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L. Neil Smith's
Number 601, January 1, 2011

"Okay, here's THE PLAN"

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Conversations with Consequences: Resolutions for 2011
by Chris ClaypoolChris Claypoole

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Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

First of all, I can't speak for anyone else. Nor would I want to. I'm satisfied being myself, don't want to be anyone else, and don't want anyone to be like me. No, I'm not going to list my many faults; suffice it to say that I'm probably a little left of the peak on the bell curve for personality.

That being said, I have a few gripes about some of the people with whom I have had conversations over the years. Most were strangers or casual acquaintances, but some are friends. I hope that they will still feel friendly to me after the following little rant. So here are some resolutions for my New Year.

I enjoy discussing political, economic, philosophical, and related issues. Current events? Sure. Pop culture? Not really. I'm not shy about my libertarianism (the free-market anarchist type), and often get asked by people what that means. My reply is a summary of the Non-Aggression Principle and laissez-faire. (I also consider myself an amateur economist of the Austrian School, but that's generally TMI for most people.) The reactions I get most often are variations on, "That sounds great, but ..." There's always something that they seem to think cries out for government intervention, which always involves stealing someone's money to pay the people selected to enforce it, and the violation of yet other people's rights (under the NAP) to satisfy the "great-butter's" fear, prejudice, or ignorance.

So, here is a little list of admonitions for people I will probably have interactions with in 2011:

If you cannot understand the statistics of death by automobile vs. death by terrorist action, do not expect me to respect your grasp of probability. And don't expect me to be happy about putting up with measures that waste my time and money to ineffectively "protect" me from a miniscule threat. I resolve to be less patient with innumerate people who want to dictate policy to me.

If you have an irrational fear/hatred of "terrorists", guns, an arbitrary group of individuals, people who consume things you don't approve of, or just people who wish to be left alone, do not expect me to contribute my time, money, nor any other form of support for your efforts to appease your own irrationality. You need to get over it. I resolve to label such phobias as the silliness they are.

If my lack of religion (did I forget to mention I am an atheist?) offends you, or makes you itch to convince me of the existence of what I consider an imaginary entity, please restrain yourself. I do not make it a practice to bash the religious beliefs of others (I'm not an anti-theist), and I expect them to respect my non-religious beliefs. And if you try to force me to adhere to your particular set of beliefs, either directly or through a government, do not expect me to submit the other cheek. I resolve to turn my back on such people, as such arguments are a waste of everyone's time and energy.

The people who control the federal government say it is a good idea to have military forces in (estimates vary) over 150 other nations. I would guess, since most people resent quartering foreign troops in their country (yes, I used that word on purpose), that this policy is only popular with some Americans and the direct beneficiaries of American tax dollars in those other countries. The Americans of this type with which I have spoken seem to believe that sending US soldiers, marines, etc., overseas will somehow "protect our freedom". I have never had anyone adequately explain how that works. It is irrational (there's that word again) to believe that a nation with an economy smaller than most (or any) of the American states could "take over" the US. It is just as irrational to believe that the followers of a particular small subset of Islam could do so. And war is the logical endpoint of aggression. So what we are left with, concerning the policy of sending American troops to other countries, sometimes to kill people there, is Empire. Don't expect me to support Empire, American or otherwise. And don't expect me to support the people that make it happen. America's armed forces have been all-volunteer for decades. Anyone in the services now either agrees with the policy of Empire or doesn't mind it that much, because, after all, America is the best, and needs to bring civilization to the rest of the world. Exactly what most other empires have believed. Not so exceptional, eh? So do not expect me to go along with Empire, support its legionaries, nor respect your grasp of history, human nature, or morality. (This last is directed at self-described libertarians who advocate military adventurism. You cannot have it both ways. Empire=aggression. What the US is doing is not self-defense. If my neighbor aggresses against me, I can fight back. It is not proper for me to then hire an "enforcer" to stay in his house and keep an eye on him, occasionally killing a member of his family that my spies tell me is a trouble-maker.) I resolve to ask these belligerent folks just how many foreigners they think must be killed to "make us safe", and why they expect the ones not killed would not hate Americans even more.

The most disheartening theme that I encounter is that most non-libertarians don't see anything inherently wrong with using government power to enforce a certain set of obligations and prohibitions. They may disagree with those being mandated now, but agree that the policies put in place by individuals who have been elected by the majority of a percentage of people allowed to vote (which usually works out to an overall minority, but I digress) are somehow legitimate. Even though most of such policies, if carried out by private individuals (not backed up by government guns), would be considered illegal, immoral, and subject to harassment by the government enforcers. So, if your only objection to tyranny is that you are not the tyrant, I have no use for you. I resolve to communicate my opinion about that to this subset of humanity, preferably from a distance, and with some sort of equalizer close at hand.


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