Ending Government Control of Air Traffic Control is Long Overdue

On Monday, President Trump announced plans to privatize the out of date government controlled air traffic control system.  The intent of the plan is to spinoff the air traffic control system from the Federal Aviation Administration within three years and convert it to a non-profit company. The FAA currently spends more than $10 billion per year on air traffic control, which largely still uses radio and radar technology from the 1960’s.

Ending government control of anything is good, but it’s even more so when it comes to transportation barriers. While tax payers immediately save the $10 billion, the real savings will come to travelers in reduced costs and fees. The reason for this is because the market will always innovate because they have an incentive to; the government, on the other hand, has no incentive to innovate. This leads to inherent systemic inefficiencies and cost overruns. It is the nature of the state to always lag behind the market. That’s why the parasitic state has to use laws and regulations to influence and strangle the market into submission.

The downside here is that this reform, being written by the state, will allow the influence of the cronies dominate leading to a cartelization, not a genuine free market solution. Once that non-profit fails to produce, it gives the critics of capitalism ammunition. The fact that the “solution” was a mile away from free market capitalism doesn’t seem to matter. This process isn’t uncommon. Republicans have been doing damage to the free market like this for years.

President Trump’s plan is not a done deal yet as many Democrats and some Republicans oppose the plan, which has to get through Congress.

Overall, it is always best to phase out the state in any way possible. Hopefully this leads to a trend in eliminating state control over more and more areas of transportation. Next up should be the TSA.

Bastiat on The State

I ran across one of my favorite quotes the other day on the internet. The quote is from the 19th century French journalist, economist, and social critic Frederic Bastiat and his seminal work The Law, first published in 1850.

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I think this quote is great because it speaks to the insane blind trust given to the state and their representatives; a kind of blind trust that would never be afforded to the free market. As a thought experiment, imagine if Walmart was running the public school system into the ground instead of the government. Parents and communities would be storming the corporate office en masse demanding changes to the system. When was the last demonstration to fix government schools that didn’t include higher taxes and more centralized control? This is because the state gets the benefit of the doubt in virtually all cases due to their “good tendencies”. The problem is that the “good tendencies” of these politicians and their agents, like public teacher’s unions, are illusory. Public schools don’t exist to teach critical thinking and life skills. They exist to teach kids what to think and how to become good little citizens that don’t question the motives of their government overlords.

Finer clay? I don’t think so.

The Path To Liberty: Radical Decentralization vs. Universalism

Today on Lew Rockwell’s indispensable website, Mises Institute president Jeff Deist, posted a thought provoking article on the practical ends of libertarianism. Deist’s contention is that almost all liberals and conservatives seek universalism, that is, attempting to instill western democratic values to all persons on the globe. Unfortunately, many libertarians, including the Libertarian Party, have jumped on that bandwagon.

Per Jeff Deist:

“Universalism provides the philosophical underpinnings for globalism. But it does not provide a roadmap for freedom. Libertarians, who want a non-political world organized around civil society and markets rather than the state, have a responsibility to call foul on this inescapably statist narrative. Globalism is not liberty; instead it threatens to create an entirely new level of government. And universalism is not natural law; in fact it is often directly at odds with human nature and (true) human diversity.”

He goes on to point out that universalism, political or economic, is ultimately unachievable because people can’t be relied on to always think and act in ways that the ruling class want them to and thus universalism can’t answer questions fundamental to the study of human action (praxeology). Not only this, but to have any kind of workable universalism, you would need to presume an all-powerful one world state.

Deist argues that what libertarians should really be pushing for is not universalism, but radical decentralization: the idea that local oversight is always better than faraway rulers and that humans, because of natural law, have the right of self-determination. This decentralization should ultimately progress all the way to the individual.

Deist on the importance of self-determination:

“In other words, self-determination is the ultimate political goal. It is the path to liberty, however imperfect. A world of seven billion self-governing individuals is the ideal, but short of that we should prefer the Liechtensteins to the Germanys and the Luxembourgs to the Englands. We should prefer states’ rights to federalization in the US, and cheer for the breakup of EU. We should support breakaway movements in places like Catalonia and Scotland (provided they are organic and not engineered by states and their spy agencies). We should admire the Swiss federalist system, where localism is a governing principle.  We should favor local control over faraway legislatures and administrative bodies, and thus reject multilateral trade deals. We should, in sum, prefer small to large when it comes to government.”

The first step on the path to self-determination is to delegitimize the state, in all its forms. Only once people see the state as the violent and oppressive institution it is, can they begin to imagine practical market and self-determined solutions to the problems they face.  The election of Donald Trump has certainly done a lot towards this end. When was the last time you saw progressives in California talk about nullification and secession in a positive way? Normally if you claim either of those things as positive values, you are attacked by the left as a racist and a neo-confederate. It’s amazing to see people who champion the growth and supremacy of the state change their tune once they are out of power. Is the left hypocritical? Of course, but so is the right. The only thing that is important is for the state to lose credibility, legitimacy, and, ultimately, authority.

Memorial Day

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Today is Memorial Day in America. Memorial Day began as Decoration Day in 1868 by a union army veterans group to honor union army vets that died in the civil war. In 1967 Memorial Day was made a federal holiday and had informally switched from honoring only those who died in the civil war to honoring American veterans who died in all American wars.

Libertarian anarchy is explicitly an anti-war political philosophy. This is because libertarian anarchy is an explicitly anti-aggression philosophy. The same Non-Aggression Principle that governs the behavior of individuals also applies to nation-states. Combined with a non-interventionist foreign policy and radical laissez-fair economics, libertarian anarchy can be seen as having an attitude of live and let live pacifism. Nothing could be further from the truth. While there are undoubtedly some anarchists who consider themselves pacifist, the vast majority of anarcho-capitalists wouldn’t hesitate to use violence in the case of self-defense. This extends to defense of country.

It’s unfortunate that being anti-war is seen as anti-American in our modern-day political culture. Maybe it’s more unfortunate that in order to qualify as a patriotic American today you must support all of the empire’s wars of aggression without question.

It isn’t unpatriotic to say that spending trillions of dollars, while selling our grandchildren into debt slavery, to prosecute wars in the middle east has made us less safe as a country.

It isn’t unpatriotic to say that actively supporting, funding, and arming rebel groups in Syria and elsewhere (the same groups that perpetrated 9/11, by the way) is a bad idea.

And it isn’t unpatriotic to say that dropping tens of thousands of bombs and killing tens of thousands of civilians across the middle east probably isn’t the best way to win the hearts and minds of the people. And that maybe, just maybe, the alarming rise in Islamic terrorism is, at least in part, blowback from the decades of intervention in the region.

The best way to honor fallen veterans isn’t to wrap yourself in the flag, it’s to start questioning the policies that have created so many of them in the first place.

Government vs Market Resource Allocation

Yesterday on Lew Rockwell’s outstanding site, Walter Williams wrote a piece on differences between the way the market allocates resources and the way that government allocates resources.

Per Walter Williams:

“Free market allocation is conflict-reducing, whereas government allocation enhances the potential for conflict. But I’m all too afraid that most Americans want to be able to impose their preferences on others. Their vision doesn’t differ from one that says, “I don’t want my children to say morning prayers, and I’m going to force you to live by my preferences.” The issue of prayers in school is just a minor example of people’s taste for tyranny.”

There are two major points to make here. The first is that when governments act, social conflict is almost always increased because resource allocation by political means is almost always a zero-sum game. Williams uses the example of prayer in government schools. There are only two options: prayer in all government schools or no prayer in any government schools. Either way, someone loses. This is not the case when the voluntary market acts, though. The outcome is peaceful because it allows people of different opinions to express their preferences without conflict. If all schools were private, though, you could put your child in a school that allows prayer and I could put my child in a school that doesn’t.

The second point is to understand the danger of people using the government as a weapon. They seek to inflict and enforce their preferences and morality on everyone else in society.  You can see examples of this everywhere you look. Take your morally outraged Facebook friends who insist that not only is healthcare is a right, but also that no amount of tax dollars is too much to provide it. In New York, the state assembly just passed a universal health care bill that would cost over $90 billion dollars annually to manage. That is more than the all of the tax revenues collected by the state of New York in 2014 ($77 billion). This means that taxes on New Yorkers, already among the highest in the nation, will have to be doubled to make up the deficit.

Funding your moral projects by using the power of the government to steal money from your neighbors doesn’t make you compassionate and charitable. It makes you a thief. Actually, it makes you worse than a thief, because at least a thief steals the money himself. The market is always more efficient and effective than government and the market for healthcare is no different.

Special Counsel Appointed to Investigate Trump-Russia Ties

Former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller has been appointed as special counsel to oversee the ongoing investigation into alleged ties between the Russian government and the Trump administration. The announcement came from deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein just days after the termination of FBI director James Comey and the subsequent news of the “Comey Memo”, notes taken by Comey in February that allege President Trump asked him to end the federal investigation into national security advisor Michael T. Flynn.

Mueller’s appointment as special prosecutor seeks to alleviate some of the concern from Democrats and Republicans alike over the agency’s ability to carry out the investigation properly and impartially.

Per the New York Times:

“Mr. Mueller’s appointment was hailed by Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, who view him as one of the most credible law enforcement officials in the country.

Senator Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican and a member of the Judiciary Committee, said Mr. Mueller’s “record, character, and trustworthiness have been lauded for decades by Republicans and Democrats alike.”

Specifically, Mueller is tasked with overseeing the investigation into:

  1. Any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and
  2. Any matters that arose or may directly arise from the investigation; and
  3. Any other matters within the scope of the special counsel. These include any federal crimes pertaining to the investigation, such as: obstruction of justice, perjury, witness tampering, etc.

It needs to be said that so far there is no evidence of any collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. To this point, only a lot of conjecture, circumstantial evidence, and accusations have been leveled.

The “Comey Memo”, if its allegations are true (and if it even exists), provides evidence that President Trump at least attempted to interfere with a federal investigation into one of his close advisors. It can certainly be argued that is an impeachable offense. The question will be whether Trump telling Comey, “I hope you can let this go”, constitutes asking the FBI director to end the investigation. I’m no lawyer, but personally, that sounds like a hard sell; saying you hope an investigation ends is not the same thing the same as telling him to end the investigation.

It is also interesting to note that the memo is supposedly from February, three months before Comey was terminated. If the FBI director had evidence that the President attempted to interfere with an ongoing federal investigation and didn’t report it in a timely manner, then the FBI director would also have committed a crime.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has requested Comey appear at both open and closed sessions, as well as to provide any memos he has related to the investigation by May 24.