Americanly Yours

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In Praise of Edward Snowden

March 10, 2014 By: Phred Category: Uncategorized

Many people including President Obama have said that what Edward Snowden did was wrong because he should have complained to his managers before going public.  Well he did.  Ten times.  And he was ignored ten times.  He could have sat back and let this evil continue.  He could have complained an eleventh time and then a twelfth time…and eventually a two hundredth time, but it would have never made a difference.

So, rather than sitting back and doing nothing, he came forward with what he knew.  He defended his country against an egregious abuse of authority committed by the State–and for that he is a hero.  He risked his life by single-handedly standing up to the most powerful government in the history of the world and telling the world that what was happening was not right.

John Stuart Mill once said “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”  Well, Edward Snowden looked on, but had the courage to not do nothing.

Sanctions Kill

March 04, 2014 By: Phred Category: Uncategorized

Some people are calling for the US and EU to place sanctions on Russia for its deplorable actions in Ukraine. This is probably the worst thing that the US and EU can do about this situation without resorting to nuclear war. Sanctions are an act of war and should be opposed by all peace loving people.

Sanctions kill.

The Bush-Clinton-Bush sanctions in Iraq are just one example of how horrible of a policy sanctions can be. These sanctions killed an unknown but extremely high number of people. Sanctions also do not punish the offenders in the regime: rather they punish the innocent people who are already suffering under an oppressive regime. Estimates range from around 170K to around 600K or more children who were killed by these sanctions. I am willing to bet that not one of these children was a high ranking government official. In contrast: as terrible, as immoral, and as violent as the Iraq War was, estimates of civilian deaths range from around 100K to around 600K. In other words, sanctions killed as many or more people than did a massive military invasion followed by a bloody civil war.

Besides all this, some estimates put Putin’s personal wealth at $70 billion. Do you think that sanctions are more likely to hurt him or impoverished Russians?

Why Mandating Coverage For Preexisting Conditions Is Morally Wrong

July 16, 2012 By: Phred Category: Uncategorized

Despite overall disapproval with President Obama’s health care law, many of its provisions remain popular.  Perhaps the most popular provision in the law is one that prevents insurance companies from discriminating against customers based on “preexisting conditions.”  The logic is relatively simple at first glance: people with debilitating conditions will not be able to get coverage at affordable prices unless Congress mandates that insurance companies cannot discriminate against those with a preexisting condition.

We all know someone with a preexisting medical condition, be it cancer, diabetes, or pregnancy.  The fact that we all know someone who currently has or previously has had a preexisting condition is one reason why this provision is so popular.  After all, it is difficult to argue with someone who uses the emotional appeal of an aunt with cancer or a single pregnant woman who is uninsured.  Emotional appeals can be used to “justify” any side of any issue but they cannot prove anything.  Preexisting conditions can be tragically sad and are often not the fault of anyone, be it the victim or society as a whole.

There is a very important question that we must ask before we decide whether or not such a provision is a good idea: is it appropriate to punish someone who has done nothing wrong?

This is a very serious question.  If we decide that it is appropriate to punish someone who has committed no wrong, then we must not only answer why it is appropriate to punish the innocent, but who should punish the innocent and how severely they should be punished for their non-wrongs.

I do not see how any rational person who has thought about this question can decide that it is morally acceptable to punish a person who has done nothing wrong.

Therefore, if it is not appropriate to punish someone who has done nothing wrong, then we must absolutely reject the idea of Congress mandating that insurance companies not discriminate against those with preexisting conditions.  The reason for this is simple: forcing insurance companies to provide “affordable” coverage for those with preexisting conditions must result in increased costs for those of us without preexisting conditions.

Insurance is a vehicle which prices and protects against risk.  This is usually done by assigning people with similar characteristics to “risk pools” and charging them similar premiums.  In a free market for health insurance, 35 year old male smokers residing in the Chicago area who are overweight and have type 2 diabetes are likely to be placed in the same pool and will be charged the same or a similar monthly premium.  Under a system where insurance companies are prevented from discriminating against those with preexisting conditions, the previous group is merged with the group of 35 year old male smokers residing in the Chicago area who are overweight but do not have type 2 diabetes.  While this will result in lower premiums for those with type 2 diabetes, it will result in higher fees for those without the disease.

In other words, while preventing insurance companies from discriminating against those with preexisting conditions sounds like a noble idea, it ends up punishing those who have done no wrong.

I am sorry if you have a preexisting medical condition, I truly am, but unless you can conclude that your preexisting condition is my fault, you have absolutely no moral right to punish me for your condition.

Constitution, Shmonstitution!

August 02, 2010 By: Phred Category: Uncategorized

I have often used the Constitution as one way of justifying my opposition to “laws” passed or proposed by Congress and the President. After all, the US Constitution is touted by many people as the “supreme law of the land.”

But, very few people ever ask why it is the supreme law of the land, or why it even has any power at all, and almost no one asks if it is the supreme law of the land, or if it has any power at all.

In fact, it is the Constitution that calls itself the “supreme Law of the Land.”  So if you ask someone why the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, they are likely to respond by telling you that it says so right there in the Constitution.  If you were to then respond to that by asking what gives the Constitution the right to declare that it is the supreme law of the land, they are likely to respond by saying that it is the supreme law of the land (or something to that same effect). This is what philosophers call a tautological argument, and what everyone else calls a circular argument.

Is the Constitution the supreme law of the land?

Well, the Constitution was a contract.  It was signed by 39 men at the Constitutional Convention (out of the 55 delatates).  Following this, the States held their own votes on ratification in which 1071 men voted in favor of adopting the new Constitution. But, all this tells us is that 1,100 men agreed to the Constitutional Contract.  What of the 16 delegates who refused to sign the Constitution?  What of the hundreds of men who voted against the ratification of the Constitution in their State legislatures.  And most importantly, what of the people who were not given the opportunity to vote for or against the Constitution?

Would it be right to assume that the people who explicitly refused to sign a contract should be forced to abide by it?

But, the vast majority of Americans were not allowed to vote at the time of the Constitution.  This included children, slaves, women, indentured servants, and (in many States) those who did not own property.  They had no say in their local or State governments, and thus no representation in the Constitutional Convention (which—by the way—was authorized by the Congress to amend the Articles of Confederation, not to replace it). The Revolutionary War, which ended less than 5 years before the Constitutional Convention, was fought over the issue of “taxation without representation.”   We must ask ourselves if being governed without one’s consent is substantively different than being taxed without one’s consent/representation.  And no, these arent just the musings of a lone libertarian.  According to recent polling, only 23% of America voters believe that the United States government has the “consent of the governed,” while 62% say that it does not.

Imagine if Verizon offered to provide you with wireless service in exchange for a fee, but for whatever reason, you EXPLICITLY DECLINED to sign the contract (even though most of your neighbors agreed).  Could anyone rightfully assume that Verizon would have the right to declare itself your provider? Of course not.

Lysander Spooner brilliantly pointed out that those who support the Constitution often use the right to vote as a method of justifying the legitimacy of the government. A simple examination of these arguments reveals that this argument falls into a severe tautological trap as well. For eaxmple:

  • If I vote for the winning candidate, I have given my consent to his actions because I have sanctioned his platform. Furthermore, I have given sanction to the Constitution by participating in its institutions.
  • If I vote against the winning candidate, I have still given my consent to the Constitution because the act of voting implies that I agree to the process outlined in the Constitution and that I would expect the losers of the vote to abide by the results of the vote had my candidate of choice won.
  • If I choose not to vote, then I have no right to complain about the government because I have declined to participate in a “valid” process which could have yielded different results had I participated.

Thus, whether or not I vote, and whether or not I vote for the winner, I am giving sanction to the Constitution and to the actions of the government. We can easily see how this is a circular argument, akin to the expression “damned if you dont, damned if you do.” You dont have to be a trained philosopher to realize that this argument isnt a sound one.

Lysander Spooner argued that the Constitution actually bound no one. I agree with his logic, but have reached different conclusions.  I will argue that the Constitution does not bind very many people, but it does bind those (and only those) who have expliticly agreed to the Contract.

The President, Vice President, and members of Congress all take an oath upon entering office.  In doing so, they are explicitly giving their consent to the Constitution and agree to act in accordance to this Constitution.

Thus, the President, Vice President, and Congress are required by law to uphold the Constitution and its provisions, whether or not they like what it says. Failure to do so is a violation of their oath and a violation of the laws of the government that they have explicitly agreed to serve. The President’s oath reads

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Notice the final clause which demands that the President “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Thus, the President must use his veto power whenever Congress passes a law that violates the terms of the Constitutional Contract. Failure to do so would be an explicit violation of the President’s oath and grounds for removal from office.

Similarly, the oath of Congressmen reads:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

This oath differs in that it requires members of Congress to ” support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same. [Emphasis added]” This is an important difference, as it not requires Congressmen to defend the Constitution against domestic enemies as well. Thus, every member of Congress has a duty to defend the Constitutional Contract from those who wish to undermine it. This must not only include other members of Congress who are bent on undermining the Constitution, but also must include protecting the Constitution against Presidents who rountiely violate the Constitution and their oath to the Constitution.

But if most members of Congress, as well as the President, Vice President, Cabinet, and most of the executive bureaucracy—the people who have taken an oath to the Constitution and who are thus bound by it—refuse to adhere to the Constitution or to their oath, then why should we, the American people have to abide by the Constitution?

Generations of Congresses and Presidents have routinely violated the Constitution and have trampled on the protections afforded in the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 14th, 15th, and 21st amendments. Their actions have rendered many of the above amendments nothing more than “dead letters.” The trampling of the Constitution by the very people who have sworn to protect it is not limited to the Constitutional amendments themselves, but also includes the routine violation of many of the protections contained in the body of the Constitution itself.

I have pointed out that members of Congress and the President have taken oaths requiring adherence to the Constitution. We The People, on the other hand have not. This fact alone leads to the logical conclusion that the Constitution does not apply to those of us who have not declared allegiance to it. And yet, many of those who ahve taken official oaths to the Constitution routinely violate it. Thus, the question must again be asked: if most members of Congress, as well as the President, Vice President, Cabinet, and most of the executive bureaucracy—the people who have taken an oath to the Constitution and who are thus bound by it—refuse to adhere to the Constitution or to their oath, then why should we, the American people have to abide by the Constitution?

In addition to Presidents and the Congress, members of the military take oaths of loyalty to protect and defend the Constitution as well:

“I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic [emphasis added]; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

The military oath not only requires that members of the armed services protect America against foreign invasion, but also requires that these members protect the Constitution from domestic enemies (those who have sworn allegiance to the Constitution but violate it) as well.

But, instead of taking their oaths seriously and defending the Constitution which they have sowrn to protect, Presidents, members of Congress, and members of the military have been much more willing to use their authority to force the American people to live under an unconstitutional (and nonconsensual) government.

I ask again: If the government refuses to abide by the Constitution, why should we?

The answer is that we shouldnt.

How long will we continue to allow Congress to rule over us using a “do as we say, not as we do” logic? The truth is that this has gone on long enough.

But, even if Congress, the President, and everyone else within the goverment followed their oaths perfectly, this would not be reason enough to follow their laws. The above statement stems fromt he simple fact that the vast majority of the American people have never sworn an oath of allegiance to the Constitution. A simple example can be used to understand why we are not bound to the Constitution—even if it is perfectly followed. Imagine that someone declares himself to be the new owner of your car without your permission. This man has no legal or rightful claim to your car, but that doesnt stop him from claiming ownership. However, this man is “nice enough” to allow you to use the car whenever you want. Thus, his “ownership” of your car doesnt interefere with your right to use the car in any way. But, does this mean that you should allow him to get away with the crime of claiming false ownership over your car? Of course not. It is true that while he still “allowed” you to drive your car whenever and wherever you wanted you probably wouldnt rebel against him, but that surely wouldnt meant hat you have accepted his claim of ownership over your car.

The vast majority of the readers of this article have taken no oath of allegiance to the Constitution or the the US Government (which itself is guilty of repeatedly violating the Constitution).  I have never read the words of the oath aloud, I have never signed an oath of loyalty to the United States or to the Constitution.  How then can anyone argue that this document binds those of us who have not taken a loyalty oath?

The Constitution itself was nothing more than a well orchastrated coup, designed to centralize the powers of the government into the hands of an elite few. The vast majority of citizens (and all of the slaves held) never had a proper say in the approval of the Constitution. And, as Lysander Spooner pointed out, one cannot sign a contract that binds future generations (wouldnt that be the greatest form of taxation without representation that is possible?). Thus, even if the Constitution somehow did bind all those living under it upon its ratification, it binds no one today but those who have explicitly agreed to it.

The Constitution does not bind those of us who have made no such explicit agreement. Thus, we have no legal or moral obligation to follow the “laws” put forth by Congress, the regulations created by Congress or executive agencies, or the executive orders and decrees made by the president.

I am not advising you to break the law—just because the law doesnt bind us does not mean that the government will not employ the use of men with guns to force you to comply with its laws and regultations. Just as an unarmed person would probably be better off (ie, would have a much better chance of survival) turning his wallet over to an armed robber who demanded the wallet, most people will find it easier to comply with the “laws” of the United States government rather than risk their own death or imprisonment.

But, even as we continue to hand the robber our wallet, this does not mean that we should recognize the legitimacy of the robber who demands tribute and restricts the liberty of so many millions of people.  It certainly does not mean that we should be happy to hand the robber our hard earned wealth.

Recognizing the illegitimacy of the Constitution and the United States government is a very important step. The more that people recognize this fact and speak about it, the more obvious it will become to the populace.

A critical mass of Americans is needed to recognize that we do not owe our allegiance to the Constitution.  Furthermore, this critical mass needs to realize that the United States government is illegitimate and that it has no moral right to tax, rule, or restrict the liberty of anyone who has not consented to be ruled.  Only when the people wake up and realize these facts will we be able to restore our lost liberties.

Americanly Yours,

Phred Barnet

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Taxation Is Theft

June 09, 2010 By: Phred Category: Uncategorized

Even most children know that taking things without permission is known as stealing.

There are three methods of acquiring property: homesteading, voluntary exchange, and theft.   The first two methods are just, while theft is inherently unjust.  Taxation involves taking things without permission and must be classified as theft.

However, before deciding on whether or not taxation should be considered theft, the term “taxation” must be defined. I will define taxation as “a government mandated extraction of resources from individuals and/or groups, paid to support the aims of the government.”

The phrase, “mandatory extraction” is the key to understanding why taxation is theft. A mandatory extraction, by nature, is taken through the use of force or coercion, and not paid voluntarily.

Theft is always theft, regardless of who does the theft, how the theft occurs, and what excuses the thief makes to “justify” the theft.  The ONLY exception to this statement is when things are taken as restitution for a prior wrong (for example, if you stole $100 from a person, a court would be justified in taking $100 from you without your permission to repay the victim).

Before I go on, I must address a question that I will surely be asked by many readers: arent taxes special because they are taken by the government in order to provide people with their basic needs?

The answer to this question is a flat NO!

People have certain inalienable rights which should never be violated. It would be wrong of me to kill you, rob you, or physically harm you. Governments are made up of people, and are often created by people to secure their rights. Because governments are made up only of people, governments cannot have any rights that people themselves do not have. It simply does not make sense for this to be untrue. Rights are rights, people are people. Any claims that the government has more rights than anyone else is arguing that some people (the populace) should be considered inferior and subordinate to others (the government).

Taxation involves taking property from people without their consent; taxation is theft.

To quote myself: “If a man with a gun were to demand that unless you pay him 1/3 of your income he would lock you in a cage, he would be guilty of initiating the use of force with the intent of committing theft. It would not matter if the man promised to use this money to pay for a school for your children, for a new highway, or for a missile defense program. Taking things from a person without their permission is, by definition, theft.  Silver-tongued rhetoric may be employed to obscure this fact, but it cannot change it.

Taking something from another person without their permission is always theft and should be condemned as theft. It does not matter what the “reason” or “justification” for this action is.  It does not matter who committed this theft, what was stolen, or how many people told the aggressor to act.”

Examples of taxation as theft

Some of the taxes described below are not traditionally thought of as taxes, but they are taxes—they all meet the above definition of being a government mandated extractions for the purposess of supporting the aims of the government.

A government imposed minimum wage law prevents a person (a sovereign owner of him or herself) from selling their labor to a potential buyer at a mutually agreed upon price. This is theft of a laborer’s future earnings.

A government imposed ban on the sale of alcohol on Sunday prevents a person from selling their justly acquired resources to an individual willing to purchase them. This is theft of profits.

A government imposed business regulation prevents a business from using its justly acquired resources in the manner that it sees fit.  This is theft as well.

A mandatory income tax, imposed under penalty of imprisonment, enforced by men with guns is theft of the fruits of one’s labor. Stealing one’s labor is called slavery. A mandatory income tax makes the government a middle man in all labor transactions, and allows them to claim ownership of property that they did not justly acquire.

A mandatory property tax, imposed under penalty of imprisonment, enforced by men with guns is, by definition, a violation of property rights, and therefore is theft—no explanation should be necessary to prove this. But… property taxes are fees on products that have already been paid for. They are levied on the owner of a property. A mandatory fee on residents for the continued use of their own house is no different than the government charging a person rent to stay on their own property. Remember, a person who justly acquires property becomes the owner of that property, but if a person has to pay the government rent to occupy their own property, who is the real owner of the property, the homeowner, or the government?

A mandatory sales tax, imposed under penalty of imprisonment, enforced by men with guns is theft as well. A mandatory sales tax makes the government a middle man in all retail transactions, and allows them to claim ownership of property that they did not justly acquire. Sure, they can argue that sales taxes are imposed in order to pay for police, but this does not change the fact that this money was acquired through theft, and not through voluntary means. The mafia also forces businesses to pay a protection fee.

I would love to hear your comments on this article, but please dont post a comment or send me an email that says “taxes are necessary because without them, the government could not provide services.” I have addressed this above: taking money from someone without their persmission and then using that money to buy they something that they may or may not want is still taking something without permission [theft].

Please do not send me a message or post a comment telling me that taxation is “voluntary” and not theft because if I disagree with the taxes, I can move somewhere else. When it comes to taxes, we have three choices: paying a tax, or refusing to pay the tax and being arrested by men with guns and then locked in a cage, or leaving one’s family, friends, and property behind to search for a society that does not employ mandatory taxation. This fact should make it clear that taxation is not voluntary. A person who uses coercion to force another person to give up some of their property under threat of violence is guilty of extortion. Governments can have no rights that people do not have, and are therefore just as guilty of extortion as would be a person who acted in this manner.

Furthermore, the argument that if a person does not want to pay taxes, they can renounce their citizenship and leave the US to avoid taxes is false.  The US government does levy a tax on people who give up citizenship:

Expatriation on or after June 17, 2008, may cause an expatriate to be subject to IRC § 877A, which was enacted as part of the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act (HEART) Act of 2008. Generally, IRC § 877A imposes income tax on the net unrealized gain on property held by certain U.S. citizens or green card holders who terminate their US residency as if their worldwide property had been sold for its fair market value on the day before the expatriation or residency termination (mark-to-market tax). The Treasury Department and IRS have authority to issue regulations under IRC § 877A so further guidance is expected soon, though it has not been released yet.”

Finally, please do not send me a message or post a comment asking how things like schools, roads, or even national defense could be paid for without mandatory taxation. There exists a long history of voluntary provision of all these goods and services (check out this book for more information).

Furthermore, these items could be provided for through taxation in a purely voluntary manner if people were allowed to exercise their natural right to free association and choose their own government. Under voluntary government, taxation could no longer be considered theft, as those who did not wish to pay a tax could simply drop out of one government and sign a contract with another government.

Economist Walter Block argues that under voluntary government, one would have “the right to stay put, on one’s own property, and either to shift alliance to another political entity, or to set up shop as a sovereign on one’s own account.”

Governmental services can be provided on the free market as can any other service; a government would agree to provide certain services (possibly protection, roads, health care, or whatever) in exchange for a fee from a citizen. Thus, the citizen would be paying a purely voluntary tax.

In contrast to voluntary, contractual government, our government does not allow citizens to withdraw their support from the State.  It levies taxes on people without their consent.  These non-consensual taxes must be recognized and exposed for what they are: THEFT.

Americanly Yours,

Phred Barnet

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