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Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘Harry Browne’

How the Elite Trap You in Their Unfree World

Posted by M. C. on July 5, 2021

The government is a big trap designed to keep people in its orbit. You are supposed to work within the context the government provides to live your life, make money, and affect social change. Or you’re at least supposed to be too afraid of the government to step out of line. But even rebelling against the government directly is part of the trap. It means you have accepted the importance of the government– that it is capable of controlling you. Harry Browne identified different “traps” like these that we fall into in his 1973 book, How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World. Buy the book: https://amzn.to/2TX0Xvl (Amazon affiliate link) His main point was that we each have the power to be remarkably free, but we get tricked into believing our freedom is outside of our own control.

By Joe Jarvis

The government is a big trap designed to keep people in its orbit.

You are supposed to work within the context the government provides to live your life, make money, and affect social change.

Or you’re at least supposed to be too afraid of the government to step out of line.

But even rebelling against the government directly is part of the trap. It means you have accepted the importance of the government– that it is capable of controlling you.

Harry Browne identified different “traps” like these that we fall into in his 1973 book, How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World.

His main point was that we each have the power to be remarkably free, but we get tricked into believing our freedom is outside of our own control.

For example, trying to find freedom by working in a group is a trap.

A group as a single united entity does not exist. Only individuals making up the group can act. The will of the group is an illusion. And every accomplishment of a group can be traced back to individual achievement within the group.

When it comes to freedom, effort is wasted on influencing and steering a group that has little chance of achieving the desired outcome. You can accomplish more on your own.

That doesn’t mean groups are never beneficial. Working together is absolutely necessary to live in a modern world. But only by understanding where individual interests overlap, and clearly defining the roles of how various parties can strengthen as a group, is it actually beneficial.

Specialization of labor solves this problem in the free market. But a crucial aspect of making groups work is having the ability to leave the group when it no longer serves your interests.

The government is a type of Group Trap, made worse by the fact that we can’t simply say no thank you for their services, and go your separate ways.

But that doesn’t mean you have to fall into the traps.

Browne outlined four main Government Traps:

  1. The belief that governments perform socially useful functions that deserve your support.
  2. The belief that you have a duty to obey laws.
  3. The belief that the government can be counted upon to carry out a social reform you favor.
  4. The fear that the government is so powerful that it can prevent you from being free.

Governments have done a tremendous job over the millenia convincing people that no other method of organizing could produce safe and prosperous societies– because governments have such good track records, right?

Browne says, “it’s not surprising that most people turn first to the government whenever they become concerned about their freedom. They assume either that the government must do something to help them be free, or that the government is obstructing their freedom.”

Assuming that the government can solve a problem which the free market (individuals making their own decisions) could not is falling into the Group Trap. What magical ability does a group of voters, politicians, or bureaucrats have?

“The Government Traps ensnare many people because they never stop to recognize what a government is. It’s an agency of coercion that’s accepted as necessary by most people within its area of influence. It differs from the Mafia only in that the Mafia isn’t usually considered necessary by the people in the communities it “serves.”

Browne’s solution involves recognizing that the government is not all powerful and all knowing– as Hollywood would have you believe.

And the government does have limited resources, despite what the Federal Reserve’s money printer would have you believe.

But they will certainly make examples of people who defy the government openly.

So when it comes to the government, Browne says:

  1. Don’t be awed by it.
  2. Don’t confront it.
  3. Don’t organize.

The government is not all powerful and omniscient. You generally don’t need to go out of your way to follow all the laws and regulations. Check first, but generally whatever law you want to break has a very minor punishment.

For example, if you ignore permits and build a shed anyway, first you are hopefully in a place where that won’t be detected, or you won’t be turned into the Gestapo by nosy neighbors.

Your chance of being caught is low, and even if you were caught, you’d basically just have to pay the original license fee, and maybe a penalty.

But the government does make examples of people, which is why you don’t want to confront it.

Rather than emboldening a movement that rallies to your cause, confronting the government makes sure you are noticed, and gives them a target to pursue. Punishing you helps them keep others in line.

And the same principle applies when you organize to confront the government.

Now I’m not entirely sure I completely agree with Browne on his point about not organizing.

For example one thing I would love to accomplish one day is to create a community of people who value the same type of freedoms I value.

But it would be run like a business, and follow all laws.

When you’re in the business of talking about how to get around the government, as Browne was and I am, we essentially have to follow all the rules.

By constantly criticizing the government, I put a target on my back, which is why I do everything totally legit. All my tax incentives are perfectly legal and IRS compliant.

I’ve made the calculus that to be in my line of work it is worth the cost of being under more scrutiny.

But for most people, flying below the radar is your best bet to achieve whatever freedoms you desire.

Which, by the way, you should be specific about. A general feeling that the government oppresses you is hard to overcome. You have to identify the specific laws, regulations, or obligations that are most stifling to you, and go about solving each one, step by step.

Harry Browne passed away in 2006, and as I said earlier, the book was originally written in the 1970s. But I recommend How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World to anyone interesting in freeing themselves– and not just from government, that is just one small section of the book.

Browne also talks about traps we fall into when it comes to social obligations, believing certain things should make us happy, or that it is a waste to abandon previous investments.

Other interesting “traps” Browne identifies include:

Despair Trap: The belief that you are powerless to resist, that others can control your freedom and happiness, and that there is nothing you can do about it.

Utopia Trap: The idea that you have to change the world before you can be free. Everyone’s idea of utopia is different, so even if you could get a critical mass, it would be unlikely to line up with your idea of utopia. And even if it did, it would be unlikely to stay that way.

Instead, you can create your own utopia– individual action that doesn’t depend on others.

Burning Issue Trap: See my recent video, No, you don’t have to care about any of this. People try to force you to to care about what they care about. There are too many problems to solve them all anyway, so focus on what matters to you.

Certainty Trap: This is basic the failure to ever examine the premises you are working off of, or to blindly trust experts simply because they are experts. But in reality, nothing is certain. That truth should not be paralyzing, but it should be used to inform your course of action.

Browne helped me realize that a lot of the slavery I felt was in my own head. Yes, it was a reaction to real outside forces that I could not control. But what strangled my freedom was giving them free real estate inside my head.

Freeing myself mentally from the government, elite, and society’s rules was the first step I needed to take in order to free myself in more tangible ways that improve the daily quality of my life.

If you want to grab his book How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World, follow this link.

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EconomicPolicyJournal.com: ‘Why I’m Leaving California’

Posted by M. C. on September 20, 2020

https://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2020/09/why-im-leaving-california.html

What Ben Shapiro says in this clip is on the minds of many CEOs and high-wage earners in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and New York City.

The tax base is leaving the cities thanks to the way wacko lefties running these operations.

Taxpayers will take a lot of abuse but when the threat is moved to directly outside the door despite paying high taxes, the tax base moves.

It is difficult to see how these cities don’t turn into third rate hell holes unless the lefties running these cities are replaced pronto.

On a tangential note, it is interesting that Shapiro has chosen Tennesse. The real number crunchers tend to choose this state. The late financial adviser Harry Browne lived there and Arthur Laffer operates out of Tennessee.  Though Browne and Laffer chose Memphis over Nashville.
 
 

RW

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The Vindication of Harry Browne… Again – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on August 25, 2020

That last sentence is where we get our Harry Browne moment. In nearly two decades we have not got our defense on track to oppose whatever ragtag band might strike us, or so Mr. Hanlon worries. To paraphrase the slogan from the XYZ affair, trillions for offense, not one cent for defense.

We have thrown sums beyond counting at the Military Industrial Complex and nothing has come up that keeps us safe except for keeping 5,000 troops there forever.

https://original.antiwar.com/?p=2012340801

On January 27, 2000 in an email during his 2000 campaign for the American presidency, the late Libertarian Party candidate Harry Browne wrote,

“Today we have a strong national offense (the ability to blow any country to smithereens) and a weak national defense (the inability to defend against any two-bit dictator who gets his hands on a nuclear missile). We should have just the opposite. When we do, we will have a much more efficient defense-with a much smaller cost & a much less complex system.”

583 days later, Browne would be vindicated for the first time, sadly so. Despite all the billions (it was only billions back then) spent on the American military, 19 men came to America and hijacked planes to destroy the twin towers of the World Trade Center in the capital of finance. They also attacked the Pentagon and were foiled in one other action. True, it was not with a nuke, but horrible enough.

Browne did not predict the events, but they happened as could have been expected. We had been intervening in places in a way that was not to the liking of the people there and some actors noticed that there was an opportunity afforded due to the strong offense/weak defense situation.

Because Osama bin Laden supposedly launched the idea in Afghanistan, we invaded that land as he was not extradited. We did not go there because the Taliban struck NYC, they didn’t.

No matter, we have been there ever since and no one really gives a reason. Some give a mealy-mouthed rationale, but no one tells us why the Republic will fail if we leave. On February 2, 2019, Scott Simon gave a soulful little monologue on NPR about how women’s rights was a reason, well, rationale, sort of.

In essence, it seems we are there because we’re there.

Still, sometimes someone says something that makes sense in a way, even though it doesn’t. On Thursday, August 13, 2020, Michael E. O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution, specializing in defense and foreign policy issues, had an article at Brookings, with the title, Rightsizing the Afghanistan Mission.

Finally, we are going to get it right, or so he hopes. Some may remain skeptical, but the most interesting paragraph is this:

“Many will lament that the “forever wars” would continue under such a policy. But a mission focused on training Afghans and conducting counterterrorism operations, costing perhaps $10 to $15 billion and entailing 10 to 20 American fatalities a year (if the recent past is a guide), is a far cry from the clear, hold, and build operations conducted largely by U.S. ground forces a decade ago – with American fatalities reaching as high as 500 a year and costs exceeding $100 billion annually. Compared to the alternative of an American homeland again possibly at risk from extremist attack hatched in the land of the Hindu Kush, it is likely the least bad choice.”

That last sentence is where we get our Harry Browne moment. In nearly two decades we have not got our defense on track to oppose whatever ragtag band might strike us, or so Mr. Hanlon worries. To paraphrase the slogan from the XYZ affair, trillions for offense, not one cent for defense.

We have thrown sums beyond counting at the Military Industrial Complex and nothing has come up that keeps us safe except for keeping 5,000 troops there forever.

He means it, as the first sentence makes clear, but recently, the idea of “forever wars” has been getting a bad press, if only because they are forever, which does imply little purpose.

The man thinks it’s all a good bargain. “10 to 20 American fatalities” per annum, forever (it is after all a forever war) is a price he is willing to pay. One might guess they think that statistically insignificant at Brookings. Then again, nothing is really statistically insignificant if you are the statistic. Fortunately for Mr. O’Hanlon, he does not have much to worry about in that department though he has probably made field trips there.

The estimate of “perhaps $10 to $15 billion” a year may not seem too steep either, given inflation, but could not that money be better used by the sinecuricrats at the foundations? Could they not come up with a plan so that intelligence agencies could counter all those bad guys who feel offended at being helped by our internationalism without sending troops to poor mountainous countries? Kind of begs the question of why do they call them “think” tanks anyway?

“Tank,” however, makes sense as in “in the” tank. Who would donate all that moolah to such institutes unless an interest is served?

So, as the years roll on, we shall continue to have a garrison in the “graveyard of empires,” but as another 911 anniversary approaches we should remember the late Harry Brown; presidential candidate, author, economist, libertarian and, as it turns out, prophet.

We have to fight them over there so we don’t have to think about it too much over here.

Richard Morchoe is a columnist, book reviewer and article writer for a regional monthly magazine in Western Central Massachusetts. His email address is rmorchoe@ymail.com.

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