Monday, January 29, 2018

Are Mensa's Libertarians Really As Dumb As They Write?

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Even wifey was appalled to read one of the letters published in the latest Mensa Bulletin,  (January, 'Brainwaves' p. 10) written by a Mensan named Dennis Ward. It read thus:

"Taxes! Taxes! Taxes! People are always complaining about taxes, so the  'smart' members of Mensa have the right solution: It is neither ethical nor moral to force anyone to do anything against their will unless in self-defense. Many people will ask: 'How will we run the government without taxes?'  My answer is that it is neither ethical nor moral to force anyone to do anything against their will unless in self-defense."

Wow! This character repeats a mantra and he makes it appear as if he's delivering some unique wisdom from atop Mt. Olympus,  channeling a Mensan version of Zeus. Give me a break! At best this is regurgitated  from Libby idol Ayn Rand, who blabbered in her book, The Virtue of Selfishness (p. 116):

"Since the imposition of taxes does represent an initiation of a fully free society, taxation, or payment for government services, would be voluntary. Since the proper services of government - the police, the army, the law courts - are demonstrably needed by individual citizens, and affect the individual's interests directly, they should be willing to pay for such services as they pay for insurance.....Men would voluntarily pay for insurance protecting their contracts."

One method of such voluntary government financing would be a government lottery"

and (ibid.)

"A fully free society is one that has been constitutionally reduced to only its most proper, basic functions"

This is also undoubtedly where the pet libertarian canard that “taxes = theft’ comes from. But let's look at it objectively:  the reductio ad absurdum conclusion is that every human resides in a kind of bubble or vacuum wherein he or she presumably controls all.  Face invasion by a foreign army? Develop your own counterforce, or....round up enough soldiers to try to protect you.  Your town flattened by an F5 tornado and all electric power and water gone? Well, try to get neighbors together and dig your own wells for H2O while you cut lumber to put up new telephone poles and look around for electric power lines.  H3N2 flu killing one person after another in your town, and there's no flu vaccine - or Tamiflu - because, well you didn't want to pay  taxes to support the CDC or government health services? Hey, no problemo! Go mix up some camphor balls and listerine and see if that works!

 This elicits two questions, not entirely unrelated: 1) Is it practical to expect an individual in any society to shoulder all responsibility for all possible adverse events - that may not only affect him, but also others in his proximity or region?, and 2) Is it possible to have a "fully free society"?

Let's take the last first and note the libertarian creed has a primary fetish for "full freedom" especially on the individual level.   But this arises from fantasies that bear no relation to the real world we inhabit. This includes such natural threats and affronts to individual freedom as: floods, fire storms, mudslides - such as recently swallowed dozens of California homes, monster hurricanes, tornadoes,
and disease pandemics - say from Influenza,  Zika or dengue fever.

I believe we can agree that each of these, if occurring in a populated place, impinges adversely on the inhabitants' freedom, say to live or even prosper. In nearly every case resources are suddenly limited, including electric power, water and even food. The frequency of these natural enemies of total freedom also appears to be increasing as climate change goes on.

The conclusion then is that a fully free, autonomous and independent society is an impossible concept. This is because no one living on this planet - in any society, country or continent- - can be free of the vicissitudes and vagaries of the multiple possible natural disasters, events that can afflict any given community. Once your domain  is devastated by any natural disaster of any form your "freedom" becomes circumscribed.  Ask the Puerto Ricans still without electric power after Hurricane Maria.  These hapless folk cannot cook their rice, access potable water, refrigerate their medications or watch television news. Or even have lights by which their offspring can do homework - hence why many thousands have abandoned the island to live in the U.S.

By extension then, we can generalize and assert once your domain is subject to any kind of natural disaster (including a pandemic flu) your basic freedom to live and prosper is limited.  This axiom applies to all humans across the planet, no exceptions.

As a corollary let me add that ALL individuals exist as part of communities, they do not exist unto themselves as one hundred percent self sufficient entities. Even if  an individual might conduct his  own home school to teach his own offspring, he'd be hard pressed to  build his own roads, bridges, sewer and water lines, hospitals, airports etc.  So it is daft to believe any individual can live on his own detached from the resources of a greater collective, unless he is maybe another Ted Kaczynski. So seriously, are Ward, Ayn Rand and fellow Libbies asking us to generate 300 million Ted Kaczynskis?  Give me a break!

So moving on to inquiry (1), what then is the Libby solution for a community or even a state, if it is suddenly struck by monster storms, floods or wildfires? Well,  if I am a Puerto Rican and my power and water was knocked out after Hurricane Maria,  I suppose Ward's "solution" is that I retrieve my own telephone poles, power lines, and also machinery to excavate my own water wells.  I suppose also he expects all other Puerto Ricans  to do the same. No dependence on outside (tax-funded) government agencies like FEMA or the U.S. Army to help or lift a mitt.

What a freaking system- of idiocy!

If an H5 N1 Avian flu pandemic arrives, as many (e.g. Dr. Sanjay Gupta)  predict sometime in the future, would Mr. Ward also demand cutting all tax-support for the CDC - which tracks pandemics? Would he prefer we all just fend for ourselves, without even a flu vaccine to help?  I mean, in his deformed stunted world it would be "force" to have any upstanding citizen pay taxes to support the preparation of vaccines or the CDC in its keeping Americans apprised.

But again, this is the problem when one relies on mantras instead of reason and critical thinking, even if a "smart" Mensan.

This bids us also look again at Ayn Rand's solutions to our dilemma of what to do in case we  need police, army, fire fighters, health care or any other ostensible service of government that ordinarily woould be provided via tax dollars. But since taxation is "theft" to her and Ward, then we are to EACH purchase our own services "like insurance"".  Must I really spell out how stupid this is, and that if one is really going to individualize costs - as opposed to share them via a tax commons-  they are going to be astronomical.

Must I also spell out to the libbies that taxation is totally justified by social contract theory. On this basis we in the public sphere democratically allow people (like Warren Buffet and George Soros)  to accumulate wealth only with the understanding that a portion of that wealth would be allocated for public use.  Go ahead and establish whatever business empire you wish, but be aware that your use of our railroads, state highways, airports, etc. makes it incumbent on you to pay into the collective, the  tax commons. And no, this is assuredly not a "voluntary" matter as Rand suggests.

This brings us to one of the most apt criticisms of libertarianism:

"I don't need force to commit theft or fraud. This is a bit of rhetorical sleight of hand that libbies like to play so that they can pretend they are different from government”.

To fix ideas, Bernard Madhoff put a gun to no one's head to part with their money. He merely plied clients with fantastic visions of unearned extra wealth via his investment offerings. They weren't forced to purchase these instruments. This in itself shows the libbie's version of force as theft is poppycock.. Conversely,  taxation is not force if person X opts to live in a state or city whereby that habitation gives tacit agreement to be subject to the state's tax.  If I dislike the terms of that agreement I am at liberty to do what  one hedge fund billionaire once did and live on my own ship outside international waters.

Enter now  Prof. Ernest Partridge take on libertarianism in his 2012 article, ‘Liberals and Libertarians’:

Now consider the implications of this denial of the "independent existence" of "the public" and "society." If there is no "public," then there are no "public goods" and there is no "public interest." If there is no "society," then there is no "social harm," or "social injustice" or "social (and public) responsibility." It then follows that government has no role in mitigating "social injustice" or promoting "the public interest," since these terms are fundamentally meaningless. Poverty and racial discrimination, for example, are individual problems requiring individual solutions”.

The same critic cited earlier puts thus:

Libertarians make exceptions for defense of property and prosecution of fraud, and call them ‘retaliatory force’ But retaliation can be the initiation of force."

Libertarianism clearly posits initiation of force for what it identifies as its cosseted minions' interests and calls it righteous retaliation, then uses the big lie technique to define everything else as “evil initiation of force". They support the initial force that has already taken place in the formation of the system of property (e.g. the seizure of Native American lands and violation of umpteen treaties), and wish to continue to use force to perpetuate it and make it more rigid. It is this inchoate ethics that translates into the system’s weakness and exposes libertarians as true hypocrites.

Thankfully, it appears fewer in the higher Q societies have been buying into this codswallop over the last few years. Maybe it's because Ayn Rand's rubbish of "objectiviem" - disguised as philosophy - has also been exposed on a number of fronts.

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