Hi, I’m Skyler.

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Who the hell am I?
Just a man.
And a husband.
And a father of 3.
Also a writer.
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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.

 

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My Latest Content

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

  • Putting Principle above Party, People, and the Past

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    I prefer to put principle above party, people, and the past.

    I’m not only referring to political parties, but to all sorts of groups whose members associate on the basis of a shared ideology.

    What I mean is that parties, groups, often shift the principles they espouse, usually as a result of the most outspoken or influential members getting their way more often than not. The party becomes something different over time, away from where it started.

    You see this throughout the political landscape today, and yesterday. Liberals aren’t what they used to be. Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, also.

    Not only party but also people. People change, constantly. I know I have. I used to be a Democrat, then an anti-war free market conservative, then a Constitutionalist, then an anarcho-capitalist, and now a voluntaryist (with an-cap leanings).

    Historical people are even worse, really. So little is truly known about these folks, and as more is learned, they seem to change. Since they aren’t around, we take what we know, we judge it as good or bad, then we either make them our heroes or vilify them. Some even become gods, only to inevitably fall when their humanity is revealed.

    Same goes with historical events. As much as I don’t know about conflicts raging around the world today, how much can I really know about conflicts in the past? And again, new information comes to light all the time, but always from a particular perspective, always somebody-with-an-agenda’s version. How trustworthy is it? How accurate is it?

    What I’m trying to say is, I think it’s foolish to promote parties, people, or the past as someone or something we should follow or praise. These things are fickle, and always will be.

    The antidote? Putting principle above party, people, and the past. My current commitment is to the voluntary principle, and every other principle and practice connected to that, ideas like non-aggression, self-ownership, private property, civil disobedience, non-violent resistance, free markets, peaceful parenting, and radical unschooling.

    When I put principle first, I’m better able to judge the compatibility of parties, people, and the past with what I believe in. And when my understanding of those things change, it’s easier to move on. I’m also less likely to be fooled and subsequently betrayed.

    It seems like people are constantly moving from place to place looking for a home, not realizing that home can only be found in digging for and standing on principles. And often their principles change out of loyalty to their home, rather than out of loyalty to truth and goodness.

    I’ve always shied away from writing anything that’s specific to time and place. I prefer timelessness, for the reasons stated above. Parties, people, and the past come and go, but principle is forever.

    I don’t know if my principles are the best. They sure seem like it, right now. But the beauty of principles is that they don’t control me, I control them. When they stop serving my commitment to truth and goodness, I’ll get better ones, and my foundation will be all the stronger for it, methinks.

  • Political Action Exacerbates the Problem of Hate

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    Politics is your neighbor and his like-minded friends rallying together to lobby for government to shift their criminal activities policies in their favor.

    If your neighbor and his friends hate intrusive government, those policy shifts may be a good thing for those who value peace and prosperity.

    But if your neighbor and his friends hate people wealthier than them, or people with a different skin color, those policy shifts are sure to bring about an exacerbated level of conflict, and thus a reduction in prosperity.

    Why? Because political actions fall anywhere between negative and zero-sum. Either one group wins at the expense of another, or everyone loses.

    Market action, on the other hand, is quite the opposite. By definition, trade is positive sum. Why? Because it doesn’t happen if all parties involved don’t expect to benefit.

    That doesn’t mean that all benefit is perfectly symmetrical. It’s not, and it can’t be. Benefit, like value, is subjectively derived. There’s no such thing as “units of benefit” to measure the result of any given trade.

    And even though a better trade may come along later, the trade was made because all parties ordered their preferences in such a way that trading now for a certain benefit was more desirable than waiting for a better one.

    Buyer’s remorse is the exception to the rule. Therefore, since the results of most market action are win-win, peace is maintained and prosperity grows.

    On the one hand, you have political action which creates, at least, some losers. On the other hand, you have market action which creates, nearly always, winners all around.

    It’s not rocket science to understand why market action is and should be preferable to political action, except in the case of reducing intrusive government. The phenomenon of hating entire groups of people is empowered in the political realm. With markets, history has shown time and time again that disparate groups prefer cooperation to conflict.

  • Telling Pricks and Criminals to Stop is Only Half the Battle

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    I’d like to think that I have a cure for prickish behaviors like racism and bigotry. Does my cure do anything to the pricks in question? Not at all. Rather, my cure is for the victims: responsibility.

    We will always have pricks in society, and they will always come in different flavors, but how we respond to them is completely up to us.

    What if we told ourselves and those we influence, like our children, not to pay any attention to those who call them names? If we lived our lives believing that how we feel at any given moment is entirely up to us, are we not empowered above pricks? Of course we are. If their verbal barbs (racist, sexist, homophobic, it doesn’t matter) hit a brick wall, sooner or later they’ll stop shooting them.

    This is sound advice, in my opinion.

    That doesn’t mean teaching people not be pricks is also not sound advice. It is. But it’s only half the battle.

    As with pricks, so with criminals.

    It’s just as important to teach self-defense as it is to teach people not to attack people or take their stuff. It’s empowering to be taught that you have a right to protect yourself from others bent on hurting you. I have one son and two daughters and hope that I can impart to them that while they can’t control the behavior of others, they can control what they can do about it.

    They can learn to defend themselves with the spoken word, martial arts, mace, and even firearms. They shouldn’t expect that telling others not to be pricks and/or criminals is going to keep them safe. It won’t.

    Their safety and comfort is 100% their responsibility, as is mine, as is yours.

  • Episode 077 – Jordan’s Journey (1h11m)

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    Episode 077 welcomes Jordan Vaughn Neal to the podcast to chat with Skyler about his journey to voluntaryism. Topics include: golf, the anarchy in cooperative games, Facebook discussions/debates, being Canadian and dual citizenship, public school in Canada, his parents’ careers, moving to the United States, complete disinterest in high school, LDS mission to East Germany and the libertarian seeds that were planted, his passion for computer science and programming, a Society Security law firm job he held, Stefan Molyneux’ influence on his libertarianism and peaceful parenting, the War on Drugs, overcoming biases, subjective theory of value and economic thinking, and his wife and his commitment to radical unschooling.

    Listen to Episode 077 (1h11m, mp3, 96kbps)

    Show Notes

    Jordan Vaughn Neal, EVC Author Page
    Stefan Molyneux’s FreeDomain Radio

    Subscribe

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  • While I’m Far More Inclined to be a Prick Online, I’m Definitely Not a Bigot

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    I don’t know how racist I am, or sexist I am, or otherwise bigoted I am. Maybe a little. Definitely not a lot. Maybe not even a little. Maybe I’m zero percent bigoted. I don’t know. What I do know is that I can count on one hand the times that I was a prick to somebody in person.

    Granted my exposure to black people and homosexuals and the transgendered has been quite limited, in every case as far as those particular groups are concerned, I’ve never been a prick.

    Most of my exposure to non-white males have been women (of course) and Latinos (my wife is from Mexico, lots of family for that reason, and I’ve worked with dozens of them from many different countries in the past). And I can’t remember a single time that I was a prick to members of either group.

    In fact, those times I can remember being a prick, it was to members of my own so-called group, white males. What does that tell you?

    All it really should tell you is that I’m mostly a pretty swell guy.

    There is one exception to that: online behavior. I’ve been a prick, in a trollish sense, online dozens and dozens of times. And never for bigoted reasons. Just because I felt like being a prick. Because my “victim” deserved it, or so I thought. Mostly white males, but possibly some weren’t, not sure. It’s just so much easier to turn on prick mode when you’re not staring a person in the eye.

    As far as I’m concerned, I have precisely zero reasons to feel guilty for bigoted behaviors of other white males.

    Why should I? I don’t consider anybody else responsible for my actions, so why should I feel responsible for theirs? I shouldn’t. And I’m I don’t.

    I’m not a prick. Nor do I intend to become one. But I’m certainly capable of it. We all are.

    I should add that when I am around folks from a group that I’m not used to being around, I am a bit more guarded and aware of my thoughts and actions. Is that wrong? Does that mean I’m bigoted? I don’t think so, but I’m not the expert.

  • Progressives Have Too Much Faith and Trust in Political Power

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    Despite most economists accepting that value is subjectively derived, since the Marginal Revolution, there are people who still consider free exchange as always win-lose.

    It’s absolutely true that each person in a given trade is very different from one other. No two individuals are exactly alike. Nor do they have the same levels of knowledge and wealth.

    But just because this is the case it does not follow that free exchange is not mutually beneficial. So what if the car buyer could have walked away with the car for less than what he did had he the same knowledge as the seller? The car seller could also have walked away with more than what he did had he waited for another buyer.

    Every trade is made with the expectation of gain. Buyer’s remorse is the exception to the rule. Each participant in a trade considers and orders his alternatives. This is where value lies. And since ordering alternatives, or preferences, is subjective, value is likewise subjective.

    We all order our preferences every moment of every day of our lives. They’re constantly changing. That this is a subjectively occurring phenomenon seems quite indisputable. What’s less widely accepted (or even known) is the influence that individual time preference has on how alternatives are valued.

    In any event, the belief that every trade is win-lose on the basis of an inequality of leverage is the foundation of the progressive belief in heavy progressive taxation. (As I’ve been told by progressives time and time again.)

    If you’re wealthy, that’s proof positive that you are taking advantage, or exploiting, those less wealthy than you. By definition. In every case. (Never mind their next best alternative is less desirable for them.)

    But here’s the rub: in order to fix wealth inequality, progressives are choosing to increase power inequality. And which is the greater threat to every income class of mankind?

    History has shown three things: 1) concentrating wealth leads to political power, 2) the more consolidated and expansive is political power, the more people are murdered by government, and 3) the greatest threat to concentrations of wealth is the free and unfettered market (the only way to truly and equitably “spread the wealth around”).

    These seem like corollaries to me. If power is murderous, and wealth leads to power, then threatening wealth will temper and distribute power, leading to less murder. This is why wealthy people infiltrate and utilize political power.

    Two ends of the politico-economic spectrum. On the one side you have total power, consolidated wealth, and thus total control (totalitarianism); on the other side, you have perfectly distributed power,  higher equality of wealth, and less control (anarchism).

    For the so-called problem of wealth inequality, progressives and leftists are shooting in the wrong direction. Their solution can only exacerbate the problem, as has been the case time and time again throughout history (“Let them eat cake!”).

    Plus, they think they can co-opt political power without the wealthy taking notice and using their vast amounts of wealth to steer the state in their preferred direction, ie. increasing their political power and concentrating their wealth into fewer and fewer hands? (“Rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.”)

    Unlikely.

  • My Ongoing Battle with Leviathan

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    In January of this year (2017) I was notified that my 2015 tax return was going to be audited. 2015 was the first tax year that I wasn’t completely a W2 employee. Half the year was W2, the other 1099. Surprise, surprise, I was one of the lucky ones chosen to be told I owe more money. I’ve been an outspoken advocate for liberty since 2007. Coincidence? Perhaps.

    I responded to the audit request with a request of my own: give me the information you used to determine your code and constitution apply to me, and I’m happy to cooperate.

    Was my request met? No. Instead, they told me that other government people have determined the code and constitution apply to me, ergo, it applies.

    Give me a break.

    A bit of back and forth on this, I eventually got three different IRS agents on the phone to once again fail to provide me the requested information.

    Even after admitting that the only “evidence” they can provide is the opinions of other government agents, they proceeded with the audit without my help.

    Guess what they told me a few months later? “You owe us more money!”

    I didn’t make a lot of money in 2015, so adding what I already paid them, plus the additional they’re claiming I owe, we’re looking at an effective 40% tax rate. And I’m nowhere near upper class. I border middle class, on the bottom end.

    So I’ve resent them my same requests, and I have until October to submit a formal petition with their tax courts, which I’ll do if necessary. In the mean time, more letters and phone calls will be made, and more discovery of their baseless assertions. When it’s all said and done, I’ll release my recorded phone calls and written communications.

    When push comes to shove, I’m willing to stand firm. I’ve made peace with every possible outcome of this and future battles with Leviathan. Yes, I’ve made peace with my credit getting trashed, and even with spending time in prison. I know a lot of people that have been battling the IRS on this sort of thing for many years, so I know that worst case scenario is past the horizon. But since I’ve made peace with it now, my anxiety has come down.

    Why challenge the IRS on this, you ask? Several reasons.

    First, I don’t actually owe the IRS anything. Factually, nobody does.

    Second, I don’t have any money. I’m not a rich person, financially speaking. I couldn’t pay them if I wanted to.

    Third, I want this experience. I want to grow as a person and as an activist in this way. I want to be able to help others challenge these and other criminals, and the only way to become that sort of expert is to go through it myself.

    Fourth, I’ve fallen in love with the concepts of civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance. It’s time that I put my money where my mouth is and actually do civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance. Talk is cheap.

    Fifth, I’m no longer willing to provide funding for all of the evils committed by the government. 2015 was my last filing.

    As far as I can be, I’m out. The system can do what the system will do. My conscience is clear, and I’ve made peace with the worst they have to inflict on me.

    And sixth, I want to inspire others to do likewise. I’m here if you need me.

  • Government Law is a Death Penalty

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    I didn’t properly credit my friend and co-host Morgan Aldous for the way I heard him explain how government law leads to the death penalty. Here’s what I wrote in “If You Need Violence to Enforce Your Ideas…” which I got almost verbatim from Morgan:

    Law is the death penalty for setting up an unlicensed lemonade stand. And that’s not hyperbole. What good is law if not enforced, and what good is enforcement if it won’t escalate, and what is the end point of escalation? Death by decree.

    Now you might counter with, “Wouldn’t you escalate to the point of killing someone attacking you or your family?”

    Well, yes, I might. I’d like to think that I’d be brave enough and capable enough to do exactly that if absolutely necessary to protect my life or the lives of my loved ones.

    But is that the same thing? Most, like 99.999999~% of government laws are not enforced as a response to an act of aggression against innocent people. In fact, virtually every government law that is enforced is done so as an initiation of conflict via the threat or use of violence. Opening a lemonade stand, not maintaining your yard, collecting rain water, keeping all of your hard-earned income, smoking weed, paying for sex, moving across a fake “border,” copying digital fileset cetera, et cetera, et cetera, are not akin to attacking innocent people.

    If you think it is, I have a bridge to sell you.

    We already know that government laws are just a bunch of opinions. Factually, that’s what they areBut that’s not all they are. They’re the opinions of lawyers and politicians backed by the death penalty.

    What good would they be if they weren’t? “The force of law” is not just getting punched by a cop. It’s getting murdered by a cop if he deems it necessary to escalate his attack on you, and he’s been granted permission by his bosses to do exactly that. It happens daily all over the world.

    Read it again: people innocent of aggression are getting murdered by government every day all over the world.

    Are you okay with that? Do you advocate for that? Are you a psychopath?

    Maybe so. But I’m not. Maybe I’m relatively unique. Maybe I just happen to be one of the few who considers it wrong to be willing to murder people over non-aggressive actions.

    If so, woe is me.

  • Suicide Isn’t Selfish or Cowardly

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    Suicide is an interesting phenomenon. Do non-humans commit suicide? Wikipedia has an interesting entry for animal suicide.

    Humans engage in suicidal behavior, certainly. Recently a well-known rock star, Chester Bennington, the lead singer of my favorite band, Linkin Park, killed himself.

    I remember being told growing up that suicide was a selfish act. That to kill yourself, and leave all of your loved ones grieving, was a dastardly thing to do. How much of a prick must someone be to do that to people they love and who love them?

    Later on, I thought of suicide not so much as a selfish act, but as an easy out. Sure people who are contemplating suicide have problems, and rather than dealing with those problems, they’d rather just push them all off the table in one fell swoop. Dead people don’t have problems, right?

    But that’s weak and cowardly. Why should they get out so easy while the rest of us continue to experience and attempt to solve problems? Their easy out isn’t fair to the rest of us.

    However, I no longer consider suicide as either selfish or cowardly.

    I’m not talking about behaviors like suicidal bombing, although much of what I’m talking about applies. As for suicidal behavior as the endgame of negative emotions like grief, sadness, and depression, what is happening is the same thing that happens when a person performs any other action.

    Every purposeful action, according to praxeology, is an attempt to achieve an end by utilizing resources over a period of time. There are a billion ends chosen by people, but they all have one thing in common: the removal of felt uneasiness.

    We chose to eat because hunger feels uneasy. We chose to browse Facebook because not knowing what our friends are up to feels uneasy. We chose to find a mate because being alone feels uneasy. We choose to fight an attacker because the pain he is inflicting feels uneasy. Uneasiness is an umbrella term for all sorts of other unwanted feelings. It’s imprecise for that reason, but its removal is always the aim of every purposeful action.

    Suicide is purposeful action. Therefore, to understand why people commit suicide we must understand what felt uneasiness they have decided is too much to continue tolerating. It may be many things, but this much is true as it concerns suicide: life itself has become intolerable, and the knowledge needed to make it tolerable is not currently known.

    That’s it, in my humble opinion. Life has become intolerable, for any number of reasons, and the person contemplating or committing suicide has run out of options to make life tolerable, to remove the felt uneasiness. Their only option becomes their final action.

    It’s a tragedy, for absolutely certain. But it’s not a tragedy because it’s selfish or cowardly. It’s a tragedy because of everything that came before. The relationships, the choices, the coercions, the traumas, every single event that occurred in a person’s life that brought them to this point. The tragedy is the cause of every one of those events and the people involved.

    I don’t care to point fingers or lay blame or induce guilt. Doing so is an ugly thing, it tends to bring out the worst in human nature. But I can’t help but think that there’s a shared responsibility in the event of a suicide. And maybe those decrying selfishness or cowardice are responding to a conscience pang.

    I don’t know. But what I do know is that I have come close to that point of life being intolerable. I hope every day that I can do what it takes to stay as far away from that as possible. I currently enjoy being alive. I love my wife and kids. They matter to me. And I want to see how our story evolves. I have little doubt that I can figure out what I need to figure out to keep that story going.

  • Law as a Tool to Get What We Want

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    Since the advent of democracy, meaning, since the advent of public participation, however causal that actually is, in the political process, a growing number of people have viewed politics, and its ultimate function of creating and enforcing law, as a tool to get what they want.

    At first, what those who had influence in the process wanted was to protect their property rights, with varying levels of what was meant by that. In time, and as more and more people gained influence, the scope of law went well beyond this, and slowly became a tool to, supposedly, combat any number of evils that befell the public.

    There’s been no shortage of wants to fill via the political process. Of course, I’m not so naive as to think that this is the actual reason that law has become so expansive and all-encompassing. But it is a common belief that the law can and should be used to do whatever most people want it to do.

    That law should only be used as a means of preventing and resolving conflict over scarce resources is a totally foreign concept to most people in today’s world. But on the other hand, when law is obviously criminal, from their point of view, it’s opposed and viewed as it should be, as a tool for some people to get the want at the expense of other people.

    Law becomes the enemy, at least temporarily. Some fortunate souls realize the long con that is democracy and public government and join the ranks of we champions for liberty, the libertarians, anarchists, and voluntaryists.

    Too many others, however, are quick to change their tune and resume pining for government solutions to perceived problems, now that the iron glove is on the other fist. What can we do to bring more people to the side of consistent liberty?

    I don’t know. I really don’t. Right now, the best I can do is raise my children in liberty, write and speak as often as possible on these ideas, and challenge the state when able. I know for a fact that if enough of us do likewise, the government doesn’t stand a chance.