February 11, 2013 § 1 Comment
I won’t be publishing any new posts for the next 3 to 4 months. I will be away and incapable of writing. Unfortunately I don’t have any pre-written posts to auto-publish while I will be away either.
If you have enjoyed Minds Alike thus far I encourage you stay subscribed and be a champion of liberty by spreading the word. Or even start your own blog.
One interesting thing to do is to check out my old posts and laugh at my development of thought.
The previous post on Ron Paul and my transition from Marxist to libertarian is an essay from a short book I am in the process of publishing. The short book is a compilation of 7-10 essays on various related topics. More to say about that later.
February 8, 2013 § Leave a Comment
A moral people must reject all violence in an effort to mold people’s beliefs or habits…The same moral standards that individuals are required to follow should apply to all government officials. They cannot be exempt. The ultimate solution is not in the hands of the government.
Ron Paul retired from Congress after almost 30 year off and on career, and people like myself, whom were changed after discovering him, owe a gratitude of thanks. This essay is my expression of thanks for his invaluable contributions to my life.
From late-2010-2011 I was a staunch Marxist. My activist friends and I were all Marxists and we opposed all forms of capitalism. I was recently reminded of our hardened positions when I reverted to my old phone and viewed the messages and contacts. In these messages I expressed the importance of abolishing the price system and currency if the world ever wanted peace and freedom because, I mistakenly thought, that was the source of every problem. Some contacts in particular were members of the Dallas branches of Students For a Democratic Society and International Socialist Organization. How mistaken was I when I look back at the naiveté of my youth. Unfortunately not all of my former associates turned away and are still on the road to utopia.
Fast forward to the end of 2011 when I made the transition from Marxist to socialist-lite or social democrat. I supported capitalism (or what I thought was capitalism but more precisely a mixed economy leaning towards more public ownership) because I did not see the harm in trading goods and services for money. During this period I was neither Republican nor Democrat. As a socialist I opposed both parties, saw them both as evil and searched for an alternative ideology.
Most early socialists make the mistake of separating economic and personal freedom and I was no exception in this regard. I figured by abolishing the price system and currency, all the conflicts would cease and poverty would vanish. I didn’t understand all prices actually stood for something. Another minor but still fatal flaw of socialists and other critics and opponents of capitalism is the failure to distinguish capitalism from crony capitalism. For example, I mistakenly identified the 2008 Wall St. bailouts as capitalism.
The social democrats sparked my interest for a bit but with my current knowledge I now know I should have joined the Democratic Party, for they both implement socialism through democratic, reform means. I was opposed to the two headed, one party system, also known as the Republican and Democratic Party, on the whole but some politicians who stood out was Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Ohio congressman Dennis Kucinich. Sanders was a big deal to me and I followed him quite closely, sort of like I do Paul now. His constant, unabashed railing against corporations and the 1% lit a fire in me. But the fire was dim, as he offered no intellectual meat, no substance, for an intellectual kid like me. Kucinich was a champion on civil liberties and socialized medicine.
Other influential people and literature included A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present by Howard Zinn and Ralph Nader. Zinn’s writing offered me an alternative view on American history and revealed a lot of things I was never taught in the government schools. He also inspired me because of his activism, an activity which I was very much involved in at the time, and emphasis on civil disobedience; he was not just some intellectual writing about the people. For this reason above others, I give Zinn my all due respect and was saddened by his death in 2010.
Discovering Nader could have been the greatest accomplishment. I concluded Nader was a fighter for the people and protected us from those greedy, evil pig capitalists who were destroying civilization. I was clueless as to why he did not win presidency in 2008. Obviously then-Senator Obama was not a true “progressive.” I thank Nader for introducing me to Ron Paul via YouTube. A lot of Paul supporters are Nader supporters and for legitimate reasons.
Socialists/liberals and libertarians see eye to eye on many issues. Libertarians were the original left, hence the term classic liberal, that is, liberal to imperial British thought, until socialism calcified in America, giving way to the modern liberal (who bare no resemblance to liberal by definition). Libertarians supported drug legalization before liberals. Libertarians (and sometimes Marxists) are consistently opposed to aggressive military interventions, humanitarian missions and sanctions, and liberals are generally against military intervention but are grossly inconsistent in their record. Libertarians view government as inefficient or unnecessary, and certainly too large, while socialists and liberals view the current government as not good enough (and capable of fixing). Libertarians call for liberty in all realms of life, economic and personal, while socialist and liberals distinguish the two and merely profess support for liberty.
Many people said the change was insane because, they thought, socialism and libertarianism were opposites. This is partly true. The change was insane but they are not opposites.
In his essay, Murray Rothbard explained the ideological linkage between libertarians, socialists/liberals and conservatives:
Libertarians of the present day are accustomed to think of socialism as the polar opposite of the libertarian creed. But this is a grave mistake, responsible for a severe ideological disorientation of libertarians in the present world. As we have seen, conservatism was the polar opposite of liberty; and socialism, while to the “left” of conservatism, was essentially a confused, middle-of-the-road movement. It was, and still is, middle-of-the-road because it tries to achieve liberal ends by the use of conservative means.
Socialism, like liberalism and against conservatism, accepted the industrial system and the liberal goals of freedom, reason, mobility, progress, higher living standards for the masses, and an end to theocracy and war; but it tried to achieve these ends by the use of incompatible, conservative means: statism, central planning, communitarianism, etc.
For this matter, my eventual transition to libertarian was not a far leap.
My studying of Marxism allows me to dissect socialist arguments so easily. I enjoy engaging in debates but with socialists above all because I feel it is a great blot to mankind that must be cleaned. Once I challenged the International Socialist Organization Dallas branch to a debate at a local bookstore. I asked most of the members but none wanted to engage. Strangely they were easily accessible when I attended their meetings or organized. In a second attempt I challenged my associate-friend, a self described “Black Marxist” student at University of Texas, on the topic of socialism vs. capitalism but she never showed and the debate turned into a discussion with the attendees. Later on she invited a friend and I over to enjoy her mother’s cooking as a sign of forgiveness. We got a chance to spend a whole day–literally the whole day–with her and the rest of the family. What an experience. It is not often I get to deeply engage with Marxists, and I must say these people are crazy. I enjoyed the opportunity, though, and her and I still keep in contact. One day she and her brother will see the light.
During the Occupy movement I ran into three people who were Ron Paul supporters. Contrary to the stereotype there were non-Marxist occupiers in the beginning who participated because they were simply mad at the 2008 bailouts and their current state of employment or unemployment, which came through, they said, as a result of the recent recession. Occupy was mostly filled with Marxists so it was weird to see people of the liberty movement. It quickly turned into a communist gathering after the first two or three weeks and that isolated many people, so much, in fact, the group shrunk dramatically.
(The “People’s Mic” participatory democracy technique for decision making was so inefficient, counterproductive and divisive. Looking back, many writers explained the impracticality of such a communist-esque government and they were one hundred percent correct.)
The three people were drawing on a sign in front of the JFK monument before a protest and were so happy—liberty kind of naturally does that to you. When some protestors and I were walking towards the area, the three people looked up, waved and said something to the likes of, ‘Hey join the Ron Paul movement.’ We said bad words to the group and waved them off.
‘Why on earth would I join a capitalist movement? Besides, who is Ron Paul?’ I thought to myself. There I missed my first opportunity to join the liberty movement.
Alex Jones, a libertarian or paleoconservative, was announced to come and speak and the excitement in the air was evident. At the time I did not know who Alex Jones was, and whenever I asked the common reply was, “the guy from Info Wars.”
Fast-forward a few months after the Occupy movement when I stumbled into the field of economics. As apart of my political science degree plan was a minor study requirement and I chose economics. What a blessing and curse. Blessing because it changed my view on many things and rescued me from the sin of Marxism, and curse because I became addicted. The decision was hesitant because I only wanted to study economics on the side and not as a minor. I knew economics was important but was afraid it would overwhelm me. Ultimately, I am more than happy with the decision. To quote Ludwig von Mises, “economics is too important to be left to the economist.”
Thankfully my early economics books were not difficult to understand so I stayed with the course. I do not recall which I read first but my early books were by Austrian economists: F.A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom and Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson. Austrian authors are great for the layman.
I am not sure when or why I was surfing Youtube but as stated earlier it was through Nader that I found Paul. On the side as a related video was the infamous Paul-Guiliana exchange from 2007 during the 2008 primary presidential debate on the topic of the 9/11 attacks. Paul’s honesty and insistence on the “blowback” effects of foreign policy decisions blew my mind. How dare a politician—and a Republican, gasp!—question the accepted narrative of 9/11? I took away two things from the exchange: 1) Paul was an honest politician, though that may be a paradox, and 2) when challenged and booed, Paul repeated himself without hesitation, displaying conviction and courage, even on nationally sensitive and fresh topics. This guy, I concluded, was no regular politician. Politicians step outside to see which way the wind is blowing; they never lead the parade, unless, of course, it is in praise of them.
This single exchange forced me to further explore this new man. At the time I was still waning off socialism into a social democrat but something was obviously different about Paul—and he was a Republican, double gasp!—and we held similar foreign policy views. As a black man I was taught to believe Republicans do not care about black people and were warmongers. One of these assessments is correct.
Further exploring Paul forced to me study foreign policy and economics, both topics that I understood purely from an emotional point of view. I went on to study general war history and American foreign policy because of him.
Paul shocked me even more when I discovered he was interested in what most people consider fringe topics or conspiracies like the United Nations goal of a one-world government and currency, the Tri-laterial Commission and Council of Foreign Relations absolute control of American foreign policy, the Federal Reserve as the “bankers bank,” and CIA drug trafficking. In addition Paul always reminded people to demand transparency from and to never believe the government. Contrary to what I was taught in government schools, Benjamin Franklin, too, spoke harshly about the government.
After dozens of Paul videos, completing the Road to Serfdom, thenLibertarianism: A Primer by David Boaz I was an official convert. Now I am convinced that libertarianism is not only the best way for a peaceful and prosperous society but the moral way, too.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines libertarianism as “an extreme laissez-faire political philosophy advocating only minimal state intervention in the lives of citizens.” Liberty is defined as “the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by pleases; the power or scope to act as one pleases.”
A common misconception of libertarianism is that it is an ideology. I do not view it as this way. First and foremost, libertarianism is a political economic philosophy that advocates the non-aggression principle, that is, it is never OK to force anyone for any reason to do anything. We believe in the primacy of the individual, personal autonomy, that humans should be free to pursue their goals as they see fit, without outside force, so long as they do not violate the rights of others. It rejects all acts of violence or threat of violence with the exception of self-defense. It does not distinguish violence from private persons or government officials. From this starting point we can predict the libertarian position on every issue, as it is a consistent position.
Another misconception of libertarianism is that we do not want government to do anything. Mainstream (constitutional) libertarians only want the federal government what to do what is authorized in the Constitution, and the rest, as the 10th amendment states—which does not include involvement in education, energy, commerce, transfers of wealth including social and corporate welfare and the variety of other goods, services and departments of the federal government—is up to people (individual, organizations, businesses, etc.) or the states. Simply stated, if it is not granted by the Constitution the federal government should not be doing it. So 80% of what the federal government does is unconstitutional, according to the average libertarian. Other libertarians, near anarchists, see government in general as incompatible, even antithetical, with a free society, so it should be abolished. They believe the private market can (and does) better provide various services such as courts and defense, education, infrastructure, currency, and other services believed to be only provided by a government, in a more moral way.
Whatever their disagreements may be, both sides believe pursuing liberty should be the primary goal of a people, and should there be one, a government.
As I dove deeper into the world of libertarianism I was exposed to more radical libertarians, or anarcho-capitalist, like Albert Jay Nock, H.L. Mencken, Murray Rothbard, Walter Block, Lew Rockwell and many others. This other world of libertarianism did not take too much of a liking Milton Friedman, leader of Chicago school of economics. Friedman, I think, was too mainstream and took a more seemingly practical, compromising approach to libertarianism. For example, Friedman was a leader in school choice but others saw this as a compromise and advocated privatization—a complete separation of education and state. More can be said about Friedman like his support for negative income tax and tax withholding. In all, I appreciate Friedman’s contribution to my libertarian thought. Friedman’s “Free To Choose” series offered good debates not seen on TV any more and introduced me to black economists Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams, something that is not too common in the libertarian sphere.
Reader, I hope you get out of the Republican vs Democrat, left vs right, good vs evil etc. dichotomy. This is a deliberate scheme to keep the two parties in power, and, more importantly, retain State power. Whichever side wins, the government wins as they both use government for their desired ends. In many instances they both wish to preserve the current system of government and debate over next year’s tiny tweaks and tunes. I recall a friend (not a libertarian) of mine tweeting during the last presidential debates: “This whole thing seems to be a debate over who can hold the most power.”
The only true and moral way for a more peaceful and prosperous society is one that pursues liberty—in the personal and economic realm—at all costs. For this matter, neither of the above parties, given their history, is the way for a peaceful and prosperous society. Anyone who declares either parties is a path to freedom is misguided or untrustworthy.
Lastly, I owe all of my thought to Ron Paul. Without discovering him I would have possibly remained a socialist or even worse—a conservative. Paul exposed me to many great pieces of literature involving monetary theory, Austrian economics, libertarian thought and foreign policy. His contributions are invaluable and courage unmatched. Inspired by him, honestly, one day I see myself running for office, possibly on the Republican ticket, in attempt to spread liberty and preserve our remaining individual rights. Instead of announcing my campaign is against Keynes, I will announce that I am running against statism and for liberty.
 Rothbard, M. N. (2000). Egalitarianism as a revolt against nature, and other essays . (2nd ed., pp. 01-20). Auburn, Alabama: Mises Institute. Rothbard went on and used the colonialist’s revolt against the conservatism of the British monarchy as an example, with the American Revolution stated goals of liberty, equality and peace.
 See Hayek, Rothbard, M. N. (2002). For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto. (3rd ed., p. 29). Auburn, Alabama: Mises Institute. Rothbard relates “participatory communism” to private property.
 Before I am accused of idol-worshipping, I do not agree with all of Paul’s position or even understand some of them. But to say I owe all of my thought to him is no understatement. In addition, the biggest thing which makes me uncomfortable and that has gone unanswered, at least to my knowledge, is the racist newsletters controversy.
 It must be noted that running for office is not the only way to achieve this. More important is spreading ideas to change the public’s attitude, for they must change before any real change occurs.
February 4, 2013 § Leave a Comment
The abnormally long Dodge Ram truck glorifying farmers freaked me out. According to this Wall Street Journal article, the ad “while it pays tribute to the hard work and perseverance of farmers, it is really aimed at everyday drivers who like the rugged, self-sufficient and powerful image that large pickup truck’s project.”
A comment in the article reads: ” united states runs off the farmers u have to under stand that. we work hard and long hours to keep food on ur table. the next time u see a farmer or a cop maybe even a soldier u might want to think them for every thing we do.”
Many things can be said about this comment, and how it strengthens the idea that farmers, or the occupations, are selfless, but that is neither here nor there.
Now the response is reiterating the image I personally think Dodge attempted, or not, to portray which is to respect the hardness of farmers’ job and somehow without their ruggedness, we’d all starve. I guess, too, Dodge trucks are fitting for the duties of a farmer.
I haven’t a clue why people mistakenly believe farmers are special or if this is apart of a deliberate scheme to justify handouts and protection; whatever it is, it has worked well and the public has been fooled into believing farmers are special.
The ad was played to the “God Made A Farmer” speech by Paul Harvey. Again, farmers aren’t a special breed of people that God favored or deserve special treatment.
In addition, small time or family farmers do not necessarily match the image that comes to mind. Almost half of our food comes from agricultural companies (again, not necessarily corporations like Monsanto) or enterprises that suck up our tax dollars. All one needs to do is glance at the Department of Agriculture budget, over half of it being
handouts subsidies, or the recurring fights over price controls, trade restrictions, tax payer backed loans and insurance.
Farmers produce goods in exchange for money like other capitalists.
I know many will read this as a pessimistic blog or an attempt to skew the purpose of the ad but I’m looking at it through a more economic point of view, and that is how farmers are a protected class of workers. They aren’t hardworking, selfless people; they are hardworking, protected capitalists. In this sense, yes God did make farmers.
January 27, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Disclaimer: This is to be read with sarcasm. I am only furthering the argument of equality in the military. To be clear, I support women in combat roles so long as they pass the male version, of course, of the physical fitness test; and I only oppose discrimination in the public sphere.
I am happy about the strides this administration have made for military conduct, specifically repealing Don’t ask Don’t Tell, and now allowing women in combat roles. It is time we address the next stain in the armed services: sexism towards men. « Read the rest of this entry »
January 20, 2013 § 1 Comment
I usually don’t watch the news and/or comment on minor topics but after getting sick of the demagoguing, I decided to write this quick piece.
A few days ago, Obama gave a short speech to present his numerous gun proposals and Sandy Hook students were in the background. Supposedly these particular kids wrote letters to him, and as part of his speech, read excerpts of their letters.
« Read the rest of this entry »
January 18, 2013 § Leave a Comment
HUD and the Treasury released the monthly scorecard for December. The scorecard is a “a comprehensive report on the nation’s housing market.”
The subtitle reads: Housing Indicators Show Sustained Progress in Home Prices and Relief to Underwater Borrowers.
It is very short so I hope the reader checks it out first.
As the December housing scorecard indicates, our housing market is continuing to show important signs of recovery – with the FHFA and Case-Shiller housing price indices up 5.6 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively, from one year ago,” said HUD Senior Advisor on Housing Finance Michael Berman.
So rising home prices are signs of recovery and progress in their perspective.
Treasury Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability Tim Massad goes on to praise the administration for preventing foreclosures and adding changes to the mortgage industry “which have helped our country recover faster from an unprecedented housing crisis.”
« Read the rest of this entry »