“Healing Our World: The Compassion of Libertarianism” named Foreword Reviews’ 2015 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards Finalist

FacebookToday, SunStar Press of Kalamazoo, Michigan and co-publisher International Society for Individual Liberty of San Francisco, is pleased to announce Healing Our World: The Compassion of Libertarianism has been chosen as a finalist for the 18th annual Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards. The author, Mary J. Ruwart, Ph.D. (www.ruwart.com), currently resides in Burnet, Texas. Healing is in its fourth edition. Former Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) wrote the foreword.

Each year, Foreword Reviews shines a light on a select group of indie publishers, university presses, and self-published authors whose work stands out from the crowd. In the next three months, a panel of more than 100 volunteer librarians and booksellers will determine the winners in 63 categories based on their experience with readers and patrons.

“The 2015 INDIEFAB finalist selection process is as inspiring as it is rigorous,” said Victoria Sutherland, publisher of Foreword Reviews. “The strength of this list of finalists is further proof that small, independent publishers are taking their rightful place as the new driving force of the entire publishing industry.”

Professor Ken Schoolland, president of the International Society for Individual Liberty, remarked, “I utilize this book regularly in my college economics classes. No other book documents the way in which liberty creates universal harmony and abundance as clearly.”

Foreword Magazine, Inc. is a media company featuring an award-winning quarterly print magazine, Foreword Reviews, and a website devoted to independently published books. In the magazine, they feature reviews of the best 170 new titles from independent publishers, university presses, and noteworthy self-published authors. Their website features daily updates: reviews along with in-depth coverage and analysis of independent publishing from a team of more than 100 reviewers, journalists, and bloggers.

Foreword Reviews will celebrate the winners during a program at the American Library Association Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida in June. We will also name the Editor’s Choice Prize 2015 for Fiction, Nonfiction and Foreword Reviews’ 2015 INDIEFAB Publisher of the Year Award during the presentation.

About us: SunStar Press is devoted to publishing books on societal ethics and compassionate politics. For further information, contact us at sunstarpress@gmail.com.

Dealing in Death

 

The United States engaged in the War on Drugs for the same reason it passed Alcohol Prohibition—to save people from themselves.  However, people still used intoxicants anyway.  When these substances were purchased on the black market, people paid the ultimate price when they died from bathtub gin or adulterated drugs.

Shared needles became the most common transmission pathway for AIDS as sale of sterile needles, seen as “drug paraphernalia,” were also banned in many states. Indeed, the War on Drugs kills about 10 times as many people as drugs do, primarily because AIDS is spread this way.

The U.S. government poisoned alcohol during Prohibition, hoping that deaths from drinking would decrease use.  These people were killed in the false hope that others would be deterred. The CIA funded some of its covert operations with “protection money” from overseas drug lords at the same time as school children were told to “Just say, ‘No!’”

Even those who didn’t use intoxicants were harmed.  The homicide rate doubled under both alcohol and drug prohibition; innocent children got caught in the crossfire from the turf wars. Crime soared as addicts had to pay 10-100 times as much to support their habit.

Prohibition, either of alcohol or drugs, doesn’t stop people from using them. The laws themselves harm those trying to get high more than the drugs themselves.  A prison sentence can ruin their lives and make them virtually unemployable.

Alcohol prohibition was quickly repealed.  Those who once supported it often were the champions of ending it when they discovered that it was a “cure” that was worse than the “disease” of drinking.  Several countries have now decriminalized or legalized drugs after recognizing that the War on Drugs kills more people than the drugs themselves.

Several of our recent presidents have admitted to using drugs.  They have not been prosecuted or jailed. Why then should we imprison so many young black people for their “youthful indiscretions”?  While I’m no Obama fan, I do applaud him for releasing several thousand peaceful drug users from prison.  Many Libertarian presidential candidates have pledged to do just that, recognizing how the War on Drugs has disproportionately targeted the black communities.

Some countries have stopped their U.S.-inspired War on Drugs, legalizing or decriminalizing their use and/or sale. Many predicted that drug use in these nations would skyrocket overnight, especially in school age children.  Just the opposite happened. In the Netherlands, addicts are treated as patients needing treatment rather than criminals deserving prison. Pushers have virtually abandoned the Dutch schools.

Teenage consumption of alcohol and tobacco is similar in the Netherlands and the United States, but use of marijuana and cocaine in the Netherlands is only 10–40% of U.S. rates, depending upon the age group compared. The age of the average Dutch addict is rising, as fewer youngsters become involved with drugs. The best way to get the pushers out of schools is to take the profit out of drugs by ending prohibition!

In 2001, Portugal decriminalized all drug usage, including heroin and cocaine. Public users are still given a citation and appear before a “Dissuasion Committee” which suggests treatment options, but has no power to impose a prison sentence. Dealers can still be criminally prosecuted. As a result, the number of people in treatment programs has more than doubled. Drug addicts who might have feared arrest now can safely solicit treatment.

By 2006, fewer grade school and high school students in Portugal were using any type of drug.  Slightly older groups increased their use of cannabis, but lowered their use of more dangerous heroin.  By 2003, drug-related deaths were about half of what they had been before decriminalization. The number of drug users who are infected with HIV or AIDS has dropped steadily since decriminalization, far surpassing the decline seen in those who don’t use drugs.

In Switzerland, heroin addicts are allowed to have as much as they want, as long as they take it in the clinic.  Usually they ask for less. Perhaps when they don’t have the stress associated with criminalization, life’s pain requires less treatment.

When the clinics open, crime plummeted almost immediately.  Addicts who get prescription heroin carry out half the thefts as those who get their drugs in the black market and commit 80% fewer muggings.  AIDS among drug users dropped from 68% to 5%. The number of addicts who died fell dramatically, the proportion with jobs tripled, and all clinic users had a home.  The Swiss, a practical people, like these programs because, even though it costs them to treat each addict, it’s still 20% cheaper than arresting and imprisoning them.

Many people find it difficult to believe that re-legalizing drugs will actually decrease consumption or rehabilitate addicts faster. However, in the early 1900s, when children could buy alcohol or medicinal heroin in any U.S. drugstore, addiction was less of a problem than it is today. Even in our prisons, drugs are readily available. If we can’t stop drug use there, how can we expect to do so in the rest of the population?

Like alcoholism, dependence on drugs is a medical problem. People who are willing to sacrifice their health, wealth, families, and friends for chemical highs require our help, not our condemnation. Ending drug prohibition might even make our roads safer if people substituted marijuana for alcohol. Drinkers drive more aggressively when under the influence than cannabis users do.

Cannabis smokers recognize their impairment more often and compensate by driving more slowly. Consequently, studies show that alcohol drinkers cause more accidents than cannabis smokers, whose accident rate is often indistinguishable from drivers who use neither drug. This appears to be what is happening in Colorado, which recently legalized marijuana, even for recreational use.

In France, where drivers are under the influence of marijuana or alcohol to a similar extent (2.9% versus 2.7% respectively), over ten times as many fatal crashes were due to alcohol (28.6%) than cannabis (2.5%). Today, with the mandatory minimums for drug-related crimes, we could end up putting more dangerous drunk drivers back on the road in order to keep less dangerous marijuana smokers behind bars!

Making a law doesn’t make it so.  New laws perturb the established order and have unintended consequences.  The War on Drugs is a war on people who are so unhappy that they are willing to risk their very lives in an attempt to stop their pain.  Why not help them get to the root of their problems rather than threatening them with imprisonment or poisoning?  We’ll be rewarded for ending the War on Drugs with decreased crime, fewer homicides, and fewer pushers in our schools. Isn’t it time we opted for the compassionate choice?

 

These posts are part of a “Cliff Notes” version of my award-winning international best-selling libertarian primer, Healing Our World. The next post in this series will be Chapter 16, “Policing Aggression.” If you’d like to learn more about how the War on Drugs kills more people than the drugs themselves before the next post, check out Chapter 15 of the 1993 edition of Healing Our World, in my Free Library at www.ruwart.com

Join Me This Weekend in Maryland!

 

 

You can learn more at here!  See you there (hopefully) in person or in spirit!

Restitution Is the Pollution Solution! (from the “Cliff Notes” version of “Healing Our World”)

The best way to protect the environment is to deter polluters with restitution. If those who polluted had to clean up their messes, they wouldn’t make them in the first place. Cleaning up pollution is much more time-consuming and expensive than prevention.

Unfortunately, the world’s greatest polluter, the US military, is not bound by this principle. Usually, our military claims sovereign immunity, which basically says the sovereign, government, is exempt from its own rules. Sovereign immunity violates the second principle of nonaggression and protects government polluters, who would be more careful if they were required to right their wrongs.

Thousands of sites at home and abroad are now highly contaminated by the heavy metals used in bombs and bullets, jet fuel, toxic chemicals, and radioactive waste both at home and abroad.  Perchlorate, a toxin used to make the military’s solid rocket fuel, is now found in high concentrations in over 90% of U.S. lettuce and human breast milk.

The contamination on military bases has caused popular resistance to U.S. troops. The aquifer in Germany supplying Frankfurt’s water has been contaminated by 300,000 gallons of toxic jet fuel leakage. Poisoning the wells of our allies won’t win us many friends.

Our lawmakers have extended the concept of sovereign immunity to include favored private monopolies. For example, in 1957, a study by the Atomic Energy Commission predicted that a major accident at a nuclear power plant could cause up to $7 billion in property damage and several thousand deaths. Consequently, no company would insure the nuclear installations, so power companies were hesitant to build new plants. Congress passed the Price-Anderson Act to limit the liability of power plants to $560 million. In the event of an accident, the insurance companies would have to pay only $60 million. The other $500 million would be paid, not by the company, but by the taxpayers. If the damages were more extensive, the victims would just have to suffer.

The Love Canal incident illustrates how sovereign immunity can poison the playground. Up until  1953, Hooker Electrochemical Company and several federal agencies dumped toxic wastes into a lined trench near Niagara Falls, New York, and sealed them there to prevent leaching. As the population increased, the local school board tried to persuade Hooker to sell this cheap, undeveloped land to the city for a new school. The company felt that it was unwise to build on such a site and refused to sell.

The school board simply threatened to seize the land through “eminent domain.” Eminent domain allows a government agency to force a person to give up his or her land for the so-called “common good.”

Hooker finally stopped trying to fight city hall and sold the land to the school board for $1. Hooker took the board members to the canal and showed them the dangerous chemicals so they would not build any underground facilities. Indeed, a provision against building was put in the deed of sale.

The city ignored these clear warnings and its contractual obligations. In 1957, it began constructing sanitary and storm sewers. By 1958, children playing in the area came into contact with the exposed chemicals and developed skin irritation. Hooker again warned the school board to stop excavation and to cover the exposed area. The school board again refused to listen.

By 1978, reports of chemical toxicity came to light. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) filed suit, not against the school board, but against Hooker Electrochemical! Taxpayers had to pay $30 million to relocate Love Canal residents; Hooker paid over $200 million in settlements.

The Love Canal incident is a classic case of the role of aggression in polluting our environment. The officers of Hooker Electrochemical took responsibility for their toxic waste by disposing of it carefully because it could be held accountable. Hooker did not want to turn the property over to the school board because they feared that it wouldn’t be as careful, since it had sovereign immunity. Hooker relented only when the school board threatened to use the guns of government (eminent domain) to force the company to its will.

The company’s fears were well founded. Public officials, like everyone else, respond to incentives. Anyone who is not held responsible for mistakes has little incentive to avoid them. How different things would have been if school board members had been personally liable for the damage that they had caused!

Restoring polluted property to its original state or compensating the victims for any damage is a costly endeavor. If government officials or corporate managers knew that they could spend the rest of their lives trying to pay off and environmental mistake, they would be careful not to make them. Of course, few people would want to take a job that had the potential for that kind of liability. Therefore, most such jobs would carry liability insurance for top management.

Insurance companies, of course, would not want to have to pay for environmental claims. Therefore, they would monitor the companies or government agencies that they insured and adjust the rates up or down depending upon whether good environmental safety practices were in place. To avoid high premiums, companies and government agencies would likely abide by the insurance companies recommendations.

Consequently, instead of being regulated by a government that claims sovereign immunity for itself, environmental protection would be jealously guarded by those who would be responsible to the victims if an error occurred. While no system is perfect, we’d likely have fewer incidents of pollution.

These posts are part of a “Cliff Notes” version of my award-winning international best-selling libertarian primer, Healing Our World. The next post in this series will be Chapter 15, “Dealing in Death.” If you’d like to learn more about how restitution works to fight pollution before the next post, check out Chapter 14 of the 1993 edition of Healing Our World, in my Free Library at www.ruwart.com

Why Restitution Works Better than Punishment (from the “Cliff Notes” version of “Healing Our World”)

JusticeMR

Many libertarians think of the nonaggression principle as the unwillingness to threaten first strike force, fraud, or theft against another, or what I call “honoring our neighbor’s choice.” However, this is like having the “yin” without the “yang,” the “male” without the “female.”

The second part of the nonaggression principle, restoring the victim or righting our wrongs, is just as important as the first. Indeed, without the balance of restitution, the first part of the nonaggression principle creates contradictions.

For example, imagine that you are walking down a busy street talking on your cell phone. Someone comes up behind you and knocks you over. Your hands are torn and bleeding from trying to break your fall. Your expensive suit is ripped as you land, while your cell phone flies from your hand and breaks apart on the pavement.

Scenario #1: Perhaps the entire incident is an accident. The person who shoved you helps you up, offers to pay for your damaged phone and suit, and gives you enough to cover your transportation to your apartment to change. Given the circumstances, you might be satisfied with this resolution or something close to it.

Scenario #2: On the other hand, if your “attacker” had deliberately pushed you out of the way of an oncoming car, you would probably not ask for any restitution at all. Although that person violated the first part of the nonaggression principle by initiating force against you, damaging you and your property in process, he or she saved you from even greater harm. You’d be grateful for the intervention and might even wish to reward your “attacker.”

Scenario #3:  However, if your assailant was just being nasty, you might flag down a nearby police officer to apprehend him or her. In a society that adheres to the nonaggression principle, you will probably demand, not only restitution for your suit and telephone, but something additional for the time and trouble that you will have in pressing charges. Ideally, restitution should include a fee to cover the costs of the court and the apprehending officer so that you aren’t paying these indirectly through increased taxes or higher insurance premiums.

In each case, the facts of the case are identical.  However, the practice of “righting our wrongs” is what balances the scales of justice and helps us determine when violation of the first part of non-aggression is appropriate. Without the second part of the non-aggression principle, we might come to the absurd conclusion that we shouldn’t pull a stranger from the path of an oncoming car!

Restitution is the best crime deterrent known. Japan, which uses a form of apology and restitution in its justice system, is the only industrialized country that has seen a continuous fall in crime since World War II.

In Japan, once a wrongdoer has been caught, he or she is expected to negotiate a settlement with the victim. Usually a mediator, often a relative of the offender, visits with the victim. First, through the intermediary, the aggressor apologizes to the victim and offers restitution.

After a period of negotiation, the victim may accept both the apology and the settlement. He or she will then write a letter to the judge, expressing satisfaction with the offer. The offender receives a light fine or sentence, because the judge is satisfied that the wronged party has been made whole again.

If the victim and aggressor cannot agree on a settlement, the judge must decide if the victim is simply being unreasonable, or if the aggressor is not sorry enough to make a good-faith bargaining effort. If the judge finds fault with the criminal’s offers, a harsh sentence is imposed. Thus, offenders have a great deal of incentive to make things right for their victims.

Most career criminals start with small offenses. In Japan, they are twice as likely to get caught as in the United States, in part because victims have something to gain (i.e., restitution) by turning to the authorities. When criminals reap what they sow, they are more likely to turn away from crime before it becomes a career.

Western nations are starting to reintroduce restitution into their victim-offender mediation programs. In face-to-face dialogues, both victims and aggressors can express their feelings. Ninety-five percent of such meetings result in a consensus on appropriate restitution, much as similar negotiations in Japan have done. Restitution is usually financial, although personal service to the victim and community service are sometimes included as well. Mediation programs report contract fulfillment of 79–98%.

Are prisoners capable of creating wealth even when imprisoned? In the early 1900s, my great-grandfather’s factory gave inmates of the Missouri State Penitentiary jobs making saddle parts. Not only was the prison self-supporting, it also made a small profit. The inmates grew their own food and manufactured brooms and men’s clothing. The prison prided itself on the health of the prisoners, noting that epidemics were rare and the death rate was “less than that of the average village.” Self-financing prisons were common in the nineteenth century.

Today, many companies employ inmates. One private corporation, Prison Rehabilitative Industries & Diversified Enterprises (PRIDE) of Clearwater, Florida, manages 42 prison work programs with 400 different jobs. Only 11% of prisoners who work for PRIDE 6 months or more return to prison within two years after their release. In 2012, armed with the experience and training given by PRIDE, the average worker started at over $10/hour after serving their sentence. Clearly, this rehabilitation works!

Of course, aggressors sometimes harm others in ways that cannot be totally undone. Monetary compensation to a person who has been raped or maimed, or to families whose loved ones have been killed, does not make things right again. In some cases, the victims, their family, or their insurance company might accept a monetary settlement as the best compensation available. A repeat offender might be imprisoned permanently so he or she could not harm others.

As we’ll see in the next post, restitution provides the ideal “Pollution Solution.”

These posts are part of a “Cliff Notes” version of my award-winning international best-selling libertarian primer, Healing Our World. The next post in this series will be about Chapter 14, “The Pollution Solution.” If you’d like to learn more about how restitution works to deter crime before the next post, check out Chapter 13 of the 1993 edition of Healing Our World, in my Free Library at www.ruwart.com

How to Create Enough Wealth to Retire the National Debt, Keep Our Promises to Our Seniors, and More! (from the “Cliff Notes” version of “Healing Our World”)

The governments of our world are mired in debt. Some people don’t think this is a problem, because we “owe it to ourselves.” However, that debt sits in our retirement funds, our investment portfolios, and in the hands of foreign speculators. At some point, we will be faced with either higher direct or indirect (e.g., inflation) taxes to settle it. Either way, we end up with less.

 

Wealth meme

 

However, there is an “easy way out.” If we were able to create more wealth at a faster pace, our debt could be retired without increases in taxation or inflation. The only way to increase wealth creation enough to do this in today’s world is for governments to tax, spend, and regulate less. Studies show that when government spends more, wealth creation declines (for example, see Figure 12.1 from the 2015 edition of my book, Healing Our World).

 

Figure 12.1: Reprinted with permission from J. Gwartney, R. Holcombe, and R. Lawson, “The Scope of Government and the Wealth of Nations,” , 18: 171, 1998.

 

Figure 12.1

 

At different times in their history, Ireland, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom doubled their wealth creation virtually overnight by slashing taxes, lifting tariffs, and deregulating. Instead of learning from this experience, these three countries limited their bounty by once again raising taxes and increasing regulation. However, we can learn from that experience.

Studies suggest that the United States, for example, could increase its wealth creation between 3-18 times by practicing non-aggression, ending government services, and letting the private sector provide them. In earlier posts, we found that many of these services, which were intended to protect us, actually cause harm. In subsequent posts, will discuss how police, fire, and national defense might be provided by the market. For the moment, however, let’s focus on what the increased wealth creation would mean for us.

What would you do if your paycheck tripled, quadrupled, or soared even higher? Would you send your children to better schools, take more vacations, work less, donate time and money to your favorite charity? Would you be able to pay off your credit card debt and mortgage, start your own business, or retire early? The increase in wealth would be so drastic, it’s difficult to even imagine that!

With this much wealth creation, we would be able to keep our promises to our seniors and pay off the national debt without increases in taxation or inflation. Instead of those on fixed incomes being able to buy less and less each year, the value of their pension would remain stable. The value of our savings would as well.

Governments of the world hold title to between 40-80% of the land mass of their countries. If government sold these lands, or recognized the homesteading rights of those who currently live on them, the poor, especially in the Third World, would become affluent overnight. A clear title to the lands they inhabit would allow them to live securely on their land, rather than fearing an overnight eviction by bureaucratic decree. A clear title also allows the poor to sell the property they currently live on or mortgage it to start a business. One of the reasons that the Third World never became rich was that it did not recognize the property rights of those who homesteaded it.

The most dramatic change with an increase of wealth creation would be goods and services that are currently unavailable. Most likely, we’d have cures for our deadliest diseases: cancer, heart disease, AIDS, and even old age. Perhaps we’d visit other planets or even colonize them as new technologies gave us travel speeds that we can only dream of today.

We’d be able to take better care of our earth as well, since we’d be able to learn more about nature’s ecosystems and how best to maintain them. Poverty, as we know it today, would be a historical curiosity. No one would starve. We’d be able to create more wealth in less time, increasing leisure for study, play, friends, or family.

The loss that we experience because of aggression-through-government is staggering: the damage done to our forests and prairie lands; the boom and bust cycles that cripple the poor; the hopeless future of millions of illiterate children; the absence of life-saving drugs and anti-aging therapies; the space explorations that never launch; starvation; premature death. The lost wealth means that suffering which might have been stopped must continue.

The developed nations of the world became rich by honoring their neighbor’s choice. Why then did they turn their back on the principles that made them wealthy?

While many people understood the dangers of aggression-through-government, they did not know how to cope with individuals who aggressed against others. They didn’t have the “other piece of the puzzle,” which is the subject of the next post. As a result they tried to prevent aggression by becoming aggressors themselves, with consequences more terrible than those they sought to avoid. In the next few posts, we’ll explore better ways to deal with those individuals who would aggress against us. We will learn how to remain Good Neighbors while defending ourselves.

 

These posts are part of a “Cliff Notes” version of my award-winning international best-selling libertarian primer, Healing Our World. The next post in this series will be about Chapter 13, “The Other Piece of the Puzzle.” If you’d like to learn more about creating 3-18 times as much wealth before the next post, check out Chapter 12 of the 1993 edition of Healing Our World, in my Free Library at www.ruwart.com

Springing the Poverty Trap (from the “Cliff Notes” version of “Healing Our World”)

As we’ve seen in earlier posts, most poverty in today’s world is a result of aggression-through-government, such as minimum wage and licensing laws (see earlier posts for more detail).

We usually support such laws because we are unaware of how harmful they are to the disadvantaged.  Without such awareness, we repeat our mistake by using aggression-through-government to give them a welfare check.  Most welfare backfires by ensnaring the poor in a never-ending cycle known as the poverty trap. 

As a landlady renting to low-income tenants, I found out just how the poverty trap works. In the United States, many different programs of aid, such as cash, food stamps, housing, and medical care are available. Taken together, these programs can combine to give a person on the dole a substantial tax-free income.

Consequently, to a young person just entering the workforce, starting out at minimum wage may seem less attractive than going on the dole. Indeed, for girls raised on welfare, getting pregnant has become a way to receive aid and establish their own households. They can’t marry, because aid is usually denied if the child’s father lives with them.

Once young mothers start receiving welfare, they realize that it’s not really enough to live on.  Since more children mean more welfare benefits, they have more children until they reach the maximum number that the state will support. A number of studies in the United States and Canada show that illegitimate births rise and fall in parallel with the baby’s welfare entitlements.

One of my tenants took me aside one day and chided me for working at my day job and at the apartments at night. “You need to quit your job, have some kids, and get on welfare,” she counseled me. “Then you can have a life!” Clearly, some people choose welfare over work consciously.

Poverty Trap

Of course, opting out of the work force at a young age has grave consequences later. Although a working person might start out with less than someone on welfare, the working person’s experience will eventually bring raises and a higher standard of living. For the person on welfare, however, living standards don’t change. When their working counterparts are ready to buy their first house, those on welfare can’t even afford their first car.

Once a woman realizes that she won’t progress on the dole, however, she’s already had several children. Because she has little or no work experience, she usually must start at an entry-level job. Until she gains experience and the pay raises that goes with it, she’s can’t afford day care. Once she begins working, her state-supported medical coverage ends. This loss can be devastating since entry-level jobs rarely include such benefits.

If a young mother can somehow persist, however, and keep working for two years, her income will usually surpass what she received in aid.  However, few welfare recipients persevere under such conditions. Instead, they usually quit their job and get back on the dole. Unable to work their way up the Ladder of Affluence, they’re caught in the poverty trap. Welfare makes breaking out of poverty so difficult that only 18% of state aid recipients were able to do so in 1987, compared with 45% of equally poor individuals who never received aid. Because welfare keeps people poor, poverty increases in states with high welfare benefits.

In the United States, people seldom end up in poverty if they obtain a high school diploma, marry, and wait until their twenties before having children. By “helping” unwed teenage mothers, our welfare programs discourage them from ever achieving self-sufficiency.

The disadvantaged, at the bottom rung of the Ladder of Affluence, are most likely to be lured into the welfare trap. Most of the disadvantaged are minorities. Between 1940 and 1960, black poverty rates fell from 87% to 47%. The 1960s “War on Poverty” reversed this trend. By the time the “War” had been going on for 20 years, the number of black children living in poverty had tripled.

An economic split developed between working class minorities and those on the dole. Between 1975 and 1992, income for the wealthiest fifth of the black community rose by 23%, while income for the poorest fifth decreased by 33%. Blacks who escaped the poverty trap could look forward to unprecedented gains. Unfortunately, our aggression made that escape more difficult. Welfare enticed the disadvantaged to choose dependence over self-sufficiency, poverty over getting ahead, and illegitimacy over marriage. Like overprotective parents, we’ve stifled the development of self-reliance and self-esteem in our poor by trying to give them the wrong kind of help.

What is the “right” kind of help?  East Harlem’s Strive, which relies primarily on private, rather than public, funding is a great example.  Thirty-three percent of Strive’s clients are ex-offenders, almost half are on welfare, many are on drugs, and some are even homeless. Strive helps their clients, 95% of whom are people of color, change the self-defeating attitudes that give potential employers pause. Strive instructors, who come from the same difficult backgrounds, help their clients shed their ghetto outlook and become cooperative, motivated workers. The program is tough; only 60% graduate.

Nevertheless, since 1984, Strive has put over 50,000 people to work in the U.S., Britain, Ireland, and Israel; the average graduate is paid 50% more than the minimum wage. After two years, 80% were still working.  The cost per placement is around $2,000. In comparison, the $53 billion tax-funded, job-readiness program CETA (Comprehensive Employment and Training Act) placed only 15% of its recruits in unsubsidized jobs. Two separate studies concluded that the program actually created “negative effects” and “earning losses” for men, while having no effect on female enrollees.  Government fails big time when trying to help the poor.

Pride Industries of Roseville, California, became frustrated with “warehousing” their disabled clients. Instead, they began a rehabilitation program designed to get the disabled full-time, well-paying jobs.

Before this shift in emphasis, Pride served 50 individuals with disabilities; 90% of its funding came from taxes. By 2013, 4,900 disabled workers were on Pride’s factory payroll and 99% of Pride’s revenue came from electronics assembly, packaging, snowshoe manufacture, property maintenance, woodworking, and fees from its excellent rehabilitation program. Pride is the second largest manufacturing and service provider in Sacramento and now operates in 13 states.

How do Pride’s clients like the shift from dependency to self-sufficiency? “Most of them will tell you it’s the best thing that ever happened to them,” the president of Pride, Michael Ziegler, states. “They smile just like you and I do on payday.” Rather than feeling disenfranchised from a normal working life by their physical condition, the newly enabled are on the job like everyone else. That’s what Pride is all about!

Some people need more than a training program to achieve self-sufficiency. Delancey Street Foundation provides a two-to-four year program in a family-like shelter for repeat offenders, addicts, and illiterates. Residents have to earn their keep by working in the foundation’s award-winning restaurant, print shop, moving company, or auto-detailing center. Senior residents become befriending leaders, helping newcomers gain reading skills, discipline, manners, and work standards that will help them become self-sufficient. Delancey is 80% self-sufficient; only about 20% of its major project funding comes from private charitable donations. Delancey accepts no government funding. By its 30th anniversary in 2002, Delancey had served over 14,000 residents. It now operates in New Mexico, North Carolina, and New York, as well as San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The poor, disabled, and disadvantaged can be helped.  The most successful organizations give a hand-up, not a hand-out, and avoid government funding and the red-tape that accompanies it.

These posts are part of a “Cliff Notes” version of my award-winning international best-selling libertarian primer, Healing Our World. The next post in this series will be “By Their Fruits You Shall Know Them.” If you’d like to learn more about springing the poverty trap before the next post, check out Chapter 11 of the 1993 edition of Healing Our World, in my Free Library at www.ruwart.com

Learning Lessons Our Schools Can’t Teach (from the “Cliff Notes” version of “Healing Our World”)

In the early 1900s, our great-grandparents trudged off to their neighborhood school. For the better part of the day, the teacher stood in front of the class, chalk in hand, to expound on lessons contained in the schoolbooks. Today, our children take cars or buses to school, but once they are there, students listen as the teacher stands in front of the class to expound on the lessons contained in the schoolbooks. The facilities are newer, the chalk has become a white board marker, an occasional video clip is shown, and the curriculum includes some additional subjects, but otherwise our schools are stuck in the horse and buggy days.

The cost of doing things the same old way, however has skyrocketed. The United States, for example spent almost 3 times as much per pupil in 2009 as in 1970 after adjusting for inflation, yet SAT scores have declined. Somewhere between 20 to 30% of U.S. high school students don’t graduate. One out of three graduates don’t have basic reading, writing, and math skills.  Half of the students who go to college have to take remedial courses first.

Our schools are built on aggression. For the most part, children are forced to attend neighborhood schools certain months of the year, for a certain number of years, and take certain subjects with others of the same age group. Flexibility is limited, unless parents are willing to homeschool, or pay tuition for private schooling. Even if parents make these choices, they still are forced to pay taxes to support the failing public schools.

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Poor parents, of course, don’t have these options. Their children must attend neighborhood schools where teachers and administrators often can’t even keep the peace. Many of our schools have become places of violence, and even killing. Children forced into an educational system built on aggression naturally learn to practice it themselves.

When I first wrote Healing Our World in 1992, I described a fictional school called Quest, which took advantage of the many ways that new technologies are able to provide an inexpensive, thorough education when the restrictions of aggression are removed. A number of parents called me asking where this mythical school was so that they could enroll their children. I had to explain to them that the school was simply a prediction of what was possible, not what was.

By the time the 2015 edition of Healing Our World was published, most of the elements that Quest was built on had become reality. For example, while public schools in the United States cost over $10,000 per pupil, the price of a world-class education in the private sector can be virtually free.

Khan Academy, a broad Internet-based school, boasts “you can learn anything for free.” Khan is supported by donations and grants. Any child with an Internet connection and computer can get a self-paced education for virtually nothing.

Of course, even with the best technology, children will still have questions that may require a personal explanation. Internet learning programs can track a student’s progress, and alert a parent or teacher to areas in which a student might need a little extra help. Private Swedish schools utilize such a system today.

Worldwide, students are turning to after school tutoring as their public education fails them. In Japan, afterschool tutors who can communicate subject matter to students efficiently via the web are paid as much as professional athletes. In the United States, Sylvan Learning Centers guarantee a one-year leap with just 36 hours of instruction. At that rate of learning, students could have 12th grade proficiency by the time they turn 13.

Afterschool tutoring is expensive, especially when parents have to pay taxes for public schools on top of tutoring fees. However, if parents could apply their tax dollars to an Internet schooling program, such as Khan Academy, coupled with a tutoring program, children would likely learn faster than they do today at a much lower cost. In such a program, children could go at their own pace and get personalized attention where they needed it the most.

In a schooling system without aggression, advertisers would sponsor television shows like Sesame Street in order to educate children and have an opportunity to pitch their products. While some parents wouldn’t appreciate this trade-off, the poor might benefit greatly from an educational program that costs them nothing more than a cable TV subscription. This would allow them to afford some tutoring, perhaps by older children, for difficult subjects. However, the unfettered Internet appears to be outstripping the regulated television media in terms of offering educational value.

The poor would benefit the most in an educational system free from aggression. Most of the poor rent, rather than own, their residence. The price of their rent includes property taxes for supporting the school system. Without this added cost, the poor would be able to afford economical educational alternatives for their children. Today, such children are often stuck in inner-city schools where the most important lesson is physical survival. Because the classes seem boring compared to the multimedia world they live in today, students lose interest and disrupt the classroom. Learning becomes difficult, if not impossible.

Historically, teachers unions have opposed any deviation from the public school norm. However, good teachers would have nothing to worry about as the pay scale of the Japanese afterschool teachers illustrates. Indeed, even some public school teachers today are quite literally making millions selling their lesson plans on the Internet to other public school teachers. Being Good Neighbors is a win-win proposition!

 

These posts are part of a “Cliff Notes” version of my award-winning international best-selling libertarian primer, Healing Our World. The next post in this series will be “Springing the Poverty Trap.” If you’d like to learn more about schools based on aggression teach aggression before the next post, which will come out after the New Year, check out Chapter 10 of the 1993 edition of Healing Our World, in my Free Library.  
If you want more up-to-date detail, you can purchase the 2015 edition of Healing, with a $5 Christmas discount, here.  Give the gift of liberty this season and show your family and friends how to create peace on earth with goodwill to all! 

Banking on Aggression (from the “Cliff Notes” version of “Healing Our World”)

The Federal Reserve is probably the most powerful cartel in the world. Most people think it is a government agency; in fact, it is an organization of private bankers. The US government has given it a monopoly on US currency, which it can inflate or deflate at will. Virtually overnight, the Fed, as it’s often called, can destroy the US economy, creating boom and bust cycles. As goes the United States, goes the world.

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The government has given the Fed its power in order to get a powerful trade-off. When politicians want to spend, but don’t want you to let you know by raising your taxes, they borrow money from the Fed. They give the Fed IOUs; the Fed “prints” (creates) the money. In essence, the US government passes go on the board game of Monopoly; you do not.

Indeed, your savings and/or your next paycheck have just declined in buying power to the exact extent that the government has borrowed. The government’s IOUs are held by individuals, corporations, and pension plans, including Social Security and other government-sponsored retirement programs. For our pensions to pay us, our children and grandchildren will have to be taxed to pay off these IOUs. Unless we are willing to cripple the next generations financially, we may have no pension at all! This is why many economists say that the babies who are born today are already over $50,000 in debt.

At one time, US currency was backed by gold. Since gold supplies were limited, banks limited inflation. If the Fed or the banks overinflated, there would be runs on the bank as customers tried to retrieve their gold. When the US stopped backing the currency held by its citizens with gold in the 1930s, inflation accelerated. Today’s dollar is only worth about five cents of what it was backed by gold. Another way of looking at this, is that 95% of our 1930s dollar has been inflated away by government borrowing. Because this borrowed money will one day have to be paid back to the Fed and its member banks, we don’t owe it to ourselves at all. We owe it to the bankers.

At one time, in some countries, when banks overinflated, the owners had to use their personal assets to pay back their depositors. If they couldn’t do that, other banks often did so to gain new customers and to reassure the public. However, this didn’t happen very often, because bankers were highly motivated to keep inflation under control.

In the US, banks did not have to pay back their depositors. Also, state laws demanded that some of their reserve be in government IOUs, instead of gold. Consequently the US had quite a few bank runs, even before the establishment of the Federal Reserve.

In countries with more aggressive regulation, bank crises were common, averaging about 8.4 per hundred years. However, in countries that allowed competing currencies and insisted that bankers pay depositors out of their personal funds if they over-inflated, crises averaged about one per century (for more detail, see Figure 9.1 from Healing Our World).

One of the banking crises experienced in the United States was called the Great Depression and happened shortly after the Fed was established. First, the Fed inflated the currency and then deflated it suddenly. Many people who had borrowed money for their businesses or for speculation found that they could no longer renew their loans and were forced into bankruptcy. While many US banks failed, costing American depositors an estimated $565 million, Canadians lost only 3% of that amount. No Canadian banks failed. Canadian banks had few regulations, no restrictions on branch banking, and no central bank with an exclusive monopoly on currency issue. Stockholders of Canadian banks had to pay depositors out of their own personal funds if they overinflated.

Many people have the impression that deregulation caused the banking crises that we saw at the end of the 20th century. However, what we actually had, especially in the US, was re-regulation that encouraged more inflation and high risk “investments.” In addition to having to pay the “inflation tax,” taxpayers had to bail out the bankers!

People without property, and those on fixed incomes, are hurt most by inflation. Inflation redistributes the wealth from those who have little to those who have much, increasing the gap between the rich and poor.

Thankfully, there is a better way that has been proven in the toughest testing ground of all: the real world. By allowing competing currencies, the one that inflates the slowest will be the one that most people choose. The good currency will drive out the bad.

Entrepreneurs have tried in various ways to establish competing currencies in the US, but have usually been thwarted by the federal government (e.g., the Liberty Dollar). Time Dollars are a way to bank hours of labor, and exchange them for someone else’s.  Bitcoin is a digital currency which is slowly gaining acceptance in the retail world.

Only time will tell how viable these alternative currencies are. Clearly, the private sector is trying to find a way to make Federal Reserve notes as obsolete as first-class mail. When that happens, the stranglehold that the Fed has on the US money supply will be broken – as long as our government doesn’t outlaw these alternatives. Traditional banks may become obsolete as well.

 

These posts are part of a “Cliff Notes” version of my award-winning international best-selling libertarian primer, Healing Our World. The next post in this series will be “Learning Lessons Our Schools Can’t Teach.” If you’d like to learn more about how government aggression allows banks to manipulate our economy before the next post, check out Chapter 9 of the 1993 edition of Healing Our World, in my Free Library.  
If you want more up-to-date detail, you can purchase the 2015 edition of Healing, with a $5 Christmas discount, here.  Give the gift of liberty this season and show your family and friends how to create peace on earth with goodwill to all! 

Destroying the Environment (from the “Cliff Notes” version of “Healing Our World”)

Most people think that government protects the environment, but it actually does just the opposite. For example, Yellowstone Park, the jewel of the US national park system, has been incredibly mismanaged. In 1915, the Park service decided to eradicate the Yellowstone wolves which were deemed to be a menace to the elk, deer, antelope, and mountain sheep that visitors like to see. Eventually the Park subsidized the killing of fox, lynx, martin and fisher too.

Without predators, the hoofed mammals flourished and begin to compete with each other for food. The larger elk eventually drove out the white tailed deer, the mule deer, the bighorn sheep, and the pronghorn.  The elk ate the willow and aspen around the river banks, trampling the area so that seedlings could not regenerate.

Without the willow and aspen, the beaver population dwindled. Without the beavers and the ponds they created, waterfowl, mink, and otter were threatened. The clear water needed by the trout disappeared, as did the shrubs and berries that fed the bear population. When the garbage dumps were closed in the 1960s to encourage the bears feed naturally, little trout, shrubs, or berries remained. Bears began seeking out park visitors who brought food with them. Yellowstone management began a program to remove the problem bears as well. In the early 1970s more than 100 bears were removed. Almost twice as many grizzlies were killed.

By 1987, environmentalists encouraged the reintroduction of wolves, in an attempt to undo the environmental destruction caused by the government Park service. Only when a private group, the Defenders of Wildlife, agreed to compensate ranchers when wolf predation brought one of their animals down, was the Park able to reintroduce the wolves without creating a range war. By 2009, the wolf population had rebounded to more than 1600 individuals.

No matter how well-intentioned, the Park service cannot accommodate everyone’s wishes. Hikers, for example, want hiking trails built in the national forests. Logging companies want to harvest the national forests and want logging roads built. Commercial interests will always win out in such battles, because the profit to be made can be converted into campaign donations to reward politicians who make access possible. Consequently, the Forest Service typically receives 20 cents for every dollar spent on roads, logging, and timber management. Meanwhile, the number of hiking trails has diminished.

While government depletes our national forests, the largest private US landowner, International Paper, carefully balances public recreation with logging. In the southeast, 25% of its profit is from recreation. Industry grows 13% more timber than it cuts in order to prepare for future needs.

Generally speaking private owners take much better care of the land than bureaucratic government does. Private owners are rewarded with profit when they improve the value of the land. Bureaucrats, however, can only personally profit by selling out to special interests. Even when politicians attempt to act with integrity, the special interests will subsidize the campaigns of those who see things their way. Almost always, the special interests will win. The only way to protect the environment is to require special interests to own the property they wish to exploit. Their own selfishness will prevent them from destroying assets that they hope to profit from.

For example, some ranchers in the western United States graze cattle both on their own land and that controlled by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). On private lands, they limit the number of cattle, so that the land will stay productive; on BLM’s land, they overgraze. Improving the property doesn’t make sense, since they can’t be sure they will be allowed to rent the same pasture in the following year. Consequently, cattle are twice as likely to die and have half as many calves on BLM land.

When ranchers are offered 10 year leases on public grazing land, they take much better care of it, as they know they will be using it in the following years. In essence, the lease gives them partial ownership. As a result, when this program was put in place in 1934, almost half of the rangeland that had been classified as poor was upgraded by the ranchers at their own expense.

However in 1966, leases were reduced to only one year once again. As a result, private investment in wells and fences in the early 70s dropped to less than a third of their 1960s level.

Most people think that government prevents the extinction of wildlife. They are unaware that state governments once paid hunters tax-subsidized bounties to kill hawks and sea lions, for example. Private individuals bought the breeding grounds frequented by these majestic animals and protected them from the bounty hunters. Hawk Mountain, in the Pennsylvania Appalachians, has been protecting hawks since 1934. The owners of Sea Lion Caves have been protecting the only known mainland breeding and wintering area of the Steller sea lion since 1927.

We are more likely to protect the environment when we own a piece of it and profit by nurturing it. Instead of hoping that someday government might not be susceptible to special interests manipulation, we can protect the environment now by privatizing lands owned and operated by the government.

Privatizing state-owned land could be used to retire the national debt. The taxes now used to service it would no longer be necessary. The decrease in wealth creation caused by taxation would be reversed and tremendous economic growth would result.

Some people don’t worry much about the national debt because they believe we simply “owe it to ourselves.” In a way, that is true. The government’s IOUs are held by individuals, corporations, and pension plans, including Social Security and other government-sponsored retirement programs. For our pensions to pay us, our children and grandchildren will have to be taxed to pay off these IOUs. Instead of investing our money, the politicians have spent it. Unless we are willing to cripple the next generations financially, we may have no pension at all!

To understand how we came to such an impasse, we will look at the money monopoly in our next post.

These posts are part of a “Cliff Notes” version of my award-winning international best-selling libertarian primer, Healing Our World. The next post in this series will be “Banking on Aggression.” If you’d like to learn more about how government aggression destroys the environment before the next post, check out Chapter 8 of the 1993 edition of Healing Our World, in my Free Library.  
If you want more up-to-date detail, you can purchase the 2015 edition of Healing, with a $5 Christmas discount, here.  Give the gift of liberty this season and show your family and friends how to create peace on earth with goodwill to all!