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L. Neil Smith's
Number 770, May 11, 2014

What's my fair share of it all?

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My Fair Share
by L. Neil Smith

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

I can't remember how it started, but I got into a "discussion" the other day with a fellow I've wanted to know better for quite a while, a member of the Fort Collins theatrical community presently working with us in 1776. He's interesting, unusual, and pretty obviously intelligent.

At some point, for some reason I don't recall, I mentioned that I'm a libertarian. His retort, which seemed surprisingly hostile, was that libertarians are individuals who have been "handed everything" (presumably by the government) but now refuse to pay "their fair share". Until that moment, I'd unconsciously regarded the guy as relatively youthful, but now he suddenly sounded to me like an old man.

There wasn't time, and it wasn't the place for me to answer what amounts to a pair of accusations. To the first, I have never received anything from the government that I asked for, or wanted, or couldn't have had from private enterprise at a third the cost and three times the quality. Despite his age—about fifty, I guess—the guy didn't even seem aware that most roads in this country were once privately constructed.

Alexander Hamilton, of course, put an end to that.

I have never been "handed" anything by the government that didn't cost many, many times, in life, liberty, property, the pursuit of happiness, or irreparable human dignity, what it was worth. And when its worth was actually negative—say, the "service" of persecuting otherwise innocent people for smoking marijuana—it invariably cost more.

Which brings us to my acquaintance's second accusation. About a year before I was born, in the latter half of 1945, under an agreement the unspeakably evil Franklin Delano Roosevelt made with the even more unspeakably evil Josef Stalin, American and British troops rounded up every Russian they could find in Italy and France—millions of them, some of whom had escaped during the war, some who fled the Bolsheviks before 1920—and shipped them back to Russia in cattle cars, like those in which captive Jews were hauled to Auschwitz, Buchenwald, and Belsen.

So I have a question. What's my fair share of that? How much do I owe, and to whom, for the government abducting millions of people and sending them to certain death in the charnel house that was Stalinist Russia?

How much do I owe—what's my fair share—for the American part in a war that needlessly ended sixty million human lives, as a direct consequence of government mishandling of a previous, even more stupid war in 1914-1918 that ultimately caused the rise to power of Adolf Hitler?

The only purpose World War II served from an American viewpoint was to bury the politically embarrassing fact that government economic policy (the New Deal) had failed miserably to end an economic disaster that government economic policy (the Federal Reserve Act) had brought about.

What's my fair share of that?

While we're at it, what's my fair share for the atomic bombs that murdered a couple hundred thousand Japanese civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and plunged the world into abyssal dread for the next seventy years?

I could go on: Korea, Vietnam, Iraq—where a million children died lacking medicine and food, thanks to a U.S. embargo the sitting Secretary of State, the vile Madeline Albright, said "was worth it"—the Balkans, Afghanistan, and 150 countries where we have Imperial Storm-troopers.

Almost certainly in one or another of those idiotic, criminally wasteful, absolutely purposeless conflicts, the individual who would otherwise have discovered a cure for cancer, a way to halt aging, or invented an interstellar drive, was killed. What's my fair share of that?

One seven-billionth of mud, instead of stars?

Government, as George Washington observed, is force. It can only perform two "services": break things and kill people. Everything government gives to anyone it has stolen from somebody else—and wasted most of it in the process. Anything government builds means three things the voluntary sector could have built with the same resources.

Government destroys everything it touches. In what was advertised as an attempt to improve the living conditions of poor minorities, it has utterly destroyed the black family and now has started in on Hispanics.

Claiming to "save energy"—which in an uncoerced society would be virtually free—it exposes hundreds of millions to deadly mercury vapor. How many inner city children have died from eating lead paint chips because government has drained the economy to "support the arts"?

Everything I have alluded to here is the merest tip of the ocean cliche. One especially egregious example stands for many more I don't have time to address. The harsh truth is that allowing an institution—underwritten by extortion, staffed by insatiably greedy recipients of stolen goods, populated by miserable slaves endlessly brain-washed with collectivist propaganda—to continue operating isn't merely a violation of the Zero Aggression Principle, it generates ideologically lock-stepping cretins who can't make change or balance a checkbook, don't know the location of anything on a map, or who present and past politicians are or were, or even who invented the airplane and the lightbulb.

DaVinci—don't they make frozen pizzas?

If the loss of our once-admirable Republic and every ideal it ever represented can be attributed to any one thing it is the public school system. There is absolutely nothing about the public school system that can be fixed by tinkering with the public school system. Its buildings must be emptied out and immediately razed to the ground so that not one stone remains standing on another, and salt sown on the ruins.

What's my fair share of it all?

I have an idea about that. Part of my fair share must have been my paternal grandfather, whom I never knew because he died of Spanish Influenza in an army camp near Waco, in 1918. Another part of my fair share was my dad, who suffered for no good reason as a child through the Depression, got duped into the military because he loved to fly and falsely believed he was fighting evil (you can't do that when you're working for an evil just as great) and defending his country. He dropped bombs on people in Germany, was shot down, and spent a year in a prisoner of war camp. After the war, he flew again for Strategic Air Command, irradiated by the sky above and the thermonuclear weapons beneath him, so that a good man died long before he should have, of cancer.

God bless America.

In a way, I guess my acquaintance is right: I have avoided paying my "fair share" like my grandfather and father did. In 1957, when Sputnik flew and American authorities soiled their underthings, the system took some kind of inventory, administering IQ tests to school children, and writing math and science budgets beyond the dreams of avarice.

I was summoned to the Principal's office because the results of my tests had apparently frightened the little man, and he wanted to know what college I was planning to attend so that I could be effectively weaponized.

I was 11 years old, in 6th Grade, and I saw straight through the bastard, which is why I am a novelist today, and an expert in armed self-defense, rather than a rocket scientist, an astronaut, or even a marine biologist, as I might have preferred under different historical circumstances. I was determined not to be exploited the way my dad was.

Which is unquestionably why, four years later, Ayn Rand had me at "I do not recognize any man's claim to one minute of my life", and later, Bob LeFevre at "Government is a disease masquerading as its own cure."

My fair share of it is nothing.

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