Author Archives: Robert Morris

About Robert Morris

Robert Morris Tweets @TheFederalGovt, posts video as the More Freedom Foundation, and has written a quick pamphlet on the drug war that can be found here.

Who is the Worst President Ever?

People like to argue over who the worst president ever was. Some say Bush, Some say Obama. This neglects some basic facts about where we are today, and how we got here. To find the roots you have to go 100 years back… to Woodrow Wilson…

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Jesus, Rome and the Founding Fathers

Some people spend a lot of time arguing for the “Christian” nature of our nation’s founding. They are missing the point. The Founders may have been “Christian” but their outlook was very, very Pagan…

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Why Hillary Clinton Should Not Be the Next US President

We must not let the Clintons take power again. Here is why…

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Iraq in 2014 IS Vietnam in 1975

Watching the news out of Iraq brings an obvious comparison to mind. History has repeated itself in disturbing detail. This video shows how…

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Why Humanitarian Intervention is Dumb…

“Spreading Freedom” and pre-emptive war have fallen out of fashion. That doesn’t mean that the Pentagon has run out of excuses to bomb people though. Under the guise of the “Responsibility to Protect” the Obama administration has toppled one government, and carried out military operations across Africa. Obama’s friendlier sounding interventions are just as dumb as Bush’s. Here’s why…

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Ask a Libertarian Part 1: Intro and Ayn Rand…

Whenever I describe my politics as Libertarian, I get a lot of ugly looks. People instantly make a lot of assumptions about what I believe, and then proceed to ask a lot of dumb questions. The attached video is the attempt of two Istanbul Libertarians to put some of those dumb questions to rest permanently. We believe that the Libertarian perspective is the only sane one to adopt on 21st century America, and we hope to make the case with this series of videos…

You can find a lot more videos from this perspective here

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How we are selling out the WTO

The US and the EU are currently working on the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. There is a lot to question about this trade deal and the negotiation process. What nobody is focusing on, however, is the message that this sends to the rest of the world, much of which has spent decades jumping through hoops to be part of the World Trade Organization. This video attempts to put the focus there…

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Washington, DC: Our Imperial Capital

Lately we’ve heard a lot about the DC Renaissance. After decades of decline it is now becoming a playground for the rich and over-educated. In the midst of the celebration, it is worth remembering that all of this wealth is built on exploitation and war. This video is our attempt to make this clear…

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European Expansion is a Good Thing

Over the past half decade or so the United States has invested 2 trillion dollars in state-building efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan without much in the way of success. The Europe has managed to do a much better job, and without making many defense contactors rich. Here’s How…

TRANSCRIPT:

Hey all, let’s talk a bit about Democracy in Europe. Almost Every term you use when you talk about politics can get you in to trouble…

“The Worst Thing about Europe is those damn liberal Socialists!”

“The Worst thing about The US is those heartless liberal Republicans!” see more…

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A half cheer for the European Union!

The European Union is of course a ridiculous, socialist, nanny state contraption. The thing is, Europeans love that sort of thing. It has also done us quite a favor. It’s been almost 70 years since Americans have had to die on European soil in large numbers. The latest in our series of videos on good news tries to tell this rarely told story…

TRANSCRIPT:

Ah, Europe. It has added so much to world culture. Germanic Music, British Humor, the French work ethic. There is one export however that has made more of an impression than any other. And that’s violence. Europeans have killed people for land, they’ve killed people for Religion, they’ve even done it for ideas. see more…

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Real talk about media bias

We hear a lot about media bias. CNN goes one way, Fox news goes the other, but there is a deeper bias that nobody really challenges. This video takes the lessons learned from living through a news event, and blows the lid off of the real media bias.

TRANSCRIPT:

Media bias, people talk about it a lot. Liberal Media Bias. The Conservative Media Empire.

Some see bias as a simple us versus them fight. But it’s not that simple.

In May and June of last year my walk home got a little weird. The events at Gezi park were one of the most extraordinary things I have ever experienced. I found myself getting very angry at the reporting though. Every story failed to capture the experience. It wasn’t just the obvious and shameful failure of the Turkish Media. Everything said internationally made me angry as well. It all seemed infuriatingly incomplete. see more…

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NATO and Ukraine Explained in 4 Minutes…

Over the past few months we have been hearing about that dastardly Vladimir Putin. An important fact is being ignored. He would never have invaded Ukraine without the excuse that US policy has been giving him for 25 years. This video delves into that ignored history, with a fair amount of swearing, and just a dash of assault…

You can find more videos like this by following @robbolaw on twitter.

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Is the last wave of US immigration really unprecedented?

Kind of. It is impossible to really understand immigration to the United States without looking at the history. This video lays out the truth about those who have come to start new lives in the United States.

More on the project can be found here

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What is the More Freedom Foundation?

This video describes a new kind of think tank. The internet has always had the potential to help truly independent voices to be heard. In some cases it certainly has. Too often though it seems to give the established institutions and viewpoints a larger megaphone.

Our theory is that there is an appetite for views that haven’t been approved by those institutions. Subscribe to see if that’s the case.

More on the project can be found here

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Dick Cheney isn’t the problem, we are

The New York Review of Books is currently running a series of articles on the authors of post- 9-11 US foreign policy.

It paints compelling portraits of the careers and the hubris of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. The articles are well written, but they are missing something important.

It is comforting to believe that the excesses of the war on terror are the work of just a few greedy and power-mad men. see more…

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FATCA: Most important law (you’ve never heard of)

FATCA is a crazy law that the United States Congress has decided to impose on the entire world. It comes into force in 2014. Basically we’re building a worldwide empire subject to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This video cuts through the BS and explains the law in the simplest terms possible.

200 years from now, when people look back and wonder how the US shifted from being a source of hope to being one of history’s shitty little empires, the implementation of this law may be one of the things they point to… just watch the video to learn the truth.

-Robert Morris

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What Russia has to teach the U.S. about foreign policy

Vladimir Putin: Not just a bear-riding dictator

Vladimir Putin: Not just a bear-riding dictator

Back before Edward Snowden kept us from invading Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin famously wrote an op-ed in the New York Times lecturing us on our foreign policy.

It was an amusing piece of propaganda, but it left the most important part of Russian practice out.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russian foreign policy has had one overarching theme, and that is respect for sovereignty.

If it’s not a country in Russia’s “near abroad” like Georgia, Russians are generally opposed to intervention. see more…

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10 Out of 10 Progressives Are 95% Wrong About Inequality

The population of the United States is only 4.4% of the world total.

The population of the United States is only 4.4% of the world total.

We’ve been hearing a lot about inequality lately. From Robert Reich to Russel Brand, our media streams are full of people denouncing its presence in the western world. This video has been particularly effective. The story that all these media are telling is real. There is real pain out there, and it should be documented. We should be grateful for their efforts. The answers these folks are proposing, however, are inadequate. The story seems to be that the one percent, and their foul corporations have banded together to use capitalism and ideology to crush the little guy. Capitalism has stopped working. If we could only go back to the mid 20th century with its vigorous labor movement, and more re-distributive government, we could make things good again. This story is incomplete, however, and therefore the solutions it presents are likely to fail.

Capitalism has not stopped working. Over the past ten years it may not have been working well for the majority of the people in the United States and Western Europe. What Capitalism has done for the rest of the world over the past decade, however, is a miracle. see more…

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The Last Word on Border Security

Some simple data that the Repubs and the Dems would really rather you were not aware of:

-Robert Morris

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Geeks and Hucksters: How we managed to kill innovation in the United States

Who Innovates?
Economist cover
This is a crucial question that more people should be asking. Clever people like Neal Stephenson, Peter Thiel, Tyler Cowen, and the editorial board of the Economist think that innovation is dying. Some of this is motivated by the “We were promised jetpacks!” resentments of baby boomers reaching a certain age, but they do have a point. Between 1900 and 1950 life was transformed. Airplanes, automobiles, electrification, washing machines and other technologies revolutionized home, work, and play. Other than the internet and telecoms, it is hard to point to any comparable changes since 1950. A number of theories have been floated to explain this, from the ridiculous one that there is nothing more to discover, to the more likely one that further discoveries may be harder. The worst suggestion is that the government somehow needs to do more. If only they would start funding more infrastructure, or come up with some grand plan like the moon shot, then we would start innovating again. None of these explanations are particularly satisfactory.

If you ask the question above, however, the problem becomes much simpler. Innovation requires two sorts of people. Politely, scientists and entrepreneurs, more informally geeks and hucksters. It is rare for these traits to be combined in a single person. When they are, that person tends to end up a household name like Edison or Jobs. Geekdom gets the respect it deserves. Scientific inquiry, pure and applied, is what gives us the technology that builds the future. Hucksters are less appreciated, which is a shame. It takes a visionary salesman to bring an innovation to the masses. Henry Ford would be the classic example. Automobiles were invented over a decade before he democratized them. As importantly, there were individual salespeople country-wide who brought this innovation forward. Another example would be VCRs. The technology was important, but the entrepreneurs throughout the country who were willing to set up video rental stores were vital. For innovation to occur you need a novelty, but you also need legions who are willing to take the risk of popularizing these novelties. You need geeks and hucksters.

These two classes of people are just as greedy as anyone else. A select few are really out to change the world, but most are willing to take a smaller degree of success if it is easier to come by. This makes sense, as the effort to truly create something new often ends in failure. Unfortunately, the United States has slowly built a system that increases the possibility of non-innovative success for both Geeks and Hucksters.

We have provided a sure thing to geeks in the state owned enterprise that is our financial industry. The financial and legal sectors have been sucking up our cognitive elites at an ever increasing pace for the past 20 years. A distressing amount of scientists and engineers end up in patent law. Our most promising mathematicians and computer scientists end up getting rich as spread-sheet jockeys in the hedge fund industry. The folks who should be dreaming up the future are making their millions and billions in pursuits with zero social value and a government guarantee.

Far worse, and far more extensive, is the system we have set up for hucksters. From the time of the New Deal forward the federal government slowly constructed a system that made the real estate market more and more secure. The mortgage interest income tax deduction has inflated the price of property, and given everyone an incentive to purchase that inflated asset. Quasi-governmental organizations like Fannie Mae and an alphabet soup of agencies like the FHA have insured, purchased, and guaranteed house loans, further driving up the price of these assets. This system has not guaranteed success, of course, but it has created millions of better bets than, say, funding some bicycle repairmen in their latest attempt at a flying machine. These policies laid out a shortcut to the American dream.

This shortcut has come with costs. There was the 2007-2008 financial crisis we are all still recovering from. There is the truly fantastical notion that 10 grand of drywall should be worth a million dollars. There is the creation of an underclass that cannot afford the inflated costs of housing.

But what if the highest cost is one we can’t see? What if the Henry Ford of the 1980s never appeared because he was too busy building subdivisions? What if all the salespeople who would have been willing to take a risk on the new got realtor’s licenses instead? How many people who could have been angel investors are instead paying mortgages on second homes? What if the woman who should have invented the flying car made all the money she wanted with equity derivatives?

As Robert Heinlein said: “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch”.

Robert Morris thinks he has all the answers. He has written at some length on the Drug War and US foreign policy more of his work can be found here

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Leadership: The Video

I think it puts him in appropriate company…

-Rob Morris

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How social media makes us all dumber: Calling bull$*!t on that heartwarming NYPD boots story

Creepy NYPD Flag

The actual, creepy, fascist-looking, official NYPD flag

The culture of social media is changing the world for the better in many ways. There is a flip side though. Established institutions are getting better at manipulating the stories that are told on social networks. Governments and corporations put significant time and money into crafting stories that they hope will go viral. Most of this effort is wasted. When it works though, the benefits for that organization are enormous.

The New York Police Department (NYPD) is the closest thing to a totalitarian organization you can find in the United States. 21st Century New York City is a theme park for the world’s rich. The NYPD is given 3.9 Billion dollars a year to keep the janitorial staff of that theme park in line. It may deserve some credit for the city’s fall in crime, but not as much credit as it is given. Crime is falling throughout the United States and it is doing so without the NYPD’s extreme and racist tactics. The NYPD is currently under fire for many of its practices. Its policy of stopping and frisking law-abiding pedestrians at random is currently being challenged in court because 87% of its victims are black or latino. The NYPD famously spent six years illegally spying on New York City’s Muslim community at the cost of millions of dollars, and failed to produce a single credible accusation of terrorism. Up until recently they were also using the stop and frisk program to arrest 50,000 people a year for marijuana possession, despite the fact that New York City de-criminalized possession in the 1970s (victims were forced to publicly display the marijuana, which is still illegal). The NYPD’s appearance in serious news lately has largely been due to fall out from one of these scandals.

What is it most known for this week though? How are people all over the country hearing about the NYPD for the first time?

The story goes like this: Larry DePrimo, a “handsome” young officer according to People Magazine, noticed a shoeless homeless man in Times Square on the night of November 14th. It was a “cold November” night according to the New York Times, and Officer DePrimo was inspired to go to the local shoe store and buy the man some boots. This spontaneous act of charity was spontaneously recorded by Jennifer Foster of Arizona, who was inspired to email her story to the NYPD. According to her interview on the Today Show, Ms. Foster did this because her father was a police officer who often provided winter boots to homeless people in Phoenix, Arizona.

Every element of this story strains credibility. New York City is a large, progressive Northeastern City with a well developed shelter and social services network. As inspiring as DePrimo’s choice to buy boots for this guy may be, it probably would have made more sense to get him to a shelter. DePrimo’s “heroism” may have wasted an opportunity to get this guy off the streets and into subsidized housing. This officer is also surprisingly sensitive to cold. The Huffington Post: “I had two pairs of wool winter socks and combat boots, and I was cold,” DePrimo said Wednesday”. The weather recorded at Laguardia on November 14th was a high of 59 and low of 39, which this Tri-state area native has always seen as T-shirt weather.

If this story is not the transparent publicity stunt it appears to me to be, allow me to apologize to DePrimo and Foster. If the story is completely true, they are better human beings than I could ever hope to be.

Even if the story proves not to be, its treatment is definitely bull$*!t. This “news” was “reported” on the NYPD Facebook page, which is essentially a 21st century press release. Its details have been repeated verbatim, presumably with little fact checking, by every major news outlet in the country. This would not have been a story before Facebook. The news is the fact that the picture is a viral sensation. That is the story, and the only thing that national outlets really have to verify.

Every story prominently and positively points to the NYPD brand, and most of them do so in the headline, producing more viral brand love for the NYPD. None of these stories point to the institution’s deeply troubling past and present. If nothing else, this story has proved the utility of Facebook pages for large organizations.

Rob Morris is suspicious of a lot of things. He is particularly suspicious of the Drug War and American Foreign Policy.

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The Republicans are the real socialists

Commie Romney

“The Republicans are a bunch of communists.“

For years, this statement has been my way of pointing out to people that my Libertarian beliefs place me to the right of Atilla the Hun. Lately though, I have realized that the statement is true.

With their full throated support of the military industrial and prison industrial complexes, the Republicans are the originators and protectors of all the cushiest government jobs in the country. The Democrats are of course 99% as bad as the Republicans are on these issues, but at least some of them, occasionally, try to find non-lethal ways to waste our tax dollars. You shouldn’t vote for any of them.

The Northrup Grumans and the Corrections Corporation of Americas of this world are the true welfare queens. You can put a Gingrich-ian gloss on it, and claim that these companies are in the private sector because they work for corporate structures, but you would be fooling yourself. If an entity makes all of its money selling things to the government, then it is functionally a branch of government. It might be easier to fire people than it is at the Department of Education, but the folks at the top of the DOE don’t take home tens of millions of dollars a year.

This is socialism in practice. Our defense industry is make-work on a scale that would make FDR blush. At least his Works Progress Administration didn’t do anything. Since 1989, our defense industry has worked tirelessly to make us less secure, and invent reasons to send our soldiers off to die in deserts. What the defense industry does to our soldiers, and Islamic weddings, the prison industry does to the rest of us. It turns poor pot smokers of color into violent criminals, and poor white people into the commandants of rape camps.

These industries have locked whole regions of our country into a culture of dependency. Munitions workers, prison workers and their representatives in congress continue to vote for these depraved policies. Anyone who looks honestly at the results of our war on drugs, and our absurd policy of militarizing the world, can see that their effects are malign, but these policies are too entrenched to stop. Too many good government jobs depend on them.

So yes, when Republicans say that we are in danger of becoming a socialist country, they are absolutely right. This process did not start four years ago, however, it has been going on for a lot longer, and both parties are its authors and (hopefully not) finishers. Let me leave you with a little Abraham Lincoln*

From Whence shall we expect the approach of danger? Shall some transatlantic giant step the earth and crush us at a blow? Never! All the Armies of Europe and Asia could not, by force, take a drink from the Ohio River or set a track on the Blue Ridge in the trial of a thousand years. If destruction be our lot, we ourselves must be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men, we will live forever, or die by suicide.

*Sadly I am not enough of a Lincolnologist to come by that quote honestly, all credit is due to Titus Andronicus, an awesome band, for making me aware of it.

Robert Morris has written at some length on US foreign policy and the drug war. His videos and writings can be found here.

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