20 September, 2005

On Being Happy to Live in the US

I read a well-put-together article today. I am not generally pro- or anti-Libertarian. Their arguments have some merit and some shortcomings. On whole, I was very glad to have read the essay.

I wrote a response to him: Thank you for your thought provoking article. I do not agree with your analysis, but I want to express my gratitude for making me question my acceptance of this government. Personally, I actively accept the authority of the United States. I have read the Constitution a dozen times, and am very happy to live in a country where that document is the supreme law of the land.

I would like to comment on a couple of specifics of your article. In the middle, you make 10 numbered assertions (which I will not reproduce here for brevity's sake).

  1. The American Civil War was certainly the will of many Northerners. It would be difficult to get definitive numbers for who consented to the war, but the issue is more grey than your statement makes it appear.
  2. Certainly true (see # 6, below).
  3. Also true. The only remedy to this that I can see is to have each person opt in or out of being a citizen of the country at some point, without requiring him or her to leave on the latter choice. This makes guaranteeing property rights very difficult; also, would not a person who settles in the middle of Iowa, but opts not to pay taxes nor receive public goods still receiving the public good of border defense? It would be very difficult for the US Armed Forces to know that a missile is bound for non-US property within US border, and not defend against such an attack. If you have a solution to this problem, I would strongly support a person's right to opt out of government programs, taxes and regulations wholesale. See also # 6, below.
  4. True (see # 6, below).
  5. Yes, but we've generally changed that, and view the changes as "progress."
  6. This is an excellent argument. ## 2-5 are all true, but seem to only serve to counter your opposition without furthering your argument. (That is, there could be a third option.)
  7. In what way was the Constitution never a "valid agreement or contract"? Perhaps your argument is that there is no body with the authority to settle disputes and enforce such a contract - that there is no court of law outside of the US to which the entities in the Constitution are beholden. This is true, but we must, at some level, bootstrap; eventually the universe runs out of elephants upon which to stand. Can you think of a better option than a court that is a member of its own entity, but is beholden to its constituents just as they are to it?
  8. This argument, as well as several of the others, fails for immigrants (at least rational, literate immigrants with access to a copy of the US Constitution in their native tongue before arriving). I agree there is a sense of compulsion for those of us born here, but we truly are free to leave. I sympathize with your argument that we do not wish to uproot our lives, but if the stresses of abiding by US law were truly too great, one would leave.
  9. This is precisely Publius' argument in the 10th Federalist Paper. His solution, and the one we have adopted, is that Republican (representative, not Right-wing) governments decrease the chance of only the majority's will being expressed; there are no such checks in Democratic (direct, not Left-wing) governments.
  10. You say "This however cannot legally bind those others who do not so vote." This MAY not so legally bind those others, but it certainly could. I am not a legal expert, so I am not sure of what language would be necessary (and whether or not it is already present), but I have no doubt that one could create an amendment or pass legislation that creates exactly this contract. It is my interpretation of the Constitution that the ratification process (article VII) does this; it was then up to the states to determine how such ratification would happen internally. Assuming each Citizen of a state agreed by the laws of that state, he (specifically "he," here) agreed to such a ratification. My arugment here, unfortunately, only pushes "tacit consent" down to the state level.

In closing, I would just like to ask you this: do you have the resources to defend your house against nuclear states? I know I do not, and I thank my lucky stars for being able to be part of the United States for this, and many other reasons.

Again, I greatly appreciated your article, and look forward to hearing from you on these issues. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely, [me]

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