"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door." The Statue of Liberty (P.S. Please be so kind as to enter through the proper channels and in an orderly fashion)

Location: Arlington, Virginia, United States

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Libertarian vs. Liberal Challenge

Guest Phelonius has asked me to set up a forum where he--a Right-Wing Libertarian-- and any volunteer from the Left-- preferably the most-outspoken, like Uncle Joe (Stalin, a.k.a. fathead), or his sperm receptacle Blossom, or Karl (a.k.a. Frankie), or the object of his sexual gratification, Banana--can debate topics in a calm, rational manner.

Your most excellent host--I, Republicus--will be moderator, referee, score-keeper, judge, jury, and, if need be, executioner.

As a conservative, all can rest assured on my impartiality, fairness, and open mind.

The first topic is:

I. Intoxicants and Hallucinogens (i.e. booze & drugs)

Following Europe's example, should the drinking age be abolished?

Should marijuana be legalized?

Available to all?



Crystal meth?






Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could you please define "legalized"? If I can get a prescription for it, does that mean it has been "legalized"?

5:41 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

That is actually a good question. In general, the problem there has been the spectrum of the different intoxicants and the response of the federal government and the laws of the various states.

Let me begin with marijuana, since it has been the most vexing of these issues besides alcohol.The difference between legalized alcohol and its ancestors has been that in the world of alcohol, the home-grown varieties have had a tendency to be dangerous to human life. That was not always the case, and it is not always the case today, of course. However, since it had to be brewed or distilled, there has been the chance that brewed alcohol can be dangerous to the drinker. Prohibition greatly increased the chances of those things since they had to hide rather than make things in legal competition with others. Today, legalized beer and wine brewing in local homes has accounted for almost no fatalities. Liquor that is sold now must either now be home brewed or it must be licensed for sale, much the same way that meat has to meet certain requirements before it can be sold in either restaurant or in uncooked varieties.

Marijuana is a little bit easier in this sense since the product grows straight up out of the ground and needs no refining whatsoever. many of the conflicts now with marijuana laws are that the various states have declared marijuana legal for various usages, but in every case the federal government declares the use illegal.

The stance of the LP is that these questions are up to the local authorities, duly elected, by the various local people. In general, the alcohol laws that have been established in the (Obama 57) 50 states are not unreasonable. It is fair to tax companies on the sale and distribution of intoxicants, and it is fair to restrict age groups that do not need to have adult things. It is also fair to prosecute the hell out of anyone driving under the influence of intoxicants, whatever they may be. It is similarly fair for individual cities and towns to prohibit public intoxication.

It has long been the nature of this Republic to discover that mere prohibition of any kind of intoxicant does very little to prohibit the usage of said drugs. The use of Ecstasy, for example, has not been curbed by prohibition, but has created the smuggling of this drug more profitable. The usage of hallucinogens in general has not decreased at all since the 1970's, but has belonged to the crowd that wishes to experiment. Force of law has had some interference, but in general it has had the effect of raising the market value and making the traders richer.

Now the situation becomes more visible that in place of the illegal drugs, kids are using other intoxicants, many of them even more dangerous. For example, they are now combining near lethal doses of over-the-counter flu and cold medicines to get high. Is this really the direction we need to go?

Drugs have been used since the beginning of time, and if anything, we have learned that the desire to escape is not going to go away. What I think is that most people, for example, do not kill themselves with alcohol because they do not want to. The increase of alcoholism AFTER prohibition did not increase.

Why? Simple. Some people have a dependent type of personality, and they are going to get addicted to something no matter what it is. Some people are truly alcoholics, and they are going to do that whether alcohol is legal or not. People have a basic right to experience what tjhey like as long as it does not infringe on the rights of others.

Does that help?

6:49 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

Also, yes, the drinking age is silly in this country.

You have 18 year olds in this country that are considered adult enough to take the lives of other human beings but cannot buy a beer?


Europe has few problems along this line and that is because they expect a more adult attitude amongst younger members of society.

6:52 PM  
Anonymous Eric Swift Hubble said...

Again with the local authority thing...silly inanity. They're likely to be some crackpot Xtian morons who'll hang your toked up ass in righteous, Xtian fury. This is one of the central naivetes of Libertarianism. As for the specifics of dealing with drugs, you have to look at each one separately...I'd definitely legalized marijuana completely...actually encourage its use as a serious enhancer of the mind. Some of the others are dangerous and need to be prohibited in some way. I admit this is difficult, but if some were allowed, it would be somewhat easier to focus on reducing others. I would treat this as a public health problem, not a criminal problem on the user end. As for alcohol, I am not conversant with the issues involving lowering the drinking age...probably would not do it but am open to persuasion.

7:51 PM  
Anonymous Hubble looked into the pussy's face and said...

Oh, that alpha male thing was funny. I'd kick your weenie asses in a bar fight as quick as I would in a debate...every GOPiggy I've ever run into is a pussy freaks aren't known as chickenhawks for nothing. As for John the Judge...whadda laugh...scroo the judge.

7:54 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

Silly insanity, you say, and yet you agree completely.

Not sure how to take that one.

Let me see if I understand this. You agree that the local communities are fine for making MJ a legal drug, but at the same time you are against the local communities for making MJ a legal drug. What are you saying? If I am ....what?

I am am a Texan. I have no idea what planet you are from space man, but the last I read, IX was in a SF novel.

Back on my planet, there is good reason to legalize certain drugs and do without a multi-billion dollar industry that has more to do with putting people into a prison than letting them out. It also makes for an industry of creating more criminals than we have before we put them in.......

But IX....?..

What the hell are you drinking?

8:00 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

Bring it on Hubble girl

8:01 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

Oh, Hubble lady....

So easy to send insults when you know you will not meet me face to face isn't it? Of course it is.

Can you back you bluster up with brainpower buy any chance?

I already know that you cannot.

Otherwise prove it, beanbag.

8:08 PM  
Blogger the Skeesick's said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:12 PM  
Blogger Sal said...

Wow, some really impressive retorts here Phel. If you loose this one you're not allowed back on the salmagundi.

8:13 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

"I'd kick your weenie asses in a bar fight as quick as I would in a debate"

I am SOO afraid.

God what a poser. How old are you anyhow?

8:13 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...


1st- Legalizing marijuana...hmmm. I have seen the affects of this drug on people very close to me. Four years ago I found myself with 4 extra kids. Some people think that it was because of meth that I got them. But it was marijuana AND alcohol that set the stage.

Marijuana was the drug of choice for their dad and alcohol for their mom.

I will say that marijuana isn't a 100th as bad as meth. But marijuana was the precurser to their use of meth. Marijuana is considered a gateway drug. People don't generally just jump into the hard drugs like meth and cocaine. They usually start with something far less destructive...on the surface...such as marijuana.

As for medical uses for marijuana...I don't know that I would be against that. It would need to be controlled much the way oxycontin is.

Yes, I realize that this does not stop the abuse of such drugs, but it does curtail its use.

Now, lets talk about what would happen if drugs such as meth were to be legalized. OH OH OH...this one should not even be allowed by prescription. It robs people of their ability to experience good feelings. One has to be totally free from it for months or even years before those faculties are brought back if they ever are completely.

Now, as it is, these drugs are illegal. But putting them in jail, if they ever get there, just does not work, generally. HOWEVER, I have seen success in this arena. I have seen it as a benefit to the abuser...but it took a LONG time to see it. But this is a subject for another time.

8:14 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...


Thankee there Sal...

You are damned sure right.

8:14 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

Well, Kelly, of anyone here you have more right to an opinion than most.

The thing that I would bring up is the thing that you had already mentioned. Those that have an addictive personality did those things anyway, did they not?

Let me ask you? Would it have been any easier to know to know that those drugs were legal or illegal? This is not asked in a frivolous sense. If there problems had been centered around alcohol rather than any other drug, would that make it easier?

I suspect that it would not have been easier. Broken marriages go from anything through alcohol and other addictions as they do anything else. There are gambling problems, there can be alcohol problems, and there can be other problems.

The point of the LP is not, like many political platforms, to solve individual problems through government interference. The point of the LP platform is just to say that the solution to individual family problems is not through the government, but rather through families,

8:22 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

Do not worry, John.

just like the anonymous driver that flips off the other driver because he has the courage of being unnamed, these idiots cannot argue and they try to bluster around because when their arguments fail, they blow up like puffer fish and tell you how tough they are.

Look, you left wing idiots.

I am giving you a place to argue your actual political points, and the only healthy arguments are coming from other people that are conservative in nature.

Where the hell are you left-wingers? Where is the Joe Stalin appreciators? You have been here in the past, but you suddenly have no guts??

8:45 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Sal said, "If you loose this one you're not allowed back on the salmagundi."

He could always come over to my site ;)

8:46 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

Pick any topic, losers. Any one at all.

Just choose one.

I can beat you with my any hand I need.

Why are you such cowards?

8:48 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

phelonius, I agree that families should be able to take care of their own problems. I quite agree.

However, I know that even with all that our family did to take care of the issue at hand...we were very grateful for a few months these kids parents spent in jail because that is what it took to give the mom a good dose of reality.

As for isn't even legal in any form.

8:51 PM  
Blogger Sal said...

There is much I find repugnant. Whores for example, are disgusting wastes of flesh that I'd prefer didn't share the same piece of earth as I. That said, I'm for legalized prostitution. Though I find the transaction of the flesh, enumerated with the faces of the founding fathers, devoid of humanity and cheapening to all involved. I can not find the unwilling victim.

Where I see my brother-in-law smoking bag after bag of dope while my sister drives a 20 year old piece of crap to her job to support him and their two children because of his inability to get a regular job. I am unable to find the unwilling victim, nor am I able to find how his imprisonment will make things better. The children are cared for, well fed and in a loving, albeit odoriferous, home. Do I find him contemptible and without worth? Mostly, but I am a judgmental son of a bitch. I don't find him deserving of imprisonment though.

There are many things that I can not abide. I silently stand in judgment of my fellow man on an hourly, perhaps minutely (work with me here) basis. A trip to Walmart has me channeling the spirit of Dr. Goebbels, silently making my list of people that need to board the train to my own personal Dachau. Never the less, behaviors that I find personally repugnant stands apart from those things that I find to be punishable offenses. That, to me, is the defining difference in a Libertarian viewpoint, whichever side, liberal or conservative you fall.

I think people should be free to be morons. Free to make decisions that will destroy their own lives. Free to continue down paths that the rest of us look at and just wonder... Surely this man's existences proves Darwin a hack. It is when this person's actions slip over into affecting me and my family's good (or at least better) choices that I find laws come into play.

8:58 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

Well Kelly, I grieve for the time that you had to spend there.

The thing that I would ask you to understand is a simple one, and yet it is a profound one.

The addictive personality is going to choose that whether the drug in question is legal or whether the drug in question is illegal. In the long run, it seems to me that the drugs in question, legal or not, is more of a question of the person in particular than it is the person's taste in particular. There have been people that have destroyed their families over gambling. There have been people that destroy their families over prostitution.

The question to the LP is whether or not the federal government has ever been able to make a real dent in these addictions, or....are we actually asking the government to take the place of our mothers? It is bad. It is terrible. Is it really the place of the federal government?

9:01 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

Well, John. It seems that Hubble girl would rather try and scare us with his microscopic penis than actually argue anything at all.

My challenge remains.

DEBATE ME you left-wing know-nothings! DO IT! Bring up anything, and argue it.

Otherwise, admit your impotent stupidity. FJ, you can continue at anytime, I do not include you, Sal or Kelly as being people without minds. You have courage and integrity.


WHERE ARE the rest of you losers? C'mon, Blossom! DEBATE!

9:19 PM  
Blogger Sal said...

This may be the only time I ever see a post(especially of mine) which talks about 'channeling goebbels' as indicative of having integrity. These here internets will never cease to amaze.

9:30 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

Sal, these left-wingers talk a rude game when they have no ideas to argue about. They insult a person personally, and they talk about things that they can scarcely comprehend.

The reason for that is that they are mostly idealistic teens that have never had to live a single day of adult life in their miserable existence. They feel good about it because they have never had to realize the dire consequences of what they preach. They talk about socialism because that is what they heard about in their 11th grade HS Social Science Class.

Am I wrong? Tell me Fathead. Tell me Bloosom. Tell Unca Phelonius ALL about it. Tell me all about it Booger-boy. You guys have all kinds of courage don't you?

9:38 PM  
Anonymous hubble said... this one sick, little fuck or not...can you believe this moron spouting this over and over again...WHERE ARE the rest of you losers? C'mon, Blossom! DEBATE! that an order from a two year old, hyperactive mutt? I doubt if any of us on this side consider flat earth losers like you boys to be remotely our equals or even human for that matter and certainly don't intend to spend more than the occasional moment or two cutting you down. Most adults have MANY other things to do and debating ineducable, programmed robots is waaaaay down the list. For you, the overused jibe, "Get a Life," actually seems appropriate.

9:41 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

"The question to the LP is whether or not the federal government has ever been able to make a real dent in these addictions, or....are we actually asking the government to take the place of our mothers? It is bad. It is terrible. Is it really the place of the federal government?"

Federal Local some things.

Yes, I think, that people should be free to destroy their own lives...but not when the cost of doing so affects those around them.

I have watched what happens when you see someone close to you has a slow motion train wreck. I have seen the emotional toll it takes on the children involved. They are not willing participants.

These kids were lucky that they had extended family nearby and available. So many do not have that luxury.

I have watched as a close family member went weeks without a roof over her head. There were weeks when I did not know where she was or even if she was alive. But we let her crash. We let her find out where bottom was.

Being on the street is no fun. A person on meth doesn't keep jobs for very long. Not because of drug testing, but because they simply don't show up for days at a time.

No job. No roof over your head. No food. No transportation. No help. What do you do? Well, identity theft, forgery, retail theft, and so forth are great resources for someone in such a mindset.

As a family, were we to take her in to our home? NO WAY, JOSE! We already had to change our bank accounts once.

She seemed to not find the bottom of her hell. It took two and a half years for her to land herself with enough time in jail to hit bottom. It was a blessing to her.

She is now in recovery because she was held accountable for her actions.

Does jail and prison work for everyone? I can't say that it does. The reason for that is that there just is not enough consistency with the courts. These people know that they can get away with not going to jail because there just aren't enough beds in the jail.

So, rather than putting them in jail there ought to be some other "punishment" for their crimes. Certainly, there ought to be something that helps them with their addictions and they ought to be the ones to make up for the costs through work, community service or fines.

But it still needs to be illegal because of the costs these behaviors put on society.

9:43 PM  
Anonymous hubble said...

Just one more minute to waste on this waste pile...

Silly insanity, you say, and yet you agree completely.

Not sure how to take that one.

Let me see if I understand this. You agree that the local communities are fine for making MJ a legal drug, but at the same time you are against the local communities for making MJ a legal drug.

See, what I mean?...endless tiresome clarification for fools who can't, I did not agree with you...and this is the last time I tell you what I said after you falsify it, pissant.

9:46 PM  
Blogger Sal said...

The problem is Kelly, I've seen people destroy their lives with the most innocent of things. Food, video games, church. All of these things have 'destroyed lives'. I'm not for criminalizing them either.

9:56 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...


Those are excellent arguments for governmental control over people's weaknesses. The problem there as I see it is this:

At what place does the government have a place over all of our weaknesses and at what place does it not?

Perhaps the government decides that you, personally , do not have the things that they think make your family safe and whole. What can those things involve? Perhaps you do not drive the safe vehicle. Perhaps you do not have a house that meets government specifications. Are you following a government specified diet?

Do not take this the wrong way, as I think you are likely doing a better job than most can in your circumstances. Let me ask you the question I asked you before, but with this in mind.

My best friend's family broke up over alcohol. Totally legal, and totally destructive. Even if it had been illegal, the destruction could not have been more complete. My question is this then, should the government tell us what we can consume and what we cannot consume?
I know plenty of families that have used alcohol and have done quite well, and my wife's family is a good example. They are a collection of families that are functional and working.

I think it is deeper than what the chemical is or is not.

I have known families that have broken up because they worshiped other things than alcohol: namely, sex, power, money or control. The answer is that ultimately the government cannot control out depravities any more than it can control our loves. In the long run, government cannot control itself.

10:00 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

OH...and wait...a bulletin from the stupid!

"endless tiresome clarification for fools who can't, I did not agree with you...and this is the last time I tell you what I said after you falsify it, pissant."

OH NO!!! He called me another name without actually arguing anything at all!

Boo HOOOO!! Going to cry myself a river here, you damned idiot.

Do they not teach debate in 7th grade anymore?

10:03 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

"OH NO!!! He called me another name without actually arguing anything at all!"

Phelonius...though you and I do not agree on this subject and will not agree, I see no reason to call you any ugly names. It has been interesting to explore this subject.

I am going to take a break for a bit as it is late.

10:18 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

Well, John, it is 12:15 here where I am at.

I will be back tomorrow sometime in the afternoon. If any of these left-wing wonders want to actually debate, then I will be there. I get this feeling that they do not have the juevos to even try, especially if it is hubble/bubble-boy. I have yet to see an idea from any of them, other than weeping and moaning. For FJ, Kelly, Sal and any others that want to continue our discussion, I find it stimulating and hope to continue.

10:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess I went to bed too early. I just wanted to say that I found the following statement indicative of the "problem with Libertarians"...

Some people have a dependent type of personality, and they are going to get addicted to something no matter what it is. Some people are truly alcoholics, and they are going to do that whether alcohol is legal or not. People have a basic right to experience what they like as long as it does not infringe on the rights of others.

So you're basically saying, they're born that way and there's nothing that can be done to change that. But you are wrong.

Do you know why "some people" actually "become" dependent personalities? They aren't born that way. They're made that way. And they're "made" that way though the CULTURE and their interaction with others THROUGH the culture.

Now, our libertarians friends seem to agree with Herbert Marcuse and the New Left movement that... "Happiness is NO CULTURE". After all, wasn't the counter-culture movement BORN of this desire for "happiness" and to "pursue happiness". To "expand consciousness" and experience "new possibilities". What could possibly be wrong with that?

Nietzsche characterized the state of "cultured/ civilized man" in his "Genealogy of Morals" as follows:

All instincts which are not discharged to the outside are turned back inside — this is what I call the internalization [Verinnerlichung] of man. From this first grows in man what people later call his “soul.” The entire inner world, originally as thin as if stretched between two layers of skin, expanded and extended itself, acquired depth, width, and height, to the extent that what a person discharged out into the world was obstructed. Those frightening fortifications with which the organization of the state protected itself against the old instincts for freedom — punishments belong above all to these fortifications — brought it about that all those instincts of the wild, free, roaming man turned themselves backwards, against man himself. Enmity, cruelty, joy in pursuit, in attack, in change, in destruction — all those turned themselves against the possessors of such instincts. That is the origin of “bad conscience.”

The man who because of a lack of external enemies and opposition was forced into an oppressive narrowness and regularity of custom impatiently tore himself apart, persecuted himself, gnawed away at himself, grew upset, and did himself damage — this animal which scraped itself raw against the bars of its cage, which people want to “tame,” this impoverished creature, consumed with longing for the wild, which had to create out of its own self an adventure, a torture chamber, an uncertain and dangerous wilderness — this fool, this yearning and puzzled prisoner, became the inventor of “bad conscience.” But with him was introduced the greatest and weirdest illness, from which humanity up to the present time has not recovered, the suffering of man from man, from himself, a consequence of the forcible separation from his animal past, a leap and, so to speak, a fall into new situations and living conditions, a declaration of war against the old instincts, on which, up to that point, his power, joy, and ability to inspire fear had been based.

Let us at once add that, on the other hand, the fact that there was on earth an animal soul turned against itself, taking sides against itself, meant there was something so new, profound, unheard of, enigmatic, contradictory, and full of the future, that with it the picture of the earth was fundamentally changed. In fact, it required divine spectators to appreciate the dramatic performance which then began and whose conclusion is by no means yet in sight — a spectacle too fine, too wonderful, too paradoxical, to be allowed to play itself out senselessly and unobserved on some ridiculous star or other! Since then man has been included among the most unexpected and most thrillingly lucky rolls of the dice in the game played by Heraclitus’ “great child,” whether he’s called Zeus or chance.* For himself he arouses a certain interest, a tension, a hope, almost a certainty, as if something is announcing itself with him, something is preparing itself, as if the human being were not the goal but only a way, an episode, a bridge, a great promise . . .

Now "drugs" are currently THE premier way for a man to escape from his consience and his own repressive inculcated "cultural" tormentors. It represents an ESCAPE from civilization and the culturally-embedded "thought police" of SuperEgo, and a return of man to the disordered mind of an "animal" existence and solitary Ego. And it is THIS desire to "escape" that lies at the very CORE of the so-called incurable "dependent personality".

Now, I could go on to give you my views on just how REPRESSIVE or PERMISSIVE a culture needs to be to avoid "permitting" its' citizens to seek an ESCAPE from its' confines, both legal and illegal.

But I think the point I'd rather make is that its' a little MORE than obvious that a Libertarian lassaiz-faire approach to CULTURE (and cultural restrictions) virtually guarantees that the culture or civilization that gave in to its' values would soon loose whatever repressive force it required to hold it together and enjoy the FRUIT of civilization, which is PEACE in the bellum omni contra omnes.

In other words, Lord Acton once said that, "Every institution perishes from an excess of its' 1st principle." Can there be such a thing as "too much liberty". Well the answer to that question is, "Yes, there can be such a thing as too much liberty."

I think Plato described the consequences of an "excess" of liberty far too clearly in his classic "Republic".

By degrees the anarchy finds a way into private houses, and ends by getting among the animals and infecting them.

How do you mean?

I mean that the father grows accustomed to descend to the level of his sons and to fear them, and the son is on a level with his father, he having no respect or reverence for either of his parents; and this is his freedom, and the metic (foreigner) is equal with the citizen and the citizen with the metic, and the stranger is quite as good as either.

Yes, he said, that is the way.

And these are not the only evils, I said--there are several lesser ones: In such a state of society the master fears and flatters his scholars, and the scholars despise their masters and tutors; young and old are all alike; and the young man is on a level with the old, and is ready to compete with him in word or deed; and old men condescend to the young and are full of pleasantry and gaiety; they are loth to be thought morose and authoritative, and therefore they adopt the manners of the young.

Quite true, he said.

The last extreme of popular liberty is when the slave bought with money, whether male or female, is just as free as his or her purchaser; nor must I forget to tell of the liberty and equality of the two sexes in relation to each other.

Why not, as Aeschylus says, utter the word which rises to our lips?

That is what I am doing, I replied; and I must add that no one who does not know would believe, how much greater is the liberty which the animals who are under the dominion of man have in a democracy than in any other State: for truly, the she-dogs, as the proverb says, are as good as their she-mistresses, and the horses and asses have a way of marching along with all the rights and dignities of freemen; and they will run at any body who comes in their way if he does not leave the road clear for them: and all things are just ready to burst with liberty.

When I take a country walk, he said, I often experience what you describe. You and I have dreamed the same thing.

And above all, I said, and as the result of all, see how sensitive the citizens become; they chafe impatiently at the least touch of authority, and at length, as you know, they cease to care even for the laws, written or unwritten; they will have no one over them.

Yes, he said, I know it too well.

Such, my friend, I said, is the fair and glorious beginning out of which springs tyranny.

Glorious indeed, he said. But what is the next step?

The ruin of oligarchy is the ruin of democracy; the same disease magnified and intensified by liberty overmasters democracy--the truth being that the excessive increase of anything often causes a reaction in the opposite direction; and this is the case not only in the seasons and in vegetable and animal life, but above all in forms of government.


The excess of liberty, whether in States or individuals, seems only to pass into excess of slavery.

Yes, the natural order.

And so tyranny naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme form of liberty?

As we might expect.

5:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As much as one may HATE the thought of being moulded and controlled and think such cultural forms intolerable, they are NECESSARY. (and no, the Ludovico technique is NOT what I have in mind).

And so, if cultural restrictions are indeed necessary, should we allow certain or an unlimited number of people an uncontrolled means of "escape" from the necessary to pursue their "animal nature" and "instincts"? I say, no, best USE these opportunities at escape to furhter inculcate cultural values, much as Plato did with the establishment of a Dionysian Chorus in his classic "Laws".

Jowett Summary of Plato's "Laws"

You remember how I spoke at first of the restless nature of young creatures, who jumped about and called out in a disorderly manner, and I said that no other animal attained any perception of rhythm; but that to us the Gods gave Apollo and the Muses and Dionysus to be our playfellows. Of the two first choruses I have already spoken, and I have now to speak of the third, or Dionysian chorus, which is composed of those who are between thirty and sixty years old. 'Let us hear.' We are agreed (are we not?) that men, women, and children should be always charming themselves with strains of virtue, and that there should be a variety in the strains, that they may not weary of them? Now the fairest and most useful of strains will be uttered by the elder men, and therefore we cannot let them off. But how can we make them sing? For a discreet elderly man is ashamed to hear the sound of his own voice in private, and still more in public. The only way is to give them drink; this will mellow the sourness of age. No one should be allowed to taste wine until they are eighteen; from eighteen to thirty they may take a little; but when they have reached forty years, they may be initiated into the mystery of drinking. Thus they will become softer and more
impressible; and when a man's heart is warm within him, he will be more ready to charm himself and others with song. And what songs shall he sing? 'At Crete and Lacedaemon we only know choral songs.' Yes; that is because your way of life is military. Your young men are like wild colts feeding in a herd together; no one takes the individual colt and trains him apart, and tries to give him the qualities of a statesman as well as of a soldier. He who was thus trained would be a greater warrior than those of whom Tyrtaeus speaks, for he would be courageous, and yet he would know that courage was only fourth in the scale of virtue. 'Once more, I must say, Stranger, that you run down our lawgivers.' Not intentionally, my good friend, but whither the argument leads I follow; and I am trying to find some style of poetry suitable for those who dislike the common sort. 'Very good.' In all things which have a charm, either this charm is their good, or they have some accompanying truth or advantage. For example, in eating and drinking there is pleasure and also profit, that is to say, health; and in learning there is a pleasure and also truth. There is a pleasure or charm, too, in the imitative arts, as well as a law of proportion or equality; but the pleasure which they afford, however innocent, is not the criterion of their truth. The test of pleasure cannot be applied except to that which has no other good or evil, no truth or falsehood. But that which has truth must be judged of by the standard of truth, and therefore imitation and proportion are to be judged of by their truth alone. 'Certainly.' And as music is imitative, it is not to be judged by the criterion of pleasure, and the Muse whom we seek is the muse not of pleasure but of truth, for imitation has a truth. 'Doubtless.' And if so, the judge must know what is being imitated before he decides on the quality of the imitation, and he who does not know what is true will not know what is good. 'He will not.' Will any one be able to imitate the human body, if he does not know the number, proportion, colour, or figure of the limbs? 'How can he?' But suppose we know some picture or figure to be an exact resemblance of a man, should we not also require to know whether the picture is beautiful or not? 'Quite right.' The judge of the imitation is required to know, therefore, first the original, secondly the truth, and thirdly the merit of the execution? 'True.' Then let us not weary in the attempt to bring music to the standard of the Muses and of truth. The Muses are not like human poets; they never spoil or mix rhythms or scales, or mingle instruments and human voices, or confuse the manners and strains of men and women, or of freemen and slaves, or of rational beings and brute animals. They do not practise the baser sorts of musical arts, such as the 'matured judgments,' of whom Orpheus speaks, would ridicule. But modern poets separate metre from music, and melody and rhythm from words, and use the instrument alone without the voice. The consequence is, that the meaning of the rhythm and of the time are not understood. I am endeavouring to show how our fifty-year-old choristers are to be trained, and what they are to avoid. The opinion of the multitude about these matters is worthless; they who are only made to step in time by sheer force cannot be critics of music. 'Impossible.' Then our newly-appointed minstrels must be trained in music sufficiently to understand the nature of rhythms and systems; and they should select such as are suitable to men of their age, and will enable them to give and receive innocent pleasure. This is a knowledge which goes beyond that either of the poets or of their auditors in general. For although the poet must understand rhythm and music, he need not necessarily know whether the imitation is good or not, which was the third point required in a judge; but our chorus of elders must know all three, if they are to be the instructors of youth.

5:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just call me a tyrant like Hipparchus. But it is tyrants who give birth to civilizations. And their slayers become "heroes" of the people... whom people 'drink' to their health and enjoy their "escape" from his repressive measures.

2. Inscriptions on Hermai (Herms) of Hipparchus:

a. "A reminder of Hipparchus: walk thinking just thoughts."

b. "A reminder of Hipparchus: do not deceive a friend."

([Plato], Hipparchus 229a-b)

3. Drinking Songs in Praise of Harmodius and Aristogeiton:

a. In a branch of myrtle I shall bear my sword

Like Harmodius and Aristogeiton,

When the two of them slew the tyrant

And made Athens a city of equal rights

b. Dearest Harmodius, surely you are not dead;

They say that you are in the Islands of the Blessed,

Where dwells swift-footed Achilles

And, they say, brave Diomedes son of Tydeus

(Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 695a-b)

4. Athenian decree ( IG I3 131, c. 440-432) granting descendants of Harmodius and Aristogeiton free dinners in the town hall (prytaneion):

...It was resolved by the boule and the people...there shall be public maintenance in the prytaneion...for the descendants of Harmodius and Aristogeiton, whoever is nearer in descent, if there are no legitimate sons...

6:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is why history and civilizations move in regular "cycles". For there is "generation" in "opposites".

America was an experiment in "confining" those opposites within the same system. It has been enormously SUCCESSFUL. But its' limits are being SORELY tested and broken down as the repressive forces and elements confining it deteriorate to the cynics and logicians who demand the "better" from that which created "the good" and eventually exceed the limit of 1st principle which create it.

What "practical" limit should be imposed upon human liberty? Libertarians seem to be saying... "none".

6:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...or at best, just so long as your liberty hurts no-one else.

Unfortunately it can't hurt "no-one else" for it affects EVERYONE else.

It is therefore an illogical proposition to begin with, or at best, a paradox. ;-)

6:25 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

FJ said, "...or at best, just so long as your liberty hurts no-one else.

Unfortunately it can't hurt "no-one else" for it affects EVERYONE else.

It is therefore an illogical proposition to begin with, or at best, a paradox. ;-)

This is the crux of it all. Some argue that drug abuse is a victimless crime. I would argue I have previously pointed out.

In another post some time ago I argued on the roll of governments in our lives. FJ brought up some of those points. Without some controls society breaks down to the lowest common factor.

I had posted these comments on a post at Curtains: "I remember, as a kid saying, "It's a free country! I can do whatever I want to do." Well, yes you can. BUT.... There are consequences and there are responsibilities that go along with that freedom.

The liberals don't want those consequences. Many of these consequences are imposed by society rather than the government.

In a free society it will not remain that way unless the people take responsibility for their own actions.

The problem now is that there is a division as to how to "manage" or "what" is to be managed when those things aren't taken care of by the members of that society.

Liberals want certain things to be managed. Conservatives want other things to be managed.

But, I reiterate, "Without some controls society breaks down to the lowest common factor." It is this way because man is, in general, self serving. He will not always do that which is best for society.

Again the issue then becomes who decides what controls should be in place and how much. This is the very crux of our political system.

There will always be those who disagree with my idea of good government and what roll it should play in our lives.

7:42 AM  
Anonymous d. simes said...

Hey, if we want to read reams of Plato, we'll get out the book.

We have one blowhard who likes to show us he's read the sophomoric, logic chopper (Plato is known for the beauty of his prose and his place so early in the history of western culture...he is certainly not known for his piercing intellect) and another one who likes to hear himself bloviate endlessly. Both are incredible bores and boors and as deep as a puddle of piss.

9:28 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

John, phelonius is right...they can't debate. I doubt they know how.

I thought FJ's insertion of Plato to be very apropo on the subject. It certainly helped to clarify the position I take.

9:55 AM  
Anonymous intellectually bankrupt said...

Gee, whodda thunk logic choppers were so devoid of piercing intellect?

Must be some kind of oxymoron dreamed that thought combination up. Okay, maybe not so oxy...

10:08 AM  
Anonymous narcissus' echo said...

Right... more "hyper"... as in... -bloviated.

10:11 AM  
Anonymous echo's narcissus said...

Ouch! I think that one stung a little.

10:15 AM  
Anonymous dorallei doralie said...

Hmmm. Where did my little pork blossom get off to, anyway?

Maybe she'll decloak and disembark the mothership.

Naaah. She wouldn't be able to crawl away and lick her well earned stripes in privacy if she did that!

10:26 AM  
Anonymous blossom said...

Hey guys! I hear there are some alpha males over here...oh, my...tee hee and all that.

I've found that guys who have to tell me they're alpha are always little mutts who can barely reach a woman's knee...and don't know what to do when they get there.

Glad to see you are actually talking politics over here, though...that's a real improvement.

See, how stimulating exposure to large, liberal cerebrums can be?!!

They have so many stimulating organs...oh, my oh me, I'm blushing now...gotta go.

11:03 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

...and yet she still can't debate...sheesh!

11:18 AM  
Anonymous le bert from the plant arian said...

Q - Did she say cerebellums or mush melons?

A - When liberals like her flap their gums, it amounts to the same thing.

11:18 AM  
Anonymous liberated breasties said...

Cerebrum stupid! It's the part of the brain that directs cerebral activity, not muscular/ motor coordination!

Oh, NOW I get it! That really IS funny. LOL!

11:29 AM  
Anonymous vegetarian from the planet arium said...

Now THAT takes some REAL coordination! Nothing cerebral, of course, but what does THAT matter?

And so it appears that our master-debaters have better things to do today. They're probably down at the methadone clinic performing quality control on the free samples, again. Say goodbye to that last brain cell for me, pork blossom!

Okay, now it's gone.

11:41 AM  
Blogger John said...

Fathead. Everytime Blossom comes in here, she starts thinking about sex, gets horny, and leaves hot and bothered.

How do you do it?

12:32 PM  
Blogger John said...

Simian grunted:

"Plato is known for the beauty of his prose and his place so early in the history of western culture...he is certainly not known for his piercing intellect."

Among atheists/materialists like Marx, anyway, comrade.

12:54 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

John, Phelonius, arguing with the likes of blossom is like arguing with a 2 year old. Its not recommended. You won't get anywhere. They don't understand logic.

2:55 PM  
Blogger Sal said...

While I appreciate FJ's engagement in this discussion it seems to me that the quotes posted only speak against anarchism, not libertarianism. It isn't an issue of not having the rule of law. Libertarians are fully supportive of laws, it is the engagement of prohibition by the government that libertarians buck against.

For me at least the act of doing 'the right thing' under penalty of imprisonment is not a moral act. It is an act of self preservation. I am not interested in the self centered. I am interested in the truly moral, just people for whom doing right is a reflection of their actual self, not a reaction to threats of outside forces.


3:12 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

"For me at least the act of doing 'the right thing' under penalty of imprisonment is not a moral act. It is an act of self preservation. I am not interested in the self centered. I am interested in the truly moral, just people for whom doing right is a reflection of their actual self, not a reaction to threats of outside forces. "

Sal, I see your point in this. But it is, in my opinion, somewhat idealistic. I don't see it as very practical or realistic.

3:36 PM  
Blogger Sal said...

It is only idealistic if I extended that opinion to include actions that directly effected others. That is where the rule of law kicks in. You can act as you wish so long as your actions are directed at yourself when they directly extend beyond that laws must come into play and with that, heavy (enforced) penalties.

I value the place of government and find it a (potentially) noble institution. Seeing it scrounging through trashcans or leering into the bedrooms of it's citizens in an attempt to control its private behaviors belittles the people and degrades the institution. More importantly it accomplishes nothing but criminalizing the populous, makes itself the enemy of the majority and creates crime where was none.

3:51 PM  
Blogger John said...


I provided a forum and though fathead was off to a promising start, he quickly deteriorated, pressed the defcon 1 button, and went ballistic.

This from the same "Peace & Love" and "antiwar" crowd that promotes diplomacy and communication and open-minded understanding with America's sworn enemies.

It is a waste of time. These are the unhinged, far-left types that even Hillary and/or Barack try to avoid being associated with in a general election scenario.

They're the types who show up at lecture halls when conservatives/Republicans are invited to speak and disrupt the event by heckling, jeering, hooting, hollering, and throwing pies.

They do virtually the same thing here.

They're instructed to behave in that manner by their gurus higher up on the food chain:

Repeat lies over and over again, hurl ad hominems and belittlements to publicly humiliate, and shout down debate.

They all do that. It's a method of bullying, intimidating, annd "outsmarting" the opposition that has it's roots in the 19th Century when it proved highly effective against illiterate and meek Russian and Chinese peasants.

If they had the power, and they thought they could get away with it, they would think nothing of taking us out to the woods and shooting us.

They'd even joke about it.

They're evil.

Sal said:

"I am interested in the truly moral, just people for whom doing right is a reflection of their actual self, not a reaction to threats of outside forces."

That sounds great, but it's a tall order to expect that kind of virtue to be embodied in a majority of citizens, or at least enough to make the country function and thrive under such a system that depends so much on cooperation.

Look here on this blog. It's like trying to keep a half dozen cats in the same room.

You think everyone here will suddenly come to round agreement on a political philosophy to end all political philosophies and Kumbaya for Libertarianism?

You think enough people will want to do good and/or obey the law for the sake of doing good and/or obeying the law without coercion to make many criminal laws today obsolete?

Libertarians, bless 'em, have practically the same idealistic "Noble Savage" view of man that liberals have.

Conservatives know better.

3:55 PM  
Blogger Sal said...

Not sure where you got that reading John. Ask Phel how pie eyed and optimistic I am about the human animal. You'll soon discover I think that I think the vast majority of them would be better used as a food source than a 'teammate in the game of life'.

I speak of no idealism. On the contrary I think the authoritarians speak of idealism when they speak of this undefinable entity that will make and enforce these laws of behavior. I do not see the government as fit to dole out these rules and punishments. And while all people and institutions are flawed I find it best to err on the side of Liberty and leave people to their own devices when their actions will come back upon themselves or willing participants alone. Step outside of that and strong laws with punishments that are actually carried through with are called for and deserved.

I find little noble about our savagery, whether it be in the trailer park or the white house.

4:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am interested in the truly moral, just people for whom doing right is a reflection of their actual self, not a reaction to threats of outside forces.

Really? Because you seem to be saying that for Libertarians, having externally applied or conforming laws is 'enough.'

And so I must ask, just what part of my previous Nietzsche quote didn't you understand? The only way to instill a moral mechanism that can make an individual 'self-regulating' (and not requiring external monitoring and regulation by an all pervasive totalitarian police force, aka CIVILIZED/TAMED) is to instill totems and taboo's through repression. This process begins in infancy and usually ends at adulthood (age of majority - 18). A child emulates its' parents just as an animal "imprints" on the other members of the herd.

THAT is what CULTURE is. It requires a viable miniature social model (the family) - not single-family mothers, illiterate babysitters or homosexual caregivers w/o hope of non-interventionist sexual reproducing

Take "fathers" out of the nuclear family, and you end up with the Moynihan Report on steroids. And THAT is the New Left model. Laisez-faire nihil-ified counter-culturalism.

You want an "authentic" un-cultured human beings behaving w/o supervision? Think Neanderthal or Viking warrior or inner city Detroit on Devil's Night. THAT is an "authentic" liberated un-tamed un-cultured human being, not some kind, sharing Rousseauian "noble savage".

Believe me when I say there's nothing "noble" in savagery.

Nietzsche, "Genealogy of Morals"

We Germans certainly do not think of ourselves as an especially cruel and hard-hearted people, even less as particularly careless people who live only in the present. But just take a look at our old penal code in order to understand how much trouble it takes on this earth to breed a “People of Thinkers” (by that I mean the European people among whom today we still find a maximum of trust, seriousness, tastelessness, and practicality, and who, with these characteristics, have a right to breed all sorts of European mandarins). These Germans have used terrible means to make themselves a memory in order to attain mastery over their vulgar basic instincts and their brutal crudity: think of the old German punishments, for example, stoning ( — the legend even lets the mill stone fall on the head of the guilty person), breaking on the wheel (the most characteristic invention and specialty of the German genius in the realm of punishment!), impaling on a stake, ripping people apart or stamping them to death with horses (“quartering”), boiling the criminal in oil or wine (still done in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries), the well-loved practice of flaying (“cutting flesh off in strips”), carving flesh out of the chest, and probably covering the offender with honey and leaving him to the flies in the burning sun.

With the help of such images and procedures people finally retained five or six “I will not’s” in the memory, and so far as these precepts were concerned they gave their word in order to live with the advantages of society—and it’s true! With the assistance of this sort of memory people finally came to “reason”! — Ah, reason, seriousness, mastery over emotions, this whole gloomy business called reflection, all these privileges and showpieces of human beings: how expensive they were! How much blood and horror is at the bottom of all “good things”! . . .

4:29 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

Well, the Libertarians do not so much view man as noble, but rather we view the laws of men with great suspicion.

We very much maintain that the best judge of what a person and and desires is the very same person. The individual is the key to understanding not only the dangers that laws can present, but it is also key to understanding the "Founding Dads" and what they had in mind with the Constitution.

The LP Platform Preamble says it best:
"As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others.

We believe that respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world, that force and fraud must be banished from human relationships, and that only through freedom can peace and prosperity be realized.

Consequently, we defend each person's right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest, and welcome the diversity that freedom brings. The world we seek to build is one where individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own ways, without interference from government or any authoritarian power."

This is not anarchy. Far from it. What it is not is a belief that government must be used to control our behaviors. That, actually, is a Marxist viewpoint if you get right down to it. Freedom of religion, for example, is based on the trust that the individual chooses their religion, and in the LP world, we should be free to explore any religion we fancy as long as we do not interfere with the rights of others in doing so.

When the argument is used that the government is here to stop us from doing bad things, I believe that that is a misuse of government. Government is here to stop us from doing bad things to each other, such as fraud, theft, assault and so forth. I can choose to drink if I like, and I can choose not to drink if I like. The people I should worry about if I choose to do so are my family and myself. That is it. I should not have to inform the local constable that I am going to have a beer now.

If I then get in my car and drive? Well now I would be in a place where I am endangering others, and that IS the business of the government.

4:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree TOTALLY with your goals. The problem lies not in the goal, but the MEANS of achieving it. It's a classic case of "generation from opposites".

You're goals are PERFECT for 18 years olds and up. But until they turn 18, they need the exact OPPOSITE of what you recommend.

They require "education", which is an WHOLLY IMMORAL practice of imposing your will and culture and standards of behaviour upon the young.

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and a laissez-faire culture will NOT achieve your end. It will result in an ever increasing police force with ever increasing levels of population imprisonment.

4:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you bring up children in a highly rigid and moral manner, they learn right from wrong. And best of all, young boys experience a miracle known as an Oedipal transference, that instills his FATHER in the right hemisphere of his brain and ENFORCES the man's moral code of conduct.

It includes things like NO INCEST ALLOWED, and actually makes the child "feel bad" when he does bad things... like kill other people (PTSD).

4:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

W/O a supervising SuperEgo successfully repressing and inverting thought, the kid feels NO regret or conscience.... perfit recruits for the Bloods or Cryps...

4:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Evolution is not only a biological theory... it applies to a persons life as well. A child is a tyrant. A marriage is a kind of monarchy. A family is a functioning democracy. An empty nest is a reversion to monarchy. And an old man in a rest home is a tyrant again. (Plato, "Republic")

Going into the military transformed my life. Without that period under which I lived in a tyranny, I would not be the person I am today.

4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Before you can build a young man up, you need to tear him down. Been to Boot Camp?

Generation from opposites.

4:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Order from Chaos.

4:53 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

Well, it is my understanding that the laws generally pertain to adults. Children under the age of 18 are either wards of the parents or they are wards of the state, and there are various laws that address that issue.

What we have in this country, FJ, with these prohibition laws is exactly what you are talking about. The United States now has the dubious distinction of having more prisoners than anyone else on this planet. We employ thousands and thousands of people running prisons and police forces, and the the numbers are growing still. We are enforcing a multi-billion dollar industry of imprisoning people, and the sources of drugs and the demand for them has only grown. The prohibition laws make the prices of these drugs artificially high, and therefore desirable to criminals, and our prisons are churning out gang affiliated members by the thousands per year.

When Little Johnny goes to prison on a federally mandated drug charge, he may not be all that great as a person. Throw him in one of these Criminal Universities, and when he gets out, he has learned a great deal more than just how to deal drugs. He comes out with connections, he comes out affiliated with a gang, he comes out knowing how to kill, and he comes out not having the prospect of ever getting a decent job and making an honest way through life.

We are manufacturing our own criminal elements.

That being said, I would like to point out that my own moral fabric was wove into me through my family and my church. I, in turn, maintain that with my own children until they are old enough to understand the law and behave accordingly as honest men. I do not need the government to tell me that handing out heroin to my 17 year old is a drastic and terrible decision. I do not let them drink either, until they can make that choice themselves, and legally.

What the LP is calling for is a return to the "Liberal" ideals of the 18th century, and a return to personal responsibility. It has worked before and it can work again.

4:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Moral/ self-regulating behavior in a completely free society.

4:56 PM  
Blogger Sal said...

Well FJ unless you plan to enforce 'the family' single mothers and the like is what you're stuck with in some cases, that is who will be teaching the 'culture' to at least a certain percentage of children. The church has historically served the role of supporting the development of our social mores in families big or small. We have as a culture moved away from that model however. Outside of instituting a state religion or embracing a socialist model of collectivism I don't see a role for government within that social need.

As for what I didn't understand... I didn't fail to understand any of it. I simply do not see it as supportive of authoritarian social government. I don't argue with the majority of what you say concerning culture, or the need for mimicking social models for future generations through strong families. My argument is in who's responsibility that is, and whether it is the governments job to enforce these standards.

That is the crux of the difference between conservative libertarians and conservative authoritarians. The expectation of behavior is the same. It's who has the authority to enforce that expectation that is different.

4:56 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

Agreed,, Sal. FJ, I understand your argument and we are not really all that far apart. As Sal points out, it is a question of the role of government and how far it rightly intrudes into our lives.

Ronoldus Magnus pointed out that the problem IS the government.

5:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

. I do not need the government to tell me that handing out heroin to my 17 year old is a drastic and terrible decision.

Well, your government has become one of the world's leading enablers of counter-cultures and multi-cultures that ds NOT share your values, phelonius. And with every election, punishes/taxes you and yours and turns around and gives those extorted resources to the MOST IRRESPONSIBLE and failed segments of society, thus enabling and ever increasing cycle of cultural deterioration and dependence upon government for protection...

5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know we're not that far apart. I used to be a Libertarian. Charles Murray was my hero.

When you have a "functioning" culture, you don't need laws and regulations and a monitored/ externally controlled "culture". Parents do what comes naturally.

But the way things stand now, government is doing everything in its' power to DEFEAT the dominant culture and reward irresponsibility.

5:04 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

So the solution is to eliminate freedom? Take all the guns away because there are those that misuse them? Tell us what we can eat and drink and take into our bodies to force people to conform? What cars should we drive?

No, I would rather take my chances in freedom rather than live in a tyranny, no matter how well-meaning it may start out as being.

5:05 PM  
Blogger John said...

When discussing Libertarianism, the non-Libertarian hears moral chaos and wonders about someone's rights being impinged upon by someone else's sense of liberty and often misses the part about tough enforcement in the process because of an overwhelming theme of permissiveness.

What I meant before was that, despite any realistic appraisals of human nature a Libertarian has, it sounds to me as if they need to count upon enough fellow citizens to have a good education and/or virtue to maintain a civil society of their own free will to make a Libertarian society work.

Indeed, the Founding Fathers counted on that, as well.

...and I daresay that they dreamt of a Libertarian society comprised of virtuous--or at least kind-hearted, however vice-ridden-- men, as do I and probably most every other American if they thought their principles through to their logical conclusion.

...except, of course, the lefty, who's a control freak with great contempt for true Liberty.

Anyway, there's still an astonishingly high-illiteracy rate among the population (thanks to liberalism), and a high degree of hate for different ways of thinking and a desire to destroy them (again, liberalism) that makes a Libertarian society impractical--if not impossible-- at this juncture.

"There are many things that I can not abide. I silently stand in judgment of my fellow man on an hourly, perhaps minutely (work with me here) basis. A trip to Walmart has me channeling the spirit of Dr. Goebbels, silently making my list of people that need to board the train to my own personal Dachau."


5:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So again. Yes, Government is the problem. But we can't go BACKWARD. That means using government to create "independent" self-reliant individuals, instead of coddling the weak and creating Katrina Zones.

5:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You cannot simply abandon the Great Societies "victims" of 'misguided' liberalism.

We must move FORWARD.

And government IS the most expedient means for accomplishing this end.

5:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, how immoral. Treating people as means to an end and not ends unto themselves.

THAT is why government is so EVIL.

5:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But only by doing so can people become free "libertarians" and "ends unto themselves". Self-reliant. Independent. Free.

5:10 PM  
Blogger John said...

I asked:

"Fathead. Everytime Blossom comes in here, she starts thinking about sex, gets horny, and leaves hot and bothered.

How do you do it?"

Waitasec, this ain't your blog, it's mine.


ANYWAY, seriously, next time those clowns come in here, if they can't contribute anything constructive to what is an excellent converstation, just ignore them.

Carry on.

5:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well FJ unless you plan to enforce 'the family' single mothers and the like is what you're stuck with in some cases, that is who will be teaching the 'culture' to at least a certain percentage of children.

The family IS self-enforcing, providing you don't have government going out of its way to subsidize "competing" models and creating paths to abberant/dysfuntion (homosexual marriage and no-fault divorce being but TWO problems).

5:15 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

True to some degree, John, but do not forget that there were federalists in those early days as well, and they lived in terror of the "unwashed masses." The literacy rate was not all that spiffy in 1789 either. Never-the-less, we still had the likes of Thomas Jefferson who successfully guided us as an edge against the federalists, some of whom even argued for another monarchy. The great unwashed masses terrified the east coast establishment when Andy Jackson took the presidency. I would maintain that the literacy rate had not improved all that much by his time either.

Literacy by itself was not what drove the independent spirit of the pioneer and the entrepreneur. It was the ability to choose for ourselves what churches we wanted to attend, how we wanted to live and where we wanted to live that gave us this powerhouse of creativity that became our economy.

Ultimately the peoples of the various states have not done such a terrible job of maintaining their lives without having a government nanny to tell them how to live.

5:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Women today are rewarded for NOT marrying and competing as individuals AGAINST the very families that subsidize and support their "government created" independence and safety-net.

Affirmative action. Child care at work. free medical. All of these things make the traditional family "un-competetive". It makes couples shun marriage.

Necessity is the mother of invvention. Make it un-necessary for mothers to raise their own kids within a traditional family unit... and subsidize the "competing model", and you're creating a disaster of Biblical proportions. A veritable "flood" of immorality and dysfunction.

Marriage IS the bedrock of civilization. W/O it, your civilization is DOOMED.

5:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You'll take your chance on freedom, phelonius?

What do you actually KNOW about the revolution? Not much is my guess. The revolution was THE greatest conspiracy EVER conducted... cooked up in the backroom by a Junto lead by Ben Franklin, et al.

W/O the freemason conspiracy, we'd be kissing Queen Elizabeth II's boots today.

Of course, the only "better" conspiracy was the Glorious Revolution. ;-)

5:24 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

Well, the LP maintains that federal doles should be phased out pretty much altogether, along with the Dept. of Education and a great many other things. These powers belong to the the various states and the people, not the Feds.

How DID people get educated before Jimmy Carter made the Dept. of Ed anyhow? It seems that that has not worked out very well at all.....

Things like free medical and federal child care and all of those things are just more ways that the huge and bloated bureaucracy in DC have made more inroads to control and eliminating what real freedom actually IS.

5:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1776 was NOT a spontaneous revolt. Franklin was already planning it in 1732...

5:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Libertarians are a wonderful front. But w/o guardians and a midnight council to protect it, it will fall to the first viable conspiracy.

Which is what happened in the USA. The federalists in Ohio.

5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just ask the Philadelphia Mummers. And NY's Tammany Hall )precursers to today's Democrats).

5:29 PM  
Blogger John said...

Government represents--indeed champions and defends--national values, in our case, Liberty, particularly for the individual but by extension every one else.

Now I ask:

What should the government's--state or federal--role be vis-a-vis the FLDS polygamist cult in Texas be?

This should be interesting...

5:30 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

Well, FL, does a bachelors and masters in history count for anything? Went to a pretty good private school too.....

It saddens me that you would think me uneducated.

My father was also a historian, and I have a pretty good library here if you could get here to peruse it.

Since you ask, a great deal of what I know also comes from researching my family, as I had a handful of ancestors that actually fought in that conflict. They lost a lot of brothers and fathers and sons in that conflict.

The bullets and the killing were real enough I reckon.

5:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or the 1st "independent" political party in the USA... the Anti-Mason Party

5:31 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

Oh John....that has been an interesting ride.

I feel that if there really was human trafficking going on to transport "brides," and especially since it went on between states, then something had to be done. Agree or not on the proper age of marriage, we do have laws that pertain to that. Further, Texas still has a "0" tolerance for polygamy, so until the law is changed, that is a problem for the FLDS.

The ride has been that recently a judge ruled that Child Protective Services had insufficient evidence and that seizing those kids was not lawful. That ought to tie up the courts for quite some time.

5:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If what you say is true, then do the research. It's NOT part of the "official" history. It's in the "Society of Fort St. Davids", the Schuylkill Fishing Company, Gloucester Fox Hunting Club. Colony in Schuykill. First Troop Philadelphia Cavalry. And the "original" Philadelphia Sons of St. Tammany/Tammanend. Or in Boston, the Green Dragon and Cluster of Grapes Taverns. Or in New Haven, CT, the Squantum Club/festival traditions and burning of HMS Gaspee, the Boston teaparty (Mohawks - Sons of Tammany)

5:37 PM  
Blogger John said...

James, the main thrust of your argument seems to be against federal government powers, and you argue a lot for states' rights.

I understand that completely comuing from a Lone Star Stater--;)-- but, on a principle of anti-government, what have you got to say, then, about the extent of power state's have over their citizenry?

Do the same principles apply?

How could they, if you just delegated the hated federal powers to the states?

5:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I guess I've played the fool enough for one day, shouting between the towers in Zarathustra's village of the Pied Cow.

Moo, gentlemen. This fool has departed.

5:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"a people who do bot remember... rain which falls upon rock." -- Molly Brant.

5:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...not remember.


5:46 PM  
Blogger John said...

Zero tolerance for polyamy?

Surely, if I and two adult woman get along splendidly together and want to marry, you don't think anyone should tell us we can't, do you?

Also, James, I must say that I'm getting a little squirmy with the constant references to your generational pedigree, as if that makes you a "truer"--if not better--American than someone whose parents--proud American citizens--were born and raised in Europe, like mine, making me a first-generation American.

Does that make me less qualified, James, less of a citizen?

Less American?

How about my parents, who immigrated?

5:58 PM  
Anonymous d. simes said...

After all the inflated nonsense has abated, the Libertarian message seems to be nothing more than a plea to transfer power from the big state to a smaller state. I'm sure there are the same kinds of corrupt interests behind this bankrupt message which are behind the conservative one...large interests who think it will be easier to control the average sucker by doing so. Local business interests who don't want oversight or local lowlifes who don't. All gift wrapped with dreamy, romantic -- and utterly meretricious -- nonsense for the gullible and simpleminded about freedom for the individual. In reality, of course, it usually, though I'll admit not always, turns out precisely the opposite.

6:02 PM  
Blogger John said...

"...the Libertarian message seems to be nothing more than a plea to transfer power from the big state to a smaller state."


Say, James, you ol' Texan, this isn't all about some veiled secessionist agenda for the "Lone Star State," is it?

"-- and utterly meretricious -- nonsense for the gullible and simpleminded about freedom for the individual. In reality, of course, it usually, though I'll admit not always, turns out precisely the opposite."

That's rich, coming from a socialist with Marxist underpinnings.

That was contributive, Simes. Seriously. Thanks for participating.

Th-th-th-th-th-that's all, folks!

6:14 PM  
Blogger John said...


Sal said:

"I value the place of government and find it a (potentially) noble institution. Seeing it scrounging through trashcans or leering into the bedrooms of it's citizens in an attempt to control its private behaviors belittles the people and degrades the institution. More importantly it accomplishes nothing but criminalizing the populous, makes itself the enemy of the majority and creates crime where was none."

Don't forget going through its wallets and taking out a couple of bills--on pain of imprisonment.

6:17 PM  
Blogger John said...

...although some taxation is certainly in order.

6:23 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

wow...I got away for a couple hours and it gets busy in here....

Gotta catch up on everything now.

FJ, I am in agreement with you as to the family. The family IS the basic unit of society and that is where it all begins.

"Well, the LP maintains that federal doles should be phased out pretty much altogether, along with the Dept. of Education and a great many other things. These powers belong to the the various states and the people, not the Feds."

James, I am right with you there!! I believe that the Federal gov should be completely out of educating our children. I do believe that the states should oversee that endeaver, but even then...I think parents should have more say in how their children are educated.

John, about the mess with the flds in TX...Utah has been dealing with this group of people for a LONG time. My opinion on this is that they targeted this group because of their polygamy. If the government is going to turn a blind eye to adultry and other immoral behavior it has to do the same for them. However, if they find evidence to show sexual abuse that is another matter.

6:31 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

Hey there, sorry for having to drop out for a while.

First things first.

The reason that the LP is a strong party for the constitution and states rights is that it is a basic principle that the closer the source of laws to the4 local community, the that those laws will reflect the will of the people living in that community. Even more important in some respects are the rights of the local communities to make laws with as little state interference as possible. We are a nation of laws, not men. If we lose control over the laws that govern us, then truly we have less control over our individual lives.

Other point....marriage.

The LP has a strong stance that governments should not be able to tell any consenting adults what their living arrangements should be. The recent California Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage will necessarily bring up questions of how the various states should cooperate, or not, with marriages of all kinds. The state, likewise, should not be able to tell individual Churches what kinds of marriages that THEY should recognize or officiate. The plea of the LP is to say that the power of the individual to live as free as possible must be maintained at all levels of government. Reducing the levels of intrusion and power that the federal government maintains now necessarily means giving those powers back to the states. Communities within those states are then going to have to decide things like abortion, the death penalty, marriage laws, taxation, education and all of the things that concern us individually. There is always going to be a natural tension between the governed and those that govern, and the best solution is to keep the most democratic stance possible while still maintaining a constitution that keeps us as free as possible from the lawless AND those that make the laws.

As far as secession goes, that decision was already made, and the LP is perfectly happy with the Constitution of the United States as long as it is maintained by a free populace.

As to my so-called pedigree, pay no attention to that. Anyone that comes here and adopts our laws and life as free people, they are all as American as I could ever be. FJ brought up the fact that I am evidently completely ignorant of our history, and I gave him some of the reasons I had to study the founding Dads. My own wife is second generation American from Germany, and I have never had anything but pride and respect for the accomplishments of her family.

Final point here, I guess, is that I have never in my life seen an "official" history of anything. Seems to me that there are as many versions of history as their are people telling the stories. Some of the facts seem clear enough to me, as it is hard to debate the existence and date of the Declaration of Independence, for example. The meaning of everything in the Constitution is debatable, but the existence of the thing is not. We can go into historiography somewhere else I suppose.

The thing about this particular debate, it seems to me, is that it finally boiled down to fine points of political theory between different brands of conservatives. I am not an anarchist, but I am opposed to authoritarianism. I am a lover of individualism, but strongly support a rule of law. It has been interesting to see how different ideologies play these things out.

7:11 PM  
Blogger John said...

"Abuse," Kelly?

I'd be interested to know when--and how-- Libertarians set age limits for what makes a "consenting adult."

Magic number 18? (that's when they could drink in some states, and join the arnmy in all)

16? (that's when they can get their driver's licence in most--if not all--states)

Pubescence? (which varies from individual to individual)

Parental consent?

Where does the State draw the line on that?

7:18 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

Well, John, as usual another good and penetrating question.

My answer is that the states do not now entirely agree on that at all.

We can try kids as young as 14 in Texas as adults if the court determines the crime to be heinous enough. We allow them to join the armed forces at 18, but we do not allow them to buy alcohol until they are 21. In Texas, you can get married at 16 if you have "parental consent"....(shakes head...what kind of parent would allow that I cannot imagine...)

Much like the death penalty, I still think that it is up to the various states to make that sort of determination even when, like Texas, it sometimes does not seem to make any sense. Many I have talked to in the LP here think that it would be a good idea to establish an age where all or most of these things coincide.

My own experience tells me that 18 is not a bad place to go as far as age and legality are placed, as that is generally about the age that most people graduate from HS. I DO think that marrying children off at some unbelievable age like 13 is beyond my own sensibilities, but I have to admit that there ARE still cultures on this planet where a 21 year old without a husband is considered an old maid. I will remain a Roman Catholic, though, and I abide by their strictures before pretty much anything else.

7:28 PM  
Blogger John said...


It's all good. I'm proud to have all of you--yes, even the lefties, to some extent--as my fellow Americans, if only because we're all engaged and, I'd like to believe, mean well (however misguided) and trust that none of us cheered bin Laden on 9/11 and all stood as one in defense of this country and each other.

7:29 PM  
Blogger John said...

Well, James, as to your answer to the question about marrying age, you are perfectly reasonable but making rules for others to follow, are you not?

7:32 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

Well, again, the LP is not about abolishing law. The LP is not for abandoning a good police force and tearing all of the prisons down.

By nature, rule of law means that we, as a community at various levels, MUST have laws to protect the innocent. Most are local laws, some are state laws, and a few should be federal laws. I do not, nor does the LP, believe that allowing some slack-jawed 50 year old ape to take a "minor" and force her to be a wife to be justice.

The LP is not anarchy.

But these are extremes, admittedly, and the real trouble has not been that there is a huge preponderance of polygamists. The issues that we face in the real life are what do we do about the egregious taxation? What do we do about a government that is growing hour by hour that takes away more of our personal liberty. No? What do we actually DO about a situation where we are running a government where we are over 9 TRILLION dollars in debt?

I gotta tell you, I was a Reagan Republican with flags on and contributing to campaigns until it seemed that the GOP had lost its bearings and began spending like Democrats. Now, we have McCain talking about man-made global warming schemes that are going to tax what is left of this economy into oblivion. Before we get all tied up into what is a good age for minors, don't we have to face these issues with some measure of trepidation? Marriage laws do not seem to have the same level of gravity as these issues. Not that they are not important and deserve attention, but should we not do something, for example, about a prison system so full that it is bankrupting some states?

7:52 PM  
Anonymous d. simes said...

It's all good. I'm proud to have all of you--yes, even the lefties, to some extent--as my fellow Americans,

Sorry I can't say the same...we need a separate, little place for the lower quarter of the populACE that you consist of...maybe the Southeast US...after you all fall back into the stone age, we'll just come back in, spay and neuter what's left of you, and take the place back. You really, literally are not anything we can afford to abide any longer.

8:29 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

Gee, there Unca Joe, that is mighty nice of you. I guess gulags are never far from the mind of a true communist.

8:37 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

So tell me simes....what place to you hail from?

See, you betray to me that you are likely a big-city type, and have not really seen what a lot of this country is made of. It amuses me that you think of the majority of this nation that works and raises kids and keeps the whole thing going as being the lower quarter of the population. You think that the workers of this nation do not work because they want to. They are victims, no? They are the product of generations of slaves to the "rich people conspiracy"? Yes?

Thousands upon thousands of people from other countries are desperately trying to get into this country and live a good life because they...the WHOLE WORLD....have been hoodwinked by this same conspiracy of rich people, have they not?

What power this enclave of rich conspirators must have, since they can somehow get into to ghettos and shack cities of Nicaragua and Guatemala and Mexico, and countless other nations and fool all of those millions of peoples.

Yea, the lifestyle that these people that built this nation is really terrible isn't it? One of the hardest working nations on the planet, and they all do it because they do not care about making the place better for their own kids and their kids like the previous generations have done, but all because they are all mindless about what a terrible place it is that they all really built, and never knew it.

You flatulent moron. You and your ilk have been fought by this nation before and we won. We will win again, as we have spent the last century fighting GLOBALLY against the forces of tyranny. The Cold War was not lost, though, because we dropped a single bomb. No, the forces of Communism have shown what they were and they collapsed from internal pressure.

You see? No you don't. Who am I kidding? You think that Communism failed because all those other countries didn't do it right, and isn't that what you think? If we could just do it right, then communism could actually work! Right?

Arrogant and swallowing the vomit of your own propaganda is what you are. Talking about gulags and concentration camps is what you were already doing. You know why? Of course you don't, so let me educate you.

You eat that stuff up because communism has always been a failed ideology. They always have to resort to dictatorships and gulags because at some primitive level in your reptile brain, you know that you have to defend an ideology that cannot EVER work.

9:05 PM  
Anonymous d. simes said...

Maybe this tiresome gasbag isn't such a stupid ass, after all...he does seem to realize that having his own country without us to take care of him would be tantamount to living in a gulag.

Veeery astute.

9:10 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

Simes, could you possibly have a weaker response than THAT?

Who is "us"?

Do you pay for my house? Ass.

Do you pay my taxes? There is no part of you that takes care of a single God-damned thing.

9:13 PM  
Anonymous d. simes said...

" amuses me..."

uh, like...uh, rilly? You know you're dealing with a pretentious, trite pinhead when you see that tired crap.

Oh, and why don't you morons try arguing against progressive policies instead of falling back on the stupid, weak minded commie thing? Because you can't, you simple sack of dogshit....das why.

9:14 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

What progressive policy do you want to argue?

9:17 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

Pick one.

9:18 PM  
Anonymous simes said...

Oh, we pay a lot more than your taxes you shallow, freaking leech. And we are getting extremely tired of it. Why don't you all get together, form your own backward, little shithole and quit dragging us back to your level.

Pick whichever century you feel comfortable with and do it. Within a year, you'll all be killing each other over minor differences in religion and idiotology. And we will sit back and enjoy the carnage.

9:19 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

Pick a single god-damned policy and argue it if you can.

9:21 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

I'll pick one.

You keep saying that you are a "we" and that you are somehow responsible for my own financial well-being.

Prove it. First, who is "we"? Secondly, how exactly is it that you have contributed to my family's financial or social well-being?

9:27 PM  
Anonymous ds said...

DEBATE!!! GODAMNIT, thats an order ...DEBATE, or I'll cry....sob sooooooooob Come BACK...

Tell me the truth, simp...why on earth would I take the time to do anything with a simple parrot like you but kick you around a little?

9:30 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

Simple. You can't. You won't because you can't.

9:32 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

So, simes, it comes down to this.

All you can do is call names and bawl without saying anything at all that makes sense.

I challenged you and you failed miserably to even take that up. You cannot argue a single issue. So be it. The record stands, as usual.

From this point forward, I am just going to ignore your whining and consign you to the rest of these lefty moon-bats that have nothing to say.

God-speed and good riddance.

9:37 PM  
Blogger John said...

"It's all good. I'm proud to have all of you--yes, even the lefties, to some extent--as my fellow Americans..."

Simian responded:

"Sorry I can't say the same...You really, literally are not anything we can afford to abide any longer."

And he takes the bait.

Did you good guys and gals see how civility and inclusive American bonhomie was returned?

"Oh, we pay a lot more than your taxes you shallow, freaking leech. And we are getting extremely tired of it. Why don't you all get together, form your own backward, little shithole and quit dragging us back to your level."

You slipped on your own banana peel, simian. You're not supposed to talk about how you *really* feel.

This is what I was talking about earlier, when they were trying to come off as egalitarian, philanthropic "Peace & Love" champions of democracy.

I exposed that pretense, pointing out how they went ballistic after Bush was re-elected with the greatest amount of popular votes cast in the history of democracy, thanks in part to red state evangelicals.

Also in part to an increased turnout from other demographics, including minorities, which really caused the leftists like simian to melt down.

But they have a special hate for Christians, and blamed their record turnout for lifting Bush past Kerry and they began frothing about disenfranchising red-state votes, based on this widely-circulated interpretation of statistics that indicated that rural red-staters, as a whole, paid less a burden in taxes and received more in welfare than the urbanized blue states.

That "leech" epithet that simian just spewed is almost four years old, residue from the trauma of the '04 elections.

It was early in '05 that they began posting and circulating stuff about blue state secession and welcoming a civil war.

That's where simian is cominmg from.

"Pick whichever century you feel comfortable with and do it. Within a year, you'll all be killing each other over minor differences in religion and idiotology."

He's projecting. Look what's going on right now in the Democratic Party.

"And we will sit back and enjoy the carnage."

Of course you would, creature.

You're miserable, simian, and a disgrace as an American, and you make me proud of the right-wingers here if only by their stark contrast to your left-wing villainy.

I won't give you the benefit of the doubt again, simian.

6:07 AM  
Blogger John said...

simian gloated:

"Within a year, you'll all be killing each other over minor differences in religion and idiotology. And we will sit back and enjoy the carnage."

Are you talking about Rwanda and Sudan? Iraq? Israel?

6:16 AM  
Blogger John said...

Swiftie said:

"Oh, that alpha male thing was funny. I'd kick your weenie asses in a bar fight as quick as I would in a debate..."

Yeah, we saw how the debate wemt. You we're knocked out in the fuirst round.

As for bar fighting, bring your girlfriend. I want her to see what happens to her boy.

8:23 AM  
Anonymous simes said...

You won't because you can't.

You're right for once, chimp. I don't have hours to sit around the computer debating losers...not that I would if I could but I do like to check in and see the bugs scurrying around in comic confusion a couple times a day.

What do you goofballs usually get...about .5% in a typical election?

You a candidate? For what?

Shouldn't you be out campaigning?

I mean since your yellow ass isn't in Iraq fighting the crucial war on tair?

9:09 AM  
Anonymous simes said...

I won't give you the benefit of the doubt again, simian.

The only benefit we want from you losers is your complete and total absence from modern civilization but it looks like we'll have to settle for sidelining you for 20 years.

Now, you yellow ass fraud...why aren't you in Iraq?

I'm sure Hubble is worried about a chickenshit chickenhawk like you showing up for a fight...

9:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Worse Than It Seems
Drilling down to the rotten foundation of the economic crisis
By Dean Starkman

With the economy apparently already in recession, gas prices near record levels, food prices rising, and inflation generally gaining momentum, economic issues are moving to the center of the presidential campaign. Political reporters have been forced to learn the financial crisis on the fly, while business reporters have had to learn to speak to an ever-growing audience. In March, Dean Starkman,
who runs The Audit on, spoke with Jeff Madrick, the editor of Challenge magazine, to discuss the roiling economy and how the press is covering it. Madrick is also a visiting professor of humanities at The Cooper Union, and director of policy research at the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis, The New School. He is a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books, and a former economics columnist for The New York Times. His forthcoming books are The Case for Big Government (Princeton) and The Age of Greed…And the Men Who Made It (Alfred A. Knopf).

What’s going on out there?

Well, we’re facing a credit crisis of very broad potential damage, the likes of which we haven’t faced since the early thirties. What has happened is, by giving mortgages to people who really didn’t qualify, we’ve created a problem that’s having a domino effect. It’s not like the Savings and Loan crisis of the eighties, which could be isolated to s&ls and the kinds of real-estate investments they made in their localities. This problem is worldwide. These bad mortgages were packaged with relatively good mortgages, and all kinds of financial institutions—virtually all the major financial institutions—bought these packages of securities. Pension funds bought these packages of securities. And the securities in turn were used as collateral for other borrowing. So we have all these credit crises linked together. There is so much uncertainty about the value of these securities, about how much further house prices could fall, about how many more defaults and foreclosures there could be.

On top of all that, borrowing is what has supported this economy for thirty-five years now, because incomes haven’t been rising the way they used to. So people have had to borrow more, businesses had to borrow more, government has borrowed more, and we don’t seem to fully recognize that debt has become a much more important foundation to the economy. In fact, it’s the fulcrum of the economy.

It seems like that’s one thing—entering a recession with those debt levels—that really makes this much more dicey.

We’ve got a real serious problem here. Wages have gone up only marginally. Despite having moderately strong economic growth, it didn’t show up in wages for typical people. It showed up at the very top, but that was about it. And in corporate profits.

What do we need to understand about the housing market?

The boom in subprime mortgages only really happened in the last few years, when people were allowed to borrow a lot of money, often based on adjustable mortgage rates that go up when other interest rates go up, and on top of that, they pay very high prices, so the value of their home is down. Even if they put up five percent or ten percent of the money on that house, all it would take is for the value of that home to drop ten percent—and in many places it has gone down twenty or thirty percent—and then they’d owe more money than the house is worth so they couldn’t refinance; they couldn’t sell it to get out of trouble; the bank wouldn’t really want it.

Foreclosures are up and banks are taking over, but they’re not taking over as rapidly as they would in good times. It’s harder to work it out now because the bank where you got your mortgage is no longer the bank that owns the mortgages, so there’s nobody to help you work it out. It’s a serious practical problem that’s never existed before.

It seems the political campaigns, and as a result, the political press, took a long time to reflect the seriousness of the economy.

Yeah, I think Clinton and Obama are talking about it more. But it’s not like any of them was out ahead. I think they haven’t been out ahead on anything regarding this economy, and I think the press should be pointing that out. But the press, too, has been behind on everything and not aware of the issues.

That’s a great point. Poverty sounds like an old perennial when it’s a broader issue than that.

Exactly. I don’t like the idea of only worrying about middle-class people and neglecting the poor. I should be clear about that, but Edwards should have been inclusive about it. And he was a little screechy about corporate greed, and some of those attacks sounded a little bit like name-calling rather than problem-solving. I mean, growth should help the middle of the pack, at least somewhat. It hasn’t helped it at all in recent years and helped it only a bit in the preceding twenty-five.

Why has that happened?

It’s a complex set of issues. The conventional economic issues have to do with jobs becoming more sophisticated due to changing technologies. So you need a better education than you did before. But that doesn’t explain everything, because college-educated people aren’t doing that well either. There are also issues about business norms now that have changed significantly from the fifties and sixties. There is no hesitation to fire people, for example; there is no hesitation to keep wages down. The government and the Federal Reserve participate in this—since the seventies, every serious wage increase has been considered inflationary, so keep it down. The minimum wage wasn’t raised for many years, and it’s much lower than it used to be in real terms. That’s a sign the federal government isn’t paying attention.

There seems to be a widespread assumption that this sort of pressure on wages and income is inevitable because we live in a global economy.

Yeah, I think the American people accepted that for a while. But I don’t think they’re accepting it any more.

Isn’t it true, though, that because people overseas will work for pennies, Americans must accept job losses?

Trade issues do have some effect, but we’re not necessarily losing the better-paying jobs, or even the middle-income jobs, due to trade. I think it’s just less of an issue than we’ve been led to believe by mainstream economists and the press, though it is an issue and it will be a growing issue. I think globalization also makes it easier to overlook and excuse the deterioration in business norms and government norms—businesses shouldn’t be able to throw their workers out, especially as unions have lost so much power. We’ve just lost all of those cultural and political restraints in the great shift in attitude toward business.

I’ve noticed left-of-center policies are often called populist in the press.

There’s been a remarkable change in public attitudes toward the economy, and I think the candidates are behind the curve—and I think the press is definitely behind the curve. It’s funny because the press has bought so many of the arguments of the conservatives over the years. Labels are a big deal, though, like “liberal populist”—these terms have become pejorative. But things have changed. You know, two years ago, nobody thought it was practical to talk about a universal health-care plan. Now they’re talking about it all the time. Nobody talked about infrastructure, but now people are talking about it all the time.

Are people more sympathetic to the conventional left on economic issues than is generally assumed by the political press?

I think people are hurting and recognize they need government programs. To them, they probably don’t call themselves liberals because it’s so out of fashion, but that’s what government does. It solves problems that business can’t solve. In fact, that’s a lot of problems, and government and business should work hand-in-hand. There’s no such thing as one being more important than the other. History does not suggest it works that way.

What else in the broad economic story needs more press coverage? The generally dire straits of the middle class, for one.

I think it’s starting to come out, but I’m concerned that the dominant financial and business media just don’t get it. There is an instinct among the people that I now read in The New York Times, The New Yorker, the people who cover the economy for The Wall Street Journal—and there are always exceptions, you know, and some of them are remarkable exceptions—they have very little historical perspective. They don’t really ever seem to know what the good times were like and that broad-based prosperity is possible. They don’t know what optimism could be.

Journalists see optimism as a fifties-type thing?

Yeah, worker optimism. Workers could take care of their families; they could take care of themselves; there was a future out there, and they could say, “Holy cow, my kids are going to have a great life.”

9:42 AM  
Anonymous lanabanana said...

Hey, cool debate, guys.

But, is it the real thing when one side blooooow -- veeates and the other side sits around and laughs at them?

I guess they're like me...who's going to debate The Flat Earth Society?

10:11 AM  
Blogger John said...


Give it a rest, lana. It's Friday night. Have some alcohol and penis and chill out.

11:32 AM  
Blogger John said...

Kelly said:

"Four years ago I found myself with 4 extra kids. Some people think that it was because of meth that I got them. But it was marijuana AND alcohol that set the stage."

What, a little candlelight and Sinatra couldn't do the trick?

10:06 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

John, you think you are funny, don't you?

But for me it hasn't been much of a laughing matter. I have had legal custody of these kids for nearly 4 years and my own 5 have had to adjust.

Please don't imply what isn't.

2:00 PM  
Blogger John said...

Sounds like you have a "Yours, Mine, and Ours" kind of situation, Kelly. Make the most of it.

8:40 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

We have an ours and theirs situation. We have had custody of my sister's kids for four years now.

9:28 AM  

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