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Memento Mori

The Lockbox ‘Vote’

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Some precise thoughts as America begins to cast its ballots for the 45th president of the United States:

-- It was German sociologist and political economist Franz Oppenheimer who offered that there are only two possible ways to garner wealth.


“They are work and robbery, one’s own labor and the forcible appropriation of the labor of others,” he reminded.

Which candidate is more likely to promote production? Which candidate is more likely to promote preying on the industry of others?

Which candidate will promote a return to prosperity through economic means? Which candidate will promise it through means political?

-- It was the great libertarian Murray Rothbard who, in a review of Albert Jay Nock’s seminal “Our Enemy the State” (first published in 1935), recounted Nock’s introduction of the vital libertarian concepts of “state power” and “social power.”

“‘Social power’ is people freely creating and voluntarily exchanging and interacting, and is responsible for Western prosperity and civilization. ‘State power’ is the age-old process by which force and theft combine to cripple and confiscate the fruits of social power.”

Which candidate is more likely to promote the kind of free exchange that sparks creativity and leads to intellectual and, thus, economic advancement? Which candidate is more likely to traduce freedom of creation and voluntary exchange as somehow “greedy” and not in the interest of the commonweal?

-- It was in 1973 that another great libertarian thinker, Walter E. Grinder, offered, in a reprint of the Nock classic, that “the State … is always a creature of pillage and plunder.”

Which candidate is more likely to stand athwart the pillagers and the plunderers? Which candidate will enable them? Which candidate has been one and likely will continue to be?


-- “It is unfortunately none too well understood that, just as the State has no money of its own, so it has no power of its own,” Nock wrote. “All the power it has is what society gives it, plus what it confiscates from time to time on one pretext or another; there is no other source from which State power can be drawn.

“Therefore every assumption of State power, whether by gift or seizure, leaves society with so much less power; there is never, nor can be, any strengthening of State power without a corresponding and roughly equivalent depletion of social power,” Nock said.

Which candidate will work to break the liberty-inimic mindset so pervasive in contemporary America that “The State” owes the populace a living? Which candidate will be the proverbial “little bit pregnant” and rationalize it?

Which candidate will continue to promote American dependence, all in the name of “beneficent government”?

Which candidate will accept, in word and in deed, that power truly rests in the people of a democratic republic? Which candidate will speak those same words but be exposed as a fraud in his or her deeds?

-- It was Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega Y Gassett who, nearly a century ago, spoke to “the gravest danger that today threatens civilization”:

“State intervention, the absorption of all spontaneous social effort by the State; that is to say, of spontaneous historical action, which, in the long run sustains, nourishes and impels human destinies.”


Which presidential candidate will nourish freedom and liberty? Which candidate will rationalize it? Which candidate will starve it through intervention after intervention to cover the lie of each preceding intervention?

Which candidate will repel that notion that individualism and independence are vices? Which candidate will continue to tout “The State” as virtuous?

None of this is leading to an endorsement of Hillary Clinton. Good grief, no. But it’s certainly no endorsement of Donald Trump, who, in myriad ways, represents a greater grief. But neither is what has preceded necessarily an indictment of them (though equally indictable each is).

For as Cassius reminded in “Julius Caesar, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves.”

We the People created, fertilized and cultivated the climate in which such flawed “leaders” were born, nurtured, promoted  and allowed to rise to such powerful positions in America. We the People are responsible.

Indeed, we can bleat and plaint, as the great curmudgeon H.L. Mencken did in 1926:

“If (the State) has taken on a vast mess of new duties and responsibilities; it has spread out its powers until they penetrate to every act of the citizen, however secret; it has begun to throw around its operations the high dignity and impeccability of a State religion; its agents become a separate and superior caste, with authority to bind and loose, and their thumbs in every pot. But it still remains, as it was in the beginning, the common enemy of well-disposed, industrious and decent men.”


But “The State” did not act, in and of itself; it had, and still has, its actors. And those actors were not enabled in a vacuum. They were enabled by a nation of sheeple either too lazy or too ignorant to stand for themselves for multiple generations, to think independently -- and critically --  and to say “Hell, no!”

A vote on Nov. 8 for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be a ballot cast for continued sheepledom. And that’s why this old contrarian will not vote for president this year.

And far from being a “wasted vote,” my fellow Americans, it will be the statement of a patriot who is mad as hell, won’t take it anymore -- and will keep his vote in a lockbox until someone truly worthy of the presidency, and this grand Republic, emerges.

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