Category Archives: Democracy

Lost in Translation

Politicians are by and large disingenuous peddlers of envy, fear, and blame. Once having convinced their customer (the voter) to swallow that message they then proceed to sell them the cure: hope. And naturally they are the only ones that can turn that hope into a reality. The formula is simple: You: Things are not as I would like them to be in my life or I’m afraid of what the future will bring, Politician: This is not your fault, it is caused by [insert despised group du jour], you are not in control of your life, they are. You: Wow, I feel so much better now knowing that I’m actually a victim and bear no responsibility for my life, finally someone has given me hope that things will improve. The Politician: Yes they will improve, but I need you to help me make that happen for you, only I can save you from those that are keeping you down. If you grant me unlimited authority over your life not only will I fix your problems but I will presume such a grant of authority entitles me to force others who happen to live near you to succumb to our will.
The most successful candidate is the one who effectively deliver that formulaic message. To be clear, one can be elected without following this approach. But as soon as someone sets up this model, they are virtually guaranteed to come out on top. Witness both Trump and Sanders, two politicians who are deftly employing this message. Trump peddles fear of “aliens” coming here to steal our jobs lower our wages and put people out of work. His message is rooted in the idea that basically anyone who is not American is causing America to not be “great” anymore but he’ll fix that and make American great again. Yes, because tariffs, price controls, embargoes and all manner of trade protectionism have worked so well in the past at improving the American economy (Smoot-Hawley Tariff anyone?) Price controls do nothing but enrich the few at the expense of the many.
And Sanders – he lays the blame for every societal ill at the doorstep of the evil 1%, or 5%, or 10% who are of course causing everyone else to be poor by hoarding all the money. Even though the math doesn’t work, he continues to insist that if only we raise taxes and make them pay “their fair share” that will fix everything. He decries high tuition rates and insists “free” tuition will fix that problem – ignoring the fact that tuition rates have increased at a rate 5x the rate of inflation over a time frame exactly mirroring when the federal government increased its support of higher education through grants and loans. Colleges increased tuition in the wake of a wave of “free” government money. What do you imagine will happen to tuition when a tidal wave of money enters the system? No, I’m sure no one will raise tuition if Bernie’s plan went into effect.
In the final analysis Trump and Sanders and everyone else are all the same. Their messages may differ in substance on a few minor points, but the structure of the message is uniform. They all propose to initiate violence against those that disagree with them (since if they agreed they would of course willingly do what was asked) in order to force them to comply with their ideas. Both sides obfuscate the violence behind a curtain of euphemisms. When you see words like “should”, “impose”, “must”, and “ask” uttered by a politician simply substitute those words for the phrase “send men with guns to threaten them until [they do as we desire]”.
So here’s a Bernie quote, “We’re going to impose a tax on Wall Street speculation” becomes “We’re going to send men with guns to threaten traders to hand over money if they engage in Wall Street speculation.” And Trump “[For] every car … that comes across the border, we’re going to charge you a 35-percent tax” becomes “[For] every car… that comes across the border, we’re going to send men with guns to force you to hand over money otherwise other men with guns won’t allow the cars to cross this imaginary line in the dirt.”
They are all the same. Anyone who supports the State as a means to improving their position in society vis-a-vis politicians supports the idea that violence or the threat of violence against peaceful people who disagree with us is a legitimate way to accomplish social or political goals. Oh wait, that’s also the definition of terrorism.

Constructive comments are welcomed to this paper or at Follow me at @gregtmorin

In a mirror dimly

For all that is wrong with the Trump candidacy (xenophobic neo-fascist tendencies) the silver lining is that it is forcing us to face the ugly truth about democracy: mob rule is a frightful thing to behold. Trump is one of “us” and his popularity is a reflection of what the “mob” wants. Everyone loves democracy when it is their ideas that are popular but when the mob turns stupid it doesn’t seem like such a good idea anymore. Trump may be the first true “people’s candidate” for president that has an actual chance of winning. His financial independence all but guarantees he is not beholden to any individual, special interest, or political party elite. To the extent any candidate receives some measure of public or private funding, their words and deeds are held to account by the one doling out the money. Trump is accountable to no one but himself and the voters.

Since the advent of political parties we have been led to believe elections are about a democratic process, that we are making a choice and a difference – but – that is a lie, or rather, an illusion. A very apt line from the Matrix movies provides some context, “Choice is an illusion created between those with power and those without.” Those who already have power: the party bosses, the monolithic media outlets, the oligarchical dynasties (Roosevelt’s, Kennedy’s, Bush’s, Clinton’s) – they all understand and work the system to their advantage. That is, they present the illusion of choice so as to keep the masses pacified into believing they are in control of their destinies. But like choosing a white paint chip from an ocean of slightly variable gradations of white, the final choice is still just that: white. But Trump, Trump is lime green. He is a starkly different choice. He, unlike any of us, has the money to buy a seat at the table where they are doling out cards in the high stakes game of poker that is a run for the presidency. Perhaps Trump has touched a populist nerve because deep down we all know there is no choice. His candidacy is not so much support for Trump the man but rather support for NOTA (none of the above).

Trump may be spouting idiotic things, but Trump is no idiot. He is a masterful salesman and knows how to work a room. He, like any good conman or salesman, understands his audience/mark. Give them what they want and they’ll return the favor. Trump reflects America, but dimly. (1 Corinthians 13:12) Is his persona the true man, or merely a reflection of his environment? If elected we shall know fully. Most candidates appeal to the voter’s intellect, Trump appeals to their emotions (and not the good ones, i.e. fear, anxiety). This visceral appeal is a dim reflection of the American psyche. It is also a dangerous one. Emotion acts mindlessly without consideration of the consequences. History repeatedly tells a dark tale about leaders that preyed on the emotions of their subjects.

But Trump is not a solution to the moneyed concentration of power, he is merely a symptom, an immune response if you will – that cough you just can’t get rid of. Although the leftist progressives bleat incessantly on the need for government to hold the evil capitalists at bay lest they gain control of society, they miss the central irony here that their greatest fear (control of society by moneyed interests) has already come to pass not in spite of, but because of, government. Government is not a divine institution that has been corrupted by man. It is a human institution that exudes the very human nature from whence it is derived.

Think of it like this: government is simply another business. The key difference, though, is that what it sells is the ability to legally exert aggression against those that do not do its bidding. Its competitive advantage is that it is a self-declared monopoly within its arbitrarily defined geographical region. So what person, group, or other business would NOT want to tap into exerting some influence over how such a business operates? Is it really such a mystery as to why so many work so hard for so long to access that power and divert it to their advantage?

Some say the answer is to remove money from politics, but given that politics is just another economic transaction, that option is about as doable as converting to a barter economy. No, the solution is not less government, but more. That is, it is time to break up the monopoly and decentralize power to the point where our choices are not constrained but manifold. Power is kept in check when the individual is not compelled as a matter of law to acquiesce to the demands of others but may choose with whom they shall associate by voting with their wallet or, if necessary, with their feet.

The Silent Majority

If one is a believer in the democracy and voting, then this demands at a minimum a respect for the concept of a quorum, that is, a minimum level of participation of those members (citizens) eligible to vote. Although the US constitution does not provide any specific requirements for a quorum with regards to voting by citizens, it does provide some insight into the minds of the founding fathers with respect to the importance of voter participation. Specifically, the 12th Amendment states that a quorum of at least two-thirds of the members of the House of Representatives should be present if they are called upon to decide a presidential election (when the electoral college produces a tie). Given that voter turnout has never exceeded 67% in a presidential election it could be argued that none of our elected representatives are “legitimate”. Voter turnout in presidential election years hovers around 60% and 40% in off years. Therefore, 40-60% of the population found all options so distasteful they chose to abstain from casting a ballot. In other words, at last at the national or state level, no elected official has ever received majority support of those citizens eligible to vote. This inconvenient truth is ignored for the simple fact that were it respected it would be impossible for those “in power” to govern at any level greater than city council (and even that is in question). To truly respect the wishes of those not voting requires either providing a NOTA option on all ballots or to assume a tally of a vote for NOTA for each person not voting (NOTA= None Of The Above).

To the apathetic voter then I say take heed of the power you hold. If those of you who do not vote do so because you believe it won’t make a difference, then the fact that your constituency is 60% of the population should tell you otherwise. If you are tired of the status quo of the left and right wings of the officially sanctioned State Party – the party that stays in power no matter who “wins”, then seize this opportunity and vote Libertarian this election. Now I could write a book about why Libertarians are the better choice, but honestly, how could it be any worse? The two party duopoly has given us nothing but a soul crushing welfare-warfare state liberally sprinkled with either economic or civil rights violations. At least the libertarians are ideologically in alignment with the majority of Americans. That is to say, when people are polled on issues rather than candidates, they overwhelming choose libertarian positions (“I can’t believe this is instant coffee!”) Yes libertarians are the Folgers of politics. Try them, you’ll be surprised how much you like them.

In Georgia we have several libertarians running at the state level: Andrew Hunt for Governor, Amanda Swafford for Senate, Ted Metz for Insurance Commissioner. Some have tried to pin the “spoiler” label on them claiming that since no libertarian has ever won a high level office they have no chance and thus should not even bother. That’s a great message – if it’s never been done before then that means it can’t be done. Of course an actual election “spoiler” is someone who draws votes away from one or more candidates and thus alters the outcome of the election. But, since Georgia employs a run-off system it is mathematically impossible for additional candidates to play the role of spoiler; the top two vote getters (assuming no one got more than 50%) compete head to head in a run off. Some have said that third party candidates just waste public money by forcing expensive run-off elections. Well whose fault is that? Citizens exercising their constitutional right to run for elected office or lazy legislatures that refuse to implement Instant Runoff Voting. IRV not only eliminates additional costs with run off elections but it also negates the distasteful practice of “strategic” voting found in plurality voting. Such strategic voting only serves to further marginalize third party candidates so it’s hardly surprising why Republicans or Democrats would never promote such a system.

So to all of those in Georgia that have sat on the sidelines, now is your opportunity to send a message to our oligopolic status quo rulers: vote Libertarian and show the country that the “impossible” is possible. Vote Folgers.


Hunting conjures up war-like imagery: guns, knives, arrows, booby traps and of course camouflage. Hunting is necessarily an overtly violent affair. Farming on the other hand invokes a more pastoral and peaceful mindset. Sure, intellectually we know killing must occur on a farm, but it is clean and clinical, so that makes it civilized. But dead is dead. The means may be different, but the ends are the same.

No, this is not some vegan polemic. The point is that we too live on a farm otherwise known as the state. Our ancestors and we have inhabited the farm for so long we have contrived the comfortable illusion that orderly and civilized violence isn’t really violence at all. We have convinced ourselves that because we are a nation of laws, of rules and order, and that we engage in the very civilized process of democratic elections to collectively decide the rules of society, then that makes us better than barbaric invaders who hunt their surroundings and take what they want. But whether one is robbed at gunpoint or by way of a Form 1040 one is just as impoverished by the process (and resistance to the latter will end just as violently). This idea of democratic self-determination is nothing more than an illusion. It is a Potemkin village that we have unwittingly built that mollifies our passions and so permits our owners, the state bureaucracies, to extract from us the fruits of our labor in order to parasitically advance themselves.


violence is the fertilizer that ensures strong roots for the state


In recent weeks we have witnessed the birth of a new state: ISIS. ISIS is still in the “hunter” stage of state formation. They have not yet collected enough “citizens” to form a proper, modern, farming state like we have in the US (and other countries). Once the farm-state is established the overt violence fades from the foreground while intimidation and threats rise in the background. This hunter-state formation is a bloody, violent, disgusting affair no doubt. But it is one that all states pass through, as violence is the fertilizer that ensures strong roots for the state.

Although the hunting and farming state differ in form, their substance is identical. Consider the following: the US says to foreigners, “Do what we say or we will have no choice but to kill you.” Inevitably the US sends drones, missiles, planes, troops, mines, and bombs – all agents of death. Similarly, ISIS tells people “Do what we say or we will kill you.” Those that do not comply are beheaded or shot. But dead is dead. Does it matter if done by the sword or the drone? Or would it be uncontroversial if ISIS killed by lethal injection?

Now consider the people ISIS did not kill – those who capitulated to their demands. They chose to comply with “the law” rather than suffer the consequences. This preference for submission over death is the same glue that maintains order here as well. We have “laws” that are just as arbitrary as Sharia “law.” A law that pertains to anything other than murder, rape or theft is no law at all. It is a mere edict that masquerades as law because some believe the ends justify the means. And why are such pseudo-laws obeyed? Violence. Non-compliance with pseudo-laws here results in the same outcome resisters of ISIS encounter there: death. Consider what would happen if pseudo-law A were ignored (insert any law you find absurd). The individual doing so might be fined first. If they ignored the fine, they might then be prosecuted in a court of the state. If they ignored that illegitimate process the state would send its agents (police) to confiscate property or arrest the individual. If the individual passively resisted and did not comply with “lawful orders” to willingly submit to being jailed then the encounter would eventually escalate to drawn weapons. Further passive resistance ensures this would eventually escalate to an “officer involved” shooting of the non-compliant citizen.

If you ignore the “authority” of the state, if you refuse to believe it has no more authority over your life than does your neighbor, well, the state doesn’t take kindly to that. If we all were to engage in non-violent non-submission to authority, the true nature of the state would quickly become apparent and all would see it is the US pot that calls the ISIS kettle black.

P.S. And no, I don’t “hate America” – I hate bullies that initiate aggression or threats of aggression to get their way.

Scottish Secession: Politics as Usual

Scotland made history last week. They held a referendum election to decide whether or not they should become an independent nation or remain part of the United Kingdom. The measure was narrowly defeated (45% for independence) although strong support among the younger generations ensures this question will resurface in the not too distant future.

However what is interesting about this event is not such much the result but rather that it took place at all. Historically the general trend has been toward greater consolidation of power under a central authority. It is a rare event to find wide popular support in the other direction. Why would this be? Fear and uncertainty. Humans, like sheep, follow a herding instinct. Biologically this makes sense; there is safety in numbers. But there is a point of diminishing returns when group size changes from hundreds to thousands to millions. When the numbers scale into the millions, our hunter-gatherer mathematically challenged brains cannot make sense of such enormous numbers; we fail to realize the gains relative to the tradeoffs are negligible and so we are easily fooled by anyone promoting confederation. We are easily herded by our so-called leaders who capitalize on our fears. But confederations only last if all parties are treated fairly. Democracy itself is inimical to fair outcomes as democracy inherently marginalizes the desires of (political) minorities. Democratic countries are born in the heat and fire of common cause. But, like glass, these democracies will suffer fractures under the pressure from the repeated blows of each election cycle. As disagreements fester, the structure weakens, until eventually the confederation will shatter like so many pieces of battered glass.

What is the take home message of any secession movement? That perhaps we might all live more peacefully if we are allowed to go our separate ways rather than be forced into unions based solely on the opinions of those living nearby. If the Methodist is not required to be a citizen of the Baptist State, even when that Methodist is a minority amongst his Baptist neighbors, then why should anyone be compelled to be part of a group they have no desire to be a part of? Why are religious convictions the only thoughts worthy of such respect?

Another interesting aspect surrounding this attempted secession is that it was done so non-violently. Historically, secession attempts often trigger an overwhelmingly violent response from the “parent” who refuses to let the “child” go its own way. Americans have long lost the ability to rationally discuss the concept of secession given the Pavlovian association it has in this country with slavery. But perhaps Scotland can finally get Americans to view secession in a new light. It is possible for secession to be about something other than racism.

Secession is a fundamental right, namely the right of association, which conversely implies the right to not associate. Secession is the only tool that minority groups have in a political union insofar as the very threat of it may be sufficient to alter the behavior of the majority. For example, Scotland achieved many concessions from the UK. Sadly most of those concession had to do with granting Scotland greater power to tax its citizens, so Scotland is certainly no poster child for some sort of Randian free-market utopia.

In reality this whole process has been nothing more than political parties jockeying for power. Their goal is not a noble quest to unburden their citizens from the oppressive yoke of a foreign regime. No, their goal is to be the ones with their hands on the reins of that yoke. However Scotland is not unique in this respect. Every act of secession has been about shifting power from one group to another. The only benefit secession confers is that as power is divided, it becomes progressively weaker and hence less of a threat. One can only hope that such attrition of power will one day consume today’s “superpowers” leaving behind a collection of small, peaceful and prosperous communities that are too busy and too weak to provoke conflict in foreign lands.

The Voting Games

We are now less than two months from Election Day and the usual furor over voting has moved from low simmer to boil. Wisconsin’s voter ID law was reinstated last week setting off the usual liberal chorus about limiting votes. And in our own back yard, Georgia Republicans are chiming in to their own refrain about too much voting. It seems Dekalb County will now have Sunday voting. The Republicans have taken a perplexingly tone-deaf stance on this issue. Their oppositional argument amounts to: Sunday voting enables more minorities to vote, minorities don’t vote Republican, so this is bad. If the Republicans had any kind of political savvy they would come out in full support of Sunday voting and in fact should one-up the Democrats by supporting Saturday voting as well. It may come as a shock to some, but most people work on Tuesday (the traditional voting day). Perhaps, just perhaps, voting should occur on the day (or days) that maximizes the availability of the majority of the population. If Republicans truly are the friend of business they purport to be, then they would support weekend voting since weekday voting is invariably disruptive to business operations.

On one thing though the Republicans have a point (although not the one they intended nor the one they are being skewered for). Georgia Senator Fran Millar stated “I would prefer more educated voters than a greater increase in the number of voters.” He is of course using the term “educated” in the sense of specific knowledge about the candidates or issues even though his opponents would like to frame his comment to imply minorities voters are simply “uneducated” in a broader sense.

I agree with Senator Millar – the voters should know whom they are voting for and why – and toward that end I propose that in order to be compliant with state law regarding campaigning near a polling place, that all notations of party affiliation be stricken from the ballot during a general election. That means no more “D” or “R” or even “I” (incumbent) next to names. These notations are a form of campaigning insofar as it achieves the same effect that campaigning would: the transmission of information to the voter about a candidate, even if in broad terms. If a voter cannot be bothered to know the name of their candidate, then they truly have no business voting. Such voters are muddling the process with noise and diminishing the voice of those that did take the time to become educated. Imagine the outcome of a vote on the best baseball player if 70% of the people voting know absolutely nothing about baseball? How valid do you imagine those results would be?

With respect to Voter ID laws I have never understood the controversy. In every other organization that uses voting as a means of decision making (clubs, unions, corporations, etc) no one would ever think of allowing someone to vote without first validating that they are indeed a member of said group. Why does this generally accepted principal vanish when it comes to voting in elections of the state? If you are a “member” (i.e. citizen) of the state, then show your membership card (this by the way is the only legitimate place a state can ask its citizens for ID). Why are some so concerned with the rights of others that those others apparently hold in low regard (seeing as how they can’t be bothered to exert even the minimal effort needed to obtain a voter ID card)?

Some argue that little evidence exists of voter fraud involving non-citizens or double voting so why bother checking ID. That argument is specious; it’s parallel would be the operation of a business with unlocked doors and no cashiers because that business determined its shoplifting problem exists only to the extent they occasionally happen to witness someone shoplifting. As the Russians say, “trust, but verify.”

So maybe we can reach consensus here, if we can agree that only citizens should vote, then it follows that once proving one’s citizenship, the form, manner, timing or location of said vote casting is immaterial.

Restoring Freedom?

Following the President’s recent signing of the cellphone unlock bill (“Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act”) the White House issued a press release extolling the benefits of the bill. Amidst the usual self-serving propaganda (“democracy at its best”, “broke through gridlock”, etc.) we find two telling phrases that betray the consequences of accepting dominion of the state over our lives: loss of freedom.

The first is found here, “The story of how we broke through Washington gridlock to restore the freedom of consumers…” and the second here, “…consumer will now be able to enjoy the freedom…”. The unspoken but obvious question here is, How exactly did consumers lose these freedoms in the first place? Oh, that’s right, it was due to the very institution now taking credit for “restoring” those freedoms. The state exhibits the character traits of a thief with self-esteem issues: he robs you but then returns your stolen goods in order to bask in the ego trip of being praised for having done the right thing.

The story of how these freedoms were lost has its genesis in the most basic function of the state: interventionist protectionism for the few at the expense of the many. It started with a bit of intellectual property crony capitalism known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Under the DMCA it is a crime to duplicate digital intellectual “property” (music, movies, books, etc) as this is considered theft. Of course it is not really theft since IP is not intellectual property but rather imaginary property; a business model that necessitates state intervention to succeed is necessarily defective and thus invalid (more of my thoughts on this here and here). Sometimes digital IP is secured with digital locks (digital rights management or DRM) and thus just as it is considered a crime to defeat someone’s padlock in the real world, it is also considered a crime under the DMCA to defeat a digital lock, even if no duplication of the unlocked software ensues. So this is where we get to cellphones; cellphones are locked by the carriers with digital locks, thus breaking those locks is likewise considered a crime under the DMCA. For many years the Librarian of Congress (no idea why it would fall to that department) had issued waivers to the DMCA for phone unlocking, however those waivers ended as of January 1, 2013 due to the increasing availability of unlocked phones directly from carriers. There soon followed a consumer backlash, which manifested itself in a “We the People” petition at, which garnered over 100,000 signatures. Congress and the White House soon worked out a bill to permanently restore this exception to the DMCA and the rest is history.

Many are now touting this series of events as a model for how democracy should work: the people spoke, the government listened, case closed. Not so fast. This is yet another lesson in the political slight of hand that hopes to misdirect a gullible public into forgetting some recent history. To be fair we need to review the whole trip, not just the last 5 minutes. The bigger picture of this “democracy in action” includes: the passage of a bad bill that provided for aggression backed support of crony capitalist imaginary property rights, that had obviously foreseeable unintended consequences which could only be avoided with a regular legislative Band-Aids, and that took 16 years to permanently fix, that whole process, that is a model of democracy in action? No wonder the state must exert monopoly control over governmental duties because I can’t imagine anyone voluntarily choosing to pay for the service of these clowns.

With a subtle edit I think this quote by Harry Browne (1996 and 2000 Libertarian Party candidate for President) captures the essence of what has transpired here: “[The State] is good at one thing: It knows how to break your legs, hand you a crutch, and say, “See, if it weren’t for the [state], you wouldn’t be able to walk.”

The times they are a changin’

There is nothing quite like a Supreme Court decision to add fuel to the fire of politicized hyperbole. One example: the recent US Supreme Court decision regarding the Voting Rights Act set aside just a single section (Section 4) as no longer applicable as written – but the “sky is falling” remarks of those opposing the decision would have us believe the entire bill was voided AND that from now on the KKK would be in charge of voter registration. “Return to Jim Crow!” – “Rampant disenfranchisement!” Give me a break. All the court did was say that perhaps after 50 YEARS, just perhaps, there have been some changes in the hearts and minds of the citizenry in those states it was originally targeted at. To argue, as opponents are, that racism is just as prevalent today as it was 50 years ago is to willfully ignore not only all the gains minorities have made in the last 50 years but likewise the fact that we’ve added two new generations of non-racists since that time. Why do you think “gay rights” are more widely accepted today? Changing attitudes? Hardly. It’s just demographics. The prejudices of the old die with them. Is racism wiped out? No, of course not. But to suggest that there has been ZERO improvement is an equally absurd assertion.

If one truly believes in the anti-discriminatory role of the VRA then one should have been concerned that Section 4 focused solely on historical regions of discrimination while turning a blind eye elsewhere. Not only does it use stale data, it uses stale methods. To the extent racism does exist, it is no longer overt, it has grown subtle.  The methods used to root it out must change so that it can be identified. The rescission of Section 4 now provides Congress the opportunity to establish new criteria better suited to rooting out actual voter discrimination rather than imagined discrimination. If the disease is evolving then one’s treatment method must evolve with it.

“Oh but you’re wrong, as soon as this passed Texas moved to reintroduce a voter ID law!” I’m sorry; I have never understood this knee-jerk response that Voter ID = Discrimination. How is it that merely requesting proof that one actually has the right to vote can be construed as nothing other than a blatant attempt at discrimination? Is it not possible, just perhaps, that a border state, such as Texas, which possesses a large portion of non-citizen immigrants, would want to ensure that non-citizen immigrants are not voting (since in most cases all you need is a pulse to get registered to vote)? The most commonly requested ID is a driver’s license, but for some reason this is decried as creating an unreasonable hurdle for most minorities. Really, so the vast majority of minorities do not drive? To suggest that voter ID laws disproportionately harm minorities is to imply that driver’s license regulations disproportionately bar minorities from driving. If that is the case then it seems there should be more outrage over this horrible discrimination keeping our roadways nearly minority free.

Do voter ID laws create an impediment to voting? Sure they do… in the exact same way that the fact that the polling place is not in my living room creates an impediment to my voting. I have to expend effort in getting in my car and driving to the polling place. But it is minimal effort. In the same way, being requested to show some sort of ID before one may vote is not an insurmountable obstacle. It might take some minimal effort but it is doable. It’s not like you have to prove you can run a marathon before you can vote. If you can’t pass the tiny hurdle of obtaining the requested ID then apparently voting is just not all that important to you. So, please stop with the crocodile tears about how “voter ID” disenfranchises voters. If you are truly concerned with voter discrimination then use this opportunity the Supreme Court has handed the country and encourage Congress to fix Section 4 of the VRA so that it is relevant to the world we live in today, not the one we lived in 50 years ago.

The Magic of Democracy

Jon Stewart (The Daily Show) had a humorous take on the recent IRS scandals (see clip here) however what I found most interesting in his monologue is what I believe may be the most succinct summation of the core belief system of all progressives/socialists:

“I believe…that good government has the power to improve people’s lives and that the people have the power to restrain its excesses.”

Within this statement are two fallacies. Let’s deal with the first one. Although government can in theory improve people’s lives, the fallacy is in the unspoken assumption that government is the only agent in society that can accomplish such goals. Using government to improve people’s lives is like using a hammer to drive in a screw – it can get the job done eventually but there are far more efficient ways to accomplish the task.

The second half of the statement, however, yields the much more interesting and widely held fallacy. It embodies the fatal naiveté of those who believe democracy is the most perfect form of government. Democracy provides us with the comfortable illusion of self-determination and control while in reality providing no such thing. As we ride the majority wave we delude ourselves into thinking we control the wave, but we do not. One second we are high on the surf, the next we are plunging downward as we are pulled out to sea against our will. We do not control the mob, the mob controls us.

No system is perfect but monopoly governance short circuits the natural feedback mechanisms that would otherwise eliminate abuses. To naively believe “reform” can fix our present woes is to ignore man’s basic instinct to obtain more with less effort. When this instinct is set loose in monopoly government the result is cronyism, when set loose in the market the result is innovations and efficiency improvements.

Some believe the government feedback is not broken, that it is the polling booth that provides this check on abuse. This does seem plausible – “vote the bums out” as they say. Unfortunately, this feedback fails to effect change as long as only a minority is abused. The minority can never garner enough votes to “change” things and everyone else is indifferent as long as they are not being affected. The majority is pandered to by promises of favoritism at the expense of the minority. And so nothing changes. If businesses were run like government (wherein employees voted for the boss that promised them the biggest pay increase) is it not obvious such selfish self-interest would eventually lead to financial collapse? The size and scope of government debt serves as testament to the accumulation of just such abuse. A private entity could never have accumulated so much debt and would have been extinguished long ago.

Voting on who runs the government makes about as much sense as voting on who should run Publix. Publix sells us goods and services and so does government – why does Publix have to compete for our dollars but government does not? Why do we vote for government leaders but not Publix leaders? One word: taxes. Taxes are compulsory. Voting mollifies the masses into the delusion that they have chosen this compulsory state in much the same way a corralled animal chooses its path. A leashed animal is restless and fights the leash. But, remove the leash and allow it to roam free on fenced pasture and it will cease all resistance. The illusion of freedom is quite powerful.