Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Peoples' Great Republic

I wrote this poem in the mid-1970s.
Was I prophetic?

The sky is still so blue here,
and the earth is still quite green.
That today could come from yesterday
no one could have then foreseen.
The sun should not be shining
upon any grassy scene.
There is nothing good to live for
since the ego quarantine.

The People's Great Republic
is but someone's pretty dream.
But it does not follow quite that way.
It is but a bad regime.
The people never sensed that
it was someone's wretched scheme
to bind all men to masters
and to steal their self-esteem.

The People's Great Republic
overruns with death's disease.
A man knows not and never knows
the men whom he must please.
And the whims of all his leaders
float like dust upon the breeze.
But the words of their commandments
are like roots of giant trees.

The People's Great Republic
is but gangster rule gone wild.
It is full of punks and pipers
and of Hitlers all self-styled.
And the people all know nothing.
But although they've been defiled,
they remember with affection
when their leader turned and smiled.

The People's Great Republic
is but mindlessness berserk.
While they tie each man to every man,
they make sure that he will work.
That no man should rise to greatness
is a massive statist quirk.
They give the loam to farming men
and the numbers to the clerk.

The People's Great Republic
keeps the power to its own.
It keeps men bound in silence
and no coup has ever grown.
And to rule with fear is their one way
that they stay upon their throne.
And to turn men on each other
makes the state into a stone.

Copyright 2009 Robert Villegas

The Savages

The savages
are standing 'round the tree,
after killing the man
who planted it,
all clamoring for a pear,
all screaming for a share,
because, they say,
they've been oppressed.

The savages
will whine about their need,
with not the sense
to save the seed.

Copyright 2009 Robert Villegas

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pragmatism is Killing You - Part 2

Now that man has been made blind by Hume and Kant, the pragmatists accept all of these unprovable premises (rather than exposing them as false) and build upon them a “practical” philosophy. If you think that is impossible, you are right. But that didn’t stop the philosophers grappling with Kant’s impossible dichotomy. Like Kant, they merely asserted their “deductions” and pretended that somehow they were talking about reality. Like Kant and Hume, they return us to mystical concoctions and deduce that the only thing man can do is his duty to others. Enter collectivism and altruism; the hallmarks of the modern state.

One of these philosophers was Karl Popper (the mentor of George Soros). Popper created an eclectic mixture (a sort of magic potion) that could, he thought, help man in his quest for understanding (considering the position in which he was placed by Hume and Kant). Since, as Hume and Kant taught, we could only deal with concrete disconnected existents that our senses were incapable of grasping, Popper concluded that geniuses like Newton and Galileo had been successful because they took “bold leaps” toward knowledge; and since these leaps worked at the time, the inductive method provides us with a blueprint for how to live practical lives in an impossible universe.

Needless to say, neither Newton nor Galileo took bold leaps in knowledge. Nor did they think that that their minds could not understand reality. On the contrary, Galileo especially knew that he was seeing something real and if his senses saw it, he could count on it.

Consider what it means to approach real-world problems with a basic premise that reality is unknowable for man. Consider what this means for decision-making, for the educational and psychological development of our children, for the principles we establish as a society. How can men know what to do if they are not able to evaluate reality and apply the principles of identity and causality? Even so-called experts in given fields can only be experts in “what has worked in the past” rather than “what will work” according to reason. This view destroys valid inductive method and replaces it with “trial and error” and “copying” the actions taken in the past. The only thing you can do, the pragmatists concluded, is “act first and think later.”

As Dr. Leonard Peikoff writes: “According to pragmatism, the rules governing every branch of knowledge apply equally to ethics: the standard of truth, in morality as in science, is expediency. On this view, ethical ideas, like all others, are provisional tools designed to serve men's purposes in a constantly changing world. Ethical ideas, like all others, are to be judged not by reference to the "unknowable" facts of reality (or to "preconceived" theory or to "dead" abstraction), but by the standard of "practical" success. It follows that any particular ethical idea is to be accepted only so long as it continues to promote the sort of consequences desired by its advocates, i.e., only so long as it continues to "work" successfully. Ethics is mutable; what is right (or good) today, may be wrong (or evil) tomorrow; virtue and vice—like truth and falsehood—are not "rigid," but relative. Again, by a somewhat different route, there are no moral absolutes.”[1]

The result politically can only be collectivism and altruism. This means that the only practical way to deal with people is to herd them into collectives with an imperative to self-sacrifice. This is perfect for politicians who do not know what to do and who don’t want to be held responsible for the damage they do. They need only “collectivize” their citizens into bold altruistic programs and re-distribution. When the programs fail, it is not the politician who has failed, it is the people who did not sacrifice enough.

Since there are no standards of knowledge and no principles for developing knowledge, pragmatists can only take polls of opinion. Since this approach is dependent upon groups, the only viable specialization for pragmatists is sociology and politics. This gives rise to politicians who read polls and pollsters who tailor the truth to the needs of the government.

A politician like Obama wants his policies to work but he has no idea if they will; he only knows that other people have asserted their practicality. And since they didn’t know either, we can be sure that whatever President Obama does, on this basis, will have no connection to history, reality, truth or even principles.

For Obama, history is that version of the past that has been rewritten to show that the problems of the past stemmed from an absence of sacrifice. Reality can only be corrected by the government’s imposing sacrifice on productive citizens. Truth is any statement that expresses this perspective and since the only moral principle is sacrifice, both human and government action must ensure as much sacrifice as possible.

Upon such a foundation is it any wonder that today few men stand on real principles; that the height of “practicality” is to test the winds of opinion; that the only way to power is to be the correct interpreter of the Will of the collective? The top leaders in such a climate, the men who are revered as geniuses and prophets, are those who are clever enough to tap into that Will and convince people that he/she has the best ideas for moving forward; in essence, he or she is the person who most successfully reflects back to the people what they are already thinking; that forced sacrifice for the collective is the only means toward prosperity. It is a deadly infinite loop that accomplishes nothing but repetition of the same mistakes engaged in the past.

Harvard graduates consider themselves to be intelligent because they think they know that there is nothing to know. It is the uneducated American worker who thinks that principles count and reality can be understood. Politicians, educated at Harvard and Princeton and other universities, think they are smarter than the average person because they have devoted themselves to the study of how to manipulate other men through statistics, polls and regulations. Most stupid of all, in their eyes, are people who advocate the very idea of a Constitution that defends individual rights to liberty and property. Why? The Constitution is based upon certainty, an idea that their professors have said has no validity. So they make millions of dollars in consulting fees by advising Presidents on which regulations will work based upon their best ‘scientific’ calculations. The smirk you see on their faces, when they explain their solutions, is their absolute certainty that you know nothing. How they know it is a question they haven’t asked themselves since that belief is an assertion of knowledge. They are too busy being 'practical' to answer any questions about the self-contradictions in their views.

This “superior intelligence” of our leaders creates the cover for the most atrocious graft, corruption and harmful regulations. Under cover of “trying things to see what works,” principles are thrown out, force and freedom are considered equally valid, but with a tendency to force because it is more assertive action. When politicians explain the reasoning behind their actions, they explain that they are being bold and aggressive in solving problems. Boldness and aggressiveness give the impression that they are men of action, decision-makers and leaders. The fact is they don’t have a clue about what to do.

On January 8th 2008, Barack Obama said, “"I don't believe it's too late to change course, but it will be if we don't take dramatic action as soon as possible."[2] Here you have the code language of pragmatism; the promise to take action now without any knowledge of whether the action will actually accomplish the desired result. Worse than this, Obama can only copy past pragmatists (such as FDR) whose propaganda says they were great leaders. Whether that is true is irrelevant. The lie has become the truth, they think.

When the ‘best’ economists tell Obama that FDR’s spending was not the problem; the problem was that he did not spend enough, he agrees and creates the most massive spending programs in the history of the world, programs that will enslave future generations to work for bare subsistence while they pay off the massive debt. Though he uses no factual data to prove that this kind of spending has ever worked, he assures himself and the world that economists of all political persuasions recommend it; and even though he does not know if it will work, they somehow do. At the very least, he can blame them when the “chickens come home to roost.”

"For every day we wait or point fingers or drag our feet, more Americans will lose their jobs. More families will lose their savings. More dreams will be deferred and denied. And our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse."[3] When the results do not come, they will say that it takes time for the solution to materialize...while people starve. Then, after some time, they will claim that they have not spent enough…there are still many people starving. This while every day more Americans lose their jobs, more families lose their savings and more dreams are deferred and denied. No one blames the government's actions for these results…instead the selfishness and greed are blamed. After more time, they will proclaim a new brilliant discovery: they didn’t demand enough sacrifice…while the bodies of starved citizens are buried in mass graves away from the eyes of the cameras.

A pragmatist is seldom concerned about economic facts of reality. He is concerned only about getting through the consequences he created in the immediate moment and then later getting through the consequences he is creating in next moment. If he can make it appear that he is “doing something” about the economy, he thinks, then the voters, those that are still alive, will be happy with his actions, regardless of whether the actions worked or not. All it takes is a little propaganda and a compliant, unquestioning media to obtain credit for the actions but not the consequences.

Where is the practical magic that will make us a productive, thriving country again? What bold new theory of economics will turn us into an advanced new society based on Obama's glowing and hopeful approach to the issues of our day? What principles can we count on when principles are to be avoided and mush is the order of the day?

With Obama saying that we must sacrifice for the common good, few understand what sacrifice means in practice...theft of savings, runaway inflation, labor camps, works projects, bloated government payrolls and utter decimation of the economy. Obama's swagger will soon turn to "failed man walking." By then it won’t matter; there will only be our heroic leader, leading us in a war of retribution against some resource-rich evil enemy.

To what kind of government does pragmatism lead? Since principles are invalid and the only ‘practical’ principle is acting today and thinking later, there is a historical precedent revealing that fascism is the form of government created by pragmatism. When a society comes to the conclusion that individual rights are an old idea and the new idea is central planning by a charismatic leader who tells the people what they want to hear (much like Mussolini), that the purpose of government is to advance the ‘common good’ by means of force, that the people should produce but the government should spend, then there will be no economy to speak of; there will only be the gun and quiet, complacent people trying to muster the energy to conquer hunger.

Pragmatism cannot save capitalism, and it is the destroyer of civilization, as attested by the devastation of Europe in the 20th Century. Nor can it provide a working philosophical model for our society in spite of George Soros' fascist Open Society. The only thing that will save our society is a successful battle for capitalism; in short a battle for reason, individual rights and principles rather than pragmatic experimentation. It is either pragmatism or freedom.

Where is Thomas Paine when you need him?

[1] The Ayn Rand Letter Vol. II, No. 5 December 4, 1972 Altruism, Pragmatism And Brutality By Leonard Peikoff

[3] Ibid

Pragmatism is Killing You - Part 1

The biggest threat to your survival is the U.S. Government. Harvard and Yale graduates, among others, who think they are smarter than you, are making the most asinine decisions about our economy and money supply. Why would some of the most brilliant economists in the world give us advice that does not work? Why does every act of the government receive great praise and positive press but no good result?

Why do Republicans promise to solve big government and over-spending done by Democrats only to create bigger government and more spending? The answer to these questions is that there is a wider philosophical movement driving us into the abyss. This movement claims to have the ability to solve human problems through practical action – but the secret is that it does not work.

During the terms of many recent Presidents, the operating procedure has been to react to every catastrophic event with some form of government action, some regulation, law, program, Executive Order or military action that addresses what was wrong in the world. Is it possible that all of this Presidential “action” could be making things worse?

During my economic education, I learned how free markets operate. The core principle of a free economy was that better business decisions result when the government is prohibited from interfering in consensual transactions. Free people, buying and selling products, will most often make rational decisions. If they make mistakes the free market lets them correct so they can move forward. When the government attempts to “fix” or interfere in those transactions, it distorts the ability of people to adjust economically and accomplishes the opposite of the intended result. Writers like Ayn Rand, Henry Hazlitt and others saw free market economic principles as solid guidelines that brought about affluence and prosperity. They were a far cry from other thinkers like John Maynard Keynes who saw government action as a practical means of affecting prosperity. Yet it was Keynes who knew that his own recommendations would have long-term negative repercussions.

Today, the mantra from both conservatives and liberals is that the government should “do something” about economic problems. In fact, the sub-prime crisis was created by the government “doing something” about the economy. There is apparently no one on the scene today suggesting that the government should stop sending good money after bad. Instead we are moving headlong into more government action that will accomplish a worse economy.

A major stock market crash occurred in the late 1920s when President Hoover thought he could “do something” to improve the economy. With capitalism unfairly discredited, at virtually every turn, the progressives, who took power after Hoover, created new programs, new regulations, new laws, protected unions and nationalized industries using the excuse that government action would cure the emergency. Few questioned the fact that everything the government did made things worse. In fact, today, children are taught in school that government action during this period fixed the economy. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt is idolized as a hero for having saved the economy – through government action.

What is government action? What does it consist of and does it really help to improve the economy?

The only thing a government can do is coerce people. The government is essentially a “gun” with the power to force people to do as it demands. Every law, regulation or economic bailout is backed up by this gun. With free people, coercion is the last thing they need; the government can only keep them from doing the right thing. That’s it, nothing else.

When government commands actions, people working for their own self-interest will have to adjust their behavior. This causes losses to those people because it diverts them from taking proper actions. For instance, let’s assume the government decides that interest rates on loans are too high and sets the rate at a level it deems proper. The result is that people now have no ability to choose loans that fit their particular needs. Lenders can’t adjust their loans to the credit rating of the borrowers and as a result they will give some bad loans. Smaller lenders must go out of business because the larger companies can offer borrowers additional benefits due to their size. When the government sets interest rates on loans, it interferes with the interest rates that the free economy would set; rates that are dependent upon the needs of the lenders for profits and the ability of the borrowers to pay. Government thinks it is doing good but, in the name of ‘saving the economy’ it is causing millions of dollars in losses to the lenders and reducing the number of loans available to good borrowers. This is essentially what caused the sub-prime crisis when the government ‘suggested’ low-interest loans for risky buyers.

What is the philosophy that justifies all this practical action that is not practical? It is pragmatism, a philosophy that infects both left and right alike. The left pretends that re-distribution and massive spending schemes are practical ways to improve the economy while the right considers that the only way to gain and/or keep political power is to beat the left to the punch on massive spending programs.

Yet, Pragmatism is not really new in the sense that it is a philosophical outgrowth of Empiricism and holds many of the premises of that prior philosophy. In fact, it is Empiricism that makes pragmatism decidedly impractical. Starting with David Hume, philosophers have been telling us that principles do not matter, that man is incapable of understanding reality and the only thing one can do is take “bold leaps” in human knowledge.

There are essentially two premises that make pragmatism impractical. The first premise comes from Hume. Hume began his philosophical quest by attempting to examine the issues that relate to how man can develop certainty. Though most philosophers assume that Hume was led to his conclusions through rigorous empirical analysis, the truth is that Hume starts with the premise that there is something wrong with human thinking and then he builds his philosophy around that preconceived notion to conclude that there is something wrong with human thinking. He posits that man’s ignorance is created by the inefficacy of human memory. He says sensations are immediate, felt strongly, felt as real, but our recollection of them, our thinking, is fuzzy and this must be why people disagree; why they are contradictory and ignorant in the use of their minds. What he accomplished was to give skeptics the “certainty” needed to blatantly state that there was no certainty. The average man was left blind and incapable of thinking. And since man was incapable of reason, they thought, why should we even teach people how to think?

Hume revealed his view that we are basically fallible when he noted that his study was intended to provide a way for man to gain certainty but then concluded that there was only a fuzzy connection between ideas and impressions. He laid the foundation for an approach to induction that did nothing to advance induction or the acquisition of knowledge. Where scientists during his time, practicing scientific induction, were discovering whole areas of new knowledge and reaching new heights of understanding, Hume was saying that we could only look at concrete facts. While businessmen had the vision and intelligence to take inductively derived knowledge and create whole new industries and magnificent new inventions, Hume was teaching us that there is no necessity, no connection between cause and effect, because we can’t see it.

This conclusion came to him while he was involved in an effort to develop an impenetrable science that would rid the world of superstition. Yet, he provided us with a new form of doubt as the foundation of science and inquiry. Consider David Hume's views about necessity and the "inability" of man to understand reality. Hume held that there are no valid inferences in the jump from observed cases to unobserved cases, from observed specifics to generalization. Building upon his premise that impressions are superior to ideas, Hume uses what he thinks is “pure” empirical observation as a source of knowledge while denigrating the value of induction and conceptually developed knowledge. So science becomes arbitrary expressions of arbitrarily derived generalizations.

For Hume, because we could not see necessity, there is no necessity, there is no source of human knowledge; there is no human knowledge. The hard headed empiricist joins with the faithful rationalist.

This made the way for the second wrong premise of pragmatism offered by Immanuel Kant who pretended to answer Hume’s skepticism. Kant divided reality into what he called the noumenal and phenomenal spheres.

Kant asserted that the noumenal world was essentially unknowable, that the only thing we can comprehend about it is that it can’t be comprehended. This view is related to Plato’s view of the ‘essences’ thought to be only a memory of ideas that reside in another unknowable realm of reality.

For Kant, the phenomenal world was just as inaccessible as the noumenal. Although experience could acquaint man with the phenomenal world and it “felt” like we were dealing with the real world, the phenomenal world was really unreal.

With these Kantian distinctions, man is left with the unknowable in the noumenal world and the unreal in the phenomenal world. This is offered to man as an answer to Hume’s skepticism…yet it is arch skepticism.

Accept this view and you have made the ultimate sacrifice of your mind – which started in a quest for knowledge – to the view that there is no knowledge. Consider what this means: you now have no way of identifying practical action. The senses are invalid and you only have impressions of nothing in particular. And this is an ‘enlightened’ view, they tell us.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Laissez nous Faire "Leave us Alone"

If the Tea Party protests are to have a life beyond April 15th, 2009, they must stand for some enduring principles beyond many of those expressed on home made signs. These principles must express more than a yearning for freedom and a dislike of the government’s unprecedented spending. Our leaders have a philosophy which guides their actions. That philosophy is re-distribution; the idea that wealth should be re-distributed from those who are able to produce to those that the government considers victims of society. To answer that philosophy, we need a better philosophy.

The flaw in the system of today’s government is that they think re-distribution works…if they are merely mis-guided; or they seek to plunder our wealth and production for their own sakes…if they are cynical haters of men. If the latter is their goal, they seek to leave us impoverished and defeated in the face of a world that has enacted retribution against America for imagined wrongs. What they refuse to acknowledge is that they still need us to keep working if they are to continue their plundering.

All dictatorships are re-distribution schemes in one form or another. Fascism is the redistribution of wealth from productive property owners to the government and special interests that they designate. Socialism is a more advanced form of fascism where the government controls the major industries in order to accomplish the same goals. Welfare-statism is the focus of government on re-distributing income from the wealthy to the non-working poor. Communism is the re-distribution of property once owned by a propertied “class” for the sake of the workers who are an exploited proxy for government elites.

All these schemes result in the expropriation or theft of productive power by the means of political power. All re-distribution equalizes results for all people regardless of effort. Once re-distribution takes hold, the more able people will slow their effort because they know their product will be given to others. By the same token, the less able people will also slow their effort because they know the government will re-distribute money from the rich to them. There is no incentive to excel in a re-distribution scheme so all effort is reduced and the system becomes nothing more than finger pointing and bickering. This is why no socialist system ever works. Re-distribution is theft of property and energy and as such it reduces both the amount of property created and the effort required to produce it. It is statism that has failed, not capitalism. This is not an opinion. It is a historically proven fact.

There is always going to be a certain level of fear when you take a stand against government tyranny. You have to understand that fear should not be a reason to stop working for freedom. As I see it, the Tea Party movement is not about anger. It is not about fear of a police state. It is not about following what your friends think. It is about recognizing that only you, only the productive citizen matters in society because he/she has the self-esteem necessary to be successful and to thrive. You are the most important citizen in our economy, not because you spend money from a printing press. You are important economically because you make things that can be traded; things that make life better for others who buy them.

If we are going to have a viable movement, then it must be a philosophical movement. It must be a movement of ideas that recognizes this clear distinction between you, the productive citizen, and the looters in the government. What does that mean for you? It means that you must educate yourself on the reasons why we originally had a free society, on the genius of our principles and why they are the only hope for humanity. It means recognizing that you have a pivotal role in saving your country and defeating the enemies of freedom. It means that you stand for the Constitution and especially for capitalism as the expression of freedom, property and capital savings which are the pillars of an affluent and happy society. But it also means that you control the government; that whenever it becomes predatory and coercive you refuse to participate in the looting and refuse to be looted.

It is inconsistent for you to accept one form of re-distribution while being against only those forms that affect you directly. The re-distributive state always means coercion. Put another way, today, for our government, coercion is the means of political action. Force against property owners is coercion that consists of

  • Economic regulation of business that re-distributes market share to businesses favored by government
  • Taxes that re-distribute money from the most productive citizens to the less productive
  • Government ownership of businesses that re-distributes jobs, income and profits to bureaucrats
  • Welfare programs such as direct payments to “the poor” that re-distribute income from those better able to use property to those who can’t manage their money
  • Government management of industries that provides jobs for government appointees and siphons profits to party campaign committees
  • Government regulations that created sub-prime mortagages re-distributed loans from people with good credit ratings to people who were credit risks and created a massive shift of capital from productive banking activities to worthless packaged securities, shifting huge amounts from insurance companies and government to support banks that had thought the securities were backed by the government - resulting in re-distribution of half of the value in the stock market and almost half of the value in 401Ks from American savers to short sellers and the Cayman Islands
  • TARP that gives taxpayer dollars to companies that don’t need it or that should go out of business
  • Stimulus programs that re-distribute taxpayer income to government social engineering programs
  • Tariffs that restrict international commerce and destroy jobs
  • Onerous immigration regulations that keep freedom-loving people from being “legal” and reduces the pool of willing, needed and low-wage workers
  • Laws that favor unions over employers, creating unnecessary dues-paying jobs, forcing employers to pay workers too much, destroying the work ethic and raising prices while also sending businesses overseas
  • Government education of our children that indoctrinates them for collectivism before it teaches them viable job skills, and
  • Any scheme that involves the use of tax money for anything other than police, courts and military defense.

    In order to have peace and security, arbitrariness must be removed from the actions of government. The government should never be allowed to interfere in the private business of citizens. Lawfulness means treating all citizens equally and without caprice; it means having a respect for property rights and government financing that is voluntary. A proper government recognizes that the principles of re-distribution and expropriation are violent acts and the government which engages in them does not deserve to govern. A bad law is no law at all among free people.

    A market society provides the framework for efficient commerce. When property is left in the hands of those who are most able to use it; all citizens benefit – rich and poor alike. The rich provide factories that produce life-serving products. They also provide jobs and better lives for the formerly poor that are given an opportunity to earn their livelihoods, to gain property, even to become rich themselves and to enjoy life. This has always been the outcome when a society is left free. The idea that capitalism exploits the poor and keeps them poor is a lie. Government coercion exploits both rich and poor and reduces them to bare subsistence. The poor today were not made poor by capitalism; they were made poor by government.

    I have written before that the proper principle is that of “Laissez Faire” which means that the government should have a “hands off” restriction when it comes to regulating the lives of citizens. This means that government can never enact legislation that interferes in the lives and decisions of our citizens. This must be the principle toward which the Tea Party protesters work. This principle will save this nation if it is to have a future.

    More than anything, the idea of a limited government recognizes the sovereignty of man; the principle that he is his own moral agent and that his mind is capable of reason; capable of deciding what is in his own best interest. It rejects the idea that he is a helpless pawn of nature and that only a powerful government can mold him to a collective goal. It recognizes that the "utopian" ideal of forcing men into collectives is a deadly one that results in concentration camps, genocide and poverty. It is time to reject collectivism and recognize that the Founding Fathers had the right philosophy all along; man possesses inalienable rights derived from his nature; recognizing those rights helps moral men deal with one another peacefully. We need freedom, property rights, individual rights, the pursuit of happiness and a government that protects rather than expropriates.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Individual vs. the Collective

He stood one day upon a hill.
The crowd was standing very still.
He said something that startled them.
He said it once and then again.
“I want to be free.
I want to be free.”

The crowd, of course, then drew away.
Some asked with fear, “What did he say?
He said a word we do not know.
Quick, I think we’d better go.
He may be insane.
He may be insane.”

His structured face was very proud.
His eyes were blue without a cloud.
He looked around at mindless men.
He said it once and then again.
“I want to be free.
I want to be free.”

A scared, confused young man then came;
with eyes that held a hint of shame.
he reassured the startled throng.
“Please, now folks, let’s move along.
This man is insane.
This man is insane.”

The bloody soldiers came at once.
Their words were made of mindless grunts.
“We’ve found the hated enemy,
a man with his own sovereignty.
He must be insane.
He must be insane.”

The man, of course, made his escape.
The soldiers stood around agape.
They looked off to the distance when
they heard it once and then again.
“I want to be free.
I want to be free.”

The scared, confused young man then said,
“That man has lost his bloody head.
Yes, he is full of many words.
They fly inside his head like birds.
He must be insane.
He must be insane.”

He must have caught some mind’s disease.
We must prevent his mindless pleas.
If he meets many people then
those hateful words may ring again.
“I want to be free.
I want to be free.”

Copyright Robert Villegas 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

Tea Party Impressions - What's Next?

I started protesting big government when I was in my twenties. I organized a group of friends to participate in an “Editorial” Club to write to local newspapers about a variety of issues. Our main goal was to advance a different perspective that respected individual rights and free markets. Each week, one member wrote a letter to a newspaper and read it to the group for comments and suggestions. Then, once improved, the letter would be mailed.

We succeeded in getting lots of editorials printed in the Indianapolis Star and other local papers because of the thoughtfulness and clear writing of the letters. After a time, the professional considerations of some of the members caused the group to break up; though some of us continued writing letters on our own, buoyed by our success and the improvements in our writing skills.

Since, then I’ve written lots of “letters” and even had some of them read on national television shows such as “The Factor” and “America’s Newsroom” to name a few. I’ve continued my advocacy of individual rights and freedom…but to a great extent, I’ve felt like a candle in the wind…until April 15, 2009.

What a glorious day it was in America. I am proud to have stood with so many patriotic Americans for the cause of freedom. Here are some of my impressions of the Indianapolis Tea Party.

The Tea Party protests were not about reforming the Republican Party. I hope the protesters do not buy that media line. If the Republican Party wants to reform itself that is fine; and if you want to participate in that reformation, great; but the Tea Party was a protest only. It was a cry, an emotional shout for freedom from oppressive government. It was a warning to all politicians that something is wrong; they are spending our money and giving us no voice in how it is spent. It was a drawing of the line.

The Indy Tea Party event was spectacular. Richard and Laura Behney should be congratulated and personally thanked by every person who attended. The Wright Brothers band and singers were incredible and I was especially inspired by the singing of the National Anthem. To be standing as close as 20 feet from such a beautiful rendition was a true honor.

I appreciated the tribute paid to military veterans like myself and I appreciate the public “thank you.” After all those years, this was only the second time that anyone has thanked me. It meant a lot. But let’s be clear, I was fighting for freedom not for the principle of sacrifice.

The speeches, for the most part, were great. I found this day to be exhilarating and I was proud to be part of it.

The Future

I think the Tax Day Tea Party may well be the beginning of a movement that could transform America for the better…but it could also die, much like my Editorial Club back in the ‘70s. We have to get our bearings and recognize some very critical facts before the “Tea Party” protests can bear fruit and bring back to our nation the principles of freedom, individual rights and truly representative government.

I am spooked by all of the "special interests" who are trying to turn the protests toward their own agendas. The Tea Parties were not about abortion, immigration or religion. Certainly, most people have definite ideas on these and other issues; and frankly, so do I. But these, and other issues, are tinged with negatives that would drive some people (like me) away with the sad realization that the protest was just a Republican ploy.

The Republicans are re-distributionists...they are part of the problem. They are responsible for the mistakes made by government and are Republican Party officials claiming the Tea Party as their issue too. These people, starting with G. W. Bush, squandered their opportunity when they had a majority. They thought they had to become more progressive than the progressives, while we, the people, were looking for them to stop the advance of big government. They paved the way for Obama by sanctioning the principles that made his boondoggles and re-distributions possible.

If the Tea Party momentum is to make a difference for us, we need to keep it simple...stay on one topic and avoid all the other divisive issues. We are protesting what the government is doing to our freedom...that’s it...nothing more. This implies that life is the standard, not sacrifice. We are not just concerned about the lives of our grand children…how about our lives, today, and what the government is doing to us now?

We can not let the success of the Tea Party protests be co-opted by some larger group with its own ax to grind. Let all the other organizations change their agendas to include our protest if they want; let’s not include their agendas in ours. Newt Gingerich, Karl Rove and Sean Hannity are not what the Tea Party is about. With all due respect, the protests are about individual rights, and no other issue. Through our continued protests, we can make the establishment start talking "our" language; let's not repeat their language. We need to create a new dialogue not repeat the old dialogue. I hope I'm not alone in this view.

I think a good jumping off point is to recognize the wisdom and genius of our Founding Fathers. What they created through our Constitutional Republic was revolutionary. Our American Revolution brought forward new ideas that are still barely understood by the majority of people on this planet. In other words, they are still new ideas; they are the real “change” that we need. They created a force for the good of almost unimaginable magnitude and power because, through freedom, they unleashed the energy of millions of people as they succeeded in making better lives for themselves and their loved ones. They were real "change" and everything that went before them was the status quo; tyranny, corruption and patronage.

Today's politicians represent the ideas that came before the ideas of the Founders. These frauds are doing everything they can to impose sacrifice on every man, woman and great grand child in this country. There is nothing new in that; that idea came from pre-historical times. In fact, the entire progressive movement (Democrats and Republicans) today is only about forced "sacrifice"...from Marx to Hillary to Bush to Obama...that is why every key phrase of theirs is a restatement that says sacrifice is a moral, communism, statism, fascism, socialism, welfare-statism, "from each according to his ability;" even the Red Scare in China was a restatement of the message of sacrifice; the concentration camps were justified by it, the genocides and the murders of political dissidents were the result of it.

The basic premise of today’s politicians is forced sacrifice of the "good" for the sake of the "people." This means that your rights are secondary to their idea of what society should demand from you. They use this idea as a formula, magic words that are supposed to engender a set of responses that make possible their goals which are political victory and dividing the spoils. What will happen when the formula no longer works, when the people see what kind of plunder is really happening, when they recognize that the words, the restatements of sacrifice, are all hollow promises that deliver nothing but misery?

When people realize that capitalism is freedom and freedom is the use of the mind and rights are the expression of how we will deal with each other; when self-interest is seen as good – when Tea Party protesters say, “Enough, no more plunder” – that day will be the day when the media and politicians realize that this protest has teeth.

I'm beginning to understand what the Founders might have been thinking as they confronted all the special interests of their time and strove to create a society where everyone could live in freedom. I am not so much concerned with what another person thinks, it is more important that he be free to think so we can arrive at the truth through honest discourse. It is a grave responsibility to consider what might be best in order to accomplish something as new as freedom – when some people (over 230 years later) still don't seem to understand it. It will take discipline and a firm, singular goal for the Tea Party to have an impact that results in freedom. This next step, in my view, is crucial...we must make the message the medium through which freedom is accomplished. That message is “Laissez nous faire” – Leave us alone.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Why I Am Protesting on April 15, 2009

Today, many Americans are expressing their displeasure over government policies of high taxes and massive government spending programs. Americans have decided that enough is enough and that Mr. Obama and Congress need to hear from hard working Americans.

President Obama spoke to American’s today and it is apparent that he is getting frustrated that there are so many protestors against his policies. He seems to be doing a speech a day and every time he talks, it has little impact on the stock market. It could be that people don’t believe him. This speech, significantly, was about reducing taxes. He paraded some American families in front of the public (probably from ACORN?) to whom he promised to reduce taxes. He told us that he had promised tax cuts in his campaign. I guess he wonders why we didn’t believe the lie then and are out in the streets all over the country.

I, for one, see many economic principles being violated by the government's policies, not the least of which is the law of supply and demand; he seems to think that he can improve our economy by increasing demand (spending money on wasteful programs). Unfortunately, it is supply he needs to stimulate by leaving the economy alone. If you foolishly try to increase demand by printing lots of dollars you are taking money from the savers who are responsible for increasing supply. If they don’t have money to invest in supply all you are doing is raising prices on those products that are being made.

I tried to do another sign but it takes a lot of time so I decided to put it here on my blog.

This sign would have said:

“Promises, Promises

A Middle Class Tax Cut?

Inflation is a Tax Increase
Higher Business Taxes are a Tax Increase
Massive Deficit Spending is a Tax Increase
Cap and Trade is a Tax Increase
A High Gasoline Tax is a Tax Increase
50% Drop in the Stock Market is a Tax Increase
40% Drop in 401K Plans is a Tax Increase”

I know, it’s too much for one Poster…but so is this out of control government.

Now it’s our turn to speak – See you there.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Obama's Re-Distribution - Part 2

The argument made by progressives for the government’s “caring” for people is nothing more than a smoke screen that has kept people sacrificing their life blood for decades in our country. It is a false argument and we should reject it because “caring” is not what happens when the government redistributes income. But more importantly, the idea of the government “caring” is what justifies the violation of individual and property rights; it justifies re-distribution and turns “caring” into theft. I’ve always thought that if you can’t get a citizen to agree to give up his income or property for others, then you should not force him to do so.

To illustrate this point, let’s strip the issue to its bare essentials. Let’s assume there is a society of three people living in a country on a tropic island. I am the government whose job it is to keep Citizen 1 from harming Citizen 2 and vice versa. My job is to keep the peace and the only way I can do it is to intervene should one party attack the other or try to steal from him. Everything works pretty well, except when it is discovered that Citizen 1 has built a nicer home and has amassed more fruit and meat through his own hard work. He has an arrangement with Citizen 2 to trade him food in return for arrow heads and blades that Citizen 2 makes from flint rock. They develop a division of labor where Citizen 2 does not have to hunt; he just needs to stay in his hut making the tools for which Citizen 1 pays him.

Citizen 2 decides that he is pretty secure in this arrangement and he comes to believe that he need not pay too much attention to the details of making the arrowheads and blades he is trading with Citizen 1. Eventually, Citizen 1 starts losing catches in the hunt because of broken arrowheads and he asks Citizen 2 to improve the quality of his product. Citizen 2 complains that his quality is good enough. Citizen 1 decides to make his own higher quality arrowheads and he stops trading with Citizen 2.

When Citizen 2 sees that he is running out of food he must decide whether to improve the quality of his arrowheads. He notices that Citizen 1 is now using superior arrowheads and that his store of food is growing. He becomes angry at Citizen 1 and considers that he is deliberately trying to starve him. He realizes that he must find a way to get the extra food that Citizen 1 has.

He comes to me, the government, with an idea. He tells me that in his opinion we are all in this together and we should work together to survive. He declares that it should be my job to convince Citizen 1 to give up some of his food to help him? Don’t I care about what happens to him, he asks.

At this point, I have a choice. I look at the contract we signed when we started our nation and it says that my job is to protect each citizen equally from being encroached upon by the other citizen. It also says that I cannot change the contract without all citizens agreeing to the change. I tell him it is not my job to take the production of any citizen – even his.

He responds by telling me that he has a bold new idea, "change" that will make things better for everyone. Why can’t I extend my contractual mandate unilaterally, since I control the government? I can make things better by working for the sake of the collective good and just order Citizen 1 to give some food to him. This would be good for everyone. As long as I’m acting for the collective good, I am showing that I care for everyone.

But, I ask, if I am making a law that cares for Citizen 2 and takes away from Citizen 1, does that mean that I don’t care for Citizen 1? He responds that Citizen 1 has more than he needs and will not be harmed in any way. Yes, but I would be making a law of which Citizen 1 does not approve. He answers that we are both two against his one and that the majority should rule.

I think to myself, I’m not convinced, but, just to get rid of his lobbying for a while, I tell him I’ll think about it. I walk over to Citizen 2’s side of the island and ask him what he thought about giving Citizen 1 part of his production. Citizen 2 said that my asking such a question was a threat of force, since I am the government. I realized he was correct and apologized, but the damage was done. He informed me that he had previously talked with Citizen 1 about the poor quality of the arrowheads he was trading. He had offered to show him how to improve his product and was told by Citizen 2 that he was too busy to learn and since his arrowheads were good enough it would be a waste of time. Citizen 1 then suggested to me, the government, that unless I could get everyone on the island to authorize taking production from him, I had better not violate my contract. I told him I took my contract very seriously and I would defend his rights and freedom.

I walked back to Citizen 2’s part of the island and told him that I could not violate my contract and take food from Citizen 1. Citizen 2 was very angry and made me feel uncomfortable. I told him that he should take it up with Citizen 1 and work it out between them peacefully. Citizen 2 told me that I did not understand the principle of economic justice. He said that this island would be much better if everyone was equal in terms of food and that my refusal to help him only proved that I advocated injustice and did not care for him. He said that a government that does not care for its citizens is a mean government.

I told him that our nation worked better when all citizens engaged in voluntary trade and that my taking something from Citizen 1 by force would violate that principle. I told him that the solution to the problem would be the production of a better arrowhead by him so that Citizen 1 could resume trading with him. Unless he could do so, he was destroying his own prosperity as well as the principle of division of labor. He had proven to me that he was not willing to trade value for value. I could do nothing more for him.

He responded that I should not have been allowed to be the government. He told me that I should be replaced by someone who understood what economic justice meant. I told him to hope for a ship wreck and survivors.

This story illustrates the basic principles that should guide a proper society and Constitutional government. When you strip society down to stark essentials you can see that the idea of re-distribution is unfair. When people are able to produce in a division of labor society, they can live in peace and prosper. When the division of labor is attacked and citizens attempt to loot each other, there can be no peace or prosperity. In such a situation, there is no reason for the productive citizen to want to participate in that division of labor.

Yet, just as Citizen 2 tried to do, some people attempt to justify re-distribution by accusing the productive citizens of being exploitive and greedy. Attacks against self-sufficiency, self-interest and property rights are the tools of deception that progressives use in order to steal that production and violate individual rights. Appeals by the government to collective solutions and sacrifice on the part of the productive are indications that the society will soon deteriorate to looting and exploitation. Is Obama trying to destroy this country? Yes, just like any progressive who wants to change the mandate of government from protection and toward expropriation.

If we turn the story in another direction and, let’s say, I, the government, decide to point the spear he made at Citizen 1 and demand that he give me some food for Citizen 2, I have destroyed the basis of our society and turned it toward internal warfare, otherwise known as “class warfare.” Worse than this, I have not only destroyed Citizen 1’s motivation for working and producing, I’ve destroyed the economy of the island because I've corrupted the possibility of a fair division of labor; and I’ve destroyed Citizen 2 who now knows that he need not work hard in the future; that the precedent has been set. Where will Citizen 2 be when the producer in the society decides to go elsewhere? Will he demand that I put Citizen 1 in a cage? Will he demand that Citizen 1 be forced to work for the sake of Citizen 2 with me holding a spear to his back at all times?

When a government pretends to “care” for citizens, it must violate the rights of some citizens who are made the losers. These losers were the winners in a fair division of labor society. The winners are now those who were the losers in a division of labor society and since they are not offering society competitive labor, the entire social structure will decline. What rational citizen would participate in a society moving toward plunder?

The idea of re-distribution as an expression of “justice” is a violation of justice. A proper government can never be allowed to pick winners and losers and the way to prevent this is to have a complete separation of economy and state, to forbid the government from creating any program, regulation or agency that takes from one citizen and gives to another. If you look at virtually every problem we have had for over 100 years in this country, it was the violation of this principle that has caused it. This includes political corruption, campaign finance scandals, progressive taxation, government regulations, trade tariffs, the welfare state, boondoggles, corrupt lobbyists, bribery, extortion, destroyed neighborhoods, destroyed families, voter fraud and pork. None of these would have existed had it not been for the government’s ability to regulate the economy and re-distribute income.

So we arrive where we started. My original comments about Obama were made because I can see that we are in a dangerous situation because of the massive size of the expropriation being done today. Obama and his professional parasites will take everything away without a second thought. The young lady with whom I was talking does not realize that what is happening today is not mere “giving” or “helping”; it is the most massive transfer of wealth in the history of the world. We will have to produce our way out of it and it may take several decades, if we ever get back to a free economy again. If things keep going the way Obama has designed, we will be a third world country very soon. This may be hard to believe for people who have always had a good life; today’s generation, most of whom have never been to a third world country. But when the people who work realize that everything above bare subsistence will be taken away, they will only work for bare subsistence. Look at the former Soviet Union that lived like this for over 60 years.

Obama wants prosperity but he wants it in a society in which he controls the productive people. Some call it socialism and others call it fascism. What it amounts to is the destruction of the productive citizen. He wants to control business activity rather than leave it alone. Control is the opposite of freedom and it is only freedom that brings prosperity. Freedom enables people to make their own economic decisions, keep the product of their labor and engage in an efficient division of labor. Control destroys the division of labor and stifles freedom.

Is it mere money that Obama wants to re-distribute? Is it merely things, paper printed in green that you can easily create by turning up the presses? No, what Obama wants to re-distribute is time and energy, precious time and energy. Every dollar Obama prints is a dollar taken away from the time and energy of the citizen who produced it. Each individual only has so much of these values. A proper government would respect the choice of each citizen to be productive and leave him or her alone. To re-distribute income is to tell the productive citizen that his time and energy do not belong to him. Don't ask the citizen, then, to plan for the future, to work hard, to save, to invest and to think about doing better. When the productive citizen sees that he is working harder to take care of people who do not work hard, he will make the choice to slow down. Do you blame him?

Obama hates capitalism. He hates business people. He was raised and educated by people who want to overthrow the U.S. government and hand over power to radicals, most of whom have spent their lives in universities living off of government grants and tenured teaching positions - in other words, unproductive people providing low-quality products, living off of re-distributed income. Now they run things and we are going to suffer greatly…unfortunately.

Only the people can stop this madness.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Obama's Re-distribution - Part 1

I was engaged in a political discussion with a young lady a few days ago and I made a big mistake. The discussion was about Barack Obama and I was explaining to her that I thought he had planned his moves toward the Presidency since his days at Columbia. I pointed out that his work through the years was done through a close involvement with a radical group from Columbia that later became known as ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). Since this was a general conversation, I did not have sources and details at my disposal but I told her that the first organizers of the group originally had the goal of bringing down the American government by registering large numbers of people for welfare in New York; their goal was to bankrupt the government and cause a socialist revolution. [1]

I pointed out that later the leaders of this group moved to Arkansas and started what is now ACORN, the organization that fraudulently registered voters for Obama and was instrumental in creating the sub-prime crisis. I informed her that Obama had actually filed a law suit in the early ‘90s to get the government to lower lending standards at the behest of ACORN.

Then came the killer question from this young lady. She said, “Well, I’m sure that they did not foresee the sub-prime crisis while they worked in the early ‘90s and certainly they did not think their actions would bring down the economy. Is it possible they were just trying to help more people get homes?”

Was I wrong? Did I fall for the smears of the right and was Obama just merely someone seeking to help the poor? The first clue is in the question she asked: Is it really possible that they were just trying to help more people get homes? Many consider this goal to be a good one and few would be against it.

It is true that many people believe in redistribution because they genuinely want to help the poor or needy. Yet, this genuine hope to help the poor among the vast majority of citizens is the very reason that groups like ACORN gain undeserved trust and cause economic disasters. In my opinion most well-intentioned people have not thought carefully about the issue and don’t realize that they are being deceived by the notion that distribution of income actually does any good – for the economy or the poor. They are confusing desired intent with actual result. They think that if they approve of income redistribution, those politicians they vote for will accomplish the desired result – a fairer, more caring society. Yet, after decades and billions of social welfare dollars down the drain, there are more poor than ever in our society. Why is this so? What if income redistribution is actually harming the people whose resources are being used to obtain the intent – and harming the poor as well? What if they are violating the principle that makes a good civilization possible?

The principle of civilization holds that you cannot accomplish short-term results by sacrificing long-term social stability. A proper civilization can only be a value to an individual if there are no mechanisms for exploitation; if living in a civilization is an actual benefit for all individuals – in other words, the government protects the rights and property of all citizens equally. If any benefit for one individual requires coercion against another individual, then that act is improper and invalidates the civilization.

The appeal to pity is a method of deception used by re-distributors to engender concern about the plight of supposed victims. Certain low-income or no-income people are considered to be worthy of owning homes, even though they have earned low credit scores. They are considered to be victims of an economic system that demands they be good credit risks before they take out loans. This is supposedly the fault of a racist capitalist system; and the available statistics “prove” that this is true. It is irrelevant to the professional parasites at ACORN that these poor can not afford to pay for these homes. The lack of home ownership by the poor is a matter that needs to be fixed and the people who have put their savings into banks and mortgage companies are required to pay for the homes by means of high-risk adjustable rate mortgages that steal from their portfolios.

The problem for the idea of redistribution, and why it is evil, is that it demands sacrificial victims. The best must give up their earnings in order that the favored “victims” are able to survive. The lie in this scam is that the sacrifice is proper; worse is the idea that the sacrificial lamb should want to give up his/her life-blood to the collective. If the collective (represented by the government) demands it, who are they, mere individuals, to disagree?

Politicians have been propagandizing for centuries that self-sacrifice (redistribution) is a form of “caring” for others. By this scheme, it is a foregone conclusion that if a person "cares" for others, it means he is a good person as opposed to the person who dissents. Politicians, such as Obama in particular, are quick to declare that it is more important for the government to “care” about citizens rather than to defend and protect their rights and freedoms. He even considers that the Founding Fathers missed getting the Constitution right when they did not include a re-distribution power in the Constitition.

This view on Obama's part clearly expresses his view that a government is either "caring" (which means re-distributionist) or free (following the Constitution). This view clearly shows that Obama is an enemy of freedom. You can't have both individual rights and re-distribution in the same society. Eventually, individual rights will fall by the wayside.

The basic argument for sacrifice is that sacrifice is considered “good” by most people. This means that anything other than sacrifice is considered bad. For instance, when I question the imperative to sacrifice, in the opinion of most people, I am doing something bad. Forget that the economy has been destroyed and that there are now more unemployed and homeless suffering people as a result of the re-distributionist sub-prime crisis. Let me repeat this: the sub-prime crisis, as a redistribution scheme to benefit the poor, has created more unemployment and more poor people. Yet, my questioning it is an indication that I do not care for others.

The argument offered by Obama (the re-distributer) and ACORN (an organization engaged in voter fraud and bank extortion) is that this is the “will of the people”; but, properly, there should be no government authority to violate the rights of citizens – regardless of its desire to “care” for people. The idea of the government “caring” for people is the excuse that justifies tyranny.

To be continued

[1] “The Roots of ACORN
From a comprehensive and thoroughly researched piece by Stanley Kurtz in the National Review titled, Inside Obama's ACORN, we come to understand that ACORN has its roots in the anti-capitalist tenets of the 1960s radical left group the National Welfare Rights Organization. This groups' goal was to force a radical reconstruction of what they described as "America's unjust capitalist economy" by forcing the elimination of eligibility restrictions for those trying to attain inclusion on the welfare roles, thus creating an overloaded system, a crisis, so as to affect that reconstruction.

Over the years, ACORN morphed its mission into one that champions a diverse set of objectives, all with an overriding goal seated in the tenets of anti-capitalism and the destruction of the US economy. The group targets privately owned companies in their pursuit of unreasonably crafted municipal living wage laws that have literally driven said companies from the areas where jobs are needed. They continue their campaign to eliminate welfare role eligibility restrictions as they crusade to roll back welfare reform. And, in an area directly related to our subject, they actively employ coercive tactics to manipulate financial institutions into abandoning best business practice by affording low-interest loans to unqualified borrowers.” From