Friday, May 12, 2017

The Libertarians Love Shooting Themselves in the Foot

I was, and still sort of am, a fan of Arvin Vohra, but he has really been stepping in it lately.  His latest schtick is equating all military members with murderers.  Yeah, not a typo.  He actually tries to make some compelling arguments, but, like rabid pro-lifers and Antifa radicals, he equates his understanding of morality and the costs of war as the ONLY possible understanding.  He assumes he's right (and lately I kind of agree with him) but dismissing other viewpoints out of hand is how small minded people behave.  It's not how the supposedly rational and intelligent Libertarian Party is supposed to act.  Just because more and more people are recognizing that our forays into foreign wars are reckless and counter-productive doesn't mean everybody has come to that conclusion, and it doesn't guarantee that we're right.  It certainly doesn't make everyone who joins the military an amoral murderer.

We need a military force.  Even if that force is solely used under the standards the Libertarian Party would apply.  Dismantling that force or undercutting its recruitment is biting off your nose to spite your face.  Not only that, even if we decided the Libertarian viewpoint was absolutely, 100% correct, you can't just unilaterally pull out of NATO and other mutual-defense obligations (you could, but it would be just as morally repugnant as the wars we are fighting.)  Like it or not, the world's security is based on a strong, proactive US Military.  Many nations rely on us for their security.  Some of them (Japan) do so because we made them.  The world out there is a world we made.  The messes we've made are OURS.  If we want out, we need to give the other players time to adapt, and that means a robust, capable military force that can only be drawn back as the other nations take more responsibility for their own defense (or refuse to do so after given fair warning).

Most soldiers and sailors joined the military to defend (and spread) freedom throughout the world.  Most soldiers and sailors will never face a situation in which the morality or rightness of their cause will ever be brought into question.  The fact that some of us have figured out that things aren't so clear-cut, and that we MIGHT be fucking things up left and right, is no reason to demonize the brave men and women of high moral standards who serve in our military.  The problem with the military is our leaders and a world situation that we've created.  The VAST majority of soldiers live in a world where they are the morally righteous, and seeing the suffering out in the world and the war crimes of the enemy, that world view is reinforced.  The fact that much of what they are seeing is a result of bad foreign policy is not something they are aware of or would agree with.  Their world view is different than ours.

I also have to add that I personally oppose these foreign military interventions because they simply don't work.  I served during the first Desert Storm, which I consider the last "successful" foreign intervention.  You can certainly debate the necessity of the war, or whether it was in the national interest, but I'm pretty comfortable with the morality of protecting the people of a nominally democratic and free country from invasion by a despotic one.  Since then we've lost our way, but, if there was a way to free the North Korean people from their despotic regime, without the ensuing chaos of an Iraq, and without loss of innocent lives, I would certainly not consider it immoral.  Unwise maybe, but not immoral.  Libertarians are big fans of freedom, I'm not sure why where you are born makes you any less deserving of it.

The military and police both suffer from the same problems.  People don't join to murder innocents or oppress people and violate their rights (at least not most).  They join because of the high ideals expressed by the organizations and the public opinion of them (or for the money or the education).  Some people turn bad.  In the case of police, many become enculturated in a system, reinforced when they see the negative aspects of drugs (not realizing that it's the war on drugs that causes them).  I believe most police are helping and doing the right thing, or THINK they are.  Most didn't realize that the First Rule of Policing was to come home at the end of your shift, and are then indoctrinated into that idea.  They later become numb to the abuses because they inevitably see the people as the enemy, since most of their interactions are with the worst of society.  The solution to this is not reviling all police and soldiers (that's called prejudice) but instead fix the underlying causes: the drug war, policing for profit, erosion of constitutional rights, and others.

Reviling the police and military simply ensures that the Libertarian Party will never get the chance to implement their policies and found out for certain if they are right.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Things Everyone Should Know Before Discussing Economic Policy

The poverty rate is the same for all 48 contiguous states.

The poverty rate is based on half the median (a form of average) income, not the cost of living.