For those of you who did not watch President Obama’s State of the Union address, you can read a transcript here, as I have. I neither watched it nor the five earlier addresses he gave. And neither did I watch any of Bush’s State of the Union addresses. Actually, I have never wasted my time watching any president’s State of the Union address.

I have always loathed Obama for his radical associations, his life spent in the service of racial preference, his aberrant Christianity, and his belief in the redistribution of wealth. I loathed Obama when he was in the Senate for being one of the most radical left-wing Senators in history. And I have loathed him as president for his corporatism, warmongering, contempt for the Constitution, Obamacare, and expanding the welfare/warfare/national security/surveillance state. In fact, if you substitute Bushcare (the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003) for Obamacare, these are the same reasons I loathed George W. Bush.

This does not mean, however, that we should just dismiss outright all of the proposals Obama made in his State of the Union address—and especially those that relate to taxes.

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I had the opportunity to read an advance copy of my friend Jeffrey Tucker’s new book Bit by Bit: How P2P is Freeing the World, and I wanted to share thoughts on the book with you. As you may recall, Mr. Tucker is a long-time friend of LCC and his work was highlighted in Doug Stuart’s recent blog post as well. Here is my brief review on Amazon.com:

Jeffrey Tucker is a fantastic essayist whose work I have admired for nearly a decade. This latest book collects a number of his most excellent pieces over the past few years discussing how technology is enabling more and more liberty in the world. For example, the technological innovation of the Bitcoin system is easily one of the most exciting developments for freedom in the past few decades, and Mr. Tucker explains why in a concise yet erudite manner.

The essays in this piece are quite fun to read, but do lack a bit of cohesive flow over the course of the book. Overall, I recommend that one reads it one essay per sitting, taking a moment each time to reflect on the joy that Mr. Tucker builds into his work.

My favorite piece in the book is about how capitalism is ultimately an act of love and community. This unique take on something most of us take for granted is illuminating and exciting. I cannot recommend this single essay enough to you. Many of these pieces can be found online throughout the web and especially at Liberty.me. I recommend that all readers take a look at Mr. Tucker’s regularly updated blog there and continue learning from him.

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In this guest post LCC welcomes Matthew Gilliland, libertarian writer and speaker. He holds a J.D. from North Carolina Central University School of Law.

Jesus presents a considerable challenge to every believer in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 5:

29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell. (Matt. 5:29-30, NRSV)

On its face, Jesus seems to be suggesting self-mutilation, but that is easily dismissed. Hands and eyes do not choose. They have no agency. They cannot cause you to stumble. Rather, these evils arise from the depths of the human soul, which the Bible calls the heart (Matt. 15:19). Thankfully, through grace we are saved from the duty of cutting out our hearts; Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection to new life has atoned for our sin, so instead we may repent and turn away from our sin and be forgiven. We are not permanently broken, and can be fixed through His grace and favor.

This realization, however, leads us to implications for this passage that can potentially be far more uncomfortable for our daily lives. We are not broken systems. Some systems, however, are broken. Some systems cannot be redeemed – their evil is inherent to them and cannot be excised.

As an example, take prostitution. The job requires fornication, which is sinful. One cannot go about the task of prostitution in a way that is consistent with Christianity, and so if a prostitute is or becomes a Christian, the Biblical prescription would be for him or her to tear that out of their life and throw it away. This is fairly uncontroversial.

But what of the soldier? Most Christians think of the military as an honorable job, and yet there has been no war in history in which a side did not do things that were both sanctioned or sinful. The funding mechanism for war, even in cases of defense against aggressors, is theft. “Collateral damage” is commonplace, and the Christian Right has been quick to justify killing – at least the killing of God’s Own U.S. Military – broadly and with little exception.

The clear conclusion is that this is a broken system. There is no cleansing available to something that involves sin as part of its design. There is no reform available to such institutions. Repentance requires a turning away from the sinful behavior, and in an institution that is built on the sin, that is not possible. This is the sense in which outside influences can “cause” one to stumble. One is still responsible for the choice of engaging with those influences, and turning away from them means cutting them out of one’s life. If your job necessarily causes you to stumble – even a high-paying, comfortable job, or a job others respect you for and think is honorable – tear it away from you.

This also applies to the State as a whole. As Nietzsche said, “The state lies in all the tongues of good and evil; and whatever it says it lies; and whatever it has it has stolen. Everything in it is false; it bites with stolen teeth, and bites often. It is false down to its bowels.” Christians can only serve one master, and in a choice between the State and Christ, one hopes the decision should be easy.

Many early Christians seem to have taken this view. Laurence Vance, in an excellent discussion of The Early Christian Attitude Towards War by C. John Cadoux, notes that the Didascalia (a collection of instructions for church leaders) cautioned against accepting money for the church from executioners, some politicians, killers, and “soldiers who behave unrightously.” Cadoux also cites, among others, the early theologians Tertullian and Origen, who believed military service to be incompatible with Christianity.

If we zoom out for a moment to get some perspective, we can see that this viewpoint is a more consistent application of Scripture to a world marred by sin. All Christians know that murder and theft are wrong. Libertarian Christians simply understand that this also applies to what others excuse as “preventive war” or “progressive taxation.”

That can be a hard truth to swallow.

Take a look at your life. Is any job, habit, or hobby you engage in something that you cannot do without sinning? Are you able to go to the bar without drinking to excess? Can you serve God while fulfilling your contract with your boss? If the answer is no, then cut that thing away from you. It doesn’t matter if it is a “normal” thing, like having a few extra drinks, or even something admired and glorified by society, such as being a cop, Marine, or politician. Look at it. Can you do that without sin?

Here is where the rubber meets the road. As Christians, we are responsible for what we know to be right and wrong. When we receive revelation that something you once thought was right is actually sinful (and this happens to the best of us!), we will have to choose. Will we go with what is easy, normal, and traditional, or will we follow Christ?

This passage is part of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is preaching something radical; he is taking the commands of the Torah, and reading into it something beyond a mere adherence to rules. Turning one’s cheek, loving one’s neighbor, and returning blessing for insult are not natural behaviors for sinful people. They require a true change of heart and a firm commitment to cling to Christ even when it isn’t comfortable.

If we heed this admonition, then we may be mocked by the world. Where evil is normal, a righteous man is really, really weird. We could even be accused of evil ourselves — those who have stood for peace have often been targets of those promoting war. If that happens, remember Jesus’ promise earlier in the chapter: “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matt. 5:11-12)

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The past 100 years of mostly free markets have witnessed unprecedented advances that allow millions to enjoy life in ways our ancestors could not fathom. From communications to transportation, we live in a world with much greater potential than ever before.

Take our smart phones, for example. My wife and I listen to any lecture, talk show, audiobook, or genre of music we can think of, anywhere and anytime. We video chat with friends in Japan. We capture video of our children playing in the snow and immediately display the video on our TV before they’ve taken off their snow clothes. My wife virtually runs her business from her iPhone!

We learned to lay and grout tile, install and trim doorways, caulk stairs, and properly paint our basement.  All for free.

Even things like microwaves, lawnmowers, refrigerators, automobiles, or anything digital are plentiful for even the poorest in many countries. Take anything that is electric, powered, or even plastic, and it was not even invented when the Declaration of Independence was signed. Welcome to the Jetsons World.

Most of us delight in the benefits of technology. Yet for all the luxury around us, there is often a lack of excellence in goods that have been around for much longer. We can video chat with somebody around the world, but bandages won’t stick to our skin. We have constant weather information at our fingertips, but our washed clothes are still dirty. Fuel containers spill everywhere despite newfangled engineering “improvements.” Wiper fluid is hardly better than water. Mowers and trimmers take forever to start. And most importantly, our showers are no longer satisfying!

Until I started reading Jeffrey Tucker, these mildly annoying features of my day were, as they say, “the way things are.” But Tucker has a knack for recognizing and writing about the little evils spawned from the government that makes our lives a little (sometimes a lot) less pleasurable. I call them “little evils” because few people care enough to notice. There are no activists lobbying the government to reverse the cause.

When ignorance is bliss, knowledge like this can feel like hell.

I first learned about my shower head. Then I learned my “hot” water isn’t above a temperature suitable for killing bacteria! Next I discovered that my clothes and dishes aren’t really clean because the active ingredient in detergents has been removed! My kids learned that their bandages won’t stay on for longer than a few hours because the government regulated away effective adhesive glue. Most recently I learned how windshield wiper fluid is diluted.

For me, the worst are those new gas cans that have only one opening, for both ventilation and pouring. Why only one? As expected, it’s all in the name of safety and environmental concerns. Trouble is, I’ve spilled more gasoline in the short span of time I’ve owned the new can than with all of my other containers combined! To top it off, nobody I know has said anything good about these gas cans! Wait, no, there is one. A pilot I know who relishes that he can completely turn his can upside down without holding it while he fills his Piper Cub. Well, at least we can thank the government for fixing that problem!

Egregious or not, this occurs because government bureaucrats want to regulate our lives into despair. It’s why the cliché, “They don’t make ‘em like they used to” rings true. What is most troubling is that the source to these problems is so opaque. Most people just shrug and move on.

What are we to do? Thankfully, Jeffrey Tucker has, of course, given us the necessary ammunition to fight back against the state’s insistence on making my life a little worse off every day: hack your shower head, tweak your hot water heater, and stock up on soon-to-be-banned items.

Here’s the big list. This is worth reading. And sharing.

If you are unconvinced by how important this is, ask yourself, “When was the last time I enjoyed a really good, hot shower?”

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“The real glory is being knocked to your knees and then coming back. That’s real glory. That’s the essence of it.” – Vince Lombardi

Many of life’s lessons can be learned while playing football. My son’s youth football league, for example, enforces rules to manufacture more “competitive” games. When a team is behind by more than four touchdowns it automatically begins all its offensive possessions from its opponent’s 40 yard line. To ease matters, the clock is also run continuously to shorten the game. Finally, if a team wins by more than 43 points, its head coach is suspended for a game.

Supporters might argue that these rules teach sportsmanship. Such sportsmanship, however, is involuntary – it is made compulsory by directive. Knute Rockne, Notre Dame’s legendary head coach, once remarked, “One man practicing sportsmanship is better than a hundred men teaching it.” Players only learn sportsmanship and compassion when they choose to practice leniency against a defeated opponent. Read More→

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