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June 04th, 2010 | Author:

What if:

  • Abraham Lincoln, like James Buchanan before him, said of the South, “As sovereign States, they, and they alone, are responsible before God and the world for the slavery existing among them.”
  • Lincoln decided that “preserving the Union” was not worth the cost in blood.
  • Congress legitimized secession and officially recognized the Confederacy.
  • The Confederate States of America still existed today.

United States map of 1861

I know.  This is an odd subject, even for me, but you can blame it on Rand Paul.  Or rather, you can blame it on an article by Sheldon Richman that was stirred by Rand Paul’s comments on the Civil Rights Act:

Why assume that legislation was the only way to stop segregation and today is the only thing preventing resegregation? We can easily imagine scenarios in which private nonviolent action could pressure bigots into changing their racial policies.

But we don’t need to imagine it. We can consult history. Lunch counters throughout the South were integrating years – years! – before the civil rights bill was passed. It happened not out of the goodness of the racists’ hearts – they had to be dragged, metaphorically, kicking and screaming. It was the result of an effective nongovernment social movement.

Starting in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1960, lunch counters throughout the South began to be desegregated through direct but peaceful confrontation – sit-ins – staged by courageous students and others who refused to accept humiliating second-class citizenship. Four years before the Civil Rights Act passed, lunch counters in downtown Nashville were integrated within four months of the launch of the Nashville Student Movement’s sit-in campaign.

Students were beaten and jailed, but they won the day, Gandhi-style, by shaming the bigots with their simple request to be served like anyone else. The sit-ins then sparked sympathy boycotts of department stores nationwide. The campaign wasn’t easy, but people seized control of their own lives, shook their communities, and sent shockwaves through the country. State and city governments were far slower to respond.

Could not slavery have been abolished using the same methods?  Britain accomplished this without war, largely influenced by a boycott of  sugar.

An anti-sugar pamphlet by William Fox was published in 1791; it ran to 25 editions and sold 70,000 copies in four months. Spurred on by pamphlets and posters, by 1792, about 400,000 people in Britain were boycotting slave-grown sugar. Some people managed without, others used sugar from the East Indies, where it was produced by free labour.

Grocers reported sugar sales dropping by over a third, in several parts of the country, over just a few months. During a two-year period, the sale of sugar from India increased ten-fold (see Adam Hochschild: Bury the chains). James Wright, a Quaker and merchant of Haverhill, Suffolk, advertised in the General Evening Post on March 6th, 1792, to his customers that he would no longer be selling sugar.  He declared:

“…..Being Impressed with a sense of the unparalleled suffering of our fellow creatures, the African slaves in the West India Islands…..with an apprehension, that while I am dealer in that article, which appears to be principal support of the slave trade, I am encouraging slavery, I take this method of  informing my customer that I mean to discontinue selling the article of sugar when I have disposed of the stock  I have on hand, till I can procure it  through channels less contaminated, more unconnected with slavery, less polluted with human blood……”

(A full copy of this article can be read here)

Citizen actions like these could well have pressured the south to ultimately ban slavery at the state level without killing about 618,000 Americans in war.  Compare that to American casualties in WWI (53, 402), WWII (291,557), and Vietnam (47, 424), and then imagine the impact it had on the citizenry.  Look at the economic disruption as well, and it seems that other less-costly solutions to slavery could have been found.

And if they had, and two American governments existed?  We can’t know the outcome, of course, but it seems to me there would be some important advantages.

First, states rights would have been upheld, limiting the role of the federal governments.

Second, dividing the country in two would, by simple mathematics, have reduced the power of those governments.

Third, two governments would have provided some healthy competition, as people decided where they wanted to live.

Fourth, all those confederate rebels could openly fly their flags.  :)

I know this “what if?” is a little off the beaten path, but I’d be interested in your thoughts.

March 23rd, 2010 | Author:

According to this piece from, the system to take care of your car is better than the one that takes care of your body.

1. Prices – The most obvious difference is price.  Gas Stations have big signs advertising their prices so that you as a consumer can decide how much you are willing to pay without even slowing down along the highway.  There are federal regulations that prohibit hospitals from advertising and competing based on prices.

2. Upfront Estimates – When you need a mechanic to replace your head gasket, he will give you an upfront estimate of the price.  He will often give you a list of less expensive alternatives if they are available.  When you ask a surgeon to replace your heart, there are federal regulations and AMA rules that prevent the distribution of price estimates.

3. Competition – If someone wants to build a Gas Station across the street from a competing Gas Station, its quite alright.  If someone wants to build a hospital, they have to prove to the Federal Trade Commission that the hospital won’t lower prices in the community or cause undue competition.

4. Monopoly – In the early 20th century, the federal government broke up a monopoly on oil and gasoline distribution. [Not quite. The government actually paved the way for the current near-oligopoly through legislation and regulation. See comments below and Thomas DiLorenzo for more information.] In the mid-20th century, they created a monopoly on hospitals and doctors because the American Medical Association said there were too many doctors, too much competition, and doctor’s couldn’t earn enough money.

5. Do It Yourself – When you go to the Gas Station, you can pay someone to fix your car and fill up your tank, or you can buy what you need to do it yourself.  At a hospital or pharmacy, you can’t make any decisions on what medications you can take, dosage levels, or treatments.  You must have the “official” opinion of a state regulated doctor.

6. Choice – When shopping for mechanics, you can decide to hire your handy neighbor, or find someone with all the latest training and certifications.  When shopping for doctors, your only choice is regulated by the state.

7. Purchasing Power – When you buy gasoline, you are paying for the gasoline you actually purchase (and a little extra for the small amount of theft).  When you buy healthcare, your price includes a large government imposed subsidy for those who can’t afford it, thus making healthcare less affordable to more and more people each year.

So in the infinite wisdom of the crooks in Washington, Obamacare is adding more regulation – 111 new bureaucracies and estimates of 50,000 + new federal “jobs” – and they tell us prices will come down?

They really do think we’re all idiots.

March 29th, 2009 | Author:

Libertarian candidate Eric Sundwall has been booted off the ballot by Tedisco and company, using standard New York political-machine tactics. Here are the sad and shameful details from Eric’s blog, explaining his endorsement of Scott Murphy.

The decision of the Board of Election to remove my name from the ballot proves once again that the political system in New York is rigged by professionals to make sure that average citizens are excluded from the process. While the two major parties could choose their candidates in a smoke-filled room, they made us go out and attempt the impossible: obtain 3500 valid signatures in just 12 days. We came very close but ultimately, the technicalities they built into the law to disenfranchise the people proved too strong to overcome.

In addition, I faced baseless allegations of wrongdoing and threats of criminal prosecution in a lawsuit brought by Tedisco supporters. While I wanted to file a lawsuit in Albany County to overturn the Board’s decision, we got stuck down in Dutchess County where the machine felt they would have a friendly bench. While the court there should have dismissed that lawsuit as moot, the judge instead was prepared to keep us down there litigating silly issues concerning the Libertarian Party emblem and whether witnessing signatures from outside the district constitutes fraud. There was no end in sight and we might have been down there for days facing the inevitable loss with no time to appeal and no time to campaign either. The Tedisco supporters who brought the case sought and received an order requiring me to be present in Court, thereby preventing me from campaigning.

I was also concerned that continued litigation would jeopardize the ballots of military personnel and disabled voters who use special machines that need to be programmed several days before the election.

Faced with the prospect of spending much of the rest of campaign on the witness stand being harassed by the machine’s hired gun, I chose not to play that game. Since I could not file suit in the county of my choosing, I decided to end my candidacy and not subject myself and my family to any further abuse, threats or harassment from the political machine.

Thus, the Stalinist New York Election Law forced us to spend the first half of the campaign getting signatures and the second half fighting a lost cause in court.

The voters will be deprived of any choice but the two parties that have destroyed the nation’s economy in recent years and have us bogged down in two land wars in Asia.

Mr. Tedisco denies any involvement with the concerted effort by his supporters to knock me off the ballot. I don’t believe him. The ruthless effort by his supporters to knock me off the ballot without a word of protest by him proves his unfitness for any office let alone Congress in these critical times.

I will be voting for Scott Murphy on Tuesday. While we disagree on some important issues, I find him to be a man of honor, a good family man and successful businessman. Unlike Tedisco, he actually lives in the District. And, unlike Mr. Tedisco, I view Scott’s business success as a virtue, not a vice.

I urge my supporters and all those who believe in open and free elections to show their disgust at the tactics of the Republican political machine to win at all costs. Please join me in voting for Scott Murphy on Tuesday.

I want to thank all those who worked tirelessly on my behalf and who donated their precious funds to help this effort. And I wish to thank the media for all their courtesies during this Sysiphean struggle.

We live to fight another day.

Eric Sundwall

Category: libertarian, politics  | Comments off
March 11th, 2009 | Author:
  • two Swiss skaters who came to the U.S. in 1937 and joined the original Ice Follies show as comedy ice skaters
  • an English slang term used in two ways. One is to refer to two people so closely associated as to be indistinguishable; the other way is as a term of derision for any two people, on par with calling one person a “Bozo” or three people “Stooges.”

[For my out-of-town readers, when the Hillary was dubbed Sec/State, Paterson appointed Kirsten Gillibrand to take her seat in the US Senate. This left the seat for the 20th congressional district open, and a special election has been scheduled for March 31st.]

I haven’t really been following the race between James Tedisco and Scott Murphy. First, it’s not my district. Second, it’s been a yawner because there’s really no difference between the two. For instance, this is from the Gazette after their first debate:

Murphy, Tedisco find common ground at first debate

— Scott Murphy and James Tedisco were cordial in their first public debate before a packed crowd on Tuesday and managed to agree on most issues.

The party-anointed Democrat and Republican “managed to agree?” How pathetic is that? Can’t they even pretend to disagree and give the voters a choice? If you think I’m being a tad too cynical here, go read their responses to questions from the Times Union. If they weren’t labeled, you wouldn’t know who said what.

But a big thank-you goes out to the Gazette, for informing us that there’s a third candidate on the ballot. Libertarian Eric Sundwall filed his petitions on Monday. Refreshingly, instead of regurgitating the same old political crap, Sundwall has chosen to focus on the four-point plan Ron Paul initiated during the general election.

If you want real change, folks, change the way you vote: dump the republocrats and vote on principles. Ron Paul could use some help in Washington. Snippets from Sundwall’s website:

1. Foreign Policy: The Iraq War must end as quickly as possible with removal of all our soldiers from the region. We must initiate the return of our soldiers from around the world, including Korea, Japan, Europe and the entire Middle East.

2. Privacy: We must protect the privacy and civil liberties of all persons under US jurisdiction. We must repeal or radically change the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, and the FISA legislation.

3. The National Debt: There should be no increase in the national debt. The burden of debt placed on the next generation is unjust and already threatening our economy and the value of our dollar. We must pay our bills as we go along and not unfairly place this burden on a future generation.

4. The Federal Reserve: We must seek a thorough investigation, evaluation and audit of the Federal Reserve System and its cozy relationships with the banking, corporate, and other financial institutions. The arbitrary power to create money and credit out of thin air behind closed doors for the benefit of commercial interests must be ended.

Category: libertarian, politics, Ron Paul  | Comments off
November 15th, 2008 | Author:

Phil Leggiere has posted an incredible story on Don’t Tase Me, Bro! It seems that Ian Freeman, host of the nationally-syndicated talk show Free Talk Live, from Keene, NH, has been sentenced to 93 days in jail because … well, because he had a couch on his lawn. Admittedly, he refused to stand up (or sit down, I’m not clear on that) when the judge entered the court room, which earned him an immediate 30 days for contempt. But ludicrous proceedings like this not only make criminals out of average law-abiding citizens, they reduce respect for legitimate laws.

Personally, I’ve always wondered how that little bow-down-to-royalty tradition got established here in the first place, and it seems I’m not the only one to question the practice. Florida lawyer Joe Negron introduced an amendment that would prohibit this requirement. As reported in the Florida Bar News:

While he has no problem voluntarily standing to show his respect for the court, Negron said, he objects to “a person with a gun and handcuffs, telling me that I must do something, and demanding an overt act.”

It seems to me that respect is something one earns. If you have to demand it at the point of a gun, it’s respect for the gun, not the person or the office. And this judge in New Hampshire must not earn much respect.

Category: abuse of power, Big Brother, libertarian  | Comments off