What is a Rogue State?

A few days ago, I was flipping through the TV channels looking for something interesting to watch between football games.  Golf just doesn’t do it for me.  I zoomed past C-SPAN, which can be interesting at times, even if it’s also annoying.  I was on this channel long enough to hear some Republican congressman whipper-snapper use the term “rogue state.”

“What is a rogue state?” I thought to myself.  In the eyes of the U.S. government, a rogue state is a government that enjoys a monopoly on violence which refuses to do the bidding of America.  Certain governments are not allowed to do what all governments naturally do:  make weapons, enforce monopolies, engage in conquest, etc.  These governments are referred to as rogue states by the arrogant quacks who run the American machine.

In essence, however, the “good governments” are no worse than the bad ones.  They use the same monopoly on violence to drive weaker nations and peoples into submission.  A rogue state has simply suffered the misfortune of getting on the bad side of the sanctimonious oligarchs in Washington, DC.  Many of these “rogue states” were victims of American baiting and switching.  Saddam Hussein, were he still alive, would be able to testify to this.

A more basic question, however, is, What is a rogue?  A rogue is a criminal, a thief, gangster, mobster, murderer, etc.  So are all governments.  They steal the money of innocent civilians under threat of penalty as if the fruits of a man’s labor are not his own; force young men into military service as if the bodies of the citizenry are owned by the state; erode private property rights almost to the point of meaninglessness; go on conquest to enforce oil monopolies; and install puppet governments in far away lands against the consent of the people who live there.

In other words, all states are rogue states.  To use this term is redundant; it is like saying “yellow canary” or “red cardinal.”  The politicians get away with it, however, because most of us are unwilling to re-examine the assumptions that were taught to us in school.  Recently Sen.Harry Reid claimed that taxation is “voluntary.”  There should have been protests everywhere, but the remark went nearly unnoticed.  If memory serves, not even Matt Drudge took note of it.

The sad part of this whole story of “man’s inhumanity to man,” as Ronald Reagan called it, is that this kind of violence reigns on the throne of human ignorance and indifference.  If even a tithe of the citizenry were wide awake, most of the awfulness we see today wouldn’t be happening.  This leads to the most sobering lesson of all:  Most countries end up with the government they deserve.

Virginia police over-step authority

These kinds of stories are becoming so common as to hardly merit specific mention anymore, at least as “news.”  At this point the more crucial matter is taking account of the erosion of freedoms in this country.  In a kind of sequel to the Professor Gates outrage, in which Boston police harassed him long after it was obvious that he was indeed the owner of the house, local Virginia police tased a cooperative grandfather and a pregnant woman at, of all things, a baptismal party.  Read about it here and here.  (Recall that tasing can be life threatening, and that it was originally conceived as a possible substitute for deadly force, but only in those situations which would call for the use of deadly force.  In other words, not a baptismal party.)

In both cases, the outdated “disorderly conduct” law was cited as cause to arrest these citizens who were minding their own business.  This is a law that was created to give cops the authority to tamp down race riots over labor conflicts that occurred in the early 20th century between various immigrant groups.  In both states concerned, the law specifically says that the alleged disorderly conduct must have occurred in public in order to be considered a violation of the code; in both these cases, the arrests were made on private property.  Let this be another lesson that the government never follows its own rules.  Keep this in mind when they try to allay your fears about this or that proposal.

Many people have commented unfavorably on my principled dislike of the police, but how else am I to feel about an organization which uses its monopoly on violence to harass peaceful citizens?  These men are considered “heroes” by many, but heroes don’t shoot black labs and claim that they felt threatened; they don’t invoke war zone-like rules of engagement, treating fleeing potential suspects as definite aggressors, as a proposal in Chicago would have it; and heroes don’t tase dudes that just want to ask Sen. John Kerry a question, man.  These acts are not heroic; they are cowardly.  The cops want you to think that they risk their lives for you, but this is not true to the extent that they lead us to believe.  The fact is that they are far more willing to engage in pre-emptive self-defense than they will ever admit.

Worse than the cops, however, might well be the citizens who defend this tyrannical behavior.  These reflexive traditionalists don’t seem to realize that some day they could be the victim of police brutality; that it might be their relative in the ambulance that gets pulled over and medical care delayed (a misdemeanor, btw) because of some power-hungry cop; that it might be they who are harassed by the TSA when they inquire as to whether or not they’re legally compelled to answer questions.  Et cetera.  We call these kinds of incidents “harassment” precisely because the people on the wrong side of luck in these cases did nothing wrong.  So what is going to prevent something like this from happening to you?

The reflexive traditionalists, and some of the thoughtful ones, too, will answer that the police guard the tranquil order.  I suppose that in a State in which the police take appropriate action against violators of the rights to life, self, and property, this argument can be made.  But today the police are, if anything,  disturbers of the ordo tranquilitatis, and our sick willingness to look the other way until it affects ourselves enables them to perpetuate this errand of hostility.

Judge: Government must return seized coins

A judge in Philadelphia has determined that the U.S. government must return ten gold coins which it seized from a family when they showed up at the Mint to have them authenticated.  Lovely how the government just assumed that they were stolen.  The judge seems not to have been fooled.

Is there any chance at all that maybe, just maybe, the government is afraid of real money getting into circulation?

Theft, Violence, and Propaganda

Thanks to LRC, I just had the pleasure (?) of watching this American tax propaganda video from the World War II era:

We hear the usual claptrap in this clip, words like “duty” and “sacrifice.”  The interesting thing about “sacrifice,” however, is that it is a lie:  When a thief breaks into your home and takes your most treasured possessions, that is not a sacrifice.  The divestment of your materials was not voluntary, so how could there be any giving or sacrifice?  In the Jewish and Christian traditions, sacrifice is voluntary.  I suppose that this means that the State is more like primordial religions, in which even human sacrifice was conducted without the consent of those whom it, well, impacted the most, if you catch my drift.

Another interesting feature of this excrement is that it glorifies violence and serving the State in the military.  What else are all those salutes and “Yes Sirs” meant to convey?  Couple this with the surprise when the talking radio reveals he’s actually discussing the income tax.  This seems to re-enforce the idea that military service is assumed to be good.  

Interestingly, however, one does wonder why the government, through its shills at Disney, felt the need to make this cartoon.  At the time the federal income tax was not a very old thing; many would have remembered much more peaceful times when they kept much more of their money.  Was there some resistance still?  How did the government prevail?  Were people as gullible then as they are now?  It would seem that tyranny benefits, if you’ll pardon my constantly bringing up this idea, from fragmentation and obsession, as Weaver called it.  This is the myopic fetish with detail that humanity has developed after it has lost sight of civilization’s founding principles.  The most obvious symptom of this is naked hostility to philosophy, most often seen in the neo-conservatives.  But the salient point here is that fragmentation and obsession keeps us from seeing the essential characteristics of a thing.  Indeed, to point out the relationship between theft and taxation is to waste one’s breath even in conversations with the “fiscally conservative.”  The government benefits from this because of the consequent stupidity which makes people more pliable to the idea that paying taxes is “different” from being robbed at gunpoint.

There is one tiny, tiny redeeming piece of this video, however.  It would seem that it shows how the tax system worked before the withholding racket got its start.  Would that each of us, every April 15, had to write a check for every cent in tax that we “owe” for the previous year.  That is to say, abolish the withholding system.  It is a nice trick the government uses, and it keeps most people, who are asleep in general as it is, from realizing just how much tax they pay every year.  It was sold to the gullible as a “convenience” but it is really a weapon:  Employers are required to withhold the money, and there is no chance for people to say to the government, “You’re not getting it.”  It makes any kind of tax revolt well impossible, doesn’t it?

For my part, I continue to pay my taxes honestly, if only out of a sense of prudence.  I value my ability to live freely over my natural right to keep the fruits of my labor.  I am like the coward who, when confronted with a gun-wielding mugger, hands over his wallet without even thinking.  Perhaps, however, the point should not be my cowardice, but rather that the government—that evil, parasitical pile of excrement in Washington—relies on such conundrums for its survival.

Remember that the next time some sports announcer asks you to stand up for the State Song.  “Deutschland ueber Alles…”  Ooops.  Wrong soundtrack.  Well, they’re all the same, though, aren’t they?

From one kind of murder to another

Barack Obama may be predisposed to commit fewer war crimes than his predecessor, though we must express such hopes with due caution if not downright skepticism, but one area on which he has turned the tables in the Murder-by-State department is abortion.

Obama has promised to push for the passage of FOCA, the Freedom of Choice Act, which among other things would force many healthcare providers to face the choice between performing procedures they find morally reprehensible, or shutting their doors.  So much for freedom.  This sounds to me like coercion, and, as usual, it is brought to you by the State.

But it doesn’t stop here.  Obama has already reversed the Mexico City policy, which under the W. Administration prohibited U.S. funds from going overseas to assist in the procurement of abortions.  Bush’s policy would seem to be the sensible one, for why should my tax dollars provide for a procedure which I find to be abhorent, either in a foreign country, or here at home?  Why should tax dollars support any ill-advised jaunt (such as the invasion of Iraq) that is morally controversial?  (Moreover, why should there be taxes, or the State, period….but I digress…)

Many would perhaps not want to admit it, but the key issue here is one of forcing American citizens to violate their consciences.  Perhaps this is a good sword to fall on, just the place to begin in the long battle against tyranny, for Ron Paul warned a year ago already that many of us would soon be facing tough choices and would have to decide if we were willing to commit civil disobedience.

The issue of abortion is a difficult one.  By saying that I do not mean to imply that I think the morality of it is hard to sort out.  It is difficult because it is hot, and sound reason is getting lost in the heat.   When I was a Statist (God forgive me!), I used to advocate a Constitutionalist approach:  Simply have Congress revoke this issue from the jurisdiction of the U.S. Supreme Court under Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution.  In all the years of Republican control of Congress, this option was never taken seriously, in spite of the fact that such bills were introduced.  This is one of the reasons that I don’t take the GOP seriously on this issue.

Many more, however, advocate a change in the make-up of the Supreme Court.  Good luck with that.  This is impossible to predict, and even with a pro-life president, even the best nominee is no better than a roll of the dice.  Besides, Article III, Section 2, and all that.

The real problem with trying to solve this through Constitutional means is that the Constitution really doesn’t matter anyway.  If it is true that the Lone Ranger President actually called it “just a G*ddamn piece of paper,” then, well, he’s right, and history proves him right.  The government has massaged, and even rended, the Constitution to get whatever it wants.  Why should it be any different with this issue?

The problem with the issue of abortion is that it would seem that civil law would be ineffective at truly preventing it from happening—as is the case with civil law so much of the time.  Yet, if there were to be no secular protection for the life of the unborn, who would be the defenders of the victims of abortion?  The best solution in the Statist milieu, it would seem, would be local laws that were enforceable.  Repeat:  this is within the Statist milieu.  (I’m dealing with present realities, for a change, but only for one paragraph.  You needn’t worry.)

Would it be better, however, for various religious institutions to institute their own penalties for this crime?  That has its own problems, not the least of which is that someone without religious affiliation would be unaccountable to anyone. Maybe the private common law courts that would be used in the anarcho-capitalist system envisioned by Murray Rothbard could be used to avenge the killing of the unborn.

Incidendentally, I do not accept Rothbard’s idea that the unborn child, being a parasite of its mother, does not have any rights.  It is the foetus’ parasitical nature which leads Rothbard to this conclusion that the unborn is really just property of the mother.  The implications of this, however, are ghastly.  What, then, about the nursing infant?  What about the mentally handicapped or deranged young adult?  What about the elderly, and those considered to be in “vegetative states”?  If being “parasitical” voids one’s rights, then most of our lives would be in danger at one point or another.

What is more, Rothbard really didn’t need to view the unborn as a parasite in order to keep his ethic of liberty consistent.  All one need do is define the unborn life as one belonging to itself, with all the rights that the rest of us have, and there is no problem of consistency.

Of course, that’s ultimately the rub, isn’t it?  In the final analysis, one’s views on abortion are not so much influenced by what one thinks the Constitution does or does not say, or by whether or not one is a Democan, Republikrat, libertarian, or anarchist.  It comes down to what one thinks a foetus is.  After all, if one believes that it is a life, then consistency requires that we stand up for its rights, and if one believes that it is not its own life, then that opens the door to toleration of, or even downright acceptance of, abortion.

We won’t all agree on this subject, and we might even disagree vehemently.  And that is the number one reason why the State should keep its grubby mitts out of the abortion industry.

Help to put an end to abortion by putting an end to the State.

Pennsylvania thinks soap is unnecessary

When self-checkout kiosks began appearing in supermarkets in the early part of this decade, I resisted them stubbornly. They seemed to be a symptom of the deification of efficiency, and of the modern tendency to avoid meaningful interaction with other people–two phenomena to which I am just as susceptible as anyone else.

It did not take long for me to mellow on this, if for no other reason than that the stores were making use of fewer red-blooded cashiers in the wake of this new invention. I began to take note of some of the advantages of the self-checkout routine. For one thing, if I’m in a bad mood, I don’t risk subjecting some innocent person to my bad vibe, but for another thing, I pay more attention to certain details on my grocery bill.

One of those details concerns items which are taxed and items which are not taxed. Here in the State of Pennsylvania, the tale is that necessary items are not taxed–for example, clothing and food. Of course, some foods are taxed, if they are deemed to be non-essential. Soda, for instance, is taxed, if I recall correctly.

Never in my life would I have thought that soap would be a taxable item. Imagine my surprise when, on a trip to the store this evening, sales tax came up after I ran the hand soap over the scanner. On what planet is soap not necessary? And are some soaps tax free? I happen to have certain soaps that I like, soaps that kill bacteria and that do not dry, crack, and shred my hands all to hell. How is this not an essential item? Would the people who have to sit next to me on the subway agree that soap is non-essential?

All of this brings out the absurdity in having the government decide what is necessary and what is not. The truth of the matter is that different materials are necessary for different people. (So, as far as soap is concerned, it would be a question, I think, of kind, and not of whether or not one uses it!) To me, having a large pickup truck (to which I will, by the way, never aspire) would be a luxury, but to a hard-working plumber or farmer, it’s surely a necessity. To most people, eating out in restaurants is a frill; but to nomadic workers, it’s a necessity. The short version of this story is that the government is in no position to determine, even for the poorest citizens, what is necessary and what is not. The bureaucrats do not and will never have all the required information to divine (pun intended!) such things. This is a flaw that F.A. Hayek discussed in the context of Central Planning in his fairly good book The Road to Serfdom.

Of course, I don’t expect any Philadelphia tea parties over the State sales tax. After all, it seems that most people regard the absence of the sales tax on certain items to be a favor, like it’s the equivalent to an employer handing out Christmas bonuses. Perhaps this is because most people, having resigned themselves to dealing with what’s right in front of their faces, have not reflected on the manifest injustice that is taxation in all its forms.

And that really stinks.

U.S. Catholic Bishops take on Bush Administration’s immigration raids

From Rocco comes this story:

For over a year now, DHS has targeted employers who hire unauthorized workers by using force to enter worksites and arrest immigrant workers. During the process of these raids, U.S.-citizen children have been separated from their parents for days, if not longer; immigrants arrested have not been afforded the rights of due process; and local communities, including legal permanent residents and U.S. citizens, have been disrupted and dislocated. The sweeping nature of these raids—which often involve hundreds of law enforcement personnel with weapons—strike fear in immigrant communities and make it difficult for those arrested to secure basic due process protections, including legal counsel.

I used to be staunchly against illegal immigration, but the inconvenient facts of the matter show that this mess can hardly be laid entirely at the feet of the immigrants, or even at the feet of their employers. Our nation was founded upon the philosophical idea of the natural rights of man, but somehow this doesn’t obtain anymore when it’s inconvenient for the government or for bourgeois WASP culture. The present immigration laws are ridiculous, with many hoops for people to jump through in order to become citizens. The U.S. government even harasses students who come here to study, then want to stay. These are people who without doubt want to contribute to our society, and the government makes them pay outrageous fees and play a kind of lottery even to stand a chance of winning citizenship.

It may be a bad idea to have no immigration policy whatsoever, but the one we have now is unjust, and moreover, hardly beneficial to our culture. So, keep talking, Catholic bishops. This is one area in which you actually don’t drive me completely nuts.

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