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The Liberty Lamp: Libertarian News & Editorials

A blog dedicated to the advancement of libertarian principles, and to the protection of activist groups' privacy and Constitutional rights. Topics include discussions on privacy tips, current events, political topics, and bulletins on how to get involved in various pro-liberty activities.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Achieving More Privacy & Independence

Libertarianactivism.com isn't dead! We Swear! It's just been in a state of hybernation for a while. Now, most activity takes place at MPAssetProtection.com, which focuses on privacy, asset protection, and financial independence issues. From now on, most activity will take place there. Articles are updated regularly, and you can apply to become a contributor. There is so much to do, I wish I could maintain both sites- but I can't.

I'm also starting an Internet marketing consultancy for fun and profit. The main site is not yet up, but you can see a quick and dirty review of the new Site Rubix web builder system, which may well be the most powerful, yet the most straightforward website design program you've ever used.

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Offshore Banking Tips & Site Updates

Ever wonder who may be looking at your financial records? Here's a hint: it's not just the bank or investment firm employees. It could also be nosy government officials, ID thieves, or disgruntled former spouses or employees in certain circumstances. And we haven't even touched on the tax issues yet! Wouldn't it be nice if there was a way to safeguard what's yours from prying eyes and various thieves? There is a way. In fact, there are several ways to protect your assets. Here are a few web sites that have some useful answers. I am a member of all three of these organizations, and have found them useful. I hope you will as well.

A. Keep Your Assets- Provides quality asset protection services at reasonable prices, much lower than the competition. Products include a private banking guide, the Invisible New Mexico LLC, Belize IBCs, trusts, and offshore banking/investment options. Take the Asset Protection Crash Course to learn more about these issues in a simple, easy to read way.

B. Power Privacy- This site is a little over a year old, and is quite unique. You can find information on private banking, Internet and telcom privacy, offshore mail drops, and pretty much anything else you could think of related to "staying invisible". Power Privacy also has a great members only forum!

C. Sovereign Life- Boatloads of information on offshore finance, travel, and living life as a "permanent tourist" ("PT") to minimize or eliminate income related tax hassles. The author, Dave McGregor, seeks to educate and enlighten readers by introducing them to the "sovereign individual" mindset. Learning this is powerful, and key to understanding the pro freedom libertarian world view. This site also contains many members only benefits, including a great on line forum.

In other news, this site will indeed be upgraded to a new format, using a CMS (probably Joomla!). When? No one knows for sure, but rest assured that it will happen sometime in the relatively near future. Thanks for understanding and stay tuned!

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Egold Gets Indicted by Federal Judiciary

The on-line payment system eGold has been brought to court by a federal Grand Jury and the Secret Service. The company has posted a press release defending itself:

"Dr. Douglas Jackson, Chairman and Founder of e-gold, speaking on behalf of his fellow Directors and both companies vigorously denies the charges, taking particular exception to the allegations that either company ever turned a blind eye to payments for child pornography or for the sale of stolen identity and credit card information.

Dr. Jackson states, "With regard to child pornography, the government knows full well that their allegations are false, yet they highlight these irresponsible and purposely damaging statements in order to demonize e-gold in the eyes of the public. During the Inquisition, accusations of witchcraft and heresy were used to sanctify torture and seizures of property. In post 9-11 America, child porn and terrorism serve as the denunciations of choice. e-gold, however, as a matter of incontrovertible fact, is the most effective of all online payment systems in detecting and interdicting abuse of its system for child pornography related payments. e-gold Ltd. is a founding member of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's (NCMEC) Financial Coalition to Eliminate Child Pornography. e-gold is the only member institution to demonstrate with hard, auditable data a dramatic reduction of such payments to virtually zero, while billions of child porn dollars continue to flow through other (heavily regulated) payment systems. [Most members, that is, all the banks and credit card associations are utterly unable to even provide an estimate of the volume of such payments processed by their systems. eBay's PayPal subsidiary, who may have the ability to make such a determination, has refused to do so and has indicated they destroy payment records after two years.] What is worse, until August 2005 when NCMEC courageously broke ranks with US law enforcement agencies and began directly notifying e-gold of criminal sites via the CyberTipline, component agencies of the US Department of Justice purposely concealed their knowledge of child pornography abuses from e-gold's investigators, subordinating actual crime fighting to a policy agenda designed to dirty up e-gold."

A Series of Lawsuits

This legal attack on eGold is only the first of a series. As The Liberty Lamp reported last year, The Liberty Dollar suffered what amounted to a campaign of fear, instigated by the US Treasury Department, alleging that the private company's product was somehow a fraud. The Liberty Dollar responded by filing a lawsuit, which aims to force the federal courts to reaffirm previous statements by various federal agencies that attested to the legitimacy of this alternative currency. Both eGold and the Liberty Dollar have long histories of customer satisfaction, and the ability and desire to investigate crime far surpassing that of US law enforcement. The founders of eGold have run a very tight ship, so tight, that some privacy seeking customers have begun to look for other free market competition, such as the Panama based ePay. ePay accepts eGold as a funding method, so those who wish to can transfer out of eGold and to this new on-line payment system.

It's the Economy, Stupid!

The timing of these lawsuits and government intimidation campaigns comes at an interesting, if not somewhat suspicious time. According to the Free Market News Network (FMNN), The US Dollar isn't doing so well these days. Who'd have thought, right? In an unbacked, fiat currency system, the only way to keep individuals from switching to more useful alternatives is to force them to take the inferior "paper" money through threat of violence, whether it be death, imprisonment, or fine. With the US Dollar on its increased rate of decline due, in large part to the Iraq War and the "War on Terror" in general. All this spending is paid for by running deficits, though many Democrats allegedly would like it to be otherwise. The result? Increased inflation, as high as 8-10% by some estimates (see FMNN for info on this). It is the subtle, hidden tax that no one can get away from!

...Or can they? It is possible to avoid this hidden tax if you have gold. Goldcentral.com has free shipping with your first gold order.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

An Analysis of US Counter-Terrorism Policy

Counter-terrorism, or the practice of investigating and capturing or killing suspected terrorists has been a big issue among foreign policy and national security experts for many years prior to September 11th, 2001. The response to international terrorism has been largely a military one, based on obsolete Cold War strategies and tactics. It is true that Al Qaeda has been largely disrupted as a centralized, effective organization. Decentralized splinter groups are far less capable, but they are still a problem to be dealt with.

In this new essay, the author gives a good overview of the current national security situation, what the federal government is currently doing, and what should be improved. The argument focuses around three major suggestions:

1. The US military must be restructured to deal with a terrorist threat. Special Operations forces should be relied on, supported by improved intelligence gathering technology and pinpointed, targeted killings if live capture is not feasible. Doing this would improve the military's success, and reduce spending by as much as 50%!

2. The War on Drugs must end. Lacking state sponsorship after the end of the Cold War, terrorists have begun to finance many of their operations, including the Madrid train bombings in 2005 via funding from the illegal opium trade. Legalizing these drugs would cause prices to drop exponentially, thus robbing terror groups of their lucrative funding strategy.

3. Restore Americans' individual right to bear arms. Police can't be everywhere, and an armed, population would be more capable in deterring terrorist and generic criminal activity.

Click the title link to view this article, in PDF format.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Utopias Are Deadly!

Voluntary vs. Coercive Utopias

Some wish only to persuade us to live our lives in accordance with their ideals for us. They would have us voluntarily become members of their utopian societies. Some of them are leaders of religious sects, who urge us to adopt their way of life voluntarily, through conversion to their beliefs; such were the pacifist Tolstoy colonies at the turn of the century. Others are secular, such as B.F. Skinner’s Walden Two, and would have us join their commune so that we can all taste of the “better life” which they believe their utopia has to offer.

Voluntary utopias are relatively harmless; an individual can belong to one or not as he chooses, and can get out of it if it turns out not to be to his liking. It does not interfere with a person’s freedom, as long as he is free to decide for himself. But the vast majority of utopias, such as Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, are coercive: a plan of life is laid out for everyone, and even if a person does not want any part of it, he must be forced to, “for his own good.” The authors of such utopias would use the enormous coercive machinery of the law to make sure that others behave as the authors wish them to, against their will if necessary.

Why this “moral busybodyism”? Why do some people desire to plan the lives of others? Sometimes it originates in their own inadequacy and insecurity: they cannot manage their own lives, so they divert attention from their own inadequacies by managing the lives of others. Sometimes as children they were constantly required to do things against their will: having been constantly pushed around, they now want more than anything else to push other people around—never mind that the people they push around are not the same people who pushed them around. Often they simply believe that the great mass of people are stupid clods, incapable of governing their own lives, and that by telling others what to do they are doing them a favor; people are clay in need of a potter, so the utopian enters the scene as a savior, to save others from their own stupidity and ineptitude.

More often still, the authors of utopias are not as much convinced that others are stupid as that they themselves are persons of supreme intelligence, who have such a great vision for the human race, and see so clearly what is good for others, that the others can’t possibly have as great a vision for themselves. Moreover, they believe that this superior intelligence gives them the right to dictate what course the lives of others should take. When such people obtain high positions in government, or become the power behind the throne, they become the most destructive persons in history, masking their power-impulse with humanitarian slogans about the common good.

Contrasting Effects of Economic vs. Political Power

Power over other people’s lives need not itself be evil; that depends on what kind of power it is and to what end it is wielded. A great teacher may have enormous influence over a student’s life, but that power is wielded not by force but by the strength or credibility of the teacher’s ideas, or the example set by his life. A parent has power over a child’s life, for good or for ill, teaching the child morality and consideration and courtesy. A counselor or psychiatrist may exert power over a patient, so as to remove the obstacles to the patient’s development and enable him better to make his own decisions and plan his own life.

Neither is purely economic power an evil. A man starts a business and hires employees; they are free to take the position or remain as they were before. The employer has no power to force someone to take the job or arrest him if he refuses. Even in the early days of the Industrial Revolution, no one was forced to take jobs in the new factories; bad as conditions then were by present stan dards, many eagerly did so, because the income they were offered far exceeded what they received on the farms from which they came.[1] “Economic power is the capacity to influence other people’s behavior by offering them something the acquisition of which they consider more desirable than the avoidance of the sacrifice they have to make for it. It means the invitation to enter into a bargain, an act of exchange. I will give you a if you give me b. There is no question of any compulsion nor of any threats. The buyer does not ‘rule’ the seller and the seller does not ‘rule’ the buyer.”[2]

Political power, by contrast, is power backed by the institutional force of government—of police, armies, courts, and prisons. A government possesses the legal monopoly of physical force over a defined geographical area, and government operates always by force or threat of force against those who would disobey. If you are “kindly requested” to pay your income tax, and write back that you have thought it over and decided not to, you are instantly subject to apprehension, arrest, trial, and punishment. Not all political power is evil—for example, laws protecting life and property and punishing murder and theft—but still there is no doubt that this is power in its most naked form, the power of the gun to suppress and punish those who would disobey.

The authors of most utopias, however, go much further than to suggest the use of force to protect life and property; they use the force of law to shape other people’s lives in the direction that they dictate, usually involving the most minute details of life.

Some Historical Utopias

The first utopia described in Western philosophical literature is the Republic of Plato. Though benevolent compared with many utopias to follow, it already possessed the main feature of so many of them, of other people being merely pawns on the author’s chessboard, for him to move about as he pleased. The aim of Plato’s utopia was, as in so many others, a worthy one: to ensure justice in the nation by ensuring that the rulers themselves were just. The requirements for becoming such worthy rulers, however, were severe: all children were to be taken from their parents at an early age, lest the parents fail to recognize unusual talent in their children or do something to squelch that talent when it became evident; those who through manifest talent became candidates for rulership were to be denied contact with large areas of experience, such as acquaintance with persons of questionable character, poems which attributed evil to the gods, and even music of all but the most ascetic kind. The rulers themselves were to possess wives and children in common, and no man was to know which child was his own. Once the gifted few were in a position of power, their rule over the people was absolute: no elections, no representation, no referendum, no appeal.

Plato’s utopia was never put into practice as he propounded it. Many others, however, were put into practice without having been described in writing in advance. For many centuries the Incas of Peru had a rigorously stratified social structure with a highly repressive government. All land belonged to the State. Peasants were not allowed to leave their farms or villages without government permission. Family life was totally controlled by the State, including whether and whom one could marry. Criticism of the State was punishable by death or torture: the victim was hanged by his feet or thrown into a pit of poisonous snakes. People suspected of subversive activities were confined in underground caves containing jaguars, snakes, and scorpions. The individual’s life was planned not by him but for him by the ruling council of the Incas. But when everything is planned, one cannot develop the initiative required to cope with the unexpected. One unexpected event was the Spanish invasion. Fewer than two hundred of them conquered the entire vast Inca empire.

Under the ancient Chinese emperors (13th to 3rd century B.C.) everyone was forced to work full-time at ten years of age; at twenty he received a field to plow, and at sixty he returned it to the State and lived in dependency on the State. No private ownership of land was permitted. Large families were split up and grown sons were forbidden to live with their parents. Capital punishment was imposed for countless offenses such as minor thefts. The State had a monopoly on water, controlling the supply (sluices, dikes, irrigation canals), and the vital water could be cut off at any time. There was a wide network of State informers to spy on people and report their activities, with one family member often spying on another. Those suspected of crimes were often made into slaves, and conviction was followed by punishments such as decapitation, quartering, strangulation, being buried alive, or being boiled in a cauldron. The ancient Chinese emperor Ch’in Shih Huang was so admired by the modern Chinese dictator Mao Tse Tung that Mao tried to outdo him: “He buried only 460 Confucians alive,” Mao proclaimed. “But he has a long way to go to catch up with us. We have already buried 46,000 alive.”[3]

Yes, utopias are a bad idea. I have always thought this, but the author of the above piece articulates my own feelings very well. The fundamental problem is not holding this or that ideal, but rather the act of trying to impose that on other people. If something is a good idea, you should explain it to people, and incentivise them in a voluntary, peaceful, and positive way. This is what I try to do through my work at the Free State Project, and my asset protection business.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Liberty Dollar Sues US Mint, Needs YOUR Support

Test of Wills & New Defense Liberty Dollar

If you were one of the few who responded to our urgent call for a donation to help us fight the US government... THANK YOU! We greatly appreciate every dollar you sent... even if it was those dreaded, depreciating US dollars... every dollar counts!

This “test of wills” with the US government will not be decided overnight. The government now has 60 days to respond to our lawsuit. We don’t expect them to be in much of a hurry... as they have every reason to be slow. Then a schedule will be set for discovery, briefs, orals and finally a judgment. All this takes time and money...

Unfortunately, as I mentioned in my first announcement... “most people are not very responsive.” In fact, we even got some hate mail... from our own list when we announced the lawsuit!

So let me be blunt, honest and to the point: We need your help, please.

The US Mint would have us believe that it is illegal for Americans to exchange gold and silver (such as the Gold and Silver Eagles minted by the US Mint or any other gold and silver for that matter) on a voluntary basis between consenting adults. Just imagine that at a time when “consenting adults” can legally exchange “fluids” between themselves, the US Mint would have us believe that you and we cannot trade gold and silver between ourselves. This is ridiculous and an assault on the concept of a free market.

Make no doubt about it... The very idea of a free market is at risk due to the US government’s assault on our right to use anything of choice in the marketplace. While we have never asked for a donation in over eight years, we need it now. Donations are accepted in Liberty Dollars: metal, paper or digital, even those dreaded Federal Reserve Notes that pass themselves off as US dollars are accepted, and credit cards.

Yes, a special Defense Liberty Dollar will be sent to you for every $20 you donate... after we win. This Defense Liberty Dollar is only available to those who donate $20 or more. This special Defense Liberty Dollar will not be “sold.” If you don’t donate... you will not be able to get one. We really need your support, please.


Plus a specially hallmarked one ounce $20 Defense Silver Liberty is available for only $25 each plus S&H (while silver is under $15 spot). Each Defense Silver Liberty will feature two special hand stamped hallmarks: the “Scales of Justice” and my personal Mintmark. This issue is strictly limited to only those Defense Silver Libertys issued during this fund-raiser. They will not be available after we win...

And if you like gold... there is a special Defense Gold Liberty auction on eBay. Please click HERE for more info.

Again... my most heartfelt thanks for those of you who actually sent in a donation. You have been wonderful... and I only hope you might donate again. And for those who have not joined the party... we are only asking for $10, but you can send just a dollar from your eLD account. But remember... you will receive a special Defense Liberty Dollar for every $20 you donate while we fight for your right to use any money of choice in the marketplace.

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Conservative Bob Barr (R) Changes Stance on Drugs

Bob Barr, who as a Georgia congressman authored a successful amendment that blocked D.C. from implementing a medical marijuana initiative, has switched sides and become a lobbyist for the Marijuana Policy Project.

But that doesn't mean he has become a bong-ripping hippie. He isn’t pro-drug, he said, just against government intrusion.

"I, over the years, have taken a very strong stand on drug issues, but in light of the tremendous growth of government power since 9/11, it has forced me and other conservatives to go back and take a renewed look at how big and powerful we want the government to be in people’s lives," Barr said.

Good to see that the Libertarian Party is changing Bob Barr and not the other way around.

This is good news for the prospect of ending the so-called "War on Drugs". Now the movement has some "main stream" credibility, and detractors will no longer be able to attack free drug advocates as "crazy nutjob potheads".

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Liberty Dollar Sues US Mint!

On Tuesday, March 20, the Liberty Dollar filed suit against the U.S. Mint in U.S. District Court in Evansville Indiana. The organization asked the court to declare that the use of the Liberty Dollar is not a 'federal crime,' as claimed by the U.S. Mint. And the organization further asked the court to enter a permanent injunction against the U.S. Mint requiring it to remove any reference that the use of Liberty Dollars is a federal crime from its website.

This is quite interesting, as I'd assumed that the issue had died. Now, it seems that The Liberty Dollar (formerly NORFED) is suing the US Mint in Federal court in order to get a solid ruling in favor of competing private currencies. On a similar note, I spent a $20 1oz silver Liberty piece at a handmade soap and beauty products store last week. The owner was very happy about this, and she asked if I wanted to "waste" it on something as "simple" as her products. I said, "yes"! I can't remember the exact name of the place, but if you're ever in Lynden, WA, be sure to have some Liberties with you! Lynden is a few miles North of Bellingham, WA, and is a cute little Dutch themed tourist trap and rural town. I highly recommend visiting (no sarcasm here).

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