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10 April 2011


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William R. Cumming

The Ghosts of the past haunt all that are literate and can think. Those without those ghosts seem to haunt the present!

Personally I view the TEA PARTY as a sympton not the underlying illness. Donald Trump the same.

Sidney O. Smith III

Ron Paul Libertarians, at least from what I can discern, are at complete odds with Koch-TeaParty types. So it is a mistake to lump the two together.

Newt Gringrich and Sarah Palin are leading the charge for the Koch right wing of the Republican Party. They are more closely aligned with neoconservatives – the arch enemy of libertarians (and paleoconservatives).

For what it is worth, neoconservatives, such as Gingrich, invoke the Lincoln presidency to promote a clash of civilizations between the West and Islam, all done under the banner of enlightening the world through American exceptionalism.

Here is a 2006 essay penned by Gingrich. It was originally published in the WSJ and is titled “Lincoln and Bush”.


Whether Gingrich's reliance on Lincoln is historically accurate is a separate question, but it is indisputable that fervent nationalists today are using the Lincoln cult to promote an “imperial presidency”, to borrow from Schlesinger.


Colonel Lang:

"English. Infantry".

Certainly, a degree in English will teach you far more about the complexity of the human character than any degree in the social sciences, particularly psychology.


Col. Lang:

"You have completely missed my point and validated it all at once. The issue is not the specifics of gun control and for example abortion. the issue is simply the question of who has the right to establish the norms, You, as an urbanite? Why? Because there are more of you? this is a recipe for revolt. pl "

So be it, but the transaction costs are going to destroy your competitiveness.

As for the Australian States being mere "Administrative Units", I beg to strongly disagree. The Australian States were initially seperate self governing colonies with their own armies and navies under the general aegis of Britain. There were even customs posts at each state border.

After Twenty years of argument and negotiation the Six States Federated on 1 January 1901. They are not like French "Departments" caught in some Clochemerle like thrall by Canberra, they have their own Constitutions, Legislatures, their own legal systems and they fight like hell between themselves and the Federal Government.

Occasionally common sense breaks out and thus businesses can operate nationally with zero cost penalties, we have a single Australia wide Sales Tax system, no state income taxes, a single national health system, etc. in other words we get economies of scale where we all agree that the benefits outweigh the costs.

There is robust and ongoing national debate, occasionally all the way to the Supreme Court, regarding States rights, and the relative shares of Federally collected revenue, between individual States and the Federal Government and our electoral system, not having an electoral college involved, means that the Federal Government annoys the voters of an individual state at its peril.

One of the beneficial outcomes is that there are no "rich" and "poor" States as we take the view that we want standards of living to be approximately equal wherever people live. While this is galling to Victorians, living in the potentially richest State, we do understand that it is not in our long term interest for other States to have substandard infrastructure, health and education systems.

Gun laws differ between States. Mine are quite strict, on the other hand if I'm living up in crocodile country in the Northern Territory, the laws are a lot looser.

By the way, thanks to a former State Governor (titular legal head) I fly the flag of the Victorian Navy on my yacht. The bill creating that colonial navy was never repealed.

Hope this helps.

Patrick Lang

I'm sorry but you are a foreigner by choice and have no standing in this discussion. pl



"the transaction costs are going to destroy your competitiveness."

I think the transaction costs associated with overpriced executives and a never ending demand for 'more' from those with the most wealth have already destroyed our competitiveness.

Adam L. Silverman

COL Lang: I wasn't trying to argue that we become brutally majoritarian, however, in terms of basic legislative process both Federal chambers are supposed to operate (or in the case of the Senate are supposed to, but don't because of the insane internal rules) as simple majorities except for things such as constitutional amendments and veto over rides. What I was trying to indicate is that the majority of Americans do not live in the interior and therefore it would be extremely minoritarian to think that a minority should dictate terms to the majority, just as the system Madison established was supposed to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority. I do agree that on some issues an overall American social contract may not be possible, but if this is really the case what does it say about America's ability to be a state? If there is no way to come together on most issues so that everyone gives a little to get a lot, then the original, though always unofficial American motto of E Pluribus Unum was and is a pipe dream.

Adam L. Silverman

Mr. Cumming: Don't get me started on how the nuclear power industry has gamed the state and Federal regulators. I once did some consulting regarding security for emergency management when I lived outside of Little Rock and one of the things I learned was just the way the security at the facilities has been gamed should give everyone nightmares!

Adam L. Silverman

TTG: I'm not sure some or even all of these are best left to the state level. We have repeatedly seen that when left to their own devices the states run in different directions, which then requires the Federal government, either through the courts or the Congress to wade in and bring things in line. That said, I'm not necessarily arguing for coordinated Federal control over each public good, just a discussion as to what things, as Americans, we believe them to be.

Adam L. Silverman

TTG: One last thing - during the Depression California tried to control immigration of other Americans across its borders. It was eventually ruled unconstitutional. Other states and localities have tried controlling who could move around where based on covenants in leasing. They too have been, rightfully, unconstitutional.

Adam L. Silverman

JT Cornpone: As I've remarked more than once to my uniformed military colleagues, as well as a close friend of mine who is a SWAT sniper -"I never thought I'd live to see the day when Republican politicians would publicly crap on soldiers, cops, and firefighters/EMS".

Adam L. Silverman

Mr. Smith: I think what you're remarking about, based on what you're observing, is that the libertarian label has picked up mission creep. When I used to teach a module on comparative ideology I would go from Classic Liberalism (humans are rational and perfectable, so we need just the right type and right amount of institutions, regularly tweaked as necessary, to set progress in motion; classic Enlightenment stuff) to Negative Libertarianism (liberty occurs through minimal government, radical free market concepts, limited to no regulation) to Positive Libertarianism (liberty results when government actively protects individual's rights through development and enforcement of law and regulation). Most of what you're observing would never fit under any of those labels at all.

Patrick Lang


"if this is really the case what does it say about America's ability to be a state?"

A great deal. pl


Col. Lang, I merely pointed out that fierce individualism and adherence to individual "states rights" has a transaction cost.

To put it another way, if you wish to pay Federal income taxes and state income taxes as well, that is your choice, no matter how economically inefficient it is.

The rest of the comment was aimed at the implied suggestion that just because the Australian States are not fiercely individualistic to the point of economic ruination, that does not diminish their sovereignty.

At the end of the day its your choice; what do you consider to be good government?

JT Davis

Colonel, as is often the case, I express myself poorly. If I lived in a farmhouse out in flyover country, you bet your bottom dollar I might want the right to own an assault weapon without any restrictions as to capacity, range, high penetration and rate of fire, even. My point was such a weapon may not really be ideal for the purposes of personal and home defense in an urban area. Yet, some urban dwellers may wish to own such to use for sport or fun when camping or, whatever. In fact, though I own no weapons now, I used to and still have a tendency to roll my eyes when my politically like minded cohorts propose such sweeping and ridiculous bans on firearms. In the legal terminology, I believe any reasonable regulation or limitation as to time and place probably passes constitutional muster and is best left to the local level, or possibly state level. Federal firearms laws are a recipe for conflict. But democracy at the local level still won't please everyone. It is a very prickly situation.

JT Davis

"Ron Paul Libertarians, at least from what I can discern, are at complete odds with Koch-TeaParty types. So it is a mistake to lump the two together."

There is definitely some truth to this observation, as it has been made by others. Yet it is still possible to cluster them fairly closely on a simple, left/right continuum. bear in mind, however, that there are many flavors of libertarianism. Russel Kirk called libertarians "chirping sectaries," and the libertarian movement "an ideological clique forever splitting into sects still smaller and odder, but rarely conjugating." Case in point: Noam Chomsky self-identifies as a "libertarian socialist".

Just to clarify my position on the gun issue, I have always felt the problem is one of culture, population, demographics, not access to guns. You won't find spree or mass killings with assault weapons happening in Switzerland. Now America is not Switzerland, but every Swiss male of age has a fully auto assault weapon in his closet with plenty of ammo. I have always felt that banning weapons in America will only create a black market and wealthy class of domestic gun runners. Prohibition rarely works. But if I understand Walrus' point, I can see what he's driving at:

I merely pointed out that fierce individualism and adherence to individual "states rights" has a transaction cost.

It is difficult to avoid transactional costs either way. It's a balancing act.

JT Davis

My apologies for the multiple posts, Colonel.


"Fierce individualism," a brief description of Rand philosophy, is pure authoritarianism, as pure individualism always must be. If any one individual can make a decision that affects others, and do so without consultation, then those affected must obey. The combination of "freedom" and "individualism" masks this truism.

- Frederick Thayer, Professor, Public Policy, Southern University

William R. Cumming

Okay Dr. Silverman will not get you "starte"! But interesting series of comments.

Also if the power of the state should be limited [to protect the individual?] should the power of other institutions and organizations?

Patrick Lang


And my point is that "efficiency" has little to do with political choice and philosophy. pl

William R. Cumming

Defer as always to more expertise and competence (at least hoping so) but is not the 152 anniversary of the Lincoln Cooper-Union address coming up? Does that text exist anywhere in a link? It put Lincoln on the national stage late, quite late in the day for the 1860 Presidential race. Perhaps a worthy candidate for the 2012 race should be given the opportunity to tell it as he/she sees it and address the issues not the emotions.
If my understanding is correct Cooper-Union has never accepted any kind of federal funding. Probably alone in American Higher-Ed!

Adam L Silverman

Mr. Cumming: Here you go

William R. Cumming

Thanks Dr. Silverman! Also thanks to JT Cornporn for his background. Did you work at Murray Hill?

The same groups would also like to destroy the DOE labs, Argononne, Battelle [Pacific Northwest Lab], Lawrence Livermore, Lawrence Berkeley, the one on Long Island? etc.

Also the FFRDC's used by DOD and DHS.

And probably the NAS [national academy of science] and the NRC [national research council]both of which have roots in the WBS!

Patrick Lang


"And probably the NAS [national academy of science] and the NRC [national research council]both of which have roots in the WBS!" What are you talking about? pl

Sidney O. Smith III

JT Davis
I see no evidence that Ron Paul Libertarians are authoritarian. And I do not consider myself Libertarian, at least of the Rothbardian anarcho capitalist ilk. But I do respect their work – including some works of the Austrian School of Economics. And I believe they have standing to be heard, as a counterweight to those nationalists who are promoting a clash of civilizations, if for no other reason.

Justin Raimondo, a libertarian writer, was one of the first to warn us of the disasters of our foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East. He did so years before “progressive” nationalists. Credit when credit is due.

Again, let people in Berkeley live as they choose and those in Montana the same. Problems, imo, arise when one starts to say to the other – to borrow from Dr. Silverman’s language – they are out of line because of they have been “left to their own devices”.

Example: I have chosen to live in a city that, economically, has the greatest economic parity among whites and blacks. It is the number one city for minority business starts up. (and it was voted the most tolerant towards homosexuals.)

That’s Atlanta.

But it’s my choice to live in the ATL right now and that does not mean that I should lecture Dr. Silverman or anyone else, that “left to their own devices” (his words) they are out of line because they has chosen to live somewhere with different cultural values.


From an article on possible Internet taxation. I would be very surprised if some of the taxes collected even offset the cost of collection.They will however provide some secure public service jobs and keep local tax law specialists rich:

"On the other hand, there are some 7,500 different taxing jurisdictions in the United States, each with a set of very precise rules describing what can and can't be taxed and at what rate. That makes it challenging terrain for retailers to navigate.

In New Jersey, for instance, bottled water and cookies are exempt from sales tax (PDF), but bottled soda and candy are taxable. In Rhode Island, buying a mink handbag is taxed, but a mink fur coat is not (PDF)."


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