Tuesday, April 20, 2010

How Much is a Man Worth?

Here it is, Tuesday again. I had previously prepared a nice little primer on the Libertarian Party for this week’s post. However, having parted with over $5,500 of my hard earned dollars last week, I thought that maybe I’d tackle another issue instead.

When I added it up this year, with Federal Income Tax, Social Security, Medicare, and local property taxes (not including sales tax), I was taxed at an effective rate of 32%. So, at 11:12 AM on Thursday, I stop being paid for the rest of the week. Or, to look at it realistically, I don’t start getting paid until about 1:00 PM on Tuesdays. Mondays really suck.

A man’s work is his life. I don’t mean that figuratively. It is an exchange of a portion of his life for something of value to him. In colonial times, a man bartered and exchanged the product of his labor for other necessities. Soon coins were used for the same purpose, in addition to the bartering system.

Later, coined money became the main means of purchase. A man exchanges his labor for a piece of gold or silver, and exchanges that piece of gold or silver for the things he needs. It was basically the same arrangement as before, but it made life a little simpler. Instead of taking a cow to the market and exchanging it for 20 bushels of corn that had to be stored, you could just sell the cow, and buy the corn as you needed it. Local, private banks were the norm. The U.S. went on the gold standard in 1873. The Federal Government’s role was to make the exchanges “regular” and fair.

Then, in 1913 things changed. The Federal government amended the constitution to tax your labor. They also established the Federal Reserve System to standardize paper money. In 1914, the Federal Reserve note was the standard of payment, and was backed by gold. But no longer was the exchange between just people. Now the Federal government was involved. It was only 1% for most people; only the rich had to pay 6%. In one fail swoop, the federal government reduced a man’s life by 1%-6% annually. It had taken the political class 122 years to undo the Constitution, and forever change the balance of power from the producers to the moochers. And our great-great-grandparents let them do it.

Once they had their foot in the door, it was only a matter of time. Who could complain about 1%, right? Then it became 2%, and then higher. They taxed everything. They taxed your income, the products you bought, and the services you used. They taxed your property and your investments. And our great-grandparents let them do it.

Next, in 1933, they took the paper money off of the gold standard, and in 1964 they were taken off any precious metal standard. The paper money was now only as good as the “full faith and credit of the U.S. government.” The paycheck soon became the standard method of payment. But the government had already gotten their cut before the worker. It was only fair, since it’s the government’s money, right? And our grandparents let them do it.

Now, most don’t even get the paper. It has been reduced to numbers on a computer. And the Federal government takes its cut before you even know you earned it. They tell us that the people who make more money don’t really earn it, they’re given the money. They are just more fortunate than the rest. And too many of us have bought that crap.

But, in essence, work is still the same. It is still an exchange of labor for goods. It's just that now, a man's life is worth less, and the Federal government gets a cut of your labor – and your life - first. They decide how much of our own money we get to keep. The rest, they spend and give away as they see fit. And we are supposed to be thankful to them. Trust me, our children will care when it’s their turn. And they will hate us for it.

At least, that’s the way I see it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What is Libertarianism ?

There are no "Democratic" ideals, nor are there "Republican" ones. The main philosophies of the two parties are generally liberal (left) and conservative (right), but there are both conservatives and liberals in each party. What we normally hear about the political spectrum is that there is a "left" and a "right." Anywhere in between is called "centrist". The fact is that the political "left" and "right" that we hear so much about only concerns government actions towards economics and "personal" issues. There is more to government, and life, than that.

There are many other political philosophies. If you only get your information from the main-stream media and government education (AKA "public" schools and universities), you may think there are only two viable philosophies: conservatism and liberalism. There are many others. Of note, there is libertarianism (individual rights and responsibilities) and statistism (big government) that cover the same left-right spectrum, but also add the specific role of government in society. There is also democracy (mob rule), socialism (income redistribution, government ownership of business or "far left"), communism (government ownership of everything, including government control of the economy, or "extreme left"), and fascism (private ownership but government control of business and the economy, which is still on the "left") to name a few. There is also a 'laissez faire' or largely unregulated economics in the "far right" column. Let's not forget authoritarianism (theocracy (religious rule), absolute monarchy, and dictatorship, or "extreme right") and anarchy (chaos, no government) as well. Most all have been tried, and all have largely failed over other, more representative types of government.

Libertarianism, as a philosophy, believes in the primacy of the individual -- personal rights; personal responsibilities; personal property; small and limited government. That's the simplicity of libertarianism. In this philosophy, the government exists only to protect individuals from external harm (foreign invasion), and protect individuals from other individuals in cases of fraud and deceit. Individuals are free to interact peacefully as they wish, with little government involvement or regulation of those consensual, peaceful interactions. You have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (where have I heard that before?) as long as your pursuit doesn't interfere with the rights of others to do the same. Both the Conservatives and Liberals want to control aspects of your life. The Libertarians want you to be responsible for your own life.

While libertarianism allows for individual rights, individuals are also responsible for the results of these consensual interactions. We are all products of our individual decisions. Decisions used to have consequences. Now, government has imposed itself to assist those who make bad decisions. Instead of learning from the negative consequences of bad decisions, they can continue to make bad decisions without negative consequences. People become "victims" of their own mistakes. Or they are "disadvantaged" because they continue to make them. Libertarians would rather be allowed to succeed or fail on their own. Charity is an individual virtue, not a government program.

Finally, libertarianism is more than a political affiliation. It is a philosophy and a way of life. We are all libertarian by birth. It has to be trained out of you, which the current educational system in the U.S. is designed to do. Libertarianism is human nature. Libertarians believe that the fruits of our labor belong to us, to retain or give away at our desire. We all believe that we are the masters of ourselves. Libertarians believe that interactions between consenting, peaceful individuals need no governance, oversight, or regulation. We should all believe that we have no right to someone else's property or services.

I believe government is the opposite of liberty. While there is a need for government in society, the government should be limited in scope and responsive to society -- not an overlord of society.

So where do you fall in the political spectrum? It might surprise you. As a start, I suggest you take five minutes and try the “World’s Smallest Political Quiz” at http://www.theadvocates.org/quizp/index.html. There are only 10 questions, and, if you answer honestly to them all, the chart will show you where you really are politically.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


First off, I'd like to thank Jim Turner for his service to San Angelo. I had to chuckle a bit at the thought of trying to organize Libertarians for anything. That seems to me a lot like herding cats. Libertarians, by nature, are individualists, and the task of organizing a group like that can be overwhelming. While I am certain Jim will be commenting from time to time, I hope he will continue to contribute on this blog as well. There is no better source of real, unbiased information on Tom Green County and San Angelo city politics and day-to-day functioning as the Concho Info blog. Keep up the great work. And thank you again.

Second, a bit about me. I was born and raised near Houston, Texas. I served in the Marine Corps, in the U.S. and overseas, in peace and war, for over 24 years before retiring in 2006. I moved to San Angelo, and began working for a defense contractor training soldiers at Goodfellow AFB. My nickname comes from my dogs, Smoke and Shadow. If you need to, please call me "Top."

I'm libertarian by nature; Libertarian by choice.

Finally, I've offered to contribute to this blog in the hopes I can help explain libertarianism and to garner support for libertarian ideals and participation in the political process in Tom Green County. As Tip O'Neal has been often quoted, "All politics is local." San Angelo and Tom Green County have long been afflicted with apathetic voter turnout and a long-standing tradition of "good-ole-boy" politics. In one place of agreement I have with President Obama, it is a time for change. Let's see if we can.

I hope to provide interesting topics for discussion between all people of any political affiliation. I do not intend for this blog to become merely a mouthpiece for the Texas Libertarian Party. My postings are mine alone; I have received no guidance from anyone. I hope for robust discussions in the comments to each article. I only ask that, when the inevitable disagreements begin, everyone try to POST TO THE IDEAS presented, and NOT TO THE INDIVIDUALS posting the ideas.

I'll get things started very soon. I plan to post every other Tuesday for now. Until then, have a nice day -- if you are so inclined, of course ;-)