They Don’t Know

Education in the USA falls on its face when it comes to teaching how to be a citizen. The system may work well enough to give a person the technical training they need to find a job, or make them obedient, but in the day-to-day business of liberty, it actually provides experience that conflicts with what it means to be a free, independent person living their own life.

Clearly, the first twenty years of life for any person are dominated by the state monopoly known as the school. In a State run school, at least until the 12th grade but sometimes longer, the Bill of Rights does not always legally apply. Students in State run schools have far lower standards of legal protection from criminal search, and that includes searching a student’s physical person. A few years back a thirteen year old girl in Arizona was strip searched nude, in front of school personnel, to see if she was hiding drugs (she wasn’t), without her parents even being notified. Free speech is certainly not allowed, not even in school newspapers that are supposed to teach free speech. Much as in prison, school administrators routinely use zero tolerance policies to suspend both perpetrators and victims of infractions, going so far as to punish those making a gun shape with their fingers. Carrying a real gun in your pickup while on school property for hunting after class can lead directly to hard time in the slammer. Under some circumstances, self-incrimination can be legally coerced for a student, and due process is certainly of a different nature than it is for an adult. After growing up year after year like this a person’s view of individual rights gets terribly skewed. It takes an exceptional person to know that this is not how they are expected to live for the remaining decades of their life. The problem isn’t so much that Johnny can’t read, rather he has no sense of self as a citizen.

The results of this kind of education can be seen everywhere in American society. Free speech is often prohibited by administrative rule or reserved for “free speech zones.” The fact there are such zones means there is no free speech. Weapons free zones exist everywhere creating the double whammy of denying unalienable rights while providing ready places for psychopathic criminals to wreak havoc. Millions of travelers are forced to submit to TSA searches in violation of basic laws (sexual battery for one), while some of these unlucky passengers get picked, by government policy, for horrendous full body searches. No fly lists exist, and the due process for determining those lists is still secret, which is no due process at all. Mandatory bank reporting laws made individual financial privacy extinct. Our President has used a “kill list” on American citizens overseas without presenting public evidence, charges or a trial. There are so many laws of all stripes (literally millions) that prosecutors in the local pub boast over drinks how they can criminally convict any person, no matter who they are or what they are doing. Even the Third Amendment can get violated. A Nevada couple refused to allow their home to be used for police surveillance of a neighbor, and were charged with obstruction of justice. The daily litany of outrages certainly doesn’t end there, but most people blithely accept them. They are too busy working or obeying the rules to consider how their rights morphed into serving the government.

The solution is, of course, greater competition in education, but even private, parochial or home schools must currently live under stifling State bureaucracies and taxation that hinder real competition. The essence of Common Core is that it is just another proposal making education even more centralized and dependent on government taxes and bureaucrats.

Americans don’t know about rights. They know something akin to individual rights. As Stephen Colbert might say, they know “rightiness.”

The purpose of education is to fill in holes in experience. In this regard our State run schools are setting a very bad example.

Pete Blome is Chair of the Northwest Florida Libertarian Party and a retired military officer.

 

Pardon Me

Like so many aspects of this past Presidential election, it has become a mantra in the main stream media that our nation is now showing deep divisions.  In order to help “heal the country,” the thinking goes that the former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, should be pardoned of any possible crimes she may have committed prior to the election. Bernie Sanders said that indicting Hillary Clinton would be an “outrage” beyond belief.

The quickest way to spawn divisions among people is to give special privileges to some that others go to jail for. To my libertarian mind, publicly prosecuting Hillary Clinton is actually what the nation needs.

As incredible as it sounds, the good ol’ USA, the land where any child can be President, has become a land of special privileges. Laws are made for personal economic or political gain all the time, and are sometimes ignored simply because the people they affect are something “big.” These are the people known as the too big to fail, and too big to jail.

You do not have to go far to find evidence of what I say. For a century big business has progressively cornered special protections in the law that if done by an individual would land them in jail. The privately owned Federal Reserve instantly creates currency and price fixes interest rates every day. One of the side effects of Obamacare was to create health insurance monopolies in thousands of counties where none existed before, driving out competition, and raising prices. HSBC Bank got the biggest fine in history for money laundering ($1.9 Billion when FBI director James Comey was on its Board, by the way) but none of the responsible officers went to jail. Similarly, the legacy of the trillions of dollars of fraud exposed after the 2008 financial meltdown was that no big company director went to jail anywhere. All of this is a little hard for the average American to take when they can go to jail for simply not getting a permit for a lemonade stand.

The crimes of Mrs. Clinton are even more direct. Any military member knows her violations of security protocols are the fast lane to a jail cell. A former Navy member is now serving hard time after arguing in court that there was no intent to violate security when he took unauthorized photographs. The parallel with the former Secretary of State is obvious. It didn’t help the Navy guy avoid the big house, and yet Hillary walks free.

The Rule of law is a funny thing. With it any country can have unity, even if the laws are draconian.  If the rule of law is based on maintaining individual rights, such as it used to be here, the stage is set for the maximum amount of personal happiness and prosperity. Without the rule of law everyone starts getting into the business of corrupting everyone else. Just look at President Obama who won’t force his Attorney General to act on evidence from an FBI director who cryptically won’t recommend charges about the President’s former Secretary of State, who committed acts that others are in jail for. Go figure.

There is an old military saying that it is good for morale for a general to die in the line of duty every now then. As heartless as that sounds, it makes it clear that everyone in the life and death world of military operations shares the same laws and are subject to the same risks; even those who give the orders. It builds confidence and trust in leadership. It shows that even in war there is a certain amount of equality between the most high and the very low. Although civilian leadership is less stressful, it would still be healthy for the country if Secretaries of State went to jail every now and then.

With all respect to Bernie, it is past time to end the double standards applied in the law in politics, economics or criminal prosecutions.

America needs to show itself, and the world, that it isn’t just the little guy that goes to jail.

 

 

 

What Now, Libertarians?

It’s been no secret up here in the Panhandle of Florida that I’ve been less than enthusiastic about the Gary Johnson Presidential campaign.

From the earliest days of Gary’s public ignorance of things libertarian, to his running mate’s not so hidden infatuation with Hillary Clinton, I advocated that my fellow libertarians and I not put all our credibility eggs in Gary’s basket or risk getting a sidewalk omelet. Events confirmed my caution. In the short span of five months after the 2016 LP convention, Gary’s appeal dropped while my feelings about his run for office went from anticipation, to confusion, to frustration, to dull resignation and finally ended with a sense of betrayal at the wasted opportunities and amateurish execution of what should have been a truly historic, break out campaign.

Now it is over. Let’s ask ourselves what has Gary left the Libertarian Party going forward?

Gary did compete, and win, in an open nomination process that brought literally thousands of Libertarians together like never seen before. He gave our party a glimpse of what it may mean to have ballot access, money, media coverage and compete as a real political force to be reckoned with. That’s a lot.

He raised money in greater amounts than we’ve ever seen ($12 million). That bodes well for other libertarians seeking office.

He increased Libertarian votes nationwide from .99% in 2012 to 3.2% in 2016 and he is the most voted for Libertarian Presidential candidate ever.

It showed the Libertarian Party is actually doing something about becoming greater than where we’ve been, and that we can organize and produce at a level that merits national political attention. That brings new people in, which is critical for the future.

But He also chipped away at the bedrock of what it means to be libertarian. On such varied topics as mandatory vaccinations, banning guns from people on watch lists, carbon taxes, eminent domain, drug legalization, increasing the number of agents for the FBI, and even forcing bakers to work for those they prefer not to, Johnson made Panhandle Libertarians wince. He was apparently not paying attention to promoting a free market, making government the guarantor of individual rights, or reducing the size and influence of government as he should. He reinforced the already skewed public view of libertarians as Republicans who just want to smoke pot.

On top of that, he also allowed strong libertarian themes to be coopted by the opposition. Issues such as how the system is rigged (I can point to laws in Florida), there is no rule of law for the powers that be, immigration, lies in the poll data, lies in the economic reporting, lies in our foreign policy, lies in public testimony and lies by our legislators in general are all identified as Trump issues now. Gary ignored mortgage fraud in 2012 saying “no crimes were committed,” despite massive indictments to the contrary. Well, he ignored important issues again, and that will make it harder to bring in votes.

Lastly, he lacked political savvy, remarkable considering he is a two time Governor and two time Presidential candidate. Panhandle libertarians have to live with Gary actually offering a cabinet job to Mitt Romney; the image of Gary rolling his tongue in an indecipherable and miss delivered joke, and reinforcing his own vacuous image by lightly referring to his own mistakes as “Aleppo moments.” We have to live with him calling Hillary a fine public servant and his running mate literally vouching for her in the national news (as if she would return the favor for Libertarians). He never made a powerful and compelling image for liberty and the benefits thereof. He never made an  economic argument that stuck why libertarian ideas would bring more happiness and prosperity to the average American, especially by getting rid of barriers to entry, monopolies and regulation. All of this hurt his credibility as a leader, and by extension, hurt us.

Gary probably left us a stronger Party, but one where we have to live with a legacy stained by his verbal gaffs, mind farts, non-libertarian ideas, and wasted chances to show reliable, consistent, leadership not based in force or fraud.

Our task now is to keep finding the candidates who can do Gary one better.