[Paleopsych] Re: White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

Premise Checker checker at panix.com
Sun Nov 14 17:17:04 UTC 2004

Thanks for your idea, Rebecca, but perhaps we might use a more recent 
conception of tyrant than Plato's, to wit.

      He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary
      for the public good.
      He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and
      pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his
      Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly
      neglected to attend to them.
      He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large
      districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right
      of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them
      and formidable to tyrants only.
      He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual,
      uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public
      Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance
      with his measures.
      He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing
      with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
      He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause
      others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of
      Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their
      exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the
      dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
      He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for
      that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners;
      refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and
      raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
      He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his
      Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
      He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of
      their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
      He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms
      of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
      He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without
      the Consent of our legislatures.
      He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior
      to the Civil power.
      He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign
      to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his
      Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
      For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
      For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any
      Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these
      For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
      For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
      For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
      For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
      For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring
      Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and
      enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and
      fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these
      For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws,
      and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
      For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves
      invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
      He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his
      Protection and waging War against us.
      He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and
      destroyed the lives of our people.
      He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries
      to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already
      begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled
      in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a
      civilized nation.
      He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high
      Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners
      of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their
      He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has
      endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the
      merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an
      undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

    In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in
    the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only
    by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every
    act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free

This was the third George of England, while you are referring to the third 
George of the United States. In fact, the first third George did not do 
these things himself, rather his entire government did.

I'd speak of four aspects of a tyrant: personal rule, centralized power, 
unjust power (see the examples above), and arbitrary power.

I don't think either third George exercised much in the way of personal 
power. England, in 1776, was centralized. In fact, what we call the common 
law is as much the law that became, over many centuries, *common* to all 
the regions of England as the distinction between the accretion of 
judicial decisions, as opposed to *canon* law on the European continent.

It's illuminating to read in Gabriel Garcia Manquez' One Hundred Years of 
Solitude that the Liberals in Latin America favored a federalist 
decentralization of power, as of course our Founding Fathers did, though 
the Constitution they proposed in 1787 actually increased the authority of 
the central government but only by a bit. (This bit was too much for the 
so-called Anti-Federalists.) I asked a Hamilton scholar if Hamilton ever 
imagined a national government that would tax more than 2% of GDP, and he 
said no.

Today, power in this country is greatly concentrated in the central 
government, though less so than in most of the rest of the world. Federal 
government are few. There's also Canada, Germany, Australia, Serbia (but 
not Croatia: Yugoslavia was, officially, federalist), a few others. I 
should make a list.

This centralization was inherited by Bush. He did not much increase it 
during his first term, except as pertains to the National Security State. 
It was during the Clinton administration that a huge number of crimes 
became national for the first time. I recall reading that they were more 
than doubled. Chances are that, on the whole, power will be handed back to 
the states during the next four years.

Unjust laws: again, these were inherited by Bush. Most laws affecting 
personal relationships (crime, marriage, divorce, inheritance, forming 
corporations) are done at the state level, while laws affecting 
businesses, including those of corporations, have a huge federal 
component. These laws restrict freedom of contract. Whereas employees can 
leave jobs at will, corporations cannot fire at will. Employment 
contracts, which is what JOBS are, are one-sidedly in favor of employees. 
You may or may not think that it is the *central* government's proper job 
to enforce anti-discrimination laws in hiring and firing (for those groups 
protected by these laws), but it is a restriction on freedom of contract. 
It benefits the protected groups at the expense of unprotected groups. 
Other laws restricting employers from entering into contracts with 
employees, also benefit *certain* employees at the expense of others. What 
they do not, and cannot, do is confer net benefits all around. The 
consequence is that wages will fall the more freedom of contract is 
restricted. (Consider the so-called forced employer contribution to Social 
Security, something else employers are forbidden to contract out of: there 
is no free lunch here, for employers would have simply paid those 
contributions to their employees in the form of higher salaries.) There is 
enough competition to ensure this result. There's a deadweight loss from 
all these laws, as rent-seeking groups expend resources to get them 
enacted and other groups expend resources resisting them. Furthermore, 
they are inefficient: unless I really want to pay into Social Security 
voluntarily, I am worse off being forces to do this.

Anyone wanting to say these laws are just should roll out his theory of 

I think there will be a minor reduction of these unjust laws under 
Republicans, since they do care about injustices to businesses.

Arbitrary laws: Too many of them will remain, esp. RICO and civil 
forfeiture laws, of more recent vintage, and antitrust laws that go back 
more than a century, though we can expect a minor reduction in the sweep 
of antitrust laws during the next four years. These laws are so complex 
that no one understands what they mean: if a business charges more than 
his competitors, it is guilty of monopoly exploitation. If it charges 
less, it is guilty of intent to monopolize by driving its competitors out 
of business. If it charges the same, it is guilty of price fixing!

Please read the charges against George III again and decide whether we are 
already there. Whether we are going further into tyranny, please consider 
also unjust and arbitrary laws against individuals who get together to 
establish businesses.


Lynn, I don't claim to have a "huge" intellect. It's just that I am 
insatiably curious and have picked up a superficial knowledge in a wide 
variety of areas. More than anything else, I constantly question whether 
what I pick up is knowledge. The older I get, the less I realize I knew. 
The Web is wonderful, since I can often quickly find that some view I find 
out about is just one of many, many views. I am perpetually asking why 
there is or isn't a convergence of opinion on any variety of things. Very 
often, that's the question to ask, not what is the exact truth in the 

On 2004-11-11, Rebecca Warburton opined [message unchanged below]:

> Hi, all,
> I'm with Karen - but will tweak "moron" to "tyrant"
> - often one and the same. I reference Plato's
> _Republic_, Bk 8 in which five forms of government
> are discussed as well as what causes one to evolve
> into another. The dichotomy that Bush has
> established in America is leading us away from, if
> not already to, tyranny (that which follows
> democracy gone awry). Then one might read on to Bk
> IX in which the tyrant is described - the enemy of
> virtue and justice. Perhaps Bush won by numbers of
> votes, but please, he lost long ago as a speciman of
> humanity - stupid and evil together can in no way
> equal "better."
> Rebecca
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Premise Checker <checker at panix.com>
> Date: Thursday, November 11, 2004 7:19 pm
> Subject: White House will be adorned by a downright
> moron.
>> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
>> Date: Thu, 11 Nov 2004 17:12:46 -0700
>> From: "Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D."
> <ljohnson at solution-consulting.com>
>> Reply-To: The new improved paleopsych list
> <paleopsych at paleopsych.org>
>> To: The new improved paleopsych list
> <paleopsych at paleopsych.org>
>> Subject: Re: [Paleopsych] White House will be
> adorned by a
>> downright moron.
>> Karen, et al.:
>> Actually, this idea that the masses want a dunce
> is a rather old idea,
>> and fortunately one that has not proven itself. I
> think we can agree
>> that our presidents have been remarkable each in
> his own way, and
>> criticism of the current one is short-sighted.
> Mencken was a clever
>> writer, but not necessarily wise. I say that at
> the considerable
>> risk of
>> alienating Frank Foreman, a man of huge intellect.
>>     Take a look at "Wisdom of Crowds" by
> Surowicki. He
>> demonstrates that
>> aggregate wisdom is remarkably accurate. That
> being said, it may
>> well be
>> that either would have made a fairly good
> president, but perhaps
>> it will
>> turn out that Bush will be somewhat better (1% or
> 2% better??).
>> The following is from:
>> http://www.randomhouse.com/features/wisdomofcrowds/
>> "No one in this world, so far as I know, has ever
> lost money by
>> underestimating the intelligence of the great
> masses of the plain
>> people."-H. L. Mencken
>> H. L. Mencken was wrong.
>> In this endlessly fascinating book, New Yorker
> columnist James
>> Surowiecki explores a deceptively simple idea that
> has profound
>> implications: large groups of people are smarter
> than an elite
>> few, no
>> matter how brilliant--better at solving problems,
> fostering
>> innovation,coming to wise decisions, even
> predicting the future.
>> This seemingly counterintuitive notion has endless
> and major
>> ramifications for how businesses operate, how
> knowledge is
>> advanced, how
>> economies are (or should be) organized and how we
> live our daily
>> lives.With seemingly boundless erudition and in
> delightfully clear
>> prose,Surowiecki ranges across fields as diverse
> as popular culture,
>> psychology, ant biology, economic behaviorism,
> artificial
>> intelligence,military history and political theory
> to show just
>> how this principle
>> operates in the real world.
>>     From a broader perspective, I recommend we
> look at Appreciative
>> Inquiry as a model for dealing with this election.
> AI involves a
>> way of
>> capturing the wisdom of large groups and
> transmuting those groups by
>> coordinated committed action. Check out:
>> http://appreciativeinquiry.cwru.edu/
>> and click on the introduction button.
>> I personally was touched by Kerry's appeal to come
> together now
>> (quite a
>> change for me, since I had an irrational and
> embarassing dislike
>> for the
>> man) and am going to do all I can to promote that.
> I believe
>> passionately in the power of positive visions, and
> I believe in the
>> transformational possibilities of seeing our leaders
>> appreciatively. I
>> ask you to join me in that.
>> Lynn Johnson
>> Salt Lake City
>> K.E. wrote:
>>> When a candidate for public office faces the
> voters he does not face
>>> men of
>>> sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief
> distinguishing mark is
>> that they
>>> are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even
> of comprehending any
>>> save the
>>> most elemental -- men whose whole thinking is
> done in terms of
>>> emotion, and
>>> whose dominant emotion is dread of what they
> cannot understand. So
>>> confronted, the candidate must either bark with
> the pack, or count
>>> himself
>>> lost. His one aim is to disarm suspicion, to
> arouse confidence
>> in his
>>> orthodoxy, to avoid challenge. If he is a man of
> convictions, of
>>> enthusiasm,
>>> or self-respect, it is cruelly hard...
>>> The larger the mob, the harder the test. In
> small areas, before
>> small> electorates, a first rate man occasionally
> fights his way
>> through,> carrying
>>> even a mob with him by the force of his
> personality. But when the
>>> field is
>>> nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly
> at second or third
>>> hand, and
>>> the force of personality cannot so readily make
> itself felt,
>> then all the
>>> odds are on the man who is, intrinsically the
> most devious and
>> mediocre> --
>>> the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion
> that his mind
>> is a
>>> virtual vacuum.
>>> The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to
> such men. As
>> democracy is
>>> perfected, the office represents, more and more
> closely, the
>> inner soul
>>> of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On
> some great and
>> glorious> day the plain folks of the land will
> reach their hearts
>> desire at
>>> last, and the
>>> White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
>>> --H.L. Mencken, The Baltimore Evening Sun, July
> 26, 1920
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