Monthly Archives: December 2005

Is Tolerance the same as Acceptance?

How many times have you heard it said that we must be tolerant of someone, thing, idea, etc. with the implication being that you must accept it? The words “tolerance” and “acceptance” are used interchangeably these days, but do they really mean the same thing?

The definition for the word “acceptance” has changed little in the last 180+ years, still meaning:
A receiving with approbation or satisfaction; favorable reception; as work done to acceptance.

Looking up the word “tolerance” in the old Webster’s 1828 dictionary, we find this definition:
The power or capacity of enduring; or the act of enduring.

The more current definition I find in the new Webster’s dictionary (circa 2003) is: open-mindedness; forbearance

So, you may say – it’s just semantics – means the same thing. But does it really? Is open-mindedness really the same as “enduring”?

I personally find in the day to day world many things about which I am not and would not be accepting of – however, realizing that not everyone has had the same experiences to shape them as have I, I am tolerant of things in others that I would not accept of myself. So from that standpoint, I absolutely do not believe that acceptance and tolerance are the same thing. I tend to go more along with the older word definitions, because, frankly, I think our language has been bastardized and weakened considerably by poor education, political correctness, and just general laziness.

Words are important – and weighty. Our forefathers understood the importance of weighing their words carefully – and expressing themselves in a very articulate manner. They used a tremendous volume of words at times to express what seem relatively simple concepts, but they did so because it was important to them that every “i” be dotted and every “t” crossed. They knew that the smallest matter not spelled out in our Constitution would lead to difficulties down the road when it came time for their descendants to interpret what they’d written. They did a remarkable job, but it was inevitable with time that word meanings should devolve and their writings lose some of the very preciseness they initially held.

I love words. I’ve loved words for as long as I can remember – I guess from the days as a child when I’d ask my dad for the meaning of something and he’d point me to the dictionary. I have been known on a number of occasions to actually sit and read through the dictionary, or flip through its covers looking for new words to commit to memory. It is for that reason that I become disturbed when I feel that word meanings have become corrupted.

I’m afraid at times that I may come across as a moralizer – it’s really not my intention – but I think of myself more as a moral philosopher or ethicist.

But I have digressed greatly. Back to the original question. Social liberalism would lead one to believe that tolerance and acceptance are the same, that I must accept the religions and beliefs of others. Once again, acceptance means to receive with satisfaction or give a favorable reception. Tolerance, however, means that while I must *endure* (put up with) the beliefs of others, I do not have to give them a favorable reception – I simply have to let them BE.

Tolerance and acceptance also go hand in hand with that 4 syllable monster of a word that has been bandied about so much – DIVERSITY. This country has been referred to as a “melting pot”, “multicultural”, “salad bowl” or “cultural mosaic”. While technically these terms all have different nuances to their meanings, the bottom line is usually that we have to be accepting of all cultures. Celebrate diversity.

But is celebrating diversity what made this nation a great one? The study of our nation’s history (not what is currently taught in public school – but don’t get me started on that) will show that there were people of very diverse backgrounds who came to these shores in search of freedom from oppression – and that oppression came in many forms. They had to learn to work together – and the successful communities learned early on that those who didn’t work, didn’t eat. Their diversity did not hold them together – they worked for a common goal, that of survival – and survive they did, in spite of their diversity.

I’m not advocating that anyone give up their heritage or forget where they came from, I just feel strongly that when it comes to acceptance, and diversity, we should have our eyes on the things that we share in common – our humanity – and learn to truly TOLERATE our differences.

Homeschooling Security Mom, Political Junkie, Believe in upholding the Constitution – and subscribe to the theory that gun control is the ability to hit your target!

Think About This

And take into consideration who wrote it.

“The fact that people sort themselves out in many ways is not usually a big problem—except to those people who cannot feel fulfilled unless they are telling other people what to do. Government programs to unsort people who have sorted themselves out have produced one social disaster after another. The decades-long attempts to mix black and white school children through school busing produced no real educational benefits but much racial polarization and ill will. The same thing continues to be done in colleges in the name of ‘diversity’ —and with the same bad results. Among the most unconscionable attempts to unsort people who have sorted themselves out by behavior are government programs to relocate people into neighborhoods where they could not afford to live without subsidies. Often the people in those neighborhoods have sacrificed for years in order to be able to live where they could raise their children in decent surroundings and not have to live in fear of hoodlums — only to have the government import the bad neighbors and hoodlums they have tried so hard to escape. Blacks as well as whites have objected to having problem people thrust into their midst through housing subsidies or government housing projects being built in their neighborhoods. Almost never do the social experimenters relocate dysfunctional and dangerous people into their own elite neighborhoods. They unsort other people’s neighborhoods and embitter other people’s lives.” — Thomas Sowell

Stop and ask yourself this. Does a government bureaucrat, backed by a remote elite, really know better than you do what is right for you, your family and your neighbors? Didn’t we fight a revolution just because of such an unacceptable situation? Does 50%+1 being swayed by that remote elite really mean that your needs and desires must be trampled?

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

Rule of Law and Originalism

For roughly the first 150 years of the Republic judges in this country made legal rulings based on the intent and meaning of the Constitution as it was written. This concept, at the time, was not called Originalism. It was considered the norm for a country founded on the principle of the rule of law. James Wilson, Founding Father, signer of the Declaration of Independence, member of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and Supreme Court Justice, wrote, “The first and governing maxim in the interpretation of a statute is to discover the meaning of those who made it.” Starting in the 1930’s, and perhaps somewhat earlier, this concept was turned on its head. Legislators and Judges began reinterpreting the meaning of the Constitution to suit attaining the ends they desired. This has become so common now that we have nearly forgotten that there might be another way to do things. It has allowed one of the most dramatic expansions of governmental power imaginable, especially with the use of the Interstate Commerce Clause.

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

Innocuous, isn’t it? You may recognize, though, that it was recently used in Gonzales vs. Raich to rule that “medical marijuana” laws passed by the states were superseded by the Federal government’s laws controlling marijuana and that raising and selling marijuana, even with a prescription from a doctor, was still illegal. Even if the marijuana never crossed a state border. This is the legacy of the “living document” theory of constitutional law.

The three pillars that this country was founded on (see Bailyn, “The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution and Wood, “The Radicalism of the American Revolution”) were the rule of law, the use of reason and education and technology. Of these three, the rule of law was considered, by far, the most important. The American colonists, in fact, decided on a written constitution precisely because the usurpation of the rule of law was the primary factor leading to the Revolution. The English Constitution was (and is) a combination of historical documents, judicial rulings, “self-evident” truths and customs and practices. In the 18th century the Hanoverian Kings slowly but surely re-interpreted many principles of the English Constitution, altering the balance of power between monarchy, lords and commons (the three branches of English government). This had led to a tyrannical and oppressive state in both England and the colonies instituted by King and Parliament.

The Founding Fathers, as they were fighting for their independence, looked at the problems that had led to their oppression and need for rebellion and determined that one of the key problems was that the English Constitution was a matter of custom and subject to interpretation by individuals (see Bailyn, “Ideological Origins” and Brands, “The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin”). They felt that the powers of the branches of government must be balanced and held in check in order to prevent unscrupulous men from interpreting, changing or distorting the constitution of the government. Since change would, obviously, be necessary at times, a process was provided that would ensure that all parts of government and society would be able to have input on, and agree to, those changes. They believed, based on the events of the 18th century, that a “living document” type of constitution was a significant danger to individual liberties and freedoms. Indeed, their liberties and freedoms had been destroyed by just such a situation. In order to guard against it happening again, the Founding Fathers determined that a single constitutional document, written in clear, plain language, would be necessary. This is the basis of that all important pillar of our system of government, the rule of law. Law, it was determined, must not be subject to the temporary and changing whims of the rulers, or, in our case, the rulers and the will of the majority (we can go into the fallacies of populist democracy some other time).

In the current argument for Originalism, many on the Right are arguing that Originalism is necessary in order to provide a known “social contract” that we can all agree to. This is a dangerous line of reasoning, which will be quickly demonstrated by those who argue for “living document” constitutionalism. The idea of the social contract arose in, and around, the ideas of utilitarianism. It was, indeed, the utilitarian answer to how to deal with the fact that generations succeeding the establishment of a government had not been able to agree to that government’s authority or powers. This is, indeed, one of the great flaws in Liberal theory (not modern neo-liberal, quasi-socialist theory, please don’t confuse the two). In Liberal theory the government is granted political power through the consent of the citizens, who abrogate some of their inherent rights and liberties in order to give the government those powers they deem necessary for effective government. This is the answer to the problem of government as a necessary evil (see Thomas Paine, “Common Sense” and Madison et al, “The Federalist Papers”). However, in the U.S. system of government, no such utilitarian solution (social contract theory) was necessary since the problem was solved by providing an amendment process. The amendment process was bounded by fairly stringent requirements to ensure that a small majority (the problem of 50%+1) could not change the Constitution when and how they desired, which would simply lead to the same problems that had been faced during the Revolutionary years. And, over the years, the amendment process was used quite successfully to make changes, even changes that the Founding Fathers would probably not have wanted to see, like popular election of Senators, the income tax, and prohibition of alcohol sales.

The amendment process, in fact, is the answer to the “living document” argument of constitutional theory. Much of the ills that the Left argues against today, the bureaucracy and congress that favor the corporate state over the individual, the military-industrial complex, the gross extension of police search and seizure powers, the intrusion into social issues that should be matters of purely local and state law are, indeed, the result of the “living document”. We can point at any number of laws and regulations passed by congress and any number of decisions made by the courts that have “interpreted” the constitution, rather than being based on its original meaning. Surprisingly, the Left does not (or chooses not to?) see that one is the consequence of the other. To use the words of an originalist justice, Janice Rogers-Brown:

We are heirs to a mind-numbing bureaucracy; subject to a level of legalization that cannot avoid being arbitrary, capricious, and discriminatory. What other outcome is possible in a society in which no adult can wake up, go about their business, and return to their homes without breaking several laws? There are of course many reasons for our present difficulties, but some of our troubles can be laid at the feet of that most innocuous branch – the judiciary…From the 1960’s onward, we have witnessed the rise of the judge militant. [Speech to California Lincoln Club Libertarian Law Council (Dec. 11, 1997)(“Libertarian speech”) at 5-6, 9]

This is the outcome of the living document. We have used it to justify anything and everything that we want our government to do, to make it our parent, our guardian, given to government our birthright. The answer to the “living document” theory of constitutional government is that if it can be interpreted essentially at will by justices accountable to none but themselves then we no longer have rule of law, we have rule of man. To those who believe that we are seeing the end of our Republic in similar fashion to the end of the Roman Republic, I say you are wrong. We are seeing the end of our Republic because we have allowed the elites to do to us, voluntary, in the name of progress, that which we fought a Revolution against in the first place. We have allowed them to replace the constitution and the rule of law with the will of the majority and the rule of man. The English Glorious Revolution was overthrown exactly so in the 18th Century. And the American Revolution is being, and has been to large degree, overthrown by the rule of man. Those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

Coming Soon

The Cato Institute will be launching their own blog, called Cato Unbound, on Monday, December 5. They will post a new essay, and reactions, every month. From their About page:

Each month, Cato Unbound will present an essay on a big-picture topic by one of the world’s leading thinkers. The ideas in that essay will then be tested by the comments and criticism of equally eminent thinkers, each of whom will respond to the month’s lead essay and then to one another. The idea is to create a hub for wide-ranging, open-ended conversation, where ideas will be advanced, challenged, and refined in public view.

This, I suspect, will not be quite as engaging as reading The Volokh Conspiracy. I am sure that great ideas will be put forth, but knowing Cato, they won’t attract a broad range of readers. However, the next part of their concept is one that, I think, has potential.

But the discussion only begins at Cato Unbound. It ends, if it ends at all, with you. Cato Unbound readers are encouraged to take up our themes, and enter into the conversation on their own websites, blogs, and even in good old-fashioned bound publications. “Trackbacks” will be enabled. Cato Unbound will scour the web for the best commentary on our monthly topic, and, with permission, publish it alongside our invited contributors. We also welcome your letters.

That’s cool. That sounds like a great way to engage the libertarian blogosphere in the conversation. Now, the question is whether we can move the ideas beyond the libertarian folks and into the mainstream. Perhaps. When George Will talks kindly of libertarians, perhaps the ideas that we promote here at The Liberty Papers are not so fringe as they used to be.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

Driving ‘Round The Blogosphere

Light, and not so light, reading for a Saturday evening.

David Rossie, at De Gustibus, went to a talk by John Lott. He has some interesting observations on Lott, not quite what I would have expected.
I inadvertently typed Trent Lott when I meant John Lott. I can read and comprehend English, I really can. But sometimes, it seems, I can’t type it.

Clara, at The Liberty Belles, has an interesting economic proposition for dealing with the inherent injustice that a man has no say in whether an abortion occurs, under the law today.

Patri Friedman, at Catallarchy, discusses the motivation of suicide bombers. I disagree with him.

Trent McBride, at Catallarchy, discusses Parents vs. The State. A must read if you want to have your knee jerk, gut instinct reaction challenged.

Stephen Macklin, at Hold The Mayo, has a personal tale showing us that state regulation does not equal state protection or justice.

Stephen Gordon, at Hammer of Truth, gives us a good discussion of when it is, and is not, okay to use the bible, or any other religious text, in a government school curriculum.

Lisa Renee, at Liberal Common Sense, has a pretty cool Flash video of a Christmas extraganza.

On a side note, if I link someone in a “Drive ‘Round …” post, I also add them to the blogroll.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

I’m going to live forever

From an entry at The Liberty Belles, we have this quote from the WHO:

“WHO tries to encourage people to try and lead a healthy life. There is safe sex, one can drink alcohol in a reasonable way and one can attempt eating in a balanced fashion,” Chaib said. “But with tobacco, there is no middle ground, it is black and white and it kills half of those consuming it.”

That cigar my father-in-law and I smoke at Christmas apparently puts us in the evil tobacco users club. Per WHO, one of us is going to die. Wooohoooo, that means one of us isn’t going to die. A cigar a year is a small price to pay for a 50% shot at not dying!

On a more serious note, the discussion of the marginal tax rate on the semi-poor, who are not qualified for Medicaid, is a good one. Check it out.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

The Big Tent

There’s a time and a place for purity of principle, purpose and ideology. And there’s a time and a place to set it aside and willingly work with those folks who are traveling anywhere close to the direction you’re going.

In a day and age where individualism is tossed in favor of collectivism, where inherent rights are infringed upon daily, where economic liberty is set aside in favor of egalitarian mediocrity, those of us who treasure liberty must make common cause with a lot of strange bedfellows. The great and enduring Revolutions of the past, whether we are talking about the American one, the Czech velvet revolution, the Bolshevik revolution, were successful because a variety of groups made common cause with each other. Of course, in some cases, they later betrayed their fellow travellers (Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin, anyone?).

That isn’t my real point though. Please recall that men like Thomas Paine, one of the most radically liberal of the Revolutionaries, made common cause with Puritan radicals like Samuel Adams, Federalists like Madison and moderates like Franklin. Had these various groupings in America stayed separate they would have, in Franklin’s words, “hung separately” for failing to hang together. Instead, they set aside their differences and united around their common cause, which was liberty from the oppression of King George III and Parliament.

Today we see the various groups of people who oppose the further encroachment of socialism in the US, the continued expansion of government powers, the continued collectivist approach to economics splintering and refusing to associate with each other because they disagree on points that those outside of our community would see as quite minor differences. Let’s be clear on this. The things you and I see as huge, massive differences, ones that make one person a “statist” in your eyes or another person an unrealistic anarchist or, maybe from a different viewpoint, attached to “mystical nonsense”, are so minor to the mainstream citizens of this country that they think we are a bunch of idiots for arguing over it. And truthfully, the differences are minor COMPARED to the horrific statism we confront. You and I may oppose any sort of tax as anti-property theft, but replacing income tax with a sales tax would be more free than we currently are. A sales tax would be voluntary compared to an income tax. So, while I want no taxation whatsoever in my idealism, I recognize that such a goal is not achievable right this instant, but that a sales tax that is somewhat more free is potentially possible. I’d rather get half a loaf than none at all.

Perhaps a big part of why I see things this way is that I’m a rational anarchist. Rational anarchy is not a political philosophy in the sense that many other flavors of anarchy are. It is actually very simple. I recognize that we, each of us, are and always will be individually morally responsible for our behavior. Even if we are a soldier or a cop or some other cog in the state, the choices we make are wholly owned by us. At the same time I recognize the reality that the vast majority (like 99% +) of humans want government, want to be told, to some degree, or another, what to do, like being able to put the issues of their behavior off on someone else. Until such time as we can spread beyond this planet a society that I want, with no government or competitive governments, is not going to come into existence, not even in the ocean habitats that some advocate.

But, it is potentially possible, by working with people who want to make government smaller, to reduce the burden and oppression of government, at least temporarily. So, even though I don’t fully agree with, and in many cases only slightly agree with, many of the people who are in Life, Liberty, Property, I think that I would rather see something come together that has some opportunity to effect change in a positive direction rather than no opportunity. As much as QandO’s rather strident support of Iraq bothers me, I recognize that they advocate movement away from other parts of the oppressive state. So, I will choose to associate with them.

There’s only three choices in front of us that I see.

  1. Remain ideologically pure and remain politically ineffective
  2. Do nothing, quit
  3. Tarnish our purity, but possibly bring about some change

Maybe I’m wrong. I’m willing to listen to ideas that show me how I’m wrong and how at least some change could be accomplished without association with people that propose some degree of statism. But I’m not willing to keep on doing the same old song and dance.

I would rather take a job that involves me with the state but gives me the opportunity to work for increased privacy (which my job does) and increased protection and security of personal data (which my job does) than refuse to be associated with the state. I would rather voluntarily use a health insurance company than not be able to make sure my kids have the healthcare they need. I recognize that I may (indeed will) have to compromise on my absolute principles at times to achieve what I want. But, while I firmly believe that radicals are the people who accomplish real change, I don’t think they do so by never compromising.

If all of this means that I’m not acceptable to “Libertarians”, so be it. They aren’t acceptable to me, for the most part. They are completely unable to see that they will never achieve anything more than sitting in coffee houses and talking about how things should be, in their perfect world. There are some people, Sunni to name one, who choose to work, instead, for their personal, individual, liberty. This I can respect. But sitting around whining about the government, talking the pure ideals of Libertarianism, and blacklisting those who aren’t “pure” is a surefire ticket to remaining completely ineffective. The people you are trying to “wake up”, to convince, will never respect you or take you seriously. Not so long as you are unwilling to compromise, work with others or tackle reality, rather than religious-like wishes.

And so, I take the position that a big tent of folks is the best approach. I truly think it could be built right now, but the Libertarians (as opposed to the libertarians) stand in the way.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

Parsley is a Crime

Don’t carry a bag of parsley around. Don’t pretend it’s marijuana. Don’t play a prank on your friends. If you do, in the state of Florida, you are breaking the law and subject to criminal penalties. According to the Daytona Beach News:

Two Flagler County elementary school pupils were arrested last week after pretending a plastic bag of parsley was marijuana.

An arrest report by Cpl. Don Apperson, a school resource deputy with the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, said the two girls, each 10-year-old pupils at Old Kings Elementary School, were showing classmates a plastic bag with a green leafy substance they said was marijuana.

School officials learned of the alleged bag of marijuana and called the girls into a conference with their parents. The girls admitted they did not have marijuana and said that the bag of parsley, which they brought to school in their book bags, was a prank, the report said.

Well, that certainly seems appropriate to me. Let’s arrest two 10 year old girls for a prank. That is certainly going to do something about the “drug epidemic”. Why were they arrested, you may wonder (I certainly did)?

The girls were charged under a state law that makes it a crime to claim that a substance is a drug — whether or not the item is intended for sale or distribution, according to Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Debra Johnson. They were taken to the Flagler County Inmate Facility and later released to their parents.

Well, that certainly makes it all better. Pretending that something is a drug as a 10 year old’s prank is heinous, an absolutely unconscionable act. We can’t have these 10 year old girls running around doing this sort of thing. But it was just pretend marijuana, you protest? Yes, but we all know where that leads, don’t we? It’s inevitable that they’ll move on to harder pranks. Next comes generic aspirin masquerading as speed. And, before you know it, they’ll be pranking their friends with cornstarch “heroin”. The parsley is just an entry level prank, I tell you! It’s a slippery slope indeed.

And what happened to these girls? Aside from being arrested, booked and placed in a jail, at least temporarily.

The girls were also suspended from school and ordered to attend drug awareness classes.

Good call guys. The Drug War is all but won now!

H/T:Tim Cavanaugh @ Hit and Run

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

Justice Denied

Justice Delayed is Justice denied

We hear that mantra frequently, from both sides of the judicial philosophy aisle; and it is a core concept of our justice system… or at least it was until the 1970’s (why is it that so many things got so much worse then.. well actually we know why that is, but that’s another topic entirely).

In 1969, Stanly “Tookie” Williams and Raymond Washington founded the most violent street gang in the history of the united states, the Crips. You might remember hearing about the crips every… oh about thirty seconds or so, during the ‘80s

That’s about how frequently they were murdering, raping, selling crack, stealing cars, robbing homes and businesses… hell it was probably every 5 seconds.

Over their 36 year history, the Crips are believed to be DIRECTLY responsible for at least 10,000 murders. Tookie himself is suspected of personal involvement in at least 30 murders; and may have ordered or been an accessory to hundreds. Of course those are just wild ass guesses but they have been repeated in the media often enough, and by law enforcement often enough, it’s entered the national consciousness as “true”.

Tookie is on death row; not for being the founder of the gang, but for the robbery and murder of Albert Owens, Tsai-Shai Yang, Yen-I Yang, and Yee Chen Lin, in 1979.

There is no question that Tookie is guilty of these crimes. He confessed to them (to informants. Publicly he has always proclaimed his innocence) while in prison after his sentencing. He robbed and very brutally murdered those people, he was convicted, and sentenced to death in 1981.

From 1983 until 1990 Tookie was placed in solitary confinement for fighting, assaulting guards, and for ordering murders from prison. He bragged about how many cops he had personally killed. He was in every way a monster.

Do you believe in redemption?

I believe that people can change. I believe that people can redeem themselves for their prior bad acts, and can live good lives going forward. Lord knows I have done many things that I need to redeem in my lifetime; I think we all have.

But I also believe in personal responsibility, and in consequences for your actions. I believe that justice requires the redress of wrongs, whether in money, or in some cases in blood.

In 1993, Tookie had a personal revelation. I won’t say he was born again, though he says that he found his way back to god as part of it. Tookie finally realized the pain and suffering he had caused. He finally felt remorse. Tookie woke up, and became a man; taking responsibility for his actions as the founder of the gang… though he has never lawfully confessed to them.

Tookie started educating himself, and he started writing. He wrote about his life, and his experiences. He wrote about life in prison. He wrote about gang life, and how it was destroying our cities and our black youth.

Tookie started working as an anti-gang activist. He’s helped out law enforcement to combat gangs and gang violence. He wrote more.

Tookie has been nominated four times for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work against gangs. He may even win it. In fact, considering the other nominees, he probably deserves it.

From all reports, Tookie became a genuinely good man.

Let me be clear, I honestly believe that Tookie has had a complete turnaround. I believe he has become a good man. I believe that one can redeem themselves; and I think he has done it; at least as much as is possible.

But Tookie still needs to die.

Tookies conversion, and his redemption, change nothing. He still killed those four people, he was convicted, all of his appeals have been heard, and denied.

For 24 years, the families of those murdered; and of all the other people who’s lives he ended, or destroyed; have been waiting for him to die. For 24 years the will of the people has been delayed.

I have a serious problem with the death penalty. I believe that it is just; and that it is neither cruel, nor unusual; but I just don’t trust the state with that much power. I don’t necessarily trust juries with that much power. But when it is absolutely clear that a man has ended the life of another without good cause; then it is justified that man be killed.

There is no doubt that Tookie Williams murdered AT LEAST those four people; and his redemption changes nothing.

The rule of law, a law that is clearly constitutional, a law that is approved by the legislature, the courts, and the people; has declared that Tookie has to die.

All of Tookies Appeals have been exhausted. His execution date has been set for later this month. His defense team has taken the final step in asking California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for executive clemency, because they say Tookie is a changed man; he’s not even the same man that commited those crimes so long ago.

But he IS the same man. He may be completely changed, but he is still responsible for his actions, and he must suffer the consequences of those actions.

On December 13th 2005 Tookie Williams has to die.

Justice Delayed, is Justice Denied

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

Rights, Penumbras, and Emanations

Let’s talk about the difference between rights and priviliges.

I happen to be of the opinion that this distinction is quite simple: A privilege is something which is granted, a right is something that is inherent to a man by virtue of his existence.

The problem is, lots of people don’t understand what a right is. Their heads are filled with, in the grossly paraphrased words of various constitutional scholars; “the vague penumbras and emanations of the government and the judiciary”.

Rights are not granted by the government, or constitution, they are inherent to man (without regard to religion for those of you who think the inherent rights argument is based in a belief in God)

Fundamentally, there are two types of what people call rights: Inherent rights, and constructed rights.

Inherent rights are those rights we posess by virtue of being sentient beings; constructed rights, are all other things, taken as rights, which are not inherent rights. They are rights by law, but not by nature

For example, inherent rights would include, among others:

  • The right to not be attacked or killed out of hand by your fellow man
  • The right to own and hold property
  • The right to defend ones life and ones property against others
  • The right to determine the course of ones life through free choice
  • The right to be judged fairly by ones actions(that ones a bit fuzzy)
  • The right to think those thoughts that you wish to think
  • The right to speak those words that you wish to speak; presuming they are not, in effect, actions infringing the rights of others

Inherent rights cannot be taken, or limited; but by force, or willing consent.

Constructed rights would include the right to privacy, the right to vote, the right to marry (civily), and others.

While the articles of the U.S. constitution define the form, and structure of our government; the first ten amendments (and most of the rest of them) are primarily concerned with the strict limitation of how government may limit, administer, or restrict inherent rights.

When it comes to the constitution, I am pretty much a strict constructionist; a group of people who for the most part do not believe in constructed rights (yes I know that sounds wrong, but trust me, its correct).

A constructed right is a right by consent or by consensus, not by inherence, and therefore is not truly a right, but a construct of the society in which one lives. It may be limited or removed by legislative action, or the will of that society at any time. That’s not a right, it’s a privilege.

Most of the time we recognize this principle directly in law e.g. It is always lawful for someone to defend themselves against attack. It is not lawful in most states for felons to vote. This is because voting is a constructed right that can be limited or removed without force or consent, but self defense is inherent, and cannot be limited.

Lets muddy the waters even further…

There is a compelling constructionist argument that voting IS an inherent right, because in a society such as ours, voting is an inseperable component of the right of self determination.

There are also compelling arguments that privacy rights are in fact inherent rights; as an extension of property, and self determination rights.

Rough ones those.

I contend that the rise of the valuation of constructed rights, is essential to the core value of collectivism, and the single greatest cause for the decline in personal and moral responsibility that has occurred in our society since the mid 1960’s.

Constructed rights like voting, fair housing, health care (lord knows why people think thats a right) etc.., have become the “rights” that many people value, while they no longer believe in their basic property rights, or the rights to defend themselves

In allowing, and in fact encouraging people to escheat responsiblity for their own inherent rights to the sate through the practice of social welfare, the value of those rights is nullified. In fact, as long as one accepts state control over ones means of existence,and ones protection, one has no inherent rights, because one has willfully consented to their removal.

The fundamental principle of political collectivism is that the rights of the individual are subsidiary to the rights of the collective, as administered by the state. In order for this ideology of the supremacy of the state to succeed, the percieved value of inherent rights must be destroyed, to be replaced by those rights granted by fiat of the state.

Once the populace is conditioned to accept this as the natural order of things (as they have been in Europe for generations) the eventual descent into collectivism, and from there to totalitarianism seems, to me, to be inevitable.

This is not to say that constructed rights are invalid, simply that they are not truly rights; They are rights by fiat. Clearly rights by fiat cannot be granted the same status as true rights, in that by accepting that any core value of liberty can be created by fiat, one must also accept that it can be destroyed by it. If one accepts that, one is simply saying that rights are not; they are privileges.

Ok, so this is a hell of a lot of fancy language, on a subject that I stated above, was quite simple – and this essay is actually about half the length I originally wrote; I just cut everything extra out.

So here it is, the simple facts:

Rights cannot be taken away. No law, no regulation, no government, can take away my rights, or yours. Not only that, but no-one can limit my rights, except to prevent me from limiting others right unjustly (see my post “The Politics of liberty”).

No government gave me my rights, and no government can take them away. No man gave me my rights, and no man can take them away. They are mine, and I will excercise them, and I will defend them.

The only way I will ever have my rights violated is looking down a muzzle, and let me tell anyone who would try: I’m a better shot than you, I fight dirty, and I’d rather die on my feet than live on my knees.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

The Politics of Liberty

I want to talk about what I believe in.

I’m a small “l” libertarian, but a lot of people don’t know what that means. I used to describe myself as a “disgruntled constructive anarchist”. I thought it might be an opportune time to explain what I mean by that.

“I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a constructive anarchist. Basically what that means is that I believe that all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do as long as no one is getting hurt who isn’t paying extra”

This quote has been on the front page of my web site since 1997, and although it’s more than a bit flip, it’s also substantially accurate (besides, I’m more than a bit flip); Oh and I stole the last bit from Dennis Miller (good artists copy, great artists steal; from Pablo Picasso, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Stephens in this case).

Actually, calling myself a construcive anarchist is kind of a joke, or rather a mechanism for catching your attention. People hear the word anarchist, and it tends to make them at least raise their eyebrows.

I am in fact, not an anarchist. What I call myself when I am seriously trying to classify my beliefs is something else entirely:

I am a Muscular Minarchist. I believe in an absolutely minimalist government that provides a strong defense. I want a government that stays out of my wallet, out of my bedroom, and out of my business.

I’m going to break this out into four parts. Fundamental Philosophy, Foundations of Government, What Government is NOT ,and Participation in Society.

Now down to the squishy stuff…

Fundamental Philosophy

My beliefs on government are rooted in three core tenets.

  • The coercive restraint of human liberty is inherently evil. Control of ones person, property, and behavior should be the exclusive province of the sovereign man.
  • The only legitmate limitation of liberty is that which prevents transgression on the liberty of others, or which compensates those transgressed upon.
  • Without a disinterested arbiter, maintaining a monopoly of legitimate force with which it resolves disputes and enforces compacts between men, the liberty of the weak will be abrogated by the will of the strong.

I’m gonna get down to about fourth grade level here for a bit, because I want to talk about some very fundamental stuff.

Government is only good at two things: stealing, and killing. When you boil it down, that, at core, is its job. Government enforces the rule of law through the threat of force (killing), and administers and perpetuates itself through the seizure of assets (stealing, which it achieves through the threat of force, a.k.a robbery).

See here’s the thing; All earned compensation is in exchange for time out of your life. This is time that you could have used for something else (look up opportunity cost if you arent familiar with the concept).

You are given money in exchange for some of your time. The more commercially valuable your skills, labor, support, presence, looks, or body are, the more money you are given for that time. When you pay for goods, you are compensating those who sell the goods for their time, who are compensating the distributors for their time, who are compensating the manufacturers for their time and so on. Even when you are paying for a raw material or commodity like iron or gold what you are really paying for is the time it took to find, and extract, and refine etc…

That’s pretty basic economics, but there’s an important social and political implication there. If income is taken away from you (direct taxes) time is being taken away from your life. If property, assets, or money are taken from you without compensation (indirect taxes), time is being taken away from your life. You have just spent however long it took to earn that money, or acquire those goods or assets, in involuntary servitude to the one(s) who took it.

Involuntary servitude has another name: Slavery

Yes, I’m saying that direct taxes are slavery (actually, more on that later). Indirect taxes (tarrifs, sales taxes, excise and property taxes etc…) are closer to theft, but really, this is also slavery, because it’s all time out of your life, which you have in effect spent involuntarily laboring for the government without compensation.

If that isn’t slavery, what is?

Many people consider this concern for property and money to be venal, trival, irrelevant, or shallow, but when you think about what money really is, time out of your life, money (or property, which is interchangeable here) takes on a different meaning. Because compensation must be made for property acquired, and all compensation is in exchange for time out of your life, property rights are fundamental to liberty.

Ok so, with me so far? I’m making some HUGE generalizations, and simplifying things more than a little bit here, I just wanted to get some principles out there before y’all start saying “you just don’t like paying taxes”. There’s actually some philosophical foundation to this other than my irritation at not being able to buy more guns and pizza.

So, we’ve established how I feel about taxes, what about that other thing, the rule of law.

In an ideal society, there would be no need for any laws other than “you have to do what you say you will”, “you can’t take or destroy anything that isn’t yours”, and “you can’t hurt anyone who doesnt want to be hurt”, but lets face it, that aint gonna happen. A functioning society consisting of more than just family (and if it’s my family… well…), must have a government.

Notice, I never say that all government is illegitmate, just evil. It is sometimes necessary to do evil things, so that other evil will not be done. Killing somone is a bad thing, but not killing someone can be a worse thing. Someone shoots and kills grandma, bad, someone shoots the guy trying to shoot grandma, good. The problem comes when government exceeds those legitimate purposes which I will describe in the next section.

Foundations of Government

So, some agency must exist to enforce those basic principles I list above if a governed society is to function.

NOTE: I am using the term agency in this document in the sense of a mechanism, process, or structure, not explicitly a beaurocracy or constructed entity, though that me be the practical result.

Let’s enumerate just exactly what we need for legitmate government.

  • We need a neutral arbiter for disputes. This function is served by civil courts
  • We need to keep people from commiting crimes (the strong harming the weak). This function is served by police, which are a function of the executive office
  • We need to catch people who do commit crimes, to ensure they can be punished, and that restitution can be made. This function is also served by the police
  • We need to have a system for determining who is punished, how they are punished etc.. This function is served by criminal courts
  • We must prevent those from outside our society who would harm us, and our vital interests, from doing so. This function is served by the military (which is a function of the executive office), and to an extent by diplomats as part of the executive office
  • There must be an agency for negotiating and concluding agreeements with other nation states in support of our vital interests. This function is served by the executive office.
  • In the united states, or any other federal entity, there must be an agency for settling disputes between the states. This function is served by the federal courts and particularly the supreme court
  • There must be a system for creating and defining legislation. A written code of laws is essential to a free society. This function is served by the legislature
  • There must be an agency for selecting those who are given authority by the government, whether in police, military, court, legislative, or executive roles. In our society this is served through the franchise, as adminsitered by the states, counties, and precincts
  • There must be the systems and infrastructure in place to enable and support these functions. This function is served by the bureaucracy of civil service
  • There are some functions which are best served through collective action, such as public works. Though much of these can be privatized, there is a legitmate claim for functions such as roads to be provided by the government, as it is not possible to perform the basic functions of government without them. When not served through private contract, these functions would also be provided through the civil service

There are no other legitimate functions of government.

None.

No really, none.

Make the laws, enforce the laws, enforce contracts, settle disputes, protect the citizens, protect the country.

That’s it.

Although that’s a pretty short list, it’s actually longer than many libertarians would agree to. As I said, I am a muscular minarchist. I think that any state without what I list above could not succeed, because it would be conquered (from within or without) by the darker demons of human nature if nothing else.

What Government IS NOT

Government is not your friend
Government is not your keeper
Government is not your master
Government is not your teacher
Government is not your creator
Government is not your babysitter
Government is not your conscience
Government is not your paymaster
Government is not your moral compass

Most importantly…

GOVERNMENT IS NOT THE SOLUTION

Societal Participation

If a free man is to participate in society, and obtain the benefits thereof, he must acknowledge his responsibility to obey the laws of that society, and to contribute to the maintenance and support of that society. A debt is incurred for these benefits, and must be paid through service to society, both indirectly, and directly through the payment of reasonable taxes.

Service to society takes many forms. Every time you don’t break the law, you are serving society in some way (as well as yourself, which in a properly constructed society should always be the case, but so often isn’t). By holding productive employment you are serving society. By helping the police, executive office, legislative office, courts, and military to preform their functions, be it through working in them, voting, training, acting as a witness, or whatever other form it may take, you are serving society.

All that said, taxation is the primary direct contribution from citizens in the service of society. Taxation is necessary for a governed society to function, as there must be some means for the government to preform the functions enumerated above, all of which have direct costs, and require compensation to those who preform these essential functions.

One may say that this is internally inconsistent with my argument above, but truly it isn’t.
Taxation in and of itself is not evil; as I say above, when one obtains benefit from society, one has voluntarily incurred a debt, which must be paid. What is evil (and I don’t use that term lightly, or in jest), is taxation in excess of this incurred debt. This is involuntary redistribution, and it is evil in all it’s forms.

Involuntary redistribution is NEVER justified under any circumstances, no matter how deserving one believes the benificary to be, or how little impact one believes it will have on the benefactor. Involuntary redistribution, is nothing more than slavery.

It doesn’t matter if those whose assets are being redistributed “can afford it” or “dont need it”, because you are stealing time from their lives. You are forcing them into involuntary servitude, WHICH IS SLAVERY.

So how does this fit into society today?

I am reminded every day that my ideals are just that, ideals. We live in a society, with a government that does everything that I believe legitimate government should not do.

Over the past 70 or so years (since the new deal), and especially over the past 40 years (since the great society), we have developed a culture where the abdication of personal responsiblity to the government (or it’s agents) is not only accepted, but often, encouraged.

I find this fact profoundly offensive, but I also have little power to change it as an individaul.

Here’s the thing: Societies are made up of many many individuals, and by changing minds one person at a time, we CAN grow back into a society of individual liberty. If I change just one mind, and in doing so inspire that person to change other minds, eventually we can, and we will free ourselves from the coercive limitation of human liberty.

This is my goal, and it is far too important to ever give up.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

Show Us Your Papers

The quintessential image of totalitarian societies is that of the police officer with the ability to stop any citizen on a street corner, at any time, for any reason, and demand to see “their papers.” In the Soviet Union, that meant showing the passport you needed to carry with you at all times even if you were only traveling between Moscow and the thankfully now renamed city of Leningrad.

In post 9/11 America, it sometimes seems as if we are moving closer to that kind of society, as this story out of Denver demonstrates.

DENVER — Deborah Davis’ refusal to show her identification to federal police at a bus stop has turned her into a cause celebre among privacy-rights advocates.

Mrs. Davis, a 50-year-old Arvada, Colo., grandmother of five, was handcuffed, placed in a police car and ticketed for two petty offenses by Federal Protective Services officers who were checking passengers’ identification Sept. 26 aboard a Regional Transportation District (RTD) bus at the Federal Center stop.

Think about this. This woman was on a commuter bus, which just happens to stop in front of federal office building, and the officers in question thought nothing of stopping the bus and checking the identification of everyone on board in the name of “security.”

What they were actually accomplishing remains unclear, though:

The officers barely glanced at the passengers’ ID cards and didn’t check them against a master list.

So, one day, Mrs. Davis just decided to say no:

Mrs. Davis produced her driver’s license once, but it rankled her. The next few times, she begged off, saying she had left her ID at home. Finally, an officer told Mrs. Davis that she would need to show proof of her identity the following Monday.

(….)

“I spent the weekend trying to decide if the Constitution had changed since I was in eighth grade, and I decided it hadn’t,” said Mrs. Davis, who has a son serving in the Army in Iraq.

The following Monday, after the officers boarded the bus, one of them “asked me if I had my ID with me, and I said, ‘Yes,’ ” she recalled. “Then he asked me if he could see it and I said, ‘No.’ ”

As you can imagine, the officers did not react kindly to this:

Mrs. Davis had been talking on her cell phone when the officers approached. “One of them grabbed my cell phone and threw it to the back of the bus,” she said.

“The next thing I knew, two big policemen jerked me out of my seat, handcuffed me and threw me in the back of the police car,” Mrs. Davis said. “They wrote the tickets and threw them on the ground.”

Now, I am a strong supporter of law enforcement officers when they are doing their job. Harrasing people, however, which is what this clearly amounted to, is not a valid part of law enforcement. What valid purpose was served by stopping the bus and checking everyone’s identification just because it happened to stop in front of a federal office building ? If a terrorist with a bomb strapped to his or her chest really was on the bus, stopping the bus in front of the building for an extending period of time would be precisely the wrong thing to do.

Along with the state of airline security which I wrote about yesterday, this is yet another example of a practice that is engaged in more for the symbolic purpose of making it look like something is being done than for any legitimate security purpose. In the process, America travels further down the line where a police officer can stop you on the corner on a whim and ask to see your papers.

There’s more on this story at Outside The Beltway and by Nick Gillespe and Jacob Sullum over at Hit & Run

Cross-Posted at Below The Beltway

People Power Comes To Hong Kong

If the Chinese Communists thought that it would just be business as usual when they took over the former British colongy of Hong Kong in 1997, it appears that they may be sadly mistaken:

Hong Kong pro-democracy leader Martin Lee said that citizens of the former British colony have no option but to use “people power” in a bid to pressure Beijing for greater freedom. Ahead of a mass democracy rally in Hong Kong on Sunday, Lee blamed the Chinese-administered territory’s chief executive Donald Tsang “for not reflecting the strong aspirations of the people of Hong Kong to Beijing.”

“The people of Hong Kong have no other option but to show solidarity by joining together by taking part in peaceful assembly to voice our aspirations, to let the Beijing leaders know we really want and deserve democracy,” Lee told a public forum in Washington.

The source of this call for protests appers to be the fact that the Chinese are reneging on committments to greater democracy they made when they took over the city from the British:

When Britain handed sovereignty of Hong Kong back to China in 1997, the post-colonial constitution, or Basic Law, provided for the eventual full democratic election of the territory’s leaders.

However, the timing of the provision was hotly debated and led to a political dispute between Hong Kong democrats and communist leaders in Beijing.

Beijing reinterpreted the provision in April 2004 and ruled out a swift transition to full elections by 2007, apparently fearing it could spark political instability in the rest of China.

And there’s the key. If China allows full democracy in Hong Kong, then what are the people in Shanghai, Beijing, and elsewhere going to think ? China is becoming more interconnected every day, and news of democratic elections in Hong Kong will quickly spread elsewhere.

And, it appears that the people of Hong Kong are willing to fight to gain the freedom they were promised:

Lee urged the international community to support the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, reminding them of their backing of a 1984 Sino-British declaration under which Hong Kong was returned to China with an assurance of a high degree of autonomy except on defence and foreign policy.

“Ideally, we don’t have to take to the streets but let’s be realistic. Democracy doesn’t often fall from the sky, it doesn’t find itself in a silver platter. I think the people of Hong Kong realise that ultimately it is for us to fight for democracy although any help from overseas is greatly appreciated,” Lee said.

And how is the rest of the world reacting to these developments?

“Hong Kong in the eyes of Britain, which is a signatory to the Sino-British Declaration, is nothing more than trade (which) is so important they would not sacrifice the opportunity to get more business from China than take a principled stand,” he said. “I am happy to say the US government is different.”

Speaking as an American, that is a reassuring thing to hear.

Cross-posted at Below The Beltway

Driving ‘Round the Blogosphere

Interesting reading to check out in your spare minute a day.

Brian Doss, of Catallarchy, talks about what is seen and not seen with the creation of an ubiquitious Public Internet in this entry. Having been around the Internet, BBS (FidoNET), etc. about as long as Brian, all I can say is that he’s right and Al Gore is wrong.

See my article and Below the Beltway’s article for an interesting discussion of air travel security.

Lisa Renee of Liberal Common Sense tells us an interesting story about her daughter and a “modeling” agency. The thing that struck me? She recognizes that her daughter has to learn through her own experience, make her own decisions, live her own life. I wonder if our politicians raise their children the way they run the country, or the way that Lisa raises her kids?

Difster gives us a great suggestion for conversations with PETA members.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

The Louisiana Secretary of State’s Saga

There have been some interesting developments concerning our acting Secretary of State Al Ater. First of all, Al Ater announced yesterday that he would not seek election to the Secretary of State post in the fall of 2006. He cited as his reasons that the position should be appointed (which I agree with) and that he would the office should kept free of political pressures (which I think is impossible). You’re probably thinking to yourself, there’s got to be more to the story. I believe there is.

The big decision about whether or not elections will be held in New Orleans in February will come tomorrow. Ater has already been making noises questioning whether or not elections could be held. Ater will probably cite as his reason for delaying the elections the massive destruction of most of New Orleans’s precincts. But is that the real reason?

Today, rumors began breaking first on the Dead Pelican about Ater becoming the new head of the Louisiana Democratic Party. Now if elections are postponed in New Orleans, the party that benefits is the Democratic Party. In fact, I predicted last month that the elections would be canceled if the Democrats were afraid. There is a very good possiblity that a Republican could win the mayor’s race in New Orleans. Therefore, the party of voting rights, the Democrats, must disenfranchise the 100,000 or so who live in the ruins of New Orleans. So this sudden decision to depart the Secretary of State’s position, can be summed up as Ater’s refusal to be accountable to the people of Louisiana.

Finally, the usual suspects ie. the ones who got this state in the mess we’re in, are lining up to run for Ater’s position. If any of these clowns win, this will be a signal to the rest of the nation that we are not serious about change and reform in this state.

Crossposted To:Louisiana Libertarian

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

Leftists, in their own words

I am certainly no fan of progressive political theory, but it is instructive to know what, specifically, its proponents advocate. Fortunately, Washington Monthly’s blog, Political Animal (Kevin Drum), features a series of articles called The New Progressivism. The introduction of which reads in part:

Conservatives say they want to use choice (school vouchers, private accounts in Social Security) to shift power from government to individuals. We think that conservatives’ real aim is to shift more risk onto individuals in order to cut government, and that only liberals can deliver a choice revolution in government that people would actually want. But we also believe progressives should go a step further, with policies that shift power from corporations to individuals.

While clever, that type of rhetoric is very misleading. For

as Jefferson explained: “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed…” The rights of which he spoke are life, liberty, [property] and the pursuit of happiness. That being the case, individuals posses the bulk of political power; a limited portion of which is merely lent to government, as delineated in the tenth amendment to the Constitution: The powers not delegated

to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. Therefore, it’s not as though political power belongs to government, as is implied by Drum.

The other bit of slippery verbiage in the introductory paragraph is the implication that “to shift more risk onto individuals in order to cut government” is somehow a bad thing. The truth is that with freedom comes risk; the cost of diverting risk from the individual to government is freedom itself, which is priceless. Additionally, there is the stated goal of formulating “policies that shift power from corporations to individuals”. On the surface this seems innocuous, for in a consumer-based market economy, individuals vote with their dollars and corporations ought not to be allowed to defraud the consuming public with impunity. But that’s not exactly what progressives mean by “shifting power from corporations to individuals”. Progressives see corporations (large and small) as a means to an end, i.e. corporations exist for the benefit of “the common good”, rather than to earn profits for investors. Think of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

One of the articles deals with Bush’s “ownership society”. In it, Paul Glastris attempts to show that choice is not as popular as one might think.

Americans love the idea of choice—in the abstract. But when faced with the actual choices conservatives present, they aren't buying. The reason is that conservatives have constructed choices that fail to take human nature into account. People like to have choices but feel quickly overwhelmed when they lack the information or expertise to decide confidently, and they turn downright negative when the choices themselves seem to put what they already have at risk. Conservatives were bound to make these mistakes because their very aim has been to transfer more risks from government to individuals so that government's size and expenditures can be cut. That's not a bargain most Americans will accept. They like choice just fine, but they won't trade security to get it.

Supposing, for the sake of argument, that human nature is risk averse, and that a majority would trade freedom for security. So what! The Constitution does not delegate to the government any authority to assume the ordinary risk of individuals. Furthermore, Constitutional protections of individual liberty are not (at least not legitimately) subject to popular vote…inherent rights are unalienable. Such rights not only inhere to those that cherish them, but also to those that would sell their freedom for

a type of servitude that masquerades as security.

Choice, then, can be a powerful tool to advance public ends as long as one ironic truth is recognized: People like having choice but often don't like to choose.

This concept is at the center of a brewing movement within public-policy circles, one that Cass Sunstein and Richard H. Thaler of the University of Chicago have affectionately, if cheekily, dubbed “libertarian paternalism.” The idea is for government to shape the choices people have so that the natural human tendency to avoid making a decision works to the individuals' and society's advantage.

The paternalistic disposition of progressives, however well-intentioned, does not justify the immoral use of coercion that is inexorably linked to the implementation of entitlement programs—those that purport to help the helpless. That is, governments don’t run on sweetness and light; governments need funds, which are seized through force and/or prednisone 20mg side effects the threat of force. And when laws are passed to benefit some at the expense of others, the liberty of all is diminished.

But the cost of progressive policies is not limited to lost liberty and the seizure of property and wealth. There are hidden costs as well, such as: higher unemployment due to the over-regulation of business (e.g. “living wage” laws, Kyoto Protocol, etc.), lessened purchasing power resulting from excessive tax rates and a general lack of motivation that stems from a disincentive to be self-reliant. After all, the government has—so the thinking goes—an endless reservoir of resources with which to supply one’s every need. buy real viagra online This, of course, is belied by how the social democracies of Europe are fairing with their grand progressive experiment. And if leftists succeed, America will travel the same miserable path.

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