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Why The Idea of Government Is Overrated

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On September 11th, 2001, the government failed in it’s one primary job… to keep it’s citizens safe. Then, it used it’s massive failure as justification to grow it’s budget, it’s military, it’s surveillance systems and it’s desire to profit from war. 20 years later, almost to the day, the President of the United States announced his intentions to use the tools and force of this expanded government on millions of peaceful, non-aggressive citizens to force them to receive a vaccine. With such a blatant attempt to trample upon individual rights, it is time to ask: Do we even really need government in the first place? Can a society have law without a government?

Economist Bruce L Benson asked this question in his book “The Enterprise of Law: Justice Without the State.” Others, including Lysander Spooner, Murray Rothbard, and Benjamin Tucker have all explored the concept to one degree or another. Believe it or not, most of the rules we choose to follow in our day to day lives are not rules generated by the state. Rules and laws are simply a matter of behaving in ways that people agree upon. They can come from many places other than the government. Contracts, mutual insurance arrangements, individuals voluntarily interacting, all of these developed through various communities over time. We may also call them norms or customs. The point is that they come from many places, not just the government.

The customs that individuals adopt pre-date authoritarian government rule. We can go back in history and find examples in tribal societies where things were just “how things were done” with no central authority figure mandating the behavior. People somehow got along, they interacted, they traded. It was voluntary. We see a small example of this in modern everyday behavior. People wait in line at the grocery store. They don’t cut in front of other people, if they do it is very rare, they get dirty looks, and other people in the line might speak up and shame the person. The simple peer pressure of others enforces a “law” that says “don’t cut in line.” All of this happens without the state. Without the use of force. Another example happens every time people voluntarily join into a pick-up game of basketball. Certain rules (laws) are agreed upon. “Call your own fouls, are we playing half court or full court? Make it take it…” If the rules are not followed, the game breaks down, does not become as enjoyable for everyone, and perhaps people choose to go play on another court.

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How might this work in application to much more serious issues, such as theft , or even murder? How can these much more serious crimes be deterred without the state? For an answer we must go back in history to a time before the law of Kings, or to what Benson has referred to as “Royal Law.” Prior to Royal law there were mutually agreed upon customs. One such custom was the idea that every free individual had what was considered a “piece.” This meant that the individual had property rights. The individual would have rights to things like their homes, their farmland, their livestock, and other belongings. The custom and the expectation was that everyone recognized one another’s property and respected each other’s individual rights to the ownership of the property.

Just as in today’s day and age of police state surveillance, there were people back then who did not respect these customs or “laws.” Benson explains that these situations were dealt with by communities of free men who formed what can best be described as mutual insurance arrangements. They were called the “tithing” or the “hundred,” essentially they were agreements to cooperate with regards to certain issues. If someone’s cow strayed off their land, the individual could call upon his neighbors, the “tithing” to help him find it. If he was robbed, he could call on his neighbors to pursue the robber. Those in the tithing had agreed upon obligations such as maintaining roads and pathways in the community. This system relied on frequent interactions and reciprocity by all in the community.

If there was a dispute as to whether or not they had captured the right criminal, there was a court system of sorts in those days. The court was not backed up by a King or any government, the court system worked at the “hundred” level. It was made up of representatives of each tithing and they would act as judge and jury. If the offender was found guilty, they might be made to pay restitution. If the offender was unable to make restitution, the tithing would pay it for them and then the offender would be in debt to his tithing (friends and neighbors).

If the individual did not accept the court’s judgement, he would be considered an “outlaw” and would no longer be protected by his community. All of his property would be free game to anyone who wanted it. When you stop to think about it, this isn’t too different from the RICO and asset seizure practices of today’s law enforcement. But I digress.

This system, also referred to as “the man price system” was common practice in most communities. Participants included the common man, the wealthy, and even the poorest people of society. Eventually Kings arose in England. Their origin was not born of a need to make and enforce laws, but they arose for the purposes of fighting wars .Kings started out as warlords and they would eventually claim divine right or some other mandate that empowered them to lead armies. Since wars cost money, the Kings looked for ways to fund their armies. This evolved into restitution for a crime being rendered to the KIng (government) rather than to the victim. This is why today, if a drunk driver hits your car, the drunk driver pays any fines (restitution) to the government and not you. You have to rely on insurance.

Eventually the King’s system of fines resulted in citizens being seen as sources of revenue and this led to a rise in harassment by law enforcement and a reduction in individual freedoms. Over time the system of restitution broke down and was replaced with the rise of the prison system. First prisoners were sent to colonies, such as America and mainly Australia, and eventually they were put in prisons. All of this at a greater cost to the taxpayer as is the case in our modern times.

As our country increasingly becomes a totalitarian police state in service of the prison industry, it might be time for an exploration of restitution practices, private mediation, and other voluntary negotiations. For example, if a security camera in front of my house catches my neighbor’s teenage son smashing my windshield. It is entirely possible that upon showing this evidence to my neighbor, he offers to compensate me for the damage times two if I agree not to press charges. Things like this happen all of the time, but should probably happen more often. What if this type of an approach could be formalized and more frequent? Perhaps America would not have the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world.

The state can only acquire income through the use of force and physical coercion through taxation and it has a monopoly on the defense of individual rights (the military, police, and the courts). As an attractive alternative, private, non-state entities can provide for the protection of individual rights, History has shown that asking the state to secure individual rights is akin to asking the fox to guard the hen house. One can be opposed to the state without being opposed to police protection, courts, the printing of money, mail delivery, and roads and highways. One can oppose all forms of physical coercion, threats, aggression, and the use of force against others and still advocate for the same services the government has a monopoly over. These services can be provided more efficiently through voluntary cooperation and contract by free people operating in a free market.

A system of voluntary exchange to replace the current system of government backed monopolistic force would not necessarily be a utopia. Like anything else it would have its drawbacks and challenges, but participation in such a system would not be the result of submission at the point of a government gun. The rise of private motor vehicle registration services as an alternative to visiting the Department of Motor Vehicles is one small example, dealing with the former is a much more friendly and efficient experience than dealing with the latter. Finally, take the past 20 years as an example. In the name of “Keeping us safe” and “defending our liberties” the government has sent us off to fight in unending foreign wars to no avail, spied on us and invaded our privacy, and now they are forcing us to be injected with a strange genetic therapy. At this point, would exploring an alternative anchored in peace and non-aggression be such a bad idea?

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Conservative Justices are Still in Danger. Joe Biden Could Change That Today

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United States Supreme Court

Just because the Supreme Court ruling that overturns Roe v. Wade has finally been issued, it doesn’t mean the lives of the court’s conversative justices are any safer from pro-abortion extremists.

The President could immediately use the bully pulpit to minimize any threat to the lives of those sitting on the bench. It’s something he should have done weeks ago but should certainly do in the wake of the Dobbs. v. Jackson ruling.

Here’s the question that needs to be asked of President Biden or his spokesperson today:

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“As you know, a man with the intent to kill Justice Kavanaugh was arrested outside his home a few weeks ago. The pro-choice group, Jane’s Revenge, has committed many recent acts of violence and is now threatening a night of rage in response to today’s SCOTUS ruling. If, God forbid, a pro-choice extremist were to assassinate a sitting justice, how would the President think about filling such a vacancy?”

That answer should be simple:

“Obviously, this is a horrible hypothetical which reasonable Americans of all parties hope never comes to fruition. That said, it’s a fair question given today’s heated political climate and one he has thought about deeply. In such a terrible situation, the President would nominate a new appointee that looks as much like the deceased justice as possible. Beliefs, age, temperament – all of it. Were a conservative justice to suffer such harm, the President would ask Republicans to find that matching replacement, whom he would then nominate. Those rare, few extremists who might think to do harm to sitting members of the court must know they will never gain a political advantage through such an act of violence. I would hope that leading Republicans would make a similar pledge regarding the next time they hold the White House, that this thinking will become the unwritten and well understood rule here in D.C.. It is one of the few concepts that members of both parties should be able to commit to with full voice.”

This message has to be plain and, given the political climate, it must be stated ASAP.

Would a Biden white house make such a statement? Doubtful, given the left’s tacit support of the violence it likes through its refusal to condemn Jane’s Revenge, BLM riots, etc.

So be it. If Joe Biden won’t answer the question clearly, it should then be forced upon him. How?

By asking the same hypothetical of all leading national GOP figures. Take this same question straight to Trump, DeSantis, Noem, Haley, etc. and let’s see what they say.

I have a lot of hope they would all answer that question correctly and convincingly, but let’s find out.

Joe Biden told us he would be a unifying figure. Is he capable of finally delivering on that promise for the first time, at a moment when it’s needed most?

*Photo credit: @davidlat at FreeImages

P.S. I haven’t written in a while but these articles have aged pretty darn well, if I do say so myself:

BBQs Cook Fish, Too — Beware the Weber, Trager IPOs

When the Market Crashes, There is Only One Place to Hide

I’ll be back with more on markets soon…

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Tech Tools Leading to Our Fast-Forward Future

Researchers will likely develop nearly every tech tool you’ve seen in science-fiction movies and television

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Lowell Catlett, a retired professor in Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business, observes that all the high tech products on your desk and in your home will soon be antiques from a capability stand point. The almighty chip grows smaller and more powerful, and thanks to advanced microscopics, they’re proceeding towards a time in which the chip will be no thicker than a fraction of a human hair. In fact, microscopic motors today are no thicker than a human hair!

A World of Marvels

Scientists and engineers will likely soon develop nearly every technology you’ve ever seen in sci-fi movies, Superman comics, and all of the versions of Star Trek. Many miraculous breakthroughs are available now, but simply are not cost-effective for the masses. Existing sunglasses – far beyond the ill-fated Google Glass – allow you to watch any television show while you’re wearing them, wherever you are.

As “sun glass” technology is perfected, future models can be built right into your eye. You’ll automatically have protection from sun glare as daylight levels change. Laser technology in sunglasses for U.S. Air Force pilots will enable them to fire missiles or operate plane controls through their eye movements!

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Professor Catlett says, “Once you combine laser and computer technology, you’re able to read smart books – books that know when you’ve lingered on a word and hence, don’t understand its meaning.” So, then and there, while you’ve got your magic sunglasses on and are reading this book, a synonym pops up on the screen.

Instant Updates

Well-funded fire and police departments will equip each of their officers with such sunglasses to instantaneously give them updated information in the field. A firefighter entering a burning building could be told to turn left to safety, rather than right. A police officer could be told that the bridge is out 50 yards ahead and to take a hard right into the sandbank.

One day, politicians will be fitted with such technology. A new algorithm for identifying thumb prints, ten times faster than what currently exists, is nearly ready. Hence, about 30 seconds after you look at someone across a room his name will spell out in the corner of one of your lenses. No more forgetting old what’s-his-name.

Every sales force worth its salt will be outfitted with such lenses. Imagine, you walk into a new company, you don’t know a soul, and soon enough you’re greeting everyone by his/her first name. Until the technology is widely known, you’ll be regarded as some type of wizard.

Think Your Way Through It

The electronic headband, an emerging product, allows you to think your way to everything you want to do in your home. Sitting in your armchair, you’ll be able to lock the doors. You’ll be able to start your coffee maker. Want the television on or off? You’ve got it. Same with the lights. Refrigerator door. Windows up or down.

If you want to write a letter to your sister in Des Moines, you’ll only need to think the letter. You’ll be able to “program” your personal computer, write, and e-mail the message simply through your thoughts.

Soon, jet pilots flying billion dollar planes will be able to sit in the cockpit, think about what they want to do next, and have the plane be totally responsive. “Ultimately,” says Catlett, “machinery will be totally user-friendly. No instructions, no need to speak, no need to do anything, just think what you want to do.”

The Ubiquitous Computer

The world will enter a stage of the “ubiquitous computer.” Computers will be all around you, anywhere you go, built into the side of walls. They’ll be so powerful and all encompassing that they’ll be virtually invisible.

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