Ryan Griggs

Liberty | Property | Markets

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‘We’ is an Evil Word

A Professor of mine used this abominable word again and again in a lecture on punishment and justice this week. To relieve the neurological inflammation this caused, I submitted the essay below as my assignment for the week.

In his magnum opus Man, Economy, and State economist Murray Rothbard writes:

“The term ‘society,’ then, denotes a pattern of interpersonal exchanges among human beings. It is obviously absurd to treat ‘society’ as ‘real,’ with some independent force of its own. There is no reality to society apart from the individuals who compose it and whose actions determine the type of social pattern that will be established.” (emphasis added, p. 84).

Only individuals act. When someone states that an entity other than the individual acts, e.g. in the phrase “we punish,” it should be obvious that the term ‘we’ is evidence of the use of colloquial, instead of literal, language...

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Teflon Don Trumps All of Politics

You knew it was coming. Here are my thoughts on the most entertaining, saddest reflection of 2015 American intellect: Donald Trump.

Voting is a waste of time. Politicians are crooks. Republicans are war-mongering villains.

That said, Trump is my favorite person to show his mug on television since Ron Paul.

That’s a big statement, I know. Don’t get me wrong, the libertarian rockstar Ron Paul will forever hold the title for best thing to happen to cable television ever. After all, he’s the reason I caught on to libertarianism in the first place. Without the litany of YouTubes, like the Giuliani moment, I may have never questioned the morality of the state, much less the efficacy of mainstream economics. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump will never speak to those who desire truth in the way Ron did, and does.

So what gives? Bottom line, Trump will go where no politician will...

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Criticism of Crash Course Economics, Episode 1

I was asked by Gary Grimes of Crash Course Criticism what I thought of the first episode of Crash Course Economics, a sub-series of the popular YouTube channel CrashCourse. Needless to say, what CrashCourse viewers will learn over the 40 week course resembles economics in name only. I dissect Episode 1 below.

Jacob Clifford and Adriene Hill of Crash Course Economics claim they will be teaching YouTube viewers economics over the next 40 weeks. This is an untrue statement. It’s an untrue statement, because if Episode 1 is any indication, what will be taught–and frighteningly, learned–in this web series is not economics.

Jacob and Adriene’s misunderstandings lie in a few different areas. At one end, they mistake entrepreneurial forecasting and political decisions for economics, while at the other end, they shred the philosophical foundation of the science. In this hostile environment...

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Explaining Libertarianism to My Professor

A professor of mine actually mentioned libertarianism in this week’s lecture. While discussion of libertarianism should be invited, the subject must be properly understood. Below is my essay in response to what my professor had to say about this vital political philosophy.

It’s wonderful that Professor X mentioned libertarianism in his lecture this week. This is a philosophy that I believe holds the best promise for human peace and flourishing. However, after listening to Professor X’s talk, I’d like to clarify some parts of libertarianism. This way, students may gain a more comprehensive view of this illustrious political philosophy; perhaps some of you will even adopt it as your own by the time this class has concluded.

First, Professor X describes libertarianism as an “extreme form of capitalism.” I contest that this assertion implies an error, since capitalism and libertarianism...

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Challenging My College Professor: Defending the Libertarian Theory of Justice

I am enrolled in a political science course this summer called Law and Society. It has become clear that my professor is unaware of the libertarian theory of justice. This past week, in response to an essay of mine that briefly outlines the libertarian theory of justice, my professor offered a challenge. Below, I reproduce my professor’s question and my response. References are included at the end.

Professor question:

What on libertarian principle should be done when one ethnic group, African American, feels that it has been collectively wronged by another, non-immigrant whites, and due to slavery and segregation is now entitled to redistribution? Does your theory of justice make no room for social history? Why should the collectively disadvantaged group accept that theory?

My Response: edited for spelling.

Thanks for your comment, Professor.

First, regarding collective harm. In...

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Marriage Equality and Social Justice: How to Properly Distract Tax-Victims.

Suppose we define a word “tax” as the involuntary confiscation of another’s justly acquired property. Suppose further a world in which their are two classes of people: tax-collectors and tax-victims. Next, suppose that both tax-collectors and tax-victims desire to better their human condition, mainly by acquiring material wealth. Social Justice, Marriage Equality, and human welfare may be analyzed as follows.

Tax-collectors desire to obtain the property of their tax-victims. Rather than offer goods or services in exchange to voluntarily obtain the property of tax-victims, tax-collectors resort to tax-collecting (see the definition above). Tax-victims dislike losing their property to tax-collectors (see the benefits of accumulating property above). Thus, there is inherent conflict between tax-collectors and tax-victims, the latter fearing and resisting the actions of the former.


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Julie Borowski Does Not Want to Live in a Free Society.

Julie Borowski addresses why she isn’t an anarcho-capitalist in a June 12 post. She thinks that theorizing about how a private ownership society would work amounts to guesswork, that even minarchy is a dream, and that libertarian radical debate over things that don’t involve current events is “petty” and “unrealistic.” She ends her piece with a cop-out by appealing to a live and let live content creation philosophy (you do you, radicals). I respond below.

Some people who endorse limited government (minarchists) really dislike radicals who endorse abolishing government (anarchists). The minarchist rationale is never to find a fault in anarchist logic or philosophy. Borowski herself has “read [anarchist Murray] Rothbard” and she even thinks he “made a lot of sense.” But thorough, rigorous logic does not satisfy the ardent minarchist. To the minarchist, the anarchist position is only worth...

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Opinion Piece in College Newspaper: Eliminate Gender- and Ethnicity-Based Graduation Ceremonies

CSU East Bay’s newspaper The Pioneer published my op-ed, taking it upon themselves to insert an incorrect title. What follows is not a proposal to combine graduation ceremonies, but to eliminate all non merit-based graduation ceremonies, including those specifically reserved for LGBT people, Latinos, African-Americans, Whites, and so on.

CSU East Bay will host a total of five commencement ceremonies for 2015 graduates. The nature of these various ceremonies represents a catastrophic leap backwards in social progress.

Sadly, none of us is quite old enough to remember a time in America and in higher education in particular when success wasn’t color-coded and what mattered wasn’t between your legs or woven into your pigment.

In the real world, you don’t get brownie points for being Black, white, Mexican, gay, straight, male, or female. Glass ceilings are quietly shattered every day by...

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The Anti-Libertarian Republic: Austin Petersen Rejects Individualism

Austin Petersen was a guest on the Tom Woods Show on June 1, 2015. Viewed by many as a libertarian, Petersen’s statements are an affront to libertarianism properly considered as an application of the Non-Aggression Principle to human relations. I supplement Petersen’s statements with context and examples so that the reader may understand the true nature of libertarianism and learn of errors to avoid. I suggest listening to the interview, though this isn’t necessary.

Murray Rothbard wrote:

“It is no crime to be ignorant of economics … [b]ut it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.”

Likewise, it is no crime to be ignorant of libertarian political philosophy, but it is “totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion while remaining in this state of ignorance.”

Part 1: Theory


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Rothbardian Radicalism: A Critique of Softies in the War for Liberty

I’ve been trying to discern what distinguishes what I can only describe as soft libertarians–those bent on popularizing the liberty brand–from the hard-nosed, tough libertarians equally bent on denouncing the state at every possible turn. There are some characteristic differences: adherence to the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP), sensitivity to race and gender issues, even support of military intervention abroad. But none of the positions on these or other concepts holistically distinguish the softies from the hardcore. The very non-politically correct notion of dividing “the movement” toward freedom is important, if not popular. How can we expect others to understand us and our position on liberty versus statism if we ourselves do not?

In an article in the 1977 Libertarian Forum, recently re-posted to lewrockwell.com, Murray Rothbard juxtaposed “plonky conservatives and patriots” like...

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