A Few School Shooting Prevention Ideas

I once suggested that military veterans, reserves, or police officers should be hired to stand guard at schools as a way to prevent mass shootings. I do not think that is a good idea any more. This is for several reasons, but the two biggest are that 1) 99.99999% of students (that’s a real number and a conservative estimate if my calculations are correct) will not be killed via gunfire at schools if conditions remain unchanged and 2) large scale central planning tends to result in unwarranted disasters, not solutions.

I also think it’s a bad idea to arm teachers, depending on what exactly that means. Again, if we’re talking about a large scale scheme, it’s bound to fail. And offering bonuses to teachers who agree to carry a weapon, as President Trump recently suggested, seems like a breeding ground for perverse incentives. The teachers who are most desperate for supplemental income are probably the last ones who should be tasked with carrying a deadly weapon around kids.

A better approach that would require far less coordination, planning, and use of resources would be for schools and school districts to independently reconsider their gun-free zone statuses (Trump criticized gun-free zones too). Rather than setting a blanket policy that inadvertently gives violent criminals an edge, administrators should quietly conduct an inquiry to find out if anyone on their staff is a trained marksman who might be willing to carry a pistol at school. This does not need to be headline news or landmark legislation. This should be a local, not a global, initiative.

Though it may come as a surprise, legally-armed citizens are one of the least likely demographics to commit gun crimes and crimes overall. According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, police officers are guilty of gun crimes at a rate of about 16.5 violations per 100,000 officers. Concealed carry permit holders, on the other hand, only commit 2.4 gun crimes per 100,000 individuals.

The overall crime rate among police officers is 103 crimes per 100,000 officers. While this rate is 37 times lower than the general population, it’s six times higher than Americans with concealed carry permits.

What’s more is that of all the gun crime committed in the United States, less than a fifth is done with legally-owned firearms. A whopping 79% of gun crimes are committed by individuals carrying a weapon of which they are not the legal owner.

Apart from schools themselves, news outlets may also be able to do their part. Ben Shapiro’s website The Daily Wire recently announced that it will no longer publish the names or images of mass murderers. Shapiro cites a 2016 psychological study to explain why:

“As Professor Jennifer Johnston and Andrew Joy of Western New Mexico University found in a paper presented to the American Psychological Association’s annual convention in 2016, ‘media contagion’ can help make mass shootings more common. ‘Unfortunately,’ said Johnston, ‘we find that a cross-cutting trait among many profiles of mass shooters is desire for fame.’ The rise of such a trait in mass shooters, she claimed, rose ‘in correspondence to the emergence of widespread 24-hours news coverage on cable news programs, and the rise of the internet during the same period.’ Johnston recommended a media pact to ‘no longer share, reproduce, or retweet the names, faces, detailed histories or long-winded statements of killers, we could see a dramatic reduction in mass shootings in one to two years.’”

Shapiro argues that “the value of public knowledge regarding specific names and photographs of mass shooters is significantly outweighed by the possibility of encouraging more mass shootings.” Even if the Johnson and Joy study is overzealous in its conclusions, I concur with Shapiro that the risk overshadows the reward tremendously.

I do not publish the names or images of mass shooters on How to Cure Your Liberalism, and I never will. I hope the mainstream media will follow suit, but I’m not keeping my hopes up.

If the media refuses to help, perhaps law enforcement could step up by actually doing their effing jobs. The performances by both local and federal authorities surrounding the Parkland shooting would make for excellent comedy if they hadn’t resulted in 17 deaths.

First off, it’s been reported that police were called to the shooter’s house 39 times for various reasons over the past seven years. Eight of those instances and their circumstances, which include explicit concerns over shooting up a school, occurred over the past two years and can be read about here.

At CNN’s recent town hall on gun policy, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel had the gall to blame gun policy and the NRA for the shooting instead of his own department’s incompetence.

Beyond local police, the FBI was tipped off directly on two separate occasions regarding the shooter’s potential to actually go through with it. A YouTube commenter with the shooter’s name wrote “I’m going to be a professional school shooter” in September 2017, and the uploader reported it to the FBI. On January 5th, the FBI was contacted again, this time by an individual close to the shooter who specifically warned of his potential to commit mass murder. The FBI did not follow up on either of these reports.

Maybe most egregiously, resource officer Scot Peterson was present at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School throughout the entire massacre. Stunningly, he chose to remain outside instead of engaging the shooter.

But that’s not all. In 2015, the Broward Sheriff’s Office’s ‘resident on campus’ program was under audit. The program was designed to provide after-hours security for schools by having police officers live (rent-free) in trailers on campus. The chair of the 2015 audit was so embarrassed by the condition of the program that he said he would “shut it down immediately.” Officers were not available during times of need, did not file necessary paperwork, and were ineffective in reducing theft and vandalism altogether.

Amazingly, Peterson himself was quoted rebutting the results of the audit: “These colleagues work hard. We are crime prevention, an audit report will never show how much we prevent.”

Many people argue that to prevent gun crime, just enforce the laws on the books. Considering the pathetic performance in Broward County, I wonder whether or not we should be leaving so much of our security in the hands of law enforcement in the first place. Perhaps private citizens should start to look for solutions on their own instead of waiting for the government to take action.

One idea that puts people in control of violence prevention comes from National Review’s David French. French suggests that, instead of blanket gun control laws, individuals with good reason to believe that a family member or colleague is primed to commit an act of violence should request a gun-violence restraining order (GVRO) that would temporary suspend the subject’s Second Amendment rights. I highly recommend taking a look at French’s idea in more detail, but keep due process in mind as you think it through.

It’s a shame that this discussion needs to be had, but this is the deck we’ve been dealt. Let’s stay level-headed and put our best ideas forward.

***

If you enjoyed this post, please follow me at www.howtocureyourliberalism.com. Also check out my podcast on iTunes  and like my Facebook page.

A Few School Shooting Prevention Ideas

The “in the NRA’s Pocket” Talking Point is the Most Poisonous in the Entire Gun Debate

As immoveable as I am in my support of the Second Amendment and my opposition to policies that restrict liberty, I can still concede that those who disagree with me have some fair arguments.

“No one needs an AR-15!”

“Gun laws ceased mass shootings in other countries!”

“Background checks don’t go far enough!”

“Your Liberty is not worth my life!”

These arguments are all flawed, but they are sensible enough to merit a serious intellectual discussion. I would never call someone stupid for employing one or all of them.

One point made by gun control advocates, that I seem to be hearing more and more lately, is not worthy of any consideration whatsoever. I am referring to the argument that some politicians are bought and paid for by the National Rifle Association.

Marco Rubio, who courageously entered an anti-gun lion’s den to express his support for the Second Amendment, was on the receiving end of this accusation yesterday.

You can watch it go down here.

(My feelings about recently traumatized high school students being exploited by political opportunists, by the way, is a separate issue.)

The “in the NRA’s pocket” argument is one of the most mean-spirited, ignorant, and hypocritical in any mainstream political debate that I am aware of.

Take a look at what this argument implies:

  1. The accused politician is controlled by the NRA
  2. The politician’s support for the Second Amendment and against most gun control legislation is insincere
  3. The NRA and the politician likely have knowledge that proposed gun control legislation would make America safer without sacrificing meaningful rights or liberty
  4. The NRA and the politician care more about personal financial gain and political power than keeping Americans safe

If this were the case, it would be an extreme level of evil and deception.

Though it may come as a surprise, I generally do not imagine that politicians are consciously bad people (although there are exceptions). My resistance to big government has more to do with human nature and human fallibility than suspicion of foul play or conspiracy. In other words, I think Bernie Sanders and Lindsey Graham are probably well-intentioned and incompetent, not vicious and conniving. They aren’t as hypocritical as they are too big for their britches.

Projecting the kind of malevolence many gun control advocates foist upon the NRA and the politicians they promote says more about the advocates than it does about their targets. Besides, wouldn’t Occam’s Razor suggest that the NRA supports candidates who support the Second Amendment instead of politicians cleverly misleading the public in exchange for campaign contributions from the NRA? Wouldn’t the former option be a heck of a lot easier to pull off?

Beyond the unlikelihood of unadulterated wickedness, there is a common tendency to completely misinterpret what the NRA actually is. While Democrats and the media often portray the NRA as some sort of greedy corporation with no regard for human life, the organization is actually a grassroots non-profit that is first and foremost concerned with gun safety. The NRA has been training Americans to handle rifles safely and responsibly since the 1870s.

Over the course of their history, the NRA has become more and more involved in the political process. They are now one of the top lobbying groups in the United States.

Contrary to what their detractors say, the NRA is not simply funded by big money interests. The NRA has two funding pools. The first is their revenue stream. Per CNNMoney:

“The organization’s overall revenue, which includes membership dues, program fees and other contributions, has boomed in recent years – rising to nearly $350 million in 2013. The majority of this money funds NRA initiatives like member newsletters, sporting events and gun safety education and training programs.

“These help the NRA recruit new members and spread its pro-gun message. But to influence laws and keep its chosen leaders in power, it has a separate pool of money to use.”

This separate pool focuses on political action. Between 1998 and 2017, the NRA spent $203 million on political activities. Without question, we are not talking about chump change here. But the notion that the NRA is buying politicians is disproved once you take a closer look at how exactly those millions are spent. As NYT’s Bret Stephens wrote in response to an anti-NRA monologue made by Jimmy Kimmel:

“The National Rifle Association does not have Republican ‘balls in a money clip,’ as (late-night TV host) Jimmy Kimmel put it the other night. The NRA has donated a paltry $3,533,294 to all current members of Congress since 1998, according to The Washington Post, equivalent to about three months of Kimmel’s salary. The NRA doesn’t need to buy influence: It’s powerful because it’s popular.”

How popular? The NRA Political Victory Fund received over $85 million in individual contributions between 2012 and 2015. And these donations more closely resembled Bernie Sanders’ fundraising efforts than Hillary Clinton’s:

“Contributions came from nearly 30,000 donors, with around 90% of donations made by people who gave less than $200 in a single year. According to the NRA, the average donation is around $35.”

This should come as no surprise. The NRA has over 5 million official members and millions more who support their cause. To put it plainly and simply, the NRA is democracy in action. It’s real people with real concerns who want their representatives to respect their rights and political objectives. Rather than fight it out alone, they make a collective effort to see that their country is shaped according to their values.

Considering the Democratic, Progressive, and even Socialist leanings of most of the NRA’s greatest opponents, it seems quite hypocritical to assume that this group of individuals fighting for their rights is especially corrupt.

If we are to assume that politicians who receive donations from organizations are under those organizations’ control, wouldn’t we have to assume Hillary Clinton is nothing more than a puppet of Planned Parenthood?

The overwhelming majority of campaign spending by the NRA is devoted to Super-PACs. Much of this money goes towards campaign ads for or against particular candidates. They are the country’s ninth largest financier of outside spending. But, once again, this money flows up from the grassroots for the most part.

If you don’t like the NRA, the Second Amendment, or the current political process, fine. You have every right to your opinion. But I advise against smears and allegations of evil and corruption if you want the gun control debate to move in any kind of positive direction.

And please don’t make me stick up for Marco Rubio again.

***

If you enjoyed this post, please follow me at www.howtocureyourliberalism.com. Also check out my podcast on iTunes  and like my Facebook page.

The “in the NRA’s Pocket” Talking Point is the Most Poisonous in the Entire Gun Debate

A Love Letter to a Proponent of Repealing the Second Amendment

Dear Political Activist Who Openly Calls for the Repeal of the Second Amendment,

Salutations! I hope this letter finds you well.

Let me first introduce myself. I am an American English teacher and amateur blogger currently living abroad. Although I once shared political and social views more akin to those of Progressives, I have since fallen head over heels for the US Constitution, Individual Liberty, the Free Market, and Negative Rights. I am now comfortable calling myself a Libertarian.

Please do not let my views scare you off. I am not writing you to attempt to change your position on any political issue, but instead to express my appreciation for your honesty.

You see, many on your side of the gun control debate are rife with ignorance and deceit. That is not to say that my side is perfectly up to snuff, but your side is calling for the most fundamental changes, so must in turn face the greatest deal of scrutiny.

But I am not writing you to scrutinize your views. I am writing you to commend them.

You and I both understand that the Second Amendment protects the inherent right of all individuals to own firearms against the legislative powers of Congress and the physical force of law enforcement. The Second Amendment was written as a way to safeguard against tyrannical government and preserve Liberty. “Shall not be infringed” is the conclusion, and the necessity of an armed militia to preserve “the security of a free state” is the explanation. There is no doubting that this law denotes an individual right.

It is true that we are at odds on the need for the Second Amendment, the government’s role in regulating the gun trade, and the right to keep and bear arms in general. But let us not become bogged down in our differences and instead celebrate what unites us: an even-keeled, intellectually sound interpretation of the Bill of Rights.

I look forward to sparring with you in gun debates of all shapes and sizes. We have an exhilarating future to look forward to.

But for now, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and imagine a warm embrace between the two of us.

I love you.

Sincerely,

A Second Amendment Absolutist Who Recognizes Your Honor and Courage

***

If you enjoyed this post, please follow me at www.howtocureyourliberalism.com. Also check out my podcast on iTunes  and like my Facebook page.

A Love Letter to a Proponent of Repealing the Second Amendment

Everytown is Every Scaremonger

Here’s a list of things that haven’t been involved in the deaths of anyone that I know personally:

  • Anthrax
  • Killer bees
  • Immigrants
  • Terrorists (though, being from New York, I know many people who lost loved ones on 9/11 and am lucky not to have lost any family or friends of my own)
  • Ebola
  • White Supremacists
  • Sharks
  • The Russians
  • North Korea
  • Mad Cow Disease
  • MS-13
  • Pitbulls
  • The mentally ill
  • Net neutrality repeal
  • Tax cuts
  • Zika
  • Mass shootings

I understand that I don’t know everyone and that almost everything on this list is responsible for deaths, sometimes tens of thousands of deaths or even much more if you count people outside of America. But I live my life without worrying about any of them. Outside of ranking West Africa near the bottom of my preferred travel destinations, they don’t really affect my life at all.

This, however, does not stop the media, politicians, advocacy groups, corporations, and others from telling me and anyone else within earshot that we are in perpetual peril. Death is lurking at our doorsteps, and we must do something or people will die.

Predictably enough, the something the scaremongers want us to do almost undoubtedly involves parting ways with our property or our liberty. We need to increase funding, pass legislation, build walls, ramp up security, limit access, and fortify our home defense systems to withstand nuclear winter.

Please…

My skepticism of buying what the scaremongers are selling does not mean I believe there are no threats to public safety, that there are no solutions to these threats, or that we should never do something. My points are that these threats are almost always blown out of proportion, and becoming freer and more secure in our persons, papers, and property never seems to be the formula the scaremongers want to try.

In the wake of another horrific mass shooting at a high school in Florida, the mainstream media and the bulk of the left are engaging in their typical calls for gun control. With apologies to honest Progressives who admit they want to confiscate large quantities of privately owned firearms and repeal the Second Amendment, not many people have put forward ideas that could actually prevent mass shootings or even ideas that are not already legislated.

To sow fear amongst the masses and push for more gun control, the mainstream media has been reporting that the incident in Florida is the 18th school shooting of 2018 (which is only a month and a half into its existence at the time I am writing this). If that were the case, it would mean a school shooting has taken place roughly every three days.

This statistic appears to originate with Everytown for Gun Safety, an advocacy group which describes itself as follows:

Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund seeks to improve our understanding of the causes of gun violence and the means to reduce it – by conducting groundbreaking original research, developing evidence-based policies, and communicating this knowledge in the courts and the court of public opinion.

I do not intend to question the intentions of Everytown. In all likelihood, they believe what they are doing is right and just. But Everytown is being dishonest, and the mainstream media that cites their data is being irresponsible.

According to Everytown’s school shootings map, there have been 17 school shootings thus far in 2018 and 290 school shootings overall since 2013 (these numbers will jump to 18 and 291 respectively once the Florida shooting is accounted for). But after taking a closer look at the map, I noticed that Everytown’s definition of school shooting is not limited to the Columbine High School-like massacres the phrase brings to mind.

To put the 18 school shootings into perspective, I have divided them into five categories:

  • School Shooting (SS)-An instance in which one or several people brought at least one firearm to a school with the apparent intention of killing or harming others and fired at least one bullet at at least one person. Fatalities occurred in two of the three.
  • Red Zone Incident (RZ)-An instance in which a gun was brought to a school with plausible intent to kill or harm others, but no shots were intentionally fired at others. In one instance a shot was fired at the floor, in the other a student accidentally shot other students.
  • Suicide Attempt (SA)-An instance in which a person discharged a firearm at him or herself at a school, but not at anyone else. One instance involved a student, and one involved an adult from outside the school.
  • Miscellaneous (M)-An instance in which a gun was present at a school for any reason other than premeditated intent to harm or kill others, and at least one shot was fired. These instances include accidents, shots fired as a result of an altercation, and an attempted robbery.
  • Unknown (U)-An instance in which gunshots were reportedly fired in the direction of a school, but too few details are known about the incident to guess motive, and no one was shot. Gunfire at NET Charter High appears to have been directed towards students while the target is unclear in the other three instances.

Here is how the 17 school shootings plus the recent Florida massacre* fall under my definitions:

Type Number Schools # Shot # Killed
SS 3 -Marshall County High, Italy High, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High* 50+ 19
RZ 2 -Metropolitan High, Salvador B. Castro Middle 2 0
SA 2 Coronado Elementary, East Olive Elementary 2 2
M 7 Lincoln High, Oxon Hill High, Wake Forest University, Dearborn High, Murphy High, Harmony Learning Center, Grayson College 3 3
U 4 Wiley College, The NET Charter High, New Start High, California State University 0 0

There are many ways to interpret and react to this information. And I can understand the feeling and the logic behind the urge to want to do something about gun violence and the presence of guns at schools or in public life in general.

But the fact is that we have not had 18 Columbines this year.

According to the Department of Education, there are about 76.3 million students enrolled in K-12 schools, colleges, and universities in America. If the 2018 pace continues, roughly 200 people will be killed in shootings at schools (though this is unlikely as 138 have been killed in total since the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012). This means each student has a roughly 0.0000026% chance of being shot to death at school this year. If you factor in school faculty and individuals from outside schools, the odds go down even further.

Of course, it is obligatory to say that each unnecessary death is one too many. Every life is precious, and I have no respect for adults who do not see it as their duty to protect children. And perhaps there are ways to make schools safer even without infringing upon anyone’s Second Amendment rights or other liberties.

But the fear induced by the rare and tragic shootings that occur at schools is largely unfounded, and those who push Everytown’s numbers are peddling shoddy data at best and flat out fiction at worst.

Keep calm, and carry on.

***

If you enjoyed this post, please follow me at www.howtocureyourliberalism.com. Also check out my podcast on iTunes  and like my Facebook page.

Everytown is Every Scaremonger

Total Legalization: The Only Libertarian Position on Drugs

Via Reason Magazine:

“San Francisco may end up being the first city in the United States to open injection sites where drug addicts can shoot up safely…

“…The facilities will be funded from private sources, though Garcia declined to say where specifically the money will come from.”

San Francisco might be the least economically Libertarian city in the United States. But permitting the existence of open injection sites is as Libertarian as it gets (well, aside from the fact that permission is needed).

From what I gather, this initiative will provide heroin users with a safe and supervised hideaway to use their drug of choice. Although maintaining consistent funding seems a bit fishy, the project will be privately sponsored, which means taxpayers won’t be forced to subsidize drug use against their conscience. Allowing drug addicts to seek refuge, depending on philanthropists to assist the needy, and keeping the public purse out of it is a hyper-Libertarian trifecta.

I also predict that, assuming the funds don’t dry up, this will make the world a better place. Drugs are a fact of human life. Alcohol, caffeine nicotine, and harder substances are as old as humanity itself, and well-intentioned laws don’t deliver on their promises. Alcohol prohibition in the 1920s was a gargantuan failure of government policy, and the 40-year War on Drugs has been equally ineffectual.

Instead of trying to alter human nature, the existence of human drug use should be accepted, and those interested in helping others should seek out ways to make the best of a difficult fact of life.

The main point I’d like to make in this piece is that Libertarians should not tolerate a moderate position on drug policy. Weed should be legal, but harder narcotics should be banned is a cowardly opinion for a lover of Liberty. Drug use should be decriminalized, but the drug trade should not be legalized is weak as well. The only acceptable Libertarian drug policy is total legalization of the manufacture, sale, and personal use of all substances.

(Since I speak through an American-Constitutional lens, I’ll add at the federal level to the end of the only acceptable Libertarian drug policy. If a state or locality that I don’t live in chooses to prohibit drugs in one way or another, it’s none of my nor the external public’s business.)

Total drug legalization highlights the merits of both ethical Libertarianism and practical Libertarianism. By moral Libertarianism, I mean the extreme Anarcho-Capitalist view that no one has any right to force any individual to do anything with his body or property that goes against his will.

By practical Libertarianism, I mean the broad spectrum of ideas that are often described as socially liberal and fiscally conservative or Classically Liberal. Practical Libertarianism, by my definition, encompasses the likes of Steven Pinker, Dave Rubin, and Jordan Peterson as well as Ron Paul, Stefan Molyneux, and Ayn Rand (though not all of them would embrace my label or support total drug legalization).

The moral Libertarian case for total drug legalization is obvious. If no one can tell you what you can trade, what you can do with what you own, or what you can do with your body, no one can force you to refrain from making, buying, selling, or taking drugs. Not much else needs to be said.

The practical Libertarian case is far more interesting and may require a certain degree of counterintuitive thinking.

The first point to make is that prohibition is destructive. As I alluded to earlier, alcohol prohibition led to a massive crime wave that only ceased when the 18th Amendment was repealed. The War on Drugs, which began in the early 1970s, has failed to make a dent in drug addiction while costing over $1.5 trillion (equal to ~8% of our national debt). Making drugs illegal creates new problems without solving old ones.

The second point to make is that legitimate businesses and non-profits are safer than cartels and gangs. Here, Conservatives and Progressives who oppose total drug legalization can have their own logic turned against them. When Conservatives are faced with anti-Second Amendment arguments, they often retort by noting that criminals who really want guns will find a way to acquire them. The only difference is that criminal organizations do not operate in accordance with rules and regulations, do not have legitimate businesses to keep on the up and up, and have no oversight in terms of training or licensing. Gun control laws interfere with the lives of law-abiding citizens while providing free reign to crooks.

On the Progressive end, consider abortion. Every pro-choice advocate is ready to note that women will not cease from having abortions if they are forbidden, but will instead go to back-alley clinics where there is little concern for medical degrees or hygiene. Banning abortion will spread death and disease without actually banning them.

The logic of each of these positions is accurate and sound, regardless of your feelings on firearm and reproductive rights. The same thinking should be applied to drug prohibition, which already provides glaring real world illustrations that the naked eye can see: the underground drug industry is unimaginably violent, drug abuse is as rampant as ever before, the quality and content of the drugs being taken is a mystery to dealers and users, and people who could benefit from some guidance wind up hurting themselves and others every single day. Name a legally-operating industry that experiences these problems, and I’ll delete this column.

The third point to make is that drug laws don’t stop people from doing drugs. I can prove this point from personal experience. For starters, I smoked pot regularly in high school and college and also experimented with psychedelics, cocaine, and opioids. The fact that these drugs were illegal for me to use made them easier for me to acquire than alcohol until I turned 21. Alcohol distributors that want to keep their licenses must follow the rules or lose a great source of revenue, so it took elaborate plans to fool them into selling booze to my friends and me. Drug dealers did not face this kind of dilemma, so all I needed to procure them was a contact and cash.

More importantly, prohibition laws did not deter my friends or me from buying drugs in any way. We were unafraid of the legal consequences, and did what we wanted. We did not, however, attempt to buy heroin or crystal meth. This is because we were afraid of what those drugs could do to our minds and bodies. It had nothing to with the law. As Ron Paul cleverly asked a GOP presidential debate audience in South Carolina, “How many people here would use heroin if it was legal?”

A total drug legalization policy initiative could include some modest regulations. Perhaps age limits, manufacturing protocols, advertising restrictions, distributor licensing, and some other rules could have a positive impact without meaningfully impeding Liberty. But the general proposition of treating drugs like any other consumer product is supported by evidence and common sense, and Libertarians should promote it unapologetically.

***

If you enjoyed this post, please follow me at www.howtocureyourliberalism.com. Also check out my podcast on iTunes  and like my Facebook page.

Total Legalization: The Only Libertarian Position on Drugs

The Libertarian Case for Supporting Trump’s Military Parade (Under One Condition)

The hawk moth caterpillar’s head resembles that of a snake. This evolutionary innovation helps to defend the caterpillar from predators, such as birds and rodents, which are fooled into believing it is they who are susceptible to becoming prey.

The coral snake is one of the most venomous snakes in the United States, behind only rattlesnakes and water moccasins. Although their docile and secretive nature typically keeps them free from human contact, they pack venom toxic enough to kill a person in less than two hours. The milk snake, on the hand, is not venomous at all. But due to its close inhabitance to the coral snake, natural selection has provided the milk snake black, yellow, and red stripes that nearly match those of its venomous cousin. Displaying coral snake colors forces predators to think twice before taking their chances with the milk snake.

Frilled lizards, when threatened, spread out a mane of skin around their necks to appear larger and more formidable than they actually are. Before a predator realizes he’s been had, the frilled lizard escapes into a tree.

Clownfish, despite their miniscule size, swim towards and sometimes bite anything that gets too close to their anemone homes (I have come face to face with these courageous souls while snorkeling!). As predators are used to prey that darts away, they might decide to back down from the clown.

Even my adorable pet sugar glider Penelope has a means of scaring off attackers. Disturb her while she’s sleeping or try to grab her when she’s not in the mood to play, and she bellows a loud and horrible cry that would startle any hunter. This sound is called crabbing, and it’s just the worst.

These examples prove that creatures do not always require the capacity for overwhelming violence to survive and thrive in nature. While tusks, claws and poisonous barbs are a plus, persuading your competitors that you are not to be messed with is sufficient and sometimes even preferable. After all, an untouched porcupine is better off than an injured one whose quills have just taught a young lion to leave it alone next time.

President Trump has reportedly expressed interest in a little crabbing of his own. Via the Washington Post:

Surrounded by the military’s highest-ranking officials, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., Trump’s seemingly abstract desire for a parade was suddenly heard as a presidential directive, the officials said.

“The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France,” said a military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the planning discussions are supposed to remain confidential. “This is being worked at the highest levels of the military.”

Trump’s idea has been met with harsh criticism from both the left and the right, and many are saying his Kim Jong-Un-like despotic tendencies are finally coming to bear.

(I’ll get back to North Korea later.)

In a vacuum, I would never support wasteful and statist nonsense like marching my nation’s brave men and women in uniform around as if they were pieces of property. I have more respect for our volunteer military than I do for just about anyone else, and I don’t need a parade to remind me of their importance. While I don’t know for sure, I imagine that the vast majority of America’s soldiers can feel the American people’s appreciation for them as is.

On the contrary, a peaceful display of military might could be a step towards a big Libertarian political victory: an anti-interventionist revolution.

As it stands, the United States spends roughly $600 billion a year on defense (the Trump administration has requested an increase to nearly $640 billion for the upcoming fiscal year). This represents about 3.3% of our annual GDP, which is a greater portion than any other first world nation. The US’s total military budget is greater than the next eight nations combined, most of whom are allies.

As Libertarian as I am, I do not mind spending more money than other nations on military dominance. I’m grateful that the world’s most powerful armed forces belongs to a nation that supports free speech, equal protections under the law, individual liberty, and the free market (though I certainly wish it supported these values more consistently). If Russia, China, North Korea, and the whole of the Middle East abolished their militaries tomorrow, I would still want the US to maintain an invincible army.

What bothers me most about my country’s military budget (and I assume most Libertarians would agree) is the chunk that is spent on overseas bases and missions. In 2017, the Pentagon spent $206 billion on “Operations and Maintenance” alone. The total sum of money spent abroad for military and defense purposes is likely much higher.

America has no right to police the world’s other nations, and with $20 trillion in debt to its name, it has no financial ability either.

Libertarians should tell President Trump that we’ll attend and cheer on his military parade under one simple condition: end the American empire, and bring our troops home. The fundamental benefits of this would be 1) freeing up some of the budget to return to taxpayers, pay off the debt, or have parades and 2) freeing foreign nations to handle their own business.

An added benefit of a military parade brings North Korea to mind. Michael Malice is an author with some expertise on the DPRK. A point he consistently makes in his writings, lectures, and interviews is that the Kim Jung-Un regime is not stupid or crazy, but efficient and evil. A few moments of critical thinking should reveal this to anyone as it would not make much sense for the only intact nation of the Soviet era to be run be dumb lunatics. Malice references a North Korean analogy that pits an anthill (North Korea) against an elephant (USA). Although the anthill is much smaller than the elephant, it can persuade the elephant to move anywhere it wants. While one must never lose sight of the unthinkable oppression suffered inside the North Korean concentration camp, one cannot help but respect how half of a peninsula with a population the size of Florida manages to keep the world’s wealthiest and most powerful nations constantly on their toes.

I am not saying the US should adopt any of North Korea’s habits or seek to keep the world on edge. What I am getting at is that an American display of power (in North Korean fashion) could help foster global peace through strength. Instead of secretive meddling throughout the world that costs thousands of lives and billions of dollars, the US could be more honest about our potential for destruction without actually invading anyone. Perhaps Teddy Roosevelt’s speak softly and carry a big stick strategy could be outdone by boasting loudly and wielding a giant ax.

***

If you enjoyed this post, please follow me at www.howtocureyourliberalism.com. Also check out my podcast on iTunes  and like my Facebook page.

The Libertarian Case for Supporting Trump’s Military Parade (Under One Condition)