Movies, society, and liberty

By Nathan Barton

Movies are an important part of American culture and society, and have been for a century. It is hard to imagine that at once time (and as late as the 1940s), many religious Americans believed that the movies, even more than the live theatre before them, were a sinful and corrupting product which damaged society. In part this was based on the idea that actors are “lying” – that they are pretending to be what they are not, that they are telling a story which is fictional, and that much of what they say is lies. (Yeah, things haven’t changed much as far as actors, writers, and producers are concerned, eh?) Another reason was that actors and the other crew seems to be as immoral as the “legitimate” actors who preceded them. Indeed, Lucas didn’t have to go far to find a model for Mos Eisley Spaceport as “the most wretched hive of scum and villainy” in the galaxy. Continue reading

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Do people “deserve” liberty?

By Nathan Barton

Do people “deserve” liberty? I have just been embroiled in a heartbreaking situation, one of a series. Without going into detail and thereby creating problems of privacy and decency, bear with me a minute.

An older married couple (late 50s) have three children: two are adult, married and with children – away from home. The third, a son, is sixteen and in all kinds of trouble: dealing in drugs and associating with gangs, and on parole for stealing and wrecking a car (owned by other members of the family). He is increasingly defiant and troublesome.

The family has been both very conservative politically and religiously. But the couple is in despair regarding their youngest. And just made the decision to surrender the care and control of this teenager… to the State. In what seems to be a complete betrayal of all their beliefs, which they have at least tried to adhere to in word and deed, for their entire lives, they intend to file for the abrogation of their “parental rights” (which are, of course, really parental powers) and allow the State and all its institutions and thugs to suck their child into the belly of the beast. A child who is already very troubled, has already been subjected to 11 or so years of “public school,” and needs love, help, and care – the very things which the State and its minions are totally unable to provide. Continue reading

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Oh dear! Theocracy is just around the corner

By Nathan Barton

Restating a campaign promise, the new Massa recently announced – at a PRAYER BREAKFAST, of all things – that he intends to “destroy” the Johnson Amendment.

USA Today “reports” on this in a commentary-laced “news story” which carries (to me, at least) the undertone that the demise of democracy is now assured (if Trump gets his way) and that theocracy (or theonomy or something similar and equally sinister) is going to swallow America and the world.

The Johnson Amendment is the legacy of the late and unlamented Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas, along with the current state of affairs in Southeast Asia and the South China Sea, and many other examples of really bad government and the nanny state: the Great Society (Medicare and Medicaid), and much else.  The Amendment states that the IRS will take away the tax-exempt status of any religious group which dares to say something against (or in favor) of any political candidate, whether from the pulpit or in the church bulletin or anything else.  It is seldom invoked by the IRS, but is a sword hanging over the head of most churches, synagogues, and even mosque’s congregations.

And Trump wants to get rid of it – indeed, made a campaign promise to do so, which he repeated in this horrible church-and-state assembly. Continue reading

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The Free Cheese

By MamaLiberty

First light, 5:58 AM, Mountain Standard Time in Newcastle, Wyoming. The sky is clear to the East, and the temperature is a balmy 22 degrees. The usual early February warming spell so frustrating to gardeners and others who just want spring to get here, but know that we’re only half way through winter.

An almost full moon soars toward the west, and it takes a practiced eye to see the sliver missing this morning. Little by little, the glowing silver and white disk will be replaced with more slivers of darkness until it vanishes – as it does each month – to reappear again when the dark slices disappear one by one, as they always do.

And so it goes also with the endless political cycles, regardless of all the “end of the world” weeping and whining by those with a vested interest in keeping their particular slice of the darkness enshrined permanently. Which, of course, is just not ever going to happen. But ignoring the light, they work tirelessly to hang onto their sliver of the evil darkness, hugged to their breasts in ecstasy because control of other people and their property is their highest goal. And they’ll fight each other to the death over which slice of evil will control the rest!

What an incredibly horrific waste of human potential, and just about everything else. Unfortunately, the will and even desire to destroy anything and everything for this evil goal is not only found among the so-called leaders and politicians, of course. There is an element in every city, town and wide spot in the road, which gathers itself into “governments” of one kind or another, with the absolute purpose of controlling the lives and property of all those it can claw into it’s power. And the majority of those in its clutches actually approve, more or less, at least when it isn’t their own lives and property confiscated or destroyed. But by then it’s usually too late for THEM, and the rest of the controllers manage to justify it or ignore it.

There’s always free cheese in the mousetrap.

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Is El Neil burning his bridges?

By Nathan Barton

L. Neil Smith’s recent column ending his commentary cycle on the recent election and elevation of a new Massa for the FedGov on The Libertarian Enterprise may come as a bit of shock to some people.  In particular, the fact that he voted (#1) and voted for Trump (#2) in the State of Colorado, is sure to arouse the anger of many.  Not that El Neil cares: it is part of his life and business plan.

And he makes a good, sound argument for voting for Trump and Pence, if not for voting for candidates in general (which he does not address in this article).  But it is a contrarian position, indeed.

And one I understand and fully support. Call it defensive voting, together with a strong sense of revulsion at voting for Johnson and what he has become – to say nothing of Weld.

I disagree with Neil, quite often.  He knows that, and it does not bother him.  Nor do some of his positions bother me in as far as friendship and political philosophy go.  His rather militant atheism, for example, and his stand on intellectual rights.  Both grate on my nerves and I most sincerely believe him to be dead wrong on both.  But he is my brother in liberty. Continue reading

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On the Road to Find Out

By Bradley Harrington

column-28-illustration-finding-outYes the answer lies within / So why not take a look now / Kick out the Devil’s sin / And pick up, pick up a good book now” — Cat Stevens, “On the Road to Find Out,” 1970

Last week, while speaking of my journeys through mankind’s accumulated treasures of knowledge, I mentioned that “in my late teens I shifted away from the hard sciences and began studying politics, economics, philosophy and history.” (“Indomitable power of our minds,” WTE, Jan. 1.)

What I didn’t mention, because I wanted to develop the thesis further this week, is why I made that shift.

Yes, part of it was that my learning curves were beginning to repeat themselves. After all, you can only study galaxies, quasars or the composition of atoms for so long before you get the picture.

After that, you either start constructing your own experiments (and, at 17, I didn’t have any particle accelerators in my back pocket) — or you shift to other areas of study. So that was definitely a factor. Continue reading

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The heartbreak of government-run tax-funded schools

By Nathan Barton

Recently, Vicki E. Alger a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, a libertarian-conservative think tank, in Oakland, California, published a new book, Failure: The Federal “Misedukation” of America’s Children.

I’ve not been able to read the book yet, and I missed her on-line talk at the Heartland Institute on Wednesday, the 1st.  However, Heartland has this to say of her book:

“Education policy has long been mired in controversies, often with opposing sides missing the mark. Failure helps us step back from the skirmish du jour and redirects our focus to the big picture, showing what’s gone wrong over the decades and why. It also offers a bold blueprint for returning the federal government to its constitutional role and for cultivating an educational system based on school choice that meets the needs of students and parents, rather than bureaucrats.

“Concerned citizens of every stripe will benefit from Failure’s history of federal education policy, its brutally honest report card for the Department of Education, its look at education systems across the globe, and its ambitious policy recommendations. Failure might even succeed in re-framing the way the federal education establishment thinks about education policy.”

Assuming this is accurate, it seems as though she is missing the point.  She is speaking of the “Reformation” of schools, when what is needed is the “Restoration” of truly independent schools: an education system by and for and of the parents and the students themselves. Continue reading

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