Joe Kent

Just your average libertarian atheist

Why I’m Quitting Online Dating

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I’m finally quitting online dating.  I’m done.  I’ve tried it for many years, and I’ve been on just about every site.  Free ones, pay ones, I’ve tried them all.  But for some reason, I keep getting stuck with the same results . . . absolutely nothing.  So today, I’m deleting all of my online dating profiles, and venturing out onto a brave new experiment called, “real life”.

Why doesn’t it work for me?  In my opinion, it’s because men and women are different.

When a man joins a dating website, it’s not really a huge risk.  No one will really stalk him, and even if they do, who cares?  No one will threaten him, or send him inappropriate pictures.  No one will send him aggressive commands to put this on, or take this off.  In fact, he probably won’t get any messages at all.  In my five years of being on dating websites, I’ve only gotten three messages that were initiated by women.  And two of them were transsexuals.

When a girl joins a dating website, it’s a HUGE risk.  There IS a chance that someone might stalk her, or threaten her, or send her inappropriate pictures.  She’s putting herself in a little bit of danger.  And if she is pretty, her inbox will be flooded with messages from guys who only want one thing.  Then there is the idea that her boss might see, or her friends, or her neighbors, or the guy at the gas station.  The whole world sees her as desperate enough to resort to online dating.

So, the question is . . . why would a woman ever join an online dating website?

After all, pretty girls are hit on all the time in real life.  Why would a girl like that ever join a website?  The only reason is because she has kids, or perhaps because she’s unattractive, or maybe she has some personal baggage.

I’d say about 90% of the women on the dating websites I visit have kids.  Now, I know that it seems cruel to favor girls without kids, but – I’ve dated single mothers before.  It’s annoying.  Well, taking care of the kid is the best part.  But dealing with the ex-husband who might be really possessive can be scary.  Also, when a woman has a kid, it’s harder to find any time to learn who the woman is.  You’re too busy taking care of the kid(s).

I remember dating a girl who had a kid.  I spent more time with the kid than I ever did with her.  I played with him, disciplined him, tucked him in at night, and read him stories – the whole thing.  But, something was missing: the girlfriend.  I didn’t know who she was.  I didn’t have the time to learn about her, because I was too busy taking care of the kid.  So when we finally hit a small bump in the road, the relationship crumbled.

Now, I’m not opposed to dating a girl with kids.  She might be worth the challenge.  But when 90% of the girls online have kids, you’re basically relegating yourself to ONLY girls with kids.  And with Christmas around the corner, I’m simply not ready to be a father figure AND Santa Claus.

The girls online who don’t have kids usually have other baggage.  Either they are very unattractive to me, or they have some kind of rude personality that turns guys off to them in real life.  Lots of these girls put on their profile, “I’m a ***** and if you can’t handle it, then **** off!”  Needless to say, right now, I’m looking for a girl who is, I don’t know . . . nice?

Occasionally, there are attractive single girls without kids who appear online.  When this happens, the entire pool of guys starts messaging them things like, “How’s it goin?”  Dating websites usually have twice as many guys as there are girls, so a new pretty girl with no kids will get bombed with tons of messages.

This brings me to the biggest reason that online dating doesn’t work for me.  It’s because I’m bald.

Now, I know, lots of girls don’t really care about that.  Most girls care about the guy’s personality.  Ask any woman who has married a bald man, and they will say, “I never thought I would ever go for a bald guy, and then I met my husband and it’s the best thing ever!”

Lots of girls are naturally geared towards being curious about the guy’s personality.  But when you go online, it takes away your personality.  That really courageous way that you approached her in the coffee shop.  The funny joke you made.  The way you smiled at her, or made her feel comfortable and warm.  All that is gone.

Instead, she sees your picture, compared side by side with a hundred pictures of other guys.  A girl who cares about personality is suddenly encouraged to focus on looks first.  My bald head suddenly doesn’t look so charming when it’s juxtaposed next to a thousand pictures of guys with hair.  So she will never click on my profile out of the blue, because she’ll think, “eh, he’s bald, next, next, next.”

When a girl goes on a dating website, she is in a shopping kind of a mode.  But when you meet a girl in real life, she’s not necessarily shopping and judging.  She might have been reading, or thinking, or dreaming, and then you had the guts and bravery to approach her and start a conversation.  To evoke her.  To sweep her off her feet.  It’s a magical and spontaneous thing, and it’s completely lost on a website.

Dating websites try to make up for this by including lots of personality tests.  But all of these tests are flawed, because different things matter to different people.  For example, the question, “Would you date someone shorter than you?”  Of course, I answered yes, and lots of girls answer no.  But the test sees that you answered opposite, and lowers your match score!  The same thing happened with, “Would you date someone with hair on their chest?”  Guys and girls naturally answer that oppositely, and that skews the test.

Then there are the dumb questions like, “Which way do you like to put the toilet paper roll?”  One time a girl was rated my “enemy” because she liked to turn the toilet paper in the opposite direction that I do.  Who cares?

So here I am, entering a brave new world of only hitting on girls in real life.  It feels creepy and weird, but – you know, everything is creepy.  If you are a guy, you just have to get used to that.  For the rest of your life, everything you do will be “creepy”.  Even worse, I’ve had girls who tell me that my problem is, I’m not creepy enough.  So screw creepy.

Guys have a tough job.  We men have to get over the fear of approaching a woman.  Some guys never figure out how to do that.  We also have to think of something to say, and try not to be creepy, or sleazy, or weird, and say something magical, but keep it chill, and relaxing, and not seem too desperate, but try to somehow get her number without seeming stalker-ish.  Then, she might have a six hundred pound gorilla boyfriend around the corner.  Or she could be underage, and her parents are around the corner.  Maybe she’ll be frightened, or she might use pepper spray.  Maybe she’ll put her guard up and start being really sarcastic.  Then she could just say no.

Going up to a girl in real life is a complete nightmare.  The agony of rejection is a pain that doesn’t fade easily.  But I’m tough.  I’ve been handling rejection my whole life, and I’m at the point where I can take anything a girl can throw at me.  I’ve crawled through the mud and back just for a girl.  I’ve climbed to the highest cloud and traveled through Hades for a girl.  I’ve slain many dragons, all for the hope that I might one day find a worthy princess to make happily ever after.

Every Date I’ve Ever Been On

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This year, I’ve been on more dates than my entire life combined. And every date has been about me avoiding talking about things I’m interested in. Why? Because the things I really care about (economics, politics, atheism, and board games) are not topics that impress most girls. So, most dates are about me asking her questions, and trying not to give her any answers. 

“Hi, good to see you!” I say, and hug her awkwardly. 

“Hi,” she says. Long silence. This is usually where the date goes downhill, and never stops until the goodbye hug. 

We go to wherever we planned, but it doesn’t really matter. The beach, the movies, the dinner, the lunch, the brunch, the hike. It’s all the same really. Just something to do, so we don’t have to stare at each other the whole time. 

I usually take this moment to ask her the most awkward and odd question, “So, what have you been thinking about lately?” 

I’m not sure why I ask it. It’s just a habit. A bad habit. It’s something I ask to everyone, all the time. I guess it’s because I care about ideas, and I want to get inside their head. But it can really throw people off, because most people don’t really think about anything. Usually, the girl just talks about what she’s been doing lately, like working out. 

She says, “Well, I’ve been playing soccer.” Either it’s soccer, or sky diving, or surfing, or hand gliding, or yoga, or running – it doesn’t really matter. Whatever it is, it’s always WAY more physical activity than I ever do, which is basically sitting in front of the computer watching youtube all day. 

After she’s done telling me about how she’s the next Michael Phelps, she usually asks me, “So what do you like to do?” This is where I go into fight or flight mode. ABORT! ABORT! Do not tell her that you like to just sleep all day and watch youtube! Think of something! 

“Well,” I say, “I like to play boardgames.” 

She says, “Boardgames? Huh. Like Monopoly?” That’s what everybody says. Most people think that board games are only for kids, so I must be some sort of man-child. As if I sit around playing Candy Land all day. 

This is where I present her my dissertation of how boardgames can be for adults too. Usually I talk about my board game club, and all the cool new boardgames that are coming from Europe like Agricola, and Carcassonne, and Ticket to Ride. At this point, most girls are thinking, “Oh god! Is this nerd going to make me sit around playing board games? Get me out of here!” 

I have become the master at paying for the bill. After learning from my mistakes, I’ve become a bill paying maniac. So obsessed am I with paying that I can become extremely hostile at the mere mention of splitting the bill. Sometimes, some hip and progressive girl will try to say, “We can split it.”

“NO!” I scream, “I’M PAYING!” I will even go as far as mentioning weeks before the date that “I’m paying! I’m paying! I’m paying!” 

I know I’m really going deep into this issue, but it’s really a continuous problem. Once, I went to the movies with a girl, and I paid for our tickets long before she even showed up. Then we went in the movie theater, and she said, “Since you paid for the tickets, I can pay for the popcorn.” 

“NOOOOOOO!” I screamed. “I’LL PAY!” To be honest, I was so insulted, I wanted to walk out on her right then for even mentioning it. It was such a blow that I couldn’t get over it the entire night, and I lost all attraction for her. 

There are certain topics that I avoid like the plague. As soon as I start talking about them, I just become a babbling idiot and I go on for hours and hours, barely pausing to even take a breath. These topics are atheism, politics, and economics. If I start talking about about any of these topics, the date might as well be over right then and there. The rest of the date will devolve into me talking non-stop, and her being lost and bored. You might as well lock me away in an insane asylum so I can have the time to say everything I want to say. 

So during every date, I become a ninja at avoiding topics. I duck under questions. I dodge traps. My opinions hide in the shadows, never to come out. We’ll be having a good time. Talking about what we’re eating, when all of a sudden she’ll mention something like GMOs. What I want to do is talk for the next five years about my opinions about Monsanto, but I just try to pretend that I’m not interested in the topic at all. “Oh, GMOs you say? Huh . . . well, um . . . Do you have any brothers and sisters?” 

Don’t give into the temptation that she might agree with you. Oh it’s very tempting! The thought pops into my head, “Hmm, I wonder if she’s an atheist too?” Don’t do it. Don’t ask . . . she’s not an atheist. Girls like that are one in a million. At best, she believes in horoscopes, or new age-y medicines, and at worst, she’s devoutly religious. It’s a trap!

The problem is that so many topics connect to economics, politics, and religion, that it’s almost impossible to avoid. She mentions Buddhism, and I dodge to the left. She mentions healthcare, and I dodge to the right. But then, she says something like, “I think that rich people should give all their money to the poor. They don’t need it!” At this point, it’s as if she has thrown a ninja star directly at me, and the only thing I can do is to fight. 

HIYYYYAH! “Are you rich?” I ask. This spawns a debate about what it means to be rich, and property rights, and capitalism, the free market, and how poverty rates have fallen dramatically wherever individuals have been able to keep the fruits of their labor without government redistribution of wealth. 

And at this point, the date is over. I’ve just lost. Mario has fallen down the hole – no extra lives – game over. Either we will debate (argue) about the topic, or she will remain silent, imagining that I’m cold, heartless, and insensitive. Either way, I will blather on and on, almost incoherently, connecting the dots between the military industrial complex, the Federal Reserve, and the price of ammunition. 

Just once, I’d like to meet a girl who thought it was attractive that I was passionate about topics like that. I’d like to meet a girl who thought that all the studying I was doing was worthwhile. A girl who realized that all I want to do is help the world become a better place to live in. 

Lots of girls say that they want to meet someone who is passionate about something. But, they want someone who is passionate about the right things, like sailing, or food, or animals. Not the Constitution! Not, economics. And never ever ever, atheism. No, it is quite a liability to be passionate about those topics. 

But I am passionate about those things. I don’t really mind if I never meet a girl who knows all the things that I know. Most people in the world don’t know jack about economics. I understand that. But, it would be nice to meet a girl who thought that it was attractive that I was passionate about those topics, and enjoyed talking about the world with me, in that way. If that ever happened, I guarantee that I would be completely passionate about her.

Sugar Cane Burning

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Growing up on the Big Island of Hawaii, I remember stories of how the sugar cane industry died so long ago, and how the Big Island economy died along with it.  So when I first moved to Maui, I was in awe.  Out the window of the airplane, I saw beautiful green fields of sugar cane like a carpet over the windy valley isle.  “What a miracle!” I thought.  It was like stepping back into Hawaii’s golden age of sugar.

Then, one day, I noticed a giant black pillar of smoke stretching miles into the air.  It looked like someone had dropped an atom bomb.  The mushroom cloud engulfed half of Maui, with twisting bits of carbon falling from the sky onto people’s lawns. Somehow, the picture didn’t match with the beautiful fields of green I remember from before.

Was it a disaster?  Had something gone horribly wrong?  No, the sugar company was just burning cane again.  Apparently, it’s common practice for HC&S to burn down the cane before they haul it to the factory to be processed.

What is to stop a company from polluting the air?

The obvious solution is the government.  We should make a law!  Perhaps communities should organize and sign petitions.  Maybe we can put pressure on the government to make the company stop.  Everybody knows that it’s the government’s job to protect the environment. 

The problem is — it doesn’t work.  For decades, the Maui Clean Air Coalition has tried and failed.  They sent around petitions and got thousands of signatures in just a couple of days.  They spoke to politicians and business and gained overwhelming support.  They sat in countless meetings with government officials and sugar cane representatives, listening to long explanations about the problem.  But after decades of hard work, they finally just gave up.

Of course, libertarians say, “If a company is polluting onto your property, you have the right to sue them.”  It’s a nice principal, but the problem is – in practice, nobody ever sues.  The Maui Clean Air Coalition has threatened to sue them many times, but they’ve never gotten serious and taken the sugar company to court.

Now, why would this be?  People sue each other all the time, for the most ridiculous things, and yet nobody wants to sue HC&S for polluting the air?

The reason is because of a law called the “Hawaii Right to Farm Act”, which makes it impossible to win a case against a farmer who pollutes.  The law states: “No court, official, public servant, or public employee shall declare any farming operation a nuisance for any reason . . .”

According to Hawaii Agriculture Magazine, in 1982 the legislature was worried that people would begin suing sugar companies for polluting the air.  So they made this law to protect the sugar industry.

What’s more, if anyone even tries to sue the sugar company, they have to pay for all the sugar companies’ attorney fees.

Imagine trying to sue a company, and the law specifically stated that it was impossible for you to ever win your case, and in addition, you had to pay for all the court fees of the person that you were suing.  No wonder nobody ever tries to sue them!

If this law were abandoned, it would probably be quite profitable to sue sugar companies that polluted onto your property.  Maybe we’d begin seeing commercials on TV, “Have you been the victim of air pollution?  Our team of lawyers will help you get what you deserve!”

But what about the sugar companies?  Free-market defenders will run to the aid of the sugar company, and exclaim, “We can’t let our sugar industry die in Hawaii.  The lives of 800 workers depend on it!”

But it may be time to admit that the sugar industry in Hawaii is dying, and one day, it may be completely dead.  But that’s not a bad thing.  Sugar used to be a giant industry on the Big Island, but it died, and life still goes on.  Most of the laid off workers just created other jobs, or they retired.  Today, business in Hilo is steady, with more people living and working on the Big Island than ever.

Of course, the sugar company could think creatively about ways to remain in business without polluting.  Perhaps they could do what other countries do, and harvest the cane first, rather than just burning it all over the island.  Maybe they could find a different crop to grow, or think of a new technology.  They often protest, “It can’t be done!”, but miracles happen all the time, especially when there is an incentive for those miracles to happen.

At any rate, if 800 workers’ jobs depend on being able to make Maui look like it was attacked by an atomic bomb, raining down black ash onto everyone’s property, then that hurts the jobs of many other people who depend on Maui looking pristine and beautiful.

It is sad that the free-market often gets blamed for things like air pollution.  Libertarians are constantly attacked with air pollution gotcha questions, like “Without the government, who would stop all those greedy corporations from polluting our air?”  But, in case after case, it’s the government that allows and encourages pollution.  In that sense, it might very well be that the free-market is the best protector of the environment.

Power to the Principal

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In the movie “Lean On Me”, Principal Joe Clark said, “Forget about the way it used to be. This is not a democracy. We are in a state of emergency, and my word is law!”

It certainly was. He fired teachers, and expelled kids. He was the ultimate, tough principal. But in the end, East Side High School was much better for it.

If I were a principal of a school, I would be the toughest principal around. Just like Joe Clark, I’d carry a baseball bat with me wherever I went. When the teachers showed up on the first day, I would give them a speech.

“Look, I’m not going to tell you how to do your job. I’m not going to waste your time with boring meetings and tell you all the rules and regulations. All I’m going to do is watch you teach. And if you teach well, then you’ll get a raise. But if you teach poorly, then you’ll be fired. Now get to work!”

Obviously, any principal that did this today would be thrown in jail. Principals have their hands tied behind their back. They have to make us sit in boring meetings. They have to waste time worrying about all the hundreds of new regulations that the state comes up with, year after year. And they’re not allowed to fire anyone, without going through an exhausting nest of government rules.

Today, education reform is from the top down. The higher ups are always trying to control what the lower downs are doing. The big wigs spend enormous resources conjuring up a thousand rules, and teachers have to sit there and memorize it all. Rules to make sure a teacher doesn’t just sleep on the job. Or abuse kids. Or teach the wrong material. And all these rules do is slow us down.

But a good teacher knows they shouldn’t sleep on the job. Good teachers already know how to make a safe learning environment. They know how to teach the best material, and make students feel welcome. Good teachers work their butt off, and good principals do everything they can to keep those teachers.

This year, there is a big reform going on in Hawaii. Every teacher will get observed two times a year by the principal. Lots of teachers are worried. “We’re used to being observed once every five years. This is too much!”

But, I don’t think it’s enough. If I were a principal, I would try to observe every teacher, every day. It wouldn’t be that hard to just walk around to every classroom, one by one, and watch them teach for a while. You could get to every classroom in a day or two.

The reason it takes principals so long to observe is because they need to let each teacher know they’re coming weeks in advance. This gives the teacher lots of time to prepare a really good lesson, and to tell the kids, “Be really good tomorrow!” Then, when the principal comes, he needs to fill out his observation on a special government approved form, and input it into a special website, and then do a pre-observation interview, and a post-observation interview with the teacher. It takes forever!

But is it really so far fetched to imagine a principal with more power? Maybe he could stop in a classroom without telling the teacher, and just jot down some notes for himself? Perhaps there was something about the lesson that didn’t really fit on a form. Maybe it was the energy, or the magic that the teacher had, or the enthusiasm that the kids had, or the progress they made, or something, I don’t even know how to describe it, but it sure as heck could never fit on a government mandated form. And what if the principal just jotted down, “Give this teacher a raise, before the school down the street does”?

Of course, there are all sorts of objections to this. Principals with power? Then they’ll run mad with power! The principal could just lower everyone’s pay to $1 an hour! Or they could just fire everyone!

But, so what? So what if a principal went crazy and fired everyone? So what if a school failed? When bad schools fail, that’s a good thing. It clears up more room for the good schools. But today, bad schools never fail. They just go on forever.

When principals are powerless, as they are today, then they have to act very nice. They have to smile a lot, and be friends with teachers. They need to be very persuasive, and try to convince teachers to perform well through their own charisma. Teachers love these kinds of principals. But I feel sorry for them. Even the most charismatic principal could never fix education without the power to hire and fire at the drop of a hat.

Many people blame teachers when it comes to our failing education. But I don’t think teachers are the enemy. I don’t even think principals are the problem. The real problem is the lack of freedom for teachers to do what they want, and principals to do what they want. A free market approach to education seems scary, because we’re so nostalgic about the way we were raised. But when we were raised, principals had power. Today, they’re nearly powerless.

Give principals the power to rule their school, and some teachers will fail, and others will succeed. A really great teacher might be worth double what a mediocre teacher is paid. Good schools could be worth lots of money, and provide scholarships to poorer students who aimed for better grades. Teachers could try innovative ideas that didn’t fit within the government model. Parents could chose the schools they liked the best. Bullies would cost more money, so schools and parents would crack down on them. There are all sorts of benefits that could come from a free market of education. Principals with power. Teachers with freedom. Parents with choices. And students with a brighter future.

All People Are Selfish

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I’m a selfish person. I want the best for me, all the time. In fact, I’m one of the most selfish people I’ve ever met, and I really have no qualms about it.

Now, you may be thinking, “How rude!”

But, being selfish doesn’t make me a bad person. In fact, just the opposite is true. Being selfish makes me a good person.

I give to charity because it feels good. I’m greedy to give. I don’t have much money, but I still give a good portion to charities around the world. Yet – even that is a selfish act. I only give because I want to feel good.

In a classic episode of Friends, Joey says, “There’s no un-selfish good deed.”

Phoebe says, “Yes there are!  There are totally good deeds that are . . . self-less!”

“Well, may I ask for one example?” Joey asks.

Phoebe says, “Yeah it’s . . . you know, well . . . No you may not!”

Joey is right.  Every single thing that you’ve ever done has been to make you feel good.  Whether it be working out, or taking medicine, or eating, or calling your mom . . . it’s all done for ultimately selfish reasons.  And in that sense, everyone is selfish.

Sometimes people say, “You know what the problem is with the free market?  Some people are greedy.”  But – hold on there.  Is there anyone in the world who is not greedy?

The weird thing is, we live in a society where it looks like some people are being greedy, and other people are being good.  But everybody is greedy!  When I go to the grocery store, the lady at the check-out counter smiles at me and asks, “Did you have trouble finding anything?”  It seems like this business is not being greedy at all.  They even put all my food in my bags – and if I asked, they would carry it to my car for me.  What Samaritans!

Yet, the only reason they do that is because they are competing for my business. They are selfish Samaritans.

There are only three ways greed can operate in this world:

1. Stealing

2. Cheating

3. Voluntary Exchange

In stealing, one person wins, and another person loses.  The same is true with cheating; one person wins, and another loses.

But in a voluntary exchange, both parties benefit.  It’s the only way that two greedy people can gain, and feel happy afterwards.  What a miracle!

Government is based on stealing and cheating. But the free market is the only a system based on voluntary exchange.  It utilizes greed to it’s most helpful potential, and entices greedy people to work together in perfect concert.  I give you the dollar, and you give me the milk.  In the end, we’re both happier.  This is multiplied a billion times throughout the world, every day, and it helps make everyone happier.

Yes, it is true that businesses can lie, cheat, and steal, but when they do, they shoot themselves in the foot, because they lose their reputation.  And in the business world – reputation is everything.

In the free market, they can only trick you once or twice, and then most people learn their lesson, and don’t visit those places again. Most people spread the word, and try to visit the businesses that have a good reputation.  But governments don’t need to worry about reputation. They can trick you again, and again, and no one can ever get away.

Voluntary exchange is so powerful that it actually discourages cheating, and stealing. Any business that behaves poorly gets punished by their competitors. Greed is not the problem, it’s the solution. Because as long as everyone is selfish, doesn’t it make sense that we stop wasting energy trying to “make everyone good”, and start using greed to our advantage?  The free market entices greedy people to do good things.  But for greedy people to do bad things, without the fear of any consequence – it takes government.

Which is Better: a King, a Dictator, or a President?


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So a King, a Dictator, and a President walk up to the gates of heaven, and St. Peter asks, “Why should I let you in?”

The King says, “I’ve made my people safe.”

The Dictator says, “I’ve made my people equal.”

The President says, “I haven’t done either, but I’ve tricked my people into thinking I have!”

This poses a question: which is better?  A King, a Dictator, or a President?

In America, we all know that a President is best.  Most people feel that if only the rest of the world would follow America’s lead and become a Republic, or a Democracy, then all would be well.

But look around the world.  Most countries are republics.  Most countries have democracy.  Most countries have presidents, constitutions, and they hold elections.  And yet, most countries experience corruption.  Elections are rigged, and sometimes presidents are killed.  Even in America, corruption is everywhere.

Monarchies and Communist governments aren’t a bed of roses, either.  Often times, a bad ruler can stick around forever!

Sometimes people wonder, “Why hasn’t a Libertarian form government been tried before?” As if it’s simply a brand new “special” form of government that no one’s thought of before, with a unique kind of ruler, or voting system.

But, Libertarianism is not a form of government, but a size.

Look around the world, at all the different governments out there, and you’ll find that the most important factor in the liberty of citizens is the size of the government.  The smaller the government, the freer the citizens.  The form (democratic, republic, monarchy, communist), doesn’t really matter so much.  And so, a libertarian government, is any form of small government.

The city of Wenzhou is Communist, yet it is one of the most libertarian societies in the world today.  The Chinese government pretty much just ignores Wenzhou, “where the mountains are high, and the emperor is far away.”  As a result, they have a free-market system of roads, bridges, and highways – something that it is difficult for us free-minded Americans to imagine.  They have the highest wages for workers, and are the second richest city in China.

New Zealand is a Monarchy, yet it could also be considered a libertarian government.  They are free-market cheerleaders.  Low regulation and low taxation has made starting a business a piece of cake.  Gay marriage, prostitution, and drugs are for the most part, legal, and they believe in free speech, and the right to bear arms.

Even Somalia, which has no government at all, could be considered libertarian.  After the fall of the bloated communist government in 1991, half a million people flooded into the country to live under anarchy.  Ok, maybe they don’t all have iphones yet, but compared to what they had, they are experiencing enormous prosperity.  Food, shelter, security, technology, and civil rights are all up, under a stateless society.

The United States Constitution is often considered the most radical libertarian experiment in the history of the world.  The document was written to help restrict the power of government, and keep it small.  Unfortunately, America’s government has grown to be enormous, but the original idea of a limited government was indeed, libertarian.

Libertarianism exists in small pockets, all over the world.  Where ever there is freedom, small government, property rights, and voluntary exchange, that is where libertarianism resides.  From the private roads and bridges of Wenzhou, to the zero taxes of the Cayman Islands, to the free-markets of Hong Kong, to the private militia of Switzerland, and even the civil rights outlined in our very own United States Constitution, freedom from government is a familiar friend to lucky individuals around the world.  Such miracles can only continue to exist if people are willing to defend their own liberty.

“That government is best which governs least.”

-Unknown

Take Liberty – July 9th

 

Lawrence Carnicelli with guest host Joe Kent explore the question, “How can we find solutions, without taking freedoms away?”

Tuesdays at Noon on KAOI 1110AM, or kaoi.com

Joe Kent is the secretary of the Libertarian Party of Maui

mauilibertarianparty.com

What Monopolies Fear Most

Whenever I talk about freedom, people get scared.  Lots of people like the idea of just a small “dash” of freedom.  Or maybe, sprinkles of freedom.  But when I talk about allowing the maximum amount of liberty to reign, many people act as if they are running from Godzilla.

People say, “We can’t just let the market run wild!  The big corporations will all just join together, and form huge monopolies, and stomp all over the little guys.”

This is the main fear when it comes to the free market: Monopolies.  In a sense, they have a good point.  In a free market, what is to stop all the big companies from creating a cartel?  What’s to stop them from raising prices through the roof?  We need a government to protect us from all the giant Godzilla like monopolies!

But . . . look closely at any monopoly, and you’ll find that the true source of it’s power comes from government itself.

The shipping monopolies are a direct result of the Jones Act, which limits entries into the market, and makes everything more expensive.

The big cable and electric monopolies come from a nest of government rules and favors, dictating who can get a TV license, exorbitant fees for hooking up, FCC regulations, and government kick-backs.  Small start-ups say that hooking up to the electric line would be a piece of cake, if it weren’t for all the government barriers.

Big pharmaceutical companies benefit from government granted patents, which restrict anyone else from building on their research.  One scientist told the New York Times that they spend more time suing each other over patents, than actually doing meaningful research.

Enron, Monsanto, Goldman Sachs, Moody’s, Ma Bell, Big Oil, Big Sugar, Big Steel – all created with massive government privilege.  Go down the list, and look at every single monopoly or oligopoly in the world, and you’ll find that reason they got so big in the first place, is because of government.

The economist Milton Friedman famously said, “You have one law you can pass.  It’s only purpose is to reduce the extent of monopoly . . . what law would you pass?”

In fact, there is no law that reduces monopolies.  Even anti-trust laws (which are supposed to break up monopolies), often have the opposite effect.  Economist Dominick Armentano said, “95% of all anti-trust cases are simply one company suing another company.”  Is it any wonder that the biggest cheerleaders for anti-monopoly regulation are the monopolies themselves?

If you wanted to kill the monster of monopoly, the best weapon is the free-market itself.  After all, it’s easy to see that if a monopoly behaved poorly (by raising their prices, or making a poor product), then a smaller company could do a much better job, and steal their customers.  Monopolies aren’t afraid of government.  Monopolies are afraid of the free-market.

So the next time someone says to you, “We can’t just let the market run wild!”, always remember that strange as it may seem, the free-market is ultimately the best defense against the free-market itself.  Let’s not forget that the government holds the monopoly on granting monopoly privilege.  It holds the sole power on the legal use of force throughout society.  The true terror that we, as defenders of liberty, must all be ready for is a government running wild with power.

My Star Trek Episode: Vacation in Anarchy

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“Captain’s Log, Star Date, 4231.6.  We’re orbiting a planet which is exactly like earth in almost every way, except there is no government,” Kirk said, as he sat aboard the Star Ship Enterprise.  “My objective is to beam down to observe a world in complete and total anarchy.  Because of the extreme danger in the situation, I alone will beam down.  Kirk out.”

Spock said, “Captain, I request permission to beam down with you.”

“Negative, Spock,” said Kirk, “The Federation gave us specific orders to see if a single human could survive on planet Anarchy for an entire . . . six months.  We need you aboard the ship in case anything should . . . happen.”

“Very well, Captain,” said Spock.  “Live Long, and Prosper.”

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Out in the middle of a grassy field, Captain Kirk, commander of the Star Ship Enterprise appeared in a swirl of light.  The planet looked Earth-like in every way, with green trees, and blue skies, and small animals gathering food for the winter.

“Something . . . must be wrong,” Kirk said to himself, “This can’t be Anarchy, can it?”

Kirk took his communicator out to speak to the ship, “Uhura, come in.”

“Yes commander,” said Lieutenant Uhura.

“Am I on the right . . . planet?”

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“Yes commander, you beamed down successfully.  We beamed you just outside the city, in case they were hostile.  The city of Libertania is just to your north,” said Uhura.

“So it is, Kirk out.”  Kirk snapped his communicator shut, and looked around.  The city of Libertaina sparkled in the distance.  Beaming towers of silver and gold lined the horizon, and a nearby highway whisked with futuristic cars.  Kirk decided to go check out the highway, unsure if he would find a friend, or foe.

Instantly, a police car pulled over, and two officers got out of the car, and shouted to Kirk, “You there!”

Kirk put his hands up, “I am Commander James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise.  I come in peace.”

“Peace eh?” said one of the officers, “That happens to be one of my favorite words.”  The officers lowered their weapons and approached Kirk.  “What are you doing all the way out here?”

“I want to see if the rumors are true.  To see if this planet . . . is a barren wasteland of robbers, swindlers, and murderers fighting each other to the death.”

The officers laughed, “Heh heh, well, we’ve got our fair share of bad guys.  But don’t worry.  It’s perfectly safe here, provided you have insurance.  In fact, we can take you to get some.”

“Insurance?  Why would I need insurance?” said Captain Kirk.

“Why would you need insurance!?” said the first police man.  “Why, to protect you from the very people you just mentioned.  In a voluntary society, insurance is everything!  Come with us, please, it will all make sense soon.”

Kirk agreed, and the three men walked to the police car.  Just before getting in the car, Kirk noticed a symbol on the side of the car.  An emblem of a blue shield with a red sash that said, Liberty Insurance Police Force.

“Wait a second,” said Kirk, as he closed the door from inside the police car.  “You guys aren’t . . . part of the government?”

“No,” said the second cop, “There is no government on the planet of Anarchy.  No, we’re a private police force.  But, don’t worry.  It will all make sense once you get to the city.”

The city was beautiful.  Sky scrapers, houses, trees, gardens, and parks, with the smokey scent of barbecue ribs and freshly cut grass in the distance, which reminded Kirk that he’d been in space a little too long.  Soon, the private police dropped Kirk off at the insurance company, and Kirk entered the building.  A friendly insurance sales agent, walked up to Kirk with a smile.  “Welcome, Kirk! Welcome!” he said, in a thick German-like accent.  “I’m so glad you made it safely.  Have a seat.  My name is Hans.  How was your trip?”

Kirk shook his hand, “Good, but . . . I’m a little confused,” he said, sitting down, “I thought that this planet would be more . . . dangerous.”

“Well – it is.  I mean, it can be, IF you don’t have insurance.  But, please, can I get you anything?  Coffee?  Mint?”

“No thanks,” said Kirk, sensing he was going to be given a sales pitch.

Hans got down to business.  “There is no government in Anarchy.  So everyone has to take care of themselves.  No one will feed you, or clothe you, or keep you safe, except for YOU.  Sometimes we have murders, and robberies.  That’s why it’s so important that you buy insurance from us, today!”

“Why would I want insurance?” said Kirk.  “I’ve got my insurance right here!”  Kirk took out his phaser and pointed it in the air.

Star Trek: The Original Series

Hans smiled at the phaser, “Well, it’s your choice.  But if you sign up with our company, we’ll insure you against all violent acts.  If someone steals from you, we’ll pay for the damages.  If someone attacks you, we’ll pay for the hospital.  If someone kills you, we’ll pay the life insurance.  We’ll even have private security guards to roam the neighborhood to insure that you’re safe.”

“What if you don’t have any money?” said Kirk, skeptical of the salesman.  “Are the poor just left to die in the streets?”

“The poor benefit from our protection too,” said Hans, “After all, if we catch a criminal, that’s one less criminal to bother anyone else.  But Kirk!  I want to tell you about an amazing deal!  For a limited time, we offer the first month free!  This will give you time to get a job, and begin a payment plan.  See, there are a lot of cheaper insurance companies around, but – just between you and me – we’re the best!”  Hans winked at the captain.

Kirk put his phaser away, and leaned forward in his chair, “What’s the catch?”

Hans said, “Clever man.  There’s always a catch!  But it’s a small thing: If you initiate any violent acts against someone else’s will, then you will lose your insurance immediately.”

“Why?” Kirk asked.

“Because,” said the insurance agent, “Violence is expensive.  We have all sorts of contracts with other insurance companies that bind us to pay for any violent acts you commit, so we simply can’t have you attacking people physically.  Why, it’s bad for business!”

Kirk decided he needed help.  He used his communicator to hail the ship, and explained the whole situation to Spock.

“Fascinating,” said Spock. “Yet, very logical. An entire society based on insurance. Without the guarantees of government, people purchase their own private guarantees.”

Kirk asked, “Do you recommend purchasing the insurance?”

“I do indeed,” said Spock.  “I believe you should get the free trial insurance for a month, and then pay for the other five months, once you’ve found a job to pay for it.”

“Acknowledged.  Kirk out,” said Captain Kirk, as he closed his communicator.  “I’m in!”

Hans invited Kirk to sign on about 40 different dotted lines.  All the different contracts just in case he got attacked by an alien Gorn, or if his house was robbed, or a thousand other scenarios . . . which private courts to use, and which arbitrators to use . . . the standard formalities.

“How long is your stay on Anarchy?” asked Hans, as Kirk finished signing the last contract.

“Six months,” said Kirk.

Hans said, “Well then, here’s a map.  There are taxi’s just outside.  Have a nice stay!  And remember to mention us to your friends!”

Kirk thanked Hans, and searched for a place to live.  He was amazed to find that everywhere he went, everyone asked to see his insurance card.  The grocery store, the bar, the lake, even the street security.  And when he flashed the Liberty Insurance card, people would smile and nod, as if they knew that it was the best insurance around.

“Kirk to Enterprise,” said the Captain, talking into his communicator.  “Come in Spock.”

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Spock said, “Yes, Captain?”

“I bought the insurance, and everyone, everywhere is checking it.  Even the grocery store . . . checks my insurance . . . why is that?”

“Presumably because they want non-violent customers,” said Spock.  “We can logically assume that doing so would lower their own insurance premiums.”

Kirk said, “But do they really need to check it every time?  The movie theater?  The parks?”

“Obviously, Captain,” said Spock.  “Serving customers without insurance could be a huge liability on this planet.  If even one violent act occurred on their premises, it could tarnish their safety record, and raise their costs.  Captain, this planet is beginning to sound more logical than Vulcan.”

“Spock, sometimes I think every planet is more logical than Vulcan,” said Kirk, “But thank you for the analysis.  Kirk out.”

In the first couple months, Kirk found a place to live, and even got a job washing aliens.  He made a moderate income – more than enough to pay for the best insurance in town.  As he walked on the street, he noticed that police men and women from all the different companies were all so polite and friendly.  They treated him like a potential customer.  But the most friendly of all was the Liberty Police Force.

“Top of the morning to you, Kirk!  Are you happy with your service?” said the Liberty officer.

“Quite!” Kirk said.  “It’s so nice around here, you might as well take a break at the doughnut shop.”

The officer shook his head, “No, I couldn’t do that.  I’m on the lookout for criminals.  By the way Kirk, do you own a gun?”

“No, but I do have a phaser.  Why?”  Kirk asked.

“Even better!” said the cop, “We encourage our customers to be armed in case of an emergency.  If you pass our safety course, then you could qualify for a big discount on your bill.  Here, take this flyer.”

Kirk took the flyer, which showed an alien in a James Bond style pose, with the heading “Liberty Gun Training Course”.  Kirk called the Enterprise to explain the whole situation to Spock.

“Fascinating,” remarked Spock, “A society where the police encourage gun ownership.  Presumably, the more insured people own guns, the safer the community, and the more money the insurance company saves in the long run.  Truly astonishing, Captain.”

The next week, Kirk took the gun safety course.  He demonstrated that he was an expert marksman, able to shoot an alien dummy from 50 feet away right between the eyes.  He passed the safety course with flying colors, and even qualified for a free gun.  After that, Kirk’s insurance dropped 15%.

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For five months, things were looking pretty good for Captain Kirk.  Then, one night, it happened.  An alien Gorn snuck into Kirk’s rented cottage.  The Gorn opened the window, slithering with his lizard like breath.  Kirk was snoring, asleep in the bedroom. The Gorn disarmed the house alarms that the insurance company had Kirk install.  He tip-toed to Kirk’s phaser, and pointed it directly at Kirk.

But Kirk woke up just in time to kick it out of the Gorn’s hands!  The phaser went flying.  Kirk and the Gorn wrestled until Kirk picked up the phaser, and shot, missing the Gorn, and vaporizing a lamp.  Then the Gorn leaped out the window.

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“Caught him!” Officer Block said, stunning the Gorn with a phaser.  “Finally!  Now I can get that bonus!”

The Gorn was put in handcuffs, and brought to a private jail.  The Gorn’s insurance company met with Liberty Insurance, and agreed to bring the case to a private court.  This court had a Triple A rating, and the judge was selected because he was known to be extremely fair in these types of cases.

“I decree,” the judge said, “That the Gorn loses his insurance.”

“NOOOOOOOOO!” yelled the Gorn, in his native tongue.  He was drug out by the court security, and brought to his residence.  Because the streets were all private, no street security would let him on their property.  The mall wouldn’t let him in without insurance.  The theater wouldn’t let him in.  Neither would the grocery store.  And especially not the bank.  The Gorn simply had nowhere to go.

“How am I supposed to eat?” wondered the Gorn, “I can’t get food.  I can’t work.  I can’t even leave my house.  Savages!”

Then, a private company called Jail-Co stepped up to the plate.  Jail-Co said, “We’ll give you food, water, and shelter, but you need to stay in our jail.  For the next seven years, you’re going to work, work, work.  You’ll be under constant watch, from all our security guards.  You’ll mow lawns, clean toilets, and pick up garbage.  You’re going to earn your stay here at Jail-Co.”

“What happens after seven years?” the Gorn asked in his language.

“If you have excellent behavior, then we’ll recommend you for temporary insurance.”

“Really?” the Gorn said, “You’ll do that for me?”

“No!” the Jail-Co agent said, “You’re doing it for you.  It’s your choice to join our jail or not.  You can stay in your house, which will be like a permanent jail anyways.  Or you can join our jail, and work for us, and maybe one day, go back into society.”

The Gorn thought it over, and finally said, “No way.  I’d rather starve than go to your lousy jail!”

“Have it your way,” said the Jail-Co agent, as he left.

===

On Captain Kirk’s last day on the planet of Anarchy, he paid a visit to the Gorn.  With his translator, Kirk told the Gorn, “Don’t you know that you’ll never get insurance again?  You can never leave this house.  No one will ever want you on their property without insurance.  You can’t even . . . go to the movies.  You’ll just be stuck at home forever.  You’re basically in a worse jail than Jail-Co.  At least at Jail-Co, you could get paid, and you could earn your insurance back.”

The Gorn thought about it, “You know, maybe you’re right,” he said.  Finally, he decided to call Jail-Co.

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Kirk beamed up to the Enterprise in a flash of light.  Everyone welcomed Kirk, after his six month stay.  “It’s so good to be back,” he said, “But . . . Spock . . . do you think the Gorn will ever return to society again?”

“It is likely,” said Spock, “Gorns have shown themselves to be very civilized when they have something to gain from it.  If he works hard for seven years, and maintains perfect behavior, he could be offered temporary insurance.  And perhaps, after a few more years, he’ll be offered full coverage.”

“And if he remains violent?” asked Kirk.

Spock said, “Then he will remain in the jail system as long as he wishes.  Or else, he will return to his house, never to be allowed into society again.”

“It’s too bad we have to leave,” said Kirk.  “I was looking forward to learning more about a world without government.”

“Indeed,” said Spock.  “It appears that Anarchy could very well provide more safety and freedom than all the alternatives that have been tried throughout the course of history.”

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* Variations of a private law society are offered by many Austrian economists, including Murray Rothbard, Hans Hoppe, Walter Block, Robert Murphy, Samuel Konkin III, and Joseph Salerno.  But it isn’t the only solution.  Many other solutions have been proposed, and nobody really knows what would happen in a world without government.  But the point is that there are many solutions to private law society, and in a free market, the best solutions would rise to the top.  In that sense, a libertarian society could be a much safer world than the one we live in today.

Take Liberty July 2nd

Joe Kent and Phil Heath guest star on “Take Liberty” with Lawrence Carnicelli to talk about the basics of libertarianism.

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