Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I See

I look
and I see death.

I see leaders scheming,
I see gangsters stealing,
I see liars lying,
I see people marching,
I see people running,
I see young men dying,
I see bodies broken,
I see mothers mourning,
I see children starving,
I see huge tanks rolling,
I see teargas spreading,
I see terror growing,
I see teardrops falling.

And my task is to make sense.

Copyright 2009 Robert Villegas, Jr.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Cause of War

This is a revised and expanded version of a previous post entitled "The 'Inevitable' Victory of Socialism".

There has never been a time for us living today when war was not a constant threat. Today we may be ending one war while we are in the throes of another in Afghanistan that may take years to win. I’m not sure that our President has the desire or the resolve needed to win this war. I'm thinking, if you don't know what to do, Mr. President, let's bring them home so we can prepare for the defensive war ahead.

The cause of these two wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) is not the United States but dictatorship. In Iraq, we had a dictatorship that openly sought to weaken the USA. Saddam supported terrorists and financed attacks against Israel. He lied to the world and started several wars in his region. He was taken out by the freest country in the world. Yet, we were wrong, says the left, when we sought to depose Saddam.

In Afghanistan, we are fighting a brutal gang known as the Taliban; a group that gave refuge to Al Queda and Osama bin Ladin. The Taliban refused to help the United States bring these terrorists to justice so they were removed by the militaries of freer nations. This is a just war, we are told by the left (today), because we are trying to kill bin Ladin. Today, the Taliban continue their fight as they vie to restore their brutal domination over the country. Killing bin Ladin doesn't seem to be on the table.

It is difficult for us to recognize the most common cause of war. My view is that wars are started by authoritarian governments over weaker or freer countries. And since most of these governments are at constant war with capitalism, you can be sure that they are not friends of individual rights. This means they have an incentive to denigrate and “go after” other countries rich in natural resources. As Ludwig von Mises puts it:

“Durable peace is only possible under perfect capitalism, hitherto never and nowhere completely tried or achieved. In such a Jeffersonian world of unhampered market economy the scope of government activities is limited to the protection of the lives, health, and property of individuals against violent or fraudulent aggression. The laws, the administration, and the courts treat natives and foreigners alike. No international conflicts can arise: there are no economic causes of war.”[1]

Yet, the representatives of authoritarian governments gain credibility when they posture as defenders of peace while criticizing the United States as a warlike nation. It is a common scam that has been run by countless dictators from the Soviets to the Taliban. It is based on the Marxist lie that capitalism is about stealing the labor and resources of people in order to make the “evil” profit. Yet, as Mises explains, there has never been a fully capitalist system; any examples that they denigrate are mixed economies (or worse) where the governments have driven the the country into poverty through massive interventions; governments very much like those advocated by the critics of capitalism. Their scam is to blame the United States for being a war monger which justifies their making war against the United States without having to actually declare war.

The question is: why were most of the wars of the last two centuries started by dictatorships or authoritarian governments? The best way to understand this is by analyzing the types of governments that start wars.

For instance, why would a country that has open trade with the world want to go to war? As long as free markets prevail there is every incentive for peace. And as Mises points out, free market governments are limited to protecting the lives and properties of all citizens. By design, they have a respect for freedom and free peoples; likewise for the citizens of other countries. Free people want to make profits so they can live well. They are creative and “life-serving” by nature because they know that they must provide benefits and improvements to people in the form of products and services. They can’t make a profit if their customers and suppliers are dead or in chains.

On the other hand, a government that keeps a cold hand on the activities of its citizens, that wants to muscle in on the profits of businesses, will find every reason to restrict free trade and dishonor other countries. One such type of government is called an oligarchy where rich families use the government to control major industries and restrict free competition. This is called “muscling in” on markets and is not a hallmark of capitalism but of dictatorships. These governments covet other resource-rich territories because they want to monopolize those resources and charge prices above the level of the free market. If they can corner the markets for such resources as oil, minerals, diamonds, etc., they can charge exorbitant prices and make millions. They instigate wars so they can add these countries to their control. Such oligarchs divide the country into two factions: 1) their friends and 2) the impoverished and neglected masses who have no choice but to buy their necessities from them. Within their countries, they fight a constant war against the citizens; and outside their countries, they fight wars against other country’s citizens...in the name of peace.

What about our policies? How will they impact our future actions regarding other nations? For instance, our government has violated the terms of NAFTA for the sake of union drivers. It has raised certain tariffs as a way of "protecting" American workers and, most worrisome of all, it has created massive budget deficits that threaten to weaken the dollar around the world. This move has brought about the threat of higher prices due to the Fed's increasing of the money supply (inflation). This massive expansion, that takes money right out of the pockets of productive citizens, is intended to enable the government to takeover large banks and manufacturing firms, create non-productive jobs, strengthen control over the people through Health Care and Cap and Trade as well as make other political payoffs to unions and political cronies. Of course, we mustn't forget another big killer of trade which is the expansion of union memberships advocated by President Obama and SEIU among others. This policy will most assuredly result in lower product quality, higher product prices and loss of productive jobs. All of these moves will create an oligarchy in our country made up of people like George Soros, friends of Barack Obama, other leftists and companies that either willingly participate in "muscling in" or are forced to participate out of fear of Obama's pitchforks. The result will be impoverished masses (you and I) and very possibly a warlike nation with diminishing economic power?

Understanding the cause of wars today is difficult because of the influence of Marxism. This philosophy seeks to mask the desire for plunder among many countries by claiming to fight for the supposed “victims” of capitalism. Using doublespeak and the Big Lie, they convince people that capitalist production is theft. American college professors are routinely teaching college students from around the world that wars are caused by capitalism and specifically by America. Routinely, they tell us that capitalist countries have a penchant for captured markets and resource theft. It is typical of the left to accuse the opposition of doing the very things the left is doing.

How do they get away with teaching these lies? Early Marxists created the perfect scam to convince people that there was indeed something evil about capitalism. It is called the dialectical process or dialectical materialism which was a mystical assertion that capitalism was the thesis that was being replaced by the antithesis which is socialism. A historical struggle was falsely postulated and by selective analysis, the Marxists claimed to “prove” that capitalism was doomed to destruction at the hands of the “workers of the world.” This idea of an inevitable historical process that would cause the replacement of capitalism by socialism was not to be doubted, they told us, and, they claim, there is no reason to fight it; instead we should hurry the process along. This is how progressives today convince people that they have no choice about the coming socialism. Educate the people about the inevitability of socialism and you destroy opposition to it.

In fact, the "change" that Obama promises, according to this theory, is the road to the next step of the dialectical process. Change is the new term that will usher in the socialist antithesis to capitalism.

Over the last several decades, however, something seems to have gone wrong with the dialectical process. For some reason, socialism has not yet replaced capitalism. History has stopped being inevitable. Since the big war, Marxists such as Herbert Marcuse and others have been frustrated that the dialectical process did not work as they had thought. To explain this failure, they assert that "reactionary" forces, strengthened by the economic power of the capitalist countries, have tempted the masses away from communism. Their diabolical method of temptation was to give the people products and services that improved their lives...created by mass production and mass marketing (This is why the Marxists (environmentalists and others) are always trying to stop industrial progress and why they hate Madison Avenue). Further, they claim, the capitalist military industrial complex has built massive weapons that have kept the socialist axis at bay. In their view, only something as evil and powerful as capitalism could thwart the efforts of the “good” people (murderous dictators) seeking to stop the dastardly exploitation of the workers.

For the Marxists, the reason that socialism could not advance was the power of capitalism; which is strange since they had thought it would collapse of its own weight. This new circumstance of a powerful, diabolical capitalism has precipitated their efforts to cause it to collapse by stressing it with socialist programs, false charges of Imperialism, reduced military expenditures, violent street protests, bombings and ginned up scandals. Today, the anti-capitalists have captured the universities, distributed to themselves huge grants from the government treasury and perfected the scam of shaking down business organizations by threatening their self-interest. Those businesses who understand the “opportunity” created by the Marxists are the new oligarchs trying to “muscle in” through their fake government/business partnerships. They forget that Marxist theory has doomed them to destruction along with capitalism.

I think it is curious that the Obama administration never discusses dialectical materialism or even Marx or Hegel, yet it is operating on the basis of Marxism. Implicit in everything they do is the idea that socialism is the next form of government for us...while they tell us that it is not really socialism. These guys came out of Columbia University, for God's sake. What else do you expect?

The problem for the Marxists is that the dialectical process, because it is a false idea accepted without proof of any kind, will still not create a successful socialist state...it will do what it has always done...create an oligarchic dictatorship, economic decline and slavery. It will bring us back to barbarism by destroying the only bulwarks against dictatorship: individual rights and limited government. It will also require wars, as a matter of political survival for the leftists. Every dictatorship must have enemies...but our enemies won't be other dictatorships; they will be the former allies that take a more capitalist road.

There is a spark of hope on the horizon. The Tea Parties may save America because we have the power to stop the advance of socialism...we can make the leftists stop all the spending that would collapse our economy. We can say “No” because our production makes possible the purse from which they rob us of our freedom and dignity. We must insist that they create no more entitlement programs, no more social engineering programs, no more ACORN, SEIU, Americorps, no more lies and hate. The Tea Party protesters are the only people who know that our choices going forward are either socialism or freedom. There is no middle way...not any more.

The best way to stop wars is to re-establish the Constitution and reject Marxism and oligarchy in all their forms.

[1] Ludwig von Mises, “Omnipotent Government” Libertarian Press page 284

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

President Obama vs. The Pursuit of Happiness

This post is not about “traditional values” although the values we will discuss have been around longer than those we consider to be traditional. I am not going to tell you about the wisdom of the Founding Fathers or why they were right philosophically. I’ve done that elsewhere. This post is about your values, those you pursue and those you create. I will tell you how you can preserve those values today.

In the past, whenever I’ve talked about the evil of sacrifice it was often difficult to explain the real damage done by the idea. The most vicious practitioners of it were dictators who lived decades into the past, people who caused massive wars of destruction. Few people understand the connection between the past and today’s call for sacrifice.

The price tags enacted by re-distribution in the USA today are in the trillions. The argument for sacrifice is being made by Barack Obama through a host of schemes such as Stimulus Packages, entitlement programs, Cap and Trade and Card Check. His speeches are reminiscent of the arguments made in the past by dictators. Today the “evil” profiteers are not Jews and shop keepers in Berlin but American CEOs, investors and small business people. They are said to owe it to the poor that they should give up their production for the “common good”.

An economic value is something that people want and are willing to pay for. These values are created by a company or individual that has expertise and the necessary equipment to make the product or service. Purchase transactions enable us to trade our intelligence and labor (in the form of money) to acquire the intelligence and labor of producers (in the form of products and services).

If you are employed in this economy, the economic values you create are expressions of your individuality. They are a result of your thinking which is your method of survival.

Yet, creating a value requires more than just your mind; it also requires your learning, your competence, your honesty and the ability to act upon your judgment. These values are how you earn your living and how you can afford to enjoy your life. Every value you create is an opportunity to improve your standard of living.

This brings up an important question. Why does the government want your values? More specifically, why is it that whenever you create a value it should be given up by you for “the common good”, why is it that you, who created it, do not have a right to it?

Our political system was originally designed to prevent theft of property. First, the government was charged with fighting criminals and ensuring they were punished for their crimes. Secondly, the Constitution recognized that individual rights were universal principles and it declared your right to the pursuit of happiness. This document especially prohibited the government from acting against you. It charged the government, not with the power to take your values away, but with the power to ensure that they are not taken away...especially by the government.

With the founding of our country, voluntary trade for mutual advantage was the only transfer system. As long as men are free to work and pursue their happiness, this economic system works. In fact, it has provided more abundance, more equality and more happiness than any system in history. Yet, over the last few months our government has been arguing for a different system of transfer; based on the belief that free trade is somehow flawed; in particular, that free trade leaves some people out, steals the labor of other people and keeps those people in a state of poverty. Some have even charged that the system is even racist. This different system is called re-distribution of income. It involves the government taking your values from you by force and giving them to others. It makes the government the violator of the rights that were supposed to be protected by the Constitution. It is legalized theft.

The truth is that no one is left out in a free market system; even the poor are benefited tremendously. Not only is there always the opportunity for education of the poor, but their level of poverty, if you can call it that, is much higher than in countries that restrict free trade. This is not trickle-down; it is, in fact, trickle up. Here’s how it works: In a society of open trade, there are always opportunities for those with low skills to find work. This is because more successful people are always looking for ways to increase their leisure and comfort. They are always looking for people to mow the lawns, clean the gutters, clean the house and cook their meals. The higher the number of wealthy people in a free economy, the more opportunities there are for the poor to gain skills and elevate themselves economically.

In addition, with the drive to lower prices for such things as fast food (an idea invented in the USA), numerous opportunities exist for young people and the poor to develop job skills and eventually move up to more demanding jobs. As long as markets are free, there are always incentives to increase production and lower prices and this means jobs.

Yet, President Obama, as his career indicates, would prefer to create a revolution against capitalism. His system of re-distribution is taking away work opportunities from the poor. In fact, wealth is not created by this process. The very lesson learned from other socialist experiments is that people will not work hard when the fruits of their labor are re-distributed. Isn’t this what killed the Soviet Union? Isn’t this why Hong Kong was a booming city for decades while the rest of China was a labor camp?

When the government insists that you sacrifice your money or your time for the common good, they are asking you to sacrifice both the values that you create as well as the values you want to purchase. These are values that could provide you with a better life and the ability to enjoy it. The government is taking away your better future. And further, they are putting upon you the responsibility of ensuring that other people have a better life than you.

These values that you create are an expression of your love for life and your desire to enjoy life. Why should you have that love cut off? Why should you be thwarted in your effort to live a better life? Who has the moral authority to make a decision about your life, your work, your property and your happiness? Does President Obama? If so, how did he get this right? What made him the “decider” about your ethical decisions? Did you vote him into that position? Is that even a position that should be decided by democratic vote? I think not.

Why is the President attacking your values? Why does he limit and restrict your happiness? I think he wants to destroy your ability to enjoy your life, to ensure that your life is dominated by pain, fear and service to society; he wants to sever the relationship between the values you create and the tangible results of those values; and, more importantly, he wants to paralyze you morally so he can destroy your ability to question his actions.

If you accept the goal of re-distribution, you are already partly brainwashed; you accept President Obama’s vision of a sacrificial life for yourself and for the nation. In this position, you cannot question the administration and any of the re-distribution policies it puts forth. You join the collective and become a dutiful “worker” whose future and well being are in the hands of the government. In order to live a better life, the government must give you more benefits; you do not need to earn them for yourself; you lose the intellectual discipline that comes with self-responsibility. Every economic judgment you make must be a political judgment; a judgment that results in your support for more benefits and entitlements. This means you will vote for President Obama…you might even support his canceling future elections. You might support the persecution of productive people.

Many people who are productive are also silenced by the moral issue that self-sacrifice represents. They’ve been taught to sacrifice since they were children. They are morally paralyzed by the idea that if someone demands their money for others, they must give it up and they must not question the motives of the people who demand it. The speeches given by the President about the “value” of sacrifice and the duty he thinks we have to do it; especially the calls for mandatory public service, are intended, not to promote and sell his policies, but to silence you and gain your support by default. It takes courage to disagree with sacrifice. Who would be so "selfish" as to stand up for his right to happiness?

President Obama does not care about how hard you work or whether you suffer. If you are an American who has prospered in this society, you are guilty because you prospered. You are guilty because, in his mind, you allowed other people to suffer; in fact, he believes you created their suffering. You know better than that; and you also know that your hard work has created opportunities for the poor far beyond that created by President Obama while he worked as a community organizer. Even today, he is less productive as President than you are as a hard working American. He can only take from you because he has the gun. Your power is your mind and your ability to create value.

The fundamental division in our society is between people who hold your view of moral living and people who hold President Obama’s view. Your view is based in honesty, production, hard work and mutual trade to mutual benefit. His view is based on generating envy using discredited materialist views about the evil of profit. Your view is necessary for moral living; his view brings about hatred and theft.

Today people are struggling to be productive as they try to overcome the consequences of President Obama’s policies. Every day he makes your productivity harder. Every day he takes more of your values from you. He is at war against your happiness and every program he passes is another attack on you; another effort to dig you and your children into a deeper hole that that requires more work and no reward. Every dollar the Obama administration spends is a dollar taken from you.

The only way to stop this madness is to fight for your right to happiness without guilt and moral paralysis. You must question to its core every proposal, every move and every policy of the administration. You must start showing up at the offices of your representatives. Every day they should see “the people” tirelessly protesting every measure they pass and every “bribe” they take from the Stimulus Package. The message must be sent out loudly that you will not allow your freedoms to be taken from you without a fight. You must inform them proudly that you will pursue your happiness.