Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Why Jeffrey Sachs is Mistaken About Libertarianism and Ron Paul Part 1

In an article in the Huffington Post, Jeffrey Sachs criticizes Ron Paul by misinterpreting libertarianism and expounding on his misconceptions about the said political philosophy. It is an easy mistake to commit that even those with a Phd degree in economics are not exempted from.

It is disappointing, really. I first got introduced to Jeffrey Sachs when I watched the PBS documentary Commanding Heights: The Battle for World Economy several years ago where he was seemingly against economic central planning and statism. He even seemed "extreme" (a word he uses to criticize what he supposes to be Ron Paul's views) especially when it comes to his "economic shock therapy" policy enacted in Chile and several other countries.

In case you get bored with all my chatter, you can check out Ron Paul's consistent principled integrity on the video above

First off, we shall examine Jefrey Sachs' method or approach in smearing the Ron Paul campaign by attacking libertarianism in general. Secondly, we move on to show why he is wrong about how he sees libertarianism. Lastly, we make a strong case for Ron Paul. These are our objectives for today. The bold parts are Sachs'.
"Ron Paul's appeal goes beyond these specific positions. His libertarianism itself is beguiling."
It's a red herring of sorts to attack libertarianism in general and not the specific policies in Ron Paul's platform. He even goes on to mention several libertarians who would disagree with some of Ron Paul's political positions.

He attacks Ayn Rand. He talks about how Hayek or Milton Friedman (significant contributors in libertarian political philosophy) will disagree with many of Ron Paul's views. He even mentions how Robert Nozick retracted when he got older.

That's really a lot like saying Ayn Rand is wrong therefore Ron Paul is wrong or Hayek/M. Friedman disagrees with Ron Paul and those people contributed a lot to libertarianism so therefore Ron Paul is wrong.

Why not debate Ron Paul's policies and not attack other libertarians or namedrop those who agree with him? Why not just stick to the issues?

Also, why not mention people like Bastiat, Mises, Henry Hazlitt, and many other classical liberals/libertarian thinkers who Ron Paul openly says had a great deal of influence to his political beliefs and positions.

Speaking of Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson is a book I would highly recommend to Jefrey Sachs and to all of my readers because it's a brilliant introduction to libertarianism, the Austrian School of Economics, and to many of Ron Paul's political positions. 

"Like many extreme ideologies, libertarianism gives a single answer to a complicated world."
No. The fact that he already mentioned several libertarian thinkers who would disagree with Ron Paul mean that there is a lot of debate among libertarians and that there are a lot of proposed solutions and answers to different problems.

It's actually good he mentioned Ayn Rand because the Objectivists (libertarians who worship Ayn Rand) are actually very very critical of Ron Paul. They disagree with Ron Paul's foreign policy. From my understanding, they want to go to war with Iran and others like those who have a violent interpretation of Islamic texts while Ron Paul and other libertarian sects don't.

There's a lot of bickering and disagreements when it comes to tons of other issues as well like IPR (intellectual property rights), immigration, abortion, capital punishment/imprisonment, taxation, political action (as means to promote liberty), size and scope of government, and many others.

So no, Jeffrey Sachs, libertarianism doesn't have a single answer to the complicated world.
"Libertarians hold that individual liberty should never be sacrificed in the pursuit of other values or causes. Compassion, justice, civic responsibility, honesty, decency, humility, respect, and even survival of the poor, weak, and vulnerable"
The mistake here is that it is assumed that these values will not exist if they are not legislated. It is the notion that this "pursuit of other values or causes" can only be attained if we give money and power to Big Brother so that Big Brother can make sure we are all compassionate, just, honest, decent, rich, strong, etc.

Individual liberty actually ends where the liberties of others begin. This doesn't mean that because libertarians are for "individual liberty" doesn't mean that anyone can do whatever they want and be disrespectful with the liberties and properties of others and just live in a valueless society. Advocating individual liberty mean that you are against force and fraud; and that these be settled by police/courts and should be punishable in accordane with the rule of law.

It's so easy to make the case against force or fraud and yet when it comes to giving the State the power to use force and take a part of one's income to spend as they wish without transparency, all of a sudden it's okay because it is for the "pursuit of other values or causes".

The biggest problem here is that these bureaucrats (most of them merely appointed without the consent of the governed) have the power to spend and act in according to their own interests or in favor of special interest groups. Again, we should consider both that which is seen and that which is not seen. The fact is that statism and government intervention, no matter how noble the intentions, only leads to crony-capitalism and hurts the poor and only benefits the rich and elite. I've made this case so many times in this blog that libertarianism can easily be viewed as anti-poor when in fact it is for peace and prosperity. Ron Paul is actually the only candidate, as he expressed in the recent debates, who sympathizes with the Occupy Wall Street community only he has more libertarian solutions to their demands.

Again though, I would like emphasize that this is why I wish Jeffrey Sachs focused on the political positions of Ron Paul instead of just attacking libertarianism. As abstract as values may be, surely one's advocacies and political positions will reflect the kind of values one possesses. Here are some of Ron Paul's political positions that showcase his values:

  • Sachs himself said that Ron Paul "rightly emphasizes the massive corruption that has overtaken Washington". Yup, Ron Paul is the only candidate (not just those in the Republican Party but also Obama) who doesn't get funded by lobbyists and gets all his money from grassroots support and "moneybombs". Doesn't that show the value of honesty and decency and others from Sachs' list of values above?
  • Sachs himself noted that Ron Paul's foreign policy is a worthy position. Obama ran on a platform of a peaceful foreign policy and yet expanded the wars and yet US troops remain in thousands of bases all of the world. Ron Paul wants to talk and trade with nations like Cuba just as they did to to the Soviets during the Cold War or to the Vietnamese after the useless Vietnam war. What values do you think it reflects when you are against endless wars and nation-building and if you are for diplomacy and trade?  Compassion? Justice?
  • Ron Paul strongly opposes abortion. Some libertarians may disagree with him. But again, what values do you think this reflects? Does it reflect only advocating individual liberty and therefore disregarding other values just as Sachs mentioned?
  • Ron Paul is the only candidate who opposes corporate bailouts, TARP, and the secrecy and power of the Federal Reserve. Do you think that benefits the rich or the poor? What values do you think that kind of position reflects? Just individual liberty and nothing else?

I usually dislike having to respond or explain my thoughts regarding issues or misinterpretations of libertarianism. I'm gonna have to take a break for now and address the issues on Ron Paul allegedly supporting racism, the welfare state, Barry Goldwater, and other issues and misconceptions raised by Sachs another time. I knew it was going to be long, tedious, and sadly incomplete just as when I wrote in response to the venus project (I did say it was just an introduction but never got to continue).

I tend to be a lazy procrastinator many times. I honestly hate writing these things. The problem is it does feel like a responsibility to respond and defend the libertarian perspective. I guess it's really like that when you truly, passionately believe in something.  There's that quote about being able to say in 10 words what others have to say in 10,000 or something like that, I forgot who said it, but I do wish I have that skill. I knew it would be long and tiring to respond because there's just so many things I want to say that probably even a thousand posts will not be enough because, as I have said, I truly believe in the philosophy of liberty.

Rest assured that there is a libertarian response to all of Sachs' claims and allegations that I have not covered and that I will respond to them as soon as I can.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Illegitimate Children, Property Rights, and the Rule of Law

I have spent all morning drinking coffee and reading The Family Code of the Philippines (Exectuive Order No. 209)

It is long and boring. EO's, they blur the lines between the separation of powers. In all honesty, I am not very fond of it. It is discriminatory and attacks the liberties of individuals (as much as it tries or was intended to protect them). But for as long as I reside within the imaginary lines that surround this potentially great nation, I must know this law by heart now more than ever. It is the law of the land and  may the rule of law always prevail.

I couldn't resist.

The reason I am wary of this executive order is because, as a libertarian, my principles compel me to defend voluntary contracts between individuals (ie. marriages or unions) and believe that no government or other coercive group of people may intervene or impose anything on these agreements and only when these contracts are breached may it be settled by the police or courts or by private arbitration. Anyway, I am straying away from the topic so here we go:

I strongly believe that children, whether legitimate or illegitimate (born outside the State's or Church's definition of marriage), have equal rights to life, liberty, and property. If the birth of an illegitimate child breaches a voluntary contract between two individuals, it would be ridiculous to put the burden on the illegitimate child who had nothing to do with the contracts in the first place. Unfortunately, The Family Code seems to be against me on this (I say "seems" because I am no lawyer and am basing everything on my own interpretation; of course I will be consulting people who have more knowledge and authority regarding this matter and perhaps research more on relevant topics in the Civil Code of the Philippines).

For instance, in Article 176, it states "...The legitime of each illegitimate child shall consist of one-half of the legitime of a legitimate child...". Here, from how I interpret it, we put the burden on the illegitimate child and not on the the breacher of contract.

Indeed, there is a lot of needed law reform regarding this matter. Surely there are a lot of you who might get emotional about this topic. Those of you who are "blessed" to be considered by our State as "legitimate". But I do believe that if we try to be objective about it and set aside the emotional aspects of it, perhaps you will understand my positions.

You see, your resident blogger and defender of liberty (yours truly) is an "illegitimate" child and this is why this issue is something very personal and close to my heart. Personally, I don't really care about inheritance or succession because I am blessed with a hardworking mother who has provided way more than enough for me and still continue to. It just so happens that recent circumstances are pushing me to learn every thing I can about this issue.

I'm pretty sure I don't have money to hire or consult a really good lawyer in the case that I would need to. Also, I am not very fond of mandatory curriculums and contemporary schooling methods and so I have long dismissed the issue of becoming one myself. Whatever, I'm wasting so much time being so distracted about this (my brain tends to become very obsessive, sometimes). C'est La Vie

If you liked this post then you might also like:
1. Freedom of Information Bill in the Philippines
2. Libertarianism in Harry Potter
3. The Unschooled Life of Astra Taylor

Monday, January 2, 2012

Why do I support Ron Paul and What Relevance Does He Have to Filipinos?

The Iowa caucus is coming up and Ron Paul is leading the polls.

So it's the Iowa caucus later or tomorrow (I'm not really sure about the time difference), an important electoral event that will show who the Americans in that state want to be their nominee to be contender against Obama for president of the United States.

Before I begin my blog post on why I support him and why his political positions are relevant not just to Americans but to the world, I figured I should show you guys a few videos first showing how the establishment, neocons, and mainstream media is being biased against Ron Paul.

I would have to say that Stewart is fairly leaning toward being democrat/progressive and to see him notice the media bias against Ron Paul and to defend him shows that Ron Paul is not the typical Republican you know. No, not all republicans are neocons like Bush. In fact, most of Ron Paul's positions are against the policies enforced by the Bush administration (undeclared wars, bailouts, patriot act, etc.). In the video above, it is embarrassing how the media ignored him. Now that he is leading the polls, they can't pretend he doesn't exist anymore and their new technique is digging up ridiculous allegations and mishaps in his past hoping those would discredit him or deter his supporters.

This video above is probably one of the craziest things ever. Basically, the guy says that if Ron Paul wins, it means that he doesn't win, in the caucus state where the past two winners are Bush and Obama whose wins both eventually lead them to the white house. It makes absolutely no sense. I can't even begin to comprehend what he means by "we just take him out" if Ron Paul wins. It's insane.

This one above is inspiring. It is very rare for you to hear truth from Fox News and I'm sure most of you have that common notion that Fox News is all propaganda. But this guy, Neil Cavuto, challenges his own colleagues like Chris Wallace, Bill O'Reilly, and others who mostly have more seniority than him. I'm surprised that this guy is still not fired. And this guy's been consistent with listening to and recognizing Ron Paul's political positions and electability. There are also two others in Fox News making sense like Judge Nap and Stossel (yes, not everyone in Fox News are crazy neocons who support establishment candidates and special interest groups).

Why Do I Support Ron Paul? What difference does it make for us Filipinos?

If you think this article is tl;dr then I beg of you to just please watch the video above.
or watch many of his other videos that show his consistent and principled integrity

I support him because he has had consistent principled integrity, he predicted the housing bubble and recession long before it happened and no one listened to him. I love how he is never afraid to stand by his principles even when everyone is against him, at times people even ridiculed him, laughed at him, and even banned him from debates.

Your thoughts must always have been why I am so concerned about US politics and Ron Paul and you're probably thinking that it is irrelevant to us Filipinos. That's where you are wrong. It is obvious that a great deal of our policies are patterned after the US. When they gave their government the Patriot Act, the power to seize and search property and detain individuals with no warrant from the courts, so did we create the Human Security Act that does the same, a mockery of both our constitutions and so-called democracy and freedom.

I support him because of his criticism and desire to audit and perhaps eventually abolish the Federal Reserve and its secrecy and power to print money as they wish and perhaps if he wins he will inspire the world to do the same. No, your money is not based on the gold reserve of our country as most of you think. It is fiat currency controlled by appointed bureaucrats in our central bank, devalued and inflated as they wish. Ron Paul is against this. And just like his proposal to cut the US debt from the Federal Reserve we must remember that a great deal of our debt also comes from this quasi-private printing press.

I support him because his foreign policy is that of peace. He exposed how the US was giving foreign aid (even when they're already heavily in debt) to dictators like Mubarak or Gaddafi only later on to flipflop and give aid to those protesting against these authoritarians. He understands the concept of "blowback" and that their founders were right when they said that their nation should befriend other nations and trade with them and not create entangling alliances for it only increases hostility and danger in the world. The exact opposite of what the US is doing now with their embargos, sanctions, and undeclared wars, regardless if the president is Democrat or Republican.

I support him because he is not afraid to talk about the truths about prohibition, the wasteful expenditure  on the war on drugs, and the government's unconstitutional power to regulate the lifestyle and personal habits of individuals. It is empowering syndicates and terrorists in the black market. It is restricting research and progress in medicine and increases the costs and prices thereof across the board. It increases the harm potential or danger for those with addiction (it is a disease to be treated not a crime to be punished). It is proven that prohibition fails to decrease abuse of illegal substances and therefore is a wasteful policy.

Of course he still upholds the rule of law. If you steal or destroy property, when you harm others, yes, that is a crime and must be dealt with by the police and courts. Lifting prohibition does not mean that he is legalizing drug addicts to steal or commit crimes. Non sequitur. In fact, as a libertarian, he believes in the non-aggression principle that states that for as long as you are not initiating force or aggression against the lives, liberties, and properties of others then you are free to do as you wish and the government has no power to take that away from you. If you do not agree then you might as well tear out the bill of rights in our constitution.

Many criticize him for not believing in evolution, for instance, but what they don't understand is that as a libertarian and staunch constitutionalist who defends their first amendment, he will never impose his beliefs on others and surely veto any kind of legislation that tries to do so. This will be the same for any private matter like individual rights in marriage or unions, religion, schooling, etc.  He believes that the State shall step out of these issues and never have the power to tell you what to believe or what kind of contracts you engage in. The government should always be our servant and never our master. That is what libertarianism is all about.

I support Ron Paul because here I am, even if halfway around the world, inspired to become a better person, inspired to respect property rights and the liberties of others, inspired to learn more about Austrian School of Economics and concrete libertarian solutions and policies that may alleviate the poverty of my fellow Filipinos. And I know that I am not the only one. Not just in the US but all over the world, there are so many who now understand the concept of liberty all because of Ron Paul.

This blog is now one-year old. Still remember my first post about my local government's Christmas tree? It's been a year of trying to defend liberty and introduce libertarian ideas to my readers. Most of it all because of Ron Paul.

In a way, there is a part of me that is afraid for him to win. The establishment and special interest groups will surely do everything in their power to smear his name and principles just as they are already trying to do now. He might even be assassinated just like Kennedy. A fellow libertarian even suggested to me that he might get blamed for everything because the corrections needed in their economy and policies will be very painful, very hard to swallow for many, corrections that would never have been needed if only they listened to him a long time ago. But when all is said and done, everything I wrote above (and the many things I bet I forgot to write about), is the most sensible, pragmatic, just, and moral political platform. Peace and prosperity, not just for the US but for the world.

It has always been obvious (and perhaps futile), but I want to make it official: I am Harry Santos and I endorse Ron Paul as my candidate for the 2012 GOP nomination and US presidential election.