Homeless in Ancapistan: Throw the bums out?

Ancapistan was rocked by controversy recently when one of its leading citizens, comic Dave Smith, suggested homeless people living in public parks designed for children should be removed by the police. His argument is based on the homeless people using drugs and engaging in lewd behavior in the presence of children, a situation virtually everyone agrees is undesirable. It’s what to do about it that is at issue.

The dilemma proceeds from the unfortunate reality that the ancap population is not living in its home country, but rather held captive, Babylonian Exile-style, in what purports to be a democratic republic – with the “democratic” part increasingly in the ascendant. That raises the question of how to try to apply libertarian principles in a decidedly unlibertarian world.

The argument against calling the cops goes like this: The parent taking his children to the park doesn’t own the park; it is “public property.” And in public spaces, the inalienable right to liberty trumps any individual’s preferences for rules of conduct. After all, the parent doesn’t own the park and one’s rights are limited to what one owns. So, he has no right to eject anyone from land he doesn’t own. The homeless person has as much right to be in the park as the parent, the children, or anyone else.

Not to mention it is decidedly unlibertarian to call the police, the domestic occupying force of the empire, for any reason.

Here is the problem with the argument against ejecting the homeless people. It is not true that the parent doesn’t own the park. He does. Like the public roads, he hasn’t consented to own it, but rather has been dragooned into ownership by the state. Depending upon how the park is funded – from property taxes, income taxes, sales taxes, etc. – he may or may not have contributed to the creation and maintenance of the park. As money is fungible, he has at least indirectly contributed if he has paid any taxes at all, which are mostly collected to provide benefits to people other than the taxpayer.

But contributing to the associated costs is not a condition of ownership of the park, which is just one of the reasons “public” anything doesn’t work. Public property is owned by every citizen of the polity in question (the town, the city, the state, or the nation) equally. Therefore, the homeless person is also an equal part owner in the park, no more voluntarily so than the parent, but an owner all the same.

It should not be assumed the homeless person has contributed zero funding. He likely has paid sales taxes on items he has purchased. That his contribution is probably miniscule compared to the average parent in the neighborhood reveals another defect of public property: ownership and voting rights over disposition and use are not proportional to the financial contribution made.

That said, doesn’t the homeless person have as much right to be there and do what he pleases in the park as the parent bringing his children to play on the swing set, even if statist rules against “loitering” or “vagrancy” might be employed by the state to remove him?

Of course not. He doesn’t have that right here in Democratica and he wouldn’t have it in Ancapistan, either. In an anarchist society, all property would be privately owned. While it is true that some property may be jointly owned by multiple parties, those cases would be governed in precisely the same way jointly owned private property is governed here in Democratica – by an agreement between all parties as to how the property would be used, what each partner was entitled or not entitled to do with the property, etc.

The only difference in Ancapistan would be that use of the park would be governed solely by the rules agreed to by the partners, without additional rules dictated by an outside force like the state. And the park would be entirely underwritten by the owners, with no outside parties forced to fund it.

Obviously, in such a scenario, no single owner or partnership would invest in the land and equipment necessary to create a park for children and allow homeless people to live in it or commit lewd acts in it in front of children, just as Disneyworld doesn’t allow these things here in Democratica.

Like the roads, the libertarian living in Democratica is not obligated to abstain from using the public park he has been forced to partially own. After all, he likely did pay for them, whether voluntarily or not. But how to settle the dispute between him and his partner in ownership of the park, the homeless heroin addict?

In Ancapistan, they would fall back upon the terms of their consensual agreement. In Democratica, they have no choice but to refer to the terms imposed upon them by their so-called elected representatives. These would be the laws or regulations imposed upon users of the park by the flawed, democratic system which created the park in the first place.

No, it is not a perfect solution, and neither would perfect solutions be available in every situation in Ancapistan. But it is the best solution available to the libertarian forced into a partnership with the homeless person by the state.

As to the libertarian revulsion with using the police, it is understandable but also flawed. Should libertarians ever be allowed to return from exile to Ancapistan, they would find it a similarly imperfect world, albeit a better one. There would still be crimes (violations of property rights) committed there and we would still need to use force to restore equity (there is a proper use of that word) to the victims.

You can call them something else if you want, but we would still need cops to go out and get perpetrators who refused to voluntarily show up for private arbitration hearings or whatever we’d call dispute settlement procedures. There would still be a need to physically remove the occasional trespasser who refuses to leave. And just like no libertarian believes he would be making his own shoes or drilling his own oil in Ancapistan, we would employ professionals to do this work.

Public property doesn’t work. From drilling oil on public land to what is taught in public schools to how fast one can drive on public roads, there is constant conflict and unhappiness with the way public property is governed. That’s why “public property” should be considered an oxymoron. If it’s owned by everyone, it’s really owned by no one for all practical purposes.

It is interesting that some libertarians are concerned about this particular situation. It seems unlikely they would similarly object to physically removing a person screaming in a public library every day or a rich person parking his Mercedes in the center lane of a public highway. Why the homeless guy masturbating in a public park is different is anyone’s guess.

The only just solution to this is to abolish public property and the state along with it. If and until that happens, libertarians should do their best to approximate Ancapistan within the rules dictated at gunpoint by the tyrannical state. If the state has forced them into a partnership with homeless people not following the rules of the partnership and prohibited them from “taking the law into their own hands” to settle the dispute, they should call the cops and ask them to throw the bums out.

Tom Mullen is the author oWhere Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Don’t Confuse the Scientists with Science: Thomas Kuhn and the Covid Cult

“Attacks on me are, quite frankly, attacks on science,” said Anthony Fauci to widespread ridicule or approval, depending upon which side you are on. If you doubt his judgment personally, he’d have you believe, you must not believe in “the science.” Fauci went on to claim that all of the “things he’s talked about” were “fundamentally based on science.”

Let’s put the weasel words aside and recognize that what he wants you to believe – that all his official policy recommendations (“all the things I’ve talked about”) were firmly proven effective through application of the scientific method – is demonstrably false. The most rigorous, most scientific studies show precisely the opposite.

Fauci was a proponent of what has become to be known as “lockdowns,” the widespread closure of businesses and/or stay-at-home orders for the general population. Dozens of studies show this had no demonstrable effect on the spread of Covid-19. As one after another came out, Fauci went on talking about lockdowns as if this evidence did not exist.

Now, there are studies being conducted every day on this or that aspect of Covid-19 and I’m sure Fauci and his supporters can produce links to some that support lockdowns. While there are no absolutes, here is a general observation: the most scientific studies – the randomized controlled trial studies with large sample sizes measuring results in the real world – tend to point towards inefficacy of nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs). NPIs include (anti)social distancing, masks, and lockdowns.

Less scientific studies – those with small sample sizes or based on laboratory experiments rather than experience in the real world – tend to point towards efficacy. Remember the experiment on mannequins wearing masks? You get the picture.

Let’s not forget that early in 2020 Fauci said a study based on a single case of asymptomatic spread of Covid-19 “lays the question to rest.” And guess what? It turned out the patient documented in the case had never been asked if she had symptoms. When it turned out she was symptomatic at the time of transmission, the study was unpublished. Subsequent studies failed to prove asymptomatic spread was significant. A December 2020 study looking at secondary attack rates within the same household – published right on the NIH (Fauci’s agency) website – says it’s miniscule if it exists at all.

Yet, Fauci goes on talking as if this study doesn’t exist. He has no choice. Without asymptomatic spread, there is no justification for lockdowns or mandating masks for asymptomatic people.

On a rare occasion where the largely useless national media confronted Fauci with a question about how Texas could be doing so well four weeks after abandoning all Covid restrictions, he had no answer. “Maybe they’re doing more outside,” he mused. Then, he went on recommending the same policies as if the question had never been posed.

Fauci wasn’t alone. When White House coronavirus advisor Anthony Slavitt was asked why locked down and masked California and restriction-free Florida were having similar results in terms of Covid spread, he began his answer with perhaps the only honest words that have escaped a public health official’s mouth: “There is so much of this virus that we think we understand, that we think we can predict, that is just a little bit beyond our explanation.” But then, in literally the same breath, he said we do know masking and social distancing work.

Now, you don’t have to be a trained journalist for the obvious follow-up question to occur to you: “No, Mr. Slavitt, the question I just posed to you suggests we don’t know masking and social distancing work because we are seeing equivalent results in states that are and are not following those policies.”

Of course, that follow-up was not put to Slavitt. And you really have to ask yourself why.

The failure of scientists to be scientific is not a new phenomenon. Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) dealt directly with the tendency of scientists to reject evidence that contradicts the prevailing theory or “paradigm.”

“Part of the answer, as obvious as it is important,” wrote Kuhn, “can be discovered by noting first what scientists never do when confronted by even severe and prolonged anomalies. Though they may begin to lose faith and then to consider alternatives, they do not renounce the paradigm that has led them into crisis.”

Kuhn’s overall thesis challenged the prevailing understanding at the time that science proceeds in a linear fashion, with new discoveries incrementally adding to the accumulated knowledge that preceded them. Instead, argued Kuhn, science throughout history has featured a series of revolutions, where paradigms like the geocentric theory of the solar system or Newtonian physics collapsed under the weight of “anomalies” (evidence which contradicted the theory) and made way for new paradigms like the heliocentric theory of the solar system and Einsteinian physics.

There is much nuance in Kuhn’s argument which his critics have tended to ignore, but one takeaway that we’re seeing proved in real time is that these scientific revolutions are only revolutionary because of the tendency for scientists to cling to a theory regardless of evidence that refutes it. Kuhn argues that scientists will not abandon a disproven theory until a new theory is presented that they are convinced explains the evidence better than the old.

What makes the New Normal so strange is that a scientific revolution occurred with no anomalies. It was firmly established by a century of scientific research that nonpharmaceutical interventions weren’t effective in combatting the spread of respiratory viruses. Indeed, Fauci himself initially repeated the established scientific consensus that lockdowns and mask mandates were not effective policy responses. He even discouraged people from voluntarily wearing masks.

Then, he and the rest of the government scientists did a complete about face. There was no new evidence that motivated this. They simply abandoned the prevailing scientific consensus based on a desire to do something – even though the scientific evidence before, during, and after the outbreak of Covid-19 said what they wanted to do wouldn’t work. As a result, there is now a New Normal paradigm based on…nothing.

It should be noted that there were plenty of non-government scientists protesting vehemently right from the beginning. The authors of the Great Barrington Declaration were already loudly protesting lockdowns as early as April 2020. Others contested asymptomatic spread, the mortality rate initially reported (they were right), and the efficacy of masks.

Here is the problem. This New Normal paradigm can’t collapse in the face of anomalies, no matter how numerous they are, because the anomalies are now simply ignored. Anyone who calls attention to them, no matter how credentialed or qualified, is systematically discredited.

In such an environment, scientifically disproven assertions like “Covid-19 spreads asymptomatically” and “lockdowns and mask mandates work” continue to form the basis of policy. The same goes for vaccine mandates.

It’s not that evidence against New Normal science can no longer be found. Much of it is available right on the websites of the government agencies denying it. It is simply a matter of saying “no” when governments and media demand you refuse to believe you’re lying eyes and obey.

Obedience has a price. We will be feeling the economic effects of lockdowns for many years. An entire generation of children will suffer psychological damage from being forced to wear masks during their most formative years. The damage to society as a whole from lockdowns, mask mandates, and (anti)social distancing policies may be immeasurable.

Neither can you simply go along to get along until things “get back to normal.” If and when the Covid Crisis finally ends, there is a Climate Crisis already teed up to begin as surely as night follows day. It will feature the same breathless media propaganda and ignoring of contrary evidence as did the Covid Crisis. The cost this time will be a significantly and permanently lower standard of living for you and your children.

That’s the price of obedience.

Are you willing to pay it?

Tom Mullen is the author oWhere Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

The government was failing at law and order long before Kyle Rittenhouse was born

As of this writing, the news just broke that Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges in his Wisconsin trial. Let’s hope sanity prevails for a change following this verdict.

There has been a lot of ink spilled and warm air moved over this case. Both dominant political tribes have their story. The left are somehow painting this as a racial issue, even though all parties to the affair were caucasian. The right is saying the failure of law enforcement agencies under liberal political leadership led directly to Rittenhouse’s well-intentioned, if naive, attempt to protect  property.

That police being undermined by liberal mayors and governors has led to higher crime rates sounds plausible on its face, but it’s mostly fiction. First, it is not the job of the police to prevent crime. Philosophically, that proposition doesn’t work in a free society since by definition it constitutes using force against the innocent.

It doesn’t work in reality, either. It is physically impossible to put enough policemen on the street to be able to effectively stop crimes before they occur. And if it were possible, it would be a totalitarian nightmare. Not even the staunchest Back-the-Bluer would want to live in that world.

The measurable increase in crime over the past year probably has a lot more to do with the desperation and mental illness caused by the insane Covid-19 “mitigation” policies than it does with less policeman on the street (a decrease that is greatly exaggerated).

In any case, the government’s job isn’t to prevent crimes. It is to solve them after they’re committed and bring the perpetrators to justice. And to be honest, the government wasn’t even doing that very well before 2020. Less than half of violent crimes resulted in arrest and prosecution. For burglaries, arson, and thefts, the number dropped to 17%. This is while wrongfully convicting 10% of all people sentenced to death over the past fifty years.

That doesn’t mean every cop and prosecutor is evil or incompetent. On the contrary, most are probably ok. The problem is government. It isn’t good at law enforcement for the same reason the DMV isn’t good at regulating motor vehicles  and the Department of Education isn’t good at education. The incentives are all wrong.

Likewise, people in the private sector aren’t more noble or talented, but the incentives are right. If a person in the private sector produces a substandard product, they are punished. They suffer losses or lose their jobs. Failure in the private sector results in less funding to those who failed. The market says, “Stop sending money to this operation until it improves or is replaced by something better.”

But when the government fails, it receives more funding. “We just didn’t spend enough on what failed,” says the government, and for some reason people believe it.

That’s bass ackwards.

Conservatives just can’t seem to apply the very sound arguments they make against spending more on government education and healthcare to spending more on law enforcement or the military – not even after the 20-year debacle in Afghanistan was laid bare for all the world to see.

We do have an alternative to government when we’ve finally had enough failure and abuse. Read it for yourself here.

Like the music on Tom Mullen Talks Freedom? You can hear more at tommullensings.com!

Tom Mullen is the author of It’s the Fed, Stupid and Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness?

Will the federal courts stumble into a good decision on vaccine mandates?

I’ve been writing about the awful consequences of the New Deal lately, particularly the widespread delegation of legislative power to the executive, something the Constitution clearly prohibits Congress from doing.Of course I’m talking about the various regulatory agencies created during the New Deal which can not only “write regulations” (i.e., “legislate”) and execute them, but in some cases even judge disputes in their own administrative courts.

We used to refer to an executive who made laws by decree and enforced them himself a “dictator,” but I guess the cigarette holder and the fake, Mid-Atlantic accent (which occurs naturally nowhere in the world) made it ok for FDR.OSHA wasn’t created until 1971, but it is built upon the same blueprint as the New Deal agencies. And it was OSHA that issued the regulation (passed a law Congress never voted on) requiring employers with 100 employees or more to require proof of Covid-19 vaccination or a negative test every week (the non-vaccinated would also have to wear facemasks indefinitely).

I had the good fortune to have Kevin Gutzman on Tom Mullen Talks Freedom’s very first episode to explain to us 1. How it came to be the executive branch acquired the legislative power and 2. How anything occurring at a single workplace could possibly be “interstate commerce.”

The federal government is only allowed to regulate interstate commerce, meaning commerce that crosses state lines.

If you haven’t heard this one yet, I encourage you to listen to it because the story is about to get even more interesting with what is going on in the courts.

Kevin referred to the constitutional prohibition on Congress delegating its legislative power to another branch “the nondelegation doctrine,” adding that it and the idea the federal government’s regulatory power should be limited to interstate commerce are both long dead and buried. And, of course, he’s right. Check out his Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution if you want to experience the long, painful death first hand.

Well, lawsuits were brought against President Biden’s tyrannical mandate arguing the very issues we discussed – nondelegation and the Commerce Clause – and the courts have issued a stay on enforcement of the mandate with language indicating they might just shoot this down. We don’t have a decision yet, but the stay order contains the following language:

“It was not—and likely could not be, under the Commerce Clause and nondelegation doctrine8—intended to authorize a workplace safety administration in the deep recesses of the federal bureaucracy to make sweeping pronouncements on matters of public health affecting every member of society in the profoundest of ways.

“Well, whaddya know? The courts suddenly believe there is some limit to what the executive branch can do in terms of writing its own laws without Congress. But based on what? Why would OSHA writing a regulation requiring hard hats on construction sites not be legislating while requiring vaccines would be?

Why would the hard hat rule be interstate commerce but the vaccine rule not be?
Folks, if you’re looking for sound reasoning from the federal courts, I will again direct you to Kevin’s book. Don’t let the pomp and circumstance of the Supreme Court fool you – the black robed high priests often engage in reasoning that rivals this.

So, we may just have to take the W on this and move on. We’ll see.

Some good news that does make sense: If you haven’t already, you can download a free copy of my new e-book, An Anti-State Christmas, at antistatechristmas.com.

It’s also available in paperback here. It’ll cost you less than a fiver and makes a great stocking stuffer!

Like the music on Tom Mullen Talks Freedom? You can hear more at tommullensings.com!

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

You have a right to what you own and nothing more

We hear a lot about “rights” these days. The left tells us everyone has a right to “free” healthcare and education. The right tells us everyone has a right to a job in a factory that pays enough to support an entire household. All these supposed rights have one thing in common: they require taxpayers to subsidize them.

So, there must be something wrong there.

I break down at length the relevant Enlightenment philosophies in my book, Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? But the gist is this: the dominant philosophy in America’s first century and a half was what we’d today call “libertarian.” And that philosophy is based wholly upon property rights.

“Property rights” can be a confusing term. People sometimes use it exclusively to mean rights pertaining to real estate. Others expand it to include movable property, like money or “stuff.” This latter definition is supported by ubiquitous references to “life, liberty, and property” going all the way back to the founders. But that expression is ultimately inaccurate in describing what its source, John Locke, meant by “property.”

Property includes life and liberty as they are all components of the ultimate property right, ownership of oneself. Once you accept that all individuals own themselves, the rest of the rights naturally follow. If you own yourself, it is up to you what you direct your body to do or not do, what your mind thinks or doesn’t think, what you say or don’t say. This is liberty, a component of property, rather than a distinct right.

But what about money, land, and “stuff?” Let’s face it, this is the basis for most conflict. Most political conflicts in human history were ultimately over how wealth is “distributed.” And the libertarian answer is, “It’s not.”

You have a right to all the wealth you legitimately own. Legitimate ownership is established in any of three ways. 1) You “homestead” a physical resource, meaning you expend your labor to take possession of it directly out of nature (land not currently owned by someone else). 2) You obtain the wealth through a voluntary exchange with its previous owner. Or, 3) you create the wealth by combining your mental and/or physical labor with materials obtained through 1) or 2).

The basis for ownership of a homesteaded resource is labor. A tree standing in a remote forest is not an economic good. It cannot be made into a two by four or a table until someone applies his labor to cut it down and transport it to a sawmill.

Labor isn’t just the mental or physical effort to work. It is also the time. Human beings have a finite amount of time during their lives. When the logger cuts down the tree to bring it to the sawmill, the sawmill owner isn’t just buying the tree. He is buying the tree plus some portion of the logger’s life. That is how the ownership was established. The logger exchanged part of his life to convert the tree from a remote object that could not be used by others to an economic good that can.

This is why the logger not only owns the good, but has a better claim than anyone else could possibly make. No one else has traded any part of his life for that good. Even if the logger employed other people to assist him, he has exchanged another good (money) for that labor and still retains the only claim upon the log he sells to the sawmill.

There are some who contend no one has a right to simply appropriate resources out of nature and take ownership of them. This was Rousseau’s contention. If the resources in nature belong to everyone in common, then permission is needed before resources are appropriated out of the commons. The property rights argument is that this permission is not necessary as everyone has an equal right to spend their labor to similarly appropriate resources.

Putting philosophy aside, it should be apparent to anyone the permission argument just doesn’t work. As Locke said, “man had starved” if such a permission were necessary. The first generation of humans would have been the last if they waited for the consent of everyone else before hunting and gathering.

Property rights do work and they apply to every conflict we have today. Do people have a right to healthcare? First, ask, “What is healthcare?” Answer: it is the labor or the product of the labor of others. It’s someone else’s property. So, of course, no one has a right to it unless they obtain it in a voluntary exchange. Ditto education, housing, food, clothing, etc.

This is where the government employs a shell game to allow people to rationalize theft. They don’t propose to enslave the doctor, the teacher, the contractor, or the grocer. Instead, they expropriate money from the taxpayer and use that to obtain healthcare, education, housing, etc. for those the government deems need them.

Nothing changes when money is expropriated vs. when land or stuff is expropriated. Money is “stuff.” It’s just another good for which people exchange their property. We may be forced by the government to use the Federal Reserve’s rotten money, but it’s a good all the same. So, if someone traded her property to obtain it, then taking it away by force to give to someone else is stealing.

But what about the populist right’s contention that everyone has right to a high paying job, which must be supported by tariffs? This is merely adding another shell to the shell game. If a person truly owns wealth, they have a right to exchange that wealth with anyone they please, including foreigners. Either that’s true or they don’t truly own the wealth. They also have a right to accept any price they and the seller agree upon.

Tariffs and other trade restrictions violate this property right. They forcibly override the price agreed upon by buyer and seller with a higher price in order to incentivize the buyer to pay that price to a government-connected domestic seller. Call it “stealing” or “infringing liberty” as you wish; it’s ultimately violation of a property right. That’s how you know it’s wrong.

Jefferson was a Lockean. He often called Locke one of the three greatest men who ever lived, along with Bacon and Newton. But he and other founders did us a disservice by talking about a myriad of distinct rights. There is only one right: property. Every human conflict can be reduced to one question: Who has a property right in this case and who does not? There is always an unambiguous answer, government propaganda notwithstanding.

Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that the sole purpose of government was to secure our inalienable rights, including those to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That whole famous preamble was really a summary of Locke’s Second Treatise. Locke said substantively the same thing but didn’t confuse the matter by talking about distinct rights which couldn’t all be named. Rather, he simply said,

“This makes him willing to quit a condition, which, however free, is full of fears and continual dangers: and it is not without reason, that he seeks out, and is willing to join in society with others, who are already united, or have a mind to unite, for the mutual preservation of their lives, liberties and estates, which I call by the general name, property.

The great and chief end, therefore, of men’s uniting into commonwealths, and putting themselves under government, is the preservation of their property.” [emphasis added]

This is what it all boils down to. All the soaring language about liberty, free speech, free enterprise, freedom of religion; it all boils down to property. You have a right to what you legitimately own and nothing more.

The purpose of a government in a free society, according to those who set up the American system, is protecting your property from those who would take it away without your consent. Period.

So, government had one job: protect property. 245 years were more than enough to evaluate its performance. Perhaps it’s time to give another system a chance to do that one job better.

What do we have to lose?

Tom Mullen is the author oWhere Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

The disastrous anti-capitalist mindset of the early 20th century is back

The 20th century was a period of startling technological advancement. Compared to the lifestyle of average people in 1925, most of human history before that time amounted to what we’d now call “camping.”

Just 30 years earlier, most people traveled on foot or by animal power, except when taking trains. They lit their homes with candles and provided themselves heat mostly by burning wood, just as their prehistoric ancestors had. They went outside to use the bathroom. They died from diseases we brush off today with a 10-day regimen of pills.

The technological explosion in the early 20th century had its roots in the 19th, when what used to be called liberal values informed the western world. By “liberal,” I mean individual liberty, free markets, and limited government. Today, we call that worldview “classical liberal” or “libertarian” (really the same philosophy at different stages of development) because “liberal” no longer means anything of the sort.

Many people believe the cataclysmic world wars were an inevitable price the world had to pay for too much freedom. That’s the opposite of the truth. The early 20th century saw a violent reaction against the tidal wave of freedom that had swept the world during the previous century. At the center of this anti-liberal sentiment was resentment against free markets.

“Laissez faire is dead,” politicians routinely said. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The anti-capitalist mindset was international and, within America, bipartisan. The Progressive Era became mainstream with Republican president Teddy Roosevelt in the White House. It was under Roosevelt that the seeds of the modern, omnipotent executive branch were planted. Those seeds were given tender-loving care by Woodrow Wilson as he attempted to militarize the economy, hoping wartime anti-capitalist policies would become permanent.

There was a brief pause in America during the 1920s, but overseas the anti-capitalist mindset ran rampant. People have forgotten – or perhaps were never taught – how central anti-capitalist thinking was to Italian fascism and Naziism. That’s why during the 1930s even Hitler had admirers here in the United States. He was seen as a “man who could get things done” in terms of overriding the voluntary relationships of the free market to achieve government-promulgated economic outcomes.

It is also the reason both Hitler and Mussolini praised FDR’s New Deal. No, the New Deal wasn’t quite as totalitarian as what Mussolini or Hitler were doing in Europe. FDR never legally prohibited people from quitting their jobs, as Hitler had done, in order to maintain “full employment.” But as Vincent Vega would say, “it’s the same ballpark.” The New Deal brought the economy under the arbitrary orders of executive branch bureaucrats, where it remains to this day.

WWII is widely believed to be a glorious event. Supposedly, the forces of totalitarianism were defeated by the champions of “democracy,” establishing a New World Order (novus ordo seclorum) under which the United States would lead the world in stamping out tyranny forever.

It’s a nice story that is somewhat undermined by the facts. In truth, both world wars were disasters for Western civilization. Yes, Hitler was defeated, but it’s hard to argue in retrospect that bringing half of Europe under the brutal rule of the Soviets, who killed ten times more people than the Nazis and were at least as totalitarian was a slam dunk win.

Worse yet, the relatively freer societies among the Allies became significantly less free. The United States became a garrison state, first ostensibly to oppose the Soviets, and then terrorism, and now…a virus. The European allies descended into socialism from which they only marginally retreated during the late 20th century. The U.S. now seems eager to repeat their mistakes.

The progentior of the world wars and everything that followed was the anti-capitalist mindset that swept the world in the first half of the 20th century. It was belief political power could improve economic outcomes that led to the rise of dictators like Hitler and Mussolini in Europe and dictators-lite like Wilson and the Roosevelts here in America.

Like a bad sequel, the anti-capitalist mindset is back. While the Republican Party may never have delivered the laissez faire market they campaigned on, they understood the need to at least give it lip service. Why? Because a large segment of their constituents wanted to hear it. And that sentiment among a large segment of the public – even if not a majority – is the only thing that can check further destruction of our liberty.

Now, with “economic nationalism” on the right and “democratic socialism” on the left dominating the thinking of close to 100 percent of the population, we are back to the near-unanimous contempt for laissez faire markets that defined the 1930s. And this time, the nation states are armed with nuclear and biological weapons.

How will this latest epidemic of anti-capitalist thinking end?

Tom Mullen is the author of It’s the Fed, Stupid and Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness?

No, freedom isn’t “selfish”

First it was “staying home saves lives.” Then, it was masks. Now it’s the Covid vaccines. Over and over, we’re told we need to obey public health bureaucrats without question for the good of other people. Conversely, to disobey their “guidance” and exercise our inalienable right to liberty is “selfish.”

Charles Barkley, who is often refreshingly independent-minded, is the latest to parrot this mantra.

Memories are short these days. In early 2020, the use of tents for hospital overflow was breathlessly reported as if it were unprecedented, when tents had been put up for precisely the same reason just two years before, during a heavy flu season.

In April 2020, no one remembered this. Instead, it was, “OMG, tents!”

It’s much the same story with lockdowns, masks, and the vaccines. Every one of these was first presented to the public as protecting oneself. Then, when significant people resisted, the narrative changed to “you’re doing it for others.” Forget two years, most of the public didn’t remember the previous narrative two days later.

It’s like a nightmare.

At the center of the “freedom is selfish” allegation is a misunderstanding, deliberate or not, of liberty and legitimate power. The right to liberty, like the rights to life, acquiring possessions, and pursuing happiness, rests upon an understanding of what legitimate powers one person can exercise over another. And those powers are very few.

The right to life isn’t the right not to die under any circumstances. When someone drowns to death or gets struck by lightning, we don’t say his right to life was violated. No, the right to life is specifically the right to not be killed by another person other than in self-defense.

The right to life is rooted in the proposition that no one person has any legitimate power to deliberately deprive another of life. The right to liberty similarly rests upon the proposition no one has any legitimate power to deprive another of liberty.

If no individual has these powers, then they cannot delegate them to a government. I didn’t just make that up; it is a bedrock concept in the essay Thomas Jefferson said represented “the general principles of liberty and the rights of man, in nature and in society” generally approved by the citizens of both his state of Virginia and the United States generally.

“Inalienable” means cannot be taken away, not even by majority vote. That’s the reason for all the so-called “checks and balances” in our system. It’s the reason we have Bills of Rights in our federal and state constitutions. All these protections are there to ensure democratically elected officials don’t violate these inalienable rights, regardless of what majorities think or want.

Politicians, bureaucrats, and the useful midwits who blindly follow them will be quick to point out that “with rights come responsibilities.” That’s true. But the corresponding responsibility to a right is not to immediately surrender the right. That would be absurd. No, the corresponding responsibility to the right to liberty, for example, is to respect the right to liberty of others.

In other words, you can choose to take a vaccine or not to take it, and live with the consequences, as long as you do not infringe upon the rights of others to make the same decision for themselves. This is the very essence of “a free country.”

“But there are limits to liberty,” say the statists. That’s also true, but those limits are very narrow. “No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another; and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him,” said Jefferson in an 1816 letter. Similarly, he said the government should “restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free” in his first inaugural.

The government and its minions weren’t completely unaware of this concept. That’s what made Covid-19 oh-so convenient. With just a small false equivalency, it seemed to check all the boxes necessary to restrain liberty on a massive scale.

First, we were told the disease was much deadlier than it turned out to be. Even then, the sensible approach would have been for people with symptoms to stay home. That’s why it had to spread asymptomatically, an article of faith among the Covid Cult that the evidence shows is virtually unfounded.

A December 2020 study found that even for people living in the same household, the “secondary attack rate” (rate at which an infected member of the household transmits to another member) was .7% for asymptomatic cases, as opposed to 18% for symptomatic cases.

.7%. In case you’re having trouble reading, that’s less than 1%. And this is for people living in the same household. How much smaller would the risk be for mere passersby on the street or even fellow diners in the same indoor restaurant?

Yet, without significant asymptomatic spread, there was no need for lockdowns or mask mandates. That’s why minions of the regime go on talking about asymptomatic spread as if it were a fact when the most rigorous studies say it’s miniscule, if it occurs at all.

The “studies” offered to refute this usually assume that because a large percentage of people in a defined group tested positive and are asymptomatic, that asymptomatic people must be spreading it, which clearly does not follow for a highly virulent pathogen.

But let’s say that asymptomatic spread is significant, evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. Does that give anyone the power to forcibly confine others to their homes or force them to wear masks? No.

The limit on the right to liberty is the prohibition on aggression or injury, both of which mean deliberate harm. That you may pose a risk to others does not equate to aggression. Society is impossible without accepting the risks posed by others. There are too many. They are all preventable to some extent with sufficient oppression, but then you no longer have a society at all, much less a free one.

Everyone has the right to stay home themselves to avoid the risk of viruses. But to claim a right to confine everyone else to their homes until that risk disappears is the truly selfish position, not to mention insane.

The same reasoning applies to the vaccines. There is a good amount of gaslighting regarding their effectiveness in preventing transmission of the disease, even after the CDC Director herself said they don’t. But whether they prevent infection and transmission or merely lessen the severity of the symptoms, there is no case for vaccine mandates.

If they prevent infection and transmission, then those who choose to be vaccinated are safe from those who don’t. If they merely lessen the symptoms, but don’t prevent transmission, as the CDC Director said, then declining the vaccine harms no one but oneself.

If they don’t do either, as increasing anecdotal and some clinical evidence suggests, then there isn’t much reason for anyone to take them at all, much less mandate them.

No one honest with himself can possibly believe governments and the media are being honest about Covid-19. But even holding their statements in the most charitable light possible does not justify any of the measures we’ve endured over the past 19 months. And none of it would be possible without support from at least a significant minority of the people.

All those not only tacitly accepting but championing the governments’ closing businesses, locking people in their homes, mandating masks, or forcibly requiring anyone to take a drug, no matter how effective, all for the purpose of marginally reducing risk to themselves from a virus with a 99.5% survival rate, is monstrously selfish. Shame on them.

Tom Mullen is the author oWhere Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

What the NFL Draft, presidential speeches, and cable news have in common

I was drafted as a Buffalo Bills fan the day I was born, possibly before. My father helped found the Buffalo Bills Booster Club and was later its president in the mid-1960s. He enlisted my mother to make phone calls promoting the team during their first few seasons.

He took me to my first game at War Memorial Stadium (aka “The Rockpile”) in the late sixties. He bought season tickets for the whole family during the first two seasons the Bills played at the “new” stadium in Orchard Park. I watched Bills games with him for 50 years until his death in 2019.

Hopefully, that establishes my football fan credibility.

Nevertheless, I’ve never watched the NFL Draft. I tried a few times early on, but it quickly occurred to me that spending an entire day obtaining information I could glean from the newspaper in 10 minutes the next day was an enormous waste of time. I was vitally interested in the 1983 draft and – believe it or not – my dad and I both hoped the Bills would draft Jim Kelly, despite both Dan Marino and John Elway also being in that graduating class.

But I wasn’t going to sit there for 12 hours splitting my attention between watching the paint dry, the late April snow melt, and the NFL Draft.

I didn’t become interested in politics until the turn of the 21st century, when I discovered I was a libertarian. Previously, I believed I was the only person on the planet who shared my views and wasn’t interested enough in politics to even know there was a Libertarian Party. I was delighted to find there was and support its outstanding 2004 presidential candidate, Michael Badnarik.

However, what really got me actively interested in politics was the presidency of George W. Bush and the god-awful “War on Terror.” Not only were Bush’s policies terrifying (the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, Bush’s illegal spying on American citizens), but the man himself appeared to be the dumbest person elected president in my lifetime.

Whether that was partly an act to come off “folksy” to a large part of his electoral base or not, Bush was almost impossible to watch or listen to. But especially after I discovered Ron Paul in 2007 and began writing regularly about politics, I was forced to listen to “W” to be able to write commentary.

That’s when the internet came to the rescue. I don’t know how long it had been so, but I discovered that transcripts of W’s speeches were available almost immediately after he finished speaking.

What a godsend. Immediately, my NFL Draft reasoning kicked in. Never again would I suffer through another hour of visual and auditory torture to gather information I could obtain in 5-10 minutes reading. To this day I’ve never again watched a presidential speech live. If there are any “memorable” moments that can’t be gleaned from the transcript, my social media friends are certain to provide clips.

I may not be able to escape the government’s larcenous taxation, spying, or regulating, but I can dodge quasi-religious rituals like the State of the Union and other presidential speeches. And that’s a win.

It took me a little longer to apply the NFL Draft lesson to cable news. Certainly, I was aware the news wasn’t honest for a very long time. But once I started paying closer attention, it became increasingly clear the various networks were largely propaganda arms for their affiliate political parties. Most were affiliated with the Democratic Party with the exception of Fox News, for the GOP.

I went through a period of believing I might reap some value by flipping back and forth between a few of the liberal channels (MSNBC, CNN, etc.) and Fox News. Perhaps, I thought, I could determine which facts all agreed upon, which they didn’t, and which one or the other chose not to cover at all.

I had my filter set to 11, of course. Even unanimous agreement didn’t necessarily mean the reporting was true. On the contrary, that is often when one should be most suspicious, especially on a foreign policy topic.

I finally came to my senses in 2020. It took that complete departure from even heavily spun reality to allow my NFL Draft instinct to finally kick in for cable. As with George W.’s grammar-challenged ramblings, I still needed to know what cable news was telling people in order to do my job. But getting this information through the medium of television was certainly no longer (and probably never was) worth my time – or money.

I canceled cable in June 2020. It was particularly satisfying since it allowed me to both no longer subsidize organizations that are actively destroying society and cut my funding to the only cable provider available where I live, thanks to the fascist, New Deal regulatory environment that squelches all potential competition.

Now, a quick sweep of the headlines on CNN, NBC, Fox, ABC, etc. websites gives me a solid grounding in the day’s propaganda. The “news” organizations have made it easy by loading even their headlines with opinion, tipping off the reader to the often fact-free copy that follows. I can spot check now and again to ensure I’m not missing some nuance or substantive reporting. And of course, I can read the entire articles on any issues I plan on writing about myself in far less time than it would take to obtain the same information from television.

Cable news already had a ratings crisis before Donald Trump temporarily revived it during his tumultuous four years in office, when demand suddenly skyrocketed for what may have been the most dishonest “journalism” in U.S. history. Considering the late 18th/early 19th century when openly partisan newspapers weren’t saddled with the pretense of objectivity and frequently just made stuff up about their political opponents and printed it, that’s saying something.

Now, even with ratings plummeting once again, CNN and other misinformation hubs are able to continue leading by the nose the minority who watch them – and who often decide elections – thanks to the revenue streams guaranteed to them via cable subscriptions.

That’s where you can make a difference. Cut them off. I can personally attest there is life after cable and it’s a much better life. There is more accurate reporting widely available from alternative media. Superior non-news content is available through subscription services or the internet. You won’t be giving up a thing.

For example, I was a fan of TCM’s “Noir Alley” with Eddie Muller. I thought for a moment I might have to give that up when canceling cable, but I didn’t. All Muller’s intros and outros are available on You Tube, as well as many of the movies themselves. Those not available on You Tube or another video platform are usually available on Amazon Prime or another subscription service for free or very low prices (Detour is free on Amazon Prime; He Walked by Night rents for $1.99).

You can even watch the NFL Draft without cable; but I recommend you don’t.

If everyone who has a problem with the disservice cable news does to society canceled their cable subscriptions, its reign of terror would quickly end. Even if you believe a political solution is possible and morally justified, the market solution is infinitely more satisfying.

I’m not alone in defunding cable. I’ve heard from many friends who did the same years before me. I hope someday (soon) you’ll join us. Strike a blow for truth and freedom. Cancel cable.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Why Do Americans Believe the Same Government That Failed Colossally in Afghanistan Is Competent at Fighting Covid-19?

The memes say it all. But if you want more “official” confirmation, a recent poll found that only 35% of Americans believe the 20-year war in Afghanistan was worth fighting. It’s hard to believe the number is even that high.

It’s not just that the very same Islamic fundamentalist group Washington went to war with twenty years ago is now running the country. The war also failed to reduce terrorism. Major terrorist attacks in the U.S. were at their highest post-2001 when the war on terror was at its height and dropped to virtually zero during the cease fire with the Taliban negotiated by former President Trump.

Just like Washington’s wars on drugs, the war on terrorism gave us a lot more of what it was at war with. This shouldn’t be a surprise. The government fails at every major initiative it undertakes. This is the organization that managed to interrupt a 200-year trend of falling poverty rates just a few decades after declaring war on poverty in the 1960s.

But Afghanistan was especially jolting. Not many people look at the incriminating data on the war on poverty, but everyone saw the chaotic withdrawal from Kabul. In the ensuing days, reality began to sink in. The U.S. had wasted 20 years, trillions of dollars, thousands of U.S. military lives, and hundreds of thousands of lives overall, for nothing.

All. For. Nothing.

Yet, as shocking as that reality is to most Americans, they still somehow believe this same government, the one that ran that 20-year debacle, suddenly becomes highly competent when fighting an airborne respiratory virus.

Washington’s War on Covid has been no more successful than its war against the Taliban. The proof isn’t hard to find. This article collated 35 studies showing the enormously destructive Covid “lockdowns” had no effect on slowing the spread or reducing hospitalizations or deaths from Covid-19.

The best studies – the randomized controlled trials (RCTs) – suggest that masks aren’t particularly effective, either. But the federal and state governments continue to mandate them.

Then, there are the vaccines. The goalposts for evaluating them have moved significantly over the course of this year. We were originally told the vaccines would provide long-lasting immunity from the SARS-COV-2 virus. Now, we’re told the vaccines will merely lessen the severity of symptoms. The CDC director confirmed this months ago and the latest data seem to indicate that vaccination rates are not affecting the spread of Covid-19.

There is some evidence the vaccines are preventing hospitalization and death from Covid-19, but the latest study from the UK indicates fully vaccinated people made up 64% of all Covid deaths since February 2021. When you count partially vaccinated people, that number rises to 70%.

Even if vaccines are preventing hospitalizations or deaths those who choose to remain unvaccinated do not pose an increased risk to others if the vaccines aren’t preventing spread of the virus. But governments are still mandating the vaccines, just as they continued to mandate indoor smoking bans after the evidence was in that doing so didn’t improve health outcomes.

Unfortunately, there is long precedent for Americans continuing to have faith in disastrous government interventions even well after they are obvious failures. Americans still believed the New Deal was helping even after the stock market crashed a second time and unemployment started to rise again in 1937. They still believed it after FDR’s own Treasury Secretary, Henry Morgenthau, told the House Ways and Means Committee in 1939,

“We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work…I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started… And an enormous debt to boot!”

They still believe it to this day no matter how many times it is debunked.

There was enormous hope in 1974 that faith in government was finally broken after President Nixon resigned in disgrace, especially among members of the new Libertarian Party. But Americans went on believing.

Keynesian economics was pronounced dead for a few years after stagflation in the 1970s – considered impossible in the Keynesian framework – but it quickly resurrected to dominate fiscal and monetary policy without a peep from the public.

In 2000, President Bill Clinton declared, “the era of big government is over.” But today it is bigger and more destructive than ever. Yet, no one in his right mind would say the war on drugs has been a success. Nor can it be argued the Department of Education has done anything but massive harm.

We have a whole generation of college graduates living in their parents’ basements, working low-paying and part time jobs, and trying to pay off massive student loans after being incentivized by easy money and government guaranteed loans to pursue college degrees with no ROI. Meanwhile, there is a crisis-level shortage of skilled tradespeople who could be on a path to upper middle-class incomes had they not been conned into college.

The harm done to young people in general pales in comparison to what the government has done to the African American community. What two hundred years of slavery and another one hundred years of institutional discrimination couldn’t do, the government accomplished in just fifty years “trying to help.”

Devastation is the only word appropriate to describe the African American community in 2021. And anyone familiar with the work of Thomas Sowell or Walter Williams knows this is not something intrinsic to their race or culture. The government did that to them and it doesn’t intend to stop.

The Afghanistan War debacle was shocking to most Americans, but it was really just one more in a long line of government failures, not all of which made such compelling TV. Nevertheless, a significant percentage of the American public not only complies with but zealously defends Covid-19 policies that will look no better than Afghanistan in the rearview mirror.

What will it take to break this religious faith in government?

Tom Mullen is the author oWhere Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

It’s Not Democracy That’s Dying; It’s Our Anti-Democratic Safeguards

Everyone is worried about “our democracy.” The left believes Donald Trump is trying to destroy it by challenging the results of the 2020 presidential election, aided by state legislatures controlled by his party passing stricter voter identification and ballot verification laws.

The right believes the Democratic Party is trying to destroy democracy by stuffing ballot boxes with illegitimate votes and flooding the country with undocumented immigrants who will either vote illegally themselves or have children who will eventually vote Democrat.

They all agree on one thing. Our democracy is in peril, and it must be saved.

Certainly, if there was enough fraud to change the results of any election, that is a problem. But what is tearing our society apart is not destruction of our democracy, because we don’t live in a democracy. And it isn’t just a republic, either. All “republic” means is that the people elect representatives to perform the various functions of government. North Korea is a republic; China is a republic. Neither are countries in which most Americans would want to live.

No, what made the American system better was not its democratic elections or republican form but it’s anti-democratic safeguards. The Constitution allows for representatives to be elected democratically – although only the House of Representatives was originally by direct vote of the people – but the rest of its provisions are there to protect us from democracy.

The bicameral legislature, presidential veto, separation of powers, and strictly enumerated powers are all intended to protect individuals from what democratically elected representatives might do.

The Bill of Rights is completely anti-democratic. Its articles say the democratically elected Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion, shall not infringe the rights of free speech, or to bear arms. They say the democratically elected executive shall not conduct unreasonable searches, punish you without due process, etc.

The key to all the so-called “checks and balances” in the Constitution is they set up adversarial processes that must occur before power is exercised.  

Older readers may remember the Schoolhouse Rock cartoon, “I’m Just a Bill.” It attempts to educate youngsters on all the hoops a bill must jump through to become a law. While clever, the problem with its tone is the strong implication that the bill failing to become a law is regrettable, even tragic.

That the Constitution makes it difficult to pass a law is a feature, not a bug.

The popular sentiment that Congress “isn’t getting anything done” springs from the same misconception. When a bill is proposed and subsequently either dies in committee or fails to pass a general vote, Congress did indeed “get something done.” It vetted the proposition to require or prohibit some human activity by force and (usually wisely) declined to do so. That’s as much “getting something done” as passing the bill – and usually ages better.

Yet, while still professing fidelity to the Constitution, federal legislators have passed many laws allowing the executive branch to bypass this entire process and effectively legislate by fiat. If you’re wondering how President Trump could levy a tariff (a tax) on imports without a law passed by Congress, it’s because Congress passed the Trade Act of 1974, effectively allowing the president to exercise this power exclusively delegated to Congress if, in his sole judgment, “any existing duties or other import restrictions of any foreign country or the United States are unduly burdening and restricting the foreign trade of the United States.”

The National Emergencies Act similarly transfers legislative power to the president by his merely declaring an emergency to exist. Worse yet, the “state of emergency” doesn’t end until the president declares it is over or Congress passes a joint resolution to end it – which can be vetoed by the president!

As I’ve written before, the entire New Deal constitutes an unconstitutional transfer of power from the legislature to the executive by allowing regulatory agencies to not only write their own regulations (legislate) but often usurp the judicial power by deciding disputes in their own administrative courts.

That’s why President Biden can mandate vaccines for businesses with over one hundred employees without new legislation from Congress. He can simply have OSHA require it through “regulation” – a euphemism for the executive branch legislating.

Needless to say, Congress cannot assign powers exclusively delegated to itself to another branch of the government, no matter how many legal or logical acrobatics Supreme Court justices have performed saying they can. There would be no need for Article V of the Constitution if Congress could merely override the separation of powers or other constitutional constraints with legislation. And the Constitution certainly provides for emergencies. There is no emergency more serious than war, for which the Constitution clearly provides.

Yet, no one blinks an eye when a president decides to bomb Syria (name one that hasn’t lately) without a declaration of war and in violation of the War Powers Resolution which specifically limits the president’s power to “introduce the United States Armed Forces into hostilities” to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.” [emphasis added]

The list of violations of the Constitution’s limitations on power and separation of those powers it does grant is too long to cover here. But they all have one thing in common: they eliminate adversarial processes capable of overriding the will of majority – of overriding democracy – to preserve liberty.

Everyone recognizes the political climate in the United States is toxic and many legitimately fear it will become violent. This isn’t because democracy is diminished. Rather, it is because the people of these states have tolerated the erosion or elimination of most restraints on democracy built into our Constitution.

My own view of the Constitution is much closer to Lysander Spooner’s than Madison’s or Jefferson’s. But as I said four years ago, the limits it places on federal power, especially in terms of the separation of powers between the federal and state governments, could prove useful in easing the pressure before the boiler explodes. While peaceful, full-scale secession from both the federal and state governments might be the philosophical ideal, it is much less likely than a “soft secession,” accomplished by simply enforcing the Constitution’s limits on federal government power.

That soft secession has already begun, although most of those seceding probably don’t realize they are doing so. Over half the states have nullified federal marijuana laws by passing state legislation legalizing their use for medical purposes, recreation, or both. Many blue state cities have declared themselves “sanctuary cities,” refusing to enforce federal immigration laws. 

Most recently, Texas passed a law prohibiting abortion once a fetal heart rate is detectable, or more accurately clarifying laws prohibiting abortion never taken off the books after Roe v. Wade. 

None of the federal laws or regulations in question are constitutional. They were all merely passed by Congress or enacted by executive edict and then, in some cases, “discovered” to be constitutional by the Supreme Court. Madison himself said regulating immigration was a power “no where delegated” to the federal government. And whether one considers abortion healthcare or homicide, the federal government isn’t given power over either. 

Most people in red states have a visceral hatred for sanctuary cities, just as most in blue states hate the Texas abortion bill. And that’s just the point. These are matters that can only be dealt with locally. No supermajority of states ever has or ever will consent to the federal government imposing one policy in these areas over all the states.

The response to Covid-19 has followed the trend. In 2020, there was an increasingly diverse policy response as the pandemic progressed, with some states imposing severe lockdowns and mask mandates while others imposed less severe restrictions or none at all. South Dakota led the way in refusing from the start to close businesses or issue stay-at-home orders, followed by Florida in September 2020 and Iowa and Texas in early 2021. 

As for President Biden’s vaccine mandate (announced but not yet written), Florida and Texas have already banned the mandates within their states, while South Dakota governor Kristi Noem took the most libertarian approach in neither mandating nor banning vaccine mandates for private businesses. Meanwhile, New York’s governor Kathy Hochul has ordered all healthcare workers in her state to get the vaccine and is prepared to call in National Guard personnel to replace those who don’t comply.

Many fear violent conflict resulting from state nullification of federal laws or regulations. But we haven’t seen that over nullification of marijuana prohibition and we wouldn’t likely see it when state governments take similar action on other issues. 

Rather than a recipe for violence, more widespread soft secession from the present, unconstitutional system would allow the two dominant political tribes to stand down from their current, confrontational posture. And it would allow the rest of us to at least “pick our poison” in terms of which less-than-ideal system we would prefer.

Most important, it would save us all from what we have now: democracy run amok.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.