L. Neil Smith's
Number 218, April 7, 2003


[Letters to the editor are welcome on any and all subjects. To ensure their acceptance, please try to keep them under 500 words. Sign your letter in the text body with your name and e-mail address as you wish them to appear.]

Letters from Sam, Scott Graves, and Manuel Miles

Letter from Joe Collins

Letters from K Jack Chleva, and Patrick Martin

Letter from Todd Andrew Barnett


Steve Witter demonstrates in one paragraph and a short closing line that not only was he never 'pretty much a libertarian" but that he never really had a clue. Nothing in his short missive indicates that his political viewpoint has any taint of morality.

Sam [sam@kogagrove.org]


I thought I was pretty much a libertarian but after reading the anti-Bush/anti-war rhetoric I have definitely changed my mind.

Hmm.. For some reason I suspect you of being a conservative Bush supporter who was coming our way because we were fellow travelers on a small list of issues such as guns and perhaps a few others. Certainly there is a quantity of anti-Bush talk here. He has put on his jackboots along with the rest of his administration and is in the process of stomping all over the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Campaign Finance Reform, Patriot I, Patriot II the list goes on and on. I guess when it's a Republican abusing our liberties it's ok.

As for the anti-war rhetoric, it is simply in counter to the pro-war rhetoric we get from the media (amazingly supportive of Bush's War) and the absolute bull pucky spread by the Bush administration. I tell ya' what. I'll support Operation Iraqi Liberation (OIL) once I see an Operation American Liberty from this administration.

You guys are coming across as nothing more than a bunch of burned-out, liberal, pathetic hippies.

Insults already. Accusing a bunch of gun owning, liberty seeking people of being liberals.

Them's fightin' words bub. Better find yerself a good second cause I think yer goona get a few folks a' callin' ya out.

Just remember, your standard of living is directly related to the free flow of petroleum, and Saddam sits in arms reach of 60% of the oil production facilities in the world.

So this war is all about oil. At least someone will admit it. It seems the Bush administration wants us to think this is about freedom for the Iraqis and stopping WMD transfers to terror groups. I think you haven't been getting your updates on rhetoric from the White House. Bush keeps telling us oil has nothing to do with it. Has he been lying to us? If so what else has he been lying about?

Only a fool would allow this freak of nature to acquire nuclear weapons, and only a fool would not address the issue with the only thing Saddam understands. getting his ass handed to him on a platter by the US Military.

First off, this "freak of nature" was supported by our CIA in his bid to take over Iraq from the monarchy propped up by the Brits after WWI. Until Bush the Elder he was a top of the line ally for America. Our government supplied him with chemical and biological weapons for the Iran/Iraq war which he used more on the Kurds who tried to side with the Iranians. Buckets full of conventional weapons were sent to him as well. I guess Hennery Kissenger [sic] was right, the only thing worse than being an enemy of the United States is to be it's friend.

But more importantly we have the true stand that conservatives take on weapons ownership. Only those people you like should have the weapons you allow them to have as long as they point them where you want them to point them. I suppose this explains why Brady I and Brady II haven't been repealed by the Republican majorities. If a former ally cannot be permitted to have certain weapons then simple Americans should be limited in their weapon ownership as well. I suppose this is why the Republicans routinely claim to support the RTKBA, but in reality want only the "right" people to be armed.

We (Libertarians) also have this little thing called "principle", you might try having at least one. We believe that initiation of force is wrong, no exceptions. It is wrong to stick a gun in your ear and make you do what I want you to do. It is wrong to kill you because I want to, or because I suspect you of thinking of maybe doing nasty to me. Wrong. Get it. As such we cannot support a national level of initiation of force. To do so gives credibility to a million violations of personal liberty under the color of "it was for the common good".

You can go back now to holding hands and singing kumbaya.

Never liked that song, or the drums. Also holding hands gets in the way of keeping my hands free for smokin' pot and grabbin' for my gun. How about we get back to discussing how we are going to stop you Republicans from taking away the liberties that Clinton never got around to taking away? Sound good to you.

Scott Graves [whiteknight@pcisys.net]


Mr Witter,

You stated that, "I thought I was pretty much of a libertarian..." in your recent letter to TLE.

Well, you were wrong, Steve!

The rest of your letter goes on to show how inaccurate your thoughts are in general. Forgive me for paraphrasing you ...

You sir, "are coming across as" nothing more than a burned-out, war-mongering, pathetic imperialist stooge. Only a fool would endorse a freak of nature like Gollum Dubya Shrubbery playing with nuclear (and other) weapons.

You can now go back to polishing your jackboots and practicing your goose-stepping on the US Constitution.

Very sincerely,

Manuel Miles [kaptk@shaw.ca]


Dear Editor:

Saw L. Neil Smith's article in the TLE #216 and say I have to agree.

I've been trying to break into the publishing business for ten years now, not in the style of Libertarian, but in the style of hard-boiled mystery like Mickey Spillane. Sorry, violent self-reliant characters not afraid to defend themselves and stack a few bodies while doing it don't sell in NYC. I think that even Mickey wouldn't even be able to make a sale in the politically correct climate of today.

One of my novels has won awards all over the place at writing conferences yet it won't even get past the first readers anywhere in publishing. It like I can't write as I've been writing a weekly newspaper column for years now, have half a dozen (non-sold) books to my credit, a couple of screen plays (not sold also) and a bunch of short stories (some of which have sold, most not).

As an author friend said it best, the first readers are generally female college grads who have this vision of what literature should be and if your book doesn't fit that mold, good luck. And if you aren't exactly politically correct, you'll even have a harder time. I toyed with the idea of changing my main character to a one armed, Native American lesbian, but would still have to deal with the fact that she has to use a gun. My author friend has also said that getting a book published in this climate is equivalent of winning the lottery, even with an agent.

I have no idea as to how to change this as I don't have the money to print my own books nor the time to spend peddling them when I have to compete against publishers with huge amounts of money they can spend on advertising slash buying off book stores.

I hold out hope for some sort of book-on-demand publishing, but there are too many problems. I wish I had the money to put into selling/promoting a machine that could replace a bookstore. The technology is already here but considering that the current book publishing business is really about moving paper around, it has a lot of resistance to overcome.

I wish L. Neil the best in getting published and maybe I'll see him on the best seller's list some day.

Joe Collins [mfross@derbyworks.net]


Well, partner:
(RE: Your CETME problems)

First, why are you living in that _#$*#@)$* hole of state? Move out to an area where you rights are not so affringed. Then the rest of us wouldn't have to wade through your complaints about what )(@#$@)-hole your state has become...as if we didn't know.

Second, if you had to wait so long to fire your rifle, THEN YOU'VE GOT A PERSONAL PROBLEM. To wait so long is absurd...hell, to even get a CETME, when you could have gotten an FAL speaks volumes about your taste in battle rifles.

Third, while Century has it's share of "drunken monkeys" doing its assembly (can we spell "headspace" or "gas tube"?) they offer a hell of a product 50% of the time to people who otherwise couldn't afford a battle rifle.

Methinks you protesth too much. Get little education and build your own kits...and quit whining about problems you should be able to handle on your own or should have had fair warning about if you would take the time to be an informed consumer.

Or spend the money to pay for better quality!

Rant off!

K Jack Chleva [JChleva@aol.com]
Englewood, CO
(One who knows about the quality out there and what one can reasonable expect for the dollar.)


Dear sir;

First, to leave this festering communist swamp will require a divorce as well as the money and/or job to do so. Otherwise, I would have been gone long ago.

Second, I discussed the reasons for my "Waiting so Long" which I believe was the reason for your point one. As for the FN, I had one, but I did not like it for a number of reasons, none of which had to do with it's quality, just personal preference. In point of fact, what I truly wanted was an M-1 "Tanker" Garand in .308 and modified to accept M-14 magazines (and mounting a "Scout Scope"). What I got was a CETME, which fits me better than the FN (and is a more reliable design), what I needed was for it to work.

Which brings us to Item Three. Who cares if they offer a good product 50% of the time. What about the other 50%? Should the buyers of that trash just suck up the losses and blame God or themselves for CIA's inability to provide a quality product 60 or 70 or 80% of the time? Or for CIA's failure to repair a problem they created?

Lastly, how the Hell are people going to be informed if I, and others like me, don't tell them! I'm not whining, I'm informing the next poor slob so he (or she) doesn't get rooked like I did. Just because some of us are not qualified gunsmiths (as I assume you are given your apparently vast knowledge on this subject), or possessed of the cash reserves to pay for "better quality", does not give anyone license to rip us off. Those who do should pay a price, then maybe they will get the idea, or be replaced by a better producer.

Patrick Martin [warhawke@wideopenwest.com]
(One who knows you should get what you're told you're paying for)


I must say that, after reading Caleb Paul's rejoinder to my recent letter (Re: Paul v Barnett), I am frankly shocked yet impressed with his ability to respond to my points, although I am starting to believe that there is some kind of a misunderstanding on his part. If I am the cause of that misunderstanding, then I rightfully and wholeheartedly apologize because that was never the intent on my part. But since I believe that I am not, then I will get right to the points that he makes.

But first, I am going to include some of the points that he is right on the button, although I will detail some of the others that he seems to have failed to take into account.

Mr. Paul, in great detail, makes some crucial comments on my rejoinder. In the first part of his letter, he states the following:

"The public education system creates factory and retail fodder, the private education system creates managers and professionals. It's that simple. It's all about being initiated into different levels on the ladder."

He is absolutely correct on this point. Government schools, whether or not one chooses to accept it or even acknowledge it, have fostered a "dumbed-down" culture of children who have demonstrated an inability to think for themselves, especially when such an inherently defective system merely sires such culture that has become a dominant influence in today's contemporary American society. The "factory and retail" culture is a result of the perverse, morally bankrupt public policies and reforms that have encouraged said culture to flourish to begin with. When the public "government" school machinations prevent innovation and incentives to improve the learning environment within the confines of the school system, you will end up with a stagnant and hostile environment that is both counterproductive and disruptive to the educational needs of the students. When kids are graduating from these schools with mediocre to third rate critical thinking, problem solving, reading, writing, communication, and mathematical skills, they will find that they will have great difficulty in filling out job applications, not to mention finding work that is commensurate with their work experience. And even when they do find the work, they find that they will be stuck in retail and factory jobs that are designed for the short-term and not for the long-term. After all, students with obsolete work and educational skills are not as marketable as those who graduate from private schools that sire "managers and professionals." With the minimum wage, tax laws, welfare laws, and the current government school monopoly in effect, students will have a difficult time retaining positions in the workforce because of the quality of their skills. If innumeracy and illiteracy make it hard for students to think for themselves, think of how difficult it will be once they are going on job interviews where employers are looking for the brightest and best.

Government schools are representative of the government school monopoly, in which many school districts are underperforming and highly bureaucratic. When a public school is plagued with problems such as high costs, lack of choice, low quality, widespread inefficiency, and rampant dissatisfaction, no wonder many disillusioned parents are removing their children from enrollment, in the pursuit of alternative choices. In 2000, I had the opportunity to interview Matthew J. Brouillette, who was the Education Policy Director at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which is a Michigan-based libertarian public policy think tank that primarily deals with education and economic public policy issues. In the first part of the interview, Mr. Brouillette, describing the reasons for the failures of education attempts in Michigan, said, "Rules-based reforms include such things as extending school days and the school year, changing teacher certification and school accreditation requirements, imposing national and state testing, enacting stricter dress codes, and the like. Research has shown that these reforms, while causing marginal improvements, have failed to turn around a large-scale decline in education. More drastic city or state "takeovers" of failing schools and districts and legislative proposals such as "Outcome-Based Education," "Goals 2000," and other regulatory regimes have been and still are being tried, with the same disappointing results."

Mr. Brouillette also went to provide an example of the futility of rules-based reforms for Michigan schools. He said, "A typical, recent example of the kind of futility encountered by rules-based reform efforts came to light in the fall of 1999 when The Detroit News released a special report entitled "Grading Metro Detroit Schools." This report analyzed all 83 school districts in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties based on 12 key educational factors. The study identified Oakland County's Birmingham School District as the metro area's top-performer. Meanwhile, Wayne County's Inkster Public Schools ranked a poor 76th out of 83 districts." If that's the case, then Michigan, like many other states, is in serious trouble.

In my home state of Michigan, there are presently 186 charter schools in existence, although the national number for said schools are under 1700 in the other remaining 26 states that have them. Charter schools, in recent years, have exploded dramatically. Charter schools are de facto hybrids of private and public schools for children who are disenchanted with the traditional public schools. Although they are required to conform to a state-mandated curriculum and are restricted to hiring educators certified by the state, the private sector management is given wide latitude in structuring teaching methods to meet the needs of the students. The good thing about this is that, from the parents' standpoint, these schools can impose more demanding standards on student conduct to avert violent and antisocial behavior. In Michigan, parents do have the option to remove their children from said schools and return them to the public schools if they are not pleased with the schools' performance.

Mr. Paul is correct in pointing out that private schools do a better job than the public schools. This is because these schools are given incentives to perform to the expectations and satisfaction of the parents. If parents are not pleased with the academic progress of these schools, they can pull their children out. Children are not required by law to attend them, as they are with their traditional counterparts.

Mr. Paul contends that government schools are a "brilliant success" because they "breed chimps for its society." He is correct in this case. However, I believe that he is merely being simplistic. Perhaps he has forgotten to consider that political and sexual correctness in the form of popular fads -- not to mention indoctrination and doping up kids who are claimed to have ADD, ADHD, and other "learning disabilities" because they have the audacity to express their boredom in the classroom -- all have become acceptable social norms in a typical school day.

Finally, Mr. Paul points out the following:

"Mr Barnett complains that public schools don't teach kids ethics. Tackling ethics is a dangerous prospect. Kids might start thinking for themselves and then you never know what might happen! They might become libertarians! Heaven forbid, there goes the government!"

First, Mr. Paul is in error by claiming that I am complaining about the lack of work ethics and ethics in schools. I never complained about them; I merely mentioned them as a legitimate fact.

Second, Mr. Paul makes the mistake of assuming that I believe the public "government" schools should be in charge of teaching ethics. I never said this, nor did I ever imply it! What I was implying when I inquired about this point is that, since the schools don't teach ethics and work ethics, this is more than an adequate reason for a separation of education and state. Parents should have control of implementing their values and ethics into the minds and hearts of their children. But since today's generation of lower-class and middle-class parents are forced out of the home and back into the workplace and are unable to spend time with their children while instilling values into them, it's no wonder that kids have no appreciation for the value of their jobs they have, nor do they have respect for others. The CATO Institute's Executive Vice-President David Boaz, who penned a book entitled Libertarianism: A Primer, defined education in his book as the following: "Education is the process by which we pass on not just the knowledge but the values that are essential to our civilization. Because education involves teaching children about right and wrong, about what is important in life, it must be controlled by individual families, not by politicians or bureaucrats." He's absolutely right! If parents were allowed to educate their kids their own way, then they would have the values and ethics that they would achieve in life. This could mean fewer unethical people in the marketplace, in corporations, and in general.

Overall, Caleb Paul is right on the mark, and I must congratulate him for a job well done. Hopefully he and I can agree that a free market education for all children -- grades K to the college level -- is the only way we can improve our society. Let's work to make that happen.

Yours in Liberty,

Todd Andrew Barnett [libertarianman@comcast.net]


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