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The coming liberal thugocracy

By maxwell edison ·
If nothing in the piece is incorrect..... can the conclusion be incorrect?

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There's nothing new about this, nor is it confined to liberals.

by CharlieSpencer In reply to The coming liberal thugoc ...

This is no different from 'pro-life' forces picketing out side abortion clinics, Klansmen bombing churches, the tactics of 'anonymous vs. Scientology', or the use of intimidation by the Spanish Inquisition or Sen. McCarthy during the 'Red Scare'.

The conclusion is incorrect in that the article looks at recent actions of 'liberals' in isolation from the historic context of similar intimidation actions across the ideological spectrum. It also assumes all Obama supporters are liberals, that all liberals support Obama, and that all liberals support the actions described. That's as false as assuming all conservatives support McCain or that all conservatives supported the actions of the "Swift Boat Veterans".

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The "Red scare" was real, and confirmed by KGB files released in the 90s

by Locrian_Lyric In reply to There's nothing new about ...
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You and I have disagreed on this particular point before.

by CharlieSpencer In reply to The "Red scare" was real, ...

That being the government's justification of civil rights violations as necessary to the defense of this country. Sorry, I don't understand how we can justify violating some people's right to protect those of others. Either they're Constitutionally guaranteed rights applicable to all, or they aren't.

But if you'd like, leave out that example. My point still applies.

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I was about to make the same point..

by jmgarvin In reply to You and I have disagreed ...

Either we are a free nation or we are not...

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I suppose it depends on the definition of free

by maxwell edison In reply to I was about to make the s ...

Person-A is free to vote himself the fruits of Person-B's labor. However, Person-B is not free to decide otherwise. Is that living free?

Person-A is free to buy himself a home; and Person-B is free to vote in favor of imposing a tax on Person-A's home; and as such, Person-A isn't really a property owner, but rather a property renter in perpetuity, and he could have his home taken away if he won't (or can't) pay those property taxes. So much for property rights.

Likewise, Person-A's property could be seized in the name of eminent domain to make room for a shopping center. Of course, the developers are free to pay-off ..... I mean contribute to the political coffers of those legislators deciding the measure. (And if the government ever starts mandating wind power, be prepared to witness the biggest private property seizures in American history to make room for the windmills and transmission lines.)

Do I believe we live in a free country? **** no we don't, but we do a great job paying it lip-service.

Without 100 percent private property rights, and money is also property (see note), and without 100 percent free speech (as long as it doesn't libel, slander, or endanger another), the notion that we live in a free country is long past. And when one person can literally vote himself the fruits of another person's labor, we certainly do not live in a free society.

Note: I once got into a disagreement with another TR peer who maintained that money wasn't property. And even though James Madison also agreed that money should be considered private property, it didn't persuade him to change his position.

How do you define free? Do you think we currently live in a free country? Do you think we should live in a free country?

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Without economic freedom, there is no freedom at all

by Locrian_Lyric In reply to I suppose it depends on t ...
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Practical, actually-existing "freedom"

by DelbertPGH In reply to I suppose it depends on t ...

Everybody wants to be free, and much of human activity can be seen as a search for the money and power that will allow one to behave freely. So fine, but somewhere the rubber meets the road, and definitions of freedom suffer from the friction of real-world circumstance.

Persons A and B make competing demands for the same goods, privileges, and property. Their ability to enjoy the free exercise of the rights of their attainments is guaranteed (which means enforced by the sheriff and courts) and defined (which means limited) by the society of which they are both members.

For discussion's sake, draw a hasty line between persons A and B, and label one side "Winner/Free", and the other, "Loser/Unfree." I'll agree that in the modern world life doesn't usually come down to such simple binary distinctions, but at times in history it came closer. Society being what it is, greater freedom tends to be associated with winning the social game, especially freedom conferred by wealth and property. Further, since the winner is usually not the biggest animal with the sharpest teeth, but more often a middle-aged man or his widow, the winners depend on society's police powers to secure their gains over the losers, and enforce the winner's contractual rights in agreements. Just as much as the losers in the bargain are servants to the social system, the winners are also dependent on society. They are no longer perfectly free. Because they desire security, comfort, and freedom to move within privileged places in society, they are slaves to the system that confers these blessings. If they were unwilling to give up anything for comfort's sake, then they would be more free in one sense, but they would not be free of the need to battle foes in an ungoverned state of nature, and would not be free of an inevitable solitary death either sick in the cold, or beneath the sword of an antagonist.

One kind of freedom is not having to harken to what you are told to do; another is to not be confronted by unpleasant circumstances, like starvation. Freedom is not an easy ideal to pursue. Its definition in a social context winds up burdened with technicalities.

Freedom to be your own person and the right to enjoy your own property are central to human dignity, but these criteria can't be asserted in defiance of obligations to society. The obligations will become more constraining over time, as we pack more and more people into our country, get richer and richer, and attemt to define and deal with problems of pollution.

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So you disagree with James Madison?

by maxwell edison In reply to Practical, actually-exist ...

You assume things like, people will starve without government interference. I disagree - people will FREELY donate their time and resources to prevent it. For government to FORCE people to donate is contrary to maintaining a free society - as defined by Madison.

by James Madison

This term in its particular application means "that domination which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in exclusion of every other individual." In its larger and juster meaning, it embraces every thing to which a man may attach a value and have a right; and which leaves to everyone else the like advantage.

In the former sense, a man's land, or merchandize, or money is called his property. In the latter sense, a man has property in his opinions and the free communication of them. He has a property of peculiar value in his religious opinions, and in the profession and practice dictated by them. He has property very dear to him in the safety and liberty of his person. He has equal property in the free use of his faculties and free choice of the objects on which to employ them. In a word, as a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights.

Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties or his possessions. Where there is an excess of liberty, the effect is the same, though from an opposite cause.

Government is instituted to protect property of every sort; as well that which lies in the various rights of individuals, as that which the term particularly expresses. This being the end of government, that alone is a just government, which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own........

Protecting property rights - ALL property - is vital to the protection of liberty.

"I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on the objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents."

- James Madison

You may choose to disagree with James Madison, but I don't. You may try to find ways to justify your support for taking another's property, but I'll rest on the intent of the Constitution.

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Economics is not a zero sum game.

by Locrian_Lyric In reply to Practical, actually-exist ...

In wealthy nations, the problem among the poor is not starvation, but obesity.

Economics 101, one does not have to loose for another to win. One's loss does not assure another's win nor does one's win assure another's loss.

Even the poorest among Americans today enjoy a far higher standard of living than all but the very wealthy of 200 years ago. In fact, our definition of poverty would have meant wealth to my grandfather when he was my age.

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Eminent domain, Madison, etc.

by DelbertPGH In reply to Practical, actually-exist ...

You assume a thing or two about my opinions which are not derived from what I actually wrote. I wasn't writing about the problems of seizure by eminent domain or by taxation; the subject was more general than that, the problem of how you arrive at a definition of freedom which reflects the compromise between individual rights and the individual's interest in sustaining a society. However, I'll do that now.

First, though, I'll talk about Madison. He's pulling a bit of a shell game here. He uses property interest as a metaphor for all things a man holds precious, including religion and individuality, and then says that protecting property is everything that government needs to do. Individual rights of religion and speech are not items of property; although they "belong" to me, they can't be sold or given, like land, cash, or a hat. Government can't protect my rights in the same way it protects my stuff. I don't disagree with Madison that government should protect these things, but in accepting the terms of his argument you are backed up against a wall.

Government has to tax, and government has to exercise eminent domain; otherwise security and progress would suffer. I don't agree with using eminent domain to take land out of one person's hands to transfer it to another's, simply because person B can make big money it and create something socially useful; it would have to be damned useful indeed. Still, it's not my way to draw absolute lines which I will not cross, not today nor ever.

Things change. The Madisonian ideals may have taken us closer to a condition of greater human delight in Madison's time than they can now. When Madison wrote, we had only five per cent of our current population, and a third of them were slaves, and he wrote in an effort to bind New England theocrat merchant and Southern slaveholder into a union, with a statement of value in property that protected both parties' perceived greatest interests; in particular, it was a definition of value that tended to keep each party's fingers off the other's goods. Note that the Southerner was most worried about Northern idealists making his property in man illegal; he may thought his own interest in government was in preventing anybody from doing or saying anything that would threaten his way of life, which was dependent upon the ownership of other men.

We've got a lot more going for us now than Madison could have dreamed of, in terms of wealth, specifically. We are two dozen times wealthier than Madison's Americans. Our machines create comfort and prosperity all around us, but they require a systematic social environment to function, and in turn create opportunities to tyrannize us that Madison did not envision. "Original intent" is only an approximate guide to maintaining freedom, dignity, and justice in modern life; we have to wonder what the founding fathers' original intent would have been had they known what we do now.

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