Christian: n,

A person who believes in Jesus Christ, God incarnate who came to Earth and became flesh to die on the cross, sinless for our redemption.

libertarian: n,

"A person who believes that no one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being, or to advocate or delegate its initiation. Those who act consistently with this principle are libertarians, whether they realize it or not. Those who fail to act consistently with it are not libertarians, regardless of what they may claim."

-- L. Neil Smith

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Veggie Tales teaching Libertarianism

Are Veggie Tales libertarian as well as Christian? I don't think they're supposed to be, but it's got to be pretty hard to make Christian videos that teach kids how God wants us to treat each other without accidentally teaching libertarianism at the same time. Our son, Fletcher, has an abundant Veggie Tales library. Most of them are based on Old Testament stories and a good percentage of the Old Testament was God trying to teach us to depend on Him rather than trying to do things ourselves. Man's desire to replace God with something more to his own liking is as old as Adam and Eve. There are many occasions in the Old Testament where man has wanted Earthly governments. In the book of Samuel, God spells out exactly what will result from their request. " Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, "This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle [b] and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day."

I don't think the writers of Veggie Tales have tackled that one yet but they have made videos from the book of Daniel. One, specifically about Daniel not obeying the government's decrees and God rescuing him and another, about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, called "Rack, Shack and Benny," who also obeyed God rather than government, although sadly in the Veggie Tales version, Nebuchadnezzar is represented as the owner of a chocolate bunny factory and it's never explained how he gained the ability to exercise the use of force over his employees. Another interesting government scheme is portrayed in the story of Joseph, or as Veggie Tales calls it, "The Ballad of Little Joe." Unfortunately, Veggie Tales skips over one of the most important aspects of the story. Joseph tells the government,( Pharaoh), about the impending famine, so the government confiscates all the grain in the kingdom. When the famine hits, the government's real agenda rears its ugly head. The government doesn't just give the grain back, it sells it back, first for the people's gold, then for the people's livestock, then he takes their land and then, to avoid starvation, they trade for grain the last thing they have, their freedom. And the rest is History until Moses comes along.

My favorite Veggie Tale isn't based on an Old Testament story. It's called "Lyle, the Kindly Viking." We should all know how the political structure of the Vikings went. They had the troops, the boats, weapons and the understanding of how great life could be if they just plundered the fruits of everyone else's labor instead of earning it themselves. Our little Viking hero, Lyle, doesn't think that's the right thing to do, but being a Viking he has an entitlement to his share of the booty. He takes personal responsibility seriously and, instead of resigning himself to his situation, he gets in his little boat and gives his share of the loot back to the people from which it was taken. I'd love to see someone remake Lyle, the Kindly Viking into Ron Paul, the Kindly Politician. They wouldn't have to change much.

It seems that you can't teach Bible stories honestly to children without teaching the lessons of libertarianism at the same time. There are simply too many parallels that can't be ignored. The basic libertarian principles just sound way too much like, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Put not your faith in rulers, Love thy enemies, and Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Maybe it's time that US Christians, who have put their faith in the men of government, (the Kingdoms of this world), and who idolize the nation-state, started exercising some childlike faith instead. Let's live dangerously, sit too close to the TV and watch some Veggie Tales.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Pragmatic Libertarian

When discussing libertarianism I'm almost always faced with the Yeahbuts. I'll say something like, "Taxation is theft," and the reply will be, "Yeah, but how will 'we' pay for ...?" "We don't need the State." "Yeah, but who'll protect us from ...?" This can be frustrating for several reasons. People have been conditioned to see the state as the correction to naturally occurring problems. The fact is that most of these perceived problems were relatively small and isolated before we handed the responsibility for them over to the state. Many of the problems would not even exist if it weren't for the state's intervention and the rest have grown exponentially because of the state's mismanagement. Economic calculation through central planning requires a knowledge of the subjective valuation of literally billions of transactions every day and that's just not possible.

I used to concern myself more with these details. They are important considerations. However to me, the "How would we" question is subordinate to the "Do we have the right to" question and who is "we" anyway?

The thief can always find justification for theft. Look how much better off "we" are because of the state, sounds just like a thief saying look how much better off I am now that I have your stuff. I do not doubt that using the state to suspend the laws of economics has its rewards, but I also believe there is also a price paid that "we" tend to ignore. Bastiat refers to these in What is Seen and What is Not Seen . None of the rationalization or justification prevents the state's actions from being what they are. They are violations of individuals' rights. I've gotten past how wonderful the world could be if people would just get out of the way of the state. If I had my choice between my subjective idea of Utopia created by theft, murder, slavery and fraud or being less well off without, I would choose the latter. But of course, even that choice has been stolen from me. I personally believe we'd be better off, not worse but that's less important to me than the ability to live my life without violating the negative rights of anyone else.

Thou shalt not steal. I think God had a good reason for not having an amendment process on that one which would allow you to use the force of the state toward that end.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Conspiracy Theory 101

While I do not ascribe to conspiracy theories in the sense in which they are usually mentioned, neither do I dismiss them out of hand as absolutely impossible. The dictionary defines conspiracy as;
1. the act of conspiring.
2. an evil, unlawful, treacherous, or surreptitious plan formulated in secret by two or more persons; plot.
3. a combination of persons for a secret, unlawful, or evil purpose: He joined the conspiracy to overthrow the government.
4. Law. an agreement by two or more persons to commit a crime, fraud, or other wrongful act.
5. any concurrence in action; combination in bringing about a given result.
Conspiracy does not necessarily require a group of suited villains seated around a highly polished table in a room lit only by a huge, illuminated world map.
In my opinion a conspiracy of people is far less dangerous than a conspiracy of ideas. Conspirators can be easily exposed, but ideas which are fraudulently presented as good but which are designed to serve the interests of a smaller group of elitists can spread and be practically impossible to stop.
I would like to ask you to take the time to view the following. You might see things which you dismiss with knee jerk swiftness. You will see things with which you will disagree or find incredible. Go ahead and throw those out. However you will also see facts that you personally recognize. You will see anecdotes which you would not like to see happen, whether you think they're happening now or possible in the future. You will see evil. These are the points which should be recognized, addressed and researched further. I believe that even if 10%of what you see here is accurate, then that is still far more than we can afford and far more than we should passively accept.
I am a skeptic by nature. You might be too. If so, I would ask you to let the video load and start your viewing at the one hour mark.