Ilana Mercer

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The rights to life, liberty and property were not meant to be subject to the vagaries of majority rule.

Ilana Mercer is a classical liberal writer, born in South Africa, and has lived in Israel, Canada and the United States. Mercer writes WorldNetDaily 's longest-standing, exclusive, paleolibertarian weekly column, “Return to Reason.” Her essays have appeared in Globe and Mail, Calgary Herald, Ottawa Citizen, Vancouver Sun, The Financial Post, Orange County Register, The American Spectator, the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and other venues. She is a fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies, an independent, non-profit, economic policy think tank.


  • From the fact that many libertarians believe that the state has no legitimacy, they arrive at the position that anything the state does is illegitimate. This is a logical confusion. Consider the murderer who happens on a scene of a rape while fleeing the law, saves the woman, and pounds the rapist. Is this good deed illegitimate because performed by a murderer?
  • Liberals retain a totemic attachment to the Freudian idea that traumatic toilet training is destiny.
  • In a free society, the ‘vision thing’ is left to private individuals; civil servants are kept on a tight leash, because free people understand that a ‘visionary’ bureaucrat is a voracious one and that the grander the government... the poorer and less free the people.
  • The only kind of marriage liberals had ever glorified is the gay kind. But thanks to Michael Schiavo, the sanctity of marriage is fast becoming a liberal sacrament, with the proviso it has to involve 'mercy killing.' It took Michael Schiavo's devoted efforts to starve and dehydrate his wife to restore liberal faith in the institution.
  • Adding an overarching tier of tyrants—the EU—to European governments has benefited Europeans as a second hangman enhances the health of a condemned man.
  • Our adventurous foreign policy might be a necessary precondition for Muslim aggression but it is far from a sufficient one.
  • The National Education Association is the al-Qaida of education.
  • The free flow of people across borders is not to be confused with the free flow of goods across borders. Free trade is a positive-sum game. Contrary to illegal immigration, it is always invited, consensual and hence mutually beneficial to the parties involved.
  • Antitrust laws ought to be deployed, not against business, but to bust this two-party monopoly, which subverts competition in government and rewards the colluding quislings with sinecures in perpetuity.
  • Gays have become colossal bores. Once interesting and iconoclastic, all they seem to crave nowadays is the State’s pension and seal of approval. They ought to go back to the days of the Stonewall Riots, when the police’s violations of privacy—and private property—were the object of their anger and activism.
  • According to the disease theory of delinquency, the arsonist has 'pyromania,' the thief 'kleptomania,’ and Bill Clinton is not promiscuous, but a ‘sex-addict.’
  • On the unfalsifiable theory of global warming:"Evidence that contradicts the global warming theory, climate kooks enlist as evidence for the correctness of their theory; every permutation in weather patterns—warm or cold—is said to be a consequence of that warming or proof of it.
    • "Reincarnation of the Reds,", December 29, 2006, The Colorado Springs Gazette, January 17, 2007, and The Orange County Register, "The Reds Have Become Greens," January 19, 2007.
  • Whatever open-border libertarians think about immigration law, once the immigration scofflaw steals, trespasses, or vandalizes private property, said alien is guilty of crimes. To say, moreover, that the state’s laws made masses of men and women commit such crimes is to voice the philosophy of determinism, not individualism.
  • Hollywood no longer offers entertainment. Instead, activism has replaced acting, and sermons have supplanted stories. Instead of a good yarn, you get a yawn.
  • Rights give rise to legal claims. Ultimately, the more rights animals are granted, the greater the legal lien exercised on their behalf against the liberty and property of people.
  • Like environmentalists, politicians generally privilege flora and fauna over folks. (NIMBYs excepted. Senator Edward Kennedy is a not-in-my-backyard environmentalist: he opposes wind farms in Nantucket Sound, offshore from his Hyannis Port compound.)
  • Profits and prices are the street signs of the economy. Only fools flout them. The much–maligned price system works not only to secure supply but to conserve.
  • Barack the boy was raised by his white maternal grandparents; his Kenyan father abandoned him. The qualities Americans appeared to find universally appealing in the ambitious, affable Obama—his confidence and calm, and his commitment to community and kin, education and excellence—these came from Kansas, not Kenya.
  • If for harming himself a man forfeits his freedom, then he was never free in the first place.
  • If women with the same skills as men were getting only 78 cents for every dollar a man earns, men would have long-since priced themselves out of the market.
  • The rights to life, liberty and property were not meant to be subject to the vagaries of majority rule.
  • Demonstrators for a government takeover of medicine have a right to discuss their demands, but no right to enact these demands. ... 'Rights, as our founding fathers conceived them, are not claims to economic goods, but freedoms of action.
  • Still – and for all Obama's heavy hinting to the contrary – Islam has no "human rights." The ideas of individual rights and the dignity of man are distinctly Western, an outgrowth of the Enlightenment. And while dialogue is dignified; dhimmitude is not, even if it achieves a desired, if temporary, effect.
  • By the standards of honest, if unorthodox, accounting, government workers don't pay taxes, but are paid out of taxes. In other words, they pay taxes out of money confiscated from taxpayers, who, in turn, pay taxes twice: on their own income and on the income of members of the bureaucracy. At the very least, this should disqualify state workers from voting."
  • There is no such thing as absolute free speech; there are only absolute rights of private property. Speech is circumscribed by private property rights. You may deliver a disquisition in my virtual or actual living room only if I permit you to so do.
  • From the fact that most Americans want others to fund or subsidize their healthcare, it does not follow that they have such a right. A need is not a right. A man's life, liberty and the products of his labor were not intended to be up for grabs by grubby, greedy majorities.
  • Liberty is not an aggregate social project. Every individual has rights. And rights give rise to obligations between all men, including those who are in power. That men band in a collective called 'government' doesn't give them license to violate individual rights.
  • The Democratic and Republican parties each operates as a necessary counterweight in a partnership designed to keep the pendulum of power swinging in perpetuity from the one set of colluding quislings to the other, and back.
  • Demographics need not be destiny. The waning West became what it is not by out-breeding the undeveloped world. We were once great not because of huge numbers, but due to human capital — people of superior ideas and abilities, capable of innovation, exploration, science, philosophy.
  • Quotas are a perfectly logical, if diabolical, extension of the regulation of private property courtesy of the Civil Rights Act, whereby in an attempt to shape American society in politically pleasing ways, people have been coerced into liking, hiring or renting against their will or better judgment.
  • The voluntary free market is a sacred extension of life itself. The free market—it has not been unfettered for a very long time—is really a spontaneously synchronized order comprising trillions upon trillions of voluntary acts that individuals perform in order to make a living. Introduce government force and coercion into this rhythm and you get life-threatening arrhythmia. Under increasing state control, this marketplace - this magic, organic agora - starts to splutter, and people suffer.
  • The end result of positively reinforcing bad behavior is that you get more of it. The culmination of a failure to punish predators is a debased, dissolute, slum-dog society in which, by legal decree, the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper.
  • The idea that the Founders were flawed, sinful men like you and me is current among a hefty majority of Americans, conservative too. It is wrong. Quite the reverse. The Founders are matchless today both morally and intellectually — their actions bespeak a willingness to forsake fortunes and risk lives for liberty, a concept and cause alien to contemporary Americans, who're, mostly, bereft of both the mental and moral gravitas necessary to grasp it.
  • The military is government. The military works like government; is financed like government, and sports many of the same inherent malignancies of government, chief of which is its liberalism. Like the government, the military is freighted with pathological political correctness.
  • In an effort to create reality on the ground - instead of reporting on it - the American media seem to color events by refracting them through a sickeningly sentimental prism.
  • Libya is a war of the womb. A product of the romantic minds of women — Samantha Power, Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice — who fantasize about an Arab awakening. It is estrogen-driven paternalism on steroids.
  • The titan is tired. We Americans have our own tyrants to tackle. We no longer want to defend to the death borders not our own—be they in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, wherever. And we don't need our friends looking to us to do so.
  • Like or dislike her, the British Queen is harmless. Her role is purely ceremonial. Conversely, life and death are in the hands of the monarch who sits in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
  • The United States has already passed on as the world’s economic leader. Having flouted Thomas Jefferson for too long, America has succumbed to public debt, the 'fore horse for oppression and despotism,' after which 'taxation will follow, and in its train wretchedness and oppression.
  • The prototypical WASP is flabby in body and mind. He is fearful and easily cowed. He erupts in tears at a drop of a hat. He is gripped by the culture of apology, and flagellates over sins he has not committed. His eternal state of expiation is driven not by goodness, but by insufferable self-righteousness.
  • Europeans have come to realize that adding an overarching tier of tyrants—the EU—to their own government has benefited them as a second hangman enhances the health of a condemned man.
  • From dwarf tossing to drug taking: The legislator has no place in voluntary exchanges between consenting adults, as dodgy and as dangerous as these might be.
  • A bully's universe: US foreign policy operates upon the premise that American men and matériel should be capable of reaching and controlling all corners of the world.
  • Cognitive consonance is what writing in the Age of the idiot is all about. The key to success in the scribbling profession is to strike the right balance of mediocrity in writing and thinking, which invariably entails echoing one of two party lines, poorly.
  • If regular visits with prostitutes kept the political class from launching trillion-dollar war- and welfare programs, and financing Fanny, Freddy and the Fed—I would personally contribute to a prostitution fund for Washington whores. The prostitutes would be the patriots.
  • ‘You didn't build that’ will be Obama's political epitaph: With these remarks, Obama has come out of the closet as a most odious collectivist, who believes religiously that government predation is a condition for production. Or, put simply, that the parasite created the host.
  • Hamas hides among unwitting civilians, who have no way of controlling its activities. This fact does not give Israel the right to kill innocent non-combatants, not even unintentionally. Besides, murder is not 'unintentional' when you know it is inevitable.
  • A right that can't be defended is a right in name only. If you cannot by law defend your life, you have no right to life. If you cannot defend your property, you have no right of private property. And if you cannot defend your liberty, you are not a free man. It follows that inherent in the idea of an inalienable right is the right to mount a vigorous defense of the same rights.
  • Most people would define treason as a betrayal of one's country or sovereign. In my book, the book of natural law, treason is properly defined as a betrayal of one's countrymen—and, in particular, the betrayal of the individual's right to life, liberty and property. (To your question, yes, this renders almost all politicians traitors by definition.)
  • A balanced-budget requirement implies is that government has the constitutional right to spend as much as it takes in; that government is permitted to waste however much revenue it can extract from wealth producers, and that the bums must merely bring into balance what was stolen (taxes) with what is squandered (spending).
  • The great Roman statesman Cicero observed that, 'Not to know what happened before one was born is to be always a child.' In our ignorance of the values that form part of our history and heritage, we Americans have become perpetual children.
  • The only time Republicans will shake fists and point fingers is over a war delayed, one that isn't led by the US, or a war waged without the necessary conviction (read collateral damage).
  • It would appear that the Keynesian faithful have foisted on free-market capitalists an unfalsifiable theory. Evidence that contradicts it, Keynesian kooks enlist as evidence for the correctness of their theory.
  • But public works, economic protectionism, cheap money, 'deficit-financed government spending,' and 'the animal spirits of the spendthrift' in the service of boosting 'consumption demand'... Doesn't Keynesianism simply appeal to the worst in human nature?
  • Distinguish we must between the right of the people the world over to be free and our obligation to free them. We have a solemn [negative] duty not to violate the rights of foreigners everywhere to life, liberty and property. But we have no duty to uphold their rights. Why? Because the ostensible upholding of the negative rights of the world's citizens involves compromising the negative liberties of Americans—our lives, our liberties and our livelihoods. A just government’s duty is to its own citizens first.
  • The military works like government; is financed like government, and sports the same inherent malignancies and perverse incentives of government, down to the racial-spoils system.
  • Our staggeringly pompous president is incapable of comprehending that a businessman cannot pay a worker in excess of his productivity and hope to stay solvent.
  • There are just too many Americans grubbing for free stuff and a preponderance of Republicans eager to parcel it out in exchange for power.
  • [M]embers of the media-monetary-military-congressional complex are immoral and have an allergy to the truth.
  • The Big-Media collective is slow, stupid and shackled by ideology. Reality must bite them before they'll recognize it, much less report it.
  • Prosperity and penury do not turn on gyno-centric and gay matters. But leftist statists and libertarians of the left place these wedge issues at the forefront of the fight for freedom. [...] Every bit as bad as liberals, "libertarian" political operators are prepared to shed political blood over any imagined sign of bigotry.
  • What is more obscene: the idea that one can apologize for the hubris and deceit that is Obama and his health care, or the actual need some have for an apology from an entity so evil that he would toy with the lives of millions as though they were insects and he God? This is hard to tell.
  • Certain bedrock principles — arguably a true conservative mindset — dictate a respect for life. A life-conserving sensibility means that guns are meant for self-defense, not for needless killing[…] This gun owner is no gun nut; but a right-to-self-defense fanatic.
  • A propagandized population has a hard time choosing worthy heroes. It is high time Americans celebrate the Anti-Federalists, for they were correct in predicting the fate of freedom after Philadelphia.
  • A crucial difference between lite libertarians and the Right kind is that to the former, the idea of liberty is propositional – a deracinated principle, unmoored from the realities of history, hierarchy, biology, tradition, culture, values. Conversely, the paleolibertarian grasps that ordered liberty has a civilizational dimension, stripped of which the libertarian non-aggression axiom, by which we all must live, cannot endure.
  • …free market is a market in which groups and individuals are differently represented. Parity in prosperity and performance between differently able individuals and groups can be achieved only by playing socialist leveler.
  • Christianity in our country is a lot like what the Ducksters profess. No longer doctrinaire or demanding, the mishmash of pop-religion practiced in churches across America is an extension of the therapeutic culture: festooned with feelings, mostly misdirected. Untempered by intelligent interpretation of scripture… American pop-theology: light on doctrine, heavy on hellfire and damnation.
  • In the rare event that the Supreme Court refuses to play along—there is always a perfectly legal, extra-constitutional, quasi-legislative, quasi-executive, quasi-judicial, 'independent' regulatory commission or executive agency to kill off or override constitutional protections.
  • The nice men in periwigs who came up with the Fourth Amendment were recklessly naive to imagine that branches of a government, each of whose power is enhanced when the power of the other branches grows, would serve to check one another.
  • Think of lab rats racing through a maze, when you watch the sub-intelligent, dual-panel 'dialogue' ... Each rat runs with a designated, neatly bifurcated (Republican or Democratic) political orthodoxy. Each is a 'maze-bright' rat, and not the possessor and giver of any truth.
  • As a Special-Forces commander, Sharon was on the front—and in front of his men — performing daring assaults that saved Israel in both the 1967 and 1973 wars. Hated though he was abroad, Sharon was, nevertheless, a soldier in the style of 'Stonewall' Jackson, not Dubya the Deserter, to whom he and the Likudniks were often compared.
  • If the Bill of Rights was intended to place strict limits on federal power and protect individual and locality from the national government—the 14th Amendment effectively defeated that purpose by placing the power to enforce the Bill of Rights in federal hands, where it was never intended to be.
  • Most matters previously subject to state jurisdiction have been pulled into the orbit of the judiciary. So much for Alexander Hamilton's promise, in Federalist No. 78 (May 28, 1788), that the Judiciary would be the weakest of the three branches of his proposed government.
  • … we’re not all the same. A common liberal refrain … is that differences between individuals are statistically more significant than those between cultural, ethnic, and racial groups. I don’t see why the fact of inter-individual differences would nullify inter-group variance. That’s liberal logic for you.
  • A silly society is a youth-obsessed society: To the Chinese, who appreciate the value of experience, the greater the ratio in a team of grey ‘hairs and no-hairs’ to ‘black hairs’—the faster and better a task will be completed. The opposite assumption obtains in the youth-obsessed U.S.

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