Government Interference Hurts Farmers

It’s a great day in Wichita, Kansas as the #TaxationIsTheft tour gets closer to its last week. Driving around Kansas, it’s really easy to see that agriculture is one of the state’s leading industries. Like other states that rely heavily on farming, Kansas has been getting the short end of the deal for years. Unsurprisingly, the federal government makes it harder for farmers and other food producers in Kansas to do their jobs.

The Topeka Capital-Journal recently reported how federal regulations cause insurance to become unaffordable for Kansas farmers. This is consistent with patterns that arise from government over-reach in just about everything. It does, however, distract from the fact that the federal government was already making food production more expensive than it needed to be.

The Department of Agriculture, the FDA, and the EPA all have overlapping regulations on farmers and the food they produce. The legal operating environment this created requires farmers to insure all their crops and livestock. Just to comment as a business owner, insuring your assets just seems like a no-brainer! However, I’ve also been a struggling entrepreneur. I know there are times when entrepreneurs can afford just enough to provide a good or service and make the money they need to get by, but they can’t afford added expenses. Government is an added expense. The federal government is the biggest added expense for Kansas farmers and business across America.

Another issue that local farmers fear will raise food prices is the EPA’s recent intervention in the levels of certain pesticides. The EPA wants to arbitrarily decide exactly how much of a toxic chemical is safe to put on crops. Every time an agency steps in, sets new standards on trivial details, implements fees, and sends inspectors to farms, it makes producing food more expensive. It makes buying food more expensive for the majority of people who don’t grow their own food supply. I’m no fan of toxic chemicals and I try to eat clean fruits and vegetables all the time. But if I were elected Dictator of the US, other people’s food standards shouldn’t be up to me!

How much of a particular pesticide is used should depend solely on the farmers, the farming communities that share locally grown food, and the consumers who buy their food products. The regulations set on any product consumed by the general public should always be up to the people who make the food and the people who buy the food, of course assuming that, unlike government, the people involved don’t violate anyone else’s rights or property in the process, and if they do accidentally, they take responsibility. They’re the only ones who have any business dictating how food is grown!

An immediate solution for rising food costs in Kansas and the rest of the country is to dissolve the federal government. If this government is peacefully and responsibly dissolved in an ethical, orderly manner, then agencies like the EPA, the FDA, and the Department of Agriculture wouldn’t exist. The cost of food production would drop with all the layers of bureaucracy and red tape removed. More farmers would be able to afford farming instead of being regulated out of business. We as Americans need to step away from this illusion of authority the government has over our lives, get rid of it, and get our freedom back!

Joining the military doesn’t protect freedom, but these careers actually do!

For lots of very good reasons, we have more than our share of military veterans in the freedom movement. When I’m traveling the country and meeting new people every day, I get to hear a lot of their reasons for joining up. They’re usually the same handful of reasons and my own reasons for enlisting were no different: patriotism and the desire to protect America from terrorism, a need for the adrenaline rush, money for college, a steady paycheck and guaranteed benefits, etc. It took going to Iraq for me to realize that everything we’d been taught about America, military service, and freedom are wrong. We weren’t over there fighting for the freedom of Americans or Iraqis. We were used as pawns for the military industrial complex so that a few well-connected defense contractors could keep making easy money.

ACTAS_Paramedics-photo.jpg

If there’s nothing I can say that will convince you that joining the military is a bad idea, I can at least offer you a few alternatives. These jobs actually protect people’s lives and freedom right here in America.

Private security – Private security guards protect property and individuals. In an ideal voluntary society, different levels of private security can replace standing armies and police forces. In today’s world, private security guards patrol communities while groups like the 1st New Allied Expeditionary Force train doctors in Kurdistan for civilians injured in the war against ISIS.

Paramedic – Combat medics save lives, but they’re still trapped in the military industrial complex. Instead of being a combat medic, you could be a paramedic. Paramedics literally save people’s every day. No one can be free if they’re not alive! Americans are way more likely to be shot by gang members than by terrorists. Either way, they’ll need an ambulance, not a National Guard medic.

Firefighter – Ever notice how a lot of your friends feel uncomfortable, even threatened, when they see a police car drive past? Ever notice how nobody gets uncomfortable when they see an ambulance or a fire truck? Like paramedics, firefighters save lives. That’s why most agencies train and hire firefighters to be both! Almost as importantly, firefighters will risk their lives just to protect homes and private property, even when civilian lives are no longer at risk. They also run in and out of burning buildings—how’s that for an adrenaline rush?

Public defender –Ordinarily government jobs are to be avoided, but being a public defender for a county court system can make a huge difference in many people’s lives. The state will go after anyone, guilty or innocent, and people are really guilty until proven innocent. Think of how many nonviolent drug offenders are in prison today! If you want to go into a private practice and make lots of money, you’d still make a big difference by occasionally taking on pro bono cases. Who knows, you might even get a client who will make it to the Supreme Court like my dad, and win! (Kokesh VS The SEC)

Cryptocurrency trader/consultant – The Federal Reserve system is at the head of a giant debt trap—a government-approved racket of historical proportions. Trading in cryptocurrencies, which are steadily appreciating in value against the dollar, which is steadily declining in value, is very profitable. Educating the less informed about cryptocurrency market trends will help them make better trading decisions and help them make more money. Getting more people invested in cryptocurrencies will free Americans from the economic slavery of the US monetary system. Best of all, cryptocurrencies aren’t recognized as money and aren’t taxable, so incomes will go up while tax liabilities go down.

I understand that everyone (but especially young people) needs to feel like they belong to something bigger than themselves. I understand the need to challenge yourself, and the need for positive recognition and praise. I also recognize the moral and philosophical reasons motivating people to fight for ‘freedom.’ But America’s freedom is not the same thing as Washington DC’s global empire. If you want to fight for freedom, try out one of these other jobs that actually make a positive difference in the lives of Americans.

The Republicans’ new tax plan will save us!

Did anybody else see the news today? There was a huge press conference on Capitol Hill. It was breaking news that our gerrymandered overlords known as the House Republicans came up with a new tax plan! Speaker Paul Ryan says that the newer, simpler tax code will save American families over $1,100 a year. Hallelujah! The GOP did a great job today!

And when I say they did a great job, this is obviously sarcasm. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act actually sounds unsurprisingly (to anyone who understands government) terrible when you look into it. Instead of taxing small businesses for their individual profit, the IRS will impose a universal “pass-through,” in other words, a minimum threshold. Paul Ryan promises that the pass-through will be lower than what the average small business pays in federal taxes now. The National Federation of Independent Businesses announced it won’t support this bill because, if enacted into law, it will crush small businesses.

But what about the big savings for families? The Republicans are pro-family, right? Getting to ‘save’ over a thousand dollars a year is a big deal to many Americans, especially to working class people struggling to get by. A lot of Republicans are obediently cheering their team on Capitol Hill. After ten months of being quietly embarrassed by Donald Trump NOT draining the swamp, (or fulfilling any number of major broken promises) working-class Republican voters are being tossed a morsel to give them an excuse to feel a little better about their votes last November.

If you put this story in mainstream media fake news terminology, it sounds like “tax relief” (relieving you of your burden of being a slave to government?) … until you realize that they’re still stealing from you! That’s what taxes are: theft. Under the House Republicans’ new tax plan, the average working American will still be losing 12 to 45% of his annual income to government theft. Taxes are imposed on us by an oligarchy whose authority most people passively accept.

There are a lot of academics and political ideologues out there who will argue all day long how great taxes are for society, civilization, and progress. At the end of the day, nobody agreed to pay these taxes because no one signed their mysterious “social contract” and you can’t just go around imposing contracts on people against their will – unless you’re government. It’s this behavior and organized shakedown by governments that make getting by that much harder for families. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and today’s press conference, followed by Paul Ryan’s doing the rounds on CNN and the other big news stations, were nothing but political theater to continue the greatest racket in the history of the world.

What shocks me about all of this is that we didn’t have a serious tax revolt long before getting to this point where the average American is working for government half the year. We know that we are being lied to and stolen from by government. You know that it’s not “for your own good.” It’s to line the pockets of the super-rich beneficiaries of government. Taxes are revolting. Why aren’t you?

What’s the Difference between Harvey Weinstein and the Police?

Harvey Weinstein is the focus of a huge international investigation for multiple counts of sexual harassment and even rape. To be fair, I’m just a bystander like most of you and while only the people involved know what really happened, I do know at least one thing. It’s pretty telling that, as literally dozens of A-list actresses have come forward with accusations, all the people who know Weinstein best are jumping ship on him. His wife of many years is leaving him, his board of directors fired him, and none of his veteran actors are coming to his defense. I can’t help but think, ‘Why didn’t anyone speak out about this? Why didn’t anybody confront him?’

Now the media is zeroing in on him, and rightfully so. Rapists should be ostracized and socially cast out for their major violation of an individual’s right to self-ownership of their body. Also, abusing one’s workplace to sexually prey on the vulnerable is at the very least a gross violation of contract; it requires something extra and far more personal that’s outside of an employment contract, and degrading the workplace degrades everyone else’s contract. Without voluntary respect both for self-ownership and the sanctity of contracts, free societies can’t exist!

The Weinstein scandal has temporarily distracted mass media from the wave of police shootings in this country, but there’s a similarity. Just like people in Hollywood stayed quiet about Weinstein’s unacceptable and possibly criminal behavior, people inside governments stay quiet about abuse of powers. One of the best examples is the epidemic of sexual assault in the U.S. military. Among the reasons military sexual trauma is so severely underreported are 1) threats of reprisal by the offenders, who often outrank their victims and are higher up on the victim’s chain of command; 2) reports are often swept under the rug inside the unit; and 3) officers and NCOs tend to want to avoid things that could affect their own career advancement, like criminal investigations of people they promoted or wrote good reports about. Most of these unreported offenders will eventually leave the military and pursue other careers, including law enforcement, where they can abuse their power to prey on new victims.

As with Hollywood and the military, there’s a similar issue with silence across America’s police departments. When a police officer is clearly in the wrong, and not directly being filmed doing wrong, all too often he gets away with it. This is because other police officers are complicit in their silence. Two months ago I spoke at Philadelphia’s End the Fed Block Party. After the main event, which had a large police presence the organizers never asked for in the first place, we saw that a group of 5 officers had followed us and posted outside the bar where the after party was being held.

Some of my tour crew broke the ice with a question the police were happy to answer: What’s the number one thing that makes it harder for you guys to do your job? Their answer: the media. All the media ever seems to show is stories about white cops shooting black men, even though they could all name black police officers who had a kill on their record. Fair enough. We talked about the level of distrust of the police in the community. The second question was: Where are the good cops? The ones who are aware of what the bad cops are doing and have a problem with it. Where are they?

‘We are they,’ the officers said. ‘We hate what they do. Every time somebody with a badge fucks up, they make our jobs that much harder and that much more dangerous. But realize, they’re criminals. They hide it from guys like us, they protect each other, and they promote each other.’ After talking, the officers left—those pesky libertarians weren’t going to make a scene after all.

Whether it’s Hollywood, the military, or the police, there’s a huge moral dilemma in this country: silence. Silence about abuse of authority and other crimes against sovereign individuals is inexcusable. Whether it’s rape in Hollywood, rape in the military, or police corruption, America has a problem with people staying silent to protect themselves. Silence is consent. Silence is complicity. While the crimes of individuals abusing power are real and should be spoken about, I hope that we will pay proportionate attention to the large scale systematic abuses of power that make all the rest possible.

When the US prison system created more terrorism in Iraq

Locking someone in a cage is never justice. It’s only a punishment or justified isolation of someone who’s a danger to others. Even for its stated objectives, a punitive prison system is a dangerous and ineffective tool… I wrote this in my book FREEDOM! About the prison system in America, but occasionally something will remind me of the prison scandals back in Iraq.

I remember when the news about the Abu Ghraib torture scandal broke out in 2004. I was on deployment in Fallujah at the time and I clearly remember, as a Civil Affairs marine, having to stare down crowds of angry Iraqis the day after the scandal broke on international TV. I even saw the prison for myself when we convoyed there briefly. That was only one of several US-run military prisons in the country. The military industrial complex and the prison industrial complex got married in Iraq.

Apart from my sad realization that torture and prisoner abuse was actually happening all over the country, something else terrible happened: yesterday’s detainees became tomorrow’s terrorists. One petty thief who became radicalized in prison was Abu Nuwab al-Zarawi, an al-Qaeda in Iraq commander we were hunting. Another petty criminal turned jihadist would go on to found ISIS.

Iraq is the place where the military industrial complex met the prison industrial complex, and to horrifying results. The US military prisons in Iraq were being called “jihadi universities” because people with weak or suspect ties to terrorism showed up as bewildered detainees and left as hardened Islamists, more ready than ever to wage their holy war against the occupation authority. Concentrating large numbers of terrorists and insurgents gave them the ability to network, coordinate, and educate. The cases of only loose association or mistaken identity became easy recruits for Al Qaeda.

Psychologists Jesse Shapiro and Keith Chen find that it’s possible, and statistically verifiable, for prison conditions to further harden criminals. By studying the post-incarceration behaviors of 1,000 federal prisoners, they conclude that “harsher prison conditions cause higher rates of post-release criminal behavior, behavior which is also measurably more violent.” The Economist backs this up with testimonies from ex-convicts in American prisons, noting that many of the abusive correctional officers are ex-military, and in their perceived role as strict disciplinarians, the guards utterly fail to protect inmates from other inmates.

In my book, I write that the machine of government “justice” convicts people of victimless crimes to keep the police busy, keep politicians and their sponsors happy, and provide a flow of bodies into the prisons. The more we question the assumptions of modern prison systems, the more aware we are of their disastrous effects. The effects of that prison system were particularly disastrous in Iraq. With the triple grievance of foreigners invading their country, arresting them by mistake, and being subjected to “enhanced interrogation” techniques, combined with the uncertainty that comes with indefinite detention, it’s no wonder the military prisons became universities for terrorism.

Just as politicians make nonviolent offenders into criminals with their laws, and then those offenders become hardened criminals in the prison system, we were creating hardened thugs in Iraq. Just as the war on drugs made every pot smoker a federal criminal, enforcing a policy that all military aged males must remain in a city as its being bombed by C-130 Specter gunships was creating insurgents in Iraq faster than we could kill them. The images of those detainees at Abu Ghraib were like gasoline on the fire that was already burning from Basra to Kirkuk.

The way forward for America is a complete rollback of the present system of government and empire. The American government has a mass incarceration problem in which too many people are violently torn from society in a way totally out of proportion to the “crimes” they committed. The American government also has an “empire problem.” A government with 900 military bases in over 130 countries is not fighting for your freedom. It is an empire. I was one of the occupation troops. The sick marriage between the military and prison industrial complexes made an incredibly bad situation even worse.