It's Time to Ban Spoons and End Obesity

In 2004 the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ranked obesity as the number one health risk facing America.  Obesity currently results in an estimated 400,000 deaths a year in the United States and costs the national economy nearly $122.9 billion annually.  Experts believe that obesity will soon become America's number one killer, overtaking smoking and leaving other forms of death such as car accidents, gun violence, and terrorist attacks in the dust.

For far too long America has been in the grips of the special interests that lobby our congressmen and have hijacked our government to keep Americans addicted to the #1 cause of obesity: Spoons.  But all that is about to change.

Having a rational debate about the undeniable relationship between America's obsession with spoons and our obesity epidemic is no longer taboo.  Ever since Mayor Bloomberg heroically led the country in protecting us from the evils of large sugary drinks, people everywhere are becoming more used to the idea of applying this kind of forward-thinking leadership in other areas.

Just a few years ago the ignorant individualists clinging to their spoons would protest that we as a country have no right to regulate or ban their use.  Thankfully, as a result of our new free health-care system, these ignoramuses can no longer hide behind this excuse.  We are all paying for each other's health-care, and if you harm yourself through the criminal use of spoons, then we all suffer the consequences.

The pro-spoon pro-obesity pro-death industrial complex is finally losing its iron grip on our country.  We are at the tipping point.  Now is the time to act.   I will prove without a shadow of a doubt that spoons cause obesity, and I will give you the solution for how we can end obesity once and for all by enacting responsible Spoon Control legislation on the path towards a total ban of this evil utensil.

The Evidence is Undeniable

Study after study has proven the relationship between spoons and obesity.  Recent studies surveying every country on the planet have established an irrefutable link between countries that have a high number of spoons per capita and the percentage of the population that is obese.  A random sampling of these countries clearly show that the trend line of spoons per capita is a perfect match with a country's rate of obesity.

Western Countries have high obesity rates and high spoons per capita.  The Asian countries, which use chop sticks, use fewer spoons and therefore have a lower obesity rate.  Finally, the third world countries have no spoons and no obesity.  The truth is inescapable.

The logic is obvious.  As we can see above, the western countries including the United States, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada all have a high rate of spoons per capita and a correspondingly high rate of obesity.  As we move to the Asian countries such as South Korea and Japan, their obesity rate dramatically decreases along with their lower number of spoons per capita, as they use chop sticks.  Finally, the more enlightened countries such as Haiti, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe have virtually no spoons at all and they have managed to completely eradicate the plague of obesity.

More spoons = more obesity.  There is no other possible explanation.

No One Needs a Spoon

The founders of this country used wooden spoons to eat their simple meals, and they never would have dreamed that in the future these utensils would be used to consume the incredibly fatty foods that Americans eat today.  Luckily, the American forefathers were smart enough to found this country with a constitution that is a living document and is flexible enough to face the challenges of our changing world.

The founding fathers with their wooden spoons would be shocked at how we abuse them today.

Clearly, no one has a legitimate reason to own a spoon in this day and age, as they are only used today to consume large amounts of unhealthy and fatty foods.  A simple knife and fork is all that is needed to eat a healthy diet of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, dairy products, and meat.  For those that insist on eating soup and cereal, surely they can just drink it directly out of the bowl.

Unfortunately, many Americans are so brainwashed towards the use of spoons that we may not be able to enact a complete spoon ban right away.  In that case we can at least start with responsible Spoon Control legislation, such as no more than 1 spoon per household, with compulsory spoon registration to ensure this regulation is enforced.  Only teaspoon sized spoons should be allowed, as anything larger is just asking for abuse.  In addition, we must ensure that properly registered spoons are kept at least 15 feet away from the refrigerator where fatty foods like ice cream are stored.  But even these steps will not stop the obesity epidemic; we will never eradicate ourselves of this horrible disease until every last spoon is destroyed.

Do it for the Children

It's one thing to try and make an argument that adults should be able to make their own choices when it comes to spoons, but that logic does not apply at all when we talk about the children.  Children are young, and sweet, and innocent.  If we don't come together as a nation and protect them from the evils of spoons, no one else will.

Consider how the pro-spoon pro-child-obesity lobbyists have infiltrated the media and programmed our children to love spoons before they could even understand what they were watching.  The most obvious example was the cartoon show "The Tick", where the supposed hero's catch-phrase was, you guessed it, "Spooooooooon!" Is there nothing these monsters won't do?

They brainwash our children to use spoons and become obese.  The pro-spoon forces are pure evil.

The pro-spoon media programming was just the beginning.  Over the last 30 years childhood obesity has tripled.  According to the CDC, in 2008 more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.  The following chart shows the vicious cycle of how spoons lead to childhood obesity and to a lifetime of misery.  Even worse, the cycle continues from generation to generation, with parents blindly passing on their spoon addiction to their children.  If these parents cannot keep spoons from their children to keep them fit and healthy, we as a country must do it for them.  It is time to break the cycle!

What You Can Do About It

Now is the time to finally put an end to obesity once and for all.  Luckily the solution is very simple.  You don't have to persuade and convince others to stop using spoons and becoming obese, and you don't even have to try and forcefully stop them yourselves.  All you have to do is sign this petition and demand that our government enact responsible spoon control legislation!

The great thing about our country is if we can get enough people behind this movement we can force everyone else to do what we want.  When someone else isn't smart enough to do the right thing, we can force them to do it through our government.  It's called democracy , and it's what makes America the freest country in the world.

So please, if you care about children, and if you want to stop obesity, sign the petition and join us in this heroic battle of good versus evil.


Should Libertarians Vote Libertarian?

Should libertarians vote Libertarian?  You will never see a similar question seriously considered for any other political party.  A person who identifies himself as a "republican" is, by definition, someone who is engaged in the political process and will vote for the Republican Party.  Likewise for the self-identified democrat.  Democrats vote for the Democratic Party, and republicans vote for the Republican Party.  That's what they do.

Things aren't so simple for "small l" libertarians.  For a libertarian to join, promote, and vote for the Libertarian Party, both pragmatic and moral objections must be overcome.  A sampling of those objections could be found any day this October on Lewrockwell.com, the best-read libertarian website in the world.  "Vote for Liberty by Not Voting", "Voting, A Fool's Game!", and "Libertarians Should Vote for… No One" are all recent articles by libertarians I admire, and they all make excellent points that every thoughtful libertarian should consider before choosing whether or not to go to the ballot box this November.

Nevertheless, I have chosen to ironically take the characteristically libertarian minority position on this libertarian voting issue.  At the risk of failing a future libertarian purity test, I believe, with a few qualifications, that libertarians should vote for candidates of the Libertarian Party.

As hard as it is to group and categorize libertarians, I will target my message towards two distinct groups: the minarchists who are planning to vote for Mitt Romney or write in Ron Paul, and the anarchists who plan to abstain from voting altogether in order to sleep well at night knowing they did not give their endorsement to the state nor bring it additional legitimacy.

A Message to Ron Paul Revolutionaries and Libertarian Minarchists Working in the Republican Party

Libertarians are split into two camps, anarchists and minarchists.  The minarchists, believing in the legitimacy or expediency of a night-watchmen state, have no objection to engaging in the political process to work for smaller government.  For the minarchist, the biggest decision to make is where to get the most bang for your political activism buck.  Do you work to reform one of the two major parties to make it more liberty-friendly, or do you work to grow the Libertarian Party?

Forget the slogan, "liberty in our lifetime"; there are some that want liberty as soon as possible, preferably this election.  With that kind of goal, building up a no-compromise liberty-oriented party of principle by changing hearts and minds one at a time over years, if not decades, just isn't very attractive.  Ruling out a political party that has not received more than 1% of the presidential vote leaves these libertarian political activists with one real alternative: take over the Republican Party.

There are several appealing reasons that libertarians choose to work within the Republican Party instead of the Libertarian Party.  For many newcomers to libertarianism the reason is simple, the man that woke them up, Dr. Ron Paul, has used the Republican Party machinery very effectively to spread the message of liberty.  Inventing the "money bomb", starting the Tea Party, passing "Audit the Fed", breaking fundraising records and drawing crowds of thousands at college campuses are all praise-worthy accomplishments of Dr. Paul's 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns.  However, these quantitative achievements are mere reflections of the real reason to be excited: the thousands of people that have been converted to the libertarian cause or are at least more sympathetic to these ideas as a result of Dr. Paul's engagement in the political process.

So what shall we do after accomplishing so much? After the 2008 election Dr. Paul encouraged his followers to get involved in their local Republican Party, play by the rules, and make a difference in the next election.  In a fair and just world Dr. Paul would have been recognized for having achieved wins in several primary states, but instead, we saw the red team break every rule of their party platform and common decency in order to keep Ron from gaining momentum and causing division in their party.

So what now?  Some Ron Paul revolutionaries have become so wedded to the idea of taking over the red team that they are planning to vote for the red candidate, even if he's barely distinguishable from the dreaded blue candidate.  Maybe those that have begrudgingly joined team Romney don't want to seem like "sore losers", maybe some have endorsed Mitt to strengthen their future political careers, or maybe they really think that Mitt will be slightly better than Obama on some issues.

Whatever "lesser of two evils" logic some have adopted, let's keep in mind that it hasn't worked on Ron.  Dr. Paul has heroically abstained from endorsing his party's candidate, and at the same time has said some very nice things about Gary Johnson's campaign and encouraged his supporters to make their own choice this November.

I'm hoping you consider my message when you make this choice, and for you, my message is harsh but simple: Dr. Paul woke you up by using the Republican Party as a communication platform.  You were intrigued by his unique ideas during the debates, and maybe he turned you on to a few books on libertarianism and Austrian economics.  But do not confuse your admiration of Dr. Paul with allegiance to the Republican Party.  Remember that it is Lincoln's Party: a party of war, corporatism, and big government.

The Republican Party doesn't want your ideas of liberty or small government, and just forget about a non-interventionist foreign policy.  Yes they want your vote, but they don't want you.  They pay lip service to libertarian slogans and then make us all look like fools as they vote in bigger government then democrats could ever get away with.  The republicans are gambling that you fear Obama more than you love integrity.  They are hoping that you'd rather take the long road to serfdom rather than a principled stance that a slick-talking, flip-flopping, big-government republican will never get your vote.

So come home.  Come home to the Libertarian Party.  It's an uphill battle, but it will be a fun ride.  You'll be amongst like-minded people and won't have to rub shoulders with neo-cons and war-mongers.  Join a party that actually believes what you believe.  Don't get suckered into the empty promises of the red team.  They are playing you all for fools.

Now, for those minarchists who are planning on writing in 'Ron Paul'... What are you thinking?  If we had only the two major parties on the ballot then yes, I'd write in "Ron Paul", "Donald Duck", or "Lysander Spooner".  In that scenario I have no problem siding with H.L. Mencken and "vot[ing] on Artemus Ward's principle that if we can't have a live man who amounts to anything, by all means let's have a first-class corpse."

But we don't have only two choices.  We do have a sincere libertarian who will be on the ballot in all 50 states.  You don't need to throw your vote away in order to protest a corrupt and blatantly unfair election process.  If you want to cast a protest vote, by all means, cast that vote by voting against both sides of the big-government party, against the two wings of the same bird of prey, against the left and right boots stomping your face into the mud... vote for Gary Johnson.

Damn right we did.

A Message to Principled Anarchists

A friend who volunteers for the Libertarian Party once asked me, "if libertarians make up 5 - 10% of the United States population, then why can we never get more than 1% of the vote for the presidential election?".  I can answer his question with a joke, "What is the difference between a minarchist and an anarchist?"  "About 6 months."

In other words, just as fast as we gain new libertarians, those new converts become stricken with a disease of logical consistency.  At some point along the libertarian journey one comes to the realization that if private voluntary transactions on the free-market can bring us cell-phones, vegetables, and health-care better than theft, coercion, and organized violence, then perhaps security and arbitration services are additional candidates for privatization.  Now the last excuses for the night-watchmen state fall apart, and a man must make a choice between intellectual integrity and the risk of being labeled a Molotov-cocktail-throwing, v-for-vendetta-mask-wearing social delinquent.

Once you accept that the government that governs least governs best, and the least amount of governing is zero, then you have practical and moral considerations to make when it comes to engaging in the political process.  The moral question asks if one can be a principled and consistent libertarian anarchist while engaging in the political process.  The practical question is one of tactics: does my political activism support, endorse, legitimize, or provide a mandate for the very system that I would like to see eventually dismantled?  If I support a bill that will lower taxes, am I acknowledging that the state has a right to steal from me?  If I vote for a candidate who pledges to lower taxes, is my vote for a lower amount of theft endorsing theft nonetheless?

Many prominent libertarians certainly think so.  Consider this passage from "Vote for Liberty by Not Voting" by Daniel J Sanchez:
"...your vote helps provide a mandate for all of the elected officer’s policies, whether you support those policies or not.  As one author has said, voting "just encourages the bastards."

Furthermore, every vote for a federal office is a vote for the hyper-state known as the U.S. federal government, and for hyper-states in general.  It is effectively an endorsement of centralized power and a vote of no confidence in localism.  And yes, this would be true of a vote for a middling libertarian like Gary Johnson, or even an exceptionally heroic individual like Ron Paul.  True progress toward liberty cannot be achieved through the offices of a gargantuan state."

In "Voting: A Fool's Game!", Gary Barnett flips the conventional wisdom on its head, and argues that not only does voting legitimize the state, but it also forces you to accept the results and invalidates your grounds for complaining.
"Many libertarians think that voting is acceptable only if one votes for someone other than those in the two major parties, or someone who is a Democrat or Republican that is accepted by a majority of "libertarian type" individuals.  I disagree with this thinking entirely.  I disagree because even if a good man might run for high office, regardless of who wins, every single vote cast legitimizes not only the outcome, but also the very flawed political system itself.  This is not an option to my way of thinking, because libertarianism is based upon individual rights, and when voting is evident, the individual is abandoned.

Because voting supports the system, those who vote are obligated to accept the results.  To accept the results means to accept the system, and to accept the system, means to accept what that system produces.  What is produced in the governing system in the U.S. is based upon theft, coercion, police state force, and imprisonment, all for political gain.  The laws of the land written by those elected officials in this same system support this criminal activity, so by voting, one’s ability to complain is eliminated.  I do realize that this is the reverse of how many think, but it is the only logical position to take.

In my mind, not voting is the only way to denounce entirely the current political system, and to not give consent, implied or otherwise, to its evil ways."

Joel Poindexter's article "Libertarians Should Vote for… No One" mainly argues against voting for either of the two major candidates, which I am in perfect agreement with.  However, he seems to believe that voting for the Libertarian Party candidate won't accomplish as much as abstaining from voting entirely.
"... it should be noted that voting for another candidate – even one nominated by the Libertarian party – does little to stall, rollback, or smash the state, as should be every libertarian's goal.  Libertarians should instead avoid the polls, and convince as many others to do likewise."

While these are all thoughtful reason to abstain from voting, the best arguments against engaging in the sacrament of the political religion that I've read were in Larken Rose's excellent book The Most Dangerous Superstition.

On page 144 Mr. Rose gives us "The Libertarian Contradiction":
" trying to make it [the non-aggression principle] a reality via any political process is completely self-contradictory, because "government" and non-aggression are utterly incompatible.
Trying to convert libertarianism into a political movement requires a mangled, perverted hybrid of the two options: the idea that a system of domination ("government") can be used to achieve individual freedom.  Whenever a "libertarian" lobbies for legislation or runs for office, he is, by his own actions, conceding that "authority" and man-made "law" is legitimate.
There is a fundamental difference between arguing about what the master should do - which is what all "politics" consists of - and declaring that the master has no right to rule at all.  To be a libertarian candidate is to try to do both of these conflicting things.  It obviously legitimizes the office the candidate seeks to hold, even while the candidate is claiming to believe in the principles of non-aggression and self-ownership, which completely rule out the possibility of any legitimate "public office."  In short, if the goal is individual freedom, "political action" is not only worthless, it is hugely counter-productive, because the main thing it accomplishes is to legitimize the ruling class's power.
If enough people recognize and let go of the "authority" myth, there is no need for any election, any political action, or any revolution."

Answering the common objections in these passages in order from easiest to hardest, I'll first respond to the challenge that abstaining from voting is a more effective means of resistance to the state than voting for the Libertarian Candidate.

While it may make one feel warm and fuzzy to stay home on election day, the reality is this decision only hampers our ability to reach the masses.  Remember that the news cycle will not report that of the 36% of eligible voters that stayed at home, 8% of them were principled anarchists that have rejected the state and refuse to endorse it.  Instead they will report only the percentages of those that choose to vote, and the collective decision of libertarian non-voters to remain silent means that instead of getting 5%-10% and becoming a force to be reckoned with, we may never pass that embarrassing 1% barrier and our ideas will never be considered by the common man because of that stigma.

Next we have the argument of providing aid and comfort to the enemy.  The act of voting for anyone, even a libertarian, provides a mandate for all government officials, legitimizes their illegitimate power, provides endorsement of their crimes against humanity, and obligates you to accept the state in all of its horror.

If the choice were between the lesser of two evils, then I would absolutely agree.  But remember, we have a Libertarian Party candidate on the ballot in all 50 states!  Is Gary Johnson the reincarnation of Murray Rothbard?  He's far from it.  In fact, when I went to Las Vegas as a delegate I supported R. Lee Wrights because I felt he was a more principled candidate.  But that being admitted, it is grossly unfair to lump the LP in the same group as the blue and red wings of the big government party.  How better can you denounce the system then by voting for a candidate who has the polar opposite beliefs of that system's front men?  Everything they want to promote and expand, be it war, taxes, or the power of government itself, we want to decrease, eliminate, and roll back.

Agreed.  So vote for a candidate who wants to get rid of the masters, break the chains, and set the slaves free!

And if the objection is that Gary Johnson isn't a pure enough libertarian to earn the anarchist vote, you frankly have no one to blame but yourself.  Just as there has been an ideological battle in the Republican Party, there has been a similar struggle in the Libertarian Party.  The forces aligned with Wayne Alan Root fought for a "big-tent" libertarian party, which was code for watering down our beautifully radical platform to become the Republican-lite party.  Those forces succeeded in 2008, but in 2012 I am proud to say that the libertarian wing of the Libertarian Party heroically fought them off and succeeded in defeating their attempt to completely take over the party and disenfranchise the anarchists.  We were able to fill the Libertarian Party Executive Committee completely with radicals, and that setback is a big reason we were finally able to run off Wayne Alan Root himself, as he has formally left the LP, endorsed Romney, and announced his intention to run for office as a Republican.

So can we answer the hardest objection of them all?  Do I have an answer for Mr. Rose's libertarian contradiction?  Having run for office on the LP ticket myself, I was taken aback by his challenge. Did my campaign do more harm than good?  Ask the question another way, is it possible to be a libertarian candidate and not bring legitimacy to the state?

I think it is possible, and while I can't speak for the minarchist candidates of the LP, you can definitely imagine an anarchist campaign that would not violate Mr. Rose's objections.  Imagine a campaign where every voter questionnaire, every interview, and every chance to speak centered around an educational message denouncing the system of government itself and encouraging people to free themselves from their masters.  If every campaign message was about not only dismantling the state, but encouraging people to actively resist the state to help bring that about, then Mr. Rose's objections wouldn't hold water.

And now I am left in an awkward position.  If a principled anarchist could only vote for a principled anarchist candidate, then am I not admitting that some should not vote for the LP because Gary Johnson's campaign does not meet the criteria that I just laid out?

Thankfully, I have at least one prominent libertarian hero on my side, Dr. Walter Block, who has provided me with the perfect reductio ad absurdum rebuttal.  Yes, Gary Johnson's campaign does not meet the qualifications necessary to earn the vote of a principled anarchist...  Luckily, I am not a principled anarchist.

I accept federal reserve notes for payment, which legitimizes the government's theft and fraud through a fractional reserve fiat money system enforced through violence.  I use government roads and other public services, even though I know they were paid for with blood money stolen at the point of a gun.  I have abandoned my unalienable and natural right to self-defense, and instead I have sheepishly applied for a concealed carry permit.  And long before I traded that right for a privilege, I acknowledged that I have no right to travel without the state's permission, as I possess a driver's license.

My list of transgressions against my anarchist principles could go on forever.  The point being, don't throw stones if you live in a glass house.  One of the most hardcore libertarians I know, Michael Badnarik, really walks the walk.  He drives without a driver's license and he will never get a permit to exercise his natural right to bear arms.  The guy is hard-core principled.  And considering that he was the LP's 2004 presidential candidate, I think we can deduce where he falls on the voting issue.  If he can make the sacrifice, what is your excuse?


The Libertarian Party is not perfect.  Our pathetic choice for our presidential candidate in 2008 is testament to that.  However, our party platform is still something a radical libertarian can be proud of, and our recent reversal of the Wayne Alan Root forces is also a great victory for every hardcore libertarian.

Every time I hear "this is the election cycle that can change everything" I shake my head.  It is counter-productive to have delusions of grandeur and set yourself up for failure.  But that being said... this is the year that can change everything.  Not to win, but to finally pass that dreaded 1% mark.  We are not only in a position to break 1%, but we have a real chance of passing the 5% mark.  This means that all of the time, money, and energy that is spent every election in every state to qualify or re-qualify the Libertarian Party for ballot access will no longer be necessary.

With 5%, we get automatic ballot access.  All of the lawsuits, all of the petition gathering, the tens of thousands of dollars… all of it can finally go towards promoting our candidates and more importantly, promoting our message.

One of Gary Johnson's campaign slogans is "Be libertarian with me for one election".  My slogan is "libertarians, vote libertarian with me for one election!"


The Libertarian Response to Vices

Looking back on my run for State Representative, my most rewarding experience was being invited to speak about libertarianism to a class of gifted students at a local high school.  I started by handing out the Worlds Smallest Political Quiz and gave a brief overview of what libertarianism is all about.  Then I opened the floor for questions, and no one can accuse the students of pulling any punches.  We discussed many different topics, but I clearly remember that one of the main subjects that kept coming back was drugs.  Several students challenged my support of legalizing drugs, telling me that drugs are bad, they destroy families and communities, etc.  How could I support the use of deadly drugs that cause so much harm?

I distinctly remember defending my position along empirical grounds.  I explained that while "drugs are bad" the effects from prohibition are the main cause of the problems associated with drug use.  I made a parallel to alcohol prohibition, explaining that our experiment with outlawing booze resulted in increased alcoholism, deadlier and lower quality alcohol (moonshine), higher prices attracting criminal mobsters, an increase in violence as those mobsters fought the police and each other for territory, and the corruption of the police.

However, one thing I don't remember explaining is the moral argument, the "who am I to judge" argument.  I'm not sure if I was bold enough to propose that drug use is a vice and not a crime.  Perhaps the students were familiar with the phrase, "I may disagree with what you have to say, but I will defend your right to say it".  But if they were, many of them didn't draw the parallel between offensive language and offensive behavior.

Lysander Spooner defined vices as "those acts by which a man harms himself or his property… simply the errors which a man makes in his search after his own happiness.  Unlike crimes, they imply no malice toward others, and no interference with their persons or property."  Today we live in a world where many vices are outlawed, and the price for breaking these laws include fines, imprisonment, and even death.  Libertarianism is often portrayed as an extreme ideology, where the libertarian position of being opposed to drug prohibition is seen to imply favoring drug use.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

This blog will show that endorsing a vice and using government violence to combat a vice are two extreme positions on a spectrum that includes other options, including tolerance and the use of ostracism.  We will see that libertarians adopt these median options as the proper response to various vices, and consequently show that libertarianism is actually the moderate position compared to irresponsible promotion of self-destructive behavior on the one hand, and the use of aggressive violence by government agents on the other.

The spectrum of possible responses to other people's vices

Starting from the far left of my "Responses to Vices Spectrum", we can think of a few scenarios where someone would be inclined to endorse, support, and approve of another person's vices.  One scenario would be when a person himself suffers from the vice that he endorses.  People that are considered addicted to a drug or a behavior like gambling often surround themselves with people that share the same vice.  This mutually reinforcing support network allows them to both normalize their destructive behavior because "everyone else is doing it", while also creating an example that allows them to legitimize their behavior, "Yes I just got my second DUI, but at least I haven't gotten a fourth one like Bob.  Now he really has problems."

On the flip side, there are countless examples of promoting vices where the person or organization making the endorsement does so for self-interested reasons.  The pimp that convinces a confused girl to sell herself for money and the drug pusher that encourages a teenager to sample his products to ensure a new customer are examples of endorsing illegal vices.  However, let us not forget that, thankfully, many vices are not illegal.  One can't watch more than a few minutes of television without being bombarded with countless endorsements of vices, whether outright commercials or strategic product placement.  The abuse of alcohol, cigarettes, and pharmaceutical drugs cause far more social damage than many illegal drugs, especially compared to marijuana.  Even the over indulgence of junk food and soda would rate higher on a social damage scale in terms of health costs, yet commercials promoting endless consumption of these products populate our billboards and rank as our favorite super bowl commercials.

Even when you don't have a specific product to sell we see vices glamorized in American culture, including promiscuity and gambling.  But don't think private greed is the only source of this endorsement, as the government also has its hands in the dirty pot when encouraging the poor and mathematically ignorant into spending their few precious dollars on state-sponsored lotteries.

Moving rightward on my spectrum, the next logical option for responding to a vice is tolerance.  In this case, an individual may not personally approve of the behavior, may even actively try to persuade others against the particular vice, but nonetheless they tolerate those that engage in the vice and keep a place for them in their lives.  These scenarios could include the permanent designated driver that responsibly handles alcohol and drives his booze-hound friends from bar to bar, the person that goes to Vegas and takes in a few shows while a friend loses his life savings, or a religious fundamentalist that believes homosexuality to be a sin but maintains a loving relationship with an openly gay family member.

As we move from tolerance to intolerance, the next non-aggressive response to a vice is ostracism.  In this case the person believes the vice to be so dangerous that they don't want anything to do with the vice, nor with those that engage in it.  According to Wikipedia, the word ostracism comes from the Greeks and described a procedure where a citizen would be expelled from Athens for ten years.  Ostracism could be practiced for the benefit of the ostracized, where a parent realizes they have been enabling destructive behavior by condoning a hopelessly alcoholic or drug-abusing child, and decide to "cut them off" from the family until they get their lives back on track.  On the other hand, the parent could ostracize the "prodigal son" not for his own well-being, but for the sake of sparing the negative influence from the other children.

At last we arrive at the option available to the State, the use of aggressive violence against someone because of their vices.  Remember, we are not talking about a response to crimes, where the committer of theft, rape, assault, or murder is the aggressor and a government or private security company is acting in the defense.  No, this is the unfortunately common response used today that when someone doesn't approve of the behavior of another, including a mutually beneficial voluntary arrangement between two or more other people, and they respond by passing a law.  Even if the penalty is merely a small fine, we must remember the price of non-compliance and escalation with the State.  To resist a fine can mean imprisonment, and to resist imprisonment can mean death.  As law enforcement officers, formerly known as peace officers, become increasingly militarized, it should become more and more clear how crazy it is to employ state violence against those that "imply no malice toward others, and no interference with their persons or property."

Unfortunately, the use of violence by government to respond against men and their vices has a long history in America.  As I found in Murray Rothbard's Conceived in Liberty, many of the pre-revolutionary colonies were much more oppressive than the British, where the price for exposing too much skin or missing church included fines, whipping, and locking people up.  While we no longer outlaw those specific infractions, we have not evolved much past our Puritan ancestors.  Instead, we have replaced every religious law with a thousand or ten-thousand regulatory laws.  Selling raw milk, more than 16 oz. of soda, or a toilet that uses more than 1.6 gallons per flush can land you in the crosshairs of the State.  Books like Paul Craig Robert's The Tyranny of Good Intentions and Harvey Silverglate's Three Felonies A Day are two of my favorites that expose the outrageous extent to which we have criminalized people's vices, and the danger that we have put ourselves in now that the precedent has been set.

Now that we have defined the four major categories of how a person can respond to another's vice, we can explore how a libertarian might respond to some of the hot-button issues facing America today that are so often misrepresented in the public.

Drug Use

Undoubtedly, drug use is a vice and not a crime.  On the one hand we have those that abuse drugs, both the pharmaceutical and illegal variety, which harms no one but themselves.  On the other hand, we have the pushers of drugs qua drug pusher, where they are guilty of nothing but voluntarily offering a product which the person is free to accept or reject.  After quickly reviewing the empirical arguments for repealing prohibition (I highly recommend Mark Thornton's The Economics of Prohibition, available at mises.org for free) we can turn to the libertarian solutions to this vice in a world that has rejected the government-violence response.

First, let's remember that a world where drug possession and selling is not illegal would look very different from the one we have today.  Many illegal drugs come from naturally growing plants and have no patents or intellectual property rights associated with them.  Absent this artificial monopoly, we would see the prices for these drugs plummet.  Absent enormous profits, we would see the violence and corruption associated with drugs disappear.  Criminal gangs would not be interested in selling marijuana for the same reason they are not engaged in selling wheat or rice, as their strategic advantage only applies in the trade of illegal products with the accompanying need to evade or bribe government agents.

However, we would still be left with the problem of the abuser of drugs.  The poor soul who cannot take responsibility for his actions and finds himself making one mistake after another due to his short time-preference and inability to resist the highs and lows of drugs would still exist.  What to do with him?  First off, we have already done a great service to this person by reclassifying him from a criminal to a person in need of help.  If he already has a drug addiction problem, the last thing that would help is throwing him in a cage with violent criminals.

Under the category of tolerance, we can predict that for-profit and charitable rehabilitation centers would cater to drug abusers and their families.  These institutions would compete by offering the lowest costs and the highest quality service, trying to win the business and donations of others by advertising the best recovery rates.

Finally, considering that mandatory minimum sentencing for drug "crimes" have exploded our prison population beyond capacity, forcing jails to release truly dangerous criminals while keeping millions of non-violent drug offenders performing slave labor, I hope the libertarian solution is looking less radical and more sane.


Racism, or any kind of unjust discrimination for that matter, is a practice that most people find disgusting, and many would probably end a friendship with someone who suddenly revealed themselves as some kind of hateful racist or bigot.  Yet the libertarian views this as a moral issue, not a legal issue.  The right to associate implies the right to not associate.  So far at least, it is not a crime to choose friends or lovers based on race or some other superficial characteristic, yet it is a crime calling forth the violence of the state to choose private employees and customers based on being a member of a government recognized minority group.

On the empirical side, Peter Schiff has made excellent arguments calling for the repeal of racial discrimination laws.  From the perspective of a customer and a Jewish American, Schiff has claimed that he'd rather a business be free to discriminate against him so that he can in turn identify the racist / bigoted employer and cease doing business with him.  This is an example of the ostracism approach to racists.  Today we have no idea which business owners are racist or not, but allow them to expose themselves and we'll be able to ostracize the racist and even lead boycotts against him.  The consequence will be that racist store owners will be put out of business, while non-racist businessmen will gain market share.  As Walter Block has said, the only color a smart businessman sees is green, and if racist behavior causes him to lose money, this could in itself cause him to change his tune without the need to bring in the violence of the state.

Peter Schiff has also made the case for repealing racial discrimination laws from the perspective of an employer, as he has made a compelling case that these laws can create racist behavior in a person who would not be racist absent these laws.  Anyone who has hired or supervised an employee can testify that not every employee works out.  Sometimes people lie on their resumes, slack on the job, or reasons having nothing to do with the particular employee require a business man to let someone go.  Knowing that hiring any employee carries the risk of firing them in the future, the non-racist employer will rationally respond to the fact that there are some people who have the potential to sue them under racial / minority discrimination laws.  Hence, the employer may choose the white straight male over a more qualified member of a minority because the former cannot sue him, while the latter has that option available.  Even if the lawsuit is totally without merit, the time and cost of fighting and winning such a lawsuit can certainly influence the business decision that would be about pure dollars and cents absent these laws.

Thus, by rejecting the government-violence response to the vice of racism, we may not end racism overnight, but at least we will unleash market incentives to punish racist employers with ostracism and refusing to do business with them, while abandoning the perverse incentives that may cause a non-racist employer to engage in racist behavior that exist today.


The Libertarian Party platform states,
"Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration."
At the risk of opening up a controversial can of worms, I'd like to explore this hot-button issue, as it is often the single issue that people vote on.  The 1988 Libertarian Party Presidential Candidate Ron Paul is Pro-Life, endorsing laws that would define life at conception and outlawing abortion.  Many other libertarians are Pro-Choice, including 2012 Libertarian Party Presidential Candidate Gary Johnson, supporting a woman's right to choose.

Having libertarian representatives on opposite sides of this polarizing issue may seem schizophrenic, but there is a libertarian position that doesn't have a simple label and requires a little explaining.  One can be Pro-Life in their capacity to influence and persuade those around them, including the choice they would personally make in the position of choosing life or death for the fetus developing in the womb of the mother.  At the same time, this person can be Pro-Choice in that they reject using the government-violence response of locking up women who make this questionable choice and the doctors who offer this service.

As all libertarian positions logically flow from our principles of Self-Ownership and Non-Aggression, it is not surprising to find Murray Rothbard frame the issue in this manner in For a New Liberty (free pdf):
"If we are to treat the fetus as having the same rights as humans, then let us ask: What human has the right to remain, unbidden, as an unwanted parasite within some other human being's body?  This is the nub of the issue: the absolute right of every person and hence every woman, to the ownership of her own body."
Thus, we are separating the moral issue from the legal issue.  Just as I might oppose what someone does to their body when it comes to the drugs they ingest, I might be extremely opposed to the choice a woman makes to abort her baby.  However, as a libertarian I will not endorse the use of government violence as the proper response to this decision.  I can try to persuade the woman out of the decision, I can donate money to an organization that pays women to keep their babies and finds good homes for them, I could even use the ostracism response and decide to not associate with abortion doctors and the women who make this choice, but what I won't do is lock them up in a cage or endorse a government agency to do so in my name.

"The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools " -Herbert Spencer
I hope that my "Responses to Vices Spectrum" can be a useful aid when explaining the libertarian options that are aligned with the non-aggression principle.  Libertarians are portrayed in the media as having extreme positions, as our policy recommendations do not fit into the left / right narrative where there are two and only two choices presented, where often both choices are two versions of the government-violence response.

Just because we libertarians don't want to initiate violence against others for their vices, including stealing their money, locking them in a cage, and killing them, mainstream opinion seems to imply that we seek a world where 12 year olds are addicted to heroin working for a dollar a day in a coal mine for racist employers.  This is not the case.  We want peace and prosperity for ourselves and our children, we just believe there is a better way to deal with social issues then the extreme position of government violence.  The cost of freedom is personal responsibility, and we believe that allowing people to learn from their mistakes is not only the best way to promote personal growth, but that non-aggressive methods of responding to the vices of others is morally superior than trying to combine two wrongs and somehow arriving at a right.


The Constitution and Intellectual Honesty

Should we promote healthy eating habits?  Should we go to Mars?  Should we protect intellectual property on the internet?  When I respond to loaded questions like these, I try to be very careful to explore all of the implications and structure my arguments against the proposals into logical categories.  Why do I assume I am against?  Because 99% of the time the person asking these questions equates the word "we" with the government.  Should the parent promote healthy eating habits to his child?  Certainly.  Should a group of individuals calling themselves the government print or steal money to pay for the promotion of eating habits they define to be healthy?  A resounding No!

Thus, I may make a moral argument that any activity the government engages in, however benign on the surface, is paid for with stolen money and is enforced with the barrel of a gun, and that general insight is a sufficient reason to be against it.  I may make an economic argument that if we trace the consequences of a given government policy, not just for the short run, but for the long term, and not just the impacts to one group, but to all groups, we will find numerous reasons in equity and justice to be against it.  I may also make pragmatic arguments using history to show examples of previous instances when good intentions mixed with government power had very bad outcomes.

However, my simplest argument, and the one that I have the most difficulty convincing people of, is the constitutional argument.  This is the explanation that Ron Paul has given hundreds of times when asked why he was the lone dissenting voice in a 434 to 1 vote.  He will say the constitution doesn't give the authorization to create a department of homeland security, or to pass an anti-spam e-mail bill, or to give a gold medal to Mother Theresa.  In some cases, it might even be a bill that Dr. No would like to pass, but if he doesn't find authorization in the constitution, he feels that he must obey his oath of office and vote no just the same.  So what is it that Dr. Ron Paul sees in the Constitution that the other 434 members of Congress do not?

It's safe to say that Dr. Paul would not agree with my college professor who told me that the constitution is a "living document" that can change and adapt to meet the challenges of the day.  He wasn't referring to the ability to amend the constitution, but rather to re-interpret it in order to discover new powers that eluded previous administrations.  Rather than take this "living document" approach to interpretation, Dr. Paul would say that he accepts a strict or literal interpretation of the constitution: it is written in English, and it means what it says.

Is the constitution a blank slate that be interpreted to give the federal government the power to write and enforce any law it can pass?  Or does the federal government only have the 17 powers enumerated in Article I, Section 8, with all other powers belonging to the States and to the people?  Unlike Nancy Pelosi, who responded, "Are you serious?" when a reporter asked her where the Constitution grants Congress authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate, I think this is a very serious question that is long overdue for open, honest dialogue.

My goal is to convince you that history, logic, and intellectual honesty are on the side of a strict interpretation of the constitution.  While we may differ on what a government should be able to do, we need to come to an agreement on what our government can do.  If you want to change the rules, then amend the constitution.  It's been done before, and it can be done again.  I will even propose an amendment that would legalize all of the unconstitutional practices engaged in by our government to show that I am sincere about wanting a level playing field where we all follow the same rules and know the boundaries of what our government can and cannot do.

Drafting this proposed amendment is the least I can do, because the current arrangement, over a century old, of having our politicians take a sworn oath to protect, defend, and enforce a document that they either do not read, do not understand, or purposefully work to subvert, is a shameful practice not worthy of a free people.

I first heard this proposition in Michael Badnarik's Constitution Class.  Take the Red Pill.

Constitution 101

Most have heard of divided powers or checks and balances, but may not understand what that means in practice, especially in light of how the federal government operates today.  At an over-simplified level, think of the British Monarchy that American revolutionaries fought a war against.  Ignoring the few restrictions imposed by Magna Carta, the King of England could write, enforce, and judge the laws of the land.  All sovereign power resided in the King.  While Hamilton and his branch of the founding fathers wanted to bring this form of government to America, the only way to sell the 13 colonies then united under the Articles of Confederation into ratifying the Constitution was to tell them that they were setting up a government of divided powers, relieving the colonists of the concern that they were setting up a government just as powerful and prone to tyranny as the one they just fought off.

Thus, instead of granting all sovereign powers to a single man or group of oligarchs, the constitution claimed to divide the powers normally exercised by a king amongst different branches and groups of people, thinking that their individual ambitions would prevent power from flowing to a central source, as each branch would want to defend their powers in their own self-interest.  Hence, Articles I, II, and III of the Constitution set up the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the federal government, respectively.

Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution says, "All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives".  The power to legislate is the power to write laws.  Article II of the Constitution defines the executive Power, the power to execute or enforce the laws, in a President of the United States.  Article III grants the judicial Power, to judge the laws and cases under the Constitution, to a Supreme Court.

Going back to Article I, we find that the first few sections define what Congress is, how they will be elected, how the Senate and House of Representatives will interact with each other, and how bills will be proposed and passed.  It isn't until Article I, Section 8 that we arrive at the 17 Powers delegated to the Congress, that I argue, are the only powers that legislation can be passed in pursuance thereof.

Section 8 starts, "The Congress shall have the Power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States."  It then enumerates 16 additional powers, including the power to borrow Money, to coin Money, to set up Post Offices, to declare War, to provide a Navy, and others.  It concludes with the last power, "To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Office thereof."

It seems clear to me that the only powers the federal government would have are those delegated to Congress in Article I, Section 8, and the only laws they would be able to pass would be those necessary and proper to carry out those laws.  Thus, to execute the power of establishing a post office, the congress could enact legislation to tax or borrow money for its creation, make purchase orders to build the post offices, hire people to be post men, etc.

Not yet trusting the arguments of the federalists who were promoting the adoption of the Constitution, the states wouldn't ratify it until it was amended with the Bill of Rights.  This amendment detailed some of the specific individual rights that no government law could violate, and reiterated the understanding made by the federalists that the federal government was one of specific and limited powers.  Article X of the Bill of Rights makes it plain as day what powers the government had, and for those powers it doesn't have, who has them:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

What more needs to be said?  If something is reserved to me, can it also be yours?  Clearly, the only laws the federal government can constitutionally pass, execute, and judge upon are those in pursuit of their 17 enumerated powers.  All other powers not delegated belong to the States, and to the people.  So while there is nothing in the Constitution prohibiting the State of Rhode Island from creating a Department of Education, or prohibiting me, one of the people, from buying and selling health insurance, this is not something the federal government can engage in.

Answering Objections

The first objection that I want to answer questions my authority to have any kind of opinion as to what is constitutional.  Where is my black robe and gavel?  Only those dressed in such a costume are allowed to think about the limits of federal government power.  In other words, "Isn't it the supreme court's job to decide what is and isn't constitutional?"

The Supreme Court's powers are outlined in Article III, and no where does it say that they are to be the sole deciders of what is or isn't constitutional.  That idea didn't originate in the Constitution, but was declared by the Supreme Court itself in Marbury vs. Madison.  How does that have any more legitimacy than if the Congress passed legislation declaring itself the sole decider of constitutionality, or if the President executed a signing statement declaring that he is sole decider of what is or isn't constitutional, or if the State legislature of Tennessee did the same by passing legislation?  The answer is they are all wrong, none are the final authority on issues of constitutionality, as they are all co-equal judges of the constitutional contract to which they are equal parties.

This idea of all the states being co-equal judges as to matters of constitutionality is not a new idea, but is as old as the Constitution itself.  Thomas E. Wood's book Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century highlights many important documents from State legislatures as they affirmed their responsibility to nullify federal laws they deemed unconstitutional, such as the notorious Alien and Sedition Act.  While the Alien and Sedition Act was used by my college professor as proof that the constitution doesn't really mean anything, since it was clearly violated with this law so close to its creation, he ignored important history from the states that makes the opposite case.

Consider the Virginia Resolutions of 1798, which explicitly declared the Alien and Sedition Act unconstitutional because it "exercises a power nowhere delegated to the federal government" and even worse is "positively forbidden by one of the amendments thereto".

The Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 were approved by the Kentucky House and Senate, and the first paragraph is worth quoting in its entirety for its clear and unambiguous language:
"Resolved, That the several states composing the United States of America are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government; but that, by compact, under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a general government for special purposes, delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving, each state to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force; that to this compact each state acceded as a state, and is an integral party; that this government, created by this compact, was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself, since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers; but that, as in all other cases of compact among powers having no common judge, each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress."
Just because the Supreme Court declared itself the final judge of constitutionality contrary to the view the States historically held, this doesn't preclude the Supreme Court from making correct decisions.  So let's look at the three arguments they use when declaring that powers not specifically delegated to the federal government in Article I, Section 8 are constitutional.

General Welfare

Can the federal government make any law that is for the "general welfare"?  Again, let's quote the offending passage in the context that this was the first of the 17 enumerated powers:
"The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;"
For those that like arguments in the form of an appeal to authority as well as majority rule, we see that two of the founding fathers, author of the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson, as well as James Madison, father of the Constitution, both took a narrow interpretation of the general welfare clause against Alexander Hamilton, who was the first to argue a broad interpretation.

Jefferson explained,
“[T]he laying of taxes is the power, and the general welfare the purpose for which the power is to be exercised. They [Congress] are not to lay taxes ad libitum for any purpose they please; but only to pay the debts or provide for the welfare of the Union. In like manner, they are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes for that purpose.”
Similarly, James Madison said that spending must be tied to one of the other specifically enumerated powers, and is not a specific grant of power, but a statement of purpose qualifying the power to tax.

So Alexander Hamilton disagreed, arguing that spending is an enumerated power that Congress can exercise independently of the others if it can be construed to benefit the general welfare.  Is this all there is to the story, an honest disagreement about what general welfare really means?

Unfortunately, after reading The Federalist Papers, The Anti-Federalist Papers, and Thomas DiLorenzo's book Hamilton's Curse: How Jefferson's Arch Enemy Betrayed the American Revolution--and What It Means for Americans Today, I have come to take a more conspiratorial view of this matter.  In the Federalist Papers, of which Hamilton was one of the main authors, we see them assuring the public to not take the warnings of the anti-Federalists seriously.  The Federalists said again and again that State's rights would be intact, just as they were under the Articles of Confederation, and that this federal government would be a limited one of definite powers.  Yet, just as soon as the Constitution was ratified, we see Hamilton singing another tune as secretary of Treasury in his Report on Manufacturers where he first claims "the power to raise money is plenary and indefinite" and "The terms general Welfare were doubtless intended to signify more than was expressed".

Not only did Hamilton promote this treacherous idea during his tenure as secretary of Treasury, but he also first promoted the idea of "implied powers" in his Opinion on the Constitutionality of the Bank of the United States.  He wrote, "there are implied, as well as express powers, and that the former are as effectually delegated as the latter."

This is what I mean by intellectual honesty.  During the secret Constitutional Conventions Hamilton was promoting all kinds of ideas that were shot down. He wanted the Constitution to create an all powerful National government with a permanent president and senate, where the president would be a kind of king who would appoint governors over vassal states with veto power over the laws.  He didn't get what he wanted, so he said what needed to be said in order to convince the states to ratify the Constitution, and the moment it was passed he used his influence to promote a reinterpretation to create his national government of unlimited powers using stealth and lawyer tricks because he couldn't succeed in open and honest debate.

Interstate Commerce

The interstate commerce clause has been used to justify every power usurped by the federal government from Obamacare, to gun-free school zones, to fining someone for growing too much wheat.  It is the third power expressly delegated to congress, and it says in Article I, Section 8, Clause 3:
"To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes"
So what does regulate mean?  Today, regulate means to create laws and rules.  Our toilets are federally regulated by the government to use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush.  Guns are regulated with rules concerning how many bullets can be in a magazine.  Traffic is regulated by signs, lights, and an army of police to enforce them.

But what did regulate mean when the Constitution was written?  Even the Supreme Court let out a bit of honesty in Gonzales v. Raich in 2005:
"The Commerce Clause emerged as the Framers' response to the central problem giving rise to the Constitution itself: the absence of any federal commerce power under the Articles of Confederation.  For the first century of our history, the primary use of the Clause was to preclude the kind of discriminatory state legislation that had once been permissible."
James Madison argued that regulate meant to "keep regular", and the power to regulate commerce was for the purpose of preventing the states from enacting tariffs against each other that would favor in-state businesses.  So Virginia couldn't impose a 100% tax on its imports of candles to encourage its domestic candle-makers at the expense of Vermont's candle-makers, thus keeping commerce between the states "regular".

The definition of regulate can be confirmed in other areas of the Constitution, such as Article I, Section 8, Clause 5:
"To coin Money, and regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures".
Does anyone think this meant to pass and enforce laws about what the value of money must be worth?  No, it meant to keep the value of money regular.  The colonies had numerous disasters experimenting with paper money prior to the Constitution, so they gave Congress the power of normalizing the value of money by limiting it to gold and silver coin, which cannot be wildly inflated like paper money.

We also see the word regulate in Article II of the Bill of Rights:
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
Today, the word regulate supposedly gives the government the power to dictate how many rounds my rifle can have, how long the barrel must be, and whether or not it can be suppressed, semi-auto or full-auto, etc.  However, when the Constitution was written a well regulated Militia did not mean the government could tell the colonists what types of muskets they could use, as shown in The Founders' Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms by Stephen P. Halbrook.  He convincingly shows that a well regulated Militia referred to every able-bodied man aged 16-60 having a properly working firearm and being trained in its use and ready in a moment's notice to use it should the call be made.

In his article Can the Government force you to eat broccoli, Judge Andrew Napolitano puts this argument to rest in its historical context.
"The language in the Commerce Clause authorizes Congress “to regulate” commerce among the states. When James Madison wrote that phrase, he and the other Framers were animated by the startling lack of interstate commerce among the states under the Articles of Confederation.  This was the period after the Revolution and before the Constitution when the merchants and bankers who financed the Revolution also controlled the state legislatures.  They were both creditors, because they had lent money to the state governments to finance the war, and debtors, because they now controlled the machinery of state government that owed them money.

What did they do? They were the original corporatists and crony capitalists.  They formed cartels to diminish in-state competition, and they imposed tariffs to discourage out-of-state competition.  Thus, in order to turn 13 mini-economies into one large economy, and to protect the freedom to trade, Madison used the word “regulate,” which to him and his colleagues meant “to keep regular.”  So, the Constitution delegated to Congress the constitutional power to keep interstate commerce regular by prohibiting state tariffs, and it did so."
Necessary and Proper

Can the federal government make any law that is "necessary and proper"?  Necessary and proper for what?  While I risk fighting a straw-man, I don't see a way to rebut this view other than by showing the context in which it is written.

At the end of Article 1, Section 8, after expressly delegating 17 powers to the Congress, it concludes by saying:
"To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Office thereof."
So tell me again, what laws does Congress have the authority to make?  "The laws necessary for executing the foregoing Powers."  Could that be referring to the 17 enumerated powers directly preceding, or foregoing, that clause?  Thomas Jefferson said that necessary meant necessary, not just convenient, for executing the foregoing powers, otherwise what is the point of enumerating powers if the government also has this blank check for any power it can conceive of?  Even Alexander Hamilton defended the necessary and proper clause against this very interpretation in Federalist No. 33, saying that it only clarified the proper means for executing the "certain specified powers" with "necessary and proper laws".

Given we have intellectual arch-enemies Jefferson and Hamilton agreeing on this, the last place we have to look for the federal government's mythical blank check is in the previously mentioned "implied powers" doctrine promoted by Hamilton.  To counter this, I've saved my best argument for last, the historical facts and the logical implications of the necessity for the 18th amendment.

The 18th amendment

While not as popular as the first 10 amendments, the 18th is worth quoting in full because it is the corner stone of the best argument I have for intellectually honesty through adopting a strict interpretation of the Constitution.
"Section 1. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.

Section 2. The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress."
Why did the federal government amend the constitution in this way? Why does Section 2 grant Congress and the States the power to enforce this article by legislation? Why didn't they just pass legislation with the language of Section 1? Drumroll….. Because it would have been unconstitutional!

Remember, the 18th amendment was ratified in 1919 and went into effect in 1920.  This was long before the great depression and the onslaught of unconstitutional offices, departments, laws, and regulations that came with FDR packing the Supreme Court with judges sympathetic to his goals.  But the laws on the books in 1920 applied then as they do now.  Then, as now, the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and any undelegated powers usurped by the federal government are unauthoritative, void, and have no force of law.  If the Constitution required that the federal government of 1920 required them to amend the Constitution to grant them the power to make alcohol illegal before they could execute legislation to that effect, then the same prerequisite applies today to any power not expressly delegated.

That being said, we must now come to the sad conclusion that Michael Badnarik first shocked me with many years ago:

Most of the things the federal government does are unconstitutional.

So what do we do about it?  I'm hoping to educate the American people to this disturbing fact so that we can reach a common baseline understanding before we can begin to have an open and honest debate about the direction our government is going and where we should go from here.

Before we should ask the question, "Should the government do X", we must take a queue from Dr. Ron Paul and first ask, "Is the government allowed to do X"?  If the answer is in the negative, then we should follow the rules and first amend the Constitution to grant the power before it can pass legislation to enforce it.

As President Washington said in his farewell address,
"If in the opinion of the People, the distribution of modification of the Constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way the Constitution designates.  But let there be no change by usurpation… the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed."
Proposing the 28th Amendment

Using language similar to that found in the Constitution and its amendments, I am proud to unveil my proposed 28th amendment to the Constitution.  Anyone familiar with my views will know that I am adamantly against most of the powers I am proposing that we give the federal government, but I do this in the same spirit that Dr. Paul used when he introduced a bill to declare war and promptly voted against it.  His thinking went that if we're going to go to war, we might as well maintain the rule of law, declare war constitutionally, and hold our elected representatives accountable for the decision.  Similarly, if the federal government is going to usurp all of these undelegated powers outside of law, we might as well amend the constitution to give them the powers to do the things they are doing anyway, in order to restore the rule of law, re-open an intellectually honest debate, get an accurate assessment of how far we've fallen, and give all of us citizens fair warning of what is coming.


In the pursuance of intellectual honesty, it has been seen fit to amend the Constitution of the United States, the Supreme Law of the Land, such that the powers and responsibilities that have been usurped, as well as the powers and responsibilities that have been abandoned, relinquished, and renounced, shall be granted or transferred to the appropriate branch of government, be it the Legislative, Executive, or Judicial, such that the powers and responsibilities that have henceforth been exercised by the federal government of the United States, including its departments, administrations, agencies, and agents thereof, shall be made lawful and constitutional, while repealing certain articles of amendment to the Constitution that purport to restrict the federal government of the United States' lawful ability to infringe upon the rights of the people, in favor of an assignment of the privileges that may be bestowed or revoked to the people by their sovereign government.

Section 1. The Congress shall be granted the following powers, and the ability to enforce these powers by appropriate legislation:
  • To create an Army Corps of Engineers, which shall have full regulatory authority over the waterways, lakes, and marinas of United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof;
  • To create a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms (ATF), and Explosives, which shall have full regulatory authority to declare any Arm, including, but not limited to, machineguns, short barrel shotguns, short barrel rifles, destructive devices, AOWs and silencers, illegal to possess, transport, manufacture, or sell;
  • To create a Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which shall have the authority to own, control, and manage land including, but not limited to, land suitable for oil, gas, and coal operations;
  • To create a Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which shall have full regulatory authority concerning diseases, birth defects, environmental health, workplace safety and health, and vaccinations;
  • To create a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which shall have the responsibility of collecting, analyzing, and dissemination intelligence, as well as conducting clandestine operations in the United States and abroad, including, but not limited to the powers to engage in assassinations, government overthrows, arms and narcotic trafficking, and false-flag terrorism;
  • To create a Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), which shall have full regulatory powers concerning commodity futures and option markets;
  • To create a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB); which shall have full regulatory authority over banks, credit unions, and other financial corporations;
  • To create a Department of Agriculture, which shall have full regulatory authority over the possession, manufacture, transportation, packaging, labeling, and selling of food and beverages; the power to create a Welfare program for the distribution of Food Stamps; the power to subsidize public and private school lunch programs, and to determine the criteria of eligibility thereof;
  • To create a Department of Commerce, which shall have regulatory authority over areas of trade, economic development, technology, environmental stewardship, and sustainable development;
  • To create a Department of Education, which shall have full regulatory authority related to funding education, administering the distribution of funds, and enforcing discrimination laws, as well as the power to grant public loans, and to guarantee the backing of private loans for the purpose of education;
  • To create a Department of Energy, which shall have full regulatory authority to create rules and regulations governing the forms and manner that energy shall be manufactured, sold, or consumed for private or public purpose;
  • To create a Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), which shall have the authority to engage in the business and activities of research, public health, food and drugs, and health insurance, including Medicare and Medicaid;
  • To create a Department of Homeland Security, which shall have full regulatory authority over the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof concerning Counterterrorism, Border Security, Immigration, and Cybersecurity;
  • To create a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which shall have full regulatory authority concerning matters related to community planning and development, home owning, home buying, real estate transactions,
  • To create a Department of Labor, which shall have regulatory authority concerning matters including, but not limited to, the welfare of wage earners, job seekers, retirees, working conditions, advancement opportunities, and mandated work-related benefits and rights;
  • To create a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), which shall have full regulatory authority to declare any plant, chemical, or derivative substance illegal to possess, transport, manufacture, or sell;
  • To create a Farm Credit Administration (FCA), which shall have regulatory authority over banks, associations, and related entities of the Farm Credit System (FCS), which shall ensure compliance with the Farm Credit Act of 1971 and FCA regulations, and which shall administer loans and grants to individuals and corporations that may or may not be engaged in agriculture.
  • To create a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which shall have federal law enforcement power concerning the areas including, but not limited to, terrorism, foreign intelligence and espionage, cyber attacks and high-technology crimes, public corruption, civil rights, national criminal organizations, white-collar crime, and violent crime;
  • To create a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC); with the power to insure and guarantee the checking and savings accounts of public and private banks, thrift institutions, and other financial corporations, as well as the power to enforce compliance with consumer protection laws, including, but not limited to, the Fair Credit Billing Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Truth-In-Lending Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and the Community Reinvestment Act;
  • To create a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which shall have full regulatory, enforcement, planning, and management authority concerning any natural, man made, or economic hazard, including, but not limited to, terrorism, earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, floods, fires, and hazardous spills
  • To create a Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which shall have full regulatory and enforcement authority to regulate all trade and business if such can be perceived to concern consumer protection and competition, fraud, deception, mergers, acquisitions, or unfair business practices including charging too much, charging too little, or colluding with other businesses to charge the same amount for a good or service;
  • To create a General Services Administration (GSA), which shall have full regulatory authority including, but not limited to, Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), Federal Management Regulation and Federal Travel Regulation (FTR);
  • To create a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which shall have the responsibilities concerning technology related to air and space, including, but not limited to Aeronautics, Human Exploration and Operations, and the exploration of the solar system;
  • To create a National Institute of Health (NIH), which shall fund medical research in universities and research institutions;
  • To create a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which shall have non-regulatory powers to promote innovation and industrial competitiveness, and advance measurement science, standards, and technologies;
  • To create a National Railroad Passenger Corporation (AMTRAK), which shall have the power to engage in the business of transportation via trains and light rail;
  • To create a National Weather Service, which shall provide weather, hydrologic, and climate forecasts and warnings for the United States, its territories, adjacent waters and ocean areas;
  • To create a National Security Agency (NSA), which shall have the power to clandestinely collect, process, analyze, produce, and disseminate signals intelligence information, of both foreign and domestic origin, as well as having full regulatory authority of security regulations covering operating practices, and the transmission, handling, and distribution of signals intelligence and communications;
  • To create a Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which shall have full regulatory authority governing nuclear reactor and nuclear material safety, issue orders to licensees, and adjudicate legal matters;
  • To create a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which shall have full regulatory power concerning securities being offered for public sale, corporate reporting, proxy solicitations, tender offers, insider trading, and registration of exchanges, associations, brokers, dealers, transfer agents, and clearing agencies, as well as enforcement power of laws governing the securities industry including, but not limited to, the Securities Act of 1933, the Securities Act of 1934, the Trust Indenture Act of 1939, the Investment Company Act of 1940, the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX), and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010;
  • To create a Social Security Administration (SSA), which shall have the power to lay direct taxes on income, as well as the power to give money to persons based on age, wealth, and disability; -And
  • To create a Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which shall full regulatory authority over all the airports of United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof, including the right to sexually assault patrons of said airports, and the authority to shut down any air traffic to an airport that refuses to comply with said Administration.
Section 2. The Congress shall renounce their power to coin money, and shall be granted the power to delegate this responsibility, as well as the power to create paper and electronic fiat money, to a private central bank, which shall be the Federal Reserve Bank.

Section 3. The Congress shall renounce their power to declare War, and shall be granted the power to delegate this responsibility to the President of the United States of America.

Section 4. The House of Representatives shall renounce their power to originate all bills for raising revenue, and the Senate shall be granted the power to concurrently originate such bills.

Section 5. The Congress shall renounce their sole ownership of the power to legislate, and the President of the United States of America shall be granted the concurrent power to legislate through Presidential Signing Statements.

Section 6. The first article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed, in pursuance of granting the Congress the following powers, and the ability to enforce these powers by appropriate legislation;
  • To regulate religious institutions through the formation of 501c3 corporations;
  • To create "free-speech zones", to grant the privilege of speech, and to repeal said privilege;
  • To regulate the Press, particularly concerning, but not limited to, matters related to national security; -And
  • To arrest the people for peaceably assembling, including, but not limited to, when such assembly shall coincide with a national or international meeting such as NATO, the UN, the World Bank, the CFR, the Trilateral Commission, and the Bilderberg group.
Section 7. The second article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed, in pursuance of granting the Congress the following powers, and the ability to enforce these powers by appropriate legislation;
  • To grant and revoke the privilege of keeping and bearing Arms based on criminal record, education, medical history, or any other qualification deemed proper; -And
  • To prohibit the possession, manufacture, importation, transportation, or sale of Arms, including, but not limited to, machineguns, short barrel shotguns, short barrel rifles, destructive devices, AOWs and silencers.
Section 8. The fourth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed, in pursuance of granting the Congress the following powers, and the ability to enforce these powers by appropriate legislation;
  • To search and seize any person, house, paper, and effect, for any reason that any agent of the Federal government shall believe to be reasonable; -And
  • To monitor, intercept, and record all electronic communications.
Section 9. The fifth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed, in pursuance of granting the Congress the following powers, and the ability to enforce these powers by appropriate legislation;
  • To hold any person, including American citizens, indefinitely, without the benefit of any trial, for any reason;
  • To grant the President the power to order the assassination of any person, including American citizens, for any reason;
  • To take private property without just compensation for private or public use under the authority of eminent domain; -And
  • To confiscate the private property of a person that is charged with a crime, including the freezing of bank accounts.
Section10. The sixth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed, in pursuance of granting the Congress the following powers, and the ability to enforce these powers by appropriate legislation;
  • To charge a person with a crime without being informed of the nature and cause of the accusation, and to be charged by secret witnesses, including, but not limited to, accusations involving national security; -And
  • To be deny a person charged with a crime the privileges of obtaining witnesses in his favor, a public trial, and an impartial jury, including, but not limited to, crimes involving national security.
Section 11. The seventh article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed, in pursuance of granting the Congress the following powers, and the ability to enforce these powers by appropriate legislation;
  • To deny the privilege of trial by jury, including, but not limited to, charges involving traffic violations, family courts, and other administrative misdemeanors and felonies.
Section 12. The eighth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed, in pursuance of granting the Congress the following powers, and the ability to enforce these powers by appropriate legislation;
  • To impose excessive bail and fines, including, but not limited to, hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars; -And
  • To inflict cruel and unusual punishments, including, but not limited to, enhanced interrogation techniques such as water-boarding, sexual torture, and the technique known as "Diesel Therapy", whereby a prisoner is shackled at the feet and handcuffed at the wrists, reinforced with a box-like structure which stiffens the chains and locks the wrists at a 90-degree angle, whereby the handcuffs are connected to a waist chain that is connected to another chain which connects the shackles, which pinch the nerves and restrict the flow of blood causing severe pain and swelling, often resulting in damage to the feet, as toenails under pressure from blood-blisters become infected and deformed, requiring surgery or the pulling of the nails out by the roots, whereby the prisoner will be transported from bus to bus and onto plane after plane, being shuttled from one prison to another, for weeks on end, 20 hours per day in chains.
Section 13. The ninth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed, in pursuance of granting the Congress the following powers, and the ability to enforce these powers by appropriate legislation;
  • To grant all administrative rights to the federal government of the United States, including its departments, administrations, agencies, and agents thereof, whereby privileges will be granted and revoked to the people, at the full discretion of any agent of the United States.
Section 14. The tenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed, in pursuance of granting the Congress the following powers, and the ability to enforce these powers by appropriate legislation;
  • To grant all powers delegated, implied, or conceivable imagined to the federal government of the United States, including its departments, administrations, agencies, and agents thereof.
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