Happy theft day. Whoops missus, what a giveaway!
In this episode, we take a brief look at taxation — what it is, what theft is, whether or not the two have significant overlap. We also take a jaunt through American history, which is, in large part, the history of tax resistance and violent repression. Fun for the whole family!
The debut episode of the new Bumbling Bees podcast! Thrill to the melodious (malodorous?) voice of your humble narrator as he rabbits on about different types of libertarianism! Feel the raw libertarian power of the excerpts he reads from books and white papers! Wonder where he got that intro music from!
This past week saw the death of one of my great comedy heroes, Don Rickles, along with one of my great libertarian heroes, William N. Grigg. As a libertarian humorist, that’s kind of a tough week!
Will Grigg was the great libertarian thinker and writer who is responsible more than anyone else (with the possible exception of Radley Balko) for shedding light on the atrocities committed by the modern American police state. Over the past ten years, Grigg wrote hundreds of articles at his own blog, Pro Libertate, most of them dealing with the American criminal justice system and the wreckage it leaves in its wake. Will Grigg also wrote countless articles and blog posts for lewrockwell.com, and was one of the founding members of the Libertarian Institute. I cannot (and do not) claim to be one of the many people Will Grigg’s work helped to get free from the clutches of the "punitive priesthood," as he called it; I am merely someone who learned from Will Grigg, but that, to my mind, is high praise as it stands.
Don Rickles, of course, scarcely needs an introduction. He was the legendary insult comic dubbed "Mr. Warmth," and was possessed of an inimitable ability to command a stage with his rapid-fire, ceaseless wit. No subject was off limits for Don Rickles, very much including the sacred shibboleths of modern America: race, sex, and handicaps. Rickles had a joke for any occasion, and usually a flood of them; he was callous, he was politicially incorrect, and he was a member of the old school of Jewish comedians who would spontaneously shift into Yiddish just to annoy the audience. He was, in short, the best.
Peace is probably going to be a pretty major theme around here for the near future, what with the recently-begun war in Syria and the upcoming war in North Korea, soon to be followed by World War III and then the nuclear obliteration of everybody. Good thing I don’t live at the closest possible missile target to both Russia and China! Not to mention I don’t even have Don Rickles to take my mind off of it anymore.
Where was I? Oh, right: peace. It’s a bit awkward for me to claim that peace is such a big deal — which claim I do intend to make — without first providing a definition of what, exactly, it is. What does peace consist of? Where does it come from? How can it be maintained, and why does it matter?
Lights in the darkness
As we discussed a few days ago, April 6, 2017 was the day president Trump officially betrayed Trumpism, inserting the United States into yet another foolish regime change operation in the middle east, pushing the world yet closer to open war between the US and Russia, and dumping additional tens of millions of dollars down the defense contractor pit. Apparently, making America great again involves giving us Hillary Clinton’s policies dressed up with Sewer Urchin’s rhetorical style.
But you know about that already. In fact, if you’re a bit sharp, you most likely knew it was coming. Yes, the Trump reversal was whatever the opposite of "unexpected" is — a concept word scientists of the future will dub "expected." What was less expected, though — arguably much less expected — was the way many of Trump’s most stalwart supporters turned around on him just as ferociously. And I don’t just mean tiny, meaningless dudes with blogs and no audience.
Making political predictions is easy. Here’s the rule of thumb: whatever is the worst possible outcome, that’s what they’ll do. The entire body of optimism I was able to muster for the Trump administration was, as I said many a time, predicated on the slim hope that maybe — maybe — he’d be less of a warmonger than his predecessor. There was some campaign rhetoric to that effect, and, while believing campaign rhetoric is a singularly silly idea, it was just enough to prop up a distant hope that the United States could indeed decide that not every event in every country is our business.
So much for that.
You have the obligation to remain silent
Ah, America. Land of the free! Home of the Barves! Where the only thing more cherished than apple pie, baseball, and motherhood is the absolute, rock-solid, George Washington-approved, First Amendment-guaranteed right to free speech. I’m sure you know it by heart:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Of course, as any fule kno, the Constitution is a "living document." What necromantic rites were involved in this black sorcery your humble narrator shudders to think, but apparently the Constitution, quite unlike every other piece of paper in the history of the world, has the power to update itself whenever the disembodied flying devil head of Uncle Sam wills it to be. And, in an astonishing turn of events, He communicates His grand design to us through the federal judiciary. Last week, the holy judiciary handed down the magical new text of the First Amendment, which has apparently been updated with a rider adding "… unless minor bureaucrats don’t like it."
That can only be the war in Yemen. This is a truly disgusting and cynical war; Yemen is almost impossibly poor, and is no threat to the United States in any conceivable reality, and your United States government is aiding and abetting the butchers that are the house of Saud in what amounts to the most lopsided partisan religious persecution of all time. This is a "war" fought for no purpose, with no defined endpoint, and with no objective other than the wholesale slaughter of helpless children, all to curry political favor with oil-rich barbarian war-chiefs.
Now, just because I labeled this an Obama war, don’t think I’m leaving the new guy off the hook. I was wholeheartedly in favor of giving him a chance, but at this point he’s had it, and he’s officially blown it. If the Trump administration can’t even see through this most insincere of all wars, it clearly has never seen and will never see a war it doesn’t like. All we can hope for at this point is that maybe they won’t start quite as many new ones as the last administration did.
The God That Failed
Ever noticed what a complete fraud democracy is? Let’s go right on ahead and notwithstand that even on its own terms, it’s rubbish; rather, I’d prefer to focus on the utterly phony way "democracy" is leveraged as a scare tactic; it seems as though, whatever happens, it’s a "threat to democracy" or it will "undermine democracy" or perhaps it will even be "the end of democracy." By my count, all the democracy everywhere should have ended about eleven times over since election day, yet it apparently struggles onward, facing new existential threats every day.
The latest threat to democracy, of course, is the dreaded Fake News. As any fule kno, but as only the kind of fule who works for a government school will breathlessly explain to you, the entire reason for the evil Donald Hitler’s victory over St. Hillary of Clinton is that the internet was so infested with fake news that everybody forgot how great Hillary is. I am compelled to agree with this thesis, since your humble narrator seems to have forgotten that quite thoroughly.
As any fule kno, the problem with us stupid libertarian ideologues is that we refuse to accept that there are certain things out there that people need, but that simply cannot be provided on the free market. The big one, of course, is roads — regardless of what clueless rubes say, there’s no possible way that free men acting on their own could figure out how to get a stretch of relatively flat, clear ground between you and Wal-mart. Also, can you even imagine a way that mail could be delivered without government? Impossible! Public safety is another one; who has more of the knowledge and incentive necessary to keep your neighborhood safe: your neighbors, or faceless bureaucrats in Washington D.C.? It’s the bureaucrats all the way, of course.
Put those three things together and you have an obvious no-brainer. Who can keep the roads safe so the government mail can get delivered? Only the government, obviously. It’s too large, too expensive, and too complex an endeavor for anybody else to manage. Well, anybody else except for PornHub, anyhow.