Polling Pages

In order to continue to collect votes on the range voting poll to rename queens, I have converted the post to a page. I would like more feedback on this vital issue, because it is important that our regions have named with which we can identify.

Another poll presents the independent options for Federal President. Get ready to write-in your favorite.

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The American Confederation Society

The American Confederation Society is a proposed organization dedicated to reform the imperial United States of America into a humble American Confederation. This confederation would look more like our confederal government under the Articles of Confederation than our federal/imperial government under the Constitution.

The Confederal Government would be truly predicated on the consent of its participant states – including their right to unilateral withdrawal – and could come to include any states that met our accession criteria, including Canadian provinces or Mexican states. But before we consider enlarging our club, we must first put our own house in order.

All decisions not related to defense, keeping the borders open between states, or settling disputes between states would be handled by the sovereign state governments. Hopefully, those state governments will exercise little force over their citizens, but the plethora of states and open borders will allow residents to vote with their feet if one state goes sour. Affecting policy within a state will be handled by the Free State Society, Libertarian Party, or other freedom-organization of that state. The Confederation Society will be free to make recommendations to state governments on strategies to increase liberty, including the use of sortition and range voting to select legislatures, strengthening constitutional bills of rights, and preventing unions and corporations from undermining the civil power.

The program will include:

• Empower the Senate. If President of the Senate (Vice-President) can command majority of the Senate, then he may represent the Senate. If not, then he will select a President Pro Tempore who can command majority to represent the Senate.

• Disempower President into figurehead. President may select and dismiss Cabinet (Order of Administration) and Supreme Court (Order of Adjudication) only on the advice of the Senate.

• Disband House of Representatives. Senate becomes known as the ‘Congress of the Confederation’ and its members as ‘Delegates.’ President becomes ‘President of the Confederation, in Congress Assembled’ selected by anti-voting (to be explained in a later post) in Congress. President of the Senate (Vice-President) and Speaker of the House merged into ‘Speaker for the Congress,’ commanding a majority in the Congress and directing the Cabinet. Repeal direct election of Senators (17th Amendment) in favor of selection determined by the laws of the States.

• Repeal 16th Amendment, Commerce Clause, and other onerous parts of the Constitution. Disband the Federal Reserve and eliminate federal jurisdiction over currency. Disband the Department of Homeland Security, the CIA, the NSA, and all other federal criminal organizations. Disband the myriad federal departments that do not deal directly with defense.

• Make federal land and assets available for homesteading in order to reduce federal holdings to those which are necessary to pursue its limited functions.

• Default on the federal debt and entitlement obligations. It wasn’t our fault that our imperial masters sold our futures down the river for their political expedience. Consequences will be limited if we no longer depend on a fiat currency that could potentially devalue.

There is more about the Confederation Society here. I am in the process of drafting proposed Articles of the Confederation Society. Each current federation or large nation-state has its own challenges in becoming a peaceful confederation. Hopefully, I can address a potential program for several of them in future posts. If you believe in this program, please start a local chapter of the Confederation Society, keep me in the loop, and check back for more innovative reform strategies and proposals.

Armchair Epidemiology

On a radically different subject from my usual, an article in Discover magazine gave me a ‘light bulb’ moment. Discover’s Jessica Snyder Sachs wrote a piece on the spread of antibiotic resistant genes among bacteria. Bacteria trade genes, and absorb the DNA of their dead brethren, spreading resistance to our key medical antibiotics. While much of the article seemed to be a veiled call for more regulation, a la the European Union, it was still food for thought. I wonder if this idea hasn’t been tried yet: use the bacteria’s ability to absorb DNA to seed it with code that causes it to lose that very ability, namely to absorb DNA. This ‘neutering code’ could be spread around areas of high infection, like hospitals and wastewater treatment plants – rendering the bacteria unable to share genetic information, and therefore making them easier to kill.

I’m sure some scientist has thought of this, but I thought I’d put it out there anyway.

I am a liberal. They are not.

It’s amazing how many different words the statists have used, over the years, to dress up their same, tired philosophy. They’ve called it Conservative, Progressive, Fascist, Nationalist, Communist, Socialist, Egalitarian, Centrist, Third Way, Green, Monarchist, Loyalist, Revolutionary, but, here in North America, the one that really grinds my gears is liberal.

Liberal is our word, the ‘our’ being what are presently called libertarians. People are identified as libertarian if they are “socially-liberal and economically-conservative.” It seems in this parlance, liberal means free on the social spectrum and conservative means free on the economic spectrum. Doesn’t that seem like a language trick to confuse people? The powers-that-be give you two labels from which to choose: liberal offers you social freedom and economic slavery, and conservative the opposite. That way, if you believe in something like social AND economic freedom, you either have to take on one of the existing labels with some silly modifier (market liberal, paleoconservative, et al) or accept a less-catchy term like libertarian.

The great injustice is that the term liberal was outright stolen from libertarians by the socialists of the early 20th century. ‘Liberal’ comes from the latin root liber, meaning free. A liberal has always meant someone who believes in freedom, in other words a modern libertarian. In Continental Europe, it is still largely used in this manner. Over here, the early socialists had a problem they didn’t face in Europe: no one believed their bullshit. Americans discovered political liberty, and it had served us well. So, the socialists figured out how to turn our own language against us. They called our notion of liberty ‘negative liberty’ and their notion of government interference ‘positive liberty.’ You see, now it wasn’t enough to have the potential to fulfill your desires, you were now entitled to fulfill them. What that meant for the people who now had to work toward YOUR goals was ignored, as was the debate over whose goals would be pursued (usually it translates into the politically well-connected). So, now we had moved from liberals to negative liberals. Once the socialists got their foot in the door linguistically, many people found a way to justify their instinctual drives for cheating and violence. Soon after, liberal came to only mean socialist, and lost all of its libertarian connotation.

Some of us now call ourselves classical liberals, while a great many others identify as true conservatives. The latter is laughable, though it has translated into electoral success, because libertarians have always fought the conservatives – those who wanted to maintain their grasp on power through monarchy, aristocracy, theocracy, or else-wise. Even the modern ‘conservative coalition’ is just a nonsensical mix of libertarians, nationalists, and christian democrats set up by a man that I would call a (classical) liberal: Ronald Reagan.

Well I say we ditch the epithet and take back our word. I am a liberal: I believe in severely-restricted government, reforming our electoral system, returning power to the States, voting independent, and increasing personal and economic liberty in every way. I do not vote Democrat: those people are socialists. I do not vote Republican: those people are nationalists. I am neither left-wing nor right-wing, left-leaning nor right-leaning, for the only true dichotomy is between freedom and slavery. I do not believe there is such a thing as positive liberty, except insofar as all liberty is positive if you exclude other ideologies masquerading as liberty. I am a liberal, a libertarian, a free-marketeer, a propertarian, a minarchist, but mostly I am a liberal. And they are not.

The Free States of New York

On the subject of New York City secession, one fellow wrote that the 5 Boroughs should secede along with the suburban counties of Upstate New York, Long Island, Connecticut, and New Jersey. It would look something like this:

I would like to take that idea one step further. I have developed a map of several states that could be carved out of what is now New York. It is my theory that large states turn to statism because they are ungovernable. A writer once wrote, “quality does not scale.” This is often true. Companies face this issue when they grow too large to evolve rapidly with their market or connect with their customers. So, here is a first draft of a new map of the New Netherland region of the northeast:

Interestingly enough, another fellow had a similar idea that he developed into the alternative history of the Republic of New Netherland.

While that was just a thought experiment, my initiative is quite serious. New York doesn’t make sense in its current configuration. The only feeling upstaters and downstaters have for each other is disdain. Albany steals all our money and uses to further suffocate the upstate economy with government programs. Upstate has virtually emptied out under the weight of poor governance. The answer is to divide the states. Let the City-State of Gotham be born. Just that move would resolve tensions between East and West Jersey, and New-York and New-England Connecticut. Even Pennsylvania should probably lyse into two states.

Comments welcome.

Herding Cats: The Libertarian Movement

Don’t accuse me of idol worship, though I’ve been caught wearing a Ron Paul t-shirt from time to time. With the passing of Kent Snyder, the many people who recognize his tremendous contribution to freedom and justice have been filling blogosphere comment boxes with emphatic statements of adoration. This is good. I find the figures in history that have chosen to practice ethics and respect for their fellow man are often the least celebrated, while figures like FDR, Napoleon, and Che Guevara are obsessed over.

Still, one comment gave me pause. This commentator remarked that the best way to honor Kent is to do what he did: work tirelessly for legal respect of individual rights. As a movement, worldwide, the classical liberals have always been vulnerable to weakness of good rhetoric and bad performance. The Girondins lost to the Jacobins because they debated well and organized poorly. The same holds for the UK Liberals losing to Labour. When I attend libertarian functions, I’m often at the receiving end of a long rant about ideas with which I’m quite familiar – but many people are not. You’re preaching to the choir, buddy! How many libertarians wait until their meetup group to let loose the fire burning within? How many have been turned against themselves by the ridicule of statists? Worst, when we are consistently ineffective against the public-school-brainwashed masses, some start to doubt their own beliefs. I think that’s where all the chatter comes from. We are forced to de-program years of slave morality, questioning each and every assumption to see if it stands to reason.

Well, guess what? If you’re still reading this, you’re probably a good enough person. You’re probably more considerate, more righteous, and more intelligent than 9 out of 10 of your peers. So, drop the negative attitude (possibly inherited from the stalled Libertarian Party in the States, which does often lose, but is fighting an uphill battle against a rigged electoral system). Freedom is right. When I read about sociopathy, the disorder characterized by an inability to empathize with others causing sufferers to commit anti-social acts, the characteristics sound eerily similar to those demonstrated by statist politicians. Libertarians are the exact opposite. Our disorder is being too civil, too concerned with the plight of our fellow man. But, you see, that isn’t a disorder at all; it’s a blessing.

Kent Snyder was a great man. Ron Paul is a great man. Mary Ruwart is a great woman. The Koch family are great people. But, as the commentator pointed out, we cannot get caught up in hero-worship. Wear a Ron Paul shirt, donate to worthwhile campaigns, but also, get active: organize a regular get-together among your local compatriots, run for office, write to your newspaper, write a book, learn to use and then carry a gun, organize a march on your state capitol or Washington, apply pressure to everyone and everything that stands in the way of our freedom, and never compromise your ideals. After all, isn’t that what we adore about the aforementioned – they took action, they were relentless, and they succeeded.

Ghost Suburbs

This fantastically interesting site cataloguing defunct (mostly during the nationalized years) railway stations in Britain started me thinking about how nature re-absorbs our work so quickly, and then about the next historical oddity in this vein: ghost suburbs.

By this, I mean vast swaths of energy-intensive, and aesthetically demented, urban sprawl that may soon be the next victim of changing priorities. I am here supposing that the late fossil fuel crisis will provide enough incentive for the middle classes to abandon the suburbs and return to the traditional cities and towns of the pre-automotive era. It may not happen this time, but rest assured these crises will pass in waves, each more dire than the last, until we wean ourselves from fossil fuels. We may still drive fuel-cell or battery-powered vehicles, but the fact is it’s energy-intensive to drive everywhere. If energy prices continue to rise, eventually the stubborn car-folk will start moving back to the city centers, and after a generation of grumbling, relearn how to live on a human-scale. Cars may well be used like trains: as a means of getting from one city/town to another. Once you’ve arrived at your destination, the car is parked until you leave. Frankly, at that time, I think most travellers will find it preferable to take the train – no traffic, less energy use (i.e. cost), and more time for personal entertainment.

What tickles me about this transformation is picturing the millions of square miles of shopping centers, eight-lane roads, vinyl-clad carbon-copied houses, exurban mid-rise office towers, and single-use franchise-saturated malls left to nature to slowly disintegrate. Can you imagine what it would look like twenty years later? We’ll zoom past it all on our high-speed intercity trains (private, of course) and wonder how people lived like that for so long:

“What did you do if you didn’t have a car? What if you needed food?”

“Did architects really think vinyl-siding was attractive?”

“Look at the signs. All the stores and restaurants are the same in each center. Didn’t they get bored of that?”

“How did the fuel companies convince people to pump their own gas, when everyone knows the fumes are toxic?”

You and I will be old-timers by then, and we’ll try to explain the mindset of today’s suburbanites. Though we will have seen the car-people try their best to infuse their asphalt wastelands with the vitality of real cities, the ruins will look to our children as decrepit as downtown Detroit.

Perhaps the main shopping malls will serve as focal points for the generation of new cities. Developers may build, as they are now, residential and office towers on the perimeter of and on top of the malls. Slowly, the expansive parking lots that dissever buildings and uses from each other will be in-filled with houses and business – the stuff of life.

Still, if one ventures out from these mall-cities of the future, they will see the asphalt lots turning into gravel, the shopping centers overgrown with weeds, and nary a car in sight. Without any two-ton monsters to pollute their lungs and mow them down, our wanderer and his children might get a game of footy going. It will be unspeakably peaceful and remarkable.