Upgrading The Electorate

Dan Carlin’s latest Common Sense (of the same title) inspired a bit of nostalgia on the part of yours truly. That wasn’t his goal, but his unreserved backing for a change in how we elect our public officials (one that doesn’t involve corruption at the outset) combined with his wistful thoughts on whether or not it was possible to get a better class of voter in the US (5 defining characteristics of stupidity was cited, if not directly endorsed) brought back to mind the long held belief of mine that most Americans (possibly most humans) are impenetrably stupid. When I mention this belief in a group setting, I’m generally guaranteed to get an earful, so I’ve learned over time to keep that opinion to myself. But nothing in my nearly 50 years of experience has ever come close to convincing me that this belief is not based on fact.

Which brings me to the conversation on the Dan Carlin forums that brought up a second point of nostalgia. Invariably new podcasts bring out new listeners, most of them with ideas that they think are fresh and unheard of viewpoints; and they’re certain we’ll understand just how great they are once they tell us. This podcast, since it was about campaigns and the budget, brought out the usual chirpy optimistic observation from a new poster, “You wanna take money out of politics? Take the power out of Washington“.

If I had a nickel for every time I heard “take the power out of Washington” back in my Libertarian Party days, I’d have a lot of devalued coinage on hand. This was a mainstay of a good portion of simplistic libertarian thought. It’s as ridiculous a proposal as saying that laws cause crimes, so if we had no laws we’d have no crimes. While it is true that there would be no crime if there was no law, people would still die at the hands of other people, and value would still be taken from people without compensation. Consequently the injustices would still occur, we’d just call them something else.

Government is power, so you will never remove power from government. Corruption and government have walked hand in hand since the first politician agreed to do a favor in exchange for support. The question is how to reduce the obvious corruption in the current system. I don’t see any way out of this that doesn’t include a completely public election process, including financing. This is a new opinion of mine, at variance with pretty much all of the regular LP types. The concept of buying my politicians never did sit well with me, even when I was one of the rank and file. I understand the concept of money is speech in the current system, and I even agree with the recent Supreme Court Citizen’s United ruling as far as it applies to the current system;

Money is only ‘speech’ if money is allowed to be contributed to candidates. If money is not allowed to be contributed; if in fact, money changing hands means jail sentences for both parties (and it should. Bribery is a violation of current law) and all elections are publicly funded, then money is no longer a speech issue at all.

Either we can bribe to hearts content, or no bribery should be allowed. Laws attempting to control who bribes and who doesn’t should be struck down.

(My comment on TexasLP Chair Pat Dixon’s article on the subject)

But the current system is at the heart of the problem of an uninformed electorate, and any effective solution is going to have to modify that system.

I’m becoming convinced the only solution that will fix the problem is public funding of elections with some real vicious teeth on laws against gift giving. Basically, they get their wages, they get their office, and if anyone gives them money for any reason, they (and the giver) get jail-time. Don’t know how else to fix this problem. No money changes hands. No money, for any reason, at any time, or off to jail with the both of them. I have not one problem with locking up every industry exec and every congressman for illegal activities, when it comes right down to it. Every. Last. One.
There’s a local radio host (Jeff Ward, 3pm KLBJ AM. Best radio show in Austin) who has a lunar mantra that runs along the lines of I want serving in office to be the most unpleasant job you can imagine. I want people to hate serving in office so much that they can’t wait to leave the job when their time is up. That’s where I’ve been for years. I want them to hate it. I want to have to draft people to serve as congressman, and have them cry as we stuff them on the bus to go to DC. I want them to do the jobs we send them for, and then leave as soon as they get it done because it’s that unpleasant to be doing that job.

We hound their families and their friends to make sure they aren’t serving as blind trusts for officeholders. The most unpleasant job, for all concerned. People beg, BEG to be allowed to not do the job. We’ll have to publicly finance those campaigns, because there won’t be any other money to be had.

That’s what wielding the kind of power an officeholder has should feel like. A 2 year (or 4, or 6 year) long colonoscopy, while we are lodged up their collective asses watching every transaction that occurs.

What about the nostalgia? You said there’d be nostalgia! Got ahead of myself there, sorry. The nostalgia came in the form of the following libertarian pipe dream (and I’m dizzy enough already without pipe dreams) But it does bring back memories of a simpler time;

My contention is that you get back to first principals of liberty first. If the courts do not allow Washington to affect to such large degree the private affairs of individuals, especially in their means of business, you reduce the stakes. If you reduce the stakes then both the impact of corruption as well as the cost of corruption goes down.

I see Freedom and Liberty as the road back to equality and prosperity. I think with each passing day, more and more Americans are coming to believe that. I hope that within my kids lifetimes they will see a reversal of the current trend.

(From the Dan Carlin forums)

It’s beautiful. He has a dream. I remember a young, inspired Libertarian, with dreams much like that. He thought that all we needed was freedom to make things better. Then he started studying recent history, and came to the realization that the jaded in Washington were using the calls to deregulate industries as excuses to line the pockets of themselves and their cronies. Watched in disbelief as a President elected on a conservative wave of sentiment for better, smaller government, spent more money than any President before him, got us into the longest war in US history (He started a land war in Asia! What a Moron! Or he would be, if the sentiment of the people could have been resisted. I don’t think it could. It was the genius of Bin Laden to get us into Afghanistan in force. He’d just watched it consume the USSR. Think we’ll fare better in the end? I don’t.) and did nothing while the largest economic crash in US history happened all around him.

This (no longer capitol L) libertarian had a brief glimmer of hope when Obama was elected. Not that he thought there was any real chance of anything vaguely Libertarian coming out of that administration, but there was Obama’s acknowledged history of drug use that made him think that hypocrisy on the drug war would come hard, and there were the limp-wristed promises of ending wars to inspire optimism. Which was promptly dashed when Obama simply maintained the status quo on all fronts, and even accelerated on others. Even took the time to pass a Republican piece of legislation with his name on it (Romneycare relabeled as Obamacare) just to prove where his heart was.

The final nail in the coffin (no longer libertarian, now just Objectivist) came when the idiots that cast ballots in the last election believed all the lies of the Republicans running for office. That they would reduce government, repeal that horrible health care act (that they would have voted for, had a Republican been in office) and release bunnies, kittens and doves on the capitol lawn, to go with the rainbow Jesus put there. People so stupid that, here in Texas where the government is still bad, they voted in even more Republicans than we had before and gave them a super majority.

These legislators, rather than do the jobs they had been sent there for, promptly passed social conservative laws against gays, muslims, etc. to please their bases, and have yet to do anything meaningful on the subject of fixing the economic system they were sent there to address. The next Presidential election is shaping up to be more of the same.

What I think is this country needs honest debate. The only way to get it is to take apart the current election system, top to bottom. No money changes hands. People who give money to politicians go to jail for treason. Politicians who take money from people go to jail for treason. A two year series of debates is established, which all candidates for office are required to attend. No barriers to entry. If you want to be candidate, you file and you are. You miss one (or two) of the mandated debates, you’re out.

We could even structure it like that great American pasttime, American Idol. Vote candidates off that we don’t like, preliminary to the final nominations and elections. All of it covered on broadcast television and streamed on the internet (on pain of revocation of transmission licenses if not) so that ‘the people’ will understand what is at stake, or at least have to work to avoid it.

Because much as it pains me, bursting bubbles that contain libertarian (or conservative, or liberal) pipe dreams is paramount to getting any real work done in political circles. The world just doesn’t work the way the ideologues think it does.

Bob Barr Currently only Presidential Candidate on Texas Ballot

From Bob Barr’s website:

Richard Winger’s Ballot Access News reports that Democrats and Republicans have missed the August 26th deadline to place a presidential candidate on the ballot in Texas. According to the Texas Secretary of State website, Bob Barr and Wayne Allyn Root are the only candidates for president and vice-president that will appear on the ballot in the Lone Star State.

Winger writes:

Section 192.031 of the Texas election code says that political parties must certify their presidential and vice-presidential candidates for the November ballot no later than 70 days before the general election. It says, “A political party is entitled to have the names of its nominees for president and vice-president placed on the ballot if before 5 p.m. of the 70th day before presidential election day, the party’s state chair signs and delivers to the secretary of state a written certification of the name’s of the party’s nominees for president and vice-president.”
[…]
At 2:30 pm Texas time, August 27, Kim Kizer of the Texas Secretary of State’s elections division says neither major party’s certification has been received in the Elections Division. The Executive Office of the Secretary of State refers all questions back to the Elections Division.

This year, neither the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party obeyed this law.

In a press release sent from Bob Barr 2008, Russ Verney said, “Unless the state of Texas violates their own election laws, Congressman Barr will be the only presidential candidate on the ballot,” adding that “Texas law makes no exceptions for missing deadlines.”

We’ll be paying attention to this situation.

read more | digg story

The source referenced is Ballot Access News Richard Winger’s online resource for all things election. His final paragraph in the post pretty much sums up my opinion on the subject:

In 1988, the Democratic and Republican Parties missed a similar Indiana deadline. Lenora Fulani sued the State Election Board to force the Board to enforce the deadline. The 7th circuit ruled that Fulani did have standing to file such a lawsuit. Fulani v Hogsett, 917 F 2d 1028 (1990). However, the 7th circuit also said that Fulani waited too long to file her lawsuit. The implication is that if she had filed the lawsuit promptly, it would have been successful; or, more likely, the Indiana deadline for the major parties to certify their nominees might have been held unconstitutional. Fulani in 1988 was the only ballot-listed presidential candidate other than the Democratic and Republican nominees. This year, the Texas Libertarian Party and Bob Barr are the only ballot-listed presidential candidates on the Texas ballot, so the Texas Libertarian Party could, if it wished, bring a lawsuit. However, the result of the lawsuit would probably be to get the deadline declared unconstitutional; no court would order that Obama and McCain be kept off the ballot.

In the end, Obama and McCain will appear on the Texas ballot. Laws don’t apply to major parties and their candidates. On the other hand, McCain is currently suing to have Barr removed from a ballot in another state. Are we taking bets on the outcome there?

This is simply another lesson on who holds the power in this country. Get ready for the next 4 years.


Additional. The website has already been updated to include the two major party candidates.

http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/candidates/general/2008gensbs.shtml

And that, after the deadline has passed. I think we need to ask the question, did they get in before the deadline, and the website just wasn’t updated; or after it, and the law was violated? Based on Wingers research, it looks like the answer is ‘after’.


The latest from BobBarr2008.com:

“The law is clear, and it was clearly not followed,” says Verney. “The Texas Supreme Court was emphatic when it stated that the law ‘does not allow political parties or candidates to ignore statutory deadlines . . .’ Senators Obama and McCain did not file by the deadline; therefore, Texas should abide by the laws it created. No political party or candidate is above the law.”

read more | digg story

You can read campaign filings from Obama and McCain here and a letter from Russ Verney to the Texas Secretary of State here.

Poetry vs. Philosophy

Historical musings from the “hey I’ll hit publish later” archive. The comments were a response to Dan Carlin’s Common Sense episode #127 but they had almost nothing to do with the episode.


The song Dan is thinking of, unless I am mistaken, is the Don Henley song Dirty Laundry, from his first solo album. It’s not an Eagles song although as the [previously linked] music video show[ed], the Eagles are not above cashing in on Don Henley’s solo efforts, any more than they are above cashing in on Joe Walsh’s or any other band members work that will gain them a few more bucks. Kick ’em when they’re up, kick ’em when they’re down. Pretty much covers the rise and fall of any candidate, including Barack Obama.

Don Henley Live at Austin City Limits. This link will probably also go dead eventually.

The problem is there isn’t a single person who can fix the problems this country faces. Everyone wants to vote and be done with it. Doesn’t work that way. You have to roll up your sleeves and get to work yourself if you want to see change.

As a general rule I hate music videos. I link them only because there isn’t an easy way to share a song without video attached. The greatest music video is the one running in my head when I’m listening to my favorite music. Having someone else interpret what the sound means ruins the entire concept of ‘music’.

As an example, the Eagles song Take it Easy has a specific meaning for me, a meaning related to the time and place in my life where the poetry spoke to me. Supplanting that meaning with surfed up images is fakery disguised as meaning.

If you have developed an appreciation for classical music, you’ll know what I’m talking about. There’s a world of difference between a poet and philosopher. Ayn Rand was a philosopher. John Lennon was a poet. Immanuel Kant was a philosopher. Ludwig van Beethoven was a poet. There is no question what a philosopher means when he attempts to define reality. A poet’s every word is open to interpretation, and yet the emotion should ring clearly through the words and/or music.

Mistaking poetry for philosophy highlights a key reason why society is still mired in prehistoric superstition and saddled with problems that can’t be solved on anything other than a personal level. Rational legal structures cannot satisfy emotional needs. Wanting to feel safe is not a reason to enslave the medical profession and force me to contribute. Needing to feel cared for is not a reason to steal my retirement savings.

Wanting to save the earth has no bearing on whether your actions will actually improve the environment, or simply destroy property rights; and through their destruction, the fabric of western society itself. If it can be objectively proven that humans are destroying the planet, then either we can be counted upon to act rationally and alter our behaviors for our own good, or the hard-core environmentalists will get their fondest wish. Destroying property rights just improves the hand of the power seeker, who has no more of a clue than you do what will improve the environment.

Wanting to save another’s soul from eternal damnation by outlawing questionable behaviors like prostitution and recreational drug use has proven to go farther towards creating hell on earth than doing nothing at all might have. Allowing individuals the freedom to live their own lives, whether you approve of their choices or not, underscores the value of liberty. Poor choices serve as their own correction mechanism; there is no need for further punishment, it just clouds the issue bringing in a layer of paternalism when none is warranted.

Poetry appeals to your emotion, comforting or crying out for redress. Philosophy informs your mind, and outlines the possibilities in life. Clarifying whether someone is being philosophical or poetical is the first step in understanding whether they are trying to avoid reason, or attempting to motivate with emotion. And the difference is crucial.

Live from Denver

So, the LP convention is winding up in Denver today. (is it just me or is Wayne Allyn Root breathing too many of his own exhaust fumes?) Mercifully, I’m not there to witness it in person. Politics is like sausage, you really don’t want to know what goes into it.

For a list of bloggers who attended the convention, go here, or you could listen to the mellow, bourbon infused tones of my friend Tom Knapp as he tries to assemble coherent sentences over the telephone for a Gcast from the convention:


C-SPAN, MAY 25, 2008, Libertarian Party National Convention, Denver

I’m watching the coverage on C-Span. Sixth round of balloting, Bob Barr facing off against Mary Ruwart. Root has just thrown his endorsement of Barr out to the convention, and he has enough votes behind him to give the nomination to Bob Barr. Like it or not, the days of the LP as an ineffectual debating society are coming to a close.

With the nomination of a prominent former Republican as the LP’s candidate for president (Dr. Paul has never been prominent within the Republican party. He has gained some fame for his principled stands on controversial issues of late, but nothing like Barr was when he was sitting in Congress) as well as the back room wheeling and dealing and the public maneuvering that went into getting Barr his nomination, the LP has turned a corner in history. Clearly someone thinks that this nomination is worth something in the grand scheme of things.

Mike Gravel left his run for the Democrat nomination for President to also run as a Libertarian for President. For all intents and purposes, the LP has graduated into the level of serious politics.

The other thing that has occurred with the nomination of Barr, is that the LP has put forward a candidate, for the first time since I pulled the lever next to “L” on the ballot more than 10 years ago, that I’m going to have a hard time voting for. His track record in congress is not something to recommend him to people who are concerned with the growth of government, especially those of us who are concerned about the growing encroachment of religion in politics. Can a leopard truly change his spots? It remains to be seen.

What is clear is that the news outlets have no excuse not to cover the campaign of Bob Barr as it progresses. They have never failed to point a camera his way when he wore an “R” next to his name; is he less newsworthy now that the “R” has been replaced with an “L”? If he can poll double digit numbers (provided pollsters actually include his name) the major party construct that runs the debates will have a hard time leaving him out and making it look like they aren’t excluding him.

All of this ultimately leads to growth of the LP, and potential success at the ballot box at some point in the distant future. Mr. Barr has promised that he will grow the party, and garner more votes for the LP than any candidate in it’s history. Sounds good, right?

But not all growth is good growth. Libertarians should be well acquainted with this concept, since we rail against the growth of government on a continuing basis. Will a massive influx of disaffected Republicans be a surge for the cause of liberty, or a dilution of the principles that many of us already in the party embrace? A substitution of libertarian principles for the even more amorphous conservative thought, and all the baggage that group brings with it?

This is a reason to remain active in the party, if nothing else. Hold the line against conservative encroachment. I’m not interested in being associated with an LP that is nothing more than a GOP-lite. I come from the other side of the fence, harking back to the founders and their principles, the liberals of their time; not from the Goldwater era which (supposedly) redefined what conservatism was in the US.

I am not a conservative, not even vaguely. I’m a libertarian. The self-identifying conservative who carries my parties nomination is going to have to sell me on his worthiness to get my vote.

Who’s a Libertarian?

This is a post I circulated concerning the speaker at the 2004 Libertarian convention. This was the beginning of my dissatisfaction with sharing air with Anarchists.


The tempest in a teapot concerning Boortz speaking at the National Conference isn’t about Boortz; It isn’t even about war vs. antiwar. If you go back and read all of T.L. Knapp’s “Life of the Party” series, it becomes plainly clear that the issue goes much deeper than that. It’s why the Boot Boortz camp have the audacity to suggest that those in agreement with Boortz should …be shown the door.

The issue ladies and gentlemen is this: Is government necessary or not? Does the structure we call government serve a legitimate function in a truly libertarian society; or is each individual capable of governing themselves sufficiently to render government as we know it useless? Let me explain why this is what is being argued about.

Libertarians don’t agree on whether or not government should exist. On the one hand you have those who believe that government is not necessary, and they offer suggestions for its eventual replacement by voluntary structures. Generally those that offer these types of arguments are known as anarchists. On the other hand you have objectivists and others who believe that government serves a vital, albeit limited function, and it should be maintained in some minimal fashion so as to preserve liberty. The label that has been generally applied to these types is minarchist. Not everyone accepts the above labels, and the current LP membership includes views, like those of Constitutionalists, that don’t fit in either camp.

The anarchist/minarchist schism has existed within the party nearly since its inception. There have been various attempts to settle disputes between the factions, none of them very successful. The most successful was the Dallas Accord in which the libertarians of the time agreed that they would not discuss whether or not government was necessary, and focus on the more important issue of personal liberty. The agreement has worked until recently.

What’s changed? 9/11, that’s what has changed. The foreign policy blunders that the federal government has committed for the last hundred years have come home to roost with a vengeance. The ‘terrorists’ have declared war on us, and we are under threat. We are now faced with a situation that must be dealt with, and all of the effective options involve the use of government power. The problem is this: If you acknowledge that government has a reason to exist, then that reason will most likely include defensive measures designed to secure us from the aggressive actions of others. No matter how you slice it, 9/11 comes under “attacks against the territory of the United States”, and we have the obligation to make sure that any more threats of that type are dealt with, and the guilty parties that conspired to conduct the attacks are hunted down and exterminated.

To further extend the logic chain, one can extrapolate several strategic reasons for a large ground force in the area that the attackers called home (the Middle East) and the benefit of soundly defeating the ‘biggest bully on the block’. Whether you agree with the strategy or not, it makes sense from a military standpoint… If you acknowledge that government has a reason to exist.

However, if you don’t believe that government should exist, then any action of the government is damnable from the outset; and any action which benefits the government directly (such as a war) is the worst kind of evil imaginable, and therefore must be denounced in the strongest possible terms.

…and that ladies and gentlemen is why the disagreement over Boortz speaking has taken on a life of its own. He has had the audacity to apply logic to the situation and determine from his own perspective that the threat posed by the ‘terrorists’ is sufficient to require actions against other countries. …and to further determine that the largest most vocal segment of the antiwar movement are also anti-american. To add insult to injury he speaks his mind about his beliefs to an audience of thousands, and categorizes himself a libertarian. As others have pointed out, on every other issue other than the war, Boortz is solidly libertarian. But because of this one issue, his belief that government has a reason to exist, he can’t be a libertarian.

Now the anarchists are regretting ever letting non-anarchists into their club; and some of them would like to institute a purity test so that the membership can be limited to those who profess correct beliefs. To hell with them. This is the reason why everyone who has an interest in furthering the LP needs to go to the convention and actively participate in the sessions. The core of the party has been controlled by too few for too long. If we are going to succeed in changing the policies of the current government, we are going to have to include more people, and gain influence. You don’t do that by kicking out those you disagree with.

For my part, I wouldn’t mind if they asked Rush Limbaugh to speak at the convention. It might make for some interesting conversation. It doesn’t even offend me when Bill Maher calls himself a ‘libertarian’. He just makes himself look like a fool to those who know better. To take exception to Neal Boortz speaking at the convention is more than a waste of time; it is the equivalent of picking the scab off of a festering sore. It will only delay the time it takes for the underlying disagreements to recede into the background where they belong.

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most
intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.

Charles Darwin

Why I am a Libertarian

I’m rehashing an old subject, trying to update it for publishing in the Austin Liberator. As I pointed out in the recent blog post The Vote, I pulled the lever next to “L” again this year, just as I have for the last 10 plus years. I do this because I vote my conscience, rather than worry about wasting a vote.

The only wasted vote is the vote cast for a lessor evil, rather than being cast for a greater good. I vote and refer to myself as a Libertarian, and I do it with pride.


I am a libertarian because I believe in the concept of limited government. When I mention this fact to someone, I usually get the response “But you’re really a Republican, aren’t you?” Nothing could be further from the truth. I tolerate conservatives, but I’m not one of their kin.

Before I discovered the Nolan chart (http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz.html) and through it the LP, I was a staunch yellow dog Democrat, like my parents and grandparents before them. I believed that government was there to help, and that social freedoms could be taken for granted under the Democrat’s benign rule. However, I was at a loss to explain why the drug war persisted (with tacit Democrat support) or why the term “Politically Correct” was ever coined (by a Democrat) Even when the Democrat’s dominated the legislature and Democrats held the Presidency, social liberty never increased.

When the Republicans came to power, they talked of reducing the size and expense of government. My fellow Democrats cried over this, but I could not understand how reducing government, and the tax burdens on the people, was necessarily a ‘bad’ thing. Having more of my money to dispose of as I wished seemed like a good thing to me. Having less government interference in my life was one of my goals, as well. I thought I might have something in common with Republicans after all.

Strangely, the cost of government never got smaller, even when the Republicans dominated the legislatures, and a Republican held the Presidency. The Republicans did reduce taxes, but the debt burden passed on to the next generation of Americans went through the roof. I started to think that the politicians were not being truthful with us; and if they were lying to us about their intentions, then what else were they lying to us about?

When I was told “read my lips” and then watched taxes rise anyway; and when I heard “It depends on what the definition of is is” used as an excuse to cover the questionable activities of a president (activities that were the least egregious of the impeachable offenses that he could have been charged with) I began to see the truth that I know today: If a politician has words coming out of his mouth, he’s most likely lying.

I discovered something else in the course of nearly 30 years of following politics: Government is a weapon. It is a loaded gun that you point at wrong doers to make them stop what they are doing. That is the only ‘help’ that government can give; and it doesn’t even do that cheaply. If you want government to do something for you, then you are employing force to get it done.

Everything that government does can be done by private industry better, faster and cheaper. The fewer government run programs, the less force that is present in our system; less force means more freedom.

Jefferson, Adams and the others who founded this country understood this. The Democratic party (I was told) was the party of Jefferson. Because of this, I was a Democrat. What I did not realize was that the limited government principles of Jefferson and the founders were abandoned by the Democrats in the 1940 election; which brings us back to the Nolan chart, and the LP.

Chart the beliefs of the founders, and nearly to a man they will turn up Libertarian; Jefferson was solidly so. When I took the test, I too charted as solidly Libertarian. It has been more than 10 years since I took the test, lodging protest votes against the two major parties, discussing issues with fellow libertarians; and it’s been only recently that I have come to the realization that I was indeed a Libertarian in belief, and not just a political misfit.

Ask any libertarian why they are what they are, and you will get a different story. Some are former Republicans and some, like me, are former Democrats. Most of them are of the younger generation, fresh out of college and worried about the future they face at the hands of an ever-expanding federal government.

If there is a core libertarian belief, then this is a good portion of it; that government at least return to constitutional limits, and be responsive to the people who fund it. That force not be employed except in response to force. That we are all capable of governing ourselves, just as has been done throughout our history.

These were the beliefs of our nations founders; and because I claim these same principles as my own, I must be a libertarian.


I have revised my view several times since this piece was written; suffice it to say, I am no longer libertarian. I reject the label, and most of the philosophy behind the label.  The reasons for this are complex, and I haven’t quite worked it all out and written it down yet.  Still, I’m certain that Libertarians are aspiring to something that I see as dystopic in nature.  But that is another story, I hope I get around to writing it.

Daybreak, Deja Vu?

So, they preempted Lost for 12 weeks to roll out this series called Daybreak. It’s all about deja vu, and reliving the same day repetitively. Now I’m having deja vu, because it isn’t February 2nd, but I keep thinking of Groundhog Day. Groundhog Day and Man on Fire, that’s what this thing reminds me of, it’s something of a cross between those two, both films that I’ve seen before, multiple times, making me think I’ve seen this before, which is a serious case of deja vu.

Not to be confused with the movie Deja vu, starring Denzel Washington, who is also the star of Man on Fire, which was being advertised at the same time Daybreak was…

Then there was the Is that Jayne? moment. But it wasn’t. Clearly he’s the Major from ID4 with a desk job.

…is this confusing yet? I could try harder, you know.

“Is it any good”, I hear you asking. Why yes, they’re all good. Well, I can’t speak for Deja vu, because I haven’t seen that one yet; at least I don’t think I have. And the deja vu that I’m getting from watching Daybreak as the sun rises is making me wonder if it isn’t February 2nd, and whether I’ll wake up and trip over my gun, or just hear Bob Dylan one… more… time…


I did see Deja Vu (or I saw it again, maybe) and it was good, if a little predictable. Day Break, on the other hand disappeared without a trace.

The episodes are viewable on ABC.com, but one has to wonder whose lame idea it was to shoot and promote a show that they weren’t going to seriously attempt to air (6 episodes isn’t serious, it’s a joke) as long as you are burning through those dollars, ABC, why don’t you send some of it my way. I’m sure I can come up with some ideas for you to spend money on and not show just as well as the next guy…

Voting is not an Act of Violence

One of the members of a list I’m on is an example of the more vocal anti-voting Anarcho-Capitalist friends that I spoke of in The Vote. He’s rather fond of finding an article that addresses something he objects to, and throwing the file at his opponents as if the file will speak for itself.

Consequently, after posting The Vote to the list, I get the article Is Voting an Act of Violence? in HTML format, clipped right off the web page as a reply. Not one to waste such an opportunity, I decided to address the problems with the article both on the list, and to the author himself. So, with no further exposition, here are the salient points I wish to dissect.


Carl Watner wrote:

Each person, by voting, sanctions the violence used by agents of the State. The link in the chain of responsibility for that violence surrounds each voter when he pulls down the lever in the voting booth.

This point (which is the summary point of the entire article) can be easily shown to be in error. Casting a ballot for write in candidates that you make up on the spot results in a vote for a candidate that cannot hold the office; it is essentially a vote for none of the above. There is no chain of violence attached to such a vote. Casting a ballot for Libertarian candidates is casting a vote for those who have renounced violence as a method of political gain. There is no chain of violence attached to this vote either. Casting no votes for all propositions that expend tax dollars, or that criminalize behaviors not formally criminal (such as smoking and gay marriage) also carry no “chain of violence”.

Walking in to the voting booth and casting a blank ballot removes the requirement to pull the lever for anyone, at all. It also removes any associated endorsement of violence.

As for the resulting argument concerning funding the election itself; the election will occur anyway. It’s no different than putting a bullet in the head of a burglar who enters your house in the night. The election occurs, your opinion is warranted. Give them your opinion, even if that opinion isn’t one they want to hear. Unless you are a pacifist, there shouldn’t be a problem with responding in kind in a situation such as this.

Carl Watner goes on to say:

Voting is an act of presumptive violence because each voter assumes the right to appoint a political guardian over other human beings. No individual voter or even a majority of voters have such a right. If they claim to possess such a right, let them clearly explain where that right comes from and how it squares with the self-evident truths of the Declaration of Independence “that all men are created equal, [and] that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable “Rights” of “Life, Liberty,” and Property.

This is actually the easy part to address. A person can choose not to vote, not to participate, and that is their prerogative. It would be an act of violence to force someone to choose his own master, or who he is going to associate with. So voting is and should be voluntary.

In the same vein, a person can choose not to self-govern, and for that reason some form of external governance will always be needed as a fall back position. For those people who will not govern themselves, there will be a government that can be applied to them, for the protection of those who can and do self-govern.

If there is going to be a government, someone must be selected (in some form or fashion) to enforce laws on those individuals not willing to respect other’s Life, Liberty and Property. The selection process is currently democratic in nature; ergo, you have to vote. And until there is some other way to select government for our own defense (a government in line with the founders intentions) voting is an act of self-defense; which can involve violence when it is required.

To object to violence done by one’s own hand in self-defense is to render oneself the slave anyone who is willing to do violence to get his way. If this is what you are objecting to, then I gladly distance myself from your opinion.

Free Talk Live: IP and Disney

Listening to the Wednesday edition of Free Talk Live on my Treo 650 today; listening to Ian pound Mark over the head for his support for Intellectual Property rights. (third day in a row, I might add…)

Generally, I agree with Mark on this issue. As an architect, I know that the thought that goes into design is a valuable commodity that needs to be protected. Otherwise the less scrupulous out there will simply wait for someone else to do the hard work of invention so that they can then profit from it at the inventor’s expense. Contrary to Ian’s assertions, I’ve not seen any evidence that people will do the months and years of work required to bring something to market unless they have reasonable confidence that they will make a profit from it. If anybody can copy a design and be free to sell it the day after it hits the market (or as in the case of the Chinese clothing ‘pirates’, even before it hits the market) then the chances for profit are greatly reduced. I don’t know of any business that stays in business without making a profit.

On the other hand, I don’t really believe that corporations (like Disney) should be allowed to hold rights to intellectual property. Those rights should be limited to real people, not legal entities that will continue to expect a profit long past the lifespan of the original author. Disney is a prime example of this, since their lobbying was instrumental in getting the latest extension to copyright terms passed.

There is a phrase that applies to the subject of Disney characters and the school mural that was the subject of rather heated discussion on Wednesday’s show. That phrase is “work of art”. A work of art is generally exempt from claims of copyright infringement. That doesn’t stop the corporations with lawyers and money at their disposal threatening people with legal action if their demands aren’t met. The truth is that the school blinked when Disney decided to play hard ball. If push had come to shove, Disney would probably have dropped the case.

Copyright terms expiring was the real reason for Disney going after public displays of their copyrighted works. Like Coke being synonymous with cola and Kleenex with facial tissue, Disney was fighting the battle of keeping their property from passing into the public domain; and they won that battle by passing new legislation. If corporations were excluded from owning these types of property, the entire battle could have been avoided.

[On the question from a listener concerning the objectivist opinion on the subject; as an objectivist myself, I think I can vouch for the fact that objectivists in general understand the need to protect the “mind’s contribution” to the creative effort]

Oh, and Ian, your disbelief in intellectual property doesn’t equate to the non-existence of intellectual property. But your willingness to steal other peoples ideas speaks volumes to the subject of why the MPAA and the RIAA are willing to go to such lengths to protect their investments.

For what it’s worth, this is one of those arguments that illustrates the very narrow difference between a communist (in the government-less nature of the word ‘commune’) and the little ‘a’ anarchists and the extreme edge of the Libertarian party. They would also tell you that ideas ‘should be free’, but I’m not willing to live in their version of utopia either.

Inalienable Rights Defined

(Originally posted here)

I had a request the other day to elaborate on how I would define inalienable rights without including god as the architect. This is a summation of what I’ve posted before on the subject.


Simply put, You exist. You exist as a individual, capable of sustaining your own life. The requirements for you life to continue can be conceptualized into ‘rights’ that you possess as a living, thinking being. You have the right to continue in your life, since you are capable of sustaining it barring intervention by others. This right is secured by the rational capacity of the individual, linked to the corporeal existence/free will of the individual, which manifests as actions in ‘self defense’.

Your ‘right to life’ leads to corollary rights. Existence is measured in time, and time (spent wisely) yields game/crops/shelter or ‘property’. You have a right to (justly acquired) property because your continued existence (your ‘right to life’) depends on being able to dispose of your property (the manifestation of productive life) as you see fit. Following this type of chain, you can produce several ‘rights’ that a person should reasonably expect to be ‘allowed’ to exercise. Liberty is the corollary right that ‘allowing’ falls under, since there would be no question of the free exercise of your rights if you did not have others with equal rights to contend with.

Since we all equally exist, we should all have ‘equal’ rights. The rights are inseparable because they stem from what we are. A prisoner has rights. Not because we ‘allow’ them; but because his free will enables them. The fact that there are prison breaks is merely proof that the prisoners maintain their rights *in spite of* the full force of gov’t and the people being intent on denying them the exercise of same. The unjustified killing of a person is therefore a destruction of a value equal to your own, and should be dealt with harshly by those who value the rights they possess.

That’s about as far as I’ve taken it. Much more to be written…


Mea culpa review, 2017. I haven’t updated the page recently, but if you go to Emergent Principles of Human Nature you will discover that my mental obsession with this topic has produced some fruit. Fruit of questionable value probably, but something at least.