If you have ever expressed disappointment or frustration with the electoral process, you have probably had this condemnation thrown at you at some point: “Well, if you don’t vote, then you have no right to complain!”
Those who have said this to me have probably taken my dumbfounded silence as a sign of my awed respect for the light they brought into my life. The truth is that I am dumbfounded by what an absurdly and patently idiotic statement it is, and there isn’t much I would be able to tell a person who believes it.
“He doesn’t vote?” they think, floored by such blasphemy. “I know! I’ll use this tired old thought-terminating cliché I heard from some authority figure or public relations campaign. Oh, look at that. He’s so impressed with my wisdom, he doesn’t know what to say.”
It is easy to see how daft this notion is if you rephrase it in order to more accurately reflect reality: “If you don’t participate in the corrupt, illegitimate and criminal system of state corporatism, then you don’t have a right to complain about it.” Or, to make it even clearer: “If you refuse to answer your assailant when he asks if you’d rather be beaten with a club or a whip, then you have no right to complain about being assaulted.”
My new response to this drivel is to turn the condemnation right back around on my accuser: If you do vote, you consent to this laughably abhorrent system and have no right to complain! I refuse to go along with the state mysticism of “consent of the governed” and “government of the people, by the people and for the people” as the charming but irrational sentiments of a juvenile mind, much like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny; but you, you who go along with it and permit yourself to be herded into the voting booth to cast your vote for the lesser of two atrocious evils – you made your bed, now sleep in it. To those who understand and see the corruption of the U.S. political machine but nevertheless vote for the lesser of two evils, I now respond: How has voting for evil been working out for you?
We’ve all heard that if voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal. We know the wealthy will never permit us to vote their wealth away. And deep down inside, I think we all know our vote doesn’t actually matter. So what is the purpose of voting? Why does the state push it on us so? To create the illusion of self-government, of course!
Teller of the famous illusionist duo Penn & Teller once broke character to reveal some secrets about the art of illusion, one of which was this: “If you are given a choice, you believe you have acted freely.” Or, as noted anarchist Noam Chomsky put it:
“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.”
The last couple hundred years of electoral history in the U.S. has taught us one thing: Voting has yielded nothing but more of the same, defended nothing but the status quo, and championed no one but the already privileged.
But consider the alternative! A disturbing, almost bone-chilling realization ought to grip the rational mind that contemplates this fantasy: What if your vote did matter? What if you could employ the full brutal force of the state to impose your will on your fellow beings? What if, through this electoral process, you could be king for a day?
It is far better that our votes mean nothing and accomplish nothing. We can leave tyranny to the tyrants and pursue other venues. But once we see that we cannot beat the behemoth of the corrupt state at its own game, what then? Well, we simply follow David’s example in his fight against Goliath. We follow the example of every underdog who has every bested a bully: We refuse to play by their rules, to live on their terms. We take the battle to our turf and employ strategies we concoct.
If they don’t like that, let them try to vote us out.
Nicholas Hooton is an editor and strategist for Utah Liberty Alliance.
A Deseret News article quotes Frank Smith, DEA assistant special agent in charge of Utah, as saying those who grow marijuana on public lands are the “greatest threat to public safety”. He blames them for violent crime, stealing land and water, and “decimating the environment”.
But Agent Smith is wrong.
The act of growing a plant is not a violent act.
The act of providing products or services to peaceful individuals who want them is not a violent act.
The violence is initiated by the State, which intervenes because it has arbitrarily declared a certain substance to be “illegal”. Yet the demand for this substance causes a “black market” to be created to circumvent the State’s attempt at control. Attempts to increase control only result in more desperate means of getting around them. The violence, initiated by the State, escalates because sometimes the targets of this aggression attempt to defend their lives and property from it.
I do not condone the use of public lands or the destruction of the environment, but I think it’s important to place the blame where it truly lies.
If the government had not overstepped its Constitutional bounds, claiming ownership over our bodies and the power to declare what we can and cannot put into them, this problem wouldn’t exist. There would be no costly, deadly, and destructive “War on Drugs”. Agent Smith, instead of trying to violently enforce a bad law, might have instead turned out to be Farmer Smith, growing cannabis on his own land and supplying a product that has legitimate applications in medicine, fabric, and several other areas to many happy customers.
Instead, Agent Smith is engaged in a futile and violent attempt to treat the symptoms of a problem government created in the first place. And if the problem wouldn’t exist if not for the actions of government, who is the true threat to public safety?
Dallin agrees with Murray N. Rothbard: "Freedom is a condition in which a person's ownership rights in his own body and his legitimate material property are not invaded, are not aggressed against." During the 2008 elections he came to the realization that the greatest invader, the greatest aggressor, the greatest threat to freedom is The State. He is interested in learning about and promoting libertarian, voluntaryist, anarchist, and other similar liberty-centered philosophies. He has been working in computer and technology-related positions since 2006 and participates in several blogs and side-projects.
True to form, Utah legislators plan to manage the negative effects of State intervention with more State intervention.
Rep. Tim Cosgrove has put forth a bill mandating stricter licensing requirements for individuals in the alternative healing industry. Its purpose: to crack down on clandestine sex trade operations in massage parlors.
Of course, Cosgrove either completely ignores or is unaware of the fact that this fraudulent activity is a direct result of State prohibition of prostitution. “The oldest profession” is illegal because of the age-old conflation of legality and morality. Societies tend to forget that the beast of coercive government can enforce its edicts only by means of violence or the threat thereof, and that therefore the only behavior that should be illegal is behavior that any individual can rightfully respond to with defensive violence.
Within the lore of State mysticism, we are told that “[a]ll political power is inherent in the people; and all free governments are founded on their authority.” If this is true, it follows that the State can have no more authority than any one of its citizens. Prohibition of prostitution within this framework implies that, if average Utah resident Joe Shmoe were strolling through a neighborhood and witnessed a woman advertising sexual services, he would be within his rights to kidnap the woman and lock her in a cage, beating and even killing her if she resisted. Such a thing seems abhorrent to most people, yet those same people are fine with somehow delegating this right they don’t have to their government.
Prohibition of prostitution is the ultimate statement of State ownership of its citizens. By threatening violence against individuals who voluntarily perform sexual services for hire, government is claiming ownership of those individuals; for what is ownership but the right to possess and control? Indeed, this point is especially appropriate when one considers that State mandates against prostitution have resulted in the sex trade of unwilling women and minors to be what has been called “the largest slave trade in history.”
Without regulation, the prostitution industry has become a dangerous breeding ground for violence and disease transmittal. Because prostitutes cannot appeal to legal authorities for protection or redress of grievances, they are at the mercy of their pimps who are notorious for exploitative treatment of their laborers. Criminalization of prostitution could be the most misogynistic institution in world history.
The wise course to pursue in Utah would be not only to legalize prostitution, but to eliminate involuntary regulation and licensing requirements for both prostitution and massage parlors. Regulation and licensing are both products for which demand exists and can be provided and subscribed to voluntarily. Those who offer services without regulatory oversight or licensing ought not to be forcefully prohibited from doing so; they will most likely be forced by the market to discount their prices considerably, and those who purchase their services can do so knowing the risks. But no one should ever be forcefully prohibited from taking risks they are willing to take.
This course will result in a safe, responsible and economically efficient sex trade industry. This industry exists whether we like it or not. We cannot stamp it out of existence, because there will always be both a supply and a demand. So our question is, how do we manage it? By enacting measures that result in violence against non-violent women and children? Or by promoting those measures that will reduce harm to everyone involved, and hopefully create an open atmosphere in which we can peacefully persuade them to pursue more virtuous behavior?
Nicholas Hooton is an editor and strategist for Utah Liberty Alliance.
The effectiveness of State legislation to solve problems caused by the State is debatable, but it is nice to see a government official headed in the right direction every now and then. Such is the case with David Butterfield, a lawmaker proposing to end random DUI checkpoints in Utah.
Despite the Fourth Amendment strictly prohibiting warrantless searches and seizures, the Supreme Court has ruled that DUI checkpoints are permissible as long as certain requirements are met. Ever chiseling away at civil liberties with the sharp tools of misguided utilitarianism, the court justified such checkpoints on the grounds of their effectiveness.
But what Butterfield has found, and what anyone will find with a simple Google search, is that DUI checkpoints aren’t effective – at least, not at deterring drunk driving. What they are effective at is raising revenue for police departments and the State. It is not surprising, therefore, that Butterfield’s proposal was met with sharp criticism from the law enforcement bloc. State police forces rely on tickets and fines as revenue, and DUI checkpoints have proven to be veritable gold mines for raking in dough for minor offenses that police can’t pull you over for, as well as asset forfeiture.
While Butterfield’s proposal is a step in the right direction, it’s difficult indeed to see the State ever making it to the destination that direction leads to: legalizing drunk driving. As libertarian activist Lew Rockwell explained:
“This is a gross attack on liberty that implies that the government has and should have total control over us, extending even to the testing of intimate biological facts. But somehow we put up with it because we have conceded the first assumption that government ought to punish us for the content of our blood and not just our actions…
“Bank robbers may tend to wear masks, but the crime they commit has nothing to do with the mask. In the same way, drunk drivers cause accidents but so do sober drivers, and many drunk drivers cause no accidents at all. The law should focus on violations of person and property, not scientific oddities like blood content.”
I hope Butterfield fights the good fight and gets his proposal codified, despite the overwhelming intimidation tactics the law enforcement cartel is bound to unload on him. Radical ideas are often met with radical opposition. But then, isn’t that how we know we’re onto something?
A coalition calling itself “Real Women Run” recently began a campaign to get more Utah women into politics. They observe that about half of Utahns are women, yet they make up only 17% of the legislature. They point out that Utah ranks 43rd nationally for female representation in its state legislature.
Many implicit assumptions are held by this group. Since they aim to create interest among Utah women in engaging in the political process, they assume women should have an interest in it. Why should anyone have an interest in politics? As noted social critic Albert Jay Nock explained, “There are two methods, or means, and only two, whereby man’s needs and desires can be satisfied. One is the production and exchange of wealth; this is the economic means. The other is the uncompensated appropriation of wealth produced by others; this is the political means.”
It may be said alternatively that there is a peaceful method and a violent method for achieving one’s desires. As George Washington observed, “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence – it is force!” The numbers cited by the Real Women Run coalition indicate that the majority of Utah women employ peaceful means to their ends as opposed to the violent means of government.
It is no mystery as to why there are more men in politics than women. I am by no means ashamed of my gender, but there are certain physiological traits possessed in general by men that result in other statistics, such as the fact that most serial killers are men. This group would certainly not see the disparity in representation in this group and advocate for women to become more interested in murder.
Psychologists have found that, although the genders are more or less equally aggressive, men are more likely to act out their aggression through physical violence, as well as many other risk-taking behaviors. Aggressive risk-taking and charisma make politicians electable, but also give them a high probability of narcissism and antisocial inclinations. It may also explain why marital infidelity seems so prevalent among politicians. It doesn’t seem that the traits that make for successful politicians are those that ought to be sought by women.
Another humorous assumption held by this coalition is that government is, or should be, representative of the people. Although this assumption is held near and dear to the hearts of Americans, it is not supported by history or common sense. Government is representative only of the interests – corporate or otherwise – that are able to successfully parlay dollars and favors in their efforts to secure favorable political treatment for their business or cause. Legislatures are nothing more than marketplaces for the political means, where legislators may be bought and sold, and their services employed by the highest bidder.
The lack of representation of women in government ought to be a source of pride, one of the highest compliments that can be paid to the gender. Instead of encouraging more women to be engaged in the political process, coalitions ought to encourage men – encourage all – to abandon the political process in exchange for the peaceful and voluntary cooperation and association indicative of a civilized people, a way of living women ought to be proud to have mastered.
In a rare concession of power, the “Justice” Department recently released a “legal opinion” giving the go-ahead to states to okay online gambling for their residents, stating that such a thing would not violate federal law. Utah’s own Rep. Stephen Sandstrom responded by announcing a bill that will keep online gambling illegal for Utahns.
“I think there is a huge difference between what we consider Republican principles and allowing for gambling,” Sandstrom said. “It has a detrimental effect on society. People get addicted to gambling or drugs or pornography. I think it’s completely prudent and constitutional to limit gambling … What we’re trying to do is to hold traditional values that our state embraces — and one of those is the idea that we don’t promote or condone gambling. It affects society as a whole. People get addicted to it. They gamble the house payment away and start putting a burden on society because they can’t provide for their families.”
As usual, a Utah legislator has put as little substance as possible into as many words as possible. Sandstrom sees gambling as a vice, and concludes that it must therefore be outlawed. He makes a grave error by conflating vice and crime. The purpose of the law is to deal with crime. By definition, a vice is a behavior by which one harms oneself. A crime is behavior by which one harms another without their consent. In order to be a crime, the individual committing the act must have “criminal intent”; that is, the individual must intend to maliciously cause damage to the person or property of a non-consenting other.
Sandstrom claims that the vice of gambling “has a detrimental effect on society” and “affects society as a whole” and “put[s] a burden on society.” The most tyrannical acts committed by governments against their people have been done in the name of benefiting “society”; but what is society but individuals? What effects is Sandstrom referring to? If a man’s gambling addiction leads him to fail to meet contracts or default on loans or steal, those are the actual crimes committed against others with which the law ought to be concerned.
As soon as the law becomes a tool for curbing vices, where is the line drawn? Is there any limit to the vices that can be outlawed? Since every vice can potentially lead to “detrimental effects on society”, doesn’t it follow, from Sandstrom’s logic, that all human vice should be outlawed?
What Sandstrom fails to understand is that nothing has a more detrimental effect on society than coercive government. There is a reason that noted educational theorist and social critic Albert Jay Nock repeatedly deemed the State “anti-social” in his works. “The State,” wrote Nock, “both in its genesis and by its primary intention, is purely anti-social. It is not based on the idea of natural rights, but on the idea that the individual has no rights except those that the State may provisionally grant him.”
What makes the State anti-social? Nock answers this question by asserting that the State is “fundamentally criminal … The idea that the State originated to serve any kind of social purpose is completely unhistorical. It originated in conquest and confiscation—that is to say, in crime.” Some may call this preposterous, but look at what Sandstrom proposes doing. He wants to make gambling illegal. To the State, “illegal” means it must be met with fines or imprisonment, with violent force in response to anyone who resists either. So let’s say I decide to play online poker. I have engaged in a peaceful, voluntary transaction with the proprietor of the site. There are no damages, no victim; but Sandstrom proposes that I be fined for this activity. Where does that money go? To the State, a party that suffered no harm by me or the website. This, right here, is crime. The State is forcefully taking my money even though I do not owe it under any contract, even though I did not harm the State in any way. This is robbery.
Sandstrom refers to Utah’s “traditional values,” values that Utahns should rightly be proud of; however, forcing morality upon unwilling souls is not one of those values, nor is it even a value. It is a crime. “Know this, that every soul is free,” wrote the hymnist. “God will force no man to heaven. He’ll call, persuade, direct him right; bless him with wisdom, love, and light; in nameless ways be good and kind; but never force the human mind.” “I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves,” explained the prophet Joseph Smith. We have a wonderful and admirable tradition of clean living, but we do not have a tradition of forcing clean living upon others.
Before Brigham City doctor Dewey MacKay had even been criminally charged with illegally prescribing pain killers, federal prosecutors began seizing his assets, including his truck, SUV, and over $1 million of his retirement savings. That is because civil asset forfeiture legislation enables prosecutors and police to seize property without ever charging the owner with a crime. They simply must suspect that the property was used in illegal activity.
Now prosecutors are seeking a hearing with a judge to seek seizure of the doctor’s business property and assets. No one should be surprised by this. The “war on drugs” actually has little to do with drugs and more to do with plunder. It has given legislators and government agents strong incentive to criminalize and ruthlessly prosecute as many drugs and drug-related acts as possible.
In a document prepared by the ironically named U.S. Department of Justice as a guide to police officers, the real motivation behind the drug war is spelled out quite plainly under the heading, “The Need for Forfeiture”:
“For many years, law enforcement agencies around the nation have faced shrinking budgets. Police administrators have been forced to develop creative budgeting strategies, such as securing federal grants and partnering with community foundations. Though it is an enforcement tool, asset forfeiture can assist in the budgeting realm by helping to offset the costs associated with fighting crime. Doing what it takes to undermine the illicit drug trade is expensive and time-consuming. Forfeiture can help agencies target these difficult problems, sometimes without the need to seek additional outside resources to offset their costs.”
As usual, the “justice” imposed upon individuals by the State is focused not on retribution to the victim, but on funding State concerns. Indeed, the State’s actions cannot award damages to the victim when there is no victim. Drug use, production, and exchange by and between consenting adults are not criminal activities precisely because there is no victim. There is no harm in these activities to which consent is not given, and the actual crimes normally associated with these activities (gang violence, theft, etc.) are largely the results of drug prohibition, not drug use.
The State’s function is to benefit itself. This always has been its function and always will be. To pretend otherwise is intellectually dishonest at worst and naive at best, but always counterproductive to the pursuit of mankind’s welfare. The real criminal is the State as it uses force to prevent voluntary relations and transactions, seizes property from non-criminals, and seeks the lengthiest prison time possible as an example to others and as a source of revenue to the private prison companies that are so generous in their political donations.
Voluntaryists assert that the State’s monopoly on crime is illegitimate, that the use of violence against non-violent people is the true crime here. While voluntary transactions between two parties necessarily result in both parties being better off, the State’s system of coercion can only operate at someone else’s expense, and the costs can be dear.
Utah Liberty Alliance seeks to bring about a free society through journalism and activism, starting right here at home.
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In development: Utah Copwatch (utahcopwatch.org)
posted in forum Incubator by Dallin Crump on August 14, 2012 at 1:09 pm
In development: Utahns for Privatized Education (u4pe.org)
posted in forum Incubator by Dallin Crump on April 30, 2012 at 1:54 pm
Utah juror information
posted in forum Incubator by Nicholas Hooton on April 30, 2012 at 8:56 am