The Greece Default is Here

The Greece saga has been going on for years now.  Is this the grand finale?  It likely will be unless the German government and the European Central Bank and the rest of the establishment go along with another bailout.

I do not mean to make light of this in the sense that I know there are a lot of people suffering in Greece.  As a collective, it is their own fault, but part of that is through ignorance.  Part of it is also a mentality of handouts and trying to live off of other people’s labors.

I wish I had more direct knowledge of what is going on in Greece.  Every person’s story is different, but we can be sure there are similarities.  I know that some of the people are really in poverty.

There is a major contraction in the division of labor.  I just read one story of a florist who is afraid for her business.  She depends on foreign business (destination weddings), but many are cancelling their plans.  Worse, she is not sure how she will get supplies from other countries for her store.

Many of the Greek banks have been shut down.  The ATMs are limiting withdrawal amounts – and that is for the ones that aren’t already empty.

I don’t understand how some people there are so stuck.  I have been writing about the vulnerability of Greek banks for quite a while.  How could some people not see this coming?  It is bad enough if you have actually stayed in Greece.  It is just downright foolish to have left a sizeable amount of money in Greek banks at this point.

The Greek government has already defaulted with the IMF.  It is now going to officially default, barring some last-minute bailout.  The Greek people are supposed to have a referendum on July 5, one day after the American Independence Day.

If the Greeks vote to leave the European Union, that will be their independence day.  Unfortunately, it won’t really be a good thing.

From a libertarian standpoint, the Greek government should default and leave the EU.  Government-issued debt is not really a valid contract anyway because it is based on a promise of other people’s money who did not agree to it.

Unfortunately, a Greek departure won’t have many other libertarian aspects.  Decentralization isn’t going to work if it means a continuation of the welfare mentality.  It isn’t going to work with a new central bank that tries massive inflation to continue the welfare state.  It isn’t going to work with everyone trying to live at everyone else’s expense.

I will provide a new update when something more final happens.  That will either be an official Greek departure/ default or a longer-term bailout.  A Greek departure could happen at any time, but maybe it will take until July 5.

With stocks on shaky ground and a Chinese economy that is on the verge of a bust, it will be interesting to see if this is a trigger for greater panic.  It has already caused volatility in the markets.

Stay tuned!

Flag Worship

After the mass murder at a Charleston, South Carolina church, I expected the main political issue to be gun control.  That has certainly come up, but it was a losing battle for Obama and the Democrats after past shootings.

The big issue now is the Confederate flag.  This is rather silly because it is not as if the shooting would not have happened if the Confederate flag had been removed from society, whether by force or voluntarily.  Getting rid of the Confederate flag will not reduce violence in the future at all either.

In fact, by making this a big issue, it only serves to inflame racial tensions, if anything.

I also need to point out that the media loves these kinds of stories.  The media pundits consider themselves to be so brave by coming out against slavery in the 21st century, even though that is not the issue.  In addition, when we are debating flags, we are not talking about overseas wars or a struggling middle class or massive government debt.

As far as the flag issue goes, I can sympathize with both sides to a certain degree.  But I do believe that some people who are taking a stand against the Confederate flag would ban certain forms of speech if possible.  Flags are a form of speech, so anyone who advocates a government ban on certain flags for businesses to sell, or individuals to own, or even individuals to burn, is no friend to liberty.  It doesn’t matter the motives because I often defend people’s rights to free speech, free association, etc. without necessarily agreeing with them.

I am not originally from the south, so I really have no strong feelings towards the Confederate flag one way or another.  I could stereotype the typical person who would demonstrate a Confederate flag.  That is not the same thing as being racist or bigoted.  One of my stereotypes is that you would not typically find a Confederate flag in an upscale neighborhood, particularly in an urban environment.

I don’t think most people who care about the Confederate flag are racists or bigots.  I don’t think most people are at all.  There are people who are intolerant of a culture of violence and victimhood that is often prevalent in black communities.  This is not racist.  There are many black people who feel the same way.

I cannot speak of the motives of all people who wave the Confederate flag.  I’m sure there are some who are not decent people.  There are others who are decent people.  Either way, changing the flag on their lawn isn’t going to change the person’s characteristics.

I think there is too much flag worship everywhere.  I get tired of people wrapping themselves in the American flag to promote their agenda of war and empire.

As a libertarian, I have nothing against the American flag.  I will wear it or display it as a symbol of liberty.  At the same time, I don’t want people to mistake my display of it as a symbol of war and empire.

For all of the people who want to get rid of the Confederate flag because of its association with slavery, I would ask that you examine everything that has happened under the American flag.

Slavery existed under the American flag.  Even many of the northerners supported the Fugitive Slave Act, which essentially supported slavery.

What about World War II, where Japanese Americans were put in internment camps?  This all happened as Americans displayed their American flags.

What about all of the aggressive wars in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and the list could go on and on?  The U.S. government has done a lot of evil things, many of which we don’t even know about.  It will continue to do evil things.  Should we ban the American flag because of this?  If you favor getting rid of the Confederate flag, then shouldn’t you be consistent?

I don’t have any special allegiance to the American flag or any other flag.  But when people aren’t throwing war propaganda in my face, I generally try to see the positive sides of the American flag and what it stands for.  I still believe there is a culture of individualism, entrepreneurship, and liberty in the U.S. that is stronger than almost anyplace else.  I have mostly negative things to say about the U.S. government (and most governments), but this is not a complete reflection of America.  Most people are reasonably decent.

The current battle over the Confederate flag will only divide people.  I wish more people would see through the propaganda.  The opponents and proponents of the Confederate flag who are not part of the establishment may have more in common than they think.  They  are both oppressed by the U.S. government and should seek common ground here.

This is also a reason for panarchy.  People can share different views, even in politics, and live peacefully together in the same world.

The Ramifications of a Grexit

Greece is getting headline news again in the financial media.  I know we have been down this path before.  It is almost a version of Groundhog’s Day, as once again we are waiting to see if there is some kind of an “agreement”.

These agreements are mainly between politicians and central bankers.  It is not as if the average citizen gets a say in the matter.  They aren’t going to hold a vote in the European Union on whether to continue bailing out the Greeks.

I have no idea what is going to happen this time.  We may see the can get kicked down the road, yet again.  The bailout would have to come from somewhere.  It could be the Germans.  It could the be the U.S. Federal Reserve.  It could be the European Central Bank.  It could be the IMF, some of which is funded by the U.S.

It seems they can always delay the day of reckoning longer than it seems possible.  But let’s remember that this has to come to an end at some point.  The Greeks simply cannot pay their collective bills.  The Greek government spends more money than it can collect in taxes.  And as the economy continues to spiral further downward, there aren’t going to be many taxes left to collect.

The Germans need to pull the plug on the whole thing.  They would probably benefit the most.  And when I say “the Germans”, I don’t mean the government there.  I mean the people need to overwhelmingly demand a stop of the handouts.

I like how some people make it look as though the Greeks are somehow being abused.  Well, maybe the people are, but it is mostly self-inflicted.  But we hear complaints about austerity being “imposed” on the Greeks.  It isn’t being imposed.  They can simply withdraw from the European Union and default on their debt.  But guess what?  No more handouts.

So that is the real problem for the Greeks and their apologists.  They don’t want austerity “imposed” on them, but they want to keep getting the free lunches.

If there is a Greek exit – commonly known as a “Grexit” – then what will this mean for everyone else, other than the Greeks?

First, Greece is a relatively small country.  It is not any kind of an economic powerhouse.  Its direct economic effect on the world is minimal.

However, for a small country, it has racked up a lot of debt.  In total, the Greek government owes over $300 billion.  Most of it is owed to other European countries or the IMF.  Only a small percentage is owed to private investors.

A default will certainly hurt some of the European governments.  It is hard to say how much it will hurt the banking system.  The Greek banking system is already on the verge of collapse.  For the wider European Union, the ECB is not going to allow a major banking collapse.

I think the bigger ramification of a Grexit is the precedence it will set for others to leave.  Not too long ago, it was common to hear the term “PIGS”.  This is an acronym for Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain.  Sometimes you will see “PIIGS”, which includes Ireland.

There is a reason these countries are grouped together.  They all have major financial trouble.  They are all covered in debt.

If Greece officially defaults (it has already technically defaulted by missing a payment to the IMF), then what comes next?  Why should we not expect the same thing to happen with Spain, Italy, and Portugal.  These are much bigger potatoes that we are dealing with.

This is why I think the European Union is going to break apart eventually.  It may be this year or 5 years from now.  But it is not really sustainable over the long run.

Some of the countries will be worse off when they get their own central bank back and inflate like crazy.  Some countries, such as Germany, will hopefully be better off in the long run.

Decentralization is generally better for liberty, but this isn’t to say that it will be great for everyone.  If Greece exits and turns up the inflation with its own central bank, the economic conditions there could get even worse.

Even though Greece is a small country, this story matters.  It matters because of what will follow.  It will be somewhat symbolic of what is to come for some of the bigger countries.

Former Labor Secretary Wants Less Labor

The former Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton – Robert Reich – is shilling for an increase in the minimum wage.  He wants to start out by raising it to $15 per hour.

I can go through the many arguments against minimum wage laws.  They basically prevent people from getting jobs at a certain price.  It doesn’t mean that employers have to pay employees more, because they can decide not to employ them at all.

And there is the reductio ad absurdum: If raising the minimum wage is so great, why not raise it to $100 per hour and we can all be rich?

Some make the mistake of thinking that the problem with a $100 minimum wage is that we would have high inflation.  But inflation is a monetary policy issue.  With a minimum wage of $100 per hour, it would basically destroy the economy if it were enforced and if the Fed did not massively inflate the money supply.  We would be relying on the underground economy at that point because almost everyone would be officially unemployed, except perhaps for some entrepreneurs.

Reich’s short presentation is particularly bad.  He says that people making minimum wage will spend the money, thus helping the economy.  This is pure Keynesianism, and it is the opposite of correct.

An economy grows based on productivity.  You need to increase wealth, not spend more.  The way to increase production is through savings and investment.  So on this point, Reich is absolutely wrong.  He has it almost completely backwards.

He also makes this absurd comment that if the minimum wage had kept up with American productivity since 1968, then it would be at almost $22 per hour.

First, how does he come up with productivity?  Just because we have more productivity, it doesn’t necessarily have to translate into higher wages.  The real median household income has been relatively flat for decades, so why would relatively unskilled minimum wage workers get a greater wage increase than someone in the middle?

Second, is Reich really suggesting that we should eventually raise the minimum wage to $22 per hour from where it is right now?

This is really a basic lesson of supply and demand.  If you make employment illegal below $15 per hour (or any crazy amount), then there will be less demand for labor from employers and a greater supply of labor.  In other words, unemployment will be higher, assuming the Fed does not massively inflate.

If the minimum wage were lowered to $2 per hour, it would be almost the same as abolishing the minimum wage.  It would have virtually no effect on employment because most people would be unwilling to work for anything less than this anyway, at least in the United States.

I don’t know if Robert Reich really believes the ignorant things he is saying.  But based on his policy proposal, he is advocating a massive increase in unemployed people.  The former Labor Secretary wants less labor.  Well, it might mean more labor for the robots.

Trump Gets Things Wrong With China

Donald Trump has entered the presidential race, with a lot of criticism coming from all sides.  There is something that I like about Trump only because the establishment is so bothered by him.  They are attacking him more at this point than Rand Paul.

If nothing else, Trump’s entry into the race should be entertaining.  He will get the mudslinging going strong.  He also has no trouble criticizing other Republicans such as George W. Bush.  Just because of his seeming honesty, I think he is going to resonate with at least some people.

Unfortunately, when it comes to economics, Trump is terrible.  He may be a good businessman, but it doesn’t make him knowledgeable in the field of economics.

He recently attacked China for stealing U.S. jobs and devaluing their currency.  In speaking about Americans looking for work, Trump said, “They can’t get jobs, because there are no jobs, because China has our jobs and Mexico has our jobs.”

Trump said that with China devaluing its currency, they “make it impossible for our companies to compete, impossible.  They’re killing us.”

This is just bad economics.  I agree that China should not devalue the yuan, but that is for the sake of the Chinese people.  This actually subsidizes Americans by making imports cheaper.  It means that poor Chinese consumers are subsidizing relatively rich American consumers.

It is also rather hypocritical to criticize the Chinese for devaluing the yuan without criticizing the Federal Reserve.  The Fed has quintupled the monetary base since 2008.  And over the last 100 years of the Fed’s existence, the dollar has been depreciated by well over 95%.

After Trump’s comments, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Lu Kang, responded.  He said, “Economic and trade cooperation between China and the United States has grown to such an extent today that it has become like ‘You are among us and we are among you.'”

He also said, “It’s a two-way win-win situation.  Such trade has actually given the two sides great benefits.”

So for whatever faults I can find in the economic central planners of China, this statement is rather accurate.  Apparently the Chinese central planners understand economics better than Donald Trump, or else they are just less prone to demagoguery.

China doesn’t “steal” jobs.  China is a country.  There are Chinese workers who do work for American companies.  There are Chinese companies and Chinese workers who manufacture products that are sold to Americans.

This benefits Americans on the whole.  If Apple has Chinese workers making i-Pads, it benefits Americans because they are more affordable.  Would Trump rather have those jobs here (if they would even exist here) and have i-Pads selling for $100 more than they are?  It may not matter to him with his billions of dollars, but it matters to middle-class Americans.

Buying products made by Chinese workers is really no different from someone in California buying products from a worker in Virginia.  These are just imaginary borders.  The only difference with China is that the Chinese use a different currency.  But if they want to devalue it, that is their problem.

The liberalization of the Chinese economy over the last three decades has been a huge benefit to Americans.  It has been a bigger benefit to the Chinese, as hundreds of millions of people have moved out of severe poverty.  It doesn’t mean China is a capitalist country now, but it is far better off than it was.  And we are better off for it.

If Trump is worried about American companies shifting jobs overseas (which isn’t a bad thing, if done in a free market), then he should start by advocating a massive reduction in taxation and regulation.  If you cut corporate taxes and income taxes (including payroll taxes), then this goes a long way to helping employment and wages.

If the U.S. had a much more free market environment, then we would be hoping for a lot of jobs to be filled in China and elsewhere.  It would make us that much richer.  It would just be an issue of comparative advantage.

In a free market environment, unemployment is not a problem.  There is always work to be done as long as we don’t live in a world filled with robots that can do everything.  The key is to have jobs that add to productivity and to our overall happiness.

Ultimately, we don’t want more jobs.  We want more wealth.  You would think Trump would understand a thing or two about wanting more wealth.

FOMC Statement – June 17, 2015

The FOMC released its latest statement on Wednesday.  The big news is that the Fed will keep its target rate between zero and 1/4 percent.  This is the federal funds rate, which is the overnight borrowing rate for banks.

Since the banks have a pile of excess reserves, they don’t need to borrow money overnight to meet reserve requirements.  Therefore, the rate stays near zero.  The only way for the Fed to effectively raise this rate – short of selling trillions of dollars in assets to drain bank reserves – is to pay a higher interest rate on bank reserves.

The key point here is that the federal funds rate – the rate that everyone is talking about – has almost no correlation to the actual money supply at this point.  The Fed can raise its rate, but this doesn’t dictate its control over the money supply as it did in the past.  The Fed can inflate or deflate the money supply, and it will not affect the federal funds rate, unless the deflation were severe.

Perhaps the federal funds rate will impact market interest rates, but that isn’t even clear at this point.  The market has been anticipating a hike by the Fed for quite some time, yet interest rates only just recently went up a bit.  And that was after going down, despite the market’s anticipation of a Fed hike.

The Fed is currently in a tight money mode.  It has been since QE3 ended in late 2014.  But QE3 was huge.  To put this in perspective, QE3 created more money out of thin air than the first 95 years of the Federal Reserve’s existence.

We shouldn’t be worrying so much about the Fed hiking the federal funds rate.  This will just be a further bank bailout.  The bigger questions are what the economy is going to do and how the Fed will respond.

If we have another quarter of negative GDP, then we will be in a recession by definition.  And what happens if the stock market crashes by 30 or 40 percent?  Is the Fed going to sit on its hands?

The real question is whether the Fed will respond to an economic downturn with more QE (monetary inflation).  And if this does happen, will we finally see price inflation show up more significantly?

We will continue to keep our eye on the ball and not the distraction of the federal funds rate.  The money supply is what matters the most.

Republican Presidential Mania

The list of Republican candidates for the 2016 presidential election keeps growing.  I cannot recall any time in the last several decades where there have been so many major candidates.  The following is a list of major candidates or likely candidates.

  • Jeb Bush
  • Ben Carson
  • Chris Christie (not officially declared)
  • Ted Cruz
  • Carly Fiorina
  • Lindsey Graham
  • Mike Huckabee
  • Bobby Jindal (not officially declared)
  • George Pataki
  • Rand Paul
  • Rick Perry
  • Marco Rubio
  • Rick Santorum
  • Donald Trump
  • Scott Walker (not officially declared)

I did not include other candidates that are not well-known because they have virtually no chance in this field.

There are at least a dozen well-known candidates already in the race, with the likelihood of more coming.  Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, it is Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley.  I expect there to be one main challenger for Hillary Clinton, and it will not likely be Bernie Sanders.

I am not going to go through each Republican candidate at this time.  They are all too much alike.  They are mostly pro war.  They will talk a good game about fiscal conservatism – some more than others – but most of them are part of the establishment and generally favor big government.

Bush would be interesting if he goes up against Clinton.  I would wonder if the American people would finally wake up that we live in some kind of oligopoly.  “Oh, it’s Bush vs. Clinton.  For some reason, that sounds familiar.  Where have I seen that before?”

The most notable candidates to me are Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul, and Donald Trump.

The reason I include Lindsey Graham is because he is the major war hawk.  They are all pro-war to some degree, but Graham is frightening in just how much he continually bangs the war drums.  He should be the most feared candidate for anyone.  I hope his campaign goes down in flames quickly.

I have written several times before about Rand Paul.  He is the closest thing to libertarian in the race, and he is pretty far away.  He distinguished himself from the field recently in his stance against NSA spying, but I believe it was mostly for political show, as we ended up with something that is probably worse.

As a libertarian, I do not support Rand Paul.  I don’t want to have to defend the things he says and does.  I don’t want to have to explain to anyone why he thinks Edward Snowden belongs in a jail cell or why we need to fight ISIS.

Just think about the Republicans who are still defending George W. Bush.  It is really pathetic.  I can just imagine some quasi-libertarians having to defend their support for Rand Paul.  “Well, he had to support the $4 trillion budget so that he can get re-elected to a second term.  Then we will finally see smaller government.”

Rand Paul would probably be another Ronald Reagan.  He would talk a good game, but he would play ball with the establishment.  Besides, when we get a lot of problems with all of the current malinvestment built up, I don’t want libertarianism to get the blame.

Finally, there is Donald Trump, who just entered the race.  Part of me likes Donald Trump because he speaks his mind.  He is different from the average politician.  He is also not a Bush apologist, particularly when it comes to the Iraq War.

Don’t get me wrong here, because Trump has some bad positions.  He is far from being a libertarian.  But, if anything, he should make the Republican race more interesting and entertaining.

The general election is still well over a year away, but we aren’t far off from the initial debates.  Before you know it, we will be talking about primaries.

I am anti-politician, but I still take an interest in politics, if nothing else for my own awareness of what to expect.  I will do occasional updates on the political situation.

Update on the Adjusted Monetary Base – June 2015

In the past, I would do regular updates of the adjusted monetary base.  This is a chart that the Federal Reserve directly controls.  The monetary base shows us what the Fed is doing in terms of buying and selling assets.

What the monetary base does not tell us is price inflation.  In fact, it doesn’t even give us a good picture of monetary inflation because it does not account for fractional reserve lending.  Because much of the newly created money of the last 7 years went into bank reserves, it did not multiply through the system.  This is one of the major reasons that price inflation has not been commensurate with the increase in base money.

As expected, the adjusted monetary base has been relatively flat since late 2014.  The Fed is doing what it said it would do.  Since the end of QE3 in late 2014, it has maintained an essentially neutral monetary policy in the sense that it is not buying or selling assets.

It is rolling over maturing debt, so the Fed is still buying in that sense. But its overall balance sheet is staying the same.

There are slight variations, which we will always see.  Due to maturing debt and other possible factors, even a neutral policy will show minor ups and downs.  But for the most part, the monetary base has been flat for the last 8 months.

We should expect this to continue until we hear anything different from the Fed.

I know all of the current talk is about interest rates.  They say interest rates, but really it is just the federal funds rate.  This is the overnight borrowing rate for banks, which has been near zero for nearly 7 years because the big commercial banks have massive piles of excess reserves.  They don’t need overnight borrowing to meet reserve requirements.

The only feasible way the Fed can raise this rate is by paying a higher rate on bank reserves.  This will not change the monetary base.

The bigger question at this point is what the Fed will do if we see another major economic downturn.  We already saw a negative first quarter GDP.  What happens if the second quarter is bad?  What happens if we see a major stock market correction?

I don’t care that much about the federal funds rate except in so much as it affects investor sentiment.  I care about when QE4 will arrive.  That is when we will see the monetary base jump higher again.  That is when I will be looking for the possibility of significantly higher price inflation.

Government Spending Outpaces Median Income

“Speaking of Obama, he presented a $4 trillion budget that he says would help the middle class.  And then the middle class said, ‘You know what, how about just giving us $4 trillion?  That will help us.  We will figure it out.  We’ll figure out what to do with it.'”

~Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show

I recently read a piece on Marketwatch, which is a fairly conventional financial news site.  It is titled “Tax rates are far higher than we realize”.  But the beginning of the article starts out with an interesting statistic.

When you add up all government spending in the United States – which includes federal, state, and local – total government spending is greater per household than the median household income.

I had never thought about this statistic before.  I had thought about total government spending in terms of each individual.  I had thought about federal spending per household.  But I had not considered total spending as compared to household income.

I did a quick search and found this article from last year citing this to be the case for 2009, 2010, and 2011.  It is hard to believe that this is not a bigger story, but it should be.

In 2011, total government spending was just over $6.1 trillion.  That included over $3.5 trillion in federal spending and over $2.5 trillion in state and local spending.  In 2011, there were just over 121 million households in the United States.  This put total government spending at $50,506, according to the article.  Meanwhile, the median household income was $50,054.

When that article was published in 2014, it used 2011 because that was the last full year with full data available.

You are probably wondering how this is even possible.  First, consider that this is not tax collections.  It is government spending, which means it includes the deficit spending.  At that time, the federal government was running one trillion dollar deficits.  It is more modest now at about half a trillion dollars.

But that is a mistake that I see with many analyses.  They only count tax collections.  But if the government is spending money using debt and/ or inflation, then it is consuming resources.  It is just a more indirect form of taxation.  So we should use government spending and not government tax collections to consider how much is being taken from us.

The second important thing to note is that we are using median household income.  This is different than the average.  When the median household income is $50,054, it means that half of households make more and half make less.  The average is higher because really high incomes of tens of millions of dollars are going to skew the average up.

Still, you know the system is majorly broken when the government at all levels is spending more per household than the median household income.  In the quote by Jimmy Fallon to start this piece, it paints a telling picture.  It was a far more libertarian comment than what he probably realized.

Imagine if you cut $5 trillion in total government spending.  In other words, you are left with just over $1 trillion for federal, state, and local spending.  Anarcho-capitalists, minarchists, panarchists, and other libertarians can argue about the rest on another day.

For the point of this article, let’s say that government at some level still spends money on roads, the court system, the police, a defensive military, and a few other things.  Now, I realize I am suggesting the total elimination of government funding for Social Security, pensions, Medicare, Medicaid, schools, welfare, and most of the alphabet agencies.

But imagine the average household keeping an extra $41,000 per year.  Even if your cut of this is just half, that would still be over $20,000 per year.  Giving up these big government programs all of a sudden doesn’t seem so bad.  What would your household do with an extra $20,000 or $40,000 per year?

We also have to realize that this would unleash the free market economy like nothing we’ve seen before.  It would mean almost instant higher wages.  It would mean lower prices for products and massive investment for new products.  Our living standards would rise quickly.

If you get into a discussion with somebody about taxes, point out this statistic.  How could anyone but a demagogue, or someone completely ignorant of what is going on, possibly think that we need higher taxes?  We don’t need fairer taxes, or a different tax structure, or a simpler tax code.  We simply need far lower taxes and far less government spending.

I know I could figure out what to do with an extra $40,000 per year in my pocket.

Adam Kokesh on Freedom

I just attended a liberty event (a couple of hours ago) that had Adam Kokesh as a guest speaker.  He is somewhat of a celebrity within the libertarian movement.

I have written on Adam Kokesh before.  He engages in acts of civil disobedience.  He stated to a judge that the only time he committed violence was during his time in Iraq.  He was in jail in solitary confinement, but he is now out on probation.

My only criticism of Kokesh is his underestimating the federal government in the past and risking his own freedom.  Kokesh is a very powerful speaker and advocate for liberty, and I don’t want to see him waste away in a prison because he is too valuable for the liberty movement.

His speech earlier this evening – while not necessarily child appropriate – was quite uplifting.  He talked about how he smiled at the prison guards during his time in there and the amusement he got from it.

But more importantly, he talked about optimism.  He said we are freer now than ever before.

In 2004, I attended a speech by the late great Harry Browne.  He said that he doubted that one in a thousand libertarians understood that human nature is on our side.

I think Harry Browne would be surprised today only because so many more libertarians are realizing that there is a lot of hope for the future.  I think a lot of libertarians still underestimate how far we’ve come and how far we can still go, but it is certainly more than one in a thousand who understand the great hope we have today.

When I was a libertarian in 2004, it was a rather lonely time, unless you were attending a specific event for libertarians or you were on a libertarian website.  That is still true to some extent today, but it is a lot easier to come across libertarians – particularly radical libertarians – today than ever before.

I am not saying that we will have some kind of a libertarian society in the near future.  I am not even saying that it is inevitable.  But, in general, despite the government atrocities we see every day, we are actually moving in the direction of liberty as more people become educated on the subject.

One other important thing that Kokesh said in his speech was that libertarians need to stop being angry (or sad or fearful).  They need to live freedom.  They need to enjoy the freedom they have and be happy.  This doesn’t mean burying your head in the sand.  It means celebrating freedom.  It means that when you talk to other people, you don’t need to debate them or get angry at them.  You can make your point and be happy and demonstrate your happiness.

I don’t typically advocate civil disobedience, unless it is carefully calculated.  But I understand that is the way some people operate.  I can’t argue with Rosa Parks for refusing to sit in the back of a bus, but she probably knew she wasn’t go to prison for it.

My only recommendation to libertarians is to be careful if you are going to purposely engage in civil disobedience to take a principled stand.  I am glad that Adam Kokesh is no longer in a prison cell.  He is doing far more good as a free man.

You can watch my favorite Adam Kokesh video below.