Folks are familiar with public museums, with most of the free ones being funded by the State. In fact, many folks won’t visit a private museum because of the cost associated with it. As an example, my family and I have repeatedly visited Answers In Genesis’s “Creation Museum” in northern Kentucky. It is a paid, privately-funded, and incredible exploration of God’s wonderful creation. But it’s $20 per person.
Most historical sites or museums today are funded through coercion and theft (namely taxation), which results in the entire herd of tax livestock paying for something involuntarily that perhaps only a fraction of them will ever actually use.
There’s a better way, and Honda is going to prove it.
With a new initiative, called “Project Drive-In,” Honda, the Japanese auto maker, is crowd-sourcing an effort to save the quickly-disappearing drive-in theaters that were once so popular. While many of my generation, including myself, have never been to a drive-in theater, it’s unarguably a significant part of American nostalgia, as millions of folks for decades would attend their local drive-in for an opportunity to watch a film and, depending on their companionship, possibly engage in other extracurricular activities.
Unfortunately for the nostalgic among us, the drive-in is doomed, thanks to the industry’s switch to digital movie distribution from film, a transition that costs a theater some $80,000. Most drive-ins won’t be able to afford this cost, meaning that once the switch is made, most of the theaters will have to close their doors due to an inability to upgrade to the new format.
Honda has pledged to donate digital projection systems to five drive-ins based on user feedback, and it is also launching an IndeGoGo funding project to raise money to help convert, and therefore save, more American drive-in theaters.
This one is too ridiculous to not pass along.
I’ve long written that desperate governments try to ‘control’ everything as they slide into insolvency.
They impose capital controls, exchange controls, wage and price controls, gun controls, border controls, and more.
But the government of Argentina has really taken this to another level.
Their latest stunt? Manufacturing Viagra at a state-owned pharmaceuticals company… and giving it out for free to the people.
Bear in mind, Argentina has tried everything else in the playbook. Cristina Fernandez, the current president, has forced people to hold the rapidly depreciating Argentine peso and restricted people from buying foreign currency or gold.
She has jailed economists and central bankers who don’t do her bidding.
She has told bold-faced lies about economic data. She has hired thugs to roam the streets and beat up political opposition groups.
She has imposed price controls at grocery stores, seized private pension funds, nationalized foreign companies’ assets, taken control of the local media.
Most Americans are probably unaware that over the past two weeks the US has launched at least eight drone attacks in Yemen, in which dozens have been killed. It is the largest US escalation of attacks on Yemen in more than a decade. The US claims that everyone killed was a “suspected militant,” but Yemeni citizens have for a long time been outraged over the number of civilians killed in such strikes. The media has reported that of all those killed in these recent US strikes, only one of the dead was on the terrorist “most wanted” list.
This significant escalation of US attacks on Yemen coincides with Yemeni President Hadi’s meeting with President Obama in Washington earlier this month. Hadi was installed into power with the help of the US government after a 2011 coup against its long-time ruler, President Saleh. It is in his interest to have the US behind him, as his popularity is very low in Yemen and he faces the constant threat of another coup.
In Washington, President Obama praised the cooperation of President Hadi in fighting the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. This was just before the US Administration announced that a huge unspecified threat was forcing the closure of nearly two dozen embassies in the area, including in Yemen. According to the Administration, the embassy closings were prompted by an NSA-intercepted conference call at which some 20 al-Qaeda leaders discussed attacking the West. Many remain skeptical about this dramatic claim, which was made just as some in Congress were urging greater scrutiny of NSA domestic spying programs.
The US has been involved in Yemen for some time, and the US presence in Yemen is much greater than we are led to believe. As the Wall Street Journal reported last week:
“At the heart of the U.S.-Yemeni cooperation is a joint command center in Yemen, where officials from the two countries evaluate intelligence gathered by America and other allies, such as Saudi Arabia, say U.S. and Yemeni officials. There, they decide when and how to launch missile strikes against the highly secretive list of alleged al Qaeda operatives approved by the White House for targeted killing, these people say.”
As an amateur economist, with interest in the Austrian school, I often find myself attempting to reconcile spiritual truth with economic realities. Often, personal convictions, such as against alcohol or prostitution, have to be understood in light of the difference between what a person should do, and what they CAN do as an individual with free will. Just because a thing is a vice (see Lysander Spooner’s “Vices are Not Crimes”) does not mean that the State should outlaw it. I hate alcohol and think that no one should consume it, but that does not mean that I think that it should be illegal. We’ve seen what happens when the government attempts to outlaw a substance, and the results are always worse than the previous state.
So, while thinking about church choice and the importance of the local church, it occurred to me that “choice,” as a market mechanic, is vital when it comes to local, “Bible-believing” Baptist churches. Why? Well, for the same reason that choice is good in every other area of life.
This idea came to me as I was looking through an online church directory, and noticed one listing that said “The only Independent Baptist church in (town).” I got to thinking: with that being the case, obviously there’s no other place for people to go to church if they happen to dislike that church, or perhaps disagree with them to the point of not being able to attend. That will leave a lot of people without a church, which is never a good condition to be in. Without choice in where to attend church, people are often forced into uncomfortable situations of either attending a church they do not like or agree with, or refraining from attending at all, which is a serious spiritual discouragement. In other cases, they will have to drive great distances at considerable personal expense, considering the price of gasoline these days, in order to attend church as they should.
So, in a “spiritual” free market, where multiple churches are available, every individual and family has a choice where they serve in a church. Now, obviously, this can lead to “church-hopping,” where people jump around from church to church every time they get their feathers ruffled. However, when viewed from a different perspective, this also provides an incentive for perhaps less desirable church members to find another place to worship. The distinction is similar to the difference between Target shoppers and Walmart shoppers. Walmart offers a lower price on things, which attracts a certain class of clientèle, and while not all Walmart shoppers fit that stereotype, you’re much more likely to run into a man wearing a woman’s thong and high heels at Walmart than you are at Target. Thus, different venues, due to different criteria, attract different types of people.
In a solid, dedicated church where the Scriptures are plainly preached and taught, certain folks might be uncomfortable. And while likening less-dedicated folks to the thong- and heels-wearing Walmart shopper isn’t very flattering, perhaps another church in the area might be more suitable to their level of spirituality. Not every individual can handle everything that other believers can, and the simple reality is that some are not willing to grow up and reach the next level. So, it’s best if they stay in church somewhere, but perhaps that somewhere would be best somewhere else.
So, choice in the market works in every situation, from Walmart and Target, to Ford, Chevy, Hyundai, and Toyota, to churches and serving God. It’s a natural discriminator that allows for individual choice to make everyone happy, even if they’re wrong in the meantime.
Patriotism, or blind devotion to the society in which one happens to have been born, is considered to be the natural opinion of an individual toward the collective which claims him as a member. Of course, that membership, compulsory as it is, comes with a hefty fee: some 30% of his earned wealth is forfeit in order for him to be “patriotic” and contribute funds toward the activities that the elite few that run the collective decide are necessary. Thus, it is also incumbent upon the individual to support these activities, be they invasions or wiretaps, in order to maintain his “patriotism.”
Now, both the measure and means of patriotism are subjective, meaning that any individual can determine that another individual is or is not patriotic, based on whatever criteria he decides is applicable. Left-socialists decry “unpatriotic” tax protesters, or individuals who have the wild notion that their wealth shouldn’t be stolen by the collective. Right-socialists rain down insults and epithets on those “unpatriotic” individuals who refuse to support violence committed on innocents on the other side of the globe, or invasions, or wiretaps.Rarely does the question “Why should I be patriotic?” enter the mind. Patriotism, and its more aggressive twin “nationalism,” are assumed to be good things that every individual should aspire to. However, when one looks at the collectivist mindset that demands blind loyalty to a social structure, political system, or ideological position, he cannot help but to question the assumption that “patriotism” is naturally a good thing.
First, as was mentioned already, patriotism is extremely subjective. As an example, every nationalistic regime demands patriotism; Nathan Hale was hanged as a traitor by the British, but was considered a hero by the Colonists. By contrast, were the situation different, Benedict Arnold would have been hailed as a great hero, while instead he is remembered as a traitor. Patriotism in all its forms is dependent on the subjective perception of the individual making the judgment. It’s undeniable that “patriotism” is a great motivator for military recruitment for any government, be it the U.S. military or the German war machine. What’s in question is whether that patriotism is warranted in the first place, and even justifiable altogether.
A patriot will always seek or manufacture reasons why his country is better than any other country. Reasons will range from the superlative beauty, or great freedom, or massive size, or long history, immense wealth, or unstoppable military might, or some other supposed strength of one’s collective. Now, these things may or may not be true. Obviously, were one to set an objective method of determining the net wealth of a nation, there would be one that was wealthier than all others. The same goes for any other metric: inevitably, one nation will excel in one or more areas, more so than any other nation.
However, this does not automatically give an individual reason to be proud of his collective. Just because the collective employs more trained killers than another collective doesn’t make an individual more important, nor does it improve that individual’s position in the world. Indeed, that army of paid killers requires him to surrender his wealth, in order to fund the military, lowering his standard of living and creating a net drain on the economy. While the aim of this treatise is not to delve into the mathematics of a military, it is simply undeniable that a military produces nothing, and consumes an inordinate amount of resources. Thus, it is an economic drain, and not a productive societal organ, and nothing to be proud of. Besides, having great military power is historically not a thing to be proud of; every great power in history has used its military might to oppress other “lesser” nations, which is certainly not a commendable behavior, nor something that someone should be proud of.
Neither does the wealth of the collective to which the individual belongs improve that individual, to the point where he should gain pride in said wealth. Indeed, while the society around him may offer many goods and services that may or may not be readily available in other societies, it is that individual’s own labor and production, whether through hard physical labor or the application of his mind (or both), by which he himself gains a sense of worth. The aggregate wealth of the collective does not inherently bless the individual with true worth; therefore it makes no sense for him to profess pride in the wealth of his society.
Liberty is a valuable thing for a society to protect. Freedom is often the word used to describe the ability to exercise one’s liberties, which are inherent and natural, not conferred by the State or the collective. So, for a society to boast a great measure of freedom is a good thing. However, often in history this assertion, that one’s nation is more free than others, is tainted both by ignorance of one’s condition and by ignorance of the conditions of other nations or societies. Indeed, as is obvious today, “freedom” in America is predicated upon one’s acquiescence to the activities of the government. One is free as long as he does what the government wants him to do. Obviously, that is not freedom; a cage, no matter how large, is not freedom, it is simply a comfortable cage. So, while a society protects liberty and offers freedom, it is a good thing, and commendable, but it must be understood that this should be the default behavior of society, that is, the maximization of individual liberty, and being proud that one’s society offers a greater degree of liberty than another society or collective is hardly something to take pride in. Thus, patriotism predicated on less oppression than other places is foolhardy; one should work to lessen further the grip of the State on the individual, not revel in a comparatively low level of oppression compared to other places.
Other reasons given for blind loyalty to the political system that one finds himself under are similarly absurd. The size or beauty of the land which a violent monopoly designates as their territory has no impact on the worth of the individual residing there. Neither does a history, as interesting as it may be, make an individual more or less qualified for life than someone whose pedigree is the inverse of his own. The worth, value, and importance of an individual does not come from the national standard to which he is expected to pledge allegiance, nor does it come from the natural resources or the political system which lays claim to his life through taxation and coercion. The worth, value, and importance of the individual comes from his efforts, his achievements, and his actions. Only the individual thinks, only the individual acts, only the individual chooses.
Collectivism is a very sneaky, insidious philosophy. It starts with simple words and phrases like “we,” “us,” “the people,” “the nation,” “society,” and things of that nature, and before long, the individual is cajoled into supporting the tyranny of the majority: voting and theft through taxation. As Lysander Spooner explained, many vote purely out of defense, understanding that their wealth and that of their progeny is up for grabs, depending on who wins the next election. This manner of forcing people to participate in a collective exercise of violent governance is incompatible with a truly free society.
Yet “patriotism” forces people to participate in a system that doesn’t respect their rights as individuals. You’re “unpatriotic” if you don’t vote. You’re “unpatriotic” if you don’t “support the troops,” whatever that means. Were Germans unpatriotic unless they supported the Blitzkrieg on Poland? Tiny Poland, that posed no threat at all to big, strong Germany? Invaded to settle a decade-old grudge?
Patriotism will force an individual to support things he wouldn’t do if it wasn’t wrapped in a flag and dressed up in a government costume. So, don’t be “patriotic.” Instead, think. It’s the one freedom they can’t take away from you.