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Below are the 18 most recent journal entries recorded in Knowledge is Liberty's LiveJournal:

Monday, March 28th, 2005
7:43 pm
My aversion to academia
Recently, in one of my communities, there was a ridiculous amount of drama over the issue of female "circumcision," or Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). One person was arguing that Unitarians believed in cultural relativism, and as such, would support something as vile as female genital mutilation because "it's part of their culture and it'd be wrong of us to condemn it." The person arguing against this attack said that if someone wanted to cut their own genitals, then he wasn't going to try to stop them. Needless to say, this caused an uproar and filled the post with namecalling and Nazi references and "How could you support oppressive patriarchal societies that lop off girls' clitorii in an attempt to control them?!" attacks.

Cut because it"s pretty longCollapse )

Current Mood: tired
Wednesday, February 23rd, 2005
2:17 am
State-Assisted Parenting
Tonight I happened to be in a room where a commercial for Fox News was on the television. I heard a teaser for a news item - a curfew has been proposed for teenagers in New York City. Appalled at such an idea, I flew to the internet to research the curfew. Surely Fox News was simply trying to scare up some ratings.

Alas, it was true. What's more, there are already curfews, apparently, in more than a thousand US towns and cities. What rationale lies behind this madness?
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Tuesday, February 22nd, 2005
11:29 pm
Three good articles about political labels:

Totally Gauche: "When I see someone called a leftist or left-leaning in print, I'm never sure whether they're talking about an actual communist, or just some timorous capitalist yuppie whom David Brooks spotted drinking a latte, or standing in line to see Cinema Paradiso. Politically, it's just not a very concise definition."

The Futility of Labels: "And so I became a Libertarian. Shrink government wherever and whenever possible. Conservatives are not allies in this goal, and have given up even pretending that they are."

Why I Miss Bill Clinton: "Bush’s 2006 budget would increase welfare and other social programs by 5.5 percent, which is the same as the average increase during the Clinton Administration. So this year, George W. Bush is finally as conservative as Bill Clinton."
Friday, February 4th, 2005
3:29 am
The State: Taking Money Away From Where Your Mouth Is
The Questions

I often find that people around me don't understand the libertarian position. They view libertarians, and to some extent, conservatives, as people who are greedy and selfish, and who want to keep all of their money for themselves. Generally my argument has been, "why shouldn't I want to keep all my money for myself?" To which anyone with a cause - welfare, warfare, or whatever - replies, "because then who would pay for my cause?"

Who, indeed? This is an important question to consider, because in doing so we learn how the State gets away with doing things that the majority of people don't want it to do.
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Thursday, February 3rd, 2005
4:42 am
Defenses of Libertarianism: Philosophical and Moral
It has occured to me that people might not know what I was talking about in my last post. I was in a bit of a rush when I wrote it and so I spared myself the time of making a detailed explanation. Said explanation, with elaboration, follows:

"Libertarianism contains a philosophy of economics that suggests that individuals cannot make valuations for other individuals, or for collectives, and that collectives, being only groups of individuals, cannot do anything in the proper sense. Therefore evaluating the large-scale effects of an action or policy is impossible. On what grounds does the libertarian claim that Austrian economics produces "better" results? How do we claim to know that the conditions of peace and prosperity are superior to the conditions of war and poverty?"
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Wednesday, January 19th, 2005
1:58 pm
Real or Abstract: The Applicability of the Laws of Economics
Economic principles are crucial not only to arguments for economic freedom, but also for personal and political liberty and for peaceful coexistence. Yet many people are ignorant of economics, or have heard some misleading or incorrect information. Still more people don't see how economic principles can be applied to everyday life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is the job of the libertarian to show the world how closely tied economics is to freedom.
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Wednesday, January 12th, 2005
12:57 am
Preliminary observations
I started this project to try to find better ways of bringing people to a common cause of enhancing our liberty. I beleive that the two-party system, and the paradigm of working within the system for positive change, are so severely flawed as to be counterproductive, diverting the energies of people with good intentions toward their own destruction.

To that end I have tried to discover ways of convincing people of the particular solution that I have in mind. Here are some preliminary observations:

1. People hate capitalism. There is still an inherent distrust of people who seek profit in society, some number of thousands of years after Plato(well, perhaps not Plato, but Hipparchus is considered a work of Plato even though he apparently didn't actually write it) made people who distrust profit seekers look like buffoons. Not to be recriminating, but there are plenty of people around who have some conception of capitalism which is overwhelmingly negative, and almost no effort on my part can convince them otherwise.
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2. Environmentalism

People are convinced that government action can protect the environment. Furthermore, they're convinced that there is some conflict of interest between personal liberty and what is good for the environment. This is fundamentally untrue. The question of protecting the environment needs to be addressed by proponents of liberty in a much more meaningful fashion, letting people know that liberty and a clean, healthy earth go hand in hand.
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I wrote more than I meant to about those two subjects, so I'll stop for now.

Hopefully we'll have some good discussion.
Monday, January 10th, 2005
5:41 pm
Education Inflation
Inflation is what happens to the dollar when the government prints more money, thus increasing the money supply and decreasing its market value. This steals from people who already have money by causing the dollars they have saved to drop in value. The value drop is measured against goods, services, and foreign currency. Inflation means that the dollar can buy less. Inflation causes poor investment choices, because the ability of an individual to calculate accurately is disturbed, since he doesn't know what the value of his money will be in the future. Unfortunately, inflation is also what happens to college education.
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Thursday, December 30th, 2004
12:55 am
Why liberal's can't make the case against war
After my recent article, some of my liberal friends, the ones who have been anti-war all along, patted themselves on the back and gave me the "I told you so" treatment. Unfortunately for all of us they told me no such thing. The inability of the left in this nation to make a convincing anti-war argument has done irreparable damage to their political power and to this country's reputation.
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12:51 am
How I became anti-war
I noticed in a recent conversation with an old friend that I am no longer a foaming-at-the-mouth warhawk. I expressed a sentiment that I was still "on the fence" about the issue. I believe that I have now come down from the fence, and am merely taking my time about saying good-bye to it.

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Monday, December 27th, 2004
7:11 am
Economics 3
Today we will talk about time preference and transaction costs.

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Monday, December 6th, 2004
2:07 pm
Economics 2
This section deals with labor and production. Some of it might seem a little difficult, but it's absolutely essential to understanding economics.

Often I find myself arguing with people who don't seem to get the fundamentals. People who argue that, for example, the division of labor is bad for the soul, or that we shouldn't make things with the intent to profit, because materialism is bad. I don't understand these contentions and I probably never will, but what I can do is try to explain labor and production in a way that demystifies them so that everyone can see, if not the benefit, at least the theory of economic cooperation.

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Saturday, December 4th, 2004
4:15 pm
Dispelling Idealism 2 (or, This Slope Isn't All That Slippery. Heck, It's Barely Even Sloped!)
First, I'd like to point out that I have added to my first post in this series, seen here. I am also aware that of the two blogs I posted, Kos is farther to the left than Captain's Quarters is to the right. I am looking into another pair to strike a balance by leaning the other way, and will add them first to that post, and hopefully to an established blogroll as the mods deem fit.

Some snowshoes for all you political Starks, Snows, and NorthmenCollapse )

Current Mood: academic
Friday, December 3rd, 2004
3:03 pm
It occurs to me that there are certain economic fundamentals that are generally either not well known or not well understood. As part of the knowyourliberty mission I'd like to begin to outline them, since they form the basis of many of my assertions.

Economics is the study of human attempts to meet their desires. Now, some would say that economics is the study of the allocation of scarce resources, but this misses the point. Economics cannot be understood properly without a working knowledge of why and how those resources are to be allocated.

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If anyone has any comments, questions, or additions, I'd be glad to address them. I'll definitely be moving ahead into more complicated territory later on.
Monday, November 29th, 2004
6:14 pm
Dispelling idealism
A common misconception in politics is that one's own side stands for morals and ideals and the other side is somehow unscrupulous. More accurately, both sides are simply concerned with winning the game. Observe the strategising of the Left (follow link in the article to the full report) and that of the Right.

Side note to the mods: perhaps we could esablish a blogroll for this community, representing the best reporting and commentary on all sides. Get people out of the echo-chamber habit. I'll start the offerings:
Left: Daily Kos
Right: Captain's Quarters

*EDIT* When you read the views and arguments coming from another political standpoint, you may find it difficult at first to differentiate between the facetious and the heartfelt since the humor comes from a different set of assumptions that those you are accustomed to. When you encounter this difficulty, take a moment and reflect that this is precisely how others may feel when they encounter your own views. This is why we must strive to tone down the rhetoric and be as clear and informative as possible. This is an approach that can be appreciated by all.
Friday, November 26th, 2004
2:33 pm
I posted this on a message board, and thought that I'd reprint it here to see what people think.

OP is the original post - the poster said that they were on a plane, and it was announced that there were soldiers on board returning home. The passengers burst into applause, and the poster wanted to say something like "how many Iraqi babies did you kill?" but didn't for fear of retribution. (Which I think is valid, considering the ridiculous regulations surrounding air travel these days.) There were several responses saying that the soldiers were just doing their jobs, just following orders, that they were keeping America safe, that it's Bush's fault, not the soldiers', that the soldiers mostly signed up after 9/11 hoping to catch Osama, etc. My response is behind the LJ cut.

Keep in mind when reading this that I am not convinced that it is such a bad thing for America to go haring off to the four corners of the world spreading McDonalds and herpes everywhere. I am a fan of globalization and moral absolutism and so when it comes to a choice such as to either send in our army or allow millions to be slaughtered, I am generally in favor of sending in the army. However, my libertarian readings have made me ask myself whether I value these services enough to pay for them. In other words, would I willingly donate money to pay for an army to be raised and to go stop genocide on the other side of the world? I think I would. The point is, I am not necesarily convinced that, for instance, the war in Iraq is a bad thing. Before the war, the libertarian site I read was the pro-market, anti-state website. They had balanced articles on the subject, including analyses of the failed policies leading to the then current situation in Iraq. These articles convinced me that going into Iraq was a good idea. Since then, that same website has added "anti-war" to its sobriquette, and publishes exclusively anti-war articles. I think that there are reasonable libertarian-oriented arguments for intervention in Iraq, but these are hard to find these days and the official position seems to be anti-war.

So for someone who disagrees with what the soldiers are doing, I will argue, it makes perfect sense not to support the troops. But of course for someone like me, who supported military actions in Iraq, and has not been convinced that I was wrong, it would be ludicrous not to support the troops who are after all not performing atrocities but spreading a better way of life to the Iraqi people. (Of course, I cannot support certain troop actions, such as prisoner abuse, so there's a good example of when "following orders" is no excuse for a soldier's behaviour. Furthermore, the incompetance of our military and our government's administration thereof has played a much larger factor in the outcome of the Iraq situation than I initially thought it would. If I had known or suspected that the entire thing would be totally mishandled, I would not have been so quick to support the war. Perhaps given Vietnam and Korea I should have guessed at such a thing.)

By the way, the original thread is Here.

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Wednesday, November 24th, 2004
4:12 pm
Church and State
Based on a discussion with lordcamiliano and reading this article I had a realization.

The amount of influence that religion has over the government has, according to my reckoning, decreased over time. This is why I always have problems with church vs state arguments - I feel that campaigns to further remove religion from the public sector amount to the oppression of religious people. I believe that the mixture of religion and politics has reached an equilibrium, where the majority of society is satisfied with the extent to which their leaders observe (or pay lip service to) religion. I don't see any danger in having the Ten Commandments represented in a courthouse, as they are, in fact, a historical root of the mission of the courthouse, which is to uphold the law - and as they are not going to be used to oppress people who do not believe in those Commandments, or in the particular way in which they were supposedly obtained. I don't see any danger in having schoolchildren recite a pledge of allegiance that declares our nation to be "under God," either - although here the question of peer pressure becomes a real concern.

However, the amount of government has increased over time. In fact, you might say that the expansion of government has outpaced the decrease in time of religion's place therein, resulting in a net gain of religious influence. If there were no federally funded public schools (as, of course, there weren't when the Constitution was written) then there would be no national debate over "under God." You could send your child to a school that spoke the pledge, or one that spoke a different pledge, or no school at all. You could send your child to a school with a religious agenda, or a school with an atheist or agnostic one. The point is that the choice would be yours, and furthermore, the schools, in order to compete economically, would have to adapt to suit you. In other words, one would not have to resort to the federal government, which obviously cannot be counted on to uphold even its own rules let alone decide what rules your child should have to follow without even consulting you, to redress any greivances.

Furthermore, if the legitimate functions of government were respected by the courts, it would be obvious to all that the Ten Commandments have no place. The Ten Commandments tell us not to covet that which is our neighbors', and in addition they tell us to believe in God. These things, obviously, have no place within the boundaries of legitimate government action, which should never be to tell us what to want, think, or believe. However, we have become used to the government telling us just these things. Whenever the government doles out farm subsidies to red states to fix their prices it is telling us that we should want the products they produce more than we actually do. Whenever the government produces yet another department report on any subject ranging from the economy to the environment, it is telling us what to think. When the government bans the sale of liquor on certain days at certain times, it is telling us what to believe. The Ten Commandments are a valid symbol of the Justice system in this nation, true - but if the Justice System were as it should be then the Ten Commandments wouldn't be.

People say they are worried because Bush is a devout Christian. Would they be half so worried if Bush did not have the power to make war on other nations without a formal declaration of Congress? Would they be half so worried if he did not have the power to detain American citizens without due process or habeus corpus? Most Americans make the judgment that a person who is to be their elected representative should share their beliefs and values to some extent - this does not make them ignorant or stupid or fanatical, rather, it is a valid judgment that would under many circumstances prove itself useful. The flaw in the system is not that the representative is religious, or that religion motivates his actions or influences his decisions. The flaw is that the power of government should never overlap with the aspects of life that religion dictates. The government should never have the power to determine who goes to Heaven and who to Hell, what people should be doing on Saturdays or Sundays, who they should marry, what their morals should be, what religion they should follow, or any other religious concern. Every single human being has his or her own particular views on morality, ethics, religion, God, sex, drugs, and anything else they might encounter along the way. The scope of government intervention into our daily lives (not to mention the lives of people all around the world) is the real problem - not the human nature that makes different people believe different things. Without that constant presence of Big Brother, the question of whether our President talks to God Himself or just to himself would not concern us nearly so much.
4:00 pm
Mission Statement Post
The first few relevent posts to this community are here,here, and here.

Basically I want this community to be a location where we can discuss current political issues, with a certain set of goals in mind:

1. Informing ourselves and others about important (and perhaps underrepresented by the media) current events issues.
2. Finding common ground from which to spread understanding of divergent viewpoints.
3. Finding solutions, outside of a two-party statist system, to the problems the affect us all.
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