X-Message-Number: 23128
Date: Wed, 17 Dec 2003 13:37:33 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: #23119 (Jerry Searcy)

>Jefferson's thoughts on 21st century technology and the discretionary income
>of people was not my subject. He wrote the constitution and as I said in an
>earlier post, spoke to the general welfare clause (don't take it too

Madison I think you mean here. Yes, he and Jefferson both didn't want to 
assign too much scope to the welfare clause, but opinions they expressed do 
not have the force of law.

>  What would he think of social security, Medicare, medicade, the
>education dept., H.U.D., D.E.A., A.T.F., F.B.I., and all the other "programs"
>to redistribute wealth and "protect" us that have evolved over the past two
>centuries (and mostly within the last century)? I don't think he would be
>pleased...just my opinion.

Fair enough. But he might still be so impressed with the positive 
accomplishments that overall he would be pleased more than displeased--just 
one more opinion. (It would be interesting in particular to see his 
reaction to the abolition of slavery. Under present laws he would have no 
problem marrying Ms. Hemings--and I would like to think he'd accept 
good-naturedly that he couldn't own people as property anymore.)

>"Socialism is more workable than a libertarian system which is nonexistent".
>My definition of a "working" system is how much freedom and prosperity it

My definition implies that it must actually be in effect somewhere (or at 
least have been in effect for a significant amount of time), that is, 
literally be a "working system." It may then work well or badly, and you 
can compare different working systems on this basis. But a nonexistent 
(never-implemented) system is one that has yet to demonstrate its 
workability, and in particular, that it will be stable and not change into 
some other system when you attempt to implement it.

>Even though the current U.S. system is the most prosperous, don't
>think for a moment that there is much you can do without some government
>bureaucrat "overseeing" the activity in some form. We are not as free as we
>were in 1950 when I was a child. We probably will not be as free in 2050 as
>we are now...and there isn't much freedom left!

"There isn't much freedom left." To me there seems to be reasonable 
freedom. True, I'm not interested in drugs and prostitution. I also want 
the right to a premortem cryonic preservation, which doesn't exist now, but 
there never was such a legal right as far as I know, unless you count a 
time so remote the issue was moot. (Switzerland though may now have such a 
right, and it's halfway present in Oregon, so there's hope.) In some ways, 
though, we are more free now than circa 1950. I remember "white" and 
"colored" drinking fountains and rest rooms around then (particularly in 
North Carolina where I lived in the early to mid '50s)--no more of this.

But it does raise an interesting issue: racial prejudice, something that is 
less a problem now than in the past in the U.S. but hasn't left us entirely 
(though I think a racially-biased cryonics operation would garner little 
support; at least we can be proud of this!). But by strictly libertarian 
principles, clearly a business proprietor does have the right to segregate 
or racially exclude on his own establishment, including whom he employs as 
well as serves. The libertarians have to place hopes in the thought that 
people in general would react negatively and you wouldn't see too much of 
this sort of thing, it would be bad for business. But in the South as it 
used to be there was widespread support of segregation (very often 
exclusion too) among the dominant whites. (Some of this still exists too, 
no doubt.) So I have to wonder if some governmental forcing of the issue, 
as actually occurred, wasn't better than strict libertarianism would have 
been, in the sense of overall being the lesser evil. It does really seem so.

>So what that a lot of people enjoy the Federal Government being in their
>lives, there were a large number of happy Nazis and communist in the old
>U.S.S.R. There are probably a lot of happy people in Cuba and North Korea.
>That said, we are better off without Nazism, would be better off without
>communism and with the current U.S. government returned to the way Jefferson
>wanted it...small and no where near as involved in our lives!

My asserting that people are (relatively) happy under the present system 
was not intended as a defense of that system, but an attempt to account for 
the lack of interest in changing it. I will raise this additional issue, 
however. If the federal government became more limited (actually weaker) 
would that mean that state and local governments would correspondingly 
become stronger? And if so, would you get a better system overall? And is 
this what people would want? Or would they want, and should there be, a 
central government that enforces more uniform standards, and is also better 
able to mobilize the national resources if there is a threat such as terrorism?

>You say it means something to you that the Feds. can't (yet) monitor your e-
>mail. If you truly wish it to remain that way, supporting the parties that
>have tried to monitor it in the past seems irrational to me.

One has to consider tradeoffs. You could even make the case that maybe 
there should be some monitoring of email--it could perhaps make it easier 
to track and foil terrorists--but again that's an issue that must be 
considered carefully. When it comes to voting for non-libertarians, it 
could be justified at the national level (in appropriate circumstances) on 
grounds that one does not want to support a libertarian revolution.

>You say the constitution is interpreted differently by most people than
>strict libertarians. I have not interviewed "most people" but of the people I
>personally know and correspond with, the overwhelming majority have never
>read the constitution or even heard of the Federalist Papers. They have no
>idea whatsoever of what the founders wanted in a government.

Most people admittedly are not spending a great deal of their time over 
such issues, and aren't likely to for the foreseeable future. If you 
consider those who have thought seriously about the matter and taken the 
trouble to become halfway informed, though, I think a great many would 
remind you that the Founders, despite their greatness, were not gods whose 
exact intentions must be extracted and enacted as if their writings are 
infallible scripture. Today's more thoughtful (and even the majority as a 
whole) would probably be of the opinion that present realities being rather 
different than 200+ years ago, we should exercise some prudence and caution 
before making radical changes of whatever nature. Another consideration is 
that the Constitution _as now amended_ is not just the same as it was in 
the days of the Founders (though they saw fit to provide for the amendment 
process in the first place). An income tax is now specifically provided 
for, for instance (and abolition of slavery, women having the right to 
vote, and so on).

>  They (the
>overwhelming majority) think we live in a Democracy and that "the majority
>rules"...some have even used those very words in conversation with me. One
>personal friend, when I pointed out that G.W. Bush's "Faith Based Initiative"
>(Federal money to religious charities) was unconstitutional, responded
>with: "Oh, who cares!".B.T.W., she is a reborn christian. Well, I care and
>she and you should care.

One thought here is that the libertarian system would still leave the main 
problems of life (aging and death in particular) untouched. Yes, you'd have 
more freedom to pursue antiaging research, and _then_ you might get to a 
solution faster. (But research would be more profit-oriented so it's 
possible, if not guaranteed, that some basic areas would be overlooked that 
would otherwise be addressed via government support.) But I think most 
Americans don't have the perception that right now they live under some 
oppressive tyranny that a libertarian system would relieve to the point of 
greatly improving their lives. They understand that they would still have 
to work at jobs to make a living. You can hold out the carrot that there 
would be no more taxes, no more interference if they wanted to experiment 
with drugs, prostitution, and gambling, with various other options they 
might also newly indulge. But these inducements don't seem able to overcome 
the basic sense that, as they seem to be thinking, "things seem relatively 
good right now, have been, probably will continue to be, so why worry _so 
much_ about it?" I think these people view the libertarian activists as 
extremists who are taking their cause too seriously and also, in many 
cases, venting too much hatred in the process.

>  We and our children (great Ra help them) must live
>under thr R & D's interpretation of that document...they should read, re-
>read, re-re read not only it but everything else written on the subject to
>get a better understanding of what Jefferson, etal meant!

Again, I think there is a perception that libertarian activists are people 
overly obsessed with certain problems, concerned too much with something 
that doesn't deserve this intensity of focus. (Admittedly a lot of people 
don't like to spend time reading political tracts and legal documents 
either, and will look for excuses to do something else.) The activists may 
counter that things are going to get so bad these others will see the folly 
of their lack of concern, but so far it appears the majority aren't taking 
this seriously. (And meanwhile I, for one, feel that at least we need to 
see a working demonstration of a libertarian system just to verify that it 
can work, be self-sustaining, not quickly morph into something else, but 
instead yield the unending stream benefits it ought to be capable of 

>...Unfortunately I agree with you on the fate of the Free State Project. I 
>that only advancing technology that eventually frees humanity from dependence
>on a single world is our only real hope!

Along with this we will have to accept and work within the system as it 
exists, be friendly and cooperative with the bureaucrats, and so on.

Best wishes,
Mike Perry

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