[ExI] General comment about all this quasi-libertarianism discussion

Damien Sullivan phoenix at ugcs.caltech.edu
Sun Feb 27 18:23:04 UTC 2011

On Sun, Feb 27, 2011 at 10:31:42AM -0700, Kelly Anderson wrote:

> Absolutely not. I honestly believe libertarianism would work, but that
> it would be EXTREMELY painful for a while. The reason being that we
> have created a system where more than half of the population is
> dependent in some pretty big way on the government carrying their
> water. The American experiment started out as a libertarian
> experiment. 

Someone would suggest there are good reasons we moved away from said
experiment.  At Boskone last week, Charles Stross said the night
watchman state of 19th century England died with the Big Stink; when
Parliament had to evacuate due to the failures of private waste removal,
public sewers were acepted and quickly spread through all the cities.

> All of the founding fathers would today be considered strong Ron Paul
> type libertarians.

I don't think that's true.  They certainly weren't consciously in the
modern libertarian mindset.  The Constitution is less libertarian than
the Articles of Confederation: the explicit goal of it was creating a
stronger federal government, even if there was some fear of that
strength.  But that fear doesn't extend to the state governments!  Then
Jefferson promptly bent the Constitution to make the Louisiana
Purchase.  The Constitution provides for eminent domain and spending for
the general welfare.

And then in their writings, they had some "socialist" ideas.  Progressive
taxation, wealth redistribution, public pensions, the ultimate and
legitimate authority of the republic over any private property not
essential to life.  I'll put the quotes at the end, since they'll get
long.  This is a main source though:


Plus, any Founding Fathers from New England were probably totally
cool with public, tax-funded, and compulsory education, that
being the local practice.

> I would agree that Ayn Rand is an egomaniac, but that's what she
> espoused, so I don't see how that is hypocritical. She lived her life
> pretty much as she believed life should be lived. And her position on

She lived it on Medicare:

> altruism being evil is very compelling, if you understand it. Anyone
> who dismisses her as an asshole is missing out on a very interesting
> philosophy.

Like her defense of a child-killer:

-xx- Damien X-) 

Jefferson's letter advocating 19 year limit on debt and law
"that the earth belongs in usufruct to the living"
"And the half of those of 21. years and upwards living at any one
instant of time will be dead in 18. years 8. months, or say 19. years as
the nearest integral number. Then 19. years is the term beyond which
neither the representatives of a nation, nor even the whole nation
itself assembled, can validly extend a debt."

"Another means of silently lessening the inequality of [landed] property
is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the
higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise.
Whenever there is in any country, uncultivated lands and unemployed
poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as
to violate natural right. The earth is given as common stock for man to
labour and live on.  If, for the encouragement of industry we allow it
to be appropriated, we must take care that other employment be furnished
to those excluded from the appropriation.  If we do not the fundamental
right to labour the earth returns to the unemployed" (Thomas Jefferson,
The Republic of Letters, p. 390).

Papers 14:197--98
In every political society, parties are unavoidable. A difference of
interests, real or supposed, is the most natural and fruitful source of
them. The great object should be to combat the evil: 1. By establishing
a political equality among all. 2. By withholding unnecessary
opportunities from a few, to increase the inequality of property, by an
immoderate, and especially an unmerited, accumulation of riches. 3. By
the silent operation of laws, which, without violating the rights of
property, reduce extreme wealth towards a state of mediocrity, and raise
extreme indigence towards a state of comfort.

Benjamin Franklin to Robert Morris
25 Dec. 1783

Writings 9:138
All Property, indeed, except the Savage's temporary Cabin, his Bow, his
Matchcoat, and other little Acquisitions, absolutely necessary for his
Subsistence, seems to me to be the Creature of public Convention. Hence
the Public has the Right of Regulating Descents, and all other
Conveyances of Property, and even of limiting the Quantity and the Uses
of it. All the Property that is necessary to a Man, for the Conservation
of the Individual and the Propagation of the Species, is his natural
Right, which none can justly deprive him of: But all Property
superfluous to such purposes is the Property of the Publick, who, by
their Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other Laws dispose
of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such
Disposition. He that does not like civil Society on these Terms, let him
retire and live among Savages. He can have no right to the benefits of
Society, who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it.

Benjamin Franklin, Queries and Remarks respecting Alterations in the
Constitution of Pennsylvania
Private Property therefore is a Creature of Society, and is subject to
the Calls of that Society, whenever its Necessities shall require it,
even to its last Farthing; its Contributions therefore to the public
Exigencies are not to be considered as conferring a Benefit on the
Publick, entitling the Contributors to the Distinctions of Honour and
Power, but as the Return of an Obligation previously received, or the
Payment of a just Debt.

"Men did not make the earth. It is the value of the improvements only,
and not the earth itself, that is individual property. Every proprietor
owes to the community a ground rent for the land which he holds."
(Thomas Paine, Agrarian Justice, paragraphs 11 to 15)

Thomas Paine's Agrarian Justice
equal and common right to natural property, not personal property
produced by individuals, though personal property is produced with the
help of society.  15 pounds at age 21, 10 pounds per year for the old
(over 50) and disabled, funded by 10% inheritance tax.

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