Odds and Enders for Feb. 24

~ An Anti-Stack Manifesto

George Donnelly makes two contributions today. The first is his rebutal to the grieved Joseph Stack, who published a suicide note online before flying a single-engine plane into an Austin building housing the offices of the Internal Revenue Service on Feb. 18. Stack had claimed he was left no other option, stating that “violence not only is the answer, (sic) it is the only answer.” Donnelly wrote:

Am I powerless? My vote doesn’t count. My voice is not heard in the corridors of power in Washington. My bank account is too small to fund political change. My salary is siphoned off into FICA taxes, income taxes, gas taxes, mortgage payments, credit card payments and inflated grocery bills before I see a dime. At any time I could be assaulted by the cops, fined by meter maids, tasered by the state police, murdered by the ATF, seized by the FBI or left penniless by the IRS. I am a punching bag standing patiently in line for my turn in the wringer. …

When I’m frustrated I remember that none of it matters. It doesn’t matter that the wrong candidate won office. He doesn’t rule me! He only has as much power as I voluntarily grant him. I never agreed to be bound by the laws he passes. I live my own life with integrity and honor by following the natural law: I do not aggress against others and I keep my word. …

As I grow more happiness and independence in my own life, I will help others do the same. I’ll boycott the strategies, agencies, options and involuntary obligations that once led me into vulnerability. I’ll exhort others to do the same. Soon we will be free, happy, at peace and prosperous. I am powerful. I have many options. I can overcome. I can make a better life for myself. I can.

In another post, “We Must Live in Alignment with Our Principles,” Donnelly makes a point I’ve been reconciling in my own mind.

Liberty starts with each of us. If we can’t make the voluntary society happen in our own lives, what hope is there of making it happen on a large scale? Change requires that good people set good examples. If nothing else, your efforts will keep the promise of liberty alive until conditions become more favorable. It’s our best option. No one will make this happen but ourselves. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

~ Answering the ‘Yes, But the State is Inevitable’ Falsity

For context, Benjamin Tucker defined government as “the subjection of the noninvasive individual to an external will.” BK Marcus answered whether government was inevitable.

And for me, the question “Isn’t some form of State inevitable?” is like saying We will never get rid of rape and robbery, murder and torture, so what sense does it make to take a principled stance against these things? They will always be with us.

It’s sad to me that such a basic thing as the principled opposition to coercion is considered to be extremist, unreasonable, unrealistic. Why do I have to believe in permanent peace to oppose war? How is it utopian to denounce force?

I share your confidence that force and fraud will always be with us, and I will always oppose them. But Statism is more than the prediction of “the subjection of the noninvasive individual to an external will.” Statism is the claim that institutionalized proactive coercion is justified. Anarchism rejects that conclusion” (emphasis in original).

~ The New Normal for Government Services

Wendy McElroy has a post from TechDirt about the new ways that government is servicing you. In California, the city of Tracy is going to charge residents $300 and non-residents $400 when the fire department is called to a medical emergency. I would completely support this but for the fact that residents already have to pay for the fire department with taxes. The reason the city is having to take such measures is to pay back the government-backed labor union that lobbies for excessive compensation and funded the city council member’s election campaigns. The city spends $9 million per year in a city of 80,000 on employee pensions and deposits ¢33 for every dollar the police and fire fighters make in wages.

No charge will be issued when the fire department responds to a car collission or a fire. So the solution is simple enough, according to McElroy: “In short, if you see someone have a heart attack in the street, you should quickly set a trash bin on fire.”

~ Think Small, Change the World

Libertarian persuasion guru Michael Cloud has some advice and motivation for activists.

Because the vital few, the great men and women, the key events were indispensable and necessary to what happened — but they were *not* sufficient to make it happen.

Without the vital, indispensable small actions of many forgotten individuals, the great events would have faltered, fizzled, and failed. …

Think small. Start small. Work small. For liberty. You can change the world.

~ Speaking of Changing Minds

Seth Godin has a post on the importance of extremists. He concludes:

It’s interesting to note that an enormous amount of apparently principled argument goes on about relatively tiny movements in where the line is being drawn. In most cases, to paraphrase an old joke, “we’ve already figured out what sort of girl you are, now we’re just arguing about the price.” It’s not the principle, in fact, it’s just the degree of compromise we’re comfortable with and content to argue over.

And so it’s left to the zealots. The people at either end have little hope of moving the masses all the way to their end of the argument. Instead, what they do is make it feel safer to change the boundaries, safer to recalibrate the compromise. Over time, as the edges feel more palatable, the masses are more likely to be willing to edge their way closer to one edge or another. Successful zealots don’t argue to win. They argue to move the goalposts and to make it appear sane to do so.