Sunday, March 6, 2011

Complete Liberty

This is the complete book of Complete Liberty. It is available as a free pdf here, and visit the webpage here. I like pdf, but it didn't work out on my Palm Treo because it was either too wide to fit the screen, or too small to comfortably read. So I converted it back to a text file so I could adjust the width. Once I had done that, why not post it here?

The Demise of the State and the Rise of Voluntary America
Wes Bertrand
Copyleft 2007 by Wesley P. Bertrand
All Rites Reversed; reprint what you like.
This work is hereby released into the Public Domain. To view a copy of
the public domain dedication, visit
or send a letter to:
Creative Commons
543 Howard Street, 5th Floor
San Francisco, California 94105
WHY POLITICS IS SO CONFUSING......................................................................13
Politics In Mid-Stream........................................................................................13
The Timeless Allure Of Communism..................................................................15
America, The Land Of Political Opinions Shaped By The State........................23
FOR WHOM AGAIN?..............................................................................................31
Choose Your Weapon: Representative Democracy Or Popular Democracy.....31
Common And Uncommon Political Sense.........................................................32
General Welfare, Common Good, Public Interest: The Gateway Abstractions .40
How Politicians Work: Let Corruption Ring!.......................................................43
How The Military/Industrial Complex Works: You Scratch My back, Bombs
The Constitution’s Problems: Article I Section 8...Sadly, A Template For
(AFTER A BIT OF INSPECTION)............................................................................65
Freedom In A Nutshell........................................................................................65
Property Is An Extension Of Self-Ownership.....................................................68
To Those Who Dislike Property And Profit.........................................................73
THE IMMORALITY OF POLITICS..........................................................................79
Corporations: The Semi-Good, The Bad, And The Ugly....................................80
The Sand And Molasses Of Statism: Regulation And Preventive Law..............85
For Whom The Market Fails...............................................................................89
Imagine A Free World.........................................................................................91
Effects Of Government On Producers And Consumers....................................94
Schemes Of Villainy...........................................................................................96
Thou Shalt Not Alter Your State Of Mind, With Exceptions.............................101
Thou Shalt Not Take Full Responsibility For Your Own Treatment—Authorities
Will Handle That...............................................................................................105
Thou Shalt Not Do Business Without Joining The State Guild—Licensure....107
ENDING MODERN DAY LETTERS PATENT.......................................................115
Closing Pandora’s Intellectual Box..................................................................116
The Legal Jungle Of Patents, Copyrights, And Trademarks............................118
The Nature of Contracts...................................................................................121
How About IP In Perpetuity?............................................................................125
Creative Commons, And So On.......................................................................127
How The Market Performs Without Intellectual Property................................130
THE DEMISE OF THE STATE...............................................................................137
A Fully Privatized System.................................................................................138
What Abouts And What Ifs: Last Ditch Attempts To Save The State..............141
What About The Bill Of Rights?.......................................................................151
Welcome To The Bill Of Law............................................................................153
Making Sense Of Foreign Policy Nonsense.....................................................163
IF IT’S NATURAL TO BE FREE, WHAT’S STOPPING US?.................................169
Anti-Social Political Behaviors: Lying, Cheating, And Stealing.......................169
Noticing The Obvious, And Judging It Properly...............................................174
Liberty-Oriented Values and Virtues.................................................................177
LIVE FREELY AND NOT DIE!...............................................................................183
In Search Of The Governed’s Consent............................................................183
Changes In Many Points Of View.....................................................................186
First, Free A State............................................................................................189
ADDENDUM: IMPORTANT IAQ (infrequently asked questions).......................203
Law and Property.............................................................................................214
Governmental Domestic Policy........................................................................215
Governmental Foreign Policy...........................................................................216
Governmental Ills.............................................................................................217
Philosophy and Psychology.............................................................................219
Political History................................................................................................219
Political Philosophy..........................................................................................222
ONLINE ARTICLES................................................................................................223
Governmental Domestic Policy........................................................................229
Governmental Foreign Policy...........................................................................230
Governmental Ills.............................................................................................232
Political History................................................................................................237
Political Philosophy..........................................................................................240
Property Issues................................................................................................244
There’s not a single aspect of your life that’s not affected, either
directly or indirectly, by politics. So, the purpose of this book is to
provide you with a clear understanding of modern politics and the
proper response to it—complete liberty. My first book on the general
subject, The Psychology of Liberty, was a wide-ranging philosophical
treatise and was considerably longer than this one. In contrast, you’ll
find that Complete Liberty has a non-scholarly, conversational style. It’s
designed for that special person in your life you want to persuade,
which includes yourself. This person, for some good reason or another,
isn’t interested in perusing long volumes on the fine details of libertari-
anism or vast tomes about the workings of free market economics.
While those types of books certainly have their merits, here I aim to cut
to the chase.
We’ll discover what’s so special about the liberty that we humans
have been missing all these years. “All these years” basically means since
the time we began uttering words alongside our unfortunate Nean-
derthal cousins. Indeed, we’ve never experienced complete liberty as a
species. Rather, we’ve continually experienced some form of oppression
by groups of individuals who are interested in running our lives, making
it seem as if no one has the right to live for one’s own sake. In modern
times, these groups of people take the form of the State.
As noted in the first chapter, totalitarian governments aren’t what
specifically concern us here. Be they monarchies or dictatorships,
they’re way too easy to criticize. Without at least semi-free speech, press,
due process, and trial by jury, all bets are off. Seriously. Run for your
life. Save yourself and your loved ones.
Instead of dealing with the insanities of outright autocracy, we’re
going to examine the inherent problems of the traditionally esteemed
democratic Republic, a government of, by, and for the People. This is
the stuff of high school U.S. history and government classes—stars and
stripes, hand-over-your-heart, national anthem, apple pie goodness.
We’ll explore the major, irreconcilable flaws in this political system
(although apple pie will remain beyond reproach).
Of course, when the People aren’t aware of more enlightened politi-
cal, economic, and ethical ideas, any type of government they sanction
remains a big problem. Without a principled understanding of how to
peacefully live alongside others, we simply can’t overcome the perma-
nent difficulties of politics. The essential problem is this: The State—
government in all its facets—coercively controls aspects of the
economy, which means aspects of people’s lives and property. This is
the furthest from a good thing.
Nearly all intellectuals today, such as professors, talk show hosts,
political pundits, and reporters, approve of the State’s involuntary
nature. Why? There are many reasons, but mainly because those who
claim the right to use coercive power, as well as those who support
them, have not morally integrated the benefits of completely respectful
human interaction. Sure, they may engage in respectful social interaction
on many levels and in many contexts, but respectful political interaction
is like an unknown foreign language to them. Anyone speak Nean-
Legislation, log-rolling, pork barrels, earmarks, politicians, lobbyists,
regulators, taxes, law-enforcement and judges. All go hand in hand, or
more aptly, fist in hand. These iron fists are adept at ruining our lives,
our self-respect, and our respect for others—all while severely crippling
our economy. If you find that hard to believe, well, it’s my intention to
firmly convince you of it in the ensuing pages.
I also intend to convince you of the excellent alternative of
complete liberty. Imagine a world in which your own choices and vol-
untary associations with other people in the marketplace of goods,
services, and ideas are treated with dignity. Imagine a world without
“politics.” That’s what I’m talking about.
The ideas in this book are not new; most have been around for cen-
turies. I’ve endeavored to steer clear of accusations or arguments that
can’t be validated with sound evidence and logic. I’ve also constructed
an extensive bibliography that includes a variety of reputable sources
and articles on the Web as well as from many books; Wikipedia was one
of those Web sources (tip of the hat to Jimmy Wales and all those
Wikipedians). You are free to compare notes as a result, via all the
provided Web links, which may be of great interest to the more vora-
cious, scholarly, or skeptical readers.
In addition to understanding what complete liberty is all about, we’ll
investigate how in the world we can ever achieve it. After all, these ideas
must compete not only with present politics and institutions, but also
with our vibrant culture filled with many enjoyable activities to occupy
our precious time. Yet, a distracted society soon becomes an unaware
and complacent one. Without mastery of these ideas, we face a future
of many more lost opportunities and much less fun. That’s for certain.
A big picture book of the former U.S.S.R. or even of the Great Depres-
sion illustrates just how bad it can get for humans—or rather, how bad
they can make it for themselves, courtesy of the State.
What’s happening on the political front in America today might lead
us back to such dismal times, especially if we don’t pay close attention
to a variety of nasty political magic tricks. So, let’s inspect the things
being pulled out of the statist hat, and proceed to get our money back
from this bad world of illusion. We all deserve better—much, much
12 I
Politics In Mid-Stream
Here’s the bottom line, the condition of our political patient we
call America: It’s in the intensive care unit, suffering from all sorts of
cuts and contusions, and quite a bit of internal bleeding. It’s been
attacked by an onslaught of injustice and immorality. Simply put, we
don’t live in a free country. America is not the land of the free. It never
really was. I know, I know, that’s not what we’ve been constantly told.
Understanding how freedom manifests itself is part of the waking-
up process, politically. If you believe in the idea of human freedom, but
aren’t sure how it should manifest itself, then you’ve opened the right
I’m sure all of us have noticed the pundits on TV and radio who
promote their latest cutting-edge analysis of the leading political stories.
Rarely, if ever, do we hear an analyst, expert, or commentator call into
question the true essence of that process we call, with varying degrees
of cynicism and eye-rolling, “politics.”
It’s an endless unspoken debate on political news channels: Should
we have 25%, 30%, or 35% freedom? The best way of describing such a
process is “politics in midstream.” This is a more specific version of
what novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand called “philosophizing in mid-
stream,” in which she criticized most intellectuals’ penchant for
ignoring the fundamental premises contained in their arguments.
“Check your premises,” Rand advised, though she herself forgot to
check a few at times, particularly regarding government. Such is the
misleading nature of unexamined assumptions.
The consequences of operating in intellectual midstream might not
seem as severe as its physical counterpart. Imagine if, instead of testing
a river’s waters to see how swift and deep the current is, you just
stepped in and hoped for the best. Well, in regard to politics, it’s not
just your own life at stake. The fate of a whole country hangs in the
balance. That’s why it’s vital to stay on shore awhile and figure things
out, instead of taking political ideas and their effects for granted and
trying to reason correctly from there. When we are swept downstream,
logic and evidence tend to remain on the shore.
So, before we step into that big river, let’s assess some things. What
is the process of politics really about? Well, here’s what no politician or
judge will explicitly tell you: Essentially, politics is the process by which
people discretely (or not so discretely) attempt to convince you that
your individual life is not as important as the nation, society, commu-
nity, or “others.” The better their convincing is, the worse politics gets.
This of course has repercussions for how we treat each other—how we
treat family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, employees,
employers, and especially politicians, judges, police officers, bureaucrats
and other less influential strangers.
“Would you rather have 25%, 30%, or 35% freedom?” basically
means “How much of yourself do you want to recognize?” And these
are probably conservative estimates. If you actually defend your right to
life, to your decisions, and to what you own, law enforcers and their
judicial accomplices who seek to deny you these rights will want to
bestow 0% freedom upon you. Nonetheless, feel free to assign the par-
ticular percentages to the political group that you think fits best. It
turns out that no matter how they’re assigned, the results end up being
the same. Lost liberties and lost opportunities.
How did it come to this, or rather, why has it been like this for
untold centuries? Well, that’s a really long story that’s been told quite
well in many other books, and now in our highly connected age of the
Internet (see bibliography). Fortunately, there’s no “required reading” to
comprehend the pages that follow—just a critical mindset for finding,
and accepting, the truth.
It’s safe to say that most people in America understand the utter
folly of advocating either a dictatorship or full-blown Communism
(which is essentially dictatorial in nature). The poor economic results
and inherent evils of these systems of government have been confirmed
repeatedly in both theory and bloody practice. It’s no surprise that most
people who experience such wretchedness strive to escape it. Unfortu-
nately, after a regime of fear is firmly instituted, fleeing often proves dif-
ficult, as well as dangerous to friends and family members left behind.
They frequently suffer the consequences of political misbehavior.
Totalitarian regimes skillfully create ruthless, loyal police and secret
police agencies that foster a populace of snitches. Most informants
hope that their thuggish rulers will favor those who provide them with
the most provocative and useful information about who is being dis-
obedient. The disobedient can be alleged to be anyone; anyone can be
fingered as “subversive.” So allegations run rampant and, soon, those
who dare express their contrary political opinions do so in whispers—
for even the walls have ears.
The Timeless Allure Of Communism
We certainly don’t want to end up in that sort of societal predica-
ment. Nonetheless, quite a few in America promote the essence of the
politics of Socialism, or “Social Democracy.” Many of them are guided
by the economic ideals of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, who were
passionate proponents of social justice and class equality. Unfortunately,
the means by which they wanted to achieve such goals were not reason-
based, and therefore not in accordance with the ideas of life, liberty,
and the pursuit of happiness. Jeffersonian they were not.
In order for us to begin to grasp the meaning of complete liberty,
it’s wise to first explore the fundamental forces that continue to oppose
it. Here is what Engels wrote about The Communist Manifesto in the
Preface to the 1888 English edition:
The Manifesto being our joint production, I consider myself
bound to state that the fundamental proposition which forms
the nucleus belongs to Marx. That proposition is: That in every
historical epoch, the prevailing mode of economic production
and exchange, and the social organization necessarily following
from it, form the basis upon which it is built up, and from that
which alone can be explained the political and intellectual
history of that epoch; that consequently the whole history of
mankind (since the dissolution of primitive tribal society,
holding land in common ownership) has been a history of class
struggles, contests between exploiting and exploited, ruling and
oppressed classes; That the history of these class struggles
forms a series of evolutions in which, nowadays, a stage has
been reached where the exploited and oppressed class—the
proletariat—cannot attain its emancipation from the sway of
the exploiting and ruling class—the bourgeoisie—without, at
the same time, and once and for all, emancipating society at
large from all exploitation, oppression, class distinction, and
class struggles.
Obviously, Engels was also passionate about writing long sentences
(a particularly German phenomenon). However, let’s distill the essen-
tials of what he meant. He and Marx correctly stated that many groups
of individuals have been exploited and have struggled—such as, in their
words, the “freeman and slave, patrician and plebian, lord and serf,
guildmaster and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed.”
Engels apparently believed that such conflict didn’t exist in primi-
tive tribal societies with communal ownership. Not so true. In fact, as
we’ll cover in a later chapter, the less understanding and delineation of
property rights people have, the more potential for conflict there is.
Property rights are necessary to prevent conflict. Without knowing who
owns what, reaching agreement and being productive proves extremely
difficult, and disputes are instead settled by the club, sword, or gun. The
more powerful people and adept groups of course win in such nasty
disputes. In modern civilizations, lack of property rights leads to a par-
ticularly terrible form of oppression: The State becomes King of the
The Communist Manifesto continually contrasts the “working class,”
aka the proletariat, with the “exploiting and ruling class,” aka the bour-
geoisie. Indeed, Communist arguments depend on making such class
distinctions. Without them, they could gain little traction in the minds
of those concerned with social equality and economic justice.
But the distinction they should’ve made is between the free market
and the force of the State, which reveals the difference between a free
market and a controlled market. In a controlled market, the politically
connected in industry and in various professions conspire (no matter
their motives) with those wielding the powers of the State to reduce the
choices and opportunities of not only the working class, but also the
“consumer class,” which means everyone in society.
Unlike the truly oppressed, who are kept in bondage by force,
people who work in a market economy (even one that’s only semi-free)
do so mostly by their own volition; they’re in their places of work,
doing their work, by choice. Individuals choose to work for certain
wages and in certain conditions, and they’re free to leave and find—or
better yet, make—work elsewhere, that is, if the State allows them. If the
statist system prevents choices for workers, that’s certainly not the fault
of the market.
Granted, in the early and mid-1800’s the marketplace offered fewer
employment choices than today. There’s little doubt that this environ-
ment had an influence on the ideas of Marx and Engels. The working
conditions in many urban areas weren’t what one would call nice by
today’s standards. Yet, the conditions in rural areas were typically
nothing to write home about either (assuming one had something to
write with), especially given the lack of medical care. Similar to the
developing world today, getting sick often meant a death sentence.
People frequently moved to cities to improve their lots in life, to
increase their living standards and opportunities (even though mass
deaths due to unsanitary conditions sometimes occurred).
Nonetheless, Marx and Engels made many false assumptions,
assumptions that led them down an extremely thorny political path.
One of their worst assumptions was that people who are employed are
fundamentally different than those who employ them, that is, owners of
businesses, managers of companies, and even entrepreneurs. They
seemed to think that members of the latter “class” just jump into posi-
tions of influence, ready-made; supposedly, they are automatic owners
of property and thus controllers of the economic fate of non-owners,
the so-called proletariat. Again, perhaps Marx and Engels mistook the
controlled economies of the State for a free market, although plenty of
thinkers at the time knew better.
People who’ve brought themselves from rags to riches, purchased a
piece of property, or just upped their income, know that it requires
some long-term thinking and business savvy—the tried-and-true “per-
severance, inspiration, and perspiration.” A little good fortune can help
too, along with a society of complete liberty (more on that later).
Another false assumption revealed more of Marx’s and Engels’
ignorance of economics. They believed that employers would always
pay workers as little as possible; employers who kept workers surviving
at mere subsistence pay could exploit and oppress them to the fullest.
Not only does this incorrectly imply that workers had no choice in
their place of employment, but it also runs counter to the evidence.
When one employer cuts the pay of its employees, that’s an opportunity
for another employer to offer a better deal to those workers. Employers
compete for employees as much as workers compete with each other
for the best jobs. This, again, is assuming that the State hasn’t inter-
vened in these relations. The key is to have a free market in which
opportunities and choices aren’t hindered.
Jobs are not a static quantity in a free market either, like one pie
with only so many pieces. The free market is literally a pie maker, and
there’s no limit to the flavors offered when freedom of choice exists.
The “emancipation of the proletariat” has nothing to do with taking
responsibility for one’s conditions of employment and working to
change them for the better. Rather, it has to do with misunderstanding
the idea of “oppression” and using force (actual oppression) to achieve
certain economic and societal ends. Not surprisingly, the results are
nothing short of disastrous. Marx and Engels devised a special recipe
for a really bad pie. Once again from The Communist Manifesto:
These measures will, of course, be different in different coun-
tries. Nevertheless, in most advanced countries, the following
will be pretty generally applicable.
1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of
land to public purposes.
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5. Centralization of credit in the banks of the state, by means of
a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6. Centralization of the means of communication and transport
in the hands of the state.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned
by the state; the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the
improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a
common plan.
8. Equal obligation of all to work. Establishment of industrial
armies, especially for agriculture.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries;
gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and
country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition
of children’s factory labor in its present form. Combination of
education with industrial production, etc.
You probably noticed that most items on this list are things that the
U.S. Government does. Yes, America contains many aspects of Com-
munism. Kind of makes you wonder what the Cold War was all about,
doesn’t it?
American politics has swallowed proposals 2, 5, and 10, hook, line,
and sinker—the graduated income tax, central control and monopoliza-
tion of the money supply, universal public education and child labor
laws. It’s also partially adopted 1 in terms of Eminent Domain, 3 in
terms of the Death Tax, 4 in terms of asset forfeiture in the War on
Drugs, 6 in terms of governmental ownership of highways, byways, and
regulation via the FCC, FAA, TSA, NHTSA, etc., and 7 in terms of all
the services that government provides and the monopoly privileges it
grants businesses. I’m sure there are a few more, but you get the point.
This clearly demonstrates why it’s so important to identify the ratio-
nale and methods of Communism. It still presides in the minds of those
who currently wield (and those who would like to wield) political power
in America, as well as all those who enable them, irrespective of their
Here are the two paragraphs that followed the above list by Marx
and Engels, to sum things up for us:
When, in the course of development, class distinctions have dis-
appeared, and all production has been concentrated in the
hands of a vast association of the whole nation, the public
power will lose its political character. Political power, properly
so called, is merely the organized power of one class for
oppressing another. If the proletariat during its contest with the
bourgeoisie is compelled, by the force of circumstances, to
organize itself as a class; if, by means of a revolution, it makes
itself the ruling class, and, as such, sweeps away by force the old
conditions of production, then it will, along with these condi-
tions, have swept away the conditions for the existence of class
antagonisms and of classes generally, and will thereby have abol-
ished its own supremacy as a class.
In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and
class antagonisms, we shall have an association in which the free
development of each is the condition for the free development
of all.
Perhaps a particular poetry exists in such twisted logic. The state-
ment that political power “is merely the organized power of one class
for oppressing another” rings true, of course. However, to speak in
terms of classes gets us on the wrong track entirely, which might have
been their desire. The real distinction concerns people in society who
respect rights to one’s person and property versus those who don’t
respect them, whether through misunderstanding or full clarity. The
irony in the above passage is the notion that “freedom,” “free develop-
ment,” and the end of all “antagonisms” will come when a large group
of revolutionaries “sweep away by force the old conditions of produc-
tion.” Supposedly, once they eliminate the owners of businesses,
managers of companies, and entrepreneurs, or force them into a state
of being propertyless, things will become really swell.
Communism and all its watered-down variations overlook one sig-
nificant detail: It’s simply unjust to forcibly take property from
someone who hasn’t violated anyone’s rights; such an action is an
infringement that contradicts one’s own right to property and self-own-
ership. In addition, this whole scenario begs the practical question of
how an economy is supposed to function without people whose spe-
cialty is being capitalists. Are the workers (revolutionaries) suddenly
going to acquire this skill-set without skipping a beat? More realistically,
once they did get past the learning curve, who’s going to take their
former place as “workers,” now that they are the “rulers”?
Apparently, Marx and Engels hadn’t thought twice about the reality
of jobs. A manager can’t simultaneously be a machinist. A designer can’t
simultaneously be a traveling salesman. An engineer can’t simultane-
ously be a deal-maker with suppliers. And a nurse can’t simultaneously
be a surgeon. Granted, there are quite a few Jacks-of-all-trades in the
market, people who wear different hats at various times and pull it off
successfully. They can be quite productive in their various lines of work.
But they can only do so many things. Invariably, they must make exclu-
sionary choices, trading one hat for another.
There’s a big reason why capitalism offers us so many facets and
fields of work, be they divisions of labor or areas of specialization: con-
tinual accumulation of capital and generation of higher and higher
levels of productivity. Capital is the fountainhead of technology and
innovation, and consequently of leisure and recreation. Without capital-
ism, there wouldn’t be nearly as many options for creative expression in
the workplace or, for that matter, possibilities for fun in the world.
The idea of class encourages people to think mainly in terms of
groups. An accurate term for this is collectivism. Collectivistic thinking
is both a cause and an effect of class-oriented societies. Instead of
viewing each person as a worthy individual with particular capacities—
skills, talents, passions, hopes, desires, and rights and opportunities—
class-oriented mindsets view people as members of certain elite or
downtrodden groups. On the psychological side of the latter, this has a
certain payoff: One doesn’t have to take responsibility for one’s choices
and life situation, and one can blame others such as the “bourgeoisie”
for one’s plight. This is the sort of self-deception that provides no
fruitful individual avenues to personal growth, social mobility, and
career possibilities. It’s inherently self-disempowering. Plus, it encour-
ages people to get trapped in conflicts between identified groups, and
to remain frustrated by the inability to change others that are “oppress-
ing” one’s own group.
Moreover, those who consider themselves to be in the elite class
typically do nothing to foster others’ movement to their level, because
they’ve attained their positions through opportunities in a controlled
market of State intervention. They feel that they have much to lose if
they were to promote the liberty of others, as well as their own. So, the
exploitation of others for personal gain continues, as does disregarding
the unjust political context in which they operate.
The way out of the class-oriented mindset is by accepting the fact
that each of us is an individual with a unique identity, which thereby
encourages others to shift their focus similarly. We are only being
oppressed when someone is trying to prevent us from making our own
choices. We are only being ruled over when someone is initiating force
against us, thwarting our ability to do as we please—or not respecting
the rights of others to do as they please.
So, where does this leave the ideology of Socialism? One might call
it Communism-lite: half the impoverishment but the same flavor. Given
the horrible nature of Communism, this isn’t much of an improvement.
Since Socialism contains many of the fundamental premises of Com-
munism, it remains on that bleak continuum of statist political systems.
Fascism too contains the premises of Communism. It contends that
your self and property aren’t strictly your own, but rather things under
statist regulation and control. Full-blown Communism simply drops
any pretenses at freedom and goes for full enslavement of the citizenry.
All become worker bees for the mighty queen bee, the State. Even
those favored few who court her as she permits aren’t free. Being a
slave master isn’t freedom either.
America, The Land Of Political Opinions Shaped By The State
American government of course can’t be called either outright
Socialism or Fascism, which are the two worst ways—Left wing and
Right wing—of allowing some market forces to operate in order to
milk citizens for all their worth. Still, America is treacherously
composed of many awful aspects of each, reflecting the premises of
Communism. It might best be called a semi-fascist welfare State.
This leads us to the typical views we witness in U.S. politics today.
Let’s inspect some of the prevailing ideologies, and see how they
measure up against Communism. Most Americans, if surveyed by a set
of carefully crafted political questions, could be placed by the question
askers into one of the categories below. You, wise reader, are different.
You’re able to distance yourself from past inclinations. By reading this
book on complete liberty, you’ve decided to take an objective look at
the problems with these assorted views. Your desire and ability to
remain objective will be your core strength as you continue reading,
regardless of the implications for your past beliefs or the various
responses of others in your midst. Of course, there’s no pressure or
anything. Only the future of America (and maybe the world) is to be
determined. So let’s proceed.
The problem with describing these political viewpoints is that, no
matter how intricately each category is described, someone is bound to
raise a counter argument or have a different interpretation. It’s a bit like
trying to decipher the exact meaning of a Biblical story. So many trans-
lations, so little time. Yet for our purposes, creating exact descriptions
isn’t nearly as important as identifying essentials and defining principles,
which I’ll make sure to do afterwards.
Conservatives are those who typically vote for the Republican
Party, though some may be fed up with the differences between what
Republicans profess and what they do once in office. Nonetheless, con-
servatism tends to arise from the traditional values of responsibility,
hard work, self-reliance, social modesty and good manners.
It’s often said that you become a conservative when you try to run a
business and discover how much government affects your decisions
and actions. Rules, regulations, and taxes are the norms in business, not
the exceptions. For what it’s worth, conservatives also tend to be skepti-
cal of the motives of the environmental movement, which typically
lobbies for more rules and regulations. Conservatives desire govern-
ment to be smaller rather than larger and taxes and regulations to be
minimal. Conservatives tend to believe that the U.S. Constitution means
what it plainly states and should not be open to interpretation, espe-
cially by “activist” judges. If they had their druthers, most conservatives
would rejoice in a Constitutionally limited government.
In terms of law, conservatives tend to believe that others should
sometimes be forced to abide by proper community standards of
behavior, usually stemming from a religious sense of morality and doing
what’s right (in their eyes). Naturally, they’re not known to be “soft on
crime” and instead favor a law-and-order society of imprisonment and
punishment for criminals. Those who are declared criminals, however,
aren’t strictly ones who violate the rights of others (such as thieves and
thugs); they can also be those who engage in consensual personal activi-
ties and voluntary exchanges that are simply not tolerated by the “moral
majority.” Of all the types, conservatives also tend to be the strongest
advocates of gun rights, though many accept regulation of the purchase,
possession, and use of various weapons.
Neoconservatives, or Neocons, might be termed “watered-down
conservatives,” both fiscally and socially, in that they embrace many of
the same big government programs that liberals do (see below). Though
some might say that they’d rather government be smaller, it’s just not
“practical” in this day and age. There are too many foreign interests at
stake and public projects needed for creating a better world.
Neocons are probably most noted, or notorious, for being big sup-
porters of the military/industrial complex, though they contend that
such support is for “The security of our nation” and “The defense of
our people.” They are indeed the most hawkish in foreign policy
matters, which sometimes involves bombing others in far away coun-
tries before they bomb us (the preemption doctrine), or when others
get too far out of line of State and Defense Department policies and
Executive opinions. They generally believe that it’s America’s job to be
the world’s policeman (Pax Americana); the U.S. government should use
its power to help guide other countries along the path to Democracy,
freedom, tolerance, peace and prosperity. If America withdrew its
military forces from its places of influence around the globe, they
believe that things would assuredly go to hell in a bobsled; chaos and
political instability would supposedly ensue. Neocons generally believe
that even though the spread of Communism is no longer a major
threat, terrorist groups may pose an even greater challenge, which
means a greater need for Neocon leadership.
Liberals, or progressives, are the next slice of political Americana.
Probably because the word liberal has been used pejoratively by so
many conservative pundits, writers, and talk show hosts, members of
this ideology now often describe themselves as “progressives.” Typi-
cally, they vote for the Democratic Party, though, like conservatives,
they’re not averse to criticizing the weaknesses or corruption of
Democrats in office. Progressives believe that government is by and
large good, but especially when they themselves are in control of it.
(The same could be said of the other viewpoints, by the way.)
Because liberals believe that particular groups of people, especially
“the poor,” “workers,” or “minority classes,” are weak in comparison to
corporations, big businesses, employers, majorities, etc., they believe
that government is the primary way to attempt to solve any and all dis-
parities in wealth, power, and status. Though they may advocate
balanced budgets on occasion, their desire to wield the instruments of
governmental power for the good of the people, particularly for “the
little guy,” tends to lead to major spending, regulations, and taxes.
Here are some of their mottos, both spoken and unspoken, which
also apply to a greater or lesser extent to all the other viewpoints dis-
cussed here: People are weak, especially the poor and elderly, but also
virtually everyone else, so the government should take care of them
with “safety nets”—or what conservative Rush Limbaugh aptly calls
“safety hammocks”; people can’t be trusted, so the government should
control them; people are greedy and selfish, so the government should
force them to be moral, that is, not greedy and not selfish; people
benefit from society, so they owe society—meaning that they owe the
government; businesses constantly seek power and try to exploit
workers and the environment, so the government should collar them
and make them follow at heal.
It might be said that, compared to their political opponents, pro-
gressives aren’t hypocritical when it comes to growing the size of gov-
ernment and using it for their particular ends. After all, Bush 43 and
company (under a Republican majority Congress through 2006) have
increased the size and scope of governmental spending and debt
beyond the wildest hopes of many liberals. Massive expenditures in
health care, education, agriculture, and of course the military, come
readily to mind. We’d have to go back to the 19th century to find a U.S.
President who didn’t veto a single bill. James Garfield was killed his first
year in office, which subsequently explained his lack of interest in the
veto power. George W. Bush, on the other hand, has vetoed only one
bill, halfway into his second term in office. He has, however, set a presi-
dential record for signing statements, which are not-so-clever ways to
avoid Constitutional accountability.
Independents are next. People with this view generally disagree
with some things in each party platform. They are wary of ideological
bias and realize that many in politics have definite axes to grind. They
may consider themselves true reformers of government, sometimes
similar to progressives, like those in the Green Party. Independents
don’t mind embracing policies of other ideologies. They tend to pick
and choose between and among the other viewpoints. They typically
stress the need to formulate workable governmental solutions for soci-
ety’s ills, as well as remedies for governmental waste, corruption, and
incompetence. Nevertheless, for all their talk about reform, they tend to
remain immersed in banter about the endless details of governmental
policies, while leaving the essence of government intact. They may vote
for candidates from different parties, but mostly for those who also
classify themselves as Independent.
Moderates and centrists, like independents, also tend to avoid fol-
lowing strict party lines, but unlike independents, they tend to shy away
from unpopular positions. They don’t like anything perceived as
extreme or radical. Instead of going against the grain, they go with the
flow. A middle-of-the-road approach to political debate usually puts
them squarely on the wide fence concerning most issues. Some may
embrace a centrist or moderate viewpoint in order to fit in or appear
“normal”; one doesn’t have to form an unpopular opinion. Others in
this group believe that government in general is good and is on the
right path to dealing with society’s problems; it just needs a little
tweaking here and there. Of all the views presented here, moderates
and centrists appear the most conforming to the status quo. They play
it politically safe and tend to favor more of the same: “I’ll have what
they’re having; vanilla, please.”
Though various viewpoints within these next two ideologies are
quite old, “traditionalists” and “secularists” appear to be somewhat
recently delineated political divisions—mostly discussed by opinion
givers who need something sensational for their daily talking points.
Perhaps these two views have been popularized most by avowed
cultural crusader Bill O’Reilly, self-described independent and tradition-
alist. The traditionalist is typically socially conservative, perhaps votes
more for Republicans (and Independents) than Democrats, and looks
primarily to the past and to religion for guidance in cultural matters.
The secularist, on the other hand, is quite open to social change, isn’t
very religious, and tends to be liberal, or progressive, and usually votes
for Democrats. What’s common in both types, of course, is their view
of government as a tool to maintain or implement their particular
cultural views and moral viewpoints in society.
There’s an interesting paradox about these two groups. The “reli-
gious Right” calls the “liberal Left” secularists, that is, primarily “non-
believers” who have serious sympathies with Communism. But some
liberal groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, are fre-
quently the ones defending individual rights to one’s own body, as well
as to free speech, free press, and due process. Contrastingly, conserva-
tives and traditionalists seek to ground freedom and the Constitution in
the Judeo-Christian God. Yet they are commonly the ones who seek to
impose their particular moral code on others, in violation of individual
rights to one’s own body, as well as to speech, press, and due process.
The present legal battles over such issues as gay marriage, medical mari-
juana, censored speech, pornography, abortion, stem cell research,
morning-after pills, teaching Intelligent Design in public schools, Com-
mandments on court house lawns, illegal immigration, a citizen’s access
to justice upon arrest, etc., demonstrate the oftentimes wide-ranging
nature of their debates.
Well, that concludes this brief overview of the state of our main-
stream, or rather, midstream, political opinions. If the distinctions didn’t
come across as clearly as you would’ve liked, have no worries. They all
share a flaw that exposes the whole flimsy house of political cards. My
purpose from now on isn’t to bore you with surface details of political
affiliations, which you can get from any major political magazine, news
program, talk show, website, or blog. Instead, it’s for us to go to the
heart of the matter and recognize the essential contradictions of
modern politics.
A principled approach to politics is something you may have never
encountered. I wasn’t taught it by any teacher in school. Like most
important things in life, I had to teach it to myself, through a lot of
thinking, reading, and debating with others, as will probably you. It’s a
learning process, to be sure, regardless of your age; new ideas are equal
opportunity. The key thing for us to remember in the following
chapters is this: If you believe in freedom and want to have complete
liberty in your lifetime, then you have to grant it to others, across the
economic and social board.
This leads us to the commonality in the above political viewpoints:
They all desire to impose their values of “fairness,” “necessity,” “right-
ness,” and “compassion” on society with the force of the State. As a
consequence, they also seek to employ coercion in the name of being
altruistic. If we take altruism to mean simply being concerned with
others’ welfare and interests, what could possibly be worse than
coercing others rather than persuading them?
After all, if people are uncaring at base, then no amount of barbarity
by fellow uncaring (or caring) people in power is going to make them
more caring. The opposite actually happens. The more you strip people
of their property and their choices in order to “help” others, the less
nice, less benevolent, and less filled with goodwill and generosity they
become. They also become less honest in dealing with their oppressors,
and justifiably so; so-called cheating on taxes as well as cutting regula-
tory corners become commonplace. Not surprisingly, these behaviors
also tend to occur in people’s dealings with innocent others in the mar-
ketplace. When people are constantly shoved around by government,
and they accept the nature of their victimhood, their moods tend to
worsen and they’re inclined to become less virtuous.
Moreover, the State’s version of helping others quickly becomes a
euphemism for using coercive means to placate special interests, fund
boondoggles, and line the pockets of politicians and their cronies—all
at the expense of everyone else’s wealth. As in most political issues, it’s
wise to follow the money trail.
So, our government’s policies actually achieve the exact opposite of
their stated intentions. They work to turn the personal virtues of
goodwill and generosity into mere public practices reserved primarily
for the non-virtuous in government. The moral of this sad story is
twofold: Never coerce persons into doing things against their peaceful
desires, and don’t regulate or steal for the common good. Now let’s see
what these conclusions mean for Democracy.
30 II
Choose Your Weapon: Representative Democracy Or Popular Democracy
Rather than ask the usual question about which political system is
better, allow me to ask which is worse: representative Democracy or
popular Democracy? On the one hand, you have political officials who
enjoy astoundingly high re-election rates (percentages in the high 90’s)
and who aren’t very accountable to the citizenry; instead, they stroll
along unprincipled political paths with various special interests, all
striving to control aspects of the economy, both public and private. On
the other hand, you have popular ballot measures, “propositions,” such
as in California, in which registered voters can cast their opinions in
favor, or not, of an assortment of public works issues and governmen-
tally regulated personal freedoms. Interestingly, voters sometimes make
more sensible decisions than their representatives. Sometimes they even
circumvent seemingly endless bureaucracy. So much for the theory that
the unrestrained masses are mostly blinded by their passions. However,
regardless of which system you choose, your individual rights will tend
to be disregarded, in favor of collectivism and coercion.
Consider the nature of voting in general. Imagine if, every year, a
company gave you a list of issues and people that you knew nothing
about and really had no direct interest in (at least before they got you
involved), and then they asked you to cast your vote in favor or against
each issue and person. Now imagine that this company was a legalized
monopoly in its area of business and that it took your money rather
than asked for it (hence getting you involved) and paid hardly any atten-
tion to its reputation and efficiency. Suddenly, you realize that this is the
state of affairs today. Madness? Perhaps. But definitely the major snafu
of politics.
Common And Uncommon Political Sense
In order to delve into America’s system of representative Democ-
racy, a constitutional Republic, let’s have a “conversation” with one of
the founding fathers of American politics, Thomas Paine. Back in his
day, Thomas Paine’s pamphlets of eloquent prose such as Common Sense
motivated many people in the colonies to proceed to revolution against
rule by the British crown. Paine was an outspoken advocate of liberty
and, unlike most other Founders, he was also a staunch abolitionist,
acknowledging publicly that slavery was terribly wrong. In addition,
Paine was a critic of fundamentalist religion. Because religiosity and
strict adherence to scripture were pretty popular back then, most
people didn’t take kindly to his writings on the subject of religious
dogma and blind faith. He was pejoratively declared an atheist (though
he was actually a deist) and unfortunately became somewhat of an intel-
lectual outcast after the revolution.
Nonetheless, Thomas Paine has been considered by many historians
to be one of the most important influences on political thought in early
America, during the rise of the burgeoning Republic. The laity readily
embraced the practicality and wisdom of his writings.
So, in the spirit of inquiry into the formation of a new nation, let’s
explore the philosophical side of Democracy and government from
Paine’s perspective—and ask some important questions. What follows
is an excerpt from Common Sense titled “Of the origin and design of gov-
ernment in general, with concise remarks on the English Constitution.”
SOME writers have so confounded society with government, as
to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are
not only different, but have different origins. Society is
produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the
former promotes our happiness POSITIVELY by uniting our
affections, the latter NEGATIVELY by restraining our vices.
The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions.
The first is a patron, the last a punisher.
Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in
its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intoler-
able one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same
miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might expect in a
country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is height-
ened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we
suffer. Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence;
the palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of
paradise. For were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform
and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver; but
that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a
part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the
rest; and this he is induced to do by the same prudence which
in every other case advises him, out of two evils to choose the
least. Wherefore, security being the true design and end of gov-
ernment, it unanswerably follows that whatever form thereof
appears most likely to ensure it to us, with the least expense and
greatest benefit, is preferable to all others.
Certainly, most of us would agree that it’s best to achieve the
greatest benefit to our security with the least expense. Getting more for
our dollar from government seems like a very good thing. But maybe
after reading this, the following questions popped into your mind: If the
“necessary evil” of government arises from people’s wickedness and the
need to somehow restrain our vices, how can the individuals in government
be immune from the same lack of clear, uniform, and irresistibly
obeyed conscience? Further, how can we be forced to surrender part of
our property in order to ensure its safety from thieves? Is such evil
actually necessary? Do we indeed furnish the means by which we suffer
Let’s proceed with some more of Paine’s thoughts, keeping these
questions in mind. After he explained why people need each other in
order to survive and prosper, which is definitely true, Thomas wrote:
Thus necessity, like a gravitating power, would soon form our
newly arrived emigrants into society, the reciprocal blessings of
which would supercede, and render the obligations of law and
government unnecessary while they remained perfectly just to
each other; but as nothing but Heaven is impregnable to vice, it
will unavoidably happen that in proportion as they surmount
the first difficulties of emigration, which bound them together
in a common cause, they will begin to relax in their duty and
attachment to each other: and this remissness will point out the
necessity of establishing some form of government to supply
the defect of moral virtue.
Some convenient tree will afford them a State House, under
the branches of which the whole Colony may assemble to delib-
erate on public matters. It is more than probable that their first
laws will have the title only of Regulations and be enforced by
no other penalty than public disesteem. In this first parliament
every man by natural right will have a seat.
But as the Colony encreases, the public concerns will
encrease likewise, and the distance at which the members may
be separated, will render it too inconvenient for all of them to
meet on every occasion as at first, when their number was
small, their habitations near, and the public concerns few and
trifling. This will point out the convenience of their consenting
to leave the legislative part to be managed by a select number
chosen from the whole body, who are supposed to have the
same concerns at stake which those have who appointed them,
and who will act in the same manner as the whole body would
act were they present. If the colony continue encreasing, it will
become necessary to augment the number of representatives,
and that the interest of every part of the colony may be
attended to, it will be found best to divide the whole into con-
venient parts, each part sending its proper number: and that the
ELECTED might never form to themselves an interest separate
from the ELECTORS, prudence will point out the propriety of
having elections often: because as the ELECTED might by that
means return and mix again with the general body of the
ELECTORS in a few months, their fidelity to the public will be
secured by the prudent reflection of not making a rod for them-
selves. And as this frequent interchange will establish a
common interest with every part of the community, they will
mutually and naturally support each other, and on this, (not on
the unmeaning name of king,) depends the STRENGTH OF
Here then is the origin and rise of government; namely, a
mode rendered necessary by the inability of moral virtue to
govern the world; here too is the design and end of govern-
ment, viz. Freedom and security. And however our eyes may be
dazzled with show, or our ears deceived by sound; however
prejudice may warp our wills, or interest darken our understand-
ing, the simple voice of nature and reason will say, ‘tis right.
So, this is the general thought process about why we need represen-
tative government. Elected officials are to mimic our interests once the
population increases beyond a reasonable limit (thus making meetings
of everyone impossible). In addition, as Paine put it, the defect of moral
virtue from people’s remissness of duty and attachment to others sup-
posedly requires a representative political system to secure everyone’s
interests and safety. And in order for laws to remain tied to the
concerns of the people, elections should be held as frequently as possi-
All of this begins to expose the main problem inherent in such a
system—namely, that those you elect are unlikely to make the same
choices as yourself. And, if each individual’s choice is lacking in virtue
(however that’s defined) how do you expect representatives to be more
virtuous, given how removed they are from your decisions in daily life?
Notice that Paine has relied on two basic arguments for representa-
tive government, one practical, one moral. Inquiring minds do want to
know a few things when it comes to the idea of being “managed” by
others. Practically speaking, will elected officials and those they appoint
have interests that coincide with the people in the community? It’s nice
to think that they will, but we can cite an avalanche of evidence to the
contrary. Typically, the method of operation for politicians is this: Make
promises; get elected; break promises and hope enough time has
elapsed between the campaign and the term in office that nobody
notices. In this digital age with immediate availability of new informa-
tion, that’s a hard one to pull off without a hitch. Usually a sizable
amount of voter and non-voter apathy and resignation is needed.
Who exactly determines what’s in the “public interest” anyway? Will
the elected officials and those they appoint have the same concerns at
stake as we ourselves do? While not likely, it depends mostly on how
vocal and influential representatives’ constituencies are. Sooner or later,
though, as history has revealed, the game and the big prizes go to the
lobbyists and those with the most political pull. The average citizen has
little influence. You’re usually not done any favors, and your vote is
often of little or no value (regardless of whether there’s an electoral
Since “the public” is each and every individual in a particular area,
how is it possible for one person or even a group of people to represent
them? In other words how can one person make choices for a group of
people concerning their own personal interests? Obviously, managers of
companies and even heads of households do this frequently, but there
has to be some degree of agreement or at least consent about delegat-
ing one’s choices to others. Since the smallest minority in the world is
the individual (as Ayn Rand keenly noted), what happens when the
majority or plurality of voters’ opinions run counter to your opinions?
Moreover, what’s the nature of the decisions being made in the name of
everyone’s interests? Even in the earliest meetings of townsfolk who
hadn’t yet elected representatives, surely there was not unanimity in
deciding various issues. On matters big and small, there were surely dis-
agreements, perhaps heated ones at that.
When people are left to make decisions for their entire community,
public policy becomes a veritable piñata filled with favors and tax
dollars that are sweeter than candy. And like the Latin American game,
the participants are blinded—in this case by irrational interests.
Deciding on public policy destroys awareness of its consequences on
other individuals who comprise the public. Voters’ secret ballots and
representatives’ open (or closed) door meetings obscure understanding
of the game being played: Ultimately, those who assume the right to
have final say in these matters do not own the property in question.
This leads us to the moral part of Paine’s formulation of govern-
ment. What duty and attachment do people actually have to each other
that begins to lapse over time and distance? When and why do they
stop being fair to each other? What moral defects prevent them from
running their own affairs in the midst of others? Again, how can those
in government, specifically the individually elected representatives and
their appointees hope to remedy any moral defects in people? How can
government—consisting of persons selected from the very same
populace—actually supply the defect of moral virtue? It would be
ironic for Paine to expect us to accept the virtues of government (of,
by, and for the people) on faith.
Paine implies that, once in larger populations, people gradually tend
to become less responsible or less virtuous to each other. Well, it’s cer-
tainly the case that strangers in cities tend to be more impersonal,
because it’s just not possible to say “Hi” to everyone you walk past. But
are they less responsible and less virtuous than people in smaller com-
munities? That depends mainly on their individual values, particularly
their beliefs about how others should be treated, be they friends, rela-
tives, business associates, etc. Having lived in large cities such as San
Diego, Dallas, and Minneapolis, as well as in tiny towns such as Challis,
Idaho, I’d say that Paine was indeed mistaken. Most travelers, busi-
nesspersons, and students would say the same thing. Americans in
general are kind to each other.
Despite contrary “evidence” from soap operas and horror films,
most people in America mean well, regardless of the population density.
Because cities are primarily about commerce—and commerce involves
all kinds of cooperation, collaboration, and interdependence, that is,
voluntary trading of values—being virtuous and responsible to others is
the key social lubricant that prevents society from grinding to a halt
(and the ensuing mayhem).
It’s not governmental officials, then, who can prevent vice and
maintain people’s virtue and responsibility. That’s one of the more
ridiculous notions about government, and about people’s behavior.
People relate to each other according to their moral codes, whether for-
mulated implicitly or explicitly, not because others are assigned to look
over their shoulders and make them behave.
If anything, the State drastically worsens people’s relationships and
interactions. For example, all the real-life blood baths throughout the
world stem more from existing political corruption and despotism,
which act as catalysts for strife, than they do from the degree of
immorality and lack of enlightenment in the general populace (people’s
contradictory philosophical premises).
When economic conditions start to worsen, people’s interpersonal
ethics get put more to the test. Most people in America would never
think of killing their fellow countrymen to gain any values. They would
never approve of stealing sustenance from a mother in need, for
instance. These things happen more in areas of strong States and
impoverished economies or in tribal societies with barbarous leaders
and gang rule. Americans tend to look for reasonable solutions to
crises, so that a better environment can be achieved. We constantly
solve problems, both simple and complex, willingly and voluntarily. Given
similar economic conditions, most people throughout the world do too.
This is clearly a testament to the human drive to respect each other, to
minimize conflict, to prevent the creation of chaotic conditions.
Given these sociological and psychological dynamics, some other
important questions must be asked. When members of a society can’t
gather in one place, what exactly do representatives do for them in
terms of their security and the needs of their daily lives? What exactly
are representatives in government providing us? Since we can clearly
make choices and think for ourselves, do we actually need other people
to do these mental tasks for us?
It’s been said that Democracy basically consists of two wolves and a
sheep deciding on what to have for dinner. It’s also been said (by
George Bernard Shaw, I believe) that those in government who rob
Peter to pay Paul, can always depend on the support of Paul.
Now we’re getting to the real essence of Democracy, whether repre-
sentative or popular. When people get together politically, or get their
representatives together, to decide on “public” issues, those who
disagree aren’t allowed to opt out. They are forced to participate. Ulti-
mately, the majority or plurality rules, and the powerful and influential
foster a “might makes right” mentality. The issues on the voting table
concern other people’s property or unclaimed property (public
property) and the decision makers are paid with tax dollars rather than
with profits. This is definitely not virtuous, nor is it responsible.
To infringe on another’s property or to physically harm or threaten
another person is the worst political vice imaginable. While we’ll explore
more of the reasons later, this is basically how individual rights are
violated—through the initiation of force, which disables our ability to
make choices and to act on them. Rights denote freedom of action, the
liberty to respectfully do as we please in a social context. We possess
rights to any actions that don’t infringe on, that is, initiate force against,
others and their property. We make decisions to further our lives and
well-being, and others do too.
To give up one’s direct say in matters of the community may be
problematic in its own right. But to enable a representative group of
people to make decisions that infringe on people’s rights is an egregious
injustice. The vices and immorality that Paine wrote of are outgrowths
of the very system he and the other Founders promoted. Every election
in a governmental system reflects a society in which some people, either
mistakenly or deliberately, vote other people’s rights away—rights to
choices, actions, and ownership.
Nearly everyone who votes in a Democracy votes to diminish the
liberties that a free market can bestow on them. Only the so-called
public sector grants individuals this ability. During elections, any of us
“law-abiding citizens” can go down and cast our ballots for anyone
running for office, or we can choose a more worthy write-in candidate,
such as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, or Bugs Bunny. Unlike these
innocuous cartoon characters, elected representatives take office,
appoint like-minded others, and then forward a great range of opinions
that become codified in law and enforced by people willing and able to
use lethal force—if threats of fines, confiscations, arrest, and imprison-
ment don’t cause adequate conformity.
Representative government obviously overlooks the fact that people
should be free to contract or not to contract with whomever they
please. They should be free to make their own choices, as long as those
choices don’t interfere with the rights and property of others.
So, our entire political system rests on a flawed understanding of
how people in large groups should behave toward each other. Whether
they’re members of a small group or large group, city or state, people in
politics don’t mind initiating force, through either physical means or
fraud, which involves contracting or paying for something not agreed
upon, that is, without informed consent.
What some intend Democracy to do—mainly to facilitate the com-
munication and implementation of human desires for safety and
security in a society—will thus never come to fruition. Democracy
contains the seeds of its own destruction, primarily because it allows
people to legally diminish each person’s freedoms. The procedures of
Democracy are designed to ignore their own rights-violations, of
course. Never will these procedures order our representatives and the
various officials who do their bidding, as well as the people who voted
them into office, to cease and desist. Only a new understanding of
rights and politics in the populace can accomplish that.
General Welfare, Common Good, Public Interest: The Gateway Abstractions
Now, how has America evolved, or devolved, from the time of
Paine? A nice way of putting it might be that American government
theoretically consists of three well-intentioned branches sprouting from
one practically rotten tree.
As noted, those who don’t vote in a Democracy are subjected to the
same treatment as those who do. And those who voted for the repre-
sentative or policy that didn’t win are subjected to the same treatment
as the victors. In order for anyone to contend that such a system repre-
sents justice and equal rights of individuals, he or she must twist logic
beyond a pretzel into something completely unrecognizable.
Political doublespeak aids and abets such flawed reasoning: “The
end justifies the means.” “It’s for the greater good of the people.” “The
general welfare must be considered.” “The interest of the populace is at
stake.” “Equal opportunity for everyone.” “A fair and level playing field
must be created in this country, and in the world’s markets.” “We all
must make sacrifices for the good of the community.” “Ask what you
can do for your government” (while simultaneously asking what your
government can do for you). “Being a good citizen means obeying the
law.” “It’s your civic duty, after all.” “Giving back to your community is
something every respectable citizen and business does.”
All such phrases expose the kind of con game being played on
members of a productive society. True rights concerning individuals’
ability to make choices and act on them must be sacrificed to “rights”
given to us by government, which means the ability to throttle people’s
choices and actions. Then, everyone can get a portion of the goodies
from the community chest of expropriated goods. Welcome to the
home of the redistribution scheme, a system of politics that forcibly
extracts wealth from people in order to give less of it back in a manner
different than how it was originally constituted.
I wonder what Thomas Paine would say about today’s multi-trillion
dollar government. For example, are the hundreds of billions of dollars
spent on “national defense” actually making us more safe and secure?
Think about the fact that a few pistols in the hands of the airlines’
pilots of the 9/11 planes would’ve likely prevented the ensuing disas-
ters. The government did not allow such simple protective measures,
because it “owns” the airports and is thus in charge of airlines’ security
via the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) in concert with
the diktats of the Department of Homeland Security. A pointed
question should be asked here: Which poses a greater danger to our lib-
erties—the threat of the State or the threat of terrorism? Being sub-
jected to the arbitrary edicts of TSA officials, for example, undoubtedly
reflects the fascist nature of the State; its members want to monitor and
control your freedom to travel in order to keep you secure. But should
the loss of your freedoms be the price you pay for your supposed
safety? Given that Defense Department officials can’t even secure their
own headquarters, The Pentagon, from direct attack, might it be a bit
absurd to believe that they can safeguard us, the whole of the American
public? Furthermore, given that a study of the history of terrorism
shows that political grievances typically stem from foreign occupation
and meddling, maybe the best way to fight terrorism is to stop funding
a huge government that seeks to maintain and expand its influence in
foreign affairs, as well as subjugate people in all manners domestically.
As mentioned, a fairly good political rule of thumb holds that as
long as the State generally permits free speech, free press, and trial by
jury, there’s still hope—hope of turning things around, before the place
turns into a dictatorial police State, essentially a regime of fear and
unspeakable cruelty (not to mention martial law). Free speech and free
press obviously enable people to spread ideas and persuade others of a
better way of life, as well as to criticize threats to and infringements on
their liberties. Trial by jury is one of the final legal checks on statist
tyranny. The Founders knew well that an innocent person stands a
better chance of being tried fairly by a panel of his or her peers than by
a representative of the State wielding absolute power. Absolute power
reveals itself in every trial in which the presiding judge admonishes
jurors to focus strictly on the facts of the case, rather than inform them
of their right to judge the morality of the law in relation to the facts pre-
sented. Jury nullification of the law is something that undermines the
State’s power, of course, which explains why judges act as if it doesn’t
When the grand ideal of Democracy has gone terribly wrong, as all
illogical ideas must, the last hope for liberty must remain with the
people. Although we can vote bad people out of office, and we can try
to repeal bad laws, these basic options in a Democracy don’t address
the main problem: A bad system will continue to generate offices for
bad people as well as bad laws. Only by questioning the nature of the
entire system of government—the nature of statism itself—can we
begin to free ourselves from injustice and constant threats of more
Most of us were taught in grade school to say, in zombie-like
fashion, “I Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States of
America....” One’s mind naturally attempts to finish the recitation, so
ingrained are childhood memories. However, it really should be
renamed the “Pledge of Allegiance to the Great Abstraction.” The flag,
the Republic, and the State are merely conceptual symbols that ought
not obtain our allegiance unless we agree with their representatives’
practices. I submit that children who are told to say the Pledge don’t
even know the meaning of some of its words, and they certainly don’t
understand what allegiance actually entails.
A study of the history of the United States reveals many things to
be proud of and many things to scorn. This is because “one nation”
consists of multitudes of people with multitudes of beliefs and behav-
iors, which are impossible to combine into something that equals our
individual respect, let alone allegiance. But the Pledge is part of the col-
lectivistic game that seeks to keep us ignorant and incapable of making
important ethical distinctions, the main distinction being a voluntary
America versus America’s coercive government. So, it’s little wonder
that children are made to repeat empty phrases such as “with liberty
and justice for all.”
This takes us back to Thomas Paine’s thoughts on the subject of
representation. It would be difficult to get critically minded individuals
to pledge allegiance to particular persons in their community if those
persons did disrespectful or ridiculous things—especially if those
persons violated the rights of individuals in their community.
Once a community reaches the size of a nation, the primary way to
get people to pledge allegiance to particular representatives (that they
likely will never meet) is to first have them, as children especially, pledge
allegiance to a concept of goodness that those representatives are pur-
ported to reflect. Baseball, Old Glory, and our Constitutional Republic!
In addition, just in case you don’t buy into this confusion of terms, the
people must also be convinced that it’s necessary to general goodness
that they be required to pay for the services devised and provided by the
representatives. That way, no matter how much you disagree with the
vote totals, as well as the ensuing policies and behaviors of the elected
and appointed, you have no way of opting out of the system. It’s all for
the common good, you see.
How Politicians Work: Let Corruption Ring!
Have you ever wondered why incumbents are typically the ones
who win elections? In an irreverent look at political life, The Daily
Show with Jon Stewart described in their book America: A Citizen’s
Guide to Democracy Inaction that elections are when America decides to
“change the sheets.” Apparently, either the sheets aren’t that dirty come
election year, or it’s too expensive to wash them. Expensive indeed. The
enormous costs of effectively campaigning against incumbents tend to
deter those not hardened by political gamesmanship and lacking suffi-
cient funds. Incumbents have the advantage of using their political
positions to do two jobs at once—“serve the people” and fund-
raise/gain support for their next election.
These two jobs raise two very significant questions, questions that
must be asked and answered by respectable people: How do politicians
serve the people, and how do they gain supporters? It turns out that
both jobs involve the same thing that corrupts politics to the core: They
make use of coercive power in order to fulfill their own desires as well
as the desires of various people in the citizenry.
Remember that the nature of a Democracy involves making deci-
sions about what to do with other people’s property or “government
property,” or unclaimed domain. Force is used with laws and regula-
tions that ultimately translate into jail cells for the disobedient and non-
conforming, and bullets for the resistant. Taxation is the means of
funding this operation. Taxation is the involuntary transfer of people’s
wealth to government.
Now, aside from the personal gains sought by those in government,
such as larger salaries, more entrenched positions, various perks, and
bigger pensions, how do you suppose officials choose which political
agendas to champion? After all, if everyone got a say in politics, its ludi-
crous nature would definitely be exposed. The State could never
become big enough to provide for all the whims of every person. Such
a spectacle would resemble an insatiable cannibal who, after eating
everyone else, must then turn his knife and fork upon himself.
Since the dissenters and losers take a back seat in politics, which are
typically the majority of the people, the driving is left to a vocal and
influential minority. Corporate heads, unions of all stripes, political
action committees, and so on, are the driving forces of political
agendas. As long as the costs are distributed to those who are taxed
throughout the entire country, state, county, city, or town, then influen-
tial minorities can obtain their desired concentration of goodies. It’s all
for the common good, you see.
There’s a long, sordid history of people running to government to
receive favors—much more than people running to government to
prevent favors done for them. These favors are always administered at
the expense of the people in society who seek no such favors, but are
taxed anyway. Of course, from a lobbyist’s point of view, what sense
would it make for them to pay governmental officials in order to have
the State give their money back, minus extensive administrative costs of
course? That would definitely be a losing deal. So, the key is to get
money from people who aren’t going to benefit. It’s much easier to get
them to accept such a deal when they’re trained to be good allegiance-
pledging, tax-paying, law-abiding citizens.
Lest you start imagining that this is a grand conspiracy by the rich
and powerful elites against the downtrodden, the people are far from
dumb. Their own collectivistic abstractions foster conformity as well as
the subtle thought of being able to get something for nothing, at the
expense of others. It doesn’t take much to connect the political dots
here. Eventually, many more groups of people realize that they had
better “get while the gettin’s good,” and play the game of politics with
their politically minded peers. Pressure group warfare naturally ensues.
The press reports. You decide.
How The Military/Industrial Complex Works: You Scratch My back,
Bombs Away!
Take, for example, the situation of making weapons for the military.
Since government is essentially a costly, inefficient, bloated bureaucracy,
it’s not very competent at building things. It’s much more effective at
destroying things with privately constructed weaponry. The “military-
industrial complex” that President Eisenhower admonished Americans
about is the quintessential case study in feeding at the collective trough
of tax money. No one does it better, although groups such as the
teachers’ unions (NEA and AFT) and the American Association of
Retired Persons (AARP) are definitely no slouches (please excuse the
thousands of others I’ve left out).
Military contractors, essentially corporations that make weapons
and equipment for governments (few, if any, questions asked), engage in
what’s known as political strategizing of their resources. Arguably the
best way to feed at the collective trough is to get as many people as
possible to have vested financial interests in maintaining contracts with
the government. So, military contractors try to infiltrate all the various
states in order to influence the largest number of vocal constituents in
the voting public. More people working for the government, either
directly or indirectly, increases the chances that elected representatives
will increase or continue their funding. The potential loss of jobs gives
politicians major talking points, the bread and butter of their stump
speeches. If the representatives don’t do the public’s bidding (by public,
I mean influential lobbying groups), they face the potential of being
tossed out of office. Perish the thought!
In this sense, Paine was partially right: Elected representatives do
pay attention to the concerns of some in their community. But they do
so for reasons that have little or nothing to do with justice, virtue, and
respect for property rights. Essentially, State officials legislate, execute,
and adjudicate laws for the wrong reasons, and the result is that our
lives, liberties, property, and pursuit of happiness are thereby greatly
Of course, many of us tend to overlook these facts, while hoping
that the next politicians (and the judges and bureaucrats they appoint)
will do our bidding this time. But no matter what you believe govern-
ment is going to provide you—whether safety or security-related—it
does so at a much higher price than any competitive company in the
marketplace. And government programs and policies usually achieve
the opposite of their goals. This is primarily because government
operates outside the free market. Government essentially has nothing
to offer, so long as it’s funded involuntarily and uses force against
rights-respecting people. Simply put, the end doesn’t justify the rights-
violating means. The negative economic consequences of government
merely reflect this truism.
In our daily lives, trying to make ends meet and pursuing our happi-
ness, distractions and distance can take their toll on realizing the rotten-
ness of government. The close communities Paine envisioned that
would determine social issues democratically are rarely the case. Even
where present, we still face the inherent injustice of managing other
people’s property, as well as “government property,” for the so-called
common good. Voting procedures greatly distract us from honoring the
essential principles of ownership and voluntary exchange.
Furthermore, evidence and logical inspection refute the widespread
belief that, since humans are not “angels,” then government (that is,
fellow non-angels selected from society) should be relied on to foster
virtue and punish vice. It turns out that any government, by its coercive
nature, becomes much worse than the people who voted (or didn’t
vote) for it. Again, distractions and distance take their toll on our need
to confront those who pretend to speak in our names.
The Constitution’s Problems: Article I Section 8...Sadly, A Template For
Some might say that these criticisms leveled against Democracy
don’t pertain to their ideal—a constitutional Republic. Is such a
Republic different from a representative Democracy? In form, some-
what; it depends mostly on the nature of its constitution. In terms of
consequences, however, not really. The framers of the U.S. Constitution
were quite aware of what could happen when legal restraints are not
placed on governmental powers: A nation becomes one of unjust men
and not laws.
Of course, legal restraints can take a variety of forms and need not
be codified on pieces of paper. The United Kingdom, for example, has
managed its political affairs for quite some time without a written con-
stitution. Common law precedents, statutes, and parliamentary proce-
dures take its place. Presently, in terms of people’s lack of liberties,
Britain isn’t a whole lot different than America. The basic principles of
governmental injustice remain; only the details vary.
Nevertheless, what if the framers of the U.S. Constitution knew that
it would serve only as a template for an ideal Republic? The rest would
be up to the people to maintain it, right? The words of Benjamin
Franklin come to mind here. In 1787, when asked what they had
wrought from the Constitutional Convention, a Republic or a Mon-
archy, Franklin was quoted as saying “A Republic, if you can keep it.”
Perhaps the Framers’ constitutional codification of “separation of
powers” and “checks and balances” was the absolute best anybody
could (or can) come up with, in order to keep a representative form of
government intact. Clearly, the Framers wanted to ensure that the fruits
of their labor weren’t going to form another tyranny, like that of King
George III.
At this point, we can readily demonstrate that America didn’t heed
Franklin’s words. America has been unable to keep its Republic within
the confines of the Constitutional limits intended by the Framers. A
case can even be made that, given that the Federalists won the debate
with the Anti-Federalists over the basic construction of the Republic,
the whole enterprise was doomed from the start. The Anti-Federalists,
such as George Mason and Patrick Henry, were indeed correct in fore-
casting the eventual rise of a powerful central government, leaving the
several states to tag along on its monetary and regulatory coattails—and
the people to resign themselves to a new form of oppression and servi-
Of course, even if the Anti-Federalists had succeeded in their argu-
ments against a strong federal government, the governments of the
several states (under, say, slightly modified Articles of Confederation)
most likely wouldn’t have prevented the actual enslavement of a sizable
percentage of the American population and the terrible conditions they
endured for many decades. The deaths of over 600,000 people in the
Civil War, however, likely could have been avoided. Solid evidence
shows that Lincoln and his followers were much more concerned about
preventing secession and its detrimental impact on their despotic
policies of central government (for instance, the high tariffs on
imported goods bought by southerners) than they were about ending
So let’s perform a thought experiment. Let’s imagine what America
would be like if we forced government back into its Constitutional cage,
as intended by the Framers, in the spirit of the Preamble:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more
perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility,
provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare,
and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Poster-
ity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United
States of America.
Obviously, from the Constitution’s inception there were some major
flaws that virtually everyone today would find intolerable. The
allowance of slavery was one of them; it was allowed formally under the
Constitution for nearly a hundred years (until the 13th and 14th
Amendments). Disenfranchisement and second-class citizenship for
everyone besides white males was another flaw; amazingly, it took a
Constitutional Amendment (the 19th) in 1920 to grant women the right
to vote in all the states—non-white men were granted it in 1870 (with
the 15th). And few realize that the income tax was not tacked on as a
Constitutional Amendment (the 16th) until 1913; somehow the
Republic got along fine without it for nearly a century and a half.
Over time the meaning of the Constitution and the legislation
arising from it have been interpreted differently by the various courts,
the Supreme Court being the most famous (or infamous) interpreter.
Not surprisingly, the original intent of the Framers was oftentimes lost,
like dried leaves in gusts of hot wind.
James Madison, though a Federalist, forwarded a Bill of Rights to
Congress pursuant to the Constitution’s ratification. He realized that
acceptance of the Constitution by the majority of people throughout
the states hinged on whether it included the safeguard of a Bill of
Rights. Indeed, without the first ten Amendments, America may have
abandoned more quickly its idea of limited government.
Nonetheless, even if we were to set aside the above-mentioned
nearly universally intolerable aspects, some of which were dealt with by
later Amendments, what sort of government does a Constitutionally
limited one offer us?
As mentioned, the Bill of Rights with the help of the citizenry has
arguably kept our country from becoming some sort of vile dictator-
ship. The first things that dictators get rid of are the following: free
speech; free press; rights of assembly and petitioning the government;
gun ownership; prohibitions on quartering of troops in the populace;
warrant-required searches and seizures; just due process; evidence-
based convictions; jury trials; and, fair treatment of those found guilty
(not to mention those awaiting trial). This thumbnail sketch of the first
eight Amendments reflects the Framers’ understanding of totalitarian
Totalitarian regimes have no patience for anything that defies their
authority or that’s subversive to their control. This reminds me of a
chilling documentary about the Soviet Union under the heinous Joseph
Stalin. He was known to comment that all political problems arise from
men—so, “No man, no problem.” People who disagree with the
supreme leader and his accomplices are not to be tolerated and there-
fore must be erased. Stalin and his henchmen erased them by the tens of
Fortunately for us, the Framers also noted that even if the Constitu-
tion could prevent or forestall outright totalitarianism, the three
branches of government (executive, legislative, and judicial) needed to
be further restrained from consolidating their powers. Hence, the ninth
and tenth Amendments:
Amendment IX.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not
be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the
Amendment X.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitu-
tion, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States
respectively, or to the people.
Unfortunately for us, these two Amendments have been heeded
little by those in power. As government grows, the other rights retained
by the people are gradually ignored and nullified. And even where the
powers of the several states increase, the power of the people to
enforce their rights in relation to them seems to diminish. We’ve already
noted that Democracy is an ill-conceived way to ensure our rights. The
vagueness of the ninth and tenth Amendments reflects this. How are
the rights of the individual supposed to be upheld against a government
that’s funded through coercive measures and that uses coercive
measures enacted by a majority or plurality to regulate other people’s
So, where exactly does this leave us? What are we to make of the
Constitution—before a couple hundred years of executive practices,
legislation, and adjudication were piled on top of it? Most of the Con-
stitution is dedicated to outlining the managerial and procedural aspects
of a representative government. Though the text may strike many prac-
tical Americans as mind-numbing legal babble, its brevity is a very nice
walk in the park compared to, for instance, the Federal Register, in
which tens of thousands of new pages are generated each year.
The Constitution basically contains such things as the following: the
government’s composition, terms of office, election (and electoral
college) voting details; the legislative authorities of the bicameral
Congress (House and Senate) as well as the President; the nature of the
Executive Branch, which outlines the President as Commander in chief,
his duties and responsibilities in relation to his cabinet, judges,
Congress, and foreign States; the nature and jurisdiction of the Judicial
Branch and the duties and responsibilities of its various courts; the legal
relationship between and among the several States and Citizens to the
Federal government; the procedures of Congress for further Amend-
ments; the nature of the Constitution being “the supreme Law of the
Land”; and, finally, its ratification.
Though the Constitution seems quite methodical in its presentation,
one might notice that many of its specifics, and even its general struc-
ture, are more or less arbitrarily determined. If a representative govern-
ment is to be formed, then someone has to make up its quantitative and
qualitative rules, and these are probably as “good” as any.
While a full critique of the Constitution would certainly require a
book in itself (and lots of strong coffee), it’s important to focus on its
major flaws in relation to our liberties, specifically its enabling of the
coercive powers of government. Article 1 Section 8 shall serve our
purposes well here, for it specifies many of the essential aspects of what
our so-called limited government has permission to do. This is what
folks mean, among other things, when they advocate governmental
adherence to the Constitution:
Clause 1:
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties,
Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the
common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but
all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the
United States;
The power “To lay and collect Taxes” is equivalent to theft, because
the services aren’t solicited by individuals and the funds aren’t voluntar-
ily contributed. To call expropriated wealth “revenue” is really an insult
to earnest businesspersons everywhere.
The “common Defence and general Welfare of the United States” is
perhaps the largest national abstraction possible. Might this be why the
Pentagon and Congressional bills squander hundreds of billions of tax
dollars each year?
The U.S. budget is approaching three trillion dollars. Needless to
say, this isn’t the sort of Federal government that the Framers intended,
but this clause certainly provides for it. The government’s special road
to hell continues to be paved with “good intentions.”
Additionally, the idea that “Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be
uniform” exposes the absurdity of fair thievery.
Clause 2:
To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;
Perhaps at times it’s wise for a person or company to borrow
money, but for a government to do so merely adds more theft to its list
of already despotic actions. After the coercive practices of taxation and
regulation, the victims have little else to “give.” A State-controlled
banking system and a printing press thus enable such things as
meddling with interest rates and inflating the money supply, hence
devaluing the people’s wealth.
Clause 3:
To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the
several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
To “regulate Commerce” means to interfere with free trade, plain
and simple. Though the Framers may have intended this clause to mean
something else (like preventing state governments from impeding
commerce), all three branches of government have taken it upon them-
selves to apply it to nearly every conceivable behavior, including things
grown on your own property and used strictly for your own consump-
tion. In short, now nothing is safe from regulation.
And of course, the U.S. government’s regulation of the Indian tribes
began with a trail of tears (and blood), broken promises, and violated
treaties; it continues with many of their descendants impoverished by
statist welfare programs.
Clause 4:
To establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform
Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United
While initially pretty straightforward, “a uniform Rule of Naturaliza-
tion” has turned into an onerous regulatory bureaucracy that thwarts
millions of industrious people’s attempts to move to America and make
a living here.
People have a right to trade their labor like any other value, good, or
service. To regulate such trade is therefore to regulate people’s freedom
to associate and freedom to travel. Today’s fervent rhetoric against
“illegal immigration” reflects the prevalent notion that law should be
obeyed regardless of its infringement on individual rights and lack of
logic. If anything, people’s anger ought to be directed at the welfare
State and at the police State required to enforce “our borders,” both of
which continue to expose the ills of Communist thinking.
Property owners ought to be able to determine who can and cannot
travel on their property. Fortunately, by definition, the market highly
favors those who invite and promote commerce with fellow travelers
and residents, and it tends to disfavor those who isolate themselves
from such commerce.
And what about bankruptcies? They should be left to customary
law precedents, whereby being absolved from one’s debts would be
something to work out with one’s creditors. Governmentally authorized
bankruptcy is a deterrent to sound money management, be it by an
individual or by a company.
Clause 5:
To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin,
and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
“Uncle Sam,” the entity that taxes the People, is now authorized to
make more money and dictate its value in the marketplace. This is espe-
cially handy when further taxes become unpopular; treasury bonds are
handy too, of course. Governmental officials would rather us not
understand the real nature of money and currency.
In order to avoid confusion, let’s examine some definitions that
draw the necessary distinctions. Money is a commodity, such as gold or
silver, generally recognized and accepted in the marketplace as a univer-
sal medium of exchange. It’s typically shaped or organized for accurate
assessment and ease of transfer, for example, minted. Money has
various properties that contribute to it being widely accepted. These
include being scarce (making it relatively difficult to increase supply),
portable, durable, equally divisible, non-counterfeitable, and esthetically
or culturally appealing. Money that also has non-monetary uses, for
instance, for industrial purposes, provides additional value in the mar-
ketplace, which may or may not contribute to its advantage over other
types of money.
Currency is a note or coin, or digital representation thereof, that
may or may not be redeemable for money. But it’s nonetheless recog-
nized and accepted as a universal medium of exchange for use in non-
barter transactions. Money-backed currencies, such as paper receipts or
certificates, facilitate transactions in which physical transfer of the
money they represent (historically, gold and silver stored in banks)
proves burdensome. After all, it can be a real pain to lug around a
bunch of metal pieces.
Fiat currency is governmentally controlled currency that’s issued
monopolistically and prohibited from being redeemable for money.
Because of its coercive character, fiat currency exposes a couple facts: It
hasn’t been recognized and accepted voluntarily by the marketplace,
and any voluntarily chosen market money and/or redeemable currency
would drive it out of existence. Thus, fiat currency requires a legalized
monopoly in order to prevent its own demise, as well as to promote its
recognition and acceptance as a universal medium of exchange.
Not surprisingly, for these reasons, fiat currency tends to be seen by
most people as simply “money.” Over time, understanding is lost about
the voluntary roots of money and its preferential selection by the mar-
ketplace, as well as the tremendously negative economic effects of fiat
currency. The American dollar, the basic unit of fiat currency in the
United States, has now lost nearly all of its initial value. Originally it was
a governmentally regulated money coin that designated a specific
quantity (typically silver) or a currency note redeemable for a set
quantity of either silver or gold under governmentally controlled bimet-
The government plainly has no valid business determining the
medium of exchange in an economy. That’s the market’s job. Individuals
in the marketplace determine, based on supply and demand principles,
what the media of exchange will be and their values in relation to other
goods and services. Typically, throughout history, the market has chosen
metallic standards such as gold and silver.
Clause 6:
To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities
and current Coin of the United States;
This clause grants the biggest counterfeiter of all the ability to
punish others who wish to play the same game. All thieves must be
arrested, except those with the power “To lay and collect Taxes, Duties,
Imposts and Excises” and “To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof,
and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;”
Clause 7:
To establish Post Offices and post Roads;
This one probably doesn’t need much comment, only to mention
that it gave rise to the phrase, reflecting the horrific behavior, “Going
postal.” Granting the government a monopoly on mail delivery makes
about as much sense as granting it a monopoly on baby delivery.
Anyone care to stand in that line?
In regard to post Roads, true to some of the Framers’ concerns,
federal and state established roads have been a regulatory bonanza for
government (NHTSA and DOT are two examples) and a huge cost for
Americans. Immense traffic congestion and around forty thousand
fatalities from auto accidents annually (millions suffering lesser fates)
demonstrate one more thing that government has no business doing.
Clause 8:
To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by
securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclu-
sive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;
It turns out that this clause was destined to stifle progress in the arts
and sciences. Confusion over who actually owns what and what rights
people have in relation to their own possessions has produced brigades
of attorneys and battalions of court cases to sort out the non-sortable
litigious mess. We’ll address this extensively in another chapter, so it’s
sufficient to say here that the market should decide how to freely honor
creators and innovators, as it does everything else.
Clause 9:
To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;
Naturally, justices of the Supreme Court can’t preside over all cases
in America. In fact they only hear a small fraction (less than a couple
hundred) of the many thousands of cases that make it to their docket
each year. Of course, it makes great sense to delegate authority and
“outsource” when it comes to settling disputes and dealing with wrong-
doers (tortfeasors). If only the high Court and the lower courts dealt
solely with those types of cases. Unfortunately, that’s like asking a lion
to become a vegetarian. More often than not, courts do Democracy’s
bidding, which involves continually violating other people’s freedoms
and property.
This also raises the big questions of authority and jurisdiction. Why
should any particular court have the final say? How many appeals
should be permitted? What are the costs and how are fees determined?
How can the right to a speedy and just trial be reconciled with a legal-
ized monopoly of law? What happens when a particular court itself
commits a tort? Who judges the judges? As noted in other chapters,
only a free market of legal professionals can answer these questions to
any reasonable degree of satisfaction. What America has presently is an
injustice system. In the coercive world view of most judges, up is down;
right is left; 2+2=5; innocent is guilty.
Clause 10:
To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the
high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;
Again, the questions “Under whose jurisdiction, and at whose
expense?” arise. And the answers “Government’s jurisdiction and at the
taxpayer’s expense” ought to raise at least one eyebrow by now. The
idea of punishing piracy seems understandable enough. Anyone who
robs, pillages, or plunders, with or without an eye patch and a hook for
a hand, is a bad guy. But the idea of “Felonies” begs the question of the
validity of statutory law.
You’ve probably noticed that governments are adept at calling all
sort of things felonies, in order to fine people and lock them up, or kill
them when they don’t submit. Real criminality, however, entails violat-
ing other people’s rights, which means initiating force against their
persons and/or property.
Clause 11:
To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make
Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
Interestingly, the last few Presidents have found this clause inconve-
nient for foreign policy purposes, so they’ve just ignored it and pro-
ceeded to embark on various military missions (though they themselves
never enter into harm’s way). The last time Congress officially declared
war was way back in 1941 against Japan and Germany. All subsequent
wars of the U.S. military were fought in violation of this clause. Many
pundits today think it’s outdated or unnecessary, but the Framers knew
the immense danger of placing national war-declaring power into the
hands of a single person in the executive branch of government. The
Commander in Chief is supposed to conduct war, not make it.
Nevertheless, this just deals with the surface details. The real issue,
again, involves jurisdiction and expense. Who exactly are those who
declare War and grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, let alone the CIA
and NSA, accountable to? And who are the people who follow their
orders accountable to? More often than not, war, which is essentially
large-scale legalized killing, is devised by its planners for their own
purposes and their own ends—one end being more control and power
over the citizenry. Indeed, as Randolf Bourne noted, “War is the health
of the State.”
The character of Odysseus in the film Troy had a memorable assess-
ment of this issue: “War is young men dying and old men talking.” The
character of Achilles in the same film put it this way: “Imagine a king
who fights his own battles. Wouldn’t that be a sight?”
So goes war over countless centuries. As long as the leaders in gov-
ernment can take their “revenues” rather than earn them through
profits (the opposite of “war profiteering,” by the way), they’ll always
cast longing eyes toward military adventurism. As long as someone else
has to pay the bills, in both blood and money, they’ll continue to draw
up schemes of greed, conquest, and destruction—and say it’s for our
freedoms, the security of the nation, the good of the people, the safety
of our children, and other such collectivistic nonsense.
U.S. Imperialism, Global Empire, Pax Americana, the World’s
Policeman, the Warfare State, Big Brother—call it what you like—its
so-called leaders have taken America far from its intended moorings as
a peaceful nation “entangling alliances with none,” in Jefferson’s words.
Clause 12:
To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money
to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
Again, at whose expense and under whose jurisdiction, in accor-
dance with the principles of private property and individual rights?
Clearly, two years is simply too short a time span for rulers who desire
to satisfy the hunger of a giant military/industrial complex. Staggeringly
large military or “defense” appropriations are now commonplace, as are
standing armies.
Clause 13:
To provide and maintain a Navy;
Same questions: At whose expense and under whose jurisdiction?
Currently, the U.S. Navy treats its sailors to tours around the world, har-
boring for years at numerous foreign ports, flying sorties and launching
million dollar missiles now and then—all at taxpayers’ expense.
Clause 14:
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land
and naval Forces;
This clause follows from the others, but it still begs the main ques-
tions. Given the rules and regulations that government imposes on the
market, we can expect the ones drawn up for themselves to be no less
nonsensical. Nearly anyone who’s spent time in the military will attest
to its wastefulness, inefficiency, and plain wrongheadedness.
Clause 15:
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of
the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
Many of the federalist Framers were concerned about the potential
for more insurrections like that of Shays’s Rebellion in Massachusetts,
which was eventually halted by a State-organized militia. Daniel Shays
and others were successful, however, in freeing many farmers from
debtors prisons and many more from being bankrupted in courts
through land foreclosures, which were induced by excessive litigation
fees and high property taxes imposed by the Massachusetts’ senate
(composed primarily of commercial interests). It’s an interesting story in
its own right, and it exposes once again the problems of representative
government, which imposes taxes and is not accountable to people but
rather mainly to special interests. Naturally, such a government will seek
ways to preserve itself and its interests, at the expense of liberty and
Nowadays, of course, there’s no need to call forth the Militia,
because the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, National
Guard, and Reserve are already in place performing their assorted
duties. The principle of State preservation is the same, from dictator-
ships to constitutional Republics.
Clause 16:
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia,
and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the
Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively,
the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training
the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
What’s called “national defense” now occupies over 130 countries
around the globe. Troops are stationed in countries in which battles
were fought many decades ago, as well as in places where battles have
never been fought. The National Guard and Reserve have been sent to
help occupy Iraq, creating still more irony. This is all supposed to make
the world safe for “freedom and Democracy.” Investigate for yourself
the number of foreign actions taken by U.S. military forces as well as
covert operations, for example by the CIA. Try not to be too surprised.
After all, it’s for the good of the people, you see.
Clause 17:
To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over
such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by
Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress,
become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and
to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the
Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall
be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards,
and other needful Buildings;
Washington D.C. Which do you prefer at this point: District of
Columbia or District of Criminals? Does anyone serious believe that
George Washington would want his name associated with the present
organization—or for that matter, the buildings? The prodigious Greco-
Roman architecture in D.C. tends to evoke feelings of permanence and
even reverence, but history has demonstrated that ideas, not architec-
ture, ultimately create permanence and reverence.
Clause 18:
—And To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper
for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other
Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the
United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
Oy Vey. I wonder if the Framers had a sense of shame while
approving this clause. Although, when you’re in the coercive power and
corruption business, there’s no need to impose any serious restrictions
upon yourself, or any serious consequences for violating the ones you
do impose. Instead, it’s carte blanche with the “elastic clause.” Yes,
that’s because “necessary and proper” has been used to justify all kinds
of legislation and actions that would undoubtedly make most of the
Framers shake their heads in disgust.
By now it’s probably most apparent that rules and orders written on
paper, no matter how well-conceived and crafted, don’t necessitate
people’s adherence to them. One key to understanding the Constitution
is that it’s only as effective as the integrity of those who believe in its
ideas. Yet there are really two issues here: the content and the adher-
ence to that content. The foregoing analysis of Article 1 Section 8
demonstrates that the content, irrespective of how it was intended at its
creation, has deep and irrevocable flaws. These flaws have clearly been
exploited by those who don’t care about how big and intrusive govern-
ment gets; or rather, they only want it to get bigger and more intrusive.
Those who attained office soon found all kinds of powers and wealth at
their disposal, and they deliberately sought to exploit those features.
Once government enacts the power to tax, the unjust game begins.
It’s then a tug-of-war between the rights-respecting and the rights-vio-
lating aspects of the citizenry and their elected representatives. But this
game isn’t a fair one. It takes place on an uneven field, and those who
strive to take the moral high ground are soon outnumbered by those
below. They’re easily pulled down into the political muck.
This is demonstrated by all the debates in America about the
problems of government and how to deal with them. There are policies
and studies galore, but no real solutions: campaign finance reform;
further regulations against lobbying; a presidential line-item veto; term
limits for legislators and judges; reduced pay and benefits; bipartisan
investigative commissions; a flat tax; a fair tax; a national sales tax; tax
cuts and tax credits; supply-side economics; new “cutting-edge”
programs for this or that; competitive bidding on governmental con-
tracts; improved “streamlined” regulations; “deregulation” (in name
only); and, always more funding and practically never less spending; oh, and
let’s not forget...“leave no child behind”—or is it standing?
Indeed, very few individuals propose the only just and moral
solution that would be like a knife cutting the rope in the relentless
game of tug-of-war, sending all the rights-violators tumbling to the
bottom. The power to tax is the power to acquire wealth ultimately at
the point of a gun. That is the evil essence of taxation, and of the State.
If you don’t oppose it, then you leave humanity open to an unending
source of despicable behavior and exploitation.
The Framers knew that the game they were devising required
taxation in order to be played. Maybe their main hope was that things
wouldn’t get too out of hand, that is, out of the hands of the citizenry
and into the hands of oppressive government. The Framers knew that
coercive power tends to corrupt even the noblest of character. The sep-
aration of powers and various checks and balances were the safeguards
they imposed. To protect against despotism and runaway corruption,
they depended on the people to be vigilant in thwarting attempts by
those in power to circumvent these supposed safeguards.
But even the most vigilant citizenry won’t be able to monitor all the
things happening within the large bowels of government, nor stop the
relentless flow of corruption. Americans have neither the time nor the
energy, nor the real capacity to do something about it—so long as they
believe that the Constitution has legitimate authority. The game will
always be rigged in favor of the State and those who desire to wield its
Whether or not they ever meet their representatives, let alone influ-
ence some of their decisions, most people rightly feel that politicians
and bureaucrats will never have a positive impact on their lives. So, most
of us move onward in the pursuit of our own happiness, yet resigned in
the certainty of “death and taxes.” Those involved in politics, on the
other hand, continue to see nothing but opportunities—opportunities
to pander, to make promises, to gain riches and power, to achieve fame,
control, and still more control.
Our Constitutional Republic is mainly in the business of three disre-
spectful things: monopolizing the money supply and printing dollars
out of thin air, thereby inflating and devaluing currency; taking wealth
from you through taxation rather than asking for it through voluntary
trade; and, telling you to do things that you never agreed to, using force
whenever you disobey.
The sad fact of the matter is that the Constitution, like Democracy,
also contained the seeds of its own destruction. It was essentially the
most civil way to allow for the most uncivil things to be done to people.
Democracy, representation, taxation, and regulation are all affronts to
private property and the idea of self-ownership, which happen to be the
topics of the next chapter.
64 III
Freedom In A Nutshell
Let’s now explore the answer to the underlying questions of this
book. What is, and how do we achieve, a political environment of 100%
freedom, that is, a country of complete liberty?
As you might suspect, the answer to these questions can be
revealed in just two words: Privatize everything. Once done, then
private interests will interact as each sees fit in the marketplace of
goods, services, and ideas. Contracts and voluntary exchanges will
become the orders of the day. Since consent between and among indi-
viduals is the assumed principle, the freedom to contract or not to
contract with others will be respected as one’s inherent right. This
follows from the fact that each of us is a sovereign entity. Each of us is
capable of making our own decisions and acting on them. This includes
exercising the right of self-defense, or bestowing that right to an agent
of our choosing.
Liberty-oriented, or libertarian, ideas have existed for many cen-
turies in various forms. Yet they gathered serious momentum, concep-
tual refinement, and outward expression primarily in the last couple
centuries. The notable insights of Adam Smith in economics and John
Locke in political philosophy, for instance, led their intellectual succes-
sors in the New World to formulate a more mature vision of individual
rights. We could say that the idea of individual sovereignty reached
budding adolescence with Classical Liberalism.
As mentioned, the framers of the U.S. Constitution applied their
understanding of rights only partially to certain types of people and to
certain types of actions, based on irrelevant and arbitrary distinctions.
Basically, if you weren’t a white male land owner, chances weren’t too
high that you’d be respected as an individual with equivalent freedoms.
As also mentioned, half the population wasn’t granted the freedom (or
rather, the “privilege”) to vote until the turn of the twentieth century.
Yet, as we’ve seen, voting is its own form of tyranny. There’s a special
irony in choosing one’s rulers, don’t you think?
Women throughout vast reaches of the globe still face oppression
and terrible predicaments, as do many other people who are also
grouped based on insignificant differences. In America, even though
honorable men such as Thomas Paine attempted to enlighten others
about some of these inconsistencies, the idea of rights in most people’s
minds still had some growing up to do.
In fact, anyone who’s studied the history of individual rights will
notice that the idea’s implementation has never reached political maturi-
ty. So, the question arises: What would allow individuals everywhere to
see rights for what they are, that is, to see them as natural and reason-
based rather than government-based? Simply put, self-ownership.
You own yourself. You probably take this for granted, for you see
slavery as the evil alternative. Unfortunately, there’s such a thing as
partial slavery, which is how humanity lives today—and sadly, it’s
somewhat by our own choosing, ignorance, and misunderstanding.
Sure, we may be convinced that we will protect ourselves and our
possessions from would-be intruders, but it’s a whole other ball game in
the realm of politics. We usually play hardball when it comes to defend-
ing our friends and family, and personal possessions, against criminal
behavior. But we play the weakest game of whiffle ball when it comes
to defending our individual rights as sovereign beings who understand
self-ownership against State officials.
If we don’t integrate the idea of absolute ownership of our minds
and bodies, we leave ourselves open to major exploitation by illogical
political systems and the persons who run them. And for the record,
every political system presently enacted by Homo sapiens is illogical—
that is, each and every one contradicts the truth of self-ownership.
It turns out that only big-brained hominids can formulate and
understand the concept of ownership in the legal sense—and then
proceed to ignore it. Chimpanzees and monkeys, for instance, can
display systems of reciprocity and can even express emotions of
fairness and injustice. But we’ve yet to see any law offices in the jungle
or, for that matter, chimps in suits perusing court documents. While
other primates do have a sense of various things being favorable or
unfavorable to them relative to others, they can’t make the necessary
conceptual connections to the idea of self-ownership. Because they
aren’t creatures of reason and have little, if any, self-reflective capabili-
ties (as evidenced by behavioral and brain studies), they naturally have
little to say on the subject of law and advanced political systems.
Because human beings can reason with the precision of an immense
vocabulary of concepts, we are the only known species capable of fully
resolving disagreement and conflict through, for instance, mediation
and arbitration. We can solve interpersonal problems peaceably by
using our rational faculty, rather than the crude methods employed by
non-reasoning primates. Even though the highly sexualized Bonobo
chimps do have interesting ways to minimize conflict, such dispute res-
olution is not exactly practical for us. One can imagine commerce and
trade ceasing on account of an assortment of particularly unwelcome
genital handshakes.
And that’s precisely the point of self-ownership. Because we can
reason, we remain keenly aware of how we can choose to deal with
each other: either through consent or coercion. Consent is based on the
idea that you have total dominion over your own mind and body, and
that others have total dominion over their own minds and bodies. We
can’t have it any other way without running into a big contradiction. We
cannot, with a reasonable mindset, only apply the right to self-owner-
ship to some people but not to others. Since we all possess and use
reason and therefore make independent decisions, there’s no logical or
practical justification for applying the principle of self-ownership in a
discriminatory or inconsistent fashion.
Self-ownership is a universal principle, just like the principle that
humans are creatures of reason. You have willful (volitional) control
over yourself. Obviously, to claim that human beings don’t have willful
control over themselves is to be willfully inconsistent. Thus, you are
free from others laying claim to you. Because you own yourself, others
by definition may not infringe on your domain.
Of course, we must take into account those unable to perform self-
willed actions and even those unable to make choices. As babies, we all
emerge from a state of relative helplessness into full-fledged, concep-
tual, volitional beings. Some people, a small minority in the adult world,
remain dependent on other adults for care and safety, like children must
rely on their parents. One of the many great things about our species is
our ability to acknowledge the rights of those who are less independent
and act on our desires to help them. Indeed, none of us would be alive
if that weren’t the case.
Property Is An Extension Of Self-Ownership
So, what are the implications of owning yourself? For us to see our-
selves as absolute owners, we must begin to apply this principle to any
social circumstance—as well as extend it to things outside of ourselves.
Though that may sound simple enough, applying the concept to
cultural and political institutions that have vast influence over our lives
can be demanding.
Ownership in general essentially means rightful possession, either
by first use or by consensual transfer of what one possesses to another.
Ownership also entails future use and/or disposal of that which is pos-
sessed. The idea of ownership stems from the idea of self-possession.
In order to further your life and pursue your happiness, that is, in order
to function in the world as a reasoning person, you must claim things
outside yourself (not merely your comb and toothbrush) as your pos-
sessions. Even ascetics who harbor disdain for earthly goods must
claim the food they chew and swallow to be theirs and not someone
else’s. If based on nothing but sustenance alone, ownership is a very
good thing.
As mentioned, everyone in a semi-capitalist society such as America
seems to take ownership and property for granted. After all, what
would all those mortgage payments be good for? And all that stuff in
the garage and crammed into closets? Or how about the large (or small)
sums of money in the bank? Or that newly purchased office furniture?
We do presume to own things, a lot of very cool and useful things.
Private property is in fact the lifeblood of the marketplace, and our lives
in that marketplace represent the beating heart of commerce and trade.
Capitalism is basically an extension of our reasoning minds.
Staking claim to something can be as trivial as your sunglasses or as
profound as a multi-million dollar company and the sizable chunk of
real estate it sits on. Without the ability and the right to claim these
things as your own—by virtue of first use, possession, or consensual
transfer from another—you have scant ability to live and prosper. You
also have little ability to create value in these things. What can’t be
traded in the marketplace has little, if any, benefit to anyone. What can’t
be owned can’t be properly used, improved, or traded in the market-
Moreover, without private property, no prices can be ascribed
objectively through the interaction of buyers and sellers coming to
mutual agreement, based on their knowledge of the trading environ-
ment. Without private property, prices aren’t really possible, no matter
how many bureaucrats in their perches of power believe their decrees
to be better substitutes. Lack of objectivity in pricing inescapably leads
to supply shortages. We should never forget that government rations
things by having us all stand in line.
Unfortunately, many things on Earth are presently either unowned
or they’re “owned” by various governments. As Ayn Rand wisely noted,
“public property” is a contradiction in terms; thus “private property” is
actually a redundancy. “Public” supposedly means everyone, even
though only a handful of people may have actually consented.
If government prevents private ownership to be ascribed to some-
thing, various people will abhor this vacuum. Like a pack of hungry,
very impolite wolverines, interest groups will vie for the biggest, juiciest
share of the unclaimed bounty. The rest of us will be left standing on
the outside looking at the spectacle, wondering how we lost out or how
so many people could be so short-sighted.
The only way certain domains—of land, sky, and bodies of water—
can remain prey for those who spurn private ownership is if govern-
ment uses coercion to prevent rightful claims from being made and
delineated among owners. When the State denies individuals possession
and use of private property, the political process has taken over. What
could have been someone’s property is now subject to all sorts of
absurdities and dire consequences, one of these being what economists
call “common pool” problems. Unclaimed areas usually become a free-
for-all for users and abusers, where it’s first come, first served and little
accountability concerning the ecological effects.
Case in point: the oceans, which comprise roughly two thirds of the
Earth’s surface. They aren’t owned by anyone. So-called territorial
waters are merely collectivistic boundaries ascribed by those political
officials in charge of enforcing statist dominion. After all, one sure way
for those in government to regulate something is to prevent anyone
from owning it. Then, what isn’t permitted is forbidden.
As an environmental consequence, most populations of large fish
are so loaded with mercury that daily consumption might make you
forget your own name, or at least where you put your car keys. Okay, so
the effects may not be so dramatic. While there seems to be no con-
vincing evidence for ill effects on most of us, small children and
pregnant women are still told by experts to limit their consumption of
mercury-laded fish. Nevertheless, the pollutants that accumulate in big
fish (being at the top of the aquatic food chain) are indicators of
oceanic conditions.
As another indicator, rubber duckies and all kinds of less cute trash
wash up on shores of remote islands, carried there by ocean currents.
Massive crude oil spills destroy ecosystems for years, even decades.
Large portions of coral reefs are dying and turning brittle white, from
both natural and human causes. Storm drain, sewage, and run-off
waters that are loaded with fertilizers and assorted man-made chemicals
generate a proliferation of more primitive organisms such as blue-green
algae. These organisms negatively affect the health of other species’
populations and create detrimental toxins along coastal regions. Whole
communities of sea creatures are decimated by overfishing. The des-
tructive practice of bottom trawling has ecological effects similar to, or
worse than, clear-cutting on land. I could go on, but I’m sure you get
the point. Regardless of whether the news media exaggerates (or fanta-
sizes) the global causes and effects, the local effects are noticeable, and
they’re harmful—as well as mostly preventable.
Yet the perpetrators act as if they don’t realize the natural conse-
quences of their behavior, as if it’s acceptable, for instance, to dump all
sorts of waste into unclaimed waters, not to mention into the air (or
into low earth orbit, where it’s becoming a veritable shooting gallery of
parts). This is, of course, all thanks to lack of ownership and non-
enforcement of private property rights.
Unfortunately, the present legal consequences don’t involve restitu-
tion, reparation, and cease and desist orders. Those would be the conse-
quences resulting from private property rights, that is, market-based
solutions. We don’t expect our neighbors to empty their trash cans on
our front lawns, or into our swimming pools, nor would they dream of
such behavior. This is because property owners are normally under-
standing and respectful of each others’ rights. Similarly, if persons
owned the oceans, they wouldn’t tolerate pollution or ecological
destruction of their waters. They’d run tight ships, and demand others
do likewise, especially if they infringed on or despoiled their property.
The same principle applies to all other bodies of water or realms of sky.
Even on assumed privately owned land, government does little to
assist enforcement of property rights. For example, owners who’ve
been harmed by industrial waste and toxic landfills, or even noticeable
freeway pollution, face seemingly endless litigation and court costs.
Of course, expecting the government to come to your rescue and
enforce your rights is oftentimes like expecting an orangutan to help
you write a legal brief (no offense to orangutans; they can’t help it).
Even the highly venerated U.S. Constitution allows government to take
private property for “public use” if it serves a so-called compelling
public interest. Public interest usually means anyone’s interest except
your own. When the State takes property, the owners are supposed to
be placated when they’re given “just compensation.” But no compensa-
tion can be considered just when the unjust power of Eminent Domain
is used. Similarly, property taxes are another major way governmental
officials violate your property rights. Having to pay rent to the State for
owning something unquestionably mocks the nature of ownership.
To reiterate, the solution to all these issues of unreason and injustice
is to ascribe property rights fully to all places, both claimed and
unclaimed. Then, we could achieve some semblance of accountability
and legal recourse to property rights-violations. Again, you don’t let
people pollute your property, because it’s your property.
The same can’t be said of governmental stewards, the military,
various public property exploiters, and some corporate executives who
think that the rights of private property owners need not stand in the
way of maximizing their own and their shareholders’ wealth.
Yet, you might wonder, if there were no public property or regu-
lated private property (through, for instance, zoning laws), what about
issues of untidiness or ugliness that might affect adjacent property
values? Few neighbors currently use their own front yards as landfills,
not because of coercive laws, but because most people don’t enjoy
living in filth and devaluing their own property. Those eccentric owners
who have junk cars gathering rust on their own property, for instance,
might face disgruntled neighbors (depending on the neighborhood),
public shame, or even ostracism. As a result, many of these “collectors”
wisely live in less populated areas where there’s less potential for con-
The typical bureaucratic response to this issue, that is, forcing them
to do things with their own property, contradicts the nature of property
rights. We must appeal to reason, so that respectful relations can be
maintained and furthered. Present city ordinances and zoning laws (and
regulations galore, as we’ll see in the next chapter) are giant leaps in the
opposite direction of individual rights. They’re coercive attempts to
control other people’s actions and property, actions and property that
have infringed on no one’s rights.
Also, everyone is always free to live in a deed restricted area, in
which covenants ensure no eyesores. As many people do today, you can
choose to live in a gated community, or in a place governed by a Home-
owners Association (though be wary of fascist-like HOA boards and
their excessive fees and fines).
To Those Who Dislike Property And Profit
Ever wonder why primitive people and those in communal arrange-
ments have experienced so little material progress? Economic progress
can only happen if one has something to trade, and that something has
to be produced and properly packaged for sale. Now, who’s going to do
the work, and who’s going to gain the benefits? Well, in a free society of
self-ownership and property, everyone who does the work gains the
benefits. Each willing participant trades value for value in win/win,
mutually beneficial transactions and interactions. This represents
societal cooperation at its best.
Yet some who have nostalgia for primitive cultures, or who believe
in the alleged (never exhibited) benefits of Communism, for instance,
bristle at the idea of extending private ownership to things beyond
personal effects. Sure, they may endorse the idea of having your own
clothes. But they prefer, instead, non-ownership or communal owner-
ship of resources and various fruits of your labor. Never mind that his-
torical evidence and present day politics are totally unfavorable to them;
Communism has yet to show that it works, let alone that it’s moral.
“But, damn, it’s good in theory!” some say. Given our earlier analysis of
The Communist Manifesto, one immediately wonders, “good” in what
Non-ownership or communal ownership fosters conflicts over
resources. Additionally, the value that could be created in those
resources (capital) remains dormant. Aside from the irresolvable dis-
putes generated among individuals and groups, this predicament soon
leads to widespread lack of motivation to achieve anything. Commu-
nism, in all its variations, is the ultimate demotivator. “What’s the
point?” becomes its guiding rhetorical question. People who find ways
to “work” the system are typically those who wield the most power via
the State, and they get the spoils. The rest merely eke out an existence;
they live on the brink of nonexistence.
As we discussed earlier, few people today recommend a full-blown
Communist prescription for society. Yet many may advocate a powerful
monopolistic organization of individuals to monitor, control, and
regulate what should be done with both owned and unowned domains.
This is the general idea of government, or the State, in which the under-
lying principle of Communism holds constant sway.
The extent to which some individuals are denied by other individu-
als their full right to acquire, use, and/or dispose of property is the
extent to which capital accumulation is hindered, productivity is dimin-
ished, prices rise, goods and services become more scarce, and opportu-
nities for commerce wane. Private ownership, in contrast, leads directly
to value creation, free exchange, productivity, and accountability.
The long, sordid history of thuggery, both personal and political
(which ultimately is personal) has continually dismissed the principle of
self-ownership—in favor of the contradictory idea that violence is a
workable way to deal with others. Statist mentalities reach for threat of
force and punishment to affect behavior and solve perceived problems.
Terms like the “common good,” “general welfare,” “public interest,”
etc., attempt to disarm people who would otherwise have enough good
sense to call this what it is—coercion—and deal with it appropriately.
Still some claim, “Why should you be so selfish and greedy and so
against this kind of sharing?” Notice that political “sharing” is a
euphemism for being forced out of one’s own time, money, and
property for the supposed good of others or the group. And the person
who demands the sacrifices of others never claims to be selfish himself.
Since you own yourself, naturally you need and ought to benefit and
learn from the actions you take and the choices you make. To sacrifice
your own interests for the sake of other people’s interests (or vice versa)
would be to act in contradiction to your nature. You need to care for
yourself before you can care for others, after all. We must be individuals
first and (willing) helpers of other individuals second, if we so choose.
Thus, we should pay no attention to the intellectuals of all creeds and
adornment today who tell us that helping others requires sacrificing our
rational self-interest. Nothing is nobler than, or preferable to, living
according to your own values, based on your own judgment.
Living a consistently self-interested ethics doesn’t mean being irra-
tionally selfish, that is, being callous or harmful to others, or to yourself
for that matter. You ought to embrace your needs and desires to be
with and enjoy others and bestow good things on them, as well as your
need to be your own best friend. Only if you value yourself and others
honestly, according to your enlightened and objective self-interest, will
you rid yourself of making sacrifices and the ensuing resentment.
Everything generally boils down to the economics of your own life
and desires based on your values, that is, what you have time and energy
for, and what you perceive as serving your own life and well-being—in
other words, what gives you the most enjoyment, satisfaction, challenge,
or comfort. Contrary to statist dogma, a free market, which naturally
coincides with our rational self-interest, greatly fosters helping others.
Common business activities such as creating jobs, developing and
offering products and services that people want, or simply doing volun-
teer work or making charitable contributions (which depend on wealth
and resources created by capitalism’s massive productivity effects), all
entail mutual benefit, be it monetary or psychological. Even miserly
persons who keep their money under their beds help the economy far
more than the State; misers take money out of circulation, instead of
inflating, devaluing, and regulating it.
Remember that we have two main choices in dealing with others,
and one of them ain’t very nice. We can realize that nothing will get
accomplished without creating values in our lives and in the market-
place, and that values can only be properly created through ownership.
Or, we can attempt to prevent people from creating values and side-
track whole societies in the direction of stagnation and destroyed
Our planet is one of relative abundance, an abundance that depends
not only on our technological know-how, but also on the ethics human
society lives by, or suffers and dies by, as the case may be. Given the
economic laws that operate no matter what we decide, it’s painfully
obvious that those who choose wrongly aren’t very concerned with
human health, happiness, and thriving. Rather, they embrace a moral
code that sets humanity against its own nature—in order to impose
their particular version of “the good” on the rest of us. Of course, the
institution of the State enables them to defy the ideas of privatizing
everything and honoring owners’ freedom to create and exchange
values with others.
Perhaps some are troubled by others doing things as they see fit in
society. After all, their choices may run counter to the majority or to
those who seek to control them. They may threaten the goals of power-
seekers everywhere who want others to do things their way.
Some even contend that if the free market were actually allowed to
be free, then the rich would get richer and the poor would get poorer,
and those with the most wealth would have the most power to rule over
others with ruthless cruelty. How remarkable! This ridiculous depiction
of unfettered capitalism actually resembles that of any third-world dic-
tatorship, which is the furthest from unfettered. Not surprisingly, the
commonly proposed solution to this alleged scenario (tyranny by the
rich and powerful) is brimming with irony: Grant coercive power to an
organization that doesn’t depend on profits, but instead expropriates
wealth from the willing and the unwilling alike and prohibits and
permits things as it sees fit, that is, arbitrarily.
There’s no other way of respectfully dealing with fellow human
beings than by respecting their reasoning nature. Many in our society
seem to think that force is preferable to persuasion, that if they were in
charge, they would make the world a better place. What they’ve failed to
realize is that their plans for a better world were doomed from the
beginning, on account of using an incorrect means to achieve a better
world. To reiterate, the end doesn’t justify the means when the means
run counter to individual rights and the principle of self-ownership and
by extension private property.
To initiate force against innocent persons who’ve not done as one
wants is to reject any sort of consistent form of morality. No matter
how much we may wish it weren’t so, we can always disagree with each
other. Each of us must be able to make our own choices. No one
outside your own experiences is better equipped to make informed
decisions for you. Moreover, for others to intervene in such an affair is
to contradict human functioning—choosing to prohibit choice.
One big difference between a central planning statist and the indi-
vidual decision maker, aside from their codes of morality, is the vast
gulf between their respective levels of available, local knowledge. The
statist planner/regulator in any guise (town, city, county, state, or D.C.)
only has guesses about how individuals would make choices in the mar-
ketplace. Most of the time we can’t even guess what sort of choices our
friends are going to make. So, there’s less than a snowball’s chance on
Mercury that central planning bureaucrats or policy wonks can make
optimal decisions for each and every person in the particular way that
each person knows best.
This is reflected in the joke about two Communist planners. They
were scheming about how to effectively control aspects of industry and
trade and allocate labor and resources accordingly. In the course of
their conversation about how to implement this special form of insanity
across the globe, one said, “But of course, we’ll have to leave one
country alone, let it remain capitalist.” “Why in the world would we
want to do that?” asked the other. “Because we must have a way to
determine what our prices are going to be!”
Again, prices are set by the interaction of buyers and sellers in the
marketplace. The law of supply and demand is something that can’t be
messed with—not with impunity. The invisible hand of the market, as
Adam Smith outlined a few centuries ago, is a hand that needs no
master. This is because, on the grand and complex scale of entire
economies filled with extensive divisions of labor, intricate specializa-
tions, and innumerable consumer interests and preferences, no substi-
tute exists for personal decision making. No one can think and act for
you, either as a producer or as a consumer—unless you prescribe
specific courses of action through consensual contract. Even such a
contract with agents who act on your behalf requires you to make indi-
vidual choices based on your personal context that no one else can
properly ascertain.
Living in the marketplace as autonomous decision makers, no
matter how extensive or intimate our social networks may be, is the
only way we can and will become fully responsible and independent
adults. As creatures of reason, being responsible and independent—
psychologically, intellectually, and financially—are very healthy things.
Actually, they’re indispensable. To live otherwise is akin to a bird trying
to fly without extending its wings.
Let’s now look at the general organization of laws in America that
attempt to deny us the responsibility and independence of adulthood.
Where do you suppose they’re leading us? Well, it’s definitely not into
the same valley as the land of milk and honey. More like Mordor with
its assortment of Ringwraiths.
78 IV
I was watching a panel discussion on C-SPAN awhile ago, in which
a person declared that the Democracy movement needs to join forces
with the anti-corporate, anti-capitalist, and anti-globalization move-
ments. If that isn’t a loaded proposition, I don’t know what is.
First of all, we’ve already considered what Democracy is, be it rep-
resentative or popular. Those in the citizenry who think that they can
get government to perform their particular version of aggression on the
rest of society ought to consider what that means morally. Basically, it
entails using force rather than persuasion, force that’s funded by further
force, reflecting the preposterous claim that a popular majority or plu-
rality can influence politicians to do something good via immoral
means. Such a process is not rational, moral, or just.
Naturally, many Americans are frustrated with governmental intru-
siveness, waste, corruption, and ineptitude. Rarely do most people
wholeheartedly endorse the particular policy direction of government
during any given election term. Yet, few ever challenge the immoral
means of government. Instead, like the person on C-SPAN, they chal-
lenge the right of people to be productive and freely trade, that is, capi-
talism and globalization. They’d rather use the tools of government to
structure commerce as they see fit, not as the actual participants in trade
see fit.
Close inspection reveals that the various Democracy movements,
which advocate “taking back” their governments, are simply dissatisfied
people wanting to impose their values on the rest of society (and the
world). Seldom do they speak of liberty in the rational sense of being
individually free in the marketplace to make your own choices with
your own property. Instead, they speak of corporate greed and corpo-
rate injustices, and then they run to the State in search of remedies.
Corporations: The Semi-Good, The Bad, And The Ugly
Let’s delve into the nature of corporations a bit, starting with their
semi-good aspects. True to form, the current anti-corporate ideology
reflexively makes Wal-Mart one of its main targets. Some think that the
largest retailer in the world is too big and should be restrained through
more regulations; there was actually a show on CNBC in 2005 about
this. Wal-Mart is the largest retailer primarily because people who seek
affordable goods favor its particular assortment of products and prices.
Otherwise, it would be just another Kmart. Basically, people working at
Wal-Mart engage in voluntary trade with their customers, trading value
for value.
But what about, for instance, Wal-Mart’s “exploitation” of cheap
labor in China, or the advantages it obtains from the lack of workers’
rights and pollution regulations there? This question obviously over-
looks the pervasive state of poverty in rural China, which tends to make
working in a factory in the city more appealing. Most people on the
other side of the planet don’t like being dirt poor and living hand to
mouth either.
Of course the Chinese government remains guilty as charged. It’s
tyrannical system keeps hundreds of millions of Chinese impoverished.
And some of its rights-violations and aggressions against free speech,
free press, and property in general are on a par with the worst totalitar-
ian regimes throughout history. However, this isn’t exactly Wal-Mart’s
fault or responsibility.
Wal-Mart’s executives simply use the economic disequilibriums that
currently exist throughout the world to their advantage. Chinese labor
and manufacturing costs are much lower than in the U.S. If Wal-Mart
didn’t capitalize on this situation, its competition surely would continue
to. Further, the more capital investment in manufacturers that Wal-Mart
extends oversees, the faster those companies can become part of the
developed world. Over time, costs should seek equilibrium. More
economic wealth tends to enable more freedom, and vice versa. Even-
tually, more efficient and effective technologies for dealing with waste
and pollution in China will arise. The Chinese State may or may not
hinder their implementation.
Regarding Wal-Mart contributing to “trade imbalances” and “out-
sourcing,” those who believe that they should keep their particular jobs
despite market pressures and market changes will be perpetually dissat-
isfied. Their calls for all sorts of regulations, as well as union pressures
for Wal-Mart to alter its employee relations, seek to make Wal-Mart less
productive, less competitive, less satisfying, and more costly to its cus-
tomers. Regulations interfere with more productive business methods,
essentially market processes that seek higher and higher levels of pro-
ductivity. From a moral standpoint, of course, regulations also violate
individual rights and property rights. We also need to keep in mind that
the money people save by shopping at Wal-Mart is used in all sorts of
other ways that benefit individuals, the economy, as well as other indus-
But that’s mostly the economic side of the business of international
trade, not of the corporate structure itself. As usual, the political side is
much less savory. If only the anti-corporationists, anti-capitalists, and
anti-globalizationists would make this necessary distinction. Perhaps the
most difficult thing for all of us who grew up in statist economies to
recognize is the difference between a free market and an unfree one. A
free market, that is, capitalism, is thought to exist presently, and it’s typi-
cally blamed for all sorts of economic troubles. Much of statist indoctri-
nation, so-called public education, consists of informing students about
the market’s various failures and how government’s job is to step in and
fix things or make things right.
Similar to the time of Marx and Engels, business and trade aren’t
taking place in a free market world. Unfettered capitalism is so far from
present that proponents of today’s marketplace often do more harm
than good to the cause of liberty. Businesses everywhere are tangled in a
seemingly unending web of governmental interventions.
However, corporations more resemble the web-spinners’ helpers than
their hapless victims. The corporate structure is actually a “legal fiction”
created by laws and molded by successively more ridiculous court
rulings, and then maintained by governmental officials and their cronies
on Wall Street and elsewhere. Corporations exist legally for various
purposes that have changed since their inception. Originally, they were
granted by state governments to do “good works” for the “general
welfare” of the state (definitely a deal with the devil). Big companies
become corporations today typically to lower overall business owners’
liability and acquire more capital at lower risk and cheaper rates of
Corporations are treated as individuals in and of themselves (“cor-
porate personhood”) with rights granted to them by government, and
with an existence apart from the original private company’s owners.
Most of today’s major corporations have quite intimate relationships
with law makers and regulators. Thus, they’ve become extensions of the
statist system, which enables them to use governmental force to gain
competitive advantages over others in the marketplace, or to simply
shut out competition entirely (as is the case with various local utility
So-called free trade agreements between rulers of States reflect the
major influences of multinational and transnational corporations. Many
corporations tend to be notorious for shirking responsibility and exter-
nalizing various costs to governments, which of course externalize
those costs to the people. Corporations also foster separation of owner-
ship from management (and ownership from labor), which doesn’t
bode well for personal and professional accountability either. Corporate
ownership by still other corporations as well as stock ownership by
mutual funds and pension funds, that is, by investment corporations,
are also invariably State-facilitated arrangements. Such is the bad and
the ugly of corporations.
Of course, limited liability is especially appealing in today’s corrupt
and unjust justice system. Yet few businesspersons realize that to
submit to the State through the corporate structure is to slap Lady
Liberty in the face. Even though various liability/insurance policies can
be set up by businesses, these should not make investors immune from,
for example, the consequences of bad debt or defaults, or irresponsible
and immoral management. The best check on these consequences
resides in heeding the inherent free market risks in doing business and
making investment decisions.
Moreover, can you think of a good reason (other than financial, of
course—and there’s the political rub) for a competitive company to for-
mulate such cumbersome things as articles of incorporation, bylaws,
and a board of directors, as well as ridiculously burdensome accounting
procedures? These are essentially governmental hoops to jump through
in order to attain a specific tax and regulatory status. Anyone with good
business sense understands that these devices can severely misdirect
one’s energy and hinder managerial decisions. They can also give
investors a false sense of security, encouraging them to think that gov-
ernment has designed it so that they’ll be protected. But regulations are
no substitute for freedom to make good and bad decisions.
When the two founders of Google went public, for instance, they
realized that this issue of choice would become compromised. Essen-
tially, they wouldn’t be able to make quick, rational decisions on the fly
anymore. They were going to become constrained by a committee of
board members and their shareholders, and thus less streamlined and
less flexible from a managerial standpoint. Contrary to corporate
dogma, a managerial standpoint is one of the main considerations for
business viability and, thus, satisfied customers; it’s not to maximize
shareholder wealth.
We must acknowledge the fact that the State has basically won when
businesses use statist mechanisms to do business. Fascism and corpo-
rate welfare then become effectively entrenched, and business is done
by permission and assistance from bureaucrats, both political and cor-
In a just legal system, this unprincipled, pragmatic behavior would
definitely fade away, and reputation and responsibility would be greatly
revitalized. Currency that’s grounded in, for example, the gold standard,
would be readily available at market rates, determined by buyers and
sellers at market-created and market-regulated—meaning consumer-
regulated—financial institutions.
Certainly, agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission
and the Federal Trade Commission represent the giant elephants in the
room in today’s securities and investment banking markets. Until these
beasts are slain, along with the other beasts in the room—the U.S.
Treasury, Federal Reserve System, and all its assorted financial and legal
instruments—we can only speculate how financial and big business
markets would shape up. Currently, they are a cesspool of corruption
and a labyrinth of legal complexities, devised by politicians, regulatory
officials, securities lawyers, and their accomplices on Wall Street, essen-
tially financial enterprises in the business of lobbying for governmental
policies and regulations in their favor—in order to become even more
filthy rich.
The general legal framework involving our print-on-State-demand
fiat currency fosters, among other sordid things, an over-extension of
credit and accumulation of debt. The average CEO’s multi-million
dollar salary and stock options ought to make one follow the money
trail in these matters. Additionally, the various exchange rates for
American and foreign fiat currencies reflect what happens to monies
controlled by governments.
This takes us back to the Wal-Mart phenomenon, arguably the
largest business on the planet. Perhaps a major factor in people
shopping at Wal-Mart for the lowest possible prices is the nature of the
present economy. Big box stores in general have thrived as people have
found it more cost effective to be “prosumers,” or do-it-yourselfers,
rather than paying for professional services or for better customer
service and higher quality products, which smaller businesses might
Standard of living and real wages haven’t really increased over the
last few decades, when you crunch the numbers in a fair way, and
personal debt (both credit card and mortgage) has ballooned into the
many trillions of dollars; a negative savings rate accompanies this unfor-
tunate situation. So, a couple significant things are probably helping to
keep the American economy from overtly tanking: advances in com-
puter and information technologies and Wal-Mart’s enormous
economies of scale, which depend heavily on the former; their finely
tuned computerized inventory and cost management systems are case
studies in efficiency.
Maybe in the truly free and much more prosperous economy of the
future, more consumers would shift their focus away from price as the
primary factor in their buying decisions, to other aspects such as impec-
cable quality or a sublime shopping experience. Or, more consumers
may base their purchasing decisions on the reputations of each manu-
facturer’s employee or supplier relations (and relations with other
States). However, successful companies such as Wal-Mart, absent their
corporate structure, might likely respond to these shifts in consumer
preferences. The free market always encourages businesses to become
as efficient as possible, which entails implementing the technologies to
do so.
Well, that’s the mixed bag of corporations. Rather than clamor for
more regulations on them (in the name of social responsibility, commu-
nity interests, and environmentalism) activists should seek the discon-
tinuance of State-created corporate structures entirely. Those who
malign corporations must first challenge the institution of the State and
its practices that have spawned them. After all, we can always decide not
to do business with various corporations, and they won’t come to our
doors demanding unearned money. The same can’t be said of the State.
Let’s explore the nature of regulation further. Although, at this
point, you might want to put on some rubber gloves and firmly affix a
gas mask.
The Sand And Molasses Of Statism: Regulation And Preventive Law
Ah, the alphabet soup of regulatory agencies: The IRS, FDA, EPA,
TSA, NHTSA, DOT, FEMA, etc.—ad naseum. If only we could keep
them stored in a glass jar somewhere, as a showcase of not-so-well-
intentioned iniquity. Then again, maybe such a jar just belongs in the
trash can.
A simple Web search for statist regulatory bodies will reveal the
entire list of ingredients in the alphabet soup. It’s a concoction potent
enough to make your eyes water and head ache, filled with countless
departments, committees, boards, commissions, bureaus, services,
administrations, authorities, corporations, institutes, offices, and agen-
cies. Sorry, no Ginsu knife set is offered with this mess of goods. But
wait, there is indeed more, because this is only a quick mention of
what’s on the federal level. We shouldn’t forget the state, county, city,
and town organizations in all their busybody forms and fashions, intent
on meddling in all aspects of commerce and trade—from whom and
where we can buy a gallon of milk, to how much money gets taken
from us in taxes with each gallon of “boutique” blend of gasoline we
pump, to what sort of media content we can see (endless murders and
violence on TV, fine; naked people, typically a no-no unless they’re
being murdered, of course). Trillions of dollars are spent performing
these “services” for the public. The various governments of the United
States devour probably half of the many trillions of dollars circulating in
the American economy. And since our medium of exchange is printed
by the State, it thereby demonstrates that it can do more than just
regulate our monetary system. It can fully communize it!
Ronald Reagan famously noted how government views the
economy: “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it
stops moving, subsidize it.” Perhaps those in government are most
aware of its methods of operation. President Reagan definitely had first-
hand knowledge.
Regulation attempts to replace the judgment of property owners
and free market processes with the judgment of bureaucrats. Not only
is this like pouring sand and molasses into the gears of a finely tuned
machine. It also leads to the creation of machines that are less efficient,
less functional, nonfunctional, or that produce the opposite of what
one wants—Rube Goldberg contraptions gone haywire. Many great
machines never even get made, which is the end of the road of the
destruction of capital by government.
Preventive law is the mainstay of regulatory bodies. After all, who
could regulate if there were no laws to generate all that sand and
molasses (as well as the regulatory bodies themselves)? Preventive law,
that is, enacted legislation that seeks to prohibit or direct behavior of
individuals in the marketplace before they do anything “wrong,”
equates to deeming people perpetually guilty. “Guilty” under such a
legal system has virtually nothing to do with injuring others or infring-
ing on their rights.
Thinking of installing some plumbing or electrical work in your new
home? You’re supposed to study the laws (building codes) first, and
don’t forget the inspectors. Thinking of hiring a couple new workers for
a project? You’re supposed to check into what the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration
Services (and various others) have to say about that. Thinking of selling
a new product or service? You’re supposed to investigate how many
governmental agencies are in charge of that particular line of work, and
the reams of forms to fill out, rules to abide by, and fees to pay.
Thinking of purchasing a weapon for extra security? Well, with any
luck, you’ll be able get out of that tangle of red tape alive.
Of course, once you inspect the laws in any particular area of your
life, you quickly realize that you’re only looking at the foot of the legal
monster that looms above you. So here’s the bottom line: If you’re
thinking of doing something—anything rights-respecting—maybe it’s
best not to see how many laws you’re going to break, lest your plans are
Unless you stay in bed all day, you’re likely to violate some regula-
tion on some level during your routine activities. Essentially, under a
regulatory system, aka the nanny State (no offense to real nannies),
people aren’t allowed to make independent decisions. They’re instead
given governmental mandates with penalties for disobedience. This is
the nature of regulatory control, and it’s supposedly for the common
good, once again. Hence, rather than administer justice for particular
right-violations, which is the sole purpose of a legal system, regulation
focuses on preventing certain courses of action that law makers and
bureaucrats have declared unacceptable. Law makers and bureaucrats
then rely on law enforcers to do the dirty work of aggression for them.
If those in government strictly focused on the issue of justice
instead of trying to control people’s lives, they’d face a considerable
downsizing of their workforce. Certainly those in a regulatory system
wouldn’t want to design it to create more efficiency and higher produc-
tivity—to ease up on the influx of sand and molasses. Obviously, only
those in the marketplace who rely on profits and customer satisfaction
have such goals in mind.
Preventive law is an inversion of the concept of justice, because it
creates myriad crimes out of nowhere, crimes that violate no one’s
rights or property. This stands to reason, because government is an
entity that pretends to operate outside the bounds of property rights (it
being “public property”); naturally, all its regulatory edicts reflect its
lack of jurisdiction in the realm of other people’s property.
Ultimately, regulation thrives in a society that either agrees with its
contradictory premise that some adults must treat all other adults as
non-adults, or that fears too much the consequences of non-compli-
ance, which ultimately entails rejecting one’s status as an autonomous,
self-owned adult.
The key question then is this: By what right, by what code, by what
standard (to reiterate an Ayn Rand character’s words) do these organi-
zations of people believe that what they’re doing is just and proper?
One of their answers might be “By the consent of the governed.” For-
tunately for the governors, most of the governed are too busy working
and playing to really care about the immense rights-violations being
perpetrated on their persons and property. It seems easier to conform.
As mentioned earlier, one could argue that the laws and regulations
in a country are basically reflections of the ethics of the general popu-
lace. If the general populace believes that being dishonest or unreason-
able is helpful in order to run a business, for example, then that belief
will be reflected in how regulatory agencies operate (guilty until you
prove your innocence). Even the apathy that people show towards gov-
ernmental corruption reflects their view of the virtue of integrity, at
least on the political level, the level where most people remain resigned
in the belief that nothing can be done.
I’m not going to bore us by citing more of the sordid and volumi-
nous details of the Washington racket and our closer-to-home rackets.
Many astute libertarian and even conservative thinkers have covered
that ground like a herd of angry buffalo. Not even the most virulent
weed could survive such a thorough trampling. Yet, those in Washing-
ton and those who support them in the several states act as if they’re
immune to such intellectual stampedes. They proceed onward, routinely
smug in the thought that they’re doing the public’s duty—and that
people are following their orders.
Well, all really bad things must come to an end sometime, especially
if they’ve been created by humans. No better time than the present, as
far as we’re concerned.
Basically, the State’s regulatory programs manifest a huge contradic-
tion operating in our society—that people don’t have full right to use
and/or dispose of their property as they see fit; instead politicians,
bureaucrats, judges, police and others in institutions of “authority” are
to intervene in some form or fashion in virtually every human exchange
and interaction. Supposedly, we should be comforted or at least kept
from rebelling by being told that this is for our own good, or that we
can’t comprehend the valuable reasons for such interference. Death and
Moreover, governmental regulations act as smoke screens between
companies and market assessments of their credibility. Because most
people assume the nanny State is watching out for their interests, they
fail to put company claims about products and services to the account-
ability test. Naturally, in a truly free market some organizations would
be keen on providing such tests in an independent fashion, much like
Consumer Reports and Underwriters Laboratories attempt to do today.
Without regulations, companies would have to take full responsibil-
ity for their trades; regulatory agencies couldn’t interfere with their
thorough evaluation by the marketplace. Further, without the great
leveling effect that regulations have on competition in the marketplace,
in which every business is supposed to conform to the same rules, con-
sumers would find many more choices regarding who they do business
with. Stagnant companies that favor the status quo because of their
governmentally regulated market positions would have to change, or
lose customers.
Yet, we are told that the market sometimes fails, that the market is
inadequate for addressing true human needs, and that some market
processes are distasteful, corrupt, bad, or wrong. Again, people are
“selfish and greedy.”
For Whom The Market Fails
For whom does the market fail? That’s the question overlooked in
these various false accusations. Who exactly is the victim in voluntary
exchanges of goods and services between and among volitional beings?
Clearly not the individual decision makers in the marketplace, who
obtain what they want and pay for it. Since society is composed of
countless such individual interactions, it certainly can’t be society that’s
harmed. And since the alternative to voluntary exchange is forcible
exchange, and forcible exchange violates rights and therefore choices, it
can’t possibly be a better way to “get things done” in society. Again, to
accomplish things by coercing or destroying the very entity capable of
making rational choices—a human being—is to contradict the human
method of functioning, in favor of something witnessed on The Animal
Channel during predator-and-prey night. In the realm of rights and
ethics, there’s simply no room for such glaring inconsistencies. Self-
ownership and its moral implications for property aren’t open for
But the institutions of government, being one massive coercive
redistribution scheme, dare not pursue this line of logic. That would be
equivalent to saying that each individual is sovereign, would it not?
Only one correct answer exists to the question of who is harmed by
the market: those who want to impose their wills on others. If one’s
method of operation is to force others to do things, then banning that
method is definitely going to cramp one’s style. Town, city, county, state,
and D.C. officials rely on regulatory opportunities to take from taxpay-
ers through bloated salaries, pensions and welfare benefits, cronyism,
private kickbacks, etc. Regulation can also satisfy various power and
control cravings or even lessen feelings of occupational unimportance,
by constantly monitoring other people’s occupations.
Does anyone seriously believe that unjust power doesn’t tend to
corrupt even the most well-intentioned and honest individuals? If the
money you’re spending doesn’t come from your own bank account or
even your company’s bank account, what incentive will you have to
monitor the balance? Further, if you can print and loan yourself funny
money and adjust its rates of interest (essentially, it’s time value) why
care about financial responsibility?
Consider this: If the market were allowed to be free, that is, if indi-
vidual choices and property were fully respected, then there would be
no need for public policies, politicians, elections, bureaucrats, lobbyists,
ridiculous rules and regulations, and, for that matter, 90% of the news!
Obviously then, the unrefined sensibilities of those who would other-
wise wield coercive power would be harmed; their “well-meaning”
desires to control others would be thwarted; and, their supposedly
grand plans for society would be nixed. They wouldn’t have the option
to run the unjust organizations of the State anymore. Further, all the
intellectuals who spend most of their waking hours analyzing, theoriz-
ing, recommending, and justifying “better” governmental policies or
maintaining the status quo would be left up a specific creek without any
If only they realized that something new and brilliant awaits
everyone who chooses to be productive and live by their own efforts or,
under certain circumstances, by the charitable efforts of others who are
free to offer help (rather than forced to offer unaccountable, indirect
help through taxation). The marketplace welcomes those who take
responsibility for their actions and function as independent beings—as
adults—able to make good decisions for themselves. Again, a free
market provides things in abundance for anyone who accepts the trader
It’s no surprise that the wealthiest economies in the world are also
the freest economies, or at least they’re still running on capital accumu-
lated from past economic freedoms, such as our US of A. The poorest
people in the richest countries are better off and have many more
opportunities than those in less free countries. A truly free market will
offer the poor and the not-so-poor a standard of living that they can
only yearn for now, as well as enable them to migrate more easily to
ever higher levels of income. In contrast, the more controlled an
economy is, the more difficult it is to move up the income ladder.
Imagine A Free World
We really can’t overestimate how much regulations negatively affect
our lives, liberty, property, and pursuit of happiness. In this day and age
of computer gadgets and every (presently) conceivable technological
gizmo within reach of individuals with even modest incomes, you might
think it’s possible to exaggerate this point.
But my point is not that we can’t afford many of today’s conve-
niences. Most people can afford an assortment of devices for connec-
tivity, productivity, and entertainment. Instead, my point is that we
could afford so much more if we had a non-regulated economy and
monetary system that was basically immune to inflation, devaluation,
and eco-nomic recessions and depressions (the so-called business
cycle). In other words, by now, our current state of knowledge and tech-
nological capabilities would be far more advanced, perhaps similar to
living a few hundred years in the future! Today, for instance, many tech
savvy persons desire better Internet access and Web capabilities. While
ubiquitous WiFi with more bandwidth and convenient interfaces would
definitely be great in so many ways, why settle for less?
Imagine quick remedies for the injuries and diseases that currently
ruin people’s lives. Imagine perfect health for you and your loved ones,
defying the typical aging process at the cellular level. Imagine everyone
being rich (clean rich, not filthy rich) and able to afford, for instance,
without incurring any debt, spacious, custom-designed, energy-efficient,
self-cleaning homes. Imagine gourmet meals in the time it takes to press
a few buttons, or utter a few voice commands. Imagine the time you’d
save to spend on whatever really fun and challenging things that you
probably have on “the back burner.”
Imagine faster, safer, more affordable and convenient travel to most
places on our planet. Imagine an altered landscape of transportation
with nonpolluting engines. Imagine no more traffic jams. Imagine flying
cars. Imagine luxury vacations in Earth’s orbit or sightseeing on Mars,
for instance, a trip to the top of the Mt. Everest-dwarfing Olympus
Mons or to the abyss-like edges of Valles Marineris. Imagine a week-
long astronomy class on the dark side of the moon. Imagine spectacular
and thriving cities of new commerce and entertainment on (and in) the
Imagine human-simulated computer mentors that could answer
nearly any question posed by learners of all ages. Imagine personalized
computer “therapists” that could appropriately sense your moods and
help you gently relieve stress, or amplify your happiness, through a
variety of ingenious methods. Imagine being able to be immediately
connected to anyone who shares similar experiences, desires, interests,
talents, or goals. Imagine a much more informed, interested, harmo-
nious, and happy society (the kind central planners can only dream of
—or rather, have nightmares about). Imagine the synergistic effects of
these and many other wonderful progressions and innovations. I’m sure
you have your own variety of great things to add to this list. Regardless
of whether or not they’re presently achievable, many brilliant advances
will certainly be achievable in our lifetime, once we generate a society of
complete liberty.
And even despite political changes for the better, such technological
advances may be somewhat inevitable, given the human discovery
process. According to proponents of extropianism and transhumanism
(future and human potential philosophies), which include artificial intel-
ligence researchers and optimistic theorists such as Ray Kurzweil, this
century will actually be the one in which humanity moves past its prior
scientific obstacles and engineering difficulties. Kurzweil’s vast, future-
oriented technology website covering all aspects of this argument is He and many other futurists assert that a “techno-
logical singularly” will occur once computers surpass the computational
abilities of our own brains, a point in time beyond which it’s anybody’s
guess as to what amazing innovations will arise.
In relation to these fascinating ideas, John Smart, who’s incidentally
a friend of mine in southern California, has developed the Acceleration
Studies Foundation (ASF), an organization dedicated to analyzing such
predictions and various future-related trends, so as to help people better
understand and potentially benefit from them.
and are Smart’s websites, which contain a
wealth of information. The members of ASF realize that people who
are keen about what’s possible in their lives tend to alter the economic
and social landscape for the better. Such people enthusiastically and
responsibly embrace each new beneficial human achievement. In other
words, they’re prepared for the future, and they’re happy about change.
By the end of this century we just might have radically new energy
devices, thousand year lifespans, and virtual reality machines that
simulate anything convincingly. These, of course, would be in spite of
the government’s regulatory system, not because of it. Moreover, to
think about all the persons who are currently suffering and dying—as a
direct or indirect result of our politically created conditions—makes
this insight even more poignant. We simply don’t have centuries or even
decades to deal with the extremely important political problems that
face us.
Technology basically empowers you to pursue a better, healthier,
more productive, and more fun life. Regulation retards this empower-
ment. Retardation is the name of the government’s game, coupled with
destruction of possibilities and thwarting of individual choices. The
various dystopian worlds we tend to see in science fiction movies are
usually the result of some combination of futuristic technologies and
modern day regulatory thuggery. This is obviously a very bad mixture.
To leave power in the hands of those who are unaccountable is to invite
an Orwellian police State into our lives. A nanny State is deplorable in
itself, but a police State with advanced technologies to monitor and
control Americans is absolutely intolerable, especially for those who
understand individual rights and seek a better future for everyone.
Effects Of Government On Producers And Consumers
As a result of fearing the worst about government’s potential disso-
lution, some might feel inclined to run to its rescue. Some are quick to
overlook the unavoidable political contradictions of statism by listing all
the services that government offers its “customers.” Okay, so let’s
examine the idea of customers a bit more. We should first reflect on the
fact that whatever the government does that’s considered useful, the
market can do it better, at a fraction of the cost. With government,
there’s no profit motive; consequently, there’s no proper allocation of
resources and management of costs.
Whether or not we’re consumers of governmental services, the
control of our property through taxation and regulation hurts each and
every consumer of any product or service. It also hurts the homeless,
because they typically live on the no-man’s land of public property,
which is entangled by a welfare bureaucracy that encourages self-disem-
powerment and dependency. Consumers represent all who participate
in a market economy, spanning all levels of income.
Certainly, producers are the prime movers of any civilization. Inven-
tors, designers, researchers, engineers, entrepreneurs, industrialists, as
well as all those who directly and indirectly assist them, contribute to
enormous increases in productivity and innovation, regardless of a civi-
lization’s stage of development. They create an economy whereby more
work can be done more quickly with less labor and resources and
capital investment, thereby creating more money for reinvestment and
thus more capital for creating still other goods and services. Capitalism,
after all, is the economic system of free trade that generates more and
better items for the production process—more capital that facilitates
more products and services in the market. A great deal of time is saved
in this process, time that can then be spent on many other activities.
Advances in productivity are really something to behold. A glance
at our world’s population statistics and mortality rates over the last few
centuries reveals the power of capitalism—or rather, semi-capitalism.
As we’ve noted, we also see the effects of a free market most readily in
the technology sectors, particularly computers and information systems,
as well as the biotech fields that make use of them. The Internet and all
the industries involving information technology contribute to massive
productivity effects. One might even contend that they provide a coun-
teracting buoyancy to the giant lead weight of government around our
economy’s neck; without them, we might not be able to keep our heads
above the waters of economic ruin.
Each producer, from a graphic designer to a peanut farmer, is also a
consumer. Aside from basic economic laws such as supply and demand,
the prices and available variety of what we can consume are determined
by two things in our present society: what government has done to our
money, and what government has done to impede, redirect, or stop the
flow of information, goods, and services in the marketplace.
The State can only be a negative on the economy—which means
that it can only be a negative on our individual lives. It doesn’t matter if
we’re picking produce in southern California or composing a symphony
in Michigan. The potential for profit, saving, and investment is greatly
diminished in an economy that’s prevented or diverted from what it
would otherwise do—freely trade.
But many still don’t believe this. Given that the vast majority of us
attended State-run schools, it’s not very surprising. Some act as if there
were a viable alternative to private property and voluntary exchange, as
if there were some middle-of-the-road approach that doesn’t cause us
too much trouble. Invariably, they want to be able to use the State’s
tools of force—which, again, translate into guns pointed at resistant
people and jail for the nonconformists at some point—in order to
create their version of a so-called fair and level playing field. Those who
want to impose economic “fairness” through politics usually don’t care
how they achieve it or what this idea really means. It certainly doesn’t
mean using rational tools of persuasion and example.
Schemes Of Villainy
Some people don’t see the benefit of trading in a free and voluntary
market. Probably while the ink was still drying on the final draft of the
Constitution, unscrupulous individuals brought their particular “inter-
ests” to government to gain advantages. Here’s an apt quote by the
eloquent 19th century legal scholar Lysander Spooner, writing to then
President Grover Cleveland (the 22nd and 24th president). It should
give us an idea of how far we haven’t progressed politically:
[Competing interests]...will be “persistently” clamoring for laws
to be made in their favor; that, in fact, “the halls of national leg-
islation” are to be mere arenas, into which the government
actually invites the advocates and representatives of all the
selfish schemes of avarice and ambition that unprincipled men
can devise; that these schemes will there be free to “compete”
with each other in their corrupt offers for government favor
and support; and that it is to be the proper and ordinary
business of the lawmakers to listen to all these schemes; to
adopt some of them, and sustain them with all the money and
power of the government; and to “postpone,” “abandon,”
oppose, and defeat all others; it being well known, all the while,
that the lawmakers will, individually, favor, or oppose, these
various schemes, according to their own irresponsible will,
pleasure, and discretion,— that is, according as they can better
serve their own personal interests and ambitions by doing the
one or the other.
Was a more thorough scheme of national villainy ever
Sir, do you not know that in this conflict, between these
“various, diverse, and competing interests,” all ideas of individ-
ual “rights”—all ideas of “equal and exact justice to all men”—
will be cast to the winds; that the boldest, the strongest, the
most fraudulent, the most rapacious, and the most corrupt, men
will have control of the government, and make it a mere instru-
ment for plundering the great body of the people?
A better way of describing the situation can’t be found. Spooner
was a fierce opponent of injustice, and there was plenty of it in America
throughout the 1800’s. In many respects it’s gotten much, much worse.
Between the years 2000 and 2005, the number of registered lobby-
ists in D.C. doubled, to over thirty-four thousand. Have you ever heard
of K Street? It’s the place where lobbyists (many formerly “connected”
bureaucrats and politicians) hang out to feed at the State’s trough and
peddle their influence.
The billions spent on lobbying and the money that politicians
pocket is disturbing to say the least. Most contend it’s the cost of doing
business with the State. As the well-worn phrase notes, politics is defi-
nitely war by other means. The absolute power granted to the institu-
tions of government through taxation and monopolization becomes
alluring to those who dispense with free market principles and decide
to make immoral deals instead. Politics in midstream becomes a way of
The greatest disaster is the effect all this has on capitalism’s produc-
ers and consumers. Many businesses and groups lobby to pass legisla-
tion in their favor, to grant subsidies, or to prevent competition. Big
businesses, especially corporations, have a long track record on this
account. Very few have ever lobbied for more competition, that is, a
freer marketplace. Once again we would be wise to follow the corrupt
money trails here. Usually, the well-established corporations seek to
maximize their market share by way of all-expense-paid vacations and
other perks for bureaucrats and legislators, as well as specially devised
last minute insertions of pork—rather than through voluntary associa-
tion with potential customers. After all, if government is the biggest
bully on the block, and it makes all the rules, then you either join it by
buying it, or beat it by defying it.
Few ever entertain the latter possibility, of taking a moral stance on
behalf of reason, liberty, and the ideas of self-ownership, personal
sovereignty, and property rights. Even the companies who solely lobby
to remain competitive, for example, by getting their tax burdens and
regulations reduced, soon find themselves in a sick world of compro-
mise, corruption, lying, and pleading—as if they never had a right to
exist for their own sake.
To make money is definitely not worth the sale of one’s soul; a
lucrative deal is not worth the forfeiture of one’s mind and moral life.
Imagine if those in business (and business schools) decided not to
concede the statist premise anymore. How long do you think the
corrupt system would last then? Not very long. Or, what if consumers
fought for their inherent right to engage in trade and commerce unim-
peded by the State’s instruments of force? Would this not expose the
con game of various special interests that use government to regulate
under the guise of promoting such things as “public safety” or
“consumer protection” or “a level playing field”? It assuredly would.
This is a really old racket that goes back to the guild system (a topic
of the next chapter), which excluded cheaper and better competitors’
goods and services from the market. The same phenomenon can be
found with the opponents of “globalization,” or free international
trade. Similar to those in developed countries, local producers in most
developing countries organize and lobby for laws to prevent competi-
tion from entering and offering more appealing products and services
at better prices. Political corruption runs rampant, and a toxic combina-
tion of a Fascist and Socialist police State perpetuates itself. This creates
entrenched class or caste societies with little outside investment and
choices in the marketplace. “Poverty, filth, and wretched contentment”
(to borrow from Nietzsche) become the norms. Panhandlers and
peddlers of all wares who live at merely subsistence levels become com-
monplace; entire economies stagnate in a depressing status quo.
Incidentally, this is the main reason why “The American Dream”
remains unattainable for most people throughout the world, regardless
of how plentiful their natural resources are. In statist guild systems,
outright political and business corruption, constant bribery, strong arm
police tactics, and kangaroo courts reign. Instead of going from rags to
riches, nearly everyone’s rags get dirtier and more torn. Rather than
being able to produce, save, invest, and consume, most are relegated to
barely surviving, left bowing in homage to their present day feudal
So, all of us are unfortunate consumers of politics, and the vast
majority of us on the planet get the really raw end of the deal. Although
the rawness tends to be especially noticeable in poorer and developing
countries, the developed world reinforces their bad ideas and behaviors.
Politicians love to talk about the ills of special interests, attempting
to assure a dissatisfied public that they themselves aren’t part of the
problem. It’s such an unpleasant aspect of politics that Ross Perot was
really able to tap into Americans’ frustration about it (as well as the
debt and deficit) during his first run for the presidency. He might have
actually won the 1992 election if he hadn’t stepped out of the race for a
few months prior to that November Tuesday. Perot based his campaign
on a promise to get rid of lobbyists in “thousand-dollar suits and alliga-
tor shoes” walking the halls of Congress, as well as on a pledge to deal
with the immense federal debt piling up. He wanted to run the Execu-
tive branch like a business, for he himself was a successful billionaire.
Needless to say, this resonated with the American public. Heck, I even
voted for the guy, back in my naive days, of course, a year before
reading Atlas Shrugged.
Upon reflection, however, Perot’s rhetoric exposed one of the
biggest fallacies about government. Even if you have the most consis-
tent political principles (and Perot certainly didn’t, for instance being for
various taxes and regulations and against aspects of global trade) there’s
a fundamental difference between the way a business works and the
way government works: Businesses seek profits and rely on good repu-
tation, whereas government forcibly takes money from its “customers”
and depends on its coercive monopoly status to stay in “business.” Not
even the most erudite business owner can manage such an immoral
organization properly.
The only proper thing to do is to devise a plan to close up the
whole coercive shop and ask one’s workers to find productive work—in
a marketplace now yielding plentiful opportunities for creative projects
as diverse as one’s interests, passions, talents, skills and abilities. Only
then will both producers and consumers be free to gain and keep values
as they see fit, according to their own needs and interests.
Since all statist policies are interrelated, let’s analyze their nature by
dealing with three that affect us severely in one way or another: the
drug war, prescription drugs and devices, and regulatory licensure in the
health care industry.
Thou Shalt Not Alter Your State Of Mind, With Exceptions
The so-called War on Drugs has been an abysmal failure. It has
failed to curtail the supply of and demand for illicit drugs. It’s also
failed miserably to respect rights, though that assuredly wasn’t its goal.
Each individual has a right to purchase items from others and to use
those items as he or she desires, while respecting the rights of others.
Any government that attempts to deny this simple fact by making
certain items illegal to purchase and possess, simply drives this aspect of
the free market into the black market.
Thus, the bigger the drug war becomes, the worse conditions on the
black market become. People who work in the supply chain of illicit
drugs, from growing or manufacturing them to delivering and selling
them, have to spend time and resources eluding capture by the drug
warriors and literally fighting for market share through gang-related turf
battles, as well as bribing cops. Supply costs thereby increase drastically,
and drugs become incredibly more expensive than they would be in a
free market. The high prices in a black market for otherwise cheap sub-
stances encourage both dealers and users to do many immoral and
unjust things, in order to keep doing business and keep getting their
fixes. But this isn’t the half of it.
By far the worst effects of the drug war are the consumption of
billions of tax dollars, further corruption of police and other govern-
mental agencies, and substantial increases in rights-violations inflicted
on the entire citizenry, as well as drug suppliers and users. Many
innocent people are harassed, spied on, searched, and generally disre-
spected—and of course their time is wasted in the process. Others less
fortunate are falsely accused and arrested, falsely convicted, injured or
even killed, and their property is ruined or seized. Police and DEA
officers generally commit these egregious rights-violations with impuni-
ty. In the police club, where monopolized and tax-funded membership
has its privileges and immunities, paid leave is considered a strong
penalty for harming or killing innocent people. “To protect and serve—
those in charge” is plainly their real motto.
Of course, those actually involved in the black market of illicit drugs
face the brunt of the drug war; the rest of us are considered collateral
damage—as are all innocents in all wars. A sizable percentage of all
drug law offenders (up to a quarter or even a third, though the statistics
are hard to pin down because crimes such as theft are categorized as
non-violent) have committed no aggression on their fellow citizens, no
physical violence or property rights infringement. Those who have
aggressed against others are arrested and incarcerated primarily because
of robbery for drug money, drug deals gone bad, and fights over turf.
Drug law offenders’ prison sentences may also be more severe than
sentences for criminals who’ve been convicted solely on the basis of
aggression against others and their property. Around a quarter of
inmates in state prisons and about half in federal prisons in America are
there because of drug related offenses. That translates into many
hundreds of thousands of people, or millions if you count the entire
corrections system, including those on probation and parole—all
stemming from prohibition laws. Disputes over the statistics don’t really
matter, though, because the principle of individual rights still stands:
Even if one person’s life is ruined and he or she is put in a cage for
doing something in which there’s no complaining party (no victim), then
members of the justice system, particularly judges, police officers, and
jailers, reveal themselves to be the real criminals.
As the drug war has stepped up its enforcement over the last few
decades, inmate numbers have increased in concert, and so have
prisons, prison guards, probation and parole officers, administrators,
and corrections facilities. Many of these groups, after all, have big
unions with highly motivated lobbyists.
Clearly, there are two types of people who really want to continue
the drug war: people who work in law enforcement and people who sell
drugs. Curious bedfellows aren’t they? Both drug warriors and drug
dealers make their living from drug prohibition. Meanwhile, politicians
constantly mouth platitudes about keeping the streets safe for our
The demand for drugs obviously drives the supply; without a
demand, there would be no market for suppliers. Prohibition just
creates extra difficulties and costs for suppliers, and hence, higher
prices for buyers and, in turn, higher profits for dealers. But the drug
warriors don’t care about these basic economic facts. They care about
the immorality of those who sell, buy, and use certain drugs, similar to
the alcohol warriors during that failed attempt at prohibition. Since they
see such behavior as immoral, no amount of economic arguments will
change their minds, especially when they’re making their living via pro-
hibition laws. Ironically, they don’t see their own behavior as immoral
and unjust, even though it involves violating people’s rights in the most
intense manner. Such is the nature of governmental force.
I recently heard a drug prevention advocate during a radio interview
say that he didn’t care how much the government spends on the drug
war—it’s for the good of the people! In other words, he didn’t mind the
previous hundreds of billions of tax dollars used, and he doesn’t mind
squandering billions more to fund his crusade to supposedly make the
world a better place. Of course, he never said anything about contribut-
ing any of his own money. The stupidity in his viewpoint was not in
wanting to make the world a better place. Rather, it was in trying to
prevent people from making voluntary exchanges and ingesting certain
substances; it was in wanting to initiate aggression against those he
deemed immoral. This is the sort of hypocrisy that turns morality on its
Here’s a revealing international fact: Despite Iran’s Islamic govern-
ment’s draconian laws against anything deemed immoral, such as drugs,
it’s considered to have the highest per capita use of heroin. Ultimately,
legislating morality, in the name of whatever religious dogma, can never
achieve the desired results. Forcing harmless people to do things, or not
do things, against their will is itself the primary immoral act. To deny
people’s use of their own judgment (hypocritically judging their
judgment as faulty) only fosters more immorality.
Drug users, including users of alcohol and tobacco (and other
things deemed ingestible), aren’t persuaded to behave differently or to
adopt new values by being disrespected, injured, killed, or thrown in
cages and kept there for years. People who use drugs may or may not
be addicted, and they may or may not understand what’s truly required
to live “the good life.” But if there were no prohibition on certain sub-
stances, people would have to take full responsibility for their own
choices. Whoever desired to influence their choices would have to
refine their skills of persuasion.
The end of prohibition will entail the end of the black market and
all its terrible repercussions. (Of course, all other black markets, such as
for prostitution and gambling, ought to be ended as well, for similar
economic and moral reasons.) The prices of drugs will then become
vastly lower, offering little value to drug dealers as well as to their antag-
onists, the drug warriors. People could purchase drugs not only easily
like they do today (even in prisons, which provides absolute proof that
prohibition doesn’t work), but also safely and inexpensively.
Even though drugs will be much cheaper and available for sale at
drug stores, for instance, drug usage initially won’t be much different
than today’s (regular usage of around five percent for marijuana and
around one percent for other illicit drugs, which is considerably less
than regular usage of alcohol, statistically a far more dangerous sub-
stance). Yet after ending drug prohibition, everyone’s rights will be
respected in this realm, and people will be free to seek treatment
without fear or punishment. Over time, the percentage of users will
probably decrease, on account of no more huge financial reasons to
push drugs on people and no more allure of forbidden fruits—no more
rebelling against authorities who seek to control people’s behavior.
The more responsibility people assume for their choices, the better
their choices become. Self-ownership fosters accountability for one’s
thoughts and actions; it discourages passing the buck. This leads us
directly to the big topic of pharmaceuticals.
Thou Shalt Not Take Full Responsibility For Your Own Treatment—
Authorities Will Handle That
Prescription drugs and devices are another example of that bane of
a market economy known as regulation. Regulation is insidious and
sometimes its consequences don’t seem as noticeable as prohibition
laws and their ensuing black market effects. Regulations actually create
gray markets, ones in which people’s choices are restricted and altered,
which adversely affects prices, supply, distribution, and demand for
goods and services. As a result, many consumers seek back-door, often-
times illegal, avenues for more accessible and cheaper goods and ser-
vices. You’ve probably heard of persons buying their prescription drugs
in Mexico or Canada, or traveling to India for surgery (medical tourism)
performed at a small fraction (about a tenth) of the price in the United
Like the drug war, those who strongly advocate regulation of pre-
scription drugs and devices are typically those who benefit financially
from it. After all, if you didn’t have to go to your doctor (of any spe-
cialty) to obtain a prescription, and could just make purchases directly,
it would certainly cut out the middle man. Of course the middle man,
primarily a creation of lobbyists such as the American Medical Associa-
tion (AMA) and the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) says
that you need him, that he’s for your own good, for your own safety. To
further emphasize this, he leaves you no choice but to have him help
It’s really quite incredible—full-fledged adults in a technologically
advanced, information-filled civilization are told that they must be
forced to do things that are beneficial for them. The racket of prescrip-
tion drugs and devices is maintained under the guise of helping us, but
in actuality it prevents us from making our own sensible decisions. This
naturally lessons our responsibility to make appropriate choices, and it
places a false kind of responsibility in the hands of State-stamped
medical authorities. It soon becomes a cycle of self-fulfilling prophecy:
The authorities are in charge of pharmaceutical and medical treatment,
essentially of our well-being, so we’re supposed to follow their guide-
lines and allow the State to tell us what to do; then, we reflexively
accept what the authorities tell us, relinquishing our needs for critical
thinking, self-reliance, and independent judgment; it’s all being taken
care of by authorities, so why take responsibility?
Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) makes sure
that doctors can’t perform or prescribe, and pharmacists can’t sell,
anything that hasn’t been adequately tested. “Adequately tested” means
many years of R&D, trial phases, and hundreds of millions of dollars
spent in concert with meetings with FDA supervisors.
This is again purported to be for consumers’ own good. Of course,
it’s difficult to convince all the millions of people who’ve suffered and
died on account of the FDA’s regulatory hindrances. This certainly
gives renewed meaning to the phrase “killing you with kindness.” Even
though persons are needlessly suffering and dying on a daily basis
because of this regulatory agency, drug and device companies continue
to obey its directives. The tragic impact on those desiring immediate
treatment can’t be overestimated.
Such regulations also tend to deprive medical companies of their
ability to take full responsibility for the quality and efficacy of their
products and services. Why think independently when the Feds are
micromanaging your business or feeding you with tax dollars!
Naturally, the consumer market for medicine in this political climate
suffers enormously. A perversely structured third party payment system
is a direct result of governmental regulation. The health care insurance
industry is a fantastic case study in intrusive meddling by the State. Of
course managed health care, poor hospital service, and obscene prices,
along with assembly-line doctors who’re frustrated by unmotivated
patients and mounds of paperwork, necessarily follow. Prescription
drug benefits for the elderly (among others) put the icing on the health
care-welfare cake.
Drug companies, patients, doctors, health care workers, administra-
tors, and insurers need not remain mired in this system of unrelenting
unreason. They just need to identify and understand the real causes of
this mess, so that their solutions don’t merely compound the problems,
which were themselves created by prior “solutions.” Rather than calling
on government to make things better, they need to advocate allowing
the free market to increase competition and customer satisfaction,
decrease prices, innovate quicker, simplify and streamline all realms of
health care. Doing so will foster a much more fulfilling environment for
patients and providers.
Thou Shalt Not Do Business Without Joining The State Guild—Licensure
This again takes us directly to the issue of guilds. One of the things
typically instituted in any profession, predominantly at the state level, is
a mandatory system of occupational licensure. The government makes
it illegal to practice without a license, which is obtained through a state-
controlled, profession-managed process. Clearly, this is the modern day
version of the mercantilist guild system. Professionals seek to restrict
the supply of potential competitors—and thus your choices as a
consumer in this market—by becoming the equivalent of grandmasters
who determine the nature of the practitioner’s path from apprentice to
Again, like any other governmental regulation, licensure is always
claimed to be for the good of consumers. Fear-mongering tactics have
become commonplace: “You wouldn’t want to be treated by someone
without a license, would you?” “At least with a licensed professional,
you know whom you’re dealing with.” “You should find a licensed pro-
fessional.” And let’s not forget the bureaucratic argument: “Govern-
ment contracts require that we hire only licensed professionals, so we
must enact licensure in our state, or else we’ll have to hire licensed
people from other states!”
In truth, the only proper judge of whether a service has been
rendered properly is the consumer of that particular service. If the customer
is happy, then the opinions of others, irrespective of their declared level
of expertise, are hardly relevant. Even in the case of fraud that’s alleged
by outsiders to the transaction, justice can only be achieved by convinc-
ing the customer that he or she has been wronged and should therefore
seek restitution. In other words one should use reason, not the force of
preventive law. In today’s market, for example, consumers of faith
healing, therapeutic touch, and homeopathy no doubt pose a major per-
suasive challenge; oftentimes their belief in the effectiveness of the
service is the only thing that matters to them. Then again, perhaps the
ills of State-controlled medicine encourage people to seek market alter-
natives where they’re allowed to exist, that is, where they don’t seriously
encroach on State-controlled medical turf.
Few consumers realize that licensure is just another political scheme
that, among other very bad things, dramatically increases the costs of
health care services. Because all practitioners are ordered to comply
with the rules and regulations as set forth in law—which typically
require many years spent in governmentally funded and accredited
graduate schools, supervision at state-designated workplaces, state
board exams, and various professional fees and continuing education
mandates—a license to practice represents an enormous conglomera-
tion of direct and indirect expenses. These expenses have to be
recouped somehow. And guess who gets stuck with the bill? Con-
sumers. Because licensed practitioners face no competition from non-
licensed practitioners, higher prices are guaranteed to consumers by the
State. I don’t suppose anyone cares to say thank you.
Health care services shouldn’t be immune from market forces and
the need for successful business practices. Reputation for quality service
is the key to good business, and this is no different in the health care
industry. Licensure tends to replace professionals’ reputations in the
eyes of their customers with governmentally enforced stamps of
approval. This obviously dilutes the power of reputation in the market-
place and lessens the responsibilities of professionals to their cus-
Simply put, you can’t provide a quality service if your main focus is
not on your customers’ needs and their level of satisfaction (business
101). The creation of artificial, coercive barriers to entry for competi-
tion is not in line with quality service. Using special interest groups in
concert with the force of government isn’t good customer service, by
any standard. Creating a virtual guild system that scoffs at efficiency,
accountability, and affordability isn’t good customer service either.
For practitioners to follow a regimented, caste-like system of pro-
fessional qualifications and requirements makes a mockery of individual
initiative and personal responsibility, as well as independent creativity.
This, in turn, discourages many educated and motivated people from
entering and practicing in particular professions—professions that they
would otherwise enjoy. Consequently, supply of health care options
decreases, which drives up prices. Diversity of opinion and expertise
narrows, which restricts innovation and efficiency in these particular
sectors of the marketplace.
Needless to say, mostly those who agree to conform and obey
authorities become practitioners, which doesn’t bode well for con-
sumers either. Would you rather go under the knife of a bureaucratically
controlled guildmaster, or a self-controlled, reputation-oriented, profit-
driven professional? Again, the more a person relies on his or her own
judgment in making decisions based on immediate information, rather
than based on the collective pronouncements of a bureaucratic process,
the better those decisions will be. Happy and free professionals tend to
produce happy and healthy customers. Unhappy and unfree profession-
als tend to produce unhappy, and sometimes dead, customers.
The practice of health care, be it physical therapy, psychotherapy,
nursing, dentistry, general medical practice or medical specialty (for
example, neurosurgery) ought to be treated no differently than any
other market industry. That is, it ought to be left alone, unfettered, free
to operate based on the law of supply and demand. Unfortunately, the
influential professionals within these practices, like those in many other
occupations, have convinced themselves and most of the public that
their coercively based system is rather good for everyone.
Such a system soon becomes the opposite of what was intended,
which was to make excellent health care available and affordable for
everyone. Then again, maybe that wasn’t the intention. Politicians’ and
lobbyists’ standard policy position to create a “universal health care
system” represents an even more foolhardy attempt at alleged customer
service. It’s a move from semi-Socialism to Communism within this
industry. We only need look at Canada to witness the effects of such a
system, where people are now clamoring for private, free market alter-
natives to being put on the government’s waiting lists.
Some really bad things would be guaranteed if statist health care
were fully implemented in America: Government would now have an
endless supply of new problems to fix without the proper tools to fix
them—with more regulations and more red tape for still more bureau-
crats to wrap practitioners in (mummy fashion, this time); more favors
would be dished out to various conniving interests, wasting still more
tax dollars; and, government would ration the ensuing health care
shortage and bloated demand by having you sit in an exceedingly long
line of uncomfortable chairs. Definitely no express check outs here. As
political humorist P.J. O’Rourke has quipped, “If you think health care
is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free.” Natu-
rally the only proper solution is to fully deregulate and privatize this
So, when the market of health care is freed from statist control,
what will really happen? Will many charlatans take advantage of the
newly unregulated and unlicensed occupations, preying on gullible and
naive consumers? Will many people die from improper drug dosage
and usage conflicts (all too common in hospitals today, by the way)?
Will doctors not be able to make a good living because of too much
Just like any other aspect of the economy that’s allowed to function
in accordance with the unencumbered choices of individual buyers and
sellers, we will witness the opposite of people’s initial fears and mis-
guided economic concepts. Motivated entrepreneurs in medicine and
health care in general will revitalize its possibilities for efficiency and
innovation—which necessarily include customer service and satisfac-
tion. Assuredly, revitalized consumer watchdog groups and groups of
consumers themselves will provide strong checks on any fraudulent
practices. Educated opinions spread quickly via the Internet. A just
justice system will assist those who might be wronged and enforce
judgments for restitution and reparations. Quacks will become an
endangered species, only surviving (as they largely do today) on the
money of customers who blindly believe in their particular brands of
snake oil.
Unregulated insurance companies will charge rates in line with their
clients’ levels of risk, and most people will realize that catastrophic
health care coverage will be more than adequate to cover their potential
health care expenses; the newly low prices of general care and routine
visits (and even many surgeries) wouldn’t justify more expensive insur-
ance plans.
Notice that, on account of governmental control and regulation of
health insurance, consumers currently try to have their insurance com-
panies pay for every conceivable medical expense. These include things
that free market insurance could never insure, that is, things in the
realm of personal control, things not accidental. Undoubtedly, the high
costs of health care (and the regulations fostering them) promote such
irresponsible behavior.
Also, today’s focus is mainly on damage control, or treatment,
instead of preventive health care measures and vitality programs. In a
free market there will be no financial incentives for these suboptimal
practices; they’d be much too costly. People will thus be encouraged to
pay more attention to what they put in their mouths and how they treat
their bodies. Doctors, imagine having educated and motivated patients!
To follow the recommendations of the State-controlled dietary estab-
lishment and “The Food Pyramid” is a poor substitute for paying atten-
tion to the research and evidence, or at least seeking out reputable
people and organizations who do. (In this regard, a book for laypersons
that I can recommend as a starting point in evidence-based nutritional
understanding is Living the Low Carb Life by Jonny Bowden.)
As for persons burdened with chronic illnesses, even their costs will
decrease dramatically, mostly on account of a big rise in the number of
health care providers, and therefore treatment options, as well as new
business models and technological innovations. Additionally, private
charities will spring up in many areas that are now usurped by govern-
mental “benefits,” such as Medicare and Medicaid. Because bad (gov-
ernment) money drives out good (market) money, most indigent
persons are currently abandoned in a system of carelessness, callous-
ness, and ineffectiveness. The government’s so-called safety net has
many sizable holes in it, and it’s only a couple feet above the ground,
which makes for quite hard landings. The moral of this sad story is
twofold: Trust a typical politician or policy wonk less than the distance
you can throw him or her, and never leave something so valuable as
your health (or anything else, for that matter) at the mercy of a commit-
tee of bureaucrats and lobbyists.
Now, how about the fate of those relatively high incomes that
physicians and other professionals currently receive? Although a free
market of health care services will certainly reduce the pay rates of
many practices, it will also substantially reduce the costs, in both time
and money, of entry and operation of businesses. Therefore, what really
matters for professionals in any industry is their standard of living.
Rather than years wasted in the authoritarian grip of regimented
higher education and then in stale, red-taped organizations, innovative
and smart apprenticeship programs will be the order of the day for
practitioners in businesses everywhere. People learn much more by
doing things according to their interests than they do by memorizing
information, following overbearing orders, working inhuman hours,
taking board exams, and defying common sense in the workplace. Not
only do these things jeopardize the health of patients, but they also tend
to weaken one’s potential for career happiness.
It’s an understatement to say that a truly free market will have
greatly beneficial effects on everyone’s living standards, enabling us to
buy and enjoy much more with less money. Competition in any industry
brings out the best in all aspects of supply and demand of goods and
services. This is because productivity and capital are increased, and
people are free to do more things with their newly created time and
money—which fosters a continuous upward cycle of opportunity. A
free market generates an ever larger and more wealthy middle class,
which means that luxury item wish lists can be fulfilled by nearly
everyone willing to be productive.
The general point of regulation—be it licensure or any other trade
barrier, foreign or domestic, such as tariffs, quotas, duties, taxes, restric-
tions, special privileges, etc.—is that it hurts both buyers and sellers.
Neither sellers nor buyers have the right to use laws to benefit their par-
ticular interests. That would mean using aggression instead of persua-
sion, force instead of reason. Such behavior may be fit for other
primates, but certainly not us. Yet writing and enforcing unjust laws is
definitely the most widely used and most unacknowledged form of
violence by our species.
Rather than favoring regulation, people should seek free market
methods to distinguish themselves. This mainly boils down to price and
quality of product or service. If your prices are relatively low and your
quality is high (or sufficient for the job), then you’ve got a winning
combination in the eyes of most consumers.
114 VI
Having covered the nature and value of private property and what
a free market means for us, as producers and consumers, sellers and
buyers, we now come to the important topic of “intellectual property.”
On this issue, we must again sweep aside the traditional and conven-
tional notions, along with all the vested interests trying to maintain the
status quo, especially amid a digital age.
Historically, letters patent were enforcement of monopoly privileges
by a legal authority, be it a monarch or other form of authoritarian
regime. These documents officially granted exclusive rights to those
creators of inventions who were able to obtain them from those in
power. Currently, intellectual property (IP) is enforced via patent, trade-
mark, and copyright laws.
The primary claim for IP is that particular creations must remain
the originator’s property—not only the items in the originator’s posses-
sion, but also the conceptual processes and structures manifested in
items sold to others. In other words, monopolistic privileges concerning
patterns of information, be they original, rediscovered, or even duplica-
tions (from independent sources at different times) are declared
property and thus under one’s exclusive control in the marketplace by
the force of the State. Today’s legal notion of IP seeks to stop and
penalize others who use, copy, distribute, sell, alter, or improve upon
these conceptual innovations in the marketplace, when they don’t get
permission from the lawfully declared owners.
Obviously, the fundamental issue of debate over IP concerns
whether it’s actually a valid form of property and, thus, whether its
reproduction and manifestation in the marketplace by others without
the purported originator’s consent or “license” is a violation of property
rights. In the realm of the intellect, the free-ranging and creative place
of ideas, should property rights actually be claimed, not to mention
granted and enforced by the State? Does ascribing such rights make any
sense, based on what we know about property?
Closing Pandora’s Intellectual Box
To reiterate, we claim property to avoid conflict with others and
thus better enable value creation in the marketplace. And we establish
rights to our property either by way of first possession or voluntary
transfer from someone else. After all, it’s hard to create and trade
myriad goods and services when no one knows exactly who owns what,
or when the State claims ownership.
Property boundaries are delineated basically through both property
usage and possession. Notice that we can establish technical boundaries
of utilization of our own property, whereby overstepping those bound-
aries would infringe on the property usage of others. As renowned lib-
ertarian scholar and economist Murray Rothbard noted, we basically
homestead specific technological units for our particular purposes.
Radio transmitters are a prime example; the owners only broadcast at
specified frequencies or wattages that they have negotiated—either
through contract or prior use—with other owners of electromagnetic
spectrum usage. Clearly, establishing such property boundaries is essen-
tial to avoiding conflicts. However (no surprise here) presently such free
market property arrangements have been impeded and heavily regulated
by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and various
judicial decisions.
You can rightly assume that what resides in your own brain is your
property, whether or not you’re an inventor, composer, or author—just
as the rest of your body is your property. Clearly, someone would have
to trespass on your property and do a coercive brain scan in order to
gather this decidedly private information. But only by keeping informa-
tion to oneself, that is, in private form and shielded from the market-
place can one declare conceptual information to be one’s own. The
right to privacy, along with this private knowledge, stems from property
rights and their established physical boundaries in relation to others.
The notion of property of the intellect existing in the marketplace,
however, is basically a contradiction in terms. As outlined, property is
something that’s claimed, used, and possessed as an extension of self-
ownership. Property rights ultimately mean the freedom of action to
use and/or dispose of certain owned items and to do various things in
relation to them. Property rights do not mean the freedom to prevent
others from duplicating what you own, unless that duplication creates
conflict of usage and possession of your property, as in identity theft,
which involves fraud (which we’ll deal with in detail later).
Clearly, tangible items have all sorts of uses and capabilities that are
conceptualized and exploited by reasoning minds. For example, you
own the contents of your diary because the book of blank papers is
yours and the ink adds something tangible to the item; the words within
it also demonstrate how you can put it to use. The same could be said if
the ink were in the form of the language of musical notes, that is, a
When intellectual information that’s manifested in tangible items
and processes makes it to the marketplace, such as a story or song or
even mining processes or the sequencing and use of particular genes,
it’s quite obviously no longer for the creator’s eyes only, and no longer
in the creator’s possession. Others are then exposed to this information
via these items and their innumerable uses. One would have to initiate
force to dictate to others what they can and cannot do with the intellec-
tual information that’s now in their brains. In other words, because
what’s claimed to be intellectual property is simply a pattern of informa-
tion manifested in a tangible thing—specifically information that can be
reproduced by others without conflict—one can’t enforce the terms of
its replication and dissemination once it reaches the marketplace, that is,
once information has been duplicated by other brains and transformed
into tangible expression by them. That would essentially be trying to
control the property of others.
To put it another way, after a person exposes ideas, products, and
services to the marketplace, he or she has no right to prevent others
from reproducing or duplicating those same things—even if that
person was the one who truly created or discovered them. One only has
the right to control one’s own particular products and services in which
that information is embodied, that is, one’s own capital resources and
inventory (rightful property).
When other minds become aware of information, it basically goes
from being private property (because trespass would be required to
glean it) to being in the public domain, or marketplace. That’s the way a
free market works. No force is initiated by either buyers or sellers. Both
realize that property rights apply to all aspects of tangible items they
own and the various uses they choose to employ with them.
The Legal Jungle Of Patents, Copyrights, And Trademarks
For many of us, having been subjected to innumerable FBI
warnings and “all rights reserved” clauses, or even been called pirates or
thieves by members of the IP establishment for sharing files on the
Internet, all this may be a rather new way of looking at the subject. So
let’s explore it further.
The current understanding by courts, lawyers, and law schools of IP
and its licensing is essentially arbitrary, as well as complicated and con-
fused. For instance, where does one idea or a small set of abstract ideas
(typically not copyrightable) end, and a series or string of ideas (such as
a poem) begin? Sure, one might say “Ideas themselves are not copy-
rightable; only their manifestations in specific combinations are,” but
where do old ideas end and new ideas begin?
This leads us directly into the thickets of patent law. Where exactly
does the discovery of an idea, a better mouse trap for instance, transi-
tion from being “obvious” (and therefore not patentable) to “unique”
or “original”? How many actually unique inventions are there, in which
the creator didn’t utilize or build upon any other ideas or processes
already known (and perhaps even claimed as IP, what’s called “prior
art”)? And what happens legally when many people arrive at the same
idea independently—or when one person makes a discovery one week,
month, or year before someone else?
Instead of answering these questions in a logical manner by reject-
ing the notion of IP entirely, the State imposes its laws as the politi-
cians, bureaucrats, judges, and lobbyists have outlined. In the midst of
the enforcement of various versions of IP, parts of copyright are legally
declared to be free to use under the specified conditions of “fair use.”
And formerly copyrighted material is at some point declared to be in
the public domain. Patented ideas, plants, and designs expire at a variety
of designated times, while things trademarked can be renewed indefi-
nitely through payment of fees. How come?
In this environment of legally enforced intellectual “property” in
the marketplace, where does one draw the line concerning what’s in the
public domain? Some say for educational purposes only. Does this
mean strictly a school or library, or what? Moreover, how long should
one be able to enforce exclusive rights to IP? Plant and utility patents,
20 years? Design patents, 14 years? Copyrights, 70 years after the
author’s death—or, 95 or 120 years after publication—or should we
revert to the original 14 years—or, in perpetuity? Can a crustless peanut
butter and jelly sandwich really be patented and the exhaust sound of a
Harley-Davidson motorcycle really be trademarked? Apparently they
can. According to whom? According to the U.S. Government’s Patent
and Trademark Office, by arbitrary fiat, of course.
Witness also how patent claims are written: specific enough to
assert something supposedly novel, and yet broad enough to discourage
others from even thinking about offering any specific or general
improvement without risking patent infringement. So much for encour-
aging creativity and innovation, or Constitutionally promoting “the
progress of science and useful arts.”
It’s understandable and completely natural that copyright, trade-
mark, and patent holders and filers have their self-interest in mind. No
one wants his or her works misused, and individuals certainly don’t
want to lose out monetarily. Of course, I’m also aware of this mindset,
being a previous holder of copyright (it’s the default legal status unless
one disavows it), and having filed for both a provisional patent and
trademark as an entrepreneur a few years ago. But upon serious inspec-
tion, it turns out that IP enforcement isn’t actually in our rational self-
interest. A free market of ideas most certainly is. IP claims backed by
lawyers and governmental guns do nothing to foster a free society of
respectful interaction. As in all economic activity, persuasion and repu-
tation should replace force as a means to gain and maintain market
Of course, many people who stand to lose their existing monopoly
privileges might be horrified or incensed by the preceding paragraphs.
Their stance goes something like this: “I will allow people in the mar-
ketplace to use duplicates of my creation so long as I can exclusively
control their use, copying, and distribution.” In other words, they want
to enforce and retain exclusive right to license alleged property in a
widely distributed fashion, rather than to just sell it and see it released
into the public domain. But there’s nothing inherent in an idea or string
of ideas, big or small, complex or simple, that warrants a claim of
property rights. Though I’m sure each of us has declared something to
be “my idea” before, we know that it’s possible for others to formulate
(and improve upon) the same idea as well. Everybody has ideas; it’s the
nature of human consciousness to have them and put them to good
use. Unlike valid forms of property, ideas aren’t scarce; they can be
reproduced without conflict. Just as in other aspects of business, pro-
tectionist rackets can’t logically serve our economic interests; in fact,
they stifle commerce and hinder economic opportunities.
Again, copyright, patent, trademark proclamations, and their legal
implications concern, by definition, reproducible items offered in the
marketplace. Proclamations such as “end-user licenses” aren’t objec-
tively valid because what’s being claimed as property actually isn’t. So,
one logically can’t mass produce and enforce blanket contracts on
buyers that attempt to censor their minds and control their behavior.
This obviously applies to the various license “agreements” we
encounter at points of purchase (excluding warranty information and
return policies, of course). Contrary to popular and legal belief, we
aren’t in any valid sense signing an IP contract when we buy copy-
righted, patented, and trademarked items.
All reproducible items in the marketplace are necessarily marketable
items, not someone’s intellectual property. To the degree that others
become aware of the information contained in these reproducible items
(in a rights-respecting fashion) they may reproduce them at will. We, as
property owners and producers, have no right to artificially create
scarcity through licenses that aim to prohibit or restrict duplication and
dissemination of information in the public eye. It turns out that most
products or services can be duplicated, depending on the reproduction
technology that’s available and one’s skills and resources at reverse engi-
neering. We’ll address more of the economic significance of this shortly.
Duplication doesn’t entail any theft of property—only utilization of
the particular information pattern found in the product or service.
Thus, human beings only have the choice of whether or not to keep
their creations secret. Of course, this doesn’t mean that someone else
won’t think of the same things and bring them to market. Supply will
meet the demand.
The Nature of Contracts
So, you might wonder, what about contracts in general? Again,
everyone has a right to what they possess or have acquired voluntarily.
In addition, each of us can devise agreements in order to prevent
potential conflicts from arising with others in the use of our own prop-
erty. Loaning and leasing are examples of contractual stipulations
placed on the use of one’s property by others, via negotiation and
signed agreement. And as mentioned in a previous chapter, covenants
between property owners are another example of preventing conflicts
and outlining behavior that affects or can affect one’s property rights;
real estate easements are yet another example. For instance, people can
contract with one another to ensure that no one will build anything
prohibited by their signed deed restriction.
Trade secrets and their protection by nondisclosure agreements as
well as “contracts not to compete” curiously represent attempts to keep
the contents of one’s mind and the nature of one’s creations, private
after being exposed to others. Similar to covenants and deed restric-
tions, these contracts reflect the desire to direct the behavior of others
in the use of their own property. Nondisclosure and no-compete agree-
ments seek to prevent others from disseminating certain knowledge
that they have (or will have) gained from the property owner. A
contract binds others (who choose to be bound) to this secrecy and
outlines the penalties imposed for revealing and/or exploiting certain
information. Thus, such a contract represents an agreement between
parties in a working relationship that concerns a thing or process, that
is, a pattern of information not to be reproduced in that context.
However, here’s the kicker with these types of contracts: Such processes
can obviously be duplicated by others who aren’t involved in the
contract and therefore have no working relationship to uphold. This
necessarily leads to problems of enforcement as well as determining
exactly how others who weren’t parties to the contract acquired the
same ideas.
Exclusivity agreements, in contrast, involve signing parties who
agree to do business only with each other, according to specified provi-
sions, hence contracting to restrict duplication of business processes
instead of ideas. Conditional contracts are somewhat similar. For
example, we’re probably all too familiar with (and perhaps frustrated
by) the ones we sign with the purchase of our mobile phones. Most
corporations’ wireless communications plans have a two-year contract,
which stipulates that the discounted phone price (or “free phone”) and
the monthly rate apply only if the customer gives them two continuous
years of business. Otherwise, fines will be imposed, that is, “early termi-
nation fees,” usually amounting to a couple hundred dollars.
These kinds of contracts are a bit representative of the unspoken
mottos of many “pragmatic” and regulated corporations, four of which
now provide roughly eighty percent of the wireless market: “The hand
is quicker than the eye”; “Which shell is the pea under?”; and “Never
give a sucker an even break.” The marketing push for sales often over-
rides fully informing, and thus fully satisfying, customers. A simple
solution for businesses to avoid costly litigation and bad reputations is
to make sure the customer is aware of the trade-off involved in signing
the conditional contract: short-term gain but potentially long term pain
(cheap phone but you’re locked in with us for two years) versus short-
term pain but long term gain (expensive phone but the ability to switch
anytime without an early termination fee). Customers who select the
latter option then pay the actual phone price up front, which is typically
a few hundred dollars, and either pay month-to-month or buy their
minutes as they go. However, this still doesn’t overcome the problem of
potentially not being able to use your new phone if you switch service
providers, which is another corporate-created shell game. You’ll have to
see if you can “unlock” your particular brand of phone and install a
new SIM (subscriber information module), which of course means
spending more money.
We can of course thank the FCC and its maze of regulations for
most of this trouble. Lack of competition and therefore lack of
consumer choices in the marketplace of wireless telephony and other
radio technologies are the result of State-licensed, State-controlled, and
State-prohibited use of electromagnetic spectrum. Without clearly
delineated property rights in this area of the market, which includes
presently unlicensed spectrum, FCC rules and corporate cronies of
central planning bureaucrats continue to commit their injustices on
consumers and potentially innovative competitors. Local governments
also hinder placement of towers, which of course contributes to weak
signals and dropped calls. Clearly, electromagnetic spectrum property
rights ought to be established via homesteading, that is, making use of
available bandwidth as well as transmission and reception technologies.
Just as necessary is the ability to sell that property to other
entrepreneurs in the market, who can employ new methods that are
currently stifled by FCC licensure and regulation.
We of course always have the discretion to breach our contracts,
though with the associated penalties. Such penalties can’t include simply
forcing performance of the contract, which would obviously make it
unbreachable. Bodily harm also can’t be a proper penalty for contract
breach, for instance, being dropped into a vat of boiling oil for not per-
forming your contractually stipulated obligations. Torture is a form of
pure evil, no matter what you’ve agreed (or not agreed) to do.
We don’t possess the right to enslave ourselves, nor can others
enslave us. This would contradict the rational, chosen nature of con-
tracts, rendering them unconscionable. In most cases, monetary
damages seem to be the only reasonable penalty for breach of contract,
which enable payment to others who are willing and able to finish or
repair and restore what was contracted. A free market system of
contract insurance, with accompanying ratings of individual customers
that reflect their contract history, would help prevent breaches as well as
mitigate damages. Insurance for agreements that involve a lot of time,
labor, money, and capital investment, the loss of which would otherwise
be difficult to recoup, can be quite useful. Agreeing to the assignment
of penalties for breach may also give the contracting parties greater
confidence about their firm business intentions to work together.
Having said that, there are some valuable rules of thumb in the
business world that also insure against such risks. Regarding trade
secrets, for instance, if you don’t want your secrets to become public,
then keep them to yourself. Or, if need be, tell your secrets to persons
you can unreservedly trust. In any event, leaked secrets may be one of
the natural costs of doing business. No matter how many crafty con-
tracts we’ve had our attorneys draft and our associates and employees
sign, in an attempt to control their behavior, risks are unavoidable in
business. By now it should practically go without saying that such risks
won’t entail destitution, because of the nearly endless business opportu-
nities in a truly free market.
Granted, in long-term business relationships, as well as long-term
neighbors, it’s important to minimize potential for losses. But the more
we associate with and reside next to people of honesty and good char-
acter, that is, people of virtue, the better our working relationships will
be. These valuable human qualities ought to precede contracts which,
after all, can be breached anyway.
There also seems to be a degree of folly in wanting to make others
do certain things, in this case to keep secrets under threat of penalties.
Such contracts may themselves erode trust and respect in the working
relationship. When dealing with others in a company, it’s clearly most
beneficial to rely on trust and the honor system. Distrust and dishon-
esty are corrosive to any relationship—human interaction 101.
Inescapable risks are of course part of doing business with others,
but the more we respect others (and the more they respect us), the less
risk there will be in doing business with them. Distrust of others often
becomes self-fulfilling prophecy, as authoritarian old-school managers
and antagonistic labor union bosses (who rely on political pull) continu-
ally demonstrate.
On the other side of the contract, there are probably some things
we ought not agree to. If we believe that we’re entering an agreement
that creates a relationship of drastically unequal power (typical of
standard form contracts), we should think carefully before we sign.
Adhesion contracts, for example, are those that leave us with no choice
concerning the terms and no room for bargaining. If a brief reading of
the contract’s extensive fine print makes you feel like you’ve mysteri-
ously entered a law library, then at least make sure the basic terms are
reasonable—and that you can effectively argue against the unreasonable
terms in the fine print, if need be. True to form, the corporate-influ-
enced and governmentally controlled legal system makes the nature of
some agreements really problematic. Restriction of market choices is
the statist game, after all. Therefore, it’s imperative to discover the repu-
tations and level of customer satisfaction of those with whom we might
How About IP In Perpetuity?
Having covered the essential nature of contracts, let’s now resume
our discussion about the invalidity of IP. What if government weren’t in
charge of granting and enforcing such “rights”? Are there any other
approaches that try to avoid the governmentally created contradictions?
As far as I know, the only internally consistent approach to claims
of IP is that of Andrew Galambos, a free market anarchist who favored
the processes of the marketplace and private legal agencies instead of
government. Many who’ve studied the writings of various libertarian
thinkers might have heard of his version of intellectual property. Basi-
cally, Galambos believed that inventors should be able to enforce exclu-
sive rights to their discoveries, and thus the information embodied in
things exposed to the marketplace, for however long they wish. IP
would thus exist in perpetuity for the declared owners. Private enforce-
ment agencies would ensure compliance, and a free market-created
“Clearinghouse” would supposedly inform everyone who used anoth-
er’s IP to whom they’d need to pay royalties (assuming the IP holder
wanted to license it).
I’m not sure if Galambos drew any definite lines about what could
and could not be legitimately claimed by individuals as IP—perhaps
whatever one proved to come solely from one’s own brain. I do know
that students of his lectures were advised not to discuss his ideas in
detail outside the classroom (they even signed nondisclosure agree-
ments concerning this). Not surprisingly, this makes for difficult,
beating-around-the-bush conversations with his former students.
The Galambos interpretation has internal consistency, to be sure, in
that it leaves the determination of IP duration to the discretion of the
alleged holder of it, rather than to the capriciousness of government
and lobbyists. But it asserts a notion of property that extends beyond
the simple right to privacy, one’s right to possessions against trespass
(as well as to working relationship contracts that seek to extend that
right, however misguided they may be). Hence, Galambos’ form of IP
can’t be considered morally valid or, for that matter, practically enforce-
able. To reiterate, no one has the right to prevent others from reproduc-
ing the information patterns they’ve observed in the marketplace, even
if such patterns are avowedly original. They only have the right to seek
justice for commissions of fraud.
The great thing about the free market is that it encourages trading
values, swapping ideas, and spreading information. This leads to further
cooperation, capital accumulation, increases in productivity, and more
economic opportunities for everyone. The extensive network of
commerce in society is the direct result of the flow of information and
the sharing of knowledge. Entrepreneurs depend greatly on insights
gained from their experiences in the marketplace of ideas, goods and
services. No one, no matter how intellectually and psychologically inde-
pendent, creates in a vacuum. Individual minds build on the prior
works of other individual minds. Teams and groups of people add to
the synergistic effects. The result is a vibrant economy filled with virtu-
ally endless avenues for creative expression and money making.
If there’s a demand, then a better drug, a catchier tune, or more effi-
cient vehicle will be supplied to the market. The notion that new ideas
would never reach the public without IP is simply erroneous. It not
only attempts to make the end justify the means—restricting competi-
tion in order to make money—but it’s also contrary to the nature of a
free market. There’s little payoff in keeping one’s innovations to oneself
indefinitely, even though accumulating venture capital and effectively
taking a product to market can indeed take some time.
Distribution, marketing, and perhaps the honor of being distin-
guished as the original creator, all determine how well one’s work will
sell on a free market. Mainly, it’s about distribution and marketing,
which typically lead to successful sales. Yet many creators today don’t
want to heed this business truth. They’re lured instead by the govern-
ment’s coercive mechanism of IP—even though over 95% of patents
never turn a profit. The lottery has been called the poor man’s tax, so
perhaps the patent process ought to be called the inventor’s wishing
well. It’s a deep, dark well at that, filled with many coin-catching IP
lawyers. Certainly, there are much better uses of our time, money, and
The copyright racket is similar. Millions of authors and composers
have waited and waited (and waited) for royalty checks to trickle down
to them from licensing entities such as the American Society of Com-
posers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Musicians Inc.
(BMI). The big record labels and their special interest strong arm, the
Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), also contribute to
today’s chaotic, extremely litigious, and unjust legal framework. And
let’s not forget the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA),
which back in the day, actually sued to ban video cassette recorders.
They’re now involved in a whole host of lobbying efforts regarding
DVDs and issues of “Digital Rights Management” (DRM). Remember
those FBI warnings? These are new and improved ones designed to
prevent “unauthorized use.”
Creative Commons, And So On
Unlike these organizations, we now know better than to ask govern-
ment and their abettors to do us any favors, to grant us any special
corners on the market. In contrast, Net labels, open source record
labels, free software licenses (GNU General Public License), and
“copyleft” licenses (“all rites reversed”) are examples of free market
responses to governmental coercion and corporate copyright schemes.
Creative Commons (founded and chaired by Lawrence Lessig) offers
licenses as well as public domain dedication to creators of online
content. These are now somewhat viable alternatives to typical end-user
licenses, though they still have to maneuver through copyright laws.
The Creative Commons (CC) license offers a range of options,
from simple fraud protection, which requires that credit be given to the
author, to prohibition of commercial use. Of course, it still relies on
copyright law for making such restrictions; so, to that extent, it’s an
intermediate point on the way to complete liberty in the marketplace of
Nonetheless, as long as licensees (buyers and users of an author’s
works) follow specific disclosure guidelines, all works under CC license
grant the following freedoms: to copy the work; to distribute it; to
display or perform it publicly; to make digital public performances of it
(for example, webcasting); and, to shift the work into another format as
a verbatim copy. Obviously, this is a big enlightened step forward in the
realm of property rights. Once you buy something, it’s yours to do with
as you please. Common sense wins in the end!
In the marketplace of goods, services, and ideas, anything that can be
reproduced or duplicated using one’s own effort and ingenuity typically
will be. This necessarily includes patterns of information. Notice that
I’ve repeatedly mentioned “reproduced” or “duplicated.” This is key,
because certain tangible resources can’t be reproduced; one can only
transfer possession of them. Real estate is a good example. One’s own
self is another, as well as specific contracts, including legal documents
pertaining to yourself, in which duplication would be fraud (counterfeit-
ing being a form of fraud). Any attempt to occupy or possess such
property of another without consent is theft, the initiation of force,
essentially the height of social conflict.
As noted, products of the intellect are inherently reproducible, so
bringing further goods and services based on them into the marketplace
doesn’t cause the loss of one’s property. There’s no theft, and there’s no
attempt at forceful occupation of one’s property. Thus, there’s no con-
flict. Only by attempting to possess and use another’s property, or use a
non-reproducible item, without the owner’s consent, can a person
commit a rights-violation. Such a rights-violation can involve visible,
tangible property, which importantly includes documents that assign
ownership, such as titles, deeds, bank notes, or money deposit receipts.
Duplication of these legal documents by those not representing the
property of the particular person or organization would be counterfeit-
ing. Additionally, we have no right to possess and use “invisible”
property of others without their consent, such as using occupied frequen-
cies of the electromagnetic spectrum, which are aspects of reality that
more tangible property, such as a transmission tower, makes use of.
In determining what are valid property rights, the proper distinction
doesn’t concern visible versus invisible, or tangible versus intangible
property. The proper distinction concerns reproduction, possession,
and use without conflict versus reproduction, possession, and use with
conflict. It’s as simple as that.
Human ingenuity really determines what can be established as prop-
erty. For instance, by switching from solely analog to analog plus digital
on the FM radio band, more streams of information can be transmitted;
each channel can then carry a few additional signals. Advances in tech-
nology can obviously create many new forms and facets of property.
Internet domain names are just one example of all the technological
properties created from the Internet. Since the Internet employs a uni-
versally recognized addressing system, someone can’t duplicate your
domain name address with impunity; that would be a case of trying to
possess your piece of (virtual) real estate without your consent. Further,
the various owners of the Internet backbone and server networks don’t
permit such conflict.
This is why identity theft is clearly an instance of fraud: The thief
claims to be the actual person who’s authorized to make particular
transactions, in order to unjustly use that person’s property and privi-
leges. Of course, duplication of names is commonplace in most
cultures, but the name must coincide with each unique person and his
or her particular property, according to specific standards of verifica-
tion. There may be many John and Mary Smiths out there in America,
but they don’t presume to be the same person with the same property
and privileges. Fortunately, nearly all people want to avoid such confu-
sion and hasten to resolve it, which is one reason why we use middle
names and specify our addresses. Of course, assigned numbers coupled
with biometric identifiers would also help to prevent any confusion of
identities in a prosperous future of many more people on this planet.
However, such choices must always be left to individuals, not govern-
ments. As long as the State presumes to be in charge of personal ID
cards and numbers, and as long as it imposes such things as drivers’
licenses and Social Security numbers, we should be very alarmed. Such
information is being used to deny our basic freedoms to travel and
function independently in the marketplace. States, especially police
States, make a point of keeping track of people in order to gain more
control and power over them—always for “security” reasons, of course.
How The Market Performs Without Intellectual Property
In a truly free market, which is governed by an understanding of
objective law—that is, law based on individual rights—what you create
with your own brain and transform into goods and services is also
yours to sell in the marketplace. The profits from these sales are
assuredly your property, as is the inventory that you’ve yet to sell. But
the creations of your own brain, whether truly original or not, can’t
remain your property as information patterns within the goods and
services you’ve sold to others.
Fraud is basically an issue between the buyer and seller, directly or
indirectly involving the original creator. Absent today’s IP enforcement,
companies that produce knockoffs might face fraud charges if they
didn’t make it clear to customers that their $10 “Nikes” (with the
accompanying Swoosh on the side) for example, were made by a differ-
ent company than the $100 actual Nikes—though typically the price
difference is a dead giveaway, just as it is for all those “Ray Bans” and
“Louis Vuittons” on street corner shops. Of course, the main reason
people buy knockoffs is to save money while creating an illusion of
high fashion. On account of this, there’s little incentive for most buyers
to bring charges of fraud, for that would entail getting their money back
from their cheap purchase and forking over many more dollars for the
real McCoy.
Nevertheless, few companies would last long if they tried to sell
knockoffs as the originals, that is, as products or services coming from
the original producers and sellers. Valid charges of fraud by just a
handful of customers might make such business practices quite risky.
Moreover, market pressures to avoid confusion will naturally discourage
many companies from using identical trademarks and service marks. It’s
just not good business to be continually mistaken by your customers for
another company. Though imitation can be the sincerest form of
flattery, most businesses try to avoid damage to their finances as well as
reputations through misleading buyers about their actual identity. Yet,
companies might find many creative uses for previously monopolized
marks, and they’ll be free to do so, even though they won’t be free from
encountering charges of fraud by irate consumers.
Clearly understood and delineated property rights are the only way
to avoid confusion and conflict in civilization. In a society that fully
respects ownership, conflict and its legal consequences are avoided by
not trespassing on legitimately claimed property. One who first pos-
sesses property, or receives it through consensual transfer, determines
how it’s to be used and/or disposed.
Today, people commonly try to defend (or oppose) the modern day
approach to letters patent by way of arguments about use and profits.
Those strongly in favor of IP are backed by the Constitutionally autho-
rized Patent and Trademark Office and legions of lawyers, both govern-
mental and corporate. They contend that without IP, no inventor or
businessperson could make a profit: As soon as their products hit the
market, others would piggyback on companies’ R&D investment and
flood the market with cheap knockoffs, such as generic drugs. Hence,
for the sake of business, profit-making, and capitalism, IP must be rec-
ognized and enforced—ultimately, at the point of a gun.
Such a stance obviously overlooks the fact that many business
sectors today make enormous profits without direct reliance on IP
enforcement. The fashion industry and most service industries are
prime examples. Ironically, however, many try to bolster their argu-
ments for IP by pointing to the heavily regulated and very corporate
pharmaceutical industry, as if their huge investment costs were a free
market phenomenon. The many years and hundreds of millions of
dollars (actually approaching a billion per drug) spent on research and
development in the FDA trial-and-approval process aren’t actually nec-
essary. Additionally, more competition in the realm of creating and
selling products that relieve suffering and prevent deaths won’t stifle
money making. Clearly, some moral premises need to be checked here.
Some IP advocates also point to the millions spent on actors and film
production in the corporate-controlled movie industry, as if good flicks
with skilled actors require skyrocketing budgets. No matter how many
fear its artistic repercussions, a free market without IP won’t reduce us
to only watching clips on YouTube.
On the other hand, those who mostly reject the calls for strong
enforcement of IP (fortunately a good share of the creative, free
software and open source techie crowd, as well as quite a few non-
union artists and musicians) contend that information needs to be free
and that people shouldn’t be restricted in its use; instead, people should
be allowed to sample, tinker, create, and duplicate. For instance, a
software engineer’s version of digital hell is likely one in which he’s not
allowed to use, modify, and distribute source code for further develop-
ment. And a consumer’s version of digital hell is often one in which she
can’t copy media to other devices that she herself owns.
Preventing people from reproducing and innovating various
products and services truly impedes economic progress. In addition to
frustration over the use of one’s own property, it yields much less inno-
vation, fewer choices, and higher prices. It also means tremendous
amounts of energy wasted in legal wrangling and disputes involving
purported intellectual property rights infringement. Many businesses
even expend much energy and resources on securing patents they’ll
never use, in order to prevent others from entering particular areas of
innovation—so-called defensive patenting.
The arguments for intellectual freedom in the marketplace are
indeed correct, while arguments for some version of IP, be it the gov-
ernment’s or Galambos’, are mired in hopeless contradictions. The
reproduction of goods, services, and ideas reduces scarcity and, hence,
it lowers prices and creates many more values in the marketplace; it also
greatly diminishes litigation. These facts reveal that there will be many
more opportunities for profit-making in a free market without IP. But
that, of course, is a utilitarian argument, and what must logically accom-
pany arguments about utility or consequences, are rights-based, princi-
pled arguments.
IP proponents essentially want to control what’s already been sold.
Obviously, the “property rights infringement” that advocates of IP are
referring to ultimately boils down to the loss of sales of their goods and
services, that is, potential profits from unknown buyers. Clearly, the
money presently in the pockets of consumers is not the property of
producers. It only becomes a seller’s property after a transaction has
been made. Once you purchase a product from me, for example this
book, the entire book is yours to keep, alter, even to copy and sell as
you like. You’ll notice that I’ve released it into the public domain. Since
it’s your book, your property, I have no right to tell you what you can and
cannot do with it. Plus, maybe many more people will read these
valuable ideas if you help in the distribution process. Grass-roots, word-
of-mouth marketing is thereby facilitated.
Others have no right to stipulate what people can and can’t do with
their property. Moreover, we must be careful not to start thinking that
labor, in and of itself, has economic value. That would be embracing
the labor theory of value, brought to us mostly courtesy of Marx and
Engels. For example, if I spent the rest of my life (and thus resources
and money) writing a philosophical treatise on the pure, undeniable
pleasure derived from eating freshly baked chocolate chip cookies,
should I expect to profit from it? Perhaps only in my dreams. What if I
baked and sold the actual cookies? Most probably, I would make some
money. What if no one had ever heard of such delicious cookies? In
other words, what if I were the original creator of the recipe? Would I
then have the right to forcibly prevent others from baking the same
kind of cookies, so that I could coercively maintain a monopoly on my
cookie market? Of course not. What if I had negotiated contracts with
those suppliers and workers who might otherwise exploit my trade
secret? Regardless of the inherent problems in enforcement of such
contracts, this still wouldn’t stop anyone else from doing some clever
cookie reverse engineering and competing with me.
The same principle applies to all “recipes,” be they words on pages,
the mechanical and electrical structure of a computer, the design of an
aircraft, the parts and workings of a turbodiesel engine, the composi-
tion of a drug, or the sequence of genes for production of a particular
protein. The most interested and enterprising individuals in an innova-
tive and continuously changing marketplace will determine the future
manifestations of this information.
Productivity is a valuable end. Labor can be a means to that end,
but it’s not the end in itself. If labor were an end in itself, then a
thousand workers digging a 10 foot deep, mile long trench with shovels
would be preferable to one person digging it with a fifty-ton excavator.
The excavator frees up those 999 other men to do all sorts of other
things, to expand productivity in countless ways. It also frees the exca-
vator operator, after a few days work, to begin the next project.
Moreover, the excavator represents many other types of work that the
would-be shovelers can do instead—from the production of crude oil
and refinement of its diesel fuel and hydraulic oil, to the forging of steel
and the tooling, machining, and assembly of thousands of parts for the
heavy equipment. And let’s not forget the engineering know-how and
design elements that must be employed to create a dependable product
that construction companies want to buy and use; countless innova-
tions follow from these trial-and-error processes. This all helps explain
why hydraulic power is favored over muscle power these days.
There are always costs in doing any kind of business, costs to any
use of capital and expenditure of labor. And it just so happens that
duplication is a potential risk one faces with products and services that
are easily copied and disseminated. Advances in technology tend to
make many more things easier to reproduce. This is a really good thing,
because it yields more for everyone, thus raising everyone’s standard of
living. Perhaps the technological apex will be reached with the perfec-
tion of nanotechnology, the ability to rearrange matter at the molecular
level for design and fabrication of nearly anything. For instance, if
everyone had a special nano-machine that could construct a new auto-
mobile from a pile of scrap materials in a few seconds, then the big
automobile manufacturers would certainly have to switch to a different
line of work—maybe to the manufacture of “new and improved” nano-
machines, ones that could make flying cars instead. Just as most horse-
drawn carriage manufacturers found a different line of work after the
introduction of automobiles, so too would auto manufacturers find new
ways to make a living. Free markets are about change, after all—and we
humans are especially good at adapting to changes in our environment.
At some point a few thousand years ago, the wheel was invented. If
those in the Galambos’ school had their way back then, we’d all be
paying royalties to the legally declared heirs, the descendants of the
wheel inventor, every time we turned a wheel. Many of us would thus
try to use our wheels surreptitiously, only rolling them in the darkness
of night. Others might settle for less suitable polygons, such as
decagons or even dodecagons in order to avoid royalty payments.
Envision this scenario in a marketplace of billions of brains, each
creating and declaring things to be their own intellectual property, and
you can begin to fathom the deepest meaning of legal chaos, confusion
over ownership, economic distortions, slowing of innovations, as well as
Again, anything that can be reproduced in the marketplace likely will
be reproduced in the marketplace. Humans are in the business of
making stuff—better and cheaper stuff, including plastic that lasts
beyond our own expiration date (nod to George Carlin). Reproduction
is not theft, by definition, unless it involves the government’s printing
press, which as you know is another story about fraud on the grandest
scale imaginable.
Basically, it’s up to buyers and sellers to sort out what’s highly valued
in the marketplace. It’s probably a safe bet that most people desire to
honor the “real deal,” or the originator’s product or service, rather than
individuals or companies selling so-called knockoffs. At the very least,
most people believe that it’s bad manners not to give credit where
credit is due, that is, when appropriate; obviously, most things we think
about and do are not so novel. Many people exhibit brand loyalty,
which may be fostered by better customer service, delivery options,
and ease of returns. And many are willing to pay a premium for these
In fact, most people are happy to pay original content creators.
Music is one clear example, as long as gratuitous middlemen keep out
of the way. and for example, are a couple
websites that enable independent musicians direct access to their
audience; and, they offer songs as MP3 file downloads (which is a non-
DRM, versatile format). Nonetheless, the popularity of Apple’s iTunes
Store has arisen not only because of the cool designs of iPods, but also
because of convenience and selection. Of course, it’s heavily influenced
by the RIAA and the big record labels, so instead of selling open MP3
files that can play on any player you might own, the songs are in AAC
format with Apple’s version of DRM called FairPlay; among other
things, this allows songs to be duplicated only to other iPods.
Peer-to-peer file sharing is still widespread on the Web, which
shows that the price points for iTunes songs are still too high and their
inherent DRM device restrictions unwanted. Nevertheless, many con-
sumers find it more convenient to “legally” acquire music in the single-
song purchase fashion, rather than buy shrink-wrapped CD’s in record
stores. In contrast, podcasts on iTunes and many other websites are
offered as MP3’s. They are free to consumers (podcatchers) and feature
either limited or no advertisements. While podcasting represents a fun
hobby for many in this burgeoning field of infotainment, the main
business model at present relies on user donations. Many independent
artists and musicians are turning to this too, as they give listeners many
free songs to encourage monetary contributions.
It turns out that most people, when they can afford it, desire to
reward original creators; they know and appreciate hard work when
they see it. This will especially be the case in a future economy that fully
respects individual rights and, as a result, has enormously more wealth
(gold standard, no taxes, no regulations, etc.). Still, what people value
on a free market is their own prerogative. Obviously, the cheaper the
duplicates, the more likely that poorer people will be attracted to them;
this would definitely be the case with generic drugs throughout the
developing world. Entrepreneurs and inventors therefore need to adjust
their business models accordingly, to acknowledge people’s freedom to
innovate and compete, which ultimately benefits everyone.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long estab-
lished should not be changed for light and transient causes; and
accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more
disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right them-
selves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing
invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them
under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to
throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for
their future security.
Thomas Jefferson Declaration of Independence
If it’s impossible to run government like a business, if governmental
regulation prevents and punishes voluntary trade between and among
consenting adults (and children), if government uses arbitrarily devised
and enforced statutory law instead of natural, objective, individual
rights-based law, and if government relies on immoral, unjust means to
stay in business, then what exactly is it good for?
Surely Thomas Jefferson would find the present state of political
affairs atrocious, an intolerable form of absolute Despotism. Conse-
quently, what does this imply for us in the voluntary marketplace? What
if we refused to continue suffering such evils? What if most people
realized that it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Govern-
ment, and to provide new Guards for their security? What if we
suddenly replaced Government with something that was actually moral
and rights-respecting—that is, with the unmatchable, uncompromising
methods of a free market system?
Unfortunately, even the talented likes of Penn & Teller can’t
perform that fantastic of a magic trick, at least not before our very eyes.
But let’s consider the hypothetical scenario for now. Later, we’ll discuss
some real life solutions, practical options, for getting rid of the status
quo, that is, for uprooting the current rot and planting some beautiful
freedom flowers.
A Fully Privatized System
Under a fully privatized system, new businesses and entrepreneurs
don’t navigate financial and regulatory mazes in order to compete with
established, already-conforming-to-the-racket-and-lobbying-for-more-
favors-and-less-competition businesses. Banks are no longer shills for
the fascist welfare-warfare State, and interest rates are accountable to
the market, not to the Federal Reserve System overlords and the
nobility of their various monetary subsidiaries. Free markets are actually
free, and the people benefit enormously. Our standard of living—our
purchasing power as well as economic opportunities—thus skyrockets.
Dispensing with government therefore entails euthanizing some
quite sacred legal cows. Simply put, taxes and preventive law are laid to
rest, leaving only death the last certainty for us, to be further held at bay
by the biotech field and medical innovations. Remember the alphabet
soup of regulatory agencies? They’re government’s way of maintaining
control and overseeing affairs that they’ve no business controlling and
Without the ability to expropriate money from a populace that’s no
longer subservient, the institutions of government atrophy to a point of
splendid emaciation, and then death. As government withers, people
thrive. We then witness marketplace hypertrophy, an advanced economy
on steroids, with no toxic side effects.
Without the State’s power to tax, which is derived from coercion
and people’s compliance, we finally say goodbye and good riddance to
unaccountable government. Without taxation, we finally say “Welcome
to the land of milk and honey” (no offense to the lactose intolerant and
to diabetics like myself, who of course would be cured through new
biotech advances).
This leads directly to the question of how real accountability is
created for the services that government supposedly attempts to
provide us. Well, that’s easy: You vote with your money! This is the real,
meaningful, and direct power that each of us possesses, and it’s indeed
the genius of a free market system, a system of self-governing capital-
ism. We pay only for what we want, and we get only what we pay for. If
we believe we’re not getting a good deal, then we stop payment and do
business somewhere else.
This is the real “check and balance” of the marketplace. Actually,
there’s no logical or effective or efficient substitute. You can try to
make a country of laws but not of men, but men will make and
maintain laws in accordance with their enforced monopoly organization
called government. Therefore, the only thing that can prevent corrup-
tion, theft, waste, and injustice is to abolish their funding and look else-
A legalized monopoly on anything in the marketplace, especially a
legalized monopoly on the use of force—and especially one that takes
money rather than makes it (and I don’t mean with the printing press)—
is a prescription for absolute power and absolute disaster. It means
disaster for individual rights, private property, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness. And in some cases, it means suffering and death to multi-
tudes of people. Upon some reflection, one wonders how such a dia-
bolical system could ever be entertained, let alone implemented and
continually upheld, by rational adults.
As long as people exchange values in a voluntary manner, by means
of their own decisions, there’s no need for instruments of force. The
only type of force warranted in a free society is retaliatory force. Reason-
ing beings have a need to rectify injustices and ascribe consequences for
wrongdoing. And since the only moral instruments of force stem from
the right to self-defense and defense of one’s property, these instru-
ments must be enacted either on one’s own or by a chosen agent of
retaliatory force, based on efficiency and reputation, or price and com-
petence. One could call these “legal agencies,” but for all intents and
purposes they more accurately are called insurance companies.
Free market insurance companies will likely become the new
Guards of our future security that Jefferson spoke of, though he wisely
left them to our imagination and ingenuity. What they’ll be insuring is
our right to live and flourish in an environment of liberty that respects
property rights, an environment of complete liberty. They’ll make sure
that whatever rights-violations have occurred are rectified with repara-
tions for damages and equitable restitution. Nonetheless, individuals
will always be free not to purchase such services; no one may impose
on others who live peacefully.
Notice that this will be fully possible only when private property is
ascribed to every possible domain. Again, there’s no alternative if we
desire to live in lands of peace and prosperity governed by respect for
ownership, rather than deference to authoritarian and arbitrary power
As the Austrian economist Hans-Hermann Hoppe has keenly
noted, insurance companies in the business of defending rights will
have every incentive to minimize risks to their clients and to exact
justice when faced with a probable claim, following from a rights-viola-
tion. Those with the best reputations for competence will be in most
demand. Remember, the people have decided to no longer tolerate
Despotism or suffer evils. As noted by Homer in the Iliad a few millen-
nia ago (and by Achilles in the film Troy), there are no pacts between
lions and men. When some men take on the manners of lions, there can
be no appeasing them.
Let’s also keep in mind that today’s corporate insurance companies
have big offices on K Street. It’s no wonder; insurance is one of the
most heavily regulated industries in America. We, as consumers of all
forms of insurance, suffer considerably as a result. Higher prices, con-
voluted, almost unreadable policies that nearly require a team of lawyers
to decipher, and substantially reduced choices face us daily. Addition-
ally, insurance companies are prevented from making all sorts of practi-
cal business decisions, and many of the bigger corporations have
lobbied to attain corners on the market and become immune to various
market pressures (surprise surprise).
What Abouts And What Ifs: Last Ditch Attempts To Save The State
The thought of replacing the coercive operations of the State with
respectful free market processes is probably unsettling for many who
are accustomed to the status quo, either as rights-infringers or, ironi-
cally, as their victims. In any proposal of radical, principled, political
change, some tend to fear the worst, and they tend to overlook their
present yokes and chains. Let’s examine a few typical concerns.
If government essentially does things by pointing guns at
people, how in the world can you give this power to more than
one organization? You will never be able to keep an eye on so
many powerful organizations!
Does giving absolute, or even “Constitutionally constrained,” power
to initiate force to one organization somehow solve the essential
problem of Government? No, it does not. Does allowing legal
immunity for one group of aggressors against the sovereignty of indi-
viduals make a political system of justice? Most certainly, it does not.
Instead, monopolistic government creates the very problems that
it’s purportedly designed to solve. Rather than creating law and order, it
fosters lawlessness and disorder by incorporating the initiation of force
as its method of operation. Instead of being accountable to citizens, it
throttles them with unjust laws and expropriates and controls their
property. Instead of protecting our rights, it lays a wretched foundation
for criminality in society by taking revenue rather than making profits,
and threatening everyone to conform to it’s collective, irrational will, as
well as put up with its huge lack of customer service.
In short, the State creates massive roadblocks to peace and prosper-
ity. Even if government were strictly relegated to the use of retaliatory
force and protection of individual rights (under Laissez-faire capitalism)
this would contradict it’s nature as a legalized monopoly that forcibly
bars other organizations from competing, organizations that can
perform the service of justice better, perhaps far better, as well as much
The ideas of voluntary payment and rights-upholding agencies
follow from the principles of justice, individual rights, and contracts.
Since anyone has the right to self-defense and to rectify wrongs done to
him or her, anyone can delegate enforcement of that right, or become
an agent to enforce such rights for others. Logically, no one has the
right to enforce a monopoly of rights-based agency on others. None of
us may tell others what’s good for them and then proceed to force them
to accept it. In other words, individual rights come before government,
not the other way around. The concept of liberty precedes any actions
to ensure it.
Organizations of people in the free market (not ones who currently
use political pull) get powerful because they satisfy consumer wants and
needs. As soon as they start failing at this job, they lose market share or
even go out of business. People spend their money on products and
services that best suit their needs, rather than on one-size-fits-all
models. Therefore, the power really resides in those who decide to
spend money, not in those who compete for earning it.
Won’t there be numerous overlapping jurisdictions in which
violence is used to resolve jurisdictional disputes, not to
mention biased judgments in cases for clients of particular
insurance companies? After all, when governments disagree,
they tend to go to war. Why would private enterprises, who get
paid by whoever is rich enough to buy their favor, be any
better? In fact, wouldn’t they be worse, creating a land ruled by
warlords and Mafia-type thugs?
Such reasoning partially illustrates why we remain in our present
form of Despotism. Jefferson was so right when he wrote that “all
experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while
evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to
which they are accustomed.” Apparently, we need to be fully enslaved by
the State before any real alternatives are worth considering. Of course,
by then our fates would be permanently sealed, similar to being stuck in
quicksand up to your neck before attempting to extricate yourself or
call for help.
In matters involving human thought and action, one must strive to
avoid context-dropping as well as confirmation bias, which means only
looking for what one wants to find and finding only what one is
looking for. Actually, in politics it’s often worse than that: The things
found are merely creations of one’s own mind. Needless to say, objec-
tivity is thrown out the window, head first.
Scientists are probably most keen about these reasoning pitfalls, at
least in their own disciplines. But immense and widespread governmen-
tal funding and influence tends to noticeably impair their better judg-
ment. Nonetheless, an astute scientist tries to adhere to the rigors of the
scientific method, such as performing controlled (especially double
blind) studies to better pinpoint causal factors and rule out extraneous
We don’t have all the laboratory tools of the scientific method at
our disposal in politics. We can’t put randomly assigned groups of the
citizenry in a controlled environment and subject them to experimental
legal procedures. What we can do, however, is consider the massive
weight of the evidence regarding present legal procedures, both statist
and voluntary (such as arbitration and meditation). We can also use our
knowledge of history, sociology, economics, philosophy, and psychology
in order to derive an objective understanding of human nature. Doing
so allows us to arrive at logical and practical political and ethical princi-
ples as well as sound conclusions.
In the case of insurance companies being representatives and
defenders of our rights, we have to examine the essential incentives and
disincentives to resolve jurisdictional and judgment disputes fairly and
Obviously, in order to make the transition to a society of complete
liberty, most people must agree to it. Most people need to understand
these concepts and behave accordingly. This tellingly explains why we’re
not there yet. Most today either don’t have knowledge of a better way
for people to interact politically, or they defer to those who are influen-
tial and in positions of power to make their decisions for them. We cer-
tainly suffer the consequences of each, although showing deference to
irrational authorities is much harder to overcome than simple igno-
rance. Thus, the ideas of justice and property rights that complete
liberty so potently addresses are not recognized and staunchly advo-
cated by most people. Instead, we have numerous variations on the
same theme of injustice—statism—circulating in the political and moral
world of “memes,” a term coined by evolutionary biologist Richard
Dawkins, which refers to ideas or practices transmitted to others in a
However, as new memes about complete liberty begin circulating
more widely in the American population, we’ll witness a great political
inoculation, a resistance to injustice and authoritarianism. The veil of
ignorance will be lifted and the large wall of power structures will then
begin to crumble.
Those who believe in property rights, the sovereignty of individuals,
and voluntary contracts also believe in the tremendous value of justice.
A society of predominantly rights-respecting people forms an impene-
trable network of liberty-oriented memes, which are translated into
their physical manifestations as legal agencies. In such an environment,
people simply don’t tolerate—in particular, they don’t pay for—biased or
unjust services rendered by insurance companies, or by any other type
of competitor.
Companies of villainous intent therefore can’t gain a foothold on
the free market. It’s certainly no coincidence that the Mafia and
warlords thrive in unjust and chaotic political environments, where
various black and gray markets, and few free markets, exist. Inherently
collectivistic in nature, these tribal mentalities impose, with whatever
weaponry at their disposal, their stagnating forms of rules and punish-
ments on people. An advanced civilization of voluntarism and unfet-
tered capitalism naturally fosters the opposite environment. Rights-
respecting people are vigilant with their pocketbooks and their opinions
in empowering their agents to prevent the rise of any rights-violating
groups and companies. Bad organizations hence encounter severe via-
bility problems in such a context.
As for war, remember that war is typically the result of disagree-
ments between the actions of States, specifically their leaders’ self-
serving and nationalistic choices, which then drag the tax-burdened and
well-regulated populace into the bloody battlefields. In a society of
rights-respecting people, funding dries up for such a destructive
process. Given that a large military is incredibly expensive to operate
and maintain, very few individuals or organizations have the resources
to create a war machine. No war can occur without funding, and
soldiers tend not to venture across borders without pay and benefits
and/or a drive for revenge.
In a society of rights-respecting people, where “politics” is a thing
of the past, there are no financial or ethical incentives to fight other
insurance companies, let alone other, less enlightened nations. Compa-
nies are obviously encouraged to minimize their costs and discouraged
from being less efficient. Competition for price, quality, and moral rep-
utation, like in any other realm of business, serves as the ultimate
inhibitor of corruption. Service to the customer is even more important
in a system of complete liberty. Any deviation from the principles of
justice on the part of an insurance company would spell disaster to its
reputation and bottom line.
I’ve deliberately saved the idea of overlapping jurisdictions for last.
Interestingly, this issue has been a central sticking point for those who
favor voluntarily funded, yet still monopolistic, government (Laissez-
faire capitalism). The philosophical debate of “anarchism versus minar-
chism” continues on forums and email lists throughout the Web. This
issue has also been addressed in many other libertarian books that
explain the contradictions in a “voluntary” State and the unparalleled
merits of Anarcho-capitalism, which is another term for complete
The key thing to remember is this: Companies that operate in the
same so-called jurisdiction are no different in principle than people in
physical proximity to each other. All are capable of exercising their right
to self-defense and defense of their property. Your right to self-defense
doesn’t interfere with my right to self-defense. Your right to contract
with a particular agent of rights-protection doesn’t conflict with my
right to contract with a different agent of rights-protection. Your right
to seek restitution for torts done to you doesn’t interfere with my right
to seek restitution for torts done to me. Individual rights and their
enforcement, by definition, can never be in conflict.
Insurance companies simply serve as professional, contracted
agents who agree to exercise the more complex and less immediate
aspects of the right to self-defense, pursuant to a rights-violation, on
behalf of those who decide to pay for their services. This is a crucial
example of division of labor and specialization in the marketplace. Just
as few of us spend our time and resources growing our own food and
building our own houses, few of us will want to spend our time and
resources protecting our rights.
Rights-defending insurance agencies will focus on issues of justice.
They’ll provide security and enforce remedies when security has been
breached. These are their selling points and means of gaining cus-
tomers. As in any industry that requires universal standards in order to
function properly across competing platforms, insurance companies
naturally institute generally agreed upon rules of operation and engage-
ment with other parties. These assist them when they’re faced with con-
fusing or missing evidence and contradictory claims by their clients and
clients of other companies.
Insurance companies will definitely incorporate much of customary
law precedents as well as arbitration and mediation methods, which are
obviously non-statist, common-sense ways of restoring victims and
upholding property rights. It’s in their business interest to make law
simple and efficient. The principles of due process, evidentiary investi-
gation, fair and speedy trial, objective judgment of whether force was
initiated (and by whom), and appropriate restitution and/or reparation
will generally govern their practices. In a just legal system, the accuser
(or their insurance company) will pay compensation to the person
falsely arrested and accused (or heaven forbid, falsely convicted), which
provides an incentive to minimize lengthy trials and wasted resources.
Hence, today’s various irresponsible lawsuits will be markedly reduced
and, of course, the State’s practice of holding individuals for days,
weeks, months, or even years without trial will be eliminated.
In situations where companies are at loggerheads, where they can’t
reach an equitable resolution, their standardized procedures will still be
followed. A previously agreed upon and outlined appeals process to
third party courts will safeguard against corruption and unresolved con-
flicts. Moreover, the accused must retain the right to choose a third
party justice service, which enables the most fair and equitable
judgment and resolution, that is, objectivity in law.
Again, it behooves all companies involved to insure not only against
risk to their respective clients, but also against risk to their working rela-
tionships with other companies. Because each company will profit by
insuring against potential rights-violations and by enforcing correct and
equitable judgments, all companies seeking a share of the market have
every incentive to settle conflicts peaceably and with minimal cost,
according to a uniform system of justice.
So, what is the specific legal nature of a society of complete liberty?
What are the universally agreed upon principles, that is, the principles
honored to enable standardization? Further, what laws will best
promote our happiness? Let’s proceed.
148 VIII
Pursuits of happinesses laws? Though Congress is totally unfamil-
iar with them, there can indeed be such laws. I use the plural form of
both words not to make grammarians grimace, but to emphasize that
there’s more than just one pursuit to more than one form of happiness.
A society of complete liberty allows for everyone’s version of earthly
bliss. As long as we respect the rights of others, we’re free to do as we
please to promote our own joy as well as the joy of others. Fortunately
for us, the laws that can promote these pursuits are very few, very
understandable, and very exact in their meaning. Nothing more and
nothing less is needed.
The only laws that can promote each person’s pursuit of happiness
are those that administer justice on individuals who attempt to restrict
or erase people’s freedoms through the initiation of force. That’s the
universal principle. Law is a method of outlining consequences for vio-
lating the rights of individuals, penalties for infringements on one’s
person and property. Rights-violations reflect the plain fact that the
victim wasn’t a willing participant. To force someone against his or her
will can only be justified if that someone started the aggression. In
other words, the only proper laws are those that employ retaliatory
It would certainly be nice if every single human being decided to
deal with every other human being solely by means of reason. We are,
essentially, rational animals. But with today’s prevalent authoritarian
institutions of non-reason, which are bent on indoctrinating each new
generation, the reality is a bit different. Disagreements also happen in
the natural course of trade and social interaction. Some people lack the
coping skills necessary to seek peaceful resolution. Others think that
committing fraud helps their bottom line. However, the fact that
respectful and enjoyable relationships are the overwhelming rule in the
marketplace of most societies, not the exception, is a testament to the
general goodness and virtue in humanity.
Clearly, once we remove the unquestionably biggest rights-violator
that constantly pretends it’s not a rights-violator, or doesn’t care that it
is—the State—we can immediately expose and eventually clean up
what’s left of criminality.
Law should be readily known and understandable to everyone in
society, to all consumers and producers, to average people. Laws must
be outlined in common sense, reasonable, fair and equitable terms. And
the laity ought to be the moral bulwark of such laws. If it’s not, then
we’re in big trouble. A country soon becomes run by statist intellectuals
and unjust courts and legislatures who rely on their countless thought-
less enforcers—enforcers who depend on people acquiescing to their
widespread tactics of coercion while rationalizing that it’s for maintain-
ing law and order, the common good, general welfare, future of our
children, and other such falsehoods. Clearly, if we don’t understand the
proper nature of law, then we’ll end up with some variation of what we
have today. Laws reflect basic moral premises, after all, and being
treated like slaves to the State assuredly demonstrates this.
The moral premise embedded in the hundreds of thousands of laws
passed and enforced by local, state, and federal governments in
America is simply this: The individual good must be sacrificed to the
purported collective good. In other words, the demands of a collection
of individuals supposedly trump the rights of any particular individual.
When stated this way, the premise can’t stand scrutiny. Because only
individuals have rights (only individuals can have thoughts, feelings, and
make decisions), no rights of a collection of individuals can override
those of a single person. Again, rights can’t be in conflict with each
other, by definition.
In order to avoid contradictions, and their ensuing political insanity,
laws must be based on the principles of justice. And justice demands
that restitution and reparation be granted to victims of initiatory force.
Additionally, imprisonment must sometimes be reserved for violent
individuals who’ve caused physical injury or repeated damage to prop-
erty. Imminent threats to rights-respecting individuals mustn’t be
allowed to continue in a just society.
What About The Bill Of Rights?
In a market of complete liberty, which is governed simply by
property owners and insurance company policies, crime will be reduced
to a mere scintilla of what it is today. Property owners will determine
the appropriate and reasonable rules on their property. They will also
understand the legal and financial consequences of violating the rights
of, or simply mistreating, those who were invited to engage in trade
there. Even in circumstances of trespass, property owners are always
wise to err on the side of assuming good intent on behalf of trespassers;
only wanton destruction of personal property or threat to life and limb
justifies immediate use of retaliatory force. And the amount of such
force should be only that which is necessary to prevent further wrong-
Despite various statist-oriented claims to the contrary, we have
nothing to fear from private property owners. Actually, as we know
from our myriad personal experiences, and by virtue of the preceding
chapters, we have everything to gain from them. They are, in fact, us.
As long as the State isn’t in our lives, strong moral and economic incen-
tives tend to ensure people’s rights to their persons and property, and to
travel. For property owners to do otherwise, of course, would mean loss
of business and widespread ostracism, especially in ever more coopera-
tive, coordinated, and information-connected societies.
Obviously, expression of contrary viewpoints would have to take
place on available property. Since everything will be privately owned,
including streets and sidewalks, this would amount to simply getting
permission from a particular owner—rather than today’s hassle of City
Hall permits, assorted regulatory hurdles, and State-designated “free-
speech zones” for protesters.
More importantly, notice that people today mostly rally to show
their support or dissent for some aspect of what coercive government is
doing, or not doing, to or for them. After all, the restrictions suppos-
edly placed on government by the Bill of Rights were considered neces-
sary to ensure that people’s various actions wouldn’t be prohibited by
political whim. What a failure this has been.
The freedoms to assemble peaceably, to complain to government,
to speak your mind, to publish at will, to worship as you please, to have
weapons, to maintain your privacy, to prevent troops from calling your
house their home base, to have a fair and speedy trial in accordance
with the rules of justice and due process, are continually assaulted
where the State reigns supreme. A legalized monopoly on force always
leaves people concerned about losing more of their freedoms. In a
system of complete liberty, however, these freedoms aren’t in jeopardy
anymore; they’re restored and assumed as matters of fact. A land that
embraces the principles of self-ownership and non-initiation of force
upholds people’s freedoms, rather than threatens them.
Again, the Bill of Rights was crafted in an attempt to prevent gov-
ernment from restricting or erasing your freedoms. Additionally, some
of the Amendments in the Bill of Rights have no relevance or necessity
in a private context. Obviously, the freedom to do whatever you please
can only be fully exercised either on your own property or on a con-
senting person’s property. While many commercial property owners
may make rules restricting various rights outlined by the Bill of Rights,
they’re usually reasonable and prudent ones, such as “Leave your guns
at the door, gentlemen” or “No disturbing other people’s experience in
the theater, please.” There simply aren’t many economic or moral
incentives to do something unreasonable and imprudent in relation to
people’s rights; businesses don’t want to drive away customers, after all,
and hardly anyone desires to be disrespectful in commerce.
Owners have to earn their money by providing things that others
want, like, enjoy, and appreciate. Humans are definitely social animals,
and trade for mutual benefit tends to break down all disrespectful barri-
ers. Complete liberty thus creates a legal context in which bigoted
persons could no longer wield the collective tool of the State at individ-
uals seen as members of various classes and groups, which government
typically spends a lot of time categorizing and appealing to.
In those cases in which a commercial property owner’s rules are
more stringent than some consumers find acceptable, such rules will be
immediately contrasted with more appealing ones by other owners. The
competitive nature of the marketplace to provide customer satisfaction
and safety rewards the decent and the tolerant. It disfavors the ridicu-
lous. Most commercial development projects are prime examples of
this. They satisfy genuine human desires and needs. Amusement and
theme parks, museums, concert halls, stadiums, business and science
centers, cruise ships, skyscrapers, and shopping malls all tend to cater to
what’s satisfying and preferable in the eyes of consumers—be they
families and kids, art and music lovers, sports enthusiasts, honeymoon-
ers, tourists, businesspersons, or shoppers. Such places earn people’s
respect as well as admiration.
Welcome To The Bill Of Law
We’re now going to follow the excellent lead of Michael van Notten,
who was a libertarian Dutch scholar versed in international law, in order
to illustrate how beneficial and straightforward law will be in the future
—and how your Bill of Rights freedoms have been a meager govern-
mental consolation prize, one that’s continually reduced over time.
Van Notten wrote an excellent article titled “Bill of Law,” in which
he outlined a legal system without coercive and monopolistic govern-
ment. And there’s no need to have a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree
with a Black’s Law Dictionary in hand to understand it. Since most of
law school concerns nonessentials and political context-dropping, to
study the following actually saves us the better part of three years and
many tens of thousands of dollars. We can forget about maneuvering
through those whirling, cognitive death blades in higher academia. Van
Notten outlined practically everything laypersons as well as scholars
need to know regarding the legal framework of a free society. Whether
the property is predominantly owned (and subdivided) or leased (which
van Notten favored for more diverse and wholesome communities), the
same sensible laws apply in order for liberty to flourish. They represent
the legal foundation of a new libertarian world.
Below is his entire article. It will be good to use as a reference in
your quest to enlighten others. I’ve made only a couple caveats, which
you’ll find enclosed in brackets. Sadly, Michael van Notten is no longer
with us to assist in this profound journey of debate and persuasion. He
was spearheading a libertarian nation project in Somalia before he died
in 2002. (Somalia has yet to achieve what he envisioned, of course. Cur-
rently, various political and religious factions are still fighting for
control, and the U.S.-backed Ethiopian military has been directly
involved in the ongoing struggle to impose a U.N.-sanctioned govern-
ment. In other words warlords, tribal mentalities, and statist powers
continue to impose their non-libertarian views on a war-torn popula-
tion, and the U.S. government and the U.N. continue their meddling.)
We, the founders of the free nation, in order to guard the
freedom of those who visit or settle in the free nation, do
hereby affirm the following principles, rights, and rules of pro-
cedure. We expect every person in the free nation to abide by
these fundamental laws.
The procedural rules given here are intended as a starting point
for the development of rules for maintaining and enforcing
natural rights. These rights do not change, but the procedures
for maintaining and enforcing them can be continually
Any person offering judicial or police services in the free nation
shall be free to specify more detailed rights, obligations, and
procedures than those included here, provided they are consis-
tent with the natural law described hereinafter.
Natural Law
Natural law describes the natural, voluntary order of human
society. This law is timeless, unchangeable, and universal. It
takes priority over any other law, including constitutions and
contracts. It acknowledges the right of every person to live a life
that is governed by his own goals and opinions. Natural law
serves to prevent and resolve conflicts between people pursuing
contradictory goals. It stipulates that every person shall be free
to dispose of his rightfully acquired property and shall refrain
from disposing of the property of others without their permis-
sion. It permits all activities that do not violate someone else's
person or property.
As a matter of principle, a society based on natural law should
be maintained by means consistent with that law. These means
will then generate—under the disciplines of profit and loss,
supply and demand, and peaceful competition in the free
market—the information required for discovering the optimal
way of protecting natural rights.
Legal Principles
I (natural rights)
Every person shall be free to:
1. form his own opinions;
2. control the actions and labour of his own body;
3. use any object not belonging to others and make it his
4. make voluntary agreements with others; and
5. defend these freedoms.
II (natural obligations)
Every person shall respect the rights of others, and therefore
refrain from:
1. using force or threats thereof against peaceful persons or
their rightfully obtained possessions; and
2. disposing otherwise of other people’s property without their
III (remedies)
Every person who violates someone’s natural rights shall:
1. immediately cease violating them;
2. return the goods thereby alienated;
3. compensate the victim for damage inflicted and profits
4. pay fines to the victim for willful infringement of his rights.
IV (fines)
If the parties concerned fail to agree on the nature or extent of
the fine, it shall be determined by an independent and impartial
court of law on the basis of the seriousness of the crime and the
circumstances under which it was committed.
V (sanction)
Every person who refuses to remedy the rights he violated
loses, to the benefit of his victim and to the extent required for
remedy, his right to dispose of his freedom and property, as
long as he persists in his refusal.
VI (force)
Every person shall be free to defend his natural rights by using
force against his attacker and to call upon police to restore
them. In the absence of an impartial judiciary and police, every
person shall be free, subject to his liability for his own viola-
tions, to use force himself to restore his violated rights.
VII (the police)
The police, including the military, shall not use force save when
an independent and impartial court of law has verified that it is
1. at the request of a person whose rights have been violated;
2. against the person who violated them;
3. for the sole purpose of remedying such violation;
4. with the least violent means available; and
5. after the violator has refused to comply voluntarily.
VIII (the judiciary)
Every person shall be free to exercise the profession of judge.
Judges shall judge only on the basis of facts as presented, not
on a person’s opinions, achievements, or bodily characteristics.
Judges shall only authorise the imposition of obligations that
are derived from natural rights.
From these legal principles, the following rights are derived.
First, a set of rights that apply to adults. Then the rights pertain-
ing to children and one special right pertaining to women.
Rights not listed shall be upheld only if they are consistent with
the principles set forth above.
Every person shall be free:
1. to live according to his own, peaceful beliefs;
2. to express, in his own language and manner, his thoughts and
3. to reside in any country, and to move in and out of it along
with his possessions, provided he poses no physical danger;
4. to enjoy the privacy of his home, business, papers, and
effects, including his mail and telecommunications;
5. to found a family and to raise and educate his children
according to his own insights, if he finds a willing mate;
6. to assemble with any others and to join and resign from any
voluntary association;
7. to offer his services to people of his choice;
8. to break any employment contract as long as he honours its
performance bond;
9. to undertake any economic activity, including the adjudica-
tion or enforcement of natural rights, and to keep its profits;
10. to sell, buy, lease, rent, lend, borrow, retain, or give away
property by mutual agreement;
11. to exploit his land and waters, and any material in them;
12. to repossess the land, buildings, and other property taken
from him in violation of natural rights;
13. to prevent others from spoiling his property by polluting it;
14. to criticise or petition any government institution and avail
himself of any services it offers; [Of course “government,” as
we currently know it, won’t exist.]
15. to keep and bear arms, excluding weapons of mass destruc-
tion; [Actually, persons and companies (composed of persons)
retain the right to use whatever devices they deem necessary to
defend themselves from attackers, or to deter them, such as
aggressive Statist militaries.]
16. to use force himself when his rights are in clear and present
17. to dissolve any government institution which systematically
violates natural rights.
Children shall enjoy the same freedom as adults except for
restrictions imposed by their parents in the interest of their
safety, health, and development. Children become adults when
they behave as adults. Children are entitled to receive from their
parents: food, clothing, shelter, health care, and education.
Parents shall not be liable for the activities of their children
unless they could have prevented them. Contracts concluded by
a child may be dissolved by a court of justice at the request of
the child or any of its parents. When parents are unable or
unwilling to care for their child, the child or others acting on its
behalf may appeal to a court to appoint a legal guardian who
will assume the parental rights and responsibilities.
Women shall be free to abort their pregnancies, at their own
discretion and expense.
Rules of Procedure in criminal matters
The following rules shall guide the actions of those who
provide judicial or police services.
1. Every person accused of having violated a natural right shall
be presumed innocent until proven guilty by an impartial court
of justice. Until then, he shall be entitled:
1.1 to agree with the plaintiff on initiating, interrupting, and ter-
minating any litigation before a judge of their choice;
1.2 to refuse to submit to a judge who is forced upon him as
long as the judge’s impartiality is not assured and his request, if
any, for a jury has not been granted; [A jury of supposedly one’s
peers in America currently consists of people summoned by the
State for “jury duty,” which means (typically registered voters)
being plucked out of the community, then subjected to a
screening process by lawyers of the defense and prosecution,
then informed (and uninformed and misinformed) by judges
about specific codes of conduct, and finally to leave their jobs
for as long as the non-speedy trial takes—that is, if they can’t
find a way out of this coercive, costly, and cumbersome process.
Any jury in a free system, however, would consist of paid pro-
fessionals (or perhaps volunteers serving on a rotation basis).
They would be versed in the objective procedures and laws of
liberty and allowed to pursue rational methods of fact-finding
and due process, unlike today. Yet in all likelihood, juries
wouldn’t be necessary because their main purpose is to protect
citizens from statist tyranny.]
1.3 to be informed, in writing and in a language which he
understands, of the nature and cause of the charges against him;
1.4 to try to refute those charges (but no plea of ignorance of
natural law shall be accepted);
1.5 to be assisted and represented by counsel of his choice and
to keep his communications with that counsel confidential;
1.6 to be allowed adequate time for the presentation of his
1.7 to resist interrogation, to decline to supply evidence against
himself or his organisation, and to refuse confession;
1.8 to inspect the evidence brought against him and to cross-
examine his accusers and their witnesses;
1.9 to bring in his own witnesses to testify under the same con-
ditions as the witnesses against him;
1.10 to be given a prompt trial, without undue delays, and to
receive a copy of its proceedings;
1.11 to reject procedural and evidentiary rules which infringe
upon the principle of presumed innocence;
1.12 to decide whether to permit friends, family, the press, and
others to attend his trial.
1.13 to present his defense in writing and to elucidate his
defense orally at his trial.
2. Every person arrested shall:
2.1 be informed immediately of the reasons for his arrest, his
right to remain silent, and the consequences of making state-
2.2 be given proper food, clothing, shelter, and accommodation
as well as instant communication with legal advisors and those
who could assist with posting bail;
2.3 be spared torture, assault, mutilation, sterilisation, and other
cruel or inhumane treatment; [Of course, if such methods are
actually being entertained, let alone perpetrated, we likely have
many other problems to deal with—as we do today with unac-
countable governments scoffing at fair treatment and due
2.4 be brought without undue delay before a grand jury or
impartial court of justice, failing which he shall be entitled to
instant release;
2.5 be instructed, in writing and in a language which he under-
stands, of the reason and nature of the charges against him;
2.6 be released from detention when the court finds the charges
lacking in credibility or when sufficient guaranty has been given
to insure that he will appear at the trial and obey the judgement,
and his release would not frustrate the investigation;
2.7 be permitted to receive mail and visitors.
3. Every person convicted of having violated a natural right
shall be entitled:
3.1 to be informed, in writing, and in a language which he
understands, of the reasons for his conviction;
3.2 to appeal once against his verdict and to have its interpreta-
tion of rights reviewed by a separate court;
3.3 to avoid forcible execution of his verdict by complying vol-
4. No person finally convicted or acquitted shall be put in
jeopardy again, by the same or by another court, for the same
5. Every person falsely arrested, unduly detained, or mistakenly
convicted shall be compensated by the responsible parties.
6. Every person in clear and present danger shall be entitled to
use force himself in order to:
6.1 defend his rights against immediate attack;
6.2 stop an attack in progress;
6.3 arrest his attacker caught red-handed;
6.4 seize his attacker’s assets for remedying the rights he
infringed whenever these assets risk disappearing before a
police or judicial agency can secure them;
6.5 conserve proof or evidence; provided that an impartial court
of justice certifies, either before or immediately afterwards that:
(1) the proof or evidence is or was at risk of being lost and (2)
the least violent means available will be, or were, used.
7. Every person whose natural rights have been violated shall be
7.1 to initiate proceedings against the violator;
7.2 to halt such proceedings and to suspend or stop the execu-
tion of any verdict in his favour;
7.3 to ignore any verdict of acquittal which does not state the
reasons for the defendant’s acquittal;
7.4 to appeal from the verdict in appeal when it overturns the
original verdict;
7.5 to have a court’s interpretation of rights reviewed by a
separate court;
7.6 to have these rights exercised by his heirs if he died or by his
agent if he is unable otherwise to exercise them himself.
8. Every parent whose child’s natural rights have been violated
shall be entitled to seek justice on the child’s behalf. If the
violator is one of its parents or legal guardians, the child’s
nearest relatives are entitled to bring suit. [Theoretically, not
only the child’s nearest relatives, but also any rational adult has
the right to seek justice on the child’s behalf in a court of law.]
9. Unless other arrangements are agreed to beforehand by the
parties involved, the costs incurred by the courts for dispensing
justice, as well as any legal costs of the litigants, shall be borne
by the defendant if he is convicted, and by the plaintiff if the
defendant is acquitted.
All these rules outlined by Michael van Notten essentially reflect a
principled, common sense form of law—that is, customary law. There’s
no convoluted legalese formulated by workers of the State to contend
with. Thus, adjudication functions efficiently. Insurance companies or
any other types of justice agencies that deviate from these principles
can’t last long. People will find justice elsewhere.
Criminality, as it exists in our present society, is mainly the result of
a legalized monopoly in the realm of supposed rights-protection. The
Bill of Law will make sure that criminals, namely, those who violate
rights—including governmental officials—bear full responsibility for
their actions; clearly, our current system flagrantly mocks this idea.
When law enforcement is left to the free market, people tempted by
criminality will have many disincentives to do wrong and many incen-
tives to be responsible, productive individuals.
It’s vital to remember that State-run schools will no longer exist.
These schools do more than unapologetically squelch learners’ intrinsic
motivation and try to replace it with extrinsic motivators, such as
teachers’ orders, praise, and punishments. They also foster socially
acceptable criminality, because so-called public education funds its
operations (and mandates attendance) via the coercive methods of
statism. This system may arguably be the biggest creator of criminal
mindsets in human history, be they in schoolyard bully garb or later in
pressed uniforms donning shiny badges. All disrespectful types seem
welcome, as long as they employ socially acceptable disrespect, that is,
the unquestioned policies of politics. We also shouldn’t forget that the
“business” of the corrections system depends on governmental diktats
to churn out an ample supply of law-breakers (drug laws being one
blatant example). Essentially, the State and criminality were made for
each other, sewn from the same rights-smothering cloth.
In a free market, the people themselves are the first line of defense
regarding their rights. The citizens construct a system in which the
ideas, rules, and procedures of the Bill of Law are common knowledge.
Hardly any legal precept is as easy to understand as “Respect the rights
and property of others and trade with them voluntarily.” The rest just
fills in the details, if any problems occur.
Making Sense Of Foreign Policy Nonsense
Regarding a military, only a couple more things need to be clarified.
An offensive force is not necessary in a free society. People who engage
in trade have no time or inclination to destroy their economic and
social relationships with people abroad. Those in other countries
(though not necessarily their governments) by and large appreciate this
and don’t desire to inflict injuries on a peaceful and friendly populace
elsewhere. These free market factors, by the way, are the only antidote to
terrorism. A police State, or any less extreme domestic or foreign
policy, is assuredly not. Even the tiny, tightly controlled nation of Israel,
which is supported heavily by the United States’ money and weaponry,
can’t secure its borders and ensure safety from terrorist attacks. A police
State is more effective at wreaking havoc on its own citizenry than
perhaps any other form of government. A quick study of Gestapo
tactics in Hitler’s Germany will provide a horrific view of what happens
in such an environment.
Perhaps the biggest falsehood promoted after the 9/11 attacks has
been the notion that “They hate us (that is, want to kill us) because of
our freedoms.” Even granting the unjustified notion of “our freedoms,”
all the evidence, including repeated statements by jihadist Osama bin
Ladin himself, point to the contrary. The evidence shows that suicide
bombers arise mainly on account of foreign occupation of their per-
ceived territory and oppression of certain domestic populations. Virtu-
ally every case of terrorism, regardless of the religion of the perpetra-
tors (or their type of fundamentalism), yields such a pattern of political
grievance and subsequent horrific tactics. Since terrorists can’t utilize
statist military power, they resort to killing civilians in an attempt to
induce political change.
Terrorists want to alter political policies of their own country or of
the occupying forces, or both. Though their actions are abominable,
terrorists do have a definite rationale. Unfortunately, one of the last
things that the leaders of occupying forces want to do when confronted
by fanatical resistance is leave. That, among other things, would mean
losing face and conceding to the enemy. Instead, they continue to slap
the hornets’ nest of dissent and blame all the despicable results on the
hornets, caring little about the loss of innocent lives. Collective punish-
ment of entire populations by military forces soon becomes the order
of the day. American military destruction of Iraq, its people and infras-
tructure, and Israeli military destruction of Lebanon, its people and
infrastructure (as well as continued oppression of people in the
occupied territories of Palestine) are prime examples of this process.
More hegemonic foreign policy measures will only encourage still more
terrorism blowback, especially in statist areas immersed in such theo-
cratic and revengeful tribal ideologies as the Middle East.
History has shown that terrorists can only be effectively neutralized
by those who live among them. Without the support or tacit approval
of sizable segments of the local population, the angry hornets have no
places to nest. Therefore—and this is psychology 101—the primary
way to end terrorism is to end military interventions and statist foreign
policies that promote ill will in countries of people who are keen on
noticing political double standards, lies and hypocrisy, alliances with
despotic puppet regimes, and State-sanctioned mass murder. Ending
the United States’ egregious rights-violations, stopping its foreign occu-
pations, and ceasing support for any and all governments in the Middle
East, will go a long way to foster goodwill in the vast majority of people
there. This naturally coincides with peaceful relations and free trade.
Those who embrace a nonviolent form of Islam (or any other faith, for
that matter) seek a more prosperous future for themselves and their
children, just like the rest of the world.
A voluntarily funded military, to the extent that it’s needed, will be
used only for defensive purposes. Any large companies or people that
might need protection from aggression in far-away places (or close to
home) must pay for it out of their own pockets. The various people
they do business with also have a vested interest in preventing any
attacks on their trading routes.
But what about other governments that might attempt to take over
and control a free society? Well, they would realize that they have every-
thing to lose and nothing to gain from unprovoked aggression. Even in
recent history, few power-hungry warfare States have desired to target
countries that haven’t provoked them (or their declared allies), either
through military actions or economic sanctions. (Switzerland, by the
way, remains a case study in defensive neutrality.) State rulers get very
anxious about anything that threatens their power structure, control,
and authority. So, their first concern is to maintain stability and security
for themselves, to preserve their own hides within their own countries.
Police State regimes of fear serve this purpose well, as does massive
statist indoctrination. Just as we Americans were brought up to pay
homage to Old Glory, say the Pledge, obey the law, and pay our taxes,
children in other countries are taught similarly, but sometimes with
more intensity and frequency. Statist control of the media further
emphasizes that the State and its rulers must be esteemed above all else.
If aggressive rulers have nothing to fuel their propaganda machines,
they can’t convince their people that going to war makes any sense.
With no hint of truth or context to their prewar slogans, rulers would
appear plainly as madmen to soldiers and civilians alike. Hence, certain
slogans are necessary to win the first battle—the one for the hearts and
minds of the citizenry: “Look at how they’ve treated us!” “They want to
kill us all!” “They pose a grave danger to our society!” “They want to
see us all suffer and starve!” “Look at how they’ve dealt with others!”
“Fight them for what they’ve done to your brothers and sisters,
mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles!” “They believe that they’re
better than you; just look at their tactics!” “See how evil they are!” “We
must strike them before they strike us!” Clearly, such statements can
come from the mouths of leaders of democratic and totalitarian
regimes alike.
If, for some odd reason, another country’s government did target a
free society without the support or sympathies of its populace, it would
face quick and overwhelming retaliation from numerous decentralized
and distributed forces. Retaliation would be directed specifically at the
leaders giving the orders—that is, assassination of the despots would be
the primary method of attack, along with destruction of immediate
offensive threats. This would assuredly cause aggressive leaders to think
twice before making a false move. Most would definitely question the
perceived wisdom in attacking a highly innovative and advanced free
market system, in which individuals are willing to defend their highly
valued freedoms. Since swift victory is primarily about strategic infor-
mation and technological superiority, the market of complete liberty
will beat any State-controlled market, hands down.
Because a free market provides a brilliant example to others
throughout the world of life’s great possibilities, the political grip of
various statist regimes will be steadily pried loose. After all, a free
country offers no symbols of the collective, such as government or
State “leaders,” for other rulers to blame and target. A free country
therefore invites no governmental or military aggression; it provokes no
retaliatory measures either. Consequently, statist regimes will be left
without an enemy, except the one within their own borders—the
people. They will face internal collapse, like the U.S.S.R. did, and like
China’s regime eventually will, barring any foolish gamesmanship on
the part of the U.S. government.
America has really come to a fork in the road, and only one direc-
tion leads to our safety and security. Liberty can spread quickly. It
works as a universal solvent for bad ideas and policies. Of course, some
statist rulers are more aware than others of the threat this poses to their
power and control structures. Some may try desperately to protect their
positions by withdrawing from the world marketplace and hence
further oppressing their own people. Statist interference with interna-
tional trade is of course morally and economically damaging. It creates a
downward spiral of great losses for everyone involved. In extreme
cases, it can kill millions.
For example, perhaps the only reason that North Korea (DPRK,
fittingly the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) hasn’t hit rock
bottom and disintegrated is because of foreign aid and foreign coercive
measures. The governments of the U.S., China, and others have, among
other sordid things in coordination with U.N. organizations, been
feeding the DPRK military for years. Dictatorial rulers tend to dis-
tribute foreign assistance to those who are most valuable to their
regime, on down the influential pecking order. Leaders of States every-
where know this; it’s the same situation in African countries.
Many U.S. and Chinese officials believe that if the North Korean
regime were to collapse, a refugee crisis of epic proportions would
ensue, causing unpredictable political problems. So, they actually believe
it’s better to forcibly keep an utterly impoverished and tortured people
within their own State’s borders than to really do something to help
their plight. The Chinese State doesn’t even allow North Korean
refugees safe passage to Mongolia, which is willing to accept them.
Much like the psychotic plot of a horror film, people are treated as
creatures to control and slay: better to send refugees back to their
national slaughterhouse, than to allow them freedom to travel to places
of less oppression. Totalitarian regimes such as the People’s Republic of
China keep short leashes on people, especially ones who dare to break
the State’s laws.
The former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics would have
probably hit rock bottom decades beforehand too had it not been for
the financial and moral help of the various Western powers. American
statesmen and their financial cronies were most helpful to Stalin after
WWII. Obviously, when political leaders share the same statist
premises, we can expect the terrible aftermath.
So, back to our pursuits of happinesses. The above talk about war
and statism is just a bad dream in a voluntary society. Given the incalcu-
lable benefits of such a society—and the incalculable drawbacks of
present political systems—you might wonder why the status quo
remains so. Why is it so difficult for so many people to accept the idea
of complete liberty, let alone work diligently to implement it?
Anti-Social Political Behaviors: Lying, Cheating, And Stealing
By now, it’s probably apparent that complete liberty is more than
just a political and economic system. It’s also an ethical one. It outlines
a new way for people to deal with each other, not simply in their
personal interactions, daily affairs, and business relations, but in the way
they interpret their form of government and therefore how it interacts
with and affects everyone. It’s easy to let government go on being itself
—big, plodding, intrusive, even dangerous and deadly, doing things that
hardly any of us appreciate on a personal level. But the State is
composed of particular persons doing particular jobs, and that’s the real
Lying, cheating, and stealing are not admirable behaviors. Forcing
people to do things against their will is not a way to gain respect. Yet,
these behaviors are given more acceptable names in politics in order to
disguise their essentially coercive quality. Those in the mainstream press
are accomplices in this game of doublespeak. The political news is
often a verbatim press release from governmental officials. Even the
information dispensed by political opinion givers is something reminis-
cent of the discourse in George Orwell’s 1984. Interviews with politi-
cians and bureaucrats never touch on the reality of what individuals in
government are doing to us. After all, if reporters raised awareness of
this reality, they would likely be banned from political access. But being
banned from access is just what reporters need in order to shake them
out of their misguided practices and encourage honesty with the
American public. John Stossel is about the only person in the establish-
ment who exposes the absurd nature of governmental processes. His
peers look like statist lapdogs in comparison.
Fortunately, people in America still appreciate good challengers of
authority. This no doubt explains the uplifting individualistic themes,
justice-oriented plots, and heroic characters of many Hollywood films.
Also, the high ratings of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show and The
Colbert Report reveal that many Americans enjoy a bold and satirical look
at politics-as-usual and a witty skewering of those in positions of power.
On some level, most Americans sense that there’s something really
wrong with politics. So at the very least, we should mock it; we should
laugh at it.
But, of course, we can do more than poke fun at aspects of the
coercive system and at those who spend their time and energy trying to
run it (and report on it). We’ve seen that in order to strike at the root of
the vices of politics, to see them for what they actually are, we need to
understand the nature of self-ownership and voluntarism. Such an
understanding allows us to sharpen a principled ax that we can use to
cut down the entire rotten tree of taxation and destroy its expansive
root system of regulation.
The ominous taxation tree towers over our entire country, and over
all the benevolent potential market trees and flowers. Its many branches
of government reach over all of us, letting in scant sunlight. This partic-
ular tree also provides ample room for all sorts of political and legal
creatures to call home. The problem is, political animals aren’t keen on
coming down from a tree by ordinary pleas that they become less med-
dlesome, or that they should mistreat us less. After all, from their
various perches, what need do they have of more sunlight? They seem to
be getting plenty from the skies above, and the market below is just a
necessary place where ordinary people toil for the common good of the
rotten tree.
Though oftentimes it may be more difficult to reason with people
involved in government, we all have the same basic needs. All of us are
best nourished when we find wholesome, moral places to work. The
market will assuredly accommodate everyone now working in govern-
ment in ways they’re presently unable to envision. Indeed, leaving their
positions will create a vastly more promising and much richer economic
environment for everyone.
From our shaded standpoint in the fertile soil of the market, one
might think that convincing the rest of the grounded folks of the merits
of chopping down the entire tree wouldn’t be too difficult. It’s choking
off our sunlight, after all, depriving us of a much better, more dynamic,
and hope-filled future, both personally and as a society.
Part of the problem is that the inhabitants of the taxation tree think
that they’re involved in something really important, and they continually
try to convince us of this by instituting all kinds and degrees of symbio-
sis and parasitism in the economy. They also try to convince us of how
unimportant our individual rights are. We’ve been taught that we need
government and that we should want government.
Government, in fact, needs us to sanction its immoral and unjust
actions, because it clearly doesn’t have enough resources and prisons
(or will) to subdue a rationally disobedient populace. Without most
people’s conformity and support, the whole coercive system will disin-
tegrate. In other words, the State can’t sustain itself by brute force
alone; it relies on obedient people losing sight that they vastly outnum-
ber the State’s enforcers.
Thus, to muster support and curry our favor, government provides
us schooling, grants, tax incentives, subsidies, import tariffs and quotas,
privileges, assistance, programs, vast public/private partnerships, etc.—
all to make it seem as if we’re part of the tree too. Government thus
encourages us to sit in the tree, take in the sunlight, and heartily
consume its magical fruit with blissful moral ignorance (definitely not
the tree of knowledge of good and evil).
Reliance on government is part and parcel of its determination to
rule over and “take care of” all aspects of our lives. As the late Harry
Browne used to say (who was twice the Libertarian Party’s U.S. Presi-
dential candidate), government is good mainly at one thing: breaking
your legs, handing you a set of crutches, and then saying, “See, if it
weren’t for us, you wouldn’t be able to walk!” Because of the State’s
encroachment on virtually every aspect of the economy, all of us are
now hobbling around on government-issued crutches.
Some pretend that their crutches are kind gifts from unquestionable
authorities. To bolster this view, they assert “But government is doing
many useful things!” Indeed, some people in government are involved
in activities that are trying to be helpful to many people. But the key
question always confronts them: What are the means by which your
organization is trying to help?
Of course, apologists of statism are quick to dismiss this inquiry. It
doesn’t have legitimacy to them, because “the people” have supposedly
spoken in elections, and they think the taxation tree, while in need of
some pruning, is indispensable to their lives and well-being. The end
therefore justifies the means, they say. We wouldn’t want a market to be
lit by radiant sunlight, now would we? It might start thinking that it
doesn’t need us!
Unfortunately, many of us tend to believe that our crutches don’t
bother us all that much. Many of us think that if we just follow the rules
and obey the laws (as if we could possibly know them all and thus do
so) then our lives will somehow be fulfilling. Yet, whatever sort of ful-
fillment can be had by such an approach, it’s a far cry from living
optimal lives, that is, lives proper to independently thinking, choosing,
and acting human beings. Lysander Spooner described the nature of
this regrettable situation in No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority:
The fact is that the government, like a highwayman, says to
a man: “Your money, or your life.” And many, if not most, taxes
are paid under the compulsion of that threat.
The government does not, indeed, waylay a man in a lonely
place, spring upon him from the roadside, and, holding a pistol
to his head, proceed to rifle his pockets. But the robbery is none
the less a robbery on that account; and it is far more dastardly
and shameful.
The highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsibil-
ity, danger, and crime of his own act. He does not pretend that
he has any rightful claim to your money, or that he intends to
use it for your own benefit. He does not pretend to be anything
but a robber. He has not acquired impudence enough to profess
to be merely a “protector,” and that he takes men’s money
against their will, merely to enable him to “protect” those infat-
uated travelers, who feel perfectly able to protect themselves, or
do not appreciate his peculiar system of protection. He is too
sensible a man to make such professions as these. Furthermore,
having taken your money, he leaves you, as you wish him to do.
He does not persist in following you on the road, against your
will; assuming to be your rightful “sovereign,” on account of
the “protection” he affords you. He does not keep “protecting”
you, by commanding you to bow down and serve him; by
requiring you to do this, and forbidding you to do that; by
robbing you of more money as often as he finds it for his
interest or pleasure to do so; and by branding you as a rebel, a
traitor, and an enemy to your country, and shooting you down
without mercy, if you dispute his authority, or resist his
demands. He is too much of a gentleman to be guilty of such
impostures, and insults, and villainies as these. In short, he does
not, in addition to robbing you, attempt to make you either his
dupe or his slave.
Spooner has here eloquently portrayed the psychology of enslave-
ment of Americans. The State is the substitute highwayman in our lives.
A real highwayman would be much easier to deal with; there’s no
chance of being permanently duped and enslaved by him. From birth to
grave government tries to deny us self-ownership and stifle our rational-
ity. Unlike the highwayman, we seem to naturally become accustomed
to capitulating to its constant demands, just as a child must capitulate to
the demands of an authoritarian parent. But, of course, we aren’t
children anymore. Yet are we, in a profound way, still locked into a
survival mode that resembles a suffering child?
One thing’s for certain regarding this issue: It’s impossible to correct
the immoral and unjust behavior of State employees by obeying them
and acting as if we aren’t being victimized. Such a practice, the practice
of thanking our leg breakers for the crutches they’ve provided us, or
complaining that the crutches don’t fit properly, or at most wishing that
we didn’t have to wear crutches, is indicative of the Stockholm syn-
drome. The name comes from a 1973 bank hostage crisis in Stockholm,
Sweden, in which the hostages became quite sympathetic to their
captors. The formal definition is as follows: an emotional attachment to
a captor formed by a hostage as a result of continuous stress, depen-
dence, and a need to cooperate for survival. Thus, the victim identifies
and aligns with—essentially, excuses the actions of—his or her oppres-
sors. The phenomenon is probably as old as humankind itself. Untold
generations of children have had to cope with authoritarian parenting
methods, as opposed to ones that fully respect and nurture their reason-
ing abilities. (In contrast, lenient parenting methods, which are without
coherent structure, consistent guidance, and understandable education
are arguably not much of an improvement over authoritarian parenting
America is faced with a hostage crisis of epic proportions. Even
though the ransom has been paid by the victims over and over again,
the captors are never satisfied. Nearly everyone is afflicted with varying
degrees of the Stockholm syndrome—even though, as noted, we can at
any time collectively disarm our captors. The more we trick ourselves
into believing that placating our captors will keep them from destroying
our lives, the more our lives (and society) become mere shadows of
what they could be.
Obeying unjust laws and regulations and allowing our wealth to be
taken from us is also similar to paying bribes in order to survive.
Regardless of whether ransom or bribes is the most accurate depiction,
such behavior will never restore our lives, our dignity, and our free-
doms. Nor will it ensure our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred
Honor, to speak in the Founders’ terms. Remember, the dastardly and
shameful practices of the State’s employees can’t be appeased. Further
appeasement will only beget more of such practices—more of the game
wherein the State’s employees pretend to be our protectors and
providers, and we pretend not to be their dupes and slaves. Therefore,
we must strip the State itself of its power, by exposing it for what it truly
Noticing The Obvious, And Judging It Properly
While evidence for the biggest crime imaginable is in plain sight,
there are those who don’t want to stand up against immorality and
injustice. Even though they may not be directly involved in govern-
ment, they certainly tow the party line. For instance, you may wonder,
as I have, why independent media tend to lean in the Marxist direction.
They seem to be as blind to the coercive essence of the State as those in
government—or, they’re just as aware of it, and they don’t care. Most of
them probably think that if only they had the governmental tools at their
disposal, then they could shape the world to their own liking. The envi-
ronment would be saved, no one would be poor, there would be no
more wars, everyone would have equality, the market would play fairly,
and so on. What they fail to acknowledge, of course, is that the good
can’t be achieved by irrational means. You can’t make people more
rational by foisting irrationality upon them.
Individual rights and property are more fundamental concepts to
the creation of a good world than anything else. Society is only as good
as the persons residing in it, and how they treat each other. The less
individuals and their property are respected and dealt with through
reason, the less good can be accomplished.
The way to a better world must start with complete repudiation of a
moral code that holds the sacrifice of individuals and their property as
proper for the common good. By that inverted ethical standard, there
can be no end to the sacrifices; soon, they consume an entire civiliza-
tion, because each person who abides by this code has his or her own
values to force on everyone else. Under this code, people’s values are
transformed by government into endless needs, to be satisfied by those
most able (as well as those less able).
From Communism to Democracy, to a constitutional Republic, the
premise is the same: The able, who can be anyone for any reason, must
be sacrificed to the needy, who can be anyone for any reason. This
obviously creates ongoing turf wars of special interests, each vying for
their day in the sun, their governmental branch to perch on—for the
“good” of the few, at the expense of the many.
One may wonder when the news media will become objective
about the full nature of these abominations. Clearly it’s within the
average person’s capacity to report and judge events based on logical
thought and evidence. One doesn’t have to drop the context in which
things occur. Chasing metaphorical and literal ambulances may get
people’s attention, but it also loses sight of why so many accidents are
Ayn Rand wrote about the need to distinguish between “the meta-
physical and the man-made.” Things don’t just “happen,” without
causes. People make choices, and they take actions that may or may not
have been necessary or preventable. In particular, when it comes to
actions of governments and their abettors, and the ensuing negative
repercussions in the world, nothing is more important than discovering
how they could’ve been prevented, or at least mitigated. In other words,
we need to distinguish not only what’s caused by nature versus what’s
caused by human choice. We also must distinguish between human
choices stemming from the unfettered use of reason versus those from
Rather than reporting events out of context, journalists and investi-
gators need to follow the logical bouncing ball. They need to go to the
causal source of any issue. That way, they can ground themselves in
reality and facts, and ask essential questions that point the way to a dra-
matically better world for all of us.
It’s too common today for us to be exposed to only two aspects of
any political or economic issue, which are merely two sides of the same
fraudulent coin. Conservatives desire to have government their way, and
liberals desire to have government their way. Neither of which is the
correct way. Some are enamored with the idea that Republicans will
take them to the promised land of low taxes, Constitutionally con-
strained and accountable government, law and order, and traditional
values. Others are enamored with the idea that Democrats will take
them to the promised land of effective and benevolent government, tol-
erance, equality, and progressive values. Still others are enamored with
the idea that an independent man on a white horse will ride to election
victory and rescue them from big, inefficient, and corrupt government
—and replace it with a small government of, by, and for the People.
Few of these ideas are without some good intentions, of course. In
the minds of most people, they all reflect a certain desire to make the
world a better place. The folly is in their contradictory nature, in the
notion that sacrificing rational values is both good and proper. On
some level, most people sense this. This may be why, at base, they don’t
quite trust the words that come out of the mouths of politicians and
bureaucrats. Most feel that there’s something really slimy and slithery
about politics, and anyone who pays the slightest bit of attention will
see that it wreaks of ulterior motives. But many are unable or unwilling
to pinpoint exactly why. Nonetheless, the constant antisocial activities
of lying, cheating, and stealing continue to render politics guilty as
charged. Our proxy highwayman is in plain sight.
Prohibiting voluntary contracts, voluntary trade, voluntary owner-
ship, and voluntary use of property can never lead to any sort of
promised land. Instead, it always leads to variations of hell on Earth.
Anyone who believes that force is preferable to persuasion among
human beings, or that theft is preferable to trade, should realize that
one can’t logically exclude oneself from the effects.
Liberty-Oriented Values and Virtues
As stressed earlier, if you want complete liberty, you must advocate
both freedom for yourself and freedom for others. Liberty must be put
into proper context. So, in addition to formulating a new understanding
of the nature of government, we need to formulate a new understand-
ing of what freedom means for all humans. We need to promote bene-
ficial values and virtues in relation to others. Values such as reason and
self-esteem and virtues such as self-reliance, integrity, honesty, and self-
responsibility must be incorporated into our ways of living—and
demonstrated to our children.
Reason is our essential method of interacting with the world and
with others. The fist, club, gun, fine, or jail cell are its opposites.
Coercion is the antithesis of rationality. You can’t force yourself or
someone else to think or feel differently. That’s not how the brain
works. Human beings require evidence, facts, and logical identification
and integration of ideas in order to make sense of things.
Disappointingly, some people believe that we ought to be coerced
into doing various things, such as paying taxes; if we don’t, we should be
forced to live in a jail cell. If we resist at any point, we should be
restrained or even killed. Rather than appealing to reason, these self-
contradictory beliefs and practices appeal to insanity, the loss of rational
functioning. When employees of the State force others (who’ve violated
no one’s rights) to do various things, the end result in society is the law
of the jungle—a code of morality fit for unthinking primates. Those
who enforce jungle law are much more suited to commanding troops
of baboons than telling fellow humans what to do.
The fact that some people think that forcing others is the answer to
their financial woes, be they social or political in nature, tells us that
they don’t fully believe in the effectiveness of their own reasoning
capacities. In other words, they reason that their faculty of reason is
impotent, and therefore people must be forced. This necessarily dimin-
ishes their level of self-esteem.
Self-esteem involves a firm belief in the efficacy of one’s mind and
one’s worthiness for happiness. The first component enables us to cope
with life’s challenges, while the second provides the feeling that we’re fit
for existence, that we’re “good enough.” Developing confidence in your
own mind’s ability to function as nature intended—that is, rationally—
and appreciating your own sense of worth as a unique human being
with great potential for happiness are keys to generating and maintain-
ing genuine self-esteem.
Integrity is tied to this, of course. If we do things that we know are
wrong or don’t make rational sense, our self-esteem suffers. We are
being dishonest with ourselves if we believe that what we profess and
what we do shouldn’t be logically connected. We then betray our deeper
understanding. If we’ve adopted values from the culture without con-
sideration of whether they’re good for us and good for others, then we
become mostly dependent on traditions and institutions for our code of
morality. Like the bad political memes that infect society, bad ethical
memes promote inconsistent values and virtues, which diminish our
practice of integrity.
Honesty and intellectual self-reliance become doubly critical when
the culture offers us ideas that contradict our ability to be rational and
accept facts. Honesty entails the willingness to honor reality, to always
acknowledge what’s happening (and what’s happened) rather than to
ignore or distort it, or just make something up. It relies on our inherent
ability to identify and integrate information, that is, to reason.
Self-reliance reflects the belief that no one can do our thinking or
feeling or deciding for us. This is as it should be. No one has your par-
ticular perspective, knowledge, opinions, and capabilities. Therefore,
you are in the best position of taking charge of your life, as you see fit.
Others may be helpful and comforting, or they may want you to uncriti-
cally accept their pronouncements and judgments. But you are the
prime mover of your life. To take charge of your thoughts, feelings, and
actions means that you accept the fact that you’re a responsible person.
Other people are responsible persons too. None of us is a piece of
putty in the hands of others, to be molded as they desire. Even confor-
mity to unjust edicts of authorities is a personal choice, and the more
we decide to conform, the more we look like putty.
Self-responsibility reflects the belief that each of us is the ultimate
decision maker in our lives. You are the architect of your actions,
because you are the thinker of your thoughts. This, too, is as it should
be. You wouldn’t want others to be in charge of your character and rep-
utation, would you? That would deny others their own responsibility to
themselves. Each of us is thus accountable for what we believe and
what we do.
Notice that government, through taxation, regulation, and monopo-
lization attempts to rob us of these vital values and virtues. In an utter
erosion of honesty, it tells us that all is as it should be, that there’s
nothing of great concern to be aware of. It discourages us from taking
responsibility by trying to counteract our own will and reason, by trying
to usurp our crucial decision-making ability. In an unequivocal act of
incivility and dishonor, the State coerces us into taking care of others
and coerces others into taking care of us. Primarily, though, we are
coerced into taking care of the State. By imposing their services upon
us, employees of the State leave us little choice in crucial matters of our
security and the security of our communities.
Government basically destroys the opportunities for shaping our
lives in the ways we truly want. It further pretends that we can’t rely on
ourselves. Instead, we must rely on authorities (other selves) to tell us
what to do and what not to do—and submit to them regardless of
whether we disagree with their irrational pronouncements. Government
diminishes our growth in self-esteem and integrity by fostering credulity
in coercion and dependence on nonsense ideas. Finally, it hands us a
twisted code of morality, which tells us that we aren’t sovereign and that
we don’t fully own ourselves and our property.
The psychological shock waves all these things send throughout the
country truly suppress the American spirit of independence and indi-
viduality. Thus, our entire population ends up with a split personality, in
which people relate to others personally in one fashion (respectfully)
and to others politically in another fashion (disrespectfully).
Another ethical consequence concerns the decline of social virtues
that Thomas Paine knew were necessary for good communities to
sustain themselves. In addition to reasonableness and honesty, they
involve such things as generosity, goodwill, kindness, and helpfulness.
Though Americans are still supremely generous, and give enormous
sums of money and assistance to those in need around the world, the
State’s system of taxation and regulation steals and wastes much of our
wealth. It leaves us with a small fraction of what would otherwise be
available to give to others less fortunate, or better yet, to invest in ways
to help them help themselves.
Additionally, as mentioned earlier, bad money tends to drive out
good money, meaning that helpful people are either prevented from
helping others in need or are forced into the government’s official way
of doing things. The aftermath of the levy breach in New Orleans, for
instance, not only exposed the destructive policies of the Army Corps
of Engineers, but also proved once again that the Federal Emergency
Management Agency is hazardous to our health. The sooner Americans
can divest themselves of these life-threatening organizations, the better.
We will then swap the anchors thrown to us by government for market-
place life preservers.
Since accountability isn’t connected to the consumption of tax
revenues, few take responsibility for how and where the money is spent
and the quality of the services that are (and are not) provided. The
unintended consequences of this have become case studies in misman-
agement of resources and creation of unhealthy dependencies. For
instance, the “War on Poverty,” like all statist wars, is mainly a war on
taxpayers, using the recipients as fodder for further boondoggles.
Observe the results: more misery; more corruption; and, more failure.
A rational vision of the future entails realizing the futility in pro-
moting contradictory political ideals. If we desire a fantastically better
world for ourselves and others, the only way to achieve it is to rid our-
selves of subhuman ways of dealing with one another. We must look
upward instead of downward when it comes to morality. Upward is the
evolutionary destiny that we must decide to fulfill. With that in mind,
let’s finish with an analysis of concrete ways to evolve in the short term,
so that we might achieve complete liberty in our lifetime, not merely in
smart discourse with friends at a coffee shop, or in our pleasant dreams,
or in some future time unreachable to us.
182 X
In Search Of The Governed’s Consent
Article 3
That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common
benefit, protection, and security of the people, nation or com-
munity; of all the various modes and forms of government that
is best, which is capable of producing the greatest degree of
happiness and safety and is most effectually secured against the
danger of maladministration; and that, whenever any govern-
ment shall be found inadequate or contrary to these purposes, a
majority of the community hath an indubitable, unalienable, and
indefeasible right to reform, alter or abolish it, in such manner
as shall be judged most conducive to the public weal.
Article 14
That the people have a right to uniform government; and there-
fore, that no government separate from, or independent of, the
government of Virginia, ought to be erected or established
within the limits thereof.
George Mason Virginia Declaration of Rights
Article 3 above probably reminds you of Jefferson’s words in the
Declaration of Independence. Indeed, Thomas saw no need to reinvent the
political wheel in these matters. Both his and Mason’s idea was to
emphasize that government should be designed to serve the interests of
the people, rather than the people existing to serve the interests of gov-
ernment. Clearly, it didn’t take long for this idea to become reversed.
Each man was well aware of this possibility, which explains why they
were quick to mention that if government turns into some kind of
monster, the people have an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible
right to reform, alter or abolish it, according to the welfare of the com-
Now, we’ve seen how the idea of monopolistic government leads
directly to lack of choices and coercive control of the citizenry. In
Article 14 above, Mason falsely assumed that a legalized monopoly of
government is the way for law to be uniform and equitable. Maybe he
believed that such a coercive monopoly would be easier to control and
more servile than independent or separate “governments.”
Yet, to authorize an organization to have sole power over the affairs
of a group of people immediately ignores those who would rather be
left alone or organize their own methods of governance. Centralized,
collectivistic governance in fact lacks legal authority, because it defies
the nature of agency and voluntary contracts. Remember, government
isn’t the end; people’s security is. Individuals and their decision-making
capacities precede any notions of government.
Only an ideology based on collectivism views people as a herd and
disregards individuals. Collectivism seeks to corral people into a system
of governance not of their choosing. This, of course, exposes the basic
misunderstanding of how government actually works. Notions such as
“common benefit” and “public weal” create a sense of universality or
mutual bond, but in reality they belie the nature of how persons in
communities (be they towns, cities, states, or nations) interact.
Individuals, by the hundreds, thousands, and millions make count-
less choices in the marketplace of products, services, values, ideas, and
relationships. To speak of their general welfare really means to speak of
the total sum of each person’s needs and context—something that no
coercive, monopolistic government can ever hope to ascertain. Only
when unanimity exists, based on sound principles, can one speak in
broad, community-wide terms. The idea that safety and security for
people can or should be provided by a single organization called gov-
ernment, even if funded voluntarily, is analogous to mandating a single
provider of food, water, and shelter for everyone. Imagine the chaos
and chronic shortages resulting from that scenario. The grim history of
Communism saves us the trouble of imagining it.
Obviously, every sane person wants safety and security for them-
selves and their loved ones. That’s incontrovertible. So, the main
question is this: How do we enable the satisfaction of each person’s
safety and security? This is the question that the Framers faltered on
(and, obviously, most people today continue to falter on). Essentially,
they assumed the conclusion—that government exists; therefore, we
must have government—and they constructed a political system around
that faulty conclusion, paying no attention to its negation of individual
We certainly know that individuals exist, so it’s most wise to begin a
political system with that assumption. Embracing this simple fact leads
us directly to the conclusion that individuals must be free to construct
any political system of their choosing—so long as it doesn’t violate indi-
vidual rights. As we discovered, the only system capable of respecting
individual rights is a market-based one. This conclusion follows from the
nature of voluntary contracts. Again, each of us is free to contract with
whomever we like and trust. Just as importantly, each of us is free not
to contract with whomever we don’t like and don’t trust.
Rather than leading to criminality, chaos, confusion, and shortages
—rather than leading to a disintegration of community standards and a
proliferation of vices—enterprising individuals in the marketplace work
to ensure that people get what they want and remain satisfied, so they
become repeat customers. When given the choice, people tend to gravi-
tate to those goods and services that they most value. They pay for only
what they want, and they get only what they pay for—a la carte
ordering writ large. Most people take these economic rights to trade for
granted, at least where the State hasn’t coerced them to do otherwise.
All we have to do is apply this same principle to politics.
Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach to government that maintains
itself by initiatory force and prevention of choices, the marketplace can
provide myriad ways to ensure your safety and security—all without any
extra costs or unwanted aspects, which are always unavoidable with the
Changes In Many Points Of View
Given the current nature of politics in America (not to mention the
rest of the world), how likely is it that most people will become more
aware and work to change things dramatically for the better? How likely
is it that the people will discard entrenched power structures and
stagnant institutions and replace them with rights-respecting, market-
place providers of formerly governmental services?
Well, the answers to these questions depend primarily on how many
people are exposed to these new political ideas and new ways of
thinking about themselves and their rights (that is, new to them; the
ideas have been around for quite awhile). Yet, being exposed to these
ideas is one thing. Acting on them is another, which again raises the
issue of integrity.
Most people still abide by a political morality that allows for, or
rather mandates, the initiation of force, instead of retaliatory force. Of
course, morality is intimately tied to psychological processes, to feelings
and subconscious thoughts. Any change in point of view, then, requires
moving the rest of the psychological mountain. Most people feel that
they have only a shovel with which to work, rather than heavy earth-
moving equipment. Such a feeling can trick them into thinking that the
status quo is easier and preferable to revolutionary change.
A change in point of view can indeed seem daunting. It may require
that we restructure not just our belief system, but also our friendships,
family relationships, jobs, work relations, voting habits (specifically the
habit of voting itself), and so on. But it’s basically a problem of psycho-
logical and moral inertia—which must be acted upon by something suf-
ficiently provocative, such as better ideas and self-generated behaviors,
as well as inspiring actions of others. If left unchallenged, our present
political opinions shaped by the State might continue for many more
centuries, just like humanity has plodded along politically since time
We must come to realize that government is a detrimental burden,
not the benefactor of the community, state, and nation. It doesn’t create
law and order; it creates a seemingly permanent, insidious form of
societal chaos. All of us are slowly dying from government, failing to
actualize our full potential as members of an advanced civilization on a
marvelous biosphere. Government continues to make a mockery of our
self-actualization abilities, as individuals, as adults, and as a society.
This takes us back to remedies. Each of us can disseminate our
knowledge as widely as possible, in any particular style deemed most
effective, that free trade applies to all forms of peaceable human inter-
action. Governmental services should be no exception to the rule of
voluntarism. To make such an exception is to create a colossally incon-
sistent form of morality, which is only possible by abandoning rational-
ity when it’s most needed—when it pertains to how we treat each other
In addition to spreading the good words of freedom and rationality,
we can also direct our efforts at strategic projects. Persons who really
value liberty can’t accept the status quo; the possible future
civilization(and their lives in it) is much too glorious. No matter how
many stand against them, or how many sit on the sidelines, individuals
will continue to attempt to subdue or restrain the elements of statism
they believe are most harmful to our lives and well-being.
In America today there are numerous libertarian organizations and
“think tanks” that focus on specific political and economic issues,
which exist on both the state and federal levels. They address such
things as ending drug prohibition, separating education from the State
(privatizing it), rectifying property rights-violations by the State, repeal-
ing taxes and regulations, and holding Congress more accountable for
the bills they pass but seldom read. makes the last
their signature issue with their proposed “Read the Bills Act.” Each
voting season, many groups pressure politicians, get petitions signed for
candidates, propose bills and ballot measures or propositions, and
request referendums. Some research is usually required to determine the
viability and effectiveness of each cause. In the end, however, most of
these activities still entail playing the game of politics.
Democracy abides by the unfair and convoluted rules of statism,
not the simple principles of liberty. This partially explains why so many
millions of Americans aren’t interested and motivated to support such
campaigns. Public choice theory demonstrates why it’s so difficult to
change a Democracy into a system of liberty by playing politics. The
individual cost of fighting a particular special interest issue is often
much higher than the potential individual rewards concerning a favor-
able outcome on that issue. The modus operandi of special interests
(and governmental services in general) is to disperse the costs and con-
centrate the benefits. That way, few persons who incur part of the dis-
persed costs will make much fuss, and the people who directly benefit
will get their way. Additionally, entrenched, influential, and vocal coun-
tervailing groups are adept at running campaigns of dishonesty, misin-
formation, disinformation, and other types of unseemly propaganda,
which can frustrate even the best of libertarian causes. Public choice
theory also notes that politicians are motivated by self-interest as much
as the average person. Therefore, we should harbor no collectivistic
delusions about the nature of the political game.
Needless to say, those with vested interests in the use of coercion
fool themselves and others about the effects of their victories. They
destroy widespread opportunities for everyone, while establishing
narrow benefits for few. And, eventually, even those benefits will disap-
Instead of playing the game of politics and trying to do damage
control, we must stop giving the State our sanction. There’s no substi-
tute for a populace informed about the true nature of government and
the vital alternatives of self-ownership, reason, and choice. Without
such political wisdom, at best we’ll continue to take one step forward
and then be pushed two or three steps backward.
Statism will continue to be the dominant theme in America until
more people begin to realize the immense importance of their individ-
ual lives. Pundits will continually rehash typical topics regarding the
next president and dominant party in Congress, the nature of Supreme
Court members and their past and future rulings, the policies of the
new Federal Reserve Board Chairman, Ben Bernanke, and so on. On
this last issue, it’s a safe bet that he’ll continue Alan Greenspan’s dan-
gerous monetary policies and drive our governmentally constructed
Titanic toward even worse icebergs in the years ahead. But my
goodness, what nice deck chair arrangements! On the federal level, we
face sizable problems indeed. However, each state has its own particular
set of serious snafus.
How much does all this matter in the grand scheme of things, in
regard to the ideas of liberty? Not a whole lot. Better ideas,
because they’re grounded in reason and reality, will ultimately win.
Thanks to the Internet, there’s just too much access to good infor-
mation at this stage for bad ideas and actions to overwhelm us.
With any luck, the complete liberty memes will spread quickly
enough to soften the various blows that the State is known to
deliver to economies, both national and local. Liberty-oriented
radio shows and podcasts such as Free Talk Live can definitely help
matters ( Introducing people to truthful alterna-
tives to politics-as-usual will certainly speed up our social evolution.
First, Free A State
But is there a way to greatly accelerate the spread and implementa-
tion of liberty memes? There definitely is: by concentrating them in a
specific geographical region. Fortunately, a project to do this is already
underway—The New Hampshire Free State Project.
Indeed I’ve saved the best for last. Just when you think that you’ll
have to wait an interminable amount of time before we can ever begin
to uproot the tree of governmental coercion and step into the life-
giving sunlight of a new age, along comes a quicker way:
I hereby state my solemn intent to move to the state of New
Hampshire. Once there, I will exert the fullest practical effort
toward the creation of a society in which the maximum role of
civil government is the protection of life, liberty, and property.
Statement of Intent Free State Project
Granted, after reading this far, the idea of “civil government” pro-
tecting us probably rings a bit hollow. Nonetheless, this idea follows
from the Founding Fathers’ classical liberal notions, which are arguably
better than the notions of most of their descendants. Whether or not a
so-called civil government is a significant step towards a liberty-oriented
society, any government that taxes, regulates, and enforces monopolies
truly demonstrates its highly uncivil nature. Such a criminal organiza-
tion is unfit for a free people.
And, you might ask, “Isn’t a ‘free state’ an oxymoron?” Indeed, it is.
Any State, by definition, is antithetical to the principle of individual
sovereignty and human choice. Nonetheless, just as groups of people
historically have seceded from overarching nation-States, secession of
the individual from aggressive federal, state, and local governments is
part of the process of attaining complete liberty. Given the vast expanse
of the United States, the seeds of freedom must be planted somewhere.
New Hampshire’s ground is arguably more fertile than most, for it
remains one of the least oppressive states in America, if not the least
(and, for what it’s worth, it’s one of the original thirteen colonies). Most
importantly, the region within its borders, like anywhere else in the
union, can become privately owned, thereby dissolving its borders into
simply the jurisdiction of property owners, both commercial and
private. Additionally, its many state “services” can be replaced with vol-
untary ones.
Because Free State Project members (and potential members) repre-
sent a whole ideological range of liberty lovers, full agreement at the
outset about the real nature of government would prove difficult. For
example, some members who advocate “limited” government seem to
be comforted by the thought of having a smaller form of tyranny, a
reduced malignant tumor, if you will—even though the State’s assumed
control of roads and general infrastructure always reveals its metasta-
sized nature. In turn, many believe that playing politics can yield good
results. Such beliefs and behaviors may be the central reason why the
Libertarian Party (on both national and state levels) hasn’t gained much
cultural ground over the last thirty-plus years, since the party’s incep-
Principles are powerful things, especially when individuals stick to
them. Thus, it behooves every libertarian to fully understand the princi-
ples of liberty and apply them consistently. There’s no need to compro-
mise in these matters. Compromise only begets more of the same.
We can’t get rid of the insuperable problems of politics by playing
more politics, that is, by obeying unjust laws and following inane rules.
No liberty-minded person can satisfy the demands of governmental
workers who systematically commit unjust acts and promote immoral
ideas. Moreover, it’s impossible to vote for rulers who aren’t authorized
to rule over us. Simply put, we can’t live freely as rights-respecting,
autonomous adults by respecting the traditions and policies of disre-
spectful organizations.
By and large, voters see the control of other people’s lives and
property as worthwhile. They believe in taxation, regulation, welfare, and
war in their various forms, based on a whole host of misguided
premises, as well as fears. Voters and candidates alike accept the nature
of the political process—coercion—and think (or feel) that it can
bestow good things upon them. To expect them to begin voting with a
libertarian mindset contradicts the very reason for voting in the first
place. “Swing voters” are often the focus of campaigns, which follows
from the notion that you can appeal to people’s better judgment
through sound bites and big names on street corner signs. I’m pretty
sure it doesn’t get much more nonsensical than this.
Is it possible to liberate ourselves from the pernicious effects of
voting by engaging in the same process? Is it wise to follow inane politi-
cal rules in the hope of getting rid of them?
Furthermore, can we expect non-voters to begin voting for princi-
pled libertarians who are set on abolishing the very institution in which
they’re seeking office? People who don’t vote either want nothing to do
with politics or they’re too busy trying to live their lives to pay attention
to how politics is oppressing them. Either way, they rightly see voting as
pointless. They always lose, and politics always wins; statist wolves will
never turn down fine meals of individual sheep.
Lastly, since limited-government (or small-government) libertarians
apparently don’t want to dispense with fantasies of benevolent or
benign statism, their compromised arguments will always succumb to
the more consistent arguments of their statist competitors. Simply put,
liberty and the State don’t mix.
What we need is not watered-down statism, but rather, fully-
drowned statism. Let it sink to the bottom of the corrupt pond of
politics and be covered with the darker notes of history. When people
realize the State’s true nature, voting is no longer “necessary.” Politi-
cians and voting are then seen for what they are: ways to infringe on
individual rights and personal sovereignty.
Nevertheless, whether they desire to dive right into the clear and
refreshing pool of freedom, or to ease in from the shallow end, most
Free State Project members agree that no one has the right to forestall
the progression toward a society of liberty. The faster it can be imple-
mented, the faster people can begin living according to reason rather
than force.
Americans need not be fearful of major political changes for the
better. As our semi-Fascist, semi-Communist State continues to
confront us, as well as our loved ones, our friends, our acquaintances,
our coworkers, our associates, and our fellow traders, we ought not
continue to comply. Terrible police State history need not repeat itself.
Remember, we far outnumber those who seek to oppress us; and so,
they need our sanction in order to continue perpetrating their acts of
Granted, nearly all of us have been inculcated by State-run schools
in a culture of self-sacrifice and blind obedience to authority, so we
tend to easily accept a very diluted formulation of liberty. It’s definitely
way past time to reassess our education and behavior in these matters.
Eventually, everyone will reflect on the nature of their political and
moral education, because we still have residual elements of the Enlight-
enment in America, perhaps more so than any other place on the
planet. These elements will enable everybody to embrace complete
liberty ideas at some point in their future.
The Free State Project simply aims to gather and unite persons who
already understand libertarianism and, hence, want some semblance of
liberty as soon as possible. It thus becomes a potent catalyst for change.
The greater the concentration of highly motivated freedom-oriented
activists in a single state, especially a state as small as New Hampshire,
the faster the principles of liberty can be promoted and adopted.
Remember, liberty, like smiling, is contagious.
Now, certainly there are various people in New Hampshire who
harbor unwarranted fears about the principles of liberty and those who
seek to enact them, just like the rest of America. Some journalists and
politicians and even residents have expressed at most luke-warm accep-
tance, and at worst outright disapproval, of New Hampshire being
chosen as the Free State in 2003. Evidently they don’t take the state’s
motto, “Live Free or Die,” as seriously as the man who penned it in
1809, General John Stark.
Upon moving here in the spring of 2006, I spent some time at the
state capital, in Concord, to observe the “sausage” being made there.
All my suspicions were confirmed. Essentially, much like other states,
representatives and officials (city and town governments too) create
reams of legislation and legal minutia that they translate into decisions
about what to do with other people’s property as well as about management
of state and local governments. As usual, individuals are sacrificed to
the collective, for the “good of the people.” Such an experience defi-
nitely exposes the inconsistency between New Hampshire’s bold motto
and its mind-numbing bureaucratic system. (In case you’re wondering,
the state senate passed and amended a whole host of new bills. One of
them created a commission to “study” whether state representatives
should be lackeys to D.C.’s mandate to implement a national ID card, or
“Real ID,” essentially an internal passport system, which remains a
favorite of police States everywhere—to keep us all safe from terrorists,
of course. Visit and for
assorted sausage-making updates.)
Naturally, some who are concerned about how libertarian ideas will
alter the current state of affairs might ask, “Why us? Who do these
people think they are, seeking to change the state of New Hampshire?”
Greek mythology may provide a poetic answer for them. The Free State
Project is symbolic of Hercules releasing Prometheus from his bondage
by Zeus. Once freed, Prometheus can again bring great talents and
achievements to humankind. This time, he brings us ideas that will put
all of Pandora’s evils back in their box. In so doing, a totally free market
will be a godsend for every person fortunate enough to experience it.
Aside from various New Hampshire residents who may be reticent
to welcome complete liberty, there are countless others who are, and
will be, greatly inspired. All those who are disenchanted with politics
can join the campaign to institute personal freedom and total respect
for property—as a lifestyle. Interestingly, even the architects of the New
Hampshire State Constitution proposed a way out of an unacceptable
Article 10. [Right of Revolution.]
Government being instituted for the common benefit, protec-
tion, and security, of the whole community, and not for the
private interest or emolument of any one man, family, or class
of men; therefore, whenever the ends of government are per-
verted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other
means of redress are ineffectual, the people may, and of right
ought to reform the old, or establish a new government. The
doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power, and oppres-
sion, is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happi-
ness of mankind.
June 2, 1784 New Hampshire State Constitution
The last sentence clearly summarizes the idea that government is
created to serve the people, and when the people are instead forced to
serve government (via special interest legislation, regulation, and
taxation), it’s incumbent upon the oppressed to do something about it.
But taking political action, whether through redress, reform, or recon-
struction, must be grounded in sound principles that respect individual
rights. By that standard, then, various words and phrases in Article 10
provoke some rigorous analysis.
Who exactly instituted the government, and what are its specified
ends? What are the means and methods by which “common benefit,
protection, and security,” are bestowed on the “whole community”?
What does “public liberty” really mean, and when exactly is it endan-
gered? Furthermore, what are the people’s values and virtues, and what
is the nature of their consent?
Such questions focus on the inherent contradiction in government
trying to be all things to all persons. Few, if any, persons who accept the
State can ever agree on just where to draw the line concerning the
public good and the desired ends of government. Nevertheless, they
normally agree on how government operates and acquires its resources:
Article 12. [Protection and Taxation Reciprocal.]
Every member of the community has a right to be protected by
it, in the enjoyment of his life, liberty, and property; he is there-
fore bound to contribute his share in the expense of such pro-
tection, and to yield his personal service when necessary. But no
part of a man’s property shall be taken from him, or applied to
public uses, without his own consent, or that of the representa-
tive body of the people. Nor are the inhabitants of this state
controllable by any other laws than those to which they, or their
representative body, have given their consent.
June 2, 1784 New Hampshire State Constitution
Certainly, each person living in a community has the right to be left
alone by others—others who may even desire to infringe on the enjoy-
ment of one’s life, liberty, and property. This follows from your right to
self-defense, which reflects self-ownership and hence your freedom to
stop others from initiating force against you. Naturally, it follows that
each person must bear the expense in preventing and dealing with such
rights-violations, though the aggressor must pay in the end. No one
possesses a right to governmental services at taxpayers’ expense. As
mentioned earlier, purchasing insurance policies through a reputable
agent will be a good way to deal with these kinds of potential expenses.
It definitely doesn’t follow that the process of rights-protection
should be monopolized, and that persons in the community should be
forced (“bound”) to contribute money and even labor (“personal
service when necessary”). That would be in violation of their right to
contract. Each person retains the right to contract, or not, with any par-
ticular form of protection from rights-violators. Apparently, that’s why
the framers of the New Hampshire Constitution inserted the invaluable
statement, “no part of a man’s property shall be taken from him, or
applied to public uses, without his own consent.” An individual’s
property can be taken and “applied to public uses” only when that
person consents.
Unfortunately, these framers didn’t stop there. They allowed for
consent also to be given, supposedly on behalf of the individual, by
“the representative body of the people.” As is the case in any constitu-
tional Republic, such representatives are definitely not chosen legal
agents, acting in a voluntary fashion. The individual hasn’t authorized
them to act on his or her behalf. Rather, representatives usurp individ-
ual rights and property from people in the name of the public good,
which often means satisfying a variety of agendas of the powerful, influ-
ential, and vocal. It’s back to special interests once again.
No collectivistic project on Earth is so important that it requires
stealing the property of individuals in order to further itself. Without
consent, there can be no willing trade. Without voluntary exchange,
there can be no rational interaction. These are the basic facts that politi-
cally minded people throughout history have tried to ignore, and even
ridicule—at the cost of their self-respect and humanity.
We know that democratic votes or townhall meetings don’t equal
consent, for there will usually be at least one individual who disagrees.
(Curiously, only under dictatorships is “unanimity” achieved.) When it
comes to acquiring and utilizing another’s property, there’s no logical or
moral substitute for consent and voluntary trade. This is the case
regardless of the size of the geographical area or the population. Towns
aren’t exempt from these observations merely because government may
be more accessible or “closer to the people.”
Collectivistic (political) theft of someone’s property is no different
in principle than individual theft. Typically, as Lysander Spooner noted
for us, the only distinction is that the individual thief doesn’t attempt to
deny that his action is theft—and he doesn’t try to justify his theft
through references to the common good, general welfare, public
interest, community, and the well-being of children.
If you’ve ever witnessed the goings-on of local politics, you’re no
doubt familiar with the amount of deception (of self and others) and
context-dropping that’s exercised. Mayoral elections, city council and
school board meetings, zoning and planning commissions, legislative
proceedings, etc., all demonstrate what happens when people have
access to a community chest of tax dollars and regulatory powers. They
zealously rule over others to deal with the “needs of the people.” Of
course, the very last need on the list (in truth, it’s not even on the list) is
to respect the rights of the individual, the smallest, most persecuted
minority in the world.
The only way to reverse this perverse situation is for enough people
to consider it worth reversing, band together, and get to work on
changing politics-as-usual. That’s why the Free State Project holds such
promise, why “Liberty in our lifetime” will become more than its mar-
keting slogan; it will be made real. Focused effort by liberty-minded
activists in New Hampshire is much better than scattered effort across
a whole nation.
How many people are necessary? Judging by what I’ve seen, heard,
and discussed with others, as well as the progress of the few hundred
already in the state, a thousand more will probably make a sizable
impact—hence, the Free State Project’s “First 1000 pledge”
(, whose signers have pledged to
move to New Hampshire before 2009. A group that’s devoted strictly
to liberty agendas and laissez-faire policies can be a major motivator
and inspiration for everybody. Unlike special interests, this resonates
with the “silent majority” who are disgusted with politics and politi-
cians. If the over 7,500 current FSP members (as of 1/07) were to
move to New Hampshire as soon as possible, rather than wait for the
membership to hit 20,000, that would be something to behold. It could
seriously weaken the walls of the statist house of cards.
We must keep in mind that reason and reality are on the side of
freedom. And so is morality. The state government is winning, more or
less, by default. Similar to other states in America and in D.C., anti-
liberty lobbyists influence politicians and governmental officials on a
daily basis. It’s “business” as usual, following from public choice theory.
Similar to other states, too, most of the nonvoting as well as many of
the voting public aren’t very informed about what’s actually happening
on the floors of the legislature. Given its mind-numbing quality, it’s
hard to blame them.
Some people vote for their slate of Democrats or Republicans as if
they were opposing sports teams, but ones that aggress against innocent
bystanders. The “lesser of two evils” mentality also runs rampant. Most
base their choices on age-old notions of what constitutes “good gov-
ernment,” which reflects the “necessary evil” premise of the State (the
same one Thomas Paine unfortunately extolled). The press, as usual, is
composed predominantly of statist intellectuals. So, what little informa-
tion the public gets is definitely not the whole story. The Keene Free
Press (, however, is a new and very refreshing
In New Hampshire each town has relative autonomy in many gov-
ernmental aspects. Counties are not as politically significant as in other
states, which has its libertarian benefits. Some free staters will work on
freeing various towns and cities first and then the entire state. A multi-
pronged approach will probably prove most effective. Whether it’s the
work of the first 1,000 members or the first 20,000 members, to say
that the project will change the political and economic landscape for
the better would be an understatement. There are no losers in the
creation of liberty, because it’s the only way to an environment in which
everyone’s person and property—and rationality—are fully respected.
Free staters and their supporters can tackle any number of essential
issues. Privatizing education and other public service monopolies will
restore quality service and help end state ownership and control of
one’s property via the taxes imposed on it. Dispensing with health care
regulations and licensure, as in any other industry, will dramatically
reduce both entrepreneurial costs and consumer prices, as well as sig-
nificantly increase quality and quantity of services. Ending federal and
state agencies’ violations of personal freedoms like drug use will foster
self-responsibility and greatly reduce crime, police violence and corrup-
tion, and health hazards. Implementing a plan, for instance based on
homesteading, to privatize state-owned and managed land, water, and
airspace will ensure legal accountability, efficient use of resources,
admirable stewardship, and enforcement of a cleaner environment—as
well as generate vast economic opportunities, noticeably benefiting
everyone. Instituting a money-backed currency, for instance of gold or
silver, will expose federal reserve notes as the humongous sham they
are; a sound, free market medium of exchange will bestow mighty
financial blessings on the populace.
Clearly, this just covers some of the high points. Free Staters, with
the help of an invigorated grass roots’ movement of like-minded
people, can address many other pertinent issues. Of course as men-
tioned, some people will resist these agendas. The mindless collective
turns out to be the same no matter where one lives. It ignores individu-
als and sees only the needs and behavior of groups (and the misbehav-
ior of individuals who defy it). It only sees others who can be molded
into its image and likeness—a dependent, faceless mass of humanity
that conforms to the “public will,” that is, those in control of State
People involved in politics at the state, county, city, or town levels
are typically not friendly to independent thought and actions. They
don’t like things that challenge their ideas and authority. They’re fearful
of change, and so they don’t like people rocking their boat (the boat of
the mindless collective) and asserting all their natural rights. Instead,
they mainly seek to control governmental resources and maintain gov-
ernmental influence regarding the lives and property of everyone else.
Many in politics are busybodies or so-called do-gooders, people
who relish involving themselves in any issue that hints of “community
standards” or “public health” or “the needs of our children,” and so on.
Obviously, people in the private sector who are involved in these issues
demonstrate much better ways to achieve similar goals, to the extent
that they do in today’s statist environment. Most political officials are
champions of a particular pet cause that further diminishes individual
rights. Nearly all are wholeheartedly opposed to changing the way
politics works, let alone getting rid of it entirely. They simply don’t
envision better alternatives. They see paychecks and short-term goals,
which means dropping the context in which they’re working—a
coercive, unjust monopoly funded with stolen wealth. People who
champion the cause of freedom and voluntarism continually remind
them of this context.
As noted, given the vested interests that maintain the status quo, to
play the political and legal game by its absurd rules can’t result in
respect for individuals and a free market. After all, running for elected
office as a saboteur, or trying to get a bill passed to repeal State power
and restore various rights, or making a solid case in court to a judge
about why the State has no jurisdiction, not to mention can’t provide a
fair trial and isn’t a complaining party (assuming he’ll let you present
such a case), or informing a jury of their right (even obligation) to
nullify bad laws—all have been frustrating, if not futile, activities for
most libertarians in states throughout America. Even though the last
activity (jury nullification) seems most promising, especially for the Free
State Project, each of these activities is a bit like trying to explain a
global positioning system to those who resolutely want to believe that
the Earth is flat. We not only speak a different language; we also don’t
share the same premises.
So, we must discover ways to build bridges across this premise gap.
The challenge is to motivate people, via the court of public opinion, to
accept the idea of complete liberty and its implications for politics. This
is why strength in numbers is key, why concentration of individual
efforts is the best hope. The quest for complete liberty essentially
begins and ends in the minds of enlightened individuals. The majority
of people in a particular region must be informed of, and shown, a
better way to live. We must teach the language of liberty to young,
inquisitive, and resilient minds, regardless of their actual ages. We must
introduce sound premises and principles to persons who are suspicious
of, and have chosen not to involve themselves in, “politics-as-usual.”
This is the primary way to alter the political theater.
Nonetheless, the sky’s the limit as to how to effectively discontinue
federal, state, and local interference in the marketplace. Each FSP
member is left to his or her own ingenuity and innovativeness to effect
changes. Being decentralized and non-hierarchical, the Free State
Project represents the best in the American entrepreneurial spirit of
independence and resourcefulness. The virtues of self-initiative, self-
responsibility, self-reliance, honesty, and self-trust, all reflect a funda-
mental trust in others to live similarly (as well as a distrust in the
mindless collective).
Dissolution of the state’s government will happen when it’s no
longer granted legitimacy by most people—and when viable free
market alternatives are offered. To this end, like-minded free staters and
others will develop specific strategies to facilitate market solutions as
well as expose the illegitimacy of the State. They’ll basically inform their
communities about the merits of voluntarism and the demerits of coer-
Aggression typically only begets more aggression in politics. Espe-
cially in today’s cultural climate, any retaliation against the force initi-
ated by State officials tends to legitimize and increase their violent
actions (even though self-defense against a potentially lethal attack
remains a fundamental right). For better or worse, long gone are the
days of tarring and feathering tax collectors and their assorted com-
rades. Therefore, strictly non-violent activism will directly promote the
goal of complete liberty. Reasonable people best recognize unjust laws
and their immoral enforcement when officials harass and arrest those
who’ve harmed no one and violated no one’s property rights. Peaceful
protests and demonstrations, civil disobedience, non-conformity and
non-compliance in relation to taxes, unjust laws, and regulations are all
powerful forms of activism. In addition, by combining activism with
explanations of free market alternatives and voluntary solutions, we can
open new avenues for understanding and change in communities.
Currently, the particular free staters who are most inclined to agree
with these ideas, that is, who see no valid reason to play politics, live in
the Keene area, which is in southwestern New Hampshire. Keene is a
city of over twenty thousand people and is the home of Keene State
College, the state’s largest liberal arts university, which serves approxi-
mately five thousand students. Being a city instead of a town, it’s more
legally tied to state government; therein lies one of its challenges. Visit
the forum on for further information and details
about all the liberty lovers there and their admirable activism.
Another approach to activism, though certainly down the road a
few years, is to build a complete liberty town from scratch. Imagine
what a tourist attraction that would be: the first-ever town in the United
States with an advanced community of trade and commerce that
respects the freedoms of its residents! Instead of being located in some
distant part of the third world, with the accompanying economic and
geopolitical drawbacks, such a town would be in a main birthplace of
liberty. For those who’ve read Ayn Rand’s magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged,
envision a Galt’s Gulch for all to see and visit, and emulate. After all,
what’s achieved in New Hampshire will be a great example for the rest
of America, and the world.
In order to have complete liberty in our lifetime, we must commit
ourselves to the idea that nothing else is proper for us—beings who
own ourselves and flourish by means of reason.
Let’s now end with the eloquent words of a man who died long ago
but who knew how powerful an idea can be, especially one whose time
has come:
THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier
and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the
service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves
the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is
not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that
the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we
obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that
gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper
price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celes-
tial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.
December 23, 1776 Thomas Paine The Crisis
Important IAQ (infrequently asked questions)
Is it necessary to move to New Hampshire in order to achieve
complete liberty? What if I can’t move, or simply don’t want to, for a
variety of personal reasons?
This pertains to the issue of “herding libertarian cats,” does it not?
Some say that most libertarians are too independent to pick up and
move across the country in order to join a movement that involves
taking a stand against oppressive government. Given that the Free State
Project only has just over a third of the signers needed to initiate their
relocation to New Hampshire, this may well be true. So, if you really
enjoy living where you are, then by all means don’t sacrifice that enjoy-
ment. Instead, start a movement where you reside presently! Ideally,
each of us should pick a place in America where we would most like to
experience complete liberty, and then get to work on achieving it there.
This book has been about the demise of the State (on all levels) and
the rise of voluntary America, not just voluntary New Hampshire. All
will not be lost if you don’t move; you won’t be enveloped in unstop-
pable tyranny outside the statist borders of New Hampshire. As men-
tioned in Chapter 10, although this state is relatively freer in some
aspects, it’s currently fraught with the same governmental ills as the rest
of the Union. We can’t escape the culture, after all, with its assorted
themes of authoritarianism, sacrifice, and collectivism. Of course, we
could all just move to a deserted island in the South Pacific and have
“complete liberty” there, but honing our survival skills isn’t what we’re
trying to achieve.
When I wrote that “Focused effort by liberty-minded activists in
New Hampshire is much better than scattered effort across a whole
nation,” I did so from the standpoint of what’s been happening—or
rather, not been happening—in the various states, instead of from the
standpoint of future possibilities. Things tend to change over time. For
example, the Free State Wyoming Project is now underway
( Just as each state has its own advantages
and disadvantages, each project will too. There are no large cities in
New Hampshire (or in Wyoming), which might make it easier to change
things for the better. On the other hand, a free town in a rural area will
offer fewer noticeable economic benefits than a free large city in a cos-
mopolitan area. Ultimately, it’s probably best to choose a place that
reflects your preferences for lifestyle, job opportunities, cultural activi-
ties, and so on.
How many libertarians throughout America actually believe in
complete liberty?
I’ve seen no good surveys about this. In my own experience, I
would guess somewhere between 10 and 30 percent, though it could be
higher. Throughout my time in New Hampshire over the past year, it
appears that free staters are similarly constituted. Given that complete
liberty is based on correct premises about human nature and eco-
nomics, as well as about the nature of government, the percentages can
indeed change. In addition to gaining knowledge about complete
liberty, it’s crucial that individuals address their particular fears about
dispensing with statism. The negative psychological dynamics operating
in our culture, and on our emotions, can hinder full clarity in these
matters. This leads to the next, all-important question.
Will most free staters in New Hampshire eventually direct their
focus to achieving complete liberty instead of minimal government?
The answer to this depends on how many free staters determine
that playing politics isn’t a viable strategy for upholding our rights. This
question certainly touches on the FSP’s “Statement of Intent,” which
says nothing about getting rid of government entirely, but rather that
civil government’s maximum role is to protect life, liberty, and property.
As previously noted in Chapter 10, “civil government” is as contradic-
tory as a “free state.” The classical liberal idea that “small government is
beautiful,” tends to contribute to our predicament—for it concedes the
premise of statism to the enemies of freedom. As a direct consequence,
the vital and essential message of self-ownership becomes deempha-
sized or ignored altogether.
The actions of some free staters who believe in complete liberty
have been criticized mostly by those who believe in representative,
albeit Constitutionally limited, government and/or by those who simply
believe that everyone should abide by the State’s rules for changing
itself. Some believe that “the law” must be obeyed, regardless of its
infringement on individual rights, typically because they feel that the
personal or societal consequences for disobeying it are too dire. We are
back to our fears, once again.
Unlike the heroic characters in Atlas Shrugged, we have no magnifi-
cent place designed especially for us by a man named John Galt. Who is
John Galt? In essence, he’s a man who couldn’t tolerate living in a
defective and disrespectful society, so he went on strike; he withdrew
his productive mind from that society, convinced others to do likewise,
and created a place that would function respectfully in accordance with
the rights of individuals. Galt’s Gulch was a place of honor that showed
reverence for the human spirit, the American spirit.
You too may be somewhat “on strike,” like I have been most of my
adult life, searching for a particular lever with which to move the world
in a more enlightened direction—or at least trying to avoid the worst
forms of our highly regulated and taxed, mixed economy. Of course,
the longer we remain on strike, the more pressing the need for cultural
change becomes; our precious lives may start to feel like they’re slipping
by. On the other hand, many of you may not see the point in going on
strike, and I understand that. But I also understand that neither you nor
I can fully escape the web of statist intervention and status quo institu-
tions that restrict our capacities and impede our achievements on a
daily basis. None of us truly desires to live a life of quiet desperation,
like Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden would’ve done, had it not been
for the persuasive influence of Galt as well as Francisco d’Anconia.
The key thing to remember, and to remind others, is that we all could
be living so much better lives—more fulfilling, enriching, and opportunity-
filled lives—if we had compete liberty. Therefore, there’s no substitute
for explicitly promoting it to everyone. Our fellow Americans can
handle the truth in these matters, especially when it’s presented appro-
priately to their specific contexts. After all, if our neighbors don’t recog-
nize their own freedoms to be autonomous decision-makers, they’ll
continue to play politics and/or apathetically watch the State’s law-
enforcers inflict pain and suffering on innocent people. In many
respects, it’s more than the institutions of the State that we’re up
against; it’s the viewpoints of everyone around us. Thus, the next ques-
Isn’t wanting to change the present system and people’s ideas about
government putting the political trailer in front of the philosophical
truck? In other words, aren’t people unprepared for such major
social, political, and economic changes, given their present philo-
sophical ideas and accompanying fears?
There are many factors involved in this question, to be sure. Typi-
cally, big “O” Objectivists immediately answer “yes” to it, which is in
line with their general disdain for promoting political ideas outside their
proper ethical, epistemological, and metaphysical context. Yet, such
principles as self-ownership and property rights don’t necessarily
require a course in objective philosophy. Most intellectuals don’t have to
become Objectivists in order for radical political change to occur. In
fact Objectivism’s political branch essentially favors the structure of the
State over complete liberty, thus opposing radical change.
So long as government runs the educational system, ideas counter-
productive to liberty will continue to be mainstream, and better ideas
will be lost to all but a minority of curious minds. However, paradigm
shifts don’t happen because people wait around for them to happen—
that is, wait around for other people to change their minds and behav-
iors. Motivated people seek ways to make things happen.
John Galt’s job was easier than ours, by the way. He just had to
convince other productive individuals to withdraw their sanction by
moving to a place free of any tyranny. We, however, can’t just leave our
troubled world behind, to fend for itself, while we live in total freedom.
We must find ways to change this unfree world. I invite you to join the
forum at, which will be dedicated strictly to
brainstorming ways to do this—to achieve complete liberty as quickly
as humanly possible.
And drum roll, please...Do you think that the process of achieving
complete liberty entails preparing oneself to do jail time?
Most libertarians, for a variety of good reasons, believe this to be
the scariest proposition. Consequently, throughout America, millions of
libertarians continue to live reasonably good, law abiding lives—just like
those who agree (more or less) with the political status quo, as well as
those who actively promote it. But must a reasonably good life come at
the cost of submitting to governmental employees’ demands that you
sacrifice your choices, actions, and property? Is living among people
who will unleash egregious rights violations upon you if you don’t
follow their irrational orders any way to live? Is there any reasonable
aspect to this living environment? For that matter, is it a proper place in
which rear children?
Obedience to unjust authority should never be the price that any
rights-respecting person has to pay in order to live outside a jail cell.
This bears on Ayn Rand’s discussion of “sanction of the victim.”
Essentially, we allow governmental officials to threaten us and coerce
us, while we try to peacefully live among them and pursue our own
goals. As I’ve outlined, such conformity only begets more of the same,
more of the game wherein governmental officials pretend to be our
protectors, and we pretend not to be their dupes and slaves. Spooner’s
words are indeed accurate. No rational person in a free market who
assumed the responsibility of being your protector would even so much
as think about gunning you down without mercy if you tried to defend
yourself and your property.
Of course, the more we engage in pleasurable activities, the more
we can evade this issue. In many ways, the American way of life tends
to ignore the eternal problems of politics and the pervasive obedience
to authority arising from it—or giving rise to it; the causation is indeed
reciprocal. Oftentimes, there are just too many cool places to go, great
people to see, and fun things to do to really motivate us to focus on the
nature of our political plight. But huge problems remain, irrespective of
how carefully we follow the State’s rules: “Tax time”; victimless
“crimes”; police harassment; regulatory nightmares in business and
personal life; horrendous effects of fiat currency; death and suffering in
semi-socialized health care; and so on. These are not things to be over-
looked by people who genuinely believe in the pursuit of happiness.
I’ve had many discussions about this issue with my friend Russell
Kanning of the Keene Free Press, who once again is in a small jail cell
as I type these words, basically on account of choosing not to obtain
the state-required official documents in order to drive his car on the
monopolized roads of government. Once again, he’s harmed no one
and violated no one’s property rights. Thus, there’s no tort, no com-
plaining party, and the government has no standing, in addition to no
legitimacy. Exposing the government’s violent racket by not conforming
to it’s edicts is Russell’s way of leading people to see the essential truth
in these matters. Russell is a libertarian doer; he walks the talk. To the
extent that we continue to conform to the government’s irrational,
immoral, and unjust demands, we are only “libertarian talkers,” as
Russell has good-naturedly remarked on various occasions. Yet millions
of libertarian talkers could dramatically alter the course of human
history by becoming libertarian doers as well, especially at the same
time and in an orchestrated fashion.
We have two choices, as I see it: Either comply and enable further
oppressive acts, or start demanding that our rights be respected. The
State’s coercive behavior will come to an abrupt end when more and
more people decide not to tolerate a shred of subjugation. This is how
an undignified civilization can transform itself into a dignified one.
Ultimately, each of us must decide when it’s necessary and feasible
to stop enabling our oppressors. Most of us have lifestyles in which
being put in a cage for an extended length of time would result in a lot
of personal turmoil and financial losses. This partially explains how our
oppressors get away with their despicable actions—through creating
fear of losing the rest of our freedoms. So, each of us must pick our
particular issues and protest and disobey in the way that minimizes as
much as possible the negative impact on our own lives and families.
Many libertarians are in cages throughout America for no valid
reason, alongside hundreds of thousands who are also victims of unjust
laws and their contemptible enforcement. It’s time to start encouraging
our fellow Americans to help us put a stop to these abominations. In
doing so, we should look to and depend on each other (the free
market), rather than the corrupt tools of government, to bring about
wholesome changes. Whether this will eventually entail flooding the
statist jail cells, one can only speculate. In this day and age, there’s no
greater deed than exposing the violent nature of the organization
known as government, which means showing people “the gun in the
room,” as Stephan Molyneux has put it (
Of course, the gun remains in its holster when we comply. In contrast,
the tax case of the brave Plainfield, New Hampshire couple Ed and
Elaine Brown has amply exposed the guns of the IRS, Federal District
Court, and U.S. Marshals. Staunch resistance to their demands directly
threatens their perverse way of life.
Ultimately, the most important thing is to introduce people to the
principles of complete liberty in a fashion that you believe is best in
your context. And the sooner we can create a voluntary America, the
sooner we can pursue our happiness, unfettered by the ills of the State.
Note: I’ve categorized the following hundreds of titles according to primary topic covered;
however, some conceptual overlap with other topics is to be expected. Also, if any of the
Web links have become defunct, just google the title and author to find the new URL.
Since many of the links are quite long and thus unwieldy, I’ve replaced them with shorter
ones from, which simply redirects to the original links.
America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide To Democracy Inaction
by the writers of The Daily Show and Jon Stewart
Everyday Irrationality: How Pseudo-Scientists, Lunatics, And The Rest Of Us Systemati-
cally Fail To Think Rationally
by Robyn M. Dawes
For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty In Child-Rearing And The Roots Of Violence
by Alice Miller, Hildegarde Hannum (Translator), Hunter Hannum (Translator)
Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology And The Law To Lock Down Culture And
Control Creativity
by Lawrence Lessig
How To Be A Successful Tyrant
by Larken Rose
Irrationality: Why We Don’t Think Straight
by Stuart Sutherland
Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion Of Global Warming By Scientists, Politicians, And
The Media
by Patrick J. Michaels
Natural Capitalism: Creating The Next Industrial Revolution
by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins
Punished By Rewards: The Trouble With Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, And
Other Bribes
by Alfie Kohn
The World Is Flat: A Brief History Of The Twenty-first Century
by Thomas L. Friedman
Unconditional Parenting: Moving From Rewards And Punishments To Love And Reason
by Alfie Kohn
Against The Dead Hand: The Uncertain Struggle For Global Capitalism
by Brink Lindsey
An Army Of Davids: How Markets And Technology Empower Ordinary People To Beat
Big Media, Big Government, And Other Goliaths
by Glenn Reynolds
Classical Economics: An Austrian Perspective On The History Of Economic Thought
by Murray N. Rothbard
Defending The Undefendable: The Pimp, Prostitute, Scab, Slumlord, Libeler, Moneylen-
der, And Other Scapegoats In The Rogue’s Gallery Of American Society
by Walter Block
Economic Freedom Of The World 2005
by James Gwartney and Roberty A. Lawson, with Erik Garzke
Economic Science And The Austrian Method
by Hans-Hermann Hoppe
Economics For Real People: An Introduction To The Austrian School
by Gene Callahan
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores The Hidden Side Of Everything
by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
Man, Economy, And State & Power And Market
by Murray Rothbard
Markets Don’t Fail!
by Brian P. Simpson
Money, Bank Credit, And Economic Cycles
by Jesús Huerta de Soto
Private Means, Public Ends: Voluntarism vs. Coercion
by J. Wilson Mixon (ed)
The Bottomless Well: The Twilight Of Fuel, The Virtue Of Waste, And Why We Will
Never Run Out Of Energy
by Peter W. Huber and Mark P. Mills
The Fortune At The Bottom Of The Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits
by C. K. Prahalad
The Hyperinflation Survival Guide: Strategies For American Businesses
by Dr. Gerald Swanson
The Power Of Productivity: Wealth, Poverty, And The Threat To Global Stability
by William W. Lewis
The Race To The Top: The Real Story Of Globalization
by Tomas Larsson
The Ultimate Resource 2
by Julian Lincoln Simon
The Voluntary City: Choice, Community, And Civil Society
by David T. Beito, Peter Gordon, and Alexander Tabarrok (eds)
The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective
by Angus Maddison, Donald Johnston, Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and
Law and Property
Adventures In Legal Land
by Marc Stevens
An Unreasonable Woman: A True Story Of Shrimpers, Politicos, Polluters, And The Fight
For Seadrift, Texas
by Diane Wilson
Economics And Ethics Of Private Property
by Hans-Hermann Hoppe
Free Market Environmentalism
by Terry L. Anderson and Donald R. Leal
Hooked: Pirates, Poaching, And The Perfect Fish
by G. Bruce Knecht
Law’s Order: What Economics Has To Do With Law And Why It Matters
by David D. Friedman
Street Smart: Competition, Entrepreneurship, And The Future Of Roads
by Gabriel Roth (ed) edited by Gabriel Roth
The Enterprise Of Law: Justice Without The State
by Bruce L. Benson
The Future Of Ideas: The Fate Of The Commons In A Connected World
by Lawrence Lessig
The Law Of The Somalis: A Stable Foundation For Economic Development In The Horn
of Africa
by Michael van Notten, Spencer Heath MacCallum (ed)
The Structure Of Liberty: Justice And The Rule Of Law
by Randy E. Barnett
Water For Sale: How Business And The Market Can Resolve The World’s Water Crisis
by Fredrik Segerfeldt
Governmental Domestic Policy
Bad Trip: How The War Against Drugs Is Destroying America
by Joel Miller
Disabling America: The Unintended Consequences Of The Government’s Protection Of
The Handicapped
by Greg Perry
Healthy Competition: What’s Holding Back Health Care And How To Free It
by Michael F. Cannon
Medicare’s Midlife Crisis
by Sue A. Blevins
More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime And Gun-Control Laws
by John R. Lott Jr.
Mugged By The State: Outrageous Government Assaults On Ordinary People And Their
by Randall Fitzgerald
Noble Vision
by Gen LaGreca
The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care
by David Gratzer
Governmental Foreign Policy
Blowback: The Costs And Consequences Of American Empire
by Chalmers Johnson
Dying To Win: The Strategic Logic Of Suicide Terrorism
by Robert Pape
Eastward To Tartary: Travels In The Balkans, The Middle East, And The Caucasus
by Robert D. Kaplan
Faith At War
by Yaroslav Trofimov
Generation Kill: Devil Dogs, Iceman, Captain America, And The New Face Of American
by Evan Wright
Inside The Wire: A Military Intelligence Soldier’s Eyewitness Account Of Life At Guan-
by Erik Saar and Viveca Novak
Resurrecting Empire: Western Footprints And America’s Perilous Path In The Middle East
by Rashid Khalidi
Shake Hands With The Devil: The Failure Of Humanity In Rwanda
by Roméo Dallaire and Samantha Power
The Costs Of War: America’s Pyrrhic Victories
by John Denson (ed)
The Empire Has No Clothes: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed
by Ivan Eland
The Experience Of World War I
by J.M. Winter
The Illusion Of Victory: America In World War I
by Thomas Fleming
The New Nuclear Danger: George W. Bush’s Military-Industrial Complex
by Helen Caldicott
The Sorrows Of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, And The End Of The Republic
by Chalmers Johnson
War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning
by Chris Hedges
Governmental Ills
Beyond Politics: Markets, Welfare And The Failure Of Bureaucracy
by William C. Mitchell and Randy T. Simmons
Breach Of Trust: How Washington Turns Outsiders Into Insiders
by Tom A. Coburn and John Hart
Death By Government
by R. Rummel
Downsizing The Federal government
by Chris Edwards
Drug Crazy: How We Got Into This Mess And How We Can Get Out
by Mike Gray
Drug War Crimes: The Consequences Of Prohibition
by Jeffrey A. Miron
Empire of Debt: The Rise Of An Epic Financial Crisis
by William Bonner, Addison Wiggin
End Of Money And The Struggle For Financial Privacy
by Richard W. Rahn
I Am Not A Number: Freeing America From The ID State
by Claire Wolfe
Tethered Citizens: Time To Repeal The Welfare State
by Sheldon Richman
The Creature From Jekyll Island: A Second Look At The Federal Reserve
by G. Edward Griffin
The Gulag Archipelago: 1918-1956
by Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn
Towards A Liberal Utopia
by Philip Booth (ed)
Why Government Doesn’t Work
by Harry Browne
Philosophy and Psychology
Atlas Shrugged
by Ayn Rand
Objectivism: The Philosophy Of Ayn Rand
by Leonard Peikoff
Sic Itur Ad Astra: The Theory Of Volition (Volume 1)
by Andrew J. Galambos
Six Pillars Of Self-Esteem
by Nathaniel Branden
The Age Of Rand: Imagining An Objectivist Future World
by Frederick Cookinham
The Ayn Rand Lexicon: Objectivism From A To Z
by Ayn Rand, Harry Binswanger (ed)
The Psychology Of Self-Esteem
by Nathaniel Branden
Political History
American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, And The Politics Of Deceit In The House Of
by Kevin Phillips
Democracy In America
by Alexis de Tocqueville
Democracy: The God That Failed: The Economics And Politics Of Monarchy, Democ-
racy, And Natural Order
by Hans-Hermann Hoppe
From Mutual Aid To The Welfare State: Fraternal Societies And Social Services, 1890-1967
by David T. Beito
Good To Be King: The Foundation Of Our Constitutional Freedom
by Michael Badnarik
Gulag: A History
by Anne Applebaum
How Capitalism Saved America: The Untold History Of Our Country, From The Pilgrims
To The Present
by Thomas Dilorenzo
How The Scots Invented The Modern World: The True Story Of How Western Europe’s
Poorest Nation Created Our World And Everything In It
by Arthur Herman
Liberty For Latin America: How To Undo Five Hundred Years Of State Oppression
by Alvaro Vargas Llosa
Perilous Times: Free Speech In Wartime: From The Sedition Act Of 1798 To The War On
by Geoffrey R. Stone
Pol Pot: Anatomy Of A Nightmare
by Philip Short
Stealing God’s Thunder: Benjamin Franklin’s Lightning Rod And The Invention Of
by Philip Dray
The “Uncle Eric” Books
by Richard J. Maybury
The Challenge Of Liberty: Classical Liberalism Today
by Carl P. Close and Robert Higgs (eds)
The Encyclopedia Of Revolutions And Revolutionaries: From Anarchism To Zhou Enlai
by Martin L. Van Creveld (ed)
The Escape From Hunger And Premature Death, 1700-2100: Europe, America, And The
Third World
by Robert William Fogel, Richard Smith (ed), Jan De Vries (ed), Paul Johnson (ed), and
Keith Wrightson (ed)
The Myth Of National Defense: Essays On The Theory And History Of Security Produc-
by Hans-Hermann Hoppe (ed)
The Politically Incorrect Guide To American History
by Thomas E. Woods Jr.
The Real Lincoln: A New Look At Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, And An Unnecessary
by Thomas Dilorenzo
The War Between The States: America’s Uncivil War
by John J. Dwyer (Intro), John Paul Strain (Illus), George Grant, J. Steven Wilkins, Douglas
Wilson, Tom Spencer, and John J. Dwyer (ed)
They Made America: From The Steam Engine To The Search Engine: Two Centuries of
by Gail Buckland, David Lefer, and Harold Evans
Voices Of A People’s History Of The United States
by Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove (eds)
Wilson’s War: How Woodrow Wilson’s Great Blunder Led To Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, And
World War II
by Jim Powell
The Political Economy Of Stalinism
by Paul Gregory
Political Philosophy
Against Politics: On Government, Anarchy, And Order
by Anthony de Jasay
Anything That’s Peaceful: The Case For The Free Market
by Leonard Edward Read
Anarcho-Capitalism: An Annotated Bibliography
by Hans-Hermann Hoppe
For A New Liberty
by Murray Rothbard
Government Without Taxes: Operating For-profit And Paying Dividends To Its Owners:
The Constitution For Capitalism
by Donald Kirchinger
Healing Our World
by Dr. Mary J. Ruwart
I Must Speak Out: The Best Of The Voluntaryist 1982-1999
by Carl Watner
Market For Liberty
by Morris Tannehill and Linda Tannehill
Molon Labe!
by Boston T. Party
No Treason. No. VI, The Constitution Of No Authority
by Lysander Spooner
Philosophers Of Capitalism: Menger, Mises, Rand, And Beyond
by Edward W. Younkins (ed)
The Capitalist Manifesto : The Historic, Economic And Philosophic Case For Laissez-
by Andrew Bernstein
The Case Against The Democratic State
by Gordon Graham
The Ethics Of Liberty
by Murray N. Rothbard, Hans-Hermann Hoppe (ed)
The Incredible Bread Machine: A Study Of Capitalism, Freedom, & The State
by R. W. Grant
All human life is indexed on the web: Search engines are changing the face of business
by Tony Glover
American Democracy Indicted
by Anthony Gregory
Are Conservatives Naïve or Just Plain Stupid?
by Laurence M. Vance
Wikipedia survives research test
Beyond Patriarchy: A Libertarian Model of the Family
by Roderick T. Long
Conservative Nonsense in the War on Drugs
by Jacob G. Hornberger
For the War and Against the Troops
by Anthony Gregory
Hands Off Google!
by Justin Raimondo
Health Care Crisis? How About a Recreation Crisis?
by John Merline
Intelligence in the Internet age
by Stefanie Olsen
Interesting Findings from fMRI Scans of Political Brains
reviewed by Dr. Priya Saxena
Judging Google
by Glenn Harlan Reynolds
LEAP: Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
Marxists’ Apartment A Microcosm Of Why Marxism Doesn’t Work
by The Onion - America’s Finest News Source
Retirement? Not in this lifetime
by Dave Barry
Surfing and Site Guide - Internet World Stats
The Abstract Concept of Human Liberty
by Robert LeFevre
The Ground Zero Grassy Knoll - A New Generation of Conspiracy Theorists are at Work
on the Secret History of 9/11
by Mark Jacobson
The Hazards of Truth-Telling
by Thomas Szasz
The Man Behind the Mask
by Joshua Katz
The Meaning of Freedom
by Frank Chodorov
The Moses Complex
by Arnold Kling
The Power Of Us - Mass collaboration on the Internet is shaking up business
BusinessWeek online
The Sociology of Taxation
by Hans-Hermann Hoppe
The Translucent Generation
by Alex Krupp
Toward an Educational Renaissance
by Chris Cardiff
University Implicated In Checks-For-Degrees Scheme
by The Onion - America’s Finest News Source
Wal-Mart You Don’t Know
by Charles Fishman
What’s Become of Americans?
by Paul Craig Roberts
Wikipedia alternative aims to be ‘PBS of the Web’
by Daniel Terdiman
Will the University Survive?
by Tim Swanson
California’s Man-Made Drought
by Dirk Yandell and Michael C. Paganelli
Canada’s Private Clinics Surge as Public System Falters
by Clifford Krauss
Combine the Power of the Internet and the Gold Standard
by Wayne Dawson
Corporations and the Public Interest
by Jonathan Rowe
Discretion is the New Rule
by Thorsten Polleit
Does the widening US trade deficit pose a threat to the economy?
by Frank Shostak
E-prescribing project improves generic medication use
by Caroline Broder
Economics for the Citizen
by Walter E. Williams
For Society To Thrive, The Rich Must Be Left Alone
by George Reisman
Government in Business
by Murray N. Rothbard
Home of the Slave?
by Michael Bradshaw
How Powerful Is Productivity?
by Nick Schulz
Money in a Free Nation
by Joanna Parker
NPR : For Workers, ‘The World Is Flat’ Thomas Friedman on Fresh Air
Pharmaceutical Business -Fighting the Clock
by Karen J. Watkins
Reclaiming Medicine for Patients and Physicians
by Gilbert Ross M.D
The Absence of History
by Bill Bonner
The Economics of Taxation
by Hans-Hermann Hoppe
The Forgotten Private Banker
by Richard Sylla
The Third Industrial Revolution
by Hans F. Sennholz
Toward a Reconstruction of Utility and Welfare Economics
by Murray N. Rothbard
Uncertainty and Its Exigencies: The Critical Role of Insurance in the Free Market
by Hans-Hermann Hoppe
Voluntary and Coercive Cartels: The Case of Oil
By David Osterfeld
Wal-Marts of An Earlier Age
by Clifford F. Thies
What Economics Is Not
by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
What Is Society?
by Ludwig von Mises
Why Medicine Is Slowly Dying in America
by Michael J. Hurd
Government Is Not Compassion, Part 1
by Glen Allport
Government Is Not Compassion, Part 2
by Glen Allport
In Defense of Moral Agents
by Roy Halliday
Who’s the Scrooge: Libertarians and Compassion
by Roderick T. Long
Governmental Domestic Policy
Annual Privatization Report 2004
by Geoffrey F. Segal (ed)
Beware the Alchemists
by Ludwig von Mises
Coercion: It’s What’s for Dinner in Postconstitutional America
by Sheldon Richman
Drug Policy Issues and Statistics
Drug War Facts
Ending Corporate Welfare as We Know It
by Lawrence W. Reed
Fannie Mae Distorts Markets
by Robert Blumen
How Government Solved the Health Care Crisis: Medical Insurance that Worked—Until
Government “Fixed” It
by Roderick T. Long
How the FBI Let 9/11 Happen: Never mind Moussaoui, the smoldering gun was right
there all the time
by Jeff A. Taylor
Ironic Triangle
by Sheldon Richman
John Hughes Was Right
by Mark Storer
Look! Up in the Sky! It's An Inflation-Fighting Fed!
by Cyd Malone
So Many Missed Opportunities
by Veronique de Rugy
Speech to the Philadelphia Society: Immigration, Economic Growth, and the Welfare State
by Benjamin Powell
Stupid in America
by John Stossel
The Biggest Medicare Fraud Ever
by James Bovard
The Spend of Our Union Is Strong
by Veronique de Rugy
Uncle Sam’s Iron Curtain of Secrecy
by James Bovard
What Do Farmers Want from Me?
by Russell Roberts
What Hunger Insurance Could Teach Us about Health Insurance
by Joseph Bast
Where’s the Revolution?
by Duane D. Freese
Governmental Foreign Policy
Abolish the CIA!
by Chalmers Johnson and Tom Engelhardt
America’s war on the web
by Neil Mackay
Hobbes, Locke and the Bush Doctrine
by Nathan Smith
Interview with Thomas P.M. Barnett
by Max Borders
Iraq and the Democratic Empire
by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
Our History with Iraq
by Chip Gagnon
Quotes on War
Salvation by Starvation
by Aaron Singleton
Some Common, Bad Arguments for the Recent U.S. Policy Towards Iraq
by Gene Callahan
The Justice and Prudence of War: Toward A Libertarian Analysis
by Roderick Long
The U.S. Global Empire
by Laurence M. Vance
The Way Out of Iraq: Policy Reports
by Ivan Eland
Tracing the Trail of Torture
by Tom Engelhardt and Dahr Jamail
U.S. Money Aids World’s Worst Dictators
by Benjamin Powell and Matt Ryan
Why All the Foreign Bases?
by Sam Baker
With Friends Like These, U.S. Enemies Don’t Seem As Bad
by Ivan Eland
Governmental Ills
A Picture of Dorian Government
by Michael Tennant
Anarchy, Violence and the State
by Stefan Molyneux
Crippling Competition, Part 1
by Scott McPherson
Crippling Competition, Part 2
by Scott McPherson
Death and Taxes: ...~mibi
Disarming the Law-Abiding
by John R. Lott, Jr.
Does Government Always Have to Grow?
by Stephen Davies
Happy Birthday Federal Register!
by Alastair J. Walling
Historical Per-Person Share of the National Debt
by Daylan Darby
How Big Is Bush’s Big Government?
by Mark Brandly
by Ludwig von Mises
On Being Anti-State, Anti-War, and Anti-Bush
by Anthony Gregory
Perverse Incentives
by Brad Edmonds
Six Questions on the American “Gulag” for Historian Kate Bro
Socialized Medicine: The Canadian Experience
by Pierre Lemieux
The Awesome Powers of Government
by Murray Weidenbaum
The Human Rights Deception
by Richard W. Stevens
The Line-Item Veto Won’t Work
by Cecil E. Bohanon and T. Norman Van Cott
The Moral Consequences of Paternalism
by Daniel B. Klein
The State and Its Five Rationales
by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
Translating the Emperor’s Speech
by Anthony Gregory
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Who Captures Whom? The Case of Regulation
By Michael Rozeff
The Word Thieves
by Stephanie R. Murphy
Against Politics: Polycentric Law
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by Bertel M. Sparks
Bill of Law
by Michael van Notten
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by Richard O. Hammer
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by Henry Weinstein
Law and Order
by Arnold Kling
Law and Violence
by Roy Halliday
Law as Property in a Free Nation
by Philip E. Jacobson
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Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution
by Murray N. Rothbard
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by Jeffrey Tucker
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The Anticrime Industry in a Free Nation
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by Hans-Hermann Hoppe
The Nature of Law, Parts I-IV
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100 Years of Medical Robbery
by Dale Steinreich
A Brief Tax History of America
by Charles Adams
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by Matthew White
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by Dmitry Chernikov
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by James Ostrowski
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by James L. Payne
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Friedrich Engels
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How Medical Boards Nationalized Health Care
by Henry Jones
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by Murray N. Rothbard
Ivan’s War
by Bill Bonner
Just War
by Murray N. Rothbard
Learning From Experience
by Ivan Pongracic
Life, Liberty, and ...
by Albert Jay Nock
Lincoln’s legacy of corruption
by Ilana Mercer
Lysander Spooner
by Wendy McElroy
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by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels
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by Laura LaHaye: The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics
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by Martin Masse
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by Morgan Reynolds
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by David Mayer
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by Thomas DiLorenzo
The Most Successful Fraud in American History
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The Rocky Road of American Taxation
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The Santa Clara Blues: Corporate Personhood versus Democracy
by William Meyers
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What Came To Be
by Per Bylund
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A Paper Tiger for a Free Nation
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A Senate for the Free Nation Foundation, and for a Free Nation As Well
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A Single-Owner Proprietary Nation: Advantages, Problems, and Solutions
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by Roderick T. Long
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Nonviolent Civilian Defense
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by P. E. de Puydt
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by Roderick Long A Formulation
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9/11 41, 163
Acceleration Studies Foundation 93
accountability 70, 72, 74, 89, 104, 108, 139, 180, 198
agent 65, 77, 139, 142, 162, 184, 195, 196
altruism 28
AMA 105
American politics, as communistic 19
Americans 23, 37, 38, 45, 51, 56, 62, 79, 94, 99, 165, 170, 173, 180, 187, 192
Anarcho-capitalism 145
Anti-Federalists 48
APhA 105
arbitration 67, 143, 146
Army Corps of Engineers 180
Articles of Confederation 48
Atlas Shrugged 99, 201, 205
banks 19, 52, 54, 138
Bernanke, Ben 188
Bill of Rights 49, 151, 152, 153
bin Ladin, Osama 164
biometric identifiers 129
black market 101, 102, 104, 105
BMI 127
bottom trawling 70
bourgeoisie 16, 20, 21
Bowden, Jonny 111
breach of contract 123, 124
Browne, Harry 171
Bush, George W. 26
capital 21, 73, 74, 80, 82, 86, 91, 94, 112, 118, 123, 126
capitalism 21, 69, 75, 76, 79, 81, 95, 97, 131, 139, 141, 143, 144
capitalists 21
Carlin, George 135
central planners 76, 77, 92, 123
centrists 26
checks and balances 47, 62, 110
children 19, 42, 43, 58, 68, 70, 103, 137, 157, 158, 165, 173, 174, 177, 196, 199
China 80, 81, 166, 167
Civil War 48
collectivism 21, 31, 43, 45, 58, 70, 144, 184, 188, 196
Communism 14, 15, 16, 19, 21, 22, 25, 27, 73, 74, 109, 175, 185
complete liberty 10, 11, 12, 15, 18, 23, 28, 65, 128, 140, 143, 145, 147, 149, 151, 152, 166,
168, 169, 177, 181, 190, 192, 193, 200, 201
confirmation bias 143
consent 36, 40, 60, 65, 67, 88, 115,128, 129, 194, 195, 196
conservatives 23, 24, 25, 27, 88, 176
Constitution 24, 27, 32, 42, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 61, 62, 63, 66, 71, 96, 193
Constitutional Convention 47
constitutional Republic 32, 43, 47, 60, 63, 175, 196
consumers 17, 77, 84, 94, 95, 97, 98, 99, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109, 110, 111, 113, 115,
123, 131, 132, 136, 140, 142, 150, 152, 153, 198
Consumer Reports 89
context-dropping 143, 196
contracts 39, 45, 62, 65, 77, 107, 116, 120, 121, 122, 123, 124, 125, 126, 128, 133,
142, 144, 145, 154, 157, 158, 177, 184, 185, 195
copyleft 127
copyright 115, 119
corporations 25, 45, 80, 81, 85, 97, 122, 140
corrections system 102, 163
counterfeiting 55, 128
covenants 72, 121
Creative Commons 6, 127
criminality 57, 141, 150, 162, 163, 185
currency 54, 55, 63, 83, 84, 198
customary law 53, 146, 162
Dawkins, Richard 144
defensive patenting 132
Democracy 15, 24, 29, 31, 32, 38, 39, 42, 43, 44, 47, 50, 56, 60, 63, 79, 175, 187
Democrats 25, 27, 176, 197
Department of Homeland Security 41
devaluation of currency 52, 63, 72, 75, 91
Digital Rights Management 127, 135, 136
drug law offenders 102
drug users 104
drug war 19, 101, 102, 103, 105
drugs, illicit 101, 102, 104
economic progress 73, 132
elected officials 35, 36
electromagnetic spectrum 116, 123, 129
Eminent Domain 19, 71
end-user licenses 120, 127
Engels, Friedrich 15, 20, 81, 133
entrepreneurs 17, 20, 94, 110, 123, 126, 136, 138, 198, 200
ethics 38, 74, 75, 88, 90
exclusivity agreements 122
extropianism 93
FAA 19
fair use 119
Fascism 22, 83
FBI 85, 118, 127
FCC 19, 116, 123
FDA 85, 106
Federal Reserve System 83, 138
Federalists 48
FEMA 180
fiat currency 54, 55, 84
First 1000 pledge 197
Founders, American 32, 39, 42, 174
Framers, Constitutional 47, 48, 49, 50, 52, 56, 57, 59, 61, 62, 66, 185
Franklin, Benjamin 47
fraud 40, 107, 117, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 135, 150
free market 10, 17, 18, 39, 46, 57, 75, 75, 81, 82, 85, 86, 89, 91, 95, 97, 101, 107, 109,
111, 112, 115, 118, 119, 123, 123, 127, 130, 131, 132, 134, 136, 138, 139,
141, 142, 144, 155, 162, 163, 166, 193, 198, 199, 200, 201
free market versus controlled market 17
Free State Project 189, 190, 192, 193, 197, 200
free-speech zones 151
Galambos, Andrew 125, 126, 132, 134
Garfield, James 26
globalization 79, 98
GNU General Public License 127
gold standard 54, 55, 82, 136, 198
Google 83
government, as necessary evil 33, 197
gray markets 105, 144
Greenspan, Alan 188
guilds 98, 101, 107, 108, 109
Henry, Patrick 48
Hercules 193, 202
Hoppe, Hans-Hermann 140
ID cards 129, 193
identity theft 117, 129
incumbents 43, 44
independents 26
individual rights 27, 31, 39, 53, 58, 65, 66, 72, 76, 81, 94, 102, 130, 136, 137, 139, 141, 142,
145, 171, 175, 185, 192, 194, 196, 199
inflation 91
initiation of force 39, 128, 141, 149, 152, 186
insurance 82, 106, 110, 111, 123, 139, 140, 142, 143, 144, 145, 146, 151, 162, 195
integrity 61, 88, 177, 178, 179, 186
intellectual property 115, 117, 118, 119, 120, 125, 126, 127, 130, 131, 132, 135
interest rates 52, 138
Internet 14, 92, 95, 110, 118, 129, 189
Israel 163
iTunes Store 135
Jefferson, Thomas 15, 58, 137, 140, 142, 183
jurisdiction 51, 56, 57, 58, 59, 87, 142, 145, 190, 199
jury nullification 42, 200
justice 15, 16, 27, 40, 43, 46, 48, 60, 82, 87, 97, 107, 110, 126, 139, 140, 141, 142,
143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 149, 150, 152, 158, 160, 161, 162
K Street 97, 140
kangaroo courts 98
King George III 47
knockoffs 130, 131, 135
Kurzweil, Ray 93
labor theory of value 133
leasing 121, 157
legal agencies 125, 139, 144
legalized monopoly 31, 54, 57, 139, 141, 152, 162, 184
legislating morality 104
Lessig, Lawrence 127
letters patent 115, 131
liberals 24, 176
libertarian(ism) 10, 65, 88, 116, 125, 145, 153, 154, 171, 187, 188, 190, 191, 192, 193, 198,
Libertarian Party 171, 190
licensure 101, 107, 108, 112, 123, 198
limited liability 82
living standards 17, 84, 91, 112, 134, 138
loaning 121
lobbyists 11, 36, 90, 97, 99, 103, 105, 109, 111, 118, 126, 197
Locke, John 65
Madison, James 49
Mafia 142, 144
Marx, Karl 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 81 133, 175
Mason, George 48, 183, 184
mediation 67, 146
Medicare and Medicaid 111
memes 144, 178, 189
Middle East 164, 165
military 24, 25, 26, 45, 57, 59, 60, 144, 154, 156, 158, 163, 164, 165, 166, 167
military contractors 45
moderates 26
money and currency 52
MPAA 127
nanny State 87, 89, 94
nanotechnology 134
national defense 41, 60
neoconservatives 24, 25
Net labels 127
New Hampshire 189, 190, 192, 193, 197, 198, 201
news media 13, 28, 70, 90, 169, 175
nondisclosure agreements 121, 125
North Korea 167
O'Reilly, Bill 27
O'Rourke, P.J. 110
oceans 70, 71, 92
open source record labels 127
Orwell, George 94, 169
ownership 16, 19, 39, 46, 49, 67, 68, 69, 71, 73, 74, 75, 82, 104, 116, 128, 131, 135,
140, 177, 198
Paine, Thomas 32, 33, 35, 37, 39, 40, 41, 43, 46, 66, 180, 198, 202
patents 115, 118, 119, 120, 127, 131, 132
Patent and Trademark Office 119, 131
peer-to-peer file sharing 135
Penn & Teller 138
Perot, Ross 99
Pledge of Allegiance 42
podcasts 136, 189
police State 42, 53, 94, 98, 130, 163, 165, 192, 193
political doublespeak 40, 169
political strategizing 45
politicians 11, 14, 29, 35, 43, 44, 46, 63, 79, 84, 88, 90, 97, 99, 103, 109, 118, 169, 176,
187, 188, 192, 197
politics, definition of 14
popular Democracy 30
prescription drugs and devices 101, 105, 106
preventive law 85, 86, 107, 138
prices 69, 74, 77, 80, 84, 95, 98, 101, 102, 104, 106, 107, 108, 109, 110, 113, 132,
140, 198
primates 67, 112, 178
privacy 116, 126, 152, 157
private property 58, 63, 69, 70, 71, 72, 76, 95, 115, 118, 139, 140, 151
producers 77, 94, 95, 97, 98, 99, 115, 120, 130, 133, 150
productivity 21, 74, 75, 81, 87, 91, 94, 95, 112, 126, 133, 134
progressives 25, 26
prohibition 102, 103, 104, 105, 187
proletariat 16, 17, 18, 20
Prometheus 193
property rights 16, 46, 71, 72, 81, 87, 98, 102, 116, 117, 118, 120, 121, 123, 128, 129, 131,
132, 140, 143, 144, 146, 187, 201
public choice theory 187, 188, 197
public domain 6, 118, 119, 127, 133
public policy 36
public property 39, 69, 72, 87, 94
Rand, Ayn 13, 36, 69, 88, 176, 201, 207
rational self-interest 74, 75
Reagan, Ronald 86
Real ID 193
regulation 19, 22, 23, 24, 25, 34, 44, 52, 59, 62, 63, 72, 80, 81, 83, 84, 85, 87, 88, 89,
90, 94, 98, 105, 106, 107, 108, 110, 111, 112, 123, 136, 137, 170, 174, 179,
180, 187, 194, 198, 201
regulatory agencies 85, 88, 89, 138
reparations 71, 110, 140, 146, 150
representative Democracy 31, 32, 47
Republicans 23, 27, 176, 197
restitution 71, 107, 110, 140, 145, 146, 150
retaliatory force 139, 141, 149, 151, 186
RIAA 127, 135
Rothbard, Murray 116
scientific method 143
scientists 143
secret police 15
secularists 27
SEC 83
security 24, 33, 35, 38, 40, 46, 58, 83, 87, 130, 137, 140, 146, 165, 179, 183, 184,
185, 194
self-defense 65, 139, 142, 145, 195, 201
self-esteem 177, 178, 179
self-ownership 21, 63, 65, 66, 67, 68, 73, 74, 76, 90, 97, 104, 117, 152, 170, 173, 188, 195
self-reliance 23, 106, 177, 178, 200
separation of powers 47, 62
service marks 130
Shays’s Rebellion 59
Smart, John 93
Smith, Adam 65, 77
Social Security numbers 129
Socialism 15, 22, 23, 109
Somalia 154
Spooner, Lysander 96, 97, 172, 173, 196
Stalin, Joseph 50, 167
standard of living 17, 84, 91, 112, 134, 138
Stewart, Jon 43
Stockholm syndrome 173, 174
Stossel, John 169
Supreme Court 49, 56, 188
Switzerland 165
taxation 44, 52, 62, 63, 91, 94, 97, 138, 170, 171, 172, 179, 180, 191, 194, 195
territorial waters 70
terrorism 41, 163, 164
The Colbert Report 170
The Communist Manifesto 15, 16, 18, 73
The Daily Show 43, 170
torts 56, 57, 145
trade secrets 121, 124
trademarks 115, 118, 119, 120, 130
traditionalists 27
transhumanism 93
TSA 19, 41, 56, 85
trespass 116, 118, 126, 131, 151
tribal mentalities 16, 38, 144, 152, 164
U.S. Treasury 83
U.S.S.R 11, 50, 166, 167
Uncle Sam 54
Underwriters Laboratories 89
United Kingdom 47
United States 42, 48, 50, 51, 52, 55, 60, 61, 86, 105, 163, 164, 190, 201
universal health care system 109
van Notten, Michael 153, 162
vice 32, 33, 34, 37, 39, 47, 170, 185
violence 74, 86, 102, 112, 142, 198
virtues 29, 34, 35, 37, 46, 47, 88, 124, 150, 177, 178, 179, 180, 194, 200
voluntarism 144, 170, 187, 199, 200
Wal-Mart 80, 81, 84, 85
Wall Street 81, 84
war 19, 48, 57, 58, 97, 142, 144, 165, 167, 175, 180, 191
War on Drugs 19, 101, 102, 103, 105
War on Poverty 180
warlords 142, 144, 154
zoning laws 72, 196