Wednesday, December 21, 2011

THE GIFTS OF BEING LIBERTARIAN (CHRISTMAS 2011, PHILIPPINES)


‘Tis the season of gifts. I’m talking about Christmas of course. I thought for this 2011 season to discuss the blessings of my being a libertarian.

But first, let me give credit for this article idea, to Harry Santos of HarryLeaks.blogspot.com. I just hope this doesn’t overshadow his article when he comes around to publishing it!


PRE-RAMBLE

I’m really just a boy from the Philippines who has been awakened to the true nature of government. Perhaps my being libertarian doesn’t make me any happier than others, nor does it make me ‘better’ than others ― although I argue below that some aspects of my character are improved thanks to it. But this newfound awareness is more than just about feeling happy or vain.

Dane Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) differentiated Judaism from Christianity, by pointing out how the former had to do with worldly happiness (bountiful harvests, plenty of sons and daughters, etc.), and the latter was precisely about carrying one’s cross without hope for better days on earth.

Now I think Kierkegaard was a really depressed dude, and I’m all for material prosperity and good social relations, but he makes a good point that his beliefs were to be believed not for any apparent gain but simply because they were right and true, which is how I feel about libertarianism. I could not do otherwise.


GIFT 1: A HUNGRY KID IN AFRICA? NOT MY FAULT

As kids, we were told to finish our meals, because many people in the world are starving.

Read this (opens in new tab) 

for a hilarious The Onion article on hunger! 
We tend to think that the enjoyment of whatever wealth we have is subtracted from other people’s joy. The fact, however, is that poverty in one place is not the effect of prosperity elsewhere; rather, the conditions for prosperity existing elsewhere are not yet established.

The ‘trickle-down effect’ is ridiculed by those who’d like to see government redistribution instead. However, ‘trickle-down’ is a misnomer, implying that, yeah, let’s let the rich folks accumulate more money for themselves, some of it will eventually get to the poor.

Actually, when an entrepreneur or investor gets to keep more of their capital, this makes for jobs and incomes now even though profit for these ‘capitalist pigs’ comes later, if at all. Furthermore, products come into the market, as affordable to the consumer as the production process allows (the more previous savings, the more efficient).

More jobs, more wages, more consumption. Can we really call this system ‘trickle-down’?


GIFT 2: WOW! CAPITALISM

Reese’s Pieces come from these? Fuck yeah!
The last few weeks, I caught the History Channel’s ‘Modern Marvels’ twice. Man, I love that show! Seeing how cola and chocolate come from obscure fruits, and are transformed into their familiar version by a very meticulous and capital-intensive process, and how consumers have an endless variety of products from which to choose, I couldn’t help but raise my fist up high in saluting freedom!

I wouldn’t have as beautiful an appreciation were it not for the time I’ve devoted into studying the ‘boring’ field of economics, free-market economics that is.


GIFT 3: MY EYES HAVE OPENED

In ‘JFK’ (1991), D.A. Jim Garrison’s wife complains that in pursuing the Kennedy murder trial, he has changed. To which Garrison responds:
Of course I’ve changed. My eyes have opened... I had a life too, you know! You can't bury your head in the sand like an ostrich, Liz! It's not about our well-being, our two cars, our TVs and your kitchen! It's about our kids growing up in a shithole of lies. I'm angry! My life is fucked because of it. If you could see it that way, you'd see your life is fucked too.

I’m not quite as deep in shit as Garrison was, but what has happened to me is that I’ve been freed of so much, truly so much, bullshit. Even when facts are accurate, the interpretation of such is likely wrong.

Becoming a libertarian, contradictions cease being contradictions. How is it that being held up by a petty thief is wrong, but being taxed unwillingly by a government, every fucking day, is accepted? But the two instances are both outright theft, I have realized.

All this nonsense dressed up as rhetoric from politicians, who are deluded themselves into believing the stuff that comes out of their mouths. Each time you read from their hack columnists about how climate change caused Typhoon ‘Sendong,’ or how ‘stimulus’ will bring the economy back on track, you’re being fed a lie, or at best, a fallacy.

It’s a liberating feeling, to be among the few who know better, who recognize media for the gag show that it is. This adds to my feeling of being elite, sure, yet please indulge me this, for all the opposition and misunderstanding I encounter.


GIFT 4: APPRECIATING MARKET POPULARITY

I’ve always been a snob when it comes to the arts, specifically music. And because of this elitism, I could very well have become a fascist, thinking that, because the lowest common denominator is crude and shallow, there is a need for Plato’s ‘philosopher-king’ to be in charge, to make the right decisions and thus uplift society.

Top-down approaches to social change never work, I know this now. What’s more, the philosopher-king-dictator is in a quandary as to how to make decisions that are ‘better’ than what the masses would make otherwise.

As Ludwig von Mises said:
The entrepreneur’s [or consumer’s] commercial attitude and activity arises from his position in the economic process and is lost with its disappearance.

To be a genuine music snob, you have to know 
counterpoint. Listen to one of the greatest 
examples of it here (opens in new tab).
No matter how abhorrent commercial trends may be, in music, fashion, food or whatever, this could not be turned around by inflicting coercion on those who don’t know better. A national leader may be of the opinion that the music of J.S. Bach is the supreme intellectual achievement, but does this mean that imposing his preferences by the threat of a gun will bring ‘enlightenment’ to the masses?

If there is a ‘need’ to educate and refine the populace, it does not follow that government is the institution to do it. In fact, people should be educated precisely about the dangers of government.


GIFT 5: NOT BEING AS MUCH OF A JERK


I am ashamed to admit that I tend to talk down to people of lower incomes who are not in a position to retaliate, such as guards, sales clerks and customer service representatives. Much more so before than now. At present, I like talking to ‘those peasants,’ hanging out in kantos, and trying to relate to them as though I were a presidential candidate getting campaign pictures taken.

I was yelling at this babe pala!
When someone irritates us (e.g. Mo Twister) or offends us in some way (e.g. bus drivers), we tend to make careless comments about how they are “good for nothing.” But really, how would we know that? The amazing thing about the market is that we don’t know the full extent of each one’s role. We may not realize it, but thousands of people, possibly millions, are responsible for the creation of a bottle of coke, or a pack of M&M’s, or just about anything we take for granted in consuming.

Moreover, I now know that I never have a ‘right’ to a person’s good services, even when I’ve paid money for this. To think so is to look at members of society as slaves, rather than people with whom I freely associate.

If I am unsure about the quality of someone’s work, I patronize them at my risk. If I am unsatisfied with someone’s performance, I am at least in a better position to make a more informed choice later on. Caveat emptor (beware, buyer) has become a dirty phrase, as we have grown accustomed to relying on the FDA, the DTI, the SEC, etc. to ensure ‘consumer protection.’ But monopolies only encourage the existing complacency.


GIFT 6: DISCIPLINE

Buy this book set here 
(opens in new tab). 

Or just Wiki the topics.
In my studies of the Austrian school of economics, and even the Keynesian nonsense that is known as macroeconomics, I have acquired a discipline to getting things done that I had never had in college or work. It’s an obsession I’ve only known in crafting music, another passion of mine. I’ve killed myself spending thousands and thousands of hours in just a couple years’ time, reading economic and philosophical texts.

Such devotion does not equate to true wisdom, sure. But still, I feel that my selection of economic texts has been rather good, definitely better than the shit that gets one a PhD, by which an ‘expert’ becomes counsel to bureaucrats who apply such ‘know-how’ in destroying economies.

My love for libertarianism has also led me to publish two books in the past two years (two more were written, actually, but remain unpublished). Admittedly, my writings have been a rather shoddy application of what I’ve learned and conceived over the last couple of years. The books more often read like scribbles than threshed-out treatises. In time, however, I hope to be able to articulate my thoughts better.


GIFT 7: I WAS IN THE GOVERNMENT TOO, ONCE

Oh wow. I remember counting down my last 

150 days, sometimes more than once a day. 
Turned my hair white.
I became a full-bodied libertarian at a time when I was part of the god-awful government. Contrary to what some may think, my aversion to the state is not a result of my actual experiences as a ‘public’ employee ― although what I saw indeed confirmed my then-burgeoning outlook on politics. I soon began feeling guilty for being paid with taxpayers’ money (which is stolen money, essentially).

When I first entered in 2007, I had taken my ‘boss’ to be a pro-market guy, as he was opposed to a price-control measure. For whatever reason, he later changed his mind and his pet bill was enacted with the price-control provision intact.

(Beware of nice, well-meaning guys saying shit that sounds good, that sounds inspiring even, i.e. Ninoy)

Before government, I believed in ‘small government,’ generally free-market but allowing for the state when it came to courts and security. By the time I left two years after, I had learned enough to know that the state was an illegitimate institution through and through. It made my departure from government not just painless, but one of salvation.


GIFT 8: FRIENDS

The past two years, thanks to the networking power of the Web, I have made friends with more than a dozen people who have approximately the same political beliefs as me. 

We meet maybe once every two months or so. With no one else am I able to articulate or vent my ideas and frustrations with regards to political economy. I am grateful for this new circle of friends. Thanks for being around guys!

  
WHAT ABOUT THE DOWNSIDE?

Conan OBrien, a hilarious and unwitting 
pawn of big government.
Apart from the inadvertent ‘persecution’ from hearing stupid anti-market opinions in conversations, there have been otherwise entertaining TV shows that I could no longer watch because they reeked of propaganda. Well, this isn’t really a ‘downside,’ as I’ve been saved from wasting my time watching TV, ‘diba? And there’s ‘Modern marvels’ anyway.

I’ve also become ever-critical of things and people, so as not to give in to full enjoyment or appreciation, when some statism is expressed or implied. For the most part, though, I’ve avoided heated debates. In fact, I would tend to debate free-market folks more, but at least in a rather civilized manner.


CONCLUSION

As you can tell, the spiritual gifts to learning about freedom are numerous. They’ve been priceless to me. I can only think of two other things ― my musical awakening and my family ― that even compare.

Have an unhappy Christmas! 
I didn’t mean for this to be so long, and I wasn’t trying to ‘convert’ anyone. As amazing as it is to change another one’s life by setting them on the libertarian path, I no longer try, having realized that one’s unique personal experiences and not my prattling are what make the difference.

I’m just happy to express my thoughts like this. Thanks for reading, and have a Merry Christmas (or as Kierkegaard would admonish, a dreadful one)!

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