Hi, I’m Skyler.

Welcome to my website.
Who the hell am I?
Just a man.
And a husband.
And a father of 3.
Also a writer.
And a podcaster. (Join me?)
Sometimes a web designer.
But always a seeker of riches.
And the richness of life.
Explore what I do or have done at the links above.

 

Contact me if you please.


My Latest Content 

    Skyler J. Collins (Editor) – Everything-Voluntary.com

  • “Me Too” is a Branch Issue, and a Distraction

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    Social media, following mainstream media, has a way of putting and keeping the focus on what I call “branch issues.” Branch issues are secondary problems. The term is from a metaphor given by Henry David Thoreau, who wrote in Walden,

    There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.

    Branch issues are all the rage in the media, very rarely is a root issue given the light of day. Root issues are things like the childhood trauma, monopoly policing, compulsory education, interventionist war, and inflationary central banking. This is in no way an exhaustive list, but the deepest root of them all is the belief that some people have the right to hurt or steal from other people without just cause (eg. self-defense). The roots are the primary source of nourishment for the branches. Think about that.

    Root issues are best left undisturbed if you want to avoid ruffling the feathers of powerful people.

    But branch issues are fair game. Well, they’re often much more than just fair game. They’re very useful in keeping the masses from looking to deep and discovering a root. Branch issues get 24 hour coverage because of how profitable they are. Not only do big media companies get the political privilege of staying in business, but they also get to increase their ratings by increasing sexy branch issue coverage.

    Fear sells, and the powers that be know this very well. Every time a politician opens their mouth he or she is generating fear, usually on the basis of classifying people, and them pitting them against each other. Blacks vs. Whites. Men vs. Women. Rich vs. Poor. Majorities vs. Minorities. There is literally, and I do mean literally, no end to the ways that you can divide people based on some characteristic and then fluff up related problems to stoke the fire.

    This new “Me too” campaign on Facebook (and elsewhere?) is yet another example of stoking a branch issue into a distraction. What is the “Me too” campaign? It’s the campaign for women to share the following on their Facebook walls:

    Me too.

    If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too.” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.

    Please copy/paste.

    My first reaction to this was a bit of umbrage on the part of lumping the many degrees of sexual harassment in with the many degrees of sexual assault. They aren’t the same. One’s speech. The other is violent action. And within each are several degrees of severity. I think lumping these all together allows women who’ve only experienced the former to latch on to the pain of women who’ve experienced the latter. That seems disrespectful and dastardly to me. Not to mention completely unscientific. It also seems to indicate that women can’t tell the difference, that they are too stupid to, or something. Give me a break.

    I shared that first reaction on Facebook in a couple of places and got some interesting discussion going. But as I thought about it some more, I realized what was going on here, as I’ve already indicated.

    This is a branch issue. Nevermind the umbrage I took initially. That’s irrelevant, really. What this little campaign is doing is burying far more serious root issues.

    Me too. I had a body part removed as a baby.

    Me too. I was yelled at and hit as a child.

    Me too. I was forced to endure an intellectual prison for 12 years.

    Me too. I was bullied. And I bullied.

    Me too. I’m regularly threatened with prison if I don’t pay tribute to my political masters.

    That’s just some of the effects of the root issues I listed above in my life. Consider everybody else in the world.

    How many people are murdered every day by American bombs? How many people have their life savings devalued by the Federal Reserve every year? How many children are being traumatized and imprisoned by the adults in their life, who themselves were traumatized and imprisoned as children? How many women and children are being failed by their governments and communities and being taken and put into bondage? How many people are being failed by their governments and being made the targets of terrorists? How many people are being beaten, raped, and murdered by unaccountable and unbankruptable monopoly policing?

    How many people are getting rich off the dissemination of and distraction by branch issues?

    Like Thoreau said, there are a thousand people hacking at the branches of evil for every one striking the root. I hate being among the ones. We need more ones, goddamnit.

  • Jessica’s Journey (1h20m) – Episode 084

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    Episode 084 welcomes Jessica Burden to the podcast for a chat with Skyler. Topics include: books, living in Washington State, Facebook diplomacy, free range childhood, public school to homeschool to unschool, and back to public school, raising her younger brother, learning responsibility from a young age, meeting her husband through an online dating website, practicing several different parenting philosophies at once, the benefits of multi-generational households, unschoolers considering school, parental displays of affection, our growing children and the forthcoming teen years, !Kung san bushmen parenting, her availability for anyone, especially women, for counseling on having babies and body image.

    Listen to Episode 084 (1h20m, mp3, 64kbps)

    Show Notes

    Jessica Burden, Facebook Profile
    Skyler’s Books, EVC Publications
    Peter Gray, “Beyond Attachment to Parents: Children Need Community
    Daniel Vitalis Podcast, “On Lions, the San and Being Alone — Dr. Nicole Apelian #141

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  • The Association for Teaching Kids Economics (35m) – Episode 083

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    Episode 083 welcomes Thomas Bogle back to the podcast to talk about his new organization, “The Association for Teaching Kids Economics”. Topics include: The Tuttle Twins by Connor Boyack, illustrated by Elijah Stanfield, teaching economics, liberty, and free markets to kids, why teachers fear teaching economics in primary school, “mainline” economics, Leonard Read’s “I, Pencil” and The Lego Movie, Tom’s search for sponsors and personnel in each state to aid introduction and expansion, Socratic method based curriculum, CinemaSins, and the classroom ambassadors program.

    Listen to Episode 083 (35m, mp3, 64kbps)

    Show Notes

    Tom Bogle, Facebook Profile
    Episode 069, “Thomas’ Journey, Free Market Educators, Praxis
    The Association for Teaching Kids Economics, Website, Facebook Page, Twitter
    The Tuttle Twins, Website, Facebook Page, Twitter
    Leonard Read, “I, Pencil” (Video Documentary)
    CinemaSins, Website, YouTube Channel

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  • Does it Matter Who’s at Fault? The Responsibility is Always Yours

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    I’m reading Mark Manson‘s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, and the entirety of Chapter 5 is focused on this idea:

    There is a simple realization from which all personal improvement and growth emerges. This is the realization that we, individually, are responsible for everything in our lives, no matter the external circumstances.

    I was put on guard when I read those words, and quite enlightened as I read the chapter.

    My first thoughts were about my own life and everything that has occurred over its course. I’ve made mistakes. Those were mostly my fault, but in many cases I operated on incomplete information. I’ve also endured the consequences of mistakes made by others, not always accidental.

    My second thoughts were about when people complain about someone else’s privilege, which ultimately led me to write “White Privilege is Definitely Real“. Also about someone else’s “offensive” actions, of the triggering variety.

    My third thoughts were on my children’s constant squabbles and their blaming the other for every conflict in which they find themselves. They’ve never started anything, of course, but somehow conflict ensues and escalates to the point of parental involvement. For quite a while now, when they’re playing the blame game, I tell them that I don’t care who did it, that each of them knows who did what, and then I follow with an appeal to be careful not to let it happen again.

    After touring my mind palace, visiting every room listed above and more, the truthfulness of Chapter 5 became obvious.

    My reactions to the happenings in my life are completely my responsibility. I thought about that word etymologically, which is my wont. I wondered if it came from something like “respond-ability.” It didn’t really, but I like that, so I played around with it.

    Responsibility: the ability to control your response to events in life.

    Even if all we can control are our thoughts as things are happening to us (thinking of someone paralyzed), we still have responsibility. We can choose what it is we want to take away, to learn about the situation and how we want to react.

    How empowering is this? It seems to completely invalidate or eradicate any sort of self-limiting or self-destructive victim mentality.

    As I mentioned, I’ve been harmed. What am I going to do about it? Here are some options: 1) sit around and mope, 2) enact a plan for revenge, or 3) learn the salient lessons from the situation. 1 might feel good for a bit, but is ultimately a waste of time. 2 might also feel good, but is likely to escalate the conflict. There are major consequences here to consider. 3 seems the most appropriate. It’s sure beats 1, and depending on the severity of the harm, would make a necessary companion to 2. In every case, its my choice, isn’t it?

    Therein lies my power, and the building blocks to creating my future. This is true for everybody. Even you! I hope that I can successfully impart this wisdom to my children. That’s where most of my opportunities to do so currently reside (outside of myself, that is).

    Thinking more about it, it’s a stoic concept, although the author never mentions stoicism. The entire book is, really. In stoicism this is called your “sphere of control.” Your reaction to circumstance is well within your sphere of control, and you must be mindful of it if you are ever going to find and maintain inner peace and happiness. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it so far, and highly recommend it.

  • Join Skyler on the EVC Podcast, Tell Your Story!

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    I’ve come to enjoy recording my podcast regularly again. And I look forward to sitting down with someone every week (at least) to talk about their journey to wherever they are today, be that a voluntaryist or an unschooler.

    I haven’t had nearly enough guests of the latter variety for my liking and hope to change that in the future.

    I’ve also, for the very first time, interviewed a friend who is no longer a political ally. That was something new, and fun.

    I am much more open today with discussing ideas on my podcast with which I disagree. My goal is to allow my guest to undress, as it were, and reveal themselves to the world in all their nakedness, be it beautiful, or disturbingly hideous.

    Whether we agree or not, you want to tell the story of your political or parenting journey, or you just want to discuss a random topic of interest, you are hereby invited to join me on the EVC podcast. To do so, click here to schedule either an afternoon time Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, or Friday, or a late evening time on Wednesdays. If none of these times work and you’d really like to participate, contact me directly to find something agreeable.

    (I will assist with the necessary software installation if we are chatting over the Internet. All you need is a microphone and headphones. Windows preferred, but not required. I will confirm our conversation topic in advance of recording.)

    Please don’t be shy! I promise to help you feel comfortable and have a good time. You can listen to example episodes in the “Toward Freedom” or “Conversations” podcast series.

    Let’s do this!

  • Does Action on Behalf of Another Tend Toward Abuse?

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon occurring in myself and through my actions when my wife asks me to do something concerning my children. If I desire that my children do something, or to stop doing something, I will employ peaceful means to bring about my desired state of affairs.

    For example, if I want one of my children to get ready to go somewhere with me, I will express my wish and peacefully negotiate my way to my goal. I won’t yell or threaten or otherwise coerce my child to do as a I want them to do. My primary and secondary instincts are peaceful in response to any pushback I get (as they are very busy with accomplishing their own ends).

    Now let us suppose it is my wife that wants one of our children to get ready to go somewhere with her. She’s busy getting ready herself, so she asks me to ask and assist the child in getting ready. I love my wife so I do her this favor. However, while my first instinct is peaceful, my second instinct, which kicks in after pushback, tends toward being less peaceful. I feel more willing to start coercing my child to get ready.

    When the goal is my own, internally motivated, I will behave according to my own values for respectful and peaceful cooperation. When the goal is not my own, externally motivated, I will at first behave according to my own values, but resistance may soon have me acting contrary to those values. Why is this?

    I don’t like this, and I’m finding that I have to be extra mindful and diligent in remaining respectful and peaceful when on a mission for my wife. I hope in time my second instinct in this regard mirrors my first.

    What I’m very curious about, however, is what this says about behavior in larger society.

    There are many types of requests given to others that are not primarily internally motivated by the requestor. Managers giving orders on behalf of department heads. Coaches giving orders on behalf of upper management. Law enforcement giving orders on behalf of superiors and legislators.

    Each of these are more or less likely to meet resistance, and when they do, how are the instincts telling the requestor to behave? When a manager is on the hot seat for his job because of team performance, will his orders downward tend toward coercion? Same for a coach whose team is not performing as upper management would like it to perform to sell tickets.

    And where this sort of analysis really matters, when law enforcement officers are trying to enforce laws that they don’t really believe in, but don’t want to lose their jobs, how do their instincts tell them to behave?

    It seems to me that having the power and ability to inflict great harm in the pursuit of your goals, and which goals are being aimed for on behalf of others, tends toward greater and greater abuse. We see this every time law enforcement use violence in response to resistance they receive while enforcing laws against nonviolent crimes. As these sorts of “criminals” are not themselves violent, the natural first instinct is to get compliance with your requests peacefully (never mind the gun in the room). That often works, but not always. Violence may sooner or later be employed by law enforcement in these cases, and it turns out that these are the sort that get national attention when the officer or officers become abusive.

    I can’t explain the psychology behind this. Perhaps someone with better credentials in that field can. Perhaps they already have. I don’t know. But what I’m more concerned about is how we can mitigate this tendency. In myself, mindfulness and diligence. In larger society, I don’t know. Maybe we train law enforcement better. Maybe we disarm law enforcement. Maybe we de-monopolize law enforcement. In any event, the first step is recognizing and accepting the problem.

  • Jason’s Journey, and Challenging Ideas (1h2m) – Episode 082

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    Episode 082 welcomes Jason Marlow to the podcast for a challenging conversation with Skyler. Topics include: Being born in Brazil, Rush Limbaugh conservatism, Ron Paul and libertarianism, personal responsibility, what makes good neighbors, self-segregation, forced integration, political anthropology, the state as an ever-present hungry dragon and how to deal with it, importance of cultural collectives against the dragon, looking beyond libertarianism, Western civilization, the human story, ingroup privilege, and the European migrants.

    Listen to Episode 082 (1h2m, mp3, 64kbps)

    Show Notes

    Jason Marlow, Facebook Profile
    Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind

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  • Gun Control Won’t Stop Mass Shootings; We Must Look Deeper (7m) – Editor’s Break 035

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    Editor’s Break 035 has Skyler explaining why he believes that gun control won’t stop mass shootings of the sort that occurred recently in Las Vegas, killing dozens and injuring hundreds.

    Listen to Editor’s Break 035 (7m, mp3, 64kbps)

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  • White Privilege is Definitely Real

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    If you don’t care to hear about white privilege from a self-employed cis white male who was raised lower/middle class, now married to a Mexican immigrant with three mixed-race unschooled kids, still lower/middle class, than feel free to turn away now. No hard feelings.

    If you don’t see race, gender, and class, or just don’t care either way, then welcome and I hope that what I’ve written will constitute an original thought from my mind to yours. At least, it was original when I thought about it a few days ago while in conversation with a divorced cis latina immigrant female and single cis white male. Oh yea, we were solving world problems left and right that day. Moving on.

    I believe in white privilege in a very significant regard. The privilege that I speak of is so significant that it’s had the power to allow millions of my fellow whites to lift themselves out of a countless number of circumstances and to reach the highest levels of social, political, and economic class.

    For those who don’t have this privilege, it’s kept them mired in internal and external conflict, convinced that without this privilege they can never achieve the same levels of whatever class as those who have it. And the thing is, they aren’t wrong.

    What is this privilege of which I speak?

    It is the privilege of not being weighed down by predator/victim narratives, regardless of their accuracy.

    What do I mean by a predator/victim narrative? I mean the narratives that are told to people in childhood and beyond to create and maintain the belief that they are victims of circumstance, due to the color of their skin, or their genitalia, or their family’s economic status, or their educational prospects, et cetera.

    In each of these, there are predators (white people, men, the rich, employers) who either actively today or as a result of history do what they can to keep their victims (non-white people, women, the poor, workers) from achieving the same socioeconomic status as themselves. Call it institutional racism, or sexism, or “capitalism,” the goal of the predators is to create and maintain institutions and conventions that keep victims in their place.

    Some narratives are probably true. I personally subscribe to the predator/victim narrative of politicians as predators and the rest of society as victims. I think that one is factually true. Others are probably not, though their persistence serves somebody very lucratively. (Seriously, ask the question: Who’s profiting from the predator/victim narrative I’ve been led to believe?)

    Another way to look at not having this privilege is to say that so-and-so has a “chip on their shoulder.” Some chips are light, others are very heavy. Chips can be very motivating, but they can also be very limiting. When the chip on your shoulder is the belief that you are a victim of circumstances beyond your control, I think that can be quite debilitating.

    What purpose does having such a chip really serve, other than to keep you believing in it, and thus limiting your opportunities for advancement? Tell somebody enough times that the shit in their life is beyond their control, and they’ll stop trying to clean it up.

    And therein lies the answer to obtaining this privilege for yourself: Dump the unhelpful predator/victim narratives that you are currently subscribed to. Look around at other groups of people, not just us whites, who also have this privilege and observe the wonderful things that they can achieve.

    Immigrants have this privilege. Even black African immigrants. Asians have this privilege. Jews have this privilege. This not only a white person privilege, and many whites don’t have it, but white people by and large have it more so than black people (in my limited experience).

    It kills me to see this privilege not enjoyed by everybody. It can be. It doesn’t matter who you are where you come from. You can have it by training your mind away from the predator/victim narratives that have been indoctrinated in you since birth. How? Start by telling yourself that they aren’t true, that they are somebody’s profitable lie, another predator perhaps, and you’ll immediately start to the feel that chip get a little lighter.

    I have plenty about my circumstances to feel like I could never achieve as much as so many others have. And often I do feel weighed down by them. But I try very hard to listen to the helpful parts, and discard the rest. I think that if you believe that you aren’t a victim of circumstance, you can  remove yourself from that category of person and become triumphant in whatever it is you truly want out of life.

    Think about what I’ve written and what you’re going to do about it. You don’t have to keep unhelpful narratives that others have pushed on you since you were born.

    Shirk off that chip on your shoulder and get to work becoming amazing!

  • What the American Flag Means to Me

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    Meaning is a personal, subjective phenomenon. What people, places, things, ideas, principles, et cetera mean to any of us is something that each of us decides for ourselves. And meaning can certainly change or evolve as time goes on and people encounter new ideas and have new experiences.

    The American flag, the “star-spangled banner” is one of those things whose meaning to me has changed significantly over the course of my life. Once upon a time it meant being a winning nation, the best the world had ever seen in terms of righteousness, justice, freedom, and opportunity. When I saw the flag, those are the ideas that were brought to mind, ideas that I value, and they produced the warm and fuzzies deep inside. I admired and waved the stars and stripes with a sense of pride.

    The meaning you derive from the American flag may be very similar to this. And that’s okay. Again, meaning is a personal, subjective phenomenon. Your meaning is just as valid as mine. As you expect me to respect the meaning you derive from the flag, I too expect you to respect the meaning I derive from it. What the American flag means to me today is very different than what it meant to me as recently as 10 years ago.

    Today the American flag means none of those things: righteousness, justice, freedom, and opportunity. While I still greatly value those ideas, they are no longer brought to mind when gazing upon the red, white, and blue. Rather, these are the ideas that are brought to my mind by the American flag today:

    Perpetual War: The United States has been at war my entire life, and for nearly the entire life of the nation itself. War is mass murder; it’s sending innocent people to murder other innocent people who have no direct conflict with one another. I remain unconvinced that any war that the United States has engaged in during its existence was justified on either ethical or practical grounds. This includes the very first war, the Revolutionary War, and goes all the way through the Civil War, the World Wars, the Korean War, Vietnam, the War on Drugs, the War on Poverty, ad infinitum, or so it seems.

    War on Drugs: The United States is committed to violently imposing its morality on people innocent of hurting other people or taking their stuff, ie. innocent, nonviolent people. This is one hundred percent evil in my book. Where its actions are in response to actual crimes, it is directly responsible for creating the conditions that inspired the crimes to occur. Prohibition of nonviolent vice does not make vice disappear. It pushes it underground to be exploited by the most unscrupulous among society. The War on Drugs, like Prohibition before it, is responsible for every violent or dangerous problem created by those involved in the drug industry.

    Welfare Statism: Helping a person in dire straits is noble. Forcing other people through threat of imprisonment at best, death at worst, to help a person in dire straits is an unconscionable wrong. What’s more, welfare statism creates dependency and disincentivizes thrift, ingenuity, and hard work. The United States welfare system has done little but to serve as a destructive force toward the institutions of family, fraternity, and community, and the promotion of pride in a parasitic and predatory institution, the state.

    Corporate Privilege: Opportunities do not abound when government restricts entrepreneurialism through any sort of barriers to entry in every industry in an economy. Markets supply all the regulation needed to ensure the safety and security of goods and services provided to members of society on a voluntary basis. Existing business is protected to the extent that competition is being artificially restrained through government-based regulations. The United States has steadily fallen on economic freedom indices over the last couple of decades due to the ever-growing penchant of its politicians to cozying up to Big Business in order to maintain the revolving door of corporatism.

    Inflationary and Fraudulent Monetary Policy: Central banking allows bankers and their privileged friends to reap the benefits of money-printing at the expense of savers and final-spenders, when prices have risen due to an increase in the money supply. The United States has toyed with central banking since its birth and is currently on the Federal Reserve System. The Federal Reserve System is directly responsible for the destruction of the US dollar (97% of its purchasing power now gone) and the destruction of a countless number of savings accounts and investment projects due to its loose monetary policy and credit expansion. Economic booms and their subsequent busts do not just occur naturally. They must be created by the controllers of the money and credit supplies.

    Confiscatory Fiscal Policy: Taxation in the United States is a very onerous thing. Here are just some of the taxes Americans are forced at gunpoint to pay: sales tax, payroll tax, income tax, capital gains tax, property tax, estate tax, unemployment tax, gas tax, import tax, vehicle tax, and on and on. And the worst part of all is that no politician, judge, prosecutor, or bureaucrat can provide any evidence that their codes and constitutions apply to anyone within their imaginary jurisdiction. In other words, they are just people forcing other people to pay them, all under the American banner of “the land of the free.”

    There’s no really no end to the horrors committed by people wearing and waving the American flag. All of these things and more are what the flag means to me today. How could it not when all of these things are slapped with the image of the flag as if what the flag means to so many well-meaning people is what’s going on here?

    Will the flag’s meaning to me ever change? I sure hope so! I want the American flag to represent what it’s supposed to represent, in my opinion: righteousness, justice, freedom, and opportunity. But so long as the American government exists and is engaging in all of the anti-righteous/justice/freedom/opportunity practices listed above, it won’t.

    Here’s to the day that I can look back at this article, and rip it to shreds.