Category: Blog

When All Else Fails

When All Else Fails

“In life, you can choose to cry about the b——- that happens to you or you can choose to laugh about it. I choose laughter.”
– Kevin Hart –

Libertarians can be a funny bunch, literally. Perhaps humour is embedded within every contrarian spirit. If true, there are likely very good reasons. Marginalized groups routinely encounter overwhelming odds when working to impact the world around them. Often, individuals expend tireless energy with little return which can be extremely frustrating. When deeply emotional human beings experience the onset of disillusionment, those emotions can manifest through anger, sadness or greater yet, depression. But for many libertarians, that energy often gets converted into humour. 

Grab a spoon and a tub of ice cream for this first bit. We’re going to review some numbers, and no – they were not pulled from Wikipedia. The Libertarian Party of Canada currently holds zero seats in both the House of Commons and the Canadian Senate. Given, Canadian Senators are appointed rather than elected and no Libertarian Party members are currently sitting in the House, the latter is no surprise. Big zero. In the United States, the Libertarian Party holds one seat in the House of Representatives (due to a change in party affiliation) and zero in the Senate. Looking only at elected positions, the political wing of libertarianism at the federal level in North America is batting 1 for 873. So what are we to do with this reality? Do we become disgruntled, or disenchanted, with our worldview and give up? Not likely. To borrow a line from Jeopardy, “I’ll take ‘Laugh’ for a thousand, Alex!”

Past studies have shown benefits of laughter include: improvements in physical health, mental relaxation, lowered blood pressure and pain relief. I’ve even read somewhere that laughter may have positive effects on boosting immunity (though I’m too lazy to find the link). Maybe instead of COVID lockdowns, we should just laugh it off – it wouldn’t cost much. But I digress. Others speak to the positive effects of laughter within relationships. Hara Marano from “Psychology Today” explains:

“levity can defuse anger and anxiety, and in so doing it can pave the path to intimacy.”

Humans relate intimately with the greater world around them. It is important to find satisfaction with regards to our place in the world. How then do libertarians learn to stay positive while working to advance a cause so slow in coming? Simple. They use irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc. If you found that to read like a definition, give yourself a pat on the back. That is the definition of satire. Satirists often criticize personalities and viewpoints they believe to be flawed.

A further delve into this style of comedy could prove useful but I usually aim for a thousand words when writing so I’ll keep this brief. One form of satire is hyperbole, an exaggerated statement not intended to be taken literally. Sadly many struggle with this recognition. It’s not clear if the struggle is due to declining IQs, hyper-sensitivity, or both but the struggle is real. Please pray for those individuals. If you don’t know where to find them, they’re usually out trying to cancel parts of culture. The other form of satire is irony, the backbone of what most refer to as sarcasm. Irony is expressing oneself using language which signals the opposite of what you’re thinking. If you have never employed either, you’re definitely not a real libertarian. 

These satirical techniques can be expressed using several different methods. One common expression is through the use of memes. Any libertarian with a Twitter or Facebook account will tell you the social media communities rely heavily on the use of memes to convey opinions or even just to let off steam. I thoroughly enjoy the creative process of coming up with new “Memes of the Week” which I post to my site regularly! Libertarians in America have even vowed to “Meme Jo Jorgensen into the White House” (LP presidential candidate) due to near mainstream media blackout. 

Parody, another commonly used form of comedy, uses imitation while deliberately exaggerating the subject for comedic effect. A well-known program exemplifying this method is “Saturday Night Live.” It debuted in 1975 and, for many years, delivered premier parodistic skits. Microsoft Word argues with me that “parodistic” isn’t a word. But what does Billy G. know anyhow? We’ve briefly covered several commonly used forms of humour often employed without giving a second thought. Imagine if we weren’t free to express ourselves in this way. Sadly, in some parts of the world, no such imagining is required.

So let us be grateful for the freedoms we still enjoy, especially the freedom to criticize both our officials and their policies when we believe those in authority to be misguided. Let us continue to fight for a freer future while encouraging one another to act as mouthpieces for liberty. And, although at times we may turn on one another (withholding all apparent mercies) let us remember the commonalities of those wanting to dramatically reduce government with those wishing to abolish it altogether. I may have just lost the anarchists. But, yes – libertarians, anarchists and contrarians at large are indeed a funny bunch. Let’s keep it that way. Without the healing effects of laughter, many are left with nothing more than hurt, disappointment, and disillusionment. As for me the choice is clear. Turning to laughter can’t really be avoided as it’s in my nature – I am Canadian after all.

Towards liberty (and jocularity),

OA

Libertarianism Is About Letting Go

Libertarianism Is About Letting Go

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” – Alvin Toffler –

Libertarian philosophy encompasses many things. It values peace, personal responsibility and free markets among others. But before adopting these, people must first let go of their long held positions. Consider the monkey trap. Hunters place food in a container and fasten the container to an immovable object. The opening to access the food is wide enough to allow the monkey to slide their hand through. However, once the monkey grabs hold of the food (making a fist in the process) they are no longer able to pull their hand out. Despite having the option to let go of the food in order to escape, the monkey refuses and is eventually captured. The monkey’s freedom could have been realized by releasing the fruit. What do humans need to release to achieve freedom?

The first is falsehoods. Our ideas shape our worldview. We come about those ideas through varied experiences, interactions, and oftentimes through study, the majority of which takes place at school. Recent data shows 92% of Canadian and 82% of American K-12 students currently attend government schools, definitely the majority. The reality of government schooling: Both the schools and the teachers are government funded, the textbooks are government approved, and the curriculum is aimed at satisfying the government mandated testing criteria. Therefore, the school system may hold biases when presenting ideas pertaining to the role of government. Generation after generation are now accepting government endorsed curriculums with limited exposure to alternative theories and points of view. Given this bias, what other means are available to present our youth with alternative views on history, science, economics, and the realities of big government? Brace yourself! Parents. Parents are ultimately responsible for their children’s education. They can have an impact by choosing to homeschool or simply supplementing what is being taught. A great resource I recommend is “The Tuttle Twins” series of books by Connor Boyack. The series covers several topics from a non-curricular viewpoint. Some rely wholeheartedly on the government school system to educate their children. In the absence of personal responsibility, falsehoods taught in the classroom will continue to shape the views of our future generations.

Next up is the attitude of indifference. It has been said before awareness is most beneficial when translated into action. As a recovered alcoholic, knowing I had a drinking problem did nothing for me until I took steps towards recovery. Indifference keeps us in an inebriated state, preventing us from taking the necessary steps towards new life. In discovering new truths (whether economic, political, or philosophical) people should strive to apply them, challenging their worldview. If inconsistencies or incompatibilities exist, tension should be generated within the individual, forcing them to revisit the conflicting ideas. This is the boiling point. Does the individual embark on changing their old views or do they side with indifference to protect their notions of security and comfort? By keeping indifference at bay, we can learn to live more authentically. 

Perhaps this doesn’t happen at the broader community level but rather in individual lives. There are still benefits. When humans live by their set values, they often feel more at peace, reducing conflict. Individuals may also choose to be indifferent when they are minimally affected by the policies falsehoods create. As a white male living in a rural middle class community, having never experienced it myself, I could turn a blind eye to police brutality. Additionally, I could shrug off the ethical implications of forced taxation if I determine I am net benefitting from the services received at the expense of others. Self-centeredness, the root of such indifference, is something I try to resist. Self-interest is essential. But ensuring others are free to take care of their own self-interests is of equal importance in ensuring collective security. But what to say to the individual that isn’t indifferent, who wants to see change yet does nothing? What holds them back?

Fear. Publicly demonstrating contrarian views often comes with consequences. Ideas other than those considered mainstream threaten the current order. Speaking out on social media can result in being banned from those platforms. Worse yet, we now see people being arrested for organizing protests using Facebook’s platform. Current cancel culture applies pressure on employers to rid employees who speak against or don’t follow mainstream ideas. The fear of losing one’s income is a highly effective weapon against contrarian or “radical” thought. Another, is the fear of losing certain comforts, or at least initially. What if the size of government was vastly reduced and many of the provided services ceased? At least initially, our standard of living could be negatively impacted. For many, this may prove too much to endure. But what of the sacrifices if we let things continue? Unfortunately, by focusing on what could potentially be lost, we ignore what could be gained. Free market minded people are hopeful private enterprise and voluntary actions would bridge the gap in adjustments to our living standards. Perhaps the fear of diminishing comforts should be replaced with the fear of diminishing freedoms.

Dreaming of how life could be different is easy. Walking through a refiner’s fire to get there is not. It is beyond plausible hardships could befall us if the current structure were to change. But as already mentioned, to focus on the seen without giving due attention to the unseen is a mistake. I believe increasing individual freedom and personal responsibility leads to improved emotional and mental health. Our ailing system of big government breeds apathy, creating individual reliance on the state. Libertarianism offers an antidote far too many will never experience. It’s high time we abandon the “monkey see, monkey do” mentality, and be willing to let go of that which entraps us. 

Towards liberty,

OA

Why I Left The Armed Forces

Why I Left The Armed Forces

While on vacation during the summer of 2018, I began reading the book “Called to Freedom” which explores the intersection of Christian faith and political freedom. I had recently ranked highly in a competition which would have sent me back to full-time university studies to complete my degree. The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) would have covered my tuition and books, and maintained my salary for the full duration. My Chain of Command was grooming me for an eventual commission and the long career they hoped would come with it. Things looked promising.

As I began reading that book I became increasingly aware I was avoiding numerous internal conflicts which had been brewing for several years. Many assume when a Libertarian decides to leave the military, it must be the result of adopting the anti-war position. But I can’t say that was my primary motivator. There’s an adage I’ve heard throughout the years, “with increasing security comes decreasing freedom.” Therein lies the tension.

I joined the military soon after the birth of our first child. My wife and I had recently moved across the country to a rural setting closer to her family and had naively assumed I would find adequate employment. I found work but there were no guaranteed hours. Growing our family wouldn’t be possible given my income, so after much prayer, we decided I would join the Air Force. We hoped we would secure a posting to the nearby Air Force Base which would allow us to stay in the immediate area. Fortunately, after completing several months of initial training away from my family, we received confirmation that we would indeed stay put. Our rural lifestyle marched on.

Over the next three years, we added two more children and began homeschooling our eldest. A common tagline in CAF literature is “supporting families.” Within the ranks however, members often joked that if the Chain of Command wanted us to have a family, they would have issued us one! Slightly exaggerative, but you get the point. It was around this time, four years into my service, I started to feel as though I wasn’t living authentically. Something was wrong.

I had long recognized I was having a hard time reconciling my Christian beliefs with the oath sworn to a country whose policies went against certain biblical teachings. At that time, I still considered myself politically conservative and interpreted Christian political thought through the lens of Romans 13. Ugh. For those unfamiliar with the Book of Romans, it is the part of the bible many Christians point to when justifying the inherent goodness of the state. It was here where the book I initially mentioned was able to break serious ground for me, ground firmly laid since becoming a Christian ten years earlier. The second chapter of the book, written by Jason Hughey, completely dismantled my previous understanding of the relationship between church and state. For the first time in a decade I was politically homeless – but that wouldn’t last.

After finishing the book, I began seriously contemplating how my family and I were measuring up in the area of personal liberty. I soon realized we weren’t scoring well on numerous fronts, the first being my inability to ultimately control my comings and goings. With military service comes the reality that at any moment they can send you away from your family. They snap, you heel. Imagine making future plans knowing full well that your employer can easily bring them to ruin. It takes a toll. On average, personnel are uprooted every two to six years depending on their trade. For us, every year that passed only brought us closer to the place we called home. There was a reason we chose it to begin with. 

Additionally, my occupation left us perpetually uncertain of our financial future due to the possibility of future relocations. Not surprisingly, the cost of living varies depending on the specific province and municipality we live in. Income tax and sales tax rates differ from one Canadian province to the next just as the cost of housing varies from one urban setting to the next. To try and offset these variables the Canadian Government created the Post Living Differential (PLD) which is a taxable benefit added to a member’s income if they are posted in a qualifying area. This CBC article does an adequate job of detailing the benefit’s flaws. I remember asking myself the following question “Why would someone who values personal freedom want to spend twenty five years moving in and out of different housing markets, potentially unable to build equity, while having to constantly readjust their family’s budget and lifestyle? As a single income family, we had chosen a region where, although we weren’t rich, we could make a good life for ourselves. How could I allow someone else to undo that?”

Of importance in all this, we are a single income family as a consequence of choosing to homeschool our children. Does the military have vested interest in supporting this pursuit? Not likely. Given my financial trade and being bilingual, we would have surely encountered several moves to high cost urban centres. This would have likely forced us to cease homeschooling so my wife could create a second income. Homeschooling is a gift. It allows us to present concepts from different angles while crafting delivery styles which best suit each of our children’s individual learning styles. This investment in our children is one of the highest ways in which we can show our devotion to them. I could never leave this part of our family dynamic vulnerable to the arbitrary posting decisions made by individuals with little regard for our values.    

Coming back to where we began, our week long family vacation came to an end. Inspired by the ideas and arguments found in that book, my wife and I decided it was time to step out and trust our instincts. Personal freedom was too important. Within a couple months we purchased a home based on unknown future earnings from an unknown future job. We moved into the home and I notified my superiors of my intent to release in ten months’ time. Many people, including some relatives, had their doubts. But we knew it was worth risking. I recall telling countless people that even if it brought us to financial ruin, we would never regret making efforts to increase the level of autonomy over our own lives. A future free from constant relocation, periodic time away from each other, and never knowing if our homeschooling efforts would be brought to an end was beckoning us.

At the time of writing this, it has been one year since my last day in uniform. I am pleased to report I was able to find employment and we are thankful to God it came with a pay raise. Our roots continue to grow, which has brought an added level of security to our family. Any future changes we now make will be at our discretion, not someone else’s. Now what could possibly be wrong with that?

Towards liberty,

OA

The Ascendant State

The Ascendant State

The Oxford Canadian Dictionary describes the word “ascendant” as “supreme or dominating, rising, gaining power or authority.” Is it fair to use this word to describe today’s governing authorities? I think so. In our last quill “Our Natural Rights: Unpacked” we touched on the relationship between our natural rights and the need to protect them. Beyond the legitimacy of each individual to defend their rights lies the role of collective groups of individuals. In Libertarianism, the non-aggression principle (NAP) states the use of force is only permitted to defend one’s rights to life, liberty and property. If these are the only circumstances in which an individual’s use of force is legitimate, a collective group of individuals should be bound by the same laws. Acting as a collective, how is the state doing in this regard? In this quill, we will demonstrate how the state’s use of force neglects its actual mandate, instead infringing upon our rights to life, liberty and property.

Every individual has the right to defend themselves from bodily harm. We see this throughout the modern free world, often reading media accounts of would-be victims fighting off, sometimes even killing their attackers, with little to no legal consequences. This demonstrates the state’s recognition of our right to defend our own well-being. Moving from the individual to the collective, we would hope to see the same reasoning. Instead, we see countless laws which negatively impact and jeopardize the individual’s right to life. One example of this is found under section 19(1) of The Canada Health Act which impedes service providers from charging patients for any service deemed insurable. This policy has contributed to longer waiting periods as patients willing to pay for services are not given that option. In some circumstances, longer wait times can mean the difference between life and death. Another example is the way in which the state employs its police force. There are many resources on the current state of policing and the problems that exist. Police brutality obviously comes to mind. When a collective group of armed individuals enforce unjust laws (as they pertain to the NAP) to the point of bodily harm, they are no longer protecting the individual’s right to life. Policing is no longer about protecting the security of the person but rather the enforcement of laws. Our right to safeguard our physical well-being is eroding before us; and it will most likely get worse unless ideologies change. 

Now what about that right to personal liberty? Personal liberties normally found within a liberal democracy are freedom of speech, religion, assembly, freedom to exchange goods and services on the open market, freedom of movement from one territory to another within a nation, just to name a few. Referring back to the NAP, we see why one should really question the state’s legitimacy when interfering in these areas. There are elements of hate speech which can arouse violent actions; so we can concede that action in this area is sometimes required. 

We have seen emerging policies with regards to the usage of gender pronouns. An unclassified Canadian Armed Forces message recently revealed that the use of gender specific pronouns will no longer be acceptable when writing employee performance reviews. Caution needs to be exercised when dealing with this issue, as it leaves no room for consenting individuals to determine which pronouns they prefer. Breaking this new rule would most likely result in legal consequences. Ask yourself: Does mandating the use of certain pronouns on consenting individuals amount to protecting their rights or infringing upon them? Would the state be justified in removing our ability to call strawberries “red” to avoid alienating people living with colour blindness? We could go into greater detail but if you see the over-reaching effect the state can cause in areas such as compelled speech, the point has been made. Now onto the question of property – our stuff.

On the surface, many feel the state adequately protects our right to property. When anything belonging to us is criminally taken or destroyed we call the police to investigate, hopefully bringing the person(s) to justice. This, however, does nothing to return our property.  Our reliance on insurance policies to compensate us gives us a false sense of justice. When we look at the direct relationship between our property and the state, we see a different reality. In Canada, as a property owner, The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not protect our property rights. The state has the ability to expropriate (eminent domain in the U.S.) your property when deemed to be in the best interest of the public. In addition, a landowner can never achieve complete ownership of their land, as a yearly property tax is due in order to maintain ownership. I don’t want to head too far down the road of taxation; but it deserves mentioning. Regardless of taxation’s outcome, whether an individual nets benefits from the services, forcible taxation with a penalty of imprisonment for not paying is a violation of property rights. I’m not claiming taxation never brings good initiatives, only that involuntary taxation could be viewed as a form of theft. Referring back to the NAP, if the collective group is legitimate only when mirroring individual action, how does taxation fit into this? When was the last time you cleared the snow from your neighbour’s driveway without asking and then sent them a bill? Hopefully never.

In conclusion, I hope many come to understand that collective right is based on individual right; and state action is only justified when upholding individual rights. On this very point, Frédéric Bastiat, French economist, writer and a prominent member of the French Liberal School wrote, “If a nation were founded on this basis, it seems to me that order would prevail among the people, in thought as well in deed. It seems to me that such a nation would have the most simple, easy to accept, economical, limited, non-oppressive, just, and enduring government imaginable…” We urgently need to re-examine our relationship with the state, as well as our measure of personal freedoms, and work towards rejection of ascendant governance to uphold individual liberties.  

Towards liberty

OA

Stand Easy

Stand Easy

“The primary problem is not too many police; it’s too many laws.” – Scott Sumner –

Defund the police? Much of the focus surrounding this slogan has been placed primarily on the officers themselves as well as the growing militarization of local police departments. However, some are taking to the task of reframing the conversation and putting the focus on the enormous amount of needless laws requiring enforcement instead of the people enforcing them. In his article entitled Fewer laws, less police brutality Scott Sumner invites the reader to travel down a different road and consider more than the mainstream’s conventional talking points. I encourage you to click the link to his article (2 min read) which can be found on the Econlib.org website.

Towards liberty,

OA