Tag Archives: World War II

Would you mind electrocuting this person real quick? Why People Support Overtaxation.

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

In July of 1961, Yale University psychiatrist Stanley Milgram began an experiment that ended with shocking results—literally! It is now simply known as the Milgram Experiment—his most famous work.

Stanley Milgram
Stanley Milgram

Milgram was troubled with the excuses provided by Nazis in the wake of World War II for the atrocities they had committed. Obviously, they engaged in overly heinous acts toward their fellow man, so horrid in nature it makes one wonder how Hitler got his followers to do them. Yet their responses to the question of why were often the same; they were just following orders.

Milgram was skeptical that people would do something at the direction of an authority figure that they would not in good conscience do on their own. He devised an experiment whereby he would instruct participants to shock other participants they would never meet who were located behind a wall. The shocker was real but was unaware that the shockee was an actor. This actor would fain pain by screaming in agony, and the intent was to see if the shocker would continue to shock the shockee solely because an authority figure told them to, regardless of how dangerous or painful it seemed to be for the person on the other side.

The video below shows what happened. If you’ve never heard of this experiment before, check it out. It is certainly a fascinating study into the human psyche with very surprising results. His experiment showed people were willing to do horrific things to one another if an authority figure told them it was OK to do so, confirming the idea that many Nazis were indeed telling the truth about their motives.

As I think about this experiment, I can’t help but draw what I believe is a very exact parallel to modern-day tax policies.

There were potentially a number of reasons Obama and many Democrats scored victories in the last election, but there can be no doubt that class envy was one of the common motivating factors. The “tax the rich” mantra was a winning campaign strategy, but let’s think about it deeper.

Bill Gates
Bill Gates

Imagine I put a random democrat-voter currently receiving or requesting government assistance in front of Bill Gates or Warren Buffett and asked them to perform one simple task: look Bill or Warren in the eye and explain fairly and logically why you think they owe you something. I suspect most of them would be speechless and embarrassed, I know I would. But then again, I have a conscience and I am a libertarian.

Some may be brazen enough to look Gates and Buffett in the eye and argue that they’re simply too rich and have no right to all that money, but most would know there’s no rational argument to present and would simply accept that any effort to make such an argument would show that they were the ones being greedy by demanding what someone else had worked for, Bill and Warren are merely wanting to control what they’ve earned after all.

I specify “control” versus “keep” because they often donate a lot of their earnings to charities. But, when they give their money away, they choose instead of government choosing for them, who gets what they worked so hard for, and risked so much to obtain.

However, if voters can hide behind the wall of government just like Milgram’s participants hid behind a wall, and an authority figure like a politician tells them it’s OK to harm the wealthiest among us, the Milgram Experiment mentality takes over and people who wouldn’t have the gumption to demand the earnings of someone else in person all of a sudden wave the “tax the rich” banner like it’s part of their religion. If Obama says it’s OK, it must be, right?

What’s the solution? I don’t rightly know. But the first step in fixing a problem is understanding it. I don’t know that too many people have applied Milgram’s findings to politics, but there is no doubt in my mind that this an “apples to apples” comparison. The answer to how we get people to begin to grasp the concept that they are cowardly asking government to do something they would likely never have the hubris to ask for themselves is elusive, and likely always will be.

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Si vis pacem, para bellum – If you wish for peace, prepare for war

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

Si vis pacem, para bellum – If you wish for peace, prepare for war

One of the traits often associated with libertarians is anti-war. I’ve always found this moniker somewhat odd, as I can’t think of anyone who is pro-war. There are merely those willing to fight for their rights, and those who feel there is always away to settle differences without war—you know—the people who have apparently never heard of Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Emperor Hirohito, et al. If you wish to argue Hussein doesn’t belong on that list, tell that to the people of Kuwait.

I understand that some will consider the 2003 Iraq war the result of a pro-war sentiment, but being the type who doesn’t believe complex conspiracy theories easily, I trust that the Coalition-of-the-willing who decided to re-engage Iraq in 2003 were reacting on what they believed was a real and imminent threat, as well as enforcing U.N. resolution 687, U.N. resolution 1441, etc.

The United Nations
The United Nations

Iraq had violated U.N. resolutions 16 times in total after being driven from Kuwait, which ultimately was the legal basis for going to war as noted here. The threat of WMD’s which turned out to be either Saddam Hussein’s own false bravado, or they were simply moved to Syria as reported by Saddam’s former Air Force general, was perceived to be real by all involved and I will not engage any other wild theories about why we removed Saddam from power.

When people say it was an illegal war and all nations who participated are guilty of war-crimes, I generally assume they are mired in Bush-hatred to the point of being delusional. I’m not necessarily condoning the war, but reasonable people must understand that hindsight is 20/20—had we known he wasn’t the threat he worked so hard to convince us he was, I have little doubt we would have continued to work towards peaceful resolutions with Hussein and focused our military efforts solely on Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

But that being said, if we’re not prepared to back up a surrender agreement and/or U.N. resolutions with military force, what is the point of accepting the agreement or enacting the resolution in the first place? If we’re going to allow someone to violate them 16+ times without repercussion, we are a paper tiger.

So about the size and scope of our military, I wish to make a few points.

  1. I believe it is foolhardy to assume that if we just left the world alone, no one would ever attack us. We tried avoiding war during World War II, but Japan attacked us anyway. We are a resource-rich nation with a lot worth stealing, and these resources and our rights are worth defending. Are we involved in too much? Absolutely. Should we be completely uninvolved? Absolutely not.
  2. If we understand point one, then we must have a system of defense. Every organism  has a defense mechanism, why shouldn’t we? I understand the idea of peace, love, and happiness, and I generally support it. But it’s hard to have peace, love, and happiness with people who want to kill you and/or take your stuff. To deny this, would be akin to arguing that every serial killer was simply misunderstood and likely provoked by their victims.
  3. If we are to have a system of defense, there’s not much point in having it if we refuse there’s ever a reason to use it. There must be a point at which you decide it is the best alternative, and reasonable people are always going to disagree on when that is. But for me, it’s when us or our allies’ are attacked or credibly threatened.
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan

So with all that in mind, I’d like to reiterate something I noted in my earlier post, Great Leaders Make Results, Not Excuses. While Reagan was often criticized for military spending, and was arguably the greatest builder of the U.S. Armed Forces, every successive president has placed our military in harm’s way more than Reagan did. So how is this?

It may seem counter-intuitive that a president hell-bent on maintaining the most powerful military in the world would rarely use them, but as most martial arts practitioners or gun owners already know, being trained to thwart any aggression against you doesn’t make you aggressive, it just makes you prepared.

For the benefit of those not alive during the Reagan era like I was, it’s hard to appreciate the overall feeling of the people at that time. We were in a cold war with Russia, and mutually assured destruction hung over us like a dark cloud that could send shivers down your spine just thinking about it. A real and rational fear of death was everywhere.

Don't Tread On MeBut one thing we understood was that if anyone dared attack us, the sleeping giant that was the United States would demonstrate the “Don’t Tread On Me” flag’s message with deadly consequences. Reagan was as affable as any president in modern history, but there was little doubt he would not hesitate to eliminate any threat against us.

For eight years, no one dared to attack us because of the threat of imminent death that would result. With the exception of Grenada, we were pretty keen to leave them alone too.

Andrei Arlovski
Andrei Arlovski

To illustrate this point, imagine you were walking down the street and ran into MMA fighter Andrei Arlovski, even if you hated the guy, you probably wouldn’t pick a fight with him. We all inherently understand the idea of not attacking someone we have little chance of defeating—it’s an example of our DNA’s self-preservation attribute. It’s for that reason that Peace-Through-Strength is the best chance for the safety of the United States.

So when should we attack? I wasn’t alive during Hitler’s reign, but my father was. One point he made to me was that after Hitler was defeated, the people of the allied nations had a collective belief that we could never let another Hitler be allowed to forcibly take over nations in a bid of world dominance. Hitler became more dangerous with every action we avoided taking against him.

Being the world’s last remaining super-power, on occasion, we may have to step in as we did for Kuwait in 1991 for the same reason. Had we not, Hussein surely would have become the Hitler of the middle east without stopping until someone had the courage to intervene as we did.

The United States is undoubtedly spread far too thin around the world. With the miracles of modern technology, we can cut spending by reducing troop levels yet increasing the capabilities of future weapons systems. But the best way to assure the safety of the United States and its allies, is to assure that we are so powerful, no one would dare mess with us.

I will never condone wasteful spending by any government agency, including the military, nor will I condone putting our military in places where we don’t ultimately need them, but I will never believe that reducing our government should involve reducing our military to a level that makes us vulnerable to defeat from an attack. If you truly want peace, you must prepare for war.