The so-called recovery is only built on debt and printed cash declares our own Byron King. In the long term, the only option for the government to continue financing it's operations is to print too many dollars. Money printing has it's limits, however. It's Byron's opinion that at some point, perhaps very soon, the government will have to turn to more desperate measures. Namely, capital controls. In the following featured essay, Byron outlines 4 probably ways the government will take your cash and one play you can buy through your broker to prepare today. Read on...
Americans expatriate because they want to get out of the country. Corporations expatriate for similar reasons. Clem Chambers explains...
Say goodbye to your boring morning commute. New technologies are changing the way people drive their cars. It’s making them safer, more fuel efficient, and could reshape the way America builds its roads and cities. The only thing that could stand in the way...
In a 2009 article, the Huffington Post went into considerable detail about the number of people with PhD degrees in economics employed by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. This is the government’s branch of the Federal Reserve. It is not one of the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks, all of which […]
The U.S. dollar is the dominant global reserve currency. All markets, including stocks, bonds, commodities, and foreign exchange are affected by the value of the dollar.The value of the dollar, in effect, its “price” is determined by interest rates. When the Federal Reserve manipulates interest rates, it is manipulating, and therefore distorting, every market in […]
When the NSA surveillance news broke last year it sent shockwaves through CERN, the particle physics laboratory in Switzerland. Andy Yen, a PhD student, took to the Young at CERN Facebook group with a simple message: “I am very concerned about the privacy issue, and I was wondering what I could do about it.”There was […]
The game of speculation is the most uniformly fascinating game in the world. But it is not a game for the stupid, the mentally lazy, the person of inferior emotional balance or the get-rich-quick adventurer. They will die poor.– Jesse Livermore, How to Trade in StocksThe trouble with capitalism’s guardians is that they have no […]
Let’s head back in time…In 2004, a mere decade ago, the US national debt rang the register at $7.4 trillion. That represents “debt per citizen” of over $25,000. You, me, your neighbor, your 4-yr old grandson, you name it and they’re portion of the U.S. debt is $25k.But flash forward to today and you’ll see […]
John Foust, a Democrat running for the 10th congressional seat in Northern Virginia, is — like Gov. Terry McAuliffe and other state Democrats — gung-ho to expand Medicaid. His wife’s position is, shall we say, a bit more nuanced.Foust has slammed his opponent, Republican Del. Barbara Comstock, for her opposition to expansion. He has spoken […]
The midterm election season is upon us, and it’s a tossup whether the Republicans will win the Senate, or if President Obama, seemingly oblivious as conflict flares up around the world, will, through his continuous campaigning, keep Harry Reid in his majority leader seat.The only thing we know for sure is that sociopaths will be […]
Alexander Hamilton was America’s first Secretary of Treasury under President George Washington. When he first entered office in 1789, America was an agricultural nation of just 4 million still broke from its financially costly victory over the British Empire in the Revolutionary War.The states had accumulated relatively massive debts to finance that war, which mostly […]
I was talking with one of my colleagues the other day, and he raised a very interesting question, one that deserves consideration by anyone worried about their digital privacy. He read an article that championed the idea that the more steps one took to protect their privacy by using anonymous Web-browsing tools like Tor, the […]
In the minds of many people around the world, including in the United States, the term “capitalism” carries the idea of unfairness, exploitation, undeserved privilege and power, and immoral profit making. What is often difficult to get people to understand is that this misplaced conception of “capitalism” has nothing to do with real free markets […]
When you type a website address into a browser, you might have noticed that the letters “http” appear at the front. “HTTP” stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. In typing a Web address, you are actually sending an HTTP command to transmit that website to you. Hypertext Transfer Protocol is the means by which information is […]
Some people are saying it is just what the doctor ordered. Others are saying that the cure is worse than the disease.The Affordable Care Act? Reengagement in Iraq? Tea Party bullying in the GOP?Not this time. Just as protracted in the corridors of Congress and the White House is the debate over the proposed reform […]
In 2012, money mandarins running the European Union chose stagnation over restructuring. Here’s a consequence of that choice: expectations for a self-sustaining economic recovery keep getting crushed.Two years ago, European Central Bank (ECB) chief Mario Draghi promised to do “whatever it takes” to hold the eurozone together. He bluffed nervous investors into believing in a […]
Picture the scene. It’s 2020. You’re at the checkout in a convenience store with a carton of milk. But you’ve got no cash and you’ve left your cards at home. No problem. You scan your right index finger; the green light flashes. Purchase approved and you leave. Easy.Is this a realistic vision of the future, […]
“In the beginning, all the world was America.” — John Locke“The Garden of Eden was a perfect place,” my friend Manuel explained. “Man had free will. He could live in harmony with nature and God — and everything would be fine. But if he defied God, the stain of original sin would be on his […]
After a week of reckoning about the American oil and gas boom… I’ve got to get something off my chest.I can’t stand it when a coworker takes credit for something I did.Whether it’s a special report I wrote or just a little investing trick I found on my own — if someone takes it and […]
It might sound like the latest new product from Apple, but IPAB is actually the newest major legal challenge to Obamacare.Recently, a three-judge panel in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco heard arguments about the Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB, a 15-member panel created by the Affordable Care Act and empowered […]
Americans have come to believe that the IRS and the income tax are inevitable parts of our lives. After all, most everyone alive today has lived his entire life under federal income taxation.It wasn’t always that way. For some 125 years, the American people lived without having any tax imposed upon their income.The obvious question […]
Here’s a fun fact: Although we all hate the U.S. dollar, as it continues to hemorrhage wealth, its foothold as the world’s reserve currency isn’t going to disappear overnight.A Russian gas deal with China won’t change that — as we’ll highlight below.But before we get to the nitty-gritty, let’s dive into a story that’s right […]
Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously used the term “forgotten man” in a 1932 speech to describe those at the bottom of the economic pyramid who, he felt, government should aid.But the originator of the phrase “forgotten man” had a whole different meaning in mind. He aimed to expose the seeming good intentions of government to reveal […]
“As the nation’s central bank, the Federal Reserve derives its authority from the Congress of the United States. It is considered an independent central bank because its monetary policy decisions do not have to be approved by the President or anyone else in the executive or legislative branches of government, it does not receive funding […]
The Keynesian disaster recovery plan has been to lower rates, force people to take more risk in search of yield, and entice others to borrow and spend and, magically, more jobs will be created. If people won’t buy stocks, central banks will.Back in 2011, Ben Bernanke, when asked if QE2 was driving up stock prices, […]
In September 2009, when President Obama made a primetime speech pitching his not-yet-passed health care overhaul, he made the following promise: “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits — either now or in the future. Period.” To prove his seriousness, he further promised that “there will be a provision […]
Whatever your views on the role of government, one thing is clear: There will be no way to pay for it if the economy doesn’t grow. And I’m not talking by a measly percentage point or two. If we can’t find our way back to 5% annual economic growth or above soon, America’s accumulated federal […]
The Conscience of an Anarchist
by Gary Chartier
Introduction by Jacob Huebert
Gary Chartier’s Conscience of an Anarchist , this week’s ebook of the week in the Laissez Faire Club, is a valuable addition to the literature of liberty. Whether you’re exploring the idea of a stateless society for the first time or are a longtime radical libertarian, here is a book that should open your mind to new ideas.
It will be the most stimulating if you’re a newcomer, of course, because you’ll be introduced to a way of thinking about politics and the world that turns the conventional wisdom on its head. We’re told from a young age that a coercive government is necessary to do so much: protect us from foreign and domestic criminals, stop the rich from exploiting the poor, ensure that people’s basic needs are met, keep our food and medicine safe, and on and on. Chartier challenges the reader to consider whether the exact opposite is true, whether the state has actually made things much worse than they otherwise would be in all of these areas.
Although this is a short book, Chartier takes on many of the toughest questions a reader is likely to have. Don’t we need police? Don’t we need national defense? Wouldn’t big corporations amass power that could be even worse than state power? When introducing someone to libertarian or anarchist ideas, it’s tempting to start with the easy cases, but Chartier plunges right in to the ones that are supposedly the hardest — and often manages to make the anarchist position, which runs contrary to one of our society’s most deeply held beliefs, seem like common sense.
Chartier doesn’t address every objection that a reader might have or detail how everything in a stateless society might work, but that’s not the point. The point, as he says at the beginning, is to ask you to open your mind to the possibility of a peaceful alternative to the coercive status quo. The books that change one’s life often aren’t lengthy academic treatises on economics, history, or political theory; rather, they’re short, radical, personal works like this one that seek to snap you out of your intellectual complacency. Readers who find the book’s ideas interesting will of course want to dig further into libertarian and anarchist literature, and Chartier provides helpful suggestions for additional reading at the end.
For those of us who already agree with most or all of Chartier’s substantive ideas, I’ll add that the book offers something else of value: an example of a different way to present our ideas that may help us reach more people.
In recent years, libertarianism has enjoyed an unprecedented surge in popularity. Several factors brought this about, including a stagnant economy that has eroded people’s faith in government, Ron Paul’s presidential campaigns, and the Internet, which has made a huge quantity of libertarian literature instantly available to everyone. (Incidentally, I use “libertarian” where Chartier would use “anarchist” because I consider consistent libertarianism and Chartier’s variety of anarchism to be the same thing.)
More popularity has lead to more attacks on libertarianism, especially from left-leaning mainstream-media pundits. The attacks often bash libertarians for being “selfish” adherents of an “every-man-for-himself” philosophy. Our opposition to state involvement in healthcare, for example, allegedly means we’re okay with letting people die in the streets. Although libertarians consistently oppose bailouts, subsidies, and every other form of corporate welfare, journalist Sam Tanenhaus can still claim in the New York Times that libertarians champion “private business” while “ignoring the rights of just about everyone else,” and a large portion of his audience will believe it.
I’m sure some of these people understand libertarianism better than they let on and are being disingenuous to score political points. But I’m also sure that many of them are sincere. So it may be worthwhile to think about why someone might hold this negative view of libertarians.
One reason might be because the typical statist leftist “knows,” and believes that every informed person knows, that government is necessary to do certain things — for example, to make sure that that poor people have enough food to eat. Thus, if a libertarian says “we should abolish government,” the statist leftist hears this as “we should stop doing what is necessary to make sure poor people have enough food to eat.” Thus, the leftist concludes that the libertarian is crazy, ignorant, or just doesn’t care about poor people starving. To the statist leftist, it appears that the libertarian is content to let many people die because of his devotion to an abstract principle — or maybe just because he wants the government to get its hands out of his wallet. And that seems wrong.
A libertarian of course sees a mistaken premise in that line of thinking: In fact, government is not necessary to ensure that the poor have enough to eat. Moreover, the libertarian believes that without government there would be much less poverty and people at the lower end of the economic spectrum would enjoy a much higher standard of living.
So if a libertarian wants the statist leftist to embrace libertarianism, at least on this issue, it should be clear what he must do: convince the statist that a genuine free market would serve the poor’s interests better than the state ever could.
It should also be clear what the libertarian should not do: appeal to a principle that the leftist doesn’t already share, such as the libertarian rule against all use of force and fraud. No doubt the leftist, like almost everyone, opposes force in general, but for him the general rule has a built-in exception for government — because, again, he thinks it’s necessary to avoid terrible consequences. So if you try to persuade him to accept the nonaggression principle before you address his concerns about consequences, you are asking him to embrace something he believes will lead to widespread misery and death. This is not likely to succeed.
I’m sure Conscience of an Anarchist will find receptive readers from all over the political spectrum, but it’s especially instructive in showing us how to reach out to the Left along the lines that I’ve mentioned. Chartier puts his concern for the poor and the powerless up front. For him, the benefits that the market gives to these people are not incidental, not something to be brought up only at the rebuttal stage of an argument; he counts them among the main reasons why he’s an anarchist. He also makes clear from the outset that big business is no friend of liberty. And he emphasizes other issues that are likely to resonate with people on the left, such as opposition to war and support for sexual freedom.
Although Chartier focuses on consequences rather than rights, none of this undermines the rights-based case for liberty. (As it happens, Chartier is an accomplished scholar in the field of natural law.) In fact, the opposite is true: by overcoming people’s concerns about consequences and showing how liberty serves other values that are important to them, we may make people more receptive to our ideas about rights than they would have been if we had just preached principles at the outset.
I should mention briefly that many libertarians may not agree with everything in this book. I, for one, am not as sure as Chartier seems to be that businesses would tend to be smaller and that labor unions would thrive in a free society, and I don’t think the corporate form is such a bad thing. But Chartier acknowledges that he could be wrong about some of the details, as could I. What’s more important is what we have in common: we agree that humanity would benefit greatly if the state were abolished, and we’re happy to let peaceful people decide what arrangements are best for them without coercion from the state or anyone else.