Patterico's Pontifications

9/27/2014

Do We Truly Consent to Be Governed?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 2:11 pm

One issue that I knew would come up in the comments to the post about The Tale of the Slave is the concept of the social contract and the alleged consent of the governed.

For most of my life, I accepted rather unquestioningly the notion that there is a “social contract.” Sure, it’s obviously impractical to have every person in a country explicitly consent to be governed by some authority. But, as John Locke argued, lack of explicit consent does not make the government illegitimate — because there are ways that we display our tacit consent to be governed. We accept and use the benefits that we receive from government, such as driving on government roads. We vote (at least many of us do), which is a display of our desire to affect public decisionmaking. All of these actions show that we are engaged in a “social contract” — and that our government (to quote Jefferson’s words from the Declaration of Independence) is one “deriving [its] just powers from the consent of the governed.”

And without the concept of “tacit consent” or the “social contract,” there would be a free-rider problem. If we had no justification to tax citizens to provide for necessaries such as the common defense and fighting crime, only some would pay for that which is necessary for all.

That’s the argument that I have accepted most of my life. And, to be clear: I’m not dead convinced that this argument is absolutely wrong, at least in theory. But as I watch our country moving away from our original “social contract,” the Constitution, I’d like to challenge some of these assumptions.

The argument that accepting government benefits means accepting the government itself proves too much. Let’s invoke Godwin’s Law right off the bat: if you drove on the Nazis’ roads, did that mean you accepted Hitler’s legitimacy? Under this ridiculous theory, anyone who accepts any government “benefit” from any totalitarian regime necessarily recognizes that government’s legitimacy. To state this argument is to reject it.

The other problem I have with tacit consent resting on government “benefits” is that there is a socialist assumption built into the argument: that we could not enjoy these benefits if the free market were allowed to handle the situation that the government has taken over. Take the roads, for example. The assumption, I guess, is that if the government didn’t build roads, people would just stand around in the fields looking at each other and shrugging. Somehow, I think the free market could come up with a way to build roads, if it came right down to it.

Another argument says that if you don’t like your own country, you are free to move to another. If you stay, that means you accept the “social contract” — whether your signature can be found on a document or not. Really? What other contract on earth requires you to pick up all your belongings, uproot yourself and your family, and move to another part of the world — just to show that you don’t consent to the “contract”? Courts won’t enforce a contract for the sale of land without a signature. Why, then, would we consider people bound to a “social contract” with no signature — especially when that “social contract” involves the prospect of confiscatory taxation, and even possibly involuntary conscription to fight a war we don’t believe in?

Ah, but what about the vote as tacit consent? Nice try, but no sale. Imagine you told me that I could withdraw my consent to be taxed and subjected to laws I disagree with, simply by refusing to vote. Guess what? I will never vote again. As it stands right now, my vote is generally an act of self-defense. I’m either voting against some ridiculous bond issue that is going to cost me and my children money — or I’m voting for the person who is least likely to increase government and ruin my children’s future (which is the same as saying I am voting against the person who is most likely to screw my family). I usually don’t like the person I am voting for, and I usually expect that their decisions will be ones I would never make and consider absurd — but hopefully slightly less absurd than the decisions that would be made by his opponent. Does this mean I “support” the candidate I am voting for? Hardly ever.

So where does this consent come from? What justification does this government have to tax me to pay for the health care of people who are leeches on society? Or, on a more mundane level, what right does this government have to tell me whether I can use my iPhone to call an Uber car and share the ride with other people to make it cheaper?

I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t sign a contract.

Again, I’m not sure I absolutely reject the idea of a social contract, but the arguments against are not so easily dismissed as I assumed for most of my life. And those arguments seem to gain force given that we have discarded the Constutition.

The closest thing we ever had to a true social contract was the Constitution of the United States. That was a governing document that actually was signed by representatives of the People. True, the time came when all those signatories were dead, but the document did provide a mechanism for its alteration, which provided a way for the People themselves to have their say in what the Constitution means. But now, unelected judges say what the Constitution means — and their diktats bear no relationship to the words written in the document. What’s more, we are increasingly governed by a President who does not consider himself bound by the Constitution, but rather by his sense of what he can get away with. (I’m sure that formulation has been used by others, but it rings so true that I feel like it is original with me.)

More and more, I find myself wondering: what legitimacy does this government have? And, more and more, the answer seems to be: none.

What it does have, is power. If I run afoul of it, I can be locked in a cage. If I criticize it, I can be audited by the IRS.

But legitimacy? With a dead Constitution, tell me the source of this government’s legitimacy. I don’t see it.

191 Responses to “Do We Truly Consent to Be Governed?”

  1. the legitimacy of the fascist failmerican government is derived primarily from its status as the most obscenely indebted whorestate in global world history

    all these whores and pensioners and idiot gullible chinesers and government employee losers and food stampers what cling cling cling

    they’re the ones what give failmerica what legitimacy it retains

    happyfeet (a785d5)

  2. I finally broke down and read it five years ago. And despite it many shortcomings Atlas Shrugged altered my view of what each individual owes to society.

    aunursa (9a529f)

  3. There’s an element missing from your analysis, it seems to me. Almost all of the “benefits” of government — public infrastructure, enforcement of contracts, police power, even public welfare programs– were the province of STATE governments until FDR’s Supreme Court amended the Constitution to align it with the Progressive point of view. That’s when the social compact represented by the U.S. Constitution was abrogated. Almost all arguments we’re having about government (with the exception f national defense and maybe federally-recognized civil rights) relate to the prerogatives of the states that have been assumed by the federal government. The “social contract” made a lot more sense when it was between the government and residents of individual states. It doesn’t work half so well in the federal scale, for the reasons you cite, when the federal government usurps the traditional powers of the states. JMHO, YMMV

    Chris (5c51fe)

  4. Patterico – Perhaps it is just me, but I doubt there is any country in the world where each individual born there agrees with absolutely everything a government is doing for them/to them/or for others. The situation is not unique to the United States, but exists anywhere a collection of individuals bands together to form a society. That is why I said in the other thread that “butthurt is not a political philosophy.”

    That is what your complaints are, butthurt that the government is doing things which you do not approve and assessing you money to do them. Do you imagine it would be different somewhere else? I don’t. Our Founders and various state constitutions and local governing bodies provide the mechanisms to effect change provided those trying to effect change can convince enough other people that their ideas have merit in the marketplace of ideas.

    btw and apropos for the times, I did not personally consent to or approve the First Amendment and believe your blog is spreading dangerous and hateful ideas and that you need to consider closing it down. :)

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  5. There is no consent of the governed. Governments are essentially the remains of the old bullies/gangs/tribes that have historically protected their self-identified groups. They maintain the use of force over others because that is how they maintain themselves. People “consent” to be governed by whatever government rules them until they find it so illegitimate that they claim the use of force for themselves (revolution, coup, succession, etc).

    I wonder if correcting the Constitution with a new Amendment would fix this country. I do think it has been pretty amazing that the Constitution has still restrained the government, otherwise we all would have lost the right to bear arms long ago. The problems with the current government is the previous Amendments have screwed up the separation of powers a little bit AND because judges that are long dead made decisions that seem to still carry weight (Like the interpretation of the Commerce Clause).

    I don’t think we get out of the sorry state we are in unless we have a Constitutional Convention, but even then, there’s no guarantee we won’t have idiots lining up to be our “leaders” during such an event.

    DejectedHead (9b0c64)

  6. Patterico – Perhaps it is just me, but I doubt there is any country in the world where each individual born there agrees with absolutely everything a government is doing for them/to them/or for others. The situation is not unique to the United States, but exists anywhere a collection of individuals bands together to form a society. That is why I said in the other thread that “butthurt is not a political philosophy.”

    That is what your complaints are, butthurt that the government is doing things which you do not approve and assessing you money to do them. Do you imagine it would be different somewhere else? I don’t.

    I think we should start with a conception that we are endowed by our Creator with certain natural rights, including life, liberty, and property. Then the question becomes, what right does a government have to interfere with those rights of mine, that I naturally hold as a human being? It might be that every government stomps on those rights, but that doesn’t make it morally right for them to do so without my consent.

    Here in the United States, the Government had an argument that there was truly a consent of the governed through the Constitution. Now that we have trashed the Constitution, there isn’t even that reed of justification.

    My problem is not merely that government does things I don’t approve of. I am questioning what right it has to do by force even those things that I do approve of.

    btw and apropos for the times, I did not personally consent to or approve the First Amendment and believe your blog is spreading dangerous and hateful ideas and that you need to consider closing it down.

    Cute, but your lighthearted argument does not make sense if your bedrock assumption is (as mine is) that we have natural rights and that government requires our consent to infringe upon those rights for certain purposes that society has agreed upon. You appear to be operating from the assumption that we have to consent to others possessing their own natural rights before they may possess them — and if we don’t, they can be taken away. That turns my conception of human existence and the proper role of government on its head. Natural rights do not derive from government, they pre-exist government.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  7. #3. I think you are right, the original design was supposed to be consent of the States to the Federal government.

    DejectedHead (9b0c64)

  8. I don’t think we get out of the sorry state we are in unless we have a Constitutional Convention, but even then, there’s no guarantee we won’t have idiots lining up to be our “leaders” during such an event.

    I think a Constitutional Convention would be a disaster.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  9. #8. Depends on the Amendment coming out of it. Anything like a “Balanced Budget” Amendment would be a disaster. I think we’d need a sweeping change while keeping the structure the same.

    DejectedHead (9b0c64)

  10. So…why do you think a Constitutional Convention would be a disaster? What are your thoughts on that?

    DejectedHead (9b0c64)

  11. BTW, the first roads, and waterways, that were constructed for purposes of commerce, were done privately, and required people to pay to use them by paying ‘tolls’.
    Try, for one, the Erie Canal – there were many more that followed. IIRC The Lincoln Hwy is one of the first government constructed ‘highways’.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  12. An Art-V convention would produce proposed changes that would have to be ratified by either conventions, or a vote of the legislature, in 3/4’s of the states.
    That is still a steep hurdle to overcome, but if accomplished, would signal that the measure did have widespread support.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  13. You raise many valid questions and you point out that a central government that continues to grab power that was not granted to it under the terms of the original social contract, i.e., the Constitution, and suppresses the inalienable rights of the citizens, rapidly approaches the point of no legitimacy.

    The central government has overthrown the Constitution and has become increasingly tyrannical over the past 100 years.

    I am convinced that the Founding Fathers would be storming Capitol Hill with their muskets if they were alive today and saw what the central government has become.

    Don’t take money away from me at the point of a gun barrel, give a tiny fraction back to me, and the deign to tell me what I can do with it, or how I can live my life. That is tyranny, plain and simple.

    WarEagle82 (b18ccf)

  14. “I think we should start with a conception that we are endowed by our Creator with certain natural rights, including life, liberty, and property.”

    Patterico – Where did those property rights sneak in from? What are they in your vision?

    Cute, but your lighthearted argument does not make sense if your bedrock assumption is (as mine is) that we have natural rights and that government requires our consent to infringe upon those rights for certain purposes that society has agreed upon. You appear to be operating from the assumption that we have to consent to others possessing their own natural rights before they may possess them — and if we don’t, they can be taken away.

    I don’t understand your second sentence but I think it relates to your first and my lighthearted argument which carried over your point from the earlier thread about the current generation not having consented to our present laws and government structure so that they should be able to consider complying with such slavery, theft, etc. I just extended your own argument to another part of the Constitution.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  15. In a real sense, the government loses its legitimacy when a sufficient number of its subjects says it has. There have been times when this happened, such as several points in the 1960’s where large groups of citizens took to the streets to protest government overreach.

    The black civil rights struggle of the late 50’s and early 60’s was a clear fight against illegitimacy.

    The social upheavals with respect to sexual/social norms of the mid-to-late 60’s was similar, although it was mostly not directed at government per se.

    The anti-war movement that started after Johnson’s doubling and redoubling of force in VietNam, and the pointless meat grinder nature of that war as it was fought, was a direct assault on federal legitimacy.

    More recently, the massive TEA Party protests of 2009-10 were a challenge to the government, and likely would have brought Obama down had he not received the support of the legacy Press. We may see similar soon as things fall apart in Obama’s lame duck years.

    But this doesn’t mean that the choices are consent or overthrow, or even that any lack of consent extends to all areas — by and large the administration follows the law. If they were to start arresting Senators for backtalk, or ignoring the Courts (as opposed to using process to stall), or putting the military in charge of civil authority — then we can talk about a true lack of consent.

    But so long as the rulers submit to [reasonably] free and fair elections on the appointed schedule; the forms are largely obeyed, and they can be removed and replaced as the people (or at least the majority of people in the opposing party) see fit, the mass of the people will, on balance, consent.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  16. The only way for me to avoid butthurt is for you rubes to appoint me ABSOLUTE DICTATOR FOR LIFE. That way I can make sure the government is not doing anything I have not approved, but it is still not 100% effective against butthurt, because people are fallible and sure to disappoint me.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  17. #16. Even if you were Absolute Dictator for Life…you’d still get butthurt. That is basically the premise this current government is operating on.

    DejectedHead (9b0c64)

  18. I think a Constitutional Convention would be a disaster.

    Or worse. We’d end up with what the EU has — everything real is controlled by unelected commissions appointed by other unelected commissions, and the legislatures only get to decide the colors of street signs.

    Yes, it would have to be ratified, but I’ve seen the Charter of my city and the Constitution of my State completely rewritten and put before the voters as NEW! IMPROVED! and the fools went along. As long as they promise sufficient Free Stuff, the people they truck to the polls will vote Yes.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  19. Another argument says that if you don’t like your own country, you are free to move to another.

    Apparently growing numbers of Americans are doing exactly that. One reason is the US is one of the few countries in at least the industrialized world that taxes its citizens based not just on income they’ve made within the borders of the US, but on any of their income accrued in countries far and wide. So that along with the US corporate tax rate now being the highest of any in the First World (or world, period), now higher than that of even runner-up Japan, makes me question whether it’s worth it.

    After all, since the pernicious influence of modern-day liberalism (dominant in the US and the Western World overall) in particular isn’t exactly helping America from being further dumbed down in various ways, such as, among other things, countering an influx of the “undocumented” (who probably — probably — won’t be academic shining stars now and in the future), and isn’t making us less vulnerable to Nidal-Hasan-ism, but instead is corrupting and distorting the US Constitution, perhaps subversive forces like ISIS and the Mexican drug cartel are a welcome window into our future.

    IRS.gov: The Internal Revenue Service reminds U.S. citizens and resident aliens, including those with dual citizenship who have lived or worked abroad during all or part of 2012, that they may have a U.S. tax liability and a filing requirement in 2013.

    Federal law requires U.S. citizens and resident aliens to report any worldwide income, including income from foreign trusts and foreign bank and securities accounts.

    Generally, U.S. citizens, resident aliens and certain nonresident aliens must report specified foreign financial assets on Form 8938 if the aggregate value of those assets exceeds certain thresholds.

    Mark (c160ec)

  20. #18. There is certainly a danger a convention could make things worse, but things won’t get better with the status quo. A huge problem seems to be the average citizen’s knowledge of how government works, why it exists, and even what basic words mean. If a large majority of the people are completely detached from the process, well, there’s no correcting anything.

    DejectedHead (9b0c64)

  21. But as I watch our country moving away from our original “social contract,” the Constitution, I’d like to challenge some of these assumptions.

    And right there you commit the fatal error.
    Since you have already brought up Jefferson (who I would suggest actually suggested a requirement for generational accession to the contract), I refer you further in the Declaration of Independence:

    . . . deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

    In point of fact, there is no need to challenge the fundamental principles as they are absolutely sound.
    As for challenging the government, even one once derived from those principles, even to the point of replacement . . .
    That is absolutely a horse of a different color.

    The assumption, I guess, is that if the government didn’t build roads, people would just stand around in the fields looking at each other and shrugging. Somehow, I think the free market could come up with a way to build roads, if it came right down to it.

    Yes, it could.
    However, having already fallen into error by presuming the principles of our government are unsound, you now compound your error by insisting on a binary resolution to a single particular question. Worse, it is a question that has actually been answered in respect to laissez faire capitalism, albeit not in direct production of our Constitution.
    I direct you to Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations”, though I do not have a specific link or quote. I merely call attention to the fact that he discussed the issue of roads, along with the issue of canals as a contrast, as objects that might be simply be better off handled by the government. Certainly they can be done privately, but it occurs that, at least by the analysis Smith did, that roads are better off handled by the government than privately. Conversely, to note that it is far from a universal submission to government, he noted that canals are better left as private concerns.

    I would note that this is a critical and constantly repeated error of anarchists and so-called minimalists – the presumption that simply because something can be done privately or by the government it must always and absolutely be done by one or the other.
    This is a blatant logical fallacy.
    Take schools.
    Certainly private schooling is superior, and perhaps home schooling superior to that. But, and despite all the complaints, public schooling is still absolutely superior to no schooling at all.
    Clearly it is wrong to require people to pay for the public schooling of the entire population of students when not all will use it. Equally it is absurd to suggest that even if you do not use public schooling you derive no collateral benefit from the public schooling of others.
    The problem is not that one extreme is wrong and the other correct but that both extremes are equally wrong and that a middle ground is more properly functional.

    Imagine you told me that I could withdraw my consent to be taxed and subjected to laws I disagree with, simply by refusing to vote. Guess what? I will never vote again.

    I will note that I asked about this in the other thread.
    So in fact when you suggest by not paying for criminal prosecution it is not that you don’t care if the government punishes others, but rather that you care that the government never punishes you.

    You do realize that makes the claim of anarcho-capitalists and similar types that they would obey the “libertarian” natural law of not using force against others rather spurious don’t you?
    Simply by not paying taxes you would presume license to rob, steal, rape, and murder without any consequence save that which your conscience impels you to, and we should simply trust your declaration that you would never do any such thing.
    Uh huh.
    Seeing as I live in NYC, might I interject here that I have a bridge for sale . . . cheap!

    And note, it is on the basis of this assertion of moral goodwill that we are to take all the other claims of the superiority of anarcho-capitalism and similar systems as a given.
    That bridge is now available at a 50% discount. Also, I have this land in Florida . . .

    Then the question becomes, what right does a government have to interfere with those rights of mine, that I naturally hold as a human being? It might be that every government stomps on those rights, but that doesn’t make it morally right for them to do so without my consent.

    None.
    And I don’t care how many of the other kids are doing it or how cool they are, it doesn’t make it right for them to stomp on my rights either, even if I actually consent to it for whatever bizarre reason or circumstances.

    Here in the United States, the Government had an argument that there was truly a consent of the governed through the Constitution. Now that we have trashed the Constitution, there isn’t even that reed of justification.

    Yet another critical, though perhaps unintentional, error:
    The government doesn’t get an argument in this!

    As I rant regularly whenever someone utters that vapid pronouncement “States’ Rights!” to justify some defiance against the federal government:
    States (governments) do NOT have rights.
    States (governments) have powers.
    People have rights – AND – powers.
    Where States (governments) have rights, people don’t.

    Again this goes back to the Declaration of Independence and the part of that phrase you didn’t quote:
    “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, . . .”

    The sole and exclusive reason that Governments (States) have any powers at all, which they derive from the consent of the governed, which powers must be just (cf. above that they cannot violate my rights even if I consent), is to secure those rights.

    Period.
    End of Liberty; Beginning of Tyranny.

    And this is the focus of my objection.
    You are looking at the violations of government and declaring that “these truths [we hold] to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–” and that “this Constitution for the United States of America” which “We the People of the United States of America” “do ordain and establish” ” in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty” not merely “to ourselves” but also to “our Posterity,” which is that inherited aspect of the social contract that question, are somehow utterly invalid, and should be swept away in favor of some anarchism, however well-flavored by a packet of whatever.

    I will not waste any time or effort in defending the excesses of the government, most especially not the outrages of the current administration.
    I will absolutely stand against any challenge, government or private, to the principles of the Founding Documents of the United States.
    I hold to those as the only reasonable, rational, and acceptable basis for government.

    Sam (e8f1ad)

  22. we have allowed several generations to be raised thinking that the government is there to take care of them, and, amazingly enough, they now expect that to happen.

    hence the large pool of voters voting for free 5hit.

    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  23. Is daleyrocks really that big an idiot?

    Even left-wing wikiepedia seems to understand what the “Founding Fathers” were talking about in this instance.

    Obviously he has never read Locke and probably has never heard of him or his influcence on the Founding Fathers. Try reading “Two Treatises of Government” by Locke before you insist of making a fool of yourself with such posts…

    WarEagle82 (b18ccf)

  24. “Romney can run again. It’s a free country. I don’t plan on voting in the GOP primary anyway. I’m not a Republican anymore and Texas is irrelevant because it’s a conservative state, whereas the GOP is run so as to keep us away from shaping the national party.

    So by all means, nominate Mccain or Romney or Jeb or F*cking Obama if you want.

    Don’t cry in November when you lost again.”

    – Lemuel H. Lemming IV

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  25. Some of us can’t even shepherd our thoughts, how can we consent?

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  26. If you define legitimacy as that which best serves the momentary self-interest of the individual, then you win, Patterico.

    Or maybe not. Aren’t you preventing the tyrant from acting in his own best self-interest? Is that fair to him?

    nk (dbc370)

  27. So…why do you think a Constitutional Convention would be a disaster? What are your thoughts on that?

    The biggest problem with a Constitutional Convention would be that some of our fellow citizens would send the likes of Barbara Boxer, Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, and Elizabeth Warren as their delegates. Sure they would be balanced out by Ted Cruz, Trey Gowdy, et al., but any document coming out of that aggregation would never be ratified by 38 states. The only realistic outcome would be a split into several different and separate confederations.

    JVW (638245)

  28. I’ll say this clearer: Is “consent” total?

    Do I have to consent to EVERYTHING, or can I decide that in some instance the government is illegitimate, but not in others? If so, what do I do about it?

    Here are some things I’ve heard people don’t agree with the government doing (or not doing):

    * Medical insurance mandates
    * Obamacare rules for what insurance one can buy
    * NSA Spying
    * Other government spying
    * TSA and other travel restrictions
    * Tolerance of illegal immigration
    * Taxing to support war
    * Taxing to support abortion
    * Taxing to support ______
    * 120 year copyrights
    * Failing to provide medical care for everyone
    * Failing to provide food for everyone
    * Failing to provide ______
    * Income tax
    * Changing laws by executive order
    * Federal marijuana law

    and probably lots more.

    Many people have issues with one or more of these and STILL view the government, by and large, as legitimate. In their areas of disagreement they oppose/ignore/flout the government as much as is possible. But they are not about to take up arms or pull down the whole structure as it seems — mostly — to be a fair set up.

    They want reform, not revolution, and view the STRUCTURE to be legitimate, if not the current bunch of crooks.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  29. Patterico,

    A question: If you were a juror in a hypothetical Dinesh D’Souza trial, would you consider jury nullification? I ask this because you have previously stated that it would take an extreme situation (e.g. Nazi Germany) to get you to consider such. Are we there yet?

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  30. “I think we should start with a conception that we are endowed by our Creator with certain natural rights, including life, liberty, and property.”

    Patterico – Where did those property rights sneak in from? What are they in your vision?

    Cute, but your lighthearted argument does not make sense if your bedrock assumption is (as mine is) that we have natural rights and that government requires our consent to infringe upon those rights for certain purposes that society has agreed upon. You appear to be operating from the assumption that we have to consent to others possessing their own natural rights before they may possess them — and if we don’t, they can be taken away.

    I don’t understand your second sentence but I think it relates to your first and my lighthearted argument which carried over your point from the earlier thread about the current generation not having consented to our present laws and government structure so that they should be able to consider complying with such slavery, theft, etc. I just extended your own argument to another part of the Constitution.

    Property rights did not “sneak in” from anywhere. WarEagle82, while he could have made the point in a milder tone, referred you to treatises in which you will encounter Locke’s conception of “life, liberty, and estate.” I would also refer you to George Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Rights, which refers to our inherent rights as “the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.” If you read Raoul Berger on the Founding Fathers’ conception of our fundamental rights, they are life, liberty, and property.

    As for your claim that your First Amendment argument uses my own argument against me, I will attempt to restate my second sentence that you did not understand, in a way that you hopefully will. You said:

    btw and apropos for the times, I did not personally consent to or approve the First Amendment and believe your blog is spreading dangerous and hateful ideas and that you need to consider closing it down

    Your argument appears to be that, according to my logic, if I did not consent to the First Amendment, government can restrict my speech. No. My argument is that I have inherent rights, which include liberty, which includes freedom of speech. The concept of consent I am advancing is that government has no right to restrict those natural rights without my consent. Instead, you seem to think that I am claiming that the First Amendment is inoperative without my consent. That misses the point that the First Amendment is designed to restrict government action that cannot happen in the first place without my consent — therefore the First Amendment is entirely unnecessary in a philosophical constrict wherein government cannot act against natural rights without actual consent.

    Does that make more sense to you?

    Patterico (9c670f)

  31. A question: If you were a juror in a hypothetical Dinesh D’Souza trial, would you consider jury nullification? I ask this because you have previously stated that it would take an extreme situation (e.g. Nazi Germany) to get you to consider such. Are we there yet?

    I don’t know. I don’t think so, but we certainly seem to be heading that way.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  32. It is your prerogative to make respect of your life, liberty and estate a condition of you joining the team. There’s no argument there. What do you do when the team says “No”? By what “legitimacy” can you compel them, if taking your ball and going home is not enough for you?

    nk (dbc370)

  33. As for the sainted John Locke, I can see how he would apply his philosophy to the stockholders of Hudson’s Bay Company, but I cannot see how it could apply to their slaves, indentured servants, and the Indians whose lands they looted. It’s best not to look too closely at the principles and practices in place in 18th century America.

    nk (dbc370)

  34. Sorry, but I don’t suffer fools at all after living through the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations.

    WarEagle82 (b18ccf)

  35. How many of the people commenting on these threads are the progeny of people who over the last several centuries fled pogroms, escaped wars and strife with only the clothes on their backs, left famine tortured countries, and/or sought religious and political and social class freedom which they could not ever hope to achieve in their home countries? How many are the progeny of those who came here with hopes to own and farm land, and to grow animals, and to build buildings and infrastructure, and get a public education? Would these ancestors by and large say “you’re welcome”? Or would they say “let it burn”? I think I know the answer.

    elissa (429b37)

  36. “But legitimacy? With a dead Constitution, tell me the source of this government’s legitimacy. I don’t see it.”

    Dude, last time I checked … YOU are the government. Are you not still a District Attorney? Did I miss your resignation?

    But to answer your question … no, you and the government you represent are not legitimate.

    someguy (37038b)

  37. well it’s a choice between Locke (who argued for limited government) and Rousseau, who is the father of the modern totalitarian spirit, the appeal to the general will, which has no limits,

    narciso (ee1f88)

  38. #27. Why would we need to send people that are already in Congress to a Convention? That apparatus already exists, it is Congress and they can already Amend the Constitution. My understanding of a Constitutional Convention would be to bypass Congress.

    But yes, we do have people that have a starkly different opinion of the country. They’re among us and will always be among us. Certainly though, I think some blending of opinions can be made among the different factions in the US. We all want the monetary system adjusted. We all see a basic need for general welfare. Heck, I’d even be okay with some simple form of income redistribution to get rid of manipulative tax codes.

    But yeah, it may be a pipe dream, hence the barrier to ratification.

    DejectedHead (9b0c64)

  39. my ancestors came to this country with nothing but a jar of pickles and a dream

    a dream to live a life unmolested by fascism, obamacare, bad school lunch food, and John McCain

    that dream is still alive

    but just barely

    this is my struggle

    happyfeet (a785d5)

  40. Dude, last time I checked … YOU are the government. Are you not still a District Attorney? Did I miss your resignation?

    I was talking about the federal government. “Last time I checked” I work for the County of Los Angeles. And I have no apologies for the work I do; it’s the type of work that I think represents one of government’s few legitimate purposes.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  41. How did the Amish get their social contract “renegotiated”?

    felipe (40f0f0)

  42. Or it could be a choice between Callicles and Socrates, narciso? As a matter of fact, this and the previous post made me want to go re-read Gorgias.

    nk (dbc370)

  43. well here is the thing, without real consent, which it is arguable, has not been secured in six years,
    then we rely on Thrasymychus, ‘rule of the strong’

    narciso (ee1f88)

  44. #41. The Amish are operating under the original terms and they provide us our strongest case for freedom of association.

    But even the Amish have been forced to use electricity to use public roads recently.

    DejectedHead (9b0c64)

  45. But if you consent to the state government, you also consent to the federal one, at least until the state you live in decides to secede.
    But broadly speaking, that legitimate function of government you instantiate in your work is the key to consent. You live in a society where the expectation and ideal (of course, not the reality), is that government protects personal property and punishes those that try to rob you of what is yours. The acceptance of that ideal is consent of the governed. And you consent all the time. The simple act of stopping at a stop sign or traffic light is consenting to be governed by the system that created and enforces those traffic rules.

    BTW, speaking of secession, have you seen the news from Catalonia today?

    kishnevi (8f80b4)

  46. 40. I was talking about the federal government. “Last time I checked” I work for the County of Los Angeles. And I have no apologies for the work I do; it’s the type of work that I think represents one of government’s few legitimate purposes.
    Patterico (9c670f)

    Well:
    “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution;”

    Does that apply to you?

    If so, then it would seem that while you work for the County of Los Angeles, you are still also an officer under the Constitution.

    Further:
    “Imagine you told me that I could withdraw my consent to be taxed and subjected to laws I disagree with, simply by refusing to vote. Guess what? I will never vote again.”

    Well, there are actually people who would prefer that – like one of those Sovereign Citizen types.
    Wouldn’t there be a fundamental conflict of interest if you were assigned a case against such a person?
    Indeed, couldn’t many ordinary criminals who are legally barred from voting make a similar claim? Would you be acting illegitimately if you prosecuted an inmate or parolee who for any additional crime?

    Sam (e8f1ad)

  47. kishnevi!

    nk (dbc370)

  48. daleyrocks (bf33e9) — 9/27/2014 @ 3:41 pm

    Mr. Jefferson’s original draft of the DofI said “Life, Liberty, and Property” and he replaced it with “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”, which many of his contemporaries interpreted as the Pursuit of Property, because only by owning land could a man be ‘happy’ and self-contained.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  49. If the net effect of a minimal state – not the kind we have now – is to increase the liberty of each individual governed (as against the alternatives of an oppressive state and anarchy), then we dont need explicit or implied consent to sanction it. It’s objectively good for all.

    Because: That’s the most liberty we can get – so it’s an imposition only in the paradoxical sense in which one is “forced to be free.”

    In my opinion, the conceptual trick here is come up with a real-world view of what maximal liberty can be. We cannot compare a minimal state with some anarchist fantasy; because whether you’re hit on the head with a policeman’s truncheon or, under anarchy, a private individual’s club, you’re not free.

    But all this is theoretical anyway because the federal government stopped resembling a minimal state a long time ago.

    Brian (afd0af)

  50. 27- I believe that there are some Constitutional Scholars that believe that an Art-V convention would be closed to current Federal office holders, though I cannot provide a cite.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  51. Catalonia….It’s going to a vote.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  52. It is the foolish society which taxes its loyal citizens and exempts the dissidents. It should be the other way around. Present proof of voting or pay an Affordable Civic Participation Tax.

    nk (dbc370)

  53. The Catalans have been talking separation for centuries. I know a girl from Galicia. Her response was “Adios. We won’t miss you.” Most Spaniards don’t like them with their snotty French dialect and hoity-toity attitudes and don’t really care if they go.

    nk (dbc370)

  54. That the accepted if unexamined social contract is broken will simply become more and more apparent in coming months. Your upper Midwest urban government will not buy salt because its not sustainable and expensive, multiplied a hundred times over.

    But we’re years away from that Constitutional Convention, years of war, famine, disease and mayhem. The convention will be by invitation only, and frankly, many of you urbanites will not be opening mail.

    gary gulrud (46ca75)

  55. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be actually something which
    I think I would never understand. It seems too complex and extremely broad for
    me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I will try to
    get the hang of it!

    Inlyte Ecig Reviews (7cbbbf)

  56. (Yes it’s me. This thread is more than the usual whining over Obama and the MSM….)
    Sam@46
    Actually Patterico probably swore to uphold and defend, etc. when he became a lawyer. I assume the California oath is close to the one we use in Florida, the one I swore to back in1983. Probably the same for nk and every other lawyer in thus country.Here is the Florida version.
    But I think Patterico is trying to state a general case, not just one applicable to prosecutors in LA.

    kishnevi (8f80b4)

  57. Kevin M (b357ee) — 9/27/2014 @ 4:53 pm

    * 120 year copyrights

    Right now, it’s at 95 years, and holding. (120 years after creation, but 95 years after publication, and anything created before January 1, 1978, but not published or registered for copyright may remain protected until somwtimes between January 1, 2003 and the end of 2047, that is, up to seventy years.)

    Alternatively, life of the author plus 70 years.

    Congress has about five more years to extend the date further, although theres a question if the Supreme Court would tolerate it, if it did..

    Very little has gone into the public domain since 1976, but maybe it did for a while in 1990s.

    It’s frozen at 1923 for many things.

    Sammy Finkelman (ca4c0f)

  58. plus you don’t just “consent to be governed” you have to get consent at each step of escalating governing activity

    happyfeet (a785d5)

  59. Ishkabibble and catatonia all in one thread…

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  60. But I think Patterico is trying to state a general case, not just one applicable to prosecutors in LA.
    kishnevi (8f80b4)

    Yes, and generally I would agree and leave it there.

    But with the other points he has made, such as the one I noted, and the whole taking the thing from a philosophical bull session about anarchism versus a republic in general, and the American republic in an abstract, to anarchism versus all the worst sins of America and particularly the current administration, then technically speaking he is in fact The Man, or at least a fully authorized cog in the current system.

    Sam (e8f1ad)

  61. I swore an oath to uphold the Constitution, not the federal government.

    Patterico (89b3da)

  62. check out Charles Johnson’s seminal article here
    http://radgeek.com/gt/2009/01/08/can_anybody/

    jeff (7e1a9d)

  63. I know its off topic for this post, but since there are lawyers here, its a good venue to ask.

    Debtor prisons were banned earlier in the country. How were they banned and why can the Government still send people to prison over unpaid tax debts?

    DejectedHead (9b0c64)

  64. What’s been left out of the discussion is patriotism. In honor of kishnevi, here’s a repost of a comment I left in 2008. It’s a quote from a Russian defender of Stalingrad.

    Even those of us who knew that our government was wicked, that there was little to choose between the SS and the NKVD except their language, and who despised the hypocrisy of Communist politics – we felt we must fight. Because every Russian who had lived through the Revolution and the thirties had felt a breeze of hope, for the first time in the history of our people. We were like the bud at the tip of a root which has wound its way for centuries under rocky soil. We felt ourselves to be within inches of the open sky.

    We knew that we would die, of course. But our children would inherit two things: A land free of the invader; and Time, in which the progressive ideals of Communism might emerge.

    Quaint, even corny, right?

    nk (dbc370)

  65. This chart shows the actual history. Copyrights were temporarily extended (if renewed?) starting in 1962, when a work published in 1906 would have expired.

    Copyrights on works published from 1909 through 1923, it looks like, were expiring from 1984 through 1998 (assuming no complication arising from the life of the author)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Copyright_term.svg

    Sammy Finkelman (ca4c0f)

  66. Sammy, why are you talking about copyright on a thread title “Do We Truly Consent To Be Governed”?

    nk (dbc370)

  67. I think the die is cast in the US — due in part to ongoing and future demographic changes — with the nation’s Constitution being only as good as the people who manage it. So we may be headed in an interminably downward direction, and even an altered US Constitution (which, again, is only as good as the people overseeing it—as influenced by the electorate) won’t cure what ails us.

    I don’t see how we’re going to upend the trends described below. However, observing the perfect example of where liberalism has gone off the deep end, France, enough people even there possibly are fed up to a great enough degree that they may — may — eventually turn their country’s presidency over to someone like “far right” Marine Le Pen. But token conservatives amongst a sea of leftists (throughout government, academia, the media, pop culture, and the electorate) won’t really alter long-term trends.

    usatoday.com, September 9, 2014: Once a state where the middle class reigned supreme, the apotheosis of the American Dream, California now has the wealth distribution — and, in some disturbing ways, the political underpinnings — of a Third World country. In Silicon Valley, a group of super-wealthy tech oligarchs live lives of almost unimaginable wealth, while only a few miles away, illegal immigrants live in squalor.

    The oligarchs feel free, and even entitled, to choose the direction of society in the name of a greater good, but somehow their policies seem mostly to make the oligarchs richer and more powerful. Meanwhile, once-prosperous middle-class communities, revolving around manufacturing industries that have now moved overseas, either sink into poverty or become gentrified homes for the lower-upper class. The middle class itself, meanwhile, is increasingly, in [left-leaning commentator Joel] Kotkin’s words, “proletarianized,” with security vanishing and jobs moving downscale.

    The oligarchs are assisted in their control by what Kotkin calls the “clerisy” class — an amalgam of academics, media and government employees who play the role that medieval clergy once played in legitimizing the powerful, and in implementing their policies while quelling resistance from the masses. The clerisy isn’t as rich as the oligarchs, but it does pretty well for itself and is compensated in part by status, its positions allowing even its lower-paid members to feel superior to the hoi polloi.

    Because it doesn’t have to work in competitive industries, the clerisy favors regulations, land-use rules and environmental restrictions that make things worse for businesses — especially the small “yeoman” businesses that traditionally sustained much of the middle class — thus further hollowing out the middle of the income distribution. But the lower classes, sustained by government handouts and by rhetoric from the clerisy, provide enough votes to keep the machine running, at least for a while.

    Mark (c160ec)

  68. In terms of human nature — which is generally universal — the following gives me greater hope than the particulars of whether something like the US Constitution should or should not be changed, or whether holding a Constitutional Convention is or isn’t a good thing.

    timesofisrael.com, September 26, 2014: From the window of his Paris home, Michel Ciardi can see into the waiting room of a government welfare agency where a predominantly Arab and African crowd awaits government checks. A former communist, Ciardi once believed the scene at the agency was a necessary element of French efforts to help integrate new immigrants. But that changed in 2000 after the second Palestinian intifada triggered a massive increase in anti-Semitic violence, much of it committed by Arab and African immigrants.

    The violence was enough to shift his political allegiance to the National Front, a far-right party long demonized by French Jews as anti-Semitic and a threat to republican values.

    “I never considered voting National Front,” Ciardi told JTA. “But I realized you need to defend yourself, your community, society and country against those seeking to subdue us.”

    French Jewry has long viewed the National Front as an enemy, an abominable vestige of the pro-Nazi Vichy state. But under the leadership of Marine Le Pen, the photogenic daughter of party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, a political provocateur convicted multiple times for hate speech and Holocaust denial, the party has tried to shed its image as decidedly outside the mainstream.

    The younger Le Pen has aggressively courted Jewish voters by emphasizing its opposition to “the Islamization of France” and asserting that Jews have far more to fear from Arab anti-Semitism than from the racist rhetoric of some far-right activists.

    Her strategy appears to be working.

    A recently published survey of 1,095 self-identified Jews showed that the National Front had more than doubled its share of the Jewish vote in the 2012 presidential elections, earning 13.5 percent of Jewish support — a finding that has set off alarm bells among leaders of France’s major Jewish groups.

    “Rich community bosses and well-educated students don’t understand what’s happening because they don’t live with the Muslims in the workers’ neighborhoods,” Ciardi said. “There Jews are realizing that the immigration policies and political correctness of past governments created a reality where they cannot wear their kippah outside.”

    “The fact that Marine Le Pen took the party in a more moderate direction is a major factor for many Jews,” said Gilles Goldnadel, a prominent attorney and a former member of the executive board of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities. “Today in France, there is a greater danger from Islamo-leftism than the danger posed by the far right. It’s not surprising some Jews, like non-Jews, vote for the far right as a reaction to this threat.”

    Mark (c160ec)

  69. Mark, I think you are right that the Constitution is only as good as those that manage it. Which brings in the big question.

    Should the vote be restricted?

    I mean the train of thought started with Patterico talking about the vote of slaves. Really though, votes only truly matter if people understand what they are voting on.

    DejectedHead (9b0c64)

  70. Well, at this point the discussion is definitely not about any theoretical differences or superiority of anarchism versus a republic, but something completely personal.

    I think I’ve laid out clearly why anarchism is completely unacceptable and why I absolutely support our particular form of republic, and I’d be more than happy to expand on those, and that’s where I will leave it.

    Sam (e8f1ad)

  71. “Really though, votes only truly matter if people understand what they are voting on”.

    But they have to pass it to find out what’s in it. So politicians don’t get to vote.

    felipe (40f0f0)

  72. Being a practical sort I must ask, “If I do not consent to the federal, state, county or municipal government running my life, how would or should that affect my behavior?” I also must ask, “Is consent a binary decision, yes or no? Must I consent to everything or refuse consent to everything?” “What degree of lack of consent should cause a dramatic change in my behavior?”

    Now that those issues are raised, I’d like to remind the people here of the obvious. This hemisphere was populated and nations nations were founded by people who either themselves or their forebears refused consent to be governed to the governments in the old world. Maybe in practical terms if you withhold enough consent at some point you must look around for another place to go. This is a right denied to citizens of an interesting and depressing panoply of governments around the world throughout history. The Soviet Union, China, Communist East Germany and others come to mind as prototypes of the modern incarnation.

    Then I ask, again, are you and I free to leave and rid ourselves of oversight by the US government simply by picking up stakes and paying the fare to go elsewhere or does the US government claim strings attached to us reminiscent of the Soviet Union even though not as extreme?

    {^_^}

    JDow (770dee)

  73. #27. Why would we need to send people that are already in Congress to a Convention? That apparatus already exists, it is Congress and they can already Amend the Constitution. My understanding of a Constitutional Convention would be to bypass Congress.

    I deserve a measure of disapprobation for having made a comment and then cutting out. My answer:

    Who do you think will be elected delegates to a Constitutional Convention? Seriously? Under what scenario will it be someone other than the usual crowd? Recall that in our original Constitutional Convention the locals chose their own delegates; how is that going to work in the modern world? I don’t; think it’s going to give us anything better than the run of the mill Barack Obamas and Joe Bidens and John Hickenloopers.

    JVW (638245)

  74. Well, at this point the discussion is definitely not about any theoretical differences or superiority of anarchism versus a republic, but something completely personal.

    “someguy” came along and made a stupid, personal point. Now that I have dismissed it, I say we ignore him if he comes back.

    Sam, you made a lengthy argument and I will try to respond in detail tomorrow.

    Patterico (89b3da)

  75. The libertarians’ nasty hatred for law enforcement is their least attractive quality, and their repeatedly polemical and one-sided attacks on law enforcement are their least persuasive arguments. My kingdom for a significant movement of people who believe in economic freedom but also appreciate basic law and order. Are such people really that hard to find??

    Patterico (89b3da)

  76. The libertarians’ nasty hatred for law enforcement is their least attractive quality, and their repeatedly polemical and one-sided attacks on law enforcement are their least persuasive arguments. My kingdom for a significant movement of people who believe in economic freedom but also appreciate basic law and order. Are such people really that hard to find??

    My problem with law enforcement is their us verses them “warrior” mentality. Add to it in places they are just “tax collectors” with civil violations. Yet they go out of their way to protect each other and the powerful. Having a judicial system that plays along and looks the other way just makes it worse.

    Gerald A -- not the usual one (2c96c6)

  77. Re-read 1 Samual Chapter 8. Over 3,000 years ago and folks still haven’t learned.

    cedarhill (dd6b21)

  78. Somewhat on point, this is the real ruling agenda:

    narciso (ee1f88)

  79. yet we were told it was the reverse:

    http://americanthinker.com/2014/09/9_27_2014_18_33.html

    narciso (ee1f88)

  80. Consent of the governed is obviously not a valid concept for all the reasons given above, and although it may seem a bit glib to substitute acquiescence for consent, it is the more accurate term and it’s more useful too. At least it doesn’t require an overt act of agreement, like a signature or an act deemed symbolic of consent. We all know Jefferson used consent in the Declaration of Independence, but we also know it wasn’t any more true then than it is now. Government by the Acquiescence of the Governed better describes the nature of our social contract.

    The Founders (especially the anti-federalists) knew that power corrupts and they rightly feared the lust of central governments to expand at the expense of the rights of citizens and especially at the expense of state government. They insisted on Constitutional safeguards to prevent dangerous aggregations of power, both within the structure of the federal government itself and between it and state governments. A safe and tame balance of powers was the Founders’ unquestionable aim and it was the Separation of Powers which was to be their institutional device to maintained a necessary balance among the 3 federal branches and between the central government and the state governments.

    The Federal government would be divided into 3 co-equal branches each with specified and exclusive powers, the Congress would be bicameral and include a House for the people’s representatives, and the Senate would represent the state legislatures and be made up of 2 representatives from each state selected by their respective legislatures. (At the time of the founding, only one member of the Constitutional Convention, James Wilson, favored popular election of Senators.)

    Thus, the combined power of the states was to be the ever present balancing force that kept federal power in check. Additionally, since the 2 houses of Congress represented different constituencies, the influence of special interests within the Legislative Branch would also be minimized.

    But, as we know, even the best of plans and intentions are often undone by personal and parochial interests. Almost immediately 2 major issues with legislative selection came to the fore: corruption and electoral deadlock, both of which tended to set individual states or regional alliances at odds with each other and/or with Washington DC. Soon too other highly divisive issues arose, among them were the events which precipitated the Missouri Compromise of 1820; the 1828 Tariff of Abominations, which led to the Nullification Crisis of 1832; and the Fugitive Salve Act of 1855. Not surprisingly, proposals in Congress to adopt popular election of Senators arose in 1828, ’29, and ’55. Additionally, of course, the War Against Southern Independence (1861-’65 and 10 years of Reconstruction) forcefully established the hegemony of the federal government and all but put an end to the effective exercise of states rights, and revealed the 10th Amendment as antiquated of not outright obsolete.

    From 1890 calls for popular election increased, most often under the leadership of William Jennings Bryan, and by 1910 fully 31 state legislatures had even called for some version of reform. During the Taft Administration, in May of 1912 a constitutional amendment was submitted to the states and ratification was completed on April 8, 1913. The 17th Amendment specified popular election of Senators and marks the Gradual Slide into Ignominy of state government. It also marks the energetic rise of Special Interests which immediately organized to fill the void left by newly self-emasculated state legislatures.

    Thus, as restraints on ever expanding federal power have been reduced to largely symbolic antics associated with election cycles, today we find ourselves at the mercy of an arrogant federal establishment no longer effectively restrained by either the will of the people, the legislation of their elected representatives, or by state governments – an increasingly dictatorial centralized authority in league with powerful special interests and supported and protected by an enabling national media.

    The federal government has increasingly shown itself able and willing to engage in selective enforcement of the laws, or to impose rules and regulations unapproved by Congress on an unwilling citizenry, a federal government that conducts illegal domestic gun running operations both along our Southern border with Mexico, and internationally in Benghazi and in Syria, a government that conspires to stonewall Congressional investigations, and uses the NSA to spy on domestic political opponents, and uses the IRS to prevent ordinary American citizens from organizing in opposition to government oppression. And, this is the same illegitimate government actively engaged in efforts to render the 2nd Amendment every bit as obsolete as the 10th.

    The Founders were right, the only way to restrain the federal government is to empower state governments – troublesome as they are, strong and independent state governments are essential to provide the balance necessary to hold the federal government in check. Only an ever present countervailing force institutionalized within the federal structure has the combined strength to prevent the inevitable malignant growth of central authority, along with the inevitable corresponding loss of individual freedom.

    ropelight (5a9b07)

  81. No we don’t.

    My alternative to the “Social Contract” fairytale is that government, like languages, markets, and the origin of species is an emergent phenomenon. Attempts to design a system of government are always in time overwhelmed or maybe undermined by self-interested parties operating in their self-interest. To be fair, though, the US constitution was a very good try at designing a good system of government. USA could (probably will) do a lot worse than going back to that text and dumping the contorted judicial rewrites which have accreted over the centuries like so many marine shipworms.

    Robbo (2988c2)

  82. I swore an oath to uphold the Constitution, not the federal government.

    Patterico (89b3da) — 9/27/2014 @ 8:09 pm

    It is frightening to realize how many people don’t seem to understand the two are not one-in-the-same.

    The federal government has already overthrown the Constitution and usurped powers that rightfully belong to the states and “the People” and nobody seems to care assuming the can discern the difference.

    The concept of “enumerated powers” appears to be lost one most people.

    WarEagle82 (b18ccf)

  83. “I was talking about the federal government. “Last time I checked” I work for the County of Los Angeles.”

    The County of Los Angeles government isn’t any more legitimate than the federal government. Bunch of Democrat hacks.

    Next time you write blithely that our government isn’t legitimate, you might want to reflect on the fact that YOU are the government.

    You could, of course, resign in protest. Which would be the proper thing to do, and which I would encourage you to do.

    someguy (37038b)

  84. I swore an oath to uphold the Constitution, not the federal government.

    And one might find that they cannot uphold both.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  85. hey, someguy, do you pay income taxes? Then you are FUNDING this government, which isn’t legitimate. You should refuse to continue, and I would encourage you to. Also state and local taxes. Tell the assessor to stick his property tax bill where the sun don’t shine and refuses to pay sales tax, too.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  86. More directly someguy,

    Patterico prosecutes violent criminals. I cannot imagine any regime that would not (excepting the state’s thugs, of course). If he were prosecuting people for campaign law violations or some such you might have a point.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  87. L.A. County and California, in general, is governed with an iron fist. This iron fist is wielded by Democrats, who are, in turn, beholden to the public employee unions and voted in by an amalgam of special interest groups. All of these people have cashed their Man Cards in and have initiated a long, slow walk off the cliff into the abyss. Self destruction is their unspoken goal and , at this point, it’s only a matter of time.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  88. This is a long quibble about a small point, for which I apologize. This may not even interest all of the Patterico readers who are lawyers. Thus warned:

    I’m intrigued but as yet unconvinced by your main argument, Patrick. But the least convincing part of it, for me, is the bit about not having a signature on the “social contract.”

    You write: “Courts won’t enforce a contract for the sale of land without a signature.” Many of your readers will recognize this as an allusion to the statute of frauds (the current Texas version of which, for example, which I suspect is fairly typical nationwide, can be found here).

    But obviously, the social contract is not for the sale of land. And indeed, the public policy reasons for that particular part of the statute of frauds, as commonly applied in its various state versions throughout the U.S., is not to protect people from the consequences of their own oral commitments; rather, it’s to ensure clarity and reduce challenges in real property title histories, primarily for the benefit of taxing authorities and subsequent purchasers.

    If you wanted to pick a part of the statute of frauds that is intended to keep people from over-committing without sufficient thought (as reflected, presumably, by the time and effort it took them to apply their pen-and-ink signatures), you’d point instead to the statute of frauds’ requirement that an agreement which is not to be performed within one year from the date of making the agreement (e.g., a personal services contract for 10 years) must be in evidenced by some sort of written memorandum of agreement to be enforceable in court. Or, even better, you’d point to the statute of frauds’ requirement of a confirmatory writing to enforce a promise by one person to answer for the debt or default of another person (e.g., co-signing on a car note).

    Because the statute of frauds is category- rather than dollar-denominated, there may be vast transactions which fall outside its reach: The statute of frauds may prevent someone from claiming I’ve deeded them a six-inch-wide, 10-foot long strip of property along my back fence-line whose market value is $1000, but it didn’t stop Pennzoil from getting its multi-billion dollar judgment against Texaco, despite Texaco’s insistence that no contract could have been formed until “definitive deal documents” were all signed.

    And even when the statute of frauds is applicable, the contract isn’t considered void from its beginning, but rather merely unenforceable in court without more. The lack of written confirmation often ends up not mattering at all in an oral agreement’s enforceability: its requirements are often found in court to have been waived by the parties’ continuing actions consistent with the alleged oral agreement, or the party trying to escape its terms may be held to be estopped from denying the contract’s validity because he’s already accepted some of its benefits. I’ve see statute of fraud defenses asserted quite frequently in my 34 years of civil legal practice; but I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually seen it become outcome-determinative.

    The bigger point I’d make, though, is that the metaphoric social contract is, by definition, something one agrees to by conduct. It’s what we were taught to call, in law school, a “performance contract,” one created not by explicit offer and acceptance, but by offer and acceptance-implied-by-performance. An example would be: “I’ll pay $10 to anyone who paints my fence, payable upon completion.”

    Those who “opt out” — those who end their acceptable compliance with social norms and laws, and who instead begin to violate the “social contract” — don’t face only, or primarily, the danger of consequences in civil court. They face consequences ranging from mildly social (e.g., I shun those who fart intentionally in company) to compellingly violent (e.g., Texas executed Lisa Coleman last week for starving & abusing a child to death — among the most severe possible violations of the social contract, one which also was a violation of Texas’ capital murder statute).

    TL/DR version: Since by definition it’s conduct, not speech, that typically constitutes acceptance of the social contract, we ought not expect there to be written confirmation of that.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  89. 75.The libertarians’ nasty hatred for law enforcement is their least attractive quality, and their repeatedly polemical and one-sided attacks on law enforcement are their least persuasive arguments. My kingdom for a significant movement of people who believe in economic freedom but also appreciate basic law and order. Are such people really that hard to find??
    Patterico (89b3da)

    Well . . . yes.

    Adam Smith was quite clear about the difference between the morality of the laissez faire system and the morality of the capitalists within the system. (Which is why you must read and embrace what he wrote in The Theory of Moral Sentiments to be a “proper” Smithian laissez faire capitalist.)

    But more direct than that, break out your UN directory, and count the number of nations with a constitution or similar document that demonstrate economic freedom and basic law and order.
    Unless you parse the definition to an extreme degree, I submit that you will run out of countries to count before you run out of fingers to keep track of those that qualify.

    Sam (e8f1ad)

  90. Beldar,

    I think you explicated the kind of contract consent by the governed should be likened to, but for those who endorse that idea, a counterargument goes something like this:

    Occasionally in New York City, I see film crews who post signs directed toward those walking in public areas to the effect: “You decision to walk here constitutes consent to allow us film to you, and your waver of any copyright claims…” It’s invalid, both morally and legally, because I have the right to walk in a public place (and I have certain common-law and statutory rights to my image), and a film company does not have the legitimate authority to condition or restrict that right.

    With regard to “the consent of the governed”: I have a natural right to live peaceably, own property, and trade & contract with others. If an oppressive government insinuates itself into these and many other aspects of my life, it cannot stand that I have consented to this oppression, so long as I don’t decide to quit this territory and head off to some ungoverned wilderness.

    Brian (afd0af)

  91. My kingdom for a significant movement of people who believe in economic freedom but also appreciate basic law and order. Are such people really that hard to find??

    Well, that was pretty much the core of the TEA Party in 2009-10. Not sure about people who call themselves TEAs now, at least online.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  92. Beldar (fa637a) — 9/28/2014 @ 8:47 am

    Thank you, Beldar. I read both versions – laughing out loud when I can upon the second version.

    Kevin M (b357ee) — 9/28/2014 @ 9:37 am

    Kevin, I think we can thank mobys for ruining the online experience.

    felipe (40f0f0)

  93. The 17th Amendment specified popular election of Senators and marks the Gradual Slide into Ignominy of state government. It also marks the energetic rise of Special Interests which immediately organized to fill the void left by newly self-emasculated state legislatures.

    You fancy our social problems result from this mustache across the Mona Lisa of Mr. Madison’s excellent design. They do not, and variations of them are manifest across the occidental world without regard to how the national legislature is composed; you see them at the state level too. You can repeal the 17th Amendment. The result will be that people adept at publicity campaigns and fund-raising will be replaced by people adept at building relationships in legislative bodies. Alphone d’Amato prospered with one system and could have prospered with the other. He had no interest in constraints on the discretion or function of the federal government.

    Art Deco (ee8de5)

  94. ugh! “I can” = “I came”. Why did I type that? Must be a Freudian of some sort.

    felipe (40f0f0)

  95. happy ending are good, felipe!

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  96. OMG, Colonel! lol

    felipe (40f0f0)

  97. The libertarians’ nasty hatred for law enforcement is their least attractive quality, and their repeatedly polemical and one-sided attacks on law enforcement are their least persuasive arguments. My kingdom for a significant movement of people who believe in economic freedom but also appreciate basic law and order. Are such people really that hard to find??

    You’ve a half-dozen strands of libertarian thought, popular and journalistic and academic. The strand to which you’re referring is largely propagated by childless people who retain a certain adolescents’ priorities. High school students do not own rental properties for lease or hardware stores. They do get hassled by cops and smoke dope.

    There are other strains which do appreciate law and order, but they are infected with the pathologies which result from certain interests of their adherents. The most popular strand of libertarianism is what might be called the suburban screw you. Their priority is that none of their property tax payments be applied to public functions which primarily benefit people with whom they feel no kinship – e.g. people living in slums five miles away from their suburban house. You think metropolitan policing might be advisable rather than having six police departments patrolling one physical settlement with a rather suboptimal pattern of deployments? Well, suburban residents in my home town have been dead set against it for decades.

    And you have to clarify what is meant by ‘economic freedom’. All economic activity has to take place in a matrix of corporate law, commercial law, contract law, banking law, insurance law, labor law, real estate law, anti-trust law, and the penal code (not to mention specialty items like intellectual property law, admiralty law, natural resources law, &c). It’s just a question of the content of those ordinances. All of these ante-dated the New Deal and the Progressive Era. You have principal-agent problems, externalities, and information deficits in markets, which motivates some of those and also motivates health-and-safety ordinances. You have the state, you have markets, you have philanthropies, and you have families. The trick is to order the relations between them correctly.

    Art Deco (ee8de5)

  98. Pat said:

    …Another argument says that if you don’t like your own country, you are free to move to another. If you stay, that means you accept the “social contract”…

    Except with progressives in charge, increasingly you are not free to move to another country.

    They’ve jacked up the “exit fee” to renounce US citizenship 422% and they’ve raised wealth taxes on people who want to be expatriates as well.

    Schumer sponsored a very Soviet-sounding bill, the EX-PATRIOT Act, which reduces patriotism to the duties a serf owes to his/her lord. To work and pay taxes.

    http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:S.3205:

    Patriotism as defined by progressives is a) dissent and civil disobedience if progressives aren’t in charge and b) shut up and fork over the $$$ when progressives are in charge.

    I have a hard time knowing where to start detailing just how much damage progressives are doing by defining patriotism as blind loyalty to the progressive agenda, And therefore not supporting their agenda is “unamerican.” (Detroit and indeed Kali isn’t evidence that liberalism doesn’t work; it’s evidence that as long as conservatives exist and think counterproductive thoughts the “bad vibes” prevent the workers’ paradise for becoming reality). But just one example; if a country was serious about increasing their competitiveness abroad that country wouldn’t have enacted insane legislation like FATCA into law.

    http://www.deloitte.com/view/en_us/us/930c9948e681a210VgnVCM100000ba42f00aRCRD.htm

    FATCA essentially makes it illegal for an American to live and work overseas. That isn’t what the law says, but that’s the effect. Progressives are deathly afraid that if their subjects are living abroad, their subjects may not be demonstrating sufficient “patriotism” as progressives define patriotism. This is true whether the progressive regime is the one in Pyongyang or the District of Columbia.

    So our Stalinists passed a law in 2010 that compels foreign financial institutions to become enforcement arms of the IRS. Because of course “patriotism” is forking over all the money the Stalinists demand. They are deathly afraid Americans living abroad are somehow using a “tax loophole” (the same “loophole” you use to avoid a penalty by, say, driving within the speed limit so you don’t get a ticket) to pay something less than the full measure of patriotism in taxes.

    The problem is the reporting burden the Stalinists would place upon these foreign financial institutions cum IRS regional enforcement offices is so detailed and onerous they really can’t do it. It is virtually impossible for individual taxpayers as well, which is another reason why American expatriates are renouncing their citizenship.

    …Fatca requires these institutions to report on the financial holdings of their U.S. clients with the aim of reducing the incidence of off-shore tax evasion by wealthy Americans. Yet officials are less willing to discuss how Fatca worsens the already profoundly unjust tax treatment of millions of middle-class Americans living abroad.

    …In one case, a California school teacher lost her Swiss husband of 30 years to cancer. In the ensuing family trauma, she failed to file a foreign asset disclosure form to report her husband’s Swiss pension. Despite having paid all of her U.S. taxes on time, she is advised by a California law firm to enter the IRS’s Off-Shore Voluntary Disclosure Program. She paid the firm a retainer fee of $124,000 to begin the OVD process and was told to expect penalties of up to $800,000.

    In Malaysia, a modest, local family business was thrown into financial turmoil when the authorities discovered that because one of the founder’s daughters, a partial owner of the business through a family trust, married an American and took U.S. citizenship. The entire business was, as a result, subject to complex U.S. accounting and U.S. tax reporting requirements.

    …U.S. reporting rules for non-U.S. registered mutual funds are a particularly good example of the problem. An American family living in Germany that buys five or six different German-domiciled mutual funds to create a diversified portfolio is faced with tax complications that almost defy belief. They will have to report each of their six non-U.S. mutual funds on separate forms, every year. The IRS Instruction manual for this Form 8621 estimates that the time needed to prepare the form include “Recordkeeping, 15 hr., 4 min; Learning about the law or the form, 11 hr., 13 min; Preparing and sending the form to the IRS 20 hr., 21 min.”

    In other words, the U.S. government expects this family to spend more than 200 hours annually preparing and filing the forms necessary to report their six mutual funds bought from a local German investment advisor…

    – See more at: http://thunfinancial.com/american-expats-tax-nightmare/#sthash.imq9NtAA.dpuf

    It isn’t just the high rate of taxation that drives people to renounce their citizenship. It’s also because by trying to remain Americans they are exposing themselves to draconian administrative, civil, and criminal penalties that no other developed nation on earth imposes on its citizens. If they try to do their taxes themselves it’s guaranteed that they’ll make mistakes. If they can find someone in the country in which they live who can prepare a US tax return it’s going to cost them up to 20 times what a US citizen in the US would have to pay. And it makes normal business dealings impossibly complex to the point where the lesson is, don’t do business with Americans or you’ll get the IRS involved.

    The fascists in DC can’t really force foreign financial institutions to do anything. But they can penalize them if they don’t “voluntarily” comply. If they have US citizens as customers and don’t comply the government will place a 30% withholding tax on their US-sourced income, which they also can’t afford.

    The obvious solution for foreign financial institutions is to simply not accept US customers.

    You really can’t be competitive abroad unless US companies can do business abroad. To do business abroad, Americans have to be able to live abroad. Americans can’t live abroad if they can’t have local bank accounts and other financial services. Thanks to the Progressives, they increasingly can’t have those services.

    As far as progressives are concerned, the reason why the economy is still in the toilet is because conservatives are voo-doo-like wafting bad vibes in Obama’s direction, preventing the magical thinking from working its spell.

    But more apropos to the topic, no, you’re increasingly not free to leave.

    Steve57 (da091a)

  99. It was probably unfair to compare the US personal tax system to North Korea. You see, there are some categories of personal income for some categories of taxpayers that North Korea doesn’t tax but the US does.

    There is only one other country on earth besides the US that taxes resident citizens/nationals, non-resident citizens/nationals, and resident foreigners on all sources of income domestic and foreign. Eritrea.

    Steve57 (da091a)

  100. At the time John Locke and Thomas Jefferson wrote there weren’t very many places that elected governments, so he is not talking about consent by voting.

    He is taking not rebelling as a form of consent and says that people will often tolerate things for a long time, for prudent reasons.

    This is to counter the “Divine Right of Kings” and states that in rebelling they are not committing a moral wrong.

    It may even be a duty to throw off a government.

    Sammy Finkelman (ca4c0f)

  101. Steve @100.

    Npbody cares enogh to wrote a sensible law.

    Making the law simpler also probably costs money according to the Congressional Budget Office and must be “paid for” somehow, even if it wouldn’t cost any money in reality.

    Too small a percentage of the population is affected for this to become an issue, and most of these people don’t vote.

    Sammy Finkelman (ca4c0f)

  102. An American family living in Germany that buys five or six different German-domiciled mutual funds to create a diversified portfolio is faced with tax complications that almost defy belief. They will have to report each of their six non-U.S. mutual funds on separate forms, every year.

    Nobody cares enough to write a sensible law, and too few people are affected.

    Sammy Finkelman (ca4c0f)

  103. So for “someguy,” “the government” means “any government or every government.”

    There is a special kind of “stupid” that seems to plague left-wing nutjobs that is impermeable to reason and logic and defies attempted cures through actual education.

    Of course, left-wing nutjobs have long ago lost the desire and ability to distinguish between “actual education” and “indoctrination.”

    WarEagle82 (b18ccf)

  104. A brief comment, and no I have not read every post carefully.
    As Mr. Beaver told the Pevensie children, Aslan was not safe, but he was good.
    We, including myself, are often content with being nice i.e., not being a jerk, rather than being good, because being good requires effort and work, not simply refraining from obnoxiousness.
    For our system of government to work as intended, there needs to be a quorum of people willing and making the effort to be good. People who are good, when employed in journalism, strive to report the factual truth about events and discuss alternative views on their significance. People who are good who are lawyers refuse to take cases that they think will hurt the common good and not further justice, but only serve as a way to gain money. Good people who are politicians actually tell what they think, what they plan to do if elected, and accept responsibility and explain when things turn out different.

    I think Reagan is quoted as saying Communism only works in Hell, where they already have it, and in heaven, where they don’t need it.
    Maybe a representative democracy is sort of the same, it doesn’t work in Hell, but nobody would expect it to, and it would work in heaven, but it is not necessary.
    Which gives us the much more familiar quote, representative democracy is a terrible form of government, but it is better than the alternatives.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  105. Beldar (fa637a) — 9/28/2014 @ 8:47 am

    The statute of frauds…didn’t stop Pennzoil from getting its multi-billion dollar judgment against Texaco, despite Texaco’s insistence that no contract could have been formed until “definitive deal documents” were all signed.

    Who says that was correctly decided?

    They took a poll before selecting the jury. Also in the USFL case. I was one of those asking the questions.

    It wasn’t decided on the basis that there had to be a legally valid contract that Texaco interfered with. But something less would do.

    (e.g., Texas executed Lisa Coleman last week for starving & abusing a child to death

    As I said, what really brought about the death was reversing course while trying to keep the whole thing secret. That letting him eat again was dangerous was something Lisa Coleman didn’t know, and a lot of people don’t or else it would never happen. So they reallky executed Lisa Coleman for medical ignorance combined with previous treatment that made this kind of medical ignorance matter.

    and I think it violates the social contract to take children away from their parents. Not only that child but all her other children. This is what the mother faced and taht’s the mother never went for any help.

    They had asked her to stay asway from Lisa Coleman, and she had agreed, but it was too much to ask – people don’t break up romantic relationships by order of the state. Neither do mothers willingly give up their chidren, so much so that some women prefer abortion to adoption. The mother only agreed because of the alternatives but the agreement wass not sincere, and probably any agreement extracted this way never is. This put her in a trap where she could never ask for help.

    The child abuse laws are not geared to human nature.

    They might have tried demanding she live in shelter with the child, but let her go out by herself.

    Sammy Finkelman (ca4c0f)

  106. The libertarians’ nasty hatred for law enforcement is their least attractive quality, and their repeatedly polemical and one-sided attacks on law enforcement are their least persuasive arguments. My kingdom for a significant movement of people who believe in economic freedom but also appreciate basic law and order. Are such people really that hard to find??

    My problem with law enforcement is their us verses them “warrior” mentality. Add to it in places they are just “tax collectors” with civil violations. Yet they go out of their way to protect each other and the powerful. Having a judicial system that plays along and looks the other way just makes it worse.

    Gerald A (2c96c6) — 9/28/2014 @ 2:18 am

    That post is not me.

    Gerald A (d65c67)

  107. I love that quote, MD in Philly. I googled just now to confirm that it was Churchilian in origins — and it is, sorta, but it’s complicated.

    I’ve also made this same observation about several other aspects of our modern civilization, including —

    * the jury system (and components in it like the peremptory challenge);

    * the American two-party political structure;

    * the bicameral American Congress (and the Great Compromise that wrought it);

    * federalism;

    * the University of Texas’ continued membership in the Big Twelve Conference; and

    * my performance as a dad (this last only to a limited audience comprising my four children).

    Beldar (fa637a)

  108. There is someone who regularly posted as “gramps”, then one day another person posted as “gramps”. the original gramps took up the name, “gramps, the original” I believe is how the story goes.
    So maybe Gerald A (d65c67), you can now call yourself “Gerald A the 1st”,
    of course that assumes it was simply another person posting without realizing it, and not someone for some reason trying to purposefully misrepresent you.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  109. Thanks, Gerald. I have been paying more attention to the “tags” appended to names

    Gerald A(2c96c6)one Gerald A

    Gerald A (d65c67)another Gerald A

    I wonder if someone has been commenting under my name? I suppose I would have noticed, but I do not read every thread.

    “I’m Spartacus”!

    felipe (40f0f0)

  110. MD in Philly (f9371b) — 9/28/2014 @ 11:34 am

    People who are good who are lawyers refuse to take cases that they think will hurt the common good and not further justice, but only serve as a way to gain money.

    That may be against the “code of ethics” of the bar.

    Which gives us the much more familiar quote, representative democracy is a terrible form of government, but it is better than the alternatives.

    Winston Churchill:

    The worst form of government, except for all the others.

    Sammy Finkelman (ca4c0f)

  111. 109. I see. Winston Churchill, but he didn’t endorse the thought fully:

    it has been said

    Langworth did not know where Churchill got it from.

    Maybe Google, one day, can help.

    Sammy Finkelman (ca4c0f)

  112. MD, I wish the tags were permanent, but they are not. I think that our tag is assigned to our DNS server address: If our address is dynamic, then out tag changes along with it. Mine has changed several times.

    felipe (40f0f0)

  113. It is the DNA address (converted into a code)

    Sammy Finkelman (ca4c0f)

  114. If we had to log-in to this site with a password, in order to comment, our “identities” would be somewhat assured. While I do not suggest this, it might trim some of the fat. But at the expense of open participation.

    felipe (40f0f0)

  115. 115.It is the DNA address (converted into a code)

    You mean like genotype into phenotype?8-p

    Sammy, we are assigned both an IP address and a DNS address. Perhaps I meant to specify IP address.

    felipe (40f0f0)

  116. My problem with law enforcement is their us verses them

    It’s one thing if they’re not my ideas, but I can’t have a malapropism like that connected to me!

    Gerald A (d65c67)

  117. The argument that accepting government benefits means accepting the government itself proves too much. Let’s invoke Godwin’s Law right off the bat: if you drove on the Nazis’ roads, did that mean you accepted Hitler’s legitimacy?

    That just jumped out at me after another reread of the post. Reminds me of a particular people who objected to their occupiers forcing them to pay monetary tributes in “foreign” money. They consulted some guy, who they wanted to be rid of, to comment of the lawfulness of compliance. His advice was to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and render unto God what is God’s”.

    Yeah, I know. God again.

    felipe (40f0f0)

  118. “Hey, someguy, do you pay income taxes? Then you are FUNDING this government, which isn’t legitimate.”

    Not willingly, and certainly not voluntarily. No.

    Precisely becuase I believe it is morally indefensible to fund this government.

    someguy (37038b)

  119. “Patterico prosecutes violent criminals.”

    I have no doubt that, were I to engage in an attempt to overthrow the illegitimate government that Patterico expounds upon here, he would no doubt prosecute me and not think twice about it.

    I would be branded a “violent criminal.” And he would be only too happy to prosecute me.

    someguy (37038b)

  120. Do any of the current residents of the state of California feel occupied? Do any of you feel like a slowly boiled frog? Here in Texas, matches are being lit to start the fire that is supposed to boil us. I refer to The San Antonio and Houston city ordinances that favor the LGBTQ agenda at the expense of religious conscience.

    felipe (40f0f0)

  121. #122 is not a threadjack, but an example of the governed actively not consenting.

    felipe (40f0f0)

  122. “Patterico prosecutes violent criminals.”

    I have no doubt that, were I to engage in an attempt to overthrow the illegitimate government that Patterico expounds upon here, he would no doubt prosecute me and not think twice about it.

    I would be branded a “violent criminal.” And he would be only too happy to prosecute me.

    someguy (37038b) — 9/28/2014 @ 12:46 pm

    Good grief, but the thick skulls of leftists may yet turn out to be the hardest substance in the universe.

    If you violate a California statute, the District Attorney might well be obligated to prosecute you. It is not clear that the state would have jurisdiction if you attempted to overthrow the federal government. I imagine the US Attorney that had jurisdiction over the area where your theoretical crimes were to be committed would be the person to prosecute you.

    Do you even understand the concept of “Federalism?”

    Were you absent for the entirety of high school where they used to teach such things?

    WarEagle82 (b18ccf)

  123. If I’m stepping on someone else’s points I apologize; I’m too brain-fogged to read all the comments.

    Government is inevitable. We are, either by evolution or design, social apes. We WILL have a group hierarchy, and rules and customs. If we don’t, then some big alpa-male will come along and impose some on us. To a fair extent, government is the formalization of the customs that keep us from acting “Natural”. And since “Natural” for social apes is nesting in trees, picking fleas off our relatives, and fighting over and then raping the females, this is a good thing.

    The evolution (and too often the devolution) of government is the tension between the desires inevitable self-appointed Ruling Class and those of the Common Folk. In my opinion (one clearly not shared by an awful lot of people) social progress can be measured in the degree to which the small and powerless are left to pursue their own interests by the large and powerful.

    We are (I believe) going through a rough patch at present; the dreams and excuses of one batch of would-be rulers are growing increasingly stale, and criticism of their narcissism and arrogance is becoming hard to ignore. Soon there will be (if there isn’t already) a period of transition, and the freedom situation may well improve. Then another batch of buttinskis will capture the public imagination and we will start the cycle over again.

    I’m not overly fond of the government we now endure, but historically speaking it really isn’t all that bad. Migod! The Ruling Class hasn’t even managed to confiscate the common folk’s weapons! They are being widely ridiculed, and while they do try to punish those who talk out of turn there is considerable pushback when they do.

    Government might partake of legitimacy from the consent of the governed, if it could get it. But legitimate or illegitimate, we must keep firmly in mind that government is inevitable. If we do not have one strong enough to make imposing a worse one on us too much trouble, we will be very very sorry.

    C. S. P. Schofield (848299)

  124. Doesn’t the argument have to be; ‘if you don’t like it leave’? Otherwise any system collapses in a tragedy of the commons?

    time123@gmail.com (33ce8e)

  125. Perhaps the single most important social change that took place in America in the 20th century was the abandonment of tribalism by the white population. White ethnicity is now viewed as a quaint anachronism, rather than a driver of group behavior. The American south, which was the locus of the most pernicious form of bigotry at mid-century, is now experiencing reverse migration as blacks return to their historic homeland. Among white Americans, the melting pot has clearly worked to the betterment of the culture and even non-whites are viewed as “one of us.”

    Another hallmark of the civility of American culture has been a high degree of voluntary compliance with our system of laws, particularly among white Americans. Throughout most of the world, including western Europe, tax cheating and other forms of lawbreaking are commonplace, but not here at home. This is something most Americans feel proud of. I know I do.

    Sadly, in light of the current social and political milieu, I am afraid these hallmarks of civility and cultural evolution will be lost. If we do lose these precious culture behaviors, it will be the result of the “free rider” problem, writ large. At some point, American whites will figure out that two can play at that game and our culture will change.

    ThOR (130453)

  126. That post is not me.

    Gerald A — I changed the name to “Gerald A — not the usual one” so it’s clear. I’ll give the poster the benefit of the doubt and assume he was not trying to spoof you, but simply has the same first name and last initial and didn’t realize someone else did too.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  127. Again: I suggest we ignore “someguy” as someone who is trying to make this personal and wants to take the discussion off track.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  128. That may be against the “code of ethics” of the bar.
    Sammy Finkelman (ca4c0f) — 9/28/2014 @ 12:08 pm

    If so, IMO that just shows how bad the bar is, and I respect it as much as I respect medical associations that do what they please with the Hippocratic oath for their convenience.

    The bar may say that no organization or government body should have the right to tell others what is good for society or not, and that is fine, but they should have no right to tell an individual attorney to violate their own conscience.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  129. On at least three prior occasions, I have unwittingly chosen pseudonyms to comment under that were already in use on the sites where I posted. It happens.

    When I started using “ThOR” on this site, I was greeted by commenters who accused me of being the evil troll “Thor.” I have done my best to keep up the image.

    ThOR (130453)

  130. People who are good who are lawyers refuse to take cases that they think will hurt the common good and not further justice, but only serve as a way to gain money.

    That may be against the “code of ethics” of the bar.

    No, it is not. Not unless you’re a public defender or have made yourself available to be appointed by the court. The attorney-client relationship is consensual and a client may no more compel an attorney to represent him than the attorney can compel a client to hire him.

    nk (dbc370)

  131. 104. … Nobody cares enough to write a sensible law, and too few people are affected.

    Sammy Finkelman (ca4c0f) — 9/28/2014 @ 11:32 am

    This is completely untrue. But, it is exactly the kind of thing progressives tell themselves in order to ignore the real-world effects of their blind stupidity.

    http://moelane.com/2014/09/12/nancy-pelosi-blithering-idiot/

    Tweet of the Day, Nancy Pelosi Thinks That Americans Are Serfs Bound To The Land edition.

    Nancy Pelosi @NancyPelosi

    An American family can’t just change their address to avoid paying taxes. @HouseGOP, why can corporations? Let’s put the #MiddleClassFirst!

    Hello! Earth to Pelosi! I changed my address from Kali to Texas to avoid paying taxes. I moved to Texas for more reasons than that, but that was a big one.

    But progressives who have run Kali into the ground have convinced themselves that’s just not possible. So when Governor Moonbeam sent LT Governor Gavin Newsome here to Texas to find out why business owners have fled Kali for the Lone Star state he refused to believe them (us, but I didn’t personally meet with the idjit). Former Kali residents told them exactly why they left, and high taxes figured prominently in their decision. And Newsome kept telling them to their faces, “No, that can’t be it.”

    So Kali progressives still have no clue why business owners and the middle class has fled Kali. They just know we lie to them about taxes. Because that can’t be it. Nobody would leave Kali because of high taxes. High progressive tax rates are wonderful and everybody loves them. Even the GOP plants who lie about moving to avoid them secretly love them. Besides, you can’t lower your taxes by moving. So there.

    Also, FATCA can’t possibly negatively impact Americans abroad. And the fact that Obama violated bankruptcy law to favor his political allies in the UAW and to screw over investment can’t possibly effect international investors’ willingness to invest in the US economy.

    Dude, that was like four years ago. Nobody remembers that far back. Despite the fact Obama spent his entire two terms rewriting or ignoring Obamacare as written for blatantly political purposes. And reminds everyone on a daily basis that he has a pen and a phone and can ignore Congress and the law whenever it suits him. Like when it comes to declaring war, or decreeing open borders and immigration amnesties.

    There’s only one reason why foreign investors would be wary about risking their money in a country with a leader constantly threatening to rule by executive order.

    Teh racisms. Either that or they’re lying, just like those people who say they moved from Kali to Texas to avoid paying taxes, which we all know from Granny BotoxBrain just isn’t possible. Unless you’re a corporation.

    Steve57 (da091a)

  132. That better, month and year I first came to this site.

    I rarely post, originally as just Gerald. Added the initial when a few other places I post had another Gerald.

    I get a bit pissed off when libertarians get lumped together. Probably as much if I was to accuse all prosecutors of being like Nifong.

    As to the topic, Do We Truly Consent to Be Governed? As much as we consent to being born.

    Gerald A 11/2006 (2c96c6)

  133. Time to respond to Sam, who spent some time above making a few points.

    But as I watch our country moving away from our original “social contract,” the Constitution, I’d like to challenge some of these assumptions.

    And right there you commit the fatal error.
    Since you have already brought up Jefferson (who I would suggest actually suggested a requirement for generational accession to the contract), I refer you further in the Declaration of Independence:

    . . . deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

    In point of fact, there is no need to challenge the fundamental principles as they are absolutely sound.

    OK. So, for you, it’s pointless even to discuss whether we consent to be governed. However, here at my blog, I think it is interesting — and evidently quite a few others do too. So really, how does it add to the discussion simply to declare that I make a “fatal error” by challenging principles simply because you find them to be “absolutely sound”? I submit that adds nothing, with respect.

    As for challenging the government, even one once derived from those principles, even to the point of replacement . . .
    That is absolutely a horse of a different color.

    The assumption, I guess, is that if the government didn’t build roads, people would just stand around in the fields looking at each other and shrugging. Somehow, I think the free market could come up with a way to build roads, if it came right down to it.

    Yes, it could.
    However, having already fallen into error by presuming the principles of our government are unsound, you now compound your error by insisting on a binary resolution to a single particular question. Worse, it is a question that has actually been answered in respect to laissez faire capitalism, albeit not in direct production of our Constitution.
    I direct you to Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations”, though I do not have a specific link or quote. I merely call attention to the fact that he discussed the issue of roads, along with the issue of canals as a contrast, as objects that might be simply be better off handled by the government. Certainly they can be done privately, but it occurs that, at least by the analysis Smith did, that roads are better off handled by the government than privately. Conversely, to note that it is far from a universal submission to government, he noted that canals are better left as private concerns.

    I think it’s worthy of note that Smith believed roads should be handled by the government, just as it is worthy of note that Hayek believed in a safety net. That doesn’t automatically mean that these men were right on these points, however. Why don’t you discuss the reasons for these positions, rather than simply appealing to authority?

    I would note that this is a critical and constantly repeated error of anarchists and so-called minimalists – the presumption that simply because something can be done privately or by the government it must always and absolutely be done by one or the other.
    This is a blatant logical fallacy.

    I don’t mean to be glib, but so is an appeal to authority. However, I do not argue (have you been paying attention) that absolutely everything should be done privately. I am not, I repeat, an anarcho-capitalist. However, I do believe that in a situation where a good or service can feasibly be offered by either the free market or the government, it should generally be offered by the free market, because price signals help direct resource allocation in the most efficient manner. I’m just not convinced yet that this logic applies to defense of the citizenry against violent and thieving criminals and threats from other countries.

    Take schools.
    Certainly private schooling is superior, and perhaps home schooling superior to that. But, and despite all the complaints, public schooling is still absolutely superior to no schooling at all.
    Clearly it is wrong to require people to pay for the public schooling of the entire population of students when not all will use it. Equally it is absurd to suggest that even if you do not use public schooling you derive no collateral benefit from the public schooling of others.
    The problem is not that one extreme is wrong and the other correct but that both extremes are equally wrong and that a middle ground is more properly functional.

    I have addressed the issue of collateral benefit (the so-called “public goods” argument) elsewhere. I’m not convinced that government does a better job schooling children than the free market would.

    Imagine you told me that I could withdraw my consent to be taxed and subjected to laws I disagree with, simply by refusing to vote. Guess what? I will never vote again.

    I will note that I asked about this in the other thread.
    So in fact when you suggest by not paying for criminal prosecution it is not that you don’t care if the government punishes others, but rather that you care that the government never punishes you.

    You do realize that makes the claim of anarcho-capitalists and similar types that they would obey the “libertarian” natural law of not using force against others rather spurious don’t you?
    Simply by not paying taxes you would presume license to rob, steal, rape, and murder without any consequence save that which your conscience impels you to, and we should simply trust your declaration that you would never do any such thing.
    Uh huh.
    Seeing as I live in NYC, might I interject here that I have a bridge for sale . . . cheap!

    And note, it is on the basis of this assertion of moral goodwill that we are to take all the other claims of the superiority of anarcho-capitalism and similar systems as a given.
    That bridge is now available at a 50% discount. Also, I have this land in Florida . . .

    As I said, I believe in having laws to keep violent criminals in check. That’s what I do. But I don’t justify it by saying that people acquiesce to that scenario through the act of voting. The discussion of whether the vote establishes consent is a separate argument which you have conflated with the need for a criminal justice system. The two are logically distinct.

    Then the question becomes, what right does a government have to interfere with those rights of mine, that I naturally hold as a human being? It might be that every government stomps on those rights, but that doesn’t make it morally right for them to do so without my consent.

    None.
    And I don’t care how many of the other kids are doing it or how cool they are, it doesn’t make it right for them to stomp on my rights either, even if I actually consent to it for whatever bizarre reason or circumstances.

    Well, “stomp no” rights is a casual turn of phrase. What I mean is that you can consent to the voluntary abrogation of some of your natural rights, whether in the free market or with government. I have the natural right to property, but I can consent to contract with others, which limits my right to keep my property. Also, I could theoretically consent to be taxed for purposes that I believe the government should handle, such as the common defense of the country.

    Here in the United States, the Government had an argument that there was truly a consent of the governed through the Constitution. Now that we have trashed the Constitution, there isn’t even that reed of justification.

    Yet another critical, though perhaps unintentional, error:
    The government doesn’t get an argument in this!

    Is that so? If I sued the U.S. over a dispute as to whether I could be taxed, you don’t think the U.S. Government would step into court, in the form of the Civil Division of the local U.S. Attorney’s Office, and make an argument?

    Of course the federal government makes arguments. They do so all the time.

    As I rant regularly whenever someone utters that vapid pronouncement “States’ Rights!” to justify some defiance against the federal government:
    States (governments) do NOT have rights.
    States (governments) have powers.
    People have rights – AND – powers.
    Where States (governments) have rights, people don’t.

    Again this goes back to the Declaration of Independence and the part of that phrase you didn’t quote:
    “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, . . .”

    The sole and exclusive reason that Governments (States) have any powers at all, which they derive from the consent of the governed, which powers must be just (cf. above that they cannot violate my rights even if I consent), is to secure those rights.

    Period.
    End of Liberty; Beginning of Tyranny.

    And this is the focus of my objection.
    You are looking at the violations of government and declaring that “these truths [we hold] to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–” and that “this Constitution for the United States of America” which “We the People of the United States of America” “do ordain and establish” ” in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty” not merely “to ourselves” but also to “our Posterity,” which is that inherited aspect of the social contract that question, are somehow utterly invalid, and should be swept away in favor of some anarchism, however well-flavored by a packet of whatever.

    I will not waste any time or effort in defending the excesses of the government, most especially not the outrages of the current administration.
    I will absolutely stand against any challenge, government or private, to the principles of the Founding Documents of the United States.
    I hold to those as the only reasonable, rational, and acceptable basis for government.

    OK. Did you read the post? My main point is that we have strayed from those.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  134. Well, I’ll do my best to stop pointing out that we seem to have a couple of true morons posting here. But these “Wile E Coyote” super-genius types are so mind-numbingly stupid as to practically mandate a face-palm when presented with their brain damaged stupidity.

    But I’ll do my best to not rise to the bait.

    But truly, they prove daily that “stupid” is forever…

    WarEagle82 (b18ccf)

  135. That better, month and year I first came to this site.

    I rarely post, originally as just Gerald. Added the initial when a few other places I post had another Gerald.

    I get a bit pissed off when libertarians get lumped together. Probably as much if I was to accuse all prosecutors of being like Nifong.

    I should have some “some libertarians.” I have become much more enamored of many libertarian principles as of late, but it sure is hard to find any who aren’t contemptuous of law enforcement. That doesn’t mean they all are.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  136. Sammy Pattericoman?

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  137. There is no way to opt of of consenting to be governed by whatever confederacy of dunces happens to have risen to the top. As Hunter Thompson liked to remind us: The scum also rises.
    When I see our President salute young Marines who have offered to give their lives to defend this country with his fucking coffee cup I withdrawn a fraction of that consent.
    When I see Kamala Harris refusing to enforce laws based on her politics, a little more of that consent goes off to die.

    My only beef with law enforcement here is that some day, some of them will need to disobey an unlawful order… and they won’t. They’ll fall back on procedures, protocols or they’ll jump willingly to make an example of what happens to those that oppose.
    To resign rather than nullify the constitution is not something I expect from law enforcement.
    It has too many perks and a great pension plan. There are lots of ways to buy loyalty.

    This part may sound racist, so forgive my kludgy words, but I also did not consent to be governed like Mexico. Bunch of corrupt losers and grifters running the lower end of the ruling class looting the public treasury, giving it all away to their cronies. That wouldn’t be so bad if we weren’t stuck with the greens stifling economic growth (No on Measure P which is our Sierra Club written anti- fracking measure) … stifling growth to a point where we can’t keep pace with the grifters.
    A little more of my consent just went off to die.

    With a nod to hf I have to say that consent now should be given all the way through the encounter- just like sex on a University campus… except in this case the government and those who enforce its will have decided that no is the new yes

    steveg (794291)

  138. But legitimacy? With a dead Constitution, tell me the source of this government’s
    legitimacy. I don’t see it.

    Short answer:
    Ultimately by divine right, and directly by conformance to the procedural form of the constitution.

    Longer answer:
    Ultimately, I believe that government is ordained by God “to execute wrath upon him that does evil” (Romans 13)–which is not to say that every act of government is in accord with God’s express will; the details of the interaction between human government and Divine law are in some ways analogous to federalism.
    Where the form of government is established by a law above the government, the authority of the members of that government becomes subject to that law; thus, the Constitution is the immediate source of authority of the US government.
    And as long as the government is elected in a way that complies with the Constitution, it’s a legitimate government–even if its acts are illegitimate.
    As far as “consent of the governed” goes: More-or-less, I understand it to mean that if a people as a whole decide to overthrow the government, the government ceases to legitimate.
    In other words: “implied consent” consists of the fact that the majority of the citizens who care one way or the other have not decided to stage protests or pick up their guns.
    I’m dubious about how valid this is in the general case, but it would seem that the Founding Fathers thought it was an appropriate rule.

    Ibidem (262b40)

  139. OK. So, for you, it’s pointless even to discuss whether we consent to be governed. However, here at my blog, I think it is interesting — and evidently quite a few others do too. So really, how does it add to the discussion simply to declare that I make a “fatal error” by challenging principles simply because you find them to be “absolutely sound”? I submit that adds nothing, with respect.

    Not that at all.

    I am saying that, with respect to the Founding Documents, a simple binary status exists:
    Either the Constitution is functioning and consent exists,
    OR;
    The Constitution is not functioning and consent cannot exist.

    Since you have declared the Constitution to be non-functioning you have mooted any grounds to discuss consent in regards to the current government: It does not exist; what is the next issue?
    At least for me. Others may differ, but I won’t be drawn into trying to defend the current administration on even theoretical grounds. As you defined, using the roads does not constitute consent.

    I think it’s worthy of note that Smith believed roads should be handled by the government, just as it is worthy of note that Hayek believed in a safety net. That doesn’t automatically mean that these men were right on these points, however. Why don’t you discuss the reasons for these positions, rather than simply appealing to authority?

    Mostly because the post was already quite long but also because I thought it might be too much of a digression. If you would like me to elaborate on Smith’s reasoning and why I support it I will.
    I will note however that simply declaring that you expect the free market will handle the situation somehow is not actually presenting an argument in support of that position.
    However:

    I don’t mean to be glib, but so is an appeal to authority.

    Citing a source is not an appeal to authority.
    I did not say “Smith said the government should be in charge of roads and therefore it is true.”
    I merely noted that there is economic theory that supports such principles, above and beyond my personal preference, which even you acknowledge is worthy of note. (Particularly since I am a socio-historian and not an economist, I am definitely going to need to cite others for such issues.)

    I am not, I repeat, an anarcho-capitalist.

    Yet your initial post about slavery was predicated on anarchist principles.
    You appealed to that authority and I am challenging it.

    However, I do believe that in a situation where a good or service can feasibly be offered by either the free market or the government, it should generally be offered by the free market, because price signals help direct resource allocation in the most efficient manner. I’m just not convinced yet that this logic applies to defense of the citizenry against violent and thieving criminals and threats from other countries.

    I’m rather thoroughly convinced that such an argument doesn’t apply at all in those cases.

    I have addressed the issue of collateral benefit (the so-called “public goods” argument elsewhere. I’m not convinced that government does a better job schooling children than the free market would.

    Did you read what I wrote?
    I explicitly did not say that.
    I said that a government education is better than no education at all, and that both a free market and personal education could and should exist as potentially superior alternatives.
    There is a rather distinct difference there that I very deliberately made.

    As I said, I believe in having laws to keep violent criminals in check. That’s what I do. But I don’t justify it by saying that people acquiesce to that scenario through the act of voting. The discussion of whether the vote establishes consent is a separate argument which you have conflated with the need for a criminal justice system. The two are logically distinct.

    I did not conflate them – that was your hypothetical. All I did was point out the consequences of it.
    Since you dislike those consequences and want to repudiate your own hypothetical which you said you would jump at, great, but don’t blame me for conflating them in the first place.

    Well, “stomp no” rights is a casual turn of phrase. What I mean is that you can consent to the voluntary abrogation of some of your natural rights, whether in the free market or with government. I have the natural right to property, but I can consent to contract with others, which limits my right to keep my property. Also, I could theoretically consent to be taxed for purposes that I believe the government should handle, such as the common defense of the country.

    And I disagree absolutely.
    “Unalienable” means “unalienable by anyone”, not merely “unalienable by someone else but okay if you do it”.
    By your construction, voluntary slavery would be perfectly acceptable because you are contracting away your freedom rather than it being imposed upon you.
    As for taxation, a right to your property in no way impedes you from pooling that property with others for whatever purpose, even if that is contracted out on a varying basis to be decided by hired assessors. Mind you, it would have to be particularly well supervised and controlled assessors, but you are still merely contracting out your property to a corporate project.

    Is that so? If I sued the U.S. over a dispute as to whether I could be taxed, you don’t think the U.S. Government would step into court, in the form of the Civil Division of the local U.S. Attorney’s Office, and make an argument?

    Of course the federal government makes arguments. They do so all the time.

    You are conflating a legal argument with a philosophical argument.

    In terms of the philosophy of governing and the formation of a contract for government, the government in question does not get to make any arguments for or against any of the issues at question. It is a construct of the contract, not an agent being contracted with.

    However your conflation does serve to set up proof of my point.
    When the government makes such an argument and contends that it has a “right” to whatever it seeks to do, who invariably wins?
    I think we both know the answer to that, and we both know how such results are all too often categorized, however subjective such categorization may be.

    OK. Did you read the post? My main point is that we have strayed from those.

    Yet you do not make the distinction between the government having done so and the Founding Documents being in error. Or at least you leave them to be subsumed as such in the shift from theoretical debate to functional discussion, and in positing an anarchist base for the entire discussion.

    Again, do you want to discuss the hypotheticals of where a republic becomes slavery and vice versa and the relevance and function of consent within that construct, or do you want to discuss how screwed up this government, particularly this administration, has become and the relevance of that to the function of our Founding Documents?

    If the first, let’s go.
    If the second, the only points you make that I wouldn’t agree with are almost certainly ones I take a more extreme view on – such as the previous where I disagree that unalienable rights can be alienated by consent.

    And –

    TL;DR summary:

    I agree, this government sucks, lets go back to the Constitution.

    We seem to be getting confused about certain fine details and distinctions, possibly lost in the wall of text.

    Sam (e8f1ad)

  140. 125. ThOR (130453) — 9/28/2014 @ 1:50 pm

    The American south, which was the locus of the most pernicious form of bigotry at mid-century, is now experiencing reverse migration as blacks return to their historic homeland.

    It’s been experiencing reverse migration since about 1970.

    This is an example of peoplethinking things are more recent than they are.

    Sammy Finkelman (ca4c0f)

  141. 104. … Nobody cares enough to write a sensible law, and too few people are affected.

    Sammy Finkelman (ca4c0f) — 9/28/2014 @ 11:32 am

    Steve @131

    This is completely untrue.

    What do you mean it is untrue? Too few people are affected by the law, for that to be a problem for members of Congress.

    Once a bad law affects 4% or 5% of people, something happens.

    Less than that, things are easily left alone.

    Sammy Finkelman (ca4c0f)

  142. Tweet of the Day, Nancy Pelosi Thinks That Americans Are Serfs Bound To The Land edition.

    Nancy Pelosi @NancyPelosi

    An American family can’t just change their address to avoid paying taxes. @HouseGOP, why can corporations? Let’s put the #MiddleClassFirst!

    Hello! Earth to Pelosi! I changed my address from Kali to Texas to avoid paying taxes.

    On another thread, I went to some considerable lengths, and put in a few links, to show that in fact it is difficult to change your residence from California to some other state, and this is even more true of New York – and there was some discussion.

    http://patterico.com/2014/09/13/pelosi-unwilling-to-concede-stupidity-contest-late-charge/

    See comments 9, 41, 49, and maybe 50.

    http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/trying-to-leave-california-maybe-not-an-overview-of-california-residency-rules

    If you intend to leave California and make another state or country your permanent home, avoiding California income taxes may be more difficult than you think. Even if you do not live or earn income in California, you may be held to be a resident of California (or at the very least you may have to prove to California that you are a non-resident). If you file a California income tax return and claim that you are a non-resident of California, The Franchise Tax Board (“FTB”) may conduct a residency audit…..

    Sammy Finkelman (ca4c0f)

  143. Also, FATCA can’t possibly negatively impact Americans abroad

    Oh, it can.

    It’s just that that’s not a big enough constituency for Congress to care (and many can find a work-around)

    Sammy Finkelman (ca4c0f)

  144. I suppose someone said as much, like Beldar, but consent is a group action.

    A restoration of a Republic is likely, democracy will be less indiscriminant.

    Obviously, those used to voting but not inheriting same will have and bring trouble.

    Rinse and repeat.

    gary gulrud (46ca75)

  145. FWIW, I know at one time Rush spoke about needing to prove to NY that he did not owe them any taxes for years after he left the state. Whether some one really thought he owed, or if it was their standard procedure that once a person filed to assume they still owed, or whether someone thought they would have fun yanking Rush’s chain as a NY official, he never said.

    I guess they would like to have their cake and eat it to, have Rush leave the state, but still pay the state taxes.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  146. MD
    Most recently I understood Rush to be talking about being audited in such a way that he had to prove his whereabouts for every day of the year, and also in the event he did visit new york, he had to prove he did no business there.
    Rush did his show out in LA… maybe this year or last, but regardless I am sure he had to pay California taxes for that day… kind of like when an athlete like Kobe Bryant has to pay New York taxes on his game salary.

    NYC needs the money… Instapundit has a link to a story on NYC and its affordability.
    Asks how with apartment rent being $3000mo and average salary of $50,000 can the lower classes afford to live there… the answer of course is by shifting the bill onto others

    steveg (794291)

  147. 140. I’m sure the Politburo thinks the 2.5 million Islamists they’ve ensconced in Amerikkka on the dole are a potent excuse to implement martial law.

    But timing is everything, and as formidable as their arrayed weaponry be, the complexity of a coup d’ etat is just going to end in ghastly butchery all around.

    gary gulrud (46ca75)

  148. I doubt that it was Rush. I cannot see him doing business as an individual. It had to have been one, or several, of his corporations. And that’s a different animal entirely. Once you establish a corporation, and get a state tax ID number, that state has a new citizen which lives in a drawer in the Secretary of State’s office, until it’s dissolved or its certificate of authority to do business is revoked. His lawyers or accountants probably did not file the correct papers to terminate the corporation in New York. I stopped listening to Rush a long time ago because half-truths are a matter of course for him.

    nk (dbc370)

  149. nk, I too have been a bit concerned about his “not being precise at times”, but as others have said, I remember the first time I happened to hear him, and it was when he played the entire encounter between Ted Kennedy and David Kay about the findings of the Iraq Study Group. We all know the claim that “there were no weapons of mass destruction like we expected”, but unless we listened to Rush or other places, we did not know that Kay went on to say that Saddam actually was a bigger danger than we thought because of the multitude of violations, including long range missile components.
    So, while I do not bank on everything he says, and certainly do not agree with how he often presents things, I still expect to hear things that I may not hear elsewhere, subject, of course, to confirmation by crowdsourcing here.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  150. How right you are, Sammy.

    High school still feels like it was 20 years ago.

    ThOR (130453)

  151. Well at least we don’t live in one of those countries Ogabe really likes:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/29/us-mideast-crisis-syria-idUSKCN0HO0EV20140929

    Governing is hard.

    gary gulrud (46ca75)

  152. Markets are a little volatile lately.

    gary gulrud (46ca75)

  153. Here’s a question:

    Why aren’t the council of despair types taking up arms and engaging in violent revolution? I hear day in and day out about how we’re screwed we’re screwed, the Dems are Communist, GOP is useless, Obamaphone legions marching across the land looting everything, etc.

    Well, then DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. I’m sick of this continuous jeremiad – if it really is impossible to change politically, change it militarily. Or come up with some better solution.

    If you are going to stoke the fires of people’s anger, give us an objective.

    OmegaPaladin (f4a293)

  154. I will absolutely stand against any challenge, government or private, to the principles of the Founding Documents of the United States. I hold to those as the only reasonable, rational, and acceptable basis for government.

    Other countries get along with parliamentary systems, hybrid systems like France’s, and idiosyncratic systems like Switzerland’s.

    Art Deco (ee8de5)

  155. 155.Other countries get along with parliamentary systems, hybrid systems like France’s, and idiosyncratic systems like Switzerland’s.
    Art Deco (ee8de5)

    “Get along” is not the same as full function.
    Virtually all of those parliamentary systems have one or more flaws that distinguish them from the United States and, should, make them unacceptable.

    The most obvious is those where the executive function is combined with the legislative function. That is one of the things Fareed “Mind if I borrow this?” Zakaria kvelled about when proposing “improvements” for the U.S.
    Not as obvious but just as critical is the difference between our Common Law system and the Civil (Roman) Law system that dominates those governments with parliaments.
    And of course that doesn’t include noting those countries that have the pretense of a parliamentary system but have the function of a dictatorship like China.

    Sam (e8f1ad)

  156. Virtually all of those parliamentary systems have one or more flaws that distinguish them from the United States and, should, make them unacceptable.

    To which ‘flaws’ are you referring? What’s ‘unacceptable’ about New Zealand or Switzerland?

    Art Deco (ee8de5)

  157. “The closest thing we ever had to a true social contract was the Constitution of the United States.”

    It’s up there in the top three, but not quite. In reality, the closest we ever had to a true social contract was back when we had an actual identifiable society instead of 20 or 30 conflicting microsocieties; back when the word “people” in “We the People” actually meant something. And it meant a white, Christian, Western European people, mostly but not exclusively from the British Isles. Sorry, but it did.

    Much easier to have a social contract (or a Constitution for that matter) among people who look and think and worship alike, who are, as Sailer asserts, a large group resembling an oversize extended family, who share the same interests and assumptions. Not guaranteed, but much easier.

    We should re-write the Preamble to read, “We the Denizens of the United States, in order to pursue the chimera of Social Justice… promote Welfare in General and secure the blessings of Liberty to whoever shows up or sneaks in…”

    Consent of the governed is a concept which no longer applies. A sizable chunk of this aggregation or population (I refuse to call it a “people”) have no right to participate in this government, or be governed by it, to begin with.

    grumpy the grump (79ea01)

  158. “But now, unelected judges say what the Constitution means — and their diktats bear no relationship to the words written in the document.”

    The basic problem is, for a very long time now, we have not taken seriously the actual premise of the USG w/r/t the Constitution: the States were supposed to be individual sovereign entities, bound in a loose federation, the general government of which was only empowered to do certain things; everything else was to be the internal business of the sovereign states. The Constitution as originally conceived, is best understood as a kind of treaty.

    A federal judge should only be issuing rulings with respect to federal activities. IOW, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion (viz., a national establishment); but if the sovereign State of Rhode Island wishes to do so, that’s an internal matter. Whether that system would prove workable in today’s hypertech society is a good question, but we have so far lost sight of the premise, that is why we live under the jackboot of remote and unaccountable judges.

    grumpy the grump (79ea01)

  159. 154. Patience.

    gary gulrud (46ca75)

  160. So much over so little. You consent to being governed if you live within the physical domain of that government and/or you conduct business within the domain of that government. If you don’t wish to be governed by that government, you go live somewhere else. If you really despise the government (Goodwin/Nazi Germany), don’t even visit there. It’s a big world, pick a place. This may have been an issue for Salmon Rushdie, but not for the vast majority of people living in a country/state from which they are free to leave.

    WTP (bb50a1)

  161. WTP (bb50a1) — 9/29/2014 @ 10:02 am

    You consent to being governed if you live within the physical domain of that government and/or you conduct business within the domain of that government. If you don’t wish to be governed by that government, you go live somewhere else. If you really despise the government (Goodwin/Nazi Germany), don’t even visit there. It’s a big world, pick a place.

    That might have been possible to do (transportation costs aside) up to about 1880 or 1885, and, to a considerable extent, up to late July, 1914.

    That was really not possible in 1938.

    And it has vast restrictions till today’s day.

    We still talk like it’s 1913. That tells you this is self-evident.

    Sammy Finkelman (ca4c0f)

  162. In Hong Kong, in one sense, there is not the consent of the governed, and in another sense, there still is, as of this point.

    Sammy Finkelman (ca4c0f)

  163. “Patterico – Where did those property rights sneak in from? What are they in your vision?”

    For all those super genius intellectual elite types who did not have the mental horsepower to follow the thread when the above question was posed to Patterico way back in comment #14, it should have been clear that I was not asking for antecedents such as John Locke or the 5th draft of Blue Balls, PA Town By Laws, rather I was looking for a further explanation of his thinking since the following was not in his post or in our founding documents and appearing in response to my comment:

    I think we should start with a conception that we are endowed by our Creator with certain natural rights, including life, liberty, and property.

    The above appears out of thin air with an assumption that everybody will agree with it. I think unless we are a nation of individuals defending property by brute force or collective force, property rights require some form of legal system and law enforcement to defend which necessitates negotiation and consent among the population, the subject of Patterico’s post. Even then, I’m sure some of our more arrogant commenter will admit we have members of our society who do not believe we have natural property rights and would be butthurt to even discuss embodying such concepts in a framework for society. These concepts are not hard for people who attended non-SEC schools.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  164. These concepts are not hard for people who attended non-SEC schools.

    Ouch!

    Full discosure: I attened a non-SEC school (whew!).

    felipe (b5e0f4)

  165. Sammy, to a minor extent within the US, yes. But if you don’t wish to submit to laws of a given state, you don’t have to live there nor go there nor invest there. These are your choices. And again, you are always free to leave the US. I understand there is an absurd, yet small, financial penalty to renounce your American citizenship. But you are free to leave. I understand the significance of 1938 and some other dates in the context of interstate commerce but I don’t see where they prevent you from leaving the country. If you stay in the country, you consent to be governed by its rules.

    And even under Stalin’s extreme rule, one family extricated themselves from his iron fist. Of course a whole other can of worms. But if you choose to live outside the realm of any country (provided you find such a place) as soon as you bump into some other similarly oriented person(s), you will have to either consent to live in a way acceptable to them or they will need to live in a way acceptable to you.

    WTP (60406d)

  166. “attened”?

    felipe (b5e0f4)

  167. I attended an SEC school and agree, mostly, with daleyrocks…so perhaps I’m wrong?

    WTP (bb50a1)

  168. R.I.P. Eugie Foster, science fiction author

    The link is to her Nebula-award winning short story:

    sinner-baker-fabulist-priest-red-mask-black-mask-gentleman-beast

    Icy (c3aa85)

  169. If you don’t wish to be governed by that government, you go live somewhere else. If you really despise the government (Goodwin/Nazi Germany), don’t even visit there. It’s a big world, pick a place. This may have been an issue for Salmon Rushdie, but not for the vast majority of people living in a country/state from which they are free to leave.

    Problem is, WTP, this IS the place we picked. At least seven generations of my ancestry did. And it was exactly what we designed it to be. Then came “progressives”, socialists, communists and radical leftists and began remaking where we moved to into what we moved away from. They’re trying to make America into the socialist, maggot infested cesspool we left. So I say if they don’t like our Constitutional Republic and Equal Treatment Under Law then let them move.

    Hoagie (4dfb34)

  170. “I attended an SEC school and agree, mostly, with daleyrocks…so perhaps I’m wrong?”

    WTP – Don’t own it if it doesn’t fit.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  171. Agree, Hoagie. But you’ve still consented. Perhaps Australia will one day be more like we once were, or even some place that’s a shithole today but sees the light tomorrow. We don’t know what future options may be. But we do consent to be governed by the country we inhabit. And in regard to my second paragraph above, you will always have to consent to be governed by some government or you are left to the law of the wild. Romantic as people try to make it, anarchy is hell. Actually, it’s an absurd concept as anarchy only exists for the brief time it takes one group of people to subjugate another. It’s a fallacy.

    WTP (fd3093)

  172. Actually DR, I like to think I understand these concepts in spite of any formal education I received. Especially after many, many discussions in later years with ivory tower types.

    WTP (aca208)

  173. To which ‘flaws’ are you referring? What’s ‘unacceptable’ about New Zealand or Switzerland?
    Art Deco (ee8de5)

    Read the rest of what I wrote.
    I wrote it for a reason.

    158.And it meant a white, Christian, Western European people, mostly but not exclusively from the British Isles. Sorry, but it did.
    . . .
    grumpy the grump (79ea01)

    Well, no it didn’t.
    No White Homeland need apply.

    The basic problem is, for a very long time now, we have not taken seriously the actual premise of the USG w/r/t the Constitution: the States were supposed to be individual sovereign entities, bound in a loose federation, the general government of which was only empowered to do certain things; everything else was to be the internal business of the sovereign states. The Constitution as originally conceived, is best understood as a kind of treaty.

    No, the U.S. was never supposed to be a pathetic, localized version of the UN.
    That is a nice pretense of revisionists, but things as simple as The Federalist papers show that is far from the reality.

    Sam (e8f1ad)

  174. Re: “We the People”

    The reason they put that in the Preamble to the Constitution, is that the constitution was unconstitutional. It violated the terms for amending the Articles of Confederation.

    Article XIII of the Articles of Confederation:

    http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/artconf.asp

    Every State shall abide by the determination of the United States in Congress assembled, on all questions which by this confederation are submitted to them. And the Articles of this Confederation shall be inviolably observed by every State, and the Union shall be perpetual; nor shall any alteration at any time hereafter be made in any of them; unless such alteration be agreed to in a Congress of the United States, and be afterwards confirmed by the legislatures of every State. The Constitutional convention, however, stated:

    Article VII

    http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_transcript.html

    The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.

    So, how coud they legally do this?

    They fell back on the power of the “people”

    Sammy Finkelman (ca4c0f)

  175. Read the rest of what I wrote. I wrote it for a reason.

    And it explains very little, because you simply asserted a feature of the system (separation of powers)is better and then made reference to the distinction between civil law and common law, even though there are parliamentary systems with one and the other. What systematic problems of interest to a constituent arise from parliamentary systems? This you do not answer. (While we’re at it, Switzerland has a plural executive, not a parliamentary system; I could introduce you to a retired political scientist who actually taught comparative legal systems and is fluent in several German dialects who would dispute your assertion about common v. civil law systems).

    Art Deco (ee8de5)

  176. And it explains very little,

    And yet it still answers your questions.

    because you simply asserted a feature of the system (separation of powers)is better

    And?

    and then made reference to the distinction between civil law and common law, even though there are parliamentary systems with one and the other.

    Which would be why I noted that as a potential additional flaw and not a universal flaw.

    What systematic problems of interest to a constituent arise from parliamentary systems?

    You mean aside from the lack of separation of powers, the numerous kludged vote-weighting schemes, and the potential paralysis of minority and coalition governments, and the general concept of voting for parties rather than individuals? Or just the problems with those in and of themselves?
    Look, if you prefer a parliamentary system then just say so.

    This you do not answer.

    Once more, I did.
    Lack of detail is not lack of answer.

    (While we’re at it, Switzerland has a plural executive, not a parliamentary system;

    Did I say it was?
    Oh wait, I didn’t.

    I could introduce you to a retired political scientist who actually taught comparative legal systems and is fluent in several German dialects who would dispute your assertion about common v. civil law systems).
    Art Deco (ee8de5)

    What does fluency in German dialects have to do with the comparative superiority of common law vs. civil law?
    You really have some bizarre ideas about making appeals to authority.

    As for anyone disputing my assertion, I am sure there are quite a few people who do, just as there are many political scientists who dispute the value of the U.S. Constitution as I have asserted.
    And?
    The mere existence of dissenting views does not prove that I am wrong any more than my citing The Federalist papers in support of the Constitution proves that I am right.

    Conversely:

    Other countries get along with parliamentary systems, hybrid systems like France’s, and idiosyncratic systems like Switzerland’s.

    What does that mean?
    How do they “get along”?
    What are their features?
    What systematic problems of interest to constituents do they satisfy?
    What systematic problems of interest to constituents do they fail to satisfy without becoming unacceptable?

    Funny, you have nothing but a bare assertion yourself – never mind explaining little, you explain absolutely nothing – but you demand a thesis from me when I dispute you.

    Sam (e8f1ad)

  177. It does not answer my question, Sam. The utility of separating executive and legislative functions to the degree you want is non-obvious, no matter what you pretend. You keep evading that.

    the numerous kludged vote-weighting schemes,

    What? Where? Are you referring to parliamentary procedure or electoral systems? Any electoral system has its good points and its deficiencies and none are exclusive to any set of executive-legislative relations.

    and the potential paralysis of minority and coalition governments,

    That happens in Italy and the Low Countries, was a problem in France prior to 1959, was a problem in Germany during Weimar, was a problem in Portugal from 1976 to about 1985, and has been on and off a problem in Israel. The thing is, these are societies that have a number of cross-cutting cleavages and problematic political cultures. Formal institutions can attempt to contain and channel these forces (see the 5th Republic v. the 4th Republic). I’m not aware of any examples of Separation of Powers being deployed to do this and you’d still have paralysis from executive-legislative conflict.

    and the general concept of voting for parties rather than individuals? Or just the problems with those in and of themselves?

    That happens when you have list PR systems. You do not have that with most parliamentary systems. Israel has that and Weimar had that and I believe South Africa does. I’m not sure it’s a bad thing, but it does require contrivance so constituent service functions can be performed.

    Look, if you prefer a parliamentary system then just say so.

    Personally, I’d like systems which are better adapted to the political society in which they nestle and take account of actual experience rather than reciting talking points (which is all I ever hear in discussions like this). The success of de Gaulle’s constitution was that it did just that. France as a set of political institutions has its problems; it has fewer such than was the case under the 3d and 4th Republic.

    You made the assertion that all others were unacceptable, and you’re quite irritated in being asked to explain why.

    Art Deco (ee8de5)

  178. 177.It does not answer my question, Sam. The utility of separating executive and legislative functions to the degree you want is non-obvious, no matter what you pretend. You keep evading that.

    You mean it does not provide the additional detail you are demanding.
    That is correct, it does not.
    And for a reason.

    Personally, I’d like systems which are better adapted to the political society in which they nestle and take account of actual experience rather than reciting talking points (which is all I ever hear in discussions like this). The success of de Gaulle’s constitution was that it did just that. France as a set of political institutions has its problems; it has fewer such than was the case under the 3d and 4th Republic.

    Which is still just a general blurb and nowhere near the detailed explanation you are demanding that I provide.

    You made the assertion that all others were unacceptable, and you’re quite irritated in being asked to explain why.

    No, I am irritated that you are being so disingenuous in your demands for an explanation when you are so unwilling to provide the same degree of explanation yourself.
    Your predilection for shifting goalposts, changes of subject, appeals to authority, credential wars, and other trickery and dishonesty only aggravates my unwillingness to jump at your command.
    So either present your arguments or get used to disappointment.

    Sam (e8f1ad)

  179. You’re not prepared for this discussion and you’re blowing smoke and making dishonest accusations to cover for that. Not classy.

    You were the one making assertions, not me. My own view is that various systems are likely adequate in context and that few are so dysfunctional as to be ‘unacceptable’. Continuity of policy was impossible under the 4th republic due to ministerial changes every six months. That would be unacceptable, though it had sources other than the parliamentary character of institutions. The American system needs some serious modifications as manifested in long years when Congress and the President have been unable to enact a budget and as manifested in the hypertrophied role the appellate judiciary has usurped in determining public policy. Parliamentary institutions are not a precise address to these problems, though a parliamentary option (akin to French ‘cohabitation’ ministries) might be regarding some of the pathologies of the contemporary presidency. What might be an address would be modifications to legislative process (e.g. functionally differentiating the Senate and House, ending the presidential veto, and assigning to legislative commissions a franchise to prohibit further citation in briefs and case law of a problem judicial opinion).

    It is difficult to do comparative study of the utility of various sorts of institutional set up because of small sample size and confounding variables. The only long term examples of the use of separation of powers have been the United States, Costa Rica, and (under the envelope) the Dominican Republic.

    Art Deco (ee8de5)

  180. 143.

    Hello! Earth to Pelosi! I changed my address from Kali to Texas to avoid paying taxes.

    On another thread, I went to some considerable lengths, and put in a few links, to show that in fact it is difficult to change your residence from California to some other state, and this is even more true of New York…

    Sammy Finkelman (ca4c0f) — 9/28/2014 @ 6:19 pm

    I’m sure you did go to very great lengths to overcomplicate the situation and make it appear it is difficult to change your residence from California to some other state. That’s who you are Sammy, it’s what you do.

    But the reality is that for 99.9% of the people who do so it’s the easiest (and smartest) thing you’ll ever do. It’s just a matter of picking up and moving. I had to file a state tax return for the portion of the year I was a resident of Kali. Then I was done with that state. I don’t file as a non-resident because I moved several states away and have no sources of income from Kali.

    Steve57 (b50fab)

  181. 142. 104. … Nobody cares enough to write a sensible law, and too few people are affected.

    Sammy Finkelman (ca4c0f) — 9/28/2014 @ 11:32 am

    Steve @131

    This is completely untrue.

    What do you mean it is untrue? …

    Sammy Finkelman (ca4c0f) — 9/28/2014 @ 6:10 pm

    What do I mean it’s untrue? What I mean is, and pay attention here, Sammy, …

    It. Is. Completely. Untrue.

    It’s simply one of the comfortable lies that liberals convince themselves of in order to ignore the disastrous effects of their own policies. It helps if, as liberals typically do, one starts off with an undeserved faith in one’s own superior competence, wisdom, and innate infallibility.

    Then liberals can obstinately ignore the fact that in reality they’re walking catastrophes. And if they do have to face up to the fact that their policies have had negative effects they can minimize those disasters in their own minds by convincing themselves of things that aren’t true. Such as:

    Nobody cares … and too few people are affected.

    Steve57 (b50fab)

  182. Exactly, Steve. Don’t make no difference what Rush Limbaugh says, it’s real easy to change your home from state. The way you said. If you’re an individual. If your live in a state with a personal property tax, you can even change your investment portfolio’s home with a trustee in another state that does not have the tax.

    As for renouncing your U.S. citizenship, be happy that America lets you do it for $2,500.00 or whatever. (And good riddance to you.) Most countries don’t let you do it at all. Some even follow the one grandparent rule and the grandson of an immigrant can be conscripted into the army of the old country if he’s caught there (or have to buy the obligation off). Others have long arm statutes and you can be sued in its courts, or even charged with a criminal act, even if you have never set foot in the place.

    nk (dbc370)

  183. *from state to state*

    nk (dbc370)

  184. Actually, nk, most countries do let you renounce your citizenship. And they throw far fewer roadblocks up if you try.

    But then after seeing how European countries, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, India, etc., throw far fewer roadblocks up to interfere with their expatriate communities who, let’s face it, are benefiting their countries by doing business abroad that’s hardly surprising.

    Of developed nations, particularly among G8 nations, only the US has backwards, idiotic, byzantine, and draconian tax laws that force people to choose between giving up and going back to the US or renouncing their citizenship.

    Steve57 (b50fab)

  185. The way I heard it, Steve, it’s the banking laws. Recently on teh interwebz, Canadians, who happened to be born in the United States because that’s where their mothers were at the time, cannot get bank accounts even if they have no other connection to the U.S. because Canada considers them to have U.S. citizenship (as well as Canadian) and they need to show official proof that they renounced their U.s. citizenship because the Canadian banks don’t want to deal with our banking regulations.

    nk (dbc370)

  186. nk, it’s really the tax laws. FATCA requires foreign banks to follow onerous, complex reporting requirements in order to make sure US citizens aren’t hiding assets from the IRS to avoid taxes.

    No other civilized country does this. Really, the only other country that does tax its nonresident citizens on foreign income they earn living abroad, Eritrea, doesn’t actually punish their citizens this way. It can’t afford to punish its non-resident citizens on their foreign earnings. Like most third world countries it needs the remittances.

    Only the US acts like it’s too rich not to give a flying &@C*. Not about it’s own citizens, and more importantly not about cutting its own throat when it comes to competing in the global marketplace. You can’t compete globally by making it practically impossible for your own citizens (and green card holders) to live and function outside US borders. This is why countries that actually want to open foreign markets to their businesses don’t do things like this.

    Steve57 (b50fab)

  187. FATCA stands for “Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.” It’s aimed at foreign banks, yes, but the purpose is to collect taxes. It’s really an expression of the Stalinist paranoia of the American progressive left.

    Somewhere in the world there are “hoarders” getting away with “wrecking” Obama’s economic miracle by not paying their full “patriotic” share of the left’s glorious taxes.

    Steve57 (b50fab)

  188. 179.You’re not prepared for this discussion and you’re blowing smoke and making dishonest accusations to cover for that. Not classy.

    I am quite prepared for this discussion.
    I simply do not trust that you are and refuse to play the straight man while you dance around trying to score points like you did before.

    You were the one making assertions, not me.

    Well, see . . . no.
    We both made assertions.
    You then demanded details while playing games refusing to provide any of your own. When you finally did, you seeded them with generalities, attempted to put words in my mouth, made appeals to authority and unrelated credentials, and now resort to complaining that I won’t play your game.
    And even with all that you still try to skirt by with only the vaguest of generalities as if that somehow demonstrates you are capable of anything more than a trivia listing of the components of the various governments. Would you like to prove you are better at geography than me by naming all the state capitals next?

    Still:

    My own view is that various systems are likely adequate in context and that few are so dysfunctional as to be ‘unacceptable’.

    So then provided the proper “context”, the Soviet Union could be seen as “acceptable”.
    See, I just really have to disagree with that.
    Perhaps on a realpolitik level we can discuss just what degree of tyranny we can tolerate, but ultimately that is just going to lead us into moral and cultural relativism invariably compounded by paternalism which just falls short for any but the most morally bankrupt isolationist or would be tyrant.

    Continuity of policy was impossible under the 4th republic due to ministerial changes every six months. That would be unacceptable, though it had sources other than the parliamentary character of institutions.

    Which of course still leaves it as unacceptable.

    The American system needs some serious modifications as manifested in long years when Congress and the President have been unable to enact a budget and as manifested in the hypertrophied role the appellate judiciary has usurped in determining public policy.

    Or perhaps the American system has simply been modified too far from its baseline producing those problems, and thus prompting this topic to begin with, along with my assertion that such is inherently inevitable as a consequence of those modifications.

    Parliamentary institutions are not a precise address to these problems,

    So then my disdain for parliaments as a panacea is fundamentally sound despite your previous attempt to mock it as unsupportable.

    though a parliamentary option (akin to French ‘cohabitation’ ministries) might be regarding some of the pathologies of the contemporary presidency.

    We already have way too many cabinet offices and way too many “czars”. Multiplying the cabinet posts by upgrading the “czars” with a consequent multiplication of their budgets and regulations is not merely the opposite of what the Constitution intended, but given their effect over the past 50 years seems pretty well demonstrated to not be anywhere near a solution.

    What might be an address would be modifications to legislative process (e.g. functionally differentiating the Senate and House, ending the presidential veto, and assigning to legislative commissions a franchise to prohibit further citation in briefs and case law of a problem judicial opinion).

    Except for the last, all of those would undermine the control mechanisms intended with those processes, and result in an even degree of legislative excess. A legislative tyranny is just as odious as a judicial or executive tyranny.
    For the last, that is what they are supposed to do in the first place. If they persistently fail in that task, setting up a committee is just throwing good money after bad to get them to do a job they already refuse to do.

    It is difficult to do comparative study of the utility of various sorts of institutional set up because of small sample size and confounding variables. The only long term examples of the use of separation of powers have been the United States, Costa Rica, and (under the envelope) the Dominican Republic.

    Actually, it isn’t.
    First and foremost, there has been no system even vaguely as stable as that of the U.S. except perhaps that of the U.K. As far as the U.K. goes, its system has evolved profoundly, and it is difficult to declare that its parliament has actually functioned as a fully representative government for longer than the U.S.
    Second, is the raw success of the U.S. compared to every other system. We went from propped up rebel puppet to sole superpower in a bit over 200 years, and it has only been a catastrophic subversion in the last 6 years that has threatened that. Even the polarization of the 20 years before that hadn’t fatally damaged our standing. Still, there is significant reason to believe we can recover from even this, and that of course demonstrates the core soundness of the underlying system. Conversely, Europe with its parliaments and semi-, quasi-, pseudo-, crypto-, and other flavor parliaments, along with its bits and pieces on the side, has subsided into minor power status verging on non-power collapse. Clearly that is a ringing endorsement for such alternatives.

    So really, despite your denial, a rather objective comparison can actually be made, over and above any subjective declaration of support.

    Sam (e8f1ad)

  189. I wanna party with the German dialect dude! He sounds like he can get down IYKWIMAITTYD.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

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