One Voluntaryist’s Perspective

    One Voluntaryist’s Perspective –

  • Voluntaryist Solutions to the Public Benefits and Immigration Problem

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    December 2018: I read this essay and added commentary for Editor’s Break 119 of the EVC podcast.

    Ours is a world filled with organized crime, you may call them “governments.” These governments often, in their quest to legitimize and maintain their rule, offer benefits back to those they victimize on a continual basis. Some governments offer more than others. The United States government, and its many smaller federated governments, have created many different benefit programs for those it considers its citizens, and otherwise.

    The funds for these public benefits programs ultimately come from citizens and residents. When people from other parts of the world move into the United States, they have more or less the opportunity to obtain these public benefits for themselves. If too many people move into the United States and exploit these public benefits (and eventually vote for more of them), this will have the very real effect of bankrupting governments if they don’t act to either limit public benefits or increase revenue generation, such as by what is euphemistically called “taxation.”

    What’s a voluntaryist, who is a person who recognizes the criminal nature of governments, to do about the problem of immigrants exploiting public benefits? There are several possible solutions to this problem, many of which are consistent with the voluntary principle, that all human relations should happen voluntarily, or not at all, and many of which are not. As a voluntaryist, I do not care to consider or defend solutions that require the violation of the voluntary principle. Here are some which qualify as anti-voluntaryist:

    • Having governments maintain or increase its crime against its citizens in order to fund the building of a wall or other technological barriers to immigrant entry.
    • Having governments repel peaceful immigrants by the threat and use of violence.
    • Having governments increase its surveillance of its citizens in order to monitor for their aiding and abetting of unwelcome immigrants.
    • Having governments coercively interfere with its citizens voluntarily trading with unwelcome immigrants.

    I could go on, but I’m sure that’s sufficient to give you an idea of the sorts of solutions that government brings to the problem of public benefits to immigrants. None of these obviously coercive and aggressive solutions appeal to me, nor are any of them compatible with my principles as a voluntaryist. All of them are totally unjust and necessarily violent against peaceful people. So what can be done about this problem? Here are some solutions which are compatible with the voluntary principle:

    • Having governments severely limit or abolish its public benefits programs. No public benefits, nothing for immigrants to exploit.
    • Having governments reduce its aggression against free markets and free trade with people in other places around the world. This would increase the economic opportunities for would-be immigrants at home, decreasing their incentive to leave.
    • Having governments abolish their wars on drugs and other illicit trades. These policies have had major negative effects on poorer places around the world.
    • Having governments end their foreign wars and occupations. These interventions have had major negative effects on poorer places around the world.
    • Having governments abolish gun control so that its citizens have the legal right to defend themselves from attacks by unsavory immigrants.
    • Having interested parties form voluntary education centers to expose immigrants to voluntaryist thought.
    • Having interested parties open their homes, churches, and community centers to immigrants for the purpose of befriending them and showing them how to survive in their new land without the need to exploit public benefits.

    I’m sure if you really put your mind to it, you too could discover all sorts of peaceful solutions to this problem. It’s not difficult. At some point, however, you will realize that your enemy is not the poor immigrant trying to find a better life for himself and his family. Your enemy is organized crime, government. Should those who value peace, liberty, and justice pray to their enemy to coercively protect them from the non-enemies their enemy has incentivized in the first place? Seems stupid to me.

  • Intellectual Property Makes Everyone a Criminal

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    November 2018: I read this essay and added commentary for Editor’s Break 115 of the EVC podcast.

    An object is not a resource unless humanity has found some use for it. A resource is scarce unless there is enough of it to satisfy everyone’s preferences. Due to the conflicting nature of everyone’s varied preferences, scarce resources must be allocated in such a way as to reduce conflict over their use. The only way to effectively allocate scarce resources for the purpose of minimizing conflict is by assigning people an exclusive right of control on the basis of original appropriation. This exclusive right of control is called ownership, and its subject is property.

    It would be contrary to the purpose of property ownership to assign people an exclusive right of control over something that is neither an object, nor scare. An idea is a thing that is neither an object, nor scarce. Ideas are infinitely reproducible and may satisfy everyone’s preferences simultaneously. Ideas are a type of information, and are not limited to a medium in the material world.

    Because ideas are not a scarce resource, making them subject to the same type of ownership necessarily interferes with everyone’s exclusive rights of control over their material property. Owning an idea would mean that others may not implement that idea into a medium made from their property. An owner’s right of control over their property is no longer exclusive to themselves. A share of their ownership is necessarily given to another on the basis of having an exclusive right of control over an idea. If we are to assign property rights to non-scarce non-objects, then this assignment necessarily trumps, or is superior to, property rights assigned to scarce resources.

    Because no idea is without its influences, every new idea is the result of mixing, borrowing from, and changing old ideas. If ideas are subject to ownership, then each new idea owner must account for having obtained permission to use older ideas from their owners. For a complete respect of property rights in ideas, everyone must account for the ideas they use everyday. It does not seem possible or even practical for users of ideas to account for permission of their use.

    Unlike with non-scarce non-objects, the users of material property can account for permission of their use. If they cannot, then they are likely thieves who have stolen material property from its owner. Because we all use ideas without accounted for permission everyday, we are all thieves. If a system of ownership allocation makes everyone out to be thieves necessarily, then it is a poor system of ownership allocation. Property rights should not be assigned to non-scarce non-objects, such as ideas. Doing so necessarily increases conflict over their use, causing all of us to become criminals.

  • Why I Didn’t Vote

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    November 2018: I read this essay and added commentary for Editor’s Break 110 of the EVC podcast.

    The first Tuesday after the first Monday every November is Election Day in the United States. Every election season, many organizations attempt to rally voters to the polls. The “Go vote!” message is everywhere these days. As a principled non-voter, I find it incredibly annoying, but such is life under statism.

    People are aghast when they learn that I do not participate in electoral politics and voting. I have a lot to say about political philosophy, for sure, but it does not follow that I should be politically active. I have only ever voted twice since my 18th birthday, the first was during the Bush-Kerry election, in which I voted, quite ignorantly, for John Kerry. The second was during the Obama-McCain election, and I wrote myself in for President. It was a joke, because it is a joke.

    How does one become a principled non-voter? It was an evolution that occurred alongside my journey toward voluntaryism. I know plenty of libertarians and voluntaryists that still vote, however, so I don’t believe it’s inevitable that this journey will result as it has for me. So here it is, the step-by-step guide to explain exactly why I didn’t vote this November.

    Campaign Promises

    My first realization was that campaign promises made by candidates are incredibly difficult to keep. What’s the point in allowing a promise to persuade you toward supporting a candidate if it’s obvious that they are either lying to get votes, or promising what is not theirs to promise. The most a candidate can effectively promise is to not do something, such as voting to raise the level of coercion leveled at society by government. And how many popular candidates are doing that?

    Tax Burdens

    My second realization was that I have no right as an individual to push for the implementation of a tax increase on my neighbors. Very few Propositions on the ballot are to decrease taxes, but what about voting against tax increases? A defensive measure, to be sure, but keep reading.

    Increasing Coercion

    My third realization was that I have no right as an individual to push for an increase in the amount of coercion leveled at society by governments. Most Propositions necessarily have this effect, not only those that are concerned with tax levels. Again, voting against? Defensive, but keep reading.

    Statistical Value

    My fourth realization was that my individual vote is statistically worthless. It is an incredibly rare event for a candidate or issue to be decided on the basis of 1 vote. Probabilities tell us that virtually all elections are decided by no fewer than a few hundred votes. Statistical value is lessened even more when you consider the margin of error and the possibility of voter fraud. Every morning after Election Day I wake up and perform a little thought experiment while viewing the election results: I ask myself, would my vote have changed the outcome in any of these elections? To date, the answer has been a decided NO.

    Rational Irrationality

    My fifth realization was that, after considering the statistical worthlessness of my vote, spending any amount of time on researching the candidates and issues was irrational. How many people spend more time researching elections than researching buying a house? Arguably, the election is far more important, and the knowledge required to make an informed decision is far more vast, than for buying a house. Yet, our vote does not get us what we want in the same way that buying a house does. The house is certain, the vote is not. As economist Bryan Caplan wrote, it is rational to be ignorant when voting, and irrational to be informed. Therefore, most voters are ignorant on the issues, and their vote is worth as much as mine.

    Quiet Dissent

    My sixth realization was that elections are a very effective way to give people the feeling that they’ve had their say. As long as people feel like they have some effect in the process, that their “voice” has been heard, they are more likely to shut up about their dissent toward government and its policies. I find the idea of voting as voice to be ridiculous on the bases described above, but also, there are far better alternatives to being heard than voting. I’ve been writing and discussing for ten years and podcasting for five, and in all that time I have affected more people to change their thinking, their lives, and their parenting for the better than I ever did in the election booth. Elections are meant to quiet dissent, and I will not allow my dissent to be silenced.

    Criminal Gang

    My seventh realization, one that was evolving along the way, was that governments are just better organized criminal gangs. Sure, some election issues to increase coercion can be stopped, and some candidates promise to protect your liberties, but every election to date has had the result of increasing the size and scope of government overall. Libertarian-minded candidates and liberty-protecting issues are simply not popular, and probably never will be. Criminal gangs attract the criminal minded. Elections are allowed by government, and are unlikely to affect their existence in any positive direction. Plus, as George Carlin put it, governments were bought and paid for a long time ago. My vote won’t change that.

    Culture and Technology

    My eighth realization came when considering the effects that culture and technology have toward the actions that people who call themselves “government” take. Governments don’t make progress in front of culture. Quite the opposite. Culture changes first, and forces government policy to follow. So what’s the point in participating in elections if the candidates and issues are several steps behind culture? Consider also the effect that technology has on forcing governments to change the way they do things, or become obsolete. The very real forces of culture and technology toward combating governments are effective and occur without any regard to elections.

    So there you have it: why I didn’t vote on Election Day, and why I never will.

  • My Personal Views on Abortion

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    As a man, am I allowed to have a “personal view” on abortion? I think so. I have many women in my life, including a wife and two daughters. Any unexpected or unwanted pregnancy of these women will affect me to some degree. My daughters are probably at the top of that list. When asked, and I would be asked as their father whom they love deeply, I will be a source of counsel and comfort on any decisions regarding this controversial practice.

    My wife would be next on that list, and as a matter of fact, the question of abortion has come up. In 2007 she had an ectopic pregnancy. We were told these were not uncommon. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg attaches inside the fallopian tube on its way to the uterus. Fallopian tubes are not meant to be used as wombs, and so the baby would not have grown much at all before causing my wife even more pain than it was, and ultimately perishing. A chemical abortion was her only real option.

    My personal preference is that no woman ever has the need or desire to have an abortion. I prefer that all would-be moms and dads treat the procreative power that nature has granted them with the utmost care. Be sure not to have an unwanted pregnancy, and you’ll never have cause for an abortion. Let’s say the unthinkable happens anyway, then what? I prefer that all expectant moms desire to keep and raise their babies, and to do so consistent with the principles of attachment/peaceful parenting and radical unschooling. For this reason, I am pro-life.

    These are my preferences. If a woman in my life asked for my advice, this is what I would tell her. But also, I would throw my support behind her and be there for her. If this woman was one of my daughters or my son’s partner, they would hold no doubts that as their father I would do everything in my power to help them raise their baby. If the dad is out of the picture, then I feel it is my solemn responsibility to be the dad that every baby needs. I’m already prepared and willing to keep my children with us as they grow up, get married, and make families of their own. I strongly desire to build a multi-generational and extended family household, the sort which I feel is best able to meet the needs of everyone.

    Beyond my preference and willingness to support any given woman who faces this question, I don’t feel I have any ground to stand on when it comes to this decision by women. If I’m not willing to throw my support behind a person to keep their baby, then their choice is none of my business. I prefer they make the choice to keep and raise their baby as already described, but I respect that they must do what they feel is necessary for them to do. I am not interested in any action beyond that.

    I do not believe that it would be right for me to coerce a woman into making the choice that I prefer. For this reason, I am pro-choice. And as it would not be right for me to coerce a woman away from abortion, I should not expect others, such as those who call themselves “government“, to do it for me. This is one issue where every individual, family, community, and society must decide for themselves, without coercion, how they will act and react to this practice. Personally, I will not shame or push away any woman that makes the choice contrary to my preference. I can’t possibly understand why they did what they did, nor do I need to. If a woman is important to me, their personal choice here will not change that. And if they aren’t, I know how to keep my mouth shut.

    I feel I’ve been clear sharing my personal views on abortion. I don’t want anybody to mistaken my position for something that it’s not. My preference is pro-life, but my actions are pro-choice. My daughters will not have to struggle with the question of support or shame if they find themselves in a situation which forces them to make this choice. And I hope all other daughters won’t either.

  • A Primer on Challenging Jurisdiction

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    At some point in your life you will be attacked by people who call themselves “government“. This attack will consist of these people making certain claims, claims which must be challenged. If the claims are proven true with verifiable facts and evidence, then the attack is no longer an attack, but an act of self-defense.

    These claims are usually of the nature that a debt is owed, a service must be performed, or that your liberty must be surrendered. Each of these begins with a claim of jurisdiction, that these people’s rules (they call them laws, legal codes, Constitutions, et cetera) apply to you. It is supposed that this jurisdiction gives these people the authority to enforce their rules against you.

    This foundational claim of jurisdiction must be challenged before moving to the next step of determining whether their rules were violated, because jurisdiction is the first claim these people make in their attack. They know that without jurisdiction, their rules do not apply. One cannot logically say both “You have violated my rules” and “My rules do not apply to you”, as such would be a contradiction. Therefore, claiming “You have violated my rules” is simultaneously claiming “My rules apply to you” or “I have jurisdiction over you.”

    Challenging jurisdiction is not a difficult thing to do (at least, on paper). When these people say something to the effect of, “You have violated my rule that says you may not possess the cannabis plant” the first reply should be something like, “How do you know that your rule applies to me?” Observe the following dialogue:

    Them: You stand accused of violating legal code 123-45, “Prohibition of a Control Substance – Cannabis”.

    Me: Is it your claim that legal code 123-45 applies to me?

    Them: It applies to everyone, including you, within this territory.

    Me: How do you know that legal code 123-45 applies to me just because I am physically located in this territory?

    Them: You are in this territory, and possess cannabis, isn’t that correct?

    Me: Those facts are not under dispute. What is under dispute is your jurisdiction over me. I will rephrase: do you have personal first-hand knowledge, such as facts and evidence, that legal code 123-45 applies to me just because I am physically located in this territory?

    Them: You are a human being, are you not?

    Me: Is your claim that your legal codes apply to human beings?

    Them: Yes, that is my claim.

    Me: Okay. How do you know that claim is true? (ie. What facts and evidence do you rely on to support your claim?)

    The purpose in this line of questioning is to challenge the claim of jurisdiction, a claim which should not be allowed the light of day without accompanying facts and evidence. (Here’s a longer dialogue on challenging jurisdiction.) If these people have jurisdiction, as they claim, then it should not be difficult to prove. They should have no need to engage in dishonesty or in issuing threats. When they become non-responsive, dishonest, and threatening, you know that they know that their claim of jurisdiction is without factual merit. Simply put, they are initiating an attack against you, and you have the right to defend yourself by publically and explicitly challenging their claims.

    At every point, you are asking them for the facts and evidence they rely on to support their claim of jurisdiction. In every case of an accusation that a rule has been violated, jurisdiction can be challenged. Without jurisdiction, their rules are without effect. This should be made very clear by challenging their claims. They must be forced to resort to dishonesty and threats, on the record, or to drop their attack. These tactics are violations of the codes of conduct they have explicitly agreed to, and as such are grounds for effective appeal.

    When the accusation is based on jurisdiction, it must be challenged. However, not every accusation is based on jurisdiction. Many accusations are based on damages suffered. The rule of thumb is to remember what is being claimed, the violation of a legal code (a crime), or damages suffered (a tort). In the latter case there is an alleged victim who may or may not be able to provide facts and evidence supporting their claim that you have damaged them and are owed restitution. In the former, there is no alleged victim, merely a group of people who call themselves “government” asserting jurisdiction and claiming you violated their rules and must be punished.

    When you receive a traffic citation, are targeted by the so-called “tax authorities”, or accused of violating their rules in any other way, the first step is to challenge jurisdiction. This takes practice, and thankfully there are plenty of resources and role play groups to assist you. Contact me here or Marc Stevens on Skype at frankrizzo3 to get started. I highly recommend listening to the No State Project radio show and podcast, recorded twice a week by Marc, to get familiar with this process. I also highly recommend reading Marc’s book Government Indicted, available on Amazon here. And checkout Marc’s “5 Tips to be Effective in Court” published recently. Challenging jurisdiction has proven effective in several States and countries.

    More on this topic by the author:

    Evidence of Jurisdiction
    On Jurisdiction
    Is Taxation Theft? Yes and No
    Stop Lying about Laws Applying
    What the Response to the Challenge of Jurisdiction Should Tell You
    The Facts on Government
    My Ongoing Battle with Leviathan
    Not Requiring Evidence of Jurisdiction is a Violation of Due Process
    Dreamers’ Parents Never Sinned
    The Essence of the Ruling Class

    More on this topic by Marc Stevens at EVC:

    Debunking Territorial/Personal Jurisdiction – Why it Doesn’t Exist
    Don’t Let Prosecutors Intimidate You – Overcoming Their Flawed Opposition

  • The Voluntaryist Premise

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    Discovering voluntaryism usually happens after a long road through other intermediate political philosophies. It’s not an ideology on the forefront of political thought, that’s for certain. Step by step a person has reached conclusions that aggression and coercion are bad in various ways and circumstances. At last they’ve decided that aggression and coercion should always be avoided, but just as importantly, they’ve come to the realization that aggression and coercion are not only common place in many different types of relationships, but in some, they are foundational.

    Once a person adopts the label of voluntaryist (or the like) for their political identity, they assume, with good reason, the following premise: human suffering is terrible and should be prevented; aggression and coercion necessarily create human suffering. This premise leads the voluntaryist to hold a number of hypotheses with varying degrees of accuracy in some form or fashion within their minds at all times. Here are several of those hypotheses (in italics and prefaced).

    Political aggression occurs when the production of law and order is coercively monopolized by a single person or single group of people (an institution, corporation, or firm in a given area which adopts the moniker of “government”). Monopoly incentivizes bad behavior and disincentivizes good behavior, leading ultimately to human suffering.

    Economic aggression occurs when markets, the array of economic exchanges between people, are coercively interfered with by “government”. Political interference (or intervention) in markets skews or disables economic signals (prices, supply and demand), to the benefit of one group at one time, and the detriment of other groups at the same time or other times, leading ultimately to human suffering.

    Parental aggression occurs when parents use the tools of coercion (punishments like spanking and time-outs) to correct what they identify as “misbehavior” on the part of their children. Punishment used to discipline is both a failure to understand a child’s real needs and produces trauma in childhood, leading ultimately to human suffering.

    Educational aggression occurs when parents and teachers use the tools of coercion (punishments, rewards, curriculum) in the attempt to impart knowledge and skills onto children that they, the parents and teachers, deem necessary and important toward becoming an adult in society. Coercion based learning ignores the interests and passions of students and their evolutionarily programmed needs to inquire, be curious, to move constantly, be loud, and to play, leading ultimately to human suffering.

    Not every hypothesis described above undergirds the premise that each person who has adopted the label of voluntaryist holds as true. Many voluntaryists haven’t even considered the effects of coercion in parenting and education, for example. But the premise as laid out above is typically held by those who identify as a voluntaryist.

    The voluntary principle, the foundation of voluntaryism, states that “all human relations should happen voluntarily, or not at all.” It’s easier to understand the “should” in that sentence once you understand the voluntaryist premise. You may not value or desire the reduction and prevention of human suffering, in which case you are unlikely to identify as a voluntaryist. However if you do, then I recommend taking a hard look at the premises you accept as true, and how realistic are the hypotheses thereon based that you rely on for the attainment of this desire.

  • What Taxation Means

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    There is certainly no shortage of libertarian types who will gladly tell why they believe that the practice of taxation amounts to robbery or extortion. Likewise for those who will tell you why they believe that the practice of taxation is good and necessary. Personally, I side with the former belief that the practice of taxation is illicit and criminal. But let’s look at it another way, shall we?

    There are a great many goods and service of which I have consumed throughout my life, and continue to do so on a daily basis. These goods and services are mostly not free. Somebody must pay for them. As an adult now going on nearly two decades, I have paid for most goods and services of which I have consumed.

    I often pass on purchasing a good or service for a myriad of reasons, often because the price is too high for my liking. For goods and services I desire and are within my budget, I gladly hand over my hard earned money in exchange. It’s worth it to me to, for example, to buy groceries and trips to the movie theatre and a new set of tires. If I want a good or service, I will do what is necessary to pay for it.

    There are many things today paid for via taxation that I would gladly pay for myself. I enjoy using roads, so I have no qualms about paying for roads. Likewise the fire brigade and other emergency services. I even appreciate a bit of security in the places and areas I frequent and would gladly contribute. Libraries, one of which I am using at this very moment, are also valuable to me.

    You see, for the things I value and desire, I have no problem paying my “fair share” to use or to have them. But then there are things of which I don’t value and desire. I don’t want acupuncture, so I don’t pay for acupuncture, and I don’t want you to have acupuncture if it means I have to pay for it. You’re just not that important to me.

    Nor do I want schools or for military units to invade and occupy foreign lands in my name and supposedly for my benefit. There are a countless number of goods and services of which I do not value and desire. But others might. It’s none of my business what you purchase with your hard earned money. However, you make it my business when you demand that I contribute to the purchase of goods and services that you, not I, value and desire.

    This is what taxation means. It means that some people should be allowed to compel, by threat or force if necessary, the funding of goods and services that they and others value and desire. Taxation means that my values and desires are less important than yours. You, by virtue of who knows what, should be allowed to force me to pay for the things that you want, and my only recourse is the chance, however small, that I can successfully defend myself from the imposition of your preferences on me.

    Taxation is the price we pay to live in a civilized society. This is true, but perhaps not in the way it was meant. Taxation is the price we submit to if we prefer civilized society over prison, or worse. If a good or service is desired, it will be paid for without the use of coercion. That taxation requires coercion proves it has nothing to do with what’s good and necessary, and everything to do with robbery and extortion.

  • Social Credit Ratings Won’t Work

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    Netflix’s Black Mirror and Fox’s The Orville have both dedicated episodes of their show to this idea of a social credit rating. In Black Mirror’s episode, “Nosedive” (Series 3, Episode 1), “society uses a technology where, through eye implants and mobile devices, everyone shares their daily activities and rates their interactions with others on a one-to-five star scale, which affects that person’s overall rating. One’s current average can be seen by others and has significant influence on their socioeconomic status.”

    In The Orville’s episode, “Majority Rule” (Season 1, Episode 7), “when two Union anthropologists go missing on a planet similar to 21st century Earth, Ed sends a team led by Kelly to find them, but the mission quickly goes awry when they realize the society’s government is completely based on a public voting system to determine punishment.”

    The protagonists in both episodes eventually find themselves receiving poor ratings and falling in popularity, one becoming a social pariah, and the other sentenced to mental execution. Both are excellent portrayals of the dystopian nature of social credit rating systems. Personally, I wouldn’t want to live in either society. Fortunately, I believe such rating systems will never take root in the real world in any meaningful way.

    Financial credit rating systems have existed for quite some time, and serve the very important function of tracking a person or business’s loan repayment history in order for future lenders to gauge risk. At their core, these credit rating systems are based on objective, verifiable facts. Sure, mistakes are made, and can be corrected, but for the most part, everything on your financial credit report shows exactly what happened in the real world.

    Social credit rating systems like those portrayed in Black Mirror and The Orville are not built on objective, verifiable facts. Quite the contrary; they are built on subjective, unverifiable opinions. Take two popular individuals, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Depending on your subjectively-derived opinion, one of these men should have a 5-star rating, and the other a 1-star. If everyone in the world voted, both of these men would probably sit around 2.5-stars, which tells you exactly nothing about either men.

    Take any random controversial figure at any point in time, say Galileo Galilei. Today he’d probably have a 5-star overall rating. But in the 17th century, he wouldn’t even break 2-stars until the end of his life. What does either rating tell us about Galileo? Methinks the only individuals who would garner 5-star ratings would be those who are completely non-controversial and unknown. Your quiet, polite, domestic Aunt Sally would earn and maintain a 5-star rating. How meaningful is this?

    5-star rating systems and the like work for brands, products, and places. Records of criminal behavior and financial credit are also quite useful. But social credit ratings are not only dangerously dystopian, but impractical and ultimately meaningless. China’s new social credit score experiment notwithstanding, I doubt we’ll ever see anything like what these shows portrayed.

  • People Leave if They Can, And You’re People

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    The criticism spewed at supposedly “illegal” immigrants (they aren’t, and never were) betrays a disgusting level of hypocrisy. The story of humanity is a story of migration, to all corners of the world. What motivates people to leave the place where they were born in search of something better?

    Primal humans migrated as food sources dwindled in order to obtain newly replenished food sources and to allow their old grounds to replenish. Eventually they discovered new climates where they faced new challenges. Eventually so they discovered agriculture and became more settled than prior. But migration didn’t cease, it just transformed.

    Then people migrated for new reasons, mostly to escape predation by other people, or so it seems to me. When your current environment becomes politically intolerable, you change it any way you can. The simplest and most effective way to change your environment is to migrate to a new one. Sure, you may able to effect change locally and make your environment tolerable, and that’s certainly happened before, but that seems to be the minority tactic in the story of humanity.

    Mostly people have just picked up a left when and where the doors were open to them. Migrating when affairs become unbearable is a practice buried deep in our memetics as a people and genetics as a species. The pilgrims left Europe. The Mormon pioneers left the Midwest. Mexicans and Central Americans are leaving their place of birth toward lands of opportunity. Many have been the moments of migration, both individual and en masse. And many have been the moments of blocked migration by despotic and tyrannical political predators.

    Two points of correction for those criticizing “illegal” immigrants: 1) you are ignoring the root causes, the predation, often due to the policies and behavior of your government, that are motivating people to migrate from one place to another; and 2) you are ignoring the fact that were you in their shoes, you’d be doing the exact same thing.

    “Ye, hypocrites!” said Jesus, whose own people migrated out of Egypt. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Do you qualify as “meek” if you are criticizing at best, violently opposing at worst those who are saving themselves and their families from predation and death?

    You’re criticism is bullshit, and you know it!

  • Should Social Media Platforms Protect Free Speech?

    Post by Skyler J. Collins (Editor).

    On a recent Reason Podcast episode, Nick Gillespie spoke with two libertarians (Robby Soave and Mike Riggs) who had competing views on the question of what social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and reddit should do about free speech.

    Robby Soave’s view is that social media platforms should not police speech, and instead allow anything and everything (except obviously criminal threats) to have its day, all the while users may use tools to block or hide speech or content they don’t want to see.

    Mike Riggs’ view is that when social media platforms fail to police content, they are degrading the experience for 99% of users who aren’t trolls and don’t engage with controversial topics.

    My view is that both Soave and Riggs’ views have merit. I’m not a troll, but I do engage with controversial topics. I would prefer that the social media platforms I use don’t censor me. I would also prefer that the social media platforms I use don’t allow things like shitposting and spamming. I don’t allow shitposting and spamming within the real and virtual domains I own and control. But neither do I censor most controversial topics (no, you may not discuss my children’s genitals).

    There’s no debate here on what rights social media platforms have to police speech. As private organizations, they may police speech as much as they’d like. The debate here is on whether or not social media is a better experience if speech is policed.

    As long as users have the tools to block or hide content they prefer not to see, why must the platform also engage in policing speech? Facebook allows you to block people and leave incompatible groups. Twitter allows blocking or muting. reddit not only allows blocking, but segregates all content into subreddits where you choose to subscribe.

    All of these tools seem sufficient to me to protect your social media experience. While I much prefer virtual platforms and real businesses and spaces to keep things I prefer not to see from my view, how much would doing so negatively affect me personally? As someone whose kids don’t go to school, maybe nearby businesses and spaces won’t allow entry to my kids during school hours. As a radical voluntaryist, maybe may views are just too controversial for others to abide.

    Maybe our “safe spaces” are where we make them, and elsewhere we learn to use the tools available to us.

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