Girolamo Savonarola

savonarola_by_paulinebarrett-d3i7n62Girolamo Savonarola was a friar during the Italian Renaissance who enthusiastically preached against the evil he saw in his day. He pointed out the humanistic themes commonly found in the Renaissance, and the immorality to be found everywhere. He is known for urging the people to burn their luxurious and pagan possessions in the “Bonfire of Vanities”, and he even convinced Renaissance painters to burn their painting depicting scenes from pagan mythology. His preaching moved people, many times to change. His fight for the return of the Scriptures and cultural morality was stopped when Pope Alexander VI declared him excommunicated, and demanded that he be turned over to him. However, the Florentine populace, in whose city Savonarola was in, insisted on taking care of him themselves, and tried and burned Savonarola at the stake.

Nullification

What is Nullification? A good introduction to this concept is done by Tom Woods in the below video.

Read Tom's book for more details and historical uses for nullification!
Read Tom’s book for more details and historical uses for nullification!

Alright, was is Nullification? If someone tells me to do something, and someone in higher authority tells me to do something else, that higher authority has just nullified the previous authorities command. The U.S. Government operates the same way, though this power that the State’s wield has not been used since the War Between the States.

Let me explain. The United States was formed by delegates representing the “several states” and given a limited set of powers, and these powers were enumerated (written out) by these said delegates at the Constitutional Convention after the Revolutionary War. When the Central Government does something, the States are supposed to look into that action and ensure that it is constitutional. If it isn’t, they have a duty to nullify, or ignore and refuse to comply, with the demand of the Central State.

Thus, if the said Central State violates the rights of the States, those States are duty bound to resist the Central State and put it back in its place. An example of this was when President John Adams signed the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798. The Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions were written in response by the States of Virginia and Kentucky, nullifying the Acts, which were unconstitutional.

As the Federal, or Central, Government continues to infringe and take away the power of the States, these States are now turning to nullification to protect themselves, as they were always meant to do. The view of the Founders was that whatever wasn’t written in the U.S. Constitution would be unconstitutional for them to do, and since the States gave the Central Government the powers it did, it must enforce them, and ensure that the said Central Government does not overstep the limits placed on it.

What things should I include in my Autobiography?

Power of WordsLets say that I had just spent 26 months in the woods and had just returned to my mother’s house to write a book about my experience. What should I include in my autobiography, assuming that its about my life a mile and a half from town?

First, lets cut out all the details about little events that had no effect on my life in the woods, such as an ant war nearby your hut. Instead, try to find details that most readers will be interested in, like how you got food to eat in winter, etc;

Second, letting the reader know about your philosophy is ok. It enables the reader to learn more about you, and what perspective you are writing the book from. Are you vegan? Do you think hunting is ok? Be sure that if you mention something, continue to make it a theme in the book, and be sure to choose themes your readers would be interested in.

So, cut out the small talk, and focus on what your book is about and what your readers would be interested in. Also, give the reader hints about your perspective and view of life when describing yourself.

Why Does the Kangaroo Have a Pouch?

Marsupials are a group of mammals that give birth to small, partially developed young that crawl into a pouch on their mothers belly to complete the rest of their growth before they venture out of this pouch and fend for themselves. But, why do marsupials have pouches? What advantage does this give them?

tumblr_n2ly0auYsB1qi4ucgo1_500We’re going to refer to the kangaroo as our primary example. The partially developed joey (baby kangaroo) leaves its mothers womb and crawls into the pouch, to finish growing into something more like a mature kangaroo. Why does the kangaroo do this? Here is a theory that I developed to solve this puzzling “kangaroo question”.

  • Ok, so we have this mommy kangaroo, hopping through the semi-desert called Australia. She is already expending energy just through its pregnancy. She has a lot of predators, who would be happy to gobble her up in a heartbeat. She must be fast and have lots of energy, which she has to constantly forage to get enough of. Imagine that she had to stop foraging for her food, and had to try to hide and stop somewhere to give birth to a joey? She would still be knocked out by this birth, and would be immediately vulnerable to predators. Her chances of survival are thus greatly increased by not having to stop moving, foraging, and looking out for hungry predators by having an easy birth with a small joey, which then grows to maturity outside its mothers body in the relative safety of the pouch.

So, to boil down the question and my proposed answer; first, why would the mother kangaroo (or any marsupial) not give birth to fully developed offspring? The proposed answer is as follows; if the female kangaroo had to stop and hide to give birth, first of all she’d be using a ton of energy to give birth, and then she’d be weak and tired for a few days. She’d be easy prey, and so she has an easy birth by having the joey leave her body when it is still small, and travel into the pouch where it can finish developing. By doing this, it never has to truly give birth like most other mammals.

 

 

Size of a Political Body: Is Bigger Safer?

In Size of a Political Body: Does it Matter? we discussed how the only way to have true representation is to cut the size of government. However, one of the big reasons for centralization and large governments is that it can “make us safer.” But can it?

Lets take Germany, for instance. Before Hitler took power, Germany was divided into a bunch of states. When Hitler took over, one of the first things he did was centralize, and with this machine, he laid waste to Europe. The population under this political machine didn’t fare any better than did those of other countries. Secret arrests, and lack of food and supplies were frequent.

wilhelmtell
Wilhelmtell (Anglicized as William Tell)

However, people continue to believe that bigger means safer. However, Switzerland has held its own for hundreds of years, and repulsed armies from much larger countries and inflicted heavy casualties upon them in so doing, leaving the European nations in fear of the citizen army of the Swiss. We can find examples even further back. For instance, the small city states of Greece, united by a common enemy and a common origin and a sense of brotherhood, repulsed the million man army of Persia. King Leonidas of the city state of Sparta with 300 men held the pass of Thermopylae (“hot springs”) and inflicted great damage upon the Persian army. The army of the city state of Athens defeated the entire Persian army at Marathon, forever leaving Greece free from the domination of Persia.

Though those are not nearly all the possible examples, we can see that small states can defend themselves with tremendous success. And, we can also see the lack of safety in large states. When Athens grew too large, it began to seek to dominate all the other Grecian cities. When King Philip and his son Alexander the Great conquered Greece, they immediately began military campaigns against Persia, who, because of its size and the fact that it had attempted to conquer Greece making it a target of interest for the triumphant Greeks. Did the the military conquests and defeats of the Persians in any way add to the safety of the Persian populace? In no way. When Russia became too big, it got taken over by the communists and used against the people for years. When Germany and Japan became too big, they formed the Axis alliance and began to take over the world.

So, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean safer. You may be safer from foreign enemies, but not so much with domestic enemies. And, there is no reason for a group of city states to not be united under a common people group and resist the advances of foreign foes. Giving up freedom for security only means you lose both. Its time to choose freedom over security, so that in the end, you may have both.

Size of a Political Body: Does it Matter?

When the Founding Fathers of this country (United States) attended the Constitutional Convention, they were each representing 30,000 American citizens. Compare that with todays Congress, each Congressman now representing 722,000 people as of 2014. When does representation become more of a joke than a reality?

KineKMnzTLets say that there is an election for the U.S. Congress. There are two people running in the Republican Primary, and their names are Joe Bloe and Bob the Builder. I go and look over the candidates and see what their record is (is it consistent with what they’re saying?) and what they happen to be claiming about themselves. After having found out that Joe Bloe is a Christian homeschooling dad who, after having been a Constitutional lawyer for the past 25 years, decided to serve his districts interests and that of freedom and run for Congress, I then look over the data for Bob the Builder. Bob the Builder claims to have hands on experience with the people in the district, due to his construction company, and claims he can run the government like a business (there are many reasons to why this approach doesn’t work) and fix it. He also doesn’t seem to be interested in restoring the country to its original Christian and moral foundations, but he still has big money behind him. Joe Bloe doesn’t seem to be getting all those big money donations that are likely to influence him when in office, but is receiving nearly all his money from his supporters. I decide to support Joe Bloe.

Election day shows up, and I eagerly vote for Joe Bloe, only to find out the next day that all the ads and fancy speeches given by Bob the Builder with all his big money backing won the day. Assuming he wins the final election against his Democrat opponent, am I going to be fairly represented by Bob the Builder? I think not.

There will always be unfair representation by any government, no matter how big or small it happens to be. But, are We the People more fairly represented by a smaller government or a bigger one? The answer is clear. Lets say the United States government decided to increase the amount of Congressmen and ensure that each Congressman is representing 30,000 people. We would have 10,500 Congressmen. The chance of my Congressmen, even if he supported my opinions and values, of having any influence in a Congress of that size, would be small, so small, in fact, that it wouldn’t even be worth mentioning. It would be just like the democracy that the city-state of Athens boasted, with its select body of thousands of citizens voting on the behalf of all of Athens, with its hundreds of thousands of people, free and slave.

The only way that we can be fairly represented by our governments is if those governments are very, very small, and the people are willing to break those governments into even smaller ones as the population continues to grow, or vice versa. “Taxation without Representation” was once the cry of the Americans of the Revolutionary War… but our country has come to that dilemma again. This time, there isn’t a New World to flee to. We must solve this problem, and that means, limited government, and if possible, the smaller the better.

Compact and Nationalist Theories of the Union

There are two theories that continue to influence American political thought; the Compact and the Nationalist Theories. Lets start with the Compact Theory.

The Compact Theory was the theory held by the founding fathers. The State’s came before the central government and even created and authorized the central government. These distinctions are vital, as we will soon see. First, the State’s have rights that go above those of the central government; this means that if the central government tries to impose something on the State’s, those State’s affected can fight back, and hold their own against the central state. Second, they have the right to leave the union, since they created and authorized the union; this would mean that the Southern States had every right to leave the Union in 1861. The refusal of the Northern States to allow them to do this would necessarily be treasonous to the entire idea of the Union.

However, under the Nationalist Theory, the Northern States would have every right to summon troops and attack the South and force them into unconditional surrender and back into the arms of the Union. Why shouldn’t they? The Federal, or Central, government has supreme authority over the States, and is supported not by a Republic representing the States, but by the populace. This means that if the Central government oversteps the bounds given it by the people, all they can do is attempt to vote out the offending politicians in the next election. They cannot ask their respective States to intervene; they can only wait and hope that they win the next election.

So, we see that the whether we hold to the Compact or to the Nationalist Theories is vital when coming to how we view the political sphere. The Compact Theory in supporting the States that founded the Union takes the total opposite and opposing view over the Nationalist Theory in its support of a strong, central state with unlimited powers over the States and We the People.

may-the-truth-be-with-you

Disadvantages of Fiat Currency

6355318323_4c41d3ef76_bFiat currency, as explained at the end of my previous post, is a currency, usually always paper based, and isn’t backed by any commodity. Here are three major disadvantages to using a fiat currency.

  1. The unlimited ability of governments to “print” up money whenever they want. This gives the government the ability to steal resources from the people even when they refuse to be taxed. They just inflate the currency slightly and buy what they want before the prices go up.
  2. Fiat currencies will always lose value over time. Every year, a bunch of new money is printed in order to replace all the bills that have been taken out of circulation due to the bills having been destroyed or lost, but they usually will print more than what is actually needed, and thus the available currency constantly expands. Also, as was mentioned before, how can greedy, fallible human beings resist printing up wealth and dropping it on their laps?
  3. Fiat money always has the potential to drop to zero value. Since the paper has no value in itself, the paper can and inevitably will lose all value. This means that if you save up money for retirement, the purchasing power of that many will have decreased significantly by the time your retire, forcing you to invest, even if you have little or no experience in the field. Once the currency drops to little or zero value, the economy, and everyone in it, will be completely ruined.

Even though there are disadvantages to even a commodity based currency, such a currency would not have such rampant problems as a fiat currency, and you wouldn’t be giving unlimited power to a select few. And, instead of losing purchasing power, gold and silver usually always gain that said purchasing power. Why not take advantage of that?

The Origin of Modern Money

Money. When we think of money, we Americans and many around the world think of a special piece of paper, usually with a politicians face printed on it and covered with a number telling the owner of that bill what value it would represent did we still have a commodity backed currency. However, how did we end up using money, or, indirect exchange, in the economy?

downloadFirst, lets use the American Indians as an example. Lets say that a tribe has just crossed the frigid expanse of the Bering Strait separating Asia from the North American continent, and are now preparing to move to a suitable location. Once in that new location, they begin to settle down. Lets assume that they had not yet developed the idea of the division of labor and had not immediately settled down and formed villages and towns. Assuming that, lets remember that these Indians are each able to fend for themselves; make their own shoes, tools, and grow and hunt their own food. However, all of these occupations take up much of these Indians time, and eventually it becomes harder and harder for a family to make a living off the land and protect themselves from bandits and wild animals, and so many of these related isolated families get together into a group, and form a town, and help each other out through the division of labor. Some guard the village, others grow the crops, others make the shoes, and yet still more make tools and implements of war. Unfortunately, difficulties arise.

Lets say that you want to buy a pair of shoes, and so you go over to your neighbors wigwam and wish to exchange something in your possession for shoes. Supposing you’re a weapon maker, you can offer in barter, or direct exchange, a hatchet for a pair of shoes. But, the shoemaker already has a hatchet, and doesn’t need another, and so the exchange is unsatisfactory to him. You could offer him many hatchets in exchange for the shoes if you’re really desperate, but that would take a lot of precious time, and you have other things you could exchange them for besides shoes. So, you ask the shoemaker what he would take for the shoes, and he offers one sack of grain for a pair of shoes. Of course, since you aren’t a farmer, you don’t have any extra grain lying around, so you go to another wigwam, and speak to the farmer who lives there. You offer him a hatchet for the small sack of grain, and the farmer agrees. You go back with your grain and get your shoes from the shoemaker.

wampum10But, lets say that you get tired of trying to exchange either your labor or something you own for the goods you need. Eventually you find out that wampum, tiny purple or white shell beads were very rare, and in high demand, not only for their commodity value for use in jewelry, but also, since they had cost due to their rarity and not easily destroyed, and so you decide to instead use wampum and use them to make transactions. Now that you’re using wampum as a medium of exchange, you no longer have to go barter for your shoes and end up having to waste a bunch of time to get exactly what the person wants; you can just walk up to them, and hand them the wampum. You charge wampum for your goods and services, and exchange them for the goods and services of others.

Gold-Coins-and-Gold-BarsNow these Indians are using indirect exchange. Now, lets skip centuries into the future, into the early history of the United States. Gold and silver are the primary commodities used in exchange, as well as other metals such as copper. Just as people got tired of bartering, they also got tired of lugging around heavy bags full of gold, and so banks began issuing notes to their customers. The notes represented gold in the bank. A $20 bank note was worth $20 in gold, and the note could be taken to the bank and gold be given to the former holder of the note. Just as people knew what a pound of gold could buy, they also knew what the note that represented that pound of gold could buy, and thus transactions were comfortably carried out using the bank notes.

download (1)Finally, we come to the present day. After seizing all the people’s gold, the U.S. government created what is known as a fiat currency in 1934, with the Gold Reserve Act. Fiat currency is essentially paper money that is not backed by anything except the governments word and is forced upon the people as their main method of exchange. The only reason why this works is because of the process described in this post; people barter, then the switch to a more convenient method of exchange, and then they use paper that represents the commodity being used for exchange in the economy, and then they take away the commodity that backed the currency. People still continue to use the paper as if it were still backed by a commodity.

And so, we have now traveled through time and explored the evolution of money into what we now use today; first barter, or direct exchange, then indirect exchange through some commodity, and then indirect exchange with no commodity, propped up by the state alone.

Thoreau and the Division of Labor

downloadHenry David Thoreau, author of Walden, also known as Life in the Woods, is known for his 26 month return to the land, and is an inspiration for the modern environmentalist. He also known for being against the free market and capitalism, and the Industrial Revolution, which was just beginning to change the world.

He says that he went to Walden pond to be self-sufficient, and live off the land. However, did Thoreau dependent upon the division of labor for the 26 months he lived there?

First, he mentions that he received seed and tools from others. If that isn’t the division of labor, I don’t know what is. He also spent money for building materials for his “humble” cabin, which again is relying upon the division of labor, which he claimed to despise. He was also a squatter; he lived on land that was not his.

Ironically he spent the rest of his life depending on the division of labor, and he had a business making pencils, and he lived in luxury in his mother’s home while he wrote a book about how much he hated luxury and the division of labor! So much for Thoreau’s attack on the division of labor and the free market economy.