Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains or slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take but as for me; give me liberty or give me death!”     Patrick Henry

January 14, 2006

Legislative Lunacy

by Robert
how to win back your ex

An old friend of mine (Jon, who really Cialis by mail ought to start blogging) sent this little gem of a story to me via e-mail.

A pro-pot group alleges that an Aurora police officer pulled over one of its members this week because he had a marijuana legalization sticker on the back of his vehicle.

[…]

The officer, who wasn't identified, allegedly told Wansing [the 25 year-old ”criminal”] that he wouldn't have been cited if he didn't have the sticker on his vehicle and that he didn't want his children to see such “trash.”

Nice…! It seems that Joe Cop is unaware

of the fact that, if marijuana legalization stickers are outlawed, only outlaws will display marijuana legalization stickers.

For more ludicrous lawmaking, see this and this.

Update: In a comment to this post, John Newman wrote: <span online pharmacy style="font-sty

how to win back your ex

le:italic”>”Let me guess, you think we can fix things through the political process.”

persuasive argumentative essay

Well, according blackjack online to a somewhat suspect conspiracist website (it claims that 9/11 was planned by the US government and that the US is a police state), there’s a bill in New Hampshire, sponsored by Rep. Paul Hopfgarten, that was “proposed at the request of local Free Staters“.

The bill reads: “Any law enforcement officer, person acting as a law enforcement officer, or other public official who confiscates or attempts to confiscate lawfully carried or lawfully owned firearms in this state during a declared state of emergency shall be charged with a class A felony.”

So yeah, if the bill is signed into law, then clearly the political process will have been instrumental in restoring an important aspect of

individual liberty.

zp8497586rq
zp8497586rq
TrackBack URI: http://www.thelibertypapers.org/2006/01/14/legislative-lunacy/trackback/
Read more posts from
• • •

48 Comments

  1. We do not live in a police state, we do not live in a police state, we do not live in a police state I keep telling myself.

    Comment by John Newman — January 14, 2006 @ 11:55 am
  2. I won’t rehash this discussion or this one, but it’s clear that the government (at all levels) has arbitrarily and unconstitutionally granted itself entirely too much power; and unfortunately, its appetite seems to be rather insatiable.

    Comment by Robert — January 14, 2006 @ 12:57 pm
  3. And, John, when a DA tosses the arrest and charges out the door, or a judge does, and rule of law actually works in this case, you will ignore that, right? The over zealous cop makes it a police state. The appropriate actions by others granted power within the government get ignored.

    Robert, of course the government has done that. If there is one thing history teaches us, it is that the government, politicians, and bureaucrats will try to gather more and more power. This is a story that demonstrates, very clearly, the need for checks and balances within a government system.

    Again, if we were a police state we would not be writing about this. For that matter, if we lived in a police state, you wouldn’t see a bumper sticker like this on a car in the first place.

    Comment by Eric — January 15, 2006 @ 8:05 am
  4. Again, if we were a police state we would not be writing about this.

    Quite right…referring to the US as a police state only dilutes the true meaning of the term. Now, our current government has certainly disregarded the constitutional limitations on its authority; but we’re far from a police state.

    Comment by Robert — January 15, 2006 @ 11:53 am
  5. http://zmag.org/ZMag/Articles/jan02petras.htm

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul225.html

    Comment by John Newman — January 15, 2006 @ 12:32 pm
  6. So, you can be pulled over and ticketed for having an air freshener in your car? That’s just as disturbing to me as the pot sticker… same with a cracked windshield (though I see a little more point to that than to an air freshener…) Wow.

    Comment by Ryan — January 15, 2006 @ 1:58 pm
  7. Again, if we were a police state we would not be writing about this.

    Quite right…referring to the US as a police state only dilutes the true meaning of the term. Now, our current government has certainly disregarded the constitutional limitations on its authority; but we’re far from a police state.

    Unlike democracy, socialism, fascism, theocracies, and every other type of governance, there are no degrees or levels of a police state, only your definition. Jeez!

    Comment by John Newman — January 15, 2006 @ 3:05 pm
  8. No, I have a working definition of a police state. Your definition of police state is far looser than mine, and includes many things that generally don’t define a police state in political theory. The things you argue constitute a police state are the exceptions, rather than the norm. But, just to get everyone on the same sheet of music, let’s try this definition on for size:

    A police state is a totalitarian state regulated by secret police; the police exercise power on behalf of the executive and the conduct of the police cannot be effectively challenged. In such regimes there is no significant distinction between the law and the will of the executive; there is no rule of law.

    If, everytime an exception to the rule occurs we scream police state then we make it meaningless to say it. If we were a police state the Congress would not be investigating whether the use of the NSA to eavesdrop on international phone calls was, or was not, legal, for example. In a police state, the executive would not consult attorneys to determine if his actions were constitutional, because in a police state there is no difference between the will of the executive and the law. In a police state, cases would not be thrown out of court based on legality and/or constitutionality. This is very much akin to Bush the elder demonizing Saddam Hussein as being on par with Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin. It gives far too much strength to the abuses of power and diminishes the reality of a police state.

    John, I wonder, have you ever been outside the United States? To Germany, for example? Where the police can legally hold anyone for 72 hours, incommunicado, without charging you. Where you must register with the government everytime you move. Where police walk into restaurants, or post offices, or other public places and require every single person present to show ID and prove who they are without any reason to suspect that they are criminals. And this is a supposedly liberal western European nation, yet the police there have far more power than our police do over each and every citizen. Have you ever been somewhere like Iraq, or Kuwait, or Saudi Arabia, or Egypt or South Korea? I suspect not. You don’t appear to recognize that the USA, even today, is not as authoritarian as other countries that are not considered police states. You won’t see that the USA has been much worse in the past, either. I’ll ask again. Would you prefer to live in the United States of 1945 or 2005, from a liberty perspective?

    Comment by Eric — January 15, 2006 @ 8:52 pm
  9. And I’ll ask you again, what would the founding fathers call what we have today. This seems to be somethhing you want to avoid answering.

    Comment by John Newman — January 16, 2006 @ 7:12 am
  10. Depends on which founding father you mean. Hamilton, Madison, Washington and the other Federalists would probably think that much of what we were doing today was a necessity. Jefferson, Paine, Henry and the other Republicans would probably consider our government authoritarian and an intolerable intrusion on individual rights. Which I did answer, by telling you that I considered our government to be about equivalent to the Hanoverian Monarchy.

    Since you steadfastly refuse to admit that things have been worse, or that you diminish and dilute the meaning of the term “police state” or that I’m working from a very consistent definition of the term, why bother continuing the conversation? Your definition of the term is not consistent with most other people’s and you appear to insist that any violation of individual liberty and rights by the bureaucracy makes it a police state. It becomes impossible, once you define something in terms of the extreme, to accept anything less than extreme solutions. I’m reading Rick Atkinson’s “Crusade” right now and a point he makes very well is that the American people decided that Bush I really lost in Desert Storm because Bush insisted on defining Saddam Hussein as being on par with Hitler. Once he did that, a solution that left Hitler, Jr. in power was unacceptable.

    Is that your intent? To define this to an extreme so that the only acceptable solution is equally extreme?

    Comment by Eric — January 16, 2006 @ 8:44 am
  11. Let me guess, you think we can fix things through the political process.

    Comment by John Newman — January 16, 2006 @ 9:05 am
  12. No, actually, I think things are about as good as they are going to get without a new frontier for development that creates competition. I think that, of every country I have ever seen, in two decades of travelling and living outside the United States, I have yet to see a country I would rather live in, when all things are considered. That does not mean it’s my ideal. I have never yet said I think things are good, or that we don’t have authoritarian problems, or that the USA isn’t seeing abuses of power. Or that it is as intended by the men who founded this country.

    I do believe some change can be effected by politics, which is not just electing people to office and sending them off to Washington to be captured by the system.

    Honestly, the extreme solution has two problems. First, there is no support for it. Second, there is no group of people in existence today like existed during the American Revolution. Historically speaking, nearly every revolutionary change of government ends up worse than the situation that we wanted to replace. Do you suppose that folks might not have overthrown the Czar if they had realized what Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky would bring to Russia? Think it through. Look at the outcome of the French Revolution, which is a more likely model for revolutionary change. In fact, aside from the American Revolution, just about every other revolutionary change in the past 230 years has followed the model of the French Revolution.

    Would you prefer incremental change? Or the guillotine and the Terror, followed by the enlightened despot and a real police state?

    If you want true liberty, you will only get it when political entities are forced to compete. That will only happen when there is, once again, an expanding frontier. That can only happen by learning how to exploit space. America cannot be returned to the Republic of 1790 to 1830. It’s not going to happen. But it might just be able to be more like the Republic of 1870 to 1900 (minus Jim Crow, of course).

    Comment by Eric — January 16, 2006 @ 10:54 am
  13. In other words, the Constitution and Bill of Rights are no longer in effect and there is no rule of law. The government does whatever they damn well please and I think you called that situation a police state a few posts back.

    Comment by John Newman — January 16, 2006 @ 1:06 pm
  14. Don’t put words in my mouth. That is your opinion and position, not mine.

    If it’s so bad, either start a revolution or move to another country. Otherwise, use the entire political process to effect change. Or, stay silent. Those are, pretty well, the options you are faced with.

    That said, it’s not that bad, in my opinion, based on the realities that I have tried to discuss with you. Rather than see that central government authority has ebbed and flowed, you want to say it’s only gotten worse. Rather than answer a direct question about whether you would rather live in the USA of 1940 to 1945, or now, you have twisted away from that and tried to score rhetorical points with questions that distract from the issue at hand. That issue, that you and I have been debating, is whether the USA is a police state, or not.

    You insist that “The government does whatever they damn well please”, and I try to show you how that is not true. Yes, they have overstepped their bounds, yes, personal liberties have been impacted, but the government is not doing whatever it damn well pleases. And to say they are is to create an extreme view that allows for nothing other than extreme responses.

    Or, answer another direct question. Name a country you would rather live in. One that has more economic and political liberty than the USA. One where your religion, skin color, tribe, etc. do not matter. One where you and your family will be safe and secure, which is a precursor for economic and political liberty. And, if such a place exists, and the USA is a police state, why haven’t you left?

    Comment by Eric — January 16, 2006 @ 2:58 pm
  15. You are the world traveler, you tell me which country has more economic and political liberty.

    I can tell you that I do not feel safe and secure in this police state. Perhaps you don’t fear your government.

    Comment by John Newman — January 16, 2006 @ 3:15 pm
  16. John, I have yet to travel to a single country that has more political and economic liberty than the USA. I’ve traveled to, or lived in, Canada, Mexico, Germany, England, France, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Spain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq and South Korea. Some of those countries clearly are much less free than ours. In each western European country I ran into something that was obviously oppressive. Canada, with mandated, socialized medicine is clearly less free.

    John, there is no such thing as “safe and secure” the way you mean it. You need to understand that your feeling of not being safe and secure is extremely minor compared to living in a state like Saudi Arabia, for example, where you can be arrested and executed for violating religious law with absolutely no hope of a writ of habeas corpus, appeal to a higher court or free press to say anything about your situation and inform the citizens of what the government is doing to you. Compare that to here and tell me where you are more secure in your life, liberty and property?

    Of course I respect the power of the government, as I respect any other power that can do me harm, whether that be man, wild animal, machine, institution. But fear, in the sense that I think the Secret Service might snatch me from my house in the middle of the night, drag me off to a secret prison somewhere and torture me? No. And if you do, then this discussion is futile.

    Comment by Eric — January 16, 2006 @ 4:12 pm
  17. I’m sure you didn’t mean Switzerland, that must have been an error. You must realize that they are a nuetral country that hasn’t been in a war for centuries and the citizens are the militia. And you didn’t mention Hong Kong or Singapore which have the greatest econmic freedom in the world – must have been an oversight.

    Personally, I’m not worried about the Secret Service carting me off because they protect the prez, now the FBI or any of those other DHS goons is another story.

    Comment by John Newman — January 16, 2006 @ 4:37 pm
  18. you’re serious? you actually believe that mandatory military participation makes you more free? or that you have more freedom in a country that executes people carrying even small amounts of narcotics? or in a province of the PRC?

    this truly is a pointless conversation, but one last question. if you think those places have more individual liberty, what are you doing here?

    Comment by Eric — January 16, 2006 @ 5:34 pm
  19. Damn tootin’ I’m serious:
    From Cato.org:
    Since 1970, Hong Kong has ranked as the world’s freest economy. In the just released Economic Freedom of the World, 2004 Annual Report, Hong Kong remains number one. The report, published by The Fraser Institute in conjunction with the Cato Institute and other think tanks around the world, ranks countries on their adherence to a set of policies that measure the degree of economic freedom. Those countries that safeguard property rights, enforce contracts, allow free trade, maintain low marginal tax rates, ensure sound money, and limit the size and scope of government will score well on the Economic Freedom of the World (EFW) index.

    Switzerland takes its civil liberties so seriously they re-wrote their Bill of Rights in 1999:
    http://www.ddleague-usa.net/sbor.htm

    I think you’ll find that Hong Kong, Singapore, Switzerland, and other peaceful countries mind their business and don’t try to impose their system on the rest of the world – especially not by invading, bombing, occupying and reconstructing.

    It sounds like you are saying “My country, right or wrong” and you are telling me “To love it or leave it.” Very libertarian of you.

    Comment by John Newman — January 17, 2006 @ 7:39 am
  20. From the Swiss Bill of Rights:

    All persons are responsible for themselves, and shall make use of their abilities to contribute to achieving the goals of state and society.

    “Shall” means “must”, with respect to “achieving the goals of the state and society”. How is that consistent with individual liberty?

    Men and women have equal rights. Legislation shall ensure equality in law and in fact, particularly in family, education, and work. Men and women shall have the right to equal pay for work of equal value.

    The “right to equal pay for work of equal value” implies coercion, in that private employers shall be forced (by law) to remunerate an employee in a certain manner, without regard to any voluntary negotiations between the two. How is that justified, in terms of liberty?

    Persons in distress and incapable of looking after themselves have the right to be helped and assisted, and to receive the means that are indispensable for leading a life in human dignity.

    The “right to be helped and assisted” implies the compulsory action of a third party or parties. Yeah, that’s freedom alright.

    Any limitation of a fundamental right must be justified by public interest, or serve for the protection of fundamental rights of other persons.

    Limitations of fundamental rights must be proportionate to the goals pursued.

    No, that doesn’t sound ominous at all. So what if “fundamental rights” are subject to “public interest”, ambiguous “goals” or some such nonsense.

    By definition, “fundamental rights” are non-negotiable, as such theoretically don’t portend conflict between persons (e.g. life, liberty, property). Now, it is true that individuals may voluntarily grant government some necessary authority for the sake of stable society; but any state-imposed limitation of actual “fundamental rights” ((other than that which is the result of a legitimate criminal prosecution or [and only in rare instances] the proper use of eminent domain, etc.) is altogether immoral and unjustifiable.

    Comment by Robert — January 17, 2006 @ 8:41 am
  21. I’m not telling you to love it or leave it. I’m asking you, if you seriously believe such things to be true, why you stay in a country that you consider a police state? That is a reasonable question to ask, given the statements you have made, time and again.

    Three quick points on Switzerland, Singapore and Hong Kong. And one personal point on Switzerland, based on my observations while travelling there in the 90′s and having lived in Schwaben, which the German state on the border with Switzerland (I lived about an hour’s drive from Switzerland).

    1. Switzerland has conscription. Every adult male must serve in the military. That is hardly political liberty. In my opinion, conscription is one of the most significant signs that a country is not really free.

    2. Singapore’s War on Drugs makes the USA look like amateurs. And, if you had ever talked to someone from Singapore, you will find out that they don’t believe in classic liberal theory. Economic liberalism be damned, I don’t want to live in a country where the government and the people firmly believe that you don’t have rights, you have privileges given to you by the government.

    3. Hong Kong used to be free. They are now subject to the whims of the PRC. Have you not followed the news over the past year about the changes to political liberty being made in Hong Kong? If you think the uncertainty here is bad, consider the uncertainty of living in a city that is now owned by the PRC.

    4. Personal experience in Switzerland tells me that cops have far more overt, oppressive power than anything that you complain about here. Their society is extremely regimented and coercive. Their Bill of Rights has significant problems, which Robert pointed out.

    Now, had you made an argument for Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic or the Baltic Republics, you would find that your argument is much more difficult to refute and has to be done on the grounds of social and political stability. Give those countries another decade and even that argument goes out the door. As long as they continue on the path they are on, they will probably end up being more desireable from a purely objective perspective.

    Comment by Eric — January 17, 2006 @ 9:06 am
  22. And, after reading the Swiss Bill of Rights I’m astounded that anyone who calls themself a libertarian or classic liberal would find acceptable. This is a document full of “positive rights” granted to you by a government, not “negative rights” the government is prevented from infringing on.

    Comment by Eric — January 17, 2006 @ 9:09 am
  23. After years of compilation, the Swiss government referred the new constitution to the people, giving them more than two years deliberation before its 1999 referendum date. The people passed it by substantial “double majorities” — a majority of all voters nationally and a majority of approving states (cantons and half-cantons), which is their constitutional requirement for national citizen lawmaking. From the website.

    Evidently this is what the Swiss people wanted.

    No comment on the Cato study?

    Comment by John Newman — January 17, 2006 @ 9:14 am
  24. Another tidbit from the Swiss BoR:

    “Every person lacking the necessary means has the right to free legal assistance, unless the case appears to be without any chance of success.”

    Oh goody, you’re going to guarantee me free legal assistance, unless you decide my case has no chance of success. That’s pretty special of you. Thanks.

    CATO study. There are, roughly, 10 countries in the world that have more economic liberty than the USA. But total liberty is a product of BOTH political AND economic liberty. If you think there’s more total liberty in Singapore or Hong Kong, you are clearly not taking into account their secret police, arrest powers, executions for possessing misdemeanor (in the USA and Europe) quantities of narcotics, government intrusion on basic individual liberties and much more. I haven’t disputed the CATO study, I tend to agree with it, as far as it goes. But that economic liberty in Singapore is dependent upon the government, not individuals.

    Read the Swiss BoR carefully. It’s not a negative bill of rights. It doesn’t limit the government, it empowers the people. That is modern paternalistic government in action.

    And the people of California want to have their cake and eat it too. Libertarians and classic liberals consistently argue that direct democracy is not a good thing, that democracy leads to tyranny of the majority. Sure, it may be what they want, but is it what you and I would actually consider libertarian/classic liberal? The people of California regularly directly vote in stupidity too, that doesn’t make it good just because it’s what they want.

    Comment by Eric — January 17, 2006 @ 9:36 am
  25. You can dismiss Switzerland if you like, but if your criteria of conscription is the meaning of political liberty, all the contries you mentioned have conscription or had it until very very recently. Personally, I have to think that a country that hasn’t been involved in a war for over 500 years and adamantly and fiercely remains nuetral in world affairs is a peaceful country.

    Comment by John Newman — January 17, 2006 @ 10:09 am
  26. Peaceful doesn’t equal personal liberty. Albania wasn’t involved in any wars between 1950 and 1990, yet was widely considered the most oppressive country in the world during that time period.

    Conscription is just one, of many, criteria for judging political liberty. My point is that a country with conscription has significant limitations on individual liberty. Their Bill of Rights has all kinds of clauses in it that allow the government outs. If you read it closely, you realize that it doesn’t limit the government’s power, it gives “rights” to the citizens.

    A written bill of rights doesn’t mean as much as you want it to. The USSR had one of the best examples of a constitution guaranteeing positive rights ever written. I don’t think anyone is prepared to argue that the USSR had much in the way of individual liberty. Maybe you need to actually travel to Switzerland and see the cops demanding identification from people walking down the street, with no cause to believe they’ve committed a crime.

    Comment by Eric — January 17, 2006 @ 10:18 am
  27. Peaceful doesn’t equate to liberty? Maybe not, but by all your examples of Lincoln, Wilson, FDR, wartime equated to a police state; give me a peaceful country anyday.

    I don’t have to go to Switzerland to have cops demanding my ID, it happens to me here – for no reason.

    Comment by John Newman — January 17, 2006 @ 10:35 am
  28. The point, of course, is that Switzerland isn’t the nirvana of personal liberty that you seem to think that it is. The point is that taking one facet of something, and judging by that isn’t going to give you the full picture of reality.

    Taken in complete isolation, a country that is at peace is preferable to one that is at war, in general. But, while I would prefer to live in the USA of today rather than the USA of 1942, I would choose the USA of 1942 over Germany, Japan, Russia or Italy of 1942, all things considered. And, more to the point, I would choose to live in the USA of 1942 compared to Fascist Spain of 1942, even though Spain was at peace. You can’t take single points in isolation and declare them to be the be all, end all of determining who is “more free”. Sure, folks in Hong Kong have more economic liberty right this second. But that seems unlikely to continue in the future. And their political liberty is quite curtailed and likely to get worse. Given that, where is there more total personal liberty?

    You can’t just look at the situation in it’s theoretical form, “on paper” so to speak. You have to look at the practical reality, and what the consequences are.

    And when is the last time that you personally, or anyone you know, had a cop demand that you show ID without reasonable cause? For me, it was in November, which is the last time I travelled by airplane. Compared to what I observed in most of Western Europe when I lived there, that’s pretty good. That doesn’t mean, compared to the ideal, that it is okay. Just that it’s better than the practical reality of other countries.

    Comment by Eric — January 17, 2006 @ 10:46 am
  29. First you said: Switzerland has conscription. Every adult male must serve in the military. That is hardly political liberty.

    Now you say: The point is that taking one facet of something, and judging by that isn’t going to give you the full picture of reality.

    Do you see any hypocrisy there at all?

    Now you say: I would choose the USA of 1942 over Germany, Japan, Russia or Italy of 1942, all things considered.

    And this is the point I have been trying to make. There are different degrees of a police state. At least that what it sounds to me like you are saying, the American police state of 1942 wasn’t as bad as the police state of Germany in 1942. Or, are you saying something else?

    Comment by John Newman — January 17, 2006 @ 11:33 am
  30. No, John, there’s no hypocrisy here. Conscription is a significant detractor from political/individual liberty. But, it is not, nor is any other single factor, the only determination to be made when looking at the total package.

    Yes, there are varying degrees of police states. But, to claim that the USA today is a police state is to ignore the definition of a police state. As far as I can tell, your definition of a police state is any situation where you do not have full autonomy and absolute liberty. That may not be accurate, but it is what you have portrayed.

    It is quite possible for a government and a state to be authoritarian without being a police state.

    Comment by Eric — January 17, 2006 @ 11:50 am
  31. One more thought on Switzerland. It is disingenuous to argue that they have more political liberty because everyone is part of the militia when, in fact, everyone is part of the militia because of the use of coercive force to create that situation. Do you suppose that some portion of the “militia” would choose not to be part of it if they had that option? Since they don’t have that option, arguing that it creates political liberty is a bit far-fetched, don’t you think? That being the case, you need to use the same argument for Israel, or the USA in WWII and the 1950′s.

    Comment by Eric — January 17, 2006 @ 12:02 pm
  32. Eric wrote: No, John, there’s no hypocrisy here.

    That’s strange, even my pet one-eyed potato saw it.

    Comment by John Newman — January 17, 2006 @ 12:24 pm
  33. Does screaming that I am a hypocrite somehow invalidate the data that I have presented that contradicts your positions?

    Comment by Eric — January 17, 2006 @ 12:28 pm
  34. The only data presented was what I posted from Cato otherwise, all I got were your haughty, long-winded, corn-pone opinions.

    Comment by John Newman — January 17, 2006 @ 12:46 pm
  35. I won’t try to speak for Eric, but I would like to chime in.

    John wrote: First you said: Switzerland has conscription. Every adult male must serve in the military. That is hardly political liberty.

    Now you say: The point is that taking one facet of something, and judging by that isn’t going to give you the full picture of reality.

    Do you see any hypocrisy there at all?

    It’s obvious that the disagreement here is: whether other nations (Switzerland in particular) are more or less “free” than America. It’s also obvious that conscription significantly reduces individual liberty. Beyond that, as Eric has pointed out several times, the Swiss BoR doesn’t limit the authority and power of the Swiss government. In light of that, the “rights” of Swiss citizens are rather precarious. Therefore, Americans are, prima facie, “more free” than the Swiss. So, where’s the hypocrisy?

    The only data presented was what I posted from Cato otherwise, all I got were your haughty, long-winded, corn-pone opinions.

    Can you not appreciate the value of an objective, rational argument, or do you typically just appeal to authority?

    Comment by Robert — January 17, 2006 @ 1:33 pm
  36. Hypocracy is alive and well here.

    Robert said:
    It’s also obvious that conscription significantly reduces individual liberty.

    Eric had said:
    1. Switzerland has conscription. Every adult male must serve in the military. That is hardly political liberty. In my opinion, conscription is one of the most significant signs that a country is not really free.

    Now, had you made an argument for Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic or the Baltic Republics, you would find that your argument is much more difficult to refute and has to be done on the grounds of social and political stability. Give those countries another decade and even that argument goes out the door. As long as they continue on the path they are on, they will probably end up being more desireable from a purely objective perspective.

    To which I replied:
    You can dismiss Switzerland if you like, but if your criteria of conscription is the meaning of political liberty, all the contries you mentioned have conscription or had it until very very recently.

    So, based on something, Eric has yet to objectively and rationally argue, Switzerland sucks because they have conscription, but Poland, the Baltic states, etc., are freer because thay have conscription. Now there’s a rational, objective argument.

    BTW, did you get to vote for your country’s Bill of Rights. And who decides what freedom is, evidently the Swiss are happy with their Bill of Rights, but I imagine you and Eric would like to go over there and invade, bomb, occupy, reconstruct and get a new election going to instill your values on them.

    Comment by John Newman — January 17, 2006 @ 2:37 pm
  37. Okay, one more attempt to present the argument.

    Most of the countries I listed are in the top 10 list on CATO for economic liberty, don’t execute folks carrying a dime bag of marijuana, are objectively working to improve political and economic liberty and if they continue on the path they are on will have significant degrees of liberty in the near future. I did not make any argument other than that. So, once again, you are putting words in my mouth.

    I don’t believe, and history fairly well demonstrates this, that direct democracy is commensurate with more liberty for the individual. Check Gress’ “From Plato to NATO” for a discussion of the totalitarianism of the Greek city-states. So, making the argument to me that the Swiss got to vote on it doesn’t hold much water. Getting to vote on it doesn’t make it good for the individual. The Germans elected the Nazi’s and Adolf Hitler in 1932, the Italians elected Mussolini and the Fascists, the Americans elected FDR and the Democrats. Political and economic competition and diversity demonstrably can lead to more liberty for the individual, which I have argued in favor of.

    A rational argument against conscription? It seems reasonably obvious that if you are coerced to serve in the military of your government, that your liberty has been significantly reduced. Failing what seems obvious and logical, I could appeal to the authority of Jefferson, Madison, Paine, Hamilton, Rand, Heinlein, and others. Failing that, I can point you at this, entry on the topic.

    Tell me why I need to present links to CATO to establish that something is “data” or a “fact”? If you read the newspaper, you know that Singapore executes people for possessing relatively small quantities of drugs. Again by reading the newspaper, you know that Hong Kong is now part of the PRC and that the PRC is exerting significant political control over the territory, including not living up to the commitments made on political liberty. I read the Swiss Bill of Rights, and provided extracts from it, as did Robert, to illustrate the argument I have made that the Swiss BoR does not limit the government’s power. I have made several other arguments surrounding direct democracy and being “at peace” and why neither of those things automatically equates to more liberty. You have tossed them out with further appeals to authority or airy waves of your hand simply dismissing the argument.

    Finally, you make an ad hominem attack. I don’t know why you chose to do that, but it doesn’t advance your argument, or cause the people you are discussing an issue with to be more favorably disposed to what you have to say:

    And who decides what freedom is, evidently the Swiss are happy with their Bill of Rights, but I imagine you and Eric would like to go over there and invade, bomb, occupy, reconstruct and get a new election going to instill your values on them.

    Since, at no point have we said any such thing, nor have we said anything that indicates that we favor, or don’t favor, use of the military, for any reason, I wonder why you would say that?

    Finally, my comments and discussion are more than one or two sentences because I think that it’s necessary in order to make the argument. Tossing out a single sentence would not support my argument.

    One last comment. This is the second time I have pointed out your personal attacks. At this point I will refer review of these comments to another administrator of this blog. Brad will take whatever action he deems necessary.

    Comment by Eric — January 17, 2006 @ 3:13 pm
  38. Eric said:
    One last comment. This is the second time I have pointed out your personal attacks. At this point I will refer review of these comments to another administrator of this blog. Brad will take whatever action he deems necessary.

    Geesh, I would have thought you would defend my right to say whatever it is I please instead of turning me into the Nazis. Oh well. Nazis didn’t allow free speech, right?

    And what is it with you and drugs? Singapore doesn’t have the right to make and enforce its own laws – no matter how stupid? And how is what Singapore does any different than what the US government did to Peter McWilliams? Or is about to do to Marc Emory?

    It might be interesting to look up how many people law enforcement has killed in the War on Drugs in this country compared to Singapore’s numbers. I betcha I know which country has a higher number.

    Regardless, I can only conclude that your military training to kill and your participation in invading a foreign country, that had done us no wrong, without a declaration of war by Congress that killed God knows how many innocent people in Desert Storm, spit on your oath to the Constitution by your participation now puts you in a position to defend the government that trained you, no matter how egregiously and damnable it behaves toward its citizens and any other peoples that refuse to bow down to it. But, hey, I could be wrong.

    Comment by John Newman — January 17, 2006 @ 4:06 pm
  39. What happeened to my post?

    Comment by John Newman — January 17, 2006 @ 4:57 pm
  40. Let me add just this. I have lived in a true police state, run by a hard-line dictator who was originally elected democratically. He didn’t have a “secret police,” though. His police and military were quite open about what they did (except when they assassinated an opposition leader). The only thing that saved my parents one night from being robbed, arrested and worse was my father’s status as an American ex-pat.

    So I dare say, based on what I know of most of you, that I am uniquely qualified on this subject.

    That being said, while there are many things wrong with the United States, Eric is correct to point out that modern America is far from a police state. Dissent? You never have to look far, even if it comes from liberal opportunists. Look at Hillary Clinton’s babble, and Al Gore’s latest hypocrisy.

    In a true police state, they’d have long ago been killed in “accidents” or by “unknown” assailants. Innumerable letters to the editor accuse Hillary, Gore and similar liberals of being “traitors,” but even the most conservative newspapers (at least the editorial staff, not syndicated columnists) refrain from that. The Constitution has a very specific definition of treason, and most politicians are wise enough to abide by it, particularly because politics tends (though it is not always) to be a polite profession. When Scott McClellan said today about Gore, “I think his hypocrisy knows no bounds,” I was surprised the White House resorted to such strong langugage.

    There was once several years of a “police state” era in the U.S., under Abraham Lincoln’s presidency. He liked to suspend the writ of habeas corpus and eventually had a few hundred newspaper editors jailed merely for criticizing him. During Southern Reconstruction, opposed by Andrew Johnson (the real reason he was impeached), federal armies occupied several Southern states and essentially held them hostage until their legislatures ratified the 14th Amendment. Now that is tyranny. Today we still have a fair degree of the rule of law.

    In no wise am I saying Americans are as free as we ought to be, but usurpation of our liberty is through politicians’ subtlety and social engineering of succeeding generations, not physical force, and it is the latter that makes a true police state. Or should we fall back on the Humpty Dumpty defense, that a word means whatever we want it to mean?

    Comment by Perry Eidelbus — January 17, 2006 @ 5:29 pm
  41. Many thanks from me Perry for your post. You make a point that I have been trying to make that keeps getting put off and that is that a police state can be out in the open.

    Comment by John Newman — January 17, 2006 @ 6:25 pm
  42. I have yet to see where you made that point John. Further, Perry clearly refutes your contention that the US is a police state. And finally, where on earth did anyone say anything to the contrary? In fact, pretty much every government I have ticked off as an example of a police state was “out in the open”, as you put it. It’s not like Saddam Hussein particularly hid the things he did. Or that Hitler hid The Night of the Long Knives or made Jews secretly wear the Star of David.

    In fact, you have contended that the USA is a police state even though the obvious symptoms are not happening. You appear to be saying that the US police state is relatively secret and not obvious. So, I really don’t see how Perry talking about his experiences helps your position at all?

    Comment by Eric — January 17, 2006 @ 7:10 pm
  43. My point was that you don’t need to have a ‘secret police’ to have a police state.

    What do you call it when,
    Thousands of people are being held by the US government in secret and not so secret prisons without charges, without access to lawyers and are tortured by their guards? Or do you deny this is happening?

    Any federal law enforcement agency may secretly enter any home or business, collect evidence, not inform the citizen of the entry, and then use the evidence (seized or planted) to convict the occupant of a crime.

    Any police agency has the power to monitor all Internet traffic and emails, intercept cell phones without warrant of millions of “suspects.”

    Any Federal police agency can invade any business premises and seize all records on the basis that it is “connected” with a terrorist investigation. Citizens who publicly protest these arbitrary, invasive police actions can be arrested.

    Air marshalls can kill a man for exiting an airplane.

    Law enforcement can use a gas banned by intermational treaty to kill men, womaen and children in a religious compound.

    Visitors to Capitol Hill encounter police barricades, metal detectors, paramilitary officers carrying fully automatic rifles, police dogs, ID checks, and vehicle stops. The people are totally disarmed.

    # There are presently 2 million Americans in jail, mostly for non-violent “offenses”.

    # The US has the world’s highest incarceration rate, surpassing Russia and China, and the world’s largest prison population.

    # With less than five percent of the world’s population, the US now has one-quarter (1/4) of the world’s prisoners.

    # There are six times as many Americans behind bars as are imprisoned in the 12 countries making up the entire European Union, even though those countries have 100 million more citizens than the US.

    Guilty until proven innocent:A total of $2.6 billion in U.S. citizens’ assets has been seized since 1985.(Government Asset Forfeiture Office) proudly boasts. Eighty percent of these seizures never resulted in an arrest or conviction — indicating that most are being taken from innocent people.

    Almost all of our economic activities depend upon receiving the proper permits from the federal government. Transactions involving guns, food, medicine, smoking, drinking, hiring, firing, wages, politically correct speech, land use, fishing, hunting, buying a house, business mergers and acquisitions, selling stocks and bonds, and farming all require approval and strict regulation from our federal government. If this is not done properly and in a timely fashion, economic penalties and even imprisonment are likely consequences.

    All our financial activities are subject to “legal” searches without warrants and without probable cause.

    Government control of medicine has prompted the establishment of the National Medical Data Bank. For efficiency reasons, it is said, the government keeps our medical records for our benefit. This, of course, is done with vague and useless promises that this information will always remain confidential- just like all the FBI information in the past!

    The executive branches ability to use the IRS to intimidate, harrass, coerce people.

    I am moving on, I could go on for days listing facts to prove my point, but I live along the Mexican border and I see the police state everyday, live and in person and on the news at night.

    Singapore: I would argue that they can make any law they decide – no matter how stupid – and enforce it anyway they choose. It is none of our effing business. And I would betcha that more Americans are killed by law enforcement in this country over the stupid War on Drugs than Singapore.

    Comment by John Newman — January 18, 2006 @ 7:54 am
  44. Interesting, I have posted two extremely long posts detailing why we are a police state and neither has appeared. I guess only one side can be heard here.

    Comment by John Newman — January 18, 2006 @ 7:59 am
  45. John, there are no posts awaiting moderation nor are there any posts by you that were blocked by Bad Behavior, which is the anti-spam tool we use. If your comments were deleted we would tell you by a public announcement. If your comments were being blocked, you couldn’t have made this comment. Therefore, whatever the issue is, it is not one of us preventing any discussion on your part.

    Since, up to this point, you have been able to say whatever you like within my blog (yes, I’m the one who pays for, and runs, this place and invites the other authors to contribute), there is nothing that would indicate that we are preventing your comments from appearing.

    Now, if you are entirely done with your attacks on people here, we can discuss whatever you want to discuss. If you’re having trouble posting comments, email them to Contributors_thelibertypapers.org@server.fm7.net and one of us will make sure it gets posted. Alternatively, email them to me, and I’ll do the same.

    Comment by Eric — January 18, 2006 @ 12:55 pm
  46. Thank you for clearing that up, but it doesn’t explain why my posts didn’t appear. I do not suspect anything nefarious on your part, perhaps I did something to screw it up.

    Comment by John Newman — January 18, 2006 @ 5:30 pm
  47. John, do you often put words into people’s mouths? Do you often take something that opposes you, then selectively summarize a fraction of it to make it seem like it supports your position?

    I think you need to re-read what I wrote.

    “That being said, while there are many things wrong with the United States, Eric is correct to point out that modern America is far from a police state.”

    Comment by Perry — January 18, 2006 @ 6:05 pm
  48. John, you wrote:

    Interesting, I have posted two extremely long posts detailing why we are a police state and neither has appeared. I guess only one side can be heard here.

    Consider how someone reading your comment would take it? Especially considering that there is no tone of voice, facial expression, or body language to indicate meaning and tone.

    As far as why your posts are not appearing, I have no idea. I have looked at all of my anti-spam tools and you are not being moderated. I checked my error logs and didn’t find a problem. Since you can post other comments, I have to conclude the issue is not within my website or blog.

    Comment by Eric — January 18, 2006 @ 10:22 pm

Comments RSS

Subscribe without commenting

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by: WordPress • Template by: Eric • Banner #1, #3, #4 by Stephen Macklin • Banner #2 by Mark RaynerXML