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Bastiat talked about the "broken window fallacy." You could claim that by breaking other people's windows, I'm creating jobs, since the people who owned the windows have to hire glaziers to fix them. The problem is that you don't account for how the proprietors would have spent their money had they not had to fix the windows. Yes, I'm creating jobs for the glaziers, but I'm destroying jobs for tailors, waiters, manufacturers, or whatever else. Similarly, you can't just look at jobs the government creates; you have to look at the jobs taxation destroys.
This, of course, may be an oversimplification. I really don't understand economics, and am not in a position to discredit Keynesianism. But I do know that you can't simply look at public servants and say "the government creates jobs!" There's more to it than that.
Indeed, this country was founded on the notion that unjust laws should be broken. Or did you think firing on soldiers of the British Army was legal in colonial America?
If it's an unjust and/or meaningless law, it shouldn't be enforced. Do you ever j-walk? Would you argue that we should aggressively persecute j-walkers? A just society cannot obey unjust laws. Of course, we should change the immigration laws, but until then there's no moral justification for enforcing them.
Yep, I'm so happy we'll elect someone who will put your imaginary friend "back in our daily lives." Because if there's one thing that freedom is about, it's having religion imposed from above.
Illegal immigrants are not "attempt[ing] to change us to a different culture, religion and system of jurisprudence." All they're doing is trying to make money for their family. They haven't imposed anything on us. Morally, they have every right to come here as long as they aren't aggressing against anyone (which most of them have not). Leave the illegal immigrants alone, and focus on the overgrown government that's destroying our lives.
Obama is not "protecting" illegals; he's simply failing to actively persecute them. The notion that illegal immigrants are some sort of hostile force is complete bunk. They're ordinary working people, and they improve this country markedly.
What Orwellian society do we live in where a decrease in the size of government is considered dictatorship? Legalization means the government has LESS power over citizens and noncitizens alike. To call this tyranny is to make a mockery of all political thought.
I pay sales taxes on everything I buy, and payroll taxes on every cheque I earn. At any rate, it's not a question of the burden on me specifically; it's the principle of the matter.
I'm not a Romney supporter; he's even more of a joke! His idea of private institutions "competing" with the government is banks and big businesses subsisting on government handouts. Don't conflate libertarianism with the Republican Party; they've nothing in common.
The entire point of the column was to explain where I think the framers got it wrong. Government is not "of the people," at least no more than any other institution in society.
"if government simply cannot, by its very nature be, 'of the people'... how would you like government to become more responsive to 'the people?'"
Again, reread the article: "A tax strike, whereby the public refuses to pay taxes en masse until the government changes course, is in order." And if that fails, go one step further and call a general strike. This isn't some utopian concept; it's worked countless times in history. Much of Europe (notably Belgium) obtained universal suffrage as a result of general strikes; in the Roman Republic, the plebeians gained their rights by refusing to work or even live in the city until the patricians relented. These methods work because they deny the state the means to carry out its agenda.
And if there is tax strike against tax strike, "tit for tat?" So be it. It's the people's money; they shouldn't hand it over to a cause they don't believe in. The experience would generally reduce the size of government, since it would have to be very careful in all its spending to not offend any large groups. I've no objection to this.
I'm no cynic. I believe in building a better world; I just don't think a better world is compatible with a government as powerful as the present one.
"It saddens me more than you'll ever know that someone who is as obviously bright as your are has already grown so cynical about our Government that you question the very principals on which our Government was founded"
What are you implying, that "bright" people shouldn't question things? Surely there is no principle so absolute that it should not be scrutinized. I don't buy that government can be "of the people." If you disagree, explain why; don't just impugn me for not agreeing with the framers.
I'm sure you have plenty of education and experience in history and government, and I'm not trying to pass myself off as some omniscient expert on these things. But that does not give you the right to put words in my mouth. Debate me if you are wont to do so, but don't make my position out to be anything other than what it is.
For the record, I am not a supporter of the Tea Party. Occupy Wall Street has some potential; the Tea Party is a joke.
@pgericson: I hardly see how trying to understand the government, and publishing my conclusions, qualifies as "standing on sidelines and complaining." Yes, we need to take action to fix the problems that exist, but at some point we have to understand what it is we're fighting against and what the alternative is.
At any rate, I do propose one measure (of many) that would make the government vastly more responsive to the population: a tax strike. Such measures have proven quite powerful in history (it was known as the "power of the purse" in colonial times, and made British-appointed governors more populist). But I can't have a tax strike on my own. If I alone refuse to pay taxes, I'll be thrown in prison, and the strike will go nowhere. If, however, a large portion of the public joins me, there's not a thing the government can do short of throwing millions of people in jail (which would hardly solve the budgetary shortfall).
But I don't have millions of people who will strike with me right now. Perhaps if I put my views out there, more will join.
@jimt: No, that’s not what I’m arguing at all. I didn’t say that the government “has become” an institution that is not of the people; I said that governments are ipso facto not of the people. The most democratic government in the world is still less responsive to the population than any business, trade union, or non-profit, because those institutions actually rely upon the voluntary support of the rest of society. Wal-Mart will promptly go out of business if the people decide they don’t like it; the same does not hold true of Congress.
And I never once said that there is some “national interest” that can be defined and implemented; don't put words in my mouth.
As far as your claim that I don’t understand the principles of American government, I’d like to think that between the history and PoliSci classes I’ve taken in high school and college, my reading of the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Federalist Papers, and the debates that I regularly have with “Constitutionalists,” I have a reasonably good understanding of those principles. It’s not that I don’t understand those principles; it’s that I don’t buy them. That’s the case I make in this article; it’s not that the framers didn’t want a government that was “of the people,” but rather that such a thing is not, and has never been, a reality.
As for your point that I benefit from government services, read the article again: “One can accept this while still believing that government is necessary. The state might well serve an irreplaceable function in society, but there should be no illusions about what it is. Necessary or not, it is not ‘us.’”
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