One of my favorite blogs is The Altucher Confidential. James Altucher is a dynamic individual and his writing is often very introspective which makes for interesting reading. This blog entry is a nod to James’ style.
Last week I had a discussion with a couple guys at work about the value of living in a militaristic society. In case you’re wondering, yes, I’m talking about the USA. Outspending the next ten nations combined is pretty militaristic. Another indicator is when your local police are wearing battle gear and driving tanks around, and yet another clue is when your country is consistently the largest military arms exporter, but I digress.
One point in favor of living in a highly militarized country was that WWII cured the Great Depression. Another point was that there are a lot of inventions borne out of military necessity. I argued the first point was absolutely false and the second was likely the opposite of the truth. It was a quick discussion on the way back from lunch, but was still on my mind during the drive home. I thought of a funny way to spin the first point, referring to the military inventing the internet: “It took the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent people so we could shop for household goods in our underwear.” So I had to share this quip the next day and offer a reference with reasonable proof that his assertion about WWII was wrong.
Later that day I read a quote posted on Facebook by an acquaintance. The quote compared a hoarder of cash to a hoarder of cats or newspapers, and implied that we give the hoarder of cash too much credit. I could not help myself but to comment and inform him that if that rich person holds their wealth in a bank or investments, then it is actually doing all of us a huge favor. Corporate investment buys equipment for corporations, which enables us to produce more than other nations which do not have the same number of rich people investing there. This increased production is what enables us to have a high income per capita in comparison to most of the world. Obviously there are crooked businesses as there are crooked politicians, but this relationship generally holds true. It’s called capitalism and can be credited with bringing humans up from a level of bare, hand-to-mouth subsistence to a place where the poorest of society have many more amenities than the kings of only decades ago.
So all this debating got me thinking, “Why do I argue about politics?” It’s probably not good for my health. Sometimes I start sweating a bit when I can’t come up with a good counterpoint. At least I’ve overcome the urge to get angry, perhaps with a firmer grasp of where I stand and why. There must be some element of thinking I’m right. In the last few years that thought might have a bit of merit for all the reading I’ve done, but I was arguing about politics before I started researching libertarianism and Austrian Economics. Before 2007 I was only concerned with making a living and having fun in the interim, but still felt my view was the correct one. I guess that is human nature and the reason most people do not debate about politics or religion. In my opinion though, any position you can’t defend is no position at all. I’ll respect religious differences, they shouldn’t affect me, but your beliefs about the nature of government do affect me, so that’s why I think we need to consider them.
Keynesian economics (spend our way to prosperity) seems intuitively wrong as does our foreign policy (killing someone’s family makes them want to vote for your puppet dictator). The government has a motive to whitewash its sins and embellish the victories. Who approved those textbooks you learned from in school? Should we believe our government is unique in history in being totally honest with its citizens? Then there is the fact that an astonishing number of guys involved with Austrian Economics called the recent crash.
I am concerned about the present state of affairs in our nation, and hardly any of the issues that are presented in the nightly news. Loss of civil liberties, a growing police state, perpetual war, economic calamity caused by central banking, an incompetent government and a corrupting elite class are some of things that make me want argue. If you want an earful, suggest that the state is the natural solution to any of these ills that it created.
I have been told arguing on the internet is like running in the Special Olympics. I guess that is supposed to mean that it is pointless, which is pretty mean, and sadly somewhat accurate, as I am not exactly in the same league as someone like economist Robert Murphy who has raised $105,000 to try and get Paul Krugman to debate him. Obviously Krugman is scared since Ron Paul whooped on him and Murphy is much sharper than Paul. My own father told me that my effort on this blog was not going to change any minds. He also believes socialism is workable, so I take that opinion with a grain of salt. Perhaps the naysayers are right and I am just flapping my arms here trying to fly. My goal is to expose the ideas of libertarianism and anarcho-capitalism to a few new people, so I’ve already achieved success in that. People do change their minds about political philosophy. I did, so there is some hope, and not the kind you get from a poster.