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L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 149, November 26, 2001
Letters to the Editor
Send Letters to TLE@johntaylor.org
This announcement goes to my freedom-loving friends, many of whom have expressed concern over the accelerated loss of civil rights in the wake of Sept. 11.
How can we prevent America from following the path of Germany in 1938? How can we make sure this doesn't become the Land of "Papers, Please," and the Home of Staying Home?
Maybe we can; maybe not. The good news is that concern over this trend comes from both the political left and the right as well as the steadfast libertarian commitment to liberty. More people are ready to listen to questions about the propriety of government actions in this arena than perhaps for any other issue in recent memory.
The bad news is that most of America appears to be caught up in the swell of mindless nationalism that naturally produces support for almost anything Our Government does.
How can we get their attention and show them the threat to the future of freedom in America?
In the various online discussion groups I belong to I've laid low for a couple of weeks as this discussion has developed. Why? Because I was feverishly working on a solution.
A 'Cookie-Cutter' Program for Activists
What I've developed is a simple way for people to get the message out, primarily using quality posters they can reproduce inexpensively on their own (and in whatever quantity they like). I provide the artwork on a new web site, "Welcome to Homeland Security," at the simple "redirect" URL http://welcome.to/HomelandSecurity (or, if you'd prefer to avoid a few pop-up ad windows, the direct URL http://www.geocities.com/azliberty/HomelandSecurity/homesec.htm).
There, I encourage people to download, reproduce, and use the designs (intact) however they see fit -- even for a profit if they wish. The point, after all, is to spread a message -- not to make a buck.
Here are lo-res thumbnails of the two featured posters (other material is also available):
History buffs may recognize a design resemblance to Nazi propaganda posters -- quite intentional, I assure you.
So ... I now have an answer to the "What should we do?" questions I've been hearing. At least ONE thing to do is ready and waiting for you. One more thing should be obvious:
Spread the word. Tell your friends about how they can use this simple, inexpensive "cookie-cutter" program to start sewing the seeds of doubt among those who trust too easily.
For those of you who'd like to look at an expanded array of
freedom-oriented designs that are now available on shirts, mugs, tote
bags, mouse pads, and other products you can use to grab attention in
public, visit my other recently created site,
Kent Van Cleave firstname.lastname@example.org
John, If Keith Shugarts isn't aware of it, he might enjoy The Great Explosion by Eric Frank Russell, New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 1993. Or And Then There Were None, the relevant chapters excerpted: http://ccdev.lets.net/materials/and_then_there_were_none.html
Cordially, Brian Monahan email@example.com
Keith, you make some interesting points but I think you are off the mark on one big portion. To wit, I doubt the missile defense screen would turn into a choke point by shooting down, or threatening to, departing space flights. Not when it would be so much more convenient, not to mention politically justifiable to shoot them down when they are returning.
Consider: Space is the ultimate "unfriendly environment". No one using experimental technology could reasonably expect to make their first launch into space and then remain there, completely self sufficient. It would require the formation of some reasonable economic base separate from earth. Asteroid mining is likely to be lucrative, but only if there exists someone to buy the metals you mine.
Barring the discovery of a friendly extraterrestrial race, or someone launching a small city into orbit, the people left behind on earth are going to be the only significant market for metals mined from asteroids. Or for that matter, for gemstones picked up off the surface of one. So the first "private" (that is if you don't count corporations which already launch satellites for communications) enterprises that venture into space are going to be either orbital in nature and unmanned (private communications and GPS type satellites) of are going to expect to return to earth.
So what simpler way to choke off true "free" access to space than for the government that controls such a defense system to restrict what comes back to earth and how it comes back?
It will likely start out simply. I doubt that the people in charge in the government really want to keep people out of space. They just want to make sure that governmental control expands at least as fast as the population does. And, of course, they want to make certain that they get a piece of whatever money is made out there.
So they will likely allow private individuals to get into space ... so long as they file flight plans which include when they are coming back. And they will be more than happy to supply a landing site ... complete with a bevy of officials to make sure that they accurately inventory everything that they bring back, whether its mined materials from an asteroid or new compounds produced in a zero-G lab. And God help the pilot that chooses to try to land somewhere other than the "approved" landing site ... because they will land a LOT harder than they expected.
They may not even place too heavy fees or tariffs on the first few groups that bring things back. Kind of like the internet, bureaucrats are unlikely to try to get a big slice of the pie until they realize just how big of a pie it is. Of course, then they will descend with all kinds of fees, tariffs and taxes. Oh wait, they are already trying to assess property taxes on satellites owned by communications companies ... I guess they can see a cash cow when it beats down their door.
As it begins to look like settlements on the Moon, or elsewhere, might have a good chance of becoming self sufficient, they will begin cranking up the tariffs on what is sent back to Earth. Remember, for an orbital platform or Moon settlement to become self supporting in the long term, they are going to have to bring enough water, air and plant material there to form a self renewing ecosystem. This isn't a small amount. Space vehicles the size of the current shuttle will take an awful long time to ferry that much material from earth (the only source for the plant material). And at least as long to mine it from asteroids and comets (sources of water, gases and raw materials). So governments will have plenty of notice when they are approaching the "self sufficiency" stage.
Larger vehicles can be built, but the only practical place to build them is either in orbit or on the Moon. In either case, earthbound governments are likely to demand to be allowed to send inspectors to monitor work (and gather intelligence) or they will turn the defense system on the project to "protect" their populations from someone building a weapons platform overhead. And they are likely to use the significant funds available from taxes to buy spacecraft at least as fast and maneuverable as any that become available to the public. The difference is, average, or even eccentric, private individuals are unlikely to devote the bulk of the crafts cargo capacity to carrying nukes. Governments probably will.
Nukes are not even comparable to the amount of damage even a small asteroid could cause if "dropped" onto the earth. But nukes, on top of state of the art missiles, are far more likely to be able to vaporize a spacecraft than anything else we currently have. They won't be used to wage war on settlements (though the threat might be there). They will be used to patrol the shipping lanes from the earth to each settlement, to guard the earth against "stray" asteroids, and to act as customs for cargos going to earth. And there will be established "shipping lanes" ... formed if by nothing else than the "least fuel" or "least time" solutions to get from point A to point B and common convenience.
Some people will manage to "escape" government dominance. They will be the ones who live on the ragged edge of exploration, returning to anything approaching society only infrequently to trade knowledge and samples for supplies (much like mountain men of the early american period). The governments, both those on earth and those that eventually form in space, will tolerate these people, and these "escape holes" so long as an insignificant percentage actually slip away into that life.
No, sorry, getting "private" individuals into space on their own will not let a significant portion of society escape governments. It will merely provide the needed bridge to carry governments to the stars. If we want to get out from under government, we are going to have to do it here, on earth, before we allow it to spread and contaminate the stars.
Jeff Colonnesi firstname.lastname@example.org
I hold that for a government to have validity, it must advance every form of competition, including that which challenges its own premise to exist.
If the truth is to know of its own premise, it must also recognize even that which is so faulted that it cannot stand to face its own challenge, and must also be allowed to make its own case. Lies steal liberty, and they are the alternative to liberty; all must hear and see the alternative -- anything less is to promote tyranny.
Freedom does not hide behind a set of lies. So, let the liars lie; their premise for existence is as empty as the promise (s) they attempt to deliver.
Consider: When you are the friend of everyone, then nobody is your enemy! Not even the haters of it, for they can exist unencumbered to preach as they might to any who would listen. All one has to do is compare what freedom would exist when living under those who would deny Liberty.
If, instead of squelching any particular person, or business, were we to instead foster it (but most certainly not those things which deprive life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness -- which does not infringe upon another's liberty), then our nation would find itself virtually inundated with applications to statehood!
I see things this way: If our government were to see to it that every form of competition were protected to the extent that no business was protected above any other, then the competition would produce so much capital that the US would virtually control the rest of the known universe, by virtue of the fact that its might would exist in the name of those who were willing to protect it, rather than just in the name of a military force amassed for just that purpose. Think: Switzerland west.
Imagine: The United States of Liberty. It would be so powerful that no threat would phase it. The threat would see itself better off to join what would otherwise be seen as a commercial free-for-all -- where no matter who takes part, everyone is a winner, than to attempt any other action, which would otherwise produce no winners at all.
Who could argue against it? The losers, the communists (read: socialists), who -- no matter what they proclaim otherwise -- are the only winners when everyone else is a loser.
Lastly, your signature: " Individuals do not need leaders." To that, I would add only this: Individuals and leaders see each other as 'liabilities.' Freedom favors the former, and tyranny favors the latter.
E.J. Totty email@example.com
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