Tag: #featured

Nick Sandmann, MAGA Hat Kid: The Hidden Story

Mark West | United States

Last weekend was a bit of a blunder for me. I watched several viral videos surrounding what happened at the National Mall that spread on social media. Angered at what I perceived as disrespect, I made a snap judgment. I shared the first meme I noticed concerning the issue on Facebook. I had to partake in the political discussion on this controversy, right?

The narrative pitted the Covington Catholic High School students, many of which were white, male, and sporting MAGA (Make America Great Again) hats, against a group of Native Americans. The two groups had been involved in separate rallies on the National Mall that day. The Covington Catholic students were leaving a March for Life rally while the Native Americans had just finished an Indigenous Peoples March.

Both were about to intersect in a manner that would spark an unintentional national controversy.

A scene consisting of a what appeared to be a stare-down between Covington Catholic student Nick Sandmann and Native American activist Nathan Phillips immediately split the national audience into regiments. The still shots from the video cast Sandmann in a negative light, with a smug, disrespectful smile on his face.

The Mainstream Media Story

We were incessantly informed by the mainstream media that Phillips heroically confronted the students as they chanted “Build That Wall” at the Native American protestors. An image serving to reinforce the narrative that racial motivations and anger are the motives for support of the southern border wall.

Erroneously, I believed the mainstream media reporting and shared the meme I mentioned previously. However, a close friend cared enough to hint that a full-version video was accessible on the internet. I found it, watched it, and I realized I was dreadfully wrong. Of course, I also deleted the meme I ignorantly shared.

The Hidden Story

Now, I’m not here to tell you what happened at the National Mall. Most of us have already decided our version of the timelines and our judgments of the intentions of the participants. What I am here to report is the hidden story of the MAGA hat kid.

The hidden story of the MAGA hat kid is the tribalism that drives each of us to ignore context while making snap judgments that fit our own narratives. I’ll pull a little gospel principle in by quoting D.A. Carson who said, “a text without a context is a pretext for a proof text”. In other words, if you ignore the context you will get the wrong message.

I got the wrong message, initially, because I was lacking the context to make sense of what was going on. There is an unfortunate occurrence in political conversation in our society. Far too often, we use pretexts and proof texts to reinforce our tribal view.

Our failure to contextualize is contributing to the erosion of political debate. We should thoroughly examine the context and all the information available to us. An opinion should be formed based on the previous. Instead, we almost always have our pre-disposed opinions. Consequently, we seek only the facts that offer support. The stare-down at the National Mall highlights just that.

Tribalism Exposed

I’ve witnessed the anti-Trump crowd attacking Sandmann and his school over racism, as well as doxxing he and his classmates. Simultaneously, the MAGA crowd is attacking Phillips’ character and motives. The tribes are at war even though I’m not convinced that the principles themselves ever were. Through all of the back-and-forth, the demagoguery hurled by the Black Hebrew Israeliteswhich served as the flashpoint that escalated the tense scenario, has been largely ignored.

My first exposure to the tribalism that dominates our political process came as I listened to President Obama’s supporters chanting, “Yes We Can”, at campaign rallies. I spent the next eight years trying to have reasonable policy conversations with people who could never hold the man they supported accountable. They had their pretexts and ignored any contexts.

During the 2016 campaign, I saw a new emergence on the other side. Watching President Trump’s campaign rallies filled with chants of, “Build That Wall”, and “Lock Her Up”, I realized that I would spend President Trump’s tenure trying desperately to have the same conversations with folks who are out to get the Democrats back for President Obama’s term. They also have their pretexts and ignore any contexts.

So, instead of discussing what really happened and using the lessons as instructive to the society around us, we’re instead hedging into our tribes. We are devoting our energy to ensuring that we prop up those in our tribe while viscerally attacking those of the other. The tribalism is driving the context out of the conversation.

I’m Just as Guilty as You Are

Disclaimer: I’m not speaking from an ivory tower. I’m not exempt in my own tendencies to fall into tribal politics as well, as noted earlier in this column. However, my goal is to objectively focus on facts in their appropriate context, as best I can.

If we are going to secure a society of liberty for future generations to enjoy it is vital that we restore contextual facts to the political debate. Our tribes are not always right, and the other tribes are not always wrong. Our tribes haven’t cornered the market on patriotic fervor any more than the other tribes have un-American sentiment.

The Dire Consequences

Now, tribalism itself isn’t the issue, that’s not the takeaway here. The problem is ignoring reality in order to preserve the ideals of our tribe. In a way, our tribes become more important to us than our nation. When we allow our national fabric to be ripped apart for the sake of our tribe winning, we all lose.

We are all people and we bring a variety of perspectives to the same set of facts. Hence the necessity that we appropriately contextualize the facts at hand. Otherwise, we just continue the evisceration of political dialogue in our nation and become further polarized against our neighbors. If we don’t improve talking through our differences, our differences will manifest into the very things that will threaten the future of liberty in our nation.


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All You Need to Know About The American Capitalist Party

Kaycee Ikeonu | Canada

Libertarians and Objectivists are often lumped into the same general category in political discourse as “libertarians”, despite the fact that Objectivists often try to distinguish themselves from the broader libertarian label. The founder of Objectivism, for example, Ayn Rand, famously described libertarians as “hippies of the right” and completely rejected comparisons between the two ideologies. However, with the formation of a new pro-liberty party, the American Capitalist Party, comparisons to the Libertarian Party are to be expected.

The American Capitalist Party was founded on the principles of reason, individual rights, limited government, and laissez-faire capitalism. It’s co-founders are Mark Pellegrino and Joe Sanders, and it’s philosophy is heavily influenced by the works of Ayn Rand and her philosophy of Objectivism.

So what makes the American Capitalist Party different from the Libertarian Party?

Superficially, it is obvious that both parties are advocates of individual rights and limited government. According to Mark Pellegrino however, it is the philosophical base of both parties that makes them significantly different. In an interview with the Objective Standard, Pellegrino argued that the ACP views man as a rational animal influenced by reason and reason only. He says:

“The defining difference between the ACP and the Libertarian Party is our respective orientations toward liberty and government, which, in turn, are based on our respective views of human nature and morality. In short, the ACP views men as rational animals—beings who live and prosper by using their minds to understand the world, to produce values, and to trade by mutual consent to mutual advantage. We regard such activities as moral because they advance human life. And we see liberty as a necessary condition for exercising the faculty of reason because, in order to act on your rational judgment, you must be free to do so.”

Pellegrino contrasts this philosophy from that of the Libertarian Party, claiming that the LP has no strong, common philosophical grounding. He says:

“Libertarians don’t see rational thinking, rational action, and moral rights as absolute requirements of human life. Rather, they regard freedom from force—or the “non-aggression principle”—merely as a requirement of economic action and thus as politically good.”

It is evident that the philosophy of the American Capitalist Party is based on a specific moral framework. But this view of politics could be a bit too extreme for mainstream Americans to handle. For example, consistent with the views of Ayn Rand, the ACP advocates the complete separation of the state from the economy. This includes the abolition of many government-run programs, including schools, hospitals, social programs, and regulations. Perhaps the most extreme form of this is the abolition of government regulation in the economy. The ACP website states:

“We support an immediate abolition of all environmentalist legislation that restricts the right of U.S. companies to produce energy, and the establishment of a free market in energy…We confidently maintain that a free market in energy, similar to a free market in computer technology, will attract brilliant minds dedicated to meeting mankind’s energy needs across all technologies—and that to do so effectively, government must be legally restricted from any and all forms of interference.”

Mark Pellegrino acknowledged that these policies wouldn’t be implemented overnight, but would be phased out over time. Insofar as campaigning is concerned, Pellegrino says Idaho, Montana, Alaska, Arizona, and Texas could be the first “battleground states” for the ACP.

The ACP is indeed a unique party quite distinct from the Republican, Democratic and even Libertarian Parties. But one could ask if it’s niche and concentrated philosophy would be attractive to most Americans today.

To learn more about the American Capitalist Party, click here.


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Collectivism Has Destroyed Venezuela

By Trey Johnson | Venezuela

Millions of Venezuelans escape a country destroyed by bad government and coercive collectivism.

The border of Colombia and Ecuador is full of Venezuelans who are doing their earnest to escape the clutches of a coercive regime in search of free markets and better opportunities. Common tourists, amongst the droves of Venezuelans, must wait hours and hours in a line that wraps around the immigration office here in Ipiales, Colombia. During peak days, it can take over 24 hours to cross the border between Colombia and Ecuador.

The border crossing’s elevation is 2898 m (9500 ft), which makes the experience a rather cold one as nighttime approaches. Individuals in line are able to stay warm with the help of vendors selling coffee, hot dogs, and empanadas.

Most South American countries have no choice but to allow free movement of these refugees due to treaties signed by UN member states. The strain of this situation hampers economic stability and the free flow of goods and services due to long lines at the border.

While in the line, one can also learn of the tragedies affecting the people of Venezuela and understand why they are leaving their beloved homeland. Men and women full of fond memories and past success, now crushed by coercive collectivism. Doctors, welders, and professionals of all sorts are throwing away their experience to land a job in a neighboring country, hoping to make the minimum wage of $300 per month in favorable countries such as Chile and Peru. Ecuador and Colombia are not desirable, and Brazil’s language barrier makes the destination unattainable.

To date, an estimated 4 million Venezuelans have left the country. Hyperinflation is the sole reason these people have left. “There is a lot of work, but there is no money.” The minimum wage is currently 2,000,000 Bolivars per month which equates to $3 USD per month. That is $36 per year. The price of a kilogram of beef in Venezuela is $3 dollars and the price of shampoo is also $3.

To make matters worse, the Venezuelan government instituted new currency controls on money entering the country through financial institutions. In order to send money to your family members stuck in Venezuela, you must have a bank account in both Venezuela and an outside country. One refugee believes this policy is “choking the people.”

The current administration’s new constitution would completely eliminate the ability to own private property. This market uncertainty makes investments impossible.

The people who are working to stay in the country are almost at the end of what seems to be the brink of collapse. Schools are functioning, but they have no food to feed their students. Most of the faculty members leave the schools in search of new opportunities. Revolutionaries like the violin playing patriot and Oscar Pérez have become heroes to Venezuelans trying to take back their country.

The Venezuelan regime is continuing to provide a box of food to each family in accordance with its collectivist agreement. This box is called CLAP and contains two packages of flour and rice along with powdered milk “if you are lucky.” The frequency of these food distributions is about once every 5 to 6 months according to a refugee waiting in the 24-hour line.

One wealthy Venezuelan had a stable career for over 15 years. He had a house, a car, and “a whole complete life.” He went on trips with his family inside and outside the country. Right now he is busy moving groups of Venezuelans to more favorable environments scattered throughout South America. He understands the attraction of collectivism and believes “the Venezuelans have to learn the lesson.”

A Colombian bus driver passes and asks, “are you going to Cúcuta?”, a town on the border of Venezuela and Colombia, 32 hours in the opposite direction from this particular crossing.

It is truly a sad state of affairs for the people of Venezuela who slowly lost their grip on freedom and their country. Experts believe it will take 30 years to bring this country back to its former self. Many Venezuelans will most likely never return to their homeland, which is but another civilization lost to socialism and coercive collectivism.

Thousands of Venezuelans at the Border of Colombia and Ecuador

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The Free Market is a Better Alternative to Government

By Josh Hughes | United States

Most libertarians believe that, to an extent, the “free market” is superior to the government. But is this really true? Can private enterprises and consumers completely and voluntarily fund the services that are enjoyed today? If so, are they capable of producing such services at a more efficient and cost-effective rate? The answer, in theory, is always yes.

Can the Market Do Everything That Government Can?

Think of any service that is offered by the government. There are dozens, ranging from something as simple as the post office and sanitation services, to more complex and serious things such as domestic and foreign defense. Simple, everyday tasks that people are accustomed to being carried out by government employees can just as easily be done in the private sector. Private schools, for example, perform the same job as public schools but are done through completely voluntary means. In many instances, the quality of education is higher as well.

But some services just can’t be provided by the free market, right? Many cite defense and legal dilemmas as areas that need government control or interference. This simply just is never necessary. An example that many are fond of is illustrated by Llewellyn Rockwell, Jr. in his anarcho-capitalist manifesto, Against the State. In it, one is asked to consider for a moment that shoes have been provided to children until the age of 18 by the government for as long as anyone can remember. Since society has become so used to this, and the market has never had the ability to compete, one naturally finds it foolish to question the government’s provision here. It can be assumed that many people would actually become quite defensive when the question of “Can the market do it better?” arises.

This is the case with every single service society enjoys. People don’t consider how the market and private individuals can better provide a service because it’s never been attempted.

“But Who Will Build the Roads?”

This is a challenge often brought up when taxation or government abolition is brought up. The answer is simple. The same individuals that politicians contract will build the roads. Your neighbors and peers who are civil engineers and construction workers will still build the roads. “But who will pay for it?” Private citizens will still fund the projects, just as they already do now. Instead of the violent coercion the government forces, however, it will be in the form of voluntary transactions such as tolls or user fees. Domestic defense will still be provided by private individuals, except now instead of an all-powerful police force, it will be a subscription to a privately regulated enterprise. This is true for everything. It will all be paid for and provided by the same individuals that pay for and provide it now, only this time it will be done voluntarily in the form of subscriptions, user fees, and tolls. No more will you be forced to give your hard-earned money to an agency of men in Washington, D.C. that decide where they feel it will be best spent. In the ideal society, you the individual know where to spend your money best.

Other Counterarguments

Extortion/Monopolies

Another question often raised is “What happens when a company establishes a monopoly over a service, then proceeds to extort its users?” This is a very tough, but solvable, dilemma. An answer would be responsibility of the market. Individuals must not be put in the situation where they can be exploited and must provide competing services themselves. If this is unavailable, then the market must pressure the monopoly and force them to either break up or not extort consumers by refusing the monopoly and its workers service. The market will always regulate itself.

Discrimination

“What happens when a business decides to discriminate against a group of people, whether on the basis of race, religion, gender, or orientation?” In this instance, individuals and the market will again regulate itself. Minorities are more empowered today than they have ever been before. Through advances in technology, avenues such as social media and sites like Yelp will spread the decisions of businesses. Say, for example, a restaurant refuses service to an African-American woman because of her race. She can then go to Instagram or Twitter and share her experience, where it can then be seen by thousands of people. The business will suffer the consequences, as now people will refuse to go there and instead opt to go to a restaurant that serves all people.

Environment

Another main issue is environmental regulations. The EPA currently sets the standards for businesses to follow when it comes to regulations, but without a government, who will do that for us? Again, the answer is the market. Similar to the case of monopolies, other businesses and individuals will set sanctions against or boycott companies that practice in ways that are detrimental to the environment. This pressure will force the companies to change their ways or to shut down.

The Market Will Prevail

If you’ve paid attention, you have noticed that the same phrase has been repeated many times. “The free market will solve the issue.” This is the main philosophy behind most libertarian thought. The free market will solve any and every issue, and can better perform every service offered by the government. The untouched market has competition whereas the government is a monopoly. The market has drive and incentives while the government is lazy and incompetent. The market is voluntary and free, a stark contrast against the government who is coercive and aggressive. The market can and will solve every problem presented to society without the need of the government.


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Are People Too Blind to Know Their Government is Lying to Them?

By Joshua D. Glawson | United States

Comfort breeds apathy. Most people live simply to work to make a living for themselves and their families. We get focused on our career goals and stick to that path. Anything that distracts us from those life objectives (even when it is a major issue) prevents us from possibly feeding our family, providing housing, and all of the daily comforts of life. So, instead of delving into the serious topics of government abuses (lies, thefts, murders, wars, etc.), we prefer answering only to the immediacy of our direct needs and desires rather than a long fought battle against people that are lying to us.

This may also answer why so many people prefer getting their news from social media and comedians, rather than opening books and discussing things that make people uncomfortable. When we get comfortable with our lives, we tend to shield ourselves from things that will disrupt that comfort.

Likeability is at the forefront of most people’s relationships. Being liked by people, especially your family and friends, is important to most people, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, since most are concerned about being agreeable and liked, they tend to shy away from discussions that could lead them to be viewed in a different and bad light. No one wants to be that crazy conspiracy theorist relative, so they accept mainstream political opinion as fact. Some people also just want to continue positive relationships with those they know they will disagree with any non-mainstream thinking in a positive way.

Education also plays a role in turning a blind eye towards government lies. This may have more to do with public schools being the primary source of education for most Americans. It is ingrained in the public school system not to question your government. It teaches you to admire the Presidents as gods that have come to save us while dismissing all of their corruption, abuses, and lies within a generation or two. Furthermore, when public schools are paid for by states and the federal government, as in the US, with every dollar comes a regulation and control of that schooling system. This is because the state has a monopoly on the use of force. So, public schools will paint the State in a positive image, and many continue to believe that without question.

Philosophy is an ongoing battlefield. For many Americans, the idea that government officials are “just doing their job,” is constantly prevalent in their initial responses. Even when the actions of the government go against the Constitution or laws in place, many shun from contesting. This is the ever-pervasive philosophy that helps to destroy the very questioning of government itself.

Many have come to believe that, although an action such as murder or stealing is wrong for the individual, it is collectively permissible if done behind the guise of government. This also echoes throughout political debate where the majority of the political right only questions and badgers the political left, and the political left does the same only to the right, rather than individuals staying philosophically consistent in questioning everyone. These philosophies perpetuate tribalism, identity politics, and collectivism rather than instilling the reason of the individual to rationally and empirically question authority and philosophies themselves.

A systematic benefit is given to the government itself. When people have found lies within government, it turns against the whistleblower. Oftentimes, it may threaten their property, life, and liberty on the grounds of treason or whatever other charges that can be put on the person. Then, if the person goes to court, who will win? When the government is judging the case, the judges, the lawyers, the politicians, those involved in the charges being brought against them by the whistleblower are typically protected from the highest levels down by the government itself. If a state is suing the federal government, we can only hope that the Supreme Court will respond justly, but there is no guarantee.

How well can we actually use the system in place to charge politicians, military personnel, and other government officials for their crimes against God, Nature, and even the Constitution itself?


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