A Liberty Activist Reflects on the Denver Trump Protest

This is a guest post by Paul Hsieh.

Yesterday I went with a couple of friends to the Women’s March on Denver, where crowds reached around 100,000 people. The march was one of over 600 “sister marches” to coincide with the march in Washington, DC, and overall these marches drew around 5 million people worldwide. Continue reading “A Liberty Activist Reflects on the Denver Trump Protest”

What Trumponomics Shares with Progressivism

If you asked most Progressives and most supporters of Donald Trump, they’d tell you that members of the two camps are diametric opposites. That’s why Progressives are protesting Trump’s presidency, right? But the reality is that Trump’s economic policies share fundamental assumptions with Progressivism.

An essential feature of Progressivism is to confuse voluntary trade with force. Continue reading “What Trumponomics Shares with Progressivism”

The Irrationality of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Rationalia

If only society could be governed by a rational elite, what a wonderful world it would be. Or at least various theorists have speculated since Plato penned the Republic.

Astrophysicist and science popularizer Neil deGrasse Tyson is the latest in a long line of utopian theorists. He set off a spirited debate when, on June 29, he Tweeted: “Earth needs a virtual country: #Rationalia, with a one-line Constitution: All policy shall be based on the weight of evidence.” Continue reading “The Irrationality of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Rationalia”

Another Day, Another Koch Hit Piece

Image: Charles Koch Foundation
Image: Charles Koch Foundation

As I’ve written, I was once a Koch Fellow, and I’m proud of that. I spent Charles Koch’s money (among other things) researching the sentencing disparities between crack and powder cocaine (you can find details about my related Washington Post op-ed).

But leftists hate the Kochs, or at least love to pretend they hate them. They make a convenient demon: They’re wealthy—automatically a sin for today’s nihilistic egalitarians—and they work in the energy industry—a sin for today’s nihilistic environmentalists.

The latest in an endless stream of hit pieces against the Kochs comes from Chris Young, writing for Slate. Young’s basic complaint seems to be that, because of the Kochs, it might be the case that a tiny few American students might very occasionally be exposed to ideas other than leftist ones in tax-funded schools.

Hat tip to Jeffrey Tucker (with whom I have many disagreements), who tweets about the article, “Happy day! I make an appearance a Slate hit piece. How long I’ve waited for this day! Patience pays off.” Congratulations, Jeff.

Incidentally, Charles Koch published a self-defense earlier this year in the Wall Street Journal titled, “I’m Fighting to Restore a Free Society.”

Of Course Communists Are Promoting Violence in Ferguson

Image: Wikimedia Commons
Image: Wikimedia Commons

As Charles Johnson reports for Little Green Footballs, members of the Revolutionary Communist Party have been in Ferguson promoting “violent revolution.” Johnson cites Antonio French, who reports a “white guy” from Chicago “was trying to incite a riot.”

In related News Michalle Malkin persuasively argues that some members of the media in Ferguson seem to have forgotten that their job is to report the news, not create it.

‘Twas the Night before They Occupied the North Pole

The following article by Linn and Ari Armstrong originally was published by Grand Junction Free Press.

The Occupy Wall Street movement has found a new place to protest. But instead of camping out in tents they “community organize” from hastily-constructed igloos. Participants call it “Occupy the North Pole,” or ONoP for short. Their primary target: Santa Claus.

We contacted Invidia Elf, declared ONoP’s spokesperson by unanimous uptwinkles, to discuss the group’s goals. Following is her statement.

“We’re sick and tired of that so-called Jolly Old Elf reaping all the benefits of Christmas magic. While Santa lives in his grand Christmas castle, 99 percent of elves live in tiny huts or workers’ quarters. Some elves in the wood-toy construction department have even had to set up triple bunk beds due to lack of space.

“Santa owns 60 percent of the North Pole’s developed property, and he controls 80 percent of the Pole’s wealth. Nearly the entire North Pole economy is based on the production of Christmas toys, and who controls that entire enterprise? You guessed it: Santa Claus. He’s nothing but a Robber Baron monopolist.

“I won’t even get into Santa’s dietary habits. He eats more calories every day in cookies and milk alone than most elves eat all week. And his clothes! How many fluffy red tailored suits does the man actually need?

“Don’t even get me started on Mrs. Claus, dashing around in her fancy, stainless-steel sleigh like the Queen of the town. She even gets her own chauffeur. Did you know it takes a whole division of elves just to tend the reindeer? The Clauses’ barn alone is ten times the size of an average elf house, and it consumes fifteen times the electricity.

“Santa himself doesn’t actually do any work; he merely oversees and directs all the work of thousands of other elves. We’re the ones who do the real work around here, and I say it’s about time we got to call the shots. It’s high time to subject the means of production of Christmas toys to a more democratic process.

“A ‘living elf wage?’ Ha! There’s no law whatsoever setting wage standards. Sure, we don’t have the unemployment problem you have in America, but at least there workers are protected by laws that force employers to spend more on wages. Did you know that until about a decade ago a new elf employee got paid only room and board? Not even a stipend!

“I tried to unionize the workers a while back, but Santa said ‘Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas’ and everybody started feeling all cheery again. It’s like a Jedi mind trick or something. A lot of these elves don’t even know how bad they’ve got it; they’re deluded into thinking they live a wonderful life. It’s just a good thing I’m here to educate them.

“The Nog Party? What a bunch of drooling dwarves. Laughably, they think it’s a good thing if some people get super rich; it’s like they think their so-called ‘free market’ is guided by invisible magic or something. We know what’s in their nog! But here in the real world people have to fight for their lick of the candy cane.

“Oh, sure, Santa spends most of his time making toys to give away. But does he give to everyone equally according to their need? No. Instead, there he sits in his office, day after day, going through his list not just once but twice, checking to see who’s naughty and who’s nice. And if for no good reason he puts you on the naughty list? Too bad for you! You get nothing but coal.

“It’s not the naughty kids’ fault. They were not born with the same advantages of nice kids. Why should the nice kids get all the rewards? They already have plenty. Instead, Santa should give the naughty kids most of the gifts to help make up for their disadvantages in life.

“Santa delivers free toys to all the (nice) children of the world, but he does that only one day a year! Here’s Santa, the most magical elf of all time, this guy who’s been building up his powers for centuries, and all he can manage is a single day of holiday bliss? You’d think Santa could have worked himself up to delivering gifts at least two days a year.

“Just this last winter Santa took a trip with the missus to the Caribbean. Do you know how many times I’ve relaxed on Caribbean beaches sipping pina coladas? That’s right: none. Santa has more inborn ability than fifty other elves together, so what’s he doing taking all that time off? ONoP demands that, henceforth, each elf contribute according to his ability, as decided by a democratic process.”

To us, it seems an awful lot like Invidia is attacking Santa for his virtues.

We called up Santa for a reply, but all he said was, “Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas! And to all a good night!”

Wall Street Occupiers Depend on Capitalism

“Free the Wage Slaves” — read the mass-produced T-shirts sold by the entrepreneur at Zuccotti Park. The Occupiers used the tents, paper, clothing, food, and other products of capitalism — to condemn capitalism.

After I filmed several interviews at the park, I caught up with my wife and friend across the street at McDonald’s, where they celebrated American capitalism. Interestingly, numerous Occupiers also seemed to enjoy using the facilities at McDonald’s (though the day after I filmed this one of the Occupiers trashed the restaurant). On a personal note, I’d like to thank Apple for producing the iTouch pocket computer and camera with which I filmed the interviews.

Occupy Denver Steals Services, Destroys Property

Last night I argued that camping out in government parks in the city (where overnight camping is always illegal) is not a First Amendment right.

This morning, I point out that the Occupy Denver movement stole services from Xcel Energy, destroyed property, and cost taxpayers untold thousands of dollars.

9News reports, “Officials say the protesters tapped into the electricity of park structures (like lighting fixtures, etc.) to run their equipment. Xcel is repairing the damage the protesters caused, structure by structure.” Those costs get passed along to other energy customers. What, do the rest of us also get to steal services so long as we’re protesting something? Hey, A-Basin is open; maybe I can just hop on the ski lift without paying if I wear a political shirt.

I have not seen a figure for how many state patrol and Denver city officers were involved in the night’s activities — no doubt scores at least. So how much will tax payers in the region end up coughing up to cover these costs? Who’s going to calculate that tab?

And then there are the dump trucks required to clean up the mess. The Denver Post reports, “Dump trucks were brought in for tents and other trash that authorities picked up and threw away.” Dump trucks, as in plural? How much did that cost taxpayers?

I recognize the long and noble history of civil disobedience. Think about Rosa Parks, Gandhi, and those who refused to obey the Fugitive Slave Act. Today’s Tea Party gets its name from an act of civil disobedience. Strategic civil disobedience in the name of a great cause to advance individual rights is a sacred thing.

But the Denver Occupiers do not belong in the same company. They have no noble cause, nor even a coherent message. Instead, they’re stealing, destroying, and looting the taxpayers as a cause unto itself. Call it the Narcissist Invasion.

Occupy Denver and Free Speech

At this moment I am watching live camera feeds from 9News and the Denver Post of the “Occupy Denver” protests. Earlier today, Governor John Hickenlooper, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, and Colorado Attorney General John Suthers held a media conference pointing out that it’s illegal to camp on government property in the city at night. But the “occupiers” said they aren’t leaving. Yet, at 11:17 p.m., nothing much seems to be happening. (The idea is that the “occupiers” must clear out their tents between the hours of 11 and 5.)

[Update (11:58 pm): The state capitol property runs right along city park property, so it’s unclear to me where the tents are actually located. The Denver Post just reported that “Suthers read the Colorado law that forbids camping on state Capitol grounds.” So apparently at least some of the tents are on capitol grounds. Whether the relevant government is the city or the state, the reasoning here applies equally. I have lightly edited some of my earlier text in this light.]

The interesting discussion is over the First Amendment and free speech.

9News reporter just asked somebody whether “our First Amendment rights override” the laws against camping on government property. The ACLU’s Mark Silverstein told 9News that pitching tents is “symbolic speech that’s protected by the First Amendment.”

But such comments largely miss the point of the First Amendment. No doubt pitching a tent can be “symbolic speech.” But you don’t have the right to pitch your tent in my front yard in order to express yourself. The right of free speech must be rooted in property rights.

The complication arises on government property, tax funded property. People have the right to protest on government property, but they do not have the right to impede other people’s reasonable use of that property, as by blocking traffic. Pitching tents in these city parks in fact poses risks to safety and health (where are these people going to the bathroom?), and it’s entirely reasonable to outlaw camping on such property. Essentially what the “occupiers” are doing is asking other regional taxpayers to clean up their mess and property damage.

Recently my wife and I went to a state park to camp. We paid $70 for an annual state parks pass and $22 per night to camp at the facilities. Should I have just been able to say I was “occupying” the camp space and exercising my “symbolic speech” by pitching my tent so as to avoid paying the fee? Obviously not.

The problem is that governments can potentially abuse their management of tax-funded property to prevent reasonable protests. If a government simply disallowed a group from holding a protest, then that might justify civil disobedience. But I have never heard of anything like that in Colorado.

Of course, ultimately the problems of government property can be mitigated simply by limiting the amount of government property. For example, in New York the “occupiers” have taken over a private park; in that case, the owners of the park properly set the policy.

Yes, the “occupiers” have the right to protest. Hell, I even agree with some of what they have to say. Just a while ago the group in Denver was chanting, “Banks got bailed out. We got sold out.” That’s exactly right. But let’s not hear any more nonsense about “free” camping in government parks somehow bearing First Amendment protection. Our Bill of Rights deserves more serious treatment than that.

See also:

Occupy Wall Street: Bob Glass Reports

How to Actually “Separate Government from the Corporations” (The Objective Standard)

Occupy Wall Street: Bob Glass Reports

Bob Glass filed the following report from New York. Photo credit:Wikipedia.

On Wednesday I went to Zuccotti park in lower Manhattan to see what all the hoopla was about concerning the swelling crowds gathering to protest Wall Street and Capitalism. Zuccotti park, one of the few private parks in New York City, had been turned into a command post and staging ground for the myriad of groups and individuals who had gathered to vent their rage against the disparity between what they perceived to be the haves and have nots in this country.

The scene was part Woodstock (minus the talent and music) part rave (minus anything resembling ecstasy) and part public forum (minus anything resembling intelligent dialogue). The overwhelming majority of people were in their teens and early twenties — lost souls not quite sure what they were angry about. I spent a few hours going through the crowd talking to as many people as I could, and it seemed that each person had a different agenda, a different bone to pick, and a different cause celebre.

In addition to the young people in search of life’s meaning and some type of government handout there was the usual assortment of left wing organizations, including but not limited to the Communist Party USA, the Socialist Workers Party, Workers World Party, and dozens of unions including the SEIU. It became clear to me that the rhetoric of class warfare championed by Barack Obama and dutifully spread by the major media had permeated the crowd and was the only common thread holding the rabble together.

They all seemed to agree that greed and capitalism are the roots of all evil and culprits for all of society’s ills. They shouted the usual left-wing slogans like “Tax the rich feed the poor,” “Jail the bankers,” and “The people united will never be defeated.” They were particularly upset about the taxpayers bailing out all of the big Wall Street banks and investment houses, but no one seemed to make the connection that the person most guilty of this is Barack Obama.

It soon became clear to me that I was witnessing the formation of Obama’s shock troops, those he will try to exploit to bully and intimidate his way back into power.

The supreme irony was not lost on me that so many of these people had ipads and ipods and were using them with great success to organize their movement. I could not help but remember Lenin’s famous quote, “The capitalists will sell us the rope that we will hang them with.” And I thought of the passing of Steve Jobs, one of America’s greatest inventors, entrepreneurs, visionaries and capitalists. A man who will forever change the way we all live for the better.

Considering what little the occupation crowd has made possible, compared to what the great champion of the free market Steve Jobs has made possible, I could only shake my head. As Howard Roark reminds us, “Thousands of years ago, the first man discovered how to make fire. He was probably burned at the stake he had taught his brothers to light.” The occupation forces seem eager to throw in the torch.