Archive | February, 2011

C.S. Lewis

28 Feb

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The Gun Analogy, or Why I Am Not a Libertarian

25 Feb

Have you ever heard that Libertarian phrase: “They’re going to come to your house and take your produce at the point of a gun.”

This phrase was oft used by my teenage self. I used it often and I used it well. But, I’ve lately been annoyed by it. My growing antipathy towards Libertarianism, I think, is the root.

Libertarians think there are number of legitimate functions of government. If the government goes beyond these purposes and taxes you for them, then the government is acting like an armed robber. Eh.

There are certain legitimate functions of government – but they go beyond what a libertarian thinks. BUT that’s neither here nor there. The question is: Is the government acting like an armed robber when you are taxed so that the government can operate illegitimate programs or policies?

The answer is no.

Taxation without representation is a violation of your rights as a citizen. But, that is not the monster we are dealing with here. We, after all, have the opportunity to vote. Because there is a process in place where politicians are chosen and policies made, you consent to the outcome by consenting to the process. The government’s policies may be illegitimate but that is another question entirely.

Having sufficiently cleared the air of this I hope never to hear: “You want a government GUN in your living room taking your shit? Running your life?”

Yes, the government is becoming more coercive – but we are making it that way. It is not coming uninvited and that is the problem.

But this displays a weakness of understanding in the Libertarian. He does not see that the regime is an outgrowth of its citizens. Especially if it is a self-governed regime. When the citizens are consulted, and are the ultimate authority through their ability to vote, the government can only be as free as they are capable.

The government we have isn’t something we didn’t ask for. We the People slowly built and perfected the gross bureaucracy in Washington DC.

The image of the government with the gun is a comforting one for the Libertarian – just kick the government out of your house! Put it back in its place! This seems like a relatively easy task. All that stand in the Libertarians way to a utopia of freedom are laws and programs that must be changed and repealed. But the reality is much scarier – the American people stand in your way. The American people want those laws and want those entitlements and until a significant change has occurred the government will legitimately ask you for money that you know is going to waste.

 

On a completely unrelated note, if you see the tag “sex” you might wonder what this post has to do with sex? Nothing, it has absolutely nothing to do with sex. But I figured it couldn’t hurt the visitor statistics if I started tagging each post with “sex.” We’ll see what happens.

Higher Education and The Weekend

20 Feb

There is a very strange time in the life of every graduate student (any student, really) – it is called the weekend. I say this because the weekend takes form in two ways, both very different from each other.

The day is Sunday:

Way 1: “How has your weekend been” – “I’ve done nothing but write this paper, it’s not due until Friday but if I don’t get a start now I’ll be screwed.”

Way 2: “What a nice weekend. The weather is nice and I got a lot of reading done. Sunday is here, though it’s no big deal. Class will be nice and I’ve been looking forward to hearing Dr. Culp’s lecture on Hegel’s Introduction to The Philosophy of History.”

Way 1 is a state of permanent anxiety over the management of your future time. The result, for me anyway, is the complete mismanagement of my time. Way 2 is the simple recognition that your enjoy what you’re doing and hope to continue doing it for as long as possible. You manage your time really well, maybe even exercise, and somehow do far more work than was necessary.

A Most Welcome Change

17 Feb

Winter has receded almost in the blink of an eye. Last week – it is hard to believe – we missed school due to icy conditions and teen temperatures. Everyday this week has broken 70 degrees. It is currently 6:30, the moon is rising and the temperature holds at a comfortable 75 with a slight breeze.

The apartment, which I felt almost unbearable in the cold, feels like a wonderful living space. No heater clicks on and off, bringing a short lived respite from my cold room. Our apartment doors stand open as do our neighbors. Those in the apartment directly below us, while uncultivated annoyances, sit outside and talk rather than blast their loud noise-makers inside.

Since the cold has departed and feeling has crept back into my extremities, my room has enjoyed a noticeable increase in cleanliness. The same goes with the general living spaces of the apartment. In the cold, I felt as if our little concrete apartment was a cell-block. Now I see a comfortable and happily austere living space, easy to clean and suitable to the needs of life.

Every Thursday the University of Dallas puts on TGIT, where beer is served and music is played. This is similar to the time honored tradition of New Years at St. John’s, without the nihilistic undertones causing the extremes of drunkenness and self-loathing. Now that the weather has eased, people will be able to spill outside and enjoy the climate.  I look forward to that.

All in all, a most welcome change. Goodbye Old Man Winter, maybe I will enjoy you more next year.

Happy Sunday

13 Feb

(The movie is marginally distorted at the beginning. It quickly clears up.)

Ian has a Netflix account, and we spent out friday night watchign Fry and Laurie episodes. I enjoyed this skit and thought I’d share it.

In other news, I’m a worthless blogger while at school. I suppose I’ll keep limping along with this blog doing 1 maybe 2 posts a week. It’s not going to get better than that folks. Unlike last year, I live amongst people and work doesn’t end at 5p.

As far as classes, have I even spoken of what they are? Well, by far my favorite lectures of the week come from the class I’m not taking but sitting in on. Dr. de Alvarez is teaching Thucydides and it’s been wonderful. He might be the most impressive reader I’ve ever encountered. Studying one book over one semester has definitely been the most rewarding part of graduate school. Unfortunately we missed like a million hours of class because of snow. But, hopefully they’ll add some classes on? probably not. I’d be happy if they just cut me a check for each class missed.

Hmmm. Anything else? Well, Mike Hamilton posted a response on his blog to my immigration post. You should check it out if you’re interested. The link is in the comments section of the post on immigration. I’ll be posting another disagreement I have with libertarians sometime this week.

Maybe I’ll have more thoughts to share this week. I’ve wanted to get the blog back up to last years standards but then there is school. I hope all is well with you. Enjoy the Fry and Laurie. Until next time I remain

Yours,

Cole

Immigration or Why I’m Not a Libertarian

6 Feb

Our politicians talk alot about immigration. Opinions on the topic cover just about everything from absolutely no more immigrants to fully open borders. I don’t think anyone of sense holds the former opinion, and therefore we will not address it. As for the latter, it was an opinion previously held by myself and one I think held by most who consider themselves to be Libertarian. It is this opinion which we shall address. That is, should the United States adopt an open border policy? I assert that it should not do so and that our founders laid upon us the duty and the right to prudently limit immigration for the perseverance of republican virtue.

In 1789, Governor Morris of Pennsylvania, describing the French temperament, wrote:

“Inconstancy is so mingled in the blood, marrow, and every essence of this people, that when a man of high rank and importance laughs today at what he seriously asserted yesterday, it is considered as in the natural order of things… The great mass of the common people have no religion but their priests, no law but theirs superiors, no moral but the their interest.”

He is describing a people thoroughly debased by despotism and therefore incapable of sustaining a free government. He believed virtue to be a prerequisite for liberal government or government by the people. This belief was normal for our founders, though it is completely foreign to us today.

The morality that claims, “you can do whatever you like, so long as you don’t harm others” habituates a people to despotism by enervating the body and separating citizen from citizen. Allow me one illustrative example:

As no-fault divorce and other more controversial practices drive a wedge in marital relations the government grows. It is not a hard equation to grasp. A couple has a child – but don’t feel obligated a) to each other or b) to the child. The mother, as is very often the case, tells the pops to get lost. “Are you going to let that child starve because its parents separated? How dare you deny a single mother the money she needs to support that child.”

Well, what argument can you make? If such an issue were to be raised in front of a people who valued marriage as something sacred, children as the responsibility of all parties involved and men as scum who thought otherwise then you could effectively argue against the extension of government. You might say:

–       A) “It is not the governments duty to support this child, but those who brought it into this world. The man must marry the mother, and he must work.”

–       B) “Bringing a child into this world requires marriage, it is the Christian thing to do.”

But these arguments will fall flat if presented to a people spoon fed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and not the Declaration of Independence.

–       To A) “You cannot make a man marry a woman if they don’t love each other, this would violate their freedom because it hedges their ability to choose.”

–       To B) “You’re a fucking crazy fundamentalist. Keep your God off my body.”

Regardless of which camp you now support, my point is that the citizens, in a republican government, determine what type of government they will live under. Yes, there is a constitution and there are laws but when the lawmakers are elected by the people any barrier can be overcome, that is, re-interpreted. We’ve seen it occur. “But they have to abide by the rule of law – we have a constitution for crying out loud.” If you don’t have a people accustomed to the rule of law, you won’t have the rule of law.

I’ll conclude my proof of virtue’s necessity with a quote from Washington:

The people must be taught “to know and to value their own rights; to discern and provide against invasions of theml to distinguish between oppression and the necessary exercise of lawful authority; … to discriminate the spirit of liberty from that of licentiousness – cherishing the first, avoiding the last; and uniting a speedy but temperate vigilance against encroachments, with an inviolable respect to the laws.”

And so we come to immigration, which is not so hard a concept once we’ve grasped the necessity of virtue for the rule of law.

As I said earlier, we have the right and the duty to regulate immigration. If we decided that all the world possessed the “vigilance” and discriminating ability needed for republican government, we might do away with restrictions to immigration. But so long as that is not the case, and I claim that it is not, then we must limit immigration. “By what standard! Who are you to decide?” I am not the one to do so because I am not an elected official, but when I vote I will vote for one with a sensible immigration policy. And there can be no fixed “standard;” rather, the elected statesmen must prudently decide what is necessary for good government. Similarly, the people must prudently decide which statesman to elect. Prudence and a “frequent recurrence to fundamental principles” must be our guiding light.

On the issue of immigration, Alexander Hamilton wrote:

“In the recommendation to admit indiscriminately foreign emigrants of every description to the privileges of American citizens, on their first entrance into our country, there is an attempt to break down every pale which has been erected for the preservation of a national spirit and a national character; and to let in the most powerful means of perverting and corrupting both the one and the other.”

My claim is three-fold:

1st, Republican virtue, as understood by the founders, is necessary for the maintenance of our rights. Without it, a lazy and profligate people gladly sell their freedom for comforts and false security.

2nd, limiting immigration is necessary for the maintenance of republican virtue and as such, is a reasonable action for statesmen to take.

3rd, That our founders intended for us to guard our rights and part of that was regulating immigration. This is not something we are simply “allowed” to do, but it is our duty.

I will now entertain objections,

Cole Simmons