The 21st century has seen two political movements replace the bipartisan status quo of the century before. The left moved away from the centrist liberalism of the Bill Clinton years to the Occupy Wall Street movement following the 2008 financial crisis. It now marches under the banner of “democratic socialism,” championed by two-time presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in the U.S. Senate and “The Squad” in the House of Representatives.
The right rejected the Bush administration’s neoconservatism in favor of smaller, more constitutionally limited government during the Tea Party years, electing a “Freedom Caucus” to Congress beginning in 2010. Now, this same caucus often runs afoul of the economic nationalists of the dominant movement on the American right today, the Make America Great Again (MAGA) movement led by Donald Trump.
Both the democratic socialists and economic nationalists seek roughly the same ends via different means. However, both fail to see the true cause of disproportionate income inequality, the erosion of the middle class, and the concentration of political power in the hands of a billionaire global elite. Rather than “unfettered capitalism,” decried by both movements, it is the distinctly anti-capitalist Federal Reserve System that is chiefly responsible for the societal ills they seek to cure.
Tom Mullen has appealed for over a decade to both sides of the political spectrum to cease being distracted by policies that make little difference – what he calls “blow dryers in a hurricane” – and focus on the true cause of most of America’s economic ills. He has one message for MAGA conservatives, Bernie Bros, socialists, libertarians, and independents: It’s the Fed, Stupid.
Download a free copy of It’s the Fed, Stupid, here!
If you’ve read my book, An Anti-State Christmas, you’re familiar with my critiques of It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol. If you haven’t, you can download a free copy at antistatechristmas.com.
One may have walked away thinking the writers of both stories were merely misguided, lacking understanding of elementary economic concepts. That’s true, but their stories aren’t just stupid. They’re evil. They instill in people, at a deep, emotional level, an idea that has led to more human suffering in the world than any other.
This is the perennial belief that a person acting in his or her own self interest not only doesn’t benefit others but harms them. This really is the basis for every slander hurled at Potter and Scrooge, respectively.
It contradicts one of the very first economic principles, which Adam Smith famously called, “the invisible hand.” He observed that in an environment where property rights are protected and exchanges of property are voluntary, people pursuing their own self-interest through peaceful market transactions will do more good for others than people supposedly sacrificing their self-interest.
The truth of this maxim has been proven so many times it’s astounding the lesson remains unlearned. As just one example, it is commonly known extreme poverty fell by 90 percent in the thirty years between 1990-2020. What’s less commonly acknowledged is that 100 percent of the progress occurred in countries that “reformed” their economies.
Let me translate “reformed” so you understand what the academics prefer you didn’t: they became less socialist and more capitalist.
China is the largest example, but the trend is consistent in economies large and small. Wherever a country privatized government-owned industries and allowed market forces to operate, poverty fell dramatically.
Yet another way to say this is poverty fell in countries where people were no longer forced to sacrifice their self-interest for some mythical “common good,” but were instead allowed to pursue their self interest in the only peaceful economic system yet discovered: the market economy.
The communists who wrote It’s a Wonderful Life take great pains to make the hero someone who does not pursue his self-interest. In addition to unsuccessful, this also makes George Bailey very unhappy.
We are supposed to admire him because he is selflessly miserable, which begs several questions:
Is the only “moral” system one in which everyone is miserable?
Or are some people morally required to be miserable so others may be happy?
How can the latter be true if “all men are created equal?”
The claptrap pedaled by these writers is absurd but effective because it appeals to people’s emotions – and not noble ones. When Potter tries to recruit George Bailey to work for him, the truth is told, although most viewers believe the truth is false, and falsehood is the truth.
“Now, take during the Depression for instance,” says Potter. “You and I were the only ones that kept our heads. You saved the Building and Loan and I saved all the rest.”
“Yes, well, most people say you stole all the rest,” answers George
“The envious ones say that, George, the suckers,” replies Potter.
Potter is telling the truth in this exchange and George Bailey is lying. Potter did not steal anything during the Depression. He acquired assets in voluntary exchanges with their owners, the very opposite of stealing.
Potter didn’t make those he bought the assets from worse off. He made them better off. If that weren’t true, the transactions wouldn’t have occurred. That Potter was acting purely in his self-interest doesn’t change that.
As he has all his life, Potter helped others during the Depression. While exchanging much needed cash for hard assets, Potter likely saved lives and certainly preserved the existence of Bedford Falls, all while acting entirely in his own self-interest.
Meanwhile, the “selfless” George Bailey doesn’t help his customers during the crisis. They are forced tohelp him.
Regardless of how people feel about it, this is the way the world works. And speaking of feelings, this supposed admiration of selflessness and condemnation of selfishness does not proceed from any noble place in the human heart. Rather, Potter speaks the truth when he says the proponents of this nonsense are “the envious.”
The poisonous idea of self-sacrifice to some illusory “common good” led to hundreds of millions of deaths in the 20th century, with starvation alone killing tens of millions in the midst of plenty. It appeals to the basest of human emotions and inspires a disregard of reason and observable reality.
In a society morphing into a pure democracy as constitutional limits designed to prevent that are whittled away, everyone who watches this supposedly heartwarming holiday film or reads any of Charles Dickens’ socialist propaganda and believes it becomes a threat to us all.
It is not a new threat. The central lie of both stories is what led to the revolutions in 1789 France, 1917 Russia, and 1949 China, just to name a few. If you’re wondering how to see it coming, consider a few common characteristics of those disasters: the tearing down of statues and other symbols of the past, the public shaming (and sometimes assault) of “politically incorrect” dissidents, the politicization of science (see “Lysenkoism”), and weaponization of the media by the state.
I watched with interest the debate on immigration between Dave Smith and Spike Cohen. I encourage everyone, libertarian or not, to watch it as well. Neither participant called the other a fake libertarian, a racist, a communist, or (insert pejorative here). On the contrary, Smith hurt himself by spending too much time praising Spike during his opening.
Instead of dumb name calling, the debate included thoughtful and thought-provoking arguments for both positions, which were “open borders” and “not open borders.” As to who won the debate, I’ll leave that to the judgment of the viewer. There were no knockdowns.
Like Dave, Spike, and host Marc Clair, I am an ancap. So, my ideal solution would be privatizing everything. And as for my personal feelings about all three, I can only say:
However, especially since it was largely representative of most libertarian discussions on immigration, I am compelled to point out a startling omission in the debate. That was the apparent false assumption by both Dave and Spike that the only options were between the federal government regulating immigration and open borders. Neither even mentioned the constitutional, historical argument: state regulation of immigration.
I was waiting for the conversation to get there until Spike made a statement (about the 43:43 mark), unrefuted by Dave, that since there was no Ellis Island or similar federal immigration enforcement operation for the republic’s first one hundred years, the United States had “straight up open borders” during that time.
No, they didn’t. It is true the federal government wasn’t regulating immigration because the states were regulating it. As I explained in more detail here, the federal government only got involved in immigration as a result of Supreme Court decisions dealing with state immigration enforcement, particularly Chy Lung vs. Freeman, arguably the most spurious decision the Court ever issued on the constitutionality of a federal power.
Without rehashing the linked article above, they didn’t really make an argument the power was delegated. Their decision was based solely on the reasoning that it would be disastrous if the federal government didn’t have the power to regulate immigration, so therefore it must have it. They explained why the federal government should be delegated the power, not that it had already been delegated the power.
It wasn’t the first time the federal government attempted this usurpation. Most people remember the Alien and Sedition Acts for their suppression of free speech, but that was only half the problem. The other half, emphatically argued by both Jefferson and Madison in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions in 1798, was that the Alien Act was unconstitutional because it exercised a power (regulating immigration) reserved to the states. Their argument for state nullification of the Alien Act amounted to the same argument made by “sanctuary cities,” only at the state level.
Conservatives often argue the power to regulate immigration is granted to the federal government because it is part and parcel of the power to regulate naturalization (becoming a citizen). This is ludicrous. The vast majority of people who cross the border have no intention of becoming citizens and the two powers are completely distinct.
Others point to the 1808 clause, which has slightly more superficial merit, but you can read my arguments against that in the linked article as well.
For the record, Jefferson addressed the 1808 clause in the Kentucky Resolution and Madison, who wrote the words of both the Naturalization and 1808 clauses, nevertheless stated regulating immigration was a power “no where delegated to the federal government.”
Since there hasn’t been an amendment to delegate this power since then, it must still reside with the states or the people.
The constitutional approach provides two alternative solutions to the immigration question that could work for both conservatives and liberals and be more tolerable to libertarians:
Acknowledge the federal government does not posses this power and propose an amendment to delegate it to the feds.
Acknowledge the federal government does not posses this power and allow the states to resume their authority as protected under the Tenth Amendment.
The amendment suggestion is more than just a formality. If an amendment were proposed, it would require a supermajority of states to ratify it. Out of the dogfight that would naturally follow, something agreeable to both sides might emerge.
If not, alternative #2 would be the default position. While that may appear unthinkable at first glance, allow me to point out that states are already availing themselves of this option right in front of our eyes.
Blue states are declaring “sanctuary cities,” meaning they won’t expend their own resources to enforce federal immigration laws. The governor of Texas says his state is building its own border wall. Florida governor Ron DeSantis wants $8 million from his legislature to “create a new program that would allow the state to contract with private companies to transport ‘unauthorized aliens’ out of Florida.”
Just like marijuana laws, states are beginning to nullify federal immigration laws and any honest proponent of strict construction of the Constitution should admit they have the right to do so.
It’s a far cry from a private property system, but it’s much closer than either federal enforcement of immigration laws or federal subsidization of immigration into the states. If we can’t have a libertarian solution, we can at least have a constitutional one.
Supporting this position checks all the boxes brought up by the participants in the debate. No libertarian candidate would have to support the disastrous federal immigration system. Instead, they could tell voters in each state they support their right to determine the rules themselves, without interference from Washington.
It would also be eminently more practical. It would not mean routine interstate travel would be disrupted by authorities attempting to physically stop people from crossing state lines. The federal government has already shown that to be futile.
State government immigration departments could focus on those people establishing residence within the state rather than attempting to prevent anyone from merely driving through. Those arriving at airports or ports from foreign countries could be processed the same way by state officials as they are now by federal officials, at each state’s discretion.
Not every state would regulate immigration the same way. Those states that wanted open borders could have them. Those that wanted border walls could build them. Those that wanted something in the middle could have that, too.
Nothing governments do can be truly called a market solution but allowing up to fifty different immigration policies would much more closely approximate one than the current one-size-fits-all approach. And it would allow a more scientific way to answer not only whether more or less immigration is good for the current state populations but how much or little regulation is optimal. There may be up to fifty answers to the latter question.
No, the constitutional approach is not perfect, just as neither solution proposed in the debate was perfect. But it beats a civil war between the very unlibertarian factions currently seeking control at the federal level. And it has the potential to evolve into something closer to a private property system than could ever emerge with Washington in charge.
I was a fourteen-year-old freshman at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute in Kenmore, N.Y. when I was assigned my first term paper for Mr. Chaya’s World History class. The list of topics included the Charge of the Light Brigade. That’s the one I picked.
Like any boy that age, I still retained a belief in the glory of war, something Tennyson seems never to have outgrown. This despite being trained in grammar school to scurry from my desk and duck against the wall under the classroom window when the air raid siren sounded.
The possibility of being nuked by the Soviet Union at any moment had been a fact of life for all of my life at that point and would be for twelve more years.
The term paper assignment was the first time I was asked to research a historical event, rather than just read a textbook summary about it. By the time I finished, I had my first inkling that “military intelligence” might just be an oxymoron and perhaps war wasn’t the glorious affair Tennyson had cracked it up to be.
To this day, when I hear the lyrics, “a good old-fashioned, bullet-headed, Saxon mother’s son” in the Beatles song “Bungalow Bill,” I think of James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan, who led the aforementioned six hundred light cavalrymen into the teeth of Russian artillery.
The Charge of the Light Brigade occurred during the siege of Sevastopol during the Crimean War (1853-56). Despite the Light Brigade disaster, the port city finally fell to the British and French allies, but not before the Russian Empire sank its entire Black Sea fleet in the harbor to prevent if from falling into enemy hands.
That desperate act should provide a warning to Washington.
The Russians had to fight for Crimea again during the Russian Civil War following the Bolshevik revolution. It fell to the Germans during WWII after a bitter 250-day siege, only to be regained by the Red Army in 1944.
I never dreamed I’d be writing about the same port city thirty-six years after that first term paper. In 2016, the new global empire, the United States, having successfully orchestrated a color revolution to oust Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, was in a stare down with Russian Federation president Vladimir Putin over his annexation Crimea.
Yanukovich had been falsely portrayed as “pro-Russian” by NATO in its haste to bring Ukraine into the European Union. The coup was the last straw for Putin after watching the U.S. break its promise to Gorbachev not to advance NATO “one inch eastward” in exchange for Gorbachev’s agreement to the 1990 reunification of Germany.
A look at a map of NATO in the ensuing 30 years since that promise puts a somewhat different light on Russia’s troop buildup on the Ukrainian border and at least calls into question just who is the aggressor in this situation.
As I wrote back in 2016, Sevastopol is one of the few reliable Russian ports that remain ice-free all winter. Syria is home to another. If that doesn’t inspire skepticism regarding Washington, D.C.’s humanitarian motives for orchestrating regime change operations in both countries – while remaining bosom buddies with the brutal regime in Saudi Arabia – then, as my friends in the American southeast would say, “bless your heart.”
President Biden told Reuters on New Year’s Eve that he had warned Putin, “if he goes into Ukraine, we will have severe sanctions. We will increase our presence in Europe, with our NATO allies, and there will be a heavy price to pay for it.”
Sanctions don’t sound too ominous if one has zero historical perspective, including, say, the “sanctions” against the Japanese Empire in 1941. It doesn’t really matter who was right or wrong. Sanctions eventually lead to war if their consequences become dire enough.
It doesn’t matter so much who is right or wrong on the matter of Ukraine, either. The reality is this: The Russians are never going to give up that port. They’ve bled for it in the past far more than any American army has ever bled for anything. It is an existential matter for them.
In 1856, they sank their entire Black Sea navy before giving up Sevastopol. What would they be willing to do today?
Meanwhile, it would make not one iota of difference to Americans living in the United States if Russia annexed all of Ukraine, much less Crimea. Washington’s interests in the region are purely imperial and contrary to those of most U.S. citizens. It is also questionable that the U.S. could win a limited conflict in the region against Russia, given the logistics.
It is equally unrealistic that Russia could win a full-scale conventional war against NATO. The U.S. alone had a military budget in 2020 more than ten times that of Russia. That would leave Russia with only one alternative before surrender.
Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Washington has thought of itself as the “shining city on the hill” leading a “new world order” of democracy and peace. Considering its recent exploits in the Middle East and Ukraine, in 2021 it more resembles a drunk bully stumbling around the world slurring its words (literally) and picking fights with smaller opponents.
That Russia can be treated likewise is as divorced from reality as Washington’s belief it can stop the spread of a respiratory virus with lockdowns and vaccine mandates. But as damaging as the Covid Regime has been to American society, Washington’s delusions about bringing Russia to its knees could result in far worse.
My fellow liberty broadcaster Alan Mosely put out a humorous tweet that read, “Who knew Omicron would be such a hero?” He was retweeting an announcement that the World Economic Forum in Davos had been called off due to the Omicron variant.
Certainly, no good ever comes from a bunch of billionaires hobnobbing with the heads of national governments. Ditto the Bilderberg Group, The Council on Foreign Relations or any of several other such elitist gatherings.
But here’s the part most people miss: No bad really comes from them either. Sure, the Federal Reserve was cooked up at a secret meeting of elites on Jekyll Island. But it only became reality because of overwhelming support from the public after it was pitched as a way to protect them from the “elites.”
There was plenty of opportunity to hear opposition to the Act from the minority of Congressmen and Senators who voted against it. But the public ignored their warnings and supported the Act anyway.
Ditto the 16th Amendment. This was also pitched as a way to shift the burden of taxation away from the middle and poorer classes to the rich, the “elites.” The public swallowed this bait and switch hook, line, and sinker, and today clamor for the so-called elites to pay even more income taxes.
But whom do income taxes really hurt the most? The super-rich, making millions or billions in income? No. It’s those middle-income earners, especially those who work the hardest to get ahead, for whom that extra $10,000 – $20,000 paid in income taxes could represent significant capital accumulation over a period of years.
Maybe it’s just a coincidence that this provides a barrier to competition for those above. Does it really matter if it’s intentional or not, since it does?
Right down the line, the public overwhelmingly supports policies that harm them when pitched as protection from the elites. The god-awful Teddy Roosevelt styled himself the “Trust Buster.” His even more awful cousin sold the New Deal to protect the public from the “greed” of the rich.
Everyone was outraged by the EpiPen scandal a few years ago. This was the direct result of the FDA having legislative power, acquired during the New Deal without any amendment to the Constitution, and using it to keep competitors of the EpiPen off the market.
That’s just one little product protected by just one of scores of federal agencies but it’s representative of how the entire New Deal regulatory structure works. And the public not only approves of it but constantly clamors for more.
I don’t care how many private jets Elon Musk or Bill Gates owns. Their getting richer doesn’t make me poorer. Quite the opposite, in fact. But here’s what does make me poorer: government intervention that purports to protect me from “the elites.” That the elites overwhelmingly support it should tell you something.
No system in the past has ever resulted in economic equality; nor will any system in the future. But here is one thing history should have taught you by now: If you set up a system where the property of the elites and yours is subject to disposition by majority vote, you shouldn’t be surprised when the elites end up with all of yours.
Most people on my e-mail list get this. For all those who don’t, I offer these thoughts as some you can pass on to counter so-called “populist” arguments for further “regulating” or plundering the elites. It’s a sucker’s game.
Don’t forget my new e-book, It’s the Fed, Stupid, is also available in paperback here. It’ll cost you less than a sawbuck and is great for introducing friends to our ideas.
I ran across a very powerful clip from George Orwell’s last interview. He’s visibly struggling to catch his breath (he died of tuberculosis later the same year) and looks into the camera to say, “The moral to be drawn from this dangerous, nightmare situation is a simple one. Don’t let it happen. It depends on you.”
The passage Orwell reads, which includes the famous “boot stamping on a human face forever” line, occurs while the government is torturing Smith for the purpose of making him say what his own eyes tells him is untrue.
Even worse, when O’Brien holds up four fingers, it isn’t sufficient that Smith tell him he sees five. He must believe it.
What a terrifying parallel to the Covid Regime today.
“The vaccines are safe and effective.” “Lockdowns and mask mandates slow the spread of Covid.”
War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.
If you haven’t read Orwell’s classic, I implore you to do so. There are actually four books I’d recommend that I was required to read in high school but have a feeling aren’t being assigned anymore:
Bob Dole passed away last weekend. I never voted for him but offer condolences to his family. He had a long life of over 98 years, 35 of which he spent in the U.S. Congress (8 years House Rep.; 27 years U.S. Senator).
He was also a WWII veteran who was seriously injured during the war, suffering permanent loss of the use of his right arm and lifelong numbness in his left.
His death has provided one more opportunity for the childish glorification of WWII. Today being the 80th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack will inspire more still.
Down the memory hole has gone the reality that FDR provoked Japan’s foolish attack with an oil embargo, ostensibly for Japan’s treatment of the Chinese. This just a few decades after FDR’s own cousin, the equally-as-awful Teddy Roosevelt, encouraged Japan to go into China in the first place.
In reality, Roosevelt was just looking for a reason to get into the war against Germany. Japan merely provided a convenient vehicle.
This wasn’t the first or the last time the D.C. Empire allied with an authoritarian regime only to turn on it later. That’s more like business as usual.
We hear a lot about political correctness and applaud people who refuse to be censored. Well, here is some real politically incorrect talk that will have most conservatives running for a safe room:
WWII was not a triumph of good over evil. It was a disaster from which Western Civilization has never recovered.
Too many people look fondly on “the good war” as if it represented the west at its best. That this is how Bill Kristol thinks should tell you there is something very wrong with this reasoning.
War is always and everywhere a disaster. It is government at its apex, meaning civilization is at its nadir. This one was no different.
Yes, the Nazis were defeated and that was a good thing. But at what cost? Why was handing half of Europe to the brutal Soviet Empire for 46 years better than handing it to the Nazis? The Soviets killed far more people, albeit over a longer time period. Why do communists always get a pass?
Woodrow Wilson had hoped WWI would result in his regimentation of the economy and American life becoming permanent. It didn’t. WWII did. The war resulted in the U.S. becoming a permanent garrison state while most of Western Europe descended into socialism, only pulling back from it slightly at the end of the century to avoid becoming failed socialist states themselves.
I disagree with Pat Buchanan about quite a bit, but not on foreign policy during the past 30 years. He convinced me WWII could have been avoided without allowing Hitler or Stalin to conquer vast amounts of territory.
I thought everyone outside New York State, especially those in free states like Florida or Iowa, would be interested in a little news from behind the Iron Curtain.
As I’ve said on several interviews over the past two weeks, New York State is a microcosm of the United States as a whole. This electoral map probably says it better than the proverbial thousand words.
That blue patch on the far left (western end of the state) is Erie County, which includes the city of my birth, Buffalo. I live in Niagara County, directly north of Erie. Two counties to the east of mine, Monroe County, includes Rochester, N.Y.
My point here is that New York is not all one homogenous blob of politically likeminded people. Like much of America, the densely populated urban centers vote Democrat and the rest – rural and small-town America – vote Republican.
Obviously, voting Republican doesn’t by any means mean Ancapistan. But let’s face it, as far as the last two years are concerned, your only chance for a relatively free existence was living in a “red state.”
Or was it?
I can tell you firsthand that living in Niagara County, N.Y. in December 2021 is for all intents and purposes no different than living in Niagara County, N.Y. in December 2019. The only difference in 2021 is the extreme minority of the population voluntarily wearing masks.
However, if the Erie County Executive had his way, Erie County would be right back to April 2020. He mandated masks indoors for all indoor “public” spaces (I’ll let calling private property “public” go for now). But even inside blue Erie County there is political diversity.
On Monday, I’ll have my interview with Gary Dickson, Republican Town Supervisor of West Seneca, N.Y., who is one of two town supervisors in Erie County who have spoken out against the mask mandates. While their opposition was hysterically exaggerated by the news media, at least Dickson’s stance shows just how toothless these mandates are when they don’t have the consent of the populace.
In the meantime, I could use your help on one thing. In order to get my new podcast visibility, I need to get some “social proof” of its popularity among listeners. I would very much appreciate you taking the time to post a review on the podcast app (Apple, Stitcher, Google, etc.) you use to listen or right on my website at https://tommullentalksfreedom.com/podcast/.
I know the Apple podcast app doesn’t make this easy – you have to go to the show page, scroll down to the Ratings and Review section, and click the star farthest to the right (wink, wink). Then, you can leave a review.
On my website, you have to go to one of the individual show pages. Nothing can be easy, right? But if you can help me out on this, although there won’t be any money, when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.
Don’t forget my new e-book, An Anti-State Christmas, is also available in paperback here. It’ll cost you less than a fiver and makes a great stocking stuffer!
Get a few copies for friends or family who need deprogramming – or even just a few laughs.
Ancapistan was rocked by controversy recently when one of its leading citizens, comic Dave Smith, suggested homeless people living in public parks designed for children should be removed by the police. His argument is based on the homeless people using drugs and engaging in lewd behavior in the presence of children, a situation virtually everyone agrees is undesirable. It’s what to do about it that is at issue.
The dilemma proceeds from the unfortunate reality that the ancap population is not living in its home country, but rather held captive, Babylonian Exile-style, in what purports to be a democratic republic – with the “democratic” part increasingly in the ascendant. That raises the question of how to try to apply libertarian principles in a decidedly unlibertarian world.
The argument against calling the cops goes like this: The parent taking his children to the park doesn’t own the park; it is “public property.” And in public spaces, the inalienable right to liberty trumps any individual’s preferences for rules of conduct. After all, the parent doesn’t own the park and one’s rights are limited to what one owns. So, he has no right to eject anyone from land he doesn’t own. The homeless person has as much right to be in the park as the parent, the children, or anyone else.
Not to mention it is decidedly unlibertarian to call the police, the domestic occupying force of the empire, for any reason.
Here is the problem with the argument against ejecting the homeless people. It is not true that the parent doesn’t own the park. He does. Like the public roads, he hasn’t consented to own it, but rather has been dragooned into ownership by the state. Depending upon how the park is funded – from property taxes, income taxes, sales taxes, etc. – he may or may not have contributed to the creation and maintenance of the park. As money is fungible, he has at least indirectly contributed if he has paid any taxes at all, which are mostly collected to provide benefits to people other than the taxpayer.
But contributing to the associated costs is not a condition of ownership of the park, which is just one of the reasons “public” anything doesn’t work. Public property is owned by every citizen of the polity in question (the town, the city, the state, or the nation) equally. Therefore, the homeless person is also an equal part owner in the park, no more voluntarily so than the parent, but an owner all the same.
It should not be assumed the homeless person has contributed zero funding. He likely has paid sales taxes on items he has purchased. That his contribution is probably miniscule compared to the average parent in the neighborhood reveals another defect of public property: ownership and voting rights over disposition and use are not proportional to the financial contribution made.
That said, doesn’t the homeless person have as much right to be there and do what he pleases in the park as the parent bringing his children to play on the swing set, even if statist rules against “loitering” or “vagrancy” might be employed by the state to remove him?
Of course not. He doesn’t have that right here in Democratica and he wouldn’t have it in Ancapistan, either. In an anarchist society, all property would be privately owned. While it is true that some property may be jointly owned by multiple parties, those cases would be governed in precisely the same way jointly owned private property is governed here in Democratica – by an agreement between all parties as to how the property would be used, what each partner was entitled or not entitled to do with the property, etc.
The only difference in Ancapistan would be that use of the park would be governed solely by the rules agreed to by the partners, without additional rules dictated by an outside force like the state. And the park would be entirely underwritten by the owners, with no outside parties forced to fund it.
Obviously, in such a scenario, no single owner or partnership would invest in the land and equipment necessary to create a park for children and allow homeless people to live in it or commit lewd acts in it in front of children, just as Disneyworld doesn’t allow these things here in Democratica.
Like the roads, the libertarian living in Democratica is not obligated to abstain from using the public park he has been forced to partially own. After all, he likely did pay for them, whether voluntarily or not. But how to settle the dispute between him and his partner in ownership of the park, the homeless heroin addict?
In Ancapistan, they would fall back upon the terms of their consensual agreement. In Democratica, they have no choice but to refer to the terms imposed upon them by their so-called elected representatives. These would be the laws or regulations imposed upon users of the park by the flawed, democratic system which created the park in the first place.
No, it is not a perfect solution, and neither would perfect solutions be available in every situation in Ancapistan. But it is the best solution available to the libertarian forced into a partnership with the homeless person by the state.
As to the libertarian revulsion with using the police, it is understandable but also flawed. Should libertarians ever be allowed to return from exile to Ancapistan, they would find it a similarly imperfect world, albeit a better one. There would still be crimes (violations of property rights) committed there and we would still need to use force to restore equity (there is a proper use of that word) to the victims.
You can call them something else if you want, but we would still need cops to go out and get perpetrators who refused to voluntarily show up for private arbitration hearings or whatever we’d call dispute settlement procedures. There would still be a need to physically remove the occasional trespasser who refuses to leave. And just like no libertarian believes he would be making his own shoes or drilling his own oil in Ancapistan, we would employ professionals to do this work.
Public property doesn’t work. From drilling oil on public land to what is taught in public schools to how fast one can drive on public roads, there is constant conflict and unhappiness with the way public property is governed. That’s why “public property” should be considered an oxymoron. If it’s owned by everyone, it’s really owned by no one for all practical purposes.
It is interesting that some libertarians are concerned about this particular situation. It seems unlikely they would similarly object to physically removing a person screaming in a public library every day or a rich person parking his Mercedes in the center lane of a public highway. Why the homeless guy masturbating in a public park is different is anyone’s guess.
The only just solution to this is to abolish public property and the state along with it. If and until that happens, libertarians should do their best to approximate Ancapistan within the rules dictated at gunpoint by the tyrannical state. If the state has forced them into a partnership with homeless people not following the rules of the partnership and prohibited them from “taking the law into their own hands” to settle the dispute, they should call the cops and ask them to throw the bums out.