BRIEF DISCUSSION OF MY CANDIDACY
Now, if you read any of that business about unarchy, you probably figure that's my presidential platform, right? Well, wrong, actually.
Consistent with the underlying concept of unarchy, I object completely to any one person, or small group, forcing their will on everyone else. I'm sure to devote a fireside chat or two to unarchy, and when we get comfortable with the idea we'll implement it. For now:
AND IF ELECTED... My contract with the people guarantees that every presidential action will reflect majority will. Period.
No action will ever be taken without first taking a vote - a simple matter with telephones. Everyone may cast a vote on every issue. Everybody, in effect, will be co-president. If I ever act in opposition to majority will, somebody shoot me.
My hope is that this would make a good first step in winding down big government (but if bigger is what you want, bigger is what you get.) You even have a choice of campaign slogans:
"A vote for me is a vote for you."
or the punchier
"If you need strong leaders... go back to kindergarten."
VARIOUS LETTERS TO THE EDITOR CONCERNING DEMOCRACY, SUPERMAJORITIES, AND GOVERNMENT FOLLY...
... and therefore relating to my presidential "bid".
Title: Justice - A drag?
To: the Washington Times. Published after 8Jun93.
Once again, democracy takes the same tired, old hit in Samuel Francis' 8Jun93 column on Lani Guinier. Francis lists all of the non-democratic features built into our "democratic" government. He implies that they are essential, but does not give a single example of what would go wrong under pure democratic rule.
He says that "the majority does not always believe in or respect" liberty and justice. This claim has been repeated so often that it has long since joined the realm of cliche, but I challenge Francis, and anybody else, to substantiate it.
Can anyone seriously claim that more than half the people polled on any random street corner would respond, "Liberty... what a drag, man." Or, "Justice... who gives a hoot?" Get real. My claim is that many, if not most, (all?) of our social problems are the direct result of our "knows best" leaders overriding the will of the people.
[The following paragraph is the first widely disseminated statement of unarchy.]
Rather than simply rid our government of its non-democratic aspects, my proposal is to replace all government with a simple system of justice that is based on conscience - no written laws, just "don't do to others what you wouldn't want done to yourself." Randomly selected juries, big enough to ensure that they accurately represent the views of society at large, would decide disputes without lawyers or judges.
Title: Re: Let voters overrule Supreme Court decisions.
To: the Washington Times, 12Oct96 (unpublished).
In the 11Oct96 letter, "Right a constitutional wrong: Let voters overrule Supreme Court decisions", Jul Owings makes a very sensible - almost obvious - proposal. After all, what possible defense could be made of government acting in opposition to what the people want?
My quibble is with Owings' proposal of a requirement of a supermajority - three-fifths or perhaps two-thirds of the vote in two-thirds of the states - to override the bum decision. I contend that supermajority requirements are logically and philosophically indefensible and are, in fact, our greatest stumbling block to getting anything done.
Why, under any circumstances, should the will of a lesser number supercede the will of a greater number? (Maybe if we had access to absolutes, but there's the eternal problem of agreeing on what the absolutes are.)
Logically speaking, to assume that minority opinions should supercede majority opinions leads recursively to the absurd conclusion that the most narrowly-held (i.e., crackpot) opinion is the one that should always be implemented. If the preceding proof by contradiction fails to register, just ask yourself what would go wrong under simple majority rule?
The mere mention of the word "democracy" (in its literal sense) provokes howls of "Mob rule!" and "Tyranny of the majority!", but, honestly, don't most of the hundreds of people you encounter every day - at work, in stores, on the road, etc. - seem reasonably civil? Could you say more than half of them assault or rob you, or even call you offensive names?
Title: Re: Supermajorities in the NFL.
To: the Washington Times, 17Mar97 (unpublished).
Your 16Mar97 editorial, "The NFL punts on instant replay" takes sides with the 20 out of 30 owners who voted to utilize instant replay when a referee's call has been challenged. [They needed 23 votes.]
Not surprisingly, it completely misses the most fundamental issue - why should the will of a lesser number ever supercede the will of a greater number? A decision making process that requires supermajorities is a guaranteed formula for gridlock. We're only talking football here, but the problem is universal. Witness the near impossibility of dismantling any unpopular government program.
The knee-jerk response to the above question, of course, is that the masses are stupid. If you ponder that a while, you should see the paradox. (You're part of the masses, so your belief that the masses are stupid is stupid. Get it?) If you don't see the paradox, just submit a list of things that would go haywire under simple majority rule.
With a "50 percent plus 1" system in place, we can almost instantly implement anything we want (that we're willing to pay for). If we find we've made the wrong decision - that is, more than half the people are unhappy with the results - it can just as quickly be undone.
Title: Throwing all the bums out wouldn't stop the government juggernaut.
To: the Washington Times. Published 4May94.
Michael V. Stratton is "sick and tired" of people griping about our "useless, unresponsive and corrupt" government (letter - "Americans are all hot for change - until they get into the voting booth", 27Apr94).
Well, I'm just as weary of hearing the argument that government gives people exactly what they want, so it's all our fault. Just because we derive endless satisfaction spouting the word "democracy" doesn't mean the fantastically complex system we've shackled ourselves with implements majority will in every case, or even most cases.
One problem with Mr. Stratton's advice to "vote these jerks out of office" is that many of the decisions affecting us are made by bureaucrats and judges who are not even elected. Another problem is that there are many elected representatives who make decisions affecting all of us, but you only get to vote for a handful of them, and they might not look so bad since they are shoveling pork your way.
I would argue that the hurdles that must be cleared to win an election to high office are so daunting that only the most power-crazed among us are willing to persevere. Put another way, our election process itself filters out normal people.
Moreover, because of the huge financial reward associated with high office, we're left with the greediest power-trippers as our candidates.
Suppose we did vote the jerks out; the obvious question is, what difference would it make? The extremes allowed by our political system can be characterized as "Me too, but a little more", and "Me too, but a little less" (how the Washington Times once described the Republican Party).
Imagine that each politician in power now had lost his last election, and that his closest competitor had won. Suppose every face in government were different. What would have changed? Would government stop pampering murderers and criminals? Would it get back to "the basics" in our public schools? Would it start to tighten its belt and maybe even begin to reduce taxes? Would it put the brakes on ever more expensive - and dubious - "safety" devices in our cars? Would it let you hire and fire whomever you want in your own business? Would it stop worrying about what you do to yourself?
I seriously doubt the most recent batch of political losers would have brought about any of this. It looks as if government has taken on a life of its own and become an juggernaut that can only be stopped with a major social catastrophe.
[An addendum that was not printed:]
In another letter ("For the court, I nominate...", ??Apr94) Margaret K. Smith proposed filling the upcoming Supreme Court vacancy with a "real U.S. citizen". Although perhaps too little, too late, this is a fine idea.
Better yet would be to select someone whose vote always reflects the majority opinion of U.S. citizens. A couple of 1-900 phone lines - one for yea, one for nay - is all it would take.
A side benefit would be the elimination of the need to poke around the nominee's personal life during the confirmation hearings.
In fact, I'd accept the job for a quarter of the regular Supreme Court justice salary, and no benefits.
They can keep the black dress, even.
Title: Our profound confusion over health care and drugs.
To: the Washington Times. Published 21Dec93.
[Before we get started here, I want to emphasize I've never used any sort of recreational drugs. I don't even take aspirin.]
The short piece "Health plan may reduce care for drug abusers" (6Dec93?, American Scene) may be the most sinister thing I have ever read in a newspaper.
First, the government wants to ration health care - treating us like the identical peas in a pod all good little commies are (whoops, used to be.)
Whether or not that's a good thing is debatable. But now Big Brother says he's going to deny certain classes of people even the standard dose of government issue health care! Now we might not lose a lot of sleep over the fate of some irresponsible drug user, but the possibility remains that he - or his family, friends, coworkers, or even charitable strangers - may have been fully willing and capable of handling his medical bills in a free market system.
And hey, Big Brother, who's next on the list? Elderly car-crash victims (who only have another 10 or 20 years left, anyhow)? People with criminal records? Welfare recipients? People of sub-average IQ? Anybody who deviates a bit from your idea of the "norm"? Look out, everybody.
The editorial "Joycelyn Elders' unhealthful suggestion" (10Dec93) supports the continuation of the war on drugs. Does anybody see the fundamental paradox? The logic, reduced to its essence, is this: We must track down drug users and ruin their lives because drugs might ruin their lives. Incredible.
The front page article, "Dutch, soft on drugs, confront hard choices on soaring crime" (11Dec93) wants to show us that it's the drugs, not the drug laws, that are the problem. The point is completely sabotaged when halfway into the article we read that "traffickers, however, are given hefty prison sentences." Sorry guys, no cigar.
As long as the war on drugs is in effect, I propose that all government officials be hooked up to a polygraph on nationwide tv and asked, "Have you ever used illicit drugs?" The prize for the wrong answer - or if the right answer sends the needle into the red - would be the maximum punishment allowed by the laws they created.
And that's letting them off easy; their hypocrisy should earn them tenfold punishment.
Title: Fred Reed has cleareyed outlook on crime problem.
To: the Washington Times. Published 16Nov93.
In Fred Reed's column "50,000 new cops? Why waste the money?" (8Nov93), he explains in his usual head-screwed-on-straight fashion how simply piling on more police isn't going to reduce crime.
Greater numbers of arrests simply translate into faster rates of release. Or, even if you did put a drug dealer away forever, somebody will take his place.
Mr. Reed sees two possible solutions. One, which he in no way endorses, is Stalinism - "sufficient brutality... and harsh punishment without trial." The other is "massive improvement in education and social standards."
There is at least a third solution, and one which Mr. Reed himself devoted an entire column to once - "Legalize drugs? What else has worked?"
Simply decriminalize drugs. This would eliminate the huge amounts of money associated with drug dealing. As a direct and immediate consequence, drug-related crime would disappear.
Decriminalizing drugs is a win-win proposition. Peace-loving citizens get back their neighborhoods and freedom; drug users get their highs. In answer to the frequently heard objection, "Yeah, but what about the medical bills of all those messed-up druggies?", if it weren't for government sticking it's big nose in everything, you would be free to contribute as much - or as little - as you want toward the health care of irresponsible jerks.
Title: Re: National health insurance.
To: Insight magazine. Published Apr93.
I couldn't force myself all the way through your article "Health care in critical condition" knowing it would only get me more and more upset. It's frustrating that no one can take a step back and see the big picture, which is this: Insurance itself is the culprit.
If it weren't for health insurance, and by extension, government mandating that employers provide it, health care would be affordable. It would have to be, see, or else doctors would go out of business. Right? This has to do with an amazing phenomenon known as "free market forces."
The insurance industry is a non-productive middle-man that not only adds tremendously to the cost of health care, but obliterates market forces. Since a patient doesn't pay his doctor, the doctor has no incentive to give a better deal than his competition.
Ah, you say, but without insurance, what about that theoretical poor soul for and about whom this whole rube goldberg system evolved? He has huge medical bills. He has no money or any ability to do any work that could ever earn money. He has no family, friends, coworkers (of course) or church congregation to help out.
Well, if we're at all compassionate, we could contribute to his bills. It shouldn't be hard to take care of that miniscule fraction of the population fitting the above description. Americans, by the way, are not unknown for their charity. (But even if the truth were that we have no compassion, why have a government dictating compassion?)
Regarding your diagram claiming 12 cents or less per "health dollar" goes toward administration costs: I believe that about as much as spontaneous human combustion. Whoever cooked that one up must've taken the money we pay insurance companies to pay lawyers to fight fight our claims and lumped it in with aspirins.
Title: Re: Electoral bogeyman.
To: the Washington Times, 23May92 (unpublished).
It's hard to imagine any reader of Paul Greenburg's defense of the Electoral College ("Electoral Bogeyman") coming away in agreement, no matter what his previous opinion was. The editorial is shot through with contradiction.
Greenberg argues the Electoral College is good because people don't think enough to be trusted to choose their president directly - this after already having praised the Electoral College for "routinely" reflecting the popular will.
In support of his claim that people are stupid he points out how we the dummies elected Richard Nixon - twice, even. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the Electoral College in operation during those elections?
On top of all this, he gushes about how the Electoral College system locks out all viewpoints except for those of the two major parties - any more would be "confusing." He must be truly ecstatic that our current two parties are barely distinguishable.
After having read the arguments for the Electoral College presented by a true believer, I must say it sounds completely unnecessary, at best, and more probably a huge barrier to desired social change.
Title: A fairer tax.
To: the Washington Times. Published after 15Apr91.
Your 15Apr91 editorial "An income tax you can live with" argues for a flat tax. In my case, you were "preaching to the choir" until you got to the bit about "legislators set a rate, and people pay it."
My proposal is: the people set the rate, and people pay it. This would ensure a government exactly as big as people want - no more, no less.
The implementation could be very simple. There'd be a space on every tax return to enter what the taxpayer believes to be a fair taxation percentage. The simple average of all these entries is the flat tax rate used on next year's form. By definition, it couldn't be unfair.