L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 219, April 14, 2003
AND YOU'RE WORKING FOR NO ONE BUT ME
AOPA AND DALEY
When an associate of mine who is a "private" pilot told me of the bulldozing of Chicago's "private" airfield, my first reaction was certainly not surprise, not with how Chicago government treats "private" gun ownership. It seemed perfectly appropriate considering Mayor Daley's attitude toward anything "private".
But the pictures at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association are remarkable: [link]
I then mentioned to him that it is too bad it's not private property, at least then the owner could prosecute the city. Being city property, I didn't think the pilots have much room to object.
"The expropriation of every airport and field that I know of", I continued, "by local governments, only reinforces my opinion of government in general."
He corrected me at this point. Every formerly-private airfield that he knows of was actually voluntarily given over to government ownership and control based on the private owners not being able to pay the bills to keep them open. He decried that it's a good thing that "government" stepped in to save these airfields and keep them open. This, it seems, is his reason for not being Libertarian: He likes his taxpayer subsidized airfields.
So the "private" pilots who got into bed with government to keep their favorite sport available at below-market prices are now upset that their lover is fickle. Awwwww... tisk tisk tisk.
Still, the pictures are amazing.
Curt Howland [Howland@Priss.com]
WHAT THE HELL ARE GUN OWNERS COMING TO? [TLE 218]
Some years ago I became self-(un)employed, building custom computer systems and doing network administration. When I began, custom hardware was the lions share of my revenue and the net admin an extra value service. I haven't built a system from the ground up for over six months and even then it was a special purpose machine to fill a unique need.
Part of the reason for this was the changing nature of the supply side of the market. Competition took the fat mark-up assemblers charged when computers were a niche market, and pared it down to a sliver that needed huge volume to cover any reasonable overhead. If you didn't have economy of scale or a market not served by the sellers of bundled systems it was time to look for a new source of income.
The other reason for changing the focus of my business was customers with the attitude of Mr. Martin. Everyone wanted me to shave the last nickle off the cost of their custom built system, but expected me to provide the hardware warranty and customer assistance of Gateway or Dell. Years of mainstream advertizing has convinced far too many people that they not only can get something for nothing, they are *entitled* to it even when the written warranty specifically states otherwise.
I tried selling my customers extended warranties for their inexpensive systems. Worse than "no go". Not one in fifty bought the warranty as an "add on" but over half of the people I tried to sell the extra coverage to, would later ask me to fix their broken system under the terms of the extended warranty they hadn't bought. They seemed to think that if any company was offering the level of service they desired, (or *any* customer was receiving it), they had a right to expect that level of service from whoever they actually bought from, regardless of the price they paid.
No Mr. Martin, the folks at Century aren't a bunch of sleazy nogoodnicks for refusing to go outside the written limits of their warranty to resolve your problems. They are a "cut rate" outfit serving the low end of their market and doing so at a profit. If your idea of shopping is nothing more than looking for the lowest price, no power on earth will keep you from getting burned no matter what product you're looking to buy. While I doubt that I will ever buy another firearm from Century, they provide valuable competition to the other wholesalers and I hope they are around for a long, long time.
Every piece of hardware I've purchased from Century was stamped as if their logo was "Century Arms International", (C.A.I.). Apparently the feds have done enough under the table arms deals that they're not comfortable with surplus guns stamped CIA being offered for sale.
I quite liked Fran Van Cleave's article about "Blacklist or Bias?". I have a few comments of my own, since I go to a lot of SF cons, and often, as a published writer, find myself going over other people's manuscripts.
Firstly, a lot of libertarian SF suffers from a bad case of too much influence from Ayn Rand. Now, my philosophical backbone is as Randite as it comes, but I am not blind to the woman's faults as a fiction writer. Her characters will stop the action for long speeches to drive home a philosophical point, to the point that a book with just the speeches in it is available. A common fault among any SF writers is the "infodump," or the "As you know, Bob" speech—Rand's influence on a beginning writer can exacerbate this fault, particularly in a novel written partly to advance a particular viewpoint. Open polemics will often turn readers off. Brian Daley's "Alacrity Fitzhugh/Hobart Floyt" trilogy handled its libertarian themes remarkably well, I thought—it's a shame his work isn't more widely known.
Secondly, a lot of times a libertarian writer will fall victim to the temptation of making his villains (all of them government bureaucrats or other familiar hate-objects) bumbling idiots. Admittedly, they often do make mistakes in real life, but overdoing this merely annoys and turns off a lot of readers who are not libertarians—and they are, like it or not, in the majority in the general SF market.
On a related note, making the Bad Guys conscious villains, snickering evilly about how "we will control-l-l everybody!" does not make for a good story, in most cases. (I've always thought that Dune, an admitted masterpiece, would have been a far better story had Baron Harkonnen not been loaded down with almost comic-book-level villainy, but instead had been portrayed as a decent, likable guy who was caught up in this feud with the Atreides through no fault of his own.)
There have been successfully published stories, and good stories, with both of the above flaws. However, for a beginning writer, competing against established pros, to lumber himself with flaws that aren't necessary is to accept an unnecessary handicap.
Eric Oppen [email@example.com]
Re: ATTENTION LIBERTARIAN WRITERS [TLE 216]
I've been catching up on some recent TLE issues & read your article about publishers. Have you looked into iUniverse.com? I purchased (through Amazon) a book from them and it was done very well. I don't know much (OK, anything) about the book business but their setup costs don't seem to be outrageous. Could be worth checking out, in any case.
Jeff Pitblado [firstname.lastname@example.org]
SUPPORT THE U.N., EH?
The Canadian government has always embraced the notion that they are morally superior to most governmental bodies, especially the United States. One recent example lays this fallacy to rest.
According to Scott Weinberg, of the Virginia-based Population Research Institute, during the 1990s, over 200,000 women in Peru were forcibly sterilized with the help of the UN Population Fund, to which the Canadian government has contributed millions of confiscated tax dollars.
This type of brutality makes me want to salute the flag—not!
Dave Maharaj [email@example.com]
REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE (NOT NIGERIAN!)
I wasn't sure where to submit this.
Every year, the local high school invites all the major (and minor) parties over to give a talk in one of their senior classes.
This year, I volunteered to help the local Libertarian Party representative give the talk. I am going to show the excellent "Philosophy of Liberty" flash presentation on my computer (they have a projector), as a starting point for discussion.
Since the "Liberty Flash" presentation is so dense (and goes pretty fast in places), I wanted to hand out a CD with the Liberty Flash on it. It turns out, though, that there is about 640 MB of data left on the CD, and it's a shame to leave it empty.
Therefore, I am collecting stuff to pack the CD. For example, I am including a couple of my own essays on liberty. "Anthem" by Ayn Rand is now public domain, so I have included that as well.
If any of you have any ideas to help introduce these young people to our philosophy, I'm interested. I am not getting paid for this, and the CD burning is all out of pocket. Therefore, I am not able to pay royalties to anyone—but I can definitely give proper credit for everything.
My current plan is to create a CD local HTML "site", with links to various internet sites, and local copies of whatever submissions I get.
The bad news, is that our presentation is April 24.
Any help would be appreciated!
Neil Alexander [firstname.lastname@example.org]
ON THE MORALITY OF SCAVENGING
I have noticed an unfortunate tendency among otherwise reasonable Libertarians to disparage to practice of scavenging or 'dumpster diving'. Those who engage in it are referred to as best as 'disgusting' and as worst as 'criminals'. Those who claim to be advocates of freedom would have this practice outlawed on a number of pretexts such as:
1. Some people look through trash in order to find documents with which to commit credit card fraud. However, there are already laws against fraud. Banning someone from going through the trash because they 'might' commit such a crime is precisely the same reasoning that is used to ban guns, because they 'might' be used to commit a crime.
2. People scavenging in the trash runs the risk of becoming injured or ill by doing so. However, people have the right to take what sort of risks they want with themselves.
3. I don't want people looking at my private garbage. However, your garbage is not private. Once you have taken an active step in abandoning your property, it is no longer yours. You have no more rights regarding it. Nor do you have any responsibilities, this is a good thing, otherwise you could find yourself liable if someone hurts themselves on the broken window of your old car that you towed to the junkyard five years ago.
The real reason people dislike scavengers, and one they will not admit to, is that they do not like to see someone getting something for nothing. It is a fact that on rare occassions, for very breif periods of time, measured in minutes, dumpster diving can pay nearly $5,000 an hour. However, people who are willing to perform distasteful tasks (such as prostitution) have always been well compensated for doing so.
One should bear in mind that what scavengers do not only benefits them, but also the people they scavenge from, for several reasons. We live on a finite planet, with a finite amount of land and resources. Every molecule of every object thrown in the trash is a molecule that somebody needed for something at one time, and that almost certainly will be needed by somebody else at some point in the future. Scavengers are a neccessity in our ecology, if they did not exist all the nutrients in the world would be tied up in the un-decaying bodies of creatures that died millions of years ago, making life impossible today. Large numbers of efficient scavengers working on several levels make life possible for greater numbers of other organisms by recycling organic molecules as fast as possible.
This process is beneficial to our economy as well. We need large amounts of materials to support our technological civilization. People who re-use old items decrease this demand, which lowers the price of new items for everyone else. Once an item is no longer usable, there are those who will sell it for scrap, increasing the amount of materials availiable for everyone.
This process has been going on for thousands of years, and has not been looked down on until very recently. Even in the Bible, there were poor people who 'gleaned' the fields of the rich of leftover grain that wasn't worth the bother to a rich landowner to go out and collect himself. And this was actually to the benefit of the farmer, by allowing these people to feed themselves rather than starve, it increased the number of people in a small tribe when there was a real problem with sufficient genetic diversity, and keeping the population large enough to fight off competing tribes.
Of course, your other alternative is to 'crack down' on those filthy dumpster divers, at the behest of the parasites working for the government, whom most people seem to prefer because they wear three peice suits and don't have dirty fingernails. In which case you will find yourself paying said parasites more taxes immediately for additional landfill space, which will only go up in price, since there is only a finite amount of land availiable for it. And in the long run, your grandchildren will most likely pay additional taxes for government programs to 'reclaim' all the materials buried in landfills, when we start running out of things like copper and plastic.
Free market scavengers or taxpayer subsidized garbage disposal and recycling. It's your choice.
Ann Morgan [email@example.com]
INTOLERANCE AND THE LIBERTARIAN MINDSET
Periodically, I read here in TLE and elsewhere how some people aren't pure enough to be Libertarians, that they have to take an all or nothing approach to the tao of our chosen beliefs. That is a lot of bullshit. That the system is broken is a given that most any citizen will readily admit. That the system is unfairly weighted in favor of Statism is also a given. That there is room for improvement here is obvious.
I'll be gawd-damned if I'll sit here behind my screen (which I have less time to do every day) and watch some Monday morning Libertarian call a guy out for a gunfight just because he disagrees with him. Disagreement is what Libertarianism is all about. Hell, if Neil became president tomorrow, I'd disagree with him on principle. Because I have the freedom to, Neil would defend my right to do so, and all of you peckerheads should too.
It's a shame that the only way some of these kids can get published in an Internet magazine is to make an outrageous statement, insult the guy (or girl) they're responding to, and create a tempest in a teapot. God knows Bob Heinlein got published without such histrionics.
I've watched the war for oil on TV, and it's maddening to see what's happening on both sides. Bush aggressed against an apparent tyrant, who had such a tight grip on his citizens they couldn't possibly beat him without help. Bush HAS killed innocent people, violating Iraq's national sovranty to do so. The so-called United Nations can't even agree to wipe their own butts, let alone state their disagreement with one voice. If you doubt for a minute that Saddam was a Hitler in training, then I am wasting my time with this letter. It's a big mess.
The unasked question should really be (unasked by everyone but Aaron Zelman) when will the UN take the USgov's WMD'S? Or my rifle? Or yours? My dad and I never agreed on a lot, but he had a saying that works better now than ever. "Keep your eye upon the donut, not upon the hole." Internecine fighting makes all of us weak, so agree to disagree and roll on. On a lighter note, I am happy to oblige anyone for a turn around the Field of Honor, paintball at 50 paces.
Jack Jerome [firstname.lastname@example.org]
POLL BASED DEMOCRACY
Re: Caleb Paul's article ("The War on Iraq: Hegemony or Freedom?") [TLE 217]
I believe as you do that democracy, while far better than any other system in existance, is basically a tyranny of the masses. However, you make the same mistake that many others have made concerning the war in Iraq. Politicians are not hired (elected) to then simply follow popular polls to decide what to do (Bill Clinton being the biggest exception to this). Politicians are hired because a majority of those that voted agreed (more or less) with the politicians stands and beliefs and the people feel comfortable with that person running things for them (I don't justify or condone any of this, simply setting context). In fact I believe that was one of the reasons Senators were originally chosen by state legislatures, to keep one part of the government relatively immune from "popular" influences. Now, if you really want to see a "Tyranny of the Masses" then just govern based on popular polls. Polling is to subject to "knee-jerk" effects and can be far too easily manipulated through using just the right questions to be of very much use as a tool to govern. This would create such a massive "Roller-Coaster Effect" that our current democratic tyranny would seem like heaven. Politicians that really are doing "what they believe in" should not pay any attention to polls, rather they should pay attention to the promises they made to their constituents and, in our system, to their oaths of office.
Once again, I am not supporting or condoning anything about our current system, that's not the purpose of my letter. I'm just saying that a poll driven democracy would be a terrible nightmare and polls are no good reason to criticize the decisions of a politician.
Bob Compono [email@example.com]
PAUL V BARNETT (ROUND 4)
I have enjoyed this debate about education with Mr Barnett, and I believe in many respects that there was something of a misunderstanding on my part. Still though, I think there are certain points I disagree with him on.
In a way, he is right that I am oversimplistic in my assessment of the dumbing down of education and that I ignored certain other factors, but I think one has to be careful not to read too much into these. It is true that the catchcry of learning disabilities and doping of kids is a solution used to suppress those who would rebel, but these can have as much to do with influences outside the school (such as factors in the home) as anything else (or at least one needs to do a fairly thorough study of it all). Also, I believe that ultimately, they're part of the greater problem, and not necessarily distinct from it, nor are they the cause of it per se. It's hard to say, but I think it's easy to get so distracted by these issues as to lose track of the main problem regarding the education itself. I'm not entirely sure as I don't know enough about all the evidence for either argument, so I am willing to concede this point to Mr Barnett.
I also take Mr Barnett's points about ethics. I don't think the state should be responsible for instilling ethics as such (and I thank him for pointing that out to me again), but I do think that ethics in the context of philosophy courses (such as one comparing, Aristotle, Mill, Locke, Kant, etc.), or perhaps in a broader context of critical thinking should be a part of learning. It's hard to argue this at all, since I don't think the state should be responsible for any education. However, if it were, I think critical thinking should be a part of education.
Then again, I think that would be particularly difficult, since inevitably, some sort of quasi-utilitarian/socialistic principles would be favoured. It's hard to imagine the education system taking an objective stance.
It takes me back to my final year of high school in English where we had to deal with an issue in the media. I did mine on the fact that the Australian government had buckled to Zionist pressure groups and denied a visa to an anti-semitic revisionist historian. My whole essay hinged on the fact that a) we should let him in on the grounds of free speech, and b) by banning him, we'd actually given him more attention anyway, since few people knew of him beforehand. Never the less, because I didn't tow the left wing, politically correct line, I got not only a pasting from the left wing English department (it must have been the only thing that was left wing in our school), but also the external markers. I am pretty sure it wasn't because of my skills and so on, because I got an A and two A pluses on my other pieces of work/exams.
So, maybe critical thinking shouldn't be taught. Then again though, is anything in the curriculum value free? Almost everything goes out the window if put under that spot light. I suppose that gets us neatly to the point that the state shouldn't be responsible for education.
Overall, I think I am in agreement with Mr Barnett, and his points have been well taken. However, there is one point I have problems with, and it seems like a point often towed by libertarians that I would like someone (anyone) to address for me.
Mr Barnett wrote: "But since today's generation of lower-class and middle-class parents are forced out of the home and back into the workplace and are unable to spend time with their children while instilling values into them, it's no wonder that kids have no appreciation for the value of their jobs they have, nor do they have respect for others."
Perhaps my experiences are just unusual. From when I was very young, both my parents (who at that point were not even comfortable) worked very hard. They put all of their efforts into paying a mortgage and private school fees. When I was twelve, my father started his own business, and it was nothing for him to work 80-100 hours a week. Thus, for most of my adolescence, I hardly saw him. My mother worked just as hard in her job and at home.
However, somehow, my parents always made time to go to school concerts, to help us with homework and assignments, and to spend time with us.
Whilst we didn't go on any flash holidays or have the latest fashions, my parents gave us more than most kids. (As an aside, perhaps the fact that parents have to work so hard is because they so desperately have to feed the consumeristic beast for a constant procession of useless, meaningless and obsolete goods. Just a thought.)
Looking back now, I don't know how my parents did it. They must have sacrificed all of themselves for us.
What stands out most in my mind is that somewhere in amongst all of that, my father, despite not having a formal education himself (although he is widely read), took a very active role in talking to me and my sister about things. Whilst this led to some very intense political and religious discussions (and still does), at the end of the day, we manage(d) to have a family where four radically different views on politics and religion all co-exist. I don't think that happened just by chance.
I thought that was the norm, but many of my friends, whose parents didn't work nearly as hard as my parents, were amazed that my father and I have always had such intense discussions. I can't understand how their parents didn't (and don't) have such discussions with them.
I think the whole claim put forward that parents don't have time to raise their kids because they are too busy working is rubbish. I'm not absolving the government here, but I think that's another point entirely. I think it's a big copout from a lot of parents who just don't put the time in with their kids because they are simply self-indulgent. I'm not ready to have kids any time soon. Aside from the minor detail of a lack of a partner, they would put a serious curb on my current lifestyle. If and when I do have them though, I will want to make sure that I'm committed. I think people need to weigh that up before they have kids. If you can't put 110% into your kids, don't have them. Don't blame others for your shortcomings though.
That having been said, I've looked forward to every installment in this debate and it's been enlightening. I agree with Mr Barnett that going for a free market system is the best solution to society's ills, and not just in education. I hope we can work towards that.
Caleb Paul [firstname.lastname@example.org]
FREEPAKISTAN NEWSLETTER # 1
FreePakistan exists for the promotion of Libertarian principles and values such as individual freedom, private property, market economy, limited constitutional government, and the rule of law. Its vision is a free and prosperous Pakistan; for only such a Pakistan can contribute positively to the creation of a free and prosperous world. To this end, FreePakistan not only highlights the activities of Libertarians in Pakistan, but also co-ordinates their work with that of Libertarians abroad.
FreePakistan welcome your comments and contributions
Edited and prepared by
TICK TICK TICK
Are you willing to sell your soul to the devil?
Have you ever glanced through Nostradamus? Particularly, Quatrain 24: "Beasts ferocious from hunger will swim across rivers: The greater part of the region will be against the Hister, The great one will cause it to be dragged in an iron cage, When the German child will observe nothing."
Have you ever glanced through the Bible? Particularly, Revelation 13:16-17, "And it puts under compulsion all persons, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free and the slaves, that they should give these a mark in their right hand or upon their forehead, and that nobody might be able to buy or sell except a person having the mark."
Have you been paying any attention to current events? Particularly, those cute little items, cunningly tucked away in our beloved GEheime STAat POlizei's (homeland "security") ludicrously-named "PATRIOT" Acts, ticking time bombs set to go off in 2005 and 2007: In 2005, you'll be required to register (and pay) for the Commercial Driver's Biometric Identity Card, a move cleverly positioned to act as a referendum on the 2007 requirement to have a micro-miniaturized computer chip implanted by your wrist, in order to legally drive a Commercial Vehicle.
If our erstwhile "defenders," the federal Gestapo, can ram this stinking abomination against liberty down the throats of the compliant sheep, then disarmament and genocide are a mere blink away. First the truck drivers, then the welfare mothers. Soon, you.
"I won't do it," you protest, "and that nobody might be able to buy or sell except a person having the mark." Really? Is your check direct-deposited? What are you going to do when "government," through the unconstitutional IRS, says, "You can't submit paperwork without the mark," or, "banks must accept only the mark as a legal I. D." After your entire life, now they ask that you prove you're a citizen to apply for a job. Next, you'll have to have the mark. Got a license, permit, or other "official" sanction? Not without the mark! Supermarkets and department stores will happily jump on the bandwagon: "sorry, not without the mark." Who ya gonna call?
Nostradamus was only one letter off about Hitler. You plan on waiting until the jackbooted, Nazi-helmeted, German machinegun-toting, masked "government" thugs demand you take the mark, or are you finally going to wake up to the fact that this ain't Kansas no more, Dorothy.
Historically, the most dangerous thing for any citizen is his own "government." The "governments" of Armenia, Cambodia, China, Guatemala, Jamaica, National Socialist Germany, Russia, Rwanda, South Africa, Turkey, Uganda, and Zimbabwe have happily murdered over one hundred seventy-one million of their own compliant citizens in the twentieth century alone. Does this bode well for you from, say, a statistical standpoint?
"I'll never let them do that to me, or my family!" Yeah, yeah, yeah, I heard the same baloney from the MOVE members in Philadelphia in 1985, from Randy Weaver in 1992, from David Koresh in 1993 and from poor Elian in 2000. Out of the bunch of them, both Randy and Elian are still alive—but not for "government's lack of trying! The only way to beat ever-growing "government" tyranny is the reasonable method espoused many moons ago by brilliant and practical Benjamin Franklin: "We must all hang together or most assuredly, we shall all hang separately!"
As much as its politically correct to bash the messengers, the "dead white guys," it in no way diminishes the truth of the message. Seeing as you're not to much on that "looking into the future" thing, kindly allow me to do a Jean Dixon for you: I'm going to bet that, just like pastor Martin Neimoller before you, you're simply going to wait until the grinning death's-heads show up at your tidy front door some fine morning—at about three A. M.—and cart you off to your new home in one of FEMA's many localized abodes before they ultimately decide to send you to the Amtrak repair facility in Indianapolis for "processing," but you'll be humored to realize that your final "shower" is being administered by U. N. troops from Germany before your final trip to the crematorium at Mount Franklin in Texas.
Everything's all prepared, including the unconstitutional "executive orders" -they're just waiting for you, but relax: we all know that thing like that can't happen in a civilized nation like (fill in the blank—choose from the list above)—in spite of the overwhelming weight of historical evidence to the contrary.
Unlike other revolutions, the Founders already had it made—but gave it all up for you. Do you deserve it?
My advice is to dust off your history book and look up king Leonidas— and learn how to say, "Molon Labe!"
Mike Straw [email@example.com]