Looking for Utopia? You’re Already Here

Fidel Castro is dead. Like so many before as well as after him, the Cuban dictator convinced enough of the population of his nation that the world they were living in was subpar. The world needed to be overthrown. Utopia was just beyond their grasp.

There is a reason the United States of America is exceptional. It is exceptional because its founding principles admit a self-evident truth. They admit that human Rights are negative, not positive. Man has no right to healthcare, nor does he have the right to an education. Declaring that man has a right to these luxuries insinuates that our fellow man must serve us, making us slaves to each other in turn. Positive rights are privileges we are entitled to receive from others for the involuntary accomplishment of being born, and no such rights exist. Our true Rights are negative, meaning they are innate and cannot be taken away. These include, but are not limited to, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. This means that a man who kills us without justification is wrong. This means that a man who forces us without justification is wrong. And this means that a man who stops us from seeking fulfillment, assuming it falls within the confines of respect for the Rights of our fellow man, is wrong too.

The Pursuit of Happiness is crucial because of how perfectly it is worded. We have no right to happiness, which would be absurd. We do, however, inherit the Right to quench our thirst, to seek the truth, to improve our conditions, to achieve excellence, to secure our futures, and to make our hearts content. This is the meaning of Pursuit. This is the objective of Life.

The real beauty of the Utopia we inhabit is imperfection. Without danger, there would be no need for safety. Without a changing environment, there would be no need for invention. Without boredom, there would be no need for fun. And without loneliness, there would be no need for love.

The misguided voyage towards Utopia that Castro, Lenin, Mao, Pol Pot, Hitler, and so many others embarked on, the elimination of life’s problems, has been successful in one regard. It has brought about a solution to all of the imperfections of life by providing one common treatment. It has produced this treatment in greater abundance than all other causes in the 20th Century. The final solution these fools manufactured was death. Death is the man behind the emerald curtain of earthly Utopia.

And this is why all quests for Utopia must be rejected. Death is the only treatment that eradicates all ailments. And death must not be sought. Life is sublime, not despite, but because of its imperfections. Consciousness is the result of an eternal Pursuit of Happiness, and we stand on the shoulders of the giants who provided so many new and wonderful problems for us. Rather than throw away our beautiful problems, or leave them to the devices of others, each of us must own and nurture his problems as if they were his children. They need attention, care, patience, and time as much as any baby. We have been blessed with a true Utopia. And protesting for a false utopia can do little but endanger the one we already have.

There is no final solution. There are only more problems. And, while certainly no easy task, these problems, along with the endless task of solving them, must be cherished. Because problem is life, and life is beautiful.

Looking for Utopia? You’re Already Here

It’s Time to Challenge the Left’s Self-Assumed Monopoly on Love

One of several campaign slogans the Hillary Clinton campaign had offered voters was love trumps hate. The obvious double entendre seems to have been intended to 1) propose that love is more powerful than hate, 2) postulate that a vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote for love, 3) associate Donald Trump and his voters with hate, and 4) make clear that hate needs to be defeated. It’s clever and, as far as American political rhetoric goes, fair game.

While I don’t blame Clinton or her campaign for using this slogan in the presidential election, I think the crusade for love the political left believes it is waging needs to be called out and examined more closely. By doing so, I believe we will find that much of what the left stands for is hardly loving and that much of what the left labels as hate is misunderstood compassion and care.

I have already written about how certain aspects of the Conservative or right-wing platform are often misread. So you can check out my more specified analyses of the love behind the Conservative positions on poverty, women’s issues, and science in the corresponding hyperlinks. I promised a fourth post on education, but I never got around to it. Sorry.

I do not intend to turn the tables on Progressives and Liberals by saying they lack love or compassion for others. There is certainly a desire to help others that resonates throughout much of what they stand for. But their agenda is not objectively loving by any stretch of the imagination, and fear and hate exist within Progressivism just as much as they do within other political ideologies.

Calling those who have divergent opinions on, for instance, why certain groups of people perform differently than others racist and bigoted is not an expression of love. It is an expression of… bigotry. The definition of a bigot in the Progressive mind seems to be something along the lines of “one who does not agree with Progressive thought.” The actual definition of a bigot is “one who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions.” This means that a Bernie Sanders supporter can be just as bigoted as a Donald Trump supporter. If someone on one side refuses to entertain the rationale of someone on the other side, that person is a bigot. If someone on one side assumes there are ulterior motives behind what someone on the other side proposes, that person is a bigot. Bigotry has no party affiliation.

More importantly, many policies Progressives support and associate with love are inconsiderate and hurtful to those they are not aimed at assisting. These policies are often a result of one of Progressivism’s most hallowed values: equality. While the Classically Liberal philosophy, which spawned civil rights, due process of law, and individual sovereignty, refers to equality in terms of Rights and Liberties, modern Progressivism generally adds equality in terms of outcome and representation while sometimes discounting certain Liberties. Several Progressive policies that illustrate this are mandating that police forces must be racially proportionate to the communities they patrol, regulating businesses to make sure they place women in executive positions, allowing women to serve in combat roles despite the military itself objecting to this change, governmental funding of organizations that provide abortions, and anything related to Affirmative Action. Aside from the hypocritical fact that the Progressive version of equality is never applied to certain male-dominated professions like sanitation work, construction, or plumbing, Progressives elect to disregard individual merit in favor of equality. The individual is the world’s smallest minority. And while seeking to make sure that women and racial minorities are given a better opportunity to succeed may very well be an expression of love, it is hurtful and disrespectful to those who get a raw deal because of these kinds of policies. Their goal is equality, not love.

Progressive economics are another area that love is claimed but not necessarily substantiated. Abiding by the principle of equality of outcome, Progressives call for redistribution of wealth, social programs forcibly funded by the wealthy, stringent minimum wage regulations, and high taxes in general. I do not deny that many Progressives simply believe that this sort of economic system is morally and effectively superior to a more free market approach. I disagree with them, but I respect their opinions and look forward to continuing to debate them in a mature and intellectually honest fashion. But there is no way I will allow them to say their ideas are more compassionate than Capitalism. What about the people who don’t want to participate in these initiatives? What about the people who think the effects of a Socialized economy will lead to poverty and a decline in character? My personal wish to see enhanced Capitalism is based in love of individual Rights and the Right to pursue happiness, and it is aided by my understanding that laissez-faire economics result in greater prosperity anyway. But that doesn’t mean I am willing to call my opponents hateful. We have different opinions, and we love (and hate) in different ways.

***

On the areas I most strongly disagree with Conservatives, most of which are social norms they are sometimes willing to give the state the right to enforce, I do not for a second believe that hate is what generally informs their views. Are there individuals who just support certain policies out of hate? Yes (on both sides). But let’s focus on the vast majority, not the powerless minority. On abortion, gay marriage, assisted suicide, drug prohibition, abstinence-only public education, and a few other issues, I am at odds with moderate and hardcore Social Conservatives. I am against prohibition of abortion, assisted suicide, and drugs, and I believe the government should have no involvement in marriage or education (but that gay marriage must be legal and that comprehensive sex education must be taught if these remain public works). I spoke out against these policies when I was a Liberal myself, and I continue to do so as a Libertarian. However, this is not because I am more loving than your average Social Conservative. I just have a different view.

It’s fair to generalize Social Conservatives as being religious or at least associated with those who are. And this means their mission in life is to do good in God’s eyes and to earn their passage into heaven. They must also protect their fellow man, especially their children and communities, from feeling the wrath of God or the creeping consequences of disobeying His commands if they can.

Since the Bible seems to indicate that waiting until marriage for sex, abstaining from homosexual behavior, treating one’s body like God’s temple, and preserving the sanctity of life are in line with God’s will, and since protecting mankind from breaking these laws is how we will all find ourselves in God’s kingdom, it is a dramatically incorrect statement to assert that Social Conservatives are preachers of hate for supporting the aforementioned polices.

Are they in Constitutional contempt of the law on these matters? Yes. Are they violating their anti-big-government/anti-social-engineering/pro-individualism/pro-Liberty principles? Totally. Are they wrong from a position of practicality or from actually keeping people from engaging in ill-advised behavior? I strongly believe so. But it’s not hate. And calling difference of opinion hate, while claiming that you are the gatekeeper of love, does nothing but manufacture hate and resentment towards you. Beyond that, what Social Conservatives are preaching is a way to punch a one-way ticket for access through the Pearly Gates! What could be a greater expression of love than demanding everyone get into heaven? Saying that what one deems love is hate only makes what you deem to be love manifest as hate in their eyes.

Here are several other Conservative positions (all of which I oppose) that Progressives generally call hateful despite their compassionate intentions:

  • Profiling (seen as a way to keep people safe from criminals)
  • Restrictive immigration (another way to keep people safe from perceived-to-be-dangerous peoples)
  • Authorizing torture (same thing)
  • Censoring explicit and suggestive language and images (protecting people from negative influences)
  • Mandatory military service (making sure everyone does their part to defend the country)

Here are several positions Libertarians (including myself) and Conservatives agree upon that Progressives sometimes call hateful despite their compassionate intentions:

  • Abolishing the welfare state (wealth redistribution violates private property rights, large social safety nets rob people of their ambition and potential, and the economic impacts of large government programs has a net negative effect on the nation)
  • Preserving the Second Amendment (individuals must have the power to protect themselves, and society must have the power to repel a tyrannical government)
  • Getting the government out of education and healthcare (government involvement leads to inefficient and expensive monopolization; the free market lowers costs and results in more choice and better quality)

No free person has to agree with a single one of these policies. And everyone has the right to explain their moral or practical opposition to them. We even have the right to protest them via boycotts, demonstrations, and civil disobedience. But when we dismiss those who disagree with us as hateful, we cause communication to malfunction and division to arise, not to mention the fact that we’re purporting lies.

The left does not own love. And the left is guilty of hate too. But that does not mean Progressives are decidedly evil or that Conservatives are purely good. It means that we are all human, that we are all imperfect, and that we don’t all see eye-to-eye regardless of love and hate.

And as long as we recognize this, we’re all going to be okay.

It’s Time to Challenge the Left’s Self-Assumed Monopoly on Love

Humble Pie: What We Can All Learn From This Crazy Election

A year ago I thought this whole Trump thing was mostly a joke. I bought in to the whole “every time a Republican drops out, those votes will be divvied up among the other non-Trump GOP contenders” narrative. It wasn’t until Marco Rubio called it quits and Ted Cruz remained far behind the eventual nominee that I could see what was happening. Only then did a sobering realization of my ignorance slap me in the face: I don’t know a damn thing about so many of my compatriots.

While it will be toughest to chew on for those most upset by Trump’s win, here is what we can all learn from his once implausible victory.

  1. Obama has failed

Hope and change was the goal. Division, anger, and fear was the result. Obama had eight years to show some humility to the half of the country that hated him. He had eight years to seek out common ground. He had eight years to connect with them on a human level. And eight years later, they have chosen his antithesis to take his place.

With a Republican Congress, Supreme Court, President, and thirty-three of fifty governorships, Obama’s legacy will be erased in a fraction of the time it took to create.

  1. The media cannot be trusted

How about those polls, huh?

And, sadly, I don’t just mean the Brexit-like difference between the predictions and the results in the presidential race. The man who got my vote, Libertarian Gary Johnson, wound up with only 3-4% of the popular vote despite polling higher than that since becoming a (somewhat) household name. Johnson received about 3 million more votes than he did after running in 2012, which is a modest but welcome improvement.

Jill Stein of the Green Party only collected around 1% of the vote, which is also lower than the polls had suggested.

  1. Americans have had it with policing the world

Of the four parties that received over a million votes (Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, and Green), only one nominated a candidate who is comfortable with our current involvement in nations abroad. Trump, Stein, and Johnson all made it clear that they supported normalizing relations with Russia and ending our interventionist policy, particularly in the Middle East. Clinton is the only one of the four to support overthrowing Assad and declaring a no-fly zone over Syria. Even Clinton’s surprisingly successful rival in the primaries, Bernie Sanders, stood in strong contrast to her hawkishness. With no neo-con Republican coming close to Trump in the GOP primaries, it is abundantly clear that the vast majority of the country wants our government to focus on rebuilding our nation instead of paying to imperialize our neighbors.

For a crude but somewhat empirical perspective on this, note that Sanders received 13 million primary votes, and Trump received 60 million votes in the general election along with another 4 million combined from Johnson and Stein. That’s 77 million votes altogether. Clinton received 60 million in the general election. If you assume that every Bernie supporter wound up voting for Clinton (and I imagine that that is something more than a stretch), anti-intervention beat world policing 77 million to 47 million. That’s no small margin. We’re ready for a change.

  1. Obamacare is unpopular

Obviously, massive gains for Republicans in the executive and legislative branches (which means the judicial branch soon too) as well as governorships across the country shows how displeased half the country is with the Affordable Care Act. What’s even more telling is how few Democrats came out to defend Obama’s signature legislation. Compared to his reelection in 2012, which may as well have been a pro-Obamacare referendum, Clinton lost about 6 million votes for the Democratic Party (Trump lost less than two million on the Republican side). Had the left had much desire to keep Obamacare in place, they surely would have come out in droves to vote to protect it.

  1. Illegal immigration and the threat of terrorism worry Americans

Personally, I don’t care about illegal immigration, and I do not see terrorism as a real concern in America. Sure, there have been terrorist attacks from Radical Islamists, and there will be more. But there are also lightning strikes and shark attacks, and I’m still happy to frolic in the rain and swim in the sea. As far as illegal immigration goes, the real problem is our gigantic welfare state, not people crossing an imaginary line in search of a place to build a better life for themselves.

Many Americans feel differently. Trump discussed a wide variety of issues in detail, but no issue distinguished Trump from the bunch like cracking down on illegal immigration and closing the door to potential terrorists seeking entry to American soil.

As I wrote about several months ago, a more sophisticated concern with a lax immigration policy is the effect a changing demographic would likely have on our Democratic process and electoral results.

Trump’s victory shows how seriously much of the country takes these issues, justifiably or not.

  1. There is no public consensus on Global Warming

97% of climate scientists, blah, blah, blah. Yes, Climate Change is real, and all mainstream scientists say so. But America is not a Scienctocracy. This country was founded for We the People. And We the People decide whether or not we’re so scared of future weather forecasts that we’ll give up our freedoms and risk our quality of life to allow the governments of the world to try and change the climate for us. Evidently, not enough are buying into the fear of the apocalypse to vote against a man who has said Climate Change is a hoax.

  1. It is possible for a voting majority to overcome the wishes, pleas, threats, and shame-tactics of the political elites, media elites, academic elites, Hollywood elites, and international corporate elites combined

Essentially all of the most wealthy, famous, and powerful people on planet Earth united against Donald Trump. They assumed that their place atop the ivory towers entitled them to supreme influence in political matters. And they were sorely mistaken. Some of the rich and powerful who didn’t get their way are:

  • 6 presidents and vice presidents (Obama, Clinton, Carter, Biden, Gore Mondale)
  • 5 current cabinet officials (Julian Castro, John Kerry, etc.)
  • Over 40 former cabinet officials (Eric Holder, Robert Reich, Colin Powell, etc.)
  • Nearly 70 governors and former governors (Andrew Cuomo, Howard Dean, etc.)
  • Nearly 100 current and former Senators (Warren, Sanders, Reid, Feinstein, etc.)
  • Nearly 500 current and former U.S. Representatives (Cummings, Gutierrez, Waters, etc.)
  • Tens of thousands of executive officials, state legislators, municipal officials, legislators, ambassadors, bureaucrats, and other government workers
  • Heads of state from seven foreign nations (France, Italy, Sweden, etc.)
  • Seven former heads of state (France, UK, Australia, etc.)
  • Parliament members and lawmakers from dozens of foreign nations
  • Hundreds of members of the largest media networks
  • Hundreds of business leaders
  • Hundreds of scholars
  • Hundreds of academics
  • Hundreds of artists, writers, film producers
  • A seemingly endless list of actors, actresses, musicians, comedians, professional athletes, and media personalities
  • Dozens of organizations, business groups, and labor unions
  • 234 daily newspapers (New York Times, LA Times, Washington Post, etc.)
  • 148 weekly newspapers (Queens Chronicle, La Raza, Capital Times, etc.)
  • 15 magazines (The Atlantic, New Yorker, Vogue, etc.)
  • 77 college newspapers (Florida, Yale, UNC, etc.)
  • 17 international newspapers (Economist, Daily Mirror, Toronto Star, etc.)

If you’re happy about the election results, good for you. If you’re not, I hope things get better soon. If you haven’t taken a moment to reflect on your worldview and your perception of the values and wishes of the people around you, I don’t know what to tell you. The 2016 election has been the most educational experience anyone could ever ask for. I hope no one has chosen to waste it.

Humble Pie: What We Can All Learn From This Crazy Election

The One Issue That Should Unite Americans Against Hillary Clinton

I’m not into telling others who to vote for. I’ve been told that my vote, one for Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, is a vote for Donald Trump by some and a vote for Hillary Clinton by others, and I don’t appreciate either of those patently false accusations. I’ve seen voter intimidation and shaming happen to many people, and I hope these practices become rarer instead of normalized. Having had this experience myself, I have realized the cruelty of telling others what to do with the one ballot they receive every four years to determine who will lead the executive branch of our government. There is, however, a difference between telling someone what to do and reasoning with them politely and respectfully to attempt to get them to sympathize with your position. In this piece, I intend to put forth an argument that will result in you voting for anyone other than Hillary Clinton. Your vote is yours, and your reasons may lead you to different conclusions than mine, and that’s okay.

While Progressives, Conservatives, Socialists, Libertarians, Labor Unions, Capitalists, Greens, and Industrialists are typically prone to wanting to annihilate each other, Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy should unite us all against the common enemy that is her foreign policy. Whether your ultimate aim is to live in a Capitalistic America of individual Liberty, limited government, and free trade or a Socialist utopia of well-funded and generous equity programs combined with protectionist policies, your greatest political enemy in 2016 is Hillary Rodham Clinton.

While this is not the case in a typical nation, the USA’s most important issue is our relationship with nations abroad. After the two World Wars of the early 20th Century, America was thrust into the role of policing the world. The Soviet Union was the world’s only other big brother to turn to, but the brutal reign of Joseph Stalin made it clear that America was the relative good guy the majority of nations would be forced to align with.

With all of our competitors (Soviets, Germany, France, UK, Japan, China, etc.) severely depleted after the unthinkable violence and destruction of WWII, the United States had a unique opportunity to increase its wealth and standard of living in relation to the other nations. The US became so rich that it was able to afford to police the entire world from the Middle East to Vietnam to Korea to Cuba and to take a major role in collectively insuring and defending our allies through pacts like NATO and the United Nations.

In 1950, less than a decade after the end of WWII, the US accounted for around a quarter of the world’s share of GDP. In 1980, we owned about a fifth. Today, while we are still the world’s richest nation, we only control around one sixth of the world’s wealth. We are not on the verge of actually becoming a third world nation by any stretch of the imagination, and we should be grateful to live the privileged lives that we lead, but it should be abundantly clear that we are no longer the world’s outrageously rich uncle, at least when compared to the days of old.

We can’t afford to be the world’s bodyguards anymore. We need to come home and focus on our own stagnation and our own poor, unskilled, and misguided. Maybe one day we can make it back to a status of wealth so great that the cost of our services becomes expendable again. But for now, our $20 trillion debt, historically low workforce participation rate, and lowest GDP growth in recorded American history under Obama tell the story. We have to patch up our own windows for the time being.

Aside from the economic issues, the failures of our most recent foreign endeavors are embarrassing and arguably evil in their results. I have full confidence in saying the Vietnam War was well-intended. Communism posed a threat to the world, and its invasive nature was on clear display as the North of Vietnam bore down on the South. However well-intended, we wound up losing the war, much of our dignity and national pride, and so many of our own young people (not to mention about $1 trillion in 2016 dollars) as a result.

More recently, our interventions in the Middle East have been disastrous, and terrorism rises the more we try to stop it. Toppling secular foreign leaders in historically undemocratic nations has resulted in chaos in Libya, Yemen, and especially Iraq. Our involvement in the Syrian Civil War has aided in giving rise to ISIS, and we’re still occupying Afghanistan nearly two decades after our initial invasion.

Hillary Clinton wants to topple Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad, and wants to provoke Russia by ordering a no-fly zone above Syria. These policies should disqualify Hillary Clinton from being considered for president, and she is the only major candidate who supports these horrific ideas. We must learn from the mistakes of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Clinton as the former Secretary of State and an Iraq War supporter when she was a Senator. Russia should not be our enemy any more. We’ve never even had a real military encounter with them! If we can side with Stalin to fight Hitler, we can certainly side with Putin to fight ISIS. And if Russia wants to go rogue to end the terrorist threat, that sounds fine too. If they gain the keys to influence in the Middle East in the process, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Suicide via desire to control the Arab region is not an option a frustrated nation like ours can afford to take, and risking nuclear war with Russia to be the apple of the Arabs’ eyes is a wager no sane person should accept. We can’t have it all.

Hillary Clinton is not a Progressive. She is not for honest Democracy. And she is certainly nothing in the vicinity of a Conservative, Constitutionalist, or Libertarian either. She is a gross combination of the worst of all worlds. Clinton is a crony-Capitalist on economics, a neo-con on foreign policy, a social engineer and thought manipulator on domestic policy, a corrupt, deceitful, irresponsible member of the political elite, and is completely out of touch with the lives, needs, and values of everyday Americans. She is what 2016 should be a resounding rejection of.

Whether you vote on Election Day or vote early, I hope you will decide to vote against Clinton. I blame no one for being unable to stomach Donald Trump (ultimately, even if that disgust forces your hand to choose Clinton in the end), but I hope you will consider him or a third-party protest vote in the end. And while many will tell you otherwise, there is no shame in deciding not to vote at all. Participating in the electoral process is a right, not a responsibility.

Uniting against Hillary Clinton is the cry for freedom and recognition We the American People desperately need. Her defeat would beckon a new age of prosperity, independence, opportunity, and peace, and the elites would ignore us no more.

The One Issue That Should Unite Americans Against Hillary Clinton