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VIA Assists Homeschooling and Distance Learning Students During COVID Lockdowns

In late July, the Voluntaryism in Action team launched our first fundraiser for one of our core causes: Education Initiatives.  For this education campaign, we focused on assisting families through the unprecedented difficulties the government created surrounding the COVID-19 debacle. As Frederic Bastiat famously wrote, politicians and unelected bureaucrats didn’t take into account the “unseen” consequences of their hasty and draconian decisions, which disproportionately affected low-income families who weren’t prepared to teach their children at home and who rely on the public school system to provide many school supplies. 

           

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 VIA was able to raise over $5,000 in direct donations for homeschool and distance-learning supplies for families in need.  With these funds, we directly helped 69 students in the United States equip themselves for their educational goals this school year.  In addition, we partnered with Kids Compassion Charity in Freetown, Sierra Leone by sending them cryptocurrency to pay for school supplies for local needy children.  We are also able to offer our first higher-education grant which will be awarded to the winner and runner-up of our essay contest, which will close on October 31.

This autumn, VIA was awarded a $4,500 grant from the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) to specifically assist the influx of new homeschooling families.  The dissemination of this aid is ongoing, and we continue to work with families directly to assess and supply their specific needs.  In addition to providing school supplies for homeschoolers, VIA also created resources for families new to homeschooling to help set them up for long-term success.

Even without any kind of crisis to exploit, the government and its associated bureaucrats make decisions all the time that do not take individual difficulties and needs into account.  Thanks to our generous donors, VIA was glad to step in and help.

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Rebuilding Small Businesses

2020 has been one hell of a year for small business owners. Already hurting from COVID-19 restrictions and mandates, small businesses across the United States were again hit hard during the riots that followed the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

Thanks to our donors, Voluntaryism in Action (VIA) raised close to $30k to aid small business owners in their cleanup and rebuilding efforts. Funds were sent directly to Emily’s Eatery, Midori’s Floating World Cafe, Coco & Family Beauty Supply, and Lake Street Stop n’ Shop of Minneapolis, as well as Top Cut Comics in Illinois and Marza Jewelers in Atlanta, Georgia.

I personally spoke with Anna, the owner of Emily’s Eatery, and she was so immensely grateful for the financial assistance we were able to offer. Although many members of her community had been volunteering in the cleanup effort, she had been getting nowhere with insurance.


We hope all of our followers and donors know what an incredible impact they have when they share our causes and become donors. Not only are you helping lift your fellow man, you’re also helping spread the message of voluntaryism and the love of liberty across the world. When people see us living our values, they are more likely to listen to our philosophy and consider our ideas viable.

Thanks again to our donors for assisting us with this successful campaign to rebuild small businesses. We couldn’t do what we do without your support!

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What are Natural Rights?

We’ve all heard of Rights: Equal Rights, Human Rights, and various types of political or social “rights” du jour. Amazingly, there are many people who have never heard the term “natural rights” before and don’t know what that means, or don’t have an accurate and clear understanding of what rights are because the term is so often misused. So what are natural rights?

Philosopher John Locke wrote extensively and passionately about natural rights, which include the right to life, liberty, and property. Locke asserted that these rights are inherent in our nature as humans. This means they cannot be given nor taken away by any governments, politicians, nor documents such as the Constitution of the United States or the Bill of Rights—we simply have them.

what are natural rights
“All mankind...being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions.” —John Locke

Other natural rights that stem from Locke’s trifecta include the right to self-defense, the right of free movement, the right of privacy, the rights to free and independent thought and speech…the list can go on and on. Essentially, the key to remember here is that a natural right is something that you have the power of choice and action over that does not use force or coercion on others. As Ayn Rand wrote in her book The Virtue of Selfishness: “Remember that rights are moral principles which define and protect a man’s freedom of action, but impose no obligations on other men.”

Right To Life

“All mankind…being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions.” —John Locke

By your own efforts, you have the right to work to obtain food, housing, and healthcare. Something that often gets muddled in discussions about this natural right is that some people think these things are owed to them by society. But something is not a true “right” if you use force or coercion to take the things you want and need from others, because that would be encroaching upon their natural rights.

You do not have the natural right to slave labor, which is what you are advocating for if you are demanding food, housing, healthcare, and other life-sustaining goods and services to be given to you for free. Ayn Rand put it this way: “No right can require the material implementation of that right by another man.”

Voluntary exchange and mutual cooperation ensure that everyone’s natural rights are respected, and the more the state can be kept out of transactions between consenting individuals the more freedom, prosperity, and higher quality of life everyone can enjoy.

Liberty

“I have no reason to suppose that he who would take away my liberty, would not when he had me in his power, take away everything else.” —John Locke

This is a word that some people often misuse in a similar way to the word “rights.” They talk about freedom from poverty, freedom from hunger, freedom from debt, etc. Others think of freedom as the license to do anything, without consequences. Both of these approaches are mistaken.

Poverty and hunger are the natural state of humans, and “freedom” from them makes as much sense as talking about freedom from youth or old age. Debt is something that is voluntarily undertaken, and to be “freed” from a debt voluntarily incurred is as silly as saying that you’re “free” from a restrictive piece of clothing you put on—true in a literal sense but not a philosophical one.

The “freedom” from the consequences of your actions is not freedom or liberty at all, because with that liberty you would be able to kill, steal, and enslave others with impunity—not liberty at all, but tyranny. Liberty can only be liberty if everyone possesses it, and so the only possible meaningful definition of liberty is that it is liberty from the interference of others—including the state.

Freedom from the state is important for the preservation of liberty and the other natural rights of individuals. This is what some of the Founding Fathers tried to guarantee with the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights, but as Lysander Spooner wrote: “The Constitution has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it.” Sadly, the only person who truly has the power to defend your personal liberty is yourself, and no government office can be relied upon to safeguard this treasure.

what are natural rights
The US Founders believed that every person had the same rights to life and liberty, and to pursue happiness--and these rights did not come from government.

Property Rights

“Every man has a property in his own person. This nobody has a right to, but himself.” —John Locke

Writer and economist Murray Rothbard has argued that all natural rights can be traced back to property rights alone: your body is considered your property, therefore you have the natural right to consume whatever you wish and move your body wherever you wish (so long as you respect the private property rights of others).

You have the natural right to preserve your body (your property) via self-defense. Owning property such as land gives you the means to provide life-sustaining food and shelter for yourself. The work of your body—physical and mental—can be traded with other people for property, including food and shelter.

Natural Rights and Voluntaryism

What does this have to do with voluntaryism? Voluntaryists believe in social and financial transactions based strictly on consent. This is completely in line with respecting the natural rights of others and ourselves.

The more you understand about natural rights, the clearer it becomes why we should assert them and defend them. A society free of force and coercion is a society firmly rooted in an understanding of natural rights, and a voluntaryist philosophy naturally and effortlessly follows.

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What is Voluntaryism?

Writer Auberon Herbert coined the term “voluntaryism” in the 19th century. A classical liberal philosopher and individualist, he was an advocate for individual liberty, private property, and voluntarily-funded government. He argued that government should never initiate force and should only be a vehicle for defending individual rights. In his essay “The Principles of Voluntaryism and Free Life,” he writes that in a voluntaryist society “the state employs force only to repel force—to protect the person and the property of the individual against force and fraud; under voluntaryism the state would defend the rights of liberty, never aggress upon them.”

Voluntaryism is a philosophy based on consent consistently applied in all human interactions. Consent—uncoerced, positive agreement—is an integral part of a society based on natural rights, including freedom of association, private property, and self-defense. This sounds great to most people when they first hear it, but some struggle when applying this consent-based philosophy in all social practices—perhaps especially when it comes to taxation.

what is voluntaryism
British writer and politician Auberon Hurbert

Voluntaryism rejects forced taxation as a valid mode of funding governments and their social programs because it is impossible, as things are currently organized, to obtain consent from each individual—not only in the appropriation of these funds, but also in the ways taxpayer dollars are used. Under taxation, pacifists are forced to fund war, vegans are forced to subsidize dairy farmers, pro-life advocates are forced to fund abortion providers, homeschoolers are forced to fund government schools they don’t use, and everyone is forced to pay the salaries of the unelected bureaucrats who administrate these operations. There are too many examples of conflicting interests to even list because individuals vary too much for central planning to accommodate everyone in a truly ethical way.

If at some point in the future we could individually opt-in to the government services and programs we wanted to pay for and opt-out of the ones we don’t like, and create what Herbert called a “Voluntary State,” that would be a different story! But for now, the voluntaryist philosophy states unequivocally that taxation is theft. What the money is used for, whether we like and use or benefit from the programs it funds or not, does not change this fact: that if you refuse to pay your taxes you will be robbed of property, forcibly jailed, and/or killed by the state. There is no consent, and it is not voluntary. The voluntaryist will assert that this kind of aggression and coercion against individuals is immoral. Force and aggression, according to voluntaryism, are only appropriately applied in self-defense of person and property.

VIA’s mission is to show the world that voluntary philanthropy is not only already extremely common, but much more efficient than government welfare programs (which divvy out pennies for every dollar they appropriate), as well as being the most moral way to provide charity. We reject the state’s use of coercion, force, and aggression—even when their gains are used to help the less fortunate. We are here to show the world that we can provide ethical, direct charity to individuals in need with the consent of all parties involved, through purely voluntary interactions.

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Voluntaryists Help Hundreds of Needy Children

Many families struggle to merely make ends meet during the holiday season and don’t have anything extra to buy gifts for their children. We at Voluntaryism in Action wanted to help as many children as possible have a magical holiday, so we launched our inaugural Jolly Voluntary Toy Drive. In record time, we were able to raise more than $5,000!

The VIA team reached out to our local communities as well as the VIA Community group on Facebook, and we found several individual families in need whom we were able to directly send gifts to for their children. We used the rest of the money to buy toys for Orchards Children’s Services, an organization that helps foster children find parents in Detroit and Flint Michigan. Once again, we at VIA were able to make a difference in people’s lives—thanks to our generous donors!