L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 111, March 5, 2001
From: "Jeff Schwartz" <Schwartz@BitStorm.net>
>From: "Stephen Carville" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Considering the history of bugs in Microsoft products, the above makes perfect sense:
(1) There is some evidence to imply that the stuff was coded by programmers who were "CUI" (Coding Under the Influence)
(2) I suspect some folks at Microsoft are a wee bit worried that one to many "Blue Screens of Death" could lead an unbalanced individual to taking revenge.
(above all tongue-in-cheek...)
From: "Michael Curry"
Regarding the "non-libertarian faq" http://world.std.com/~mhuben/faq.html mentioned in TLE 110:
I've read this before, and was disgusted by most of it. Haven't had time to respond to it.
The faq contains the following blurb, which comprises the entire section on quotes by Ayn Rand:
First of all, how can the author be sure that she did pay her taxes? <grin>
Second, assuming that she did pay them, I'm sure that she paid her taxes because she understood, better than most people, the nature of the relationship between her and the state.
She paid her taxes for the same reason many (if not most) people do, not because they like to or agree with the purposes to which the taxes are put. She paid her taxes because she knew that if she refused, she was subject to loss of life, liberty, and property. And, given her notoriety and publicly stated positions, she was likely subject to enhanced scrutiny during any such 'enforcement.'
No amount of rationalization (See: http://world.std.com/~mhuben/faq.html#initiate) by the author of the 'non-libertarian faq' can change the nature of this relationship.
The proper question, which as far as I can see is avoided in the faq, is: When is it proper and moral to use (or threaten to use) force against free human beings? When they aren't forthcoming with their taxes? When they don't wear seatbelts? When they don't carry mandatory automobile insurance? When they don't have "driver's" licenses? When they spit on the sidewalk? Where do YOU draw the line?
The 'faq' is so full of half-truths and unexplored consequences, that it screams out for a paragraph-by-paragraph critique of the arguments presented therein. It would be useful to then post these critiques in a modified version of the faq, placed on one of our websites. If anyone who would like to contribute to such a project, please send me an email.
By using microwave LASER reflected off of windowpanes, noises inside
of houses can be heard clearly with the use of a receiver-decoder.
The windowpane acts as a tympanic membrane, resonating every sound,
said LASER beam dopplers as it is reflected back, emulating the
movement of the window. The Pentagon pipes white noise and Muzak
through their outward facing windows to countermeasure this, unlike
the rest of us saps who are vulnerable to this type of eavesdropping.
Is there any reason that the market could not address this? Couldn't some company arise that could mass-market devices that broadcast Muzak and white noise out of the windows of ordinary people? Are there any companies that make windows out of something other than glass? What about windows made out of something that doesn't conduct sound AND prevents people outside from being able to look inside? With all of this police-state activity going on you'd think that someone would devise a means of countering the snooping.
From: "Patrick Hall" <email@example.com>
I agree with much of your letter "Bad Kids", published in TLE issue #110, except for the quip concerning "illegal" immigrants.
First, "illegal" residents use social services at a much lower rate than the "legal" residents, as proven in numerous studies (check Reason.com, Free-Market.net or other websites for sources).
Also, in response to some arguements against "illegal" immigration, "illegal" residents do pay taxes, such as sales and property taxes, although often times they pay no income taxes (which doesn't bother me, after all, that's only less money for the government to waste).
In short, the only way you can make someone an "illegal" resident is to make it "illegal" for that person to enter in contracts with others. That is, it is (naturally) "illegal" for me to hire an "illegal" resident to do some landscaping around my building -- which is in violation of not only his property rights (his right to use his own labor as he sees fit, at mutually agreed wages), but my property rights also (my right to hire, or not hire, anyone I wish at mutually agreed wages).
Fine, if you don't like Mexicans, then don't eat at their restaurants.
From: "Michael Curry"
I found this after seeing an ad in Reason magazine, for an old book by Edgar Lee Masters, titled "Lincoln - The Man". After reading some of his essays, I fully intend on purchasing the above titled book.
After searching the web, I came across this. It's a bit long, but well worth the read.
In my opinion, it lays bare the deceptions and evasions used to justify what was, at the time of its writing (1904!), significant "departures" from prior understandings (call them usurpations) of the plain meaning of the Constitution. I have never read a more straightforward and compelling exploration of the logical fallacies of those who see the Constitution as providing limitless Federal power.
Remember, this was published in 1904!
Implied Powers and Imperialism
From: "JACK JEROME" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Just a quick note that someone more learned among your readers may want to expand on. Visitors to submarines, tanks, helicopters, and jet fighters are exceedingly rare under the best of circumstances. Now, due in no small part to a sad incident in the Pacific, they may now be unheard of.
By news reports, Americans have been inundated with the idea that civilians interfered with U.S. Navy crewmen operating an attack submarine, causing the death of Japanese students.
My gut feeling is that, although civilians may have been present at the time, this tragedy was due primarily to command negligence. Investigators for the Judge Advocate General will reveal this soon, I trust. This does give a great excuse to banish, possibly forever, civilian involvement in matters military.
Why the push to remove citizens out of the equation of matters military? Severely limiting non-military oversight of men and ordinance creates a discomforting precedent. Precedents that have occurred in formerly benign regimes resulting in loss of liberty and life.
Certainly all Libertarians would agree that the best defense is a good offense, but an independent military class without civilian involvement could be prelude to dictatorship.
There I go being paranoid again, but shouldn't we be more concerned with the loss of innocent life due to this accident, rather than affixing blame on citizens? I don't have answers, but the questions about this makes the hair on the back of my neck start to rise.
From: "James J Odle" <email@example.com>
There's a book being advertised at www.crashmaker.com that libertarians might want to take a look at. Here are a few excerpts from the promo:
Why You Want to Read This Book
I haven't read it myself but it looks damn interesting doesn't it?
From: "David Calderwood" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>From: "Dan Sanders" <email@example.com>
Here's my response to the author of the above website:
Your FAQ criticism of libertarianism is certainly is thorough ... Perhaps I missed it, but do you also have a line-by-line criticism of Public Choice theory? I'm curious, since Public Choice offers a pretty cohesive explanation of why, for example, if cars are produced by government they are expensive, small, and shoddy, whereas cars produced in a completive environment come much closer to meeting the customer's preferences. Public choice examines the incentives, and explains why everything the government does is apt to go awry.
It is the incentives that matter so much.
In your intro, you are spot on with the observations about various flavors of libertarianism. I'm of the opinion that minarchists have the least coherent view. That's always been my objection to Rand's concepts of government...they are internally inconsistent.
OTOH, I think the individualist anarchist view (often called anarcho-capitalism, though that's confusing a philosophy with an outcome) can be made at least as coherent as any philosophy espousing the necessity of government. Government centered philosophies inevitably suffer the evil-man, ambitious man problem. By definition, if men can choose evil, it will be those most power-hungry (and evil) who are most attracted to the halls of government. The corollary would be that Hitler, Stalin, and Mao would have been at most, petty criminals without the staff of government in hand.
While you've no doubt received much mail over the years, I will Cliff Notes mine with the notion that people don't like to be bossed around. They prefer to make the most of what they have, and follow individual paths toward their concept of as much happiness as is available. Since I don't see how a philosophy can be anything other than universal, I cannot adopt one that applied to some people and not others. Therefore some people cannot be a means to other people's ends against their will. Since people are born different (richer parents, poorer parents, smarter, faster, slower than others) outcomes will differ in the pursuit of happiness. I think history shows that high levels of autonomy result in a "raising of all boats."
Human interaction can be coercive or voluntary. (Nature's coercion is NOT the same thing, so suggesting that my natural requirement for food is justification for coercing another for his food surplus is absurd.) Suffice it to say that I think people are happier, and the opportunities to pursue happiness are maximized, when coercion is minimized. Since government is institutionalized coercion (give me a break...laws don't ask, they tell and attach penalties for non-compliance...that's hardly voluntary), it follows that minimizing it is beneficial. And since government follows the same survival dictates as any parasite, it will always grow. Hence, limited government is an oxymoron.
[BTW, to the extent that individuals have any say in the law making process, it is negligible. Elections are poor substitutes for the market in determining individual preferences...a prime example is surveys of investor bullishness; a survey asks people their opinion, but there is no trade-off in such a survey as there is in the real world. To discover the actual bullishness of investors, one has to consult a venue where the "participants" actually make economic choices between alternatives. You'd be shocked at how much the verbal surveys differ from asset allocation at a market timing mutual fund. Unless people are putting up a "bet" of some sort, the information yielded is meaningless, just like an election. Since the process for determining the direction of government is so shoddy, the outcomes from government can be no better...and aren't, in practice.]
To sum, I think it feasible that every necessary product of government can be done privately, which re-orders the incentives (no such thing as Sovereign Immunity, for instance! How's that for dis-incenting the egregious behavior of some cops, prosecutors, and other vermin). If coercion is to be minimized, it is through private organizations which lack the mysticism of government. Thus, to me, government is an unnecessary evil.
One small area did jump out at me...your restatement of a "world's smallest political quiz," socialist-style. In asking should "people help each other," you suggested the libertarian would still answer Yes. I would opine that a socialist or communitarian would readily add the word "compelled" to that statement, making it anathema to a libertarian. Therein appears the difference between us... You appear to think society is bettered by a fine network of rules dictating behavior in many spheres of human life. A libertarian would see the difference between performing a kindness freely vs. doing what is deemed right by those in power under duress.
And as to Social Contract ... I've read Rousseau ... and know what he means when he says that if the Prince requires you to lay down your life for his purposes, you are to do so without question. You may wish to live where the Social Contract is so ... I won't.
And as to slavery, capitalism hardly determined its existence. It was government that recognized the right in property of one man in another. This is philosophy, not economic organization. Capitalism is not philosophy. It is the economic system that results from the philosophy of private property, freedom of contract, and mutually voluntary exchange. It is quite clear that most of human existence has considered acceptable the notion of people being property. But I'd offer to you that pro-State philosophies are absolutely consistent with this notion. A slave is the use of one man as a means to another man's ends, without regard to the self ownership of the slave. When citizens are viewed as property of the state (and this is fairly explicit with Rousseau's Social Contract you seemed to espouse), the rulers are put in the position of using some people as means to benefit others (and inevitably themselves, the rulers, too). This is progressive taxation's central canon. It is the very heart of the Welfare State. It is the foundation for Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare.
Now I would suggest that slavery of this sort or that of the chattel variety is inconsistent with a defensible definition of What is a man? The definition of this construct is (and should be) the basis for what we should be willing to fight to the last bullet over. I am not a slave, and those who wish to make me one deserve resistance. (Like many other 'libertarians' I consider total taxation percentages to be a proxy for partial slavery...so when I work until May to pay off all the liens various government entities have placed against my produce and my property, during that period I am a slave. Monopolies only exist with the sanction of that greatest monopoly, government. As long as I have no choice from whom I purchase services monopolized by the state, I have no way of eliminating my payment for services neither used nor desired, or of determining the proper charges for the services I require. Proper pricing is impossible without a market to establish prices).
The long term history of man, in my view, is one of decreasing government and increasing autonomy. We've been in a period of back-sliding for over a century, but this too will pass. People progress by individual initiative and productivity, and it is natural for people to resent others who free-ride on their backs. When I see the millions of people in the US who've figured out how to live an acceptable life simply by parasitizing me and others like me, I desire badly to throw off their shackles and enjoy the entirety of the fruits of my labors. I produce less than I could, simply because the marginal benefit to me is so reduced due to that parasitism. I assure you I and millions like me will daily search for a way to keep that marginal benefit, and cut off the leeches. Technology will inevitably be our friend, given certain developments which occur as I write this. And as government is marginalized, mankind's lot will improve from any reasonable perspective. To believe otherwise is to discount fully the improvement in standard of living of the last millennium (since I cannot see any rational argument for attributing it to government).
Thank you for challenging me to defend my philosophical base. You may not agree, but I feel my arguments remain solid, based on observation, and remain a reasonable guide to my interpretation of the world around me. It is this interpretation that is the basis for human survival. If I see signs of an impending change for the worse in the US (which could happen at any time), I will move my family from out of harm's way. I will leave before they close the borders to military-age men (remember? Lincoln did that during the Civil War). Statism is a modern day religion. Many of your FAQ arguments are rationalizations for accepting its worst. Given the history of "its worst," I think there will be safer places to thrive, using the insights my philosophy yields. LOL