Making Good Friends, Not Antagonizing Enemies

I like George Donnelly’s post “Screw Activism. Build Community,” but I drew a slightly different lesson. I believe he’s saying that, rather than enroll in fleeting responses to injustices, more satisfying time would be spent building community ties — where people can have a more intimate engagement in bettering the world by helping themselves and others.

It’s a refreshing message and a good starting point, but it leaves me thinking that’s not the divide (activism versus community) that should be drawn. I would frame it in different terms. The lesson I drew is that building a better world takes spending time making good friends, not antagonizing enemies — and not making friends with just anyone, like oppressors. It’s not just any type of community that fosters human progress. Only one that respects the moral autonomy of people can hope to make the most of our energies, meaning building more vibrant communities is a roundabout form of activism.

Working with and getting to know the struggles of other oppressed and marginalized communities and setting examples for how I think people should act are just a part of that. Another part is promoting reason as one’s means of knowledge and championing the idea that each person’s life is their own to make of it what they will. In finding friends, I want to build our standing to exercise independence to what extent we have it, whether that be means of jury nullification pamphleting or filming police. They can reciprocally support one another. It depends on the motivation of the activism — love or hate. I think that’s the divide, just framed a bit differently.

Tips on Avoiding the Affordable Care (Obamacare) Penalty

So there are several exemptions available until at least late 2016 to avoid paying the penalty for not purchasing health insurance. People just need to know they can apply for it. The most prominent exemption seems to be having a policy canceled for not complying with the Affordable Care Act, but there are several other exceptions to apply for.

Laurence Vance has cataloged them.

You can even apply for an exemption if you receive a cut-off notice from a utility company. I don’t think that would be too hard to acquire. There’s likely going to be a relatively small fee for not paying the power bill for a few months, but it beats having to pay an additional one percent of your taxable income to the Feds.

Re: Libertarians should give big government a chance

Justin L. Oliver:

OK, I’ll bite. :)

  1. Just let other currencies compete with the dollar and remove hindrances on mutual banking. Rescind taxes on exchanging alternative forms of money like gold and silver and rescind legal tender laws that force people to accept the dollar for repayments of debt.
    As an aside, the Fed is formally private, but it’s already under control of the Federal government.
  2. Here’s an empirical test. If people thought their freedom or quality of life was being enhanced by some government program, they wouldn’t need to be forced to participate in its funding. Governments have their own interest in monopolizing infrastructure, even if there are some incidental benefits for ordinary people. Libertarians have long argued transportation would be safer, less expensive and more environmentally conscious if it were outside of government control, whether that takes the form of private ownership or community-based cooperatives.
  3. That’s correct; big business often lobbies for more regulations and laws. Big government and big business have a mutually beneficial relationship, even if they appear at odds struggling over which is the more dominant partner. You can read revisionist historians (like Roy Childs) who write that, in order to secure their existing profits and market share, big businesses were more than eager to give the federal government more power over their industries (like the railroad industry did). No different now.
  4. I’m lost as to what the questions is. I can say in general that a decentralized market approach is preferable to centralized planning because knowledge of relevant economic facts (like people’s demands and resources) is discrete and in constant flux. A pricing system (which most fully operates in an unhampered market-based economy) allows for the rational calculation of resource allocation needed for an advanced industrial economy that offers a multiplicity of resources for an incalculable number of possible outputs. The pricing system (which makes calculations of profit and loss possible) allow for resources to be put to their most urgently valued uses (at least as determined by consumer preferences).

As another aside, the principle issue isn’t the size of the government (although smaller is better, all else being equal), but the issue has to do with the scope of government power, not the size of its teeth. If a business is defrauding people, then the government should be powerful enough to stop it.

Originally posted on The Philosopher's Tinker Room:

Libertarians should give big government a chance. 

-The Fed is a private organization that libertarians frequently call for abolishing.  But if the fed is abolished then wont an expansion of the government then automatically take place in order to fill the need to set monetary policy?

-The term ‘Libertarian’ is based on the Latin word for freedom.  So if freedom is the goal, then can’t big government actually act as a vehicle for making possible increased freedom.  Just one example is the publicly owned roads and highway systems that we take for granted but for which the government makes possible which in turn makes the ‘freedom of the open road possible’ as well.

-Libertarians frequently rail against big government restricting our freedoms.  But in the most egregious cases of government tyranny, there often is big business behind the scenes pushing for those restrictions we all hate.  So maybe it isn’t…

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Did the Tea Party Reach Its High Tide in North Texas?

Tuesday’s Republican primary election was practically a clean sweep for tea party-backed candidates in the North Texas area. They either fended off more conventional Republican challengers or were the top vote-getter heading into their respective primary run-offs.

State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (Hurst-Euless-Bedford) commanded a strong reelection victory over a candidate funded by the realtor and gas lobbies. Don Huffines beat veteran incumbent John Carona for a state senate nomination. Konni Burton has the edge in her run-off later this month for the chance to claim the senate seat being departed by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis. Their races were seen as a bellwether of the tea party’s reign locally, but this could be the movement’s high mark if trends continue.

With the exception of state Sen. Dan Patrick, there weren’t any victorious grassroots tea party candidates in the eight legislative or executive statewide races. Patrick’s headed for a run-off with Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, who Patrick endorsed in a failed US Senate bid against Ted Cruz. However, tea party candidates aren’t making ground in races where districts aren’t stacked to avoid competitive general elections with Democrats. As a movement, the tea party is more unpopular than ever.

Not coincidentally I think, the tea party movement has been drifting away from its core message of challenging reckless fiscal and monetary policies. It’s basically laxed the libertarian message that resonated with weary voters. Now you’re as likely to find tea party candidates stressing their interventionist immigration policies or making something of their religious credentials in how they oppose marriage equality. If that trend continues, I think the tea party movement’s better days are behind it.

Marriage Discrimination on the Decline in Texas

After a federal judge in San Antonio ruled this week that the Texas constitution’s definition of marriage as being between one man and one women was federally unconstitutional, it’s increasingly evident that marriage discrimination against gays is in an indefinite decline. It was probably a grave blow to the religiously intolerant.

The presumptive Republican nominee for governor, Gregg Abbott, made only a mild remark that as the state’s attorney general, he intends to appeal the ruling but feels “there are good, well-meaning people on both sides.” Wendy Davis, the leading candidate on the Democratic ticket for governor, wholly embraces same-sex marriage. I don’t anticipate her making a great issue of it in the general election but will likelier bring a broader focus on civil liberties. The fact that a mainstream candidate for state-wide office can stake out that position signals how far we’ve advanced and still have to go.

Image credit: griepp, with a Creative Commons license