Top Ten Things That Piss Me Off About Anti Israel Libertarians

These issues are usually in my subconscious. Recent events have brought them out to my conscious thought. I don’t like discussing this stuff in general because these are Jewish issues and what non Jews think doesn’t concern me. But I’ve been brought in to the fold, so here are my thoughts.

  1. Anti Israel libertarians say settlements are immoral because they are not annexed by the State of Israel, even though settling land is the crux of the entire libertarian homesteading theory, and libertarians are against states annexing anything in the first place.
  2. Statist institutions and instruments like the UN and “international law,” suddenly become relevant and important regarding what these institutions say about Israel, even though they are despised and ignored and reviled in every single other case.
  3. Anti Israel libertarians rail against the “ethnic cleansing” of “Palestine” while they simultaneously egg on the actual ethnic cleansing of Judea and Samaria of Jews, because “settlements” are “illegal” according to “international law” and should all be evacuated. I wonder what John Locke would say about THAT.
  4. Libertarians hold that homesteading is the way one comes to own property, yet anti Israel libertarians like Jeremy Hammond can hold, only in the case of Israel, that it is legitimate to own UNhomesteaded land just because some statist body says that uncultivable land can be “owned”.land-ownership-palestine
  5. Israel is by FAR the most liberal state in the entire middle east in terms of economic and religious freedom, which means that it is the MOST libertarian state by any and EVERY measure, and yet it is the MOST hated by many libertarians.
  6. Regarding Israel, suddenly statist political boundaries become relevant when they are reviled in any other case. The boundary between Israel and Judea and Samaria somehow is very important when libertarians, in any other case, revile the notion of political boundaries in the first place. Except with regard to Israel.
  7. When the State of Israel expels Jews from their homes that were built on vacant unhomesteaded land as in the case of Gush Katif, anti Israel libertarians cheer. In any other case of statist violence such as this, libertarians jeer. In other words, ethnic cleansing of non Jews is evil, but ethnic cleansing of Jews is justice.
  8. Regarding Israel, libertarians suddenly become supportive of overtly socialist schemes like “the right to strike”, which Murray Rothbard accused Israel of denying to Arabs, when in every other case besides Israel, there is no right to strike, because the right to strike means the right to prevent others from voluntarily contracting to work in a job that you have already quit.
  9. Anti Israel libertarians insist that Arabs have a right to a “state of their own” even though in every other case, libertarians hold that nobody has a right to a state at all.
  10. Anti Israel libertarians have no respect for the founders of their entire philosophy, the Jewish People, who by giving the world the story of the Exodus from Egypt, established the foundations of libertarianism itself for the entire Western World.

Libertarians are my ideological allies in the vast, vast majority of cases, and will continue to be so, even if they hate me. What they think of me personally makes no difference to me. Even the most bona fide anti-semitic libertarian, assuming there is one and the term “anti Semitic” actually means something, is my ideological ally in most cases.

But libertarians will never be my family just because they are libertarians. Jews are my family. The commies, the socialists, the lefties, the Kahanists, the Likudniks, all of them. Many of them are bad people and ideological enemies, but they are my family nonethless, and I can’t choose them. I care about them first, and if physically attacked, I would defend the life of the most socialist communist totalitarianist Jew against the attacks of the most anarcho libertarian, just because blood comes first, and that’s it.

As for the anti Israel Jewish libertarians, I can only sigh and move on. This is why Murray Rothbard’s attacks on Israel are mostly irrelevant to me and I just gloss over it all. But now that I have been brought into the fold of this intractable argument, people should know my thoughts.

My faith in God and His directing of Jewish history is too strong to be bothered all that much by anti Israel libertarians. But these thoughts of mine, while almost always dormant, are my thoughts.

One day libertarianism will conquer the world, and through the instrument of the Jewish People. Without the Jews, libertarianism cannot win. We are the כלי through which it will win, eventually.

One day Jewish libertarians will tear down the State of Israel and Jews will be free. But in the mean time, let’s be clear. The State of Israel, as a State, is much less evil than most other States on this planet right now, with the exception of maybe Switzerland. I gotta give props for centuries of sustained neutrality. Pleased don’t bother me Jews, about them financing Hitler. I know. But the US financed Stalin. Wake up.

At Long Last, A Defense of Israel Against Rothbard

Back in 1967, in response to the outbreak of the Six Day War, Dr. Murray Rothbard penned an article entitled “War Guilt in the Middle East“. In the article, Rothbard denies Israel’s right to exist and accuses it of starting an unjust war. We, obviously, disagree.

Now, 50 years later, we his students have written a rebuttal, just published in The Indonesian Journal of International & Comparative Law. It is coauthored by Alan Futerman, Dr. Walter Block, and me.

Here it is. Click the link below and it will download the PDF.

The Legal Status of the State of Israel, A Libertarian Approach

Keynesianism Is A Mystical Religion That Believes Paying Taxes To Government Makes You Richer Because The Government Is Wise

I came across this post today at Mises.org by William Anderson, reposted at EPJ, about Tax Day. It’s important to read in its entirety, then I’ll explain how it relates to mystic religion.

—–

April 15 is here and we are required to do the following: tell the government our income and send much of it to Washington.

Austrian-school economists are likely to tell you this is a bad thing and that taxes and government spending lower our living standards. In other words, the more government we are required to finance, the poorer we will be. According to the Austrians, economies grow through capital investments reflecting time preferences of individuals. Furthermore, Austrians actually claim that individual savings lead to economic growth. The more we pay in taxes, the less money we have for capital investment and saving. In other words, the more taxes we pay, the less we have for the building blocks of economic growth.

However, disciples of John Maynard Keynes, like Paul Krugman and others, take a rather different view. For them, wealth is achieved by spending, which creates economic growth. When consumers don’t spend enough, government rescues the economy by upping its spending. Because of this, should government raise taxes, it actually stimulates the economy more than individuals can do through their own spending. We could allow people to spend their money as they see fit. But, it’s better to be on the safe side and tax as much of it as possible, instead.

The Keynesian “Balanced Budget Multiplier” makes it all possible. It is a version of 2 + 2 = 5. The tax-fueled magic is explained as follows:

  • All spending has a “multiplier” effect. Spending increases the incomes of others, who then spend their increased income, and the pattern continues indefinitely.
  • Individual savings, according to Keynesians, are “leakages” from the system, and if not offset by equal “injections” via government spending or increased exports, the “multiplier” then works in reverse, pulling the economy into recession.
  • Government tax increases, however, have two-fold positive net effects. First, government spends new tax revenues, which quickly multiplies and creates new jobs. Second, by reducing individual incomes, people must spend larger percentages of their incomes to uphold their present standard of living. (The famed Keynesian “multiplier” equals 1 over the savings rate, so the less we save, the greater the multiplier.)

The “logic” of the balanced-budget multiplier differs from the logic of taxation and spending in Denmark. There, individuals pay most of their income in taxes, but supposedly receive marvelous government services that are more valuable to them than what they would have purchased on their own had high tax rates not existed.

Instead, the “Balanced-Budget” multiplier creates wealth by destroying savings. Austrians obviously disagree, and the “reality gap” between Austrians and Keynesians is widened. Austrians emphasize savings, capital accumulation, market prices and market interest rates, profits, losses, with entrepreneurs making decisions in an uncertain climate under the umbrella of economic calculation.

Keynesians promise an easy way out. Just give money to the government, which will spend and spend, and the spending multiplies prosperity. Interestingly, modern intellectuals will tell you that Keynesianism is “real world,” while Austrian economics is “pie in the sky.”

On April 15, Keynesians will contribute to growing prosperity by sending more money to Washington. However, Austrians likely will have a different take.

——

So, we are supposed to believe, according to Keynesian economics, that being robbed means we are becoming wealthier. That government spending is somehow magical because when politicians spend the same money on their own stuff, such as killing people or giving billions to Israeli or Arab despots, it somehow creates prosperity, whereas when you spend that money on what you actually want, it makes you poorer.

So I’m in the middle now of Volume I of Murray Rothbard’s An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought. It’s such a well written book and so fantastically organized, it’s a pleasure to read. Rothbard writes like the Rambam in terms of organization, though Rothbard is more verbose. It is impossible to be more succinct than Maimonides, unless you’re Rashi, but Rambam was clearer than Rashi most of the time. Maybe I’m the first one to make that comparison.

Anyway, Rothbard writes about the history of a town in Germany where a guy named Bockelson decided Jesus wanted everything collectivized and to each according to his need etc. Sound familiar? And that everyone was going to be forcibly converted to his brand of Christianity called something or other. Anabaptism maybe? I don’t care enough to double check.

He ended up getting sieged along with his followers while everyone was starving because the division of labor broke down, as it always does in forced communism. Rothbard writes the following about Bockelson, towards the end, after he had already declared himself king and everyone was starving to death.

It is not surprising that the deluded masses of Munster began to grumble at being forced to live in abject poverty while the king and his courtiers lived in extreme luxury on the proceeds of their confiscated belongings. And so Bockelson had to beam them some propaganda to explain the new system. The explanation was this: it was all right for Bockelson to live in pomp and luxury because he was already completely dead to the world and the flesh. Since he was dead to the world, in a deep sense his luxury didn’t count. In the style of every guru who has ever lived in luxury among his credulous followers, he explained that for him material objects had no value. How such ‘logic’ can ever fool anyone passes understanding.

And then I realized, the Keynesian nonsense ‘logic’ that giving your money to politicians and bureaucrats makes you richer, is the same exact thing. All western society has been indoctrinated into a religion that essentially preaches the government as King Bockelson. Bockelson can live in luxury while the his people starve because Bockelson is beyond the flesh.

And Washington can live in luxury while its subjects are forced to pay the taxes that Washington consumes, because giving Washington money makes the people richer, since Washington is beyond the flesh. Spending makes you richer. Savings makes you poorer. The more money politicians have, the better off everyone is. The richer Bockelson is, the better off his people are.

It’s the same religion. Keynesianism and insane early protestant Christian messianic communism.

On David Duke and Broad vs Narrow Anti Semitism

There are anti Semites, and there are anti Semites. Is David Duke an anti Semite? In the broad sense, sure, he has a generally negative opinion of Jews. He has said things that aren’t nice about Jews. Well, so have I.

But is he really an anti Semite in the narrow sense? No, because he does not advocate or commit violence against Jews, not as far as I know. If he has, I invite you to send me evidence. “If President I would kill Jews” would count. Or “People should have the right to murder Jews with impunity” would also count. Or “All Jews should be expelled from their property and placed in prison,” would be anti Semitic. Did he ever say these kinds of things? Maybe, but I couldn’t find anything.

As a “grandmaster” of the Ku Klux Klan, he has accused Jews of being ethnic supremacists, conspiring to wipe out the white race, and other things, all based on minor truths. Ethnic supremacy means Jews consider themselves chosen above other groups. Well, we do. We say it every day. In fact, it’s one of the first things we say in the morning.

While we don’t really have active plans to “wipe out the white race” our eschatology generally puts us at the top of the cultural food chain, with us leading the world when the Moshiach comes, or something close to that. Other people may find that annoying. I find it annoying that Christians assume all Jews will convert to Christianity, but then again I don’t demonize all Christians as having active plans to “wipe out the Jewish race” even though that is ultimately what it amounts to. Every religion believes they will reign supreme over all other people in the End of Days. Big whoop.

I don’t like David Duke. I don’t like holocaust deniers like him. I don’t like the things he says and I do not want to ever speak to him. I would not invite him to my house for Shabbos dinner. I want nothing to do with him. But the important thing is, we need to define anti Semitism extremely narrowly. The definition of an anti Semite in my view is someone who either advocates for or commits violence against Jews who have not personally aggressed against him. That’s it.

An anti Semite is not someone who hates Jews. It’s not someone who says not nice things about Jews, or even someone who lies about Jews, nor someone who believes that other people should hate Jews too. It is not someone who believes Jews should have less political power to influence the lives of others, or even someone who believes there is a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world, unless these beliefs leads him to commit violence against Jews.

An anti Semite is only someone who advocates for or commits actual violence against innocent Jews.

What if David Duke were president? What would he do? Would he put all American Jews in concentration camps and kill them? Maybe someone should ask him. But from what I’ve read of his positions I doubt it. His positions are not so bad. This is what Murray Rothbard wrote about Duke’s political program:

It is fascinating that there was nothing in Duke’s current program or campaign that could not also be embraced by paleoconservatives or paleo-libertarians; lower taxes, dismantling the bureaucracy, slashing the welfare system, attacking affirmative action and racial set-asides, calling for equal rights for all Americans, including whites: what’s wrong with any of that? And of course the mighty anti-Duke coalition did not choose to oppose Duke on any of these issues. Indeed, even the most leftist of his opponents grudgingly admitted that he had a point. Instead, the Establishment concentrated on the very “negative campaigning” that they profess to abhor (especially when directed against them). (Ironic note: TV pundits, who regularly have face lifts twice a year, bitterly attacked Duke for his alleged face lift. And nobody laughed!)

People use this as evidence that Rothbard, a Jew, a very Jew-y Jew at that, was an anti Semite. A cute claim, but it ignores the fact that Rothbard actually accused others of being anti Semites, particularly John Maynard Keynes. I would call Keynes more of a misanthrope than specifically an anti Semite because he advocated violence against everyone and not just Jews, through systematic inflation and other economic policies of mass theft. But anti Semitism would fit as well. Here’s Murray Rothbard on Keynes.

Here’s the full speech in context.

Why are so many Jewish libertarians uncomfortable with their Jewishness?

A question from a reader:

I just encountered your website, it looks most interesting. I was curious as to whether you have explored the issue of why so may Jewish libertarians/anarcho-capitalists are uncomfortable with their Jewishness. Two prominent examples would be Ayn Rand (even though she eschewed the libertarian label) and Murray Rothbard. One example of Rand’s refusal to confront her Jewish origins was her treatment of the Kira character in We the Living. The novel’s protagonists was by Rand’s description largely autobiographical, yet she was Russian Orthodox, not Jewish. Rand was able to bravely depict the consequences of the Bolshevik revolution on a “bourgeois” family, but ,apparently, not on a Jewish “bourgeois” family.

Rothbard is a psychologically even more interesting case. He was ,in many ways, the favorite Jew of a number of anti-semites. This was particularly true towards the end of his life when he was closely allied with ,amongst others, Pat Buchanan and Joe Sobran. Rothbard even went so far as to endorse the gubernatorial candidacy of David Duke.
In short many Jewish libertarians ,like many Jewish Marxists, experience extreme discomfort vis a vis their ethnic and religious origins. Any thoughts as to why this is so?
Best wishes,

A Reader

Thanks for asking. First, let me get some stuff out of the way. Murray was not friends with any anti semites. David Duke, Joe Sobran, and Pat Buchanan do not hate Jews. They hate Jewish lobbyist groups, as they hate most other lobbyist groups that advocate spending money in places where they, Duke Sobran and Buchanan, would rather not spend it. All lobbyists hate all other lobbyists, and all libertarians should hate all lobbyists, save the liberty lobby which actually lobbies for less government. The myth that these people are anti Semites is perpetuated by ADL whiners whose incomes are in proportion to how loudly they whine about non-issues. They also hate the Israeli government. So do I, so we’re cool on that.

Second I have no magical answer, but I have some suspicions. Ayn Rand didn’t hate Judaism. She hated religion and the idea of worshipping a deity in an organized way with authority figures telling you how to do it and what to think whey you do the worshipping. She actually was an Israel supporter, a position I don’t tend to vocally take. I have only read Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, not We the Living, though someday I may get to it. I would simply say she was obsessed with her ideas of selfishness and objectivism and whatnot that she constantly hammered and just didn’t want to be associated with Judaism. I understand that.

As for Murray, he has many a talk denouncing anti Semites, particularly Keynes. That he was the favorite Jew of a number of anti Semites only proves that those people were not anti Semitic, but only hated Jewish efforts at manipulating government for their own purposes. Murray did in fact hate the State of Israel, with a fiery passion. I’m involved in co-authoring a paper debunking his infamous “War Guilt in the Middle East” article as we speak. His hatred of the State of Israel in particular over other states is far beyond my own. I do hate the State of Israel, but not any more than any other State government. Murray had a special hatred for Israel as a State particularly. I don’t understand exactly why.

I can only really answer as to why I embrace my Jewishness and libertarianism. To be a libertarian and embrace your Jewishness takes a lot of flexibility, not in terms of libertarianism which is not all that flexible, but in terms of Judaism, which is much more flexible. To encounter the economic ignorance and annoying Israel activism of mainstream Jewish people is a lot to take, and if you don’t have a flexible background in Judaism, you’ll leave it because other Jews are so off base and totally confused.

I come from a background of Maimonidean rationalist yeshivishness, hard liberal modern yeshivishness, with several Haredi friends who are classical frummies. I have one main assumption about God and his plan for the Jewish people. I assume that God’s plan is to lead human history to choosing a libertarian path. My reading of Tanach supports this, as I see Abraham as the first activist libertarian as well as the first Jew. Noach was a libertarian but he wasn’t an activist.

So God made a promise to Abraham that his kids would continue his philosophy. I have no evidence this promise was ever made other than the fact that Jews as a distinct entity still exist. I have no evidence that God exists or that Judaism is a definable thing with boundaries. I don’t really care if it is or not. So I am extremely flexible regarding my own Jewishness. I follow Halacha generally because I see some value in it and that’s how I grew up. Without Halacha there would be no Jews, and without Jews there would be no chance at global libertarianism. But when Halacha conflicts with libertarianism I ignore halacha assuming it is simply wrong. I am flexible enough to say that without having a major crisis of religious identity. And since I see all Jews as one family together responsible for converting the world to libertarianism, I can withstand supreme idiocy from within my own family without disowning it and becoming estranged. I see no Rabbi as above me, and look up to nobody but myself.

So to be comfortable with your Jewishness as well as libertarianism, you need to be comfortable with molding Judaism into libertarianism and assuming that the former is meant to reflect the latter.

My end belief is that without the Jewish people, libertarianism on a global scale would be impossible. First it’s us, then it’s the rest of the world, with the Beit HaMikdash at the center.

Read my Manifesto of Torah and Faith for a further breakdown of my philosophy.

Why sales taxes do not affect prices directly

This is a continuation as to why Feiglin is wrong when he says that zero VAT on newly built homes will benefit the rich more than the poor, thereby widening the gap between rich and poor. (For people new to this blog, I still support Feiglin for Prime Minister enthusiastically. He’s just wrong on this issue.)

This is a very important point that few people understand, precisely because it is so counterintuitive. Consumption taxes like value added taxes, in Hebrew מע״מ for מס ערך מוסף, do not have a direct impact on the prices of goods that are taxed. If you search this blog, you’ll find that earlier posts from several years ago have made the same mistake in assuming that VAT is simply passed on to the consumer. It never is. It is impossible to pass on a consumption tax to a consumer. It is always passed backward onto the retailer, never forward on to the end consumer.

Murray Rothbard wrote about this in Man Economy and State, Chapter 12, section D, paragraph 4. Here it is: (I finished the 1,369 page book two months ago. Yay for me.)

In considering the general sales tax, many people are misled by the fact that the price paid by the consumer necessarily includes the tax. If someone goes to a movie and pays $1.00 admission, and if he sees prominently posted the information that this covers a “price” of 85¢ and a tax of 15¢, he tends to conclude that the tax has simply been added on to the “price.” But $1.00 is the price, not 85¢, the latter sum simply being the revenue accruing to the firm after taxes. The revenue to the firm has, in effect, been reduced to allow for payment of taxes.

The general sales tax Rothbard refers to is the VAT, or the מע״מ. So if we translate that to houses and use Feiglin’s flawed analogy, a house that costs 1.6M NIS, does NOT actually cost 288K less than that on the free market because of the VAT which is supposedly tacked on to the end. The house costs 1.6M, period, regardless of whether there is a VAT or not. Why must this be so?

Because a price is not just a number that a seller sets in order to make a certain profit he feels like making. If that were true nobody would ever sell at a loss. A price is what the seller can get on the market regardless of the profit he makes or doesn’t make. In other words, it’s not like the seller of a house or the builder of a house who is selling it feels like he has to make X profit on the house and therefore sells it for 1.6M assuming a VAT, but would sell it for 288K less if he sells it without a VAT and get the same profit. It doesn’t work that way.

A price is a finely tuned level where buyers and sellers equal out. It is the point where supply and demand meet, not the point at which the seller feels he has made enough money. If by divine intervention the VAT were abolished tomorrow, the price of housing would NOT suddenly shrink by 20% or whatever the VAT is. If it did you’d have a rush of demand that would immediately bid the price back up to the current levels.

A clear illustration of this is what happens at a supermarket sale designed to get you interested in a product. The supermarket often sets something at below a market price and then limits you to a certain amount of it. Say tomatoes are on sale for a shekel a kilo when the real free market price is 3 shekels a kilo. The store will inevitably limit you to, say, 3 kilos. Why the limit? Because by going below the free market price, it has voluntarily introduced a shortage, necessitating the limiting. If it were at the free market price, there would be no limit on any customer, because the free market price IS ITSELF the limit.

The current price of housing is the equilibrium point between supply and demand. If VAT were gone tomorrow on everything, the prices of everything would stay the same because the equilibrium point between buyers and sellers of anything has not changed overnight. If suddenly the price of housing dropped by the VAT amount, then you’d have more buyers willing to buy than sellers willing to sell, and the price would quickly jump back up to the current market price. Perhaps a few sales would be made at current prices minus the VAT, but they would be made so fast that the competitive bidding would very quickly push the price back up within days or hours to reach equilibrium again.

Therefore, there IS no benefit to rich people of 288K on a 1.6M house, because the price WOULD NOT CHANGE. Neither is there any direct benefit on any other buyer of any house no matter how rich or poor he may be.

Where there IS direct benefit is on the SELLER of the house, or the builder of the house who is the seller, in that he gets to keep the amount of money previously stolen from him by the government. The SELLER of a 400K house and a 1.6M house could be the same person. In fact, the seller of a 400K house could be rich while the seller of a 1.6M house could be poor. The benefit to them of getting rid of the VAT is that they no longer have to pay 20% (or whatever the VAT is) to the government, so they can keep that and reinvest it in say building more houses instead of buying more $60K Iron Dome missiles to swat flies out of the air from Gaza.

That eventually ups supply, gradually bringing the price down on everything. So yes, getting rid of VAT does lower prices INDIRECTLY, only by increasing supply through reinvestment of profits that would have otherwise been taken by government and spent on some inner city school prison. But in Israel, since the government owns 93% of the land, there is no way to up supply even if the VAT is obliterated. So housing prices would continue to rise, as Feiglin says in his post. However, even so getting rid of the VAT would lower prices on whatever the bigger profits were reinvested in, so we’d be better off on net anyway even if housing prices are not affected because of the government land monopoly restricting supply.

Conclusion: It’s not that buyers of more expensive houses will get a greater benefit. They won’t. It’s that sellers of more expensive houses will have less stolen from them. Those sellers could be anyone. Stop with the class warfare, I don’t want to hear anything about Rich vs Poor and the supposed battle between them. The battle is between taxpayers and tax receivers. The battle is between rich and poor taxpayers vs rich and poor tax receivers.

We need to fight the tax receivers until they no longer receive anything. (Yes, this includes Feiglin himself as a Knesset Member, and the only reason I give him an exception is that he is leading the fight from within the government, and there is no other way I see of taking them down legally and nonviolently.)