(My response to someone who thinks Donald Trump is the effective answer to a corrupt system.)
I believe that the political system of western liberal democracies has been corrupted beyond repair. The system is rigged to minimize the chance of anyone proposing a radical reformation of the system to acquire the power to do so. Voting then is just a shell game where our choices are among options, all of which simply maintain the system while using superficial differences to give us the illusion of choice. By participating in a system which really offers us no choice but to support a corrupt system, we ourselves are supporting the system. We are like the people who all oh and ah over the emperor’s new clothes when he is really wearing no new clothes at all. If we participate in a corrupt system which offers no effective means of reform, we are guilty of supporting it.
What makes the system corrupt is that it is designed to minimize the rights of individuals to life, liberty and property and maximize the power of political elites to control our lives and steal our property. This is contrary to the constitutions of these liberal democracies but their supreme courts have misinterpreted these constitutions to get around this fact. Constitutions were designed to prevent the state from taking away the rights of individual citizens but instead, because of the courts, politicians, and voters, they have become the means of justifying taking away those very same rights. These corrupt democratic states have become criminal gangs who steal a huge portion of everyone’s property and either use it to benefit those who preserve its power or else just hand it over to them directly. Example: billion dollar bailouts to big businesses who fail to convince consumers to buy their products voluntarily.
So yes, I agree the system is rigged and that illicit deals go on all the time behind closed doors. What I don’t agree with is that any politician can get elected and stay in power while making any meaningful reforms. Many politicians have talked about the need for reform and then, when elected, govern in a way to preserve the power of the political establishment.
Trump wants to close borders, to turn the US into even more of a closed society where no people, goods or services can get in or out without his approval and where those he deems his enemies are subject to constant surveillance if not imprisonment or torture. His way of fighting criminals and terrorists who would steal our freedom and property is to make everyone into criminals and steal everyone’s freedom and property.
The true alternative to this corrupt system is voluntaryism. All use of violence is illegitimate except as reasonably necessary in defence of one’s life, liberty or property. The right to property is not the right to someone else’s property but the right to keep what you, yourself have earned or purchased freely. Liberty is not the right to do anything you please but the right to use your own life and your own property as you think is best so long as you respect everyone else’s right to do the same. All relationships out to be voluntary. End compulsion, end violence against others as a legitimate means of getting what you want.
Is this pie-in-the-sky idealism? I don’t think so but what if it is? When did pursuing ideals become a bad thing? Either you look up and work for something better or you look down and condemn the future before it has a chance. If you fail to achieve an ideal you are at least more likely to approach it than if you never try.
But the reason I think it is achievable is because technology is constantly giving us (individuals) more power. Power to communicate and conduct our lives in ways that even the playing field between us and big business and big government who want power over us. We can do more now than ever in the past and technological innovation will level the playing field even more so in the future. I believe we will soon be at the point where we can do everything for ourselves, through voluntary associations, that we now think we need government to do for us – even protect ourselves from those who do not respect our rights to life, liberty and property. I believe that day is coming through the self-interested actions of those who embrace and prosper from new technology and the freedom it provides. Not from the ambitions of politicians who the system won’t allow to walk the talk once they get elected.
This speculative piece assumes that our omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent God did not merely create pets, but children, and intends to raise his children up to be just like Him, so long as His children do not reject His efforts on our behalf.
An argument goes, since gods are omniscient, there is nothing left for them to figure out. Reason is redundant since they already know everything, they only need recall it. Even recalling it is unnecessary since all would be continually before them. I think the capacity to reason essentially defines us. If we stop reasoning, we cease to exist as the type of being that would make me think that our being is truly eternal. If you say to a rather intelligent dog, “you will live forever, but you will do so as a cat,” I believe the dog is justified in thinking his days are numbered. But I think we can have our cake and eat it too.
Consider what we do when we find ourselves with a moment of free time, free of the cares and concerns of work, etc. Typically we devise another problem to solve. Maybe its engaging in a discussion on the nature of God. Maybe its to play a video game or a sport. We’re not happy unless we are overcoming yet another challenge. It is more than what we do, it is what we are.
Consider what a sport is. It is an artificial contest, either with another or others or even with ourselves, to achieve a goal within a set of rules which place restrictions on our ability to achieve the goal. That last point is my main one. If the only objective was to get the ball over the goal line it is easy to accomplish. I could do it against an all star team of professionals. I’d just drive the ball down the field in my car. But that’s no fun. The fun is in the challenge of restricting the ways you can accomplish the objective and still accomplishing it. The fun is in the challenge of voluntarily limiting your capacity.
I’ll skip right to my conclusion. I think that, as gods, we can and do employ 100% of the necessary power, knowledge and concern to the task of raising another generation of gods. And that we do it repeatedly, perhaps even multiple generations at once. However, with at least virtually all power and knowledge, surely we would have the ability to be simultaneously engaged in other pursuits. Unlike mortals, as gods we can multitask. We can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can devote 100% of the necessary attention to the prayers, concerns and activities of each one of billions of spirit children and still be able to devote 100% of the necessary attention to spending time with our own generation of gods – our eternal families, friends, etc.
And what would we do with our fellow gods? I suspect we would do the godlike equivalent of writing poetry. Consider what a poem is. It is the means of communicating more than dictionary defined meaning but also emotions by placing artificial restrictions on the way you assemble words. It is similar to a game. Watching ballet is like watching poetry in motion. Watching a running back elude tackle after tackle as he desperately hurls himself toward the goal line is also like poetry in motion. Watching a poor but determined individual lift himself out of the gutter to become a successful businessman is laden with the same emotional impact despite the challenges overcome being somewhat less artificial.
The poetry, the beauty, is in overcoming the challenge. Are gods no longer capable of beauty because there are no challenges left? Or do they, like we, invent challenges by artificially restricting their abilities in order to create such challenges? Even when nothing needs to be overcome, does the need to create beauty go away? If the need, does the desire? The appreciation?
How often we watch someone perform some amazing feat and exclaim, “Wow, I would love to be able to do that.” As gods, I suspect we will. We will create the challenge by place restrictions on that part of our consciousness which we devote to meeting the challenge. The beauty, the satisfaction, of using our rational capacity to overcome challenges will be how we, as gods, retain our essential natures.
Q. A young girl who knows absolutely nothing about politics (or much else) just cancelled my vote because she liked the candidate’s shoes. There has GOT to be a better system of government.
A. Here’s a better system. Only voluntary associations. That means no one can force us to obey them. No organization (the state) gets to force anyone (citizens) to obey its edicts without prior consent. The state is replaced by various voluntary associations with differing terms of service. Some offer only collective self-defence. Some offer wealth redistribution, etc. You choose which to join thereby agreeing that the association has the right to enforce its rules on you as per its terms of service. Disputes between individuals are settled under the association’s terms of service. If more than one association is involved, the dispute is settled by appeal to a previously agreed upon dispute resolution service.
The association’s decisions are made according to the terms of service. I would prefer a lottery to choose some of the association members at random who serve a short term at no remuneration (proposed by Nobel prize winning economist and political philosopher Friedrich Hayek).
Realistically, as technology continues to progress at an increasing pace and we continue to move more and more of our lives online, geographic proximity will no longer be an important factor in the viability of such free state-like associations. Witness Estonia’s E-Citizenship and Bitnation as early steps in this direction. Free state-like alternatives are likely to emerge almost unnoticed by most and grow as they coexist in the political ecosystem until it becomes more and more obvious that they out-compete nation states in the economic prosperity and social harmony enjoyed by their members. The nation-state system then withers away as did its most its most logically consistent expression – communism.
I read an interesting article called “The Missing Elements of Modern Worship” which my brother shared on Facebook. I was hoping for further insight into what can account for the epidemic downturn in church attendance. I used the author’s points to take inventory of our own services and I believe we have 100% of these every week. (Excepting only that there is no separated scripture reading but there is typically heavy use of scripture throughout the 40 minutes during which 2-3 speakers “preach expositionally”. So I don’t think anything here can account for the downturn.
I think it’s parenting. Parents should insist that children maximally participate in relevant church programs. Nothing, not friends, sports, school, and especially not part time work, should be permitted to interfere with church-sponsored activities. The Church must be the chief focal point of the child’s life, outside of the family. This is the only way the Lord, through the church, can speak as persuasively as the noisy distractions of modern life.
I am a technophile but I can still appreciate that technology can make it easier for children (and adults) to be distracted from important things. Technology itself is not the problem. Considering it so is a cop out for parental incompetence. So is “teaching my child the value of work” when that work takes place on Sunday or interferes with full participation in church programs.
There are Christians in Syria and Iraq who choose torture and death by ISIS rather than renounce their faith. But here many neglectful parents deny their children the necessities of a spiritual life by placing the false goods of modern culture on a higher pedestal than Christ. We allow the weeds of work, institutional secular education, and the lure of a secular peer group to choke off the plant which could become a tree of spiritual life for their children before it has a chance to take firm root. It is insidious and each generation of parents is guiltier than the one before. To renounce one’s faith or to deny your child the opportunity to develop his/her faith, what’s the difference? And so many do the latter under the most meager pressure.
If you allow your child to place a part time jobs, sports, or parties to take precedence over full participation in church youth activities or worse, over Sunday worship, then you, neglectful parent, are the reason why your grown children will mostly likely stop going to church. You, by your negligence, will have renounced their faith before they even knew they had it. We who can see this and say nothing about it, will be just as negligent.
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6.)
“And again, inasmuch as parents have children … that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the Living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost … the sin be upon the heads of the parents.” (D&C 68:25.)
Before I became aware of the movement for ordaining women, I predicted that we would see the day when women were ordained. Since then, after reflecting on the subject, I have come to the view that ordaining women would be counterproductive. Men and women are equal but different with different needs. Men need the responsibility of priesthood authority to realize their divine potential whereas women do not. Remember that Brigham Young once taught that women could bestow a blessing of healing on their sick children. Does anyone seriously contend that Heavenly Father pays less heed to a mother’s prayer on behalf of her sick child than to a father’s priesthood blessing? The difference is that the outwardness, the formality, of the ordinance, and the other outward vestiges of priesthood power, being the responsibility of the man, increases the likelihood that he will be engaged in the work. Women do not seem to need this extra help. The man who merely “holds” the priesthood is damned. He must “bear” the priesthood, support the work of God, for his priesthood ordination to be a saving ordinance for him. Remember that a man must be ordained before he is qualified for temple blessings. There is no such requirement on a woman. The unimproved, natural man can not realize his divine potential. He is not his partner’s equal. It is by accepting and magnifying his priesthood responsibility that he becomes meet help for his companion.
If this view is an indictment of a man’s character per se then so be it. I have had 35 years to contrast the relatively diligent service of Relief Society sisters to the comparatively reluctant, but ultimately willing, and often equally stalwart service of priesthood bearers. But I fear that without the added responsibility that the scriptures routinely remind the priesthood holder that he has accepted, most men would be inclined to take a back seat and watch the sisters do all the work. Because of Eve (a savior in every sense), Adam was not left a lone man in the garden. By sustaining her husband’s priesthood responsibility, a woman helps ensure that he is not left a lone man in a lesser kingdom. This is not to suggest we ought to look down on men as weaker creatures. A righteous priesthood bearer is a powerful servant of God. But I do believe the priesthood responsibility ought to be seen more as remedial than prestigious. Whatever is good and noble and enabling and blessed about bearing the priesthood, women already have. Sisters, even single sisters, not yet sealed (to the priesthood), can perform priesthood ordinances in the temple without receiving any quasi-ordination.
I used to believe we would see a time when sisters would be ordained because there didn’t seem to me to be any harm in it. Now I see the harm. Priesthood is not something men have that women don’t. It is something that makes up for what women have that men lack. If women had the priesthood we would be no more help meets but unequally yoked. It seems to me this view is the only one consistent with the observations that men and women are equal in God’s sight and that only men are called to the priesthood. This is not like the issue of blacks and the priesthood which appears to have been mostly a function of the egregiously long time it took for the Church leadership to overcome unprincipled cultural bias.
Nowadays almost everyone who writes an explanatory book on physics for the masses has to address the simulation argument. In his excellent book, Hidden in Plain Sight: The simple link between relativity and quantum mechanics, Andrew Thomas says:
(T)hese theories consider the possibility tat our entire universe might be a simulated construct in a vast supercomputer run by an advanced civilization (as if we were simulated characters in the computer game The Sims.) The motivation behind such a simulation being just the same as why we enjoy playing games such as The Sims: for entertainment.
This statement, the one in bold, stretches the analogy too far. Have you played The Sims or any similar game? Are those game characters really like you? Hardly! I am not going to try to convince you otherwise, if you disagree, as in your case it may then be true. I address myself to those who realize that our capacity to think and feel make us of vastly greater worth than these superficial caricatures.
Have you ever made a model plane or a paper doll? If so, you more than likely did it for entertainment – your own or a child’s. Have you ever made a baby? Created a life? Raised him or her to think and feel and to enjoy the wonder of life? Was your motivation entertainment? Or were you motivated to share the joy of living with another who in some sense was, and in other ways would become, your equal, or even surpass you? To stretch the definition of “entertainment” to include such a motive is to divest the term of any utility. We create and nurture life out of love – a love of life and of life-sustaining and enhancing values.
So what would be the motive of a superiour intelligence that created “simulations” such as ourselves? Love. Any other motive necessarily ascribes an inferiour ethics to those we are required to acknowledge as having superiour technology. Give that superiour technology almost certainly entails superiour firepower – the ability to destroy (everything), it is reasonable to assume that ethical superiority is a necessary corollary. Writers who wring their hands about the possibility of discovering our technological superiours treating us as our ancestors (and ethical inferiors) treated the technologically inferiour civilizations they encountered are just being silly.
Even in these days of “Earth Days”, pleas to “Save the Whales”, and of carelessly ascribing make-believe “rights” to every beleaguered subset of humanity we can conceptualize, we are still ethically underdeveloped enough to remain at risk of blowing ourselves off the planet on about 15 minutes notice. It is unreasonable to suppose that an even more technologically powerful civilization has managed to wield such power without acquiring greater empathy, compassion and appreciation for their fellow creatures.
As bad as they are, Trump and Putin are a vast improvement over Hitler and Stalin. (I’m not sure the same is true of the Ayatollahs.) I would much more readily entrust our civilizations future to the ethics of a civilization advanced enough to create this world we experience as a “simulation” than with the cohort that leads our modern nation states.
It is not a logical necessity that advanced technology implies advanced ethics, but it is a reasonable assumption. A very reasonable one in my opinion. One I’d characterize as beyond reasonable doubt, achieving the level of scientific certainty (~95%) while allowing that it is no logical certainty (100%).
To dismiss the problem of evil arising from the notion of technology and ethically superiour creators all one need do is realize that evil is a necessary consequence of moral agency, which in tern is a prerequisite for moral development. Amoral evils (natural disasters and the like) offer challenges which, when met, further the advancement of our moral characters.
If we are simulations (better: “mathematical substructures”), as I believe we are, we are not castaway “Sims” but valued creations, offspring who can reasonably expect to be raised better than we raise our own.
Give the state what belongs to the state, i.e. squat. The author of this article makes a great point. If Jesus wanted to advocate paying taxes he could have answered the question plainly. The Pharisees wanted and expected Jesus to counsel against paying tax so they could have him arrested. There was no need for Jesus to be “crafty” with his answer is the answer was “pay your taxes”. The craftiness was only required by His need to avoid compromising His principle of non-violence (which taxation necessarily violates) without giving his enemies the excuse they were looking for to arrest Him.
Protectionism is when the government protects or creates jobs in our country by imposing taxes on imports from other countries. What could be wrong with that?
To answer that I am going to use US statistics for 3 reasons: 1) they are more readily available; 2) the argument against protectionism in Canada is the same as in the US even though the figures differ slightly; 3) right now its Americans who are most in danger of being taken in by the protectionist nonsense from con men like Trump and Sanders. So here goes. What’s wrong with protectionism.
First: taxation is theft. The government has no moral right to interfere with an agreement between a person in this country and a person in another country and tell them they can’t do business with each other unless the government gets a cut. That’s something a criminal gang does. The government is a criminal gang. Taxation is wrong.
Second: protectionism hurts all the people involved. Why aren’t the people in the other countries important to us? They seem to be important enough to send them charity. Even the government sends them foreign aid. So we care about them too? We want them to have what they need to survive? But we just don’t want them to get to earn it by making things and selling it to us. We only want them to get what they need by receiving it as charity. Wow, we are really good people aren’t we? We’d rather impose taxes on someone, put them out of work, and make them dependent on handouts then reward them for their efforts by being honest and paying them for their stuff. We can blame it on supposedly unfair policies of their government but it’s not their government that we’re hurting, its the productive workers and businesses in these other countries that suffer from tariffs. And we say we love people all over the world. How hypocritical!
The only people protectionism “protects” is businesses and workers in industries who can’t compete fairly with those producing the same things in other parts of the world. These mouchers need the government to step in and save them from those who are willing and able to provide either better quality stuff or cheaper stuff. The mouchers could become more efficient. They could decide to take less profit. They could decide to take less wages or other benefits. They could decide to retool or retrain so they could produce something else better than foreign competitors. But no, they want to keep all their money and benefits and comfortable jobs and force others to pay for their greed. Why actually compete with others fairly when they can just vote in a government that will knock their competitors out of business by imposing tariffs on them.
But hasn’t it been proven that all this free trade has cost us jobs?
Not at all. Technological progress has enabled the manufacturing sector to produce more stuff using fewer workers. Look at this chart. In 1985 it 18 million workers in manufacturing in the US to produce almost half as much stuff as just 12 million workers produce today.
Also, the manufacturing sector is a much smaller portion of the economy than it once was. The graph below shows how manufacturing jobs have declined from about 40% of the non-farming workforce just after WW2 to less than 10% today. This decline started well before the first of the free trade agreements were signed. The value added to the economy by the manufacturing sector is now only 12% of the US gross domestic product.
Those talking about imposing tariffs to save or create “our” jobs point to the balance of trade deficit in manufactured good compared to other countries. In other words, we buy more manufactured good from businesses in other countries than from business here. True, but so what? Look at the favourable balance of trade in the more important services sector.
Do you hear these protectionists talking about how unfair it is for the US to hold such a favourable balance of trade over other countries in the service industry? A sector which is growing bigger and will continue to grow while the manufacturing sector shrinks and will continue to shrink? Do you hear them promising to impose extra taxes on US based services so they service sector in other countries will be able to compete and take jobs away from the US service sector? (I bet you haven’t and you never will.)
By imposing taxes on manufactured imports, those imports will cost more. So the protectionists (Trump and Sanders) want to make 90% of the workers and businesses pay extra for stuff like shoes, clothes, and similar stuff, so that the 10% of workers and businesses who can’t compete fairly with those overseas can stop trying to become more efficient.
And who do you suppose it hurts the most if you increase the cost of shoes and clothes and other stuff? The rich? What does it matter to a rich person if their $100 shoes now cost $115? But it matters a lot to the poor or middle class if the stuff they need now costs an extra 15% – just so 10% of them can keep their jobs a little longer in industries that are quickly being phased out by technological progress.
This graph shows how much more the poor and middle class benefit from being able to buy cheaper foreign products compared to the rich.
By Trump’s own estimates protectionism will add about an extra $1,500 per year to the cost of daily necessities. Protectionism is a tax on the poor and middle class so that politicians can make headlines by bragging about the “saving our jobs” in the 10% of the economy made up of the manufacturing sector. It’s a con. Don’t fall for it.
For the icing on the cake get this: most of the manufacturing sector itself would even be hurt by protectionism. That’s because most of the stuff the US imports goes into the manufacturing of other stuff. For example, Ford imports parts that get used to make cars. If the imported parts cost more, so will the finished car. Not only will made in the USA stuff cost more for Americans, but the higher price will make it harder to sell American made goods to foreigners. So half the stuff protectionism would make more expensive to everyone, would end up helping absolutely no one, not even the 10% of people working in the manufacturing sector.
And we’re not done yet. If anyone for a second actually believes that other countries will let the US get away with imposing tariffs on their imports without retaliating by imposing their own tariffs on US exports, you are really beyond hope. China and other countries will retaliate and even more stuff will cost even more money. This new trade war will spread into other sectors and end up costing jobs. The net effect of all this is that more inefficient businesses and workers will stay in business and more efficient businesses and workers will be unable to compete. Being good at what you do will be less important than whether your particular sector is favoured by the government. It will be the government, politicians and bureaucrats, who will determine which businesses survive instead of the decision being made by consumers.
If people heard Trump and Sanders promising to impose a new tax on everyone that would hurt the poor more than the rich and would only help a tiny portion of the economy, no one would ever think of voting for them. Well, that’s exactly what they are promising.
“Save our jobs”? Seriously, get a grip.
I liked this post discussing belief as choice and wanted to preserve it here with a few highlights and thoughts of my own.
I particularly like this quote from Dr. Teryl Givens as it is close to the same way I understand for why faith is so important. It is an excellent response to any questions regarding why God does not make it easier to believe, why he does not reveal himself to us more obviously.
“You are not free to believe or disbelieve the Law of Gravity. It’s there. The evidence is so abundant that you are compelled to accept it. So, as a result, there’s no virtue that attaches to your belief in that law. Similarly, if I were to offer you a million dollars to believe in the Easter Bunny, you wouldn’t be able to do it. So, in both of these cases, belief seems to operate outside of the moral sphere. We don’t have control that we can exercise to believe or to disbelieve.
But what I’m saying is that faith is what operates or what unfolds in a middle ground, between the compulsion to affirm and the compulsion to deny. And I believe that God has structured our lives here on this Earth in such a way that, when it comes to those issues of eternal import, we have to be free to affirm or to deny. And therefore, there has to be a balance of evidence, both for the veracity of the Gospel, and against it. It’s essential to God’s divine purposes, and to the flowering of freedom itself, I believe, that there have to be compelling reasons to reject the Book of Mormon, to reject Joseph as a prophet, to reject the existence of God Himself. But they have to exist alongside compelling reasons to affirm those things. Only in those circumstances can we call upon our will and choose to believe or not to believe. And I think in those moments, our choice reflects the most important things about us: our souls, what we love, what is it that we choose to affirm. And so that’s how I think faith operates.”
We are counseled that faith needs to supersede mere belief quickly or even such belief as we have will be lost. I think the process is: (1) we become informed of a proposition; (2) we find the proposition appealing (desire); (3) we hope the proposition is true; (4) we adopt an attitude toward the proposition that might loosely be called “belief” but which might be better characterized as the temporary suspension of disbelief (or at least lack of belief). In other words, a recognition that the proposition might be true and that the probability thereof, combined with its desirability, warrants a sincere search for more supportive evidence; (5) we act as if the proposition were true (exercise faith) which results in our obtaining further evidence supporting the proposition; (6) sufficient supporting evidence is amassed that our suspension of disbelief becomes real belief promoting real faith (belief-based behaviour).
(1) is the result of happenstance or divine planning. (2) and (3) come from who we are; who we have become through a lifetime of previous decisions. (4) is a choice because it is an attitude towards the proposition which we are free to adopt or not. (5) is obviously a choice, and a rational one in the full context. (6) is ultimately a gift from God (direct spirit to spirit communication which we are counselled to anticipate and to accept as such. That it happens is certainly some, I would say rather persuasive, evidence of the truth of the proposition.
Whether we are the type of being – whether we have developed (or at least are willing to develop) the quality of Christ-like character – in whom it is safe to entrust with the salvation of our own spiritual offspring, is the question which we must be free to answer by what we do when confronted with the proposition that the Gospel is true. Not only the outcome, but the process of reaching it and thereby further refining that character, is critical. Faith (freely chosen, belief-based behaviour) is the means by which we develop and display a character fit for exaltation.
From the scriptures we learn that we are the children of God. From the scripture we write with our life’s blood we learn whether we will become the parent of gods. What we write is up to us. But remember that He assures us that to live like Him is to experience an eternal fullness of joy.
Every decision the state makes is wrong. At least in the sense that it is wrong to presume to have the authority to make decisions that rightfully belong to others and then enforce those decisions. The state, all states, have lost that authority (some never had it to begin with) by exercising power beyond that which was delegated by the consent of those over whom that power is exercised. This is at least almost always to be expected.
“We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.” — DC 121:39
“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” — Lord Acton
In at least one case, the founding and fundamental principles of a state were set out clearly and in writing and, had it not been for the truisms quoted above, if adhered to, would have justified the decisions of that state. I refer to the individuals rights to life liberty and property, the protection of which was the only authority granted the original United States in its founding document. But that authority has long since passed away due to its abuse by those charged with its faithful discharge.
That leaves all modern states as no better than rival criminal gangs engaged in a turf war with each other and all of us as complicit lackeys or innocent victims in that war.
But that doesn’t mean that no state decisions can have favourable consequences. When a court makes a ruling that diminishes the power of the state over the individual, or when political exigencies induce political leaders to enter international trade agreements with the effect of reducing or constraining their state’s power over individuals, then one can take some satisfaction in the anticipated increase in personal freedom, despite the illegitimacy of the agencies involved.
So called “free trade agreements” are among those state decisions with some favourable consequences. The reduction and elimination of tariffs and similar barriers to trade between individuals and non-statist corporations is good. It expands personal liberty. It creates wealth and therefore jobs – though not every job in every sector of every state’s economy. But that is not the goal of anyone but a bigot*. It also reduces costs for both businesses and consumers and opens larger markets and opportunities for new and expanding businesses.
By including restrictions on non-tariff trade barriers it also reduces state interference in the economy in ways that are not primarily related to trade such as so-called environmental protection and labour standards. It also curtails corporate handouts and bias in awarding contracts thus allowing a freer market to rationally allocate capital thus maximizing wealth creation and a consequent increase in general prosperity. More dying businesses are allowed to fail without government draining capital from new and thriving businesses just to keep the old ones alive until at least after the next election.
The critique that this all translates into unemployment, pollution, and poor working conditions is just a case of willful blindness as it is the state, not individuals, that has been responsible for unemployment, poor working conditions and pollution.
So to the extent that these agreements reduce the power of the state, we ought to root for them. NAFTA, CETA, and the TPP included. Some of the nefarious aspects of these agreements such as involving the sharing of information among states about their citizens, whether by inclusion in the main agreement or in side deals secret or otherwise, are of less significance as we will always be at war with the state over privacy and personal liberty. We just need to remain aware, act smart, and disengage having as little interaction with the state as possible.
It is unfortunate, though not surprising, that the very signatory states to these agreements, routinely circumvent them. The United States is notoriously non-compliant with its obligations under NAFTA and enforcement mechanisms are woefully inadequate. But what more can be expected from criminal gangs. Surely not that they would obey their own laws. Under statist theory and practice obedience to law is a concept to be used to maintain the state’s power over individuals, not to restrict it.
* A job does not “belong” to anyone. It is a contract between the employer and the employee by which the former pays money to the latter in return for the latter’s services. Both the amount of money and the nature of the services must be mutually agreed upon for the contract to exist. Those who support laws that compel employers to contract only with employees in a specified location are bigots because they are using violence (state laws enforced by the police and judicial system) to favour some people (usually relatively well-off people in developed countries) over others (usually poor people in less developed countries). These same people usually also support sending foreign aid to these other countries to ease their guilt. Some of my best friends are bigots. I wish they’d stop.