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51


L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 51, July 15, 1999

Letters to the Editor

by Our Readers

Send Letters to TLE@johntaylor.org


Letter from Sarah Thompson

Letter from Jay Hendon

Letter from Richard McGrath

Letter from Ralph S. Hoefelmeyer

Letter from David Lewis

Letter from Joe Roy



Letter from Sarah Thompson

John,

           Who is Terence Geoghegan and what is he doing writing for a libertarian publication?
           Mr. Geoghegan is apparently not satisfied with the fact that the "gummint" already believes it "owns" roughly half of everything I (or anyone else) produce. He thinks the "default" should be that the "gummint" owns my body even after I'm dead! No way!
           And what would our benevolent state do once it lays claim to everyone's body? Why tax the living even more so that it can pay for everyone to have the "right" to a government-paid organ transplant.
           The government has no duty to do anything to protect me, and it already has the "right" to murder me. Empowering it to profit from my death, and thus giving it a greater incentive to murder me, certainly would make me feel even less secure than I do now.
           Casey Lartigue, Jr. is correct. The solution to the shortage of organ donors is to allow people to sell their own organs and tissues, or to allow their next of kin to do so. Perhaps Mr. Geoghegan could even start, or donate to, a private charitable organization that raises funds to purchase organs from voluntary donors.
           I'm not heartless. I've asked more grieving families than I can count to donate the organs of their very recently deceased loved ones. My "pagan relgion" notwithstanding, I'm an organ donor myself, and am willing to donate my organs even if I'm not reimbursed.
           But does my body belong to the government? Absolutely not!

[...]

Best wishes,
Sarah

The Righter
Sarah Thompson, M.D.
http://www.therighter.com
righter@therighter.com

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Letter from Jay Hendon

[To L. Neil Smith]:

           Recently I used the Ask Jeeves search engine "what is collectivism". For some reason it provided a link to an article written by Vin Suprynowicz, but very little on collectivism. I linked to his page and from there and I struck a mother lode of libertarian links, including your page. I really enjoy and am edified by what both of you and Vin are doing and writing. I'm interested in both collectivism and libertarianism because I now call myself a libertarian but I know for a fact that for many years I was a collectivist.
           It's interesting to discover libertarianism after many years of being a Communist-sympathizing Euro-socialist American Liberal-Democrat. I sometimes think it must bear some resemblance to becoming sober after being in an alcoholic stupor for many years.
           I was Politically Correct long before I knew what that term meant. I was living in Palo Alto, California and got into a relationship with a woman who was a committed communist. One of her friends complimented me on being one of the most politically correct men she had ever met. I knew I was being paid a compliment, but didn't really know what the term meant - that was back in the 70's. This demonstrates that if you're brought up eating that brown stuff that comes out of a horse's ass you don't necessarily learn that its proper name is Horseshit. Of course I was full of Horseshit. I had been raised on Horseshit, all I was ever taught was Horseshit, and all I ever read was Horseshit.
           Growing up, I thought the American Revolution had only to do with King George III, Redcoats, Taxation, Paul Revere and The Colonies. I thought "Liberty" meant liberty FROM King George III and Redcoats and Taxation Without Representation, i.e. liberty was an historical event, some parts of which have somehow survived to the modern era. And I also dug Superman and Roy Rogers, both of whom, in their own way, always seemed in pursuit of Truth, Justice and The American Way. At some point it somehow seemed in line with that whole program to become a leftist in order to pursue those things which I had been told represented Truth, Justice (equality) and The American Way - like EQUALITY.
           It was not pleasant to wake up one morning - quite literally - and realize how full of Horseshit I was. But I had just moved about 100 miles away so at least I didn't have to explain all this to my former "comrades" - I just drifted away from them over time. And there was nothing to replace my old leftist dogma - I just became apolitical.
           One day while mindlessly channel-surfing, I happened across C-Span's coverage of a Libertarian Party Convention just as an interviewer asked a party presidential nominee "If elected, what is the first thing you would do?" To which the nominee responded "Abolish the IRS". This DEFINITELY got my attention. I started reading about libertarianism and I've considered myself a libertarian ever since.
           I recently became interested in the subject of collectivism as a political philosophy because it seems to me that collectivist thought has two features about it which could be very useful to libertarians: 1) although America is said to be "conceived in liberty", collectivism invades America's body politic like a cancer. The prognosis for the patient is in doubt. 2) Collectivism in it's many forms - Communism, Socialism, Fascism - is today a known evil and a demonstrated failure that has produced depression, decay, disaster and death all over our planet. We can now look back on the entire post W.W.II era as a demonstration of collectivism's failure. Only a decade ago we couldn't do that - it could still be considered debatable then (with the help of considerable denial).
           If libertarians can educate others about collectivism and its results, I believe this would overcome some natural resistance to libertarianism. The natural resistance I speak of is the "libertine", "self-centered", "selfish" responses to libertarianism. Or the fear of free-market capitalism (Would you prefer the Czar or the Commissar to the Capitalist, Madame?)
           When I first noticed that "collectivism" served as a nice one-for-three replacement for "Communist", "Socialist" and "Fascist", I was able to use it in a "new" way to do something which had previously failed. Previously if someone said something like "we must all put aside our individual desires for the sake of the common good", I might say "Oh, I see, then you are a communist I take it?" This would be dismissed almost out of hand as, if you will, a right-wing "knee-jerk" reaction to a "well intentioned" person making a "community effort". It comes across as name-calling and not as valid criticism.
           But then I tried substituting the word "collectivist" for "communist". And it worked. The person said "Collectivist? What do you mean?" I was able to give a small discourse on individualism and how individuals, pursuing their own self-interests, would allow those with common interests to form voluntary associations, or not, and avoid State coercion in the name of the "common good".
           Many libertarians and conservatives argue that the 2nd Amendment protects their natural or God-given right to self-defense. But I like to argue that I don't need the 2nd Amendment and I don't need God to give me that right. I argue that in order to support the act of men with guns taking my guns away from me at the point of guns (might makes right?) one has to be a collectivist. One must believe that either 1) they think I am a physical threat to them, in which case they need to take EVERYTHING away from me and lock me up, or 2) they think (as collectivists do) that they own me. If they think they own me and can simply take property away from me and deprive me of the right to defend myself, they are collectivists.
           SO - where I'm going with this is: it seems very useful to me for libertarians to amplify collectivism as a political philosophy and show how it operates, what arguments it uses, and what results it produces. Also, how it is totally the opposite of the Bill of Rights. By doing that we can deprive collectivism of its claim to moral superiority and/or being best for the "common good" and more easily show that libertarianism is the only anecdote.
           A woman once asked me why I was a libertarian. I asked her if she had seen Schindler's List. She said she had. I told her that Schindler's List was a great example of what history has shown all States become - given enough time - and that libertarianism is the only known anecdote. She rolled her eyes. I asked her if she knew that the Soviet Union under Stalin had killed even more people than Hitler had. She didn't. I asked her if she had read of Pol Pot's murderous regime. She hadn't. I asked her if she had any idea of how many Chinese had died during the reigns of Mao or Chiang Kai-shek. Well ..... sort of. I told her that all those regimes were collectivist governments and referred her to the Death by Government page http://www2.hawaii.edu/~rummel/ . She hasn't said much since then and I haven't pushed her on the matter, but she did make the comment recently that the Death by Government page "... was really an eye-opener."
           I think it would be productive to educate people about libertarianism by first educating them about collectivism. It seems entirely plausible to me that we either get one or the other - it's probably an artifact of the human condition - with collectivism being the default if no effort is made to substitute a libertarian form in its place.

In Liberty
Jay Hendon
Lake Oswego, Oregon
jhendon@hevanet.com

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Letter from Richard McGrath

Dear Mr Taylor

           I have just read the entire text of TLE #50 and would like to congratulate Neil Smith for writing some of the most wonderful, inspirational pieces that I have seen for a long time. Well done! I look forward to more of the same.

Richard McGrath
Medical practitioner and deputy leader of New Zealand's libertarian political party, Libertarianz

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Letter from Ralph S. Hoefelmeyer

Hello Terence,

           Regarding your recent note in the TLE#49 on organ donation, I must take exception with the idea that my organs are community property after my death. The dead meat belongs to my estate. If there is no compensation to my estate, then no one gets them. In our current society, after losing over 50% of my income to various taxes, licenses and fees, being badgered to donate time and even more money to "charities", and then being asked to give blood, I absolutely refuse to give anything more. Your idea of blackmailing those who will not participate in this communitarian hijacking of an estate's property is outrageous.
           Now, if we lived in a society where what I produce was not stolen for "the common good", I would be more amenable to your idea.

Cordially,
Ralph

Ralph S. Hoefelmeyer
ralph.hoefelmeyer@wcom.com

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Letter from David Lewis

Dear TLE Editor,

           Here is my humble submission. Print it in letters to the editor or as an article, or throw it away.
           Why do we not need the FDA? This is why: They now want to require warning labels on cartons of eggs. Similar to the "Surgeon General" warnings on cigarettes, they will careingly inform us that it is not safe to under-cook our eggs.
           This comes at a time when the incidence of poisoning from eggs has declined 44% due to SELF-IMPOSED regulations from the egg industry themselves.
           This concept that so many Americans have - many of them I know to be usually lovers of freedom - that the government has to protect us from certain dangers of capitalism (aka the free market; aka liberty) or nobody will is patently ridiculous and wrong-headed. It is well known, at least in the abstract, that government usually causes more problems with it's regulations than it solves - sometimes far more. But somehow intellectually knowing this fact doesn't always cause people to stop and think how it applies in real life situations - especially situations that cause them worry, such as they're families health.
           Do you really think that consumers would put up with buying infected and poisonous food products for long? Of course not! As has happened over and over again, a group of producers have got together and agreed to follow certain guidelines to insure the quality of their products. You want quality food? Then buy food that has the seal of approval of these organizations. You want low-cost food? That's available too. But you won't get the "seal of approval" and there may be more health risk.
           Both are available in a free marketplace. Neither are truly available in a marketplace where a bunch of bureaucrats on a committee have virtually absolute power in determining how they're going to "protect" your health. Ask yourself this: Who would you rather have protecting the health of you, your family, and your neighbors - people whose very livelihoods depend on providing you with a safe, quality product? Or, a bunch of bureaucratic civil servants who get paid whether they do a good job or not? Whose promotions and raises are not based on how many lives they saved this year but on how well they've kept up with their paperwork? Whose departments receive additional funding not when the number of deaths are lowered by the regulations they impose but rather are raised if the deaths go up?!? ("This is becoming a bigger problem - throw more money at it!") Bureaucrats who, when they act in the uncaring, lazy manner we've come to associate with almost all of their kind, cannot be touched by any civil (or criminal) legal action even if their actions constitute negligence and cause loss of life?
           I know which one I'd rather have in charge of protecting my food, how about you?
           Freedom works every time it's tried. Next time you can't see a solution to a problem, instead of assuming that the "government" has the answer, why don't you assume that the marketplace does? That free men can and will solve problems better than any government on earth has ever been able to?

David Lewis
dlewis@iname.com

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Letter from Joe Roy

           I am a long-time admirer of The Libertarian Enterprise. I've read every issue, and I always look forward to the next.
           When I saw the June 30 issue, I was shocked to read "Death of a Small City" by Michael W. Gallagher. What is this article doing in a libertarian publication? It isn't libertarian at all; it's textbook utilitarian.
           Nor is its utilitarianism hidden. Indeed, Mr. Gallagher states his position explicitly and succinctly: "I will be the first to admit that things like Section 8 were created for all of the best reasons. It was done with a sense of charity, and a desire to help people. However, intent matters not; results count."
           Any high-school-age libertarian could easily correct those last six words: "However, intent matters not; RIGHTS count."
           Under Section 8, the government is robbing productive people and giving some of the plunder to landlords. The landlords are receiving stolen property. Mr. Gallagher ignores these trespasses and implies that they would be acceptable if only they hadn't resulted in the decay of Norristown.
           Whenever I want to see immoral nonsense like this, I can read Jeremy Bentham; I am disgusted to see it taking up space in The Libertarian Enterprise.

Best wishes,
Joe Roy
joeroy@worldnet.att.net
Joe Roy & Co.
Speeches/Copywriting
The Peter Hoyt House
Wentworth, NH 03282
Telephone: 603-764-9099
Toll-free: 888-8-SPEECH
Fax: 603-764-9019

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