Monday, June 29, 2009

Ten Answers

Local Asheville blogger and city council candidate Gordon Smith has a few questions for Tea Party Protest participants, myself in particular, and has rather uncordially invited us to answer:

"When last the teabaggers swung their forces into action, there was much gnashing of teeth in the comment thread...Safe to say that Tim Peck is one of the teabag captains?...So, Jane and Tim, now that you’re reading this…"

After careful and thoughtful consideration, I responded.

Ten Answers for Scrutiny Hooligans

First, I support the Tea Party movement and help out where I can. But I do not speak on behalf of any Tea Party organizers or protesters. This is a grassroots movement and as such there are no central top-down organizing directives, scripts or talking-points. We make them up as we go, grassroots-style.

Second, I will respond to your questions in spite of the insults made in the course of asking them. I'm that kind of guy. One: insults are bad manners; and, two: I do not need to employ insults to advance my arguments.

1) Which of Heath Shuler’s appropriations requests would you like to see cut?

All of them. Theft is theft.

2) Is there anyone who’s produced a budget proposal based on the Teabag Principles? Can we see it?

There is no such thing as Teabag Principles. Generally speaking, the Tea Party protesters oppose greedy and unbridled growth of government, reckless escalation of taxation (in all of its forms), government bailouts and takeovers, and inflation of the money supply with fiat currency. (Recall that all of this started with the Cram Down Bill that takes money from those who have earned it and gives it to those to whom it does not belong.)

This is more than a political movement. The Tea Parties represent the beginnings of a moral revolt against the ethic of "other-ism." That is, the ethic that claims we are our brother's keepers. Translated, what this really means is: "You have an unearned obligation to be my keeper, fully and in perpetuity, by means of involuntary servitude, enforceable by the coercive power of government." We have seen too many budget proposals that reflect this predatory morality. A proper budget proposal would contain expenditures in the conduct of the proper role of government, which is to protect individual rights, not violate them.

3) If I’m hearing y’all right, you’d like to do away with entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare, and a proposed public option for health care. Do I have this right? Is there a social safety net in this philosophy?

The Tea Party movement is not a philosophy. In my philosophy, which is Objectivism, there is no proper role for the government in retirement planning, health care, or any other aspect of the economy. Objectivists advocate a separation of economy and state. The only proper safety net in a free society is private charity. Those who are happy to pay taxes for such things should be equally happy, if not more so, to pay private organizations to provide safety nets. Government interference in this aspect of life squanders funds available for charity and has actually reduced the charitable impulse, which cannot be forced. Involuntary charity is an oxymoron.

4) You’re against giving corporations money in the form of a bailout or ‘welfare’. Does this include agribusiness and weapons manufacturers?

I am personally opposed to bailouts, no matter the recipient. I advocate a free market where failing businesses fail and successful businesses succeed and in any case the government has no place in the dynamic. This concept has been subverted by the "brother's keeper" ethic that demands that failing businesses succeed by virtue of expropriated taxes. It is not the proper role of government to pick winners and losers in the economy. That is the proper role of the free market, not coercive government.

5) To which “endless wars” does your mission refer?

So long as the imperial ambition of meddling in the domestic affairs of other countries continues, so will its concomitant wars, conflicts and police actions. This makes them endless. I would like to see an end to all non-defensive wars. That would be just about all of them.

I was glad to see Claire Hanrahan and the Veterans for Peace group join us at the last Tea Party protest. I hope to see them at the next one.

6) You’re against “confiscatory taxation”. What sort of taxation do you favor?

I notice that you put the term confiscatory taxation in quotation marks. I assume you mean by that to say, "You're against what you call confiscatory taxation." Yes, I am against confiscatory taxation. I advocate voluntary taxation. However, we are so far from simple and direct payment for services that this is inconceivable for most. On the way to that ideal, the best alternative is to begin reducing the size of government and lowering and eliminating certain taxes, starting with the personal income tax. I do not favor a sales tax because it's a tax. But I can support the Fair Tax insofar as it eliminates the IRS.

7) If the Republican Party weren’t trapped in chinese finger cuffs, would you be so suddenly non-partisan? Seems to me that a lot of very partisan Republican people are realizing that they’re driven that vehicle to death. Is this a party-building exercise for you? If not, what do you imagine your future in the Republican or Libertarian party to be?

I am an unaffiliated nonpartisan libertarian. My political principles transcend party politics. If and when I see a candidate or elected official who holds the promise of advancing my values, I will support them, regardless of their party affiliation.

8) Quoting Heritage Foundation and Michelle Malkin while making a case for kumbayah non-partisanship is really hard to swallow. No question here really, just appreciating the cognitive dissonance.

The attempt here is to smear the good names and characters of Tea Party protesters. Throwing in the names of Heritage Foundation and Michelle Malkin, who I presume you do not like, along-side the names of Tea Party participants is a technique employed to imply that your readers should also not like Tea Party participants either.

As for myself, I am always happy to hear about anyone who agrees with me. It is they who should be quoting me.

No answer here really.

9) Your July 17th protest against health care is “being spearheaded” by FreedomWorks, a GOP outfit. Is this also a “non-partisan” event?

I don't know anything about FreedomWorks. Nor do I know anything about a July 17th protest against health care. I participated in a demonstration at WLOS to protest the unethical choice that ABC news made in turning over a private media corporation to the federal government for an unadulterated political infomercial. If FreedomWorks agrees with me about that, I am happy to hear it.

10) Do you believe that the Federal Reserve is the root cause of all of our economic problems?

The Federal Reserve is not the root cause of all of our economic problems. They are, however, quite central to the constellation of causes, which includes all forms of government intervention that subvert the operation of a free market.

In the case of the housing crisis, The Federal Reserve in conjunction with HUD and various legislative initiatives, such as the CRA, work together in creating mischief. Economist Thomas Sowell has fully documented the causes and processes of the current crisis in the housing sector in his new book "The Housing Boom and Bust."

The general economic meltdown is best explained by Austrian economist and author Thomas Woods in his new book "Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse"

Regarding the Federal Reserve, the video "Hyper-Inflation Nation" is a decent primer.

I would also recommend the many sources I provide on my weblog dealing with this topic.

In conclusion, I must say that you have done a good job of pitting your weblog against the grassroots nonpartisan Tea Party protesters in the typical tribalistic "us-versus-them" "in-group/out-group" fashion. But I'll have none of it. I believe that our country is going rapidly in the wrong direction and you should too. This is not an 8-year phenomenon, nor is it a partisan phenomenon. With the growth of government comes necessarily a concurrent loss of liberty. They are mutually exclusive. I stand for liberty. Not just mine, but thine as well.

I invite you and all of your readers to join us at the next Asheville Tea Party to be held on Independence Day near city hall.