Government = Anarchy

We always live in anarchy, and that the real question is what kind of anarchy we live under, market anarchy or non-market (political) anarchy. Society is always in anarchy. A government only abolishes anarchy among what are called “subjects” or “citizens,”  but among those  who rule, anarchy prevails. – Alfred G. Cuzan, Do We Ever Really Get Out of Anarchy?

Government apologists always project characteristics of government onto what they call “anarchy”; chaos, disorder, violence, theft, rule by the strongest criminal gang, etc.

All of those characteristics are true of government, which makes popular stereotypes of “anarchy” rather ironic.

A more accurate example of anarchy is your local farmer’s market; no violence or coercion, just peaceful trade among free individuals.

The word “anarchy” simply means “without rulers” (not, “without rules”). This makes the rulers themselves the true “anarchists”.  The rulers recognize no higher authority than themselves, and they always create exceptions for themselves to the rules they enforce on everyone else.

The rules don’t apply to the rulers. They do whatever they want.

The result is that governments are responsible for 262 million murders in the 21st century alone, a phenomena referred to as Democide.

Governments and rulers match the stereotype of the violent, bomb-throwing anarchist perfectly.

Only without these anarchists can peace be possible.

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Government = Anarchy

The War on Drugs Isn’t So Bad, Is It?

The US government’s campaign against the illegal drug trade was first termed the “War on Drugs” by former president Richard Nixon in June 1971.

According to this overview of the history of the drug war by DrugPolicy.org:

He [Nixon] dramatically increased the size and presence of federal drug control agencies, and pushed through measures such as mandatory sentencing and no-knock warrants. Nixon temporarily placed marijuana in Schedule One, the most restrictive category of drugs, pending review by a commission he appointed led by Republican Pennsylvania Governor Raymond Shafer.

In 1972, the commission unanimously recommended decriminalizing the possession and distribution of marijuana for personal use. Nixon ignored the report and rejected its recommendations.

The Origins of the “War on Drugs”

After President Reagan was elected in 1980, he oversaw a massive expansion of the drug war. The incarceration rate for nonviolent drug offenses from 1980 to 1997 increased 700%. Source

To call it a “War on Drugs”  is really a misnomer; you cannot declare war on an inanimate object. It is a war on people, mostly US citizens.

If we want to have a serious conversation about this issue, we need to have clarity about what is truly happening. Because this is such a divisive issue, I want to deal strictly with published facts from reputable sources, not subjective opinions or feelings. I want to take an objective look at what the drug war is, what it does, and what the results are.

Once we have a clear picture, you are then free to arrive at your own conclusions.

Prohibition

Alcohol prohibition was instituted in the United States with the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution on January 16, 1919. While drinking alcohol was never illegal, the amendment prohibited the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States.”

After only 14 years, the failure of prohibition became apparent, and public outcry became overwhelming. The repeal of prohibition came with the passage of the Twenty-First Amendment to the United States Constitution on December 5, 1933.

Among the strongest arguments for repealing prohibition was the economic case that legalizing and taxing alcohol would bring about much needed tax revenue, as the “Great Depression” had begun just a few years earlier. Another strong case was that legalizing the manufacturing and sale of alcohol would completely undermine organized crime, which had amassed a great deal of power and control through their monopoly on the alcohol black market.

To illustrate this, consider the vast, criminal empire created by Al Capone, who is probably the most recognized and infamous head of organized crime during the prohibition period. By 1927, Capone and his gang, “The Chicago Outfit”, were making approximately $60 million per year. They controlled the alcohol supply from Canada to Florida, profiting from the sale of liquor to over 10,000 speakeasies. Massive bloodshed occurred whenever rival gangs threatened his empire. In fact, violent crime increased overall during the prohibition period.

Prior to prohibition, the homicide rate in the US was 6 per 100,000. This increased to 10 per 100,000 in 1933. When prohibition was repealed, this rate went back down.

You can see the sharp rise in homicides starting at the beginning of prohibition in 1919. It drops back down after prohibition was repealed in 1933:

Source

We learned some very valuable lessons through the implementation, and failure of alcohol prohibition:

  • Alcohol, which was produced “underground”, became more potent, and dangerous to consume because trusted, reputable manufacturers were forced to cease production. (Adding to this danger was the deliberate decision by the government to poison alcohol, resulting in as many as 10,000 deathsSource)
  • If you make a product illegal, demand for the product will continue, and it effectively creates an illegal black market for that substance and invites all of the criminal activity and dangerous conditions that come with it. It  pushes the entire market for that substance  to “the streets”, resulting in both less safe products and violent criminal enterprises springing up around their sale. In a study of over 30 major U.S cities during the prohibition years, the number of total crimes increased by 24%. Theft and burglaries increased by 9%, homicide by 12.7%, assaults and battery rose by 13%, drug addiction by 44.6% and police department costs rose by 11.4%. Source
  • Prohibiting the use of a product millions of people enjoy quickly fills prisons to capacity with non-violent offenders. By 1932, the number of federal convicts had increased 561%, and the federal prison population had increased 366%. Total federal spending on incarceration rose 1,000% between 1915 and 1932. Source
  • While federal spending on the enforcement of prohibition skyrocketed, production and distribution of alcohol continued. The annual budget of the Bureau of Prohibition increased 204%, from $4.4 million to $13.4 million, during the 1920’s. Source
  • Prohibition leads to wide-spread corruption.  Commissioner of Prohibition Henry Anderson concluded that, “the fruitless efforts at enforcement are creating public disregard not only for this law but for all laws. Public corruption through the purchase of official protection for this illegal traffic is widespread and notorious. The courts are cluttered with prohibition cases to an extent which seriously affects the entire administration of justice.” Source

It’s not hard to conclude that, not only did prohibition achieve the exact opposite of its stated goals, the only people who benefited from prohibition were criminals, and the corrupt bureaucrats that protected them. Both of these groups profited greatly from the illegal sale of alcohol.

When prohibition was repealed in 1933, organized crime was decimated and lost nearly all of its black market alcohol profits. It’s pretty obvious how comparative alcohol prohibition is to drug prohibition.

The comparison between prohibition and the war on drugs is further explained in this article published by Reason.com:

When America repealed prohibition, we repealed it with a constitutional amendment. Contrast that to drug prohibition, where Congress made no attempt to comply with the Constitution in passing the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (CSA), the law that gave us the modern drug war.

There’s no question that drug prohibition has been every bit the failure alcohol prohibition was. Nearly 40 years after the CSA passed, we have 400,000 people in prison for nonviolent drug crimes; a domestic police force that often looks and acts like an occupying military force; nearly a trillion dollars spent on enforcement, both here and through aggressive interdiction efforts overseas; and urban areas that can resemble war zones. Yet illicit drugs like cocaine and marijuana are as cheap and abundant as they were in 1970. The street price of both drugs has actually dropped—dramatically—since the government began keeping track in the early 1980s.

When he first visited the United States in 1921, Albert Einstein wrote of America’s ban on booze: “The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the prohibition law… For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced.” That’s as true today as it was then.

The following graph shows the effect of $1.5 trillion worth of federal drug enforcement spending over the last 40 years on the rates of drug addiction in the US:

drug-spending-v-addiction

Source

As with alcohol prohibition, federal spending on drug prohibition continues to skyrocket, while drug use, transportation, and addiction continues, virtually unaffected.

The Financial Cost of the Drug War

In 2011, The Global Commission on Drug Policy issued a report signed by George Shultz, Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan. It begins:

“The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and 40 years after President Nixon launched the US government’s war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed.Vast expenditures on criminalization and repressive measures directed at producers, traffickers and consumers of illegal drugs have clearly failed to effectively curtail supply or consumption.”

Regardless, the Obama administration, in its 2013 budget, requested $25.6 billion in federal spending on the drug war. Source

When you combine state and local spending on everything from drug-related arrests to prison, the total cost adds up to at least $51 billion per year. Source

If you add up total spending worldwide, enforcing the drug control system costs at least $100 billion a year. Source

The money that states spend on prisons has risen at six times the rate of spending on higher education in the past 20 years.  Since 1980, California has built 1 college campus and 21 prisons. A college student costs the state $8,667 per year; a prisoner costs it $45,006 per year.Source

You can view a real-time clock of federal drug war spending here.

None of these numbers account for the lost productivity of those in jail, opportunity costs lost as businesses reconsider putting offices in violence-plagued regions, the cost of putting children into foster care and psychological services because a parent has been thrown into jail, or the pain and suffering when innocent people are injured or killed in botched drug raids. Calculating the exact amount of financial damage is impossible.
While the financial costs are staggering, the most vicious impacts are on people’s lives.

The Human Cost of the Drug War

The number of people killed in Mexico as a direct result of the war on drugs is over 70,000. Source

This graph shows how the incarceration of Americans has skyrocketed since the start of the war on drugs:

File:US incarceration timeline.gif

Source

In fact, the US prison population now dwarfs that of all other nations:

Source

In 1992, there were 1.3 million inmates in America’s prisons and jails. Today, there are 2.2 million Americans in prison or jail. Source

The reason for this sharp rise starting in the early 90’s, according to Prospect.org is:

State after state (and the federal government) in the ’90s passed laws lengthening sentences for many crimes, particularly drug crimes. If you got convicted, you’d stay in prison far longer. About half the states also passed “three strikes and you’re out” laws mandating that anyone convicted of a third felony would be sentenced to a long prison term—usually life or 25 years.

1 out of every 34 adults in America are being supervised by the criminal justice system, more than were in the Gulag Archipelago under Stalin at its height. Source

More than half of federal prisoners are incarcerated for non-violent drug crimes. Source

In 2009 alone, 1.66 million Americans were arrested on non-violent drug charges; 4 out of 5 were for mere possession. Source

The “Land of the Free” has just 5% of the world’s population, yet we comprise 25% of the world’s prison population. Source

The Racial Bias of the Drug War

Blacks make up 50% of the state and local prisoners incarcerated for drug crimes.

Black youth are 10 times more likely to be arrested for drug crimes than white youth, even though white youth are more likely to abuse drugs.

1 in every 18 black males over 18 is incarcerated. Source

Incarceration rates for black males jumped 500% between 1986 and 2004. Source

This graph shows the racial disparity of the prison population:

One of the shocking side-effects of mass imprisonments in America is that we are now the only country in the world where male rape victims outnumber female rape victims, according to the Department of Justice figures.

The Militarization of Police Forces

When it comes to actually arresting drug offenders, the “no-knock raid” is a commonly used technique. A no-nock raid is an unannounced, combat-style, paramilitary raid, usually done in the middle of the night, on a suspected drug offenders home; a tactic that has grown in use from 3,000 raids a year in the mid-1980s, to 80,000 annually today. Source

Radley Balko is the author of Rise of the Warrior Cop.

He writes for the Wall Street Journal:

In my own research, I have collected over 50 examples in which innocent people were killed in raids to enforce warrants for crimes that are either nonviolent or consensual (that is, crimes such as drug use or gambling, in which all parties participate voluntarily). These victims were bystanders, or the police later found no evidence of the crime for which the victim was being investigated.

Since the 1960s, in response to a range of perceived threats, law-enforcement agencies across the U.S., at every level of government, have been blurring the line between police officer and soldier. Driven by martial rhetoric and the availability of military-style equipment—from bayonets and M-16 rifles to armored personnel carriers—American police forces have often adopted a mind-set previously reserved for the battlefield.

Consider today’s police recruitment videos (widely available on YouTube), which often feature cops rappelling from helicopters, shooting big guns, kicking down doors and tackling suspects. Such campaigns embody an American policing culture that has become too isolated, confrontational and militaristic, and they tend to attract recruits for the wrong reasons.

In his paper entitled Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America, available for free here, he writes:

Americans have long maintained that a man’s home is his castle and that he has the right to defend it from unlawful intruders. Unfortunately, that right may be disappearing. Over the last 25 years, America has seen a disturbing militarization of its civilian law enforcement, along with a dramatic and unsettling rise in the use of paramilitary police units (most commonly called Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT) for routine police work.

According to TIME:

In a pre-dawn drug raid late last month in northern Georgia, the Habersham County police entered the home of the Phonesavanh family while they were sleeping and dropped a “flashbang” grenade in a crib holding a 19-month-old boy, who was badly burned and later placed into a medically induced coma.No one was arrested, and no weapons or drugs were found inside the home.

The officers making the raid were part of what the county police call an SRT – or a Special Response Team. That moniker is normally used by the military. But SRT and SWAT teams using military-style tactics and weaponry are becoming increasingly common.

As the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have wound down, police departments have been obtaining military equipment, vehicles and uniforms that have flowed directly from the Department of Defense. According to a new report by the ACLU, the federal government has funneled $4.3 billion of military property to law enforcement agencies since the late 1990s, including $450 million worth in 2013.

Five hundred law enforcement agencies have received Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, built to withstand bomb blasts.

More than 15,000 items of military protective equipment and “battle dress uniforms,” or fatigues worn by the U.S. Army, have been transferred.

The report includes details of police agencies in towns like North Little Rock, Ark., (pop: 62,000), which has 34 automatic and semi-automatic rifles, a Mamba tactical vehicle and two MARCbots, which are armed robots designed for use in Afghanistan.

According to The Guardian:

Tanks, grenade launchers, armored vehicles, and assault rifles are just a few of the items that have been transferred from military control to municipal police forces. Law enforcement agencies need only to arrange and pay for shipment in order to receive the items of their choice (pdf).

One particularly egregious example is found in South Carolina, where Richland County’s sheriff acquired a tank with 360-degree rotating machine gun turrets. Sardonically, the vehicle has been named “the Peacemaker“.

Sheriff Lott’s new toy:

In 2012, an estimated 23.9 million Americans aged 12 or older had used illicit drugs in the past month. Source

We are giving law enforcement officials military equipment, paramilitary training, telling them that they are fighting a war, and that 23.9 million American citizens are the enemy. This has caused a dramatic change in how the public and law enforcement see each other.

The Courts

The numbers of people who are arrested and incarcerated are shocking, but what about what happens in between? Are our courts administering justice effectively?

Michelle Alexander, a Civil Rights Lawyer, writes for the New York Times:

The Bill of Rights guarantees the accused basic safeguards, including the right to be informed of charges against them, to an impartial, fair and speedy jury trial, to cross-examine witnesses and to the assistance of counsel. But in this era of mass incarceration — when our nation’s prison population has quintupled in a few decades partly as a result of the war on drugs and the “get tough” movement — these rights are, for the overwhelming majority of people hauled into courtrooms across America, theoretical.

More than 90 percent of criminal cases are never tried before a jury. 

If you are arrested and charged with drug possession, and decide to go to trial before a jury, even if you are innocent, it’s your word versus the cop’s word. The conviction is an almost guarantee, and the sentences for those who take their case to trial are unbelievably harsh.

According to the New York Times:

After decades of new laws to toughen sentencing for criminals, prosecutors have gained greater leverage to extract guilty pleas from defendants and reduce the number of cases that go to trial, often by using the threat of more serious charges with mandatory sentences or other harsher penalties.

In the courtroom and during plea negotiations, the impact of these stricter laws is exerted through what academics call the “trial penalty.” The phrase refers to the fact that the sentences for people who go to trial have grown harsher relative to sentences for those who agree to a plea.

Nearly nine of every 10 cases ended in pleas last year, the federal data show, while one in 12 were dismissed (the percentage of dismissed cases was substantially higher a generation ago). The number of acquittals dropped even further.

Last year, there was only one acquittal for every 212 guilty pleas or trial convictions in federal district courts. Thirty years ago, the ratio was one for every 22.

If you are charged with simple drug possession, the plea bargain usually consists of a huge reduction of your sentence if you simply plead guilty, and help the court avoid the hassle of a trial. If you decide to take your case to trial, the judge and prosecutor will throw the book at you. In essence, you are being coerced into giving a guilty plea because going to trial isn’t worth the risk.

Oftentimes, though, the plea deal comes with strings attached.

John Horner

John Horner was a 46 year-old fast food worker who lost his eye in an accident in 2000, and was prescribed painkillers. A couple years later, he befriended a man who said he was suffering from Crohn’s Disease, an incredibly painful inflammatory bowel disease.  The man asked Horner if he could purchase some of the painkillers so he could finally have some relief.

Horner’s new friend was a police informant. Under Florida’s mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws, the minimum sentence he faced was 25 years. In Florida, it costs around $19,000 to incarcerate an inmate for a year. This means that his sentence would cost the state $475,000 total, enough to send 75 students to Florida State University for a year.

The prosecutor offered to reduce his sentence if he became an informant himself, and helped send 5 others to prison on 25 year sentences. He tried, but was unable to meet the deadline, and was sentenced to the full 25 years last October.

He will be 72 by the time he gets out.

Meet John Horner’s children:

john horner's kids.png

John Horner’s wife has a petition up on Change.org to reform mandatory minimum laws for 1st time drug offenders. You can learn more, and sign the petition here.

Because of these mandatory minimum laws, we don’t even know who’s actually guilty of these crimes, and who is just pleading guilty because it’s less risky. If a cop says you had drugs in your possession, you’re going to take the plea deal. If you turn over the names of 5 other people, they’re going to plea as well. When you’ve got 25 years hanging over your head, you’re going take the deal, and to turn over everyone you can think of.

Not only is the information from informants likely unreliable, sometimes these informants are so terrified of these sentences that they will plant drugs on other people in order to escape jail time.

Such is the case in this story from the Boston Globe:

A Lowell man is expected to file a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Lowell and a Lowell police officer who relied on two informants suspected of planting drugs on dozens of innocent victims, a scandal that already has led prosecutors to drop charges in 17 pending drug and firearm cases and to overturn two convictions.

Because of the monetary incentives that drug arrests bring to police departments, corruption is inevitable, as is the case in this story from alternet.org:

The NYPD has been under fire in recent months for illegal searches resulting in thousands of low-level marijuana arrests, mostly of people of color. As corrupt as this practice is, testimony from Stephen Anderson, a former NYPD narcotics detective, shows it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

According to Anderson, who testified at trial Wednesday, New York City police regularly planted drugs on innocent people to meet quotas.

Anderson should know. He was arrested in 2008 for planting cocaine on four men in a bar in Queens. His statements are the first glimpse into a culture of set-ups at the Brooklyn South and Queens Narc squads where eight corrupt cops were arrested.

The New York Times also reported on the story:

Though there had been conflicting testimony during the trial about the existence of quotas in the department’s drug units, Justice Reichbach said, a system of flawed procedures in part led to the charges against Detective Arbeeny.

In the department’s Brooklyn South narcotics unit, for instance, drugs seized as evidence are not counted or sealed until they reach the precinct and can be handled by multiple officers along the way, Justice Reichbach said, adding that such unacceptable practices “pale in significance” to the “cowboy culture” of the drug units.

“Anything goes in the never-ending war on drugs,” he said, “and a refusal to go along with questionable practices raise the specter of blacklisting and isolation.”

The “Prison-Industrial Complex”

The corruption continues in other areas, as Salon.com reports:

new report from In the Public Interest (ITPI) revealed last week that private prison companies are striking deals with states that contain clauses guaranteeing high prison occupancy rates. The report documents the contracts exchanged between private prison companies and state and local governments that either guarantee prison occupancy rates (essentially creating inmate lockup quotas) or force taxpayers to pay for empty beds if the prison population decreases due to lower crime rates or other factors (essentially creating low-crime taxes).

Some of these contracts require 90 to 100 percent prison occupancy.

The booming private prison industry is often called the “Prison-Industrial Complex”, a variation of the term “Military-Industrial Complex” coined by President Eisenhower when describing the increasing influence of private military contractors on government policy.

The term implies that the private prison industry is lobbying the government to institute policies to fill jail cells, and their pockets, just as military contractors lobby the government to go to war and buy more weapons. The more wars we get into, and the more people we lock up, the more these private contractors make. By imposing long prison sentences for seemingly innocuous, non-violent crimes such as drug possession, the prison population drastically increases, along with the “Prison-Industrial Complex’s” profits.

According to The Atlantic, it’s not a wacky conspiracy theory; it’s simply a matter of fact:

The prison-industrial complex is not a conspiracy, guiding the nation’s criminal-justice policy behind closed doors. It is a confluence of special interests that has given prison construction in the United States a seemingly unstoppable momentum. It is composed of politicians, both liberal and conservative, who have used the fear of crime to gain votes; impoverished rural areas where prisons have become a cornerstone of economic development; private companies that regard the roughly $35 billion spent each year on corrections not as a burden on American taxpayers but as a lucrative market; and government officials whose fiefdoms have expanded along with the inmate population.

Since 1991 the rate of violent crime in the United States has fallen by about 20 percent, while the number of people in prison or jail has risen by 50 percent.

Between 1990 and 2010 the number of privately operated prisons in the U.S. increased 1600%.  Source

To further increase profits, inmates in these prisons are also put to work.

According to this article in Yahoo Finance:

Federal Prison Industries, a company that contracts out prison labor, made over $900 million in revenue last year.

FPI has prisoners working in apparel, clean energy, printing, document conversion and call centers. The prison industry has also made money by contracting prison labor to private companies. The companies that have benefited from this cheap labor include Starbucks, Boeing Victoria’s Secret, McDonalds and even the U.S. military.

Prison laborers cost between 93 cents and $4 a day and don’t need to collect benefits, thus making them cheap employees.

Simply put, we’re jailing Americans for profit, not because they are violent criminals, or a threat to society.

Kids for Cash

If this wasn’t already bad enough, the Wall Street Journal reports on a scandal aptly titled “Kids for Cash”:

In what is known locally as the “kids for cash” scandal, two judges have pleaded guilty to accepting $2.6 million in kickbacks from a for-profit juvenile correctional facility — a privately owned jail for kids, essentially.

In 2003 one of them, Judge Michael Conahan, who had authority over such expenses, defunded the county-owned detention center, channeling kids sentenced to detention to the private jail — along with the public’s money. Mr. Conahan also agreed to send the private facility $1.3 million per year in public funds.

Over the succeeding years, the private jail, along with a second lockup-for-profit that had opened in another part of the state, won tens of millions of dollars in Luzerne County contracts, allegedly with the two judges’ help. Mr. Conahan’s alleged partner in the scheme, Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr., reportedly sent kids to the private detention centers when probation officers didn’t think it was a good idea; he sent kids there when their crimes were nonviolent; he sent kids there when their crimes were insignificant.

It was as though he was determined to keep those private prisons filled with children at all times. According to news stories, offenses as small as swiping a jar of nutmeg or throwing a piece of steak at an adult were enough to merit a trip to the hoosegow.

The conditions inside these youth correction facilities are usually deplorable, as a special Huffington Post report entitled Prisoners of Profit discovered:

Those held at YSI facilities across the country have frequently faced beatings, neglect, sexual abuse and unsanitary food over the past two decades, according to a HuffPost investigation that included interviews with 14 former employees and a review of thousands of pages of state audits, lawsuits, local police reports and probes by state and federal agencies.

Out of more than 300 institutions surveyed, a YSI detention center in Georgia had the highest rate of youth alleging sexual assaults in the country, according to a recent report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

There are multiple organizations that have a keen interest in keeping the war on drugs going. Because of drug laws, not only do private prisons make record profits, so do the drug kingpins themselves.

Just like alcohol prohibition, the war on drugs keeps drug prices high, which means drug gangs and cartels are making obscene amounts of money, and they are vehemently against legalizing drugs, especially marijuana. Cannabis, or “marijuana”, is a plant that is easily cultivated, which means that if it were legal, anyone who wanted to consume it would no longer have to buy from drug dealers; they could simply grow it in their own home. Border violence and gang wars would be virtually eliminated overnight.

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera reported head of the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico, ranked 701st on Forbes’ yearly report of the wealthiest men alive, and worth an estimated $1 billion, officially thanked United States politicians for making sure that drugs remain illegal.

According to the Huffington Post, he said:

“I couldn’t have gotten so stinking rich without George Bush, George Bush Jr., Ronald Reagan, even El Presidente Obama, none of them have the cajones to stand up to all the big money that wants to keep this stuff illegal. From the bottom of my heart, I want to say, Gracias amigos, I owe my whole empire to you.”

This is obviously satire, but it makes an extremely good point. Just like Al Capone during prohibition, business is good for those involved in the illegal drug market. Business is good for everyone that benefits from drugs being illegal, including private prisons and governments. Simply put, just like all other wars, the war on drugs is too profitable for too many people to be ended.

With all of this money flying around, it’s only natural that large banks would be getting in on the action:

During a 22-month investigation by agents from the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and others, it emerged that the cocaine smugglers had bought the plane with money they had laundered through one of the biggest banks in the United States: Wachovia, now part of the giant Wells Fargo.

Source

Just like Capone and his “Chicago Outfit” gang, if drugs were legalized, drug dealers, gangs and cartels, and other powerful interests would be decimated, and so would the private prison industry, the DEA, and police departments nationwide. All of them have an interest in keeping the drug war going.

The Most Powerful Interest in the Drug War

As I mentioned earlier, one very powerful group that benefits from the war on drugs is the government itself, and not just because it increases their budgets.

According to ABC News in an article entitled How Undercover Cops in a Florida City Make Millions Selling Cocaine:

For years, the Sunrise, Fla., police have been conducting what are called “reverse stings.” Undercover police detectives play the role of cocaine dealers and try to lure in potential buyers who drive or fly in from all over the country with wads of cash. If the stings are successful, informants can receive large payouts and police can seize cash, cars and other non-monetary assets. The busts have pumped millions of dollars into local coffers.

This is a common practice by police forces nationwide called “Civil Asset Forfeiture”.

It is described in this article by The New Yorker:

The basic principle behind asset forfeiture is appealing. It enables authorities to confiscate cash or property obtained through illicit means, and, in many states, funnel the proceeds directly into the fight against crime.

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, cops drive a Cadillac Escalade stencilled with the words “this used to be a drug dealer’s car, now it’s ours!”

In Monroe, North Carolina, police recently proposed using forty-four thousand dollars in confiscated drug money to buy a surveillance drone, which might be deployed to catch fleeing suspects, conduct rescue missions, and, perhaps, seize more drug money.

Hundreds of state and federal laws authorize forfeiture for cockfighting, drag racing, basement gambling, endangered-fish poaching, securities fraud, and countless other misdeeds. In general, you needn’t be found guilty to have your assets claimed by law enforcement; in some states, suspicion on a par with “probable cause” is sufficient. Nor must you be charged with a crime, or even be accused of one.

A piece of property does not share the rights of a person. There’s no right to an attorney and, in most states, no presumption of innocence. Owners who wish to contest often find that the cost of hiring a lawyer far exceeds the value of their seized goods. Washington, D.C., charges up to twenty-five hundred dollars simply for the right to challenge a police seizure in court, which can take months or even years to resolve.

Obviously, asset forfeiture presents a massive conflict of interest for law enforcement, and it is ripe for rampant corruption and abuse.

You can find countless stories of innocent people losing of their valuables in police encounters for absolutely no reason, including a man who lost $22,000 in cash.

According to the story:

“If somebody told me this happened to them, I absolutely would not believe this could happen in America.”

That was the reaction of a New Jersey man who found out just how risky it can be to carry cash through Tennessee. For more than a year, NewsChannel 5 Investigates has been shining a light on a practice that some call “policing for profit.”

In this latest case, a Monterey police officer took $22,000 off the driver — even though he had committed no crime.

“You live in the United States, you think you have rights — and apparently you don’t,” said George Reby.

This is nothing but thinly veiled armed robbery on a massive scale.

The Iran-Contra Affair

During the ramping up of the drug war in the 80’s under President Reagan, Nicaragua was controlled by a leftist group called the Sandinistas. In an attempt to further US economic interests in Central and South America, Reagan believed that the Sandinistas should be replaced by a regime more friendly to the US; the Contras. In order to do so, Reagan believed the best course of action would be to fund and arm the Contras, much like he did with Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban “Freedom Fighters” in Afghanistan.

In fact, here’s Reagan meeting with the Taliban in the White House:

Man-and-Horse-that-Built-Civilization-62580619141

In order to acquire the funds to support the Contras, members of the executive branch sold weapons to “supposedly moderate elements” within Iran in exchange for the release of the American hostages of Hezbollah. These “moderate elements” ended up being Ayatollah Khomeini’s radical Islamist regime. Khomeini was known for his support of the hostage takers.

According to The New York Times, the following weapons were sold to Khomeini:

  • August 20, 1985 – 96 TOW anti-tank missiles
  • September 14, 1985 – 408 more TOWs
  • November 24, 1985 – 18 Hawk anti-aircraft missiles
  • February 17, 1986 – 500 TOWs
  • February 27, 1986 – 500 TOWs
  • May 24, 1986 – 508 TOWs, 240 Hawk spare parts
  • August 4, 1986 – More Hawk spares
  • October 28, 1986 – 500 TOWs

The only problem for Reagan was, the Contras were human rights abusers who frequently employed tactics such as rape, kidnapping, torture, and murder of civilians, and U.S. funding of the Contras insurgency was made illegal through the Boland Amendment. (Again, the US has a nasty little habit of constantly supporting “Freedom Fighters” who end up being violent, extremist terrorists.)

The deals went down as planned, and the Contras got the money they needed. So, what does this have to do with the drug war?

Gary Webb

During what became to be known as the “Iran-Contra Affair”, an investigative journalist named Gary Webb wrote a series of articles for the San Jose Mercury News called Dark Alliance.

What Gary Webb uncovered was that the CIA was helping fund the Contras in an even more insidious way; drug trafficking. In essence, Nicaraguan drug traffickers, with the assistance of the CIA, were transporting and distributing cocaine in Los Angeles (leading to the crack epidemic of the 80’s), and the profits were used to support the Contras.

In 1996, CIA Director John M. Deutch went to Los Angeles to attempt to refute the allegations raised by the Webb articles, and was famously confronted by former Los Angeles Narcotics Detective Michael Ruppert, who testified that he had witnessed it occurring firsthand.

Here’s the video of the confrontation:

John M. Deutch was fired as the director of the CIA shortly after this confrontation.

Michael Ruppert was found dead with a gunshot to the head on April 13, 2014. The coroner judged it a suicide.

Meanwhile, Gary Webb’s reporting generated a firestorm of controversy. His employer, the San Jose Mercury News, backed away from the story, effectively ending Webb’s career as a journalist. His wife stated that he had been depressed for years over his inability to get a job at a daily newspaper, losing his house, and not being able to financially support his family.

Tragically, Gary Webb was also found dead with 2 gunshot wounds to the head in 2004. The coroner judged it a suicide as well.

According to Esquire, Webb’s work “prompted an investigation by the CIA’s inspector general which subsequently confirmed the pillars of Webb’s findings.”

A movie about Webb’s life called Kill the Messenger is coming out later this year:

A New Approach

All of the evidence, facts, and data are clear; the war on drugs is a massive failure, and the unintended consequences have been devastating.

If we, as a country decided, after just 14 years, that alcohol prohibition was a failure and had to come to an end, how can we not at least admit the same about the drug war?

The people who believe that legalizing drugs will lead to widespread abuse now would have said the same thing about alcohol abuse in 1933. What they forget is that all drugs were freely available prior to drug laws passing. Only a tiny portion of society ever got addicted to these drugs, contrary to what drug war supporters would have us believe.

In his book, The Great Libertarian Offer, presidential candidate Harry Browne wrote:

Until the early 1900s, the federal government did little to regulate or control the sale or use of alcohol or drugs  except for taxing alcohol.

It may be hard to believe today, but early in the 20th century a 10-year-old girl could walk into a drug store and buy a bottle of whiskey or a packet of heroin. She didn’t need a doctor’s prescription or even a note from her parents. Any druggist would sell to her without batting an eye; he would assume she was on an errand for her parents.

While that may seem amazing now, it wasn’t to anyone then. Heroin was sold in packages as a pain reliever or sedative  just as aspirin or other analgesics are sold today. The measured dose didn’t make anyone high, and rarely did anyone become addicted certainly no more often than with sleeping pills today.

Given such easy access to liquor and drugs, we might assume that America’s adults and children were all high on booze and drugs. But that wasn’t the case.

You can read the entire chapter on the drug war for free here.

As mentioned earlier, under Nixon, marijuana was temporarily classified by the DEA as a Schedule One drug, the most restricted drug category, along with heroin. Nixon ignored the report by his drug commission, and marijuana has remained a Schedule One drug ever since.

Ironically, meth and cocaine, which are both significantly more dangerous and addicting than marijuana, are only Schedule Two drugs. Source

It is clear that these categorizations are not based upon any serious scientific research, but instead are informed solely by irrational fear and propaganda. Federal drug criminalization prevents any further scientific research, and completely eliminates a serious, factually-based debate.

More people die from tobacco and alcohol use each year in the US alone than all illegal drug use worldwide. Source

No one has ever died from marijuana use. Source

Obesity has now surpassed tobacco use as the number one cause of preventable death in America. Source

There is no rhyme, reason, or logic to our drug laws. If we really want to fight a war on dangerous substances consistently, we need to focus most aggressively on fighting alcohol, tobacco, and sugar.

Research by Harvard links sugary beverages to 180,000 global deaths.

Locking people up for cigarettes, beer, and cupcakes sounds ridiculous, but because of how many people they kill, it should make total sense for supporters of the drug war.

The motivation and rationale behind the drug war is confusing, contradictory and inconsistent at best, and devious at worst. It is clear that those struggling with addiction to illegal drugs shouldn’t just be thrown in jail; they should have the same treatment options as those with addictions to prescription drugs, tobacco, alcohol, or junk food.

The organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition says:

We believe that by placing drug abuse in the hands of medical professionals instead of the criminal justice system, we will reduce rates of addiction and overdose deaths.

Richard Branson, the billionaire CEO of Virgin recently wrote for CNN,

In business, if one of our companies is failing, we take steps to identify and solve the problem. What we don’t do is continue failing strategies that cost huge sums of money and exacerbate the problem.

Rather than continuing on the disastrous path of the war on drugs, we need to look at what works and what doesn’t in terms of real evidence and data.

In the United States, if illegal drugs were taxed at rates comparable to those on alcohol and tobacco, they would yield $46.7 billion in tax revenue. A Cato study says legalizing drugs would save the U.S. about $41 billion a year in enforcing the drug laws.

Have U.S. drug laws reduced drug use? No. The U.S. is the No. 1 nation in the world in illegal drug use.

As with Prohibition, banning alcohol didn’t stop people drinking — it just stopped people obeying the law. Treating drugs as a health issue could save billions, improve public health and help us better control violence and crime in our communities. Hundreds of thousands of people have died from overdoses and drug-related diseases, including HIV and hepatitis C, because they didn’t have access to cost-effective, life-saving solutions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that syringe access programs lower HIV incidence among people who inject drugs by 80 percent.

One-third of all AIDS cases in the U.S. have been caused by syringe sharing; a total of 354,000 people.

U.S. federal government support for syringe access programs is currently $0.00, thanks to a federal ban reinstated by Congress in 2011 that prohibits any federal assistance for them. Source

Six former presidents, Richard Branson, and other world leaders have concluded that the drug war fuels the global HIV/AIDS pandemic:

The global war on drugs is driving the HIV pandemic among people who use drugs and their sexual partners. Throughout the world, research has consistently shown that repressive drug law enforcement practices force drug users away from public health services and into hidden environments where HIV risk becomes markedly elevated. Mass incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders also plays a major role in spreading the pandemic.
Today, there are an estimated 33 million people worldwide living with HIV – and injection drug use accounts for one-third of new HIV infections outside of sub-Saharan Africa.

The case against the drug war couldn’t be any more clear.

Further viewing:

Ending the War on Drugs – With Compassion!

“The video footage was taken by a CIA surveillance plane over the Peruvian jungle in 2001. It shows Peruvian fighter jets opening fire on the light Cessna carrying American Missionaries Jim and Veronica Bowers and their children Cory, 6, and adopted baby Charity, who was just seven months, as well as pilot Kevin Donaldson.”

U.S. Marines, sponsored by the U.S. taxpayer, stand vigilant watch over poppy fields in Afghanistan ensuring that the world is supplied with plenty of heroin.

The War on Drugs Isn’t So Bad, Is It?

Statism = Chaos

“Anarchists did not try to carry out genocide against the Armenians in Turkey; they did not deliberately starve millions of Ukrainians; they did not create a system of death camps to kill Jews, gypsies, and Slavs in Europe; they did not fire-bomb scores of large German and Japanese cities and drop nuclear bombs on two of them; they did not carry out a ‘Great Leap Forward’ that killed scores of millions of Chinese; they did not attempt to kill everybody with any appreciable education in Cambodia; they did not launch one aggressive war after another; they did not implement trade sanctions that killed perhaps 500,000 Iraqi children.

In debates between anarchists and statists, the burden of proof clearly should rest on those who place their trust in the state. Anarchy’s mayhem is wholly conjectural; the state’s mayhem is undeniably, factually horrendous.”

― Robert Higgs

Statism = Chaos

Does Spanking Violate the Non-Aggression Principle? – By Stefan Molyneux

Libertarianism centers around the nonaggression principle and a respect for property rights, which are derived from the axiom of self-ownership. The nonaggression principle states that it is immoral to initiate the use of force, although proportional and just responses to the initiation of force are acceptable, in the form of self-defense.

Libertarians condemn social institutions which violate the nonaggression principle and property rights. Taxation, national debts, fiat currency, unjust invasions, and the persecution and incarceration of nonviolent citizens through drug laws – all these have been roundly and soundly criticized by libertarians through the decades.

The one thing that all these institutions have in common is that we, as individuals, can do next to nothing to oppose them. Even as a collective movement, not only has libertarianism been unable to shrink the unjust power of the State, but it’s hard to see how the movement has even slowed the rate of its growth.

Libertarianism is fundamentally a moral philosophy with political implications – however, some libertarians have a habit of focusing on the political implications, which cannot be changed by any individual, and avoiding the personal implications of the moral philosophy, which can be put into practice by everyone.

For instance, while countless books have been written analyzing economics from a libertarian or Austrian perspective, very few have been written about how to apply Libertarian morality to parenting. Ayn Rand touched on parenting in a throwaway scene at Galt’s Gulch in ‘Atlas Shrugged,’ and Murray Rothbard reaffirmed the right of adult children to leave abusive parents in ‘Kids Lib,’ but I do not know of any major work by a Libertarian or Objectivist focusing on parenting. Nathaniel Branden has touched on the subject in a few articles, but does not mention any particular discipline techniques.

Very few libertarians become bank robbers or Federal Reserve Chairmen (but I repeat myself). By far the most common aggression Libertarians will ever personally use or experience is the disciplining of children. This is a moral question central to our lives as parents, yet it has to my knowledge never been addressed in Libertarian literature.

So – in terms of practical morality, the most essential question for libertarians to discuss is: does spanking violate the nonaggression principle?

The nonaggression principle basically states that it is immoral to initiate the use of aggressive force against another human being. Clearly, spanking is the initiation of force, in that it is not used in self defense, but rather as a form of discipline or punishment for children.

Spanking is hitting a child with the goal of deterring behavior. In order to be effective, spanking must inflict sufficient pain to alter behavior, and so mild swats to a padded bottom cannot be considered spanking. Spanking must result in sufficient physical and emotional pain for the child to fear it as a punishment.

Since spanking is the initiation of force, and cannot be excused under the category of immediate self defense, it would seem to be a violation of the nonaggression principle, and thus immoral – however, there are times when the initiation of force can be considered moral, or at least not immoral, and these have to do with the defense of another person’s well-being.

For instance, if a blind man is walking into a busy street, it can’t be considered evil to stop him from getting creamed by a bus, even if we have to tackle and bruise him to do so. In the same way, if you require an emergency tracheotomy, and cannot give your consent, is not quite the same as being stabbed if a handy surgeon takes a knife to your throat.

Certain actions would seem to be morally appropriate even though they violate the nonaggression principle, just as other actions could be morally appropriate even if they violate property rights, such as the example of a man hanging from a flagpole who kicks in a window and climbs into someone’s apartment rather than fall to his death. Not many of us would argue that the hanging man should respect the apartment dweller’s property rights and fall to create a morally perfect stain on the sidewalk below.

Thus the initiation of force does not violate the nonaggression principle if the following conditions are met:

  • It is an unforeseeable crisis
  • The initiation of force is the only possible remedy
  • The ‘victim’ would almost certainly give his consent in the moment if it were possible
  • The victim gives his consent after the fact

The reason for these standards is fairly simple – morality is universal, and thus is independent of time, and so it is irrelevant whether an aggressive action is approved of before or after the event. Everyone who perpetrates aggressive actions is in a sense gambling on the reaction of the victim, because if the victim likes the aggression, the perpetrator will not face any legal retaliation for his actions.

There are of course situations that can arise where the person initiating aggression ends up misjudging the intentions of another person – if I pull back a drunk staggering towards a cliff edge, he may thank me, or he may be enraged at my prevention of his suicide attempt. Reasonable standards of anticipation should be the rule here. If the vast majority of people would prefer to be pulled back from a cliff edge, it is reasonable to pull someone back – if the man really wants to commit suicide, then he should approach the cliff edge when no one else is around, otherwise his actions could be easily construed as a twisted cry for help.

So, if an aggressive action does not fulfill the four standards outlined above, then it is almost certainly a violation of the nonaggression principle, and therefore immoral.

Let’s look at these one by one, to figure out where spanking lands on the moral spectrum.

An Unforeseeable Crisis

Many parents who spank claim that it is a reasonable reaction to an imminent crisis, such as a child reaching for a pot of boiling water on the stove.

This is not a valid argument, for several reasons.

First, it is the responsibility of the parents to ensure a safe environment for their children, therefore it seems hard to justify hitting a child for the negligence of the parents. Basic childproofing requires that only the back burners be used on the stove, and that the handle be pointed toward the wall, rather than toward the kitchen. In the same way, cupboards, drawers, stairs, electrical outlets and so on should all be protected through child safety devices.

It is hard to imagine any dangerous action a child could take that could never have been anticipated or prevented by the parent, either through patient coaching or childproofing.

Also, any parent who is close enough to a child to hit him for reaching for a pot of boiling water is also close enough to pick up or move the child away in a nonviolent mannerway, which immediately eliminates the danger.

The initiation of force is the only possible remedy

As mentioned above, if a child is in imminent danger, and the parent is close enough to hit, then the parent is close enough to pursue nonviolent remedies to the situation. Furthermore, dangerous situations that are the result of my negligence do not excuse me from the results. If I don’t repair my failing brakes, and this causes me to crash my car into your house, I cannot blame the brakes.

The initiation of force can only be excused in an emergency if it is the only possible remedy – if I’m choking on a fishbone, and the Heimlich maneuver does not work, and the only chance I have for survival is an emergency tracheotomy, so be it. If I have a mild cough at my dinner table, and someone stabs me in the throat, that’s just plain assault.

Since the initiation of force is not the only possible remedy when a child is in a dangerous situation, it does not fulfill this requirement for moral justification.

The ‘victim’ would almost certainly give his consent in the moment if it were possible

Well, first of all, it is possible for the child to give his consent to being spanked, since there is no immediate time pressure for action. A child can certainly express his or her wishes, assuming an appropriate age – but of course spanking is only considered effective if it is thoroughly against the child’s wishes. Therefore spanking also fails this test.

The victim gives his consent after the fact

This one is very tricky, since many children who were spanked grow up into adults who claim that spanking was very effective in eliciting and maintaining good behavior. “My parents spanked me, and I turned out fine!” “My parents spanked me because I was a disobedient child with no discipline, and I became very well behaved and disciplined as a result, and so I am very happy that they did spank me.” “I deserved spanking because I was disobedient.”

This certainly could be considered the victim giving his consent after the fact, but there are some important caveats or restrictions on this.

First of all, it assumes that spanking is not abusive, in that it is only the perspective of the victim that determines the morality of the situation, which is not a valid principle. Many citizens are fine with paying taxes; this does not make taxation moral. There are countless examples of women who had been verbally and/or physically abused by their husbands who stay, and even claim to love their husbands – this does not mean that physical and verbal abuse suddenly become morally acceptable. The Stockholm Syndrome is a well-known psychological phenomenon in which the victim of violence and abuse emotionally bonds with the abusers, and may even fight to defend them from justice.

Secondly, aggression which impairs judgment cannot easily be excused by the victim. To take an extreme example, if a man is forced to submit to a frontal lobotomy, and afterwards, claims to have no moral problem with the operation, we cannot take his word at face value, since his cognitive abilities have been enormously harmed by the procedure he was subjected to.

Also, propaganda dilutes clarity of thought – that is its real purpose of course. A 20-year-old man who was raised in Russia in the 1950s would likely profess great affection for communism and Joseph Stalin, but his perspective was not arrived at through a process of independent, sovereign and free inquiry. Amish children cannot grow up with independent and critical thinking about the Amish religion, and so we must rationally apply an extra layer or two of skepticism to their adult pronouncements about the forms of thought that they were indoctrinated with as children.

Children raised in heavily religious households would also very likely have been subjected to heavy propaganda about physical punishment due to the general conception of the Biblical commandment that to spare the rod is to spoil the child.

Furthermore, since spanking has been scientifically linked to lower IQs, it is mildly analogous to the frontal lobotomy example, in that it can impair cognitive abilities to the point where any judgments about spanking that come from the victims of spanking are at the very least suspect.

Spanking also creates many emotional and social problems, from depression to anxiety to self-destructive rebelliousness to increased aggression towards other children, a decreased capacity to form positive and healthy relationships, and so on.

Thus, since we know that spanking can create irrational bonds with the perpetrators, lowers intelligence, impairs social development, reduces the possibility of positive and healthy relationships, and increases risks of mental disorders such as anxiety and depression, it is certainly more difficult to get objective approvals from the victims many years after being spanked. Rather than rely on self-reporting, we must defer to the objective science on the effects of spanking.

This problem is only compounded by the fact that, at least in my experience, very few people who claim to approve of spanking after-the-fact have any knowledge about the negative effects it has likely had on their intellectual, emotional and social development.

I will be much more prone to forgive someone for stealing a cardboard box of mine if I do not know that my wife was using it to store $20,000 worth of our gold. In other words, if I’m not fully apprised of the negative effects of an aggressive action, it is not possible for me to provide an objective judgment of that action.

Thus, the standards of acceptance for spanking would have to be, at a minimum:

  • A reasonably detailed knowledge of the objective effects of spanking on the development of children.
  • A reasonable amount of time in professional therapy to ensure that any irrational attachments have been addressed.
  • A philosophical understanding of the basic fact that personal approval does not equal moral justification.

Common Spanking Defenses

“Kids Can’t/Won’t Listen to Reason”

How do you know your kids won’t listen to reason? If you spank your kids because they won’t listen to reason, you’re not exactly finding out if they can listen to reason in that moment, are you? The science is not in your favor here, since babies can process mathematical odds at 9 months, show empathy at 14 months, and perform basic moral reasoning at 18 months.

This position would have at least some credibility if spanking was preceded by years of failed reasoning attempts – but if the spanking comes first, it becomes a classic self-fulfilling prophesy. Since spanking tends to lower IQ and provoke defiance and evasion, it sure looks like it’s “needed” because kids don’t listen to reason – but that’s like saying I need to spank my kids because they don’t speak Mandarin, when I have never exposed them to Mandarin.

Also, if you believe that your kids can’t listen to reason, are you sure that you as a parent are being perfectly rational? Are you telling them that flags must be saluted and war is heroic and public schools are great and that they have to kiss Aunt Millie even though she smells? Does your behaviour match your commandments? Do you tell your kids that they have to do the right thing even if they don’t feel like it in the moment, and then sit and watch football all Sunday instead of playing with them?

Do you hit them because they hit others? Do you take away their toys and then tell them to respect other people’s property? Do you tell them to respect their mother, while treating their mother disrespectfully?

Remember that children are born as total foreigners to the world you take for granted. They have never heard of America or Europe or Jesus or Krishna or war or prison or history or culture. They are born empirical and striving mightily and endlessly for rationality – delusional is the culture that dares to say that any children who oppose or question cultural norms are by definition “irrational.” That would require something other than culture – it would require a truly rational and philosophical world, and that is something we are still generations away from.

It is very hard to be truly rational in this world. It means rejecting an enormous number of beliefs held by others. It requires great courage, and a deep commitment to reason and evidence at all costs. So – can you look in the mirror and state with absolute certainty that you have to spank your kids because they are irrational, while you are 100% rational?

Also, why is it only children who must be spanked for being irrational? Have you ever been pulled over unfairly by a cop? Harassed by a border guard? Received bad service from an unapologetic waiter or valet? What about your own parents, as they age? Are they becoming any less clear-headed? What about that kinda-sorta racist woman at the office? Isn’t she being irrational? Or that dude next door who won’t support Ron Paul, even though he supports so many of his positions?

So – we can spank those who don’t listen to reason? Well OK, so just let that cop or coworker or neighbour have it! What? No? You’re not rushing out to do that? Why not? You have the moral right on your side!

Irrationality and injustice surround us – and irrational adults have infinitely less justification for their foolishness and inconsistencies than children whose brains are still so very young. So – why pick on kids?

“Kids Brains are Immature”

You say that children must be spanked because their brains are physically immature? All right – if physical mental limitations require spanking, does that mean we must spank elderly people with dementia? What about mentally handicapped adults?

You get that that would be morally repugnant, right? Surely those with physical limitations need more tender care, not more aggression.

“It’s the Only Way Kids Will Listen”

Many parents use the word “listen” when what they really mean is “obey.” What if your kids are listening to you, but just disagree with you? What if they have legitimate criticisms of your values and/or behaviour? Is that all right?

“It Teaches Children ‘Respect'”

Again, the word “respect” is used, when “obedience” is usually the goal. Respect, of course, must be granted before it can be requested. If you treat your children with respect, you can reasonably ask for mutual regard – if you spank them, frightening them into compliance with your size and strength, you are only compelling them into obedience against their will and judgment; you are not treating them with respect.

The goal of parenting is to create self-sufficient virtues in children. Applying external pressure and punishments tends to teach them fear-based compliance rather than the internalization of moral standards.

If spanking worked, then its use should quickly curtail. 40% of high school students are still being spanked by their parents, which is proof against the idea that spanking allows children to internalize values. Spanking causes compliance and resentment, obedience and resistance, which is why its use tends to increase over time – or at least not decrease.

Conclusion

According to the standards outlined in this essay, spanking is a clear violation of the non-aggression principle, and thus an immoral action.

This is not to say that all parents who spank are immoral. Morality requires knowledge; if all parents who spank are immoral, then all libertarians were immoral before they discovered libertarianism. Most people need exposure to the argument that taxation is theft before they can reasonably be held morally responsible for understanding the violent basis of the state. It is only within the last few decades that serious moral and scientific objections to spanking have spread within society, and patience and persistence is the key to convincing others of this essential and actionable moral reality.

That having been said, however, now that you have read this essay, you need to refute these arguments and disprove the science, or stop spanking. If you lacked knowledge and clarity before, you deserve sympathy. If you cannot refute these arguments, and continue to spank, you have no excuse anymore.

http://board.freedomainradio.com/topic/33222-does-spanking-violate-the-non-aggression-principle/

Does Spanking Violate the Non-Aggression Principle? – By Stefan Molyneux

The Path to Freedom: Parenting or Political Activism?

The complete failure of political activism at shrinking the size of government is an undeniable fact backed up by centuries of historical data. In fact, if you can point out a single case in human history where a government even a fraction the size of ours was significantly, and for a substantial amount of time, reduced through political activism, I will join the Republican Party (or whatever your pet organization is) tomorrow. You’d be just as successful joining the mafia in an attempt to reduce the size of the mafia.

On the other hand, the immensely effective, and positive societal impact of raising human beings to be healthy, rational, and peaceful is backed up by decades of statistics and empirical, scientific evidence.

No Criminals, No Government

The prevailing theory is that Government exists primarily to protect society from violent criminals. Human beings who develop in a healthy, peaceful environment simply don’t grow up to be violent criminals. We must focus on the root causes of violence and criminality. Only when we eliminate these root causes can society become healthy, free, and peaceful.

Show me any evidence that political activism is significantly reducing the size of government long-term, and not just shuffling it around. Otherwise, I’ll stick to the very basic, and scientifically proven argument that to change society from violent and authoritarian to free and peaceful requires us to remove those things in society that fundamentally screw people up, and cause drastic increases in psychopathy, violence, drug addiction, promiscuity, alcoholism, criminality, suicidality, anxiety, depression, etc.

Children raised in healthy and peaceful environments grow up to be healthy and peaceful, and avoid the kinds of dysfunctions that governments use to expand their power.

This fact is irrefutable: virtually all violent criminals were abused as children. Numerous studies of family violence have found a direct relationship between the severity of childhood abuse, and later tendencies to victimize others.

In a 1988 study of 14 juveniles condemned to death in the United States, 12 had been brutally abused as children, and 5 had been sodomized by relatives.

Conversely, the more peacefully a child is raised, the less likely it becomes that they will ever become a violent criminal. It would seem that the inoculation for human violence and crime is obvious; raising children peacefully.

Christian Pfeiffer, the director of the Criminological Research Institute of Lower Saxony in Hanover, noted as much in this article by The Economist:

Mr Pfeiffer has found a correlation between declining rates of children being spanked (or otherwise punished physically) and subsequent decreases in violent crime.

Parents, do you want to significantly reduce the chances that your child could become everything you don’t want your child to become—a criminal, an abuser, a depressed person, a person with temper-control issues? Start by not hitting and yelling at them so much.

The big question is, why is the government not actively working to advocate for peaceful parenting?

Without crime, the government would become obsolete and unnecessary. Asking the government to advocate for peaceful parenting is like asking Marlboro to advocate for a healthy, smoke-free lifestyle.

Not only does childhood trauma increase the chances for a wide spectrum of dysfunctions in adulthood, it also increases the chances the chances of developing several kinds of chronic diseases, according to the ACE study:

The study’s researchers came up with an ACE score to explain a person’s risk for chronic disease. Think of it as a cholesterol score for childhood toxic stress. You get one point for each type of trauma. The higher your ACE score, the higher your risk of health and social problems.

As your ACE score increases, so does the risk of disease, social and emotional problems. With an ACE score of 4 or more, things start getting serious. The likelihood of chronic pulmonary lung disease increases 390 percent; hepatitis, 240 percent; depression 460 percent; suicide, 1,220 percent.

Once we have eliminated the root causes of human dysfunction, criminality, and violence, government simply becomes obsolete, and entirely unneeded. This will indefinitely free society from the never-ending cycle of government oppression that has plagued our species for centuries.

The Root Causes of Violence and Criminality

So, let’s examine these root causes more closely. Let’s work from the premise that there is a clear and proven link between early childhood and criminal behavior. There are obviously other factors, but child-rearing is by far the biggest predictor of criminal behavior later on in life, and the science supports this:

• High-crime neighborhoods are characterized by high concentrations of families abandoned by fathers.

• State-by-state analysis by Heritage scholars indicates that a 10 percent increase in the percentage of children living in single-parent homes leads typically to a 17 percent increase in juvenile crime.

• The rate of violent teenage crime corresponds with the number of families abandoned by fathers.

• The type of aggression and hostility demonstrated by a future criminal often is foreshadowed in unusual aggressiveness as early as age five or six.

On the other hand:

• Even in high-crime inner-city neighborhoods, well over 90 percent of children from safe, stable homes do not become delinquents. By contrast only 10 percent of children from unsafe, unstable homes in these neighborhoods avoid crime.

• The mother’s strong affectionate attachment to her child is the child’s best buffer against a life of crime.

• The father’s involvement in raising his children is also a great buffer against a life of crime.”

Child abuse increases the risk of criminality:

Being abused or neglected as a child increases the likelihood of arrest as a juvenile by 59 percent, as an adult by 28 percent, and for a violent crime by 30 percent according to one study that looked at more than 1,500 cases over time.”

Increase risk of criminality persists even in twin studies:

Child maltreatment roughly doubles the probability that an individual engages in many types of crime. This is true even if we compare twins, one of whom was maltreated when the other one was not.”

British study:

“Juvenile delinquency studies in Great Britain indicate that the roots of delinquency primarily lie within the family.”

Another study confirms childhood mistreatment increases risk of criminality:

“Study results found evidence that the apparent negative effects of maltreatment on children’s tendency to engage in crime were real.”

Childhood abuse and neglect leads to long-term, multi-faceted consequences:

“This factsheet explains the long-term physical, psychological, behavioral, and societal consequences of child abuse and neglect.”

The studies go on and on.

What does this have to do with government, politics, and freedom? An article by The Association for Psycho History explains:

“Today both Austria and Germany have laws making hitting a child as illegal as hitting an adult. Careful personality studies recently show both Germans and Austrians reporting less authoritarian attitudes than Americans.

Psychohistory’s main discovery is that war and genocide, like homicide and suicide, is a psychopathic disorder that simply does not occur in the absence of widespread early abuse and neglect, and I hope to show you that Austrian childrearing today has advanced sufficiently so that similar genocides and racist wars have become impossible for Austria in the future.

What has happened in the past half century to literally transform Vienna from a city described as having “a sheer magnitude of antisemitic violence greater than in any other city of the Reich” to a city of exceptional freedom, independence and tolerance? That the astounding change came only after childrearing vastly improved is obvious.”

According to Psychology Today, “Psychopathy is among the most difficult disorders to spot. The psychopath can appear normal, even charming. Underneath, they lack conscience and empathy, making them manipulative, volatile and often (but by no means always) criminal.”

One of the most chilling discoveries among researchers of early childhood trauma is the link to psychopathy/sociopathy.

(Note: There is no official definition of the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath, and some say that the terms are largely interchangeable. In fact, the The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) lists both psychopathy and sociopathy under the heading of Antisocial Personalities.)

According to Dr. Igor Galynker, associate chair of psychiatry and director of the Family Center for Bipolar Disorder at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, “These people [psychopaths] really see you as a piece of furniture and the empathy that allows us to feel others’ feelings is missing,” he said. “These people are wired differently. Their brains are different.”

About 50 percent of these neurological traits are inherited and 50 percent are shaped by other influences. Having the genetic predisposition and growing up in an aggressive environment can be lethal.

“Intimidation and bullying creates bullies,” said Galynker. “”We all do bad things, but with a true psychopath there is a predation about them,” he said. “They prey on other people.”

According to this article in Psychology Today:

“… it is suspected that serious child abuse could be an underlying factor behind psychopathy, and secondly, in neuroscience, it has been noted that many with psychopathy show a significant underdevelopment of a number of regions in their brain.

If we work with the assumption that child abuse and trauma could be behind the development of psychopathy, we have the environment in question, only it is more than a selecting factor – it is a causal factor.

…If a psychopathic parent was subjected to child abuse and trauma, then perhaps they will act violently and aggressive to their children because of their disorder – violence begets violence. “

When children suffer trauma at a young age, and grow up in violent, unhealthy homes, they are at a significantly higher risk of criminality, violence, and psychopathy. Most people believe that the solution is more government, laws, jails, etc. In reality, the violence and criminality we see are merely symptoms of a root cause that isn’t being addressed.

My proposition to you is that if we can solve these root issues, we can virtually eliminate violence, criminality, and psychopathy in society, and therefore eliminate the need for government, laws, jails, etc.

Psychologist Martha Stout, clinical instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School for 25 years, estimates in her book The Sociopath Next Door that as many as 4% of the population are psychopaths who have no empathy or affectionate feelings for humans or animals.

4% might not sound like much, but that means that 12 million Americans are psychopaths.

Not only is psychopathy, and the resulting violence and criminality a huge drain on society’s resources, there is another enormous, and dangerous threat that psychopaths and criminals pose; their lust for power and control.

Power, especially political power, draws psychopaths like flies to manure. The more power a position has, the bigger the draw it has for psychopaths. In the case of governments, which have nearly unlimited amounts of power and weapons, and very few consequences for wrong-doing, this combination is often catastrophic.

In fact, governments are the leading cause of unnatural death in the world, with over 262 million people murdered in the last century alone; a phenomenon known as “Democide“, a term coined by political scientist R.J. Rummel.

According to Rummel, “The more power a regime has, the more likely people will be killed. This is a major reason for promoting freedom.” Rummel concludes that concentrated political power is the most dangerous thing on earth.

The only explanation for these 262 million murders is that the world is, quite literally, run by psychopaths.

To create an organization in society called “government” that is virtually immune to it’s own laws, and give it the power to print money whenever it wants, the power to start wars, to incarcerate at-will, to create laws at-will, to bribe their friends and punish their enemies, and believe that not one single evil person will be interested in running that organization is beyond naive. And so we recognize that you can’t create this monster machine called “government,” and not end up with psychopaths and evil people driving it.

Murray Rothbard wrote, “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.”

There is a very clear link between early childhood trauma and violence, psychopathy, and authoritarianism. Political beliefs are formed in childhood.

“Two historians have located a joint memoir by Hitler’s half-brother, Alois, and half-sister, Angela. One excerpt describes the violence exercised by Hitler’s father, also called Alois, and how Adolf’s mother tried to protect her son from regular beatings.

“Fearing that the father could no longer control himself in his unbridled rage, she [Adolf’s mother] decides to put an end to the beating. She goes up to the attic, covers Adolf who is lying on the floor, but cannot deflect the father’s final blow. Without a sound she absorbs it.”

This is a picture of a completely dysfunctional family that the public has never seen before.

“The terror of the Third Reich was cultivated in Hitler’s own home.”

If you want to make a real difference in politics and society, focus on the issue of parenting and early childhood. Again, the Association for Psycho History makes this point clear:

“Why were there people brave enough to risk their lives to save Jews from Nazi Persecution? Much scientific inquiry has been expended on this question. I was convinced that there must have been some special factor in the childhood of the rescuers that made it so fundamentally different from what the war criminals had experienced, but at first I couldn’t prove my hypothesis. For years I sought in vain for a book that would give this subject adequate coverage.

Finally I found an empirical study by the Oliners, based on interviews with more than 400 witnesses of those dark days. It confirmed my hypothesis. The study concluded that the only factor distinguishing the rescuers from the persecutors was the way they had been brought up by their parents.”

Is Spanking Child Abuse?

As people who believe in peace, freedom, and the Non-Aggression Principle, we absolutely must apply these beliefs at home first with our own children. This is how we change society. In my opinion, this is the single most important issue facing the “Liberty Movement”, and the science proves it.

The only way to achieve freedom in society is by raising children peacefully and rationally. This means means that we apply the Non-Aggression Principle to children.

Just in case I need to make it even more clear, this means you don’t yell at or spank your kids.

(If you believe in the Non-Aggression Principle, but have never thought about it’s application to parenting, please read this article entitled Does Spanking Violate the Non-Aggression Principle, written by Stefan Molyneux.)

Most people think that child abuse is some mysterious, subjective phenomenon that can be debated over. Is yelling at children abusive? Is hitting children abusive?

The truth is, trauma and abuse can be shown objectively using fMRI, and other neuro-imaging scans. These scans can clearly show damage in the brain caused by abuse, stress, trauma, violence, neglect, etc. Child abuse is no longer subjective, and cannot be hidden.

As cameras become ubiquitous, child-care providers can be easily ruled out as suspects. Aside from daycare, young children typically spend their time almost exclusively with their parents. If those parents are yelling at and spanking their children, and those children’s brains show signs of abuse, then the debate is over.

As the science and technology improves, scanning a child for abuse and trauma will soon be as easy as taking their temperature.

If I were a parent of a young child today, I would be extremely careful how far I dipped my toes into the spanking and yelling pond.

Trauma is a spectrum, and some children are far more sensitive than others. There is no one-size-fits-all demarcation between what is, and is not, traumatic to a child. Every child is different, and many children show clear signs of trauma after being spanked and yelled at, even though it is totally legal, and most people would not characterize that as child abuse..

The science is overwhelmingly against spanking children.

Tulane University study provides strong evidence that spanking leads to aggressive behavior in children:

“In a new study published in Pediatrics, researchers at Tulane University provide the strongest evidence yet that children’s short-term response to spanking may make them act out more in the long run. Of the nearly 2,500 youngsters in the study, those who were spanked more frequently at age 3 were much more likely to be aggressive by age 5.

“The reason for this may be that spanking sets up a loop of bad behavior. Corporal punishment instills fear rather than understanding. Even if children stop tantrums when spanked, that doesn’t mean they get why they shouldn’t have been acting up in the first place. What’s more, spanking sets a bad example, teaching children that aggressive behavior is a solution to their parents’ problems.”

Spanking teaches children that aggression is a solution to their parent’s problems. Doesn’t that sound familiar? Libertarians are always arguing against using aggression in society to solve problems, but too often, as parents, they do exactly that with their own children.

A real-time study found that, not only did the parents hit their small children (between 2-5 years old) nearly 1,000 times per year, oftentimes for trivial reasons, they often did it to discourage their children from hitting:

“Moms and dads who spank do so because they believe it’s effective, and research actually shows that it is — in the short-term. A child reaching for a tempting object will stop if he gets swatted. “It does work in the immediate moment, but beyond that, in most cases, it’s very ineffective,” says Holden. “The most common long-term consequence is that children learn to use aggression.”

Case in point: one mother in the study hit her toddler after the toddler either hit or kicked the mother, admonishing, “This is to help you remember not to hit your mother.”

“The irony is just amazing,” says Holden.”

The percentage of people who approve of spanking has fallen dramatically in the last 50 years; however, the population of parents who still spank their toddlers on a regular basis is between 70 and 80 percent. This suggests that as a society, we are practicing behind closed doors what we are ashamed to admit publicly. While most parents spank their children in private, their unwillingness to approve of spanking publicly reveals what they likely already know; spanking is objectively harmful to children:

“In 2002, University of Texas at Austin professor Elizabeth Gershoff decided to look at several decades of past research. She surveyed 88 studies that included 117 tests of the hypothesis that spanking is associated with harmful side effects. Of those tests, 110 showed such effects. Straus calls the 94 percent agreement rate “an almost unprecedented degree of consistency” for scientific research.

As Straus sees it, studies like Gunnoe’s are outliers. If you’re a parent who spanks today, he says, the vast majority of studies show that “over the long term, there are greater odds that your child could become everything you don’t want your child to become — an abuser, a depressed person, a person with temper-control issues.

Studies have shown that spanking decreases grey matter in the brain, and causes a decrease in IQ:

Spanking erodes developmental growth in children and decreases a child’s IQ, a recent Canadian study shows.

This analysis, conducted at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa, offers new evidence that corporal punishment causes cognitive impairment and long-term developmental difficulties.”

Recent studies have found that up to 35% of babies were spanked in the last month.

After analyzing data from more than 1,500 families, researchers at Columbia University have found that children who are spanked in early childhood are not only more likely to be aggressive as older children, they are also more likely to do worse on vocabulary tests than their peers who had not been spanked.

A study out of the University of Pittsburgh says yelling at adolescents   can be just as harmful as hitting them. If yelling is harmful to adolescents, how much more harmful is it to a much more sensitive, younger child?

It is quickly becoming clear that children who are being diagnosed with ADHD are actually suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from living in violent homes with violent parents:

Brown was completing her residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, when she realized that many of her low-income patients had been diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

These children lived in households and neighborhoods where violence and relentless stress prevailed. Their parents found them hard to manage and teachers described them as disruptive or inattentive.

When Brown looked closely, though, she saw something else: trauma. Hyper-vigilance and dissociation, for example, could be mistaken for inattention. Impulsivity might be brought on by a stress response in overdrive.

Brown’s findings, which she presented in May at an annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, revealed that children diagnosed with ADHD also experienced markedly higher levels of poverty, divorce, violence, and family substance abuse. Those who endured four or more adverse childhood events were three times more likely to use ADHD medication.

It’s not clear how many children are misdiagnosed with ADHD annually, but a study published in 2010 estimated the number could be nearly 1 million.

Stefan Molyneux sums up the situation perfectly:

“The degree to which the psychiatric community is complicit with abusive parents in drugging non-compliant children is a war crime across the generations, and there will be a Nuremberg at some point in the future”

Child abuse is an absolute, global pandemic:

Six in 10 children aged 2 to 14 are regularly beaten by caregivers.

The report, drawing on data from 190 countries, paints a picture of endemic physical and emotional violence inflicted daily on children, mostly at home and in peacetime rather than on the streets or during war.”

Rebellious children are merely conscientious objectors to an absolutely insane world they’re being introduced into. They must be beaten and drugged into compliance.

We can no longer look the other way.

If you want a truly effective, scientifically-proven, long-term strategy for achieving a free, prosperous society, simply advocate for applying the non-aggression principle at home during the most important part of a human being’s development.

Once we apply the non-aggression principle to our own lives, only then can we be philosophically consistent, and raise a generation capable of accepting the non-aggressive philosophy we espouse.

To achieve a healthy and peaceful society, this also means staying home with your child, and not funneling them off to a daycare or government school for 8-10 hours per day.

Multiple studies have proven that young children and infants who are put  in daycare for more than 20 hours per week suffer from severe attachment disorders which have long-lasting negative effects on the child. The length of separation is the determining factor, not the quality of care:

“Belsky (1988) determined, after reviewing two longitudinal studies, that infants exposed to more than 20 or more hours per week of child care displayed significantly more avoidance of mother on reunion and were more likely to be classified as insecurely attached than children with less than 20 hours per week of care. This is not surprising since fear, according to Perry, Runyan, and Sturges (1998), is a major impediment to a healthy attachment.

In a recent study (NICHD, 1999), the length of the daily separation appears to be the important determinant of infant-mother interaction. NICHD (1999) found that the breakdown they observed in mother/ child interaction was the result of the long hours of separation, not the type or quality of care.”

The more time a mother spends at work, away from her child, the worse the effects on the child:

“Four- to six-year-olds whose mothers worked a significant number of hours each week tended to exhibit more socio-emotional difficulties and problem behaviors than other peers. Early and extensive maternal employment was the strongest predictor of socio-emotional functioning, exceeding poverty and maternal education. Early and extensive maternal employment was associated with increased behavioral problems, less compliance, and insecurity.”

More devastating effects of putting children in daycare; approximately 40% of children lack a secure attachment with their parents:

“The approximately 40 percent who lack secure attachments are more likely to have poorer language and behavior before entering school. This effect continues throughout the children’s lives, and such children are more likely to leave school without further education, employment or training, the researchers write.”

The average wage of daycare workers in the US is $9.48 an hour; slightly above minimum wage. If you hired a stranger to take your spouse out on a date for $9.48 an hour, would your spouse consider that a suitable replacement for you?

Then what makes you think a daycare worker is a suitable replacement for you as a parent to your children?

When the first studies about the harmful effects of BPA on children came out, there was no scientific consensus at all. Some studies were inconclusive, and some showed BPA as harmless. Yet, the mere possibility of harming the endocrine system and healthy development of children caused an absolute frenzy among parents who began demanding BPA-free products en masse.

Now, it’s hard to find plastic cups or food containers that do contain BPA. “BPA free” has become the new standard.

The science backing the harmful effects of spanking on children is as conclusive as you can get, yet parents still disregard it.

Taking a risk with BPA isn’t worth it, but spanking apparently is.

Political Activism: The Great Time-Waster

You can’t do anything about the Federal Reserve, endless wars, domestic spying, or the growing police state. What you can do is apply the principles you espouse in your own home to raise a generation of healthy people who value peace and freedom.

Can it really be that simple? Well, at least it’s one thing that hasn’t really been tried yet. The same can’t be said for political activism.

The reason I call political activism into question is simply because I see it as an inferior use of time and resources. If I can prove, scientifically, that there is a more effective use of time and resources than political activism, then I feel the obligation to make that case.

Peace, and human freedom in society starts from childhood, and no amount of logical arguments or political activism will convince psychologically damaged people on a large scale to choose peace, smaller government, or more liberty. There is only one scientifically proven strategy to achieve peace and freedom in the world, and that is to advocate non-aggression toward children. If we took all the time and money that was given to the Ron Paul campaign, and put it into advocating for this, the world would be a whole lot closer to outgrowing the state.

Ron Paul wrote in his newly-released book, The School Revolution:

“To limit the work of liberty to politics is to play into the hands of numerous political interests groups and agendas that all boil down to this: social salvation by legislation. I simply do not believe in that agenda.”

When you consider all of the things that we, as the “Liberty Movement” could be doing with our time and resources, we must also consider all the alternatives. Should I go door-to-door campaigning for this candidate? Should I hold a sign at this rally? Should I argue with this marxist on Facebook? Should I tell this war veteran that he lost his limbs in vain? Should I attempt to convince this lady on welfare that the organization she depends on to feed her kids is immoral and should be abolished?

What if, instead, you convinced a parent to stop hitting their child?

As responsible individuals who are out to make the world a better, more free place, we must be very rigorous with the use of our time and resources. If we claim to hold the truth, then we have an obligation to spread that truth in the most effective way possible. 

If you’re an entrepreneur with $10,000 to grow your business, how would you go about spending those hard-earned dollars? Keep in mind that all of your competition is asking themselves the same question. Would you spend the money on things that make you feel productive, or would you do all the research you could, consult all the experts, and spend each dollar as slowly and deliberately as you possibly could?

We must consider our limited time and resources with the same level of rigor, skepticism, research, and diligence. Changing the future is a much more important task than growing a company. We must be fact-based in our analysis of how to spend our time, otherwise it’s just self-indulgence to make ourselves feel good.

The biggest vote count the Libertarian Party ever got in a national election was in 1980. They attained an earth-shattering 1.06% of the vote. Ever since then it’s been around 0.50%. In the most recent Presidential Election, the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson got 0.99% of the vote.

No progress whatsoever in 40 years (technically, that is a net loss).

If this was a government program, that’d be considered a rousing success. If it was a business, their shareholders and investors would have executed them in the streets.

However, because it’s “political activism” and “working for liberty”, somehow this is acceptable.

Libertarians and “Liberty Republicans” treat political activism like a government program; dump a ton of time, energy and resources into it with no regard to the actual results.

I’m not speaking negatively about the individuals involved, I am simply pointing out that political activism is almost the least effective method to achieve the goal of liberty, and as a movement based on facts and reason, we should be the first ones to admit this. Again, it’s like joining the mafia so you can shrink the mafia. Am I thankful that someone is “working” to shrink the mafia? I guess. Joining the mafia is about the last thing I’d recommend doing in order to achieve that goal, though.

We must constantly be asking ourselves, “what’s the best possible thing I could be doing right now?”.

Libertarians pride themselves on their knowledge of economics. What they seem to miss is that economics is simply the study of how to get the most out of life. To get the most out of life, to think like an economist, you have to be know what you’re giving up in order to get something else. These are known as”Opportunity Costs”. Getting the most out of life means using that precious time wisely, and examining your opportunity costs.

In order to vote for Rand Paul, you have to give up the time, energy, and gas it takes  to drive the polling location (assuming you don’t mail in your ballot). Because we know Rand Paul won’t change anything at all, and government is just going to balloon further like it always does, you’d have been better off making a nutritious smoothie with that time and gas money.

If you want to grow a business, you study how to grow a business. Likewise, if your goal is to change people’s minds, you must study the science of how people make decisions. It is thoroughly irresponsible and self-indulgent to pursue something without examining the facts and science behind all the alternatives.

Unconscious childhood trauma is the single biggest indicator for how people make decisions. People don’t change their minds based on facts, reason, logic, or better arguments. If that’s all it took, we’d have already won. Reason and evidence are already on our side, yet it’s done nothing. In fact, the proportion of people who vote libertarian is actually declining.

The bottom line is, people will listen if they have processed their childhood trauma. People with unprocessed childhood trauma will almost never listen to reason and evidence. Trauma interferes with capacity to process reason and evidence.

If we say we want to change people’s minds without researching how minds are changed, we are snake oil salesmen and frauds. I don’t want to be a fraud, or waste my short life in petty self-indulgence, spinning my wheels, and rearranging the political deckchairs on the Titanic. I want to spend my few, precious days as effectively as possible.

How Childhood Trauma Prevents Rational Thought

The science shows that childhood trauma causes permanent changes in the brain, and limits development of the regions of the brain responsible for reasoning:

“The main implication of the research, says study co-author Carmen Sandi, is that it links two previously observed phenomena: the higher rate of aggression among those experiencing early-life stress, and the blunted activation of a brain region known as the orbitofrontal cortex among people with pathological aggression. Social learning, it seems, may not be the only thing that makes abused kids more likely to grow up aggressive.

“Our work is novel in many ways, particularly because it provides concrete neurobiological pathways that link early trauma with pathological aggression.”

Why would early traumatic experiences crave permanent changes in the brain? Evolutionarily, such brain changes may have helped us to survive a harsh and cruel environment, by keeping us on edge and ready to confront any possible threats, Sandi says. Today, however, those same changes may do more harm than good, leading some victims of abuse to slip into a vicious cycle, seeing threats where none exist, and overreacting to situations, often with violence.”

This kind of damage alters the human brain permanently, and leads to the following phenomenon:

“Democrats and Republicans alike are adept at making decisions without letting the facts get in the way, a new study shows. And they get quite a rush from ignoring information that’s contrary to their point of view.

Researchers asked staunch party members from both sides to evaluate information that threatened their preferred candidate prior to the 2004 Presidential election. The subjects’ brains were monitored while they pondered.

“We did not see any increased activation of the parts of the brain normally engaged during reasoning,” said Drew Westen, director of clinical psychology at Emory University. “What we saw instead was a network of emotion circuits lighting up, including circuits hypothesized to be involved in regulating emotion, and circuits known to be involved in resolving conflicts.”

The study points to a total lack of reason in political decision-making.

“Notably absent were any increases in activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain most associated with reasoning.”

Not only does childhood trauma greatly diminish the ability to reason through political decisions, it also causes people to react out of emotion in response to moral dilemmas. Childhood trauma greatly limits the ability for people to come to well-reasoned moral principles that are the basis of a free society:

“In a study that combines philosophy and neuroscience, researchers have begun to explain how emotional reactions and logical thinking interact in moral decision-making.

The results suggest that, while people regularly reach the same conclusions when faced with uncomfortable moral choices, their answers often do not grow out of the reasoned application of general moral principles. Instead, they draw on emotional reactions, particularly for certain kinds of moral dilemmas.

The researchers also measured how long it took subjects to respond to the questions. In the few cases in which people said it is appropriate to take action in the personal moral questions — like pushing a person off the footbridge — they tended to take longer to make their decisions. These delays suggest that this subgroup of people were working to overcome a primary emotional response, the researchers said.”

These “primary emotional responses”, unconscious reactions to perceived threats, and rejection of facts that contradict deeply held beliefs are all unconscious effects of childhood trauma, and prevent people from thinking rationally and logically.

The biological reasons for why people panic when confronted with new information, refuse to listen to opposing viewpoints or think critically, and react out of emotion and violence, are easily explained:

“Early exposure to trauma — extremely fearful events — and high levels of stress affect the developing brain, particularly in those areas involved in emotions and learning. The amygdala and the hippocampus are two brain structures involved in fear and traumatic stress.

The amygdala detects whether a stimulus (person or event) is threatening and the hippocampus, the center of short-term memory, links the fear response to the context in which the threatening stimulus or event occurred.

These two brain structures also play an important role in the release of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, influencing the capacity of the prefrontal cortex for regulating thought, emotions, and actions, as well as keeping information readily accessible during active learning.

In response to overwhelming stress in young children:

  • The brain drives the “fight or flight response” and release of stress hormones,

  • The young child has limited capacity to manage this overwhelming stress and experiences increased arousal — fear and anxiety (physical and emotional sensations).

  • Excessive fear and anxiety and excessive cortisol (stress hormone) can affect the capacity for stress regulation as well as development and higher functions of the brain, and

  • Significant early adversity can lead to lifelong problems (physical and mental health).”

When you present alarming information to someone that threatens to unravel their deeply-held beliefs or worldview, and they have unprocessed childhood trauma, you are lighting up the parts of their brain responsible for fear and stress; the amygdala and the hippocampus. You are effectively putting them in a fight or flight scenario, and they will react accordingly; not with reason and logic, but with emotion, bias, stress, and defense. To learn and incorporate new information, your brain must be in a state of “attentive calm”, a state traumatized people rarely achieve.

The evolutionary primacy of the brain’s fear circuitry makes it more powerful than reasoning circuits. When people become anxious or afraid, the reasoning centers of the brain shut down. They react on instinct, whether it be evasion, anger, avoidance, contempt, etc. They are reacting to what they perceive as a threatening situation.

It is very easy to tell if someone has unprocessed childhood trauma. If you tell them that taxation is theft, or that the government is monopolized violence, both very logical statements, and they react out of emotion, instead out of intellectual curiosity, then they are traumatized.

People with unprocessed trauma are too busy managing their stress and anxiety to be able to think clearly and rationally. Unless you resolve childhood trauma and early difficult experiences, you will never be able to access the reasoning centers of the brain, or potentially become rational or wise.

You experience this in almost every political debate you enter into. It is evidence of trauma. This is what the science tells us. When people attempt to debate something, deep-brain impulses drive emotionality, fear, anger, “fight-or-flight”, etc. When you tell someone taxation is theft, or that welfare is immoral, they get angry, the reasoning centers of their brain shut down, the negative emotional centers light up, and the information is rejected in order to calm the brain storm that is wreaking havoc inside their skull. It is not a rational process, which is why more reason and evidence gets you nowhere.

The brain has been permanently altered by traumatic and stressful experiences during early development, and the default instinct when that person feels that their beliefs or worldview are being threatened is to shut down in order to survive the encounter, not to calmly and rationally examine the situation.

(If you are a “Libertarian” or “Liberty Republican”, and you are angry or upset by what you have read so far, and are not able to rationally consider the facts and evidence being put forth, you are exhibiting the exact signs of trauma that the science predicts.)

A Measurable, Attainable Solution

Simply put, political activism and education are not going to change society, or lead to long-term freedom. The only way we can change society is from starting in the home. Traumatized people simply cannot process the facts, and neither can we hand freedom to a society that is fundamentally dysfunctional. Instead of arguing with crazy people, we must be working, and advocating for raising sane people.

Fundamentally, people believe we need government to protect us from violent criminals. If we want freedom from government, the obvious answer is to simply reduce violence and criminality in society to the point that government is no longer necessary. In order to do that, humans must be raised peacefully and rationally, and society as a whole must be convinced of our arguments.

The best way we, as the “Liberty Movement” can convince society that our philosophy is the most beneficial is by modeling it first in our own homes and communities by working to overcome our own trauma and dysfunction, raising our children peacefully, and helping others in our community overcome the dysfunction in their own lives. It’s simply not going to happen by trying to philosophically bludgeon people’s brains with the ideas of liberty.

Even if you are able to convince a lot of people of your political beliefs, advocating for liberty in the political realm will not bring about the deep changes in society necessary to sustain peace and liberty. Human dysfunction is the primary enemy of liberty, and we have to deal with this root issue first. Peace and freedom are the natural results of healthy individuals raising other healthy individuals.

No amount of political activism will be able to sustain peace and freedom in a society full of violent and psychologically damaged people. Ideologies like ours, that are based upon reason and evidence, threaten society. Only ideologies that cater to society’s vanity, violence, superficiality, and emotionality will flourish.

This is why liberals, conservatives, and statists of all colors can effectively use political activism to achieve their goals while we’re left spinning our wheels. Their messages appeals to the emotions without confronting anyone with hard truth that will threaten their beliefs or worldview. They sustain the status quo, and promise to comfort and take care of everyone who goes along with them. Our ideology is seen as a direct threat to the beliefs, worldviews, and way of life of the majority of society. Because they are traumatized, they will only react out of emotion and self-defense.

No wonder liberty, peace, free trade, and voluntaryism can’t find a seat at the table. We can’t use these same methods that the other political players use. We must have a different approach.

We must regard children as highly, if not higher, than the rest of the human beings. We used to regard slaves as sub-human. It used to be acceptable to “discipline” your wife with corporal punishment, including hitting her with wooden spoons, paddles, and leather straps.

Once a minority starts fighting for equal treatment, it generally takes around 100 years for society as a whole to consciously regard these sub-groups of people with the same level of respect as they do the rest of humanity. We are just beginning the battle to bring children up to the same level.

“Physical punishment is considered too severe for felons, murderers, criminals of all kinds and ages, including juvenile delinquents, too demeaning for soldiers, sailors, servants and spouses. But it remains legal and acceptable for children who are innocent of any crime.” – Adah Maurer, Ph.D. and James S. Wallerstein

This is a multi-generational approach to achieving freedom, and not a quick solution to the problem. However, scientifically, and statistically, the data is clear. If we raise children peacefully, do not spank them, do not hit them, do not yell at them, and do not aggress against them, the result will be a tiny fraction of the violence, psychopathy, drug addiction, promiscuity, alcoholism, criminality, suicidality, anxiety, and depression we would otherwise see. Again, children raised in healthy and peaceful environments grow up to be healthy and peaceful, and avoid the kinds of dysfunctions that governments use to expand their power.

70 to 80% of parents in America admit to hitting their kids regularly. We cannot have a free society if children are growing up being hit by authority figures, thereby learning that aggression and violence from authority are solutions to our problems. When people are raised this way, they will be accustomed to surrendering control to a violent, central authority to solve problems in society.

The state makes no sense logically or morally. The only way it makes sense is if we have had experience with something like it before. If we learn aggression, subjugation, and a bizarre, irrational respect for power and authority as the only solution to our problems as children, then the state will make perfect sense to us as adults.

Political beliefs are formed in early childhood.

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If we raise children peacefully and rationally, the state will appear as bizarre and repulsive as a murderous cult to us as adults. The mere suggestion that we need this cult to rule us with violence will be absolutely ludicrous.

The Path to Freedom: Parenting or Political Activism?