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Old April 7, 2010, 12:48 PM   #2
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Join Date: December 13, 2005
Posts: 2,530
The article is a fairly egregious strawman. It isn't reasonable to suppose that when Tryrrell professes admiration for 18th century america, he really means he wants to be a slave owner.

Favoring a federal government more narrow in scope is neither a profession of libertarian utopianism nor an unreflective acceptance of the many problems, primarily social, that existed alongside that style of government.

Part of the author's error involves a failure to distinguish between the seemingly oppressive effect of a traditional largely agrarian society, and a modern legal structure in which the federal government in principle reserves the right to determine how much you can make. (This is a reference to an income tax case in which Internal Revenue decided that a CEO's salary was excessive and that the excessive portion should be taxed as a gift, since it could not be legitimate compensation.)

Where the author makes a fine point is to note that the virtues of widespread liberty are largely the liberties afforded white males. For a significant part of that history you could include the landowning test as well. However, the expansions of liberty have been to expand the rights of that class to others.

Where people complain about a federal government that grows larger at the expense of its citizens, and appropriates for itself really enormous amounts of individual productivity, they complain about stolen labor, one of the greivences of slaves and indentured servants. By this measure, I am less free in a very practical way than americans one century ago.

Thinking about the actual desired effect frees us up from the Herculean task of trying to abolish a government agency and lets us think of other ways to achieve the goal of a less intrusive government.
I do not concur.

Working to limit the role and growth of a government agency is a losing proposition. The people who benefit from the agency are likely to be a more concentrated and persistent group than those who wish to limit the agency according to some nebulous principle. As people realise the benefits they receive from the agency, their practical side can leave them equally deaf to prudential and principled argument about what they receive, and the effect of trimming the particular agency is likely to be more severe than the general benefit of a reduced federal bureaucracy. Each cut appears to be a net detriment to those most interested. See Social Security.

The last agency I recall anyone trying to abolish was Education. I recall people talking about abolition of IRS, but since they do something necessary, that never had an aura of the possible. The idea is to remove the tumor rather than manage it.

A police department of 8 people enforcing laws against theft and robbery is more libertarian than a police department of 4 people enforcing laws restricting speech, limiting freedom of association, or putting up hurdles to your Second Amendment rights.
I suppose that depends on whether you are an orator or a thief.
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