Liberty, Uncategorized

This isn’t freedom, this is fear.

The movie Captain America: The Winter Soldier is one of my favorite movies. In the movie, we see the secret spy agency, SHIELD has been infiltrated by agents of HYDRA, the Nazi supernatural branch that was thought ended with the death of the Red Skull. Not only has HYDRA been discovered in SHIELD, but SHIELD is on the brink of launching a fleet of Helicarriers that are programmed to neutralize threats before they happen anywhere in the world. When Nick Fury, Director of SHIELD, shows Captain America (Steve Rogers) what they are planning, Cap is less than thrilled. What follows is a very brief, but deep conversation about the limits of security.

  • Nick Fury: These new long range precision guns can eliminate a thousand hostiles a minute. The satellites can read a terrorist’s DNA before he steps outside his spider hole. We gonna neutralize a lot of threats before they even happen.
  • Steve Rogers: I thought the punishment usually came after the crime.
  • Nick Fury: We can’t afford to wait that long.
  • Steve Rogers: Who’s “we”?
  • Nick Fury: After New York, I convinced the World Security Council we needed a quantum surge in threat analysis. For once we’re way ahead of the curve.
  • Steve Rogers: By holding a gun at everyone on Earth and calling it protection.
  • Nick Fury: You know, I read those SSR files. Greatest generation? You guys did some nasty stuff.
  • Steve Rogers: Yeah, we compromised. Sometimes in ways that made us not sleep so well. But we did it so the people could be free. This isn’t freedom, this is fear.

The World Security Council decided they needed absolute power to keep people safe. They believed they were the good guys and so it was okay to take this step in eliminating threats before a crime happened with no consideration for rights and civil liberties.

Later on in the movie, Cap and Black Widow find themselves in an abandoned base where they meet the computer version of Dr. Zola, a HYDRA scientist from WWII. In an effort to keep them occupied while an airstrike is on its way, Zola explains the connection between SHIELD and HYDRA.

  • Dr. Arnim Zola: HYDRA was founded on the belief that humanity could not be trusted with its own freedom. What we did not realize, was that if you try to take that freedom, they resist. The war taught us much. Humanity needed to surrender its freedom willingly. After the war, SHIELD was founded and I was recruited. The new HYDRA grew. A beautiful parasite inside SHIELD. For seventy years HYDRA has been secretly feeding crisis, reaping war. And when history did not cooperate, history was changed.
  • Natasha Romanoff: That’s impossible, SHIELD would have stopped you.
  • Dr. Arnim Zola: Accidents will happen. HYDRA created a world so chaotic that humanity is finally ready to sacrifice its freedom to gain its security. Once the purification process is complete, HYDRA’s new world order will arise. We won, Captain. Your death amounts to the same as your Life; a zero sum.

There is a lot to unpack in Dr. Zola’s statements, so I am just going to start from the beginning.

“HYDRA was founded on the belief that humanity could not be trusted with its own freedom.” Sounds a lot like every argument for big government ever. Whether it be the drug war, gun control, or even education. It all boils down to a belief that individuals will make bad decisions and need to be kept in line.

“What we did not realize, was that if you try to take that freedom, they resist. The war taught us much. Humanity needed to surrender its freedom willingly.”

This statement reminds me of the illustration of boiling a frog. Throw a frog in hot water and it will jump out, but slowly turn up the heat over time and it will stay in the water and die. We have accepted an erosion of our freedoms over time, usually in response to a tragedy. Economic freedoms were sacrificed in response to the Great Depression. Gun rights were sacrificed in response to the Valentine’s Day Massacre. Congressional declaration of war was sacrificed in response to the Cold War. Privacy rights were sacrificed in response to 9/11.

“HYDRA created a world so chaotic that humanity is finally ready to sacrifice its freedom to gain its security.”

I don’t believe that the state of the world is the way it is because of some secretive evil organization making calculated decisions about how to get people to give up their freedoms. An organization like that doesn’t need to exist for that outcome. Authoritarianism is as old as humanity. It is the default of civilizations. Freedom is a relatively new concept, but it has catapulted humanity into an age of unparalleled growth. Like anything worthwhile, freedom requires effort to be maintained.

In his podcast, Common Sense, Dan Carlin often asks what will happen after the next big terrorist attack in the U.S.? What rights are left to surrender? What price will people be willing to pay for that promise of freedom? Will we accept outlawing Islam? Will we accept arresting people without a trial (already authorized in the NDAA)? Maybe we will accept rounding up people of a certain background like we did with the Japanese-Americans in WWII?

The purpose of securing our rights in the Bill of Rights was so that emotion and mob rule didn’t infringe on people’s rights when a spirit of authoritarianism swept through the people. Unfortunately, those very rights have been chipped away at for 200+ years and authoritarianism is once again taking hold. It is time to take a stand for freedom. To reclaim our individual rights. Dedicate ourselves to the principles of Liberty even when we are scared or suffering. In the words of Captain America:

“… the price of freedom is high, it always has been, and it’s a price I’m willing to pay. And if I’m the only one, then so be it. But I’m willing to bet I’m not.”

Liberty, Uncategorized

Focus on the Horcruxes

Voldemort is the villain of the Harry Potter books and movies. At the beginning of the first book, Voldemort is thought to be dead. You then find out a part of him clung to life in Professor Quirrell. Then another part of him popped up in the Diary from Chamber of Secrets. Then he is full blown brought back to life in the Goblet of Fire. They just can’t seem to get rid of him until finally Dumbledore discovers the secret. Voldemort split his soul into 7 pieces stored in what is called Horcruxes. These vessels were then hidden and protected to keep Voldemort alive. The key to defeating Voldemort was to not attack Voldemort and his army of Death Eaters but to rather attack the source of the problem. Voldemort and the Death Eaters were the symptom of the greater problem of the Horcruxes.

The same applies to many of our real world problems today. So much of what people and the news are concerned about is only symptoms of often common sources. We can attack the symptoms for decades (as we have) and find ourselves either in the same situation or often in a worse situation. If we want to truly solve the problems of the United States, we need to take a step back as a nation and separate the symptoms from the core problems.

One very clear example of this is college tuition and debt. For decades, the cost of tuition has kept rising faster than most other costs in the U.S. (1. “The average annual increase in college tuition from 1980-2014 grew by nearly 260% compared to the nearly 120% increase in all consumer items.”) The government has tried to solve this problem by throwing more and more money at the problem (grants) and by making it easier for students to get loans to afford school (2. History of Financial Aid). As the ability for students to pay more rose, so did the cost of tuition. Instead of attacking the Horcrux (price inflation from government subsidies and bad loans) the U.S. keeps trying to fix symptoms without addressing the real problem.

Our out of control college tuition and debt is only 1 example of symptoms being mistaken for the problem. The rise of Donald Trump, overcrowded prison systems, much of the nations poverty, etc. are all symptoms of deeper less obvious problems. Until the American public demands that politicians destroy the Horcruxes plaguing our nation, rather than fighting skirmishes with the Death Eaters, our nation will not be great. As it is now, the illusion of doing something while the source persists is what gets politicians re-elected. Americans need to demand meaningful results for re-election, not political theater and pandering.

tuition cost 64-15 (3)

  1. http://www.businessinsider.com/this-chart-shows-how-quickly-college-tuition-has-skyrocketed-since-1980-2015-7
  2. http://www.finaid.org/educators/history.phtml
  3. https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=76
Liberty

The Government is not Goku

In the popular anime series, Dragonball Z, the hero Goku is often all that stands between super powered aliens and the Earth. He is a pure hearted hero who has dedicated his life to the study of martial arts and in doing so became arguably the strongest man alive. One of his more powerful fighting techniques is called the Spirit Bomb. To use this technique, he siphons a portion of the life force from the planet and all the living things on it creating a giant ball of energy he then pummels his foe with.

In the real world, there are many people who will try to scare you into compliance on any number of issues. From militant Islam to Carbon Dioxide in the air, ask anyone and they have a theory about how everything you value is about to be destroyed. Of course this can be avoided by simply sacrificing some of your life force to the hero, the State. If everyone sacrifices some privacy, the State will keep us safe. If everyone sacrifices some of their income, the State can abolish poverty. If everyone sacrifices burning fossil fuels, the State can stop the climate from changing. Just give and give and give to the hero and everything will be fine. The problem is we think we are giving our life force to Goku, the altruistic hero, but in reality we are often only contributing to the problem or creating a new one.

There is no one hero to solve our problems. By trying to create one, we create a worse enemy than the one we started out against. Prohibition created Al Capone. Intervention in the Middle East created ISIS. The War on Drugs empowers the Drug Cartels. The minimum wage negatively affects minorities, the very people it was supposed to help.

We do need to share our energy in order to battle all of these monsters. But not with one all powerful State. The solution is in individuals working together through voluntary interactions. In the show, Goku asks for the energies he collects for his Spirit Bomb. It is time we stop looking to the State to save us by forcefully taking our money and rights. We need to take back our energies and use it to work together for good.