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Letter from America – Land of the Free?

Let me first of all state my basic position. I love America. There, I have said it. But I think there is a problem. I think the citizens of the United States are deluding themselves that they live in the ‘Land of the Free’.

As I write this, in the downtown financial district of Boston Massachusetts, I am a hundred and fifty yards from the site of the historic Boston Tea Party, right here on the harbour lip of Fort Point Channel. In my opinion this site rates as one of the most significant places on Earth, third in my list of inspirational locations which I have personally visited, right behind Avebury and Stonehenge, and even creeping ahead of the Great Pyramid of Khufu. Yes, I am one of those obsessive libertarians. I really am that sad.

Because in the future, when all of the current omnipotent state machines of the world have shrunk to nothing, this site in Boston harbour will be hailed as the Mohawk-dressed pinprick which first burst their bubble, the very point in space and time where the idea of the necessity of the state first started to die.

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Birthplace of a libertarian revolution

But I fear we have a long road to travel before we reach that heady day, when the final Byzantine Emperor of the state is killed defending its walls of mediocrity, defending its rights to general taxation, and defending its monopoly provision of both justice and security. Because what I discovered, in Boston, admittedly in a state which ought to be renamed Taxachusetts, was a shock. The first shock came downtown. I was admiring a fine statue of Samuel Adams, the first ever Governor of Massachusetts, and a notable early American Patriot. This liberty-slogan encrusted statue stands out in front of Faneuil Hall, itself known as the ‘Cradle of American Liberty’, where George Washington himself toasted the first birthday of the new nation. But just look at what they have made Samuel Adams stare at, in statue form, for the last thirty years:

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Boston City Hall

I wonder how many American taxpayers it takes to keep the candles burning in this particular concrete monstrosity, of an afternoon. If someone were to offer me a hundred million dollars, and ask me to create a life-size model of George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth, I would decline the cash and simply hand my sponsors the address of this statist horror.

Designed with the feeling in mind of ‘making the individual look small’ and ‘making the state look big’, this wind-chilled horror also cloaks itself in one of those Red Square style plazas so beloved of socialist architects, one of those communal areas that nobody in any community ever wants to spend any time in, unless ‘persuaded’ to go there, to wave happily at their leaders, by men with guns in their pockets. Apparently, according to my Bostonian sources, this North Korean style plaza was created by the destruction of an earlier much-missed and much-loved Bostonian cavalcade of buildings, you know the sort, filled with life, character, spontaneity, and individuality. But no, all swept away to create this hideous parasite-drenched edifice. Words alone cannot describe my shock at encountering this cuboid spawn of the Borg, and even now, my jaw is dropping at the incredulity of my discovery, as I turned away from Mr Adams’ statue to witness the sharpness of those Gulag-inspired concrete guillotines before me. Nightmarish.

Even my personal old Smeagol chained in his socialist cage in the centre of my mind had to laugh, in sympathy, with the new capitalist me. For we were both brought up as Marxists in a union-dominated 1970s England, and like every other collectivist mind in England, we drank from the milk of the idea that all capitalist evil in the world emanated directly from the Great Satan in the west, from the land of John Wayne, from the land of Walt Disney, and from the land of Davy Crockett.

Little did we realise that even as we washed our developing minds in Das Kapital, there existed places in this same America portraying an undisclosed triumph of the world’s collectivist social will.

I wandered up the steps of this terrible building in a daze, wrapped in fifteen cold-protecting layers, to find the City Hall’s windswept plaza spreading out before me. And what was the sole building permitted within the confines of this vast empty frozen public arena? Think ‘monument to collectivisation’, and you may get it. Yes, it was the entrance to a collectivised transport system. Unbelievable.

An entrance shack squatted like a flue pipe directly up from hell, on one side of the plaza. This chimney led down to a dilapidated subway system. One of the escalators was out of order. Surely it can’t be collectivised, I thought? Surely not in America? My blessed America? But it came as no surprise, later, to discover that this one-fee-fits-all subway system did indeed ‘benefit’ from generous government handouts.

It only took one or two long delays on short simple routes to remind me of London’s similarly lobotomised Underground system. Though saying that, the staff were far more helpful here in guiding this stranger in a strange land to a remote cinema complex, for his second viewing of The Return of the King.

But that is what I love about America, even though it is more socialised than it apparently realises. The women are still sexier, the men are still handsomer, and everyone is still better dressed. Even the grunge kids are grungier, the lowlifes are lowlier, and almost without exception everyone is far more polite than we precious tight-assed Brits. Even a beggar I met in the doorway of a Wellesley breakfast coffee shop was polite, wishing me a good day, despite my absolute point-blank refusal to give him a dollar. Well, I did not say anything. He just knew by the look in my eye not to ask.

So, getting back to the story, what was the name of this subway station, this dribbling Shelob spider of a station, at the heart of Boston’s Transit system? Just to keep the Orwellian motif going, the state-based God of Collectivism had, without the slightest trace of apparent irony, decided to name this particular subway station Government Center. I almost ran screaming from the shack. I looked up half expecting to see the picture of a man staring back down at me, his face bearing a thick luxuriant black moustache, and to hear a distant bell chiming thirteen o’clock. There was indeed a large face on the wall of the City Hall, but I was in no mood to snap it. Fortunately, I can find no pictures of it on the Internet, either. Which is a good thing.

I had to get out of there. So I staggered back down to good ol’ Uncle Sam, outside his Cradle of Liberty:

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Samuel Adams, Hero of Liberty

Now that’s more like it, I thought. For I really do love America, and I am sure this travesty of a City Hall building is still curable. Do yourself a favour, Bostonians, and give Samuel Adams something decent to look at. If in the intervening period of time, before states cease to exist, you still need something to house your city administrators in, and even private city street owners will need some kind of office, knock the whole thing down and replace it with something Greek and magnificent, like the splendid Widener Library in Harvard Yard.

And so, escaping from America’s worst building, please God do not ever let me find anything worse, I walked through the financial district, my home for the next five days, down to the Boston Tea Party ship. Again, it came as something as a surprise, in the frozen Arctic air, to discover the following sign:

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The Boston Tea Party site is closed, indefinitely

I had expected that being British, they would not let me in, but for the whole thing to be closed to everyone started to worry me, again, on your behalf. For as Wendell Phillips said in his 1852 speech to the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, ‘Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Liberty’. And if you are going to let a site like this get rundown, and let it get surrounded by castaway concrete from a swathe of ugly federal building programs, you must ask yourselves if your vigilance is indeed slipping.

But maybe I am overdoing the doom-and-gloom thing, mainly because I wanted to be photographed throwing a tea chest over the side. If people refuse to value a thing, such as a constantly open Tea Party site, could it said to be a good thing that the state fails to make taxpayers pay to support it? Well, yes, maybe it could. But of course, the taxpayers of Boston have very little cash left to support Tea Party ships, because for the next 100 years they are going to be paying back the twelve billion dollars it has cost them for The Big Dig, a massively expensive Keynesian pump-prime pork-barrel project to build various tunnels through the cream cheese of Boston’s complex soil structures.

Has it been worth it? Only you Bostonians can decide that. I certainly hope all the community outreach programs you’ve been subjected to, in mitigation of the project, and costing up to a third of the outlay, have proved worth it to you, as well as the tens of millions spent on the preservation of Rumney Marsh. I know I can never let a day go by without logging on to my nearest community outreach activist outlet or squelching through my nearest city marsh.

But before I continue, I really do have to mention the weather. I thought we Brits were obsessed. On my favourite news outlet, NBC channel-7, my favourite meteorologist, Pete Bouchard, spent up to 15 minutes every hour giving me the latest blow-by-blow account of every single snow cloud, or every single possible snow cloud, in the entire New England area. What’s more, it took me just two days before I stopped seeing him as Bill Murray, in Groundhog Day, and started seeing him as my very own personal friend, Uncle Pete, helping me through the weather-torn day.

And boy, did we need helping. The day I landed it was colder than the dark side of the moon. On a cold day. In an Ice Age. With the windows open.

To say it was cold, would be like saying a Super Nova is slightly hot. I have never experienced such depraved iciness. How any of you manage to stay living in Boston, when our fine brave Patriot boys can walk around in light sweaters, in Houston, defies me. Yes, you have history, and bendy streets, and autumn, or as you bizarrely call it, Fall, but crikey, such cold. Chill the marrow? I may never be able to father children again.

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Your intrepid hero found his future barricade gear great for the cold

Saying that, though, after a couple of days I started getting used to it. Americans started sounding less American, and I suspect that I may have started sounding less English. I once spent three weeks in Vancouver, and when I left everyone there was speaking plain unaccented English, and everyone back in England was speaking like David Niven, old boy. I fear I have a chameleon-like adaptability to foreign culture, particularly when I find it preferable to our own homegrown English chip-on-the-shoulder culture.

Indeed, in many ways, as I wandered around Boston, I increasingly came to think that New England is the England we stupid English threw away a hundred years ago, in our doomed bid to grow our heavenly unions and socialised culture into an Earthly Paradise. And even despite the cold, and the lumpen presence of City Hall, I felt increasingly comfortable, to the point where if you could’ve got my wife to agree, whisked my children over, and swapped my purple passport for one with an eagle on it, I would have kissed you.

But these little things just kept niggling away at me:

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Rauchen verboten

Why are you, in the US, exporting socialism to us, in the EU? That’s our job, the other way around. I’d heard New York had a smoking ban. But New York is surreal. It does not actually exist, except that bit where NBC broadcasts from, in Rockefeller Plaza. But to find smoking banned and illegal in private establishments, even in Boston, once again threw me out of kilter.

And then there were all those New Hampshire Primary statements, from the Democrats, along the lines of this:

We’re going to find ways to cut Middle-Class health bills

What? By breaking the protectionist power of America’s oldest producer-interest union, the AMA? Or by removing all that state subsidy, to enable tax cuts, to help ordinary people pay their medical bills? Oh, no, sir. By robbing successful people via raised tax levels. Not that successful people will pay these tax hikes, of course, because their accountants are too well-paid to allow it. What the Democrats will actually pay for it with will be even greater deficits. Which is free money. Right?

Nobody on the TV debates seemed to challenge the Democratic wannabees on any of this. They just let it go. And removing Bush’s tax cut seemed to be stated as a good thing, and yes his deficit is outrageous, but you cure this by cutting government spending, not by abandoning tax cuts. And the questioning audiences and newscasters just let it go. And at that point I let it go, too.

It is not my problem, I thought. It has really got nothing to do with me. But, of course, it does have something to do with me. Because we, in socialised Europe, look to you, in America, as beacons of freedom and as rays of hope in our own feeble fight against the massive forces of collectivisation, as we slide into our death pit of EU taxes and totalitarianism.

But it seems you are getting to be just as bad over there, and in some ways worse, as for example with the smoking bans in private establishments. Even New Labour in the UK will not contemplate that. Just yet. But it is only a matter of time before they will say:

If they’ve even banned it in America, then it’s OK for us to ban it over here, too

For our home-grown socialists to use the good ol’ US of A as a beacon of socialised perfection may disturb you. I hope it does, anyway. It certainly disturbs me. And it is happening more and more. I just thought, as a friend, I should warn you. Think of me as Paul Revere, whose splendid horse-borne statue I discovered on a very brisk walk up to Bunker Hill. Think of me as an American Patriot in disguise. I even have a T-shirt with ‘New England Patriots’ on it, if it makes you feel any better. Not that we Pats fans need such things, any more, with our almost Jonny Wilkinson style late Superbowl win.

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The Old State House

The subtle use of language of these Democratic candidates, several of them from New England, also set my mind on edge. It took me a few hours to figure out why. Reading some books on New England history and the Boston Freedom Trail, where I later encountered the splendid Old State House still resplendent under the Lion and the Unicorn of Great Britain, I realised what was causing this edginess.

They have twisted the language of your revolution. The American Revolution was a libertarian revolution, a movement against the state, against taxation, against coercive will, but mainly a liberty from the oppression of political tyrants. But Democrat proto-statesmen now describe it habitually in terms of socialist revolution, in terms of a liberty from the oppression of the rich. They dress it in the blood-drenched colours of the French Revolution, rather than the clear red, white, and blue colours of the true American Revolution. This use of language is very clever, it is very subtle, and it is very dangerous. Beware!

There are two sorts of rich people. Those who serve consumers spectacularly well, and those who serve themselves spectacularly well via the corruption of politics. The early Americans revolted against the second political kind, particularly the get-rich-quick Members of Parliament and landed gentry back over the Atlantic, in Britain. The Democrats are now using this perfectly decent anti-rich motivation to direct an attack against the first kind, the ones who serve society, by using even more political power against them. What you will then receive is more of these second kind of rich, the odious kind, the kind who should be removed, the kind who would suck your bones dry, given the opportunity. What the Democrats would destroy are those rich people who made America great through their innovation and industry, by associating them in their use of language with the power brokers of Washington, the lobbyists, and all the other snouts in the trough of political power. It is a very clever trick. The way to get rid of these people is to lessen and then remove politicians from having any power. Not by giving more of it to them, as the Democrats would have you believe.

Which leaves us with just two more important questions to answer, the first concerning liquid refreshment. Namely, what is the finest beer in New England? Oh, easy peasy lemon squeezy, my friends. How could it be anything other than Samuel Adams, perhaps the finest beer in the world. Let’s hope this well-deserved accolade, tested in some depth by your humble correspondent, makes it up to poor old Sam’s statue for having to look upon the ghastly Boston City Hall, for eternity. What ever did he do to deserve that? So in recompense, tonight, I shall raise a glass to dear old Sam.

[BTW, I managed to avoid going into the hideous Cheers bar. Those of you in Boston will know where I mean.]

And so finally, we come to the most important question of all, for a man on a five day business trip. That concerning lunch. Which is better? Finagle Bagel or Dunkin Donuts?

After much deliberation, it has got to be Finagle Bagel every time. Those so-called bagels from Dunkin Donuts just suck. Big time.

28 comments to Letter from America – Land of the Free?

  • rc

    Oh! My! God! Pleeeeeeeeze don’t judge the US by what you find in Massachusux! You could have done just as well by judging the current state of freedom in America by going to Bezerkley. You now know what EU-think looks like American-style…pretty much exactly how it looks Europe-style. I think you are starting to learn first hand what people mean by ‘Blue-State’ America.

  • Patrick

    I’ve always thought that the symbol of Boston’s mass transit…”The T” looks like the T from Huxley’s Brave New World

  • Shawn

    With all due respect to your valid concerns about aspects or parts of the U.S. you need to travel a bit more widely first, as different states vary a great deal in their degree of socialist insanity. Try New Hampshire next time for a bit more sanity. Still I understand your feelings. There are times when I have very uncharitable thoughts about San Francisco, and Berkely in particular, often involving earthquakes.

    And just a little nit-pick:

    “this site in Boston harbour will be hailed as the Mohawk-dressed pinprick which first burst their bubble, the very point in space and time where the idea of the necessity of the state first started to die.”

    Really? Personally I think its a stretch that anti-statism or anarchism were motivating factors in the Revolution. Limted and devolved popular soveriegnty would be more accurate.

  • Nick Radtke

    No, Shawn!!! :-) I swear to you, one of the most satisfying moments in my life was when I realized that there is no such thing as “necessary government.” Government is a consequence of evil, and therefore it is completely unnecessary–morally justifiable, but unnecessary. I wish that the phrase “necessary evil” had never been invented, because nothing that is evil is necessary.

    One of my all-time favorite quotes is from Winston Churchill; when asked what he thought World War II ought to be named, he immediately said, “The Unnecessary War,” even though he advocated taking part in it! He knew that Hitler’s actions were evil, and that this war was a result of Hilter’s (unnecessary) evil actions. Hence, the war was completely unnecessary–but participating in it as a means to repel an existing evil was morally justifiable.

    There is no such thing as “necessary government,” but participating in government as a good, moral agent is nontheless honorable.

  • Andy Danger

    Dear Andy,

    Agree with you on most counts and admire your fire, but this reads a bit like a parody in parts. Recommend switching to decaf.

    Love,
    The Other Andy

  • samkit

    either this is a parody, or you need to chill a little. and write in segments, you aren’t Bill Whittle, you can’t get away with such a long winded essay. just isn’t worth it. read the first few paragraphs and then skimmed the rest.

  • Almost Bostonian

    I love Boston. But America ain’t Boston.

    Visit New Hampshire, whose motto is “Live Free Or Die.”

    Or — heh — visit Texas, a single state three times the size of the UK, where everyone is crazy.

  • Shawn

    “No, Shawn!!! :-) I swear to you, one of the most satisfying moments in my life was when I realized that there is no such thing as “necessary government.” ”

    Well, as I have just posted on this subject here:

    http://www.samizdata.net/mt/mt-comments.cgi?entry_id=5474

    I wont bother repeating myself except to say that I disagree.

  • H. Myers

    “…What the Democrats would destroy are those rich people who made America great through their innovation and industry, by associating them in their use of language with the power brokers of Washington, the lobbyists, and all the other snouts in the trough of political power. It is a very clever trick. The way to get rid of these people is to lessen and then remove politicians from having any power. Not by giving more of it to them, as the Democrats would have you believe….”

    Perhaps one of the reasons anti-rich demagoguery will get a seeming free pass during this election cycle is that the Bushies are mostly from the second group, too….influence peddlars from waaaaaaay back.

  • Andy Duncan

    rc writes:

    Oh! My! God! Pleeeeeeeeze don’t judge the US by what you find in Massachusux! You could have done just as well by judging the current state of freedom in America by going to Bezerkley.

    It’s funny you should say that, because the only other place in the US where I’ve spent any time, was two weeks in Palo Alto, just south of San Francisco, where I spent some time with a Berkeley graduate and regular commuter to America’s other socialist republic outside of Cambridge. Driving through ‘Boy Town’ was particularly instructive.

    But in my defence, I wasn’t just judging the US on Taxachussetts, but on what the Democrat party candidates were saying on those never-ending NH Primary adverts.

    Most of it was straightforward anti-success and producer-interest socialism. And then having to listen to Dubya responding with his boasts about spending on health and social security? Where is the lean mean America I once read about, actually being represented these days, politically? It isn’t anywhere I can see.

    Mr De Havilland writes:

    Blimey! Wot a blogapotamus!

    You should’ve seen the original, before I cut the mother down! ;-)

    Obviously, only leaving in the parodic stuff.

    Shawn writes:

    Try New Hampshire next time for a bit more sanity.

    Well, from the warm comfort of my hotel bedroom, I saw plenty of Democrats in New Hampshire Primary interviews, in New Hampshire, displaying plenty of socialist viewpoints to large admiring audiences. Before this trip, I hadn’t been aware that there were ANY Democrats in New Hampshire.

    BTW, you may be pleased to hear I dismissed EVERYTHING I heard on PBS radio, especially from some woman who told me that Americans should be forced to get more involved in politics.

    Personally I think its a stretch that anti-statism or anarchism were motivating factors in the Revolution.

    Well, we’ll have to agree to disagree on that one. I think it had everything to do with it. That a small claque of people took these feelings, and then twisted them into the legitimized American state, under a Congress, from which they personally benefitted with many privileges, with a ‘right’ to impose taxes and monopolize justice, something even Benjamin Franklin thought would eventually lead to despotism, is something else that only 20,000 words would be enough to discuss. But I think I’m already pushing my bandwidth luck, so let’s just assume our differing positions, for now at least! ;-)

    Andy Danger writes:

    Recommend switching to decaf.

    What, coffee without drugs? No, sir. There is no purpose to coffee without drugs.

    Ok, so I may have a writing style which seems a little LSD-induced, but that’s just the way it comes out. Nothing I can do about it, I’m afraid. And I really was genuinely shocked, particularly by the applause Democratic Presidential candidates were getting in a South Carolina debate, for saying things even Tony Blair couldn’t get away with.

    Great name, BTW! :-)

    I can only call it as I see it. And from what I saw, you are a lot less free than I think you imagine yourselves to be. You may dismiss my view as parody. But I think the US self-belief that it is the land of the free may also be a self-delusional parody.

    Possibly, it is the land of the freest. Which is a great thing, still. But not of the free. As Bush tries to out-socialise the socialists, to gain re-election, watch your wallets and watch your remaining freedoms closely. Particularly watch those which are going to disappear under the ‘global threat of world terrorism’.

  • Chris Josephson

    I’m in Massachusetts, fairly close to Boston. We’ve had the ‘nanny’ state creeping up on us for a while, for quite a lot of reasons.

    There have been some victories to beat it back, but not enough. We have a large population of new immigrants that help in the demand for more services by the state.

    There is really only one party in Mass. .. Democratic. Many of the state legislators have been reelected because nobody has run against them in quite a while.

    It is pretty sad, but there are people working to change things.

  • Paul

    Just a little info you might find amusing- Massachusetts residents don’t have to pay back all 12 (or did it get to 14, I forget) billion of the Big Dig. Our elder Socialist, er, Democratic Senator, Fat Teddy Wham-a-lamb, managed to get more-than-matching Federal funds, so people in the other 49 states get to fund 80% or so of the bill.

  • Andy Duncan

    Chris Josephson writes:

    …but there are people working to change things.

    Keep with it, Chris. Don’t let the MA socialists drag you down to our level, and together, one day, we’ll beat the common enemy, wherever they are.

    Paul writes:

    …so people in the other 49 states get to fund 80% or so of the bill.

    Well, that’s nice. Doesn’t it kinda just make you feel warm all over? $-)

  • Hi Andy,

    Glad you are making good use of your time in Boston.

    As it happens you didn’t even have to leave Oxfordshire to visit a shrine of liberty. I passed by on the A40 once without putting two and two together. Next time I’ll pull over for a look at the bulletholes.

    Also did you know you can get Sam Adams Lager in the UK. I’ve never tried it but I might have a go next time I’m in their store.

    Enjoy the rest of your time out there.

  • Paul

    Andy – just to be clear, I didn’t mean to imply that some poor schmoe in Oklahoma paying for the big dig was a good thing.

  • toolkien

    I think the citizens of the United States are deluding themselves that they live in the ‘Land of the Free’.

    Federal Income tax % ~20%
    State Income tax (WI) ~7%
    State sales tax (selective) ~3% (tax is 5.5% but not on all items)
    FICA tax (retirement/health both sides) ~15%
    Local Taxes (property) ~3%
    Gas/excise etc etc etc ~2%

    Total ~50%

    Free? Nope and never deluded myself otherwise. Freer? Unfortunately yes. 50% is high but not as high as European socialist paradises.

    As for the Northeast representing libertarianism, that region of the US has had more in common with established 18th century European ‘culture’ and its consequences (centralism) than most of the rest of the US. While Progessivism had its roots in WI (both the origianal Republican and Progressive parties were born here) there is still much that is North Eastern in the mentality. It begat socialized education, anti-slavery leagues (not in itself a bad thing conceptually but how is chose to solve the issue), anti-temperance, etc etc etc. The North East sprung both FDR and JFK on the US and Federalism drove the stake throught the heart of liberty. So in a nutshell, tour the South or the plains or much more of mid-west/flyover states and you’ll see that liberty is still alive. But for how long? Everyone is getting used to handouts and the middle class is poised to be seized fully. Something has to account for the slim difference between Republicans and Democrats functionally (at least those with a snowballs chance of getting elected).

    I’ve tossed in much doom and gloom in other comments here, but with a looming ~$9 trillion debt (only to increase with the drug entitlement) and a declining worker base (hence why the amnesty is going through to legalize mexican workers who will populate the newest layer of the ponzi scheme). Freedom should be on the endangered species list. The amount of central control to keep the ponzi scheme working is going to be alarming. Indivdiualism and liberty will consequently wane as government provided ‘security’ waxes.

  • Andy Duncan

    No worries, Paul. Thanks for the original info. I think we both know that the people of Boston may have escaped 8 billion, or so, worth of paying for the airport tunnel. But I’m sure they’ll have made up for it by paying 10 billion for an equivalent pork barrel project in Oklahoma! ;-)

    Mr Holland, thanks for the info on Sam Adams. Fortunately, there’s a Majestic right near me, in Reading, beside TGI Fridays. I’ll check it out next time I’m there. I believe you always have to buy at least a crate, whenever you shop there. Oh dear! X-)

    toolkien, a trillion here, and a trillion there, and pretty soon we’re talking serious moolah $-)

  • Yosemite Sam

    Well, from the warm comfort of my hotel bedroom, I saw plenty of Democrats in New Hampshire Primary interviews, in New Hampshire, displaying plenty of socialist viewpoints to large admiring audiences. Before this trip, I hadn’t been aware that there were ANY Democrats in New Hampshire

    New Hampshire, like Vermont, was once a Republican stronghold, but immigration from New York in Vermont’s case and Massachusetts in New Hampshire’s case has changed things somewhat. These former Massachusetts residents are called Massholes in New Hampshire and are driving the state towards the Left.

    New Hampshire still has a Republican bent though and was the only state in New England to go for President Bush in 2000. Compared to Massachusetts, New Hampshire is a libertarian paradise. There is no mandatory seat belt law for adults in New Hampshire and virtually zero firearms restrictions. It is easier to get a carry permit in New Hampshire than in Texas. In contrast, Massachusetts’ firearms laws are byzantine and restrictive.

  • Rendom comment on the seatbelt law: They did a study (okay, maybe that does equate to “pulled out of the air,” but still) that showed that those adults who do not wear seatbelts are more likely to get in an accident. Not that the seatbelts prevent accidents, but that people who do not wear them display personality traits and behaviors that make accidents more likely.

    I’ve noticed that law enforcement types tend to be highly in favor of madatory helmet/seatbelt laws, mostly because, as one put it, “We *really* don’t like cleaning your brains off the pavement.” While such laws really are creeping nanny-statism, I can see their (law-enforcement types) point…

  • Richard Cook

    C’mon to Indiana Perry where the state motto should be “leave us alone and you won’t get shot.”

  • Yosemite Sam

    While such laws(seatbelt laws) really are creeping nanny-statism, I can see their (law-enforcement types) point…

    This is solved in New Hampshire by the insurance companies. My company(Geico) gives you a reduction on your insurance rates if you agree to wear a seat belt. Thus it is your choice and not forced upon you by the State. Another aspect of New Hampshire freedom is that the state does not have a mandatory helmet law for motorcyclists. In my opinion, it is the most libertarian state in the country and has been chosen as the destination for the Free State Project

  • Yosemite Sam

    Er, try this instead:


    Free State Project

  • toolkien

    I’ve noticed that law enforcement types tend to be highly in favor of madatory helmet/seatbelt laws, mostly because, as one put it, “We *really* don’t like cleaning your brains off the pavement.” While such laws really are creeping nanny-statism, I can see their (law-enforcement types) point…

    1) Do the cops really clean up the scene?
    2) Even if they do they chose the profession

    So emergency room personnel should drive public policy because they are sick of dealing with the injured?
    I think the law enforcement types only see the statistical data points of the failures while the largest part of the statistical population of sucesses goes unnoticed. That’s the key point in setting public policy. Not to interfere with the vast majority’s liberty when it is not necessary to do so. Making it a law and ticketing every non-seat belt wearing, non-helmet wearing fiend is where to problem comes in. I suspect the ‘shut up it’s for your own good’ really comes from the police etc who are sick of dealing with accidents. I’m not interested in limiting the inconvient parts of their chosen profession by making criminals out of everyday people simply living their lives.

  • rc

    Andy wrote:
    “Where is the lean mean America I once read about, actually being represented these days, politically? It isn’t anywhere I can see.”

    Well, with respect your remarks about the Dim candidatates; true dat! It’s been that way for nearly 50 years and there is no end in sight. Right on about Bush’s ‘drunken sailor/rebublican’t’ approach to the federal budget.

    But states still have a lot of leaway in how they govern, and there is a huge difference between what you find in the coastal socialist paradises and the rest of the country. My point is basically YMMV (your milage may vary) depending on what state you are in. When you are outside of America, we probably look like some kind of uniform monolith. But when you get in, travel a bit, and stay a while, the freedom differential between states becomes very obvious. Absolute freedom isn’t the issue, since it doesn’t exist anywhere, but some spots manage better than others.

    You really DO have to go further than Berekely and Massachusetts, while watching a few Dim’s blovate and the President pander to their constituencies in the SOTU, to draw any kind of realistic conclusions.

    Cheers,

    rc

  • Matt

    Andy:

    I’m glad you got a chance to visit my city and am only sorry that I wasn’t around to buy you a beer (I was down in Houston cheering for the Super Bowl Champions).

    While much of what is said regarding the prevalence of whacked-out leftism in Massachusetts is true, it’s not as dominant as people outside our state are lead to believe.

    You might be interested to know that a state-wide ballot initiative a couple years ago that called for the complete abolition of the state income tax did better than I would have ever expected: it lost by about a margin of 55-45. The initiative was sponsored by Carla Howell, a woman who has twice run for statewide office as a Libertarian Party candidate and managed to garner a significant minority of votes both times (at least when compared to Libs running in other states).

    Yes, we’ve got our monuments to overbearing statism: City Hall, the MBTA, the Big Dig, and our mountain of a senior Senator. City Hall and the associated plaza is universally regarded as a 60s-era monstrosity. We can’t tear down City Hall, but efforts have been afoot to remake the barren plaza. However, a variety of competing political interests have managed to paralyze the process of change regarding that specific project. Our Republican governor has at least TRIED to tackle some of the rampant influence peddling and corruption that has thrived under the state’s Democratic machine.

    What I’m trying to say is that while the dominant political culture here is one of absolute statism, there is a significant core of people of libertarian mind who keep fighting the good fight.

  • Andy Duncan

    Hi Matt,

    Thanks for the extra background info.

    I’m glad you got a chance to visit my city and am only sorry that I wasn’t around to buy you a beer (I was down in Houston cheering for the Super Bowl Champions).

    You were in the right place. Go Pats!

    This also means I’ll have to buy you a beer, if you ever make it to the Henley area, in Oxfordshire (half an hour’s drive from Heathrow, and the best town in England, with the possible exception of Bath).

    What I’m trying to say is that while the dominant political culture here is one of absolute statism, there is a significant core of people of libertarian mind who keep fighting the good fight.

    Glad to hear it. When you finally get to blow up City Hall, would you mind sending me a remnant, a small brick or piece of concrete? I shall use it to raise a monument in my back garden to liberty and freedom, liberally sprinkled with tea leaves! :-)

    Rgds,
    AndyD

  • Larry Anderson

    Andy,

    The thing to remember is, judging all of America from Boston, is like judging all of Britain from the lounge at Heathrow.. A flavor sure, but missing the breadth of experience. As a small “L” libertarian, you wouldn’t catch me DEAD in Boston, even with my love of history. Minnesota is bad enough with the loony left.

    And remeber.. In Massachusetts, the “M” is slient.