Sunday, August 31, 2008

Libertarian Dime Interview

Here's the link for my interview with "The Libertarian Dime"

I'm told "Round 2" is on the horizon.

Links to my webpages relating to various subjects discussed in the interview are here:

Hey, what else have you got to do on Labor Day?

It's a bit long.
You can listen to it on your iPod while you're going to WalMart. Shopping at WalMart. Coming home from WalMart. Gardening. Vacuuming the house. Doing the dishes. Walking the dog. Painting the fence. And, after dinner, you can continue listening to the interview while you're putting the finishing touches on that warp-speed intergalactic travel device you've been tinkering on in the garage. And then finish up the interview the next day over breakfast.
It's a bit long.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Women and the 2-Party Memory Hole

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, whom one might call a "feminist," evidently places the 2-party monopoly even above feminism. Palin’s National Press Conference Announcement With John McCain was a tribute to Democrats, but flushed at least one woman down Orwell's "Memory Hole":

To serve as vice president beside such a man would be the privilege of a lifetime. And it’s fitting that this trust has been given to me 88 years almost to the day after the women of America first gained the right to vote. I think — I think as well today of two other women who came before me in national elections. I can’t begin this great effort without honoring the achievements of Geraldine Ferraro in 1984... and of course Senator Hillary Clinton, who showed such determination and grace in her presidential campaign. It was rightly noted in Denver this week that Hillary left 18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America..but it turns out the women of America aren’t finished yet and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all.

It should be noted that women being nominated for Vice President did not begin in 1984. In 1972 the Libertarian Party vice-presidential nominee Tonie Nathan was the first woman ever to receive an electoral vote. But Palin's loyalty was to the 2-party monopoly, not to women.

In 1972, Roger MacBride, a Republican elector from Virginia, cast his electoral vote for the John Hospers/Tonie Nathan ticket. MacBride, a former Vermont legislator, then became the LP nominee for President four years later.

Probably my favorite class in college was a Political Science class with Prof. John Hospers, whose book on Libertarianism was our text. He provided a list of questions, keyed to pages in the book, which revealed to students exactly which points the Prof. felt were most important (read: "testable"). Prof. George Reisman used the same pedagogy.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Gems from George Will

Richard Boddie sent out George Will's latest column, "The Devils in His Details," to his email list. It's got some thought-provoking stuff:

• Russia, a Third World nation with First World missiles

• Obama has vowed to "cut investments in unproven missile defense systems." Steamboats, railroads, airplanes and vaccines were "unproven" until farsighted people made investments.

• Obama waxes indignant about approximately 150,000 jobs sent overseas each year -- less than 1 percent of the number of jobs normally lost and gained in the creative destruction of America's dynamic economy.

• Oil companies' profits in 2007 were, as a percentage of revenue (8.3 percent), below those of U.S. manufacturing generally (8.9 percent).

• One oil company, Exxon Mobil, pays almost as much in corporate taxes to various governments as the bottom 50 percent of American earners pay in income taxes.

• Exxon Mobil does make $1,400 a second in profits -- hear the sharp intakes of breath from liberals with pursed lips -- but pays $4,000 a second in taxes and $15,000 a second in operating costs.

• Obama has also promised that "we will get 1 million 150-mile-per-gallon plug-in hybrids on our roads within six years." What a tranquilizing verb "get" is. This senator, who has never run so much as a Dairy Queen, is going to get a huge, complex industry to produce, and is going to get a million consumers to buy, these cars. How? Almost certainly by federal financial incentives for both -- billions of dollars of tax subsidies for automakers and billions more to bribe customers to buy cars they otherwise would spurn.

• Where will the electricity for these million cars come from? Not nuclear power (this is part of liberalism's catechism). And not anywhere else, if Obama means this: "I will set a hard cap on all carbon emissions at a level that scientists say is necessary to curb global warming -- an 80 percent reduction by 2050."
No, he won't. Steven Hayward of the American Enterprise Institute notes that in 2050 there will be 420 million Americans -- 40 million more households. So Obama's cap would require reducing per capita carbon emissions to levels probably below even those "in colonial days when the only fuel we burned was wood."

The last two gems were from a previous George Will column, "Little Rhetoric Riding Hood."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Live Webcast Tonight: The Libertarian Dime

I'll be interviewed tonight (Thursday, August 28) at 8:30pm Central Time on "The Libertarian Dime." Here's the link:

The LD Network

I'm hoping to post some relevant links during the interview here:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Laugh-In or laugh at

On opening night of the 2008 Democrat Convention, out of 112,800,000 households with TV, Democrats drew at least 22,000,000 television viewers.

Forty years ago, in 1968, out of 58,250,000 households with TV, "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" had 18,523,500 viewers.

Today's TV viewers, however, simply may have not known where the Democrat Convention was being broadcast, since the average U.S. home now receives 118.6 TV channels.


Everyone agrees that drug and alcohol addiction is a serious problem. Not everyone agrees on how to solve the problem. I received a candidate survey from Missouri Recovery Network. This is my answer to their questions.

My campaign motto is "Liberty Under God."

"Liberty" means people should not be coerced or forced by threats of violence to take any specific action regarding drugs, or toward those recovering from addictions;

"Under God" means we all have a duty to our Creator and to those created in His Image:
• We have a duty to be productive, to serve others, and not to retreat from the responsibilities of life into drugs and alcohol;
We have a duty to help those who have fallen, to strengthen those who are weak, to bear one another's burdens, and to help the families of those who have been abandoned by those who are delinquent in their duties.

As I have described elsewhere, I spent the better part of a decade working with those in recovery. Together with a couple of friends, I rented a large house, my friends and I took a couple of rooms upstairs, and we allowed homeless addicts to get a fresh start using the remaining rooms. Nearly a thousand people spent at least one night in our home. Although I myself have never been intoxicated, I believe the "12 steps" of the various "anonymous" groups can be followed by everyone. A house of hospitality for those in recovery is just one way of living out the "12th step." I have hundreds of books on recovery in my personal library.

Nevertheless, as a Libertarian, I oppose the use of government force to compel anyone to follow a course of recovery, or to compel Jones to fund Smith's recovery. Our house of hospitality never took any government funds. Compassion must come from the heart, not the barrel of a government gun.

I strongly oppose the so-called "War on Drugs," which is creating far more serious social problems than it even hopes to solve, and is making the problems it was designed to solve even worse.

The Missouri Recovery Network poses the following questions to political candidates:

1) Untreated addiction is the cause of other problems and illnesses like heart disease, lower work productivity, overcrowded jails and broken families. Yet millions of Americans can’t access the treatment and recovery services they need.
If elected, will you support an increase in funding
to ensure that treatment and recovery services are available to all who need them?

I completely agree with the premise, but not the question/solution.

I oppose coercive, confiscatory government taxation to fund compassion and service.
I encourage everyone to remember that what they do to "the least of these" they do to Christ, and to have a "Christ room" or some place in their home or life for someone in need.
I believe personal, face-to-face compassion is better than "giving at the office."

2) Many in long-term recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs, myself included, have experienced insurance discrimination, which means we have been denied life-saving treatments.
Will you vote for a bill to end insurance discrimination by offering the same coverage – parity
– for addiction services as for other health issues?

I completely agree with the premise, but not the question/solution.

I do not support government-coerced action on the part of insurance companies. Some "addiction services" are a waste of money. Insurance companies need to find those services that are genuinely valuable, and become motivated from the heart to provide coverage for them. It should be easy to show insurance companies that effectively treating addiction will prevent many other health problems that will have to be covered later on. This is a task for persuasion, not government force. George Washington is reported to have said,

Government is not reason, it is not eloquence — it is force. Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. . . .

Reliable facts, solid reasons, and a good heart are needed, not government threats.

3) The war on drugs has proven that despite spending $40 billion a year to fight it, drug use has not decreased. America’s mayors, along with local law enforcement officials, are pushing for a new approach that puts an emphasis on treatment and alternatives to jail.
Do you agree or disagree
with this new direction and why?

I completely agree with the premise and I strongly support this new direction.

4) Millions of Americans are in recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs, yet many still find it difficult to get an education, a good job, or health insurance due to discriminatory policies and laws.
Do you support the repeal of these laws, which basically prevent people who have paid
their debt to society from contributing to their families and communities in a positive way?

I agree with the premise, and I strongly support the repeal of such laws, whenever such laws mandate government action against those in recovery, or mandate private discrimination against or prohibit private benefits toward those in recovery.
I do not support government compulsion toward those who, for whatever reason, do not wish to hire or associate with those in recovery. Such people need to be educated and encouraged, so that they see the benefits in helping those in recovery, and voluntarily do so, not coerced and threatened by the government with fines or prison.

5). Recovery support services have been critical to helping people sustain their recovery from addiction for the long term. The President has eliminated funding for recovery community organizations providing these services from his 2009 budget.
Do you support restoring this
funding and extending the Recovery Community Services Program which has proven to be successful in communities across the country?

No. Funding should come from the heart, from voluntary and private sources. If elected, I would use the "bully pulpit" to encourage bountiful private funding of organizations that serve those in recovery, as well as tax credits for families that practice "12th-step" hospitality.

The Missouri Recovery Network then requests the following commitments from political candidates:

1) Ensure coverage for equitable and effective addiction prevention, treatment and recovery care in all public and private health care plans
2) Fund
addiction prevention, early intervention and research as an investment in America’s future

3) Implement
policies that promote long-term recovery from addiction as integral to overall health and end the criminalization of addiction
4) Prohibit
discrimination against people in long-term recovery who seek a brighter future for themselves and their families through education, gainful employment, safe housing and health insurance.

In response, I would say:

1. Ensure -- but not by government force
2. Fund -- but not through government taxation or inflation
3. Implement -- on a private, not "public" (government) basis
4. Prohibit -- end government restrictions or mandates that hurt those in recovery.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Intellectual Property -- mofb #17

6. Give us your views on intellectual property rights in such areas as allowing farmers to save genetically modified seeds, changes in the federal patent law relating to seed patents, and fanners in many foreign countries not being prevented from saving genetically modified seeds.

The Framers of the Constitution believed that the federal government needed to deliver mail. They were wrong on this. 18th-century patent law and intellectual property law is also outdated. It tends to favor inventors with high-powered lawyers over consumers.

Libertarian think-tanks, inspired by economists like Nobel-laureates Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek, have been re-inventing intellectual property rights in terms of Free Market theory. I have listed some of this work here:

Piracy is a cultural problem. I am not a multi-culturalist. We need to export the moral framework (Christianity) that undergirds free markets and respect for private property.

Western Civilization is Christian Civilization

This is one in a series of blog posts answering questions posed to candidates in the 7th District by the Missouri Farm Bureau. Here is the list of mofb blog posts in this series.

Social Security -- mofb #16

3. There is growing concern about the integrity of the Social Security program. Please explain your views on the current situation and what reforms you support.

The reports I cited on page 1 regarding federal debt relate largely to Social Security. The Social Security program is bankrupt. It is and always has been fraudulent, unethical and immoral. All the money you “contributed” to this “retirement program” has been used to bomb peasants in Iraq. Or something else you don't approve of. Any private corporation administering a pension program the way the federal government has administered Social Security would see its officers imprisoned. Attempting to “reform” this system is like attempting to “reform” the Mafia. It must be abolished entirely. It is unconstitutional as well as fiscally criminal.

There are three alternatives:

1. Nobody gets any Social Security benefits from the government.

People who depended on the federal government for their retirement made the same mistake as those who did not diversify their portfolio, but put all their stock in Enron. We all need to admit our mistakes and then learn from them. We need to rally around those in need on a community level, not a federal level, but there can be nation-wide private organizations to help. Our current congressman has been putting off the tough decisions for ten years, doing only what gets by for elections every two years.

Tough times are coming.

2. Nobody gets anything BUT government benefits.

Economists estimate a tax of more than 70% is needed to fund all unfunded liabilities (Social Security, Medicare, etc.). Kiss your car, your nice home, your HDTV, nice clothes, and 3,000 calories a day good bye: they'll be taken in taxes, but you'll get a nice little social security check (did I say "little?") and a place on a waiting list for government health care and prescription drugs.

3. People get digits on government-issued pieces of paper, along with economic chaos.

Our social security page contains testimony before Congress by the Social Security Commissioner. He is asked if government will use the power it allegedly (not really) possesses to alter the value of the currency -- that is, to "print up the money" needed to pay the Social Security benefits. "I agree," he says, admitting that recipients will get their benefits check, though the checks may not be worth anything. Sorta like Zimbabwe, where a loaf of bread can be bought with just a few billion dollars:

See also comments on the Farm Bureau Policy Statement:

Social Security

This is one in a series of blog posts answering questions posed to candidates in the 7th District by the Missouri Farm Bureau. Here is the list of mofb blog posts in this series.

Homeland Security -- mofb #15

2. With regard to homeland security, do you believe additional regulation of agricultural producers is necessary? Please explain.

No additional regulation is necessary.
Terrorists are not mad at farmers, they are mad at the U.S. federal government. The federal government is responsible for the deaths of nearly two million innocent non-combatant civilians in Iraq alone since 1989. U.S. foreign policy must be changed, not the practices of agriculture.

Foreign Intervention
The U.S./Islamic-Oil Connection
National Security
Defense Budget
Swords Into Plowshares
World War II and its Lessons

See also comments on the Farm Bureau Policy Statement

National Defense

This is one in a series of blog posts answering questions posed to candidates in the 7th District by the Missouri Farm Bureau. Here is the list of mofb blog posts in this series.

Immigration -- mofb #14


1. Please explain your views on U.S. immigration policy, including any measures you would support to reform current laws.

I am pro-immigration, and my views are inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty. Alexis de Tocqueville pointed out the benefits of voluntary associations which met immigrants at the docks and Americanized them. These efforts are what's needed, not a militarization of the border:

The Constitution gives the federal government no power at all over who can visit the U.S., for how long, and who can hire them. The only power given to the federal government in the Constitution is the power to determine standards of citizenship for people who want to stay.

Immigration benefits the U.S. economy. I have examined contrary claims here:

Immigration Overview
Immigration in a Division of Labor Economy
Why Immigration Enhances Our Culture
Why Immigration Increases Our Technology
Positive Effects of Population Growth through Immigration
The Case for Free Immigration
Refutation of the Arguments Against Free Immigration
Why Immigration Increases Capital
Why Immigration Raises Real Wage Rates
Legalized Immigration Does Not Destroy Our Culture
A Biblical Discussion about Immigration with Chuck Baldwin
Downward Shift In Libertarian Party Platform
Why Immigration Laws are Unconstitutional
Controlling Immigration without government coercion

See also comments on the Farm Bureau Policy Statement:

Foreign Policy

This is one in a series of blog posts answering questions posed to candidates in the 7th District by the Missouri Farm Bureau. Here is the list of mofb blog posts in this series.

Tax and Fiscal Policy -- mofb #13

Tax and Fiscal Policy

1. Do you support eliminating the estate tax from the federal tax code on a permanent basis no later than 2010?

Yes _____X_____ No __________

If no, what specifically would you support?

2. Do you support repeal of the Alternative Minimum Tax?

_____X_____ Yes ______ No

3. Tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 will expire in 2010 without Congressional action. Do you support:
_________ Allowing the tax cuts to expire
_________ Extending the tax cuts
____X____ Making the tax cuts permanent
Please explain.

I oppose taxation. It is the moral equivalent of theft. America’s Founding Fathers threw tea into the Boston Harbor over a tax of 3 pence per pound. We pay ten times that amount on every gallon of gas. Tom Paine noted that 1 Samuel 8 indicates God’s displeasure over a king who demands as much (10%) as God does. The current federal government demands six times more than God does. See:

If you want taxes cut back to the level of British “tyranny,” you need someone who passionately opposes taxation, not just a “moderate” opponent.

4. There is growing dissatisfaction with the scope and complexity of the federal tax code. Would you support:

Major reform of the current tax code? ____Y______
A flat tax? ____Y______
The FairTax? ____Y____
Other options? ___Y___

Please explain your answer.

I would temporarily support any and all proposals that would demonstrably lead toward lower taxes.

Ultimately I favor the complete abolition of the Federal Income Tax and the IRS.

I favor cutting government spending commensurate with the abolition of the Federal Income Tax.

If we abolished the federal income tax entirely, and cut all government programs by the amount of money brought in by the personal income tax, we would have to cut the federal government back to the size it was during Bill Clinton’s second term in office.

Direct taxation is actually not the biggest burden on the American taxpayer. Social Security "contributions" confiscate more from many Americans than the Income Tax. Add to that the corporate income tax which is passed on to consumers. Finally there's The Inflation Tax. All of this is because special interests want money from the government, and they endorse the politicians that promise them that money. Sound "fiscal policy" begins with the notion that it is unethical to use government to take money from other people if you can't persuade them to give it to you or exchange it with you for something they want more.

See also Government Debt -- mofb #3

And comments on the Farm Bureau Policy Statement:

Monetary, Spending and Tax Policies

This is one in a series of blog posts answering questions posed to candidates in the 7th District by the Missouri Farm Bureau. Here is the list of mofb blog posts in this series.

Energy -- mofb #12


1. Would you support greater emphasis on the exploration, development, and utilization of domestic oil and natural gas?

Yes ___X______ No, not by the federal government

In all of the questions below, the proper role of the government is to get out of the way and let the Free Market develop the alternatives. No federal funds are justified.

If yes, which of the following do you support? (Please check all that apply)
_____X_____ Developing energy resources within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Outer Continental Shelf
_____X_____ Increasing the production, availability and utilization of renewable energy
_____X_____ Streamlining permit requirements for siting and constructing new oil refineries
_____X_____ Expediting the construction of liquefied natural gas terminals
_____X_____ Providing incentives for the use of clean coal technology in electric power generation
_____X_____ Expanding nuclear power generation

I support the freedom of property owners to pursue the means that will best serve consumers.

If “incentives” means cutting taxes and regulation, I support it. If it means tax-funded subsidies, I’m against it.

2. Would you support legislation to temporarily reduce or suspend the Federal Renewable Fuel Standard, as modified by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007?

Yes ____X_____ No ___________

If yes, please explain:

I oppose all federal fuel standards. I oppose federal funding of alternative energy sources. Energy should be consumer/market driven.

3. Please explain what you have done, or will do if elected, to address America's energy crisis.

The “energy crisis” is caused entirely by the federal government, led by environmentalist lobbies. Educating America about the facts is the most important priority. We should not promote the myth that Congress is doing anything but making the situation worse.

See also comments on the Farm Bureau Policy Statement:


This is one in a series of blog posts answering questions posed to candidates in the 7th District by the Missouri Farm Bureau. Here is the list of mofb blog posts in this series.

Natural Resources and the Environment -- mofb #11

Natural Resources and the Environment

1. Do you support legislation to broaden the jurisdiction of the federal Clean Water Act beyond navigable waters and streams to all intrastate waters?

Yes __________ No _____X_____

If yes, please explain:

Everybody wants clean water. Everybody wants clean water on their own property. Nobody wants to pay to clean up somebody else's property. Everyone who trespasses on someone else's property should make restitution and clean it up. Private property preserves the environment. Socialism destroys it.

2. Do you support legislative reform of the Endangered Species Act to protect private property rights?

Yes ______X______ No ___________

If no, please explain:

Species should be privately owned by those who want to protect them.

If You Love Nature, Desocialize It

3. Do you support legislation to amend the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 to clarify that animal manure is not a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant under these laws?

Yes ____X_______ No _________

If no, please explain:

5. Do you support legislation to establish a cap-and-trade system for reducing greenhouse gas emissions?

Yes _________ No _____X_____

6. Please explain your views on the importance and methods of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Your response should include your views on the use of mandatory or voluntary actions to reduce emissions.

I attach no importance to this at all.

We have been emerging from the “Little Ice Age” for centuries. This “global warming” has obviously not been caused by industrial greenhouse gas emissions. There is no evidence of negative effects during the “Medieval Warm Period,” a time much warmer than that feared by environmentalists. They grew grapes in Scotland and wheat in Greenland.

The costs of reducing greenhouse emissions is not outweighed by any provable benefits.

Global Warming

See also comments on the Farm Bureau Policy Statement:

Natural Resources

This is one in a series of blog posts answering questions posed to candidates in the 7th District by the Missouri Farm Bureau. Here is the list of mofb blog posts in this series.

Water -- mofb #10

3. What are your views relative to changes in the management of the Missouri River?

This is admittedly a difficult question for someone who wants to follow the Constitution as it was originally intended to be followed, as well as following a principle of liberty and Free Markets.

I do not believe that the mating requirements of the pallid sturgeon outweigh the economic interests of human beings. I appreciate the interests of the MoFB in opposing any shift in the primary purpose of the upstream dams and reservoirs towards recreational and environmental goals at the expense of flood control, navigation and water availability for community public water supply and power generation.

In the long run, political management of resources is a failure. Market-driven management is best. But as with highways, a return to the Constitution and Free Markets is not yet being discussed. When the discussion begins, answers will come forward. Until then, Congress will continue to ignore Free Market solutions.

4. Do you support maintaining the network of federal, state, and private levees along our nation's inland waterway system?

Yes _________ No ___X______

Please explain:

The question is not whether the levees should be maintained, but by whom. Who should decide and who should fund?

It is not a federal responsibility.

I recognize the importance of well-maintained levees to prevent flood damage and enhance productivity. I oppose needless federal regulations which obstruct the maintenance of levees. My commitment is to develop long-term solutions. Necessity is the mother of invention. The drafters of the Constitution mistakenly called for a government postal system, unable to imagine how the Free Market might have someday show itself capable of delivering the nation’s mail more efficiently than the government. No one can map out exactly how the Free Market would deal with water management, but we should move in that direction by eliminating all unconstitutional federal intervention, as well as federal powers which might be constitutional but are inconsistent with the principles of laissez-faire capitalism (such as the Post Office.

5. The Water Resources Development Act of 2007 authorized the construction of small and large scale improvements on the Upper Mississippi River, including the construction of seven new 1,200-foot locks on the Upper Mississippi River and Illinois Waterway.

Do you support this authorization, and if elected, would you support full-funding each fiscal year?

______ Yes ____X_____ No

If no, please explain:

I recognize that utilization of the inland waterway system is critical to the long-term success of American agriculture. But there are two considerations that must take center stage. First, the federal government is bankrupt, according to the Federal Reserve. Second, federal funding of these projects is contrary to the Free Market principles of the Constitution. Both of these factors demand that we begin a radical re-thinking of this infrastructure. Private think-tanks have done much study, but politicians refuse to consider the necessity of returning to America’s “Experiment in Liberty.” In every area of life where it has been tried, property rights and a Free Market have produced the most efficient management of natural resources.

This is one in a series of blog posts answering questions posed to candidates in the 7th District by the Missouri Farm Bureau. Here is the list of mofb blog posts in this series.

Transportation -- mofb #9

Transportation and Infrastructure

1. The five-year Federal highway bill authorizing surface transportation programs for highways, highway safety, and transit expires September 30, 2009. What are your priorities for the reauthorization?

I agree with Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John C. Calhoun, and Andrew Jackson, that the federal government has no constitutional authority for “internal improvements,” and that this is a form of British mercantilism. Federal highway bills are always laden with pork for special interests.

There are many proposals for returning transportation to the Free Market, as it was in the early decades after the Constitution was ratified, but this discussion is not even permitted at this time – too many politicians want their “Bridge to Nowhere.”


Deaths by Government: Another Missing Chapter by Walter Block

The Hidden Costs of Road Socialism by Mark R. Crovelli

Murder on the Roads by Nathan McKaskle

Murder on the Roads, Part II by Nathan McKaskle

The Role of Private Transportation in America's 19th-Century “Internal Improvements” Debate By Thomas J. DiLorenzo

2. Do you support H.R. 3098, legislation to clarify and streamline the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations as they pertain to farmers hauling their own commodities from farm to market?

Yes ____X_____ No __________

See also comments on the Farm Bureau Policy Statement:


This is one in a series of blog posts answering questions posed to candidates in the 7th District by the Missouri Farm Bureau. Here is the list of mofb blog posts in this series.

Trade Sanctions; Cuba -- mofb #8

4. Please explain your views on the use of embargoes or economic sanctions that include U.S. agricultural products.

Every attempt by the federal government to bring down a dictator by denying the oppressed people of that country the right to buy food from American farmers is unconstitutional, unethical, and has never worked.

Trade Sanctions

5. Do you support easing current restrictions on the sale of U.S. agricultural products to Cuba?

____X____Yes _________No

Please explain your answer.

The United States could help improve Cuba's poor human rights record and reveal Fidel Castro's regime as the main source of Cuba's economic troubles by lifting the trade and investment embargo, restoring the right of Americans to travel to Cuba and act as ambassadors of capitalism, and rejecting any current or proposed official aid to groups inside Cuba.


This is one in a series of blog posts answering questions posed to candidates in the 7th District by the Missouri Farm Bureau. Here is the list of mofb blog posts in this series

Trade Agreements -- mofb #7

The next section of the Missouri Farm Bureau's Candidate questionniare is

International Trade

1. Please explain your views on multilateral and bilateral free trade negotiations with regard to U.S. farmers and ranchers.

I support truly free trade.

“Free trade” in most “free trade agreements” really means “managed trade.” The new structures of government that are put in place to manage trade are not “bound down by the chains of the Constitution” (to quote Jefferson). They are dangerous.

“Free trade” means the elimination of restrictions on trade, not the creation and enforcement of an entirely new system of trade law. American farmers and ranchers should not be subjected to the regulatory powers of foreign, regional, or global governments.

2. Do you believe environmental and labor issues should be included in trade agreements?

_______ Yes ___X_____ No

Please explain:

I am basically opposed to “trade agreements.” The federal government should do what is right (e.g., abolish uncompetitive tariffs and unconstitutional regulations) regardless of whether foreign countries agree to do the same.

Generally, putting “environmental” and “labor” issues in such agreements is a way to sneak in regulations that could not otherwise be passed due to their unpopularity, and have them enforced by unelected, unrepresentative foreign and regional governments, or to avoid issues that would be passed because of popular demand.

3. Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) for the President expired on June 30, 2007. Would you support legislation to renew TPA?

_______Yes ____X____ No

Unconstitutional "Trade Promotion Authority"

International Trade

6. Legislation to implement trade promotion agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea are pending in Congress. Do you support:

Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement
________ Yes ___X____ No
Panama Trade Promotion Agreement
_______ Yes ___X____ No
South Korea Free Trade Agreement
_______ Yes ___X____ No

Please explain your answer.

I support truly free trade. These agreements create trade which is not free, but managed by new levels of government. The creation of free trade simply requires the elimination of government barriers to trade. It does not require the creation of more levels of bureaucracy. The United States should practice free trade because it is the ethical and constitutional thing to do, regardless of what corrupt foreign governments choose to do. These agreements are stepping-stones to global government.

7. Would you vote to ratify the Kyoto Global Climate Treaty?

_______ Yes ___X____ No

See also comments on the Farm Bureau Policy Statement:

International Trade

This is one in a series of blog posts answering questions posed to candidates in the 7th District by the Missouri Farm Bureau. Here is the list of mofb blog posts in this series.

Animal Rights -- mofb #6

5. Please share your thoughts on the legislative, regulatory and legal attempts by animal rights activists to restrict livestock and poultry production and processing.

Animal cruelty is a legitimate concern of consumers (Proverbs 12:10), but “animal rights activists” tend to be infected with the pagan religion of “environmentalism,” which worships the sub-human and believes human beings should be exterminated. It is a perverse religion.

Certainly this is not a federal issue, but state and local governments should let consumers choose to buy or not to buy poultry and livestock, rather than have that choice made for them by the government.
Animal Rights

List of mofb blog posts in this series

National Animal Identification System -- mofb #5

4. What are your thoughts on the National Animal Identification System and what role should the federal government play?

No role. The Constitution does not allow it. The NAIS is favored by special interests who hope to benefit from government-funded information, and impose burdens on smaller competitors.


[This post is one in a series setting forth my answers to the Missouri Farm Bureau's Candidate Questionnaire. Table of Contents.]

Added-value commodities mofb #4

3. Many agricultural producers are attempting to gain a larger share of the consumer food dollar by adding value to their commodities. What role should the federal government play in this industry?

I am no friend of taxes, so I support “tax incentives” wherever possible (where this means a reduction of taxes). I am opposed to all other forms of affirmative incentives, such as government grants or loan guarantees.

Congressman Blunt has an "Agriculture Specialist" who undoubtedly expedites the filling out of the Farm Bureau's detailed questionnaire. I admit I don't know what kind of regulations are currently being considered or enforced relative to value-added commodities. One writer speaks of "regulations involved with food processing," while another says,

Anytime you add value to a commodity, it falls into a totally different category for regulations. And those regulations can be very confusing. Even for those who are considered "experts", it's even confusing.

The Missouri Alternatives Center gives a huge long list of regulators, regulations, and penalties that burden a wide range of agricultural activity any time a farmer attempts to gain market share by adding value to the fruits of his labor. But the list is very general, not specific.

I admit I don't know diddly about agriculture, but if I were to be elected, I would have to take an oath to "support the Constitution," not "be an all-wise, all-knowing Agriculture Czar." I believe in the original intent of the Framers, who viewed the Constitution as a document of “enumerated powers.” The federal government has no authority whatsoever to regulate Missouri agriculture, period. I don't have to know what benefits are purported to be the result of 1,001 government regulations. I would violate my oath of office to impose any one of them. I'm proud to run on a "know-nothing, regulate-nothing" platform.

List of mofb blog posts in this series

Comments on Farm Bureau Policy Statement:

Agricultural Credit

Agricultural Research

Corporate Agriculture

Farm Policy

Agricultural Marketing and Regulation

Government Debt -- mofb #3

Since so many questions on the Missouri Farm Bureau candidates' questionnaire related to specific appropriations requested by the Farm Bureau, I took a question from p. 6 of the questionnaire and put it closer to the top. I comes from the section labled:

Tax and Fiscal Policy

5. What are your thoughts on the current federal budget deficit? Are additional measures warranted to reduce the deficit?

On this webpage I have links to reports from two branches of the Federal Reserve:

One report is entitled, “Is the United States Bankrupt?” The answer is yes. Another report gives the latest numbers. They are truly terrifying.

If the Missouri Farm Bureau endorses the incumbent Congressman, the Bureau endorses the policies of bankruptcy. This would be utterly irresponsible. It borders on the criminal. To bring the Fed’s numbers down to size, the Farm Bureau would be endorsing the following candidate:

He tries to support a large family on a salary of $50,000 per year. But he doesn’t; each year he adds about $8,000 in credit card debt to a total that now stands at $150,000. He wants to “help the needy,” so he used the internet (eBay, PayPal, e-gold, and other services) to borrow $1,000 from 1,500 people, which he distributed rather indiscriminately to people who said they needed the money. The unsecured loans are legally collectable. Now he has a “green technology” scheme he wants you to “invest” in. He wants to spend money “helping Missouri Agriculture.”

The man described is, of course, the federal government, which racks up half a trillion dollars in relatively-low interest credit card debt every year, and has legal liabilities amounting to $330,000 for every man, woman and child in America, debts which he has no prospect of being able to pay.

The man obviously has an obsessive-compulsive disorder. You increase the pain he will one day suffer (along with those who come to depend on him) by feeding his delusions by asking for “appropriations” for infrastructure or inspections or anything else that might benefit agriculture in the short run, but destroys America in the long run.

The CFO of any private corporation who handled the company pension plan the way the government handles social security, and reported to his stockholders the way the federal government reports on its financial condition, would go to prison.

Not only should the Missouri Farm Bureau not endorse these policies, but it should take a lead in boldly repudiating them. The first step would be to endorse Kevin Craig rather than the incumbent and his 10-year track record of not looking past the next election.

List of mofb blog posts in this series

"Rural America" - mofb #2

The Missouri Farm Bureau questionnaire is like a final exam in a college course on agriculture, economics, and politics. The Farm Bureau policy statement is comprehensive and detailed. I wish other groups took their political endorsements as seriously. Here are the first two questions:

1. If elected, what will your legislative priorities be for agriculture and rural America?

I think the phrase "legislative priorites" is at war with the phrase "Rural America."

The phrase “rural America” used to mean something. It was symbolized by a man of hard work, faith, values, character and community. The opposite, “urban man,” meant impersonal anonymity, the atheist, the gambler.

"Rural America" used to be:

• a nation under God;
• founded on spiritual belief and trust in God;
• a place where the Ten Commandments were taught in every school;
a place where abortion, drug abuse, and homosexuality were not condoned;
• personally concerned for the poor, not lobbying for government assistance;
• a model of thrift and living within one's means;
• forgiving, not vengeful;
• people who stood for limited government, property rights, and personal responsibility;
• opposed to the United Nations and global socialism

But alongside all those rural values are "legislative priorities": a wish-list for a political Santa Claus, filled with demands for federal funding of all sorts of agriculture-related or -benefiting programs. The desire for federal funding of these programs is both unconstitutional and inconsistent with the values of "rural America."

Whatever “Rural America” used to be, “Rural America” is now online, and the difference between “rural” and “urban” is disappearing. This is because of the growth of the Federal Government, with its control of education, its war on religion and morality, its usurpation of community and church oversight of charity, its debasement of the currency and manipulation of credit through the “monetization of debt,” its denial of property and privacy rights, and its subsidization of wasteful and destructive special interests.

The Federal government is the most profound enemy of agriculture and "rural America."

Rural America must no longer be another “special interest” looking for favors from the federal government. Rural America does not need a Congressman “experienced” in tinkering with the system and manipulating the legislative process. If Rural America “gets” 1% from Washington, it must surrender 20%. This war will not be won wearing Saul’s armor.

My “legislative priorities” are basically to repeal the “legislative priorities” of the Republicans and Democrats over the last few generations.

Congress passes very few laws compared with the regulatory agencies. If elected, I would spend most of my time “evangelizing” the rest of Congress to be faithful to the Constitution and America’s original vision of “Liberty Under God.”

2. What do you believe are the biggest challenges facing American farmers and ranchers?

Giving up federal benefits, subsidies, and “protection.” In order to receive these benefits, it is believed that some “compromise” is necessary, meaning, allowing other special interests to have their benefits. In this way the federal government has expanded to tyrannical dimensions (if the government identified in the Declaration of Independence could be called a “tyranny” half a dozen times, our present government is far, far more tyrannical).

The biggest challenge facing rural America is looking past short-term promises by politicians and looking down the road to the long-term conseqences of today's appropriations.

List of mofb blog posts in this series

Comments on related Farm Bureau policy:

Missouri Farm Bureau Philosophy

Religious Life



Moral Issues


Missouri Farm Bureau -

Yesterday I spoke before the Missouri Farm Bureau's representatives of the 7th District at the Darr Agricultural Center at Missouri State University. Roy Blunt spoke first. We both spoke at the Jasper County Farm Bureau's event at Carthage High School a month ago, but didn't speak to each other. This time he made a point of seeking me out to say hi, which struck me as gracious.

Nevertheless, I made it clear to Farm Bureau members that despite his superior social and political skills, America's Founding Fathers would unanimously and strongly urge the Farm Bureau not to endorse Roy Blunt for a 6th time, but endorse Kevin Craig and the platform of "Liberty Under God." Of course the Farm Bureau endorsed Roy Blunt.

The next few posts on this blog will be the answers from my Farm Bureau questionnaire (cut-and-paste with a few edits and links added) and links to the pages in my Farm Bureau website, which haven't yet been spidered by Google.


If the men who signed the Declaration of Independence and Constitution could see America in 2008, they would be absolutely horrified. As surely as they abolished the British government over the colonies, they would abolish the present government over the states. They would be called “extremists.” They would not endorse a candidate who promised small tax reductions, political compromises, and negotiated amendments to a web of federal regulations, and for ten years has overseen the growth (not the reduction) of a horrifyingly un-American government.

America’s Founders spoke of their “Experiment in Liberty,” and during the first 100 years under the Constitution, their experiment was proven a success: America became the most prosperous and admired nation in history. But during the second 100 years (the 20th century), Washington D.C. tried another experiment: an experiment in central planning, and America is now bankrupt and despised. Planners in Washington also led nations like Italy, Germany and Russia in this experiment. This experiment in central planning was a dismal failure, leading to poverty and death wherever it was tried. We must make a radical break with 20th-century socialism just as America's Founding Fathers broke from 18th-century mercantilism. We must make the 21st century the centur of laissez-faire capitalism.

Kevin Craig is guided by the principles of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, which he sums up in his campaign slogan, “"Liberty Under God.” He believes America’s Founders took both liberty and religion seriously, and the current government is at war with both.

Kevin Craig is the founder of a non-profit educational organization called “Vine & Fig Tree.” The phrase would be familiar to America’s Founding Fathers, who knew of the many Biblical references to a time when we beat our “swords into plowshares” and everyone dwells safely “under his own vine and fig tree.” This was the original “American Dream.”

Kevin Craig listens to the Missouri Farm Bureau. He has responded line-by-line to the Bureau’s policy statement at

Blog Posts in this Series:

Missouri Farm Bureau -
"Rural America" - mofb #2
Government Debt -- mofb #3
Added-value commodities mofb #4
National Animal Identification System -- mofb #5
Animal Rights -- mofb #6
Trade Agreements -- mofb #7
Trade Sanctions; Cuba -- mofb #8
Transportation -- mofb #9
Water -- mofb #10
Natural Resources and the Environment -- mofb #11
Energy -- mofb #12
Tax and Fiscal Policy -- mofb #13
Immigration -- mofb #14
Homeland Security -- mofb #15
Social Security -- mofb #16
Intellectual Property -- mofb #17


One Farm Bureau member told me I was too negative, and that I have to get along with others, and not just complain about things. This is a helpful comment. In the future I will not just rant only about how the federal government has destroyed the original American dream of "Vine & Fig Tree," but I will stress how that dream is still possible, and offer practical speculations on how it would work -- if we get the federal government out of the way. But if I were elected, I don't know exactly how I would "work with" those who want to bomb entire neighborhoods in Iraq, instead of criticizing such policies. But I think I'm a nice guy, reasonable, and cool-headed. I try to criticize policies, not people.
Here are the pages from my Missouri Farm Bureau sub-directory, in the order in which I recommend reading them:
Many of these pages from the Missouri Farm Bureau's policy statement relate primarily to state and local issues, and I have not commented on them.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Lost Rights, Fifteen Years Later

James Bovard has reprinted on his blog the Introductory Chapter from Lost Rights (1994), written in 1993. The direction of the federal government -- away from the Constitution and toward USSR-style socialism -- has proceeded unimpaired in the last 15 years, so this chapter is still worth reading. (And the book is worth buying -- use our links.)



Government is not reason, it is not eloquence — it is force.[1]

The Restraint of Government is the True Liberty and Freedom of the People.[2]

Americans’ liberty is perishing beneath the constant growth of government power. Federal, state, and local governments are confiscating citizens’ property, trampling their rights, and decimating their opportunities more than ever before.

Americans today must obey thirty times as many laws as their great-grandfathers had to obey at the turn of the century.[3] Federal agencies publish an average of over 200 pages of new rulings, regulations, and proposals in the Federal Register each business day. The growth of the federal statute book is one of the clearest measures of the increase of the government control of the citizenry. But the effort to improve society by the endless multiplication of penalties, prohibitions, and prison sentences is a dismal failure.

The attack on individual rights has reached the point where a citizen has no right to use his own land if a government inspector discovers a wet area on it, no right to the money in his bank account if an IRS agent decides he might have dodged taxes, and no right to the cash in his wallet if a DEA dog sniffs at his pants. A man’s home is his castle, except if a politician covets the land the house is built on, or if his house is more than fifty years old, or if he has too many relatives living with him, or if he has old cars parked in his driveway, or if he wants to add a porch or deck. Nowadays, a citizen’s use of his own property is presumed illegal until approved by multiple zoning and planning commissions. Government redevelopment officials confiscate large chunks of cities, evicting owners from their homes and giving the land to other private citizens to allow them to reap a windfall profit. Since 1985, federal, state, and local governments have seized the property of over 200,000 Americans under asset forfeiture laws, often with no more evidence of wrongdoing than an unsubstantiated assertion made by an anonymous government informant.

A. V. Dicey, the great English constitutional scholar, wrote in 1885, “Discretionary authority on the part of the government means insecurity for legal freedom on the part of subjects.”[4] Government officials now exert vast arbitrary power over citizens’ daily lives, from Equal Employment Opportunity Commission bureaucrats that can levy a $145,000 fine on a Chicago small businessman because he did not have 8.45 blacks on his payroll to federal agricultural bureaucrats that can prohibit Arizona farmers from selling 58 percent of their fresh lemons to other Americans. Customs Service inspectors can wantonly chainsaw import shipments without compensating the owner, Labor Department officials can nullify millions of employment contracts with a creative new interpretation of an old law, and federal bank regulators are officially empowered to seize the assets of any citizen for allegedly violating written or unwritten banking regulations. Federal regulations dictate what price milk must sell for, what size California nectarines can be sold, what crops a person may grow on his own land, what apparel items a woman may sew in her own home, and how old a person must be to deliver Domino’s pizzas. The Internal Revenue Service is carrying out a massive campaign against the self-employed that seeks to force over half of America’s independent contractors to abandon their own businesses. From Drug Enforcement Administration agents seizing indoor gardening stores in order to prevent people from cultivating the wrong types of plants to Food and Drug Administration agents with automatic weapons raiding medical-supply companies, government agencies are more out of control than ever before. And the Supreme Court — the supposed protector of the Bill of Rights — has imposed scant curbs on the capricious power of federal employees.

Privacy is vanishing beneath the rising floodtide of government power. Government officials have asserted a de facto right to search almost anybody, almost any time, on almost any pretext. The average American now has far less freedom from having government officials strip-search his children, rummage through his luggage, ransack his house, sift through his bank records, and trespass in his fields. Today, a citizen’s constitutional right to privacy can be nullified by the sniff of a dog.[5] Florida police recently announced that they must be allowed to smash down people’s front doors without knocking because modern plumbing makes it too easy for drug violators to flush away evidence. Army units, National Guard troops, and military helicopters conduct sweeps through northern California, Kentucky, New Mexico, and Arizona, trampling crops, killing dogs, and generally seeking to maximize intimidation in a search for politically incorrect plants. Federal officials have given rewards to hundreds of airline ticket clerks for reporting the names of individuals who paid for their tickets in cash, thereby allowing police to confiscate the rest of people’s wallets on mere suspicion of illegal behavior. Local police are conducting programs in 200,000 classrooms that sometimes result in young children informing police on parents who violate drug laws. The number of federally authorized wiretaps has almost quadrupled since 1980,[6] and the Federal Bureau of Investigation is trying to prohibit the development of new types of phones that would be more difficult to wiretap.[7]

Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are increasingly under assault by ambitious bureaucrats and spiteful politicians. In many locales, politicians have filed multimillion-dollar libel suits against private citizens who criticized them. Even congressmen and senators have used massive libel suits to spike critical comments by leading newspapers. Federal bureaucrats have the power to revoke the licenses of private radio and television stations, thereby blunting the broadcast media’s criticism of the government. A chain of twenty small newspapers in California was bankrupted as a result of a government-financed lawsuit over a classified housing ad that mentioned “adults preferred” — a violation of the Fair Housing Act’s ban on advertisements that discriminate against families with children. The Food and Drug Administration is preventing cancer patients from learning about legally approved drugs that could save their lives solely because the drug makers have not spent the millions of dollars necessary to satisfy the FDA’s certification process to advertise additional uses. The proliferation of vague federal regulations has had a severe chilling effect on the free speech of millions of businessmen who cannot criticize federal agencies without risking retaliation that could destroy them. As part of the war on pornography, parents have been jailed for taking pictures of their babies in bathtubs.[8] Thanks to a 1992 federal appeals court decision and a late 1993 congressional uproar, even pictures of clothed children can now be considered pornographic — thus greatly increasing the number of Americans who can be prosecuted for violating obscenity laws.[9]

The government is manufacturing more criminals now than ever before. The government is increasingly choosing the citizen-target, creating the crime, and then vigorously prosecuting the violator. During the past fifteen years, law enforcement officials have set up thousands of elaborate schemes to entrap people for “crimes” such as buying plant supplies, asking for a job, or shooting deer. Dozens of private accountants have become double agents, receiving government kickbacks for betraying their clients to the IRS.

Total federal spending has increased from under $100 billion in 1963 to over $1.5 trillion in 1994, and as spending has grown, so has bureaucratic control and political power. Since 1960, the federal government has created over a thousand new subsidy programs for everything from medical care to housing to culture to transportation.[10] Government controls have followed a short step behind the subsidies; as a result, more and more in our society and economy are now dependent upon government approval. Subsidies are the twentieth-century method of humane conquest: slow political coups d’etat over one sector of the economy and society after another. Government subsidies have become a major factor in squeezing out unsubsidized developers, unsubsidized schools, unsubsidized theater producers, and unsubsidized farmers.

Beggaring the taxpayer has become the main achievement of the welfare state. The federal tax system is turning individuals into sharecroppers of their own lives. The government’s crusade to, in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s words, provide people with “freedom from want” has paved the way for unlimited taxation. In the 1930s, New Deal planners waxed eloquent about “potential plenty” and denounced businessmen for refusing to unleash a cornucopia of higher living standards. Now, in the 1990s, we have “potential plenty” — except for government policies that hollow out people’s paychecks and preempt their efforts to build better lives for themselves.

Total government spending now amounts to roughly 43 percent of the national income.[11] On top of this, the Clinton administration’s Task Force on Reinventing Government estimated in September 1993 that “the cost to the private sector of complying with [government] regulations is at least $430 billion annually — 9 percent of our gross domestic product!”[12] Nobel Laureate economist Milton Friedman observes, “The private economy has become an agent of the federal government…. At least 50 percent of the total productive resources of our nation are now being organized through the political market. In that very important sense, we are more than half socialist.”[13] The average American now works over half of each year simply to pay the cost of government taxes and regulations.

High taxes have created a moral inversion in the relationship between the citizen and the State. Before the income tax, the government existed to serve the people, at least in some vague nominal sense; now, the people exist to provide financial grist for the State’s mill. Federal court decisions have often bent over backward to stress that citizen’s rights are nearly null and void in conflicts with the IRS. Internal Revenue Service seizures of private property have increased by 400 percent since 1980 and now hit over two million Americans each year.

Not only do we have more laws and regulations than ever before, but the laws themselves are becoming less clear, consistent, and coherent. James Madison observed in The Federalist Papers, “It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be… so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow.”[14] It is now practically impossible for citizens to keep track of government’s latest edicts; as the Clinton administration’s September 1993 report on reinventing government noted, “The full stack of personnel laws, regulations, directives, case law and departmental guidance that the Agriculture Department uses weighs 1,088 pounds.”[15] Today the law has become a tool with which to force people to behave in ways politicians approve, rather than a clear line that citizens can respect in order to live their lives in privacy and peace. With the proliferation of retroactive regulations, government agencies now have the right to change the rules of the game at any time — even after the game is over. The Rule of Law — the classical concept endorsed by the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 as a restraint on government power — has been replaced by the “Rule of Memo,” whereby federal officials on a whim create new rules to bind and penalize private citizens.

Government now appears more concerned with dictating personal behavior than with protecting citizens from murderers, muggers, and rapists. In 1990, for the first time in history, the number of people sentenced to prison for drug violations exceeded the number of people sentenced for violent crimes.[16] The number of people incarcerated in federal and state prisons in 1992 was almost triple the number incarcerated in 1980, and America now has a higher percentage of its population in prison than any other country.[17] Unfortunately, the more government has tried to control people’s behavior, the more out of control American society has become. Violence is at an alltime record high: over five million Americans were robbed, assaulted, raped, or murdered in 1992.[18]

Coercion has become more refined and more pervasive in recent decades. We rarely see scenes like the Los Angeles police beating Rodney King or IRS agents dragging Amish tax resisters out of their meager homes. But just because few people physically resist government agents does not mean that the State is violating fewer people’s rights. The level of coercion imposed by government agencies is less evident today primarily because the vast majority of citizens surrender to government demands before the government resorts to force. Economist J. A. Schumpeter wrote: “Power wins, not by being used, but by being there.”[19] The lack of an armed uprising is no proof of a lack of aggression.

The key to contemporary American political thinking is the neutering of the State — the idea that modern government has been defanged, domesticated, tamed. Many Americans apparently believe that modern politicians and policy experts have been wise enough to create a Leviathan that does not trample the people it was created to serve. The question of individual liberty is now often portrayed as a question of a ruler’s intentions toward the citizenry. But lasting institutions are far more important than transient intentions. And the last seventy years have seen the sapping of most restraints on arbitrary government power. American political thinking suffers from a romantic tendency to appraise government by lofty ideals rather than by banal and often grim realities; a tendency to judge politicians by their rhetoric rather than by their day-to-day finagling and petty mendacity; and a tendency to view the expansion of government power by its promises rather than by its results.

The decline of liberty results not only from specific acts of government — but also from the cumulative impact of hundreds of thousands of government decrees, hundreds of taxes, and legions of government officials with discretionary power over other Americans. We have tried to improve the quality of life by vastly increasing the amount of coercion, by multiplying police powers, by giving one group of people the power to command others as to how they must live. The power that accumulates in a centralized government is not put in a display case at the Smithsonian Institution — it is used in everyday life. The larger government becomes, the more coercive it will be — almost regardless of the intentions of those who advocate a larger government.

Americans’ comprehension of liberty and the threats to its survival has declined sharply since the nation’s birth. The Massachusetts colonists rebelled after the British agents received “writs of assistance” that allowed them to search any colonist’s property. Modern Americans submit passively to government sweep searches of buses, schools, and housing projects. Virginia revolted in part because King George imposed a two-pence tax on the sale of a pound of tea; Americans today are complacent while Congress imposes billions of dollars of retroactive taxes — even on people who have already died. Connecticut rebelled in part because the British were undermining the independence of judges; nowadays, federal agencies have the power to act as prosecutor, judge, and jury in suits against private citizens. Maine revolted in part because the British Parliament issued a decree confiscating every white pine tree in the colony; modern Americans are largely complacent when local governments impose almost unlimited restrictions on individuals’ rights to use their own property. The initial battles of the Revolution occurred after British troops tried to seize the colonists’ private weapons; today, residents in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and other cities submit to de facto prohibitions on handgun ownership imposed by the same governments that grossly fail to protect citizens from private violence.

The 1775 Revolution was largely a revolt against growing arbitrary power.[20] Nowadays, seemingly the only principle is to have no political principle: to judge each act of government in a vacuum, to assume that each expansion of government power and each nullification of individuals’ rights will have no future impact. The Founding Fathers looked at the liberties they were losing, while modern Americans focus myopically on the freedoms they still retain.

America needs fewer laws, not more prisons. By trying to seize far more power than is necessary over American citizens, the federal government is destroying its own legitimacy. We face a choice not of anarchy or authoritarianism, but a choice of limited government or unlimited government. Because government is a necessary evil, it is necessary to vigilantly limit government’s disruption of citizens’ lives. John Locke, whose Second Treatise of Government had a profound influence on the Founding Fathers’ thinking, wrote: “The end of Law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge Freedom.”[21] The Founding Fathers realized that some amount of government was necessary in order to prevent a “war of all against all.” But coercion remains an evil that must be minimized in a free society. The ideal is not to abolish all government — but to structure government to achieve the greatest respect for citizens’ rights and the least violation of their liberties.

Regrettably, the examples in this book do not divide themselves as neatly and cleanly as an author or reader might wish. Thus, there will be some overlap in analyses of specific government agencies among chapters. But I hope the book will help readers to navigate the maze of government policies and to better understand how much power government officials now hold over their daily lives.

The question is not whether Americans have lost all their liberties, but whether the average American is becoming less free with each passing year, with each session of Congress, with each new shelf row of Federal Register dictates. As a Revolutionary-era pamphleteer declared in 1768, “As the total subjection of a people arises generally from gradual encroachments, it will be our indispensable duty manfully to oppose every invasion of our rights in the beginning.”[22] Although it is too late to start opposing invasions of our rights “in the beginning,” American liberty can still be rescued from the encroachments of government. The first step to saving our liberty is to realize how much we have already lost, how we lost it, and how we will continue to lose unless fundamental political changes occur.

1. Quoted in H. L Mencken, Prejudices, 2nd ser. (New York: Knopf, 1924), p. 221.
2. John Phillip Reid, The Concept of Liberty in the Age of the American Revolution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), p. 65.
3. Nancy Hollander, “The More Corrupt the Republic, the More the Laws,’” Champion, November 1992, p. 3.
4. A. V. Dicey, Law of the Constitution (Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Classics, 1982), p. 184.
5. Steven Wisotsky, “Crackdown: The Emerging ‘Drug Exception’ to the Bill of Rights,” Hastings Law Journal, vol. 38, July 1987, p. 889.
6. Dan Baum, “
The Drug War on Civil Liberties,” Nation, June 29, 1992 .
7. Sharon LaFraniere, “FBI Asks Wiretap Access to Digital Phone Systems,” Washington Post, March 7, 1992 .
Lawrence A. Stanley, “The Child Porn Myth,” Cardozo Arts and Entertainment Law Journal, vol. 7, 1989, p. 322.
9. David Johnston, “Clinton Calls for Expansion of Child Pornography Laws,” New York Times, November 12, 1993 .
10. For the 1960 number, see William E. Simon, A Time for Truth (New York: Berkeley Books, 1978), p. 101. For the current number of federal subsidy programs, see U.S. Office of Management and Budget, Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Programs (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1992), p. iii.
11. Milton Friedman, “
The Real Free Lunch: Markets and Private Property,” Cato Policy Report, July/August 1993.
12. Report of the National Performance Review—Vice President Al Gore, Creating a Government That Works Better and Costs Less, p. 32.
13. Milton Friedman, “The Real Free Lunch.”
14. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, The Federalist Papers (New York: New American Library, 1961), p. 321.
15. Report of the National Performance Review, Vice President Al Gore, Creating a Government That Works Better and Costs Less (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1993), p. 20.
16. Jerry Seper, “‘92 prison population in U.S. hits new high,” Washington Times, May 10, 1993.
17. Cary Copeland, “National Code of Professional Conduct for Asset Forfeiture,” The Police Chief, October 1993, p. 87.
18. Don Oldenburg , “In Self-Defense,” Washington Post, November 9, 1993.
19. Thomas Sowell, Inside American Education (New York: Free Press, 1993), p. 277.
20. For a good analysis of the intellectual controversies that helped pave the way to the Revolution, see Reid, The Concept of Liberty in the Age of the American Revolution.
21. John Locke, Second Treatise of Government (New York: New American Library, 1965), p. 297.
22. Silks Downer, “A Discourse at the Dedication of the Tree of Liberty,” in American Political Writing during the Founding Era, 1760-1805, ed. Charles S. Honeymoon and Donald S. Lutz (Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Press, 1983), p. 1071.


Book Review: Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty by James Bovard The Foundation for Economic Education: The Freeman, Ideas on Liberty