of nothing. Instead of the state coffers gaining the extra $106 million the politicians predicted, millionaires paid $100 million less in taxes than they did last year — even at higher rates.

Push too hard on your victims, and just like Keyser S÷ze, "Poof, they're gone!"

On occasion, a few of these individuals will make public the reasons for their departure, similar to the radio address delivered by John Galt towards the end of Atlas Shrugged. Here are excerpts from two such letters:
    Good Bye and Good Luck, by former Illinois state senator, Roger Keats.

    As we leave Illinois for good, I wanted to say goodbye to my friends and wish all of you well. I am a lifelong son of the heartland and proud of it. After 60 years, I leave Illinois with a heavy heart. BUT enough is enough! The leaders of Illinois refuse to see we can't continue going in the direction we are and expect people who have options to stay here. I remember when Illinois had 25 congressmen. In 2012 we will have 18. Compared to the rest of the country we have lost 1/4rd [sic] of our population. ...

    We live in the most corrupt big city, in the most corrupt big county in the most corrupt state in America. I am sick and tired of subsidizing crooks. A day rarely passes without an article about the corruption and incompetence. Chicago even got caught rigging the tests to hire police and fire! Our Crook County CORPORATE property tax system is intentionally corrupt. The Democrat State Chairman who is also the Speaker of the Illinois House and the most senior alderman in Chicago each make well over a million dollars a year putting the fix in for their client's tax assessments. ...

    Our home value is down 40%, our property taxes are up 20% and our local schools have still another referendum on the ballot to increase taxes over 20% in one year. I could go on, but enough is enough. I feel as if we are standing on the deck of the Titanic and I can see the icebergs right in front of us. I will miss our friends a great deal. I have called Illinois home for essentially my entire life. But it is time to go where there is honest, competent and cost effective government. We have chosen to vote with our feet and our wallets. My best to all of you and Good luck!

    Why I'm Leaving New York, by Tom Golisano, Chairman of the Board of Paychex, Inc.

    I love New York. But how much should it cost to call New York home? Decades of out-of-control budgets, spending increases and relentless borrowing have made New York simply too expensive.

    Politicians like to talk about incentives — incentives for businesses to relocate, incentives to buy local and incentives to make smart decisions. After reviewing the 2009 budget, I have identified the most compelling incentive of all: a major tax break immediately available to all New Yorkers. To be eligible, you need only do one thing: move out of New York state.

    Last week I spent 90 minutes doing a couple simple things: registering to vote, changing my driver's license, filling out a domicile certificate and signing a homestead certificate — in Florida. Combined with spending 184 days a year outside New York, these simple procedures will save me over $5 million in New York taxes annually.

    That savings doesn't include that Florida has a 6 percent sales tax, compared to New York's 8 percent or more. Florida has lower utility taxes and lower gasoline taxes. The Florida homestead certificate guarantees my property taxes will not grow more than 3 percent. ...

    It's not an easy decision, but I'm being forced away from my family and friends, a pain shared by too many parents and grandparents in this state.

    I'm leaving. And by domiciling in Florida, I will personally save $13,800 every single day. That's a pretty strong incentive.

    Like I said, I love New York, but I'm not going to pay New York more for the waste, corruption and inefficiency that is New York state government.

The same story has played out over and over again in New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Illinois and elsewhere. And it's not just wealthy individuals, but entire businesses which also look to relocate when the burden becomes too great. As reported in CNN Money:
    Buffeted by high taxes, strict regulations and uncertain state budgets, a growing number of California companies are seeking friendlier business environments outside of the Golden State.

    And governors around the country, smelling blood in the water, have stepped up their courtship of California companies. Officials in states like Florida, Texas, Arizona and Utah are telling California firms how business-friendly they are in comparison.

    Companies are "disinvesting" in California at a rate five times greater than just two years ago, said Joseph Vranich, a business relocation expert based in Irvine. This includes leaving altogether, establishing divisions elsewhere or opting not to set up shop in California.

Or another example from the Wall Street Journal:
    Late Tuesday night, Democrats in the Illinois house and senate rammed through Governor Pat Quinn's 67% hike in the state income tax and a nearly 50% jump in the state corporate tax. The increase will add $1,400 to the average family's tax bill, and we doubt it will help job creation in a state that has lost 374,000 jobs since 2008.

    New Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker immediately rolled out a press release inviting Illinois businesses to decamp to the Badger State, contrasting his agenda to reduce taxes and welcome business with the Illinois increase. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels added: "We already had an edge on Illinois in terms of the cost of doing business, and this is going to make it significantly wider."

Contrary to what progressive state politicians repeatedly try to tell themselves, so long as alternatives are available, intelligent individuals and businesses will not merely sit back and "take it", but will continue to pursue what is in their best interest. When one state acts abusively, there are 49 other possibilities to explore in order to locate a healthier environment. However, when the federal government gets involved in imposing its punitive taxes and regulation across the entire country, then options become much more limited, difficult and costly. For certain large scale industries and very wealthy individuals, there may be the possibility of moving business or investments offshore. But in many other cases, the problems created by political intervention simply outweight all of the alternatives. The tipping point is finally reached, and the most sensible path is to simply call it quits — a phenomenon that has been accelerating in recent years and has come to be known as "Going Galt".

In the Tri-City Herald we here the story of Bob Bertsch:
    It took Bob Bertsch 25 years to build his construction business and just a day for it all to go away.

    Bertsch, 65, said he is down-sizing because the tax burden got too expensive to stay in business.

    "I am tired of carrying all the tax load," Bertsch said. "I renew 13 licenses here every year just so I can spend money in this city."

    Bertsch makes no attempt to conceal his frustration with the costs government imposes on small businesses like his.

    "Government is killing small business. We used to have 24 employees at our peak. Now, all of those people who used to work here are in unemployment lines," he said.

On David McElroy's Blog, he recounts the words of Alabama coal mine operator Ronnie Bryant who, after having listened to two hours of business-bashing by the public, environmentalists and politicians, had this to say:
    My name's Ronnie Bryant, and I'm a mine operator. I've been issued a [state] permit in the recent past for [waste water] discharge, and after standing in this room today listening to the comments being made by the people ... [pause]

    Nearly every day without fail — I have a different perspective — men stream to these [mining] operations looking for work in Walker County. They can't pay their mortgage. They can't pay their car note. They can't feed their families. They don't have health insurance. And as I stand here today, I just ... you know ... what's the use?

    I got a permit to open up an underground coal mine that would employ probably 125 people. They'd be paid wages from $50,000 to $150,000 a year. We would consume probably $50 million to $60 million in consumables a year, putting more men to work. And my only idea today is to go home. What's the use? I don't know.

    I mean, I see these guys — I see them with tears in their eyes — looking for work. And if there's so much opposition to these guys making a living, I feel like there's no need in me putting out the effort to provide work for them. So as I stood against the wall here today, basically what I've decided is not to open the mine. I'm just quitting. Thank you.

Zero Hedge posted the letter that hedge fund manager Ann Barnhardt sent to clients, announcing the closure of her business. Excerpts follow:
    Dear Clients, Industry Colleagues and Friends of Barnhardt Capital Management,

    It is with regret and unflinching moral certainty that I announce that Barnhardt Capital Management has ceased operations. After six years of operating as an independent introducing brokerage, and eight years of employment as a broker before that, I found myself, this morning, for the first time since I was 20 years old, watching the futures and options markets open not as a participant, but as a mere spectator.

    The reason for my decision to pull the plug was excruciatingly simple: I could no longer tell my clients that their monies and positions were safe in the futures and options markets — because they are not. And this goes not just for my clients, but for every futures and options account in the United States. The entire system has been utterly destroyed by the MF Global collapse. Given this sad reality, I could not in good conscience take one more step as a commodity broker, soliciting trades that I knew were unsafe or holding funds that I knew to be in jeopardy. ...

    Everything changed just a few short weeks ago. A firm, led by a crony of the Obama regime, stole all of the non-margined cash held by customers of his firm. ... What was a surprise was the reaction of the exchanges and regulators. Their reaction has been to take a bad situation and make it orders of magnitude worse. Specifically, they froze customers out of their accounts WHILE THE MARKETS CONTINUED TO TRADE, refusing to even allow them to liquidate. This is unfathomable. The risk exposure precedent that has been set is completely intolerable and has destroyed the entire industry paradigm. ...

    I will not, under any circumstance, consider reforming and re-opening Barnhardt Capital Management, or any other iteration of a brokerage business, until Barack Obama has been removed from office AND the government of the United States has been sufficiently reformed and repopulated so as to engender my total and complete confidence in the government, its adherence to and enforcement of the rule of law, and in its competent and just regulatory oversight of any commodities markets that may reform.

The Hazleton, PA Standard Speaker reports that Dr. Frank C. Polidora, an orthopedic surgeon, quits:
    A Hazleton doctor is resigning from the medical staff of St. Luke's Miners' Memorial Hospital, Coaldale.

    Dr. Frank C. Polidora, a longtime Hazleton orthopedic surgeon, blames the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in March for his decision. He has been on the hospital's staff since 2003.

    "The Democrats' 'passage' of OBAMACARE on March 21, 2010, was the final straw," Polidora wrote in his resignation letter to William Crossin, chief executive officer of St. Luke's-Miners. The resignation is effective Saturday.

    Contacted Thursday, Polidora said his decision to leave had nothing to do with the hospital, a facility he praised. Rather, it was about following his own principles. ...

    "To be a true physician, one must be moral. To be moral requires freedom, both political and economic. The freedom of the physician has been lost by degrees over the last 45 years," he wrote in his letter. "OBAMACARE has totally destroyed this freedom, especially as it applies to a hospital practice." ...

    "I fear for the future of the hospital as those in power in our country are seeking to replace the practice of medicine, the profession of healing, with an industry that produces health, but who will, intentionally or not, create a process that removes the unhealthy," Polidora said in his resignation letter.

The Wall Street Journal discusses Thomas Depping's decision to close Main Street Bank:
    Main Street Bank lends most of its money to small businesses and is earning decent profits. But the Kingwood, Texas, bank is about to get out of the banking business.

    In an extreme example of the frustration felt by many bankers as regulators toughen their oversight of the nation's financial institutions, Main Street's chairman, Thomas Depping, is expected to announce Wednesday that the 27-year-old bank will surrender its banking charter and sell its four branches to a nearby bank.

    Mr. Depping plans to set up a new lender that will operate beyond the reach of banking regulators — and the deposit-insurance safety net. ... "The regulatory environment makes it very difficult to do what we do," says Mr. Depping. ...

    Bankers have long complained about their overseers, but it is rare for a bank to basically close its doors aside from an acquisition or failure. Mr. Depping blames the move on a tightening regulatory noose.

Jerry Della Femina tells his story in the East Hampton Independent:
    In the beginning it was a dream. I would own a restaurant in East Hampton. It would be a warm, beautiful place with great food and wonderful service. It would become one of the most popular restaurants in the Hamptons. ...

    So why am I selling one of the most successful restaurants in East Hampton? In 2008 I watched Barack Obama run over Hillary Clinton to become our President. From the very first "Yes We Can" and "Change You Can Believe In," I decided that this country was falling in love with an attractive, great-speechmaking hustler/socialist who, if he got into office, was going to pursue his agenda to destroy the best health care in the world and re-distribute wealth. Yours and mine. I told my friends that from that moment on everything I owned — my houses, my advertising business, my newspaper and my restaurant — was for sale. ...

    Why does this so go against my grain? Maybe it's because of where I've come from to get to where I am. I've been broke, so broke with a wife and kids and no job that I had to borrow money from my parents, who didn't have it for themselves but always managed to come up with it for me.

    I got lucky and worked day and night and built a great advertising agency. I have employed thousands of people in my lifetime. I've been good to them and they have been good to me.

    I'm just not ready to have my wealth redistributed. I'm not ready to pay more tax money than the next guy because I provide jobs and because I work a 60-hour week and I earn more than $250,000 a year.

    So why am I dropping out? Read a brilliant book by Ayn Rand called Atlas Shrugged, and you'll know.

For every newsworthy story of an individual or business that decides to throw in the towel, there are untold others that go unreported. Many businesses — and sometimes entire industries — are destroyed by a burden of taxes and regulations that simply cannot be borne in a market-driven economy. This much is at least clear to some.

But what gets little discussion is the psychological toll that all of this government intervention takes. What few seem to understand is that for the small minority who are prepared to accept full responsibility for themselves — living by their own thought, judgment, goals and actions — each unreasonable tax is not merely a burden, but is seen to be a gross injustice; every new piece of legislation is another set of circus hoops through which one is forced to jump; regulations are a leash, and every regulator a self-appointed master with a whip in hand. For the independent man or woman, government intervention attempts to reduce them from their stature as fully human, to some form of caged beast under the constant control of others.

Government intervention is the supreme demotivator!

It hammers away at passion. It undermines creativity. It erodes drive and the will to succeed. It destroys the joy found in action and the pride realized through success.

To put it simply, it drains the fun out of life.

In an attempt to place a monetary price tag on our economic losses, enormous energy is invested by bureaucrats, analysts, pundits and the media in calculating debt ratios, unemployment levels, energy costs, borrowing fluidity, and any number of other metrics. All the while the real price being paid — the total loss of human motive willpower — dwarfs all of those calculations, but goes unacknowledged. Go back and reread the stories above and look for what they all have in common. These once productive individuals, all of them wealth and job creators, have pulled the plug on their endeavors. And why? Because, thanks to government intervention, they can no longer find the joy that their work once brought them. The rewards of hard work have been lowered while the costs have increased, to a point where further effort is no longer justified — at which point, it's time to shrug.

If you see the issue in this light, then you can understand why, when Ayn Rand spoke of the struggle for our future, she did not describe it principally in economic or political terms, but instead framed it as something much more important: a moral battle — a fight for the true nature and soul of mankind. At its most fundamental level, each person must strive for their passion — their joy — their happiness. And they must oppose anything that stands in the path of those pursuits.

Today, the greatest obstacle standing in our way is a government that has escaped its constitutional straitjacket and become an oppressive monster, injecting itself into every crevice of our lives. If we are to move forward along a path to where we once again can assert ourselves as individuals, in full control over our own destines, then it is imperative that each political action we take be directed squarely at that goal. Half-hearted stop-gap measures will not solve this problem, and are in fact, partly responsible for what led us to this moment. It is time to apply the ultimate litmus test to every statement uttered by every person aspiring for political office:

Does this candidate articulate a consistent set of well defined policies that support my personal independence? If he accomplishes the things he is proposing, will this maximize the opportunity to pursue my life passionately, allowing me to set my own goals in service of my own definition of happiness?

I suggest that if you cannot respond with an unreserved "Yes!", then this is not a candidate worthy of your support. Reject him or her and seek out another who has earned the right to represent you by demonstrating that they fully understand and respect the right to your personal independence.

Never compromise when extending your political support, for doing so is simply an indirect way of compromising on your own life, your values, and ultimately your joy. Always consider just what you demand of yourself when pursuing your goals, and then be sure to never settle for anything less from those in whom you are prepared to vest with political power as your representative. This is the only strategy that has any long range hope of correcting our current situation. Anything less is a recipe for our continued cultural descent.


P.S. 01-06-12:
    Here is a link to an article by Hungarian entrepreneur Andor Jakab, who explains in detail precisely why he's not even considering getting started building up a new business. The final straw can break some before they even get out of the gate!

    This Is Why I Don't Give You A Job
07-03-2011

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Independence Day
Subject: The True Meaning of the Fourth of July

In commemoration of the Fourth, the poet, Brian Faulkner, has been gracious in allowing me the honor of publishing one of his compositions which speaks so eloquently to the true meaning of this occasion.

As we celebrate this holiday, let's take a moment to remember the vision, strength of will, and difficulties faced and overcome by those who created and fought for the independence and liberation of the human spirit. And let each of us renew our own pledge to continue that fight, dedicating ourselves to doing all we can to see that each individual is once again allowed the full opportunity to pursue their own definition of happiness, unhampered by the dictates of others.

Please enjoy, and I wish a very happy Independence Day to all of my independent readers!


    The March Of Independence   —  by by Brian Royce Faulkner

      We march along the street
      With flags and banners high;
      We praise the days of liberty
      When bright was each man's eye.

      We sing the spirit bold
      That fired every will
      To fight the fight of liberty,
      And we are fighting still.

      For Independence now
      We raise a mighty cheer;
      Our individual liberty,
      It is an aim most dear.

      For sacred right of life,
      And property, its twin,
      We praise the ways of liberty
      To draw new seekers in.

      There're many who know not
      The things were said and done,
      When war for human liberty
      Was fought, and mostly won.

      And many more are blind,
      Bare truth will never see,
      Who sacrifice their liberty
      To false security.

      But we, who are the few,
      We march with shoulders proud;
      We praise the ways of liberty
      And sing its songs aloud.

      The roll of drums is strong,
      Our cannons smoke and roar,
      The flag of Independence
      Goes flying on before.

      One letter does it bear
      (In blazing stripe of gold)---
      The "I" of human liberty
      That we all grasp and hold.

      We march beyond today
      With fearless tongues and hands,
      Until the "I" of liberty
      In every thinker stands.

      Across the lanes of air,
      Into computers' page
      The birth of Independence---
      The "I"--- will come of age.

      Into our children's schools
      The books of light will shine,
      Till many youths, in liberty,
      Will sing, "My life is mine!"

      In business place and home
      Free thinkers will prevail,
      Till smiles of Independence
      For everywhere set sail!

      New marchers of the mind
      Will follow guilt no more---
      The moral right of liberty
      A creed for rich and poor.

      The cross of altruism
      We'll gladly hail, "Goodbye!"
      No sacrifice when liberty
      Waves "I" across the sky!

      We march along the street,
      We march through every town;
      We'll swell the self of liberty
      Till hate of life is down!

      The roll of drums is strong,
      The fifes are sweet and bright;
      Our minds of Independence
      Give "I" its rising height.

      We sing the spirit true
      That will in time hold sway
      Till Independent Liberty
      Is its own endless day.

      Then right, and left, and right,
      And right and left again,
      Come all you sons of liberty
      And join the march of men.

      Now on and up we go,
      And no! we'll never cease!
      The "I"s of Independence
      Are mastering ---increase!

      Our rockets soar in air,
      Our colored streamers fly!
      The dawn of Independence
      Is bursting with its "I"!

      Now right, and left, and right,
      And right and left again;
      Come all you sons of liberty
      And swell the ranks of men!


I extend my sincere thanks to Brian for his continuing inspiration in the cause of liberty. For more of Brian's wonderful poetry, please visit his website.

01-16-2010

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LA Times
Subject: Don't Worry, Be Happy!  Yeah Right!

In a recent piece in the Los Angeles Times titled Researchers say it's official: TGIF, baby!, Shari Roan reports on startling research that reveals that "People are happier and feel better on the weekends". Who knew? The article reports:
    The study found that people love the freedom associated with weekends and even feel better physically.

    The study reinforces what is known as the "self-determination theory," which means that well-being is based on one's personal needs for autonomy, competence and social relationships.

So, this research from the University of Rochester has concluded that people find pleasure in "freedom", "personal autonomy", and "self-determination". Stop the presses!

Maybe someone should inform the people in Washington D.C. that their intrusive meddling into the lives of the citizens, with their policies to regulate our every decision and action, is a clear violation of our right to the pursuit of our own happiness.

In fact, let's start with the abomination known as health care reform which is explicitly designed to eliminate self-determination and freedom of choice for every one of us, destroying our individual autonomy and instead, treating us like a herd of cattle. Let's all make one final effort to contact the White House and our congressional representatives and let them know, in no uncertain terms, that their actions are making us VERY UNHAPPY, and that we DEMAND that they stop violating our unalienable rights and begin protecting them as they swore an oath to do when they took office.

Oh yeah, and don't forget to let them know that now we have scientific proof backing us up! :-)
12-17-2009

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George Monbiot
Subject: Redefining Humanity

In an article titled, This is bigger than climate change. It is a battle to redefine humanity, published in The Guardian, George Monbiot lays bare the soul and the intend of the entire environmentalist movement.

Describing the Copenhagen climate summit, he states:
    "This is the moment at which we turn and face ourselves. Here, in the plastic corridors and crowded stalls, among impenetrable texts and withering procedures, humankind decides what it is and what it will become."

And like all good socialists, the issue for Monbiot is not what will we, as individuals, become. The only relevant question is what will be the transformation for humanity as a whole — with all of the inconsequential individuals simply forced to conform to the collective will.

And who is to decide this bold new direction for humanity? Well, for Monbiot that's a moot point as the decision has already been cast, with the consequences of that foregone decision sprinkled throughout the remainder of the article. Consider such prescient observations as the following:
    "The meeting at Copenhagen confronts us with our primal tragedy."

    "Now we find ourselves hedged in by the consequences of our nature, living meekly on this crowded planet for fear of provoking or damaging others. We have the hearts of lions and live the lives of clerks."

    "The summit's premise is that the age of heroism is over."

    "[I]t is ... a battle between two world views. The angry men who seek to derail this agreement, and all such limits on their self-fulfilment, have understood this better than we have."

    "[F]ossil fuels have granted the universal ape amplification beyond its Paleolithic dreams. [... allowing] us to live in blissful mindlessness"

    "The angry men know that this golden age has gone; but they cannot find the words for the constraints they hate. Clutching their copies of Atlas Shrugged, they flail around"

    "All those of us whose blood still races are forced to sublimate, to fantasise. In daydreams and video games we find the lives that ecological limits and other people's interests forbid us to live."

    "There is no space for heroism here; all passion and power breaks against the needs of others. This is how it should be"

As Ayn Rand once wrote:
    "Man is the only living species that has the power to act as his own destroyer — and that is the way he has acted through most of his history."

This article perfectly summarizes the real issue behind the environmental movement. I agree that it is concerned with nothing less than the redefinition of humanity. And the vision of that new humanity is as a passive video-gamer, vicariously placated by virtual-acts that were once undertaken in reality. With our lion hearts caged, and all thoughts of heroism ground out of existence, we will all voluntarily accept our new place as clerks and stewards of the planet, and sacrifice ourselves in service to "other people's interests". Nothing more can be expected when the "original sin" of our human nature unavoidably leads to "primal tragedy".

Monbiot articulates the polarity that exists between environmentalists' view of mankind and those held by Ayn Rand. So, who's the destroyer and who's the savior? The choice is yours. Either lay down you copy of Atlas Shrugged and accept your redefined role as a hapless, mindless sheep — or grasp your copy firmly in hand and wield it as the tool it was intended to be, standing proudly in the long tradition of our Paleolithic ancestors who knew how to dream of a better future and then work creatively to realize it.

[Thanks to Robert Tracinski for bringing this article to my attention.]
12-14-2009

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Michael Ramirez
Subject: Speaking of Service-Learning....

    [Sorry. Cartoon has gone missing!]

11-10-2009

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Opinion Piece
Subject: We Own You. Get Used to It!

On today's OpEd page, a Wall Street Journal editorial highlights the true goal of ObamaCare, as articulated by one of its supporters, John Cassidy of the New Your Times.

    Confessions of an ObamaCare Backer

    The typical argument for ObamaCare is that it will offer better medical care for everyone and cost less to do it, but occasionally a supporter let's the mask slip and reveals the real political motivation. So let's give credit to John Cassidy, part of the left-wing stable at the New Yorker, who wrote last week on its Web site that "it's important to be clear about what the reform amounts to."

    Mr. Cassidy is more honest than the politicians whose dishonesty he supports. "The U.S. government is making a costly and open-ended commitment," he writes. "Let's not pretend that it isn't a big deal, or that it will be self-financing, or that it will work out exactly as planned. It won't. What is really unfolding, I suspect, is the scenario that many conservatives feared. The Obama Administration . . . is creating a new entitlement program, which, once established, will be virtually impossible to rescind."

    Why are they doing it? Because, according to Mr. Cassidy, ObamaCare serves the twin goals of "making the United States a more equitable country" and furthering the Democrats' "political calculus." In other words, the purpose is to further redistribute income by putting health care further under government control, and in the process making the middle class more dependent on government. As the party of government, Democrats will benefit over the long run.

    This explains why Nancy Pelosi is willing to risk the seats of so many Blue Dog Democrats by forcing such an unpopular bill through Congress on a narrow, partisan vote: You have to break a few eggs to make a permanent welfare state. As Mr. Cassidy concludes, "Putting on my amateur historian's cap, I might even claim that some subterfuge is historically necessary to get great reforms enacted."

    No wonder many Americans are upset. They know they are being lied to about ObamaCare, and they know they are going to be stuck with the bill.

So there you have it. It's OK for the politicians to lie to us, because they own us and operate from a position where they can freely make critical decisions about our lives without regard to our own personal thoughts, beliefs and desires. Truth is reserved for those possessing the right to self-determination, so let there be no illusion that the concepts of the right to one's life, liberty and property have anything at all to do with what is now occurring in this country. We are effectively all slaves of the state and subject to whatever whim it manages to concoct and ram through as legislation. The limitations on allowable government action that are delineated in the US Constitution are being totally ignored by all three branches of our government. We are rapidly becoming a totalitarian state.

Sign the John Galt Pledge and then contact each of your Senators and Representative and let them know, in forceful terms, that you are not asking, but demanding that they adhere to the intent of the US Constitution and expect them to protect and defend your constitutional rights. It is time to let everyone in Washington know that you are mad and have reached the limits of your patience.
09-23-2009

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Subject: Community Service Is Not What Made America Great

I discovered an excellent article by C. Edmund Wright at American Thinker, entitled "Community Service Is Not What Made America Great, which I would encourage everyone to read. Here are a few excerpts:
    "Dare we say that the planners of the 9-11 attacks understand more about the greatness of America than our current President and some in Congress?

    [T]he 9-11 attacks had nothing to do with Medicare, the Junior League or Earth Day or working in a soup kitchen, let alone registering voters or pushing for sub prime lending on behalf of ACORN.

    The 9-11 masterminds understood what it is that makes America great, and it was precisely some obvious icons of that greatness they attacked. It is our government-limiting Constitution -- creating an environment conducive to free enterprise, innovation, opportunity and military might, used for the good of all freedom loving peoples -- that has made America great.

    In short, it is our freedom.

    In stark contrast to our president and others, I say what we need now is a lot of self-interested financially motivated pursuits taking place. On the anniversary week of 9-11, it's a good time to champion that which the terrorists were trying to destroy -- that which makes America great. And for the record, they were not trying to destroy candle light vigils for death row inmates or the "Adopt a Highway" program.

    All of that is fine, but they were trying to destroy free economies and opportunity. They were trying to destroy the brain trust of a military whose history is that of conquering dictators and asking only enough real estate in return to bury their dead. They were trying to destroy our way of life. The American way of life. You know, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    They were trying to destroy what made us who we were before Obama came to save us from our own greatness. They did not succeed. But if we can't tell the truth about what it is that made this country great, then we will do it to ourselves.

Fantastic! Given all the problems we are dealing with these days, it is nice to be reminded of the underlying greatness of the USA which we are struggling to preserve—and I cannot thank Mr. Wright enough for having done this.

Mr. Wright also make the following astute observation:
    The point here is not that volunteering is bad. It is good. So is charitable giving. True community service -- not agitating or "organizing" -- is good also. But you cannot donate or serve or volunteer in a vacuum. In fact, you cannot really provide any "net volunteering" or "net giving" until you have taken care of all of your obligations first. So by definition, pursuits that enable you to "give back" are superior to the act of giving back.

Exactly! It is self-interested, self-responsible adults that get things accomplished and have created the great wealth and standard of living that we enjoy in this country. And you have to create something, whether it be money or free time, before you can "redistribute" or "volunteer" any surplus to causes that reach beyond the requirements of one's own life. This is the simple fact that almost everyone in government fails to understand—or willfully ignores.

Capitalism—free enterprise—is an economic system of creation. It allows wealth to be accumulated and leveraged over time, allowing us to continually improve our standing, generation after generation. It is a system that works precisely because it rewards the virtues of productivity, effort, intelligence and risk-taking. In contrast, socialism is a system of redistribution only. It does not understand or acknowledge the creative process. It sees our standard of living as a fixed pie, simply to be recut in a "fairer" manner so that all share equally. It penalizes the very virtues that capitalism rewards, and because of this, it ultimately becomes an engine of destruction as it drives out the good. And that is why Mr. Wright warns that, unchecked, the current administration may yet achieve what the terrorists were unable to do.
09-11-2009

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Subject: The Spirit of Independence

Liberty-minded people tend to be extremely independent, in both thought and action. They think for themselves, and act on their own judgments. Therefore, they are often opposed to becoming involved in any group, organization or movement, preferring to walk their own path. I'm familiar with this because it applies to me as well.

As a thinker, it is natural for me to believe that all that is relevant to an argument is its truth or validity, and that everyone else should be similarly swayed by the facts alone. Thus, when facing an issue, my first inclination is to put pen to paper and bang out a detailed analysis. But, as a realist, I am aware that there is a great segment of the populace that does not think about ideas at sufficient depth to operate in that manner. Many of these people, while basically good intentioned at the core, will not be swayed by simple rhetoric and analysis, and instead will often end up following the direction of a group rather than blazing their own intellectual trail.

Our opponents have long recognized that there is a strong power of persuasion to be found by assembling large groups which speak in a single voice. They have often accomplished this through unions, but over the years they have honed the tactic to such a degree and have become such masters of the technique that we find that we now have a "community organizer" in the White House! The conservatives have begun to wake up to this and we are seeing them fight back fairly effectively with the Tea Party organizations. But what is missing from the Tea Parties is a well coordinated core of ideas. Many individuals have used those organizations as a platform to express extremely well articulated and important messages, but what they lack is that common philosophical core — a single great idea — upon which everything rests and which gains its strength as the number of participants grow.

What I am attempting with this site is to provide a means where we can organize as a group, around one important core principle, and become persuasive to another segment of the population that we currently are not effectively reaching. If you are reluctant to sign up because of that strong independent streak that we all share, then please reconsider. It is extremely important that we pool our resources in an effort to stop being dragged over the cliff of socialism which is within our sights now more than any time in the past sixty years. In a world of greater independence there would not be such an urgency to act. But the the erosion of our autonomy and individual rights over the past one hundred years has resulted in us all being bound together with a single noose so that we are all subject to the same outcome.

So, please add your voice here and help the message of freedom and individual right be heard clearly by all.