Friday, May 26, 2017

Not Anti-War But Anti-Tyranny

War can be hell. But it is also something that many young men look forward to so they can test their mettle, men like Alexander Hamilton, who in a 1769 letter to a friend wrote: "I wish there was a war." (He apparently had not yet mastered the subjunctive.) In times of peace, young men often wish for war. In times of war, all men wish for peace.

Here is a song by Leslie Fish explaining why the wish for total peace, if granted, would lead to tyranny. We all want peace, but not at the price of a one world government.

Is it wrong to long for a war to break out just to gratify one's personal wish to go to war? Well, it is if you start a war just to make that happen! It is if you conscript and/or tax others to serve in that war without their consent. But it's not wrong,  if you are a privateer or a mercenary, and you offer your services to those who want them and would be willing to pay.

Who should pay for waging war? Those who want to wage war. That way we can put a cap on it. But it is not wrong for a young warrior to long to serve. It is not wrong for men and women who have that calling to pursue it.

In the video embedded below, I read from Nathan Alterman's poem "אמרה חרב הנצורים" --"Said the Sword of the Besieged".  The poem is from the point of view of a sword being wielded in a hopeless last battle, in which the warrior is killed.

In the discussion that ensues after the reading, my father, Amnon Katz, says: "The sword's entire purpose is battle. And it is happy to fulfill its purpose. Even under these tragic circumstances. But we get the impression that also the one who wields the sword is privy to these values and to this experience, to the glory of this bitter and awful hour." Is it wrong for a young man to long for battle? To sign up for voluntary military service? To hope for glory?

Both Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton served in the American Revolution. Both distinguished themselves. But Aaron Burr wanted always to be on the front lines, so when he was offered a desk job by George Washington, he turned it down. Hamilton was ambitious for advancement, so he took that job.

Both Jean Laffite and Aaron Burr served the US as volunteers. Neither of them did it for a "free" college education or for a salary. Laffite was never reimbursed for his contribution or for those things that were taken from him by force. For years, Aaron Burr was destitute after being persecuted by Jefferson, but as a veteran he was not entitled to a military pension. Finally, when Burr was very old, President Jackson granted him a small pension.

Is all war bad? Or only some wars? Is getting paid for war always bad? Shouldn't our soldiers be paid?

There are some Libertarians who seem to have serious problems with the idea that military service could be entered into in the hopes of going into battle or for pay.  In the video embedded below. Austin Petersen and Larry Sharpe discuss a recent anti-military statement by the Vice Chair of the Libertarian Party.

Not all libertarians are anti-military or anti-war. "Did you agree to kill people for money?" Austin Petersen asks Larry Sharpe.  Sharpe replied "War is evil. War is bad. ...Would I join now? No. I'm also not 17 years old anymore."

But is it wrong to be 17 years old and long to serve? I don't think so.  Should soldiers expect always to be penniless and to go begging when they are in want?

Why do we honor our soldiers only when we see them as poor and without compensation for their service? Why do we think that they deserve less than teachers or doctors? Is it because we are uncomfortable with the work they do? Or is it because public funding for anything corrupts?

Let us honor our soldiers and work toward a free country where they can ply their trade with their heads held high and with compensation that is not dependent on taxation.  We do not want a standing army, but we do need to have warriors who are well trained and ready to fight for us. If we repeal the Neutrality Act and the Logan Act, we can restore the freedom that volunteer soldiers like Aaron Burr fought for in the Revolutionary War!


Thursday, May 18, 2017

On the Plains of Negev

This is my English translation of "בערבות הנגב". I translated it from the only version I knew, which was in Hebrew. But... the history is more complicated.  This song came out in Hebrew in 1948, but apparently it is just a version of a Russian song that was written in 1943:  На опушке леса "On the Edge of the Woods". Who knew?

If you see me smiling at one point when I am singing, it is because I realize my translation of that line is really awkward.

Israeli war songs  are so different from any song I have heard in America. I have looked for songs about grieving mothers, but have not yet found one about how she raised up her son to keep her people free or about how another soldier can replace him. Most of the songs I have heard have two salient differences from this one:

  1. The loss of the son or other loved one is seen as only personal and not national.
  2. There is usually some mention of reunion in an afterlife.
For people who see death as final, it takes a completely different outlook to accept this kind of loss. 

Related Posts

My English lyrics can be read here

This is my analysis of some of the issues with this song:

This is the guy who wrote the Hebrew version:

Here is all the info on the Hebrew song:

The lyrics in Russian can be found here:

There is also a closer translation to Hebrew of the original Russian words:

Monday, May 15, 2017

You Get What You Pay For

You get what you pay for. But no, don't read that with the accent on "pay". Of course, you have to pay. Everyone knows that you can't get anything without somebody paying for it. Yet people are always hoping that somebody else will pay for them.  So even though we all agree that you get what you pay for, most give that line the wrong reading. It's not "You get what you pay for." It's "You get what you pay for."

This is certainly true when it comes to the defense of your country, as well as the defense of a legal case. You cannot expect to get proper representation unless the person who holds the purse strings is the person being defended.

If it's not the person who eats the dog food who pays for the dog food, the dog food may not end up being fit for a dog to eat.  That's even though the person paying for the dog food has very good intentions. It's not the amount of money that is spent that matters, nor the intentions of the one spending it. The Wedel chocolates will be ruined, if the free market does not serve as quality control.

I've seen people arguing that if the accused  is entitled to a free defense -- to have an attorney appointed for him -- then a sick person should be entitled to free health care, too. If the one is a "right", why shouldn't the other be a "right"? Well, neither is really a right, because the doctor and the lawyer still need to agree to serve. Yes, I know, the government can pay them.  But nothing that we don't personally pay for is going to be the same in value as what that amount of money could purchase if wielded by the ultimate consumer. That is the aspect of laissez faire that socialists don't grasp.

Ask anyone accused of a crime how helpful his PD is. Ask veterans dependent on the VA how great the service they receive is. Ask any dog whether he would rather eat dog food or your leftovers. You get what you pay for. What you personally pay for.

Monday, May 8, 2017

2017 Appearance, Review and Bio

I will be a featured speaker, along with Will Coley and Bill Redpath at the 2017 Missouri Libertarian State Convention on July 22, 2017 in Jefferson City. My topic will be "Show Me What You want to Tax and I Will Show You What You Will Destroy."

I am very excited about this opportunity, Meanwhile, though we did not get a public celebration of the 200th anniversary of the  founding of Galveston this April, a new review of Theodosia and the Pirates: The War Against Spain has come out this year by a Top 100 Amazon Reviewer.

There is also an new biographical entry in the LPedia about me as a libertarian author.

For me, 2017 will be a year not for writing new books, but for speaking out about the books I have already written. The new audio version of Vacuum County as read by Kelly Clear should be out in late August. And perhaps for the first time, my writings will have a clear genre designation in which they legitimately belong: libertarian.