Archive for the ‘Democracy’ Category

Why I Detest Donkeys & Elephants

Howdy folks. I decided to display more tallented writings from my friend Ken here. Anytime I post somebody’s article it is from either a message board, personal correspondance, website article, or other. Today we are going to talk about the groups informally known as elephants and donkeys and formally as the two gangs comprised of lawyers, con-artists, and thugs competing with one another to operate a protection racket, as well as other wannabe rulers *cough* minarchists *cough*.  Enjoy and leave a comment.

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Why The State Sucks: A Parable

Howdy folks! It has been a long time since I last posted here. I am currently busy with some stuff offline but I thought I would drop a gem that my friend Ken sent to me. First a little preamble rant and then a parable. See if you can figure out what each character represents:

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Play Command Economy Dictator

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And maybe win a Nobel prize for Economics…

For all brainy totalitarians out there:

http://nobelprize.org/educational_games/economics/trade/index.html

Pointing out the fallacies is left as an exercise for the reader.

Property Rights and Public Space

It might be so easy as with a walk in the park that we can reveal the issue at hand today: property rights. Or who owns what?

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Right at the entrance of a park nearby there is a big sign saying: “No access for dogs and cyclists.” As many public signs, it tends to be ignored, but this does give local law enforcement reason to traul the place for potential sources of income (fines). Well, what does this tell us?

The fact that my city authorities (the local government) are allowed to set rules to be followed in certain places (like the park), means they act in some manner like the owners of those grounds. Wether or not that right is legitimate, they can act as if they are rightful owners – they can exclude certain people, they can forbid certain behaviour, they can set the rules of activity in these places.

So, doesn’t the public own the parks?

It may seem so, yet, there are certain things an owner can do, and since we are not allowed freedom of behaviour (nor can we, for instance, build a house in that place), it means we cannot act like the owners of such place. There is no distinct piece of the park that we can identify as our own. The structure of ownership is not even that of a public company with shareholders. The only connection the public has to the park in regard to property rights is, in theory at least, the democratic vote. Or otherwise: the public votes for the politicians, and these exert property rights over the parks – “in the name of the people.”

So this means the politicians are a kind of “custodians,” acting in the name of the real owners which are members of the public. The politicians pass laws, which should express “the will of the people,” and so, the entire process looks voluntary.

It would be as if the politicians sign a sort of contract with members of the public, and by that authority to weild political power (and to enforce it legitimately). But what is the nature of this contract?

It’s implicit, says theory. People make an implicit agreement between themselves, which binds them all to some sort of higher authority (which is the government). If it were written, it would look a little like THIS.

What? Hold on a moment! Who is stupid enough to sign themselves into slavery? You are, I am, along with everybody else. We might not be aware of this fact, but we did. I tell you, we did!

This is where theory takes a turn away from reality. In order for a contract to be valid, it requires the acceptance and acknowledgement of the parties involves. A contract does not bind other parties than the signatories. And also, both parties must be clearly delineated.

The first point fails. People are bound to the contract, wether or not they even know about it, let alone agree to it.

Also, everyone is bound to the contract, even if they might have disagreed with the terms.

Finally, it is quite unclear what the parties of the contract are. Neither “the people,” (“the public”) nor “the government” are clearly defined. In the general theory, these entities have a collective nature. This means that they have a separate being, and are capabile of action outside the component individuals.

Now, that’s a rather shakey conceptual foundation on top of which to build a political theory. If collectives are those doing the action (and sign this contract), it means that these collectives are responsible and bound to the agreements. If the collections act, the individual members are not bound, neither liable. If the individuals act, then these individuals must sign the agreement. But they have not.

So the next time you walk through a public park and see a sign such as: “no smoking” know this does not come from the legitimate right of the legitimate owner, but the blind authority of those most capable of violence.

Free Speech Is Not a Right

Often hailed as a fundamental concept for the modern interpretation of Democracy, and a rallying cry for liberals of all sorts, free speech has become a kind of mantra – repeated so often, that the original meaning is lost. In a statist context, freedom of speech does not in fact exist.

So what does “Free Speech” even mean? Simply stated, it’s “the right to express yourself, up to certain limitations, within a public forum.” A better definition would be: “the privilege of expressing yourself in limited ways in a medium or property the government claims to own”.

“Wait one moment, that’s incorrect!”, you might say. Let’s take it one at a time:

“the privilege of expressing yourself”- what does that mean, and why replace “right” with “privilege”?

A ‘privilege’ is different from a ‘right’ in the sense that you have to ask permission to benefit from it. A right is simply something you have and can use without permission. As long as the government can regulate free speech (even if it choses not to), freedom of speech does not exist. For instance, if a slave is given certain freedoms by his master, but the master can rescind those at any moment, that person cannot be said to be free.

Secondly, as it is generally understood, free speech is bounded. “Hate speech,” “intolerance,” or usually anything that disagrees with political correctness is not seen as part of free speech. Factually, free speech comes close to: “expression that does not hurt anyone’s feelings.”

Finally, freedom of speech applies only within media the government claims to own. The government has claims of ownership on several kinds of public spaces: roads, public squares, newspapers or the radio spectrum. Freedom of speech does not apply in private spaces – you can speak freely within the confines of your house, and you are certainly right to censor people from expressing themselves in such a place.

Without a government to own public territory, all expression is confined to private spaces (these might be public in the same sense that a Mall has access ways and corridors, but it is privately owned). Similarly, the Internet, while generally understood as public space, is in fact private (almost all the equipment used to power it is held in private hands).

Thus, from a purely libertarian perspective, free speech is irrelevant. Private property rights can cover all possible forms of public expression, without the need for government interference.

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