We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Romney throws the election

Romney may have just lost the election for the Republicans. If he is going to stand behind Individual Mandate, then why not vote for a real socialist? Why not just let someone who walks the walk drive things to their disastrous conclusion rather than allowing the left to point to a ‘conservative’ and blame the failures of socialism on him?

If it is a given that Romney will be the Republican candidate, then come next fall I will vote for Republicans in the House and Senate and Obama for President in hopes that libertarian, tea party and conservative types can dominate the Legislative Branch and fight the Executive Branch every step of the way. If Romney were in, they would have to at least give a show of support for ‘their’ President. Let us shoot for total war between the branches of government as our best option for preserving liberty.

The government which governs least is best… even if it is because they are too busy fighting amongst themselves to govern at all.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on VK

53 comments to Romney throws the election

  • William H Stoddard

    You’ve stated exactly my view of the matter. Romney’s support for the individual mandate in Massachusetts fatally undermined him as a possible nominee, as far as I’m concerned; he’s not even remotely an advocate of the principle of constitutional government, merely a tinkerer in the classic bipartisan progressive mode. So why vote for Obama Lite?

    I expect to vote for Gary Johnson, assuming he gets the Libertarian nomination. If that puts Obama back in, I’ll hope for four years of gridlock, while Obama struggles with the continuing wreck of Obamacare.

    Really, the Republicans are hopeless idiots. They have a widespread movement that advocates constitutional government, fiscal conservatism, and free markets, and instead of riding the wave, they divide between the “business as usual” establishment Republicans and the aspiring theocrats. Their approach is the same as that of the Democrats who got swept in by independent voters disgusted with the Bush administration, and then proceeded to push through their abusive progressive wish list.

  • Bruce

    I don’t favor an individual mandate, basically for the reasons outlined in this Cato piece, but lack of insurance in the U.S. does not equate to lack of medical care and the current individual mandate fight is a red herring.

    Those without private medical insurance are still treated, but primarily at the expense of others through government programs and cost shifting (for example, emergency rooms function as free clinics for the uninsured). This creates a significant free rider problem.

    Officially about half of all healthcare spending in the U.S. is through the government. But because government programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and IHS underpay, when compared to private insurance, substantial cost shifting occurs. This amounts to a hidden tax and the actual government share is therefore over half.

    If you pay income taxes then you are already being mandated to pay for the healthcare system. I’m still waiting for a realistic libertarian alternative to the current U.S. system.

  • persiflage

    The real prize in the 2012 election is control of the congress – the ones who actually write legislation and control the government purse strings and approve federal judges. The presidency is merely a dramatic distraction.

    It would be well if we spent more time focusing (and putting a lot more effort) on those congressional races.

  • Paul

    I also do not plan on voting for Romney, unless he both starts laying out his libertarian-conservative chops hard and picks someone awesome for his running mate–I’m talking Christie, John Bolton, or maybe Palin again. But I can’t vote for Obama either. Gary Johnson maybe, even though I don’t agree with him on everything, I think that pulling the lever for the Libertarian candidate can’t help serving as a wake-up call to the Republican party.

    What I won’t do is what so many conservatives have suggested/insisted upon, which is to vote for Romney just to get Obama out, and then work toward libertarianism or stronger conservatism. First because it simply doesn’t work–you don’t get to a Reagan via a Ford, you get to him through a Carter. And second because it’s exactly what I’m not hoping for in politics–more slow, gradual change. People need to have some shock value in their politics to keep them involved and not assuming that government can take care of itself.

  • Dale Amon

    Bruce may be interested in ‘efficiency’ but we are interested in liberty. The current piecemeal system can be attacked piecemeal over time. But a system in which the Federal government gets to mandate that individuals in every state in the Union *MUST* purchase a given good or else the full force of FEDERAL law, in violation of the intent of the Constitution’s Commerce clause, will descend upon them?


    If this is the best you Republicans can come up with, go crawl back into your holes. You are unfit to govern.

  • Dale Amon

    Further thoughts: with Romney damning himself from his own lips on Fox News, this is far worse than my wildest imaginings. Unless we can kill his candidacy, we will be faced with the option of a Competent Progressive with his own party running both houses, or an Incompetent Progressive with the other party controlling both houses.

    I know which one I prefer…

  • I agree with the sentiment here, but I don’t see how voting for Obama solves anything. It’s one thing to prefer that Obama win over Romney so that the Congress and the Executive can keep challenging each other, but no pollster is going to look at your vote and realize that that’s why it was cast.

    If you want to see real change, contribute to a decamping of Republican voters from their party by voting Libertarian. A strong upsurge in the Libertarian share of the vote as Republicans go on to lose the election is something that no pollster can misinterpret. And with someone as solid as Gary Johnson likely to win the LP nomination this year, a sharp upswing in the LP vote could really happen (esp. if Ron Paul decides to endorse him).

    Strategic voting of the kind you suggest is a pointless exercise. That’s why I’m voting Libertarian instead.

  • Dale Amon

    Basically I was going to vote LP unless Ron Paul or someone very interesting got the GOP nomination. I was going to vote Gary Johnson if Mitt were the candidate but sort of hope the GOP got pushed our direction to get votes. But now… I will watch the polls. If it looks like Romney is going to lose by a decent margin, I will vote LP. It if look like he has a chance of winning, I will vote for Obama. If it looks like he is going to have a landslide, I will vote LP.

  • Bruce

    a system in which the Federal government gets to mandate that individuals in every state in the Union *MUST* purchase a given good or else the full force of FEDERAL law, in violation of the intent of the Constitution’s Commerce clause, will descend upon them?

    Is a law any less tyrannical if enacted at the state level than at the Federal one?

    Anyway, the question of whether the Federal government has the authority to mandate citizens to buy a good or service, rather than taxing them and buying it, is an interesting one and will be decided by the courts. Either way, the government is determining how to spend your money and the form of this tax is tangential to the individual liberty question.

    Assuming you pay taxes, you’re already required to “purchase” healthcare coverage. The only question is how you pay for it and how much of your own coverage is subsidized by others.

    As I said, the individual mandate is a red herring. I’m still waiting for a realistic libertarian alternative to the current system.

  • Dale Amon

    Bruce. It is rather obvious that we do not share the same goals. I do not care if the system is more efficient. Inefficiency just makes it easier to attack.

    I come not to praise Caesar, but to bury him.

  • Russ

    Looking like an ’08 redux vis-a-vis the executive branch.

  • Bruce

    I consider myself a classical liberal interested in individual liberty.

    I don’t confuse Federalism with individual liberty and I don’t think forcing me to buy a widget (medical insurance) is any less or more objectionable than taxing me to buy a widget and then giving it to me. In fact, the former presumably allows greater freedom of choice.

    I agree with what Milton Friedman wrote in 2001:

    The high cost and inequitable character of our medical care system are the direct result of our steady movement toward reliance on third-party payment. A cure requires reversing course, reprivatizing medical care by eliminating most third-party payment, and restoring the role of insurance to providing protection against major medical catastrophes.

    Friedman’s proposals have the advantage of both promoting individual liberty and being realistic, but implicit in them is that some form of insurance cover major medical catastrophes.

  • @Dale – Solid reasoning, but missing one point, I would argue, and that’s that the decidedly statist policies of Bush Jr. were one of the triggers for the Tea Party. Had it been Kerry instead, many more would than do currently would still see the Republicans as the lesser of two evils. In that sense, I don’t really care which party label the Statist on Duty is wearing these days. If it’s a Democrat, the media will excuse and bury it; if it’s a Republican, the media will blame capitalism. Either way it’s bad for liberty. Better would be if there really were a capitalist party to answer the charges (and explain why the Republicans aren’t it). Well, there can be, but people have to vote it into existence first. Which is what I intend to do.

    Look, if Obama wins the presidency and faces a Republican Congress, then nothing will be his fault ever. If Romney wins with a Republican Congress, everything will be the Republicans’ fault. If Obama wins with a Democrat Congress, then the media will go right on giving Obama a pass on the basis of his predecessor, and anything good that happens will be the result of his hard struggle against great odds for the good of The People. And if Romney wins with a Democrat Congress, then the media will report on celebrities instead.

    The only thing that will stop the media falsely identifying “lassiez-faire” with the Republicans is if there’s a third party around to put the lie to the assumption that they’re it. So I’m voting LP no matter what.

  • Dale Amon

    Bruce, you are talking about making our socialized healthcare more efficient. I do not want efficient socialism because the only difference between efficient and inefficient socialism is how long it takes to destroy the country in which it resides and how deep the destruction goes.

    I want socialism to be such an unworkable catastrophic failure in every way that no one can ignore it. I want the failure and the damage to happen as soon as possible so we can get over it and move on with everything that has to do with State progressivism and socialism so totally discredited that no one will dare to speak its name for generations.

    I do not want the system to work. I want it to *FAIL*. Quickly.

  • Dale Amon

    I forgot to deal with the state issue. The Federal government has no constitutional right to tell me what to buy. None. Period. I would highly recommend organized civil disobedience and underground work to undermine such a system by any non-violent means available.

    If such is done at the state level, it is at least not in violation of the US Constitution, and it opens up the option that people can vote with their feet and leave those states which choose that road to collapse from their own socialist rot.

  • Bruce

    Dale, I state I agree with Milton Friedman, the most famous and influential American libertarian of his time, on how to substantially trim government involvement in healthcare and you accuse me of socialism.

    Seriously, stating you’re going to work to “undermine the system” if government forces you to buy health insurance just sounds bonkers.

    What is your solution to the problem of people without health insurance? Would you allow children to die from treatable diseases in the name of Liberty? Do you think the public would ever support a free-to-die policy? What an impoverished ideology.

    Or is the current highly socialized system, in which government pays the lions share of healthcare costs, preferable?

  • Bruce

    If you’re not convinced by Friedman, how about Hayek?

    Nor is there any reason why the state should not assist individuals in providing for those common hazards of life against which, because of their uncertainty, few individuals can make adequate provision. Where, as in the case of sickness and accident, neither the desire to avoid such calamities nor the efforts to overcome their consequences are as a rule weakened by the provision of assistance, where, in short, we deal with genuinely insurable risks, the case for the state helping to organise a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong. There are many points of detail where those wishing to preserve the competitive system and those wishing to supersede it by something different will disagree on the details of such schemes; and it is possible under the name of social insurance to introduce measures which tend to make competition more or less ineffective. But there is no incompatibility in principle between the state providing greater security in this way and the preservation of individual freedom.

  • Richard Thomas

    Unfortunately, this isn’t an election-throwing incident. The establishment will serve Romney up and the usual idiots will vote for him in the usual red-team/blue-team carve-up.

    This is exactly why it’s important to vote third-party if they represent your convictions. You won’t win (yet) but it’s the only way to give voice to your beliefs. It has always been this way but hopefully the wool is starting to fall from peoples’ eyes.

  • Dale Amon

    Bruce, because I do not agree with the state having any connection to healthcare or any other industry whatever.

    I will only agree to government that handles courts, police and defense of the borders. I will work against anything else.

    And given the arguments you are giving, how can I tell the difference? Your argument seems to be the old socialist one that if the State does not provide chillun&poor will suffer!

    It’s a red-herring. In the fullest meaning of the word ‘red’.

  • Buzz Buzz

    As I pointed out in the previous post, far from “not getting you”, the rest of the political world understands you and your kind all too well. The sort of Ronulan dementia on display in the original post and your follow-on comments is why neither conservatives nor Republicans take your type seriously, Dale:

    If my guy doesn’t get the nomination, I’ll do my best to throw the election to Obama!

    No one wastes their time and energy on courting erratic political fringe groups who behave like toddlers throwing a tantrum in the candy aisle because mommy didn’t buy them the chocolate bar they wanted.

  • Bod

    The problem, Buzz Buzz, is that while for many here, the current deeply socialist administration is merely a symptom (one among a number of possible symptoms) of a disease that both conventional left and right are prone to.

    In my case, and seemingly Dale’s and a number of others, we are approaching a point where enough people may be encouraged to fight the disease instead of just the fever. The real issue is whether the next election is the point to stop using leeches on an ailing patient, and start advocating a rational, if frightening treatment.

    What seems to me is that people who take your approach want to co-opt the votes of people with my kind of views – which is fine – but I’m not sure you should be abusive to us *before* you fuck us over and introduce your own statist agenda.

  • Mikey McD

    The lack of difference between Romney and Obama is not breaking news. In a society that values ‘security’ over liberty only statist politicians will make it on the ballot.

    The tipping point has been reached (there is only hope in how we restructure after the collapse) and I ditto Dale Amon’s 07:08PM comment: “I do not want the system to work. I want it to *FAIL*. Quickly.”

  • Dale Amon

    Buzzbuzz. I will choose to ignore the baiting part of your message and go only for the core. I am not a Republican. I never have been and never will be. I have only once ever voted for a Republican presidential candidate in my life. I have almost as little in common with Republicans as I do with Democrats, albiet there are more Libertarian leaning Republicans than there are Democrats at this point in time.

    The question comes down to whether Republicans want my vote or not. It is not handed out for free, it is my right as a free citizen to bestow it on the person who most closely meets my personal criteria for ‘what is to be done’.

    It appears from your remarks that the Republican party has no interest whatever in the vote of myself or those like me… and that is a substantial number, possibly enough to cost the Republicans the election.

    There is nothing whatever chlidish about using my vote in the way the founders intended: to express MY opinion on matters. Not someone elses.

  • Sunfish

    Sure, you can stick a gun in your mouth because your head hurts and ibuprofen is bad for your kidneys. That’s pretty much what a vote for Obama is.

    Like it or not, if he’s President, he gets to appoint judges.

    Like it or not, if he’s President, he gets to appoint the Attorney General, which climbs up the ass of local governments during elections and decides which voter-intimidation prosecutions do and don’t happen.

    What do you think the odds are of an honest election in 2016 if Obama wins in 2012?

    Not everyone has the option of running and hiding in Ireland.

  • Antoine Clarke

    Three words:

    Supreme Court nomination.

    All else is expendable.

  • Buzz Buzz

    (Deleted. Banned. Get lost. Don’t come back)

  • Dale Amon

    I’m sorry if I do not come up to your expectations… I simply do not see things your way and do not agree with you.

    As to the Supreme Court, if there is a good Republican majority in both houses, that may not be such an issue. The President can whine all he wants, but he has to get approval.

    I will continue to work hard for my own positions and recognize that politics is not a popularity contest. If some people end up hating my guts because I refuse to go along with their view, then so be it. That is life and I’m made of a little bit sterner stuff than that. And I will not even respond with anger or personal attacks. Others are as welcome to their view point as I, and that too is life.

  • But recognize that most people who do not already share your narrow point of view will probably not be impressed or persuaded by the sort of hysterical, puritanical drama queenery you’re engaging in.

    I’m not a huge fan of Ron Paul, but throughout this election cycle, I’ve gotten the impression that the hysterical “drama queenery” was coming from those opposed to Ron Paul.

  • Bruce

    I will only agree to government that handles courts, police and defense of the borders. I will work against anything else.

    No public roads. No public fire department to put out fires in cities and towns. No public ambulance service to fetch the sick and wounded. No public emergency rooms. No pollution standards. No provisions to care for the seriously ill or those unable to work. No public vaccination campaigns.

    And policies advocated by Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek, et al., dismissed out of hand as “socialist.”

    Good luck with selling that to the public.

  • Dale Amon

    Now you are getting the hang of it. All of those things provided by private services or private nonprofit organizations and done far more effectively. Services that actually work.

    I am in some ways a bit surprised. What did you think we were referring to when we speak of ‘Statists?’ Statists are people who believe that only government can take care of us. They do not believe in the ability of free markets and self-interest to provide anything that people actually *want*, and to do so in the quantities and qualities for which they are willing to pay.

  • Bruce

    Thanks, Dale. Were Friedman and Hayek statists, too? Do they also fail your litmus test?

    How about James Madison, who observed that, “To provide employment for the poor, and support for the indigent, is among the primary, and, at the same time, not least difficult cares of the public authority.”

    Would using government resources to assist in the event of a major catastrophe, say a major tsunami or hurricane wiping out Galveston, offend your anti-statist sensibilities?

    And, for that matter, what makes you think “private services or private nonprofit organizations” do things “far more effectively?” I’ve worked in the non-profit sector and that certainly wasn’t my experience.

  • Dale Amon

    Hayek and Friedman were economists and are well respected in libertarian and objectivist circles, but they were not themselves libertarians. (However Friedman’s son definitely is).

    James Madison was definitely a statist and probably one of the early promoters of that pernicious philosophy. If you want a fun look at how some libertarians perceive him read some of L Neil Smith’s SF in which his followers in future days are the bad guys.

    You seem quite annoyed that I do not agree with you, but that is your prerogative. Lots of folks do not and after writing publicly like this for nearly 3 decades I’m quite used to it. I might also add that I am quite happy how far we have come in those decades and not the least bit depressed that we are where we are. I’ve always known this is a battle of ideas that will take generations; it took well over a century for socialists to turn their dialectic into the base upon which even conservatives argue.

  • Bruce

    Hayek and Friedman were the two most influential libertarians of the twentieth century. I find it amusing they have been airbrushed out as insufficiently pure. (Ayn Rand did not consider herself a libertarian and, in fact, despised them.)

    Likewise, James Madison, the father of the Constitution, was perhaps the most influential classical liberal in the founding era. Yet he is now denounced as, “a statist and probably one of the early promoters of that pernicious philosophy.” Statism now being, apparently, regarded as a product of the Age of Enlightenment.

  • Dale Amon

    You have some rather strange ideas about the philosophy. I’ve been an activist going back to the mid-seventies so I suspect I know a thing or two about the movement and have met most of the leading lights from just about all flavours of our crowd at one time or the other.

    I find your combative approach to everything to be rather interesting… however it is now 0530 in the morning, I’ve finished up the work I planned for finishing many hours ago and will have to bid you adieu.

    I will leave you with the comment that libertarians are much more aligned with the political thought of Jefferson than that of Madison. Madison thought government should do many things and wanted a strong central government. Those are decidedly not libertarian.

    Good night.

  • Bruce

    My “strange ideas about the philosophy” are not mine alone. For example, the libertarian Cato Institute describes Hayek as “the greatest libertarian philosopher of the 20th century” and awards a Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty. Better send them that airbrush!

    The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, a group of conservatives and libertarians, uses a profile of James Madison as their symbol. Likewise the James Madison Institute’s “ideas are rooted in a belief in the U.S. Constitution and such timeless ideals as limited government, economic freedom, federalism, and individual liberty coupled with individual responsibility.” I guess they haven’t received the message that Madison was “one of the early promoters” of statism.

    Anyway, Good night – or good morning as the case may be.

  • Bruce, “argument from authority” has never been effective in any debate – simply being entitled to your own opinions should be sufficient, and maybe even superior.

    Back to individual mandate: it is different from ‘tax and spend’. Not saying right now it is better or worse, but different. Your tax money normally goes to a general pool, from where it is then redistributed to all kinds of people who are deemed worthy by the state – not necessarily including yourself. In the case of individual mandate, you are simply forced to directly purchase a product or a service for your own use.

    Can someone please comment further on the SC nominations issue?

  • Bruce

    Assertions made without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. You assert that Hayek and Friedman were not libertarians without evidence. I merely point out that others whom I respect and who call themselves libertarians disagree. Likewise, you seriously misinterpret Madison.

    A government exaction is a government exaction. whether it be in the form of a tax, in the form of mandating you purchase a good or service, or in the form of cost-shifting healthcare costs. Nor are all taxes necessarily redistributionist.

    There is no principled liberty distinction between the government saying you must spend $1,000 on a widget and the government taxing you $1,000 and buying you a widget. The result is the same. $1,000 has been exacted from you and you have a widget, like it or not.

    I find it interesting that Ron Paul apparently advocates that physicians be required to provide free healthcare to the indigent. Those costs would, of course, be passed along through cost-shifting and are a redistributionist exaction every bit as real as the progressive income tax. (The Revolution: A Manifesto)

    From a practical standpoint the current individual mandate increases bureaucratization, does little to increase coverage and reduce costs, and is an enforcement nightmare, which is why I am inclined to oppose it.

    But that is an efficiency argument, not one predicated on the notion that government has no business in protecting citizens from catastrophes other than military invasion.

  • Dale Amon

    You are taking things rather to an extreme. Both Hayek and Friedman are extermely well respected thinkers amongst libertarians whose works fed into and underpin many ideas with the the philosophy. I know that at least in the case of Friedman he had some strong libertarian leanings but did not, to my knowledge, ever self identify as libertarian. If he did I would be happy to know it, but I will not make that claim without solid information. Both men were, first and foremost, great free market economists. I can I did state that Friedman’s son David *does* self-identify as libertarian and in fact has worked for the advancement of libertarian ideas.

    Friedman’s positions also changed somewhat through the course of his life and he had some earlier positions which he later decided were wrong. I would prefer to let someone who is truly expert on monetarism discuss those issues. I believe they relate to some Keynesian ideas which he initially agreed with but later thought otherwise.

    I do not agree with you on Madison, but different people can have different opinions on the long-dead.

    I now have much work to do in my free-market semi-Galtian existence and must leave the rest of you to argue on my behalf. Enjoy!

  • Sunfish

    Can someone please comment further on the SC nominations issue?

    Senators have a history of being deferential to Presidents (even across party lines) when it comes to appointments. Unless an appointee to some office is far outside the mainstream, a Senate controlled by the President’s own party will be rubber-stamped and a Senate controlled by the opposition will not put up too much more of an obstacle.

    In practical terms, it takes 40 Senators[1] to effectively oppose an appointment. That’s 40 who will actually dig in their heels, even in the face of the tradition of “He won so he gets to make appointments.”

    The last time i remember that happening was when GWB appointed Harriet “Who the hell is Harriet Myers” Myers to the Supreme Court. Although I imagine that, had the Republicans not been laying on the mat and spitting out teeth at the time they would have done likewise with Elena “She Who Will Not Be Recused” Kagan.[2] And unless memory fails me, the last SCOTUS appointee to be denied Senate approval was Robert Bork back in the 1980’s.

    Meaning: I have a hard time seeing any meaningful opposition to judicial appointments made by Barry. And even if the Senate blocks one, they can’t put up their own.

    How “recess appointments” (appointments made when Congress is not in session) apply to the bench, I don’t know, but I (unhappily) think I can guess the answer.


    [1] Under current Senate rules, which require a 3/5 majority to end debate and bring something to a vote. Recent years have seen efforts -mainly on the left- to “democratize” the Senate by eliminating supermajority requirements. Hasn’t happened yet but I’d hate to speculate about what the world will look like a year from now.

    [2] IMHO, the best sign of someone’s qualification for one level of the bench is their performance at the level below that. Meaning a SCOTUS appointee should have a track record on some appellate court, by which her fitness can be judged. The Wise Latina had at least that much, even though IMHO she has been judged and should have been found wanting. Kagan, TTBOMK, has never presided over so much as a municipal court traffic hearing.

  • Midwesterner

    Bruce –

    There is no principled liberty distinction between the government saying you must spend $1,000 on a widget and the government taxing you $1,000 and buying you a widget. The result is the same. $1,000 has been exacted from you and you have a widget, like it or not.

    Wow. I guess that whole Constitution thing is a waste of time then. Clearly the Constitution as interpreted by its authors allows the government to purchase stuff with tax revenue. Clearly the National government is not entitled to confiscate assets without paying “just compensation“; not even under the 16th’s blanket. Yet you believe that there is no difference between income taxes and mandated purchases, even if the mandated purchase can and will compel purchasers to sell down assets to raise the money. Again, Wow! Even the self-misnamed ‘Federalists’ never argued these positions.

    I suppose you could claim that the mandatory health ‘insurance’ is “just compensation” for the asset forfeiture. But all the same, you seem to hold rather odd views for somebody lecturing us on how to be better libertarians. Do you also believe that forcing property holders to sell assets and buy National bonds is also the same as taxes? If so, what is to stop collectivists from compelling the purchase of bonds and using the money to buy the (of necessity) sold off property of the bond buyers?

    It is precisely your sort of myopia towards the consequences of legal precedents set in the name of pragmatism that has co-founded this authoritarian nightmare.

  • Bruce

    Clearly the National government is not entitled to confiscate assets without paying “just compensation”

    Money isn’t an asset? Are corvée and in-kind taxes not taxes?? Does the Constitution differentiate between monetary taxes and other kinds of tax?

  • Midwesterner

    Yes. It is called the 16th Amendment. It allows taxes on “incomes“. Prior to that amendment, “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States“. Your use of “money” is a straw man. The distinction is between income and assets, not between ‘money’ and ‘non-money stuff’. For taxes not confined to “income“, they Constitutionally must be apportioned among the states. You and your fellow pragmatic conservatives want to re’interpret’ the 16th amendment to tax anything and everything without apportionment so that unapportioned taxes would no longer be restricted to incomes. Doing so would bring about the end of property rights and change property ownership into a politically revocable privilege.

    The difference between placing sales and income taxes on transactions (be they purchases or payments) versus political determination of who’s property should be protected and who’s forfeited (aka ‘means’ testing of mandated purchasers) is the destruction of the many-times enumerated property rights in the Constitution.

    Furthermore, I found nothing in your link to corvée that pertains to the US Constitution. States have different powers under the Constitution as referenced by the 10th amendment so this is a complete straw man.

    If you cannot raise the level of intelligence in your comments, I see no point in exchanging comments with you.

  • PeterT

    Madison was definitely a statist and probably one of the early promoters of that pernicious philosophy. If you want a fun look at how some libertarians perceive him read some of L Neil Smith’s SF in which his followers in future days are the bad guys.

    Wasn’t this Hamilton rather than Madison? Hamilton was definitely a statist. Not much love left between him and Jefferson.

    I thought Madison and Jefferson wrote the bill of rights together?

  • Dale Amon

    PeterT. Yes, you are absolutely correct. I should cut off my writing when I get into the late hours… Hamilton was the bad news bear, not Madison. Ah, yes, L Neil’s villains, those nasty Hamiltonians. Of course mathematicians sometimes have nasty Hamiltonians to deal with too :-^

    I’m working around the clock and sleeping very odd hours right now so sometimes I am not all here. That’s the problem you have when starting a company *and* trying to make enough to live on at the same time.

    Incidentally, I am trying to reach someone to get more details on Friedman’s personal positions and will post any notes I am given.

    In any case, keep arguing away. I may not check in for awhile as I have a customer to work with tonight and a whole bunch of other things I have to finish up.

  • Laird

    In addition to not having any confidence in the free market’s ability to provide services, Bruce also fails to appreciate the distinction between the federal government, which has specifically enumerated and limited powers, and the state governments, whose powers are plenary. If having roads, fire departments, ambulance services, etc., (or even health insurance) provided by government is truly a good thing (that’s an entirely separate debate), their proper source is the states (or their subsidiary entities, counties and towns), not the federal government. Nearly everything our federal government presumes to do these days is clearly beyond its legitimate constitutional remit. Just because you might consider any one of those a “good thing” is irrelevant; the action is ultra virus and should be void (the imprimatur of compliant courts notwithstanding). Efficiency doesn’t justifiy illegality.

  • Bruce

    The 16th Amendment makes no reference to money. Taxes are not limited to money and neither is income. If it were one could avoid the legal obligation to pay taxes by using barter.

    I doubt, however, the mandate issue will be decided by reference to the 16th Amendment.

    The Constitutionality of the mandate will most likely be decided by reference to the Commerce Clause and whether Congress has the ability to require economic activity – the activity/inactivity question.

    Arguments can be made both ways, but Lawrence Tribe makes a good point when he argues:

    Nor does the activity/inactivity distinction withstand careful scrutiny as a principle of constitutional law. First, no such distinction can be found anywhere in the constitutional text or history or in relevant judicial precedent. Second, Congress has long required “inactive”  persons to take action – whether by penalizing ship owners in the 1790s if they failed to stock medicine for their crews, or by prohibiting decisions not to purchase grounded in secondary economic boycotts through century-old antitrust laws, or by passing a civil rights law in 1964 that requires hotels and restaurants to serve people with whom they would rather not do business, or by requiring the payment of judicially mandated child care support payments to children living in other states pursuant to the Child Support Recovery Act.

    Two decades ago the individual mandate was the preferred alternative to the perceived evil of Hillarycare. Now it is a threat to freedom. Go figure.

    One more point. The Constitution is neither a libertarian nor a statist document. Reference to the Constitution does not resolve whether an activity promotes liberty or the opposite.

  • Bruce

    Laird, how does a good or service provided by a state promote liberty more than the same good or service provided by the Federal government?

    For that matter, what does the Art. 1 Sec. 8 “General Welfare” clause mean if the government is prevented from such activities? As Hamilton noted:

    It is therefore of necessity left to the discretion of the National Legislature, to pronounce, upon the objects, which concern the general Welfare, and for which under that description, an appropriation of money is requisite and proper.

  • Laird

    “The Constitution is neither a libertarian nor a statist document.”

    Quite true. Which is why it annoys me when people conflate constitutionalism with libertarianism. The two are entirely separate: one can quite logically favor both a thoroughly intrusive state government and a (constitutionally) limited federal government. However, a large, intrusive federal government is completely inconsistent with constitutionalism, which is why libertarians tend to be constitutionalists. But not all constitutionalists are libertarians.

    Tribe’s point is not a “good” one because it is completely inconsistent with the clear language of the Constitution and the express intentions of the Founders. It is merely yet another expression of the fallacy of stare decisis: relying upon prior (bad) judicial precedent to justify further expansion of federal power. It’s like meauring something with a ruler, then using that something to measure something else, ad infinitum. Eventually the accumulation of numerous tiny errors results in massive distortion. One must always measure against the original, to prevent such error. And on any honest reading it is impossible to square a federal mandate with the limits of the Commerce Clause.

    Oh, and even if at one point the individual mandate was the “preferred alternative” to Hillarycare (and I’m not convinced that’s true), that doesn’t make it constitutional. Old error isn’t preferable to new error; both are errors.

  • Bruce

    If “Tribe’s point is not a ‘good’ one because it is completely inconsistent with the clear language of the Constitution and the express intentions of the Founders”, then why do his precedents go back to the first Congress in which the Constitution was in effect?

    Would we be having this debate if the “clear language” and “express intentions of the Founders” were clear?

  • Paul Marks

    Rush L. is often mocked (especially by those who never listen to him – just as Glenn Beck is mocked by people who have never listended to single show and would not know such works as “Woodrow Wilson and the Origins of Modern Liberalism” if they fell over them), but he has been saying stuff very close to what Dale says here.

    If people think logically about the same set of facts – they tend to come to similar conclusions.

    I suspect that Dale and Rush are correct.

  • Subotai Bahadur

    If I may intrude on the parsing of who is and is not a Libertarian; a couple of thoughts.

    From persiflage at January 1, 2012 04:03 PM:

    The real prize in the 2012 election is control of the congress – the ones who actually write legislation and control the government purse strings and approve federal judges. The presidency is merely a dramatic distraction.

    It would be well if we spent more time focusing (and putting a lot more effort) on those congressional races.

    I admit that if Romney is the nominee, I will be changing my formal registration from Republican to unaffiliated, and devoting my electoral efforts and money to Patriot candidates for Congress; we have to concede that even with control of Congress in Republican hands not much can be done or prevented. The Republican “leadership” is completely Institutional Republican and part of the same Political Class [as defined by the pollster Rasmussen] as Obama & Co. They will collaborate at every turn.

    Secondly, Congress is becoming less and less relevant. We have operated for the last 3 years in the absence of a properly passed Federal Budget, largely because the Democrats refuse to bring it and its provisions up for a vote on the record. And the Republicans have gone along with it quietly. The president continues to operate programs that have been specifically defunded by the House. The funds and authority for the 34 “Czars” and their bureaucracies have not been approved by Congress, yet they have plenary authority in their fields. The administration ignores court orders, refuses to enforce Federal law at whim, and ignores subpoenas from Congress. Control of Congress is not a magic wand.

    I would add in two other points. In September several elected and appointed Democrats called openly for cancellation of the 2012 elections and the shifting of the functions of elected officials to “non-political” appointed officials in the name of efficiency. What is noteworthy is not the usual Leftist totalitarianism. It is that there was no rebuke from the White House, from the Media, and most telling none from the Republicans who are in theory the official opposition.

    Also, we are seeing a tectonic shift in our legal framework. On the night of December 31, Buraq Hussein signed the National Defense Authorization Act [HR 1540]. Contained within was a rider that allows the indefinite detention without formal charge, warrant, or trial of anyone [including American citizens in the US] in order to “combat terrorism”. This was passed with the support of both parties, and has a certain “Enabling Act” air about it. Buraq Hussein promised that he would not use it, in his signing statement, but that is not a guarantee with a long half-life. Similarly, when Congress returns they are expected to pass the Stop Online Piracy Act on a bipartisan basis. This grants the Executive Branch the power to shut down anything on the internet without formal complaint or charge, in the name of stopping online copyright piracy. This has the same kind of air.

    It seems that there is no one who will stand politically for the Constitution, this side of the Clausewitzian “=” sign. We are living in interesting times.

    Subotai Bahadur

  • When the republicans run a democrat, the real democrat wins.

  • Paul Marks

    Time to eat humble pie.

    As a comment person (alas not me) said above, cunning plans (vote Ron Paul to send a message to Romney) tend to go wrong – the clever-clever tactics of the left do not work for us (and, therefore, we should not use them).

    I did see the surge for Santorum – but I did not think he had time to win (or even come second). To me he was starting from too far behind in the polls.

    So I made the fatal error of going along with the vote-Ron-Paul-to-send-a-message case.

    I was wrong – and I apologize.

    If just a few more people (who voted for Ron Paul or others) had voted for Santorum a few hours ago, then Mitt Romney would have LOST the Iowa Caucus.

    As for the debates above…..

    Neither F.H. Hayek or MILTON (not David) Friedman was a political libertarian (they were neither anarcho-capitalists or minimal state “minarchists” – they did not formally accept the nonaggression principle period). Milton Friedman was a philosophical libertarian (in that he accepted the existance of free will – agency), but some socialists do that – and F.A. Hayek did NOT (do not get me started on Hayek’s philosophy of mind – which bascially denied the existance of mind of the reasoning and choosing “I”). To a philosophical libertarian human BEINGS have moral responsbility for our actions because we could have chosen to do other than we did – Hayek basically denies there is any “I” to do the choosing. Once one (although, of course, there is no “one”) accepts that position, moral responsbility (indeed morality itself) collapses. Humans are not “beings”, but are just flesh robots.

    Still, turning back to politics, Hayek would never have made the absurd error that many modern “conservatives” and now “libertarians” make of thinking that “social justice” is a good thing.

    On the contrary (as Hayek explains in the second volume of his “Law, Legislation and Liberty” – “The Mirage of Social Justice”) the concept of “social justice” is the root of everything that is BAD in law and politics.

    The real division in practical politics is NOT “are you a libertarian” (by some strict test), but “are you for and against Social Justice”.

    Even Mitt Romney formally denies being in favour of the “entitlement state” (another way of saying Social Justice) – i.e. he denies the doctrine that all income and wealth rightly belong to the collective (whether this is called “the state” or “the people” is not relevant) and should be “distributed” according to some (normally egalitarian or semi egalitarian) rule.

    One can have fierce arguments with those who reject the concept of “Social Justice” – after all Romney rejects and he is hardly on the top of my most liked person list.

    However, the conflict with the supporters of “Social Justice” (as Hayek and so many others have pointed out) is of a fundementally different type.

    With them it does, in the end, come down to destroy-or-be-destroyed. The conflict is that basic.

    People who regard “justice” as to each their own, and people who regard “Justice” as the collective ownership of income and wealth to be distributed…..

    Such people are in different moral universes. And it should be admitted that this is so – we can not “work together for the good” as we do not agree what “the good” is, indeed our definitions of “the good” or “the right” are in violent contradition and conflict.

    Lastly, turning back to Laird’s point.

    Yes the Constitution is not a strict libertarian document (although it comes closer than any other national constitution on Earth) even the powers granted to the Federal government (if it wishes to use them) go beyond the nonaggression principle – for example “post office and post roads”.

    However, getting back to the Constitution would solve all the basic problems that the United States (and the West in general faces) – and that is no small thing.

    And yes – the turn from teaching the text of the Constitution (and the writings and speeches of those who wrote it) to, instead, teaching “constitutional case law” (a turn made in Harvard in the early 1900s – certainly by the 1920s) was a fatal move.

    Fatal for liberty – and fatal for the long term survival of the United States.

    Only by getting back to the principles of the Constitution (rejecting the unconstitutional credit bubble financial system of the Federal Reserve, and the unconstitutional “entitlement state” of the New Deal and Great Society programs – programs that started out very small, but have grown like cancers) is there any hope for the survival of the United States and the Western world in general.

    “What does this mean in terms of practical politics”.


    The “Ryan Plan” (of Paul Ryan) was a moderate effort to stop Medicare growing out of control and bankrupting the United States.

    Judge candidates on whether (for example) they supported the Ryan Plan – or whether they went along with the “mainstream” media attack upon it, and upon Congressman Ryan personally.