Author: Andrew Lepore

Nobody Truly Understands Natural Human Rights

By Andrew Lepore | United States

The idea of natural human rights, inherent to the lives of every individual, is not a new one. The various forms of human rights have evolved and been expanded upon throughout the thousands of years of human existence. From the Cyrus Cylinder to the Magna Carta, to the Bill of Rights, the debate over what is a human right has taken many forms. Today the debate still rages on, and with the UN declaration of human rights, has taken on new aspects.

The Libertarian idea of human rights is derived from two foundational principles, self-ownership, and individual responsibility. Every individual enjoys complete self-ownership, and every individual is directly responsible for the consequences of his actions. Those principles create the foundation for the libertarian values of voluntarism and the non-aggression principle.

In libertarian philosophy, human rights can be boiled down to the protections of the Non-Aggression Principle, or NAP. The NAP Means all individuals have the right not to be coerced into involuntary relationships, or have force initiated against them. Conversely, all individuals have the legal and moral obligation to not initiate force, or coerce other individuals.

Before I continue, I must make the distinction between the initiation of force, and the use or response of force. The initiation of force simply is the initial violation of life, liberty, or property of another (For example, murder, assault, theft, fraud, or trespassing). In other words the initial use of force on another peaceable individual.  But the coercive threat of violence is also a violation of the NAP. For example, somebody is walking down the street and another person runs up with a firearm brandished and says “give me your wallet or I’m going to shoot”. Now the mugger hasn’t actually initiated physical force, but threatening the individual to comply with the threat of physical violence is coercion (Which is why taxation is theft).

The NAP applies to everybody without exception, if one individual is coercing another, it doesn’t matter if the aggressor has a badge on his chest or a gang tattoo. The traditional state, being a single group with a territorial monopoly on the initiation of force, is in direct violation of the NAP. For a state to be able to fall in line with the NAP, they must abolish all “victimless crimes”, and its only legitimate role would be enforcing the NAP itself (catching thieves, murderers, rapists and other real criminals). Also, coercive taxation would be required to be made voluntary, which would either result in market forces replacing many state functions or collective funding of formerly involuntary government programs.

Generally, there are two classifications of human rights, positive and negative. Positive rights require others to provide you with something at their own expense (the “right” to healthcare, food, housing, any involuntarily funded government program etc). A negative right, on the other hand, only requires others to abstain from interfering with your actions (The right to keep and bear arms is The right not to have the state interfere with your ability to get a firearm, and the right to free speech which is the right not to have the state interfere with your ability to speak freely).

For example, most people would agree you have the right to life. Somebody viewing that right through a negative rights paradigm would say that you simply have the right not to be killed by another individual. Somebody viewing that right through a positive rights paradigm would say since you have the right to live, it’s incumbent on the government to force individuals to contribute their own capital to pay for those who were unable to obtain their own. Each individual has their own opinion on what rights should be. Some believe you should simply have the right to be left to your liberties, others believe you have a right to a part of what others own.

Under the universal application of the NAP in libertarian philosophy, positive rights cannot be enforced by law  It would be impossible to grant every person everything that they supposedly have a right to due to the scarcity of resources and the need for somebody’s capital to be used to produce anything, but it would also be immoral. Nobody has a legitimate claim to anything they didn’t purchase, produce, or inherent, Forcing people to provide for others is coercion.  

The same goes for all involuntarily funded government programs, It is a blatant violation of the Non-aggression principle to say, “give me a certain percentage of your income so I can redistribute it to others, or we will send armed men to your house to kidnap you at gunpoint, and kill you if you resist”.

On the other hand, protection of negative rights is necessary for a truly free society. There are endless amounts of negative rights in a society governed by the NAP.  You have the negative right to do anything you wish without another individual forcefully preventing you from doing so, up until you infringe on the liberties or property rights of another. Just as positive rights cannot morally exist in a free society, negative rights must exist in a free society. Liberty itself is a negative right, as it is your rights to live freely without coercive interference from others.

The protection of negative rights and the lack of legally enforced positive rights are the factors that are required in a truly free society. In libertarian philosophy, human rights can be boiled down to the protections awarded in the non-aggression principle. The only legally enforceable right you have is the right not be aggressed upon nor defrauded.

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Government is Simply a Massive Scam

By Andrew Lepore | United States

Scam: noun. (informal)

1. a dishonest scheme; a fraud. “an insurance scam”

synonyms: fraud, swindle, fraudulent scheme, racket, trick;

If you inquired to the average person on the street if they believe the government should or could be funded voluntarily, or if participation could be voluntary, the answer would likely be no. They would say involuntary taxation is a necessary evil, and it is in fact to the benefit of every individual to pay into the state. They would likely say without coercive taxation, everybody would be looking after themselves, and nobody would pay into police, fire, defense, roads, and other services currently monopolized by state. They may even think society would undoubtedly collapse under such circumstances.

I understand why somebody would think like this, as any person alive today has forever lived under a strong centralized government, and may not be able to see through the smoke screens presented before them. This theory though, that government and taxation must be involuntary because it is to the benefit of the individual, flies in the face of praxeological reality and economic fact.

A contradiction to this idea, the Law of Utility Maximization through cost benefit analysis Is one of the underlying functions of human action in the market. Utility maximization simply means every individual wishes to maximize the benefit they receive in exchange for every dollar, and for every moment of their time. Every consumer wishes to maximize the value they receive for the lowest cost.

A rational individual will purchase a good or service if the benefit they receive from that service is equal to or outweighs the cost of purchasing it, as it is simply to their benefit to do so. The consumer wants to pay into a service if they value the benefit they would receive for paying into that service. And if there are many competing firms, the consumer will choose the firm which provides the best services at the lowest cost.

This of course is the action on the part of the consumer which drives competition, and the success of the business that provides the best deal to customers. When a group has a coercively enforced monopoly it is no longer subject to competition. It no longer has to fight to provide the best services at the lowest cost to consumers, as it is not required to convince people to use their services. It no longer has the incentive to be efficient as it can be, it can just involuntarily take money out of the taxpayers pocket.

This leads to what we now see as the horribly inefficient and wasteful services that the government provides. Since government services are not subject to the scrutiny of the market the people have no choice but to settle with the far below sub-par services it provides. If contribution to these programs were made voluntary, they would either need to seriously get their act together, or be severely outcompeted.

Now if the horrendous services which government provides at the outrageous cost were really to the benefit of the individual, their simply would be no need for it to be involuntary. If it was voluntary, the consumer would want to pay in so they could receive the benefits. This is just like how a consumer purchases a ticket to a football game voluntarily because to them the benefit of the experience of seeing the game in person outweighs the cost of the ticket. Or, it is like how they voluntarily purchase food because being full is worth more benefit than the cost of the purchase.

Are the most successful companies and service providers required to have a gun to the customers’ heads to get their money? Of course not, the consumer wants to give say, Apple, their money because they want to get the product. It’s the same logic for voluntarily funded emergency services for example. It is to the individuals benefit to pay a firm which provides emergency services as to most people, having emergency services at hand is worth the cost of not having it (the market would of course provide alternatives for those in dire circumstances who hasn’t already bought a service, like a 911 service which you call only to be billed after).

Not only do we not need involuntarily funded group with a monopoly on the initiation of force at the center of our society in order to not divulge into a Hobbesian nightmare; but such an institution is always corrupt, inefficient and a scam on society.

That’s not even to mention the complete immorality of the state. Nowhere else in our lives would such an idea be acceptable. Imagine If one day, the McDonald’s CEO announced that the company would be taking 20% to 50% of every dollar which every individual makes (depending on the bracket of course), and that those who failed to comply would be locked up in the McPrison for a few years. But hey you would get 3 meals a day. Would this be acceptable to you? Of course not. If that happened today their were surely be an unavoidable outcry, and the people wouldn’t stand for such a thing. Though If we were already indoctrinated into a system like that, maybe people would even say “Without McDonald’s, who would provide the food?”

In conclusion, the myth of the justification and necessity of the state is a scam on a grand and colossal scale. The fact that government must be an involuntarily funded institution proves that it is a scam. The state acknowledges people would not value their services enough to voluntarily hand over the fruits of their labor. An involuntarily funded group based on the initiation of force, which of course cannot exist in a truly free society, is never justifiable nor is it necessary.


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The Market Forces Companies to Care For Consumers

By Andrew Lepore | United States

The law of utility maximization through cost-benefit analysis holds true to human action in the market as the theory of gravity holds true to physics.

Utility maximization simply means every individual wishes to maximize the benefit they receive for every dollar, and for every moment of their time. Every consumer wish is to maximize the value they receive with the lowest cost.

The consumer navigates through the unlimited number of goods and services to satisfy their needs desires. It takes place when you’re buying anything, as you are always attempting to determine if the cost of something is worth the benefit received. For example, you might like sushi more than hamburgers, but you can get twice is full for less of a cost by buying a hamburger compared to sushi, so your cost-benefit analysis determined the benefits for purchasing the hamburger outweighs the benefits for purchasing the sushi.

On the same token, The same analysis is taking place when hiring a service provider or choosing a place to shop. Say for example grocery store A has a slightly smaller selection and bad customer service but low prices. And Grocery store B has a much larger selection, better customer service, but higher prices. Depending on the time and circumstance, you will choose one over the other.

A rational individual will purchase a good or service if the benefit they receive from that service is equal to or outweighs the cost of it.

The utility maximization model is based on four assumptions:

  1. Consumers are assumed to be rational, trying to get the most value for their money.
  2. Consumers’ incomes are limited because their individual resources are limited. They face a budget constraint.
  3. Consumers have clear preferences for various goods and services, thus they know their MU for each successive units of the product.
  4. Every item has a price tag. Consumers must choose among alternative goods with their limited money incomes.

This praxeological action taken by the consumer is what drives competition. It is what drives an individual to pick one service provider over another even if they offer slightly better prices or slightly more quality services. This, of course, forces companies who provide bad services at high prices to either compete and get better or go bankrupt. It’s a bit like Darwinism except we’re not tearing each other apart in the jungle.

Utility maximization through cost-benefit analysis is one of the underlying functions of human action in the market. Not only that, but it allows for a symbiotic relationship between service providers and consumers. The service providers who supply the most benefit at the least cost will be the ones who the consumers will choose and therefore will be the ones who succeed.

Drug Prohibition is Not the Government’s Responsibility

By Andrew Lepore | United States

Drug prohibition is the attempt to do the impossible through the mechanism of violence. Drug prohibition is The attempt to quell the vices passions of man do the iron fist of the state. The Tyranny of the drug war has Ruined millions of lives, torn apart families, destroyed communities, built the largest prison population in human history, and in the process, cost taxpayers billions.

Despite its inefficiencies and impossibilities, those factors are not the underlying problem of drug prohibition. As it’s supporters will say “Are just going to legalize violent crime because it’s impossible to fully stop?”

No, the main problem with the drug war is the total immorality of it. A great hypocrisy of the state is that what would be done by individuals or by the private sector that would be seen as immoral when done by the government or the public sector is seen as not only justified but fully moral. Drug prohibition is a prime example of this phenomenon. Given some critical thought, anybody can see that the war on drugs is unapologetically immoral.

The entire war on drugs is based on the assumption that we do not own our bodies, and we are not directly responsible for the consequences of our actions. The very nature of the drug war assumes that we need some politician or bureaucrat to write a law telling us what we can and can’t put in our bodies.

If you ask any person on the street if they own themselves, and the consequences of their actions, 99% will say yes. So why is it that most people support drug prohibition? Why is it that people will like acknowledge self ownership and direct responsibility for self action, yet believe that there should be a strong centralized government around to throw people in a cage that make risky decisions?

Another pure moral hypocrisy of drug prohibition is the underlying mechanism of enforcement. If you ask any individual on the street if initiating violence is a moral means to achieve in end, most people will say of course not. Yet again most people support drug prohibition which uses this underlying mechanism, the initiation of violence.

A sovereign individual using the substance of his or her choice, regardless of its Unfavorability, is not hurting anybody else. Now of course if that person goes out and Hurts another individual or steals another individual’s property, that person has now initiated force and has become a different story. But the action of simply using a substance is a peaceable action, and attempting to forcefully stop that by enforcement of the law is an initiation of violence and morally unacceptable.

Imagine if such action was engaged upon in the private sector. Imagine if some individual or company went around and started arresting people and throwing them in cages for eating at McDonald’s. Better yet, these people were saying it is for the benefit of the people they are arresting because McDonald’s is extremely unhealthy.

What if they started arresting McDonald’s employees for distributing unhealthy food and locking them in human cages for decades on end and claiming it was for the betterment of society. Would this be morally acceptable? Only if carried out by the state Because it’s okay for only it’s employees to use violence I guess.

People must stop believing that use of force when carried out by the state is absolutely any different than when carried out by private individuals or groups. The drug war is just one area, be it a large one, that this problem plagues the opinions of the population.

Advocacy For Any Law is Advocacy For Violence

By Andrew Lepore | United States

You may have heard the term you don’t talk about politics at dinner. But why has political discourse become so hateful and volatile? Well, the answer lies in the system we have inherited.

Our system of constitutional republicanism is one of involuntary participation and involuntary funding. The debate will always consist of who is being coerced, who is in power, and who is required to fund it all.

Participation in our system is not like a voluntary organization or corporation, which has to convince you to voluntarily give up your money in exchange for a good or service that is provided by the corporation. If you don’t value the benefits as much as the cost, you aren’t required to give them your money or use their services. If they began providing shitty services at higher costs, you can no longer give them your business if you so choose.

Under our system, Politicians do not have to convince the populace that their programs are worthwhile; if you don’t like it well too bad. You don’t choose how much money you give, you don’t choose where your money goes, and you definitely don’t have the option to opt out.

People will say, “but wait, you have the right to vote and you have the right to have your voice heard!” People are so conditioned that they believe that is sufficient to expropriate you and your property. Using that as justification for the state taking your money is comparable to somebody saying “oh well it’s not theft if the burglar allowed you to argue your case why it is immoral for him to be taking your money.”

This idea of coercion and involuntarism applies to every person, every law, and every tax. When somebody is calling for the rich to be taxed, they are calling for the state involuntarily rob those who are more successful of the fruits of their labor because that’s what they want. If the “rich” refuse men with guns will come to punish them.

When somebody is calling for drugs to be banned, they are not only calling for sovereign individuals to be locked in a cage for consuming a substance which the state does not approve of, but they are calling for everyone else to be required to fund this prohibition.

When somebody is calling for assault weapons to be banned, they are calling for the state to forcefully prevent sovereign individuals from acquiring whatever means they wish to achieve the end goal of self-preservation. If they refuse to cooperate and are found to be in possession of an inanimate object which the state disapproves of, they will be punished by men with guns.

Now you can probably see why the talk of politics at dinner can get someone’s blood boiling. When you talk about politics, unless you are a libertarian, you are arguing who should be coerced, who should be robbed, and who should be thrown in jail. If this was debated in any other scope besides through the force of politics and government, it would be conspiracy to commit a crime. In what other sectors of our lives are we allowed to Decide who gets robbed and who gets coerced without it being seen as an egregious moral enormity?

As long as the mechanism of politics is thinking you know what’s best for the lives of others, and seeking to enforce your ideal with violence, the discussion will be rife with hatred and partisanship. The argument is who will be coerced and who will receive the benefits. It is who will be controlled and who will have the power.

In conclusion, this moral dilemma and injustice can only be resolved with a libertarian ideal of free, voluntary, and noncoercive society. When we talk about the betterment of society, it does not have to be through the immoral paradigm of force through government. When we talk about the betterment of society, it should be through the paradigm of peace, cooperation, and voluntarism.


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