L. Neil Smith's
Number 227, June 8, 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.]

Letter from Stephan Jerde

Letter from Ken Valentine

Letter from John Lopez

Letter from Manuel Miles, aka Kapt Kanada

Letter from W. Brewster Gillett

Letter from Dick Wetherbee

Mr. Miles, one comment in reference to your assault on anarchists, where you say, "A good explanation of basic Libertarian principles is available at several sites; all of them concede that some common functions (notably mutual defence against fraud, coercion and invasion) must be carried out by people acting in concert."

This seems at odds with the definition given by L. Neil—"A libertarian is a person who believes that no one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being, or to advocate or delegate its initiation. Those who act consistently with this principle are libertarians, whether they realize it or not. Those who fail to act consistently with it are not libertarians, regardless of what they may claim."

Now, as I read it, the Libertarian position you support is not what Mr. Smith has in mind. Even a minimal government needs some amount of money to carry out its operations, and virtually all models of minarchy with which I am familiar have some form of taxation, i.e., the initiation of force to separate the working man from his hard-earned money.

I doubt that a minarchist meets L. Neil's definition of libertarian at all, since I cannot imagine any state larger than an individual which does not from time to time initiate force to boss others about, if only through who gets to define fraud and coercion, who handles the details of deciding whether any given act meets those definitions, who gets to define the penalties, and who gets to decide what would prove adequate invasion deterrent, and how to fund these programs.

To me, the anarchists are not the starry-eyed idealists; the capital-L Libertarians are. They have the romantic notion that this time around, we can somehow restrain government to the limited state envisioned by Jefferson. Anarchists are the realists. They acknowledge that there are bad people out there who will do everything they can to get and increase their political power, and as a result, we must keep political power to an absolute minimum.

Stephan Jerde ks-eng@softhome.net

Reply to: On Switzerland, Anarchy, Theory and Practice, by Manuel Miles

In TLE #226 Mr. Miles begins by saying, "In a previous article I made the mistake of..."

In this article he makes the mistake of equating Anarchy with Anarchism.

Anarchy means no RULES—chaos. Governments create anarchy by either making unjust laws—which creates contempt for all laws—or by creating so many laws that they all cancel one another out. Only a Government can create Anarchy. Anarchism on the other hand means no RULERS. It is a political construct in which no one has a right to initiate the use of force. All Governments—at least eventually— claim a right to initiate force.

As George Washington said; "Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." Thomas Paine, in the second paragraph of Common Sense, said it best; "Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one;..."

Mr. Miles goes on to say; "...some common functions...must be carried out by people acting in concert." Well, DUH! Can he name any product or service which is NOT carried out by people acting in concert? His first contradiction lies in the assumption that people will not act in concert unless they are forced!

The "silly claim that 'private enterprise can do everything'..." is his second contradiction. The practical fact is that everything IS done by private enterprise! From the Colt "Government Model" Auto pistol, to landing on the Moon, everything is done by private enterprise—the government merely hands over the stolen funds and waves the baton. This is true even on the subject of "National Defense." Government protects the citizenry? Sorry, it is the citizenry who "enlist" to protect and defend the government.

Cooperation is anathema to Anarchists? Perhaps reality and common sense are anathema to mister Miles. Government is based on self- deception, and self-deception is the root of all evil.

Ken Valentine ken valentine@surfside.net

Dear Editor:

I find it odd that Mr.. Miles wrote the following:

"A good explanation of basic Libertarian principles is available at several sites..."

The most concise version of libertarian principles that I have seen is available is in the very publication that ran Mr.. Miles' piece. It's strange that Mr. Miles overlooked the Non-Aggression Principle webleyweb.com/tle/whoislib.html in his column. I'd certainly enjoy reading anything he'd care to submit that would square the NAP with his advocacy of the Swiss style of government.

John Lopez

Mr Ed, check your meds!

In the last edition of TLE, Wm Stone III wrote a thorough, point-by- point denunciation of the war party's current agitprop. As a longtime antiwar activist I agree, of course, with every point he made. Statism is the cause of war, and as I am an anti-Statist I don't see what part of an "the empire's wars are all wrong" argument I would want to "get around", as Mr Ed said in the intro to the article.

I can only surmise that our new editor was being (gasp) silly, and/or trying to stir up a little controversy (double gasp). Either way, I'm all for it, LOL.

For the (serious) record, however: I oppose all Statism [n. the theory or practice of concentrating economic and political power in the state—according to the Collins Concise dictionary], but not any and all possible forms of government. Minimal government, of a non-Statist form, is necessary precisely to protect ourselves from Statists and other marauding gangs of frauds and thieves.

Thus, true Libertarians are minarchists, meaning that we accept the voluntary formation of voluntarily-funded mutual self-defence agencies. That is, of course, government without Statism. I realise that the concept is a subtle one and, therefor, causes havoc with wishful thinking, but I make no apologies.

The only legitimate function of government is the prevention of the unwarranted initiation of force and other forms of coercion such as fraud. Once a man has been robbed, however, he may have to "initiate force" to get restitution. As a matter of fact, if he sees a violent thief coming at him, he may initiate force to protect himself. (After permitting another to initiate force, so as not to violate the Sacred NAP, it may be too late to counter it, as one may be dead.) Anarchists insist that one who is so immoral as to defraud his fellow man is "morally obliged" to make restitution. However, they refuse to support any attempt to ensure that the immoral will be (gasp) forced to do so. The only possible insurance against a resurgent State, once overthrown, which, contrary to pipe dreams, will not have just "whithered away" or "become irrelevant" in the first place, is that of a minimal, Libertarian government. The damned State never disappears on its own, and must be overthrown by one means or another. Trying to get around that fact only allows statism to stumble from one stage of repression to another. I say that the State is evil, and I say to hell with it.

Sincerely (and you'd better believe it),
Manuel Miles, aka Kapt Kanada

Note: Harumph! Check my meds? Check yours, bud! I don't need meds to be funny, humorous, funny, or seek controversy! I do all that when I am quite sober!—Mr. Ed

In TLE 226, Todd Andrew Barnett wrote, in "Repeal All Taxes on Income",

Keep in mind that, in 1998 dollars, the top 1 percent who made over $269,000 a year paid 34.75 percent in federal taxes. The top 10 percent who raked in over $83,000 a year paid over 65 percent in taxes, and the top 25 percent who earned over $50,000 a year paid over 82 percent in taxes.

This is a dangerously sloppy use of the language, in a place in the article where it is most critical to employ language precision. The brackets to which Barnett refers here did not "pay [X] percent in [emphasis added] federal taxes; rather, they paid, as a group, X percent "of the federal taxes collected". This is a crucial distinction; the way Barnett has worded it, it could easily be misconstrued as stating that, for example, "the top 1 percent paid at a rate of 34.75 percent of what they earned".

All he really had to do was change "in federal taxes" to "of federal taxes" and it would have been substantially more clear. "Of the total federal taxes collected" would have been even clearer, though wordier.

When he uses the careless construction "paid [X] percent in taxes", he leaves it open to misinterpretation by those who do not already know the numbers to which he refers; and it is those to whom it is most important to send the message, no?

W. Brewster Gillett bg@fdi.us
Portland, Oregon USA

War & Rumors of Wars

When, since my birth, (1950) have we not been at war? Forget morals for a moment. Lets look at results.

  • Korea—100s of K dead, no change.

  • Viet Nam—got our ass kicked, lost some buddies, some dominoes fell, oh well.

  • Iran—don't even ask.

  • El Salvador/Nicaragua—I still can't figure out what we were doing there.

  • Somalia—huge success there.

  • Panama—took out our old buddy Noriega who we suddenly discovered was involved in the drug trade. Notice how there's no drugs in the US anymore.

  • Granada—we proved that we could defeat a nation with fewer soldiers than the US army has cooks. Probably the cooks alone could have defeated them.

  • Haiti—notice the remarkable rise of democracy & wealth there.

  • Former Yugosalvia, Bosnia, Macedenonia et. al.—I've missed the reports on how well they're doing.

  • Gulf war solved a lot, right?

  • Years of bombing Iraqi anti-aircraft sites & shooting down their planes wasn't war. It was "sanctions." I feel much better now.

I'm sure I've overlooked a lot of things.

Back to morals for a moment, it's embarassing to be a citizen of the country that has been the major aggressor, other than the now defunct USSR, in the last half of the 20th century. Note that few of our aggressions have gained us much. I hope that Iraq's oil does us some good. If you're going to be a jerk, you might as well get paid for it. (I know that somebody made money off all that BS, but it wasn't me and that's what ticks me off)

Dick Wetherbee GulfportTax@aol.com
peace, freedom & keep your word


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