Random thought of the day

Today I left a comment at Snowflakes in Hell on the post Land of the Used to be Free.

Sometimes I wonder if it was that I said something profound or if it was something so crazy that everyone just went silent after I said my thing. This is one of those times. I can’t see that it was all that crazy but then I don’t see anything all that profound in it either.

My brother and I had spent some time chatting on almost this same exact thing yesterday and so I had spent some time thinking about it during the long drive back to my bunker last night. And I incorporated some of those thoughts into my QOTD post yesterday. So I had my response ready from almost the instant I read the title:

The bigger problem, as Sebastian pointed out, is the erosion without consequences. In general the only way this problem can be fixed is for there to be consequences other than voter wrath. There needs to be fines and/or jail time for those that violate our rights and some body, such as the courts but perhaps not, that is specifically tasked with doing nothing but striking down laws that exceed the constitutional authority given to the legislature and/or executive branch.

But that’s not going to happen anytime soon or even perhaps ever unless we set up a new government on the sea floor, the Moon or perhaps Mars. Of course it could also happen if the mid-east gets turned into glass and the new inhabitants set up a different style government after it has had a few years to cool down to a soft green glow.

Another possible path to get out of the mess we are in is for the Federal government to go bankrupt and collapse sort of like the USSR did and we end up with only state governments. Many of those state governments would provide a much more free environment than that currently imposed by the Feds.

The most likely, but still with low probability, is that Feds get into such a poor financial situation that a new wave of politicians get elected with a mandate to scrape all the nanny state crap in an effort to cut expenses. With this entire departments and agencies (energy, education, housing, environment, agriculture, ATF, etc.) get disbanded and all their responsibilities go away too. Sort of a “scorched earth” policy where there is little or no discussion of “cutting back to the essentials”.

Forget a revolution. As my brother pointed out statistically the most likely form of government after a revolution is a dictatorship. I suspect there is a good reason for this. My hypothesis is that in general for a revolution to be successful there needs to be a charismatic leader. Charismatic leaders have a strong tendency to be narcissistic. Narcissists think they are entitled to all the attention and power the world can throw at them. Narcissists don’t give up their power easily. Revolutions and dictators go hand-in-hand.

The lesson to be learned is that revolution is a very, very risky business for those that value liberty. The founders of this country chose their revolutionary leader with extraordinary care. Read some books on George Washington. He had the charisma to lead but he had something else that is probably not only rare but is overlooked by those looking for a leader for their revolution. He was extremely principled. That is an extremely rare quality in our politicians today. The system virtually guarantees people of principle cannot be elected.

Hence we are in a situation where Douglas Adams nails it in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, “Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.” The same probably can be said of revolutionary leaders.


10 thoughts on “Random thought of the day

  1. Joe, not so profound, just thought provoking. Particularly along the lines of folks maybe considering acting rather than just reading.

    Do take exception to the suggestion to eliminate the Dept. of Ag., particularly the ARS. Those boys and girls have gone a long way to keep the Ag revolution starting after WWII going. They and the state ag schools. Some of their other functions….well, not so successful.

    My $0.02

  2. I have no idea how to get us safely back to a free society. It was never meant to go this far and we are likely too late. Our Constitution is an extremely well thought out plan, but lacks teeth for those bureaucrats that violate it. And then there are the people who all have their pet issues, like the Tim and his love for the Dept. of Ag. It doesn’t take a whole lots of Tim’s to leave us with what we have now — a massive bureaucracy that isn’t held responsible for it’s actions. Congress is ultimately responsible for this, they are the ones who have passed their authority on to faceless bureaucrats who have all the power but none of the accountability (as little of that as exists) of an elected politician.

    I’ve been reading L. Neil Smith’s “Lever Action” this week, and finding myself returning to my libertarian roots. His idea of a no-aggression policy is just how I feel — nobody has the right to *initiate* force against anyone else. That pretty well sums up how I’d like to live. But people like Tim want to force me to pay taxes, at the barrel of a gun, for their favorite Federal program.

    Smith also talks about politicians taking a pledge to enforce the Bill of Rights, and being punished for all violations. Throw ’em in jail for passing gun control laws, violations of free speech, etc. If they cause the death of an innocent person they should suffer the consequences. Give the highest law of the land some real teeth. But I have no ideas as to how to actually accomplish that. I think we’ve swung too far to the left, people like their nanny state, or at least they will until it implodes under a mountain of debt next week.

  3. My hypothesis is that in general for a revolution to be successful there needs to be a charismatic leader.

    I think another issue is that a successful revolution requires an single enemy (or a small, specific, group of people) that can be clearly focused on and demonized. It is difficult to have a successful revolution against a democratically elected government, because so many see that government as “theirs.” The American Revolution was successful in part because there was a single person the abuses could be blamed on. Between the king and the House of Lords, the founders had both.

    Contrast that to our current situation. We have a legislature where both houses are democratically elected, with a chief executive who is also democratically elected. The government overreach, abuses, and expansions have happened over the course of generations, and throughout the terms of multiple presidents. There is no single person or even a small group of people to focus people’s anger at, only a nebulous “government”. Congress is too large a group to act as a focus, and presidential terms are too short. It creates the idea that if people were unhappy with the government, they would elect someone else. The democratic nature of the elections creates the illusion that no revolution can be truly legitimate, because it must, by nature, be contrary to the will of the people.

  4. Thought provoking is correct. You posted the comment after I had already turned my brain off for the day, and was busy with my pork butt on the smoker. I will have more to say later.

  5. Yes; it seems most everyone has their favorite socialist program.
    @Tim; it doesn’t MATTER how well or how poorly this or that socialist program is run. It’s none of the government’s business how we produce our food. If there are smart people under a socialist system, surely they’ll be just as smart in a free society. No?

    Everyone; There ARE teeth in the constitution and in the U.S. Code. You can have all the teeth in the world but it comes down to people who are willing to use them. It was said around the time of the revolution – this system, no matter how well thought out, can NOT survive without an educated, moral people. e4, Kids.

    If there is any magic bullet type of reform that has a good chance of leading to a fix, it would the complete divorce of government from education. Zero involvement. Zero interference. As I’ve said many times; education should have been included in the first amendment along with speech and religion, for exactly the same reasons. At this point I have to wonder if there’s time for any fix. The Republicans are certainly not at all serious, and so it must be up to us, on a much more local level.

  6. The Supreme Court used to be the “consequence” that resulted when either the Executive or the Congress exceeded their enumerated authorities under the Constitution. Randy Barnett, a Georgetown University law professor, has written extensively on the so-called “Lost Constitution”, most significantly in his book, Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty, and more recently on the litigation challenging Obamacare [see Commandeering the People: Why the Individual Health Insurance Mandate is Unconstitutional]

    George Mason University law professor David Bernstein is also another voice on the wholesale rewriting of constitutional history that has been taking place in the legal academy since the New Deal. See his recent book Rehabilitating Lochner: Defending Individual Rights against Progressive Reform.

  7. I think a revolution will eventually come in through the back door regardless of what people plan or attempt to either foment it or suppress it.

    Here’s what I mean. John Adams famously wrote that the American Revolution was effected before the war commenced, because the revolution had already happened in the minds and hearts of the people.

    Revolutions don’t break out because of charismatic leaders. Revolutions happen in the people first, and then the person charismatic enough to take advantage emerges.

    It won’t matter what leaders, charismatic or otherwise arise, until an appropriate number of the people have already revolted in their own hearts and minds.

    On the other hand, once enough of the people have revolted in their own hearts and minds, no force on earth will be able to stop the revolution, which will happen for good or ill.

    As for the idea that democratic election of governmental officials makes any revolution “illegitimate” I think that oversimplifies the situation.

    We have elected officials passing laws that dictate which light bulbs we can use, how much water our toilets can flush, and even what kind of oil we can fry our french fries in. If we sell rabbits we raise on our land without the required permits, they fine us millions of dollars, and even raid people who sell milk that their own cows have produced. Now they plan to force us to buy health insurance, in the amounts they determine we need. They also want to tell us what cars we can and can’t drive, how much exercise we should get, and they plan a whole host of other petty tyrannies to foist upon us, for our own collective good, of course.

    In the face of this never-ending domination and control of our lives, more and more people are starting to revolt in their hearts and minds. Once that reaches a certain level, nothing will be able to stop the revolution from happening. Only influencing what shape that revolution takes will be possible.

    What happens might be like the Spirit of 1776. Or might be more like what happened in France, that consumed even the charismatic personalities that attempted to lead the revolution.

  8. i’m cool with the moon but why a new government? send this bunch up.

    as for an actual shooting revolution Ala Africa or central America. i don’t think so, we have to much to lose. i actually see us agreeing to disagree.
    the country breaking up through succession into economic sectors. Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, new mexico, Arizona. Nevada, could become a regional super state. same goes for the north west, north east and so on.

    the feds may bluster, but in the end they rule through the consent of the people. without that they have shit. they’ll adapt or disappear. our state governments need to step up and that’s where we can have a big effect. get involved in your state government, it’s much easier to effect change, and due to low voter turnout in non-presidential elections getting people elected to your state legislatures should be easy for a dedicated constituency.

    all hope is not lost yet. but were damn close.
    keep your powder dry! and buy your wife some jewelry. it’ll get ya some nookie today or a couple of goat’s if the shit hits the fan.

  9. I’m cool w/ Frustrated, but all commenters so far have ignored the basic mechanism of erosion of freedom: giving the elected members of our Gov’t the power to buy voting blocs. Decide how this power is best eliminated, eliminate it, and the issue cures itself.

    Personally, I would eliminate it by focusing the disdain (and maybe stronger) of the faithful-to-small-gov’t minority on the bought-and-paid-for classes, one at a time, starting with the most politically vulnerable of them, the addicts/refuse-to-work welfare cases. Cut them off first, deal with whatever revolt they put up, then go to the next most vulnerable group, the illegals. After dealing with those two groups, there will be few standing in line for handouts, and even if a vote-buying political class had the cash, they won’t find many takers. One word: it’s not just the downtrodden that need to be cut off: there are some fiercely dependent wealthier classes as well, such as the trial lawyers. In the end, you might even get to pensioners such as myself, but by then, the cost of government having been cut by at least 3/4, I can probably live well enough on what my limited energies will bring me in the marketplace, or I might not make it to that point, having become a casualty of the battles to shrink the gov’t.

  10. While armed Revolution against the State may currently be impossible (for the various reasons stated), and while I think our government is doomed, for various reasons, we would do well to remember that not all Revolutions are armed. I, for one, am attempting to do what I can to teach my children, and others who would listen, to be independent of government, and to understand the powers of freedom.

    It’s going to be difficult, and I don’t have any idea how long it will be before we can make headway in government, but it’s also possible to choose to live free, even when tyranny reigns around you. Freedom is as much a mindset as it is a condition of government.

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