“[Federal holidays] . . . began as a day to celebrate freedom from the state [but are] now . . . a day to glorify statism in its most repressive and destructive form”

by Butler Shaffer

Why fight for a flag when you can buy one for a nickel.   ~ Ezra Pound

I grow weary of national holidays that have been converted into public relations opportunities for the celebration of the war system. In my childhood, Decoration Day was an opportunity to honor the dead by decorating graves, and I recall numerous trips to the cemetery to lay flowers at the headstones of my grandparents and aunts and uncles, including an uncle who died in World War II. While this holiday began as a way of remembering Civil War dead, its purpose, in my youth, was not so confined. It was eventually renamed Memorial Day, and its focus was narrowed to what it is today: the state-serving remembrance of military veterans. That this Memorial Day weekend was seized upon as an opportunity to open the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., illustrates the point. For those who still don’t get the message, television stations give us a steady diet of pro-war movies.

Memorial Day weekend will soon be followed by the Fourth of July. This day — honoring the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a writing of a decidedly anti-statist nature — has likewise been co-opted by the war-lovers. Additional rounds of movies celebrating warfare will be made available to television viewers. The 1942 Bing Crosby musical, Holiday Inn, includes a July Fourth segment with a montage of bombers, naval ships, tanks, and other weaponry — with lyrics straight out of FDR’s “New Deal” — to remind audiences that what began as a day to celebrate freedom from the state was now to be understood as a day to glorify statism in its most repressive and destructive form.

November 11th was referred to as Armistice Day in my youth, a day set aside to celebrate the end of World War I; a day, in other words, to honor a return to peace in the world. By 1954, this day, too, had been hijacked by the war system, renamed Veterans Day, and once again used by the statists to remind Americans of the virtues of going off to foreign lands to kill others and to get killed or wounded themselves. And, of course, another round of pro-war films will saturate television screens. The heirs of John Wayne and Randolph Scott must receive handsome residual payments from the showing of such movies during the holiday seasons.

I have wondered how far the war establishment might go in taking over other holidays. Will Thanksgiving Day become a time to be “thankful” for all the military hardware — including some ten thousand hydrogen bombs — bestowed upon America? When, two Christmases ago, I saw a Christmas card with Santa Claus decked out in a red-white-and-blue suit, I knew the complete militarization of the culture was upon us.

These holiday celebrations of warfare are rendered even more distasteful by the nearly endless parade of speakers who praise war veterans who “fought for freedom.” I have long been disinclined to criticize soldiers themselves, not because they are free from personal responsibility for their participation in institutionalized butchery, but because I prefer to focus my energies on the systemic thinking that produces such insane practices. Soldiers — most of whom were teenagers when they entered the military — are more victims of statist indoctrination in the “glory” and “heroism” of warfare than they are culprits. But just as the state found it useful to exploit their lives in wartime, it capitalizes on their deaths and sufferings in peacetime as a way of getting us to recommit ourselves to the perpetuation of the war system. To be for peace is to denigrate the memories of those who “sacrificed” for our “freedom.”

The idea of soldiers “fighting for freedom” is an Orwellian-like concept riddled with self-contradictions. To begin with, wars have always reduced individual liberty, not only during but after the wars. The American Civil War was conducted not to free slaves, but to aggrandize state power, thus restricting liberties. Lincoln has earned the disrespect of those who value liberty for having laid the foundations of the present Leviathan state. The Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, the Korean and Vietnamese Wars, escalated the powers of the nation-state over the lives of Americans. In case these earlier episodes of organized barbarity are too distant for you, recall how quickly and easily the Bush administration was able to greatly expand the American police-state with such measures as the Patriot Act, the creation of a Department of Homeland Security, and the arbitrary holding — without trial or contact with family or attorneys — of virtually anyone the state wishes held.

How can it be seriously entertained that soldiers “fight for freedom?” They were unable to secure even their own freedom from the state. To allow one’s life to be taken over, regimented, directed, and even destroyed by the state, hardly qualifies as a working definition of “freedom.” Slavery is a word more befitting such a subjugated condition.

Furthermore, how can a person be said to be “free” when his or her life is embroiled in conflict? How can one be free when fighting others? Is a life fired by anger and hatred of others, along with a willingness to torture, maim, or kill anyone designated by state officials as your “enemy,” consistent with a life of freedom?

Memorial Day speeches are filled with the prayer that “these dead shall not have died in vain.” But the truth is that the victims of warfare have always died in vain, and will continue to die pointlessly, for war is its own reason for being. “War is the health of the state,” Randolph Bourne reminded us decades ago, a health that, like the human body, is dependent upon regular exercise.

I was ten years old when World War II ended, and I recall the sense of relief in the anticipation that peace was to return to the world. This was not unlike the attitude that surfaced, briefly, with the end of the Cold War. But the state cannot endure peace. We should have picked up the warning when, shortly after World War II, the government changed the name of the “War Department” to the “Defense Department.” Such was the signal, had we paid attention, that war had become a permanent system for advancing corporate-state interests by the subjugation of the American people.

If the state is to maintain power over us, it must have an endless supply of enemies with which to excite our fears. The Soviet Union served this purpose well for nearly half a century, but with its collapse, the American state went in search of a new foe. Islamic “terrorism” became the new adversary. With an expansive military presence throughout the world, the American state had assured itself of an enemy that is not likely to vanish. When the Bush administration announced that the war on terror would be an endless one, it was confirming the truth of Bourne’s observation.

As dangerous as terrorism is, we must acknowledge its origins and the energies that sustain it. Humanity continues to be held hostage to the deeper terrorist threat of which polite company refuses to speak, namely, the political organization of society. As we continue to recycle the destructive energies of the war system that is the state, the time may soon be upon us when even the most patriotic flag-waver will have to stand and say “enough!” As politicians and other participants in the war racket continue to preach of our “responsibilities” to keep this slaughterhouse stocked with sacrificial victims, we may find ourselves called to a higher responsibility. Learning how to renounce and walk away from this obscene system may be the act of responsibility each of us must take as our share of being human.

As decent and compassionate human beings, let us remember the dead and wounded of war — as well as their families — as the victims of a kind of thinking that must be transcended if humanity is to survive. But let us stop glorifying butchery with parades, medals, gaseous speeches, and the erection of war memorials. Let us have no more Tom Brokaw patronizing drivel that equates the “greatness” of people with their willingness to join in lemming-like suicidal marches. Let us stop investing the lives and souls of our sons and daughters as our commitment to this vicious enterprise. Let us learn to love our children more than we do the state that sees them as nothing more than fungible resources for the mass production of casualties.

I recall, years ago, news stories about the last Civil War or Spanish-American War veteran to die. Perhaps we shall one day have occasion to celebrate Memorial Day by remembering the final victim of the war system itself.


“the entrepreneurial mindset [teaches kids] how to cope with and embrace failure”

by Brittany Hunter at FEE

When most of us think of child entrepreneurs, our minds conjure up pictures of neighborhood lemonade stands and summer lawn mowing gigs. But in the modern marketplace, today’s “kidtrepreneurs” aren’t just running small-scale businesses anymore—they are well on their way to building commercial empires.

Some are so successful, their parents have even had the rare opportunity of being employed by their own underage children. But these business-savvy kiddos aren’t just making a killing by creating products that consumers love. They are also learning how to embrace failure—a skill most people do not learn until well into adulthood, putting these entrepreneurial kids way ahead of the game.

Alina Morse is not your average CEO. At just 13-years-old, she is running a multimillion-dollar candy company, Zollipops, which she started years ago.

When Alina was just seven-years-old, she accompanied her father on a trip to the bank where the teller offered her a lollipop. Like all children, she was excited about the sugary treat, but her father told her that the candy would rot her teeth. Instead of getting angry, young Alina went into problem-solving mode. If she wanted to be able to eat lollipops, then she had to find a way to invent a recipe that wouldn’t be a detriment to her oral hygiene.

Arina has no idea that a “box” exists, which makes it easier to think outside of one.

After identifying the problem, she set to work looking for the right solution. For two full years, she set to work doing online research, testing different recipes, and using a variety of different types of cooking equipment in order to make the production process as efficient as possible. After the research and development stage was complete and her first lollipop recipe perfected, Alina, accompanied by her father, made her first sales pitch, an endeavor that secured her product line a place on Whole Foods’s shelves around the country.

Zollipops, which now includes sugar-free lollipops, taffy, and hard candy, is currently sold in more than 7,500 stores across the country and employs six full-time employees and a handful of independent contractors. This year, her brand’s sales are even projected at $5 to $6 million—no small feat for such a small person. In fact, Alina’s business has become so profitable, her parents now work for her. And while others may not be quite as successful as she is, Alina isn’t the only kidtrepreneur in the game.

Just like Alina, twelve-year-old Owen Simoes’s business idea began with a problem. Owen has a passion for refinishing antique furniture. Spray paint used to be the typical go-to product of his trade, but he began to grow frustrated by its propensity for making messes. In addition to staining his parents’ lawn a variety of bright colors, spray paint also left stains on his hands for days.

After researching online and experimenting with different recipes, Owen perfected his own formula.

He noticed that many other people in the crafting world had moved away from spray paint and started using chalk-based paint that adheres to almost any surface but is also washable and, therefore, much easier to clean up than spray paint. Unfortunately, all the chalk-based paint products offered in retail stores were too expensive. But this small obstacle didn’t stop Owen. He set to work inventing his own version of the paint.

After researching online and experimenting with different recipes, Owen perfected his own formula. He calls his concoction SquidInk, and it saved him so much money on paint supplies, he was able to turn his hobby into a profitable business by buying old pieces of furniture, refinishing them, and then reselling to consumers.

Operating out of two rooms below his father’s office and online, SquidFlip—the furniture flipping side of his company—has gained quite a following and even inspired the Boston Globe to run an article profiling the young entrepreneur’s success. But again, these two young teens are just two examples of many. And the internet is at least partially responsible for explaining this recent surge in entrepreneurial kids. 

Keep reading . . . .

Brittany Hunter is a writer and editor for the Foundation for Economic Education. Additionally, she is a co-host of Beltway Banthas, a podcast that combines Star Wars and politics. Brittany believes that the most effective way to promote individual liberty and free-market economics is by telling timely stories that highlight timeless principles.


“free-market capitalism frequently acts as a solvent for racism and discrimination”

from Mark J. Perry’s “How Free-Market Capitalism Often Acts as a Solvent for Racism and Discrimination.”


Carpe Diem

From today’s Washington Post article “Sears’s ‘radical’ past: How mail-order catalogs subverted the racial hierarchy of Jim Crow“:

A lesser-known aspect of Sears’s 125-year history, however, is how the company revolutionized rural black Southerners’ shopping patterns in the late 19th century, subverting racial hierarchies by allowing them to make purchases by mail or over the phone and avoid the blatant racism that they faced at small country stores.

“What most people don’t know is just how radical the catalog was in the era of Jim Crow,” Louis Hyman, an associate professor of history at Cornell University, wrote in a Twitter thread that was shared more than 7,000 times Monday in the wake of the news of Sears’s demise. By allowing African Americans in Southern states to avoid price gouging and condescending treatment at their local stores, he wrote, the catalog “undermined white supremacy in the rural South.”

As historians of the Jim Crow era have documented, purchasing everyday household goods was often an exercise in humiliation for African Americans in the South. Before the advent of the mail-order catalog, rural black Southerners typically only had the option of shopping at white-owned general stores — often run by the owner of the same farm where they worked as sharecroppers. Those store owners frequently determined what African Americans could buy by limiting how much credit they would extend.

. . .

But even more important, the catalog format allowed for anonymity, ensuring that black and white customers would be treated the same way.  

. . . 

And for a significant portion of U.S. history, the Sears catalog offered black shoppers something that they couldn’t find anywhere else: dignity.

As Milton Friedman explained in his classic 1962 book Capitalism and Freedom, free-market capitalism frequently acts as a solvent for racism and discrimination:

It is a striking historical fact that the development of capitalism has been accompanied by a major reduction in the extent to which particular religious, racial, or social groups have operated under special handicaps in respect of their economic activities; have, as the saying goes, been discriminated against. 

For a quick read on what drove Sears’ success, check this out.

Dismantling Marxist Relics. Let Poland Rejoice!

Lew Rockwell writes,

Making it illegal to promote communism through street names, names of public buildings, & monuments. Poland is dismantling the Monument of Gratitude to the Soldiers of the Red Army in Warsaw.


How to Tell the Difference Between a Narcissist, a Psychopath, and Sociopath

h/t LewRockwell

Know your pathologies.  This video certainly helps to classify the different ones.  On sociopathology, Dr. Jordan Peterson raises two important issues.  One is motivation, literally what is the motivation of a sociopath’s cruelty?  Is it entertainment?  Is it satisfaction over watching someone writhe in pain?  What is it?  As a clinician, that’s a fair question.  But what about the man dealing with sociopaths at work or the ones you encounter on the streets?  The other question that Peterson raises is are sociopaths irredeemable?  Now, this should not be taken as an invitation to be an ethical monster, but again from a clinical side, it may have some value.  But most of us are not clinicians.  So my question is how does one deal with a sociopath?  Do we show them a certain level of cruelty in return?  And does our cruelty somehow  Psychopaths take advantage of people and have to keep moving around either from fear of being caught or for having been caught.  If they get caught, their reputation spreads and they have to get the hell out of there.  But if this is the case, is being caught the psychopath’s dalliance? 


If you are preyed upon by a psychopath, which you will be at some point in your life, the psychopath, who will be narcissistic, will presume that you’re stupid and that you deserve to be taken advantage of because you’re naive and stupid, so it’s actually a good thing that he’s doing . . . the proof that you’re stupid and naive is that he can take advantage of you.  If you were wiser, you’d know his tricks and it wouldn’t be morally necessary for him to show you just exactly who knows what about what.  And so the psychopath will use his ability to fool you as proof of his own grandiose omnipotence, omniscience, and narcissism. The problem with that is that you can be fooled by a psychopath and virtually anybody can.  And Robert Hare, for example, who studied psychopaths for a long time and interviewed a lot of them, hundreds of them, and videotaped many of the interviews, and he said that when he was talking to the psychopath he always believed what they were saying, and then he’d watch the video afterward and see where the conversation went off the rails.  But the proclivity in a conversation to be polite is very strong, and if you’re polite you don’t object to the way that the person unfolds their strategy.  And psychopaths are pretty good at figuring out how to manipulate people and the probability that you will be immune to that is extraordinarily low.  Go watch Paul Bernardo being interviewed by policemen on YouTube.  That’s enlightening, man.  Paul Bernardo, he’s like the CEO of a meeting in that video, you know.  He gives the cops hell, he gives the lawyers hell, he protests his innocence and he basically tells them that they’re rude and untrustworthy because they don’t trust him . . . because he did a few things 17 years ago.  He basically goes, “Well, that’s a long time ago.  We’re past that, aren’t we!  We’re having a discussion . . . I’m trying to help you solve some crimes (which by the way [Bernardo] committed).

Books cited by Robert Hare: 

The Mask of Sanity: An Attempt to Clarify Some Issues About the So-Called Psychopathic Personality, Hervey Cleckley, 2015. 

Psychopath, Morton Bain, 2012.