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Archive for April, 2012

A Happy Serf

Greg wrote: “I welcome ideas such as yours, I just wonder how it could accomplish everyone’s needs, knowing that people are so diverse. For ex if I want a pool in my neighbourhood, and my neighbours do not want it, it won’t help me if I signed with the canton that favors a pool but the people who are members of my canton do not live in my neighbourhood. In the end, it comes down to who your neighbours are.”

Libertarianism is an attempt to determine what is the proper place of coercion within human society. The Non-Aggression Principle limits the use of force to the reaction of a victim to the threat or occurrence of aggression by another. Needless to say, those who support the nearly unlimited power of government to do whatever a majority of the elite favor do not hold to the Non-Aggression Principle.

In Greg’s world, the use of force by government is necessary to see that a pool is available for the common use of all in his neighborhood (whether his neighbors want it or not). He apparently cannot imagine a group of people in his neighborhood creating an association for this purpose, to build and manage a pool for the benefit of whoever would seek membership. The propaganda machine of the state has been quite successful in convincing people that only by force can anything of worth be accomplished.

Greece will lead us

Today I write to my brothers and sisters of Greece. You are today where we will all soon be. Special interests and the elites have destroyed your economy (oikos + nomos), just as they are now destroying the world economy. Do not despair. Do not give up. Show the rest of the world that by distributing power back to the people (demos) thru voluntary associations (cantons, or the Greek equivalent of that word), you can once again make things right. Form cantons. Tell the politicians that the people alone have the right to decide how the revenues of government will be spent. Lead the world out of its current mess. You did it in the past. Do it again, right now. It is your history. It is your destiny. The world is watching you today.

The limits of force

Libertarian thought, based on the non-aggression principle, is an attempt to determine what the proper limit of force is in society. To put it another way, what is the proper limit of government (for government is the organization of society that claims the right to use force)? Anarchism, the logical extreme of libertarian thought, disposes of the need for government entirely by asserting that the right to use force comes down to the right of the individual to assert their boundaries over themselves and their possessions, to defend these boundaries as they see fit (while simultaneously respecting the boundaries of others as far as possible), and to seek assistance from others in this defense. None of this necessarily requires an organization that we would recognize as government. Nevertheless, if government adheres to the limits imposed on it by natural law, by recognizing such natural law principles as the non-aggression principle, the principle of subsidiarity, and the ultimate primacy of the human person in society, there is no reason to say that government so understood could not exist in a just society, though it would require a new definition of government.

The Declaration of Independence speaks clearly of the primacy of the human person vis-a-vis government: “government gets its just powers from the consent of the governed”. What it does not do is clearly analyze the limits of government (although if government did, in fact, get its just powers from the consent of the governed, it would most likely find its natural limits). The US Constitution attempted to set limits by spelling them out in a document, but failed in that endeavor because of the ingenuity of living humans to willfully reinterpret the dead written word beyond all reason.

It is the task of the current age to redistribute power to the people so broadly that no elite can again inflict unlimited government on a people with the will to be free.

The essence restated

Special interests are the disease afflicting governments everywhere.

Let’s discuss the disease. Governments at all levels, from municipal to national, are controlled by special interests. The money influx from special interests distorts what is supposed to be government of, by, and for the people. Each special interest is only interested in its own interests, but it recognizes the fact that, working together, they can control governments so that each of them can get most of what they want. And that’s exactly what they do.

I’m not telling you anything that a lot of people don’t already know. And there have been lots of attempts to wrestle back control of government from the special interests. Here is a short list of ideas to solve the problem that have been attempted or proposed:

  • Elect the “right” people to office
  • Institute term limits
  • Pay for elections with public funding
  • Control how much money lobbyists can give to legislators
  • Control how much money can flow into political campaign coffers

Most people now recognize that the crux of the problem has to do with money, and how it gets into the political system. What no one has yet figured out is how to channel the money so the special interests cannot control governments with it.

Special interests are the disease. Cantons are the cure.

What is a canton? It is a voluntary, ideologically-based organization, like a political party, but with a different purpose: to control how government revenues are spent. How would that work? Every citizen believes in a certain ideology. When a citizen chooses to join a canton that reflects his or her views, he does so by contract with the canton that lasts for one year, renewable. He authorizes his canton, thru this contract, to regulate how his proportion of total revenue for a particular government is spent. Thus, if a canton’s membership represents 30 percent of the eligible voters in a municipality, the canton is authorized to determine how 30 percent of the revenues of that municipality are spent for that year. If the canton does a good job at this, the citizens will renew their membership. If not, they choose a different canton that will do what they want. This is called responsive government, something we haven’t seen before.

While special interests pour lots of money into the political system, what they are really after is deals that will funnel some portion of government revenues into their pockets. All revenues ultimately come from the people. If government is of, by, and for the people, every penny of revenue that any government receives really belongs to the people. Cantons, by regulating proportionately according to the number of members they have, make sure that the REAL money in government is spent as the people want, not as the special interests want.

Each canton is also a special interest group, but one representing people. Working together, they can wrest control of governments from all the other special interests, and return government to what it is supposed to be: of, by, and for the people.

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