Notes on “Anatomy of the State” by Murray Rothbard

I love books about economics and government! It’s probably a sign of mental illness and sometimes creates a lot of stress, obviously. I’ve read a lot of Murray Rothbard essays and I’ve always liked how much sense he makes. This short book was recommended on the Tom Woods show a while back. I highly recommend it. The language was a little complicated but I was able to follow it easily when it was quiet and I was not distracted.

Page 10 The notion that “we” are the government. “Under this reasoning, any Jews murdered by the Nazi government were not murdered; instead, they must have “committed suicide,” since they were the government (which was democratically chosen), and, therefore, anything the government did to them was voluntary on their part.”

My question in the margin was “Did the Jews in Nazi Germany have a vote?” After looking into this for about five minutes (really, I’d love to know more and not it’s on my topic list, but I have to stay focused at the moment), it seems there is a debate about this. Pre-war Germany history can be a bit sketchy due to they were the losers in the end, but it looks as though most Jews by the time Hitler was elected did not have the expectation to vote, except for some. This will have to wait for another time. I’m fascinated with it though. The notion still holds, even if the example doesn’t. If the majority of our nation votes to take half the income of a minority of people (and I’m one of them), does that mean that I’m really just giving my money to myself and that’s ok?

Page 15 If I say, “I need to have more food.” and take it from my neighbor, I’ll go to jail. But if I tell the government that I need to have more food and THEY take it from my neighbor and give it to me, that’s ok. I just don’t see the logic here.

There are two ways to acquire wealth, by “economic means” voluntarily by exchange, or by “political means”, through force and violence.

Page 16 “The State has never been created by a “social contract”; it has always been born in conquest and exploitation.”

Page 18 “…any government (not simply a “democratic” government) must have the support of the majority of its subjects.” I wish more people could understand this. If you say nothing and do nothing, you are supporting it, regardless of how you feel about it. When things get bad enough that people will risk their current situation to change things and refuse to comply, that’s when we stop supporting it. That goes for a tyrant king or an elected Republican President.

Page 23 “Another successful device was to instill fear of any alternative systems of rule or nonrule. The present rulers, it was maintained, supply to the citizens an essential service for which they should be most grateful: protection against sporadic criminals and marauders.” Well, except from their own sporadic criminals and marauders. Once again, it’s ok in most people’s minds if we vote to take property from one group and give it to another.

Page 24 “If ‘Ruritania’ was being attacked by ‘Walldavia,’ the first task of the State and its intellectuals was to convince the people of ‘Ruritania’ that the attack was really upon them and not simply upon the ruling caste.” Or government. Our government is causing the strife that other governments get angry and fight back about. It’s not an attack on “our way of life”. We are just pawns when we let them play this game.

Page 25 “The new idea, much less the new critical idea, must needs begin as a small minority opinion; therefore, the State must nip the view in the bud by ridiculing any view that defies the opinions of the mass. ‘Listen only to your brothers’ or ‘adjust to society’ thus become ideological weapons for crushing individual dissent.” I’ll relate this to school (not education) since that’s what I do! I’ve heard this from numerous well-meaning and intelligent people, ‘Yes, school may be tough and debilitating to many children, but they need to adjust to the society that we are all part of.’ They believe the alternative is to let children run wild and have radical, independent ideas that won’t mesh with our current system. I’m ok with that, honestly. I’d rather have a world filled with independent and self-sufficient humans that the one filled with of wards of the state, adult children that cannot think for themselves and clamor to have their elected masters care for them.

Page 26 “Any increase in private well-being can be attacked as ‘unconscionable greed,’ ‘materialism,’ or ‘excessive affluence,’ profit-making can be attacked as ‘exploitation’ and ‘usury,’ mutually beneficial exchanges denounced as ‘selfishness,’ somehow with the conclusion always being drawn that more resources should be siphoned from the private to the ‘public sector.’” This gets me, mostly because I now feel like this guilt is engrained in us. We actually feel guilty that we have created something people want of their own free will and are willing to part with their hard earned money to get it. It is disgusting.

Page 27 “In the present more secular age, the divine right of the State has been supplemented by the invocation of a new god, Science. State rule is now proclaimed as being ultra-scientific, as constituting planning by experts.” Because you economic and behavior science is so precise it can predict what every human will want or choose at any moment in time. It’s hubris.

Page 34 Speaking of the Supreme Court and judicial review, “Black admits that this means that the State has set itself up as judge in its own cause, thus violating a basic juridical principle for aiming at just decisions.” The Anti-Federalist Papers predicted this problem with the Supreme Court.

Page 36 talks about the New Deal and the fact that the Supreme Court was used to legitimize the idea to the people even though it was obviously against the principles of the constitution. It was a fundamental flaw in our constitution that many of the “anti-federalist” papers pointed out. The so-called “check” on the other two branches of government was to be appointed by those two branches.

Page 38 “If the Federal Government was created to check invasions of individual liberty by the separate states, who was to check the Federal power?”

“Applied to state governments, this theory implied the right of “nullification” of a Federal law or ruling within a state’s jurisdiction.” That was fine when the Supreme Court had no physical power to back up its ruling. Now everyone believes that the Federal Government has the right to bring its law enforcement into a state to enforce its laws and rulings.

We used to have different laws in different states. Each state was run very differently. That was good for the people because if we did not like the taxes and control of one state we could move to one with more of what we wanted and vice versa. Now the Federal Government has so much control over the states that they are all essentially the same besides the weather. Moving from one state to another is easy compared to moving to another country.

Page 45 “Which category of crimes does the State pursue and punish most intensely – those against private citizens or those against itself?”

Page 54 “While social power is over nature, State power is over man. Through history, man’s productive and creative forces have, time and again, carved out new ways of transforming nature for man’s benefit. These have been the times when social power has spurted again of State power, and when the degree of State encroachment over society has considerably lessened.” This is where we need to be headed. We need to focus on making each others lives better through personal work and creativity, not through using government to force others to make life better for us.

Thoughts on an Article About ADHD

“When we can’t say ‘No,’ we become a sponge for the feelings of everyone around us and we eventually become saturated by the needs of everyone else while our own hearts wilt and die. We begin to live our lives according to the forceful should of others, rather than the whispered, passionate want of our own hearts. We let everyone else tell us what story to live and we cease to be the author of our own lives. We lose our voice — we lose the desire planted in our souls and the very unique way in which we might live out that desire in the world. We get used by the world instead of being useful in the world.” – Dr. Kelly M. Flanagan, a licensed clinical psychologist, Ph.D. in clinical psychology (source)

The article is called “4 Facts About ADHD That Teachers & Doctors Never Tell Parents.”

It’s all very familiar to veteran homeschooling parents, especially ones that had their kids in the public school system but left because they realized that it didn’t fit for their family. I’ve talked with many families that have found a completely different child once they were removed from school, much like the kid they knew before school or during the summer.

My question is this, why do we treat children so different than adults? I’m not talking about expectations of caring for themselves or taking on the responsibilities of adult like. I’m talking about personal rights. Why do we not respect their “no”? Why do we force them to “share”? How can we expect them to grow and respect others when they themselves are treated as second-class citizens?

If I’m sitting at an Italian opera and I’m yawning, fidgeting, and thinking about what I will do tomorrow or what it would be like to repaint the room, my partner doesn’t think I have a disorder that is obviously impairing my ability to absorb the important art form I’m witnessing. He thinks I’m bored. He believes I’m completely uninterested and decides to take me on a date somewhere else next time, not drug me so that I can better enjoy his interest. Is a child in a classroom any different? Find a new venue, explore other topics, find that child’s spark and build on it! He isn’t like you. He isn’t ready for figures and history. He wants adventure, art, or activity. Why can’t we embrace that and find out what kind of an adult that child becomes instead of forming him by force into the adult we want him to be.

Economic & Political Means

I’m reading a book called “Excuse Me, Professor – Challenging the Myths of Progressivism” edited by Lawrence W. Reed. It’s a collection of essays from FEE. There was one I read yesterday about the differences between “economic” and “political” means of getting things that really clarified some things in my mind. I’ll try to elaborate on it with an example from my personal experience. Yes, I’m going to education!

Using “economic” means to fill a need in society is like me seeing through my experience in my social groups that my friends would like to have a weekly meet up, something more than a park day, maybe with some kind of organized craft or experience. I wracked my brain to come up with an idea that would work for us. It had to be something that parents would want to afford and attend along with their kids. It would be nice if this project would support me in a way that would enable me to continue to do it. That’s what profit is for. I offer something to the people in an effort to satisfy a need and support me while I do it. It’s a win/win for everyone.

The “political” means of filling this same need would be to rally people together to petition our government to offer this service. The government doesn’t have an income, they tax people for money to pay for these services. Taxes are not voluntary. Even if only three people use the service, everyone else has to pay for it even if they find the service against their ideals or morals. Using political means to get things done means to vote for someone else to give you want you find useful. It’s a win/lose situation. I win because I have my service. You lose because you pay more money for things you aren’t using.

I like the economic way of doing things way better. I might fail. There may be just too few people wanting what I’m offering to make it viable for me and that’s ok. Maybe I can find something else to support me while I offer this thing for these people as a volunteer thing, or hobby on the side because it makes my heart happy. All interaction is voluntary and everyone wins something. I’m tired of people looking to government and a vote to fill all their needs. I’m tired of the words “support this” in reference to going to some event put on by the community or local restaurant. I’d rather just patronize things that I find useful and profitable in this area. I will buy my plants at Home Depot because they are cheaper and better taken care of than the local nursery that looks like someone’s backyard garden. I feel more comfortable there. Other people can make their choice as well. Sometimes the local thing is better for you to buy because the owner is awesome to talk to and loves his job so much that he’s willing to help with all kinds of extra information and friendliness that the big national store doesn’t have. But that big store does hire more people and has cheaper products. Because I paid less for my new plants, I have enough money to take my kids out to lunch as well, “sharing the wealth.” They are both serving a portion of the community and there is room for both as long as government isn’t propping up one or the other with “political means.”

Kids These Days!

I mean that in the best way. They’ve lived with the internet and social media all their lives. They are very well versed in it and know what’s really going on like second nature. Those of us that have lived without it most of our lives should really look to them about how to use it wisely and not let it rule our lives in a negative way instead of trying to limit their access to it and cracking mean jokes about how they use it. Maybe we’d all learn something.

Yesterday morning a local news station posted a picture on Facebook from our local high school’s yearbook. The station didn’t investigate the reason behind the picture or interview anyone involved. They just posted and described what we could clearly see. That’s pretty typical for our area. Everyone on my list is having a cow about it, commenting and arguing about a picture with no background or further information than what they can see. I was trying to make sense of it when my son enlightened me. He stopped me with “Who cares?” I didn’t get it. I tried to argue why someone would care and maybe they should or shouldn’t but he was really irritated. He said it made no difference why or what was happening. No one was hurt or threatened. And the only people that were upset about it were people who saw the picture on the news station. I just paused trying to understand what he was saying. Someone cares, right? Maybe we should care about it for X, Y, and Z reasons. He said they only put the picture up to get people angry. I thought, “But shouldn’t we be angry?” I let it go. And then several hours later, hearing a friend losing her mind about it, it hit me. He’s right! The news station only posted it to get people angry. Angry and scared are the only things that get people talking and interested in a topic. The station isn’t interested in fixing things or making people happy, they only want clicks on their site. These kinds of things get them. If they were better at it, it would have a little more information to at least look like they were reporting things for our own good. So everyone is giving them what they want, big long arguments about something that affects no one but those students and maybe their parents. And the station gets a big boost in clicks, which raises their ratings, and gives them more money from advertisers. It’s just too bad really. If they posted about all the awesome things and happy people that live out here, no one would read about it and they’d probably go out of business. I’m sorry it took me so long to understand what my son was trying to tell me, but I’m happy to know that I’ve learned enough in life to try and listen to what he was saying and assume I was missing something instead of just brushing him off and ignoring his perspective.

Political Opinion

Everyone talks about letting people have their own political opinions without losing a friendship over it. I would agree. We shouldn’t let political opinions get in the way of friendship. We should be caring enough to look into and accept other people’s point of view. But when your political opinion is to vote to take away my freedom, I draw the line. If the government were not talking about taking something away from me and giving it to you, I could listen to your argument. If we were not talking about one group of people limiting and controlling other people’s lives by force, I could hear your reasoning. But we are. That is why political discussions are so heated, divided, and filled with anger. We all need to remember that every time a politician says they will give you something or do something for you, they will be saying to someone else that they will be taking something from them by the force of law. Politicians and governments do not create anything to give to anyone. All they have is taken from someone else. Just because the majority of citizens voted to take it, doesn’t make it right.

Notes on “The Martian” by Andy Weir

There’s nothing like a good novel to ease your mind, right? I picked this up because I heard the movie was great and thought I’d read the book before it shows up in my Netflix cue. I wasn’t disappointed. Mind you, I’m not a huge science fan. When I first started reading I felt as though he could have skipped over all the science explanations since I had no idea what he was talking about. He could have just made it all up for all I know. There were some parts where I thought, “Oh, please!” but over all I very much enjoyed the book and by the end was completely sucked in to saving Watney, so much so that I didn’t realize it was the end of the book when the last page came! That’s a negative in my opinion. You should finish the stinkin’ story.

The bonus part of this great book was the short interview with the author and essay by him at the end. He talks about how he became a writer and how shocked and surprised he was by the whole thing. Today is the greatest time to live in! It’s just so easy to get your voice out there, to get people to see your art, whatever that may be. There he was writing along on his blog, giving his novel to anyone that wanted to read it, and BOOM print book and movie deal. It’s encouraging to say the least. I’m not writing here and hoping that some day something will come of it. Writing my blog is what is coming of it. I am becoming a better person by putting my thoughts into words. I’m growing personally by making the commitment to write on a daily basis, regardless of whether or not it is worth anything to anyone besides myself. But…to hear that some people are touched so much by what others put out there and that more people can see it because some company or group of people feel so strongly about what you’ve put out there that they feel compelled to invest in your work to bring it to others, well, that’s pretty amazing. The internet is a marvelous thing.

Notes on “The Art of Self-Directed Learning” by Blake Boles

I have to admit that I love Blake Boles! I got this book for my sons, but really it ended up inspiring me even more. There is so much that I have done or am doing that doesn’t feel like real education. I’ve always thought it was me trying to get by without an education. I feel programmed to think that way. My conventional K-12 and then some college experience has told me that by their standards I’m a bit of a loser and could have done better. But by real-life standards it just doesn’t look that way. This short book of ideas shows me that I am living and learning in the real world and it’s just as legitimate as school, if not more so!

My favorite part was about “nerd clans”. Here’s a quote that really touched my heart.

“A nerd cares so much about his quirky interests, projects, or hobbies, that he has no time to play popularity games. Nerds bond quickly with other nerds because they choose to focus on building stuff, learning stuff, and otherwise “nerding out” rather than clawing up a social hierarchy.”

The term nerd could be replaced. It only gets its context from the school world, the world where ‘social skills’ trump all other learning. It’s more important there to fit in with a large group of children the same age as you, than to explore and discover new truths in the outside world. I’m sorry, but it reminds more of prison than education. If you had never been in this situation, you wouldn’t need to hear the word “nerd”. It would come as a matter of fact, that people who are passionate about a subject would bond over that subject and go farther in it than others. But for those of us that have been through the educational system, the term clarifies for us what he’s talking about. In school, it’s a negative. In the world, it’s a positive. There is a nerd about something in all of us and we should be embracing and following that passion instead of suppressing it. We should be encouraging nerds of other stripes, not ridiculing them for what they find so fascinating.

The book was awesome and really made me smile through each chapter. Especially since my sons have been raised without school of any kind and take to these self-directed ideas like fish to water. It tells me that this kind of learning is the more natural state of man.