L. Neil Smith's
Number 88, September 4, 2000
Labor Day

Letters To The Editor

by Our Readers
Send Letters to TLE@johntaylor.org



Under "What is the biggest problem in the city of Laurel?" I wrote "Arteriosclerosis."

I wonder if they'll find that funny.

Somehow, I doubt it.

Jonathan Taylor Schattenwurm@aol.com

Compromise. So much is said. Focus is made on the "two kinds of libertarians" by Leonard Dickens in TLE#87, one political, one principal.

But what about the two different kinds of "compromise"? One physical, one principle.

As Ayn Rand put it, not being one for compromising principle, "There can be no compromise on basic principles or on fundamental issues. What would you regard as a 'compromise' between life and death? Or between truth and falsehood? Or between reason and irrationality?"

Yet compromise happens every day. I ride a motorcycle, and many times while riding I "compromise" by not exercising my "right of way" in strictly text-book ways. Not because I'm not "right" and the car that just pulled out in front of me at a stop sign isn't "wrong", but because physical compromise is what allows people to live together.

How many times in our arguments have we had to deal with someone nay-saying the principle of non-initiation of force based on their not applying simple courtesy? Simple politeness?

Courtesy and politeness are what lubricate the interface between principle and reality.

I am happy to compromise with those who disagree with me. That means that I will not carry arms into a store whose owner does not like arms. I will not walk into a place expecting service while not wearing a shirt or shoes.

My compromise politically is that I will accept the repeal of one law at a time. I prefer that those repeals happen quickly, and will both argue and vote that way.

Where I believe the phalicy of "compromise" exists is in the application of that word by the opponents of freedom. For them, "compromise" means enacting just one new restriction at a time, instead of a hundred. "Compromise" is then always a step in the direction of prohibition. "For the children."

We cannot forget that the public schools are run, in their ENTIRETY, by opponents of freedom. They define the debate by defining the words used. Oppose a "new" law, oppose greater restrictions, and one is labeled an "extremist." Demand that justification be shown for another prohibition before it is enacted, and one is labeled as "obstructionist", because that is what the words now mean.

Compromise has nothing to do with principle, principle is what your position is based on. For some, their principle is "status quo" because if one is alive right now, obviously things can't be all that bad.

One can be labeled "libertarian" and still have their principle be "status quo," simply by opposing any new restrictions. "To preserve our way of life."

If you want to win an argument with a prohibitionist, find the things they hold sacred. Find freedom of speech, find firearms, find travel or bank privacy. Then, if an argument can be won that is, guide them to applying that same "principle" to other things. Show them that the principles that they will not "compromise" can be applied even to those things they might not agree with.

Compromise and principle coexist perfectly well. Our problem is education, for "we" are being trained that the two cannot coexist and that principle must be abandoned in order to live together.

Mandatory public schooling, funded, staffed and curriculum defined by bureaucrats. The ultimate socialist program. In "America" no less. Tisk tisk, how the mighty have fallen. And we sit here and argue semantics.

Curt Howland Howland@Priss.com

Hi John,

Regarding the continuing controversy over libertarianism and the LP, I would only observe to Leonard Dickens that libertarian philosophy is something that is intuitive once a proper moral foundation is understood, and that arriving at a proper moral foundation is a singularly individual pursuit. In other words, our politics will only reflect libertarian philosophy (to the extent such is possible, if at all) when there is a critical mass of citizens who have undertaken the necessary journey to self-improvement. The LP can play an educational role; many who've progressed to a voluntaryist or individualist anarchist or anarcho-capitalist personal philosophy began their journey in the LP. This explains why the LP's renewal rate is abysmal. But I agree with the position that the LP will not achieve electoral success until the populace is already of the proper mind.

And then other questions would abound:

1) If the LP achieves power, is it still an organization governed by libertarian principle?

2) If a critical mass of citizens already has embraced self-responsibility and rejected power in favor of persuasion, does the LP's ascension to the pinnacle of power have any importance?

These issues are the crux of any discussion of "how we get there from here." I believe electoral politics is a dead end for any philosophy that is based on individual liberty. I don't think you can get to a freer world via the political game; to do so would require a repeal of economic laws as applied to politics by Public Choice theorists. As with gravity, it might be nice to write fiction about a place where this could happen, but unless you're a quark, you live in a Newtonian universe...gravity is universal, just as is human nature and the perverse incentives that govern electoral politics.

Libertarians might well acknowledge these real-world limitations of electoral politics. Having done so we can direct our energies toward all the little things that both make the state less relevant and help to share our understanding with individuals around us. And if Leviathan's train is hurtling toward totalitarianism too fast to prevent cataclysm (as I suspect)?

Keep your powder dry. AKA, don't register the guns, don't P-O the neighbors (who will otherwise gleefully turn you in to Big Bro'), choose non-compliance in many small ways, get some money into a bank outside the physical borders of the US and destroy all evidence that you've done so. And don't give the bastards even more reason to declare martial law. Given the recent urban training of the Marines, I suspect they're planning on a provocation sooner or later.

The march toward a libertarian future is inexorable, three steps forward, two back. The trick is to spread the word of peace while cultivating the patience to wait for the next steps forward.

Best regards,

David Calderwood dcc@xta.com

We here in the greate People's Republic of California have managed to dodge the bullet for another year. Assemblyman Jack Scott, D-Altadena, CA, has removed his bill AB 237 from the floor of the California State Assembly at the request of Governor Gray Davis when Governor Davis made it clear that he would veto the bill if it crossed his desk.

Whew!!!!! Thank you PRC Governor Davis!!! Where, might I ask, did you develope the courage to 'Just Say No' to gun control legislation? It seems that Gov. Davis feels that there is enough gun control legislation on the books in California without adding AB 237. For that, I am truly grateful.

AB 237 was designed to introduce permanent licensing and testing for the privilege of owning a gun. Here's how it would have worked.

Prior to buying a gun, the gun buyer would go to a local police station, sign up for and take a classroom safety training, responsibility and ethics class (paid for by the buyer), sign up for and take a gun handling and shooting class (paid for by the buyer), apply for and pass a background check (paid for by the buyer), apply for and pay for a weapon permit, submitting a thumbprint and proof of state residency. Upon successful completion of all these steps, the buyer would then wait for the permit to be delivered, at which time the buyer could then go to the store and buy his/her weapon of choice. Notice I said 'weapon', not 'weapons'! That's right, to buy another weapon, the buyer would have to complete the same procedure all over again!

That's right, Mr. Scott tried to make owning a gun a privilege, just like owning and driving a car! He went even further to make it necessary to license both the gun and the owner for each gun (After all, a shotgun handles differently than a .357!) just like we've heard from insurance agencies that we're insuring the vehicle. But just try to file a claim if someone else in the family was driving it and you don't have uninsured motorist insurance!

As both Mr. Scott and many other supporters have put it, "What's all the fuss about at the Capitol these days over licensing handguns? We all have to take driving tests - we prove who we are, we take a written test, we demonstrate our acumen in finding the wipers and defroster, we may even take our examiner out for a little spin - so what's the big deal about taking a test to get a gun license?"

What I don't understand, is how such pernicious attacks against the BoR can be reported so positively in the papers? Don't these people know their Constitutional law? Are they that ill-educated about how other societies have fallen to power-grabbers?

I remember studying Journalism in the early 70's prior to the wave of socialist professorships taking over the schools and universities. Back then, it was all about getting the facts straight and getting ALL the facts, not just the ones that were easy to find. I read the news articles (No, this is not op-ed page stuff, I'm getting these quotes from the front-page news section!) today and I see gaping holes left where the writer failed to even remotely research all sides of the story. In many cases just looking at their own papers' morgue database would have provided a wealth of information on all aspects of news stories, yet the article that gets released ignores 90% or more of the relevant facts. The funny thing is; this is not the case for stories in the business or cooking sections, just for stories in the "news" sections. More and more, when I read articles regarding gun control legislation or power industry deregulation, I feel that what I am reading belongs in the editorial section of the paper due to the highly biased presentation.

We have got to make it known that this is not acceptable. If an article or column appears in the news/factual section of a paper that is clearly an editorial comment, then we must write to the papers demanding that such work be moved to the editorial section where it belongs.

Derk Benner delphidb@rsvlonline.net

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