Monday, December 12, 2011

Those Crazy Libertarians

We're dangerous, you know.  Thinking that we should be free men and women, that we are slaves to no man, to think that the 13th Amendment should apply not just to private parties, but also to our Government.  That's just nuts! 

Here is a summary of a conversation I've had on more than one occasion in the past month:

"Taxation is theft," I say.

"But, the government says it's legal," goes the common refrain.

"When you have the ultimate power to right the laws, you get to define legal vs. illegal.  Taxation is government-authorized theft."

"That's crazy.  That's some libertarian definition."

Us crazy libertarians also think that the draft is slavery as are compulsory terms of enlistment for active duty military.  But these are two distinct issues.  First, conscription, or the draft, consists of taking a young male and forcing him to take up arms being sent against his will onto a battlefield.  This is not done in response to a crime committed or a voluntary agreement.  In fact, should you try to avoid this, you are committing a criminal offense.  If you do not register to be part of this potential slave movement at age 18, you are committing a crime.  But, let's assume you do volunteer to join the army.  You sign up or "enlist."  You sign a contract that says you will serve for 5 or 7 years.  After you go through some basic training you are sent off to a desert on the other side of the world.  Once you get there you decide, hey, this lfe isn't for me.  So, you quit.  No so fast my friend.  The government, by the virtue of it being the government, has the power to COMPEL you to stay.  You are not free to break your contract.  If you persist, you are called a deserter and are put on trial for a crime against the government.  How is this not slavery? 

Can you imagine if IBM had this sort of power?  You sign a 5 year contract to work with IBM.  Six months in you get into an argument with Watson and decide that this just isn't the job for you.  So, you quit.  Now, I would agree that if IBM paid you a bonus tied to the length of your contract, then you should owe them that in return, but they cannot compel you to remain at work.  They cannot imprison you for quitting.  So, why do we give our soldiers less freedom than an engineer at IBM would enjoy? 

Not to continue corrupting you with these "crazy" libertarian ideas, but if the 13th Amendment says that slavery is not legal except in the case where someone has been Convicted of a crime, what crime does that 18 year old male commit?  What crime does the recalcitrant soldier commit?  As Murray Rothbard asserted in The Ethics of Liberty (1980) we each have an absolute right to our own selves.  We have a right to totel self-ownership.  This also means we have the absolute right to the fruits of our labors.  Anything that impedes our right to self-ownership is slavery.  If you force me to sell the fruits of my labor at below the price I would set, even if my price is not economically sound, that is slavery.  But hey, these are just more crazy libertarian ideas.  Don't mind me.

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