After a meeting of the Society of Libertarian Entrepreneurs recently, I went to City Hall in Los Angeles to hang out with “the 99%” and talk about what’s wrong. Friend Aaron Brown introduced me to SoLE a few months ago at the Campaign For Liberty Book Club, and I decided to follow him to the protest site after our meeting.
I met a friend of Aaron’s named Nick who was handing out the End the Fed buttons, one of which is now pinned to my shirt. One woman took one and said “I’ll have to educate myself…” That was beautiful. I took a handful and offered them to a few people and some took one, but one guy told me he had a different take. He figures it would be better to nationalize the Fed than to end it.
“But don’t you think counterfeiting is a big part of the problem?” I aksed. He thought for a moment, it seemed, and answered with a definite “No.” Then he walked away. Quickly. I’m still puzzled about what that means. Is it ego? Is it fear of confrontation? Is it something uglier?
A few minutes before 2pm, the girl with a bullhorn who started chants every now and then started one. It starts like this: “Mike Check! Mike Check! Mike Check!” Then she says something in the bull horn and the chanters repeat it. This goes on through an announcement that we’ll have 99 seconds of silence to honor the importance of the event. Everyone complies. During the 99 seconds, I typed “But we have to keep the discussion alive!” into my phone and showed it to the people I was talking to.
I think they were union guys. One said there’d have to be revolution before they take Social Security away. The other said the order of things should be People, Government, Capital. I asked “Why not People, Capital, Government?” He said “Because we elect the government.” I answered that we pay more than half of what we earn to capital for the goods it produces (but with less eloquence than I have now). I forgot to point out that those payments are perfectly voluntary – that we make them to purchase goods and services that we really want, and that the rest of what we pay is taken from us ultimately by force (and illegally too, most of the time, if you care to read “The Federal Mafia” by Irwin Schiff), and often spent in ways we feel are immoral (war, assassination, indoctrination, etc.).
I explained “Regulatory Capture” and we ended up agreeing that the government is a powerful tool and that it is in the hands of the wrong people. The answer, the union guys agreed, was to change that – for the people to take that power out of the hands of the large businesses that are in bed with Congress. How to accomplish that, they agreed, was through protests, like the one we were attending. Unfortunately, my right brain was not active enough to display my passion for simply reducing that power to so low an amount that the big businesses will put more effort into pleasing their customers, and less into using government to bludgeon and abort new competition. But at least we agreed that the plutocracy is a big part of the problem.
Around 2:30, Aaron and Nick and a few other liberty activists ran an “Ask a Capitalist” program with a couple bullhorns, starting with an “End The Fed!” chant. One guy asked “What happens when we’ve ended the Fed and then gas prices go to $100/gallon? While driving home, I thought of what I think might be an effective way to deal with such questions. I was too late for that guy, but if any of you have the opportunity, here’s a good answer:
Once we have ended the Fed, if gas prices go to $100/gallon, I will reverse a lot of my positions and start looking for the errors in all the thinking I’ve done on the issue. What will YOU do if the price drops to $1 or fifty cents per gallon?
I met Chelene Nightingale, who ran for governor and supports the effort to end the Fed too, but my favorite person there was the only person actually exhibiting a capitalistic tendency — by selling delicious hot dogs or polish sausages or something. I bought one for $3 and enjoyed it a lot. She didn’t speak enough English to answer my question “How’s business?” But she still gave me lunch in return for something she valued more than the lunch.Published in