More libertarianism books
reviewed by T. Nelson
Politics cannot evolve. So says Kevin D. Williamson of National Review in The End is Near and It's Going To Be Awesome. Big corporations and big government, like the dinosaurs, are dying off, to be replaced by cuddly little mammals. But just as the 1990s were not the End of History, so too it may be premature in the 2010s to announce the End of Politics.
By politics, Williamson really means government, though he doesn't want to say so. Williamson starts out by quoting libertarians Albert Jay Nock and Hans-Hermann Hoppe. He agrees with the fundamental libertarian principle that government is violence. Taxation, he says, is like mafia thuggery, invariably backed up by men with guns. So what is his solution?
He has two. The first, quite incongruously (if not shockingly) so soon after praising Nock, is mandatory wealth redistribution. “The great majority of Americans,” he says, “would not resent investing five percent on behalf of the less well-off.” [p.117].
It's not clear how he thinks this five percent solution would happen voluntarily. Surely Williams could not believe the government should be in charge of something like this. Americans were promised back in 1913 when the 16th Amendment was ratified that income taxes would never exceed one percent. Within three decades the top tax rate had reached 94%. There's nothing to stop that from happening with income redistribution.
The rest of the book is full of hope about the future. Schools could put private citizens and their families instead of politicians in charge of appropriating funds. They could become mixtures of homeschooling, Internet learning, and regular classrooms. The optimism is mostly dreaming about how nice things would be, if only, but there's not much concrete planning here. In places his enthusiasm jumps so rapidly from one topic to another that the end of politics begins to sound a lot like the onset of ADHD.
One early sign of the end of politics is that people will stop being loyal to the two major parties. But the two party system is a product of our Constitution. It may not say so explicitly, but our system makes it fiendishly difficult to create a third party. As long as there is a United States, we will be stuck with two parties. So another year at least.
In the final chapter, “The End Is Near,” he contrasts our right to say no at cell phone stores to our absence of a right to say no to government. The Internet is a powerful alternative to democracy, he says, because people can express their political views by boycotts and buycotts, as in the Chick-Fil-A case.
It's not until the last paragraph in the book when he finally gets around to the second half of his solution: don't pay your taxes.
Yeah, that'll make us happier and more secure, all right. The government won't drone us or, at the very least, hunt us and our co-conspirators down like dogs and intern us in a concentration camp. The other insoluble problems of global finance he mentioned earlier, and the fact that Social Security is bankrupt and all our politicians are corrupt, will just go away, and it'll be great. Better than great, it'll be awesome.
But maybe I shouldn't be so harsh. The government is headed for collapse whether we pay our taxes or not. National Review has a hard enough time resisting the pressure to turn liberal. It's only now starting to catch up with the powerful libertarian revival that's sweeping the country. Until they catch up, Williamson has to be careful what he says if he wants to keep working there.
jun 19, 2013
reviewed by T. Nelson
I know a lot of rich people. Guess what: almost all of them voted for Obama. One uses a picture of his face as the background in their Windows desktop. These people aren't stupid. If Obama and his fellow leftists were really going after the “rich,” would these rich people still be so enthusiastic?
Of course not. As Wayne Allyn Root, a self-proclaimed capitalist evangelist, says, Obama is really going after the middle class, not the rich. Big corporations benefit from high unemployment, because it gives them an excuse to get rid of employees they don't like and abuse the ones that remain. But small businesses are getting wiped out. Since small business accounts for nearly all job growth, it's no wonder unemployment is so high. People have turned into “clingers.” They cling to their jobs, if they have them, hoping the economy improves before they or their co-workers go postal.
In case anyone still doubts that Obamonomics is a disaster, Root cites a lot of statistics to make his case. Perhaps the most telling one is that total individual taxes are $1.2 trillion, yet the tax code is so complicated that the cost of compliance is $800 billion [p.140]. If that statistic is correct, it means that two thirds of the revenue is used just to fill out all those forms. That's an almost perfect bureaucracy: a tax for which all the revenue goes toward collecting the tax!
Root calls Obama “brilliant.” Of course, he doesn't mean it as a compliment. But Obama is not brilliant. He's simply taking advantage of the weakness of his opposition. He's a destroyer who can't admit, either to himself or to others, that destruction of the American way of life is his goal.
In the end, Obama will fail. Obama may or may not be a Marxist like Root says, but creating a feudalistic socialist state, while it may be the result, is not his goal.
My theory about Obama is that he's a typical narcissist big spender. People like this throw away an astounding amount of other people's money. They grab any resources they can to fund their pet schemes, but they are blind to their impracticality. With the money they can buy allies for a while, but they always fail, because their vision is fundamentally flawed. Their primary goal is to aggrandize themselves. As the casualties pile up, and people come to understand them, their former allies will turn into enemies. Those who stand by them will sit in the cell next to them.
But that could take years. What can be done now? What can we do to survive this catastrophe? After spending 142 pages convincing us there's a problem (which we know already, else why did we buy the book?), Root finally gets to his solutions. Most of these are standard investment advice. They're reasonable if you have a lot of money to invest. (Personally, I plan to buy Verizon. I'm saving up one cent a day. By the year 35,616,440,370 I'll be ready to strike.) There are also things you can do sooner to prepare for the inevitable, even if you don't have money. But all of them take effort.
Root gets pretty worked up in this book, but it's not a right-wing rant. The picture on the back cover makes Root look like an Oxiclean salesman, and he really is a superb salesman. His point of view is pro-business, conservative, and anti-union. His writing style is light, straightforward, optimistic, and entertaining. This is one of the quickest 452-page books I've read in a while. This book may not be profound philosophy, but Root's viewpoint is shared by an increasing number of people.
dec 21, 2013