November 12, 2013

A Bake Sale to Buy a Bomber?

Great Liberty on the Rocks -- Flatirons last night! The lovely bride and I have missed several to care for dear Harriet, and it was good to get back.

The program featured three winners of the Leadership Program of the Rockies' "Defending Capitalism" speech contest. We heard three great speeches and multiple ideas to reach those not immediately disposed to the wonders of liberty. The (excellent) crowd also coughed up $800 to supply impressionable youth with Ayn Rand books and their teachers with instruction materials.

None of the speakers seemed to be radical big-O Objectivists, but Rand's writings were obviously influential -- and I believe are a sizable part of the LPR curriculum. National Defense came up in the Q&A session. Only one of the speakers was anarchist enough to suggest private defense.

When I got home, and saw that a US Carrier and supporting ships were headed to the Philippines for typhoon relief, I wished I had asked the group about plunder and taking money from my neighbor at gunpoint to fuel a carrier group on a relief mission.

Your friendly blog Deepak-Lallian libertarian has no problem with this. I wonder if others do have a problem or how they rationalize it if they do not. This is a tertiary at best relation to actual defense, but it is important to the maintenance of a Liberal International Economic Order. Of benefit to all taxpayers:

  • Projection of US power and capability. I don't worry militarily about China like some of my righty friends, but who's that in their backyard with the capacity to help?

  • Ditto for Freedom. A great Facebook meme is "Capitalism: financing all the other -isms for thousands of years..." Who has the largess to do aid on this scale?

  • The Philippines is home to a large Communist faction (gotta stay poor after the Colonials leave...) as well as the unfortunately acronymed Moro Islamic Liberation Front MILFs for radical Islam!. This is pretty good PR for America and Western Capitalism

Do I have a fight? Robbing Peter to help Pinoy? Or is this valid use of our defense infrastructure and budget?

Rant Posted by John Kranz at November 12, 2013 11:23 AM

The ethics of emergency are different from those of daily life. I'm with you and those other fellows, mostly, probably are as well. It's called "humanity."

Posted by: johngalt at November 12, 2013 3:21 PM

(That wasn't meant to be as terse as it reads.) 3sourcesJG apologizes.

Posted by: johngalt at November 13, 2013 5:43 PM

Nah, we should let the Chinese do it. They would serve as a great well spring of liberty across the region. ^_~

Posted by: T. Greer at November 14, 2013 12:42 AM

Also, my big beef with the health care problem is not really redistribution per say. The more and more I think about it the more I like Charles Murray's proposal for a lump-sum 'demogrant' or Milton Friedman's negative taxes.

What I find alarming about health care is the liberties it infringes (mandates and lost plans), regulations it enacts, and corporate fat cats it holds up. The health care bill does not bother e because it takes from those who have and those who do not - it bothers me because it distorts and perverts the entire United States economy, destroying the people's independence and the workings of the market with one big inefficient, corrupt behemoth.

Posted by: T. Greer at November 14, 2013 12:50 AM

Apology not required, 3srcjg . . . but I did wonder what I said that cheesed you off so. (I might want to use it again someday!)

I was looking for a Snyder v Phelps or ACLU-defending the Illinois Nazis (man, I hate Illinois Nazis...) argument. This is a good excuse for a standing army in peacetime and I have yet to hear someone criticize it beyond the overhead to deliver $1 of aid.

Posted by: jk at November 14, 2013 11:21 AM

@tgreer: clearly, my work is not done (heh).

I hold your intelligence and knowledge in the highest esteem. But I would challenge you to consider foundational principles one step lower. I'm not even one of the Randians 'round these parts and I get a little queasy. It sounds like you don't mind "a little" abrogation of property rights. Or that the government is entitled to abridge the right to contract "somewhat."

You are then asked to draw a line somewhere between those two liberties (which I consider foundational) and the liberty shredding monstrosity (we certainly agree) that is the PPACA. I humbly posit that you have set yourself up for failure. But that an absolute principled stance on the sanctity of contract and property rights is consistent and eternally defensible.

The nannying, "noodger," Malcolm Gladwell intervention is tempting, especially to one of your academic prowess. Adhering to foundational principles provides a new perspective.

Posted by: jk at November 14, 2013 11:54 AM

That's just it - I wasn't cheesed off, just being matter-of-fact. QE, on the other hand, cheeses me off.

But back to the point at hand - redistribution v. central planning. Obviously I want neither, but blog pragmatist usually reminds me that "we live in the world we gots" and a pluarality of 'Mericans want the down-on-their-luck to be cared for. So yes, I'm with TG. If we "must" have redistribution then let it be transparent and in broad daylight. Then let recipients choose where and how to spend their "USA" [Uncle Sam's Allowance] in a purely capitalistic unregulated free-market. Eventually there will be fewer and fewer who are "down-on-their-luck" as they learn about saving, investing, profiting and prospering.

Brilliant, TG. I'm in! Who's with us? (And if you aren't, you're a whiny, sniveling, belly-crawling maggot.) ;)

Posted by: johngalt at November 14, 2013 2:39 PM

Dagny said she wasn't quite clear about what TG proposed. While neither of us is familiar with Charles Murray we have both read about Friedman's negative tax rate and, by way of another example, R.A. Heinlein's birthright annual income. [Briefly mentioned in the comments here.]

The idea I think TG and I share is this: If we're going to use the power of the state to take stuff from some people and give it to others, let us insist that it be explicitly recognized as such. And do it directly, without the package-deal of government management of this or that program. Just give them cash, i.e. "Uncle Sam's Allowance" and turn them loose in the free market.

This is more efficient, less prone to cronyism, and makes no pretensions about what, in fact, it is. Sell it as "America is so prosperous it can pay everyone a monthly allowance simply for being here. Now take this and spend it wisely. Better yet, invest it and become one of the makers instead of the takers!"

Posted by: johngalt at November 15, 2013 1:37 PM | What do you think? [8]