Monthly Archives: March 2016

Murray Rothbard on Donald Trump

In a speech given in 1989 at the Libertarian Party convention, Murray Rothbard, the founder of the modern American Libertarian Movement, in discussing reaction to the sentencing  and income of Michael Milken, made the following comment about Donald Trump.

Rothbard quotes the New York Times as discussing the reaction of three famous individuals to the sentencing of Milken, and his $550 million/yr income: John Kenneth Galbraith, Donald J. Trump, and David Rockefeller. Galbraith, who made millions criticizing Capitalism, thought it was outrageous. Rockefeller opined that anyone who could make such an income showed a serious imbalance in our financial system.

When it came to Trump, Rothbard said, “The other was Donald J. Trump, of all the nerve, saying ‘You can be happy on less money than that.’ What gall, what chutzpah!”

All three observations elicited intense laughter from the audience.

-Paul Grad

Donald Trump and the Myth of Inciting to Riot

I noticed tonight that the political websites are full of talk of Donald Trump inciting violence, and his opponents in the Republican and Democratic political ranks seem to be universally jumping on the bandwagon, blaming him for the violence carried out by some of his supporters and the demonstrators themselves. In my previous blog post, I went into the reasons why disrupting his rallies is a property rights crime against both Trump and his rally attendee supporters.paul 19

As I said in my last post, I would not vote for Trump and would write-in Ron Paul first or vote for any decent Libertarian if the National Party ran one. (It looks like the Libertarian Party of Oregon will be choosing their own candidate independent of the National LP.) But the attacks on Trump tonight that seem to be pervading the political websites are based on the erroneous phenomenon of “inciting to riot”.

Inciting to riot implies that the people aggressing against property rights of others have had their wills taken over by another and are not responsible for their violent actions (and a physical assault is a property rights assault in Libertarian theory since your body is part of your property). “I was calm and collected, but so-and-so’s rhetoric was so overwhelming that I got carried away, and committed this murder or assault which I swear I would never ever normally commit, but something came over me and I was no longer in control of my actions. Blame Trump or whomever, Your Honor, don’t blame me.”

This is the universal cop-out of violent demonstrators. Of course they were responsible for their actions of violence. Of course they are the guilty ones and not the rabble-rouser who worked them up into a mouth-foaming frenzy of violence. The rabble-rouser, the demogogue who preaches hatred, may have a moral culpability for attempting to incite them to violence, but under America’s very liberal freedom of speech laws, he is not legally guilty. It is the person who carries out the violence who is the guilty party, and to believe in the validity of “inciting to riot” is to say that people who carry out acts of violence are not morally responsible for their crimes. This is an extremely dangerous idea, far more dangerous than the words of any demagogue.

That said, if a demagogue stood up, tried to work a crowd up enough to riot and carry out a pogrom against, say, Hispanics or Armenians by saying “Kill the Hispanics” or “Kill the Armenians”, both unfortunately completely legal under our liberal Freedom of Speech laws, and a mob descended on a string of Hispanic-owned or Armenian-owned stores, assaulting and murdering the occupants, and a Hispanic or Armenian in the area being attacked shot to death the speaker attempting to incite violence because he felt his life was threatened, and I was on a jury trying the shooter for murder, I would vote to acquit him, and perhaps even contribute to his legal defense. (Note however that it is illegal ¬†and not protected speech in America for a rabble-rouser to say to a mob “Kill Jorge Perez” or “Kill Arpad Avakian”.)

The best weapon against any demagogue who attempts “inciting to riot” is to economically boycott him and anyone who supports him for life. If he or she is a politician, vote against them. “Send them to Coventry”, as they say in England, forever.

-Paul Grad, Libertarian Party of Oregon Gubernatorial Nominee 2014

Why Trump Rally Protesters Are Property Rights Criminals

Though I would not vote for Donald Trump, and will probably have to write-in Ron Paul if the Libertarians don’t run someone decent, I believe the protesters who interrupt his rallies are committing a crime against both him and his supporters who attend those rallies.paul 19

The reason this is a crime was brilliantly explained by the radical Libertarian and founder of the Libertarian Party in America, Professor Murray Rothbard.

In an insightful analysis of why shouting “fire” in a crowded theater, or interrupting a speech or lecture with heckling, is a crime, Rothbard points out the real reason this is a crime, in contrast to the incorrect analysis by the U.S. Supreme Court which is usually glibly quoted by those discussing the crime.

Interrupting a speech, lecture, or concert, Rothbard argues, is a property rights crime (as are all crimes). The Crime is Contractual Fraud. Those attending the lecture or concert, by purchasing a ticket or merely attending a free lecture, have implicitly agreed to let the concert or lecture take place without interruption. If someone yells, “To Hell with Beethoven” in the concert hall in the middle of a performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, or starts heckling a lecturer or politician during a previously scheduled and announced lecture, they have violated the property rights of the ticket holders or attendees, who had the right to the quiet enjoyment of what they paid for when purchasing a ticket, or agreeing to attend the lecture or speech by their presence. The crime of a heckler or demonstrator is contractual fraud against all the attendees, who could reasonably expect to hear the event uninterrupted, the speaker or performer, and against the sponsor or promoter of the event. If the promoter of the event caused the disruption, he would be the criminal in the case. If an attendee causes the disruption, his property crime is against the ticket holders, the performer or speaker, the attendees, and the promoter of the event.

Note that this would not be the case if someone got up on a soapbox in the middle of a public street or a public park. Then there would be no crime in heckling or interrupting him, because no listener had a reasonable expectation of enjoying the speech without interruption, nor were any funds expended to hear the speech.

So the people who are interrupting the Trump rallies are Criminals who are violating the property rights of the attendees, Donald Trump, and anyone else who promoted the event. In my view, their punishment should be a fine equal to the cost of putting on the event, the time spent by the non-heckling attendees at a rate of the current minimum wage in that State times the length of the event, plus the time spent and cost of transportation for all the non-interrupting attendees at the rate of the minimum wage. Trump should sue the protesters for that amount, and the courts would be justified in giving that amount to him and to the non-interrupting attendees.

These protests will merely gather more sympathy and support for Trump and his campaign. The protesters are free to stage their own rallies, and vote for whomever they wish. Those protestors should not violate the property rights of Trump and his attendee supporters by assaulting the attendee’s implicit property rights in their courteous attendance at his rallies.

Note that the same reasoning applies to the Black Lives Matter interruption of Bernie Sanders, when he just folded, let them take over the stage and harangue the crowd, shamefully permitting them to violate the property rights of his attendees at that rally. But Senator Sanders obviously does not understand property rights the way Professor Rothbard did.

So whether you agree or disagree with Donald Trump, protesters should not make him a martyr by interrupting his speeches and aggressing against his property rights. If Americans correctly understood Property Rights Crimes, they would know why interrupting one of his rallies is a Crime.

-Paul Grad, Libertarian Party of Oregon Gubernatorial Nominee 2014