Do We Need a Dictator to Restore our Freedom?


By Mike Cronin

Over the last 240 years, our federal government has become a bloated monstrosity that bears little resemblance to the founder’s vision. It is so massive and tangled that there is little hope that we can restore it to a more reasonable size or constrain it from grabbing an ever-increasing share of our liberty and freedom. Even if we could elect a Congress and Presidency full of freedom- and liberty-minded politicians for a generation or more, it might not be enough to de-fang the beast and put it on a forced diet.  How can we fix it?

I have an affinity for the adage that whoever wants to be the president is not qualified to have the job. I certainly don’t want it, but if I was ever elected, people might call me the world’s first libertarian* dictator**.  If you think that’s a contradiction, you are only partially correct.  No doubt, in all of human history, the record of dictators tends towards loss of freedom.  But what if we had a dictator who used his or her power to shrink government and increase freedom?

Here’s how I would become subject to such a characterization:

After being elected and taking the oath of office, I would declare a state of emergency and impose martial law.  It would be the weirdest martial law ever, because there would be no curfews or tanks in the streets. No rationing, checkpoints, or firing squads.  Instead, I would go before the American people and explain that the emergency is that we are destroying the Republic with excessive government.  Too many bureaucrats have too much power to regulate our lives.

My first dictate would be to abolish the IRS and institute the Fair Tax plan.  We would no longer punish productivity; we would pay for government the same way we pay for everything else: according to how much we use. In the same stroke, I would put in place a plan to audit the Federal Reserve and end the use of fiat currency, and re-introduce currency exchangeable for precious metals or other suitable commodity. In these two acts alone, we would greatly curtail the power of the government by removing its prerogative to confiscate our money before we see it, and its ability to confiscate our wealth by devaluing the currency we have been allowed to keep.

I would also announce to the world that the vast bulk of our armed forces based abroad would be returning to US territory in calibrated withdrawals from foreign lands.  Our defense strategy would focus on protecting US territory and US interests in international sea- and airspace. In this way, military spending could be reduced without reducing military strength.  Indeed, such a pull-back would allow the armed forces a much-needed breather to reconstitute after decades of continuous warfare and deployments.  No doubt, some countries would not be happy with us, while others, including some adversaries, would be ecstatic.  It would certainly disrupt the balance of power in many regions…but it would not alter the fundamental truth in the global balance of power: The US has the most powerful military and the economic might to back it up.

Next, I would turn to the various departments of the executive branch.  I would call in each incumbent cabinet-level secretary/director to defend the constitutionality of the operations, or even the very existence, of their department – on the basis of how it protects the rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of the citizens.  Some would have an easy job of it, especially the Departments of Defense and Justice, and perhaps the Director of National Intelligence (though he or she would have a tough time convincing me domestic intelligence operations do more constitutional good than harm!).  Some would have a very tough time indeed, such as the Departments of Commerce, Transportation, Education, Energy, and the Interior.

Departments with unsatisfactory answers would be on the chopping block for re-organization, mission reductions, or even complete dismantlement.  The chief of every department left standing would be under orders to examine all of their operations and to de-regulate anywhere such operations do not protect the life, liberty, or property of citizens.

There are innumerable issues that would have to be addressed during such a departmental shake up:  Welfare. Social Security. Immigration. Guns. Abortion. Drugs. Trade. All manner of regulations. The list would be quite long, but always the test for each would be simple: How does a program, regulatory structure, function, etc. protect the rights of the citizens? Is the coercive power of the federal government the right way to address the issue?  If the answer to the first question is that it does not, or to the second, no, then that program would be on the chopping block for re-design, privatization, or elimination.

Of course, such a scheme (getting elected on a “libertarian dictator” platform) is pretty much a pipe dream, but the idea that it will take some unorthodox leadership to re-align the Republic to the founders’ vision and restrict the government to its Constitutional limits is very timely.

*Note that my use of the word “libertarian” (little l) should not be construed as an endorsement for the (Big L) Libertarian Party.

**There is a book by the name of “The Libertarian Dictator” (published in 2015).  I’ve never read it, but if any of the ideas I espouse in this post were first put forth in said book, I yield credit to the author.



Are You Principled or Ruled?

By Mike Cronin

“If you want to be ruled, follow the rules. If you want to be principled, follow principles.”  I don’t know who said those words, but they are profound.  An admired man or woman is often said to be “of principle.”  If you think about heroes, famous statesmen, positive historical figures, leading thinkers, or other notable people, you will seldom, if ever, find that such figures are admired for following the rules.  So what is the difference, and why is one better than the other?

A rule dictates from external authority; a principle guides from reason.  Rules demand: You must (or must not) take such and such an action, or possess some item, or allow some condition. The primary consideration of the rule-follower is for first-order effects only:  to avoid suffering the imposed consequences for disobedience.  Rules often fail to allow for context or circumstances.  Indeed, governments often thoughtlessly pile up so many rules that it becomes impossible to know or follow them all. It’s even likely that as rules multiply, we will be simultaneously  obligated and prohibited from doing some action!

Principles consider second- and thirdorder effects:  “If I do ___, then someone else’s rights might be violated.  If I allow some condition, someone else might be harmed. I don’t want my own rights violated or to be harmed by poor conditions, so I will not perpetuate those things myself.” The deeper consideration of the principled person is for the maintenance of civilized society and the consequences to his or her own integrity and character for a given act or omission. Principles can be adapted to circumstances, and they are not produced by dictators, monarchs, presidents, or legislatures.

By no means does this suggest one should disobey rules on a whim.  Some rules exist for a legitimate purpose – indeed, they are based on constructive principles.  For example: laws that prohibit the initiation of force against others generally derive from a just principle, and ought to be obeyed, whereas laws that demand the initiation of force against others are probably unjust.

Obeying rules set by others doesn’t take any thought.  Deriving your own principles or incorporating principles learned from others into your life requires some deeper consideration for the consequences of your actions (or lack of same). Adhering to principles require the exercise of judgement. Adhering to principles sometimes means proudly accepting the consequences of breaking the rules – Dr. Martin Luther King exemplified this during his civil rights movement in the 1960s.

Consider this: Some Germans who followed the rules obeyed their masters and slaughtered six million Jews during the Nazi reign. Some British colonists who followed principles disobeyed the rules, rebelled against their ruler, and gave birth to the United States.

Do you want to give up your heritage as a human being and revert to animal status?  Be an obedient, unthinking rule follower.  If you want to perpetuate civilization, think for yourself – especially about the ramifications of your actions (or omissions). Adopt or derive the best principles you can, then live by them!

The Death of Income Taxes


By  Mike Cronin

Imagine three of your neighbors come to you and tell you that as a group you are all going to vote on raising $10,000 for a playground. You’re don’t have kids, or they are grown and living on their own, so you vote no.  The other three all have kids, so they vote yes…and demand that you pay your “fair” share or they will beat you up.  They also decide that the more money you have, the more you have to pay.  Since you kids have moved out, you have more disposable income than any of them, so your “fair” share turns out to be half of the cost, or $5000, while each of their fair shares turn out to be about 1/6th of the cost, or about $1666 each. The three neighbors enter your house, find your safe, demand you open it, then they take $5000 from you.  They also demand that you assemble paper work that proves you don’t actually owe even more than the $5000, and give it to them by mid-April. You decide that it’s better to pay the $5000 and show proof that you don’t have to pay even more than to get beat up, so you spend several hours digging through your banking documents, and submit your financial “proof” that you paid enough.

The above scenario is a microcosm of how our tax system works today. The majority voted to take the property of the minority and use it to pay for something the minority didn’t ask for and doesn’t need or want. Our current system is confiscatory, that is, your money is confiscated from you. Worse, as your income goes up, so does the percentage the government (i.e. your neighbors) takes from you.

There are few ways you have of influencing the amount that’s taken from you: You can hide money at the risk of getting beat up by your neighbors and having even more money stolen (i.e. income tax evasion); you can make less money so you have to pay less (lowering your income – at the expense of your quality of life); you might find ways to protect some of your money for now in exchange for paying later (like certain retirement plans); and you might try finding different neighbors who will promise (but fail) to steal less of your money (i.e. elect a different set of politicians). Regardless of whatever trick you use to make the taxes a little less painful, you take it for granted that such a parasitical system is a permanent fixture of life.

It wasn’t always like this, and it doesn’t have to stay this way. The modern income tax didn’t become a constant monkey on the backs of Americans until 1913.  Imagine that: from 1776 until 1913, with a few exceptions, our government managed to function without stealing money from us.  It can be that way again.

What if instead of coercing you to pay for a playground (or any other bit of government) you don’t want, your three neighbors find enough like-minded folks to form a corporation, pitch in some seed money to buy or lease land, get the playground built, then they charge a small access fee to use it? No one forces anyone else or intrudes on their financial life. Government involvement is reduced to providing an enforcement tool for the contracts between the playground company and the builders, and providing routine police protection and emergency response. Government stays small, because it isn’t involved in building facilities or providing services that can and should be offered competitively in the private sector.  Your burden is tiny – your sales taxes pay for contract enforcement, emergency response, and the courts.

This method of raising funds for government is called a consumption tax.  You only pay for what you use, and only for how much of it you use. No one steals your money, and you don’t have to prove anything to anyone about your finances.

There have been various proposals for such a system.  The most comprehensive that I’ve seen is called “The Fair Tax.”  You can learn about it here:

The Fair Tax is not perfect, and it has no shortage of critics.  Most of those critics would lose something if the Fair Tax were enacted.  IRS employees would no longer be required. Tax preparation businesses would become obsolete.  If our tax system wasn’t confiscatory and hideously complicated, there would be no reason for that entire industry to exist. Politicians would lose a lot of power under such a scheme. Regardless, the Fair Tax is a system that does not punish productivity or operate via the threat of force, so it is by default better than what we have now!

Random Absurdities, Pt. 2.



By Mike Cronin

It’s OK to kill our (human) enemies, but we dare not name them.  On the other hand, we have no compunction about conducting war against all sorts of things that aren’t enemies: Terrorism is a tactic used by our aforementioned unnamed enemy, but terrorism itself is not an enemy. Drugs are a commodity sold by enemies taking advantage of the risk/reward conditions our drug laws create, but drugs themselves are not an enemy. Poverty is a condition often perpetuated by people who refuse to accept that they are responsible for the choices they make.  Poverty is not an enemy, but the “War on Poverty” often treats the most productive among us as foes.

The “Occupy Wall Street” types who made a stink a few years ago railing against capitalism were often seen wearing name-brand clothing, drinking coffee from famous-brand cafes, and calling and texting each other on smart phones.  How can one accept an anti-capitalist argument from spokes-dudes wading up to their necks in the products, goods, and services created at the hands of some of our most effective capitalists?

Scientifically speaking, anything with a carbon molecule is organic. Virtually all of the food items we eat, with the exception of water, salt, and trace minerals, are organic in the most factual sense possible: they contain carbon atoms and molecules in the structures of carbohydrates and proteins.   The idea that a vegetable or box of cookies or a can of soda might not be legally “organic” when they are factually “organic” is a semantic absurdity fostered by the pipsqueaks of panic.

Ditto for “genetically modified organisms” (GMOs).  Virtually every domesticated food plant and animal produced and consumed today is a result of genetic modification that has been going on since the dawn of agriculture.  Here again, the pipsqueaks are pandering to fear.  It makes no difference to your body if a tomato or grape or a chicken was modified over many generations in the field or one generation in a test tube.  You are going to eat the stuff, draw energy from it, and eliminate it, not blend it into your genetic code. Eating “Franken-food” will not cause you to turn into a shambling mutant!

I am reliably informed that airline pilots for most of the big domestic airlines (American, United, Delta) are paid by the hour, from the time the jet is pushed back from the gate at the departure airport until the door is opened at the arrival airport.  Is it not absurd to incentivize your highest-paid hourly employees to NOT be efficient in an industry with such low profit margins that attention to efficiency is essential for financial success?

The concept of “white privilege” has been instigated as a way to induce guilt in white people for (supposedly) causing, or at least not having to suffer, the woes (real or imagined) of every other demographic. It is a racist concept, and it absurd.  It is racist because it attributes advantage to whites solely on the basis of their skin color.  It ignores the fact that there are many non-white people who attain as many, or more, rewards and advantages in their lives than most whites.  It is absurd when applied to Americans because all of us in the US enjoy far more “privilege” (in the form of better living conditions, more freedom, and more opportunities for some, and sadly, also in the form of government handouts for others) than most people in most countries around the world.  The constant stream of immigrants pouring into this country (legally and illegally) aren’t coming here seeking to be oppressed by the man!

We are supposed to take it for granted that income inequality is a bad thing and accept all kinds of wealth redistribution schemes to help resolve it.  There is never any allowance for the possibility that income inequality might be a direct result of ingenuity inequality or effort inequality. That would mean that people are responsible for their own achievements (or lack thereof).  We can’t have that – it would be absurd!

The Minefield of Abortion


By Mike Cronin

My 12 year old daughter told me Donald Trump hates women.  I asked her why she thought so, and she replied that he was against abortion.  Indeed, Mr. Trump expressed several positions on abortion during a recent GOP debate.

Abortion has probably energized more of American politics than any other single issue since the argument over slavery led to the Civil War over states’ rights.  I’m not going to resolve it here, or even take sides, but perhaps we can do a little to clarify the issue to enable some rational decision making.

If you believe that a soul is created at the moment of conception, i.e. if you accept the premise that a growing embryo is a human being, then abortion is killing.  There are grey areas in life, and there are absolutes.  One of the absolutes is that if a fetus is human, then willfully aborting said fetus is murder. One of the most eloquent arguments for taking this position takes the form of a question:  If an embryo is NOT a human being, then what else is it?

On the other hand, in order to accept, or tolerate, or condone abortion, you have to either accept the premise that a zygote/embryo/fetus is not a human being, or you somehow have to rationalize that killing an unborn human is, at least in some cases, permissible. One of the most eloquent answers to the question posed in the previous paragraph takes the following form:  A fetus is a POTENTIAL human being.  It does not acquire the status and rights of a “human being” until it is a separate individual, i.e. until it has been born (or delivered).

Those are the basic parameters of the abortion debate – but the panoply of interests that engage in the debate muddy the waters so much that it is almost hopeless to try and evaluate them all. Consider these few:

The “pro-life” movement has never proven that a soul exists, much less that it is created or first manifest at the point of conception.

On the other hand, neither the “pro –choice” faction, nor medical science, has ever proven that there is no such thing as a soul.

Or how about these positions:

Since a woman has to carry a fetus in her body, it is her right to decide what to do with it.  Until birth/delivery, the fetus is no more a human being with rights than is an appendix, and it may be disposed of in the same manner.

Yet a woman cannot become a mother without at least the provision of some genetic material from a man (excepting the novel cases now anticipated by scientists) – doesn’t that give the father some say in the disposition of the growing embryo?

And two more:

It is monstrous to force a woman who has been impregnated by a rapist to carry the fetus to term and deliver the baby.  That not only subjects her to the physical torture of unwanted pregnancy and child birth, it also enslaves her to the torturous memory of her violation.

But if the embryo is human, then aborting it would be murder.  Murdering the child for the sins of his or her father would be even more monstrous than enslaving the woman to her pregnancy and her purgatory.

Perhaps my daughter was right and those who are against abortion hate women. No doubt there are some people for whom that is accurate, but there is more complexity here.

Some issues are far simpler than politicians, clerics, and the media would have us believe, and some are far more complex.  Abortion certainly falls into the later.   My advice to my daughters will fall along these lines: Abortion is generally legal. That doesn’t mean it is benign.  Even if you believe that aborting a fetus is not murder, the various procedures can still be more brutal and gruesome than mere surgical organ removal.  Even if you believe that it is a woman’s absolute right to decide what to do with her body, and that a growing fetus is part of her and not a separate human being, the best time to exercise that right is before conceiving a baby.

That may be less than fully satisfying dad advice, but it is all I’ve got at the moment. Like my daughters, you will have to navigate the minefield, make up your own mind, and live with the consequences.