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The drowning baby scenario falls along a spectrum of dilemmas that we all face in the real world. If one would not and could not allow innocents to come to harm, and the only realistic means for protection of innocents is a publicly-funded military and police, then libertarian ideals give way to moral state systems.
2 years, 7 months ago on Conversation @ http://www.libertarianism.org/blog/how-unique-is-libertarian-morality
@MikeMaharrey-TenthAmendment Actually, Mike, I'm genuinely interested in many of the stories posted here; and I usually post either an opposing opinion, or a divergent one, because this is my sincere point of view. That I don't march lock-step with the Tenth's objectives does not mean we aren't headed in the same direction. I assumed that discourse was allowed and welcomed here.
That I also offer a link to my own website, rather than attempting to flesh out my arguments here, may indeed benefit me; but it also represents a courtesy to you, and to those of your readers who might be curious to know more about the alternatives for political decentralization.
It's disappointing that you would sooner address an hysterical outburst from the pious chaplain there, than intelligently refute my arguments against and criticisms of your points of view.
2 years, 7 months ago on Garbage in, Garbage Out
Beneath Obama's crass, classist rhetoric remains a more fundamental question: Does his chosen "bread", the income tax, represent an appropriate source for revenue? Clearly it has become a very divisive instrument for tax collection. But that alone would not justify its abolition.
There are many more justifications to be discovered:
2 years, 7 months ago on Stinkin Thinkin: President Encourages Americans to Covet
Representative democracy in full splendor. Truly inspiring. Much better than were we to assume collective responsibility and individual accountability for the course of the nation, by adopting a directly democratic system. We're not ready yet.
2 years, 7 months ago on No More Solyndras? Not Quite
@West Texan Agreed. It amazes me that so many Americans today, even as our nation is clearly in decline and verging upon bankruptcy, fault the other political party and ignore the system itself and the constitution that created it. It was a good effort on the part of the Framers, to be sure. But to insist that we mere mortals today could never match their "genius"--and ought not hazard the notion--is the sad victory of scared patriotism over sound common sense.
A mention of the constitutionality of the Medicaid "enterprise" itself might have been appropriate here, in light of the recent decision of the Court in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act cases. What difference does it make if the federal government cannot mandate changes to a contract that was invalid in its inception?
2 years, 7 months ago on Medicaid: The Court Got it Right
Another terrific essay.
The problem of changing the popular sentiment against governmental intervention relates to the process of conceptual learning. One must be personally affected by a political dynamic--made accountable either for action or for inaction--in order to gain a visceral understanding of the concept in play. In a representative democracy of the size of this one, a great chasm divides the voters many ballots from the few bills that become laws. And these laws are increasingly uniformly imposed over the nation as a whole, thanks to the supremacy clause and the14th Amendment: Fewer and fewer statutory differences distinguish one state from another.
An ideal system, one designed to provide the People a visceral understanding of politics, would thus first provide the smallest groups of voters a hands-on education in the cause and effect of politics. Voters would be free to determine their own local legislative environments--then forced to live with the consequences.
Political patterns would then form across the nation, by which the all might see that within those precincts where less government prevailed, more prosperity and good will took its place.
2 years, 7 months ago on Conversation @ http://www.libertarianism.org/publications/essays/optimism-pessimism-case-herbert-spencer-part-5
Mr. LaForest: You start by railing against the unreliability of Republicans, and then you call upon those same representatives to solve the problem they're creating--by becoming more principled. If sounder principles are your chief concern, and this constitutional system has proven adverse to those principles, then the system, and therefore the constitution, must be changed.
Our grade-school indoctrinations into the genius design of the Founders' ignores the document's obvious shortcomings. Their "brilliance" in refraining from specificity has since been systematically exploited--naturally. In their defense, many were reportedly quite gentle with their slaves.
We can all go patriotically down with the ship, pulling our future generations below with us; or we might capitalize upon our own day and times, just as the Framers did theirs, redesigning a system that appeals both to the left and to the right--and one with far less representative government:
2 years, 7 months ago on More Republicans?
@MikeMaharrey-TenthAmendment You wrote: Freedom of speech only works when we protect the most vile, offensive and unpopular messages.
And I ticked off several scenarios in which freedom of speech could work just fine within imposed limitations. I appreciate the offensiveness inherent in the censorship of expressed opinion. But the Tenth itself affords states a certain latitude to design divergent legal environments in accordance with the regional values and interests of their respective voters.
I designed a very localized system of direct democracy as a sort of extension of this principle. Allow the smallest possible political unit the widest possible latitude for both expression and experimentation--all while preserving basic constitutional rights and, of course, the freedom to leave and live elsewhere.
Thus, a tolerance, even for the intolerant, becomes possible The heart of the Tenth is a preservation of the right to be different from the rest of the nation--to chart one's own cultural and legal course. Otherwise, it means nothing: a symbolic stipulation ahead of a complete assimilation.
And let us not forget that the good people of CSX might themselves have acted like grown ups and refused to bow to the pressure applied. We now live in a society in which true adults are almost extinct.
2 years, 7 months ago on Liberty: A two-way street
A different scenario: If an Islamic terrorist were arrested in RI--one whose plans were to explode a dirty bomb in a state yet to be determined--and Gov. Chafee, who objects to the term "terrorist," moved to deny the federal government the authority to prosecute him on federal terrorism charges, would not the American people, as a whole party, deserve standing in this case?
The preservation of public safety is the overriding justification for any government. If this murderer somehow were to be confined to RI, whether convicted or not, for the rest of his life, the federal government would have little compelling justification for concerning itself with his prosecution.
But if, for example, the criminal law in RI were especially lax, so that the murderer, or the terrorist, would likely be released into the "national community", then the federal government would have an obligation to provide for the protection of the greater number of its citizenry.
2 years, 7 months ago on In Pursuance Thereof
The Supreme Court has ruled that even free speech has its limits: One may not unnecessarily incite others into a panic--and this seems reasonable. But one other prohibitive distinction ought to be made: Though adults indeed ought not be protected from any reality, all sorts of protections ought to be in place in order to shield children from realities they need not yet confront.
In the above case of a public billboard, it would make a good deal of difference what the message or the image might be; because children will see it as surely as adults will.
This is not a society for grown ups alone--where we argue among ourselves like little children. Would it be so objectionable if, within a given state, say Texas, the voters decided that speech related to sex and sexuality is inappropriate for billboards and other public displays?
Were the motivation a religious imposition, one might answer that, yes, it would be insupportable. But if the measure were intended to compel adults to argue like adults, confining their disagreements to purely adult venues, it would be a reasonable restriction upon all citizens--and a sound protection for our children.
It will always be a roll of the dice when sending representatives to do the Peoples' business; or when allowing the Supreme Court to decide the Peoples' future.
Better to fail with one's own hands than to kneel at the feet of another:
2 years, 7 months ago on Tenther News: 08-06-12
Terrific Jefferson quote, quite definitive. It seems likely though that the rise of modern states with their advanced armed forces has made the original intent of the Framers largely irrelevant. To allow states to decide for themselves whether or not this or that law meets their constitutional muster--setting aside the question of who would make that call--is tantamount to dissolving the Union. And in a relatively open country with so many private assets this would never be allowed to happen.
Frankly, I find it absurd to continue, centuries after their deaths, to try divining the Founders' original, collective aim. Plenty of compromises were forced before ratification; and clearly more amendments were added afterward. This was not, and is still not, a complete document. Resorting to it as though it were, we lay in the laps of history scholars and Supreme Court Justices the power to subjectively determine the direction of our polity.
I'd be surprised if Jefferson would not cringe to discover that the patchwork document he and is contemporaries penned has since endured these many generations--without any intervening, ambitious generation capitalizing upon its own present day to update and improve a document so flawed (slavery, for example) even for its own day.
Be more bold and yet more wise. Preserve the Union but be rid of the original Constitution:
Electronic mail has no doubt made the Postal Service increasingly disposable anyway. But I can't say that I'm impressed with the rates charged by private carriers either. So, would it really be profitable for private carriers to deliver to sparsely-populated rural areas?
A better step would be to strip the Postal Service of its public service workers union, which, like all such unions, no doubt significantly raises the costs of public services. Taxpayers ought not be compelled to pay for services, like the postal service or school teachers, that they don't even use or need.
This was the logic behind a provision I included in a revision of our Constitution--one establishing a localized, limited direct democracy:
Amendment XIII – Citizens shall retain the right to form workers unions whenever the labor at issue is a service for which any citizen can refuse to pay by refusing the service itself and the product of such service.
2 years, 8 months ago on The U.S. Postal Service and the Constitution
The Federal Reserve System is uniquely designed to drain value away from the savings and capital of private citizens, by devaluing the currency over time--printing and channeling new money to larger interests. It really ought to be illegal for the Fed to lend money to foreign banks: it isn't their role to stabilize world financial markets. Even their power to manipulate interest rates is disturbing.
But the underlying control still lies with the American citizen. Why deposit your money with banks at all--at little or no interest? Is it really necessary to feed the stock market, or to invest with duplicitous brokers in mutual funds--and then derivatives?
How much could the Fed suppress interest rates if the People widely withdrew their savings from banking institutions? What if corporations joined in? Might corporate credit unions, limited in their risk portfolios, replace stockholder and commercial institutions?
In effect, a secondary monetary system might be developed: a sound and stable currency, without the need for digging up gold and silver reserves. Usurp the Fed and its fiat money; bleed it of its power.
2 years, 8 months ago on So They Audit The Fed. Then What?
KrisAnne: While I agree with you that the loss in America of a shared sense of morality is tearing apart society, sinking our nation, I disagree that the remedy is necessarily religion. Judgment is required, not just religious faith. And real judgment requires more than obedience to dogma and tradition.
I devised a localized system of constitutional direct democracy in order to allow people the exercise of their own judgments confined within small political arenas, in hopes that through trial and error they might more quickly discern the value of a moral self-reliance and the pitfalls of collective governance:
2 years, 8 months ago on Can We Legislate Morality?
@onetenther You clearly haven't checked out my site if you think I'm advocating some sort of socialism. At the very least, read my latest blog post about the income tax:
The sole aim of my brand of direct democracy is to teach the People to do without government altogether--allow them limited political autonomy within their local communities so as to learn hands-on the folly of any dependence upon government. (The essence of the 10th Amendment, only more local control)
Where we may differ is that I don't believe that in a dangerous world everything can be voluntary--pay taxes voluntarily, go to jail voluntarily, follow the law voluntarily, etc. I'm not interested in hearing theories of voluntarism until EVERYONE is listening--especially people who take pleasure in violating others' rights.
Talking to me about it is just preaching to the choir.
2 years, 8 months ago on Our Federal Government
@onetenther The Social Contract is not a valid contract; but it is nevertheless an enforceable contract. Individual rights are predicated upon the survival of individuals--on the right to life. If survival itself depends upon securing control of limited natural resources; and such control cannot be maintained absent a limited state system, primarily in the form of a combined defense against competing human collectives; then individual rights must be partially subsumed by a state system--only to the extent necessary for ensuring life itself.
If technology advances to a point where individual survival is either no longer dependent upon limited natural resources or no longer physically imperiled by other humans, then the state might dissolve naturally.
@Bob Greenslade Spare me the elitist pretensions. True, it was a thoughtless question. But does letting Nancy Pelosi make decisions for such people make them or make us any better for it. I'd rather let the former student take responsibility for his/her own life than allow Pelosi to take charge of mine.
Perhaps that same former student might school you on the free speech and copyright ramifications of the SOPA legislation--I.e. something more relevant to this generation than Pearl Harbor.
Perhaps you're betraying your own bias in favor of burying your head in history books--an unwillingness, more likely a fear, to make of your own present day what the Founding Fathers made of theirs.
Some men are content with quiet mediocre lives; some are not. To each his own.
Irrational exuberance is a reflection of human nature, not Federal Reserve policy.
The baby elephant in all this is the propensity of people to follow custom and deposit their savings in banks at all. Take your money away from investment bankers and brokers: Giving them your hard-earned dollars is akin to allowing a Mob bookie to place your bets on whichever three-legged horses he chooses--very slow horses you just bought.
2 years, 8 months ago on Conservatives and the Elephant in the Living Room
Our "federative system" is based upon a representative scheme of 1790, when the population of the whole Republic numbered far less than many of our larger cities today. Why should we not re-calibrate this scheme to reflect, not only an explosion in population, but the development of a national digital press, the ubiquity of the internet, and the proliferation of the college educated citizen?
This is not the nation of the Founding Fathers any longer. Let's stop pretending that we owe them our blind allegiance. Americans are, and have always been, of a special character.
Excellent precis on Spencer's theories. I'll look to you for future enlightenment upon what for me has always been a very dry, frustrating and convoluted field: philosophy.
I designed a system of localized, constitutional direct democracy in order to address this very issue. How can society progress toward a Law of Equal Freedom when a uniformity in the law outpaces a unanimity in the People? This imposed conformity, even were it in an advancing society, leaves the common man to obey the dictates of the law--or of that Law; it robs him of the chance to discover for himself, through legislative trial and error, the moral virtue of the Law.
Direct democracy, when politically devolved in scope to local voting precincts and yet constrained by a strong constitution, grants the citizen a hands-on education in the law--and in mutual accountability. Ten thousand and more semi-autonomous political jurisdictions then become as many proving grounds for all the wrong-headed theories of government--each trying and most failing, all without taxing the resources, or the patience, of the rest.
We can remain steady on this glacier-slow course toward societal enlightenment, hoping that the People find government unnecessary before the government finds liberty unnecessary; or we can supplant a branch of our government, dismiss our representative betters, and wrestle with our sounder moral sentiments within our respective voting precincts.
2 years, 8 months ago on Conversation @ http://www.libertarianism.org/publications/essays/optimism-pessimism-case-herbert-spencer-part-4
If you and your colleagues are well informed enough to critique our representatives so minutely, are you not well qualified enough to act as your own representatives? Are not we all? Must we fear those who do not vote?
Divide the nation into partially-autonomous, local direct democracies--and may the best politico-economic philosophy prevail:
2 years, 8 months ago on Ranting Against Big Government, But Voting for It
The so-called social contract is irrevocable in a world where large militarized states hold one another in an expansionist stalemate. The only hope for the preservation of liberty is a reform of the branches of government themselves, their responsibilities and their limitations.
Strip Congress of its legislative powers and abolish it, transferring those powers to the People; then strip the Justices of the Supreme Court of their lifetime tenure, subjecting them instead to recall--all under a constitutional direct democracy:
2 years, 8 months ago on Obamacare and the Revenge of the 'Secret Constitution'
@onetenther No, I agree.
In designing a careful system of direct democracy I took away the lifetime tenure of the Justices--made them subject to the same recall that all elected and appointed officials ought to be. They've long since proven themselves unworthy of such veneration.
Representative government.is itself an outdated aberration. The judgments of an elected few, e.g. Pelosi and Reid, are more appropriate in securing the future of America than our own judgments? Perhaps in the days before electricity, gas engines, a national press, national parties, television and the internet, the idea of sending the better educated elites as our representatives had merit.
Self-evidently now it's nothing but a pretense--as are judicial review and original intent.
2 years, 8 months ago on Obamacare Decision Suggests U.S. Malpractice Bill Unconstitutional
It's such a precarious hold we maintain over state sovereignty, vis a vis the Tenth Amendment. Relying upon the makeup of the Court to determine the scope of federal power and to divine the original intent of the Framers is a childish political tradition in and of itself. If Obama were reelected, the game would be up: he'll tip the Court to the left and turn the country upside down.
Why, incidentally, would the tax power of Congress extend to functions not enumerated by Article 1, Section 8? Healthcare is not one of those enumerated functions/powers--nor even tangential to them,
For our conservative Chief Justice to so erroneously rule belies the 'genius" of the Framers' design.
Why not turn away from a study of distant history and toward a future written by our own generation? Let's embark upon a new, decisive course toward local legal determinism, safeguarded as ever by constitutional civil protections?
Why should we stop at a nullification of the healthcare decision? Is this same process not applicable to the federal income tax as well? Or to eminent domain?
But as long as we're deconstructing the federal system, why not have a predetermined goal or vision? We still require a national military to check the ambitions of foreign powers; and we require an impartial regulator of trade and communications between and beyond the states.
But why not devolve power to the smallest political territories--smaller even than the states themselves--whose populations are so much larger than those at the time of ratification. Let's recalibrate our system of representation, not only in terms of the numbers represented, but equally in terms of the very means of representation.
Let's begin anew with a constitutionally-limited direct democracy:
2 years, 8 months ago on What to do when the Supreme Court Fails?
I reject a majority of the terms you use. We are neither "obligated," nor do we have a "duty," to comply with the state. Why must one rationalize our compliance in terms of honor or morality? We live in the REAL world, a planet where our human need for territory and scarce resources has been decisive in the formation of large states--each of which demands our compliance in exchange for some degree of protection and order.
You're free to imagine yourself in an abstract world, where the protections of the state might be unnecessary or easily dismissed. I chose to design a system in which the People themselves would learn through hands-on, local legislating--curbed still by constitutional protections--to live as freely and as diversely as possible within the same territory--all enjoying the barest protections of one government or another.
See also my page, Of Morality, where you'll find a better understanding of the concept:
2 years, 8 months ago on Conversation @ http://www.libertarianism.org/blog/troubling-nature-duty-obey-state