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The Conservative Meltdown, Courtesy of Trump – Article by Jeffrey A. Tucker

The Conservative Meltdown, Courtesy of Trump – Article by Jeffrey A. Tucker

The New Renaissance HatJeffrey A. Tucker
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Trumpflag2For 60 years, the conservative establishment has worked to overcome the biggest leftist lie of them all: that non-leftists are really Nazis in disguise. To wreck that view, conservatism reinvented itself after World War II.

William Buckley, editor of National Review, led the way. He purged the hard racists, dedicated segregationists, the Falangists, the anti-semites, the crypto-Nazis, the theocrats and ecclesiocrats, and the wildly paranoid conspiracy mongers.

Buckley was the one to do it too, because he was erudite and educated, with a subtle sense of things. It was a massive effort in social and political control, and it mostly worked. The culminating victory came with the election of Ronald Reagan.

So sensitive was Buckley to the charge of Nazi sympathies that he lost his composure completely, on live television, when in 1968 Gore Vidal charged him with being a crypto-Nazi. It was enough to cause Buckley, again on live television, to threaten Vidal with a punch in the face.

And Buckley never stopped the purges even through the 2000s. To be in the Buckley circle, you had to be housebroken. You had to avoid the fever swamps.

Many of these purges were wholly justified, but there was also collateral damage. He also purged the libertarians and the Randians too, for different reasons. Libertarians weren’t on board with the Cold War, so that was enough for him. As for Rand, perhaps it was the atheism above all else, since by this time, a firm defense of religious faith had become essential to the package of this new thing called conservatism.

If Buckley was so worried about the impression that the only alternative to leftism was Nazism, he might have cooled it a bit on suggesting nuclear war against the North Vietnamese and the Russians. If a distinguishing mark of Nazism is the use of mass violence to serve political ends, an ideological change would have been more effective than purges in countering the smears against the right. He might also have shown less affection for police-state tactics against antiwar protestors. After all, these smears from the left have the whiff of credibility for a reason.

And now in 2015 enters Donald Trump. He is not a marginal candidate. His rise and persistent dominance of the Republican field has establishment conservatives panicked, simply because it’s proof that their ideology is not dominant among GOP voters. Every demographic analysis of his supporters shows that they do not get their news from magazines or the internet. These people (middle age, middle income, white) are TV watchers and mostly haven’t been to college. What the intelligentsia says doesn’t impact their lives at all.

And yet their voices have a plurality in the Republican party. We haven’t heard from them that much in recent years because they’ve not had a standard bearer and the establishment has exercised such tight control. Now with Trump, we have the perfect storm: a person who is the caricature of the ugly American. He pushes patriotism to the point of nativism, energy in the executive to the point of fascism, police power as a solution without limits, and military strength to the point of outright worship of war as the only suitable means.

The latent statism of the right reaches its apotheosis in Trump, and it is driving the conservative establishment crazy. He is the painting in the attic, and they want it to remain hidden.

As for populism generally, both conservatives and libertarians have variously toyed with it in the past. Surely the people want liberty. Surely the only real problem is the ruling class and its power. If the people get their way, through an assertive wresting of control from the elites, the result would be a freer America. The real problem traces to the people controlling the party, not the voters as such.

But look at what’s happening. The establishment is losing control, but the result is not a movement that favors freedom but something more like the right-wing version of the Red Guard. The Trump movement is unleashing unguided hate: it was Mexicans, then Syrians, then all Muslims, and now he can stand in front of audiences ridiculing free speech and elicit cheers from the frothing masses.

H.L. Mencken is making much more sense to me today. This is a change for me. I’ve always appreciated Mencken’s love of freedom, his suspicion of the state, his appreciation for high culture, his disdain for the age-old superstitions. All that I could grasp and share. What I could not entirely share was his dread of the common man, and his absolute loathing of the political system that puts the hoi polloi in charge of choosing political leadership. He found the system preposterous.

I’ve always understood the intellectual arguments against democracy and agreed more or less. But I could never muster Mencken’s passion concerning the topic. I’ve never fully understood his intense conviction that democracy is the single biggest threat to liberty.

Trump has changed all that. Now I see it fully. The common man is gold as a consumer, worker, family member, church goer. As a voter and political influencer, the common man is a disaster waiting to happen.

What effect does this have on conservative ideology? It makes the job of seeming intelligent and responsible ever more difficult. If I were a leftist, I would be laughing out loud at all these upheavals. Trump as the only alternative to Sanders/Hillary is not a world I want to inhabit.

My prediction is this. Whether or not Trump snags the nomination, his dominance of the polls in 2015 has given the biggest boost the left has received in half a century. It also calls on conservatives to clean up their act: get more libertarian or prepare for the full Trumpization of your movement.

Read more:
Trumpism: The Ideology
Why We Should Talk About Fascism
The Eff Word Goes Mainstream
Has Donald Trump Unleashed the Neo-Nazis?
How Carly Fiorina and a Boring Debate Took Out Trump
The Rand Paul Campaign: A Retrospective

The featured image was taken by Michael Vadon (CC BY-SA 2.0 — photoshopped).

Jeffrey Tucker is Chief Liberty Officer of Liberty.me (http://liberty.me/join), a subscription-based, action-focused social and publishing platform for the liberty-minded. He is also distinguished fellow of the Foundation for Economic Education (http://fee.org), executive editor of Laissez-Faire Books, research fellow of the Acton Institute, founder of the CryptoCurrency Conference, and author of six books. He is available for speaking and interviews via tucker@liberty.me.

The Poison Apple Called TPP – Article by Jeffrey Tucker

The Poison Apple Called TPP – Article by Jeffrey Tucker

The New Renaissance HatJeffrey A. Tucker
October 14, 2015
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Let’s say you have a trade deal that completely eliminates 18,000 existing tariffs between 12 countries that are otherwise hectoring each other with punishing trade barriers. To a person with a brain, this sounds amazing. Unless you are a luddite, a nativist, or a unionist, there seems to be every reason to support it. Trade is good. Global commerce is good. Fewer trade barriers are a good thing.

But let’s say that this same treaty binds all 12 signatory nations to an egregious imposition of government privileges for reactionary corporations who are paying to keep their cartels in place. I’m speaking here of big media, big music, and big pharma. They all live and breath to keep their “intellectual property” and to crush and destroy what they call “piracy,” which is actually the same thing as free-market competition.

What if this wonderful trade treaty was just a stalking horse for the dramatic expansion of these corporate monopolies? What if the whole point of the treaty were to use the language of growth and globalism to fight and crush the pressures toward universal information sharing that are inherent in the digital age?

I’m speaking here of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Like the Nafta and WTO battles before it, the TPP is being marketed as a free-trade agreement. The partisans have lined up for and against it on that basis. But this is all so much distraction. The true core of the treaty is protectionist in the extreme. It protects a handful of powerful industry players against genuine market competition.

The rumors about the Intellectual Property provisions have been flying for years. But no one had seen the results of the endless and secretive negotiations. Then Wikileaks got involved. It released the full draft text of the IP sections. It turns out to be far more than the usual prattle and the expected sop to a few deep-pocketed industries.

The IP sections of the TPP attempt to impose — by force of blackmail  — the worst of American law as it applies to copyright, patent, and trademark, and do so in industries where there is otherwise some freedom left in the system.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, for example, puts the burden of proof on websites and internet service providers to make sure their content does not violate copyright. The book could be 75 years old and completely out of print but if a web bot discovers a PDF on the site, the government can force its immediate shutdown. This system pertains in the US right now but the TPP guarantees its enforcement in 12 countries in the Pacific Rim — some of whom host sites that are major sources of free information on the planet today.

The biggest revelation from the leaked document concerns big pharma. Their dream is pretty simple: they want to end generic drugs and the manner in which they distribute copies of named-brand products at much lower prices. In foreign countries, generics are a key to life. They are the way that people benefit from improved medical technology without paying exorbitant US prices.

The TPP would go a long way toward illegalizing generics for a whole class of pharmaceuticals. It all comes down to the rules that are used to decide whether generics can be produced at all. In the US, there is a practice called “linkage” that makes it impossible to produce drugs if there are any unresolved patent disputes. Linkage does not apply in most nations party to the TPP.

Politico explains:

Some of the most contentious provisions involve “patent linkage,” which would prevent regulators in TPP nations from approving generic drugs whenever there are any unresolved patent issues. The TPP draft would make this linkage mandatory, which could help drug companies fend off generics just by claiming an infringement…. In an April 15 letter to Froman, Heather Bresch, the CEO of the generic drug company Mylan, warned that mandatory patent linkage would be “a recipe for indefinite evergreening of pharmaceutical monopolies,” leading to the automatic rejection of generic applications. The U.S. already has mandatory linkage, but most other TPP countries do not, and Bresch argued that U.S. law includes a number of safeguards and incentives for generic companies that have not made it into TPP.

What’s even more remarkable is how the TPP would actually expand linkage to cover new classes of drugs in the US.

Politico explains again:

The opponents are also worried about the treaty’s effect on the U.S. market, because its draft language would extend mandatory patent linkage to biologics, the next big thing in the pharmaceutical world. Biologics can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for patients with illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis, hepatitis B and cancer, and the first knockoffs have not yet reached pharmacies. The critics say that extending linkage to biologics—which can have hundreds of patents—would help insulate them from competition forever.

The costs of this treaty, then, will not just be felt abroad. The costs will further institutionalize the pharmaceutical monopoly in the US, making people pay far more for drugs than they currently do, and even curbing research and development beyond what the major industry players are willing to endure to bring a product to market.

And it’s not just about the US. It’s about the countries party to this agreement. They are being blackmailed by the American ruling class, badgered and bribed to accept bad law in exchange for market access. This is not how trade is supposed to work.

But from the ruling-class point of view, this is the whole point of trade treaties. Any country can have free trade anytime it wants. It only needs to stop punishing imports and start making good stuff that others want to buy. You have to ask yourself: what is the real point of these thousand-page documents, the years of negotiations, and all this secrecy? Why did the first public appearance of any aspect of the TPP have to be released on Wikileaks?

What is it that they don’t want us to know?

Patent attorney Stephan Kinsella explains: “What is happening here is that the US, at the behest of the American RIAA (music industry), MPAA (Hollywood), and Big Pharma industry, is using its hegemonic/superpower status to foist American-style IP law onto other countries, for the benefit of these special interests. This has been going on for decades now… Once TPP is ratified, as I expect it will be, US-style draconian IP law will be put into force in countries that comprise about 40% of world GDP.”

Adam Smith nailed it: “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”

Those who have watched these negotiations say that the American negotiators have basically operated as lobbyists from the American pharmaceutical industry. This is why Doctors without Borders has come out so strongly against TPP. And this is also why the Electronic Freedom Foundation has come out so strongly against it as well.

The best case for the TPP is that many bad guys are against it. But that doesn’t mean that true liberals should be for it. In politics, what looks like a shiny red delicious apple can be poisoned to the very core.

Jeffrey Tucker is Chief Liberty Officer of Liberty.me (http://liberty.me/join), a subscription-based, action-focused social and publishing platform for the liberty-minded. He is also distinguished fellow of the Foundation for Economic Education (http://fee.org), executive editor of Laissez-Faire Books, research fellow of the Acton Institute, founder of the CryptoCurrency Conference, and author of six books. He is available for speaking and interviews via tucker@liberty.me.

Why Open Borders? – Article by Jeffrey A. Tucker

Why Open Borders? – Article by Jeffrey A. Tucker

The New Renaissance HatJeffrey A. Tucker
September 15, 2015
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Two dear friends of mine just experienced incredible struggles with immigration control in the United States, one from Australia and one from Canada. Both are enormously talented, in love with the freedom that America represents to the world — or once did anyway.

One barely got in after months of waiting, even though a willing, begging employer was waiting. The other was deported with a single day’s notice.

Each has been a captive of bureaucrats with awesome power. Their stories are tragic. Natives know nothing about this ghastly system and how it treats human beings. We never experience it.

The labyrinth of bureaucracy is jaw-dropping. The arbitrary power exercised by “our” bureaucrats is frightening. The loss to our nation’s productivity is mindboggling. Hearing these stories, you can’t help but apologize for the way our own government treats people who want to love this country and contribute to its greatness.

And to think that for the first 100 years of this country’s existence we had zero national immigration restrictions. The whole world was invited in — and this invitation led to the most prosperous society the world has ever known. In these times, there were no passports. For the most part, everyone was free to move around the earth — and this was thought to be the very essence of liberty.

Today, we have an effective ban on immigration. You can’t come to the U.S. to live and work legally unless you are family, highly educated, or get in as a refugee. Other than that, the barriers to legal immigration are impossibly high. The wait lines for employment visas are impossibly long, and people from the world’s largest population centers aren’t even eligible.

Meanwhile, the government spends $18 billion on stopping immigration — more than all other federal criminal enforcement agencies combined. This is money spent to stop people from freely exchanging labor for money. That the whole thing is a massive flop is revealed by the 11 million illegal immigrants in this country, and the half million apprehended crossing the border each year — surely only a fraction of those who were not.

But apparently, that’s not enough. Donald Trump is soaring in popularity by calling for mass deportations and building a wall around the country, in effort to double down on a failed government policy. Other candidates are alarmed at his rhetoric, but echo his core claim that there is some kind of crisis going on.

Meanwhile, this is a huge debate among people who otherwise swear fealty to “limited government.” Many people who claim to want freedom seem to have no problem with the implications of a closed-border policy: national IDs, national work permits, non-stop surveillance, harassment of all businesses, a “papers please” culture, mass deportation, tens of billions in waste, bureaucrats wrecking the American dream, broken families, the rights of Americans and foreigners transgressed at every turn.

In this environment of political hysteria, in which the rankest form of racial fear has reared its head, few dare to stand up and call for the only liberty-minded answer: open borders.

Just the phrase causes people to sputter in shock. The objections start flying: wages will fall, welfare will explode, people will vote for the wrong people, there will be cultural confusion, the national language will evaporate, crime will soar — on and on the parade of horribles marches.

The more you look into the research, the more these objections fall away. Immigrants cause less crime than natives. Immigration does not cause unemployment. Immigrants don’t consume more public benefits than natives; in fact, they use fewer. Indeed, they have kept Social Security afloat, even though they will never get a dime from the system. They don’t love liberty less: they poll in as more libertarian. Indeed, every one of these and other claims in Trump’s immigration policy paper are patently wrong.

Apparently, the facts don’t matter. And as for humane values and human rights, forget it. Immigration restriction is a fundamental attack the rights of at least two parties: the person who wants to employ someone currently outside the border and the person who wants to come work. It’s a thuggish interference with an economic exchange, like any other arbitrary restriction on trade.

So often, in many recent discussions I’ve had online, what’s going on here is just a shoot-from-hip bias. It’s exactly the same kind of fears that make people object to getting rid of the minimum wage, cutting taxes, eliminating tariffs, privatizing the TSA, eliminating zoning laws, cutting government spending, legalizing pot, and so on.

It’s freedom itself that people fear.

Once freedom goes away, it is difficult to imagine how things would work if it came back. The notion of freedom then scares people, and it becomes easy to think up a thousand different scenarios in which freedom can’t possibly work. Surely disaster will ensue!

This was a problem during alcohol Prohibition. The system wasn’t working, but the prospect of making its consumption and production legal again elicited a kind of panic. Would our streets be filled with staggering drunks? Would scarce income be squandered on liquor? Would families break apart?

The lack of imagination concerning how freedom can work is the single biggest barrier in the U.S. to ending the war on immigration.

Imagine if the U.S. had massive border controls between states, with checkpoints and passports and drug-sniffing dogs, and if you had to have permission to change from a job in Ohio to a job in Vegas, or if a Virginian could be deported from New Jersey for overstaying, or if you had to wait years to obtain the right documentation to move from one state to another, or if the labor market was so tightly regulated that an employer in another state could only hire you if they could prove they had no other options.

If all that were true, anyone who suggested open borders and a free labor market between states in the U.S. would be considered a dangerous loon.

But here is the clarifying fact: the conditions that allow free migration between states within the U.S. are identical with regard to free migration between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. The only difference happens to be the government that issues citizenship documents.

I live in Georgia. What if I started a movement to prohibit immigrants from Chicago to Georgia? Why would I suggest such a crazy thing? Because I believe that crime is higher in Chicago, welfare is more widely used, their imported labor would drive down wages, they vote in ways that are regrettable, and people there just don’t get the ways of the American South.

Should we have immigration controls between states? It sounds preposterous (though Trump could probably sell the idea). But the claims that we can’t have free immigration into the U.S. follow the exact same logic.

Every argument for immigration restrictions into the United States as a whole applies with equal validity for immigration controls between states, counties, cities, and even towns. And yet we do not have such controls. Why does it work so well? Because freedom works.

How can we begin to imagine what open borders would be like? We need an experiment in that exact thing. It just so happens that we have just such an experiment. There are 28 countries that have historically been at war for thousands of years. They all have different languages, different religions, and different folkways. At various periods, people from these countries have hated each other to the point of causing genocide.

Then one day, starting with an agreement that began to be implemented twenty years ago (the Schengen Agreement), they opened all the borders. Anyone from these countries can live and work anywhere. They can travel freely, on the same passports. No bureaucracy stops their freedom of movement and their freedom to produce.

The results have been spectacular. It’s the greatest experiment in completely open borders the world has seen in more than a century. It’s called the European Union. And it works. It points toward the ideal: a world in which everyone is free to move about the earth without fear of gun, wall, or barbed wire.

Let’s not fear freedom and free trade (which means, free trade in capital and labor). In the end, Ludwig von Mises was right: “Without the reestablishment of freedom of migration throughout the world, there can be no lasting peace.”

Jeffrey Tucker is Chief Liberty Officer of Liberty.me (http://liberty.me/join), a subscription-based, action-focused social and publishing platform for the liberty-minded. He is also distinguished fellow of the Foundation for Economic Education (http://fee.org), executive editor of Laissez-Faire Books, research fellow of the Acton Institute, founder of the CryptoCurrency Conference, and author of six books. He is available for speaking and interviews via tucker@liberty.me.