Does the US Need to Set a Digital Agenda?

Former Cisco CEO John Chambers

During a speech by former Cisco CEO John Chambers at BoxWorks 2015, he lamented the fact that the US government does not have a proper technological agenda in place. According to his reasoning this is a necessary step to ensure future prosperity and growth. This is despite evidence to the contrary that markets do, in fact, adapt and make good use of rapidly changing technology on their own.

There are steps the government can take to enable technological progress, but such potential steps are always to roll back layers of government intervention that are already in place. Suggesting … Continue reading

David Hume’s View on the Size and Scale of Government

Portrait of David Hume

This evening I received a link from a user on twitter ( @jpayneancap ) to an article by Donald W. Livingston over at The Imaginative Conservative discussing the ideal size and scale of the state. LibertyExplored takes no official position on whether there should be a state, as we realize the significant contribution that both anarchists and minarchists have made to the libertarian tradition. Our view is that any government that exists should be decentralized in nature and small in size.

In this article, Livingston lays out the approach David Hume takes to the issue of the … Continue reading

Government Will Use Crises to Expand Power

Over the past month, there has been rising fear over terrorism by ISIS and there is now a real threat of Ebola spreading within the US. Fears and rumors are running rampant among the citizens of this country. This morning, I was greeted with the news that a second health care worked has been infected with Ebola in my home state. History shows us that in a time of increased fear, governments love to capitalize and expand their power, and the citizens are often all too willing to justify these actions over fears of their safety. Their memories become short and they literally can’t remember the history of government expansion and its consequences. This is a trap we as Americans can not afford to continue to fall into.

Our president has expanded the war on terror over the past month. A new shadowy terror group called Khorasan has emerged in the past couple of weeks seemingly out of nowhere. This group was immediately said to consist of Al-Qaeda members and officials in the administration claimed the group as an imminent threat to the US. As it turned out, there was no specific intelligence gathered of targets or a terror plot that was imminent, but this hardly mattered to government officials. FBI Director James Comey recently stated the following: “I can’t sit here and tell you whether their plan is tomorrow or three weeks or three months from now”, but that “we have to act as if it’s coming tomorrow.”1 Right, there is a vague threat to the US from this group at some point in the future (which, by definition, is not imminent) so we have to bomb now. Haven’t we heard this story before? The facts don’t matter to this administration nor did they matter to his predecessor Bush. Obama has his “justification” for bombing in Syria and the expansion of the war on terror.

Watch the following video by the Young Turks on Khorasan and the manipulation of the media. This is a textbook case of government inventing a vague enemy and using the media to promote war to the public. [WARNING: VIDEO CONTAINS LANGUAGE]

The government will capitalize on the fear of citizens in order to expand its power. They did this with the Patriot Act legislation after the 9/11 attacks which was passed before most had the chance to understand its consequences on their liberties.

We should be cautious about any new legislation that is proposed in Congress in order to combat terrorism or the Ebola threat.

1. Russia Today. Khorasan terrorists will attack US ‘very, very soon,’ FBI director warns. http://rt.com/usa/193532-khorasan-fbi-terrorism-syria/
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School Board Decision to Promote Patriotism over Fact

History has a pattern of being written with a slant in favor of the nation in which it originates. The new curriculum being proposed by a school board in Jefferson county, Colorado takes this a step further and goes out of its way to promote patriotism, and a positive view of the US government in the teaching of US history to AP students. This comes at the expense of censoring the negative (and sometimes illegal) actions taken by government in the past.

This is a video of student protests in Jefferson county from CBS news:

There should be a theory behind the teaching of history and there will be some inevitable bias introduced. But this is an intentional attempt to promote pro-state dogma as fact and influence students to being more statist and nationalistic in their view of history.

Patriotism and loyalty to one’s home land can be well founded, but it should not come before the loyalty one has for his own values and principles. My loyalty as a Libertarian is first placed in the principle of non-aggression. Unless done in self defense, the right to extend my fist ends at another person’s nose. When you are giving your loyalty to a government that continues a relentless military intervention campaign in the middle east and spends without end here at home, you are implicitly backing such government actions.

Patriotism has a limited role in the teaching of history and should not be prioritized over factual accounts.

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Tesla Motors Opens its Patents

Tesla Factory

Tesla Factory
Image by Steve Jurvetson, Original source.

Company founder and CEO Elon Musk announced this month that he has decided to open Tesla Motors’ patents to other competitors. Musk was interviewed by Business Week magazine and stated that “You want to be innovating so fast that you invalidate your prior patents, in terms of what really matters. It’s the velocity of innovation that matters.”

Electric cars have been slow to catch on with other auto manufacturers, and Musk is essentially saying that he wants increased competition in the electric car market. He cites climate change as a reason, and believes that this move will speed the transition away from conventionally powered vehicles. A reason this could be good for Musk is that the infrastructure to support electric cars such as charging stations, is not well developed nationally. Increased competition will increase market pressure to build the infrastructure necessary to expand the overall electric market which will be good for Tesla Motors in the end. Innovation is what builds a business, and Musk recognizes this. Tesla Motors has the first mover advantage in the electric car market and has accrued significant name recognition for the brand.

The voluntary move to open it’s patents is not something we commonly see in a market. Usually a company will try to fight tooth and claw to protect it’s patents and rack up huge legal costs for itself in the process. There are libertarians on both sides of the patent issue. Some claim that having patent law restricts overall innovation while others argue just the opposite. I see this as a great move in support of free markets and look forward to future innovations by Tesla and the new companies that will take advantage of the technology.

Here’s the article from Business Week: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-06-12/why-elon-musk-just-opened-teslas-patents-to-his-biggest-rivals

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Incongruent Justice

There have been a number of recent cases where the punishment handed down does not fit the crime. Many of these stem from problems of the US federal government continuing in it’s failing policies of the war on drugs, and establishing so-called mandatory minimum sentences. These sentences in some cases have led to small scale drug offenses being as severely punished as violent acts.

In one example from a few days ago, a 19-year old male in Texas will be tried on first-degree felony charges for making and selling brownies containing hash oil, a concentrated form of THC extracted … Continue reading

The Coercion Fallacy

One of my favorite Facebook pages, “Unbiased America”, posted a status update that details and refutes a persistent economic fallacy; that government regulation and control can lead to prosperity. If you like the quote, check out their page at http://www.facebook.com/UnbiasedAmerica

“Perhaps the biggest fallacy in economics is the idea that people can be coerced into prosperity. Many ideologies have prescribed to the notion that threats, penalties, regulations, redistribution, and other forms of coercion can shape an economy into the goals envisioned by its planners. Yet history has shown that freedom, not restriction, is far more effective in promoting growth, cooperation, and prosperity than coercion.

Compare North Korea with South Korea, China with Taiwan or Hong Kong, East Germany with West Germany. Look at what happened when the Soviet Union forced all farmers to give up their surplus crops to be redistributed. Crop yields plummeted. The same farmers who for years had grown plenty of food voluntarily, stopped producing a surplus when they were ordered to turn it over to the government. Mass starvation resulted.

One would think that such devastating consequences would have rendered coercive economics to the dustbin of history long ago. But we still hear calls for government wage controls, confiscatory taxation, limits on profit, etc. Such coercion will have the same negative impact today that it did a hundred or a thousand years ago.

As economist Lawrence Reed once wrote, slaves don’t produce great works of art, prisoners don’t innovate, and Edison didn’t invent the light bulb because he was ordered to do so. If you want the baker to bake a bigger pie, you don’t beat him up and steal his flour.”

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