D4L Update for 11/2/2011 – FEE contest, So-Called “War on Drugs”, “Occupiers”

by Chuck Donovan

This week I want to make a couple of announcements, add a few comments to the issues I discussed last week, and begin a discussion of the overall way in which we view government, its’ history, and the way we vote to influence that government.


– The Foundation for Economic Education has announced two contests that will award prize money to the winners.  The first is an essay contest on the subject, “Should the Federal Reserve be abolished? What monetary system should replace it?”  The contest winner will be awarded $2000 before taxes, and their essay will be published in FEE’s outstanding monthly magazine, “The Freeman”.  Details on the contest are available at FEE’s website.

Federal Reserve Essay Contest

Deadline: Midnight, Dec. 31, 2011
Length: 2,000 words. No footnotes or endnotes.
Email Word file to: essaycontest@fee.org
(One entry only.)

– FEE has also just announced a Video Contest.  Cash prizes of $1500, $1000, and $500 will go to the top three student-produced (domestic and international high school & college students) YouTube videos based on the essay, Great Myths of the Great Depression.  There are free copies of the essay on FEE’s website, and in .pdf and unabridged audio versions also.  Deadline for submission of your YouTube link is midnight, January 15, 2012 EST.  More details about the contest rules may also be found at FEE’s website:

FEE Video Contest


– Last week we spoke about a couple of issues and the Libertarian solutions that conservatives might not be comfortable with.  I specifically brought up the drug issue.  Today I offer information from three sources.  The first is Judge Jim Gray, who describes himself as, “a conservative judge in a conservative county”.  He eloquently makes his points in this video.

The second link I would like you to take a look at is a group that includes Judge Gray.  This group is pushing an initiative in California named “Regulate Marijuana Like Wine”.  It brings up the economic impact of the issue including the possible economic benefits of agricultural hemp production.  Hemp is useful in a variety of applications not the least of which is an ethanol type of product that is far more powerful than corn ethanol.

The third group for you to listen to is LEAP – Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.  This is a group of Federal, State, and local law enforcement personnel, most of who participated in the failed “War on Drugs”.  They have joined together arguing against the current drug policy.

–        I made a negative comment about polls last week and I want to clarify a few points.  First of all, I would not block polls from being published as I know that would be a violation of freedom of speech.  However, I would ask you to be very cautious how you read the polls and what you read into poll results.  Scientists know you cannot observe behavior without changing behavior.  Remember that as you watch your reality shows, but keep that foremost in your minds as you read polling results.

After you contemplate those points I want you to be honest as you answer this question.  How would you vote if you never saw a poll?


What got me excited this week was watching Peter Schiff walk into a crowd of “occupiers” as he carried a sign that read, “I’m part of the 1%. Let’s talk.”  As I listened to the “occupiers” speak with Mr. Schiff I was struck by two things.  First of all, they were a largely intelligent and articulate group.  Secondly they were badly misinformed.  How did that happen?

What is the one lesson taught in all the schools of the United States?  Keep in mind that all of these schools, even the private schools, receive funding, authorization, and approval from the government.  The teachers were trained in the same system.  The government certifies teachers.  The government approves books and curricula, and often the books are actually printed by the government.

Here is the system’s one lesson:

–        Here was a problem,

–        In came the government,

–        And the government saved the day.

No wonder people have tears running down their faces as they think of how much they love Big Brother and big government.  It is not wonder they turn first to the government to solve their problems.

Schiff and others, including myself, (people who have taken the “red pill”), have said that the occupiers have the wrong address.  They ought to be in Washington, not on Wall Street.  As they sit there well fed, clothed in “North Face”, Columbia, Nike, and REI gear, smart phones in their pockets, iPhone chargers in search of an outlet, they attack the very system that has brought them the life they have.  As they seek to expand their prosperity, and they should, their howling at Wall Street actually works to undermine the very system that brought them what they have.

A far better use of their precious time would be a message that is more along the lines of what Libertarian Party has stood for 40 years this month.  Stop the bailouts, stop the cronyism, and stop swindling today’s voters with empty promises stop the fiat currency printing, and sinking future generations under mountains of debt.  Further, we must have uncompromising respect for private property beginning with ownership of our lives and what we each work to put together.  Libertarians understand how important property is. Without protection of property, there can be no freedom.  However, for many people including the occupiers, the word “property” doesn’t have the right meaning.  They are willing to violate property in the name of ideals that cannot be measured such as ‘fairness” and “justice”.

I would ask the occupiers, and everyone who votes, to look into the subject of property further at the Libertarian group, the Advocates for Self Government and their recent article, “Word Choices: Helping Listeners Understand Property Rights”.

The occupiers also have an improper point of view regarding inequality.  They of course are pointing to the inequality of outcome without considering the inequality of effort by the people they hold up for examination.  Their attitude, and the attitude of most people in the world is best described in this quote I recently read:

“Capitalism and communism stand at opposite poles. Their essential difference is this: The communist seeing the rich man and his fine home says, ‘No man should have so much.’ The capitalist seeing the same thing says, ‘All men should have as much.’” – Phelps Adams

As you think about how we should proceed from here, remember my favorite line from the movie “V for Vendetta”.  “It’s not what you mean to do.  It’s what you do.


–        ARTICLE – “Six Fundamental Errors of the Current Orthodoxy”, by Robert Higgs

  • Also available in audio/mp3:  http://bit.ly/vGwZyj
  • Robert Higgs discusses the mainstream approach to current economic problems and dissects their errors.


–        AUDIOOn Politics, Money and Banking, by Hans-Hermann Hoppe

  • Dr. Hoppe gives a clear description of the policy errors now being pursued in the US and in Europe.  His discussion is non-technical.  I recommend anyone planning to vote should listen to this 27-minute audio.
  • Star Parker is the founder and president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education (CURE)
  • As a former recipient of welfare, Ms. Parker gives a compelling presentation of why welfare does not work and what logical solutions should be applied to the problem of poverty.


–        VIDEO – Get Government out of Welfare Now! An Interview with Star Parker, a Reason TVinterview.

  • Star Parker is the founder and president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education (CURE)
  • As a former recipient of welfare, Ms. Parker gives a compelling presentation of why welfare does not work and what logical solutions should be applied to the problem of poverty.


“The direction of all economic affairs is in the market society a task of the entrepreneurs. Theirs is the control of production. They are at the helm and steer the ship. A superficial observer would believe that they are supreme. But they are not. They are bound to obey unconditionally the captain’s orders. The captain is the consumer. … [Consumers] make poor people rich and rich people poor. They determine precisely what should be produced, in what quality, and in what quantities.” – Ludwig von Mises

“It’s amazing to me how many people think that voting to have the government give poor people money is compassion.   Helping poor and suffering people yourself is compassion.  Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral self-righteous bullying laziness.  People need to be fed, medicated, educated, clothed, and sheltered. If we’re compassionate, we’ll help them, but you get no moral credit for forcing other people to do what you think is right.  There is great joy in helping people, but no joy in doing it at gunpoint.  I’m a Libertarian nut because I don’t want my government to do anything in my name that I wouldn’t do myself.”  – Penn Jillette