I approach the politics of life-and-death questions, such as intervention in Syria, with a thought experiment: I imagine looking in the eyes of the mother of a person who would die if my preferred course of action be carried through, but who would live if an opposing course of action were carried through. I imagine trying to justify to that mother why her son should die for the greater good that I believe my view is rooted in.
Found today at the corner of Boylston Street & Arlington, downtown, not far from the site of the bombing.
I'm leaving tomorrow morning for a short trip to Japan on business. This will be my first trip back since 1998, which came at the tail end of a 5 month backpacking trip around the world. I'm sure things have changed a lot.
To a first approximation, American political history before the 18th century is British political history. As most American schoolchildren know, in the 17th century, John Locke crystallized the idea that human law should reflect Natural Law, but the idea that Law must serve the well-being of the people on whom it is imposed goes back at least to the Anglo-Saxons.
These days, Rand Paul can often be heard saying that the Republican party needs to become competitive in "the West and New England," and that the more libertarian brand of Republican politics that he represents will help make that possible.
In 2008, Democrats and Independents voted for Obama, believing that, in voting against Bush's Republicans, they were voting against crony corporatism (remember Halliburton, corporate bailouts?), wars of choice (Iraq) and the take down of our civil rights (Patriot Act). Two years ago, a huge number of them realized that not only did their vote fail to stop any of these, but Obama was a kind of Bush-plus, extending and even deepening illiberal policy in all of these areas. As recent revelations about America's massive surveillance state have revealed, they were right.
Many of these disillusioned Obama voters came to understand that the real problem was bigger than one party or the other, one president or another, but that, "the presuppositions of the system," as Noam Chomsky calls them, ensure that the state, under control of either party, consistently and increasingly acts at the expense of our basic individual liberties, Bill of Rights be damned. Thousands of these voters chose to stay true to their liberal principles by becoming (often for the first time in their lives) signed-up Republicans to support Ron Paul in his run for the presidency. In an article that I wrote at the time, I called them "Blue Republicans." The article went viral and the term caught on, leading to the setting up of a Facebook group, the design and distribution of Blue Republican marketing materials aimed at liberals, and even all kinds of guerrilla marketing, such as the surreptitious hanging of banners over Californian freeways, and so on.
The 4th Amendment of the Constitution reads:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
For reference, here is the Oath of Office sworn by all members of Congress:
"Liberty is not the beginning and the end. Before I believed in liberty, I believed in Love and Truth."
This is the speech I gave at the Republican Liberty Caucus of Washington State Annual Convention. It may be the most important I have given to date.
In Love and Liberty, Robin (Blue Republican)
by Nelson Hultberg | AFR.org
The modern libertarian movement in America was launched in 1957 by Ayn Rand with her heroic novel, Atlas Shrugged. Using its radical advocacy of capitalism as their rallying cry, libertarians have, over the past 55 years, built a powerful political movement upon Rand’s ideas and vision. It is a very persuasive cause they have fashioned. But, unfortunately, its philosophical base contains flaws, which (if not corrected) will doom libertarianism to being nothing more than a footnote to history rather than a formidable force.
In my opinion, the libertarian movement, as presently constructed, is not capable of defeating the monstrous statism that is taking over the modern world? My book, The Golden Mean: Libertarian Politics, Conservative Values, has been written to explain why and what we must do to restructure the freedom movement to give it the strength to prevail. Following are some testimonials to the book, its Introduction, and information on how to purchase a copy.
“The Golden Mean is an extremely important book that I believe is destined to be a classic…[It] made me think and gave me answers I've never thought of before. I read it from cover to cover and couldn't put it down.” – Mark Skousen, former professor of economics, Columbia University, author of The Making of Modern Economics.
“In a world inundated with political / ideological books, Nelson Hultberg’s brilliant work…stands apart from, and above, anything I have previously read in this genre.” – Robert Ringer, Author of Restoring the American Dream.
“No one can read this book and not have his thoughts and conscience provoked…It is a profound and passionate effort toward healing a major schism that is long overdue.” – Lawrence W. Reed, President, Foundation for Economic Education.
The prevailing sentiment on the political right today is that there can be no compromise between the forces of libertarianism and those of conservatism. Such an attempted mix is, as Russell Kirk put it, “like advocating a union of fire and ice.” Murray Rothbard’s hard-core libertarians conclude also that the two philosophical views are forever incompatible and that there can never be a meeting ground where conservatives and libertarians will be able to coalesce. This is primarily because libertarians believe that the central dilemma of civilization is liberty and how to advance it, while conservatives believe that the central dilemma of civilization is order and how to preserve it. Moreover, many libertarians believe in the perfectibility of man, while conservatives see man as forever flawed in nature. Therefore, these two groups must go it alone, each fighting for the implementation of its specific worldview on its own.
This sentiment is grievously flawed, and it has led to our present ineffectuality in combating the statism so insidiously consuming the modern world. Neither of the two philosophies of libertarianism and conservatism can stand alone, nor would any clear-thinking person wish them alone upon humanity. A purely conservative country would be a static despotism of traditionalist philosopher kings, and a purely libertarian country would be a cultural anarchy of moral primitives. One of the purposes of this book is to demonstrate that each philosophy only gains validity by adopting strains of the other.
You don't have to be a economist to understand why American healthcare has been such a disaster for so long -- and why Obamacare has spectacularly failed to do the one thing that would have solved most of its problems.
Because of a near-evil system in which employers are subsidized to pay health insurance premiums that the consumers of healthcare never pay, the health consumer has no incentive to shop for value. Price competition -- which is the most important mechanism by which the free market makes goods and services affordable -- is therefore eliminated. Care becomes hugely expensive as hospitals charge made-up prices that they know will be paid for by insurance companies. Not only does this system support the practicing of hugely wasteful defensive medicine, but also hospitals take every opportunity to recover from the insurance companies the cost of non-emergency care that government forces them to give for free to others who neither pay for what they use nor have their own insurance.
For the better part of a year, a pro-free-market, pro-liberty, grand-bargain solution to American healthcare has been kicking around my head, but I never wrote it down because it does not reject all government involvement in healthcare, and I rather expected that many of my libertarian readership would be disgusted by what many of them would deem a compromise of principle.
But for a reason that shall become clear, it's now time to share it. It goes something like this.
by Nelson Hultberg | AFR.orgNelson Hultberg is the author of The Golden Mean: Libertarian Politics, Conservative Values.
Who rules America today? Not the people; they have been vanquished. America is ruled today by a collectivist Troika – an Executive-Congressional Combine, Judicial Oligarchs, and a Corporatist Banking Cartel – who have as much concern for the resplendent principles that formed our country as street pimps have for romance and love. How has this Troika come to possess its power over our lives? It has accrued its power by conveying endless privileges (handouts, subsidies, loans, quotas, monopolies, price controls, tax breaks, etc.) to an ever-swelling mobocracy. This buys the mobocracy’s support every election year and insures the Troika’s permanency.
Who comprises the mobocracy? Sixty million Americans looking to get more out of life than they have a right to: government bureaucrats, corporate quislings, welfare parasites, media lackeys, union members, Black and Latino minorities, feminists, gays, environmentalists, Hollywood decadents, illegal aliens, unemployable misfits, and hordes of other obtuse voters.
Is this being unfair to Blacks, Latinos, gays, and feminists? To union workers and welfare recipients? Not at all. These groups demand and receive from the federal government quotas, monopolistic protections, hiring dictates, and subsidies to advance themselves in the marketplace. This violates their fellow citizens’ rights to free association, to free trade, and to their property. Such conveyance of “special privileges” is the reason why we are now $110 trillion in debt, why lobbyists annually converge upon Washington like weevils to the gristmill, and why Americans have voted a blatant Marxist radical into the highest office of the land.
On Saturday, March 23rd, 390 people representing 152 precincts gathered to hold the 2013 Oklahoma County Republican Convention. Eight elections were held: Chair, Vice Chair, State Committee, State Committee, 4th Congressional District Committee, 4th Congressional District Committee, 5th Congressional District Committee, and 5th Congressional District Committee. I ran for Chair, in this largest of all counties in the State of Oklahoma.
I lost by 18 votes.
This is an amazing number for several reasons. I am not a long time party activist. Indeed, I took a very long break – from 1995 to 2011 – with almost zero political activity. I spent that time as a “normal person”, getting married, finishing college, having two different careers and starting a third, and creating four children with my wife. I did some things right and some things wrong, but just tried to make my way in the world. I’m a dad, an employee, and a taxpaying citizen of Oklahoma.
by Nelson Hultberg | Americans for a Free Republic
Modern intellectuals are anti-ideology. They shun its use like kings and high priests shun voting. One of the first putdowns a student receives from a liberal professor when expounding the basic principles of capitalism in a college classroom is, “Oh, that’s too ideological. Your thinking is too rigid. You’re trying to label things! You must be more open to progressive experimentation and creative government. The Constitution is a living document. The use of any strict ideology or rigid set of political principles is impractical and reactionary. In a modern world, we must be flexible, pragmatic, willing to tolerate a new and ever changing role for government.”
Such is the usual response given to any student daring to declare that government’s functions should be limited to a Constitution that is strictly, i.e., literally interpreted, or that capitalism is the only socio-economic system that is capable of protecting the individual’s rights, or that without upholding the principle of “equal rights under the law,” there can be no true or lasting freedom, etc.
It’s not difficult to understand why our liberal-dominated intellectual establishment opposes ideology and its use of labels to define government’s role in society. Precisely because it does just that – it defines government’s role in society! The statist mind wants a vaguely and loosely defined government, unfettered by the restrictions of theory or principle or rights or labels or moral judgment. He seeks blanket power over men and their production. Thus it is only natural for him to be antagonistic toward the use of an overall ideology that labels his approach dictatorial, statist, neo-fascist, authoritarian, etc. and backs it up with rational arguments. Such intellectual labeling inhibits his power.
When welfarism fails most spectacularly, it is usually because it attempts to treat a perceived social or economic problem without understanding -- let alone undoing -- its cause. Often, this treatment of symptom only serves to mask the cause, establishing it more firmly in society, typically distorting incentives and having unintended consequences that often do more harm than good.
The British government (a coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats) seems determined to prove this point in one of the most disturbing ways seen in recent times.
Many British families face the difficulty of extremely expensive childcare, which, for many, has become a necessity rather than a choice, as parents find themselves unable to bring up their children on only one income. This was not true for our grandparents' generation.
The greatest ideological achievement of Margaret Thatcher, the Conservative Prime Minster of Britain from 1979 to 1990, was arguably not the redefinition of the Right of British politics, but the redefinition of its Left, and therewith, its middle. She has a legacy not because she destroyed her opponents or their political philosophies, but because her practical success as a politician forced them to incorporate much of hers.
by Nelson Hultberg
Paradigms are mega-systems of thought that explain certain realms of reality so as to shift mankind toward new visions. For example, mercantilism, Lockean limited government, species evolution, Pasteurian medicine, quantum physics, Keynesian economics, and welfare-state politics are paradigms that developed in their respective fields over the past several centuries. History is a continual process of shifting toward new paradigms in which the established thought of society is dramatically altered.
Paradigm shifts can be either positive or negative. When positive, these shifts are the manifestations of truth’s discovery and a better way of life. But in bringing about a better way of life, they also create a powerful dilemma for those who find themselves on the wrong side of the shift.