How to Find Liberty at Texas Freedom Grounds

All over the globe, people are organizing themselves into like-minded communities. It seems every day I hear of another project where those with similar ideas about community and lifestyle are joining together to voluntarily build a custom fit society. The movement is still young, and momentum is building.

Someday soon, we will live in a world where people hundreds or thousands of miles away from us with nothing in common cannot dictate how our lives will be run. If there is anything the modern world proves it is that all interaction can be voluntary, which is the most prosperous–and only moral–way to organize a society. Continue reading

Liberation: A Spiritual Hypothesis

I see two extremes in religious beliefs. On the one hand, during dark times people flock to religion for the promise of something better after death, since they have lost hope for something better in this life. On the flip side, people ignore religion, or are too distracted to engage themselves spiritually, when their lives are going well. Continue reading

Startup Societies are the Future

In the past I have fallen into the habit of talking about the problems society faces, mostly from coercive government. These are real problems of which most of us are aware, and there is copious discussion on these topics in older posts on this blog. But at some point, we need to stop identifying the problems with society, and start formulating solutions. Continue reading

The Moral Case for Secession

Secession is a Natural Right

Morality is what is naturally right or wrong. Saying someone has a “right” is a statement about an individual’s condition in nature, absent other parties. That is why rights are expressed in the negative: because a right is a declaration of the natural state of a human, and the assertion that another human that disrupts this natural state is in the wrong. Continue reading

Not Perfect, Just Better

I often argue that people would be better off without a coercive state. During these arguments, I am put in the position of explaining how the absence of government would lead to utopia. I am asked how this new system would be perfect, while the other party defends an imperfect system. Continue reading

Eternal Vigilance Will Always Be the Price of Freedom

It was once said in reference to politics that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. But this is true universally: eternal vigilance will always be the price of freedom, whether from government or business. The difference is, vigilance over business can produce results, while vigilance over government is like watching a slow motion train wreck without being able to stop it.

The crux of the difference is the ability to remove funding from business, and convince others to remove their funding. This means you can completely disassociate from a business, and even from those who do business with that business. And certainly you hope this damages the business, but even if it doesn’t, at least you are not a party to that business’s destruction, immorality, or anti-freedom actions.

The problem for many is that business would still be able to exist, if enough destructive, immoral, or anti-freedom people still patronize that business. I don’t think utopia will ever exist, so why abandon improving society, just because the improvement won’t make society perfect? Ask yourself, what is more likely to happen, what will more often happen, and where would the incentives lie if business versus government handled various things.

Business serves the customers and must earn their loyalty. Business risks going under if customers are not happy. Business cannot come into your home and steal your money; for that, they require government to act on their behalf. So all the strong centralized, relatively monopolistic businesses we see now that receive bailouts, grants, and subsidies would not be so strong without stealing our money through the government. And if they attempted to steal our money without government, they would have to fund the venture themselves, and be seen for the violent thieves they really are: two things certain to threaten profits to the point that they will not happen.

When I moved to Florida, I needed to switch banks, so I researched local banks in the area, not wanting to give my money to national banks  like Bank of America which received bailouts from the U.S. government (AKA stole our money when they handled their businesses poorly) and have terrible customer service. After I learned of a few local banks, I read reviews, and found that some didn’t have great reputations according to their customers. One bank that did have a good reputation offered the type of checking account I wanted, without fees. I now use a bank that has not taken my money by force, and delivers the product they said they would deliver. If they displease me for any reason, I can remove my funding from them, and go to a different bank.

Now say I want Bank of America to be held accountable for their actions of poorly investing, and giving out loans to people who could not pay them back. First, I need to wait until an election year. Then I need to research which candidate of two choices will be against bailouts, which in 90% of races will be neither candidate. In the 10% of cases where a candidate claims to be against bailouts, if he ever gets so specific, I need to then watch him over the next 2-4 years making sure he never gives a bailout, and encouraging him to investigate the fraud that has already happened. Most will end up giving another bailout, having lied during the campaign, but since most of the electorate didn’t care about that issue as much as I did, it won’t matter. But in say 1% of the cases, being generous, a candidate will introduce legislation to “hold the banks accountable”. Half of that one percent will actually be aimed at holding banks accountable, and the other half will be aimed at protecting banks like Bank of America, by only making small banks play by the new rules. But that doesn’t matter anyway, the legislation won’t pass. Bank of America will get away with stealing my money last time, and they will get away with stealing my money again. But I can try again every 2-4 years! Oh yea, and the small local bank I chose  to give my business to will have to compete against Bank of America, who still exists because they used the government as a third part to steal my money.

Is it easier for me to be vigilant, and produce results with my vigilance, over my local bank, or Bank of America?fb_img_1458528633515.jpg

I bought a radiator for my car on Amazon last week, which turned out to be the wrong one. If I had googled the part number, I would have known it was the wrong one, but I didn’t, I simply read the description and assumed it would work. Shipping was free, and when I received the part, I realized it was the wrong radiator. The seller sent me a label so I could return the item for free, and be reimbursed completely.

My parents once tried to renew their car registration (a “product” they didn’t want) only to be told that they owed excise tax in a town in which they never lived. After explaining this to the registry, they were told they would have to resolve this at the town hall of that town. So they drove over an hour only to find out the town hall had closed early that day. So they made the trip again the next day, and were informed that they would have to pay the excise tax to the town they never lived in, and then they could file a claim that they never lived in the town, and then they could get the money back when the claim was resolved. So that’s what they did in order to pay more money to the state for the registration they were forced to acquire. Six months to a year later they were refunded the excise tax, minus filing fees.

Was is easier for me to be vigilant over Amazon who must earn my business, or for my parents to be vigilant over the state of Massachusetts (who forced them to pay for registration) and some random town (that just claimed they owed them money)?

Customers, consumers, and even protesters have far more control over business than voters and other citizens have over government. We will always need to be vigilant to prevent tyranny, but we have no way to use our vigilance to prevent government tyranny.

And all the “what if without government” scenarios already happen. Our money is stolen. People are murdered and caged over victim-less crimes. Our land may be taken by the government. Our children may be taken by the government. The government forces us to buy products. Innocent foreigners are killed on our behalf and dubbed collateral damage. Government security does not prevent crime, and solves relatively few.

We are living in a worst case scenario, and the only thing that keeps it relatively peaceful is the relatively free market. I’m convinced that public sentiment keeps complete government tyranny at bay, without regards to voting. Without government obstruction, the society we create will be even more reflective of our wishes, peaceful and prosperous.

If a business is providing security, we must make sure it is not using force unjustly. But already the incentives lie with a business to use force only justifiably, since using that force costs them money. Yet they will still have to fulfill their promises to customers of bringing actual criminals to justice. And finally, they must compete against other security companies, which serves as incentive to not overstep their bounds, or falsely accuse innocents.

So while eternal vigilance will always be the price of freedom, we can start from a place where incentives for business lie in serving the market, making it easier and more effective to be vigilant.

 

Coming Soon: A Free City in Norway

Scandinavia is often associated with socialism in the muddled minds of Americans. Despite this, one of the world’s first experiment with a completely private city is in Norway. Liberstad aims to provide all services, from roads to fire departments, through the private sector.

Liberstad advertises itself as “a little piece of freedom.” The city’s founders aim to purchase a few hundred acres of farmland in southern Norway to establish a free market enclave.

Their Plan

The project was started by John Holmesland and Sondre Bjellas. They formed the Liberstad Drift Association, which will be responsible for the initial development and operation of the property. Their plan is to build a vibrant community with all the comforts of a modern world, with only minimal laws and taxes.

Liberstad will have no city council or government. Instead, the tone of the city’s development will be organically guided by the first settlers. They can establish businesses, erect buildings, grow vegetables, brew beer, or pursue whatever other economic activity they are interested in.

Liberstad’s few laws and regulations will focus on protecting people’s rights. The founders believe in the non-aggression principle, which states that using non-defensive violence is unethical. They also want to protect participant’s property rights to help grow a thriving free market.

Continue reading about Liberstad, on the Startup Societies blog.

Unity Through Decentralization

This title may sound like an oxymoron. But consider the difference between unity and centralization.

Unity refers to a common cause, and agreement on a goal, but not necessarily the means to get there.

Centralization is the means, supposedly to unite, but in reality to dictate. Centralization does not need agreement to happen, it happens by force, and by the will of those who control the central mechanisms. Political power is centralized, but that does not mean that all those affected by that power are unified.

When centralized without unity, our differences become points of contention and violence. But when unified in a goal without centralization, there is nothing to fight over.

ICHA, the International Coalition for Human Action, promotes unity of “geolibres”, not centralization of these mini free market societies. All geolibres share the same goal, and are therefore unified in the desire to promote individual freedom and create a better system than current governments offer through forced collectivization.

Currency

Let’s take a look at what some claim is the root of all evil: money. Money is simply a placeholder in an advanced economy to make it easier to get the things we need–a facilitator of trade. Money is not the problem, centralization of currency is the problem. The fact that those who centralize the currency manipulate it to their benefit is the problem.

If we are unified in our desire for currency, but disagree on the best currency, the clear solution is to have multiple competing currencies. This way power will never be centralized in the hands of a few politicians, or a few corporations.

Decentralized currency is the key to solving the main problem identified by those who fear corporate power is the catalyst behind government evil. The fear is that consolidation of capital over time will make competition impossible, leading to a feudal type society. Competing currencies will make sure this never happens, because a currency can fail, and become worthless, without upsetting the greater peace and prosperity of a region the way the collapse of a centralized government currency would.

If currency is not centralized, there is no one to force you to use it, and therefore give power to an entity who has amassed tons of the single currency. When major wrongdoing of a company hits the public, the stocks plummet in value. The same thing would happen if people ever lost faith in a currency.

Suppose Amazon had a trillion Amazon dollars, but they stopped delivering the products that people bought on Amazon. Amazon’s trillion Amazon dollars would not be worth very much for very long. Once the promise of redeeming Amazon dollars for goods goes away, then the value of the Amazon dollars follows.

Sure, I might be pissed that I lost 50 Amazon dollars that I had, or even $500, but Amazon dollars are not the only currency I would have. I would also have some silver, some stock in Apple say, a respected bank’s notes, and various other currencies redeemable for actual goods at the stores that issued the currencies. My money portfolio would be diversified, so that even if one currency went away, I would still be able to keep my wealth. As it stands, the dollar is a very poor wealth retention tool, because inflation is constantly devaluing it.

Anarchy in New England Cover (FINAL)[On a related note, in my novel, Anarchy in New England, smaller less stable currencies are bought up by banks who use them as assets to back their own currency, much like a mutual fund. This way there are different levels of stability and value in different currencies. Then there are services, much like a credit card company coupled with a stock exchange, who convert the value of any particular currency into a standard dollar unit when purchasing, so that a dollar never changes in value.]

Why does inflation constantly decrease the value of your dollar? Because government has centralized control over the dollar, and benefits from printing more, since they get to spend the printed money. They have control over the dollars diluting the pool of wealth, so even if a dollar becomes worth half as much, they need only print twice as much to control the same amount of wealth.

If Amazon did the same, the price of their own goods would increase, because while there were more Amazon dollars, the number of goods would not increase. This would reduce business, because Amazon customers’ Amazon dollars would not have increased, yet the Amazon prices would be higher–inflation on a small and contained scale. So even if Amazon executives controlled more Amazon dollars, without people being forced to use them, they would not be controlling any more wealth. It is only their own wealth they have devalued, and that of their customers, who will be angry and taking their business elsewhere.

ICHA Bringing People Together

Decentralizing the currency would bring people together for trade, because it would be much harder to take advantage of consumers. Almost everyone sees the benefit in trade; in specializing to more efficiently serve economic demands. We want an easy way for trade to work, but we don’t want to be robbed, or forced to compete on an uneven playing field. We can unify in our desire for a strong, technological, ever-advancing economy, without having to centralize control over that economy. Decentralizing the currency could unify the economic would.

Likewise, ICHA is a voluntary association of geolibres, because geolibres see the benefit of unity in their goal of free societies. But since they all have different ideas on how to best form and run these societies, centralization would be antithetical to that goal. But suppose all these geolibres agree that their right to self governance should not be violated, and come to the aide of one another when entities attempt to violate this right. ICHA is one organization that can help facilitate this unity that keeps decentralized governance possible.

In the age of information, there is no reason why ICHA and other organization like it cannot perform market functions that keep people free, instead trying to centralize control, which inevitably leads to conflict. Instead, we can all unify in our desires for peace and prosperity.