BT et C

Friday, April 15, 2005

Jeb Hensarling, Federalist?

Too bad this act is necessary, or perceived to be so:

Many of my readers might be unaware that there was an anti-bill-of-rights contingent in the public square at the time of the Constitution's drafting. Were these proto-fascists, bent on exploiting and abusing basic human rights? How could they be opposed to such fundamental protections? What sort of sick mind operates like that?

Alas, nothing too exciting to see here; it was just the Federalist The argument was thus: since the Constitution does not grant Congress the right to abridge free speech, there is no reason to prohibit it from doing so. In fact there is a danger in it -- it implicity widens the scope of government action, thus:
-I say you can do A,B, and C
-I then say you cannot do D nor E
All of a sudden F & G come back NULL -- can you do them or not?

Contrast with a simpler situation:
-I say you can do A,B, and C
-That's all I say
Not only are D & E just as off-limits as before, but there is no longer any doubt about F & G. And any other powers you might be tempted to snatch up over the next couple hundred years.

Well, that's the argument at least. Libertarians should love it.

Now the quote from Hensarling's letter:
"Unfortunately, a federal judge has ruled that the FEC's previous broad exemption of the Internet was impermissible absent clear direction from Congress. Within the next sixty days, the FEC is expected to finalize rules and regulations that could squash not only free speech and citizen activism, but could well impede innovation and technology"

Now I'm in favor of Campaign Finance Reform Done Right (CFRDR), and haven't studied up whether the '02 law is part of that, but this sequence is a little odd
-CFR bill regulates certain acts of speech and activism
-FEC makes an exception for this stuff when it occurs on the Net
-Judge rules that FEC needs an explicit exclusion of Net speech; that gov can regulate there until told otherwise.



  • I'm not familiar with this particular bill at all. but that last sequence of government actions boils me.

    I am familiar with the Federalist Papers - specifically, I think no. 84 is the most pertinent.

    at the time, I would most certainly have been anti-federalist. and even now agree that the best situation would have been to have no bill of rights at all, for the same arguments Hamilton made.

    however, I think the bill of rights was adequately (not perfectly) structured to deal with, to a large degree, the problems that Hamilton anticipated...

    The 9th & 10th Ammendments are pretty simple:
    "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

    "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."

    so, the constitution & bill of rights are structured thus:

    - Here's how the government's going to work, and what it can do. (A, B, C)
    - Here are 8 things, related to natural rights, we know for damn sure the government cannot do. (D, E)
    - Just because we didn't explicitly state a natural right, cannot be interpreted to mean it doesn't exist.
    - Anything we didn't say the government can do, it can't do. so if the government tries to do it, tell it to STFU.

    so the Federalists tried, but time and social decay have made our politicians and courts over-look those pesky 9th & 10th ammendments. and that pisses me off.

    I had a friend call my political party the "You're-Not-The-Boss-Of-Me" party. I love it.

    so, are you a dues-paying LP member yet?

    By Blogger luke, at 1:20 PM  

  • Hamilton already knew all this would happen...

    "...I infer, that its [freedom of press] security, whatever fine declarations may be inserted in any constitution respecting it, must altogether depend on public opinion, and on the general spirit of the people and of the government."
    (from no. 84)

    Hamilton knew that all the rights we have, down to private property and even self-ownsership, ultimately rest on the mass support of the people. And Alexander Tyler says we don't have much to look foward to.

    "The average age of the world's great civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through the following sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency, from dependency back to bondage."

    I'd describe the current American peoples' psyches at:

    30% in selfishness
    30% in complacency
    30% in apathy
    10% in dependency

    moving more and more down the scale all the time.

    By Blogger luke, at 1:34 PM  

  • >so, are you a dues-paying LP member yet?

    God no, and here's why:

    Most libertarians I encounter are bad (see previous stuff), and reduce complex problems to a simple formula: the "free market" (people and business) versus "government intervention". Of course there are grounds for this, but my view of the prevailing struggle is more like this:

    people (people) vs. power (government and business)

    You will point, of course, to great things that business has done vis-a-vis our standard of living, etc. Quite right; but at a significant cost.

    I think the fusion of corporate/government power is largely responsible for the pitiful state of public discourse. And the state of public discourse is largely (not solely) responsible for the apathy/complacency/etc.

    In particular, the monopoly on the broadcasting spectrum, granted to networks at the start of the TV generation, made it quite difficult -- for decades -- to get a wide audience for any point of view that was not network friendly. by the way Cf. the film Network

    "Network friendly" discourse means a few things
    -not critical of the networks or their sponsors (duh)
    -(more important) sensationalistic -- "if it bleeds, it leads", etc. This sort of thing snowballs until "journalism" consists -- LOL -- of the shrieking absurdities of Ann Coulter and Michael Moore. Cf. Jon Stewart on crossfire.
    -soporific, and you know what I think intentionally so. Not that there are devious conspirators out there twiddling their moustaches hatching schemes to hypnotize the populace and take over the world. Broadcast simply isn't amenable -- technically -- to critical thought.

    I'll write more on this later, but what you have is the same sort of "gouging" that occurs whenever a monopoly exists (e.g. power, phone co's, etc) -- except a particularly dangerous kind: instead of having no readily available alternative supplier of electrons, you have no alternative supplier of information. Ick.

    Of course it will occur to you that it is a person's own responsibility to become properly informed. True. But don't overlook the critical point about the above situtation: it did not arise naturally in a free market; it was intentionally set up, purchased by networks from the government. It is a situation that needs to be undone, not just coped with.

    (The internet can undo this situation btw*. But notice that significant powers are at work trying to make that impossible, Cf. DMCA, Induce Act, Telecom act of '96, and the fight against cheap broadband. They are essentially hoping to get a "lock" on the Internet just as others obtained a lock on the broadcast spectrum)

    A final point of discomfort
    -I don't like the implication in a lot of libertarian thought that businesses will save the world. Business has its place, but since this view began prevailing (in the early 20th century), everything has pretty much become business: love & sex are business; art is business; religion is business; politics is business. I find the results ugly.

    *"once you have general software-controlled radio, under the general control of free software, users make decisions about the spectrum, not regulators. How odd! It's our spectrum--how strange that we should be making decisions about it. How peculiar that democracy might actually say, 'We decide how to use channel seven. It doesn't belong to Mr. Murdoch, it belongs to us!'" -Eben Moglen
    Freeing the Mind : Free Software and the Death of Proprietary Culture

    By Blogger Matt Crouch, at 11:06 AM  

  • but good libertarians would agree that the struggle is accurately people vs. power. this is the same view that the founders held as well. however, ("people vs. power" == "free market vs. government), not by over-simplification, but, quite the opposite, by thorough, logical, un-biased analysis.

    how have you (and most libertarians you encounter) separated people from government and business? this doesn't make any would business exist without people? how would government? when people are pitted against these institutions, they are pitted against other people. people vs. people.

    so the bias might be (but let me know if I'm wrong in this assumption) to see the government-people's power as benevolent because it can rectify perceived injustices between other people - perpetrated by supposedly malevolent business-people. but that's based on moral judgements of the motivations of the people in the institutions.

    an un-biased view would demand that we not think of malevolence and benevolence of either institution - which cannot ever be known for sure. unless you suggest one can know for sure the motivations of other people? so instead, knowing that the struggle is people vs. people, but discounting any sort of moral judgement as we must to be un-biased, the struggle should be stated as people-without-power vs. people-with-power.

    today, both the institutions of governments and businesses hold persuasive, coercive, physical, legalized power over people. in an ideal free market, no institution has this power - all exchanges between all people (business, government, all others) occur peacefully and willingly. good libertarians are in agreement that we do not today have a free market. we currently have a totally mixed market.

    the example you made is perfect. it is a case where business-people were granted power from government-people, who arrogantly supposes they have a right to power, AND a right to delegate use of that power. so now, those business-people have legalized power over all other people, which is, of course, complete BS. it is mixed-market and not free-market.

    amusing examples always seem to pop up during discussions about free markets where anti-mixed-market arguments are directed against free markets. when in truth, the problem results from a government failure - most often an intervention into free markets. hence, your entire example of the media industry is distinctly anti-government, not anti-business, and not anti-free-market.

    "it did not arise naturally in a free market; it was intentionally set up, purchased by networks from the government"

    good libertarians assert that government-people do not have the power to meddle in the market with other people (grant monopolies, regulate wages, etc.), no matter what utilitarian justification may exist regarding the benefits to our "standard-of-living" - a conjured economic measurement to make economists feel scientific about what they do.

    this is why the struggle is indeed about free market vs. government. the free market is a market of people-without-power. and government is people-with-power. cross-multiply, carry the 2, do a little algebra, and're at people vs. power.


    the severity of the dangers of a monopoly do not rest on the characteristic of the things that are being monopolized. the most dangerous monopolies are the ones granted by government-people - how will non-government-people ever destroy them? a monopoly that results because of cost structures in the market can be (sometimes quickly) destroyed by other people using alternative goods, alternative production, and all other kinds of alternatives - technologies, methods, etc.

    think about VOIP - government-enforced monopolistic phone companies are actually trying to restrict new market players from offering a completely new product. only because government-people empower them to do so.

    think about satellite radio providers being restricted from offering localized content. again, only because the government-people empower them to do so.

    and why did government-people have to allow business-people to start using alternative energy sources? because other government-empowered monopolistic business-people had restricted it.

    the worst monopoly is government.


    I don't like the implication in liberal thought that morality is everywhere and always an individual perception and that there are no universal moral standards. everything has become not only permissable, but celebrated - promiscuous sex, perverse sexual orientation, drug use, abortion, etc.

    everyone finds some results of free societies ugly. some people find every result of free society ugly. but it seems only libertarians are willing to allow discomfort and ugliness to exist in the name of liberty.

    "I may be pro-gay-rights, but that doesn't mean I'm not a homophobe."
    -Luke Crouch

    By Blogger luke, at 11:52 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home