Wary of Gary

Wary of Gary.

Let me start off by saying that I would like nothing more than to be able to support a Liberty candidate and vote for him this November. I have tried so hard, many times to get myself in the mood for Gary Johnson. Each time I was kidding myself.

You should know that you are free to comment and argue with me, but the purpose of this post is not necessarily to convince people not to vote for Gary Johnson, but just to further explain why I am not going to do so. This may seem unnecessary, but seeing as how this blog had hitherto been given the expressed purpose of supporting Ron Paul, in its own limited way, and that I will be ramping up the volume and frequency of posts, I feel obliged to explain why none of these posts will be featuring support for Johnson’s candidacy, and will instead be more issue-oriented (with the occasional hit piece on Obama or Romney).

So. What exactly is my problem with Gary Johnson? I’ll tell you. It’s not that he’s not a nice guy. It’s not that I doubt his sincerity. It’s not that I would prefer Obama or Romney.  And it’s not just the very few (or perhaps there are more than I initially anticipated) things that he and I disagree on.  But it is, in part, the things he, at times, seems focus on. I can’t listen to the guy without him blah-blah-blahing about gay marriage, taxing marijuana, flip-flopping on everything from heroin to NAFTA, and plenty of other meaningless distractions, all the while that they are mostly distractions he is still going in the wrong direction or not near forcefully enough in the right direction. Sure, he brings up the wars, the Pentagon budget, says he wants to bring the troops home, audit the fed, things like that. And the strange thing is I don’t necessarily disbelieve him. I just think that these things, the real issues, the real issues, the real issues, would be put on the back burner, or more so than they should be. It’s the economy stupid! And as long as you are going to talk about and do things that have virtually nothing to do with the economy, the very least you could do, if you want my support, or my vote, is talk about and do these things in a way I can agree with.

I have said that I would vote for Gary Johnson if he would address some of my concerns satisfactorily. When I originally listed them, I was mainly waxing rhetorical. In my mind, I was (and still am) certain that Gary would answer almost none of them to my satisfaction, which is why those particulars (re-listed below) were ever sticks in my craw in the first place.

What is it about Gary that makes me lose hope of he and I ever seeing eye to eye on these things?

I have seen and heard enough interviews where these things were touched on. None of the interviewers were anywhere near as precise on these issues as I was with my list. Nor would one think there should be a need for them to be so. You see, libertarians make a name for themselves being very rational and analytical about things. So when some radio host or some high mucky-muck in the freedom movement/free market blogosphere asks Gary Johnson, straight up: Do you support humanitarian interventionism? (just one example!), and he opens his mouth and fumbles but you think he’s eventually going to say something rooted in some clause of the Constitution or some fundamental libertarian axiom, and then he basically says “yes,” without hardly a qualification (and then one usually appealing to emotion), and changes the subject to his stance on the current wars, which are winding down and unpopular anyways, and therefore happens to be the same stance as 70% of the American public, who, and I hate to sound like an elitist, are some of the most vacuous and bloodthirsty people on the planet, I am forced to choose between two options in terms of what I can think of him: He is either weak willed (worse yet, a coward) or he is a complete ignoramus.  And let me tell you, I am not sure which one scares me more: Is he afraid of alienating the average Libertarian Party member who is a bleeding-heart socially liberal utilitarian minarchist (nothing necessarily wrong with any ONE of those things, or even a mixture of two or three, but I am not the biggest fan of the overall combination), or does he really know less about basic libertarianism, noninterventionism, and economics than some kids I know who aren’t even old enough to vote?

There have been times when I listen to him speak and after a while I am just cringing in dreadful anticipation of what answer he is going to give next. Don’t get me wrong, the man is a great orator when he gets a softball interview, which is just about all of them these last two months because his handlers won’t let him talk about the real details of the real issues with real people anymore. They already milked that cow and she’s bone dry.

Or maybe I shouldn’t blame it all on his handlers, maybe I should blame it on the fact that because Ron Paul is out of the picture and this is an exciting election, the media, even its libertarian wing, has chosen to fawn rather than vet. 

Anyways, lets delve into those particulars again:

1. Does his pro-choice stance mean he would uphold the Tenth Amendment or ignore it and further erode it?

Gary has stated that he thinks each state should decide. This is a stance I can live with and may even be the best of all possible political alternatives. Except…

Johnson is really in no position to alienate the pro-life vote, so it would stand to reason that he would bring up the states’ rights argument, that he says he adheres to in this case, just a tad more often. Unfortunately for him, he usually just says that he PERSONALLY BELIEVES in a woman’s “right” to choose up until the fetus is “viable.” He needs 15% polling nationwide to get in the debates with Obama and Romney, something I would have hoped for even if I was not going to vote for him, just to get some of his alternative views in the public square (his opposition, though at times mild, to things like the Federal Reserve, suspension of habeas corpus, the income tax, ObamaCare, executive orders, undeclared wars, budget deficits, entitlements, welfare, eminent domain, the UN, bailouts, gun control, etc.). I suspect after alienating a good portion of his potential base, the Ron Paul supporters, he will not get into the debates, let alone win the presidency. We basically have three pro-choice guys running. One is Planned Parenthood’s bosom buddy. Another has ties to abortion mill disposal companies, and has had every conceivable stance on the issue (except this one). And the other, while opposing public funding of abortions, and possibly in favor of states’ rights on the issue (thereby appointing judges who might overturn Roe v. Wade), still would not make life a priority in any way, shape, or form because a) he personally is pro-choice and b) he is against states’ rights on the marriage question and who knows what else.

Here is one article I read that says it is okay to vote for a personally pro-choice candidate because the president, not even through the courts, has absolutely no effect on policies regarding abortion: Abortion, Religion, and the Presidency by Laurence M. Vance. Mr. Vance is essentially arguing that you can vote for the lesser of two evils if the evil in question has no policy consequence. I would buy that argument if I knew for certain that that same candidate would reduce abortions through some indirect mechanism (states’ rights), if given the opportunity to do so, even if he is unwilling or unable to use more direct mechanisms (executive order, signing a law banning abortion, advocating an amendment banning abortion, or appointing judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade).

There are three ways to implement a states’ rights solution to abortion. One is to overturn Roe v. Wade by appointing pro-life or pro-states’ rights justices. Another is to pass a law taking jurisdiction over abortion away from the courts, thus invalidating Roe v. Wade and any other federal court’s decision in the past or future that overturn state laws against abortion. Both of these ways are direct. The third way is simply by refusing to prosecute or punish the states that choose to ban abortion, even if Roe v. Wade is technically still in effect. The President can direct his Attorney General, Justice Department, and other relevant officers to not go after states that nullify federal law or court decisions. Johnson has not clearly stated that would do any of these things. And until he does, no pro-lifer should even consider him. I hope he clarifies whether he would do these things or not. There are so many issues that he has made unclear or conflicting statements on.

2. Does “humanitarian intervention” mean things such as Letters of Marque and Reprisal and Spanish Civil War-type volunteerism (which is illegal these days) or does it mean more undeclared or unjust wars, unilateral or otherwise?

He still has never gone into detail on this, besides, just recently, specifically as it pertains to Kony. I mean, are we just supposed to make the assumption that he’s alright just because of the L that comes after his name? I thought that sort of thinking was what gave us the two-party duopoly! My gut instinct is that Gary really would send in taxpayer-funded US troops. He would probably go to Congress and get a Declaration of War first, and would probably define the mission, engage the enemy, win, and then pull out. Probably. This would therefore be a “legal” war, but by no means a “just” war. Ron Paul (yes, I know, he is not running anymore, but that has nothing to do with the point I am making) on the other hand would only go to Congress if we were attacked first, and then presumably in an even handed way. And if Congress on its own, with no prompting from the Commander-in-Chief, was to unjustly, but legally Declare War, Ron Paul as Commander-in-Chief would probably weigh the two following options: Resign or carry it out as quickly and painlessly as possible. Gary, so far as I can tell would weigh these two options: Carry it out because there is a humanitarian reason to do so or don’t carry it out because there is no humanitarian reason to do so. And need I remind you that George W. Bush campaigned on a humble foreign policy and gave us two quagmires and a world ready to explode. How much more should we be wary of someone who has stated they would go gallivanting across the globe in search of monsters to destroy (or am I wrong in thinking that is the corollary of using trained killers in a humanitarian fashion)? All other things being equal of course.

Gary Johnson did say, and I think this is only a recent thing as a result of pressure put on him by the Ron Paul vote, that he “think[s] Kony could have been more effectively dealt with by letters of marque and reprisal.” And while I could go on about why Letters of Marque and Reprisal are preferable to sending in the troops, the reality is that volunteers acting on their own, expecting no aid from the US government, whether their mission succeeds or fails, would be even better, especially in a situation that has nothing to do with US national security. Letters of Marque and Reprisal would have been the perfect thing to go after Osama bin Laden with, but in the case of Kony, this would be no different than the president having private mercenaries doing his bidding, taking out whomever he deems unfit to continue living. That kind of power in the hands of Johnson would probably not be of too much concern, but to establish that precedent would be unwise, especially in light of the fact that assassinating United States citizens, no charges, no trial, is an accepted prerogative of the executive office these days.

3. When he says, “end the war on drugs,” does he mean, “decriminalize all substances” on the federal level and let the states and individuals decide for themselves, or simply, “legalize marijuana, which we can then tax and regulate like we do alcohol and tobacco,” well?

He means the second one, which I am fundamentally in disagreement with.  I don’t think the Federal government should even be regulating alcohol and tobacco.

4. Is his love for liberty rooted, at least partially, in a hatred for injustice and tyranny, or is it more from a utilitarian, the-greatest-benefit-to-the-greatest-number philosophy?

I already know the answer to this. And as with most other questions, it is the second answer.

5. Should the federal government only prosecute and punish crimes actually listed in the Constitution, or just about any crime that may be a real or perceived problem?

You know, counterfeiting, piracy on the high seas, treason, and international crimes? Gary has never even touched on this issue, one way or the other, to my knowledge. This is a much bigger deal than most people give credit for, and though it is related to the drug issue, is a lot broader than that.

6. Will states be allowed to ignore laws they deem unjust or should the federal government take measures to prevent this, whether through the courts, the legislature, or the executive branch?

Gary has spoken about nullification, but this seems inconsistent with his view of marriage. He wants a nation-wide law providing for one, all-inclusive definition of marriage, all the while maintaining separation of church and state, but why bother with such laws (which, like provisions of the Civil Rights Act, are in clear violation of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, as well as the Fourteenth, which is often misinterpreted in the same way that the Thirteenth is to give the children of illegal immigrants automatic citizenship, that is to superficially uphold the letter of the text through modern interpretation while completely ignoring the spirit of the text through original intent) on the one hand, when you support nullification on the other? It makes no sense!

7. Is getting rid of the income tax and replacing it with the Fair Tax part of a broader plan to eliminate all taxes unnecessary to the legitimate constitutional functions of government, or is it an end in itself?

I’m serious. Taxation is theft. Period. But I have further questions: Does getting rid of the income tax mean abolishing just the IRS and the tax code, or does it include abolishing the Sixteenth Amendment? This question has not even been asked, let alone answered. Given that fact, I would say it is because Gary does not want to waste time on politically inexpedient policy issues that bear no immediate fruit when all he has to do is say something popular. When most people hear abolish the income tax, they just assume you mean permanently. And perhaps in your heart of hearts you do, but that doesn’t cut it. Johnson has basically said (and here is the link) that he would push for the Fair Tax whether the 16th Amendment was gotten rid of or not, which to me is plain stupid. If you are not for completely abolishing one tyranny before you “replace” it with another, how can you guarantee that further down the road there won’t be both at once? You can’t. Especially not as the Government’s need for revenue increases, exponentially no less, with each passing year, thanks to our national debt and unfunded liabilities and the high interest rates that are inevitable in the future. In my book, bad things should not be replaced with slightly less worse things. Once you have gotten rid of the bad thing, that should be the end of it. If that is an impossibility, it should still be the stated goal. Why compromise before you are even asked to? As H.L. Richardson wrote in Confrontational Politics, ”When the liberals step dialectically backward, the conservative attack must be intensified, not diminished.” This means don’t stop pushing just because you have gained some ground. It applies equally to all corners of the political compass, not just “liberals” and “conservatives.”

And those are my concerns and observations, and they are subject to revision. In any case, I do not think Gary Johnson will win, so as I have said before, the only reasons for someone who otherwise is not enthused to vote for him, are, to help him get matching funds, which in my opinion is not a worthy goal unless you plan on handing them back directly to the Treasury or better yet the taxpayer; or to send a message. Sending a message is a great idea. Unless of course, it is the wrong message. And what message would I be sending by voting for Gary Johnson?

I would be sending a message to the Libertarian Party that they can go ahead and keep sending in watered down libertarians and I will loyally support them because I don’t mind watered down libertarians and enjoy sending messages that are about how much I like sending messages rather than actually getting a real point across.

I would be sending the Republican Party a message that says I would vote for whoever they nominate as long as he has more in common with Gary Johnson than he does Barack Obama, which, though that hypothetical person would absolutely be better than Romney or Obama, is absolutely not true and therefore not a message I want to send.

I would be sending the Democratic Party a message that says I would vote for whoever they nominate as long as he has more in common with Gary Johnson than he does Mitt Romney, which, though that hypothetical person would absolutely be better than Obama or Romney, is absolutely not true and therefore not a message I want to send.

I am neither willing nor able to send any of these messages, all of which would emanate from a vote for Gary Johnson. This obviously does not apply to those who would be voting for Johnson for other reasons (like agreeing with his positions) or who think that sending messages that they may not entirely agree with is their civic duty or a dire necessity.

And what weight does winning (whether you define that as winning the election, changing the game, or simply as sending a message) have against violating one’s conscience? If I were slightly more of a compromiser, and if I thought Gary Johnson could win, something I did briefly think was possible, perhaps that would be heavy enough of a thing, for me to consider going against my conscience and making that expedient choice. But so long as there is no likely reward (a win), why would I, hypothetically more of a compromiser, even bother sticking my neck out? It would be pointless.

That is only a hypothetical; I like to think that I would not compromise like that, even with a chance at success. So if I find out on November 7th that Gary Johnson could have been a game changer or even a winner had he just one more vote, I will still not regret the decision I made to write-in Ronald Ernest Paul, M.D.

And in case you don’t believe me, here are some links that went into my decision:

Has the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) had an overall benefit for the US? – 2012 Presidential Election – ProCon.org

Gary Johnson disappoints:LP candidate doesn’t understand libertarianism – Richmond Libertarian | Examiner.com

The Humble Libertarian: Gary Johnson vs Ron Paul: The Respective Cases for Ron Paul & Gary Johnson in 2012

EconomicPolicyJournal.com: Gary Johnson to Announce His Run for the Republican Presidential Nomination

Is Anybody Out There? I Am Back, With Thoughts on the Upcoming Election. « keimh3regpeh2umeg

Gary Johnson’s false claims spinning out of control – Washington DC Conservative | Examiner.com

Ron Paul or Gary Johnson? Division In the Liberty Movement | The Unconventional Conservative

Gary Johnson’s Foreign Policy: Libertarian or “Strange”? – Hit & Run : Reason.com

Gary Johnson, the Statist Alternative to Libertarian Ron Paul » Scott Lazarowitz’s Blog

“Where Is His Spine?” – Scott Horton & Tom Woods Discuss Gary Johnson – YouTube

Gary Johnson – “Libertarian” Candidate – is Out of His Element « Antiwar.com Blog

Gov. Gary Johnson: I Smoked Marijuana from 2005 to 2008 | The Weekly Standard

Interview: Is Gary Johnson a “Fake” Libertarian? | Washington Times Communities

TheDC’s Jamie Weinstein: Gary Johnson’s strange foreign policy | The Daily Caller

Why I Am Writing In Paul And Not Voting For Johnson « keimh3regpeh2umeg

Gary Johnson Is Seeking the LP Nomination | Lew Rockwell’s Political Theatre

There Is Still No Such Thing As a Fair Tax – Laurence M. Vance – Mises Daily

Somin on Gary Johnson and Ron Paul: A Reply — The Libertarian Standard

The Flat Tax Is Not Flat and the FairTax Is Not Fair by Laurence M. Vance

Ron Paul vs. Gary Johnson on foreign policy – Bob Zadek Show – YouTube

EconomicPolicyJournal.com: Gary Johnson Does the National Press Club

Will Young People Choose Johnson Over Paul? « LewRockwell.com Blog

EconomicPolicyJournal.com: Gary Johnson as a Lightweight Libertarian

Gary Johnson vs Ron Paul on the issues of the 2012 Presidential election

Yes, Gary Johnson Endorsed Humanitarian War | The Weekly Standard

The Consumption Tax: A Critique – Murray N. Rothbard – Mises Daily

Lustful Foolishness Does Not Mix With Principles in [Market-Ticker]

Gary Johnson: Caveat Emptor by Justin Raimondo — Antiwar.com

Tribalistic Libertarianism | Strike-The-Root: A Journal Of Liberty

Gary Johnson: Keep Guantanamo Open « LewRockwell.com Blog

EconomicPolicyJournal.com: How Libertarian is Gary Johnson?

EconomicPolicyJournal.com: Ron Paul versus Gary Johnson

Ron Paul vs Gary Johnson in 2012 Presidential Candidates

‘This Is a Libertarian?’ | Lew Rockwell’s Political Theatre

Gary Johnson’s Libertarianism « LewRockwell.com Blog

Getting It Straight on Johnson « LewRockwell.com Blog

Sarah Palin and Gary Johnson « LewRockwell.com Blog

Don’t Criticize Gary Johnson? « LewRockwell.com Blog

Give Jon a Dollar: An Open Challenge to Gary Johnson

Lessons from a Bloated Budget by Laurence M. Vance

Gary Me Not On The Lone Prairie, by L. Neil Smith

A Libertarian sales-tax party? « Notes On Liberty

Gary Johnson Gary Johnson; Libertarian failure.

Harry Browne – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Gary Johnson: Statist » Scott Lazarowitz’s Blog

Paul vs. Johnson | The American Conservative

Gary Johnson Gary Johnson supports NAFTA

Can a Tax Be ‘Fair’? by Laurence M. Vance

Free Trade versus Free-trade Agreements

BIG-GOVERNMENT LIBERTARIANS

Two Visions « LewRockwell.com Blog

If I Were Gary Johnson | Tom Woods

WHY THE PRO-NAFTA HYSTERIA?

http://www.lprc.org/tenpoints.html

Gary Johnson 2012?! – YouTube

What I Learned From Paleoism

Libertarianism lite

STOP NAFTA!

When It Is Noticed, It Is Usually Because It Is One, When It Is Not, It Is Usually Because It Is Not One†

When It Is Noticed, It Is Usually Because It Is One, When It Is Not, It Is Usually Because It Is Not One†.

Three weeks ago, I posted an article. It was three to five days in the works before I posted it*. There were emails that needed responses (or lack thereof), sources to cite (far too many if you include all the links), thoughts to think, and of course, unrelated activities, that all delayed its posting. In spite of, or perhaps because of all this, it is a cluttered, jumbled, at times hard to follow (I would imagine, though I can understand it just fine myself), mass of words and ideas. It has been edited more than anything else I have posted to date, and I mean just since it was posted! I fixed two things within the last couple hours, in fact.

I was bored and have been contemplating publishing more articles (I actually wrote one two days ago but then all but scrapped it) for the past several days so I decided to re-read some of my most recent posts. Usually when I do this, it is a guarantee that something will need to be tweaked. Such was the case today with the article in question. It is one of the edits itself that has inspired me to write this article I lay before you. This paragraph did not contain an error, but it did contain a weakness:

Sure enough, a few days, maybe weeks later, it came time to post some rebuttals (something I promised I was going to do) to one, Barry Germansky and a comment he left on an earlier post, and one of the phrases I was using just seemed like it needed some backing up by some intellectual authority figure. The phrase was “near-rational”, and again, “quasi-rational”. I wasn’t able to find the quotation at that time, which is why I feel compelled to write about it now.

Let me just say that every single word, punctuation, and idea is EXACTLY how it was before the edit. How can it possibly be called an edit then? Where was this weakness? The truth is that upon reading the paragraph, I was reminded of a logical fallacy (elsewhere in the piece I point out a few straw men), argument from authority (or if you want to be all fancy, argumentum ad verecundiam). So what I did was add a link to the word “authority.”

But understand that this is no mea culpa, but a disclaimer! I am not acknowledging that I engaged in a logical fallacy, because frankly, I hadn’t. But I realized that it looked like I might have, so better to link to the wikipedia page on aforementioned fallacy before someone else (not that anyone would read such an ugly mess) points out what they perceive to be one, thereby attempting to discredit one or all of my points, forcing me to do damage control. It is probably not the sort of thing anyone would notice, whether I have 2 readers or 2 million, whether before or after the edit, but I think it behooves me, as a writer-albeit-amateur, to act on it.

Now, how can I say that I did not engage in this fallacy? Did I not do exactly as the fallacy describes, appeal to authority? Before I answer the second, let me answer the first. I can say it for two reasons, the first being that argumentum ad verecundiam is not technically always a fallacy. Rather, when it is pointed out, it is usually because the specific case is a fallacy, as when the authority in question is not really an authority, or when there is hardly any consensus and you use it as your chief argument. So there is an inherent bias in pointing out the type of argument that makes one automatically assume it is one (a fallacy), rightly so in most cases. The second reason is that the whole point of appealing to the authority was not to win an argument, but more to provide an anecdote on why I phrased an idea in another argument a certain way; as well as to introduce other concepts, for not only did I say that authority figure A said statement B, therefore B must be true, but I dissected some of the ideas behind B, independently of who just happened to have said it. So, to answer the second question, yes, I did appeal to authority, but not really as part of any argument.

Perhaps there is something wrong with me. That is, being so messy on the one hand and so meticulous on the other. I’ll just blame it on my rugged individualism and that spontaneous order malarkey.

*I am proud to say that some of the things I write (including the piece before you) are more spontaneous. I get a blank slate, start typing, and post (unless of course it was originally an email or comment, but the same basic scenario plays out), just like that, no prior preparation whatsoever.

†What is with that seeming paradox for a title? The antecedent to the first, third, fourth, and sixth “it” is “argument.” The antecedent to the second and fifth “it” is “the reason.” The antecedent to each “one” is “fallacy.”

R ٤ ‎٧ ‎ه ‎ن ط Τ ח ه أ !

R ٤ ‎٧ ‎ه ‎ن ط Τ ח ه أ !

Now that the Ron Paul campaign is over (thanks to those cheating scumbags at the RNC), this blog will be dedicated to my interests and my ideology. In other words, not much is going to change. The R3volution was an educational and entertaining experience for me, and to the extent that it is still going I hope to learn more things and have more fun.

Currently I am endorsing anyone but Obama and Romney, not because I have hope that someone else can or will win, but because the vote is more legitimate as a means of protest than it is as a means of government. Write in Ron Paul, Thomas Jefferson, or Mickey Mouse, check in that box for Gary Johnson or Virgil Goode, put a giant X through your ballot, go shopping and stimulate the economy, or stay home and read a book on economics or political philosophy. Sit on the couch and watch TV for all I care! Even if nobody physically counts your vote (including non-votes) and even if the media doesn’t report the numbers, your collective non-cooperation won’t go unnoticed. Most importantly, vote your conscience.

I plan not only on evading the Democratic side of the ballot, DOWN THE LINE, this November, but to a large extent, the Republican side. There are very few decent people running for any office in either major party. And the few that are decent, on occasion, picked the wrong election cycle to show their bad side. So if there is any worthy person who lost in the primary, or maybe a Libertarian Party nominee or two, that’s who I’m casting my lot with.

Ron Paul 2016! Until then, lets make an effort to end the brainwashing and the hysteria.

God Bless.

Is Anybody Out There? I Am Back, With Thoughts on the Upcoming Election.

Is Anybody Out There? I Am Back, With Thoughts on the Upcoming Election.

I have been on a sort of hiatus these last few weeks. I was not able to attend to this blog as I created another one that took up most of my spare time. It’s focus was to possibly bring about any one of four things,

1) Have Gary Johnson and Jim Gray both resign in favor of Ron Paul. Gary Johnson would then get back on the Libertarian ticket as the Vice Presidential nominee. Within about a day I realized that this option was not viable because of the Sore Loser laws. Ron Paul “lost” running for one presidential nomination so he could not legally run for president in several states.

2) Have Jim Gray resign in favor of Ron Paul. This option soon came to the forefront as it maximized support without all the legal challenges and loss of ballot access that would occur were Ron Paul to run for president on a post-primary ticket. The effort had until Monday, September 17th to lobby Doctor Paul to tell the Libertarian Party, Gary Johnson, and Jim Gray that he wanted to be on their ticket. Given that that was today and nothing has happened, it appears that this effort has failed.

3) Have Gary Johnson promise to pick up Ron Paul for a cabinet position. Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of the Treasury, Fed Chairman, what have you. This will be the main focus of my other blog in the weeks ahead. Unfortunately, Gary Johnson has already indicated that he was not likely to do this. There is still time to change his mind and to lobby Ron Paul to accept such an offer, though. This may not even be allowable, so I will be looking into it before I go any further in that direction.

4) Have Ron Paul give an endorsement, preferably conditional, to the Gary Johnson ticket. This could turn out to be the most fruitful option, but quite possibly the least likely given Ron Paul’s seeming commitment to not endorsing anyone. He did endorse all third party candidates in 2008, but that was before he made inroads into the GOP. The progress from these inroads is debatable in my opinion, but I understand why he might be reluctant to jeopardize it.

Having said all this, I stand by my words: I do not plan on voting for Gary Johnson in November. But I would like to qualify those words: Unless Ron Paul is on Gary Johnson’s team. Even then, I would have trouble voting for Gary Johnson, for reasons I will touch on below. A cabinet pick would be the most tempting, followed by a conditional endorsement, and then an unconditional endorsement.

The conditions I would like to see have to do with Gary Johnson’s serious need to clarify several, major points, namely:

Does his pro-choice stance mean he would uphold the Tenth Amendment or ignore/further erode it?

Does humanitarian intervention mean things such as Letters of Marque and Reprisal and Spanish Civil War-type volunteerism or does it mean more undeclared or unjust wars, unilateral or otherwise?

When he says, “end the war on drugs,” does he mean “decriminalize all substances” on the federal level and let the states and individuals decide for themselves, or simply “legalize marijuana, which we can then tax and regulate like we do alcohol and tobacco,” well?

Is his love for liberty rooted, at least partially, in a hatred for injustice and tyranny, or is it more from a utilitarian, the-greatest-benefit-to-the-greatest-number philosophy?

Should the federal government only prosecute and punish crimes actually listed in the Constitution, or just about any crime that may be a real or perceived problem?

Will states be allowed to ignore laws they deem unjust or should the federal government take measures to prevent this, whether through the courts, the legislature, or the executive branch?

Is getting rid of the income tax and replacing it with the Fair Tax part of a broader plan to eliminate all taxes unnecessary to the legitimate constitutional functions of government, or is it an end in itself?

There are other things I wonder about him that are very important, but those listed above are the potential deal-breakers. If he picks the first option in the majority of questions, some being more important than others, I just might vote for him. If he picks the second one in the majority of questions, not only will I not vote for him, but I will continue to be critical of him, being hostile when necessary. Some of these questions have been asked before. But the way they were asked, or the time allotted was not conducive to a meaningful answer.

A lot of conservatives are not too happy about Romney, but they justify voting for him in several ways, most of which are absurd on their face. One of these is that “we will hold him accountable, if he does something we don’t like, we’ll hold his feet to the fire.” This sounds just wonderful. Heck, if I thought it would work, even I would vote for Romney. And I absolutely hate the guy! But anyone with even a cursory knowledge of the Reagan administration, George W. Bush, or the Class of ’94 should reject such folly outright. I say, if you can’t get someone on your side BEFORE the election, cast any thought of voting for them aside. Do not vote for them. Not in the primary, and certainly not in the general election. The same goes for Gary Johnson, which is why I listed the above conditions.

In any case, whether I end up supporting him or not, I do hope Gary Johnson makes it into the debates. I would support ANY third party candidate getting into the debates, even a Communist, because ending the two party monopoly is just as important to advancing the cause of liberty as having a good candidate is. I just don’t think it will happen without Gary Johnson first convincing all (or much more than just “most”) of the Ron Paul vote to support him. 15% is a hard threshold to attain, let alone maintain, especially when most people that might otherwise consider voting for you think getting rid of Obama is priority number one.

Joseph Schumpeter’s Anti-Utopian Quotation

Joseph Schumpeter’s Anti-Utopian Quotation.

[Disclaimer: The objective of this piece is to get things off my chest, to engage the three people I mention herein, possibly at the risk of weirding out others who do not know the background of the piece, and to show that a voluntary society is both moral and workable.]

A few weeks or maybe more than a month ago, I came across a quotation from Joseph Schumpeter (1883-1950) that I thought made a lot of sense.

Schumpeter is one of those long-dead Austrian economists that you read about every so often. He was a pupil, along with Ludwig von Mises, of Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, the Austrian Finance Minister. Though he was influenced to a great extent by the Austrian school of economics, he is generally considered to be a member of the Historical school of economics. In reality, he was a little of both (in addition to being enamored of the Lausanne school of economics and influenced by Weberian sociology), as he attempted to solve the two schools’ differences in methodology.

I haven’t read any of his books, and I don’t plan on doing so any time soon, but I recommend to anyone interested in economics or political philosophy from either a classical liberal or heterodox perspective, that they consider at least perusing some of them. I had to do this myself just the other day trying to find his quotation again. I couldn’t find it in any of the books I scanned through.

All the while I was looking myself, I asked some others to help me out. I emailed no less personages than Walter Block (got back to me), Gary North (got back to me), Roderick LongMark Thornton (got back to me), Thomas DiLorenzoDavid GordonRobert HiggsHans HoppeRobert Murphy (got back to me), Ralph RaicoJoseph SalernoP.J. Hill, and Thomas Woods (got back to me), with the message:

I read a quote from Joseph Schumpeter just the other day that I thought was pretty good. But for the life of me I can’t recall where exactly I read it, and am unable to find it using google or the lists of Schumpeter quotes I found. It basically states that consumers aren’t really rational, but instead their decisions approach the rational, and it maybe also had something to do with price system or the allocation of resources. I am working on something right now and feel that this quote would be a perfect fit for the point I am trying to get across. I would greatly appreciate your help if you can point me in the right direction, perhaps if you know the exact quotation or the work it is found in. I am emailing a few other knowledgeable people about this quote, so if you are unable to help, that is fine too.

Thank you very much,

Henry Moore

For the record, I do not put Schumpeter on as high a pedestal as I would a Mises or a Hayek or a Rothbard. I find some of the things he wrote to be questionable and some of the things he said to be reprehensible. But he was a very intelligent, well-informed man who has contributed much insight to the fields of economics, sociology, political science, and philosophy, and so there is still wisdom to be extracted from his voluminous body of work. Hence my fixation with just one measly quotation.

I must have originally read it here, though this is not where I eventually found it again. I thought it was worth keeping, so I copied and pasted it to one of my files, just in case I needed it for something.

Sure enough, a few days, maybe weeks later, it came time to post some rebuttals (something I promised I was going to do) to one, Barry Germansky and a comment he left on an earlier post, and one of the phrases I was using just seemed like it needed some backing up by some intellectual authority figure. The phrase was “near-rational”, and again, “quasi-rational”. I wasn’t able to find the quotation at that time, which is why I feel compelled to write about it now.

The reason the particular phrase needed some additional fire power (while certain other phrases and ideas did not) has to do with the its relation to the central issue in my “discussion” with Germansky. Germansky’s op-ed makes several statements and draws several conclusions that I fundamentally disagree with, but I felt it absolutely necessary to convey (though unfortunately not emphasize, as I couldn’t find the quotation), that I did accept at least some of his premises. It is very hard to argue with someone without agreeing with them on a few basics. In spite of Germansky’s straw man arguments to the contrary, advocates of the free market (I speak mainly for libertarians of Austrian persuasion, albeit as a layman) do not have Utopian ideals, and reject the idea of mankind’s and society’s perfectability.

The premise that we all agree on is that of man’s imperfectability, more or less the same as his fallibility. He is unable to create Utopia (Greek for “No Place,” though true Utopians think it is Greek for “Good Place”). There are, of course, different ways of putting this idea to words. The Christians have their Doctrine of Original Sin. A number of other religions also acknowledge that man, while confined to earth, cannot create his own heaven. The secular humanist might think more in terms of man being a superior being, but an evolved (perhaps still evolving) animal nonetheless, and that when push comes to shove, survival, at least in the subconscious of the individual, trumps any notion of moral duty or value.

[Let me briefly pause here, before going on to show how Germansky and Schumpeter each have their own version of the above premise, to say that this piece, came largely out of the blue as several things came together right before me. I have already explained some of this, but while the iron is still hot, I would like to strike it again. That's why I am giving a shout out to Rick Searle and Giulio Caperchi, two fellow bloggers with whom I have had similar (but less one-sided) discourses, more on which is hopefully to come in September. Searle has gotten me interested in the topic of Utopia of late, and Caperchi has some similarities to Germansky, in that they both argue for a separation of the political sphere from the economic, though the latter is much more rigid.]

Barry Germansky has his own philosophy, which he dubs Pseudo-Practicality (though what little I know of it would better be described as Quasi-Practicality) states that all human thoughts are mere abstractions, that all abstractions are inherently contradictory, but that some (perhaps to be determined through trial and error, or just logical deduction) are less contradictory than others. He also maintains (quite rightly) that societies based on the least contradictory abstract concepts, though still imperfect, are preferable to more contradictory forms of societal conduct or structure.

Clearly, at least in his philosophy, Barry Germansky rejects Utopianism. But then comes the rub. What he advocates in terms of societal behavior and hierarchy violates his own philosophy. Hyperdemocracy and legal positivism, and their products (ranging from the socialist dictatorship to the special-interest oligarchy to the “benign” welfare state) are among the most highly contradictory (and therefore Utopian relative to the claims made for them by their apologists) societal configurations imaginable. I feel that I (will) have shown this (in due time), hopefully within the scope of my discussion(s) with Germansky.

Not to be outdone, Schumpeter also had something to say on this, the imperfectability of man and society. Which brings me at long last to the quotation (Which I did eventually find, buried deep in my files, as it was in a format that made it impossible for my internal search application to find it using any keywords. I basically just happened upon it after becoming demoralized and giving up entirely.) itself, which was first published in 1911:

The assumption that conduct is prompt and rational is in all cases a fiction. But it proves to be sufficiently near to reality, if things have had time to hammer logic into men. Where this has happened, and within the limits in which it has happened, one may rest content with this fiction and build theories upon it.

The implication is that people are not perfectly rational, though they are capable of rational thought and action. The take-away from this is that even though mankind can come apparently close to perfection in so many of his decisions and endeavors, he still can not know and consider every possible facet of every possible detail of his actions and their possible consequences, long enough or hard enough for them to truly be considered infallible. There is a constant falling short, even if in practice this is of little concern.

For those that accept them (what I suspect is the majority of informed free market advocates) these notions preclude all Utopian aspirations on their part. For even if the free market were Utopian on the same grounds (their unworkability) that hyperdemocracy and legal positivism are, it still wouldn’t be Utopian in its ideals or goals, outside of perhaps a few ideological circles. So, a free market might still be Utopian to the extent that it is not all that it is claimed to be. But a great deal of the claims as to what those claims are, are exaggerations. More straw men.

The free market’s advocates do not claim for it the same types of things that other Utopian ideas (including those masquerading as non-Utopian) claim. Take social justice and equality. For even those Market Anarchists who emphasize the value of these two things recognize that even within their preferred system, perfect social justice and perfect equality are just as unattainable as perfect rationality. This is because the benefits of a free society and free economy are still conferred on merits (how valuable a producer, and not just in the sense of a manufacturer or other entrepreneur, each person is to society, to consumers). Discrimination still exists, but it is not, at root, irrational. So there is social justice.

Because what discrimination that manifests itself is rooted in the choices of individuals and their responsibility for themselves, it creates alignments rather than distortions. That is, those with a low time preference and high motivation get what they desire, and those with a high time preference and low motivation get what they desire. Both groups would contain free riders (those with low time preference wait to do things at lower cost than those with a higher time preference, and those who are less motivated do not have as much at risk in relation to the benefit they reap in the form of increased capacity or standard of living brought on by the more highly motivated) on the others, but none of them is complicit in fraud or coercion in so doing. So there is equality (in addition to equality before the law).

The imperfections of society do not reflect the structure of that society, in a free, voluntary, or unanimous consent society, so much as they reflect each individual’s responsibility for himself. Bad choices are the responsibility of the chooser.

This does not mean that there is no spill-over effect. But the negative impact can be lessened if distortions are not present. And where others are wrongly affected, there is room for reparation, compensation, justice to be meted out.

Nor does it mean that others are prohibited from protecting the bad decision maker from some of the consequences of his actions, or helping him to deal with them. For these acts (of protecting or helping) are themselves choices which may be bad or good and come with their own sets of consequences.