“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.” - Groucho Marx
"...and he loved big brother."  Orwell's chilling first line to 1984. I have written before about the impossibility of limited government.  Let us make sure our terms are correct.  Government is any entity that attempts to monopolize the use of force and reserves first use of same to itself.  They make noises about consent but this is simply window-dressing to keep the animals in the feedlot from feeling oppressed or taken advantage of.  Their variants range from communism to socialism to democracy.  The first two, at least, are honest in their intentions of ballooning government oppression to proportions common in history but democracy is probably the biggest and most dangerous sham when it comes to governance.  While the usual bugbears of collectivism make themselves manifestly evident in terror-states like the USSR and Communist China, the Western democracies make Orwell proud.  The pastiche of 1984 and Brave New World come to the fore in Europe and America.  Here in the land of the unfree and home of the formerly brave, the huge Federal leviathan is helmed by telegenic Presidents whose claim to fame is the ability to speak (George Bush?) in platitudes and illiterate homilies to the joys of government intervention and using the state as the means to empty your neighbors pockets and, magically, the pockets of the unborn through non-consensual deficit spending. Boasting the highest corporate income tax and capital gains rate in the galaxy, America continues to run up mountains of debt and oceans of red ink in pursuit of …bigger government.  In addition, we are afforded the opportunity to spend countless billions and trillions maiming and murdering tens of thousands of men, women and children overseas in the name of liberation and advancement to the joys of democracy (God help them…). Take a breath because I am about to insult most of my readership and increase the volume of my hate-mail. If you believe in limited government, you are no different than the Communist Party apparatchiks or the socialists or even the Democrat Party or Grand Old Politburo (GOP) members.  You all share a common bond with every democidal maniac traipsing through the sordid and bloody history of government on Earth.  Whether an active member or simply the usual electronically tethered shambler that makes up most of America, your belief in limited government is a fraudulent assessment of what is going on around you.  Limited government never has and will never exist. Whatever the hopes and dreams of the political schemers at the heart of the creation of the new government, usually in the ashes of the last epic government failure, the government will metastasize into a monstrous and bloody-minded giant intent on crushing freedom at every turn and annihilating self-ownership of individuals whenever those unfortunates make their intentions known. All the Founding Lawyers, even the sainted Thomas Jefferson, were guilty of this tragic delusion that armed strangers must be invested with the power to fine, cage, maim and kill residents of tax jurisdictions (also known quaintly as nation-states) to maintain a just and prosperous society.
Today marks two signal events:  the shots heard ‘round the world at Lexington and Concord in 1775 when the formal divorce proceeding by America from the United Kingdom began and the day after the annual deadline every year for paying taxes and tribute to the new King we inaugurated after winning the first Revolutionary war.   That King is the Constitution and its administrator is Washington DC and all its political satraps in the states.  Mistaken for an instrument to finally limit government, it turned out to be one of the greatest wealth expropriation and mining devices Western man has created.  Unlike the failed collectivist experiments in the Communist world, the fascist political model relied on ensuring that the population would always labor under the illusion that what they made, earned and produced was theirs and they simply had to pay their “fair share”.  That share eventually ballooned to a peak of 94% in income tax in 1943 and saddled the entrepreneurial engines with the highest corporate income tax in the industrialized world.  Of course, a corporate tax is merely an indirect tax on all consumers since it is a cost of doing business passed on in the price. The other day I was asked what is the ideal tax rate and predictably I said zero because any number above that would increase exponentially as evidenced by ALL history in the Western world.  The sheer conceit and hubris of any individuals much less governments that some or all of your earnings are theirs for the taking violates the most sacred principles of self-ownership, the just society and simple virtue.  The highwaymen at the Internal Revenue Service bedeck their splendid temple to theft with the noble words that “Taxation is the Price of Civilization”; au contraire, it is the price of servitude and collaboration with evil, it is barbarism, taxation is institutionalized theft and nothing more noble than that. You should enjoy the following screed. –BB  
That no government, so called, can reasonably be trusted, or reasonably be supposed to have honest purposes in view, any longer than it depends wholly upon voluntary support. ~ Lysander Spooner
This essay is an incendiary device. My muse is Wilberforce and the subject is the abolition of the last existing institution of slavery in America — taxation. Like Wilberforce, we may be generations from satisfaction of the dream of the end of the coercive state but if the seed is not planted, the goal will never be realized. I despise the income tax. I loathe the property, excise, gasoline, sin, estate, capital gains and every other tax. I think the colonists got it backwards, I want representation without taxation. These are often derided as utopian but I would suggest they are dystopian notions. I see no possibility of perfection in this mortal coil, but risk and possible failure are the engines of progress and capitalism invigorates the most powerful economic engine of all — self-interest to serve others. Mises claims "[t]he member of a contractual society is free because he serves others only in serving himself. What restrains him is only the inevitable natural phenomenon of scarcity."

For both libertarians and statists, it's easy to forget that there's a difference between believing that a thing ought to be done and believing that the State ought to be the one to do it. There's a similar difference between an ideological opposition to  a particular act (in this case, abortion or premarital sex) and a belief that the act ought to be legally, and thus forcibly and violently, prevented. The non-aggression principle means that our personal feelings on the best possible world can't influence our decision to use force against other people, no matter how strongly we might feel. Case in point: Politico reports that donations to Planned Parenthood have exploded 500% since a Republican budget amendment stripped the group of its federal funding. The Reddit comments on the situation recognize that this lends credence to the argument that the Federal government doesn't need to be funding such activities, but most of them lament that fact. Talk of defunding NPR and PBS was met with a similarly vitriolic response. I don't see this defunding as a bad thing, for any side of the debate. The social and fiscal conservative voters "get what they want," in that their tax dollars are no longer spent on these specific activities they might find abhorrent. The libertarians and state abolitionists and anarchists get what we want, because the government is taking less action in general. Those who support the missions of Planned Parenthood and PBS get what they want, because these organizations will no longer be bound...

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption=""Close Enough" to accurate for our discussion. Cartoon by Michael Ramirez, stolen from Investors.com"][/caption] You don't understand large numbers. You don't comprehend them. I don't either, and neither do our brave and fearless leaders. Without the benefit of a visual aid, really big numbers just blur together: we couldn't say whether there are closer to a billion or a trillion grains of sand along an island's coast just by guessing, because we don't have a frame of reference for those quantities. In our day to day lives, we might drive a few hundred miles, or spend tens of thousands of dollars on a vehicle. A few of us may have a frame of reference for what a million-dollar piece of industrial equipment looks like. None of us has any idea what a trillion really means, and why last week's arguments are so silly. The cartoon above is close enough to accurate for discussion purposes (I did not count the pixels). The deficit constitutes nearly half the budget; it is conceivable to think that there will be "non-discretionary spending" which will bring that deficit to more than half the budget by the end of the fiscal year. When we hear about this in the news, we hear that there's a $30 billion dollar difference between the Democrat and Republican budgets. That number sounds significant. It's enough to satisfy those on both 'sides' who want to be angry at the other; at risk are such things as NPR and Planned Parenthood. But...

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi How much do you change? We all read about how things are wrong. We all reach conclusions as to how things ought to be fixed. We all complain that the war in Iraq or Afghanistan or Libya is wrong, that there's too much inequality, too much abuse, that taxes are too high or that we use too much gasoline or that things just aren't right. I write furiously, preaching to a choir of like-minded individualists who almost always agree with me. You read these writings. But how much do any of us do about the troubles that the world faces? We might seek to adjust our lives and better ourselves within the existing system, to guarantee a future for our children or our friends. We might go so far as to write snide and condescending comments on the internet, to draw attention to the great evils our ideological rivals would perpetrate if given the opportunity, or to pay lip service to our support for some idea or another. One or two of us might volunteer a portion of our time to the causes we support, and spend a double portion making others aware of those causes and our support for them. But how many of us have affected any change in the past month? How many of us have done anything more substantial than talk to our friends about Anarchism, or write something intelligent on the internet? When's the...

Publisher's Note: D. and I are friends and he has been an entrepreneur and a businessman for more than three decades.  He speaks from a lifetime of dealing with the other enemy – smaller government.  I did not say limited government since that does not exist.  I am referring to the smaller brother of the state and federal government, local government.  We live in and near a town that sees its fellow citizens in commerce not as neighbors and friends but simply yet another victim to be mugged by their infernal system of tax and regulatory oppression to fund their rather luxurious existence and push people around to refuse to comply.  One of my other business associates tells me that nearly sixty cents of every dollar in revenue is vacuumed up by some level of government and, by the way, he is not even reimbursed for his collection services for various state Mafiosi.  Both major parties in America from local to federal levels of government are friends of big business and the mortal enemy of the small business.  As Bastiat said:  “The state is the great fiction by which one group of people live at the expense of another.” *The lamprey is the curious fish that lives attached to its host until death do they part. -BB   “The politicians say ‘we’ can't afford a tax cut. Maybe we can't afford the politicians.” -Steve Forbes I sit on the board of the Economic Development Foundation which receives $139,000 annually from the citizens of...

"Disregard then, reader, my title and my character, and attend only to my arguments. It is in accordance with universal consent that I undertake to correct universal error from the OPINION of the human race I appeal to its FAITH. Have the courage to follow me; and, if your will is untrammeled, if your conscience is free, if your mind can unite two propositions and deduce a third therefrom, my ideas will inevitably become yours." -Pierre-Joseph Proudhon If I were asked "What is the State," and I were to reply "It is slavery," my meaning would be understood at once. The State binds its citizens through force, and through force it compels them to do its will. That the State is composed of citizens does not mean that it has the best interests of citizens in mind; the State has no mind. The State is an arrangement, an agreement of the strong and violent that the labor and productivity of the people ought to be bent and directed with no consideration of their wishes. Like the slave-master, the State demands a monopoly on the use of force, or it ceases to be. This monopoly on the use of force is the only defining characteristic the State possesses. The Kings of yore claimed their rights to rule from God's will, the Democracies and Republics of today from the will of the People, and the modern atheist Dictators from a claim to best understand the common good. These States are unified not in the...

Publisher’s Note: I published this almost two years ago and it still rings true.  I was asked at the Freedom Summit in 2010 after my speech during questions what was the most important tool or consideration for surviving the coming bad times.  Most expect me to expound on G3 (Gold, Guns and Groceries) but I responded that critical thinking was, first and foremost, the most important and vital weapon in the armory.  Nothing even comes close.  Much like the overweening importance of prioritizing skills over equipment, a mind is a terrible thing to waste.  Your lack of skepticism toward the powers that be is what enabled the very walls to be erected in these tax jurisdictions shaped like penitentiaries called nation-states. You live in a civilization whose entire rationalization is based on a few brutal misconceptions among which is that the state must have the power to fine, cage, maim and kill anyone it wishes at will and all your friends, family and neighbors are YOUR property.  If that were not the case, how could the state possibly enable the massive theft of time, resources and property on a daily basis to feed the groaning leviathan that provides all those vital goods and services the government/media complex trumpets triumphantly about daily to include America’s largest export, killing recalcitrant brown people who refuse to submit?   Through the proxy of the state, you have personally signed on to an evil compact that permits, nay compels , the government to act in the beastly and ghastly way it does every day.  All of your socialist and neoconservative friends won’t admit it but you are THEIR property otherwise how would they fund the beasts in DC and its political subsidiaries in the states?  They even have the wherewithal to commit you and your progeny to obligate to pay down future debt leveraged against their future; even though the dimmest economists know it will all collapse in the end (except Paul Krugman whose statist bloodlust knows no bounds). Accept nothing at face value and your life will be richer.  This has nothing to do with formal education or a philosophy degree or allowing others to think for you because they are smarter than you.  No one is smarter than you in your own world because they aren’t…you. Think outside the box and question all authority outside your family.  Your life and the bright future of your children depends on your ability to do the intellectual heavy lifting and figure out that most everything you were taught in the government schools was a lie and that practically anything claimed by the government has one raison d'être: to compel your unquestioning obedience and servitude to the state and to ensure that its existence will always trump yours. -BB
Human progress is furthered, not by conformity, but by aberration. ~ H.L. Mencken
For some time, I have been trying to figure out why the nation and we as individuals are in the fix we are in now. Many reasons manifest themselves. We labor under a government of such monstrous reach and epic incompetence that it makes the Soviets now look like a paragon of efficiency and probity. We suffer under a ruling class that has not simply been a gangster government under Obamunism but has been this way since the defeat of the original Constitution in 1865. With each illegitimate war since 1898, the power of the Federal government has increased exponentially. With each manufactured crisis, liberties and freedoms have withered and died. This is simply the latest and greatest improvement in the ongoing process of our overseers to find emerging ways to increase the output of our slavery. I have alluded before that we live in the country and have occasion to run across orphaned animals. We have horses and chickens and other assorted animals on the Circle A Ranch. My wife happens to be a fantastic gardener and the reincarnation of Dr. Doolittle. We discovered by following the horrid cacophony of rabbit screams three orphaned cottontails, two of which promptly died. My wife is now nursing the survivor and hoping to brighten his life expectancy in this mortal coil. As is her wont, she is an inveterate researcher and proceeded to go on the 'net and search out advice on care and feeding of a rabbit which is not one of our areas of husbandry expertise. What struck her were the countless admonitions to seek government assistance and report it to wildlife "authorities" or the zoo. I look around and converse with colleagues and associates to find my fellow Americans increasingly frightened or unfamiliar with doing anything without someone's permission. Whether at work or play, we:
  • obey speed limits that have nothing do with safety and simply provide revenue to our rulers
  • pay property taxes which inevitably increase the yoke around our necks locally and pay for the intellectual suicide pact call government schooling
  • pay extraordinary sales taxes on local and state purchases to subsidize the countless layers of bureaucracy that choke citizen and business productivity everyday
  • stop locally at a US Border Patrol checkpoint nearly twenty miles north of the Mexican border to be asked if we are American citizens and a visual check of the interior of our vehicles
  • sit idly by while the various levels of government erect observation devices at traffic intersections to increase revenue streams
  • receive property tax bills on our real estate which increase in assessment while market prices decrease
  • are required to have permission from the US Forest Circus or National Park Service to hunt, play or work on lands expropriated by our betters in government
    "Is it advisable for one who is not an expert on economic and social issues to express views on the subject of socialism? I believe for a number of reasons that it is." -Albert Einstein
The above quote is from a paper that Dr. Einstein wrote in 1949, which originally appeared in the Monthly Review and is available online here. The rest of this essay is a libertarian's response, a strong disagreement with his analysis of social reality. Einstein (hereinafter "the socialist") recognizes that there is are distinctions between the methods applicable to the science of Astronomy and those applicable to the study of Economics, and correctly attributes these distinctions to the innumerable and nigh immeasurable factors which govern human action. Scientists attempt to discover the laws which govern the movements of objects under such forces as gravity and electromagnetism, while the Economist's endeavor is plagued by biochemistry and feelings and morality and what the subjects in question might have eaten for breakfast six weeks ago. Planetary bodies and chemicals do not have feelings, morals, memories and upbringings; human beings do, and all these traits are difficult to quantify. Stars and asteroids do not owe their existence to the conquest of contrary stars and asteroids, as do states; solar systems are constructed and spin in their orbits without a thought to property rights or social justice. The socialist government, like a libertarian thinker, espouses the idea that the mathematical tools used to determine the orbits of planets are ill-suited to determining the human pursuits of happiness and sustenance. Nor does it assume that all men are predatory beasts, driven only by our desires for food and fornication; no, idealized socialism recognizes the value of human cooperation, love, devotion and honor. The socialist strives not to better his station, but to better the average conditions of all members of his species. He wishes to overcome the threat of global extinction through war, and to encourage international cooperation and a unification of human efforts for universal wellbeing. It is here that the libertarian view begins to differ from the socialist. The socialist recognizes the same pieces of evidence as does the libertarian; he sees the injustice man does to man, and desires a means of rectifying that injustice. But the socialist believes that government action, supra-government action on a world scale, is the means by which this might best be achieved. He speaks of man receiving a home and a livelihood from the benevolence of society, and does not recognize that man might have accomplished anything constructive by the use of his own hands, save as they serve that society. In the socialist's view, man is not noble in and of himself, but acquires that nobility from his friends and neighbors. Certainly, a man is noble who treats others well, and a group of people is happiest when all members strive together and do not fight.  But the socialist, upon seeing this, concludes that it ought to be the duty of some council of men to govern the actions of others; that all the productive effort undertaken by humanity must be carefully planned by some central power, lest we twiddle our thumbs and end up with too many trains and not enough automobiles or hammers. He recognizes that human effort is inexorably tied to humanity's efforts by the world economy, and based on this he concludes that man must have his course chosen for him, and must not be permitted to choose for himself.
Publisher's Note: I thought I would share this book review I recently did.  I also found this amusing illustrated version of The Road to Serfdomhttps://mises.org/books/TRTS/ Hayek wrote and released this book during the course of the World War II (1944-45).  He had a front row seat to the clash of the collectivist titans from the mild socialism he saw in the West to the national socialism of Germany and the communism of the Russian state. Hayek sought to provide a comprehensive set of principles and observations illustrating why private property not only manages to be the most rational means to allocate economic resources but the one which allows the most freedom to grow and mature.  He makes a compelling argument that the smallest bureaucrat in a statist command of the economy will have much more power to influence society in a negative manner than the most successful millionaire in a free society. His primary thesis is that the power of the state will lead to slavery, misery and poverty. Along with his colleague in the Austrian School of Economics, Ludwig von Mises, he delivered a powerful indictment of the state in two respects:  its inability to rationally behave economically and ultimately the brutal manner in which the state will ultimately treats its citizens once it has the power to tax, regulate and redistribute.  By robbing the individual citizens of property rights and collectivizing either through outright nationalization or through the more fascistic means of taxation and regulation, all citizens are reduced to slavery and serfdom. Hayek says:  “The increasing veneration for the state, the admiration of power, and of bigness for bigness' sake, the enthusiasm for "organization" of everything (we now call it "planning") and that "inability to leave anything to the simple power of organic growth"...are all scarcely less marked in England now than they were in Germany.”(Hayek, 200)  It is interesting to note that outside of Germany and the USSR during the course of WWII, the United Kingdom was considered the most repressive society in the Western world.  Whether this was due to wartime secrecy considerations with the imminent invasion of Western Europe by the Allies or the creeping blanket of Fabian socialism, it is hard to ascertain.