Potpourri From the Editor’s Desk
[This page made possible through the work of Diego Julien. Thanks Diego!]
33-1. “You can’t shoot a truth.”
“A fundamental limit of violence is that none of us has the power to force another person to believe or live out our truth. We can force some people to do our will, but we can force no one to believe in our truth. In terms of truth, violence doesn’t work. People will always believe what they choose to believe, not what we choose for them. They will react against any truth of ours imposed on them.’
(Jim Douglass, “But What Is The Question?” GROUND ZERO, Fall 1987, p. 10)
33-2. Another Research Topic
In “War and the Birth of the Nation State,” (33 JOURNAL OF ECONOMIC HISTORY (l973), pp. 203-221), Richard Bean notes that military expenditures accounted for approximately six percent of national income during the era of the Roman Empire. In Medieval Europe it was only about one percent, over two percent in the 16th Century, and averaged nine percent in the 18th Century. “The actual figure has been about ten percent in the United States since World War II.” It would be interesting to update and extend this analysis.
33-3. Self-ownership: “Yourself belongs to you!”
A rap song by the Fat Boys has the following lines:
Take any path you want to
but one thing you ought-a Know
Don’t let others lead you places
you don’t want to go!
A def thing to remember
if you don’t Know what to do:
You got a right to standing tall,
Yourself belongs to you!
(from Marlo Thomas and Friends, FREE TO BE … A FAMILY, New York: Bantam Books, p. 126)
33-4. LETTERS TO JESSICA: A Child’s Guide to Freedom of Mind and Spirit.
Robert Bissett has written a meaningful tract explaining statism and why the State is a fabrication of the human imagination. Lesson 3, “True Faith and Allegiance—To Whom Is It Owed?” concludes with this important lesson:
I have said that wolf-men and humbugs (Bissett’s designation for politicians and bureaucrats) may force you to do things you know to be wrong or things you would rather not do. I have said that humbugs have claimed total power in America just as they have all over the world. But this is only true in the fantasy world of human government. The truth is that no one has the power to make you do anything. You always have a choice. It may be a very hard choice, but you do always have a choice.
Rather than kill others in time of war as required by manmade law, some men have refused and chose to go to prison. No one had the power to force them to aim a rifle and pull the trigger. The same is true for you and me. No one can make us do anything. No one controls us, not even God who made us… .
Little children understand they are free, too, without anyone telling them. Patty is three years old. She is a very nice little girl, but when I tell her to do things she puts her hands on her hips and says: “You’re not my mother.’ She means I have no authority over her. That’s true for me and all other adults. It will still be true when she grows up. Patty was created with this truth inside of her, just as we all were. (p.76) (Available from the author for $6 cash at HCR 61 215A, Bonners Ferry, Idaho 83805)
33-5. “Harry’s War”
The anti-IRS movie video by this title is worth seeing. Beverly Payne (portrayed by Geraldine Page), Harry’s aunt, is audited by the Internal Revenue Service and assessed over $100,000 in back taxes. After she dies of a heart attack in Tax Court, Harry takes over her affairs and discovers that his newly inherited property has been seized by the IRS. He proceeds to fight them in a paramilitary struggle, while attempting to publicize his plight.
Funny, and often hilarious, though dealing with a serious subject, “Harry’s War” nevertheless has a flawed thesis. The script writer did not understand that taxation is theft, and believes that if the IRS collected taxes in a constitutional manner no one would have anything to grumble about and no injustice would be done. But the story of Harry’s war against the IRS demonstrates that all statist law, no matter how petty, has as its ultimate punishment death or property confiscation, or both (should one choose to resist). Available on VHS or Beta. It was produced in 1980, and also stars David Ogden Stiers, Edward Herrmann, and Karen Grassle.
33-6. “Threat of Bureaucratic Arrest”
“Technically, the bureaucrat never does any of the dirty work for the prosecution of his rulings. He will eventually get a local court and local deputy sheriff to enforce his edicts. Notice, that if you ever resist bureaucratic “law”, you are not prosecuted for resisting an inane and unconstitutional law, but for defying the court’ or resisting arrest’. Separating the act of resistance from the initial law which motivated the act is one of the slickest ways to bring a populace into line with bureaucratic law. It also allows jurists to justify harsh and serious penalties (for resisting arrest) which wouldn’t be justifiable because of failing to get a building permit, for example. When law becomes sacrosanct without regard to its moral implications, then men begin to defend all types of crimes because they are clothed in the mantle of ‘law’…
“Whenever a deputy comes to enforce a court order that is against your religious or other philosophical convictions, instruct him that you will only comply if he threatens your life with his weapon drawn. This is not to indicate that you plan on threatening him, but to make local deputies feel the full personal responsibility they share in being ‘lackies’ for the State, and the ridiculousness of his enforcement of petty edicts with the threat of force. This procedure also helps them understand that all law, no matter how petty, has as its ultimate punishment your death (should you choose to resist). All legislators ought to ask themselves, before passing any law, if this law is worth killing a person who resists.”
(Joel Skousen, THE SURVIVAL HOME MANUAL, 2nd edition, 903 State Street, Hood River, Oregon 97031, $22 postpaid, p. 77)
33-7. “Government by Fiction: The Idea of Representation”
This article, by Edmund Morgan, originally appeared in the Spring 1983 YALE REVIEW, pp.321-339. While Morgan does not deprecate the concept of representative government, per se, he makes a number of telling points regarding the evolution of political representation and its mythical nature. In view of Lysander Spooner’s observation that if consent means anything it means the individual consent of each and every person subject to governmental jurisdiction, it is interesting to read about early Maryland history, where representatives, at first, did not represent those who voted against them. The following paragraphs are excerpts from Morgan’s article.
Government requires make-believe. Make believe that the king is divine or that he can do no wrong, make believe that the voice of the people is the voice of God. Make believe that the people have a voice or that the representatives of the people are the people. Make believe that governors are the servants of the people. …
Although fictions enable the few to govern the many, it is not only the many who are constrained by them. In the strange commingling of political make-believe and reality the governing few, no less than the governed many, may find themselves limited…by the fictions on which their authority depends. …
Representation from the beginning was a fiction. If the representative consented, his constituents had to make believe that they had done so.
The way in which any group of subjects was first persuaded to pretend that one of them could substitute for all of them is not altogether clear. It is possible that originally a representative could consent only in the name of individuals who specifically empowered him and that those who did not, even though in the same community, were not bound by his actions. (For example, in the Maryland General Assembly of 1638), the records show that some free men attended in person while others delegated their representatives, each of whom was entitled to his own vote and also to all the votes of those who had selected him as their representative. He did not represent anyone who had not specifically and individually empowered him; and a man could even change his mind, revoke the assignment of his vote, and attend in person, (emphasis added)…The records imply that elections of representatives were held in particular neighborhoods, but those who voted against the winner were not bound to recognize him as their representative. …
In the 1640s the assembly was gradually reduced to a strictly representative body, with each community in the (Maryland) colony choosing, by majority rule, a representative who would stand for the whole community, including the minority of free men who had voted against him. And he would cast a single vote in the assembly, regardless of the size of the community he represented.
It is not certain that the original development of the fiction of representation in England followed this pattern. What seems clear is that when representatives ceased to be mere proxies for individuals, whether in England or America, they represented distinct geographically defined communities. …
What was needed was not that every man, woman, and child share in the choice of a representative but that the choice be perceived as that of a geographical community. A representative had to represent the people of a particular place; he ceased to represent when he lost his local identification. …The fiction would collapse if it was stretched to have all representatives chosen by all voters. … The local character of representation was present at the beginning in England as well as in England’s colonies, and it has remained to this day essential to the credibility of the fiction. …
(T)he fictional purpose of representation (was) to persuade the many to accept the government of the few. …
“Legislation is not the result of consensus. If there was a consensus, there would be no need for legislation. Legislation represents civil war.”
(Leonard Liggio quoted in the 1988 calendar of the Free Libertarian Party of Ontario)
34-1. ‘Who Says There are No Exchange Controls in Effect? or Currency as Contraband’
A recent article on “Getting Along at Customs’ noted that it is legal to export or import any amount of money into the United States, but that declaration of the amount must be made if it is more than $10,000. If the money is not declared it is subject to confiscation. The purpose of the declaration is to alert the I.R.S. to large sums of cash, which may be unreported earnings. U.S. Customs reports that they confiscate more than one million dollars a month from drug runners smuggling money out of the country via Kennedy International Airport in new York. At most international airports throughout the United States, “customs agents are changing the way they work to ease passengers’ entry into the country while stopping contraband at the door. …Arriving at the customs area, you head for a red lane if you were on a farm while abroad and have agricultural products; if you have more than $10,000 in currency or monetary instruments; … .” The noose is tightening even more!
34-2. “The Freedom Rule”
“The free society depends not merely on what we want for ourselves, but also on the freedom each of us is prepared to extend to others. Our social conduct determines our social freedom. If we conduct ourselves so as to avoid the use of force to impose our will on others, the result is a society of free people.”
Robert Anderson, NOTES FROM FEE, March 1988.
34-3. Nock on Voluntaryist Social Change
“Even a successful revolution, if such a thing were conceivable, against the military tyranny which is Statism’s last expedient, would accomplish nothing. The people would be as thoroughly indoctrinated with Statism after the revolution as they were before, and therefore the revolution would be no revolution, but a coup d’Etat in which the citizen would gain nothing but a mere change of oppressors. There have been many revolutions in the last twenty-five years, and this has been the sum of their history. They amount to no more than an impressive testimony to the great truth that there can be no right action, except there be right thinking behind it. As long as the easy, attractive, superficial philosophy of Statism remains in control of the citizen’s mind, no beneficent social change can be effected, whether by revolution or any other means.”
Albert Jay Nock, “Introduction,” to Herbert Spencer’s THE MAN VERSUS THE STATE, Caldwell: Caxton Printers, 1940, p. xiv.
34-4. “The Man in the Middle”
James Carroll in his novel about the Irish rebellion and World War I has the following to say about the men in No Man’s Land who refused to fight. These were soldiers who escaped to the area between the opposing military lines. “The attitude of the men in the ranks toward them was profoundly conflicted. Because the deserters lived in an underworld and looted the dead, they were thought to be devils. But because of their nightly treatment of the wounded they were regarded as friendly apparitions, as angels, even, and by some as the spirits returned of the men who’d fallen first. But the commanders, German and British alike, felt no conflict, for the men in the middle made the act of desertion thinkable for every man in both armies, and their refusal to treat each other like enemies undercut the supreme nationalism that was essential if the soldiers were to continue to fight each other. The men in the middle embodied the idea that there was an alternative to orders. If that idea spread, then the war was over.”
James Carroll, SUPPLY OF HEROES, New York: American Library, 1986, pp. 424-425.
34-5. “Who To Avoid!”
“In my decades in the libertarian movement, I have seen no positive correlations whatever between honesty or ability in business and the degree of a person’s commitment to libertarian doctrine. To the contrary, the facts cut the other way, and in general, in seeking out business or consumer services, I would tend to go out of my way to avoid libertarian dentists, plumbers, carpenters, etc. My experience, and it is not unique, is that the proportion of incompetents, moochers, hustlers, and quasicrooks in the libertarian movement is far higher than in the general business population.”
Murray Rothbard, “The Libertarian Family and Entrepreneurship,” in LIBERTY Magazine, July 1988, $18 for six issues, $5 for back issues, Box 1167, Port Townsend Wash. 98368.
34-6. “Problems, if Shot at, Do Not Disappear!”
“Armed conflict does not train its participants for future peaceful resolution of conflict. Those who rise to leadership tend to be those most skilled in combat and least prepared for future conciliation;… . Furthermore, when there are winners there are losers and the losers may seek revenge (and have the common sentiments of justice’ to back them up). …Many Americans have internalized the lessons of Western movies: problems will disappear if shot at. …Problems if shot at do not disappear, they multiply.”
William Kelsey in LIBERTY Magazine, July 1988, p. 35.
38-1. “Cash Talks”
“Without gold and without cash, a citizen is powerless. Normal business is restricted. The power of buying a car, a house, boat, whatever, with cash as opposed to a check or credit card (which chops the recipient’s profit) or time payments, is immense: Cash talks. Trouble is: what it says is: individual liberty. Governments don’t like that kind of talk.”
Taken from THE INTERNATIONAL HARRY SCHULTZ LETTER.
38-2. “On Means and Ends”
Some readers may enjoy the recent book by Kenneth Blanchard and Norman Vincent Peale on THE POWER OF ETHICAL MANAGEMENT (New York: William Morrow and Company, 1988). In it they make such enlightening statements as:
(1) There is no right way to do a wrong thing. (2) Managing only for profit is like playing tennis with your eye on the Scoreboard and not on the ball. In other words, if you don’t keep your eye on the ball, you may not get much on the Scoreboard. (3) If we take care in the beginning, the end will take care of itself.
38-3. More on “Means and Ends”
David Hendersen of Columbia Food Machinery, Salem, Oregon—a long time subscriber—writes:
I am fortunate to be involved in a business that is characterized by unlimited entry and little special regulation. Ours is still a small business, but we now have six employees and are well recognized by vegetable and potato processors in the Pacific Northwest. (We began with one employee in 1980.) Your byline on THE VOLUNTARYIST, “If one takes care of the means, the end will take care of itself,” applies to our business.
I am constantly reminded, that if we take care of details, the big picture (profitability, growth) takes care of itself. We have tried to set our prices high enough to make a profit, but our overriding concern is that the capital equipment we sell performs as we said it would. We have concentrated on service, not profitability. From initial line design, to obtaining an order, through equipment installation and start-up, we assist the customer, spending many days at the plant site. After the machine is running, regular plant visits are required to ensure that production and maintenance personnel are satisfied. Our outside sales people always have tools and coveralls in their cars and often put them to use before leaving the plant. Our inside people give knowledgeable phone support and have a sense of urgency about customers’ problems.
We are constantly seeking improvement in our line designs, in application of the equipment, and in the equipment itself. I hope we are always a little smarter tomorrow than we are today. Our business has grown steadily for eight years, and 1 am excited about our future prospects. We intend to continue to concentrate on the means.
38-4. “Loss of Freedom”
“History indicates that freedom cannot be imposed on a nation—or an individual for that matter—from the outside. Freedom must be generated internally. It must spring from within. For this to happen there must be the concept of freedom. It is human nature to accept what is, because that is easiest. Even imagining change for the better takes effort. And how much more effort when there is no model, no example of what could be!… We are failing to meet that urgent obligation (of serving as the citadel of human freedom). We are losing not merely our freedom, but our very concept of freedom. It is being brainwashed out in our schools and by our media. And we have no contemporary model to reinforce that concept.”
Peggy Poor in THE UPRIGHT OSTRICH, Box 11691, Milwaukee, Wise. 53211, August 1988, p. 10.
38-5. Lionel Robbins on Hayek: He seems quite indifferent whether you find the truth, or whether he finds it, provided it is found.
“But his work was not only important, it was also very stimulating: whether you agree with him or not, you could not talk to Hayek without being induced to think for yourself. Contrary to popular belief, as a teacher Hayek was no proselytizer. He had strong convictions himself. But in discussion his focus was always directed not to persuade but to pursue implications. What Maria Edgeworth said of Ricardo could be equally well applied to him: ‘I never argued or discussed a question with a person who argues more fairly, or less for victory and more for truth. He gives full weight to every argument brought against him, and seems not to be on any side of the question for one instant longer than the conviction of his mind on that side. It seems quite indifferent to him whether you find the truth, or whether he finds it, provided it be found.’ It is in terms of such an attitude that must be explained the influence which he exerted on so many generations of students, whatever their ultimate political or economic convictions.”
Lord Robbins, AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF AN ECONOMIST, London: Macmillan, 1971, p. 128.
38-6. Compliance with the Immigration Laws in El Paso, Texas
“‘We’ve learned this much about Washington’s mandates,’ says Ellwyn Stoddard, a sociologist at the University of Texas at El Paso. ‘First we reject the stupid laws. Then we circumvent them. Finally, if we’re forced to comply, we end up lying and laughing behind their backs’.”
From THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, May 4, 1988, p. 15.
38-7. Some New Southern Slang and a New Saying
How do the Southerners say “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch?”—”Every time you eat a biscuit someone worked for it even if you didn’t’.” And another new Southern expression referring to calamitous situations: “All sickness ain’t death.”
“If you find a path with no obstacles on it, the chances are it doesn’t lead anywhere.”
From COUNTRYSIDE AND SMALL STOCK JOURNAL, W8333 Doepke Road, Waterloo, Wisconsin 53594.
38-8. Baloo on Busybodies
Rex May, better known as Baloo, our cartoonist, deserves many thanks for brightening and livening up our pages. He also edits THE TROUT IN THE MILK (Box 3108, West Lafayette, Indiana 47906), from which the following excerpt is taken (April 1988, p.3):
I could talk for hours on the difference between all those (political) tags, and so could most of us. The distinction between fascism and naziism alone is a very profound thing that is invisible to most observers. But in one way it is as simple as that. Some people want to run your life and other people don’t. It matters little what distinctions are made between the various breeds of busybodies, they remain busybodies. I’m sure there are thousands of breeds of snakes, and the distinctions must fascinate herpetologists, but to most of us there’s only two basic categories of snakes—poisonous and non-poisonous.
38-9. A Good Question About Free Market Automobile Insurance
“Why don’t the automakers come out with their own insurance policies? They already offer warranties. A few even include emergency roadside expenses under their warranty. The answer is that insurance companies are regulated by state governments. Not only would automakers need to comply with the various state regulations, but they must be chartered by the state. Influence from the insurance industry would keep this from happening.’
From an unpublished article by Joe Naiman, “Deregulation Is Cure for Insurance Crisis.”
38-10. On State Religion
“The public school is our actual U.S. state religion. (Public) libraries are the religion’s auxiliary.”
J.C. Davis in a recent issue of THE PRAGMATIST, Box 392, Forest Grove, Pa. 18922.
“Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even when there is no river.”
— Nikita Krushchev
One evening, the libertarian imperative “Question Authority” was penned on the wall of a washroom in a Richmond, Va. Tavern. By the following evening someone had added: “Who the Hell are you to tell me what to do!”
— from Libertarian International’s FREEDOM NETWORK NEWS, Nov/Dec 1988.
39-2. “Mises As a Hero”
Murray Rothbard’s monograph, LUDWIG VON MISES: SCHOLAR, CREATOR, HERO (Mises Institute: 1988), “is an eloquent and moving tribute to his teacher, and the most definitive book on Mises thus far.” In it, the author expresses his ire at the refusal of American universities to offer Mises a paid, full-time position. Yet interestingly enough, Mises himself was seldom ever bitter regarding his ostracism at the hands of American academia. Despite Rothbard’s remonstrations, not being part of the establishment quite possibly could have been one of Mises’ greatest stimuli. He met the challenge of being an outsider and foreigner, expressed his free market views in print, and created a small yet loyal following. One wonders if his writings would have been as voluminous and as uncompromising as they were if the challenge had been less, and if Mises had been accepted as one of the boys?’
39-3. “I Do Not Choose to Be a Common Man”
It is my right to be uncommon—if I can.
I seek opportunity—not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the State look after me.
I want to take the calculated risk, to dream and to build; to fail and to succeed.
I refuse to barter incentive for a dole. I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of Utopia.
I will not trade freedom for beneficence nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master nor bend to any threat.
It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid; to think and act for myself, enjoy the benefit of my creation and to face the world boldly and say, this I have done.
—”My Creed ” by Dean Alfange
39-4. “Debts Are Always Paid: Who Will Be Left Holding the Bag?”
In his November 29, 1988 column, Vermont Royster, editor emeritus of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, predicted “that the government’s multi-trillion dollar debt will never be paid off, not ever.” (emphasis added) While observing that merely to pay the interest will be a burden to our children and our children’s children, he failed to note that debts are always paid. There are never any unpaid bills; if the lender doesn’t pay, the creditor absorbs the loss. History leads us to believe that the national debt will probably be paid off in a currency which has lost its purchasing power, or simply be repudiated by some future American government. And history also teaches that the receiver in bankruptcy for a rotting currency has usually been a dictator.
“Though it is based upon the natural and indeed instinctive love of home, (patriotism) has been elevated in the modern world into an unparalleled congeries of imbecilities. What it demands of the individual citizen, as a practical matter, is that he yield not only his judgment but also his property and even his life to whatever gang of scheming politicians happen to be in power. The essence of his virtue as a patriot is that he ask no questions, once the band is set to playing.”
39-6. “Be Wary!”
How many times have our limited government friends forgotten that a government that is strong enough to protect them, is also strong enough to imprison them.
39-7. “We Love Freedom but Not Responsibility”
“Self-ownership is a fact, not a right. Self-ownership is part of the nature of man. Rose Wilder Lane premises her excellent work DISCOVERY OF FREEDOM on man’s control of his own energy. To her, freedom’ is self-control.’ She believed that personal freedom comes, and eventually societal freedom will come, with the realization of this fundamental fact. Each of us must rid himself of the notion that we are controlled by some outside force whether it be embodied in our parents, the church, the state, or any of a myriad of foreign entities. Each of us is in control of his own life. Because we are in control, we are responsible for ourselves and our actions. It is true (that) we are sometimes confronted with very difficult choices,…(but) difficult choices do not, cannot absolve of us responsibility.
“Since the most important requirement for ownership is control, we can be said to own’ ourselves. The fundamental fact, however, is that of self-control, not ownership. … We only need to help ourselves reject the myth of outside control, and accept the fundamental fact of self control.’ Most of us love freedom, but we try to avoid responsibility.”
—Chuck Estes in LIBERTY, January 1989, 6 issues/$l8, Box 1167, Port Townsend, Wash. 98368
39-8. “Nationalized Land Holdings”
“With the public lands officially the property of the people,’ the United States began with a giant nationalized holding that would have made perfect sense if the country had been socialistic.”
—Patricia Limerick, LEGACY OF CONQUEST (1987), p. 70
39-9. “A Vulgar Economic Concept”
In THE LONG VIEW IN ECONOMIC POLICY: The Case of Agriculture and Food (International Center for Economic Growth: 1987) Theodore Schultz points out that the U.S. parity price for farm products is based on 1910-1914 relative prices. Here is a perfect example of how socialism bears no relation at all to reality. Not only should there be no price supports, but if there are, by what standard should farmers’ income relate to pre-World War I prices, when motorized agriculture was just beginning?
The following definition of inflation is offered by the 1989 FARMERS’ ALMANAC: “Inflation is the price we pay for those government benefits everybody thought were free.”
39-11. “Communism Violates Natural Law”
“Morality lies in actions, not in ends. You can show a hundred times over…how communism has led to both inequity and cruelty whenever it has been practiced. …Capitalism’s superiority lies in its actions. That its result are superior follows from the premise that only a moral action can lead to a moral end,… . In a free market you benefit only because you successfully fill a genuine need of some consumers, not because in your selfishness or greed you have somehow hoodwinked them into parting with their wealth for some lesser value that you have delivered in exchange. As anyone who understands economics knows, a freemarket exchange is mutually beneficial, else it never would have occurred.
“The theoretical essence of communism is forced equality. There are no voluntary exchanges, only coerced immoral ones: people having to part with their labor and morally earned wealth in order to satisfy an arbitrary conception of equity. …Capitalism deals with existents—individuals; communism deals with abstract concepts—populations. But populations are made up of individuals. How can one imagine that the sacrifice of an individual for the benefit of…the group, could ever lead to a morally satisfactory conclusion?”
-Qurdip S. Sidhu, M.D. in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, Dec. 23, 1988, p. A-11
39-12. “New LeFevre Books”
Robert Lefevre’s long awaited THE FUNDAMENTALS OF LIBERTY has been published by Rampart Institute, Box 26044, Santa Ana, California 92799. Hardback, 487 pages, $24.95 postpaid. ROBERT LEFEVRE: Truth is Hot a Half-Way Place is available from THE VOLUNTARYIST for $14.C-5 postpaid.
39-13. “The Hibakusha’
One of the most forgotten chapters of World War II concerns some 30,000 Japanese-Americans who were in Japan at the time of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Approximately 1000 of these nisei were also survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (the Japanese word for explosion-affected persons’ is hibakusha) and now live in the United States. “Some had gone to visit relatives or to receive part of their education in Japan, and some to enter into marriage with Japanese nationals. Trapped in Japan when the war began, they were unable to return to their homes and families (most of whom would have been in relocation camps). Some were accused by the Japanese of spying for the United States; by Americans that they were working for a Japanese victory. Caught in the maelstrom of war they suffered a double isolation.”
-from THE CATHOLIC WORKER, December, 1988.
41-1. “A Distinction by George Orwell”
According to Orwell the difference between patriotism and nationalism is this: patriotism is devotion to a way of life without wishing to impose it on others; nationalism seeks the dominance of one’s own group at the expense of others.
41-2. “What Will It Be Like for our Children?”
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (February 17, 1989, p. A2) reports that the Internal Revenue Service ‘plans to begin matching a State Department list of all Americans applying for passports with its master list of those who filed (tax) returns,” in an effort to locate non-filers. The noose tightens again! Twenty or thirty years ago, no one could have imagined the political regulations and political restrictions that we are experiencing today. What will it be like in another twenty or thirty years?
My guess is that the noose will continue to tighten. Work permits will be needed to change jobs. Residential permits will be needed to move. The State will exert more and more control over one’s ability to independently earn a living and support a family. Every effort will be made to eliminate independent contractors and self-employed persons. Those caught with untaxed cash or unreported income will not only be penalized and assessed back taxes, as now, but in addition are likely to have all assets on which taxes have not been paid seized and forfeited (this principle has already been established by the RICO law).
41-3. “Let the Punishment Fit the Crime!”
The following story about a rich man and a poor man appears in Howard Simons’ JEWISH TIMES (Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston: 1988, pp. 12-13):
The richest man in town had three children who were thin and scrawny, even though they ate the food prepared by his cook. The poor man’s three children, who were robust and healthy, regularly stood outside the rich man’s kitchen, absorbing the aroma that wafted from it. As a consequence, the rich man concluded that they were really stealing the vital part of his food. So he went to the rabbi to complain that the poor man should be arrested and punished.
The rabbi, who was not only the teacher, but also the arbiter for the Jewish community, brought in the poor man, and questioned him. “Your children stand outside the window and smell?”
“We are poor and have no money. That’s all we do. We don’t touch the food. We don’t steal it. But they do smell under the window. It’s the only pleasure they have.”
“But your children,” the rabbi said, “look at them. They are healthy and full-bodied. Look at the children of the rich man. I think he is right and we are going to have a trial.”
The townsfolk gathered and heard the rich man’s complaint. He showed them his children, and the poor mans children. He explained that he believed that they were really somehow stealing the essence of his children’s food.
After pondering awhile, the rabbi finally said, “Mr. Rich Man, you are right. They have stolen the essence of the food. What punishment do you suggest I give the poor man? ” So the rich man scratched his head, and said that he did not want them beaten or hit, and that he would be satisfied with compensation in the form of 100 rubles.
The poor man explained that he had no money. “How can I give him what he wants?”
“Never mind,” said the rabbi. The rabbi pulled some coins out of his pocket, put them in a bag, and proceeded to make a collection amongst the community of Jews who were watching the trial. Soon he had the 100 rubles. So the rabbi said to the rich man, “Come closer. ” He held the bag of coins to the rich man’s ear, and shook them. “Did you hear the coins? Yes? So now you’ve been paid. You heard the money, and they smelled the food. That’s justice!”
41-4. “Communism and Anti-Communism”
“If a lifetime of reading history has taught me anything, it is that half the bullies, tyrants, and murderers that have achieved power in the twentieth century did so in the name of Communism; the other half in the name of anti-Communism. At the top levels, where the trigger-pulling power reposes…(political) leaders are pretty much interchangeable regardless of the flag they fly.”
(William Trotter in “Red Dawn over Tweetsie,” THE SUN, November 1985.)
41-5. “Imported Politicians”
In an article about Italian elections for representatives in the European Parliament, it was noted that numerous non-Italians were competing for the seats (WALL ST. JOURNAL, June 16, 1989). Importing politicians doesn’t seem odd to Italians. “Why not?” asked one.” All the Italian politicians are corrupt, so these guys can’t be any worse.”
41-6. “New Associate Editor”
In recognition of her work for THE VOLUNTARYIST, I’ve listed my wife, Julie, as Associate Editor. Though I take full responsibility for what appears in these pages, Julie helps edit, proofread, and assists in setting the tone for our publication. My thanks goes out to her for helping to make this a better newsletter.
“Before August 1914 the inhabitant of London could secure forthwith, if he wished it, cheap and comfortable means of transit to any country or climate without passport or other formality, could then proceed abroad to foreign quarters without knowledge of their religion, language, or customs, bearing coined wealth upon his person, and would consider himself greatly aggrieved and much surprised at the least interference.” In commenting on this passage from John Maynard Keynes’ THE ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES OF THE PEACE (1919), Milton Friedman notes that before World War I, immigration into the United States was completely free. “Surely,” he writes, “the movement of people is a more important test of the extent of integration of the world than the movement of goods and financial securities.” Internationalization of the world economy is to be desired, but it is not to be achieved via technology (such as jet planes, satellites, or computers). “The route is more direct. It is through the elimination of government controls and intervention.”
(THE COMMONWEALTH, July 15, 1988, p. 380.)
41-8. “Politics is Politics”
A politician is an artist in the art
of following the wind
of public opinion.
He who follows the wind
of public opinion
does not follow
his own judgment.
And he who does not follow his own
cannot lead people
out of the beaten path.
He is like
the tail end of the dog
trying to lead the head.
When people stand back
stand back of the people,
people and politicians
go round in a circle
and get nowhere.
(Peter Maurin in THE CATHOLIC WORKER, May 1989, p. 5.)
41-9. “Some Sayings”
“Free enterprise will work if you will.” —Ray Kroc
“Life will give you whatever you will accept.”—Art Williams
“Freedom under the law—the absolute right to do exactly what the state tells you.”—J.C. Lister
41-10. “For Sale”
Kevin and Patricia Cullinane, directors of Freedom School, are looking for a new campus as well as a buyer for their Freedom Country Executive Conference Center and property (10,000 sq. ft. of buildings, located on 60 wooded acres with stream and view to continue teaching Freedom School, but propose to open a new 2-year college based on the work-study-adventure program of their earlier Academy of the Rockies. They would like to find wilderness property (160 acres, minimum) within a 150 mile radius of Spartanburg, SC. All proposals to buy, sell, trade or barter will be considered. Please contact the Cullinanes at 803-472-4111, or write in care of THE VOLUNTARYIST.
41-11. “The Unknown Deserter”
THE NONVIOLENT ACTIVIST (June 1989) reports that peace activists in Bonn, West Germany, plan to unveil a large marble statue dedicated to the some 15,000 soldiers who were executed for sedition and desertion from Hitler’s armies during World War II. “Deserters are not heroes or even anti-heroes, but people who acted responsibly. …If the war was unjust, a crime against humanity, then why not honor those who refused to participate?”
41-12. “Markets and Freedom in the Middle Ages”
“Nowadays, the chief way various kinds of politicians’ domineer the greater part of the Western world is by controlling the currency, which they can expand, contract, and spend at will. Although a free society may, rarely, be preserved when the currency is of paper, and even though money properly so called in the form of coins of precious or semiprecious metal, cannot itself ensure its own protection, yet such money is the strongest buttress of free markets. What is essential for the freedom of trade is that the supply of currency be in the hands of the people at large and not in those of men who seek to impose their rule on others.”
(A.R. Bridbury in THE MARKET IN HISTORY (1986), p. 129.)
43-1. “The Libertarian Idea”
“For the libertarian, the lives of individual people are the trees, and the danger of political life is to be so busy looking at the forest that one fails to notice these trees of which, after all, it ultimately consists. But people are not in fact trees, and one cannot go thinning out a few over here so as to improve the look of that lot over there. Many and sometimes all trees will do better if we have an occasional look at the forest, to be sure. The necessity to do so is increasingly frequent in modern times, nevertheless, these who undertake to be forest rangers do so at the behest of and for the sake of particular maples, spruces, and the rest of it. One does not assure responsiveness to this by securing one’s office via a majority vote of the rest of the trees. One might even recall that forests flourished from time immemorial with no caretakers at all! Fundamentally, trees take care of themselves. People are even better equipped for this, being rational animals. Turning them loose and wishing them good luck may be the best prescription for any number of ills.”
—Jan Narveson, “Concluding Note” to THE LIBERTARIAN IDEA, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1988, pp. 335-336.
43-2. “A Scottish Blessing”
If there is righteousness in the heart there will be beauty in the character.
If there is beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the home.
If there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation.
If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.
43-3. “Motor Voter Bills”
INSIGHT Magazine (August 21, 1989) reports that several federal laws are being studied which “would automatically register voters when they renew their driver’s licenses.” Nicknamed “motor voter” bills, the plan would not start until 1992, and would help register about 90% of the nation’s eligible voters.
43-4. “The Census”
I am opposed to the 1990 Census on moral and practical grounds. No political government has any moral justification for being so long as it resorts to coercion, one form of which is the compulsory collection of information every ten years. If there is a demand for such information, I am sure it can be collected more inexpensively by private agencies, who would not dare threaten a fine of $100 for the refusal to answer any question. More likely, private agencies would be inclined to offer bonuses and coupons for the provision of information.
The Census Bureau has also been known to provide sensitive information both to the Army and the Internal Revenue Service. In 1942, it “provided the Army with a list of exactly how many Japanese-Americans lived in given neighborhoods, making it easy to round them up for internment during World War II. …The IRS in 1983 attempted (largely unsuccessfully) to combine census data with private mailing lists in order to track down people who don’t file income taxes.”
As James Bovard, the author of the foregoing quote concludes, “The more information the government collects on people, the more control the government will have over people.”
(“Honesty May Not Be Your Best Census Policy,” WALL STREET JOURNAL, August 8, 1989, p. A-10)
43-5. “Tax-exempt Organizations Are Fundamentally Unlike Government Bureaucracies”
Non-profit agencies, such as the more than one million charitable organizations that exist in this country, are not the same as government agencies, even though their purposes might seem to be the same. “Government agencies are financed by compulsion (taxation) while charity is financed by competition for voluntary gifts, donation, and by earned income. Strategies for obtaining revenues through compulsion are quite different from those that are applicable in a competitive market.
“Furthermore, tax-exempt organizations can go bankrupt and close down. (Of course, perhaps classic bankruptcy laws should apply to governmental agencies with sloppy financial management,
even if their ultimate purpose is to help the poor.) This demands a discipline which makes the tax-exempt more like a business than a government agency.’
—Herrington J. Bryce, “Answering the President’s Call to Public Service” WALL STREET JOURNAL, July 10, 1989, p. A-10.
43-6. The Amish
Donald Kraybill’s recent book, THE RIDDLE OF AMISH CULTURE contains many insights, two of which are worth pointing out. First, in light of my article on the voluntary development of time zones (“The Noiseless Revolution ” in THE VOLUNTARYIST, Whole No. 13), it is interesting to see how the Amish have dealt with standard time.
The Amish have separated themselves from the pace of modernity by adjusting their clocks in two ways. In the first part of the 20th Century it was customary for Amish families to set their clocks a half hour ahead of standard time. This fast time’ was a symbolic reminder to both the insider and outsider of the boundaries between the Amish and modern culture. Some older families continue the practice. Second, the Amish did not join the popular switch to daylight savings time but have continued to follow standard time. Because of the increased interaction with the outside world today, Amish families involved in business often change their clocks in the spring and fall to comply with daylight saving time. Other families still follow standard time as a symbolic practice of separation from the world. Church services, of course, always follow standard time. (p. 43)
The second point involves the voluntaryist view of means and ends. Kraybill writes that, “Because of their desire to remain separate from government programs, the Amish have refused to participate in a public program designed to preserve farmland in Lancaster County (Pa.). Yet, ironically, they are doing more than any other group to preserve farmland because they rarely sell their farms for development. ” (p. 192) The Amish by placing emphasis on voluntary means are achieving the end sought by coercive government practices.
43-7. “Why Russia Can’t Feed Itself”
“The hallmark of collectivization is central planning. …(The individual farmer) cannot show initiative or talent. This makes the farmer indifferent to the land. It’s unnatural to farm in a prison.’ In private agriculture, the rhythm of work is determined by sunshine, rainfall, and the requirements of the land. In the Soviet Union, what matters is the plan. …To assure that commands are carried out, there are three million supervisors in the countryside, one for every ten farmers. Forms must be filled out to move animals, haul loads, and sow crops. …Besides forcing farmers to plant inappropriate crops, the plan dictates deadlines for sowing and harvesting. As long as the farm chairman meets them, he will not be held responsible for what happens to the harvest. Thus, if the plan says it is time to plow, the fields will be plowed even if the ground is so wet that tractors sink to their axles. If the plan says it is time to reap the crops, they will be cut, ready or not.”
-David Satter, READER’S DIGEST, October 1989.
45-1. “Where It All Begins: Parents Are The Ones Who Plant, or Fail To Plant, the Seeds of Character in their Children”
“Perhaps we might profit from a study of the family as the basic wellspring of anarchist tendencies, instead of considering it as the font of the inculcation of reverence for God and Country, exclusively. For surely this is the place where we all start, and where fundamental ideas relating to self and to mutual aid are first engendered, the incubation place where dedication to one’s welfare and to that of one’s closest associates is first emphasized, and neglect or deliberate flouting of the demands of State abstractions and impersonal institutionalized power first is seen, felt, and emulated.”
—James J. Martin “American Anarchism Revisited, “THE LIBERTARIAN REVIEW, December 1979.
45-2. “I Don’t Like What I See, …I’ve Seen It All Before”
“My mind slips back to 1952. I was just a ten year old child sitting on a stone on the south side of the barn. It was a pleasant Sunday afternoon. A gentle breeze stirred the Michigan air. … There we sat, catching the sun’s rays, listening to adults talking and discussing the events of the day.
It was just a conversation between Grandpa and Dad. Mo one else was there. No one would record it for the history books. It would not hit the six o’clock news. But it left an impact on my life and continues to ring in my mind. In broken English, Grandpa said, I don’t like what I see—I’ve seen it all before. Roosevelt’s New Deal and Ike’s soil bank are the same types of plans that were implemented in Russia, where Ma and I came from. In time it will break the farmer and destroy the Nation. This is a good land, but it cannot remain free if these policies are to continue, …and if America fails, where can we go?”
—Rev. James Patrick of the East Moline Christian School in FOUNDATIONS OF LIBERTY (Vol. I, No. 5).
45-3. A World-Wide Slave State
“We are living in an age of perhaps the most sophisticated and successful slave state in history. It is a world-wide condition that swallows up dissenters, and the idea of freedom has returned to the old European definition of ‘freedom to do as you are allowed.’ That kind of freedom can just as easily be taken away and is a violation of the fact that we are born…to pursue knowledge (it’s our nature). Unable to pursue knowledge, bound by permission, we die via ignorance, self-imposed disease, starvation, violence, war and genocide.”
—From “Your Children’s Future in the 21st Century,” (Vol. 1, No. 2) Published by 4R’s Academic Method International.
45-4. The Noose Tightens (but Nobody Recognizes the Violation of Property Rights)
The U.S. Justice Department intends to prosecute lawyers who fail to report detailed information about clients who pay them in cash. Anyone who receives $10,000, or more, in cash, from a client or customer in one or more related transactions is required to provide the Internal Revenue Service (on Form 8300) with names, Social Security numbers, and details about the service(s) provided. Some criminal lawyers have refused to comply, claiming the disclosure violates their attorney-client privilege, and that some of their clients have reasons for not wanting the government to know that they have retained criminal attorneys.
The law, passed in 1984, was alleged to be a tool in the war against drug money, but also conveniently serves as a tool in catching tax evaders who deal in large amounts of cash. Cash is one element in the financial network of statist creations that cannot be easily traced. Hence, its use and ownership is to be discouraged. While concerns about financial privacy and attorney-client privilege may be warranted, nobody recognizes that a system of taxation violates property rights, and inevitably leads to further encroachments on ownership and possession. Where will it end? (THE WALL ST. JOURNAL previously reported (Sept. 14, 1989, p. Al) that under the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, the Treasury has the authority to target certain geographic areas and “require that every bank and financial institution report all cash transactions” (“theoretically from $1 on up”).)
45-5. “Choir Member Sings the ‘Write’ Notes”
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (November 17, 1989, p. Bl) recites the oft-told story of the creation of “those stickum-backed note pads turned out by 3M Company. ” Arthur Fry, a product researcher at 3M, was concerned about loose bookmarks in his choir hymnal. He recalled a readily-detachable adhesive invented by a co-worker at 3M, and “by the time he had a workable bookmark, he realized he had also stumbled upon a new system of note writing”
This is how voluntaryism on the free market works. No one can know in advance what new products will be invented, nor which of these new products consumers will use. It is simply impossible in a planned economy for planners to make allowances for such unknowns. Let us be thankful such events can still take place (sometimes) in our own economy, without being stifled by government regulations and taxation.
45-6. “A Story About Drugs Carries A Potent Warning About the State”
“Many years ago, Indian youths would go away in solitude to prepare for manhood. One such youth hiked into a beautiful valley, green with trees, bright with flowers. There he fasted. But upon the third day, as he looked up at the surrounding mountains, he noticed one tall rugged peak, capped with dazzling snow.
I will test myself against that mountain, he thought. He put on his buffalo-hide shirt, threw his blanket over his shoulders and set off to climb the peak.
When he reached the top he stood on the rim of the world. He could see forever, and his heart swelled with pride. Then he heard a rustle at his feet, and looking down, he saw a snake. Before he could move, the snake spoke.
“I am about to die,” said the snake. “It is too cold for me up here and I am freezing. There is no food and I am starving. Put me under your shirt and take me down to the valley.”
“No,” said the youth. “I am forewarned. I know your kind. You are a rattlesnake. If I pick you up, you will bite, and your bite will kill me.” “Not so,” said the snake. “I will treat you differently. If you will do this for me, you will be special. I will not harm you.” The youth resisted for a while, but this was a very persuasive snake with beautiful markings. At last the youth tucked it under his shirt and carried it down to the valley. There he laid it gently on the grass, when suddenly the snake coiled, rattled, and leapt, biting him on the leg.
“But you promised—” cried the youth.
“You knew what I was when you picked me up,” said the snake as he slithered away.
And now, wherever I go, I tell that story. I tell it especially to the young people of this nation who might be tempted by drugs. I want them to remember the words of the snake: You knew what I was when you picked me up.
—Native American Indian, Iron Eyes Cody in GUIDEPOSTS, July 1988 and November 1989.
46-1. “How It Was”
“Until August 1914 a sensible, law-abiding Englishman could pass through life and hardly notice the existence of the State beyond the post office and the policeman. … He could travel abroad or leave his country forever without a passport or any sort of official permission. He could exchange his money without restriction or limit. He could buy goods at home. For that matter a foreigner could spend his life in the country without permit and without informing the police. …
All this was changed by the impact of the Great War. … The state established a hold over its citizens which, though relaxed in peace time, was never to be removed, and which the Second World War was again to increase. The history of society and the State merged, for the first time.”
-A.J.P. Taylor, ENGLISH HISTORY: 1914-45, 1965, p. l
46-2. “And Now—How It Is”
As the new decade begins Americans would do well to consider the realities of their “kinder, gentler nation” and the “land of the free”.
Are you free:
When over 50% of your hard-earned money(?) is stolen by fraud, via taxes to support a government bureaucracy gone mad?
When you can’t drive on “free”-ways or public streets without a driver’s license and vehicle registration?
When you must send your children to a government licensed school or the State will confiscate your property or kidnap your kids if you rebel?
When the church or religion must be “licensed ‘ by the State or go underground?
When you must ask the State for permission to marry?
When you CANNOT practice “free” enterprise without being licensed and taxed by the State?
When the State tells you when, where and how to build on your own property and even denies you the right to “modify” unless you ask them first?
When America has more “political” prisoners under lock and key than most nations and are busy building “concentration camps” to house even more?
When government knows every financial transaction you make and your private banking records are made available to their prying eyes WITHOUT your knowledge or consent?
(Adapted from C.B.A. BULLETIN, January, 1990)
46-3. “Imperialism” by Jo LaBadie (1850-1933)
I am an imperialist,
Being emperor of myself,
My ego is my empire, over which none other may wield the scepter of rulership.
I alone am emperor in the realm of my own consciousness.
Who denies me this prerogative is a usurper;
Who takes it from me is mine enemy:
Who invades my territory deserves no kindly consideration, put his weal in jeopardy.
This empire keeps me busy with affairs its own.
So I have no time to dabble in matters foreign to its sphere.
No inclination to add burdens to those justly, fairly, squarely mine own.
My empire is different than any other.
In so far as is possible mine is a self-determining entity.
And no one shall invade it but at his peril.
I am enemy of all invaders, and invaders of none.
Being at peace with every one who mind(s) his own business and leaves mine to myself.
46-4. “More on Button Pushing”
In No. 17 (August 1985) of THE VOLUNTARYIST, I wrote an article entitled “Button Pushing or Abdication: Which?” At that time, I was familiar with the history of the abolition of rationing ordinances, wage-price controls, and the introduction of a new hard currency in Western Germany after World War II. However, it did not occur to me to discuss that example in my article.
Ludwig Erhard (1897-1977) was probably the first and only economist to believe in and then test the efficacy of the free market in a war-torn, discouraged country with a government directed economy. On a Sunday, June 20, 1948, he told the German people that their only “ration coupon is [now] the mark,” and ordered that every adult receive 40 new Deutsche marks printed in the United States. Erhard, who had been appointed to a five-member administrative board that governed West Germany, was criticized for acting without the prior consent of the Allied Command, which governed Germany. He is said to have replied to Commanding General Lucius Clay, who disapproved of his actions (but refused to rescind them): “I did not change the controls—this would have made advance consent necessary. I abolished the controls.”
The success of Erhard’s policy is referred to as the “German economic miracle.” The country recovered economically beyond his wildest hopes. Goods flooded the markets, prices remained stable; eventually the Deutsche mark became convertible. Erhard did not, however, consider the German prosperity a miracle. In 1958, he wrote that “it is the result of the honest efforts of a whole people, who in keeping with the principles of liberty, were given the opportunity of using personal initiative and human energy.” He concluded that” if the German example has any value beyond the frontiers of this country, it can only be that of proving to the world at large the blessings of both personal and economic freedom.”
Applied to the Erhard example, the thrust of my “Button Pushing” article would have been that he should not have adopted a policy of abolishing price controls. Rather, he should have abdicated his official position, since the German people were not ready for such a policy, and because Erhard, himself, could not rightfully “force freedom upon them.” Although the German economic miracle restored prosperity to Germany, it did not do away with all government controls over the economy, or make Germany a long-term bastion of the free market.
No one knows what would have happened if Erhard had resigned instead of abolishing the controls. We can safely say that although the immediate effect of the abolition of the controls was to make a more prosperous Germany, the long-term results prove that the Germans were not ready to have their freedom thrust upon them. Had Erhard and his co-administrators resigned instead of letting him push the button, and had no one replaced them, I do believe it is safe to conclude that individual Germans would have thrived and survived in a voluntary society.
Ultimately, we probably don’t need to worry about people being ready for freedom. It could probably be termed a law of history that “whenever people are able to get government off their backs, they inevitably practice capitalism, which is not an ism,’ but an activity or pattern of human behavior.” Capitalism comes about naturally without any “authority” doing anything to make it happen. As Julian Simon has argued, “human beings will naturally (on balance) create more than they destroy and consume, if they have adequate incentives to create” and are able to guarantee protection for the fruits of their labors.
47-1. “A Natter of Royal Conscience”
“Belgium’s King Baudouin has stepped down temporarily because his conscience wouldn’t let him sign a law legalizing abortion,… . Legal experts said the king was able to step down through a law intended for use if the monarch was too ill to carry out his duties or was prevented from doing so for other reasons.” (The constitutional provision had been used when the king was in the hands of the Nazis during World War II). Its use in a matter of conscience was unprecedented.
—THE WALL ST. JOURNAL, April 5 & 10, 1990
47-2. “Laissez Faire!”
There is a story that the famous French mercantilist minister, Colbert, once asked a group of businessmen what he could do for them. One of the men, Legendre, is supposed to have replied, Laissez nous faire—leave us alone. Several French authors in the earlier 18th century, including the Marquis d’Argenson, used the slogan, laissez faire. The great Turgot attributed the rule laissez faire, laissez passer— leave things alone, let goods pass through—to Qournay. Sometimes a phrase was added suggesting the social theory behind the slogan: le monde va de lui meme— the world goes by itself. Today the term Laissez faire has come to mean: leave the people alone, let them be, in their economic activities, in their religious affairs, in thought and culture, in the pursuit of fulfillment in their own lives.
47-3. “A Prediction”
Fred Woodworth in the Winter 1989-90 issue of THE MATCH predicts that the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) which is widely used throughout the publishing industry (to make it easier for libraries and bookstores to keep track of their acquisitions via computer) will become a tool of censorship. The ISBN system is administered in the United States by a private agency and it is not compulsory that every publication be assigned such a number. For example, THE VOLUNTARYIST has never applied for one as a serial (newsletter) publication; nor have any of our books, such as Robert LeFevre’s biography, or NEITHER BULLETS NOT BALLOTS been assigned such numbers.
Fred’s fear is that the ISBN system will eventually evolve into a mandatory system, which will effectively prevent the alternative and underground press from printing its literature. “Perhaps in time of war there’s suddenly a loyalty oath on the paperwork (when applying for the ISBN number), …just to make sure that the valuable privilege of using the ISBN isn’t handed out indiscriminately to people who endanger society via their irresponsible writings. ‘Freedom means responsibility, If you aren’t willing to be a responsible publisher, you have no business… (being allowed to publish).’ From there it is hardly any distance at all to the situation we have today with Social Security Numbers: without one you can’t work, get a drivers license, have a bank account, rent an apartment, or go to school.” And he adds, “if you’d asked in 1936 whether the Social Security Number could result in all those strictures, you’d have been laughed at, just as anyone who says a word against the ISBN is laughed at now.”
Fred’s comparison of the ISBN to Social Security is somewhat off base. The ISBN number is a voluntary, industry-wide standard which developed out of the book numbering system introduced into the United Kingdom in 1967, by J.A. Whitaker and Sons, Ltd., and into the United States in 1968, by the R.R. Bowker Company. As a result of meetings sponsored by the International Standards Organization, the ISBN system was implemented in the early 1970s. If there is a danger that the ISBN system might be “nationalized” by the government and used as a tool of censorship, the fault would not be with ISBN, but rather with the State. So long as there is a State, the evolution of industrial standards offers an opportunity for the government to co-opt the market place’s voluntary solutions. (It is also worth mentioning that those who choose not to use the ISBN numbers may have their products refused by the book trade, simply for that reason. Such exclusion, however, is not a form of government censorship. In fact, the ISBN standards make provision for assigning numbers to the works of nonparticipating publishers.)
47-4. “The Man Who Knows Freedom Will Find a Way to Be Free”
“But though our attachments can be taken from us by force, our free will cannot. …Because (these) attachments increase the likelihood that we will cooperate with those who would control us, it should be evident that only our attachments can enslave us. We are only free when we are complete within ourselves. Only when we value something outside ourselves more than we value the inviolability of our will do we make ourselves vulnerable to the loss of our freedom. Because we cannot lose our free will but can only chose to relinquish it, we have nothing to fear from others. The realization of that fact is freedom. …
Neither you nor I will recover our freedom through petitions, elections, or legislation: … . We will become free not when our neighbors understand what it means to be free, but when you and I do. We will not become free when the State goes away; rather, the State will go away when we become free. We have no saviours —be they religious, political, ideological, or technological—to whom we can turn for salvation: the passion to live as free men and women will either arise with us, or we shall not experience it at all. Since freedom is a condition natural to us as human beings, we need do no more to reclaim it than to resolve to exercise full control over our individual selves. …
In the words of a sign that hung above the road at a school in Colorado …: the man who knows what freedom means will find a way to be free.’ Our freedom will not be attained by political revolutions, but only by a spiritual revolution within each of us.”
—Butler Shaffer, CALCULATED CHAOS, 1985, pp. 223-227
47-5. “From THE DIARY OF H.L. MENCKEN”
Reflecting on the possibility of the return of civil liberties in the United States after World War II, H.L. Mencken wrote:
It is highly improbable that even the rudiments of free speech will be restored in my time, as they began to be restored in 1925. There will be a state of war so long as Roosevelt is in office, for if he made peace he would lose all his war powers, and his disintegration would follow quickly. Thus I’ll never see any freedom again. It is hardly a prospect to fill me with patriotic frenzy. The government I live under has been my enemy all my active life. When it has not been engaged in silencing me it has been engaged in robbing me. So far as I can recall I have never had any contact with it that was not an outrage on my dignity and an attack on my security, (emphasis added)
47-6. “From a Former Subscriber”
“Enclosed please find a check for $29.95. This is for one year of THE VOLUNTARYIST, and one copy of your biography of Robert LeFevre.
While I have not been following the flow of libertarian thought lately, I recall that your journal was more than name-calling and finger-pointing. Also, based on my recollections, I believe that THE VOLUNTARYIST emphasis on living the basic libertarian credo, rather than working towards some end of history’ political revolution, is both more conducive to being a better person, and to achieving the social changes most libertarians seek.”
48-1. “Voluntaryism in the Numismatic Industry: How the Certified Market Evolved”
For those who collect or invest in numismatic coins the most significant impact of the Eighties was the evolution of the modern certified coin market. Coins with numismatic value (valuable because of their rarity and condition) traditionally had been graded by dealers who had a direct financial interest in the assessment. Grading of coins has always been an art, and honest differences of opinion of grade were routine, even among experts.
What evolved during the decade of the 1980s was third-party grading. Beginning in 1981, the American Numismatic Association Certification Service began offering the expertise of their professional staff to authenticate and grade rare coins. Some well-known coin dealers, citing independent third-party grading as a major advancement, began making markets in ANACS graded coins. In August 1984, the Numismatic Certification Institute came into existence. A third competitor began offering its services in February 1986. David Hall, a long-time coin dealer, established the Professional Coin Grading Service, and guaranteed that it would pay to the owner of a coin the difference if grade standards were changed or if it incorrectly graded a coin. PCGS’s guarantee fostered a new stability and liquidity in the rare coin market because the coins it certified could be traded sight-unseen, like other fungible commodities. Finally, in 1987, a fourth company, Numismatic Guaranty Corporation of America, began grading coins.
Hall’s Professional Coin Grading Service also was responsible for a number of other firsts’ in the coin world. It set up a large dealer network, eventually encompassing over 400 in number. In May 1990, it inaugurated computer grading of rare U.S. coins. Based upon the initial success of the PCGS, the American Numismatic Exchange was begun in 1987. The ANE was the place where guaranteed bid and offer transactions for PCGS coins occurred. This dramatically improved the liquidity of PCGS coins. The Professional Coin Grading Service was also the first to encapsulate coins in plastic holders (what are now referred to as ‘slabs ” in the trade,), and was the first to use an eleven point grading system, where previously only five grades had been known. PCGS eventually came to issue ‘population ‘ reports, reflecting the true scarcity of any particular coin. Never before had anyone been able to count how many of each coin in each grade existed. Scarcity could now be based upon documented data, rather than by educated guesses. The creation of a commodities-type market in rare coins brought Wall Street money to the industry. Kidder Peabody, for example, formed a limited partnership of $100 million for investment in rare coins, and other brokerage houses like Shearson Lehman now recommend numismatic investments.
Although anyone reading the pages of COIN WORLD will realize that not all collectors and investors are completely satisfied with this transformation of the coin markets, it is interesting to see how a market demand for more professional grading led recognized authorities to offer their services, and how, in turn, these services were custom-tailored to satisfy market demand. Rather than calling upon the Federal Trade Commission, or some other government bureaucracy, numismatists relied on voluntaryism to create a workable solution to their problems. No one grading service has a monopoly (whether market earned or by government edict). Nor is anyone forced to use the grading services against their will, or to accept their grade as the final say. The point, however, is that certified coins are where the action is, and if one wants to successfully buy and sell rare coins one becomes part of this market. No one now knows where the rare coin market might be going, but we can be sure of one thing—voluntaryism was the underlying basis for a flourishing and thriving coin market during the 1980s.
Unbeknownst to me, at the time of the writing of this item the Professional Coin Granding Service was being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission. In early September 1990, the firm signed a consent decree with the FTC. PCGS admitted to no wrong, and only agreed to do what it had already been doing— objectively grading coins, and making certain that its marketing statements were truthful. As Phil Schuyler, author of THE WINNING EDGE, a well known coin newsletter, put it, “Requiring PCGS to do these things via a consent decree (was) like requiring that in the future, yardsticks be thirty-six inches long.” Mr. Schuyler also noted how ironic it was that the FTC chose to go after the one organization that had gone the farthest in accomplishing its own stated goals of consumer protection and elimination of fraud.
Four years of a dealer-owned, market-oriented entity have done more to expunge the business of mispresentation and protect consumers than twenty years of regulations and indictments ever could. What’s more, since the PCGS solution made use of free-market economics rather than interfering with them, the pursuit hasn’t cost the government a cent. On the contrary, the cleanup has been profitable, (excerpted from Issue 150 of THE WINNING EDGE, Box 915, Danbury, Conn. 06813)
Kudos to Mr. Schuyler for understanding how the free market works, and to PCGS for doing more to eliminate fraud and misrepresentation in the coin industry than the government could or would!
48-2. “The Lesser of Two Evils Is Still Evil”
Jim Bristol, in an article on “Conscription, Conscience, and Resistance, ‘ in the January/February 1990 issue of The War Resisters League THE NONVIOLENT ACTIVIST, illustrates the truth that fighting legislation (or statism in general) is not a voluntaryist method. In discussing the opposition to the Burke-Wadsworth Bill of October 1940, which directed the first peacetime registration for the draft in U.S. history, he writes that those who worked so hard to include a provision for the registration of conscientious objectors in the legislation were, also, on principle, opposed to conscription. But in accepting what appeared to them to be the lesser of two evils (a registration bill
with a conscientious objector provision), a subtle process was set in motion in which “we strive(d) to modify that to which we (were] unalterably opposed.’ In working to insert our provision in a piece of legislation, we tend to give tacit approval to that legislation and to assume that its enactment is a fait accompli.” (emphasis added)
As we have stated before, the lesser of two evils is still evil. By condoning the passage of legislation which sanctioned the draft, even if their provision made it less onerous to conscientious objectors, opponents of registration and the draft were compromising their principles.
48-3. “Are Mules Smarter than Politicians?”
During his first term in office, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and federal agents presided over “the ugly spectacles of perfectly good fields of cotton, wheat, and corn being plowed under, and healthy cattle, sheep, and pigs being slaughtered and buried in mass graves. ” One of the biggest problems in plowing under cotton was convincing the mules to trample the crop; they had been trained to walk between the rows “—not on them.
— Lawrence Reed in Mises Institute’s THE FREE MARKET, June 1990
48-4. Free Or Freer? (Whose Chain Is Longest?)
The following is C. Ellen Shaffer’s contribution, slightly abridged. Under the title, “Free Or Freer?,” she writes:
“If a man or group of men can force me to act against my will and against my conscience, then I am a slave. If my liberties are controlled, regulated and sold to me, then they are no longer liberties, but privileges. If one person or many can command specific performance from me without paying me for my performance, I am a slave. …
“My status as a slave does not depend on the kind of master I have. My status of slave arises out of my belief that I am under the absolute power of another.
“Today most Americans would run out and buy a walking license if a government agent demanded it. If their masters demanded they purchase a permit to mow their lawn, most of them would comply. This belief that they are under the absolute power of someone else makes them a slave. It matters not that the masters have not yet demanded such license or permit. What matters is the fact that the slaves would comply if ordered to do so.
“There is no doubt, this slavery of the American people has been self-imposed; for rape is not rape if one does not struggle. They went meekly into chains while murmuring render unto Caesar.’ It was quite a feat to turn the posterity of Freedom loving men of courage into sniveling cowards who welcomed servitude over the animating contest of liberty and responsibility for themselves. “The posterity of Freeman now proclaim themselves to be freer’ and will continue to do so even when they must shout it from the confines of a concentration camp. They will be so sure that somewhere someone is more in bondage than they. … If we are only free to exercise and enjoy massah’s privileges, then we’re not free in any sense of the word.”
-From AMERICA TODAY, July 1990