Tag Archives: elections

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Libertarianism and Transhumanism – How Liberty and Radical Technological Progress Fit Together – Presentation by G. Stolyarov II

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The New Renaissance HatG. Stolyarov II

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Gennady Stolyarov II, as Chief Executive of the Nevada Transhumanist Party and as of November 17, 2016, the Chairman of the United States Transhumanist Party, discusses the complementarities between libertarian and transhumanist philosophies and objectives, encouraging more libertarians to embrace emerging technologies and an “upwing” perspective on progress, tolerance, and cosmopolitanism. Over time Mr. Stolyarov hopes to be able to do similar outreach to persons of other persuasions – from centrists to non-identitarian conservatives to left-progressives to socialists to apolitical individuals, seeking common ground in pursuit of the improvement of the human condition through emerging technologies.

This presentation was made to the Washoe County Libertarian Party Organizing Convention in Reno, Nevada, on November 20, 2016.

Presentation slides can be downloaded here.

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Secede and Decentralize: An Open Letter to Clinton Supporters – Article by Justin Murray

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The New Renaissance HatJustin Murray
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Dear Clinton Voters:

I know this election has been painful for you. Many feel betrayed and even believe yourselves no longer living in the country you thought you were. Reflect on that pain and frustration for a moment. Now recognize how you feel now is how an equally large, possibly larger, number felt for the past eight years. Those who are of a liberty bent feel it all the time, no matter who ends up in office. Reflect on it, feel it, understand it, own it.

Before you get the wrong idea, this is not my attempt at rubbing in your face the loss of your candidate or an endorsement of President-elect Donald Trump. If anything, I share your pain and frustration, just for an entirely different reason. What you’re feeling, this hopelessness, this feeling that you’re no longer represented, this feeling that people other than you are now able to dictate your way of life, this is all a result of the massive expansion of the Federal government. Elections have long ceased being voting for someone you think represents the lifestyle you want to live and are, in practice, an exercise on determining whether or not you get to impose your preferred lifestyle on someone else.

This is the nature of elections, especially the “first past the post” method utilized in the United States. This system is, by its nature, one where one group of people enjoys the ability to effectively dictate to those who did not win how they will be living their lives over the next term period. The effect of this on voter frustration, which manifests as cultural divisiveness, only gets magnified the more powerful that government becomes. A weak federal government would produce little divisiveness because there is little to be divided over. A strong Federal government would produce significant divisiveness since there is much to be divided over. It also goes to say that an absolute government would create absolute division while the absence of government would not produce a division because there isn’t any risk of having your life dictated by distant populations. When we add in factors of geographic distance and cultural diversity, we end up with a horrible mud-slinging process where people actively dislike both candidates and the electorate openly attacks one another over the political process, completing the division process. These issues won’t go away with vague calls of being civil, coming together or getting along. One group or another will always feel put out and ignored since those in office only truly represent those that got them elected.

However, you need not despair. The liberty movement has the answers you seek to not only distance yourself from future risk of being dictated to by distant populations and political heartache but also be able to more quickly and nimbly get policies and lifestyles you prefer without having to fight someone else for it.

Option 1: Demand Your Representatives Shut Down DC

Nothing Obama signed into law or created through regulatory diktat had to be done at the national level. Not the Affordable Care Act. Not raising minimum wages. Not identifying tax rates. Not regulatory agencies. Not even food stamps and various other welfare programs. None of it has to be done in Washington DC. All of it can be done at your State level and even locally. To prove a point, Colorado had an opportunity to form the nation’s first European-style single-payer health care system. Had that referendum passed, residents of Colorado could have been able to copy the Canadian model of medical care delivery. And it would have been entirely legal and done so without having to collect the opinions of 320 million people or impose it on residents of other States that would not have wanted it.

However, as noted in the linked article, the referendum was opposed on grounds that it could not be sufficiently paid for. This is not because of the common argument that the entire nation needs to be tapped to afford it. Colorado is wealthier than the national average, so Colorado would realistically end up having to pay residents of other States if such a scheme went national. So why is this law fiscally impossible in today’s environment? It is mainly because the Federal government is already taking all those resources for itself.

On average, the Federal government consumes 50 percent of all the taxes paid in this country. This means that, if the average holds for Colorado, and the State is likely further disadvantaged because of the higher income bracket, residents are sending $1 in taxes to the federal government for every $1 in taxes that are collected from them that go to the State or Local governments. In other words, Colorado residents have no say in how half their tax resources are used. Worse, Colorado residents would likely do a better job administering the exact same programs and do so for less because most Federal programs do little more than return the money back to equivalent State agencies. This means your State is having to cover the overhead of 2.7 million Federal employees whose sole purpose is to take money from your State then give it back again with orders on how to spend it.

By eliminating these programs wholesale on a national level and utilizing your existing State systems, you can avoid any disruptions in the programs and also enjoy a less expensive process. Instead of the Federal government collecting its pound of flesh, you will send it to your State capital. This not only allows you to continue the policies and even amend and adjust them more readily without having to convince up to 59 other Senators, hundreds of House representatives and a sitting president, along with an unknown and distant bureaucracy. All you need to do is ask your State representative, who is probably far more available to talk to than the senator you send to DC. With an added bonus, the people living the next State over aren’t going to feel threatened by your political philosophy because they are safe knowing that whatever system you decide to live under does not apply to them if they so choose not to.

Option 2: Secession

This is a more extreme process, but it is also just as valid and allows for more culturally compatible people to have a stronger option at self-determination. This strategy further removes the chances of having a central power structure usurping the wishes and desires of your more culturally compatible group by incompatible groups elsewhere. If one looks at the 2016 election map:

us_2016_election_map

We can find that, at minimum, save for a couple of orphans in the form of New Mexico, Denver, Minneapolis, and Chicago, the United States as it stands is perfectly set up for a secession movement to split the nation into at least three separate entities.

This would allow a greater level of freedom for residents of these three newly formed entities. Further, this split is more than possible from economic size. For the purposes of this exercise, I’ll name the three new nations Cascadia (Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and let’s throw Hawaii in there), New England (all the blue colored States from Virginia through Maine), and the United States (everyone else). If the USA split into these three entities, here is how the top 20 nations by GDP would look:

us_3_countries

These new nations would rank second, fourth and sixth in world GDP and two of them, USA and Cascadia, are one decent year of growth away from jumping up a rank.

An additional benefit of secession is the ability to further harmonize the new nation with more desirable trade practices, immigration policy, foreign policy, military spending, court systems, and monetary policy. These decentralized entities even have the option of altering how the government itself works, such as dispensing with individual State identities, removing the Electoral College and applying a direct vote system or even converting into a European-style Parliamentary system. Secession allows for even greater self-determination missing in today’s system.

Or you could continue operating as-is and hope enough swing voters decide they want to go back to your philosophy so you can take your turn again imposing your lifestyle on someone else and taking the risk of playing backseat where you truly have no representation or real say in how you live.

In any case, the liberty movement can be a strong ally to allow you to avoid having to live through another Donald Trump term and forge your own destiny without all the strife and divisiveness that goes with a modern American election cycle.

Justin Murray received his MBA in 2014 from the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland.

This article was published on Mises.org and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution United States License, which requires that credit be given to the author.

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Platform Adoption Statement #2 of the Nevada Transhumanist Party: Electoral Reforms

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The New Renaissance HatG. Stolyarov II
November 9, 2016
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NTP-Logo-9-1-2015The following sections are hereby added to the Nevada Transhumanist Party Platform. Pursuant to Article I, Section XXV, these sections are not officially considered part of the Nevada Transhumanist Party Constitution at this time, but shall have equivalent standing to the Platform Sections within that Constitution. It will be possible to officially amend the Nevada Transhumanist Party Constitution to include these statements during periodic biennial filings of Certificates of Continued Existence with the Nevada Secretary of State.

Section XXXI. The Nevada Transhumanist Party advocates Constitutional reform to abolish the Electoral College in the United States Presidential elections and render the plurality of the popular vote the sole criterion for the election of President. While the original intent of the Electoral College as a deliberative body to check the passions of the poorly informed masses and potentially overturn the election of a demagogue may have been noble, the reality has not reflected this intention. Instead, the Electoral College has enabled votes from less cosmopolitan, less tolerant, more culturally ossified and monolithic areas of the country to disproportionately sway the outcome of Presidential elections, to the detriment of individual liberty and progress.

Section XXXII. The Nevada Transhumanist Party advocates greatly shortening the timeframe for electoral campaigns. The current two-year election season, combined with voters’ short memories, renders it possible for both genuine merits and egregious transgressions of candidates to be forgotten by the time of voting. Longer campaign seasons also perpetuate the “horse-race” mentality on the part of the media and result in the search for contrived election drama in order to drive views and campaign contributions. The ensuing acrimony, misinformation, and outright violence are detrimental to the fabric of a civilized society. Election seasons should be as short as possible, to enable all relevant information to be disseminated quickly and be considered by most voters within the same timeframe as their decisions are made.

Section XXXIII. The Nevada Transhumanist Party advocates abolishing all staggered party primaries and for all primary elections to be held on the same day across the entire country. With staggered party primaries, individuals voting later – solely because of the jurisdiction in which they reside – find their choices severely constrained due to the prior elimination of candidates they might have preferred. The staggered primary system tends to elevate the candidates who are least palatable to reasonable voters – but have the support of a vociferous, crass, and often violent fringe – toward frontrunner positions that create the pressure for other members of the political party to follow suit and reluctantly support the worst of the nominees.

Section XXXIV. The Nevada Transhumanist Party supports replacing the current “winner-take-all” electoral system with proportional representation, ranked preference voting, and other devices to minimize the temptations by voters to favor a perceived “lesser evil” rather than the candidates closest to those voters’ own preferences.

Section XXXV. The Nevada Transhumanist Party supports the right of any jurisdiction to secede from the United States specifically in opposition to policies that institutionalize racism, xenophobia, criminalization of dissent, and persecution of peaceful persons. The Nevada Transhumanist Party does not, however, condone any secession for the purposes of oppressing others. Therefore, the secession of the Confederate States in 1860 was illegitimate, but a future secession of a State may be justified in reaction to violent crackdowns by the federal government against individuals based on individuals’ national origin or ancestry.

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Three Popular Myths behind Trump’s Success – Article by Barry Brownstein

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The New Renaissance HatBarry Brownstein

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Why the Unprincipled Worst Get on Top

“Nothing sinks people faster in their careers than arrogance,” according to Stephen R. Covey, the bestselling author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. But it is hard to imagine a less humble or more arrogant individual than Donald Trump, and to date, his shoot-from-the-hip, prideful, self-referencing arrogance has not sunk his career.

In his book Principle-Centered Leadership, Covey described “politics without principle” as a politics of personality focused on “the instant creation of an image that sells well in the social and economic marketplace. You see politicians spending millions of dollars to create an image, even though it’s superficial, lacking substance, in order to get votes and gain office.”

The marketplace imposes a check on empty promotion and false confidence, which is why, as Covey observes, the most successful leaders in the private sector are often also quite humble.

So why do the arrogant do so well in elections? Is there something different about the political process that allows the worst to succeed?

In his seminal book The Road to Serfdom, Nobel laureate F.A. Hayek offers part of the answer. He lists three widely held beliefs that allow arrogant politicians to emerge.

Belief 1: We should be able to get out of our economic difficulties without pain.

As Hayek saw it, some people blame “the system” for their troubles and “wish to be relieved of the bitter choice which hard facts often impose upon them.” They “are only too ready to believe that the choice is not really necessary, that it is imposed upon them merely by the particular economic system under which we live.”

Let the implication of Hayek’s words sink in. The successful politicians may be those who increasingly blame the “system.”

With a majority of Americans feeling economically insecure, there is plenty of fear for Trump to exploit and a ready audience for promises that he can ease the economic pain of ordinary Americans.

Trump postures as a great fixer. Consider this retweet on Trump’s official Twitter page:

trumptweet20150824

He promises that things are going to be “great again,” once he gets us a better deal with China. Trump tells us he gets what he wants. To purchase a hotel in Miami, he brags, “I went in and punched and punched and beat the hell out of people, and I ended up getting it.”

Of course, Trump is not alone. In their arrogance, politicians will claim to fix social pain points — while they create many, many more.

Belief 2: Government should command or partially command significant portions of the economy.

Hayek observes that many well-meaning people ask, “Why should it not be possible that the same sort of system, if it be necessary to achieve important ends, be run by decent people for the good of the community as a whole?”

Those who believe in command economies think that when things go wrong, it must be because the wrong people are in charge. They don’t question their core belief that controls are needed.

History, economics, and the contemporary world teach lessons of command-and-control societies that have experienced economic failure. Yet, the wrong-person-in-charge belief is sadly all too common.

In her book The Art of Choosing, social psychologist and business professor Sheena Iyengar reports on 2007 research about societal attitudes in East Germany. She observes that among former East Germans, “more than 90% believed socialism was a good idea in principle, one that had just been poorly implemented in the past.”

Look around at your friends and neighbors who are supporting a candidate who advocates top-down solutions to social and economic problems. With few exceptions, they want the same things that you want: prosperity and peace for their family and the world. It is not that they want different outcomes than you do. They simply don’t understand that command economies are inherently, fatally flawed and cannot accomplish those goals.

Without examining their core beliefs, decent people tell themselves they’re choosing the “right” person to put in charge. Arrogant politicians are standing by, posturing as the “right” people.

Belief 3: There is a “good of the community as a whole” that our current economy is not meeting.

It is essential to understand why there can be no such thing as the “good of the community as a whole.” Hayek explains,

The “social goal” or “common purpose” for which society is to be organized is usually vaguely described as the “common good,” the “general welfare,” or the “general interest.” It does not need much reflection to see that these terms have no sufficiently definite meaning to determine a particular course of action.

All top-down solutions will be win-lose, benefiting some and harming others, for as Hayek explains,

The welfare and happiness of millions cannot be measured on a single scale of less or more. The welfare of the people, like the happiness of a man, depends up on a great many things that can be provided in an infinite variety of combinations.

Some see health care as a common good and a human right that the market system has failed to provide. In my FEE essay, “Castro and Obama Are Wrong about ‘Human Rights’” (FEE.org, March 25, 2016), I explain why real rights are win-win, not win-lose. “Rights” such as health care are win-lose and not real rights at all.

The arrogant believe they know what is best for you and best for the community. To them the course of action is clear. However, Hayek warns that in collectivist ethics, the ends justify the means and thus lead to amoral totalitarianism:

There is literally nothing which the consistent collectivist must not be prepared to do if it serves “the good of the whole” because “the good of the whole” is to him the only criterion of what ought to be done.

The Consequences of Our False Beliefs

Since there is no majority to agree on a specific plan of action to promote a nonexistent “common good,” the worst get on top in a centrally planned economy.

The “worst” will take advantage of the fact that agreement can be more readily forged by focusing on a “negative program.” Hayek writes,

It seems to be almost a law of human nature that it is easier for people to agree on a negative program — on the hatred of an enemy, on the envy of those better off — than on any positive task. The contrast between the “we” and the “they,” the common fight against those outside the group, seems to be an essential ingredient in any creed which will solidly knit together a group for common action. It is consequently always employed by those who seek, not merely support of a policy, but the unreserved allegiance of huge masses.

The “mass” that the “worst” seek to mobilize will include those who themselves are not grounded on principles. Hayek cautions that those having “imperfectly formed ideas are easily swayed”; their “passions and emotions are readily aroused.”

Hayek helps us to understand why the careers of arrogant politicians do not sink fast. The careers of arrogant politicians rise as long as we believe in a common good, seek the “right” politicians to be in charge, and support those who promise to shelter us from the work of examining our beliefs and the pain of making a different choice.

We shouldn’t be surprised when the outcome is not what we expect. As Freeman editor B.K. Marcus observes, “The more decisions we cede to the political process, the less we should expect anyone to protect our interests” (“Why Do We Believe These Pathological Liars?” FEE.org, April 27, 2016).

As individuals, we can question our core beliefs. We can humbly “try to live in harmony with natural laws and universal principles.” And we can demand the same of our politicians.

Barry Brownstein is professor emeritus of economics and leadership at the University of Baltimore. He is the author of The Inner-Work of Leadership. He blogs at BarryBrownstein.com, Giving up Control, and America’s Highest Purpose.

This article was published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author.

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Donald Trump Is the Nightmare Version of a Political Outsider – Article by Lucy Steigerwald

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The New Renaissance HatLucy Steigerwald
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Trump Is Not an Alternative to Politics as Usual: He Is Its Purest Form

At a CNN-hosted town hall debate, Donald Trump said that the US government’s core focus should be on security (times three!), health care, and education. In spite of this vague, rambling answer, and much other blathering in support of big government, the real estate mogul has a large, intense following, which includes people on the right, the left, and even some paleoconservatives and libertarians.

In some ways, it’s understandable: if the normal process of politics revolts you in any way, the dream of anti-candidate Trump is sweet. The approval rating for the presidency in general is around 30 percent, according to Gallup. For Congress, it’s a stingy eight percent. People — or at least the people Gallup calls — do not seem terribly impressed by their elected officials.

Nor should they be. Powerful men and women spy, meddle, steal, and go to war, whether the people want them to or not, and then pat them on the head and coo euphemisms when people get upset with the results.

Into this travesty strolls Donald Trump, with a terrible, shallow campaign, brilliant in its bombastic vagueness. Populism, it’s been a while. You’re looking tanned, rested, but disturbingly familiar.

When Trump boasts about being against the Iraq war, or disses Dick Cheney, or says that being called a politician is insulting, it’s all too easy to like him. It would be so nice to believe he is not one of them, but one of us. Sure, he’s a billionaire on his third wife, with numerous failed business ventures, a love of eminent domain, and his own brand of “luxury” steaks, but he feels our loathing of the political class.

Yet it is infuriating that this is the year, and this is the man who has stolen the heart of the people fed up with DC. Not someone with principles (such as one against, oh, gleefully saying literally anything to be elected), not someone notably different from the elites he professes to loathe — merely a man who knows how to blab with the purest, most bald-faced confidence ever seen on a national stage.

In one way, Trump’s presidential run is about an outsider group revolting against the status quo, the way that fringey, quixotic campaigns like Pat Buchanan, Dennis Kucinich, or Ron Paul’s were. And some libertarians and paleocons have jumped on the Trump float, but it is clearly not their parade. The cause of Trump is not small government or social democracy or even Catholic populism.

It is Charlie Sheen-esque nationalism. It is strident whining confused for truth-telling. It is nonsense mercantilist ideas, bullying as public policy, and the worst anti-immigrant scapegoating in decades. However, there are no ideas here: it’s merely a billionaire playing that he’s angry about Mexicans and rallying swarms to his meaningless sort of “patriotism.”

Whether Trump was inevitable, or whether he simply speaks to the truly mediocre 2016 candidates is uncertain. But boy is it frustrating that the man who wants to raze DC is the one who wants to erect a statue of himself in its place. He tells it like it is, he knows politicians don’t work for the people! But he’s going to wave his hands and make a Mexico wall and 18th-century trade policy appear by incantation.

Back in September, the New Yorker wrote that “Trump … is playing the game of anti-politics.” We should be so lucky. Trump is merely politics distilled down to the size of one angry rich guy. On the campaign trail, would-be officials swear they can do anything and everything (and in the first 100 days, no less). Trump is bolder, brasher, and even more divorced from reality. But he’s still essentially that. The waking reality of the presumptive GOP nominee — who disses Dick Cheney, Hillary Clinton, and both party establishments — is that he is, heart and soul, a consummate politician.

His critique of the political class is not that they meddle too heavily in the lives of individuals, but that they haven’t done enough. If they had, wouldn’t we have a 50-foot wall on the southern border? Wouldn’t all those manufacturing jobs come back from China? For Trump and his supporters, the problem with Washington is not the inherent disaster of a massive bureaucracy with no consequences for failure and a surplus of corrupting power. No, it’s lack of strident, Trump-like spirit: a lack of will.

In spite of his twitches towards a less militaristic foreign policy — in between suggesting the United States rip up the Geneva Conventions, bomb the hell out of Syria, and seize Iraq’s oil — there is nothing really consistent about Trump. He may or may not be worse in practice than the status quo, but there is no reason to suspect that he is the savior of anything except his own ego. Indeed, his view that the government is incompetent due to bad managers sounds more like progressive technocracy than anything conservative. But somehow his screaming fans have gotten their signals crossed or, more grimly, they are as disinterested in small government as he is.

Hating DC is fun, but it doesn’t magically translate to supporting liberty. And populism is a not principle — it has no policies, feasible or otherwise. It is raw emotion. It is preaching. It is the flimflam, finger-pointing, and impossible promises of traditional assembly-line politics, just stripped down to bare parts. Trump is the schoolyard version of everything Marco Rubio or Bill Kristol advocates. He isn’t flattering anyone’s intelligence with his policy acumen. He doesn’t think we’re terribly smart, but he also thinks those fancy pants DC elites are not as smart as they pretend. He’s right about all of that. It’s not as if politics is noble or deserves better than Trump. It is Trump.

The Donald is not some demon summoned from another dimension to destroy America. He probably isn’t a new Hitler or Mussolini. He is a part of us, a glitzy, gilded reflection of the dark soul of politics: the lies, the self-promotion, and the delusion. Take a good, long look.

Lucy Steigerwald is a contributing editor to Antiwar.com and a contributor to Playboy; she previously worked as an Associate Editor for Reason magazine. Her articles have appeared at Playboy, Vice, Antiwar, Reason, Pittsburgh City Paper, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and various libertarian blogs.

This article was originally published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author.

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Platform Adoption Statement #1 of the Nevada Transhumanist Party: Religious and Non-Religious Doctrines, Beneficial and Detrimental Technologies, and Voting in Accordance with Individual Conscience

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Categories: Philosophy, Politics, Technology, Transhumanism, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance HatG. Stolyarov II
October 4, 2015
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NTP-Logo-9-1-2015

The following sections are hereby added to the Nevada Transhumanist Party Platform. Pursuant to Article I, Section XXV, these sections are not officially considered part of the Nevada Transhumanist Party Constitution at this time, but shall have equivalent standing to the Platform Sections within that Constitution. It will be possible to officially amend the Nevada Transhumanist Party Constitution to include these statements during periodic biennial filings of Certificates of Continued Existence with the Nevada Secretary of State.

Section XXVI: The Nevada Transhumanist Party welcomes both religious and non-religious individuals who support life extension and emerging technologies. The Nevada Transhumanist Party recognizes that some religious individuals and interpretations may be receptive to technological progress and, if so, are valuable allies to the transhumanist movement. On the other hand, the Nevada Transhumanist Party is also opposed to any interpretation of a religious doctrine that results in the rejection of reason, censorship, violation of individual rights, suppression of technological advancement, and attempts to impose religious belief by force and/or by legal compulsion.

Section XXVII: The Nevada Transhumanist Party is furthermore opposed to any interpretation of a secular, non-religious doctrine that results in the rejection of reason, censorship, violation of individual rights, suppression of technological advancement, and attempts to impose certain beliefs by force and/or by legal compulsion. Examples of such doctrines opposed by the Nevada Transhumanist Party include Stalinism, Maoism, Neo-Malthusianism, the death-acceptance movement, and the doctrine of censorship, now prevalent on many college campuses in the United States, in the name of “social justice”, combatting “triggers” or “microaggressions”, or avoiding subjectively perceived offense.

Section XXVIII: The Nevada Transhumanist Party holds that the vast majority of technologies are beneficial to human well-being and should be enthusiastically advocated for and developed further. However, a minority of technologies could be detrimental to human well-being and, as such, their application, when it results in detrimental consequences, should be opposed. Examples of such detrimental technologies include nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, mass-surveillance systems such as those deployed by the National Security Agency in the United States, and backscatter X-ray full-body scanners such as those used by the Transportation Security Administration in the United States. Furthermore, the Nevada Transhumanist Party is opposed to the deliberate engineering of new active pathogens or the resurrection of once-existing pathogens, whose spread might not be able to be contained within laboratory settings. While it is impossible to un-learn the knowledge utilized in the creation of such technologies, the Nevada Transhumanist Party holds that all such knowledge should only be devoted toward peaceful, life-affirming, rights-respecting purposes, going forward.

Section XXIX: The Nevada Transhumanist Party holds that each of its members should vote or abstain from voting in accordance with that member’s own individual conscience and judgment. If an official or candidate of the United States Transhumanist Party or the Nevada Transhumanist Party expresses a preference for any particular non-transhumanist candidate for office, then no national or State-level Transhumanist Party, nor any individual transhumanist, ought to be in any manner bound to support that same non-transhumanist candidate.

Adopted on October 4, 2015:

Mr. Gennady Stolyarov II, ASA, ACAS, MAAA, CPCU, ARe, ARC, API, AIS, AIE, AIAF

Chief Executive, Nevada Transhumanist Party

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Why Transhumanists Should Not Endorse the Two-Party Political System – Article by G. Stolyarov II

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The New Renaissance HatG. Stolyarov II
September 26, 2015
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“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

Extensive discussions have recently occurred in transhumanist circles on the desirable strategies, tactics, and directions for transhumanist political activity in the United States. One question in particular has stood out among these discussions: Is it a wise or prudent choice for a transhumanist, especially a prominent one, to endorse a Presidential candidate from one of the two major political parties (Republican or Democratic) and to actively work to support that candidate’s election, when that candidate has not expressed strong sympathies with the transhumanist vision of overcoming human limitations through scientific and technological progress? Some transhumanists may believe that such an endorsement would gain them influence within the political mainstream, perhaps eventually leading to advisory positions and the ability to direct political elites toward decisions that are more conducive to accelerating technological progress or removing barriers to the arrival of radical life extension.

However, this expectation is mistaken. Here I outline several major reasons why, to achieve the best possible outcomes, transhumanists should stand apart from the two-party political system. Instead, transhumanists should pursue their advocacy goals – be they policy-oriented or focused on education of the general public on emerging technologies – through their own independent organizations and voices. This approach does not rule out collaboration with other, non-transhumanist institutions and individuals, nor does it prevent one from acknowledging both the merits of certain non-transhumanist candidates’ positions and the flaws of some transhumanists’ chosen strategies. However, it is imperative to avoid the perceived compulsion to subordinate oneself to the two-party political system just because it is there.

(1) The existing two-party political system in the United States is an obstacle to transhumanism and cannot be effectively used as its instrument. The two-party system is designed to preserve the very institutional status quo which puts forth barriers to technological advancement and causes the rate of progress to currently lag far behind its potential. Both the Democratic and the Republican political machines primarily exist to protect those with political connections, who might be dislodged from positions of economic privilege by dramatic technological change and the attendant reshuffling of the social order. As such, the rhetoric of the major political parties tends to be concentrated on relatively minor differences in governance styles, personalities, accidents of history, and “hot-button” issues over which elected officials have little substantive influence (for instance, abortion, religion, and gun ownership). This is a strategy of distraction, used to keep the public focused on matters largely outside of any politician’s control, thereby leaving the dominance of today’s politically connected special interests intact by default. At the same time, the fundamental questions raised by transhumanists about possibilities for dramatically improving the human condition, deliberately go unaddressed on the campaign trail. Mainstream politicians do not wish to discuss the colossal changes that could and should be wrought by emerging technologies.

(2) Current major-party candidates would never accept transhumanism anyway. Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, or any of the others running with an “R” or “D” next to their names will not change by an iota if endorsed by even a prominent transhumanist. All of these candidates will disregard the transhumanist endorsement, each for their peculiar mix of reasons, but with a strikingly similar outcome. No matter how strongly a transhumanist endorses these actual or would-be politicians, their mainstream advisors will not let transhumanists into their circle. This is actually a compliment to the transhumanists, who stand apart from and above the political status quo. It is not the transhumanists who must bend to the political status quo. Rather, the political status quo is precisely what transhumanists must overcome in order to achieve their aims. The way to bypass the establishment’s grip on politics is not to join the establishment, but rather to shift the discussion and climate of public opinion so as to render the establishment reluctantly compelled to follow the currents of change, made possible by emerging technologies in a hyper-pluralist society.

(3) Endorsing an establishment candidate will alienate the transhumanist base. Instead, a prominent transhumanist would do much better to pay attention to and leverage the ideas and projects originating from the natural constituencies of transhumanism – futurists, researchers, technology entrepreneurs, philosophically inclined laypersons, and “digital natives” of the millennial generation. Through a bit of organization and creative marketing, a prominent transhumanist could harness the energies of these creative, talented, and industrious individuals into major intellectual, infrastructural, and public-awareness victories for the transhumanist movement. The impetus for a movement such as transhumanism – and, more generally, any ideological movement that seeks radical societal change – is precisely the lack of accommodation for that movement’s ideals in the current society. The energy of the movement’s base will be lost if they see its direction as one of sacrificing its core distinctiveness and ideals in order to fit within the mainstream political mold and to seek acceptance by political elites to whom the movement’s ideals are completely foreign. If Hillary Clinton or Ben Carson (or any mainstream candidate who comes to mind) suddenly achieved philosophical enlightenment and announced strong personal support for transhumanism, then this would be a victory for transhumanism and a sign that the candidate is worthy of serious consideration. But for a transhumanist to endorse a mainstream candidate without that kind of gesture on the candidate’s part is simply a signal that the candidate does not need to change in order to gain or retain the support of the transhumanist.

As an analogy, consider the very different fates of Ron Paul and his son Rand. Ron Paul – a libertarian and Constitutional conservative whose views are profoundly incompatible with those of the Republican Party establishment – only ran as a Republican to raise the profile of his educational efforts in favor of individual liberty and limited government. But he never endorsed one of his Republican rivals for the nomination, even after dropping out of the races in 2008 and 2012. He did not agree with the policy stances of John McCain and Mitt Romney, so he simply stood aside and continued to express his principled views. He remains highly esteemed in many libertarian and constitutional conservative circles today. By contrast, Rand Paul endorsed Mitt Romney in 2012, thinking that this was a stepping stone to securing the Republican nomination in 2016. However, this decision alienated Rand Paul’s natural libertarian political base (which despised Romney). At the same time, Rand Paul is still far too libertarian to be accepted by the Republican elite, in spite of all of the compromises he has made over the past few years in order to appear “electable” and palatable to establishment media commentators and pollsters. As a result, he is a minor contender for the Republican nomination, quite unlikely to win or even advance his standing.

By analogy, the transhumanist movement is extremely unlikely to show even a modicum of concerted support for a particular establishment candidate – whether Hillary Clinton, Carly Fiorina, Bernie Sanders, or Bobby Jindal. (As noted above, this is also a justified outcome, since none of these candidates would accommodate the vision and objectives of the transhumanist movement.) On the other hand, an explicit transhumanist – Zoltan Istvan – has rallied many transhumanists behind his candidacy, but he can only maintain their enthusiasm in the political arena for as long as he remains in the running. Istvan has been able to garner considerable sympathies from transhumanists who are otherwise extremely varied in their political persuasions and metaphysical worldviews. However, once a transhumanist candidate is no longer running, his supporters will go their separate ways. The libertarian transhumanists will either abstain from voting or endorse the Libertarian Party nominee (as I, for instance, did in 2008 and 2012). Many of the democratic, egalitarian, and socialist transhumanists will strongly support Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton. A few might even favor the Green Party nominee. If Istvan stays in the race, however, many of these transhumanists will be tempted to support him until the end. Even if they do not get to cast a ballot for Istvan, they could help with activism, crowdfunding, and publicity-raising initiatives.

(4) Endorsing an establishment candidate will be seen as a defeat for transhumanism. If a prominent transhumanist advocates for the election of a particular front-runner, this will essentially be perceived as a concession to the political mainstream and the two-party system. Transhumanism only has a chance if it remains independent of the Republican/Democratic hegemony and instead continues to be an outside voice, gradually influencing politicians to change their ways – not because transhumanists have joined them, but because the evolution of society and public opinion leave them no other choice. If instead the establishment’s favored pundits get to say, “Aha! Even the starry-eyed, utopian transhumanists recognized the futility of their lofty dreams and decided to come down to Earth and join us sensible people” – then this will be seen as a major blow to visionary transhumanist ideals.

(5) Because transhumanists do not hold primaries, nothing prevents them from remaining independent voices until the end. It is understandable that, as the electoral season unfolds, both Republican and Democratic contenders would eventually drop out to support the leading candidate of their party. Transhumanists, however, are under no such compulsion. For instance, Zoltan Istvan has no rivals for the Transhumanist candidacy, and can formally remain in the race for as long as he wishes. He does not even need to have a massive fundraising base to do so. Even if he eventually ends up with $0 for campaign purposes, he could make a few statements, write a few articles, give a few interviews now and then, to stay officially in the running and in the public eye. No matter what happens at the polls, he will then be remembered as a pioneering transhumanist candidate who never gave up or gave in. This legacy could secure his place in history, much like Ron Paul’s principled, unyielding character and actions secured his.

For all other transhumanists who are not running for office, there is absolutely no need to endorse a candidate who is the last man (or woman) standing after the primary processes of the major parties are concluded. Voting should not be about backing someone whom one expects to win, but rather about expressing one’s own ideals and aspirations for superior policy decisions and outcomes.

As I pointed out in my original endorsement of Zoltan Istvan’s campaign,

In fact, much of the sub-optimal equilibrium of the two-party system in the United States arises from a misguided “expectations trap” – where each voter fears expressing his or her principles by voting for the candidate closest to that voter’s actual policy preferences. Instead, voters who are caught in the expectations trap will tend to vote for the “lesser evil” (in their view) from one party, because they tend to think that the consequences of the election of the candidate from the other party will be dire indeed, and they do not want to “take their vote away” from the slightly less objectionable candidate. This thinking rests on the false assumption that a single individual’s vote, especially in a national election, can actually sway the outcome. Given that the probabilities of this occurring are negligible, the better choice – the choice consistent with individual autonomy and the pursuit of principle – is to vote solely based on one’s preference, without any regard for how others will vote or how the election will turn out. One is free to persuade others to vote a certain way, of course, or to listen to arguments from others – but these persuasive efforts, to have merit, should be based on the actual positions and character of the candidates involved, and not on appeals to sacrifice one’s intellectual integrity in order to fulfill the “collective good” of avoiding the victory of the “absolutely terrible” (not quite) candidate from one major party, whose policy choices are likely to be near-identical to the “only slightly terrible” candidate from the other major party. While an individual’s vote cannot actually affect who wins, it can – if exercised according to preference – send a signal as to what issues voters actually care about. Whichever politicians do get elected would see a large outpouring of third-party support as a signal of public discontentment and will perhaps be prompted by this signal to shift their stances on policy issues based on the vote counts they observe. Even a few thousand votes for the Transhumanist Party can send a sufficient signal that many Americans are becoming interested in accelerating technological innovation and the freedom from obstacles posed to it by legacy institutions.

In order to preserve the desirable role of voting as an expression of genuine individual preferences, the least constructive course of action is to vote for someone just because others might, or because that person is considered by establishment media and pundits to “have a chance of winning.” Ultimately, whether a transhumanist ends up voting for a third-party candidate, a major-party candidate, or not at all, is not so important as whether that transhumanist actually voted according to his or her individual conscience and principles.

A Vision for Transhumanist Political Involvement

Given that support of the two-party system should be a non-starter for transhumanists, what is a better way? The best approach is to gradually shape the external environment to which politicians respond, instead of playing the game of politics by the rules at which establishment politicians are adept. Conventional politicians seek to get elected and re-elected and must therefore cater to multiple constituencies, often with contradictory interests and preferences. But this does not need to be the way of politics. Ron Paul, for instance, was a pioneer of the educational campaign – the use of the publicity attached to political involvement as a means primarily to spread a message and change the climate of public opinion, rather than to win office. The educational campaign is more resilient than the conventional campaign, since it does not need to be concerned with weekly poll figures or donations from special interests who seek special favors. Zoltan Istvan has also endeavored to pursue this approach through his numerous writings, interviews, and the Immortality Bus campaign. As an incredibly energetic, determined, and active individual, he has been able to attract major publicity on a minimal budget. Istvan’s educational campaign should continue for as long as possible – ideally all the way up to Election Day 2016. His continued presence in the race would give many transhumanists a compelling reason not to acquiesce to the two-party system with cynical resignation.

But, far beyond the 2016 election season, the formation of a Transhumanist Party infrastructure in the United States creates the possibility of a much longer-range strategy for influencing public opinion toward an enthusiastic embrace of emerging technologies and the imperative of technological progress. Indeed, the possibility exists to take the concept of an educational campaign a step further. Instead of having the election of candidates to office as its primary objective, a transhumanist political party – be it the United States Transhumanist Party or a State-level affiliate – should instead focus directly on education, activism, and policy recommendations. We do not so much need politicians in office with a “T” next to their names, as we need the climate of public opinion to be favorable to the vision of the future that we advocate.

NTP-Logo-9-1-2015It is with this vision in mind that Wendy Stolyarov and I formed the Nevada Transhumanist Party on August 31, 2015. (See the officially filed Constitution and Bylaws here and a searchable version here; also join the Facebook group here, as Allied Membership is open to any person, anywhere, with a rational faculty and ability to form political opinions.) While an initial impetus for this decision was to further raise the profile of Zoltan Istvan’s Presidential campaign, the long-term benefit of establishing an infrastructure for discussion and activism among transhumanists is even more important to us. The Nevada Transhumanist Party is a State-level political party unlike any other. While we support the efforts of the United States Transhumanist Party, we are also independent from it in governance and decision-making. We will not be fielding our own candidates or funding any campaigns in the foreseeable future. Rather, we will use volunteer efforts to coordinate educational events – both online and in person – and connect individuals who are interested in the possibilities made available by emerging technologies. Over time, we will build a network of support and will encourage participation by as many people as are interested. Indeed, the Nevada Transhumanist Party Constitution explicitly embraces the concept of making alliances with others to attain specific objectives without sacrificing principles or independence. We also aim to achieve the maximum possible inclusiveness in terms of party membership, receptiveness to member input, and delegation of authority to members who are interested in undertaking beneficial projects that help advance the principles and objectives expressed in the Nevada Transhumanist Party Platform. We will enthusiastically endorse any worthwhile project that is consistent with these aims. Our goal is not to win any particular election, but rather to move toward a society in which any elected official will need to respect the transhumanist vision and do nothing to impede it, in order to attain office and remain there. This allows us the luxury of a long time horizon, consistent with the long-term vision that transhumanism itself holds for our hopefully long-lived future.

If more of us reject the notion of politics as a winner-take-all horse race and replace responses to day-to-day poll fluctuations with a steady, principled effort toward securing the long-term prospects of transhumanism, then we will have won a lasting victory against politics as usual. In the process, we might just create the better world that conventional politicians keep promising, but never deliver.

This essay may be freely reproduced using the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike International 4.0 License, which requires that credit be given to the author, G. Stolyarov II. Find out about Mr. Stolyarov here.

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Third Interview of Gennady Stolyarov II and Wendy Stolyarov by Roen Horn of the Eternal Life Fan Club – May 2, 2015

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The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II and Wendy Stolyarov
September 6, 2015
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ELFC_DIW_Third_InterviewNote by Mr. Stolyarov: On May 2, 2015, a hot spring day in Roseville, California, Wendy Stolyarov and I visited Roen Horn of the Eternal Life Fan Club and had a lengthy discussion with him on a wide variety of subjects: life extension, our illustrated children’s book Death is Wrong, healthcare policy, criminal punishment, and the political prospects of the Transhumanist Party and third parties in general. This was Roen’s third interview with us (watch the first and second interviews as well), and his skillfully edited recording offers a glimpse into its best segments. This conversation occurred approximately four months before Wendy and I took the step to found the Nevada Transhumanist Party, but my comments in this interview are a good example of the evolution of my thinking in this direction, as I was already inclined toward endorsing Zoltan Istvan’s 2016 Presidential run.

Watch the interview here.

Join the Nevada Transhumanist Party here.

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Illiberal Belief #17: Democracy is a Cure-All – Article by Bradley Doucet

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The New Renaissance Hat
Bradley Doucet
May 14, 2013
Recommend this page.
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I know it is sacrilege, but that is all the more reason to say it, and say it loud: Democracy is not the be-all, end-all, Holy Grail of politics that many imagine it to be. It is one, but only one, of the ingredients that make for good societies, and it is far from the most important one. Why point this out? If democracy is a good thing, why stir controversy by questioning just how good? Because the widespread, quasi-religious devotion to democracy in evidence today has some very nasty consequences. Democracy means “rule by the people.” The people usually rule by electing representatives, a process which is called, simply enough, representative democracy. Sometimes, as in the case of a referendum on a specific question, the people rule more directly, and this is known as direct democracy. Actually, though, “rule by the people” is a bit misleading, since “the people” are never unanimous on any given question, and neither are their chosen representatives. In practice, democracy is rule by majority (i.e., 50% + 1), or even mere plurality (i.e., more than any one other candidate but less than half) when three or more candidates compete.
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Long before any nation had experienced anything even approaching universal suffrage, people concerned with human liberty—thinkers like Alexis de Tocqueville and John Stuart Mill—expressed concerns that the fading tyranny of kings might merely be replaced by a “tyranny of the majority.” They worried that majorities might vote away minorities’ hard-won rights to property, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement. Majorities with a hate on for certain minorities might even vote away their very right to life.

History has given these worries ample justification. Democracy by itself is no guarantee of peace and freedom. Adolf Hitler’s victory in democratic 1930s Germany is only the most glaring example of popular support for an illiberal, anti-human regime. The people of Latin America have a long and hallowed tradition of rallying behind populist strongmen who repay their fealty by grinding them (or sometimes their neighbours) beneath their boot heels, all the while running their economies into the ground. Their counterparts in post-colonial Africa and certain parts of Asia have shown similarly stellar political acumen.

As writers like Fareed Zakaria (The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad) point out, in those parts of the world that have successfully achieved a respectable degree of freedom and prosperity (basically Europe, the Anglosphere, and Japan and the Asian Tigers), sheer democracy has been supplemented—and preceded—by institutions like the rule of law, including an independent judiciary; secure property rights; the separation of church and state; freedom of the press; and an educated middle class. Indeed, instead of supplementing democracy, it is more accurate to say that these institutions limit the things over which the people can rule. It is enshrined in law and tradition that neither the people nor their representatives shall be above the law, violate the lives or property of others, impose their religious beliefs on others, or censor the freedom of the press. These checks on the power of the people have created, in the most successful parts of the world, not just democracies but liberal democracies.

According to Zakaria, societies that democratize before having built up these liberal institutions and the prosperity they engender are practically doomed to see their situations deteriorate instead of improve, often to the detriment of neighbouring countries, too. Liberty is simply more important than democracy, and must come first. We who are fortunate enough to live in liberal democracies would do well to remember this when judging other nations, like China, and urging them to democratize faster.

We would do well to remember it when thinking about our own societies, too. Thinkers like economist Bryan Caplan, author of The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies, argue that even in the most liberal countries, democracy often works against liberty. Economists have been saying for a few decades now that political ignorance is an intractable problem that undermines the beneficial effects of democracy. The argument is that since a single vote has practically no chance of affecting the outcome of an election (or a referendum), the average voter has no incentive to become informed. Defenders of democracy have replied that ignorance doesn’t matter, since the ignorant essentially vote randomly, and random ignorant votes in one direction will be cancelled out by random ignorant votes in the opposite direction, leaving the well-informed in the driver’s seat.

Caplan agrees that if average voters were merely ignorant, their votes would cancel each other out, and the well-informed would be in charge and make good decisions. His central insight, though, is that voters are not merely ignorant, but irrational to boot. Voters have systematically biased beliefs, to which they are deeply attached, and those biases do not cancel each other out. Specifically, the average voter underestimates how well markets work; underestimates the benefits of dealing with foreigners; focuses on the short-term pain of job losses instead of the long-term gain of productivity increases; and tends at any given time to be overly pessimistic about the economy. These biases lead voters to support candidates and policies that undermine their own best interests.

The alternative to democracy, Caplan emphasizes, is not dictatorship, but markets. The market is not perfect, but it works a lot better than politics, because in my daily life as a producer and a consumer, I have an obvious incentive to be rational: my pocketbook. This incentive is lacking when it comes time to go to the polls, because of the aforementioned near-impossibility that my vote will determine the outcome. Given this asymmetry, we should favour markets over politics whenever possible. For those things that must be decided collectively, democracy may be the best we can do, but we should strive to decide as many things as possible privately, resorting to politics only when no other option is feasible. In other words, we should recapture the wisdom of the American Founding Fathers, rediscover the genius of constitutionally limited democracy, and reclaim some of the liberty previous generations fought so valiantly to secure. If we don’t, it might not be too much longer, in the grand scheme of things, before the Western world ceases to be a model worth emulating.

Bradley Doucet is Le Quebecois Libré‘s English Editor. A writer living in Montreal, he has studied philosophy and economics, and is currently completing a novel on the pursuit of happiness.

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US Gone to Pot, but Not Completely – Article by Mark Thornton

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The New Renaissance Hat
Mark Thornton
November 12, 2012
Recommend this page.
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The only good thing about the 2012 campaign — other than its being over — is that much progress was made on marijuana policy. Marijuana was legalized in two states, Colorado and Washington. Medical-marijuana legislation passed in Massachusetts. Marijuana was decriminalized is several major cities in Michigan and Burlington, Vermont, passed a resolution that marijuana should be legalized. The only defeats were that legalization failed to pass in Oregon and medical marijuana was defeated in Arkansas.

This is a stunning turnaround from the 2010 campaign when Prop 19 in California failed to pass despite high expectations. I explained in detail why Prop 19 failed here. It was an unfortunately common story of Baptists, i.e., people who oppose it, and bootleggers, i.e., people who profit from black-market sales, who stopped the legalization effort.

With regards to the legalization victories in Colorado and Washington, Tom Angell, Director of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) called the election a “historic night for drug-law reformers.” Paul Armentano, the deputy director of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), called the Colorado and Washington victories “game changers,” noting that “both measures provide adult cannabis consumers with unprecedented legal protections.” He noted that “until now, no state in modern history has classified cannabis itself as a legal product that may be lawfully possessed and consumed by adults.” Writing for the Marijuana Policy Project, Robert Capecchi called Colorado and Washington “historic victories,” saying that they “represent the first bricks to be knocked out of the marijuana prohibition wall.”

Following is a list of all marijuana measures on the 2012 ballot as provided by LEAP:

Colorado Marijuana legalization Passed
Washington Marijuana legalization Passed
Oregon Marijuana legalization Failed
Massachusetts Medical marijuana Passed
Arkansas Medical marijuana Failed
Detroit, MI Decriminalization of adult marijuana possession Passed
Flint, MI Decriminalization of adult marijuana possession Passed
Ypsilanti, MI Marijuana to be lowest law enforcement priority Passed
Grand Rapids, MI Decriminalization of adult marijuana possession Passed
Kalamazoo, MI Three medical-marijuana dispensaries permitted in city Passed
Burlington, VT Recommendation that marijuana should be legalized Passed
Montana Referendum restricting medical marijuana Likely to pass

Some readers might not be fired up at the prospects of legalization, decriminalization, and medical marijuana, but the benefits are higher than you might think. First of all, the economic crisis is a great opportunity to get this type of reform passed. There are several economic dimensions at work here. The most obvious thing that comes to mind is that legalized marijuana might be a source of tax revenues and possibly excise taxes and license fees. It would also be a source of jobs, although the net gain in jobs and incomes is probably initially small.

A major benefit would be a reduction in the size of government. Marijuana prohibition results in hundreds of thousands of people being arrested, tying up police, jails, courts, and prisons. When the city of Philadelphia decided to make marijuana prohibition a low priority and treat it like public intoxication ($200 fine), they ended up saving $2 million in the first year.

One of the most important benefits of these measures is that they make for a more liberal society in the Misesian sense. Marijuana prohibition is public violence, prejudice, and partiality. Legalization and liberalism is private property and public tolerance. As Ludwig von Mises wrote,

The essential teaching of liberalism is that social cooperation and the division of labor can be achieved only in a system of private ownership of the means of production, i.e., within a market society, or capitalism. All the other principles of liberalism democracy, personal freedom of the individual, freedom of speech and of the press, religious tolerance, peace among the nations are consequences of this basic postulate. They can be realized only within a society based on private property. (Omnipotent Government, p. 48)

The key thing, economically speaking, is that more liberalism is good for business, jobs, and prosperity. Legalizing marijuana, along with things like same-sex-marriage laws, may be appalling to some people, but when companies are looking to get started or establishing new operations, those are some of the things that are looked at, just like taxes, schools, crime, etc. States that are competing for the best companies that offer the highest paying jobs are the same states that are liberalizing their policies.

Therefore, it should come to no surprise that a state like Washington legalized marijuana even though it does not have a history of marijuana-reform activism. Washington needs to compete with other states for computer programmers, engineers, and technicians for Washington-based firms like Boeing and Microsoft. Do not be surprised if what happened in Colorado and Washington spreads to other states in coming elections.

The most important aspect of the victories in Colorado and Washington is that the people of those states stood up and voiced their opposition to the federal government and its policy of marijuana prohibition. They are directing their state governments to no longer cooperate with the federal government. You can bet that federal officials will seek to intimidate local officials and businesses as they have done in California. They seek to use fear and violence to maintain their power.

However, demographically and ideologically, they are fighting a losing battle. Supporters of legalization are younger, smarter, better educated, and have above-average incomes. The leaders of the reform movement do not seem to view their efforts as “pro-marijuana,” but rather as anti-prohibition, and they realize that the benefits are in terms of health, public safety, and prosperity.

When my book The Economics of Prohibition was published 20 years ago, I was often asked my opinion if marijuana should be or would be legalized. My stock answer was that medical marijuana would start to be legalized in 10 years and that marijuana would start to be legalized in 20 years, probably during an economic crisis. My only prediction in print was that the reform process would begin around the turn of the century. The first reform was actually a medical-marijuana law passed in California in 1996.

Mark Thornton is a senior resident fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, and is the book review editor for the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics. He is the author of The Economics of Prohibition, coauthor of Tariffs, Blockades, and Inflation: The Economics of the Civil War, and the editor of The Quotable Mises, The Bastiat Collection, and An Essay on Economic Theory. Send him mail. See Mark Thornton’s article archives.

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Copyright © 2012 by the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided full credit is given.