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Who should pay for veteran’s benefits and other federal government promises?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Economic Liberty, Healthcare, Liberator Online, Military, Taxes, Welfare by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

Who should pay for veteran’s benefits and other federal government promises?

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Question:

What is the libertarian view on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs? Do libertarians support tax dollars going to help our nation’s veterans with health care and other services, including disability benefits? Or is that also considered pork-barrel spending by libertarians?

economic

Answer:

In a libertarian society, military personnel would have compensation that was guaranteed by written contract. Funding these benefits wouldn’t depend upon taxation of future generations, as it is today. Instead, the benefits would be supplied by annuity-like funds that would grow over time. Thus veterans’ benefits wouldn’t become a political football.

Some libertarians do indeed support the use of tax dollars to fulfill promises to veterans, retirees, and others. Unfortunately, government has promised so much to so many that the only way these promises could actually be completely fulfilled would be to inflate the currency, which essentially imposes additional “taxes” upon us all.

Some libertarians have suggested selling off government assets, such as its 40% of the U.S. landmass, in order to attempt to fulfill these promises. I personally prefer this solution.

However, I suspect that none of us will ever see more than a fraction of what the government has promised us. The government operates a Ponzi scheme by spending today what has been promised for tomorrow. Because we, as a nation, have gone along with this Ponzi scheme, we will all eventually suffer the consequences. I fear there will be no easy way out.

Very few politicians will ever share this unpleasant truth with you, because they fear you’ll lose your faith and trust in them. However, the truth does set you free — to take another path and work to create a libertarian society!

Can we cut military spending without endangering U.S. security?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Liberator Online, Military, National Defense by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

Can we cut military spending without endangering U.S. security?

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Question:

In a libertarian society, the U.S. military would be scaled down. By doing this, won’t the U.S. be putting itself at risk should it face a country with a larger military that is aggressive towards the U.S.?

military

Answer:

Although it’s likely that we’d have a smaller military in a libertarian society, we’d probably have a much more efficient one.

Navy Seal Commander Richard Marcinko was asked by his superiors to infiltrate key Naval bases with a handful of colleagues. Commanders of the target installations were given notice that Marcinko’s raiders were coming. Nevertheless, with only seven men, Marcinko planted dummy demolition charges on nuclear submarines, captured the women and children living on base, and even gained access to Air Force One as it was being refueled! The Commanders complained that Marcinko had cheated by coming in by water or other “back doors” that they hadn’t prepared for. (You can read more about it in Marcinko’s book, Rogue Warrior.)

Our military is a subsidized monopoly that has trouble protecting us on our home turf. Like most government services, it costs much and delivers little, wasting the energy and lives of our brave soldiers. This isn’t the fault of our soldiers. It’s due to politics and the inevitable inefficiency of government. Our soldiers deserve better — and so do we!

Afghan Soldier Uniforms That Didn’t Match The Terrain Cost Taxpayers $28 Million

in Liberator Online, Military, News You Can Use, Taxes by Alice Salles Comments are off

Afghan Soldier Uniforms That Didn’t Match The Terrain Cost Taxpayers $28 Million

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Recently, Defense Secretary James Mattis was in the news for complaining about the Pentagon’s offhand spending habits.

While this may sound somewhat contradictory thanks to Mattis’ earlier claims indicating he would, indeed, love if defense had access to even more taxpayer money, his complaint brought light to yet another issue we often see happening with government.

uniforms

According to a recent Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) report, the agency spent $28 million on camouflage uniforms for Afghan soldiers that, unfortunately, do not work well with Afghanistan’s terrain. This means that, the $28 million that was used to purchase forest-patterned uniforms should have never been spent this way.

The decision to purchase these uniforms was made after a former Afghan defense minister saw the model online and “liked” them. However, only two percent of the country’s terrain is woodland.

And who picked up the bill? The U.S. taxpayer.

In his response to the Department after this discovery was made, Mattis criticized officials who allowed this “cavalier” expenditure to take place, adding that this decision wasted taxpayer dollars “in an ineffective and wasteful manner.”

Claiming that this careless spending is an indicator of an “attitude that can affect any of us at the Pentagon or across the Department of Defense,” Mattis rightly pointed out that this makes the department lose focus on what matters.

But what Mattis may have missed is that government waste exists and is part of how government operates. It’s a feature, not a bug.

The Defense Department isn’t more or less likely to be wasteful than the Education Department or the Health and Human Services department. What makes any — and all — government agencies prone to waste is the very fact that these organizations aren’t worried about how they spend this money.

When you spend other people’s money, you’re more likely to abuse it. After all, only you know how better spend your own money.

But that’s not all.

Agencies often make huge mistakes when judging policies or particular approaches simply because they do not have the knowledge necessary to know what will work. Real-world consequences are often ignored because bureaucrats and officials make all the decisions, often basing their assessment on faulty or incomplete information.

Because knowledge is dispersed and difficult to access, governments are naturally incapable of acting with all variables in mind. As a result, they cannot ensure that the service in question will meet the demand.

Whether it’s Afghanistan, Iraq, or Syria, government officials have repeatedly claimed to have the answer, leading the country into military campaigns that not only backfired but that will also cost several generations of Americans.

While Mattis is right to be worried, it would serve him and others in similar positions to remember that there’s little one can do to put an end to waste within the government that doesn’t involve stripping government from free, easy, and endless sources of revenue.

Should Women Be Drafted?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Foreign Policy, Liberator Online, Military, National Defense, War by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

Should Women Be Drafted?

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on Dr. Ruwart’s website

My short answer is that no one should be drafted. After all, our Constitution prohibits involuntary servitude, which is exactly what the draft is. Our young men—and possibly women—will be forced—at gunpoint, if necessary—to take up arms and kill other people.

DraftExcept for a few psychopaths, taking up arms with the intention to kill others day after day is difficult, even when our nation is truly threatened. It’s a rare individual who remains unscathed by killing others and being a target, which is why so many return home with post-traumatic stress disorder or serious mental illnesses. Going to war should always be the last resort, since the cost in lives, money, and disabilities is so high. In recent times, however, sending troops overseas seems to be a knee-jerk response to any provocation.

When our young people perceive that a war is not just or not warranted, they become unwilling to risk their lives or kill for it. In Vietnam, a war I remember well, this is exactly what happened. Although young men enlisted early in the war, they soon concluded that Vietnam was not a threat to the United States, and resisted the draft overtly or covertly.

Today, not enough of our young men are enlisting to sustain the conflicts in the Middle East. Our troops look forward to going home after their tours are up, only to be forcibly reenlisted under the stop-loss fine print in their contracts. We claim to have a volunteer army, but in fact those who enlist can be drafted for another deployment. This discourages further enlistment, as new recruits start to understand that they are actually signing an open-ended contract.
Clearly, the government believes it will need a draft in the not-so-distant future to maintain its chosen military action. We are told that without a draft, our young people will not step forward when our country is threatened. This is patently false. After 9/11, volunteers flooded to sign up for the anticipated military action. Now they no longer do, as they perceive their government is embarked on never-ending wars.

If our nation is truly threatened, our young people step forward willingly; if it isn’t truly threatened, why should they risk life and limb? We can’t keep killing people overseas because maybe, someday, they might try to harm us. There are simply too many people who “might” try to hurt us. A better strategy is to make sure our domestic security is strong enough that those who would do us harm will be thwarted in their attempt.

If we engage in overseas wars that are not truly defensive ones, and may even be primarily in the service of special interests, our young people should refuse to go. These young adults become the canaries in the coal mine, warning us that the war we wish to fight might not be so right.
Killing is difficult enough when it is perceived as a necessary evil, but it’s even more difficult without the motivation to protect our homes and loved ones. The draft isn’t only involuntary servitude; its slavery of the worst kind as it asks the draftees to do things they find morally repugnant. How are we to spread freedom abroad by taking it away from our young people at home?

Women have a major role to play in discussions about the draft. They should indeed talk about equal rights—for both men and women. Self-determination, the decision whether or not we are willing to go out and kill others, is a right that belongs to both sexes. Instead of insisting that their own rights should be violated, as the rights of men are today, women should be lobbying for an end of the draft. Our great, great-grandmothers fought to end the slavery of black people; today, we honor their memories by fighting to end the slavery of the draft.

US ‘Fights al Qaeda’ in Yemen, But Refuses to Do the Same in Syria

in Foreign Policy, Liberator Online, Middle East, Military, National Defense, News You Can Use, War by Advocates HQ Comments are off

US ‘Fights al Qaeda’ in Yemen, But Refuses to Do the Same in Syria

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Earlier this month, the Pentagon acknowledged sending American troops to Yemen for the first time since the beginning of the Yemeni civil war. According to Navy spokesman Captain Jeff Davis, a “very small number” of American military personnel has joined Yemeni and Arab coalition forces to “release” the port city of Mukalla from the hands of Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

MarineBut while the US military justifies this move with claims that having “a terrorist organization in charge of a port city” in a foreign land is not “of great interest to us,” it continues to refuse to go along Russia’s call to join them in an air strike campaign against al Qaeda’s Nusra Front militants in Syria.

According to Captain Davis, the United States does “not collaborate or coordinate with the Russians on any operations in Syria,” but are willing to not only provide weaponry and intelligence to Saudi Arabia, but also send in troops to help the oil rich kingdom as well as the United Arab Emirates carry out one of the most disastrous military campaigns in the Middle East in recent history.

In March of 2015, the Saudi Arabia, UAE coalition launched a military campaign attacking the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, a group that had taken control over portions of the country. As the country became even more deeply embattled by war, a report from UNICEF claims, an estimated 14.1 million people, including about 7 million children, were left in need of health assistance. The Saudi Arabia-led blockade in the region has been tied to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the region, but the United States seems oblivious of the consequences of its involvement.

While the US military justifies its involvement by claiming to be fighting al Qaeda in the region, the current administration showed no signs of regret for having had armed rebel groups in Syria that pledged allegiance to al Qaeda in the past.

While the current administration seems out of step with the realities of the Middle East’s embattled nations and the taxpayers who foot the bill of its destructive campaigns abroad, it continues to claim to be fighting a war on terror while aiding groups responsible for mass hunger and deaths.

As Congress works on passing legislation that would enable the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to sue Saudi Arabia, one question is left unanswered: Will the victims of US-led and backed military campaigns abroad ever be able to sue the United States officials who have led preemptive and intrusive campaigns abroad in the name of homelands security?

I think you know the answer to that question.

Cut Military Spending by 60%: Libertarian Candidates Pledge

in Liberator Online, Military by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 16 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Cut Military Spending by 60%As we noted last issue, scores of Libertarian Party candidates for federal office have pledged to downsize the bloated federal government — in four big and specific ways:

  • Eliminate the federal income tax
  • End the War on Drugs
  • Abolish the NSA
  • Cut military spending by 60%

We’re exploring each of these pledges in detail, one per issue, because the Libertarian Party has done a great job of showing that these bold proposals are not only possible, they are practical and enormously beneficial. (Of course, you can jump ahead of us and read about all four positions right now.)

Let’s look at the pledge to cut military spending by 60% or more. The candidates pledge: “If elected, I will sponsor legislation to cut military spending by 60% or more and cut total federal spending accordingly; close all foreign U.S. military bases; withdraw completely from the Middle East; and bring our troops home.”

Here are the benefits, according to the Libertarians:

* A non-interventionist foreign policy will result in less hostility towards the United States and reduce the risk of a terrorist attack.

* There is no justification for forcing U.S. taxpayers to fund the military defense of other nations, including wealthy countries such as France, Germany and Japan.

* Cutting the U.S. military by 60 percent does not remove one cent of U.S. military defense spending — only military offense, defense of other countries, and waste.

* An oversized military budget is a war waiting to happen. Needless war results in untold death and destruction — the greatest assault on human liberty. A lean, reasonably-sized military budget will save lives, avoid casualties, preserve personal property and community infrastructures, and foster peace.

* Voters want to downsize the U.S. military. According to a survey by the Stimson Center, Democratic, Republican and independent voters all want to cut military spending “far more severely than the sequester would” and “far, far more severely than either party has proposed.”

* Closing foreign bases and withdrawing from the Middle East means that U.S. troops stationed abroad can come home to their families. Kids will grow up with mom and dad at home.

* Fewer casualties will reduce demand on the Veterans Administration, which will improve the care of America’s wounded soldiers.

* Downsizing the military will force the reduction and consolidation of 18 separate spy agencies — the surest way to end the government’s spying on innocent citizens in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

* A right-sized military will be auditable, will squeeze out its legendary waste and will put an end to overpriced and unneeded multi-billion-dollar procurements that politicians lobby for to “bring home the bacon” to their districts.* A non-interventionist policy will reduce trade barriers, resulting in greater prosperity for both Americans and our trading partners.

* Cutting the military by 60 percent will enable substantial cuts in federal taxes and stop the growth of the national debt. If applied to the income tax, each American family will get back, on average, $4,100 — every year. If used to balance the budget, it will eliminate approximately 70 percent of the deficit and stop today’s rapid inflation of the dollar. This will stabilize prices on everyday goods and services and dramatically reduce the risk of an economic collapse.

* Transferring wealth out of the government sector and into the private sector will create sustainable, productive jobs — approximately twice as many jobs as will be lost in the government sector. A net increase of millions of new jobs.

Libertarian Candidates Pledge: Abolish the Income Tax

in Drugs, Economic Liberty, Elections and Politics, Liberator Online, Libertarian Party, Libertarian Stances on Issues, Libertarianism, Military, Taxes by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 15 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Scores of Libertarian Party candidates for federal office have pledged to downsize the Abolish The IRSbloated federal government — in these big and specific ways:

  • Eliminate the federal income tax
  • End the War on Drugs
  • Abolish the NSA
  • Cut military spending by 60%

We’ll be examining those pledges in detail below and in the next few issues, because they show that these bold-sounding proposals are not only possible, but practical and beneficial. (Of course, you can jump ahead and read about all four positions right now.)

First, eliminating the hated federal income tax. The candidates pledge: “If elected, I will sponsor legislation to eliminate the federal income tax, cut federal spending to the 1998 level ($1.65 trillion), and get the IRS off the backs of taxpayers.”

(Yes, that’s right: government has grown so rapidly in recent times that if you cut spending to 1998 levels — the Clinton era of huge government — you could eliminate the federal income tax.)

Here are the benefits of eliminating the income tax, according to the Libertarians:

  • Immediately balances the budget — without raising taxes.
  • Gives back, on average, $11,525 to each American family — every year — that they can invest, save, spend, or give away as they see fit.
  • Pours $1.4 trillion into the productive, private-sector economy, stimulating massive investment in small businesses and creating tens of millions of new private-sector jobs.
  • Stops the devaluation of the dollar and stabilizes prices, preserving American wealth.
  • Forces politicians to eliminate destructive federal programs, regulations, and bureaucracies that do more harm than good. Examples include: stifling business regulations, the prohibition of marijuana, unnecessary foreign wars, and thousands of frivolous projects best left to the private sector (e.g., promoting the Hawaiian Chocolate Festival).
  • Creates a boom in charitable giving. Trillions of dollars back in the hands of American taxpayers enables them to take care of others in need through their churches and private charities, and by giving directly to help friends, family, and community members in need.
  • Eliminates wasteful bookkeeping needed to comply with IRS tax filings and audits, saving Americans 6 billion hours of their precious time and up to $378 billion in accounting costs — every year.
  • Aborts the Democrats’ and Republicans’ plan to add another $5 trillion over the next eight years to the already perilously high $17 trillion federal government debt, sparing future generations from footing a bill they played no part in creating.
  • Frees up billions of dollars for Americans to spend on music, entertainment, crafts, and the arts, enabling talented individuals — now unemployed or working in jobs they don’t like — to do what they love for a living.
  • Forces politicians to eliminate government waste.
  • Stops the growth in the interest due on the federal debt, now at $237 billion per year. This will help minimize this expense if interest rates ever rise, which is likely.
  • Restores America’s reputation as the envy of the world, demonstrating that the American experiment of free, unfettered trade creates prosperity and alleviates poverty. This sets an example for poor countries, helping them rise from hardship to abundance.

 

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VIDEO: Fire Sale on U.S. Military Tanks — Get One for Your Town Today!

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online, Military, National Defense by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 14 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Millions of Americans were shocked to see protestors in Ferguson, Missouri met with a militarized police force decked out in Kevlar vests, helmets, and camouflage, armed with pistols, shotguns, automatic rifles, and tear gas, and riding in armored military vehicles.

Though the weapons came from a variety of sources, such scenes brought public attention to the Pentagon’s 1033 program, which supplies military-grade equipment to local police departments, often for free.

Now the crack investigative journalists at Reason TV have unearthed a Pentagon commercial advertising the program to law enforcement. (Or so Reason TV says…)

Watch “Pentagon Has ‘Everything Must Go’ Sale.” Laugh, cringe… and laugh again. Then share with friends!

Approximately 1:37 in length. Performed by Will Neff. Written and produced by Neff and Paul Detrick.

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Harvard Study: Young Americans Want Far Less Interventionist Foreign Policy

in Foreign Policy, Liberator Online, Military, War by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 9 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Young Americans want a far less interventionist foreign policy, and they don’t trust the United Nations or the federal government in general. And they have strong libertarian leanings on other key issues.

Harvard UniversityThat’s according to the latest Harvard Public Opinion Project, a highly-respected national poll of America’s “Millennials”(18- to 29- year-olds) by Harvard’s Institute of Politics that has been conducted biannually since 2000.

The numbers are startlingly anti-interventionist. Fully 74 percent agreed with this statement: “The United States should let other countries and the United Nations take the lead in solving international crises and conflicts.” Only a fourth believed that the United States “should take the lead in solving international crises and conflicts.”

Fully 39 percent disagreed with the statement “it is sometimes necessary to attack potentially hostile countries, rather than waiting until we are attacked to respond.” Only a tiny 16 percent agreed with that statement.

Concerning specific recent foreign policy crises, 62 percent disapproved of the president’s handling of the Syria crisis, and 59 percent disapproved of the government’s policies towards Iran and Ukraine.

The same skepticism applies to international bodies. Fully two-thirds said they trusted the UN only “some of the time” or “never.” Only about a third of respondents said they trusted the United Nations all or most of the time.

This radical rejection of interventionism among the young is accompanied by other libertarian-friendly positions and a strong degree of skepticism towards government in general. Just three percent of Millennials reported trusting the federal government “all of the time,” while 80 percent said that they trusted it either only “some of the time” or “never.” Similarly, eighty-four percent of participants felt that they could trust Congress only “some of the time” or “never.” Just one-third trust the president “most” or “all of the time.”

On the re-legalization of marijuana, 25- to 29- year-olds support re-legalization by a large margin of 50 percent to 28 percent (21 percent unsure); among 18- to- 24- year-olds, 38 percent support, 39 percent oppose (22 percent unsure). Overall, 66 percent support re-legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.

On sexual tolerance, 61 percent say that “a friend’s sexual orientation is not important to me.”

Finally, Millennials are moving away from identifying with either of the two older parties, with increasing numbers identifying as Independents (38 percent) rather than Republicans (25 percent) or Democrats (37 percent).

Ron Paul: U.S. Gov’t Has “Learned Nothing” from Disastrous Wars

in Liberator Online, Military, War by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 18, No. 13 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

“We left Iraq after a decade of fighting and the country is in far worse shape than when we attacked in 2003. After trillions of dollars wasted and tens of thousands of lives lost, Iraq is a devastated, desperate, and violent place with a presence of al Qaeda. No one in his right mind speaks of a U.S. victory in Iraq these days. We learned nothing from it.

“We are leaving Afghanistan after 12 years with nothing to show for it but trillions of dollars wasted and thousands of lives lost. Afghanistan is a devastated country with a weak, puppet government — and now we negotiate with those very people we fought for those 12 years, who are preparing to return to power! Still we learn nothing.

“Instead of learning from these disasters brought about by the interventionists and their failed foreign policy, the president is now telling us that we have to go into Syria! …

“We have attacked at least five countries since 9/11. We have launched drones against many more. We have deposed several dictators and destroyed several foreign armies. But, looking around at what has been achieved, it is clear: it is all irrelevant.”

– Ron Paul, excerpts from “What We Have Learned from Afghanistan,” Texas Straight Talk, June 24, 2013.

New Book Reveals Danger of Militarized Police

in Liberator Online, Military by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 18, No. 13 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Rise of the Warrior CopFor several years award-winning libertarian investigative journalist Randy Balko has been covering an extremely important story that few other journalists have touched: the increasing militarization of U.S. police and the danger this poses to American liberties.

Rise of the Warrior Cop is Balko’s brand-new book on the topic of militarized police, and it is a chilling eye-opener. Anyone who cares about liberty should give it serious attention.

Balko shows how bad laws (the War on Drugs being a prime example), anti-liberty politicians, and America’s various “wars” against vague ill-defined enemies like crime, drugs, and terror have transformed America’s police force. The distinction between a cop and a soldier has been blurred to the point where they are often indistinguishable.

America’s cops have increasingly come to resemble ground troops: complete with military-style uniforms, tanks, other military weapons, military training and military-style tactics. Decades of police-state legislation have gutted fundamental constitutional protections like the Fourth Amendment. Rogue cops ignore or bypass our remaining legal protections.

Today’s police have arguably become an internal army — something the Founders feared and warned about. Indeed, according to Balko, police today have been conditioned to see the citizens they serve as an “other” — an enemy. In enforcing tyrannical laws like drug prohibition, they are actually engaging in a violent war against the people whose liberty and property they are supposed to protect.

America wasn’t supposed to be like this. And this isn’t an anti-cop book; good police will welcome it. It is a warning about how bad laws and bad politicians have transformed the police into something they were never supposed to be. Balko offers sensible suggestions to defuse and reform this situation.

Balko’s carefully researched book covers history, politics, and constitutional law. It is breathtaking and terrifying, and it is one of the most original libertarian books in years. Balko has exposed a grave danger to American freedom, and his argument deserves major national attention.

You can read a lengthy excerpt from Rise of the Warrior Cop for free, courtesy of the American Bar Association’s ABA Journal website.