Tag Archives: Adam Kokesh

Thom Hartmann Proves Any Idiot Can Get Their Own TV News Show

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Recently, I decided to tune in to Russia Today, testing the hypothesis that a news channel funded and run by a foreign government might be more critical, and therefore present a more interesting view, of the US government. That might be the case with RT (they did have Adam Kokesh as an anchor, after all) but within the first 24 hours of watching RT I was introduced to Thom Hartmann, who is billed as “America’s #1 progressive radio host,” and has a show called “The Big Picture.” Almost immediately after I turned on Hartmann’s show, I was pleasantly surprised to see the Libertarian Party’s emblem displayed, and though I have no particular affinity for the LP, I thought there was a possibility that a political view outside of the mainstream might actually be presented. However, Hartmann proclaimed that “libertarian economics” has screwed millennials. This made no sense to me, but I’m open to hearing criticisms of libertarianism and patiently waited for the relevant segment. Here it is, should you care to watch it:

"The deregulation, the privatization, the Iraq"

“The deregulation, the privatization, the Iraq”

What struck me at first was how many times Hartmann says “libertarian economics” (12 times in less than 5 minutes) and other phrases he thinks are synonymous (“Reaganomics” he says 3 times and “libertarianism” twice). The reason he does this, of course, is that he really has no idea what “libertarian economics” is; otherwise, he would mention specific policies instead of vague ideas. The most specific he gets is with “the massive tax cuts, the deregulation, the privatization” of Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover (his excessive use of “the” reminds me of Miss South Carolina of 2007).┬áHe also mentions “the free trade mantra” which is apparently why millennials don’t have jobs and “deregulation of the stock market” which somehow caused a housing boom and bust. But how has “libertarian economics” screwed millennials the most? Through student loan debt.

That’s right. An industry that was massively subsidized and now effectually monopolized by the federal government is an institution of “libertarian economics.” Upon watching this, the audience feels the urge to check the calendar to make sure it’s not April 1st, to pinch themselves to make sure they aren’t in some Newspeak nightmare, to do anything to gain their own assurance that something so unbelievably stupid could not be said by a serious TV news anchor with the approval of his producers and whomever else helps make this content. And yet Thom Hartmann is completely serious. He puts two and two together: George W. Bush (who bailed out megabanks, created the greatest expansion of the federal government’s role in medical care since the passage of Medicare, and under whose presidency the national debt grew more than all previous presidencies combined) pursued “libertarian economic policies,” and the US has never had student loan debt problems like it does today. Ergo, libertarian economic policies caused the student loan crisis.

Hartmann apparently finds the effort to even do a Google search to check basic historical facts too taxing. Apparently, “the free trade mantra” is part of “libertarian economics,” and yet a cited practitioner, Herbert Hoover, signed what is probably the best known trade barrier (the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act) into federal law, which caused FDR to later pledge to reduce the tariff rates as part of his election campaign. Might FDR be a shill for “libertarian economics” as well?

Ultimately, one must come to the conclusion that Thom Hartmann has an inchoate conception of whatever he thinks he’s referring to with “libertarian economics” (and I doubt he even has a coherent conception of what his own progressivism is, either). By leaving his bogeyman of “libertarian economics” undefined, he can blame for everything. Even ISIS. What a world we live in.

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Baby Libertarianism: Property Rights

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Body Suit for Property Rights BabyBaby Libertarianism

Today, I’m beginning a series on what I call, “baby libertarianism”: problems or fallacies common to those who are new to libertarian ideas but tend to be grown out of as they study more and become more “mature” libertarians. To borrow a phrase from my friend Dr. Charles, baby libertarians will spill the libertarian mush and pull down the libertarian drapes as they grow up.

I do not mean to imply that I don’t exhibit any properties of a baby libertarian, nor that I couldn’t benefit from more self-reflection, but I hope that this discussion may profit those who consider themselves libertarians. And if I mention anyone in particular, I don’t mean to say that he or she is a baby libertarian; they are only to serve as examples of ways baby libertarians tend to think.

Property Rights

Libertarianism, at least that based in the natural rights and/or Rothbardian tradition(s), is heavily based in property rights: you own your body and you own the property that your body creates by mixing your labor with natural resources, as well as property that you trade for and are voluntarily given. Using aggression (an initiation of force) against someone else’s person or property violates their property rights and is frowned upon by libertarians. It is with this that we arrive at the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP).

One of the more common fallacies made by baby libertarians is taking the NAP further than they ought; that is, making it an all-encompassing ethic rather than a starting point. They neglect to recognize that there is a difference between law and morality; that there are things that don’t violate NAP that ought not to be done.

For example, in a recent post by Amanda Billyrock, she writes, “Do I believe that the initiation of force against a peaceful person is the worst act a human could commit? Absolutely.” I commented,

I think it’s a mistake to make the non-aggression principle the sole or highest governing principle of ethics. Rather, I like how Hazlitt describes law (or that which you and I would see as rules governing the proper use of force), that is, as a subset of ethics. There are obviously things that are wrong but should not be governed by law and acts that don’t violate the non-aggression principle that seem to be worse than some initiations of force.

For example, I think most people would say that cheating on your spouse is worse than taking a candy bar from a store without paying (not that most people saying something is the decider of right and wrong, but you get my point). Or, perhaps, neglecting to keep promises to your child about attending their sporting events (or what have you) is worse than embezzling post-its from work.

Thus, I submit, there are acts that don’t aggress that are worse than acts that do.

And I think this is an important point, especially if we desire that libertarians represent themselves to the world as courteous and kind people. As an example of what not to do, I offer Adam Kokesh’s use of a sample of a friend’s guitar track as an intro for his show. Though I cannot cite the show number that he talked about this (and it was over a year ago), as I remember, his friend wanted compensation for Adam’s use of his music. Adam doesn’t believe that intellectual property is legitimate and refused to pay him. IP being legitimate or not, the courteous thing to do would have been to compensate his friend.

Is it not the case that artists using services like Noise Trade or Band Camp partially depend on the generosity of listeners to pay for their music, or leave a tip, even though the music could be obtained for free? Is it also not the case that anti-IP advocates use things like these as examples to explain why IP is unnecessary for artists to have an incentive to create? In this case, Adam is not providing a model that should be emulated.

Another case I’d like to mention is provided by my friend Brock (who blogs at The Propensity to Assume). At a weekly social engagement that is called “The Friday Forum,” I had left my bag on a seat and went to the restroom. When I had returned, Brock was occupying that seat and said something like, “I homesteaded this seat,” or “I don’t recognize property rights,” or some other joke using libertarian vernacular. I’m sure Brock felt that he wasn’t violating my rights, and it is not as though that particular seat was of special importance to me, but let me repeat that in our conduct with others, there is much more to consider than rights alone. Ideally, we will be considerate of the desires of others. A good host will make sure his guest is comfortable, provide refreshments, and make sure the guest’s needs are met before his own. In Brock’s defense, I will say he has done this for me when I have visited his residence.

So, I urge libertarians to know that there is much more to ethics than NAP and our service to others ought to be more than simply not violating their rights. Libertarianism focuses so much on negative rights that baby libertarians might be fooled into thinking that they are all that matter. Don’t fall in this trap.

Now Writing for Adam Kokesh

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A few weeks ago I was invited to write news segments for Adam Kokesh’s new Adam vs. The Man News show on YouTube. This is the first one that was produced:

You can see the full pilot episode here.

Disclaimer: I can assure you that any colorful language used was added by someone else. I am careful about how I write, not wanting to needlessly offend people with curse words or vulgar terms. I think voluntarism has a place for everyone and should not be confused with libertinism.

What is kind of funny about it is that I auditioned several months ago. Adam wanted me to write four days a week. I said I would rather write two days a week. I didn’t hear back from him for several months. Since then, I had discontinued listening to his show because I had actually found him to be too offensive for my tastes. He seemed to be on the side of good since he was promoting the voluntarist message, but I sincerely hope he’s not turning anyone away in the process.

I was offered a writer position a few weeks ago, now with the promise of being paid $2.50 for every 1000 views my videos get (I’m still waiting to see that money, but I’ll let you know when it comes). As well, I was told that AVTM was interested in getting our work as writers promoted, though I’m not sure how that works since we aren’t even cited as contributors to my knowledge. So I decided to try it, at least for a while…

Let me know what you think, whether it be of this story, Adam Kokesh, whatever.