Thursday, June 27, 2019

Letter to Jimmy Dore on Ron Paul and Free Markets

     I'm glad you've complimented Ron Paul for his consistent opposition to military intervention. It's regrettable that he's hired so many racist people to work and write for him, but I'm glad you're still willing to point out when he's right.
     I've heard you talk about interviewing Ron Paul, and supposedly proving him wrong about a free market system being possible and viable. I haven't seen that video. But I wanted to point out the following:
     Ron Paul has said that "we've never had free markets". There have certainly been times when free enterprise ownership and property ownership happened at higher rates, but that doesn't mean we had a fully free-market system.

     For example, on the border issue:
     While Paul may have a softly anti-immigration stance, he has also implied that if government were minimal or did not exist, then private property (and the risks involved in becoming a trespasser) would be the only thing stopping immigrants from coming to the United States.
     This could reasonably be construed to imply that in a free market society, individual property owners living along the border would be free to invite immigrants onto their property, and the government would be able to say little or nothing about it, because it would be fully private property, not the government's jurisdiction. As far as I know, America has never tried a system like that, with all property enforcement occurring voluntary (that is, unless you count vigilante border "protectors").
     It's also worth noting that there have rarely been times when the government both 1) adequately and effectively utilized its antitrust power against monopolies, and 2) declined to tax earned income.

     A real free market system would have no monopolies, no taxation of ordinary people's earnings, no state-controlled professional licensing systems, and most importantly, no government power to steal taxpayer money and then use that money to subsidize businesses and keep them afloat.
     Your point to Dr. Paul that "Markets have never regulated themselves" is perplexing. It's not that markets should be expected to regulate themselves. Consumers and workers are supposed to regulate the markets. By boycotting products they don't like, and companies which they feel are behaving unethically.
     But they're not able to fully boycott those products. First, because the Taft-Hartley Act prohibits secondary labor actions (i.e., coordinated boycotts which take place across multiple industries), and second, because subsidies exist (that is, government steals our money through taxes, and gives the money to its cronies in business).
     So we can try to put a company out of business through refraining from buying its products, but the government can just bail it out in order to save jobs. That may look like "capitalism", but it's not free-market, because it's government intervention in the economy. The fact that the intervention is for the benefit of businesses, should not sway free-market supporters towards capitalism, although regrettably it often does.

     I respect your opinion, but I believe that Ron Paul is right on this one. We have never tried free markets; we have never tried having government without monopolies; and most importantly, we have never tried depriving the government of its ability to bail out companies we don't like, insulate them from legal and financial risk, and deprive us of our freedom to have sustained, coordinated boycotts of private sector institutions which we don't wish to help fund.

Written on June 27th, 2019

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

What Henry George's Land Value Taxation Has to Do with Environmental Policy

     The following text is based on an e-mail which I wrote to Charles Johnson, an employee of the Sierra Club, in response to his question about what Henry George and Land Value Taxation have to do with environmental policy and the affairs of the Sierra Club.
     The original e-mail was roughly 1/3 the length of this text. I have expanded upon that e-mail where necessary to provide more details to the reader about the subjects discussed in that e-mail.

     Henry George's Land Value Taxation (abbreviated L.V.T., formerly known as the Single Tax) has much to do with environmental policy, since it holds land as the focal point of economic discussion.
     Land Value Taxation also holds land as the origin and source of all value; and, in that, all taxable value. Additionally, Land Value Taxation regards land as the foundation upon which all labor and capital are combined, and mixed together, and made into goods and services which have economic value.
     Abraham Lincoln understood that “labor is prior to, and independent of, capital”, but in addition to this, Thomas Paine and Henry George understood that land is prior to, and independent of, both labor and capital.
     Liberal economists (such as Thomas Piketty) and libertarian economists alike, consistently make the mistakes of lumping-in certain types of land as if they were capital (such as natural resources, and real estate), and lumping-in certain types of labor as if they were capital (such as entrepreneurship, “human capital”, and slave labor).
     But like other classical economists – and like the Marginalists, and the followers of Proudhon, Paine, etc. - Georgists are the rare economists who understand that land, labor, and capital are distinct factors of production, and that their importance comes in that order.
     Without land, there is no labor. Without labor, there is no capital; and there is also no capital without land upon which labor can be undertaken and supported. And labor can't be supported, unless the land it works, is capable of sustaining human life; capable of sustaining the people who work to produce that capital.

     Land Value Taxation focuses on land ownership, waste and destruction of land, and undeveloped properties.
     A Georgist taxation regime would see taxes levied (or, to use Georgists' own terminology, fees collected) on the basis of the cost it would take to return the land to its original stage, and/or on the basis of land usage by sheer area of untouched land.
     Georgism would involve taxation of the value of land, based on the cost to the community and its markets of refraining from developing the property; not based on the value of the property according to the current model (i.e., land value plus the value of the developments on top of the land).
     Land Value Taxation would involve no taxation of any structures built on top of the land, unless they are built or maintained at taxpayer expense. Nor would Land Value Taxation involve any taxation of the earning of income, nor of the buying and selling of goods, which occurs in and around those buildings.
     A Georgist taxation regime would also see fees levied against the destruction of land, and against the waste of lands which would otherwise be developed upon. Taxes would additionally be levied against undeveloped properties, especially if they are being maintained or protected at public expense.

     While the fact that undeveloped properties would be taxed at a high rate, does not seem to have much to do with the environment at first glance, it is worth noting that many undeveloped properties (and developments which have ceased being developed) were abandoned because of ecological hazards on-site and nearby.
     On and near those sites, these hazards prevent human settlement at adequate standards of health and safety. In a Georgist paradigm, the owners of hazardous, undeveloped, and blighted lands, would bear most of the burden of taxes, in addition to owners of vast expanses of land which are going to waste and could be used for development.

     Local governments should make it their priority to clean up wasted and toxic lands (and - if necessary - wasted, undeveloped, and toxic buildings which rest upon those lands), in order to improve the material quality of life for the poor who need land to survive (and also for plants and animals).
     We currently have a tax code which – whether it intends to or not – punishes productive activities, by taxing-away their product. These productive activities include earning income, trading, buying, selling, etc.. But do these behaviors deserve to be taxed? What did ordinary earners and consumers do to merit this punitive taxation; this taxing-away of all the gains they're trying to obtain through their work and their purchases?
     Instead of the government trying to tax the rich, and to tax people on the basis of how much income they earn or the value of the buildings they own, and then spend that money cleaning up the environment and retro-fitting buildings to be more green-friendly, local governments should tax environmental destruction, degradation, and waste directly. That's because those destructive actions are the most important things that we should be seeking to “punish” using the tax code.
     Not only that; acts of environmental devastation should be treated as crimes. Our criminal code should punish only criminal and fraudulent activities, and so should our tax code. Our tax code should not look to make criminals of people who only intend to earn money while doing no damage to valuable lands and waters in the process.

     We must stop taxing activities simply because they are happening, and we must stop taxing goods simply because they are there and because they are being traded, solely to justify spending (often on some completely unrelated item). “If it moves, tax it” is hardly a comprehensive-enough outline for how a taxation system ought to work.
     If taxation cannot help but have a punitive effect, then we must tax criminal behavior, not productive activities; and, if possible, we must tax behaviors and activities, not people. Think of it as “Love the sinner, hate the sin”, but coming out sounding more like “tax land, not man” when the concept is applied to taxation policy.
     A person's income and home should not be confiscated, nor should they be priced-out of their neighborhood by the tax code, just because they happen to live on top of the private property of some actual owner. Especially not if that owner has not paid his fees to occupy that property, and especially not if that owner exercises any sort of right to exclude against the same public whose taxpayer funds keep that owner's property investments afloat financially.
     These actual owners include landlords, property developers, local banks, and foreign banks that hold municipal bonds in our communities. And if you consider that the government is, ultimately, the true owner of all land (since it registers all property claims through the Recorder of Deeds' offices, and issues or denies permits to access and develop lands), the set of actual owners of land, which we would want our governments to tax, include those very same local governments themselves.
     All developments to property, and improvements upon property, should be untaxed, and should be 100% the property of the people who built them. They should not the property of the landlord nor the developer (to take away through demanding a share of the value of all products grown or hewn on their land), nor the property of the government (to take as much as it pleases through taxes, fees, licenses, and permits).

     Modern Georgist economists estimate that approximately $7 trillion a year is available to be taxed in uncollected land value, but the vast majority of it is not being taxed. That's mostly because Land Value Taxation would require governments to tax the actual owners of the land, rather than the tenants.
     Despite the uphill battle which will undoubtedly be involved in actualizing the struggle for Land Value Taxation, the sheer amount of tax revenue which will be yielded from taxing unimproved land, is serendipitously convenient for its proponents. That's because $7 trillion a year, happens to be (approximately) the same figure as the total spending of all levels of American government combined (federal, state, and local).
     What this means is that, not only could Land Value Taxation conceivably pay for our current level of government; it could potentially even come to replace all other taxes in the process of transitioning to a full L.V.T. system (and I believe that it should).

     There are several Georgist organizations and publications which are active throughout the country, such as the Council of Georgist Organizations, the Henry George School of Social Science in Chicago, the activist group Common Ground, and the Georgist blog
     I believe that it would significantly benefit environmental organizations – including the Sierra Club – to promote Henry George's ideas, and adopt Land Value Taxation as their preferred taxation system, when it comes to making headway towards their wider political and policy goals. For those environmental organizations which are already working with other pro-environment interest groups, and for those which are involved in lobbying for changes in legislative policy, adopting George's ideas will be especially helpful.
     Imagine the political influence could be mustered, if all activist groups and interest groups interested in saving the planet from catastrophe and decay, supported the same common set of principles regarding the way we manage the environment; in addition to the changes to taxation, land management, housing, the welfare system, and other topics, which the adoption of George's ideas implies and will necessitate.
     All organizations which are interested in preventing and punishing ecological devastation – whether they are directly involved in these efforts or not – should support Land Value Taxation, and support its implementation in local governments across the country.

     I hope that environmentally conscious people come to see George's Land Value Taxation as not only a necessary and helpful compromise between socialism and capitalism, and a market-friendly solution to environmental problems, but also as a set of economic proposals which is perhaps more focused on land and the environment (and their preservation) than any other economic system ever proposed.

     I hope that Georgism will enjoy the resurgence of popularity that it so badly needs. I also hope that “Georgism” will cease being seen solely as set of economic proposals or tax proposals, but instead as a profoundly Earth-centered, land-centered economic system, which would more appropriately be termed “geonomics”, or “Geoism” (another alternate name of Georgism).

Written on June 25th, 2019

Published on June 26th, 2019

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Critical Letter to Dr. Walter E. Block on "Voluntary Slave Contracts" and Other Topics

Dear Dr. Block,

     I appreciate your thoughtfulness and candor in all that you do. But I would also really appreciate some explanation and clarification about some of the more controversial ideas for which you've become known and infamous.

     First of all (on utilitarianism):
     Are you really going to defend the idea that it's not wrong to "use people as mere means"?
     Doesn't perceiving a person as a tool, an object, or a means to an end, predispose a person to treating people as if they were such, and doesn't that entail ignoring their real biological needs? And doesn't it predispose a person towards objectifying people, and even treating them as slaves? Furthermore, isn't that utilitarianism; that is, using people based on what you deem to be their best use?
     And isn't utilitarianism intrinsically and diametrically opposed to libertarianism? It's not that utility and liberty can't be optimized; they can. But according to all of the individualist and free-market principles I've ever heard of, a free and liberty-loving person is supposed to choose to perform the set of activities which he believes will provide the most utility (regardless of whether he prioritizes others' needs, or his own, in making that assessment; the point is it's up to him).
     Don't you think that, by saying it's not wrong to use people as mere means, you're saying it's fine to treat a person's wrist as if it were just another inanimate object – indistinguishable from any other inanimate object, say for example a link in a metal chain of a handcuff – and then, to attach it to another inanimate object (say, for simplicity's sake, another metal chain of a handcuff), and put them to whatever you (and/or society) determine to be his best use?
     This is to say, don't you literally support involuntary slavery, in addition to claiming that “voluntary slavery” is possible?

     Secondly, on that matter (“voluntary slavery)”:
     How can you defend "voluntary slavery contracts" as if they were ordinary economic activity?
     Has it occurred to you that the
vast disparity between the amount of benefit received by the slave and the master, make it preposterous to claim that some voluntary exchange has occurred; and, at that, a voluntary exchange which confers mutual benefit?

     The complete and total
surrender of the freedom from direct physical violence, aggression, and harm - which is involved in the act of “willingly submitting to a voluntary slave contract” - ought to indicate to you, that not only are the slave and master not benefiting equally, but also that the slave is not benefiting at all.
     Nobody submits to slavery willingly. I really hope that you consider intimidation and manipulation as forms of coercion, because if you don't, then I don't see why you would find it unacceptable to intimidate, manipulate, and perhaps even threaten or extort, people into “agreeing” to become a slave. Do you know the difference between consenting and assenting?
     If you doubt whether mutual benefit is necessary, then surely the fact that no exchange is occurring, should suggest to you that there can be no voluntary exchange without exchange itself. Is the slave really “getting something” out of letting the master beat him in exchange for food? That is, in exchange for the bare minimum which he needs to survive – i.e., just barely enough to get up, and work, and get beaten the shit out of - another day?
     Additionally, how can the slave/master relationship be considered remotely mutually beneficial, unless it is considered a standard and necessary part of the relationship that medical damages from enduring torture be 100% compensated (if not more)? Would you be entirely without objection, to what “voluntary slave masters” do, if they see themselves as having no obligation to refrain from beating their slaves, except within an inch of their life? What if a slave is being tortured to death, and knows he's dying, and knows a few more whips or kicks will kill him, and the master doesn't know how much damage he's doing? What if the slave fights back, solely to save his life, and the master decides he's justified in killing his slave?
     Where is the volunteerism in “voluntary slave contracts”? Where is the economic exchange? Where is the mutuality? Where is the benefit, even, when beating people demoralizes us, and conditions us to reject the Non-Aggression Principle? Knowing about the epidemic of sex trafficking, human trafficking, child prostitution (etc.), why would you spend more time defending “voluntary slave contracts” than suggesting viable careers to people which do not involve accepting direct physical corporal torture?

     Third (on homesteading):
     Your rejection of the Lockean proviso seems to imply an endorsement of a first-come-first-serve property rights system, wherein the poor and young can be relegated to barren land.
     Don't you realize that a first-come-first-serve system condemns children to perpetual servitude of those older than them, whom by the mere fact of their age have been exposed to more opportunity to acquire education, skills, money, and resources? Doesn't it coerce and deprive the young into dependence, to continue to register, recognize, protect, and defend property claims, based on who claimed it first?
     Frankly, your position on this smacks of the Divine Right of Kings and religious dominionism.

     Fourth (on “murder parks”):
     To be honest, I kind of liked this idea when I first heard of it. It could relieve stress! If you're a psycho with no respect for the Non-Aggression Principle, that is. But I suppose you think that it is possible to “voluntarily murder” someone without aggressing against them, or something.
     Also, from a purely medical and scientific perspective, the human lifespan has no defined upper limit in terms of age. We die when we are too badly injured, or too many of our organs fail, or we are eaten by animals, etc.. It is said that every person who has ever lived, has died, but that is only true if you leave out the people who are still alive. They have lived, yet they have not died. How odd! And preventable death – the cause of most deaths - is called preventable for a reason. So why can't we prevent most deaths?
     Increased research and development on lifespan-lengthening technologies (in the fields of gerontology and senescence studies), such as research regarding the lengthening of the tips of our chromosomes (called telomeres), could even lead to rapid increases in the human lifespan.
     Many people are afraid of living much much longer. Not to worry, however; medical scientists have recently developed the 3-D printing of organs, automated robot surgeons, virtual-reality surgery, spinach leaves grafted onto the heart, a lamb in a bag... We have no reason not to expect that access to, and development of, medical technologies, will make our golden years healthy and comfortable as well as long-lasting.
     Especially if we abolish the enforcement of intellectual property rights to medical device patents and pharmaceutical patents. And also, if we – as you have suggested – develop technology that will allow fetuses to be transplanted into surrogate mothers' wombs after the embryo fertilizes and begins to grow.
     Suppose that people wanted to relax, recreate, and get their tension out. But suppose that all ways to do that were illegal. Would you suggest exercise, or would you suggest that some of them go and kill each other for fun? If you would suggest both, which would you suggest first and why? I hope that it is obvious to you which choice is superior.

     I just have a hard time understanding why you suggest murder, death, suicide, euthanasia, slavery, selling your baby, and letting strangers fuck you as your go-tos, instead of, I don't know... explaining why the government shouldn't interfere with people's freedoms to pursue careers that they already enthusiastically want to do (whatever those careers are)?
     You guys who consider "voluntary slave contracts", torture contracts, and "baby markets" as if they were ordinary economic activities, is making other libertarians like me look bad.
     I mean seriously, what the living fuck does any of this have to do with morality, economics, sociology, or anything worth studying? You say an interesting thing or two every once in a while, but for the most part, listening to you is humiliating, and reading you makes me want to pluck my eyes out and almost makes me wish I had never learned how to read. I went to college for fuck's sake. I've been in the libertarian movement for 12 years. I've given money to the Libertarian Party. Your support of literal slavery, “voluntary” or involuntary, is driving me into the hands of the socialists. And they have earned it.

     How are we ever going to have either significant numbers of Libertarian partisans in office, or a stateless society, if the most viable third party in the country can't explain why its members will be more effective in the fight against child trafficking and child prostitution, than the top two candidates for the nation's highest office (one an admitted pussy-grabber and accused rapist, and the other a man who gropes children live on C-SPAN)?
     Do you understand what you're doing when you are insufficiently clear in your language, while defending the idea that nothing calling itself a government should ever limit our “freedom” to sell our children for government-manufactured currency, nor our “freedom” to put our children to work for us, nor the freedom to engage in prostitution? Are you hoping that the pro-child-labor libertarians and the pro-normalizing-prostitution libertarians aren't going to find each other and join forces?
     Have you given one second of thought to the fact that there are teenagers all over the world, whose parents expect them to work, and whom are surrounded by a culture that believes prostitution is acceptable on the grounds that “it's one thing that even unskilled people can do, so everybody should work”? The result of this is that children are pressured to sell their bodies to people who want to rape and torture them.
     I suppose that your opposition to the public funding of education would be the only thing stopping you from endorsing the idea that school guidance counselors ought to be free to suggest prostitution as a viable long-term career choice to teenagers.

     As academically as possible, go fuck yourself. I lied about wanting clarification; please don't answer any of these questions, my only intent in writing this letter was to get you to renounce nearly everything you've become famous for proposing.
     I will be sharing this letter with all of my libertarian friends, and urging them to stop paying attention to you. Please retire before you are only able to do so in shame.
     I mean seriously, aren't you essentially saying that if teenagers want to earn some money, they should get out there, show some initiative, and let adults beat the shit out of them for money, rape them for money, impregnate them for money, sell their baby for money, and let adults bribe them into silence about it?
     Money is not the most important thing in the world, fuckface. Where the Hell did you come from? Who the fuck do you think you are?
     Please issue some retractions, and quit humiliating the both of us, as soon as possible.

     Love, Joe Kopsick.

If You Support Fully Banning Abortion, Here Are Eleven Things You Don't Know You Support

Table of Contents

I. Introduction
II. List
III. Post-Script on Sexual Ethics
IV. Post-Script on Planned Parenthood
V. Conclusion


I. Introduction

     If you support a total ban on abortion, and/or support treating abortion as if it were murder, then here are eleven things that you also support, by implication. You may not be aware of it, but these are problems which are almost certain to result from the full legal prohibition of abortions.
     In my opinion, any extreme pro-life position, supporting a total ban on abortion, ought to have a general abortion policy which at least attempts to solve each one of these problems, if it is to be taken seriously.

II. List

     1. Dangerous back-alley abortions, and attempts at auto-abortion, including by intentional drug overdose.

     2. Putting abortion doctors in prison (i.e., next to rapists, child traffickers, and murderers of human beings whose mothers have already given birth to them).

     3. Forcing adult women who are the victims of rape, to give birth against their will. (Reminder: Telling a woman that she should have kept her legs closed, does not solve this problem. Not only can pregnancy, male orgasm, and implantation of the embryo, occur without the woman's orgasm; they can all also occur without the woman's consent.)

     4. Putting would-be mothers in prison, next to murderers, and (ironically) rapists.

     5. Treating women who seek abortions as if they were murderers, in the fullest sense possible; i.e, charging them with murder with malice of forethought, and potentially even executing women for seeking (or maybe even simply wanting) abortions.

     6. Forcing female children who have been raped, to give birth against their will. (Reminder: Telling an underage girl that she should have saved herself for marriage, does not solve this problem. Especially if the girl was taken advantage of by a significantly older male partner who ought to be mature enough to consider himself a supervisor of girls in his presence, rather than their potential sex partner).

     7. Executing children for aborting their rapists' fetus. (I consider this tantamount to executing children for the "crime" of getting raped - that is, with several important caveats - provided that the child is female, gets pregnant as the result of that rape, and seeks an abortion to remedy the problem).

     8. Child marriage, and having no punishment for adult men who impregnate underage girls and then intimidate and/or manipulate them into getting married in order to make their relationship acceptable to the law.

     9. Forcing children who were conceived in rape, to be near the father who raped their mother. As of 2017, seven states require a parent to share custody, even if the other parent is a convicted rapist. Allowing a child to grow up near a rapist, and learn their life lessons from that rapist - whether it's their biological father or not - could not only damage the child's ability to acquire a keen sense of ethical judgment, it could even expose the child to the risks of being physically or even sexually abused while in that parent's custody.

     10. The excommunication of women and children who seek abortions, as well as the excommunication of abortion doctors, by the Catholic Church. (That is, if you are a Catholic, and agree with the Church's extreme pro-life position that anyone who gets an abortion should be excommunicated.)

     11. Forcing mothers to give birth in states and regions in which the material conditions supporting childbirth-giving and life are sub-par, and thus not hospitable to the survival of either the mother or the child. These include locations with statistically low survival rates for babies and mothers who have recently given birth, as well as locations plagued by pollution and ongoing environmental catastrophes.

     I should also note that it would be especially absurd to support consequences #7 through #10 of banning abortion, considering the high death rate of women who give birth at especially young ages,  as compared to older mothers.

III. Post-Script on Sexual Ethics:

     Many extreme pro-life Christians, and other conservative groups who tend to oppose abortion, will argue that "not all cultures are equal". The implication of this slogan, to put it tactfully, is to assert that Christian ethics are superior to Islamic ethics. To put it less tactfully, it's to say that Christians are civilized, while Muslims are savages.
     While much of the notion that "Muslims are savages" are based on political and military relations with the Islamic world (especially with the U.S. and Israel), the notion is also motivated by the religions' compared sexual ethics, especially as it pertains to the treatment of women, and adult-child relationships.
     The pro-life, anti-Islamic Christian will often claim that Muslims are not only savages, but child rapists, because the prophet Muhammad married his wife Aisha when she was nine years old, took her virginity at 12, and commanded his followers to do something similar. Christians in the West will also criticize the Islamic world for the prevalence of F.G.M. (female genital mutilation) within it.
     These practices are appalling, as well they should be. But they do not necessarily prove that Christian sexual ethics are superior to Islamic sexual ethics; nor to Jewish sexual ethics for that matter.
     As a reminder, Jews and Christians practice male circumcision (Jews routinely, Christians less often), while eschewing female circumcision (a more radical procedure than male circumcision); while in most majority-Muslim countries, the opposite is true. Moreover, the Jewish coming-of-age ceremonies of Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah are celebrated at the age of thirteen, and there is a passage in the Talmud that says a man has not taken a girl's virginity if he has intercourse with her before she turns three.
     Additionally, Christian sects such as Catholicism, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormonism), Jehovah's Witnesses, and others, have acquired a reputation over the last few decades as being plagued with child sexual abuse. Mormon sect leader and polygamist Warren Jeffs, for example, took brides as young as twelve, while his adult and older teenage brides were slowly manipulated and intimidated into accepting these new wives as their "sister-wives among equals" (although Jeffs' favoritism for his youngest brides nevertheless showed).
     Moreover, there are still states in the majority-Christian U.S. which are plagued with legal and illegal child marriage, as well as low thresholds in age of consent laws. Texas currently prohibits child marriage, but it has more legally married minors than any other state. New Hampshire recently raised its marriage age to 16, while New Jersey and New York still allow the marriage of children between 14 and 16 provided that a parent and/or a judge has given permission.
     Colorado was the most recent state that enforced an age of consent below 16 (it was 15). Many states used to set that age much lower, and some states even went years at a time without such laws in their early histories. Although "Romeo and Juliet laws" allowing teen relationships, are well-meaning, new federal laws establishing a range of ages of consent, is not necessarily a buffer against states having low ages of consent as intended; there's a federal law that accidentally lowered the age of consent laws of twenty states, and accidentally provided young child traffickers a loophole and legal incentive to take their victims over state lines. (And I use the word "accidentally" loosely; it's hard to tell whether these legislators indeed know what they're doing sometimes.)
     Granted, many "hippies" and left-wing groups have too, so it should not be discounted that leftist and liberal cultures experience these abuses too. But that should not figure into the issue of which of the major three Abrahamic faiths are the most attentive to the rights of women and children to be free from men's attempts to force them into sex, marriage, and ritual cutting of the genitals.
     In my opinion, on that issue, the jury is out. Especially if these American state and federal laws providing unreasonably low ages for consent to sex and marriage, are in any way inspired by Christian ethics. And the statement of Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie concerning why he opposed efforts to raise the age of legal marriage in that state - predicated on "respecting the liberty of religious groups" there - leads me to conclude that these laws on sexual ethics are motivated by a desire to stay true to Christian principles.
     And my observation that most of the people who support a low age for legal marriage, also oppose abortion, lead me to wonder whether some of these people simply want to keep child marriage legal for the purpose of raping and impregnating a child, whom they can then use as a brood mare to create children (and maybe even child brides) for them.

IV. Post-Script on Planned Parenthood:

     Finally, I have to comment about several issues related to abortion, which have been raised to me by pro-life libertarian-conservative activist Merissa Hamilton, with whom I've recently exchanged some tweets concerning the role of Planned Parenthood in all of this.
     I do not dispute the allegation that Planned Parenthood overlooks, and fails to report, underage mothers who come into their facilities in order to abort their fetuses, whether conceived in rape or not. While it is a tragedy that people rape children and get children pregnant, it is not the business of Planned Parenthood to act as if it were a law enforcement agency.
     Granted, there are some legal barriers to children, and women in general, reporting rape (because there are statutes of limitations on reporting sexual abuse and sexual assault in many states), but New York and Illinois have recently begun to dismantle such laws, a movement to do the same is underfoot elsewhere in the country, and turning Planned Parenthood employees into police officers is not going to help solve the problem of children suffering from unwanted pregnancies.
     A child who goes into Planned Parenthood is already pregnant, and has already been raped. Going after the child's rapist with criminal charges will undoubtedly make the child safer (if successful), but arresting the rapist does not make the child no longer pregnant. And terminating pregnancies is the business of Planned Parenthood; making arrests is not.

     Lastly, I cannot agree with Merissa Hamilton's assertion that it would be wrong for Planned Parenthood to give an abortion to an underage child because it would be tantamount to destroying the evidence that a rape has occurred. I say this for several reasons.
     First, because a fetus is not evidence that a rape has occurred, any more than it is evidence that a rape has not occurred. You cannot tell, by looking at a fetus - nor by examining its genetics - whether it was conceived in rape. Plenty of pro-lifers, in fact, will try to convince you that the fact that the baby exists, is evidence that the mother consented! This is rubbish, of course, as I explained in my defense of point #3.
     Second, because even if a fetus can be evidence that a rape has occurred, it is far from the only evidence that a rape has occurred. Rape usually leaves plenty of evidence, both physical and emotional. Ripped and bloody clothing and underwear. Torn and bruised genitalia. Emotional and mental scars that can be testified about in open court and sworn to. Aborting a fetus conceived in rape, by no means, gets rid of all the evidence that a rape has occurred.
     Third and last, it is patently ridiculous to describe a fetus as "evidence that a rape has occurred". Pro-lifers spend plenty of time explaining how "every fetus is a unique, innocent gift from God with the potential to do good", etc.. It's quite a leap from praising the holiness of the innocent fetus, to describing it as a mere piece of evidence in a criminal case, no different from any other piece, such as a piece of clothing, a murder weapon, a brick containing a bullet fragment, etc..

V. Conclusion

     To make a play on the popular pro-choice slogan, "If you can't trust me with a choice, how can you trust me with a child", Merissa Hamilton's absurd assertion that a fetus is criminal evidence, prompts me to make up a new slogan, and that is this:
      "If you can't trust me with a choice, then how can you trust me with physical evidence that a crime has been committed?"
     If a fetus is simply "evidence that a crime has been committed", then shouldn't it be removed from its mother's womb as soon as possible, because it belongs in a police evidence locker?
     Yes, I am joking, and yes, I am serious.

     Pro-lifers are the reason why people abort their children. I don't want children to have to grow up in a world in which they're forced to submit to and marry much older men, and produce more child servants and child brides for them without the chance of legal repercussions.
     In my opinion, anyone who proposes banning abortion, yet doesn't have a solution to at least a few of the eleven problems I've enumerated herein, should not be listened to, nor should their ideas be entertained.

    Even televangelist Pat Robertson recently commented that an outright ban on abortion, without exceptions for rape and incest, is "going too far", especially in terms of its (ahem) viability in court.
     However, I still take a strong anti-government stance that abortions should not be publicly funded, even if the fetus was conceived in rape or incest, but I still think that those procedures should be legal (while funded privately or charitably).
     And when speaking about abortion laws (especially the Hyde Amendment), we should be careful to distinguish between motivations for abortion which are banned from receiving public funding, versus motivations for abortion which would be criminalized outright.

     While it is desirable to "lower the number of abortions", restricting access to abortion is not necessarily the solution to these problems, even if it does achieve that single objective.
     There are other things that can lower the number of abortions, without interfering with mothers' freedoms (freedoms, not positive rights) to get abortions. Namely, 1) keeping abortion legal while encouraging mothers to give their children up for adoption; 2) building a safer, cleaner world that treats children less harshly; and 3) continue to research and develop medical technology which will allow people to choose surrogacy, fetal transplants, and external incubation of extracted embryos, as alternatives to abortion.

To learn more about topic #9, please visit this link:

To learn more about topic #10, please visit this link:

Thanks to Justin Addeo for contributing point #11.

To learn more about the federal age of consent law I mentioned in the post-script on sexual ethics, please visit:

To learn more about the realistic and practical applications of "surrogacy, fetal transplants, and external incubation of extracted embryos" as alternatives to abortion, and the reasoning behind this idea, please visit the following links:

Based on notes taken on June 4th, 2019
Article (including post-script) written and published on June 5th, 2019
Edited and Expanded on June 26th, 2019

Letter to Charles Paidock on Discrimination in Public Accommodations

     The following is the text of an e-mail which I sent to Charles "Charlie" Paidock, concerning the topic of whether public and private entities have an obligation to recognize our civil liberties while we are on public and private property.
     Mr. Paidock is a former union negotiator, and a manager at the Chicago-based College of Complexes. The College of Complexes is an organization dedicated to free speech, debate, and adult education on political and social matters.

     What prompted my e-mail to Mr. Paidock, was his e-mail to me, which preceded it. In that e-mail, he sent me an article entitled "The Colorado wedding cake case: How libertarians view it", published by Yahoo News on June 9th, 2018.
     Paidock provided a select quotation from that article, which reads: "The perspective of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, is that the government should have no oversight over discrimination in private business transactions, such as the sale of a wedding cake or almost anything else. It is a private business owner’s right to choose whom to sell to; free markets will regulate discrimination."
     Although I did not explain this in my e-mail, the Cato Institute does not represent all libertarians, nor does the Libertarian Party. The libertarian movement consists of Libertarian partisans, libertarian-conservatives, libertarian Democrats, libertarian-leaning Greens and socialists, and "libertarians" of the traditional 19th century European variety (i.e., anarchists).
     "Libertarian" is neither a trademark of the Libertarian Party (which, in fact, does not claim any intellectual property), nor do the Cato Institute - nor the Koch brothers, nor Ron Paul, nor anyone else - hold a monopoly on what it means to be a libertarian.
     Since that is the case, it would be completely irrational to conclude that all libertarians share any particular belief, or set of beliefs, about the issue of whether private enterprises should be required to sell wedding cakes to same-sex couples if requested. Especially since that issue touches on many areas of law and legal theory, including freedom from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and - most importantly for the purposes of this discussion - the meaning of the interstate Commerce Clause in the U.S. Constitution, as it pertains to discrimination in public accommodations, and the differences between the rights and responsibilities of private companies vs. companies which receive public funds.
     I have already weighed-in on the latter three topics in-depth, most recently in my article "Revised Position on Discrimination and Interstate Commerce", published in May 2017. While in the first several years of my writing career, I defended the right of all businesses to discriminate, I eventually realized that most or all enterprises receive some form of public funding and/or support.

     I explain that idea in my e-mail to Mr. Paidock, which reads thus:

     You're correct that many libertarians support discrimination by private businesses. However, I am not one of those people. I've realized that most private companies are not as private as they are described. Nearly all "private" companies receive some form of public subsidy, privilege, monopoly right, or bailout. That makes them public organizations in my book.
     Most Libertarians disagree with me [on this issue], but I criticize them for having a blind spot for the right of "private" agencies to discriminate against the same public that they're receiving funds from.
     I actually heard you say the other night that private companies can do basically whatever they want, in terms of violating people's First Amendment rights, because you said the government can't violate those rights, but private entities can. I see your point, but I disagree in part.
     The next time you see a company restricting the speech of its workers, I hope you will keep in mind, to ask, not only whether it calls itself a "private" company, but whether it receives any public supports. If it does receive public supports, then it should not discriminate, and it should not be called a private company.
     I think you and I can agree that no firm which receives public funds, should be discriminating against anybody. I suspect that you also agree that we need a clear delineation of private vs. public institutions. Because blurring them together in Public-Private Partnerships, etc., is just confusing things.
     Thanks for your message.

     To read the article that Charles Paidock sent me - about "the" libertarian position on cakes for same-sex couples - please visit this link: 

     To read my article "Revised Position on Discrimination and Interstate Commerce", please visit:

     For more information about the Chicago College of Complexes, please visit the following links:

E-mail composed on June 4th, 2019
Commentary written on June 5th, 2019
Published on June 5th, 2019

Eight Things You May Not Know About the Tiananmen Square Massacre

     On June 3rd through 5th, 2019, the world commemorated the last two days of the thirty-year anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, which followed protests in Beijing, China.
     The protests took place from April 14th to June 4th, 1989, and ended when Chinese troops fired into crowds of protesters and deployed tanks into the square. On June 5th, "Tank Man" infamously stood in front of a row of tanks as they were leaving the square.

     In American public schools, students who are taught about the event, are told little more than the following (if even in this much detail): "Students who were protesting China's totalitarian Communist government, were shot en masse and mowed-down by tanks."
     Some of us were also told about "Tank Man", the infamous man who was filmed, grocery bags in hand, staring-down a row of tanks, in an act of defiance. This occurred on June 5th, 1989. The man walked in front of a row of tanks, and stopped. Then the first tank in line stopped, the man climbed on top of the tank, appeared to attempt to get the attention of its driver, got back off of the tank, and motioned towards the tank to go back in the opposite direction.
     Some of us were told that Tank Man was pulled away from the tanks by somebody at the last moment, while others of us may have been told that he was crushed underneath the tanks. Some say that "only the Chinese government knows what became of him".
     In either case, most of us were told that nobody knows who he was, and that he was standing up against an evil totalitarian government. Tank Man has thus been turned into an image of defiance, rebellion, and freedom in the face of authoritarianism.
     However, as are most stories about communists, nothing could be further from the truth.

     Here are some facts about the Tiananmen Square protests, the Tiananmen Square Massacre, and Tank Man, which you might not have heard before.
     [Note: I do not intend this as a complete, nor exhaustive, account of what happened at Tiananmen Square in 1989. This is perhaps one of the most murky historical events in recent memory. I have refrained to comment on other topics related to this event, because of my lack of knowledge on the topic.
     I hope that this information will be helpful to my readers; if correct, then to understand the event, but if incorrect, then at least to understand the controversy which surrounds it.]

     1. It is said that "nobody knows who Tank Man was", but there are people who know him. It would be impossible for there not to be. No evidence has ever been released to the public, which indicates that he either died that day, or lived through it.
     The Western media narrative is that the pilot of the tank didn't have the heart to crush Tank Man to death. Granted, the video footage does show the tank trying to move forward without crushing the man. But there is no proof that this man was actually opposing the government. If he were, then he probably would have been killed immediately.
     While Western media and American public schools portray Tank Man as someone who "defiantly stared down Chinese government tanks", it's possible that Tank Man's motioning towards the tank, to go back in the opposite direction, was a signal of approval of what the army was doing.
     That's because what laid in the opposite direction was Tiananmen Square itself. Tank Man was signaling to the pilot of the tank that he wanted the tanks and the army to maintain their presence in Tiananmen Square. Tank Man wanted the army to stay, even after the armed conflicts which had taken place over the two previous days.

     2. Nobody knows how many people died in the massacre, and estimates vary widely. This is, in part, due to the Chinese government's suppression of the discussion of casualty figures following the event.
     Regarding the night of June 3rd, the Chinese government reported 241 dead (including 218 civilians, of which 36 were students, and also 10 soldiers in the P.L.A. [People's Liberation Army] and 13 officers of the People's Armed Police) and 7,000 wounded.
     Later official estimates gave a total of 3,000 dead. Including the deaths which resulted from the June 4th tank deployments, the total death toll could be as high as 10,000 (according to British Ambassador to China Sir Alan Donald).
     Other estimates include:
     - 300 dead (soldiers, civilians, and students combined), with 5,000 soldiers and police and 2,000 civilians wounded;
     - 6,000 injured, rather than 7,000;
     - 2,000 to 3,000 dead on June 4th, including estimates such as 2,600 and 2,700;
     - "a dozen soldiers and policemen were killed, along with 400 to 800 civilians" on June 4th (from Nicholas D. Kristof of the New York Times);
     - 180 to 500 deaths "up to the morning of" June 4th (according to the N.S.A.);
     - 478 dead and 920 wounded (according to Beijing hospital records);
     - between several hundred and close to 1,000 deaths (according to Amnesty International);
     - 300 to 1,000 deaths (according to a Western diplomat);
     - 8,000 dead, rather than a similar number wounded; and
     - "upwards of ten thousand" or "tens of thousands" of deaths and/or casualties.

     3. Not all of the people who were killed, were student protesters. Many of them were P.L.A. soldiers and police officers.

     4. Death tolls which indicate higher numbers of police and military dead than students, may be erroneous, due to the facts that many police and military personnel were wounded, and that the numbers of the dead have occasionally been confused with the numbers of the wounded in various estimates.

     5. Not all of the people involved in the anti-government protests, were students; and not all of the people involved in the protests were Maoist workers either. Both groups were present.

     6. The anti-government protesters did not have solidarity with one another. This fact is often left out of reports which depict a two-sided battle of pro-government military vs. anti-government civilians made up of mostly or solely student protesters.
     Student protesters initially refused to allow Maoist workers to protest alongside them, and only relented and allowed this once the protests continued and the number of students present at the protests began to dwindle. Some sources say the student protesters refused to allow workers to participate in negotiations.
     The antipathy between the city-dwelling students and the working people, may be partially explained by the rising conflict between peasant farmers and the people who bought their food, which was driven by high food prices that resulted from heavy government subsidization of, and investment in, those peasants' farming operations.

    7. Some of the literature which was distributed by student protesters, contained propaganda about foreigners which could be considered racist, xenophobic, and specifically anti-African.

     8. The protesters have been portrayed in Western media to have been protesting a totalitarian Communist regime, in the name of pushing for social liberalization, liberalization of markets and trade (and opening of the country economically), and democratic political reform.
     However, this is only true if you ignore the fact that many of the protesters were ordinary Chinese workers, rather than students (who tended to be more well-to-do and to reside in cities).
     Other of the protesters were demonstrating because they were opposed to the market liberalization which had been occurring in the country in the 13 years following Chairman Mao Zedong's death. (Note: The Tiananmen Square Massacre occurred in 1989, the year Deng Xiaoping retired, and Hu Yaobang was named his successor.)
     In the view of those Maoists, moves towards trade liberalization would only lead the country away from communism and towards capitalism and the West. They saw this as a back-slide, away from communism.
     This narrative is the exact opposite of what we are led to believe in the West; i.e., that the only people protesting in Tiananmen Square were "liberal" (i.e., freedom-loving) students who despised the totalitarian government. But "liberalism" and "democracy", as communists and Maoists understand them, are only guises for the "liberalism" of capitalism, and the "democracy" practiced by corporate boards rich with Western finance-capital.

     To learn more about the Tiananmen Square Massacre, please visit:

Based on notes taken on June 4th, 2019
Written and published on June 5th, 2019