Big Head Press


L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 566, April 18, 2010

"One way or another, the next three years could
end the 200-year struggle against socialism."


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[Letters to the editor are welcome on any and all subjects. Sign your letter in the text body with your name and e-mail address as you wish them to appear, otherwise we will use the information in the "From:" header!]


Letter from E.J. Totty

Letter from Richard Bartucci

Letter from Derek Benner

Letter from Paul Bonneau

Letter from A.X. Perez

Letter from Curt Howland

Another Letter from A.X. Perez (with replies from Curt Howland and Richard Bartucci)

Letter from Derek Benner of Near Space Press

Yet Another Letter from A.X. Perez


Neil,

Re.: "Back to the Trees!" by L. Neil Smith

Interesting.

I've read most of the references you mentioned regarding evolution, but I disagree with them on several levels.

The most compelling 'evidence' to dismiss evolution—at least insofar as humans are concerned—is that there is no evidence.

Yes, I know: You'll present Leakey's work as sufficient. But there is still no evidence to support his contentions. Merely having a collection of bones and a good story doesn't quite fill the bill for me.

The strongest evidence which supports my side of the argument is just this: Were Man to have had a common ancestor with the primates, then they too would have all of the genetic material that man has.

If nature is the prime impetus to advance, then in order for an advancement to take place it must facilitated by the ability to advance, and that cannot take place without the necessary genetic material being available beforehand.

You simply cannot get from 'A' to 'B' without the necessary genetic codes.

So, if humans have that genetic material, they must have gotten that from a precursor.

And yes, I've read the theory that it was 'cosmic ray' bombardment on the human genome which cause the necessary mutations, but that is pure bunk for this simple reason: Destruction of genetic material does not produce a 'superior' result, if only that the destruction is, well, destruction.

If anything it leads to an inferior result, and as much has been proved in lab tests with ionizing radiation on various insects and mice.

Might you say that all of the primates were bombarded and the pre-humans weren't, thereby leading to the differentiation?

That would require some interesting theories!

And if the reverse were true, then the great apes would have 'evolved' into something else by this time.

Lastly, Darwin was from a very wealthy family, and it is not unknown that he put for his theory as a subtle way of propagating the idea that only the best, brightest, and most wealthy, should have rights and access to political power. The rest of us were to be gradually reduced to uneducated serfs to serve at their pleasure. He was an avid follower of the political theories which Plato put forth in his Republic.

If they's had the means to chemically neuter us at birth back then, then likely neither of us would have having this conversation.

The funny thing here is this: Cro-Magnon appeared rather abruptly on the scene. That in itself speaks to something rather phenomenal: Instant evolution. Yet where is the 'missing link?' Quite frankly, I think it won't be found for the simple fact that it never existed to begin with.

Bottom line: I'm not buying ape-human evolution for reasons I've stated.

E.J. Totty
ejt@seanet.com

[Mr. Smith is overwhelmed with work right now and says he will answer this as soon as he can—Editor]

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Re: "Bassackwards suggestion" ("Yet Another Letter from A.X. Perez....")

If we're going to indulge our fantasies with regard to setting government policy, permit me to advance one a bit less involved, and yet still impossible to achieve.

Instead of April 15th being Tax Day for that shrinking number of Americans who still file confessions with the IRS and their various state governments, let Tax Day be the first Monday in November.

This would mean that in even-numbered years, Tax Day would fall the day before Election Day for most federal and state offices.

I think that shifting Tax Day in that fashion would not only increase voter participation in the affairs of our nation but also send large numbers of wage-earning Americans into the voting booths with steam spurting out'n their ears.

Any thoughts?

Richard Bartucci
bartucci01@verizon.net

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Re: "When they say why, why? Tell them that it's human nature." by Rob Sandwell

Rob and I have had this discussion in private, so it surprises me that he's still spouting off.

First, I 'almost' agree with his arguments—except that he continues to conflate violent/violence with aggressive/aggression. Had he made the argument that humans are not inherently aggressive, I'd be more willing to accept his views, but not inherently violent? C'mon, Rob. We've talked about this already. Humans are built for violence—this fact is clearly visible in their forward-facing, depth-perceiving predator eyes and their omnivorous teeth.

Yes, given plentiful meat supplies which fall dead at our feet, skin sloughing off, organs falling out and meat self-cooking, whenever our pheremones signal we're hungry, we humans are perfectly willing to laze around and not use violence. But nature doesn't work that way, does it? Nope. Even if it's just picking up a stick and poking a termite hill to gather ants to the slaughter, we're perfectly happy and eager to commit violence.

Now aggession? Yep, we tend to avoid it.

I realize that this doesn't sit well with your theories of humanity's inate lotus-eating nature, but there's a nice bed of sand for you to stick your head into when the pain of staring at Inconvenient Truths becomes unbearable.

Derek Benner
dabenner@comcast.net

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Re: Sean's letter in response to my letter

I'm sorry Sean thinks of any criticism of his article as "attacking one of his fellow libertarians". It's not personal, Sean. I just question the point you are making.

I'm not entirely averse to the notion of "picking one's battles". For example, when I see someone on a forum advocating freedom because it would mean he could indulge in donkey sex in the front yard, alarm bells go off in my head. I'm thinking, "This guy is a provocateur trying to scare people into not wanting freedom." Or at least I think he is an idiot who doesn't know about picking one's battles.

I just don't see why carrying guns outside town hall meetings is a battle we shouldn't pick.

What's the difference in these two cases?

Well, hardly anyone is interested in donkey sex; and of those who are, they probably have the decency to take it to the back yard, or live among others who also think it is cool. In other words, it is not a battle we have to fight. The world would not be filled with complaints about donkey sex, if the world became free.

On the other hand, virtually everyone is concerned with defense, and even the most gun-phobic person can see it's crazy to leave all defense to police (these folks also take measures to reduce their risk). It's simply not that outrageous to make the political statement that there is a limit to how much gun control we will put up with (which is what carrying guns in front of town meetings clearly is—a political statement), and that at some point we will push back. And gun control is being beaten back across the country not because we trimmed our actions to the opinions of newspaper editors (tried that, didn't work), but because we have been very up front about not being disarmed and about defending ourselves without tolerating government interference in it.

I don't care that newspaper editors try to make hay with this. "All publicity is good publicity," in a sense. I want people, including gun haters, to think that gun owners cannot be pushed around. I think it is precisely the message we should get across.

Paul Bonneau
2.paulbx1@dfgh.net

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A new law went into effect today (14 April 2010) in Mexico. If you have a cell phone you must register with the government. The purpose of this law is to end the custom of people using cell phones to call in extortion threats. This appears to be a major racket South of the Border, and surprise, government officials are involved. Apparently 30 million Mexicans are about to lose cell phone service for not complying (tyrannical governments are so much more bearable when they can be blown off with relative impunity and Mexicans are used to this. The other side of the coin is how obnoxious and noxious an effective tyranny can be.).

Mexico has strict gun control laws, for honest citizens. Its taxes on electronics and other manufactured good are so high that until recently smuggling these products into Mexico was more lucrative than smuggling drugs out. After a while even the most genetically inclined to submit to authority are forced to bend (if not break) the tax laws to survive. Now you have to register your cell phone or you won't get service (I wonder what the standard bribe will be to get unregistered service?).

Now you know what we have to look forward to if we don't keep our governments (state and local as well as federal) in line.

A.X. Perez
perez180ehs@hotmail.com

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Dear TLE,

The Daily Show takes on "armed America".

Of course they make a mockery of it, but at least their mockery treats it as a "civil rights" issue.

Curt Howland
Howland@priss.com

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Bread and Circuses

Over the last decade I have noticed something. There seems to be less and less discussion of how the Imperial "bread and circuses " policy helped destroy Rome. I hear fewer comments to the effect that providing free food and entertainment spent the city broke. I hear fewer comments about how corrupt politicians used these to maintain public support as they robbed the City blind. I hear and read fewer comments on how bread and circuses were used to distract people from their loss of liberty.

I hear fewer comparisons between Roman bread and circuses and Twentieth Century welfare states.

Is it just me or is this a pattern?

A.X. Perez
perez180ehs@hotmail.com

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To which curt Howland replied:

It's just you. I see it referred to in Mises.org articles regularly.

However, it might simply have gotten stale. Not any less true, just the same words "bread and circuses" over and over. Find a new way to say it.

Curt Howland
Howland@priss.com

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And Richard Bartucci replied:

I think that the public displays in both Republican and Imperial Rome were actually more a matter of wealthy patricians (particularly those with political goals) flaunting their personal wealth to buy favor with the plebs and "out-face" their rivals in the eyes of the lesser patricians. Grain distributions to the city folk (plebs and slaves alike) was undertaken, insofar as my memory can be relied upon, on the governmental dime, brought in from outlying areas of the Empire or from client states.

One of the reason why control of Egypt and the Mediterranean was politically important. Though it's a basket case today, infested as it is by Islamic fellahin, Egypt was very much the breadbasket of the Roman Empire.

A city the size of metropolitan Rome in the period of the late Republic and during the height of actual Imperial power simply had to be fed by drawing upon areas outside the Italian peninsula. Believe it or not, during this period Sicily—today a barren, poverty-stricken slice of hell—was largely one great mass of factory farms structured in massive plantations called latifundia, worked by slave labor and producing for the Roman market and the other big cities to the north.

The difference between the Roman central government and ours today was that way back then, the "public servants" largely plundered people outside their jurisdictions, making war upon foreign states for the fruits of conquest which enabled them to slop the hogs at home.

I don't know if there's actually been any sort of recent de-emphasis on popular accounts of the "bread-and-circuses" phenomenon since our Marxist Messiah took over from Dubbya in 2009. It might seem so in the wake of the popular fervor kindled by 2000's Gladiator (which was, most people failing to realize this notwithstanding, essentially a re-make of a 1964 commercial failure cloak-and-sandal superspectacular starring Sophia Loren, Stephen Boyd, and Christopher Plummer, titled The Fall of the Roman Empire), but I figure it simply as the effect of a saturation and overload of popular sensibility with regard to this period in history.

Richard Bartucci
bartucci01@verizon.net

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To which A.X. Perez replied:

Actually I have seen this disremembering going on for quite awhile, going back into the Nineties, in popular culture.

While dedicated liberty oriented economists (Mises and co.) may continue to make comparisons, and while there is a lot of attention given the Games nowadays and even corruption of Roman leaders, it is amazing how no one wants to talk about the distribution of grain (and other food stuff) to the poor that created the pretext/need to expand Empire, kept the people being pushed off land to make rooms for latifundia and/ or lost there jobs to the influx of slave labor from rioting, and made people so dependent on the state that they didn't dare rebel against the destruction of the Republic and growing corruption and tyranny of their government.

It is not so amazing that people don't want to see the welfare states we see worldwide, not just in US, compared to Rome's "bread and circuses".

A.X. Perez
perez180ehs@hotmail.com

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Again Richar Bartucci replied:

Nobody else seems to be kicking in yet, and though I don't want this to be just an exchange between Al and myself, there's much to be said on the matter.

Strictly speaking, the growth of the plebeian population in the metropolis that was Republican and later Imperial Rome seems to have come about because of a redistribution of families from smallholding farms in the campagnia (the Italian countryside).

Much of this appears to have happened as these yeomen farmers were brought into military service for longer and longer periods, either for defense (as in the early phases of the Second Punic War) or conquest, and many were killed or crippled in the fighting. Historian Victor Davis Hansen has extolled Republican Rome's "civic militarism" in recounting the fact that the enormous losses inflicted in battles like Trebbia, Lake Trasimene, and Cannae were quickly made up by newly-enlisting Roman citizens, but what seems to escape notice is the fact that these long periods of service in the legions and in the various auxiliary cohorts—even when not marked by such spectacular bloodlettings—drew heavily upon the working class that gave the Republic its fundamental economic strength.

As even programs on the History Channel have made clear, the few "family farm" veterans who survived to return to their homes in Italy after their long years of military service found that their land had been taken over by politically connected patricians and absorbed into the big factory farm systems of the latifundia or simply turned into luxury "country estates" for the pleasure of the super-rich.

This was one of the reasons why the legions tended to discharge their veterans on the frontiers of the Republic and the Empire, with a sort of "forty acres and a mule" system that not only established colonies of loyal citizens upon lands stolen from the barbarians (who had been living there, and had both proved and improved the fields "inherited" by the ex-legionnaires) but also solved the disgruntled ex-soldier problem. Stability in the newly conquered territories and in Italy.

Those rural plebeians who could not be scattered into Iberia and Gaul and Dacia wound up coming into Mater Roma to live as best they could, and frequently that meant living on the dole. In a system where one tended to grow up into the same occupation as one's father had held, if your father did nothing except function as the client of a wealthy patrician, that pretty much defined your own adult life. And if your wealthy patrician got proscribed in one of the political upsets that swept through the seven hills....

Well, generation after generation of plebeian poverty, stacked in the tenement insulae and hungry for both food and distractions. Little wonder that the Republic and the Empire had not a lot of difficulty recruiting for the legions.

But the end effect was damaging, of course. It sustained a gradual bleed-off of potential and actual talent in the Roman population that had to induce the sort of civil decay which resulted in all the vulnerabilities to which the Empire fell heir. Had the Roman government been susceptible to the sort of rapid information flow that came with the printing press, their system would've undergone catastrophic changes far more swiftly than it did in historical fact.

Military adventurism effectively propelled the Republic into it's Imperial change, and the continuation of the Empire made inevitable the fall of Roman civilization.

Makes reading L.Sprague de Camp's Lest Darkness Fall (expanded into a novel in 1941) and considering the exploits of Martin Padway a helluva lot more interesting even today, doesn't it?

Richard Bartucci
bartucci01@verizon.net

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Carl Bussjaeger's novel, "Net Assets" available as Kindle eBook, 4/23/2010

That's right, we've finally gotten the kinks worked out and it will be available as a Kindle ebook on Friday, April 23rd through Amazon.

For pre-orders (starting Monday or Tuesday) through Saturday, April 24th (4/24/2010), the price will be $7.99 as a 'release day' special. After that, the price goes to $9.99. We've specified no DRM on the ebook and it's in the AZW format (akin to the Mobipocket .Mobi/.PRC format) so any device that can read Kindle ebooks can open this ebook. There will be free sample chapters as well, (the first five chapters). We're also going to offer it through FiFo.com in .ePub format the following week with the same price.

Following that release, we'll be offering a Trade Paperback (TPB) version (6" x 9") through Amazon with a release date of May, 15th, 2010 (5/15/2010) for a price of $15.99.

Carl has also written numerous short stories for various online newletters and we're in the process of gathering them together into an anthology with the title "The Anarchists". This anthology will be released through Amazon and FiFo on May 15th as well, with the TPB version coming available through Amazon on June 1st. Same prices apply.

Now that Carl has fully published his novel and anthology through Near Space Press (that would be me), he hopes to finish the other two stories in the "Net Assets" saga, starting with "Bargaining Position". Please help inspire him to complete these other works by buying "Net Assets" and "The Anarchists".

On that note, let me state that while Near Space Press is looking for libertarian science fiction and fantasy works, I will also consider libertarian works in other categories such as Suspense/Thriller, Mystery, Alternative History, mainstream fiction and even non-fiction works. If you've got a good story that's been making the rounds of the major publishers and they keep rejecting it because it doesn't fit their progressive belief system, toss a copy my way. I prefer a zipped file containing a Word-formatted document of the piece (Please, no wildly outrageous fonts and formatting, the default Word settins work best.), a cover letter/inquiry and a good synopsis of the work—this latter should be in the form of several paragraphs discussing what happens in each chapter; one page worth works best.

Derek Benner
editor@nearspacepress.com (for general correspondence)
flarflenarf@comcast.net (for submissions)

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Continuing drum beat

The Winter of 2009-2010 was one of the colder in a while. There were more days with below average temperatures in my home town than ever, for example (to give the anthropogenic global warming bunch their due, they weren't as cold as other winters, just more of them). There was snow on the mountain more days and it stayed there longer than usual.

Next year will probably be worse. The two (not one, two) volcanic eruptions in Iceland over this last month spewed ash and gas that are grounding planes. Almost certainly enough will stay up to block sunlight for a year or two leading to cooler winters in the northern hemisphere and late and shortened growing seasons.

I keep saying that the AGWers are a hubristic bunch. The "runaway global warming" they predict will by their own numbers raise world temperatures to about the optimum warm weather enjoyed in the Middle Ages. That's if they are not exaggerating the effects of human release of green house gasses. At their worse predictions we are well within temperature ranges in the Historic Era, nowhere near the highs in other parts of the Cenozoic. At any time it is easily overshadowed by the effects of tectonic activity and changes in solar radiation. Yet they carry on like human activity can totally change the Earth's climate, wipe out life on the planet, and probably cause massive halitosis UNLESS SOMETHING IS DONE NOW, usually something that will cost American citizens money, economic opportunity and freedom.

It is more likely that while human release of greenhouse gasses has some effect on climate it is less important than tectonic activity, solar radiation, draining the Aral Sea and other factors combined. It is just one more factor in this equation. While we should be careful to avoid messing up our environment it is not worth the price in liberty and economic opportunity those who already got theirs are willing to impose on the rest of us.

It is hubris to put such a high value on human effect on the environment. It is Lysenkoism to pretend that there are no other factors and /or that they do not outweigh the effects of human activity on the environment. And it is flat out tyranny to demand that the common people give up their wealth and their chance to gain wealth at the command of an elite who will continue to enjoy a rather extravagant life style.

A.X. Perez
perez180ehs@hotmail.com

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