Marriage Equality and Government

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This week, the Supreme Court will hear two cases that could lead to decisions changing the traditional definition of marriage. Conservatives argue that the traditional definition of marriage has stood the test of thousands of years, and just makes biological sense. Male parts + female parts = continuation of the species. They argue that marriage licenses exist as government recognition of the unique procreative potential of heterosexual relationships. Because the traditional family system has been scientifically and biologically proven to be the most beneficial for creating and raising children, and thus strengthening society, conservatives believe that the government should safeguard this institution by offering legal and tax incentives that encourage it’s proliferation.

Liberals argue that marriage should be non-discriminatory, and anyone should be able to gain the rights and legal privileges that marriage affords. They argue that granting special rights and legal privileges to one group, and not another is unfair, and discriminatory. Anyone who loves another person, and wants their relationship to be recognized by the government as a marriage should be allowed to do so. Anyone who argues against that is a bigot.

Several states have “legalized” gay marriage already. So-called liberals are happy about this, and so-called conservatives are not. This is a very polarizing issue that gets people to line up on one side or the other. The two sides are bitter enemies and lob all kinds of accusations and insults at the other.

Conservatives accuse liberals who support gay marriage of tearing apart a sacred and important institution in society; one that provides a scientifically proven ideal situation for raising children, and continuing our species.

Liberals argue that there shouldn’t be special privileges for one group of people that discriminates against other groups of people based on personal beliefs. If a man and a woman can get legal benefits by calling themselves “married”, then any couple should be able to gain those privileges, regardless of gender. Discriminating against gender is, as liberals claim, extremely bigoted, and akin to discriminating on the basis of skin color. They equate “marriage inequality” to racism, and letting white people ride at the front of the bus, but not black people.

The question no one seems to be asking is; why is the Government in the business of handing out special privileges to different groups of people, and defining who fits into those groups?  Why are we, as a society, splitting ourselves up into superficial groups, and fighting for collective rights, instead of joining together as individual human beings and fighting for the same freedom for everyone?

Politicians and bureaucrats are playing us off on each other for their own political gain, and we don’t even see it. Like all political issues people argue about, this is a smokescreen issue, a distraction. Bureaucrats shouldn’t be defining marriage, or handing out special privileges to people who fit their definition of marriage in the first place. Isn’t real equality letting anyone enter into whatever relationship they want, call it whatever they want, and get bureaucrats and politicians out of our romantic lives?

Whenever government screws something up, all people argue about is how the government should take our money, and use it to fix the problem. Everyone picks a side and gets all fired up, and loses focus on the fact that the one question that is never talked about is; why is government involved in this in the first place? What makes us think that the government can efficiently solve this issue when they fail so miserably at solving every other issue they take on?

When the government gets involved in delicate social issues, it acts similar to a bull in a china shop. There are all kinds of societal issues that require complex, sophisticated solutions that cannot be applied equally across the board to every community. Demographics and socioeconomic conditions vary greatly from one area of the country to the other; many times, they differ wildly even within a single city. The government is excellent at ignoring all of this, and applying a battering ram of legislation to fix the problem that is usually very costly, and either makes no progress toward solving the issue, or more commonly, makes everything worse. Public education is a perfect example of this.

So, I want to pose the question; why are we begging for marriage permission slips from the government, and why are we giving politicians any say whatsoever in our romantic lives and decisions? Why does the government need to know who I enter into a relationship with?

If you are a conservative, you’re distrusting of the government anyways, and if you’re a liberal, you’re all about personal choice and freedom, right? So, why don’t we just let people who enter into a voluntary agreement do that, and sign a legal contract if they wish, and let them call it whatever they want to? Who in their right mind would insist that we need bureaucrats and politicians to have any say in these relationships whatsoever? If there is a legal contract, and one person breaks that contract, it would be enforced like any other binding agreement that two consenting adults enter into.

Traditional marriage, defined as a permanent, exclusive, monogamous relationship between a man and a woman, originated without a government permission slip. Marriage, as an idea, exists apart form government. The argument could be made that the traditional definition of marriage originated as a religious institution. For conservative Christians, God has authority over defining what a marriage is, and the churches enforce and bolster these relationships. Why get bureaucrats and politicians involved, then? If the government got completely out of the marriage business, it would still persist. We do not need the government’s permission to make choices about our romantic lives.

So, now we need to talk about the real issue here; tax and legal privileges granted to government-recognized marriages. This is where all the fuming passion is ignited, and where liberals claim there is gross bigotry and discrimination occurring against those who do not fit the definition of a traditional marriage.

Taxes are the issue I always come back to. Taxation is theft, period. The theory that taxation with representation is justified is absurd. Not only is it completely impossible for one person represent all the differing opinions of his constituency for the very reason that they all differ, but saying that this “representative” is going to work for your good does, in no way, justify that person stealing your income from you.

If you believe that taxation is morally justified, then let me ask you this question; if taking 100% of someone’s income (their private property) is theft, then what percentage makes it not theft? I go to jail if I take $1 from you, but the government gets away scott-free if they just take $0.30 of that dollar bill from you. What gives any organization the moral justification to take any percentage of your money from you? Why is there an exception for the organization that calls itself ‘government’? Be careful, my friend. Thinking too hard on this question will have tremendous implications for everything you currently believe to be true and good.

We can debate endlessly about social contract theory, and all the justifications for the government forcibly taking the private property of individuals, but at the end of the day, taxation is a moral exception granted only to the government. We tell children not to steal or use force to accomplish their goals, yet then tell them there is a giant exception to this rule called “government”, where sociopaths and insecure control freaks can run your life better than you with your own money. If you refuse to hand over your money to them, they send men with guns in magic blue suits to kidnap you and throw you in a cage until you pay them. Think about it.

So, how does this apply to marriage?

Here’s a simple analogy:

Say you are a small kid in school, and the big, bad bully comes up to you and demands 30% of your lunch money. He’s not taking all of it, just 30%, so it’s not really theft, right? On top of that, he promises to use some of the money he takes from you to give to charities that help people, and he’ll also protect you from other bullies if you keep paying him. Starting to sound familiar?

You can resist, but that will mean great inconvenience, and bodily harm to you. This is called coercion. You are put in a position where you can technically refuse to hand over your money to the big, bad bully, but it will not end well for you.

That is how the government works. The government is essentially a mafia that has control over an area of land, and they use force and coercion to get protection money out of the people living within that area of control. They make themselves look all pretty, and they smile and wave on the television, and lie to you about how they’re going to use your money for the children and the “greater good”, right? But, what do they really do with the money they take from you? If you applied the same critical eye to the government you do to every other criminal organization, you would quickly realize that they do a lot of really bad things with that money they take from you. Even the good things they try to do, and the problems they try to solve end up failing miserably. It’s a problem of incentive; when you have a monopoly on a service, and steal money to fund your organization, you have no competition, and therefore no incentive to give good services. You’re going to get paid whether you provide a good service or not, and nobody can complain because the only place they can go to appeal and obtain recourse is… you, the government.

The government has a monopoly on protection services (including police, courts, etc.), and they fund these services by taking your money from you. If monopolies are bad, why does anybody think this is a good idea? The Supreme Court even ruled that police have no constitutional duty to provide these protective services, and if a cop fails to stop someone from committing a crime against you, you have no recourse. Even if the court issues a protective order against a violent husband, making an arrest mandatory, the cops aren’t obligated to do anything if he violates it.

Essentially, they’re saying, “Yes, we steal your money to protect you, but if we fail to protect you, tough noodles”.

Tough noodles.

When it comes to marriage, what the government is essentially saying is, we’re going to use force and coercion to take your lunch money, but if you meet the definition of what we call a “marriage”, you don’t have to pay us… as much. And we’ll give you some extra privileges to make you feel better about the fact that we’re stealing from you.

Instead of fighting over how the bully should define “marriage”, why don’t we just stop the bully from using force and coercion against us in the first place, and create a society free of violence and coercion, built on mutually consensual, voluntary relationships between human beings, without moral exceptions for “governments”?

If taxation without consent is not robbery, then any band of robbers have only to declare themselves a government, and all their robberies are legalized. – Lysander Spooner

Marriage Equality and Government

Is Capitalism Evil?

Thanks to capitalism and free trade (not government aid), nearly 1 billion people have been taken out of extreme poverty in the last 20 years.

After years advocating for government aid to solve the problem of poverty, U2 frontman Bono was recently quoted as saying the following:

“Aid is just a stopgap,” he said. “Commerce [and] entrepreneurial capitalism take more people out of poverty than aid. We need Africa to become an economic powerhouse.”

capitalism

“The above chart is from Gapminder and shows China’s per capita income growth since 1800 vs. that of the US and the UK. What happened to China toward the end of the 20th century? Well, it started doing what America and Britain began doing some 200 years earlier. China started embracing what Bono calls entrepreneurial capitalism. “

– http://www.aei-ideas.org/2013/08/this-chart-shows-what-bono-is-talking-about/

Capitalism has gotten a bad reputation as of late, because people mistakenly attribute the economic calamity in the United States to a free-market, laissez-faire economic system. Deregulation, it is argued, leads to rampant corruption, greed, and evil, and that is why we need the state to intervene, and force those “evil corporations” to follow the rules. To say that we have a capitalistic, free-market system in the United States couldn’t be any further from the truth. To begin with, corporations are, in no way shape or form, a capitalistic idea. As Stefan Molyneux explains, “Corporations are legal fictions created by the State to shield executives from liability. It’s like if I had a little hand-puppet, and I went to rob a bank, and the hand-puppet held the little gun and told people to hand over all the money, and then the hand-puppet grabbed the money and ran out, and then I got caught and I handed the hand-puppet over the police and then the police tried the hand-puppet, put the hand-puppet in jail, and I get to keep all the money.”

Capitalism can be defined simply as an economic system in which private individuals create, own, and exchange property voluntarily among themselves. Individual preferences drive the market. If the individuals of society tolerate greed and evil, they will purchase from greedy, evil businesses, and greed and evil will flourish. If individuals do not tolerate greed and evil, but instead prefer purchasing from honest, generous, peaceful businesses, those businesses will compete for customers by being more generous, and peaceful than all the other businesses. Supply and demand are very basic concepts to understand. Whatever the individuals in society demand, other individuals in the marketplace will supply. What we need is to demand virtue, instead of relying on an immoral statist system to keep other immoral individuals in check.

The evil corporations that anti-capitalists always rail against are, in fact, a creation of the state, and cannot exist without the legal protections that the state grants them. It is entirely wrongheaded to assert that we need the state to protect us from corporations, as the state is responsible for creating and protecting corporate interests in the first place. We have an economic system that is a long ways away from capitalism, so it is fallacious to attribute our current economic conditions to the free market.

I would contend that the problems we are facing are almost exclusively due to the different schemes of economic intervention that the state has undertaken, and the fact that corporations and banks can have their CEO’s and lobbyists placed in high positions of government to pass legislation that favors them, and regulates their competition out of the market. The state is used by corporations as an enforcement agency against it’s competitors to force them out of the market through regulations, making it too expensive for them to remain profitable. The corporations that lobbied for those regulations are exempt, granting them a legal advantage over their competitors. This practice is commonly called ”regulatory capture”. In his book The Myth of the Robber Barons, Burton W. Folsom, Jr. calls the people and businesses that engage in this practice ”political entrepreneurs”, and those who compete in the marketplace without special legal protections as “market entrepreneurs” who succeed “by producing a quality product at a competitive price”. Instead of hiring a thug off the street to burn a competitor’s business to the ground, these “political entrepreneurs” hire the government’s regulatory thugs to achieve the same effect through regulations.

In his 2004 book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, John Perkins labeled the collective of corporations, banks, and government as “Corporatocracy”, otherwise known as “crony capitalism”. According to the wikipedia definition, crony capitalism is “a term describing an economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, or other forms of dirigisme. Crony capitalism is believed to arise when political cronyism spills over into the business world; self-serving friendships and family ties between businessmen and the government influence the economy and society to the extent that it corrupts public-serving economic and political ideals.”

In a true free market system, corporations wouldn’t exist, and neither would the current legal protections and favors they receive that enable them to commit the evil deeds they are notorious for. Our current economic system can be entirely attributed to statism, not capitalism. It’s not that voluntaryists believe that without the state, evil will cease to exist. Rather, evil, without the state, will be labeled for what it is. In a statist system, things like theft, fraud, insider trading, and pyramid/ponzi schemes are illegal, unless the state does it. The state grants itself a legal exception that gives criminals a legitimate organization in which to practice their evil deeds. We call these criminals “politicians”.

Voluntaryists/anarchists/libertarians are not naive enough to believe that the problems of greed and evil will be done away with without the state. Greed will always exist, as will evil, murder, theft, etc.

As Muray Rothbard writes in his famous article Society Without a State, “the anarchist society is one which maximizes the tendencies for the good and the cooperative, while it minimizes both the opportunity and the moral legitimacy of the evil and the criminal. If the anarchist view is correct and the state is indeed the great legalized and socially legitimated channel for all manner of antisocial crime – theft, oppression, mass murder – on a massive scale, then surely the abolition of such an engine of crime can do nothing but favor the good in man and discourage the bad. By eliminating the living example and the social legitimacy of the massive legalized crime of the state, anarchism will to a large extent promote peaceful values in the minds of the public.”

Another aspect that needs to be addressed when dealing with the subject of economic calamity is how the American government, banks, and the Federal Reserve have manipulated the economy, and how the economic meltdown of 2008, including the bubble that preceded it, is entirely the fault of the government and the Fed.

Matt Kibbe, President and CEO of FreedomWorks, writes for Forbes.com:

“The single greatest contributor to financial crises is the Federal Reserve manipulating interest rates in ways that distort the true price of capital.  As Friedrich Hayek, a Nobel-prize winning Austrian economist noted, prices play an important role in the economy, transmitting information that allows market participants to coordinate their plans. The Fed’s distortions create the boom and bust cycle by distorting the information that the price signal conveys to consumers and producers.  It may seem like businesses are overinvesting but they are simply responding to false economic signals sent by the Federal Reserve. An inevitable bust occurs due to all of the bad investments made.

Peter Schiff draws a perfect analogy between an artificial boom and a circus that comes to a small town for a couple weeks. During this time, the circus attracts a large crowd, which is a boom to local businesses. Now imagine that a local businessman mistakenly believes that the upturn in his business will endure permanently. He then responds by greatly expanding his business by hiring new workers or opening a second location. Ludwig von Mises called this malinvestment instead of overinvesting. All is well until the circus leaves town and the businessman is left with a large surplus of workers and capacity. He finds out he miscalculated when all the wasteful malinvestments are exposed. This is an example of the boom and bust cycle.

The last decade in America has been a textbook example of a boom and bust cycle. Between 2001 and 2004, the Federal Reserve injected new credit into the economy, pushing interest rates to their lowest level since the late 1970s. As a result, the economy was booming just a few short years ago. This sent out false economic signals to businesses with respect to demand for their products. These businesses responded by hiring more staff, buying more resources, investing in capital, and so forth.

The early 2000s marked the boom phase. We experienced a 52-month record streak of uninterrupted job growth from September 2003 to December 2007. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson in March 2007 said that “the global economy is more than sound: it’s as strong as I’ve seen it in my business career.” The stock market was too good to be true. On October 9, 2007, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at a record level of 14,164.53. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke even stated in January 2008 that “the Federal Reserve is not currently forecasting a recession.” Most were too busy celebrating their supposed gains to realize that an inevitable economic bust was about to happen.

Just as the Austrian business cycle predicts, the boom was followed by a bust because booms created by monetary inflation are unsustainable. The stock market crashed in October 2008. Many were quick to wrongly blame free market capitalism for the economic crash. As economist Henry Hazlitt once said, “in a crisis and a slump, and…worse than the slump itself may be the public delusion that the slump has been caused, not by the previous inflation, but by the inherent defects of ‘capitalism.’” The free market has not failed since we’ve never had free market capitalism. Instead, government intervention in the economy failed.

Many Americans probably believe that continuous boom and bust cycles are natural occurrences. The truth is we would not experience such dramatic economic swings were it not for monetary policies that distort real prices and encourage improper investment decisions. Boom and bust cycles are inevitable when government interventions confuse market participant.”

Is Capitalism Evil?

Government Services Turned Over to the Free Market

If the government operated like every other organization in society, it would have to prove that it is the best at providing services in order for people to voluntarily choose to fund it.

Why is that a preposterous idea? The government is simply an organization that funds itself by force. It has no incentive to provide its services in an efficient manner. Even if it completely fails to do so, it still receives the same amount of funding.

The way it stands, the US government would go completely bankrupt (even more so than it already is) because no rational assessment would lead to the conclusion that the government provides services in an efficient, cost-effective manner.

Would people fund wars, welfare, social security, and the DMV voluntarily? Not likely, which is why it is necessary for the government to steal our money in order to fund them.

What if you disagree with a government program? What if you think a particular war the government wants to fight is immoral? What if a government program uses your tax money to fund abortion, or something else that you disagree with? Too bad. They’re going to take your money by force, and fund those programs anyways. If you disagree, and refuse to give them your money, they’ll send men in costumes to throw you in a cage. What other business or organization has that power?

Let’s say we’ve broken the government’s monopoly up, and forced them to compete with other organizations. They can no longer force you to fund their programs and services. They have to convince people to send them money voluntarily. No one buys their inefficient services, they go bankrupt, and the public land and assets are liquidated. Then what?

A lot of people would still demand the services that our government provides right now. There will be a giant void in the market, which means that organizations will compete with each other to provide those services in the cheapest, most effective manner.

Say you’re very rich and you want to set up a private, for-profit city to compete for the markets demand for a structured society. You will have to compete with other private cities, which means you have to buy the best land, and provide the best judicial system, streets, hospitals, schools, police, and defense services in order to stay competitive.

Then you have to hire the best judges, cops, building and construction contractors, teachers, and military members who will provide the best service for the money. Any service that customers demand, you must provide at a high quality, for a low price. (Government does not have these incentives, so they do the opposite; provide the lowest quality for the highest price.)

If you think the notion of a private city is far-fetched, consider Paul Romer’s Charter Cities initiative, which “focuses on the potential for startup cities to fast track reform. By building new cities in special zones, countries can leverage the ongoing wave of urbanization, generating new options for reform-minded leaders and new choices for families in search of better places to live and work.”

You can also check out the Seasteading Institute. The Seasteading Institute “is a nonprofit 501(c)(3), working to enable seasteading communities – floating cities – which will allow the next generation of pioneers to test new ideas for government. The most successful can then inspire change in governments around the world.”

In our hypothetical scenario, you buy some of that land the government is liquidating, and set up your private city, and charge people to live there, in exchange for the services you provide.

This would mean that societies are built up around what the society itself deems best and most desirable. If people in a society demand that the environment be protected, then private ownership is the solution. People take care of land and resources they own, because it’s in their own best interest. You change the oil and take care of the vehicles you own, but you don’t change the oil in a rental car.

If society thinks it a good and desirable idea to provide charity and help for people who can’t afford to live in a private city, they can do that voluntarily as well.

Government is simply one way to provide the solutions to problems most people already want to solve anyways. It’s a fallacy to say that the environment will be destroyed, or that poor people will suffer without government. In fact, I can quickly prove that poor people would be much better off without government.

In the absence of six decades of regulations, a median annual household income would have been $330,000, instead of the current $53,000.

But who needs an extra $277,000 per year anyway when we can have free birth control and endless wars?

http://reason.com/archives/2013/06/21/federal-regulations-have-made-you-75-per

The “War on Poverty” was declared by President Johnson in 1964. Prior to that, the poverty rate was dropping by around 1% each year. We were only one generation away from eradicating poverty completely. Then the “War on Poverty” began. Every time the government declares a war on something, whatever they are fighting always grows exponentially:

poverty

Government is possibly the worst way to solve societies problems.

88% of American households give to charity, without being forced to do so. Even if only 50% of people in our society wanted to protect the environment, or help poor people, they could all donate a few dollars each, and solve the problem voluntarily. This was already happening prior to the start of the “War on Poverty”. Without government aid, people were solving the problem of poverty through free trade, and voluntary, peaceful means. You don’t have to force people to solve problems they already want to solve through taxation.

To further illustrate this, thanks to capitalism and free trade (not government aid), nearly 1 billion people have been taken out of extreme poverty in the last 20 years.

After years advocating for government aid to solve the problem of poverty, U2 frontman Bono was recently quoted as saying the following:

“Aid is just a stopgap,” he said. “Commerce [and] entrepreneurial capitalism take more people out of poverty than aid. We need Africa to become an economic powerhouse.”

capitalism

“The above chart is from Gapminder and shows China’s per capita income growth since 1800 vs. that of the US and the UK. What happened to China toward the end of the 20th century? Well, it started doing what America and Britain began doing some 200 years earlier. China started embracing what Bono calls entrepreneurial capitalism. ”

– http://www.aei-ideas.org/2013/08/this-chart-shows-what-bono-is-talking-about/

Government Welfare programs have failed to win the “War on Poverty”, and have simply made the whole problem worse.

What if someone sets up a private city, then turns it into a dictatorship, and forces everyone within their private city to pay them?

They go out of business, and people leave to find the private city that provides the best services for the money.

The proposition that one company would force or buy out all the rest and turn the entire thing into a dictatorship is extremely unlikely, as no monopoly in history has been sustainable without the legal protection government provides to giant, monopolistic corporations.

Not to mention, military conquest is extremely costly, and the only way to sustain military conquest is through forced taxation, printing money, and borrowing. Every nation and empire that has ever existed has proven that this is not sustainable.

Violent people and organization’s are generally shunned and exiled from communities and societies since the beginning of time. If voluntaryism and peace were held up as virtues, instead of government violence, there would undoubtedly be a shift in the collective morality and ethical underpinnings of society.

The proposition that some Mad Max style roaming gang, a terrorist group, or army would raise up to pillage one of these private cities is pretty ridiculous, as I mentioned previously, military conquest is unsustainable, especially compared to peaceful exchange.

However, if this happened, the protection and defense services that the people within that city paid for would be put to the test. This is why you make sure you find the private city/organization with the best defense services.

Even “small government” conservatives hold to the belief that the military and police protection services provided by government are somewhat effective, except in the cases of murder, rape, muggings, theft, and the two big ones; Pearl Harbor and 9/11. In all of those cases, the government fails to provide the protection/defense services that it taxes you for. I believe this is why a lot of people buy guns. Gun ownership is a private sector response to the failure of public sector protective services.

Is there really anyone who prefers our current system where one government has a monopoly on these services, and forces everyone within a society to buy it from them? Do you think the government efficiently provides the services it taxes you for?

If you think that there will be a large group of people who wouldn’t be able to afford to live in a private city, consider the economic effects that all the money that the government takes by force now, and wastes (tens of trillions) would have if it is left in the pockets of citizens.

Then, consider if you would receive better services from a private company competing for customers, or from the same organization that operates the DMV.

Government Services Turned Over to the Free Market