THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 383, September 3, 2006
"It's the end of the 8000-year Age of Authority."
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Lady Liberty's fine essay "Ready, Set. . ." contained this very interesting passage:
"Hard work, it seems, and improvements aren't enough for this fellow. No, he wants there to be a 360 degree turnaround, and he wants it now."
Let me please point out that turning 360 degrees would take one full circle, and leave one headed in exactly the same direction. Since looking around is never a bad idea in considering possible actions, it is my view that what would be wanted is more like a 900-degree turn, as some snowboarders and skateboard enthusiasts have tried to teach me, with the result of facing the other way and getting toward the reduction of all the bad we've got before us now.
Really, any odd multiple of 180 works great. The even multiples are not so good.
Having more than a passing familiarity with the decrepit old man who wrote the letter mentioned in Lady Liberty's column, let me point out that he's badly misunderstood. Hard work is a positive value to him, and any improvements are a blessing.
However, in an earnest discussion of strategy with a fellow hard-working, condition-improving person, it was my intention to suggest ideas such as:
(a) traveling less swiftly towards evil is not as good as turning around;
(b) incrementalists are often pointed to by the enemies of freedom as indicating that mainstream views are for some restrictions, and therefore one may safely dismiss us free market extremists;
(c) thesis-antithesis-synthesis suggests that taking an extreme position is more likely to result in a shift toward a workable moderation than taking a very mild one;
(d) everyone has choices to take, some of which are more effective than others;
(e) truly effective writers are a rare blessing, and Lady Liberty is one of these, so seeing her great abilities put to more effective use would be a great treasure;
(f) as we are about to see violent rebellions and brutal repression resulting in vast rivers of blood being shed here, in our country, near our homes, while our children look upon these events with their own eyes, it might be well to share some thoughts on why some of us choose to act as we do while we are yet free to do so.
It remains my regret that in my candid letters and essays, I have been unable to convey any of these ideas, however fervently it has been my wish to do so.
Happily, something has come up which promises to take me away from writing for some weeks to years. While my desire to express my thoughts now and again may overwhelm my other drive to fulfill my duties, the good news is that the working conditions won't allow nearly as much output. The truly happy news is the nature of this project, into which I now expect to disappear.
Those of you not familiar with Media Net might like a peek at the future promise it holds. If so, the best thing to do is find a copy of Neal Stephenson's book on the subject.
Welcome to another episode of. . . Libertarians eating their own!
> I would warn only of this: Men bury themselves with their
The discussion between Dennis Wilson and E.J. Totty sounds like arguments I sometimes find myself inthe argument gets heated, but when you go back to basicsit turns out both sides are saying the same thing with slightly different emphases.
Being a rather under edumacated, slap dash, catch as cat can lefty Libertarian, I find myself bristling in sympathy every time some one gets taken to task for not being doctrinaire or pure enough in an "I like liberty" discussion.
There are very few of us, damned few people who like human beings well enough to want to trust them with their own lives, property, will, sharp things and things that go "Bang!".
My best friend, now a Moderate Democrat often gets ahead of me. When I say "I don't like government, I don't trust it not to hurt people and break their stuff." he runs out ahead of me and says "There you go, advocating a firey, blood soaked anarchist revolution!"
So I talk a bit about the Fallacy of the Undistributed Middle and the Fallacy of the False Choice and my Best Friend says "Yes, but why do you advocate such violence and chaos?"
So I have to stop and point it out using smaller words
There is a range from 1 to 10
The U.S. is currently moving from 6 to 7
I want to head for lower numbers. Anyone heading that way is a friend of mine right now.
Some days I am An Anarcho-Capitalist.
Some days I am a Minarchist
Some days I am HL Mencken.
Some days I am Eyeore and I believe if we found Laporte, Human Beings version 1.0 couldn't help but screw it up and create a hierarchy. I sometimes wonder if that crap isn't built into us. Do we long to stand at the bottom of the Pyramid and Cheer while yet another Bad Guy (tm) gets his heart ripped out for the One True Diety (whichever one that happens to be)? I dunno.
I know thisthere are too damned few of us who want to see the scale slide lower. We can't afford to be sticklers for purity on the matter. There are too few people who want to direction of control to go down, we can't afford to throw away any allies or friends or fellow travelers.
Sure when we get to 4 or maybe 3 serious disagreements will start about how far it should go and what will work.
But right now the majority of the people I speak to think Human Beings are too stupid and/or evil to be trusted to their own devices without something to control them. Most people have a very pessmistic view of their countrymen, their neighbors, their friends, their family and ultimately themselves.
That's the inertia we're working against. That's the darkness we're trying to throw some light into.
Shredding a pro-liberty fellow traveller on minor points of semantics ain't gonna get us there. Running everyone off until there are only the 4 most ideologically pure left to talk to ain't gonna get us there.
If Liberty isn't a big tentthen isn't it contradicting itself?
I like it when L. Neil Smith and others take the concept of Liberty to an uncomfortable extrapolation. I like it when E.J Totty does.
I like how that challenges my own comfort zone. I love it when hard core libertarians make me squirm.
I have real problems when it turns into "And you're not Libertarian Enough."
You know what? I am a Liberty lover if I say I am. I am on this side if I say I am. That's not for you to define or determine or decide.
Just as I realize thatI realize that this is really the only viable criteria to be a Libertarian. Anything else, any litmus test or Libertarian Purity Test just gives too much power to whoever is making up the test and t hat contradicts itself.
I am claiming a seat at the libertarian table, of my own free will, because that's where I want to be. I am not going to apologize for being uncertain, agnostic, undecided or anything I actually think.
Nor should Dennis Wilson. IMHO
Jay P. Hailey
RE.: "Why Desk Jobs Are (Mildly) Better Than School", by Jonathan David Morris
In consider that you've nailed the matter downand then some!
A really great article! If there were only one thing you were remiss about, it's the utterly insane level of 'public school' crap lain upon each child to 'learn' (to become inculcated with the pretend knowledge of) certain subjectslest they fail miserably otherwise.
Here in the late, great state of Washington, the kids must endure the WASL, or 'Washington Assessment of Student Learning.'
See? It's like this: It doesn't matter whether a student has mastered math, Language (a euphemism for English), or other necessary intellectual achievement.
But again: Excellent bit of writing!
Privacy International announces the 2006 Stupid Security Competition:
Bob Smither is a good man
Thank you for publishing Joseph Knight's critique of Bob Smither's position on a national sales tax. It was also a pleasure to read your publisher Neil Smith's essay on the related issues.
Lest the scent of pragmatism enter in too strongly, let me preface my comments by saying that I agree with Joseph that a national sales tax would be a pernicious evil. His other comments on various taxes are well taken, although "corporate" taxes would doubtless be applied to individual companies even if the business men and women were to choose to remain free from the ties a corporation makes with the state. Any corporation tax would be borne by the poorest as well, since companies would pass the costs along to consumers. As well, his list is incomplete as Joseph neglected to mention the most powerful tax of all, monetary inflation, which is going to devastate the poor in the next few years in ways to make the various hyperinflations of the 20th Century look like walks in the park.
A national sales tax is a bad idea, but it won't get implemented any time soon. If it is nothing more than a way for Bob to give voice to criticisms of the income tax without seeming to be for immediately closing down every government agency, then it is a useful tool. If it is only a foil for engaging people in critical thinking about how much government they wish to pay for, and how they would wish to pay for it, then it is an excellent tool.
As we have seen in other countries which have had this same debate, the result is always the same. A national sales tax or "value added tax" (VAT) is proposed as an alternative to income tax, then is "phased in," and then stays around, while the income tax is never removed. Having met Bob Smither and having worked with him on some projects during my time in Texas, I feel confident in his alertness and intelligence. He isn't going to encourage the addition of a national sales tax on top of income tax, any more than his personal support for the idea is going to cause the heavens to open up and the bill to be passed through Congress.
As we all know, there are enormous lobbies which are eager to keep, extend, and further confuse the income tax. Tax lawyers and tax preparers are among the very wealthy lobbies interested in this issue. There are also strong, organized lobbies within the government employees unions, the defense contractors and baby killers generally, and the other agencies which profit from the tax and spend policies. It seems inevitable that the pernicious evils of the Progressive Movementinstitutional racism, the progressive income tax, foreign interventionism, and the Federal Reserve System, among othersare going to take nearly as long to root out and remove as they took to develop, fester, grow, and graft themselves onto our society.
To be sure, Bob Smither is not a perfect man. He has erred, I think, in calling for a national sales tax, and it seems inevitable he's erred in other ways. However, I was in Nick Lampson's district, I have heard Steve Stockman speak in person, and I would take Bob Smither any day. Moreover, I think Bob is basically a good guy. He always impressed me as smart without the deficit of arrogance. I also observed him working hard for the cause of freedom. His successful campaign for Congress would, I believe, be a valuable addition to the progress toward a free and prosperous future.
Having said as much, I have no plans to vote for him, nor for anyone else. As Dennis Wilson has pointed out, to vote for a candidate is initiatory force. As I've pointed out in my essay on the Madness of Voting, there is nothing about the process that would make me more free. As a sovereign individual, I am committed to not forcing anyone else to accept a choice without consent, and the election process does just that to all non-voters, and a good many voters.
Nevertheless, it seems to me that those of us who have met Bob Smither and have gotten to know him through the experience of working with him should stand up and speak on his behalf. He is earnest, he is caring, he is hard working, smart, alert, and nobody's fool. Moreover, I found him to be genuinely likable and decent.
There's nothing wrong with criticizing his policy choices. There's nothing wrong with not voting for him nor anyone else. There's also nothing to fear from a Congressman Bob Smither. As with Ron Paul, we won't find him perfect, but we'll be blessed to have him in Congress, standing up for decency, freedom, and the constitutional limits to power.
As we'll be experiencing widespread violent rebellions in a few years, it's probably academic at this point who serves in Congress. I wish Bob the very best of good fortune in all his endeavours. Of all the men and women of the Texas Libertarian Party experiences that I encountered, I can think of no more suitable knight I would rather see charging the windmills than he.