Sunday, June 1, 2008

Letter to Jason Lewis (1995)

I wrote a letter to Jason Lewis on January 17, 1995. At the time, he was a talk show host on KSTP. Later he hosted a town hall meeting on health care for his radio show, which featured Twila Brase, the executive director of Citizens for Choice in Health Care, as it was known then.

This letter captures how I viewed the libertarian movement at the time, which differs from the views of the present-day anarchists Bob Barr defeated in Denver.
Thank you for your courageous work on behalf of liberty in Minnesota. Remember that "only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars." (Martin Luther King, Jr.)


There are three components of CCHC's effort, as I see it: 1) standing up for a free market in health care with equity in government law and taxes and against government usurpation, 2) acting as a clearing house for information to provide constructive criticism non-coercively to those in the market, and 3) suggest[ing] market-oriented changes in the tax-funded expenditure government makes in the name of the poor. The first two are obviously in consonance with libertarian principle (what are we libertarians but citizens for choice in everything innocent and good?), and the last being potentially but not necessarily in consonance with a transition away from dependence. I believe, as did our Libertarian gubernatorial hopeful Eric Olson, that gradualism is the humane way to wean those caught in dependence on government, so long as the direction towards independence is stubbornly maintained. I believe in shock therapy when it comes to opening up the free market with full equity in law and taxes. I do fear that the Republicans will carelessly be shockist in the former and gradualist in the latter, fomenting blind despair. As to my participation in CCHC, I plan to vote on the latter and abstain from votes on the former. (In my view, this is how libertarian senators should vote to stay true to principle and remain unblinded by power. As for how to wean from dependence, representatives could vote as their constituents instruct them with appropriate supermajority requirements to ensure that, while tax-funded benefits continue to be given, "gratitude" is not directed to any one Bismarckian party but to "the people" our representatives represent. I could go on ... but ... back to the point.)

CCHC needs membership fast to be effective this year. May I suggest the possibility of Twila Brase appearing on your show to get the good word out? Twila Brase has shown more leadership in organizing a grassroots effort opposing government control of health care in Minnesota than anyone else to my knowledge. The idea of asking you to talk with Twila on the air was actually made by someone else on the board who admires your work, to which another member expressed reservations about being associated with libertarians (I plan to lend him the Cato Institute publication Beyond Liberal and Conservative). Reminds me of the confusion sown against the Anabaptists a few centuries ago:
The King, I confesse, has reason to cry out upon the A[n]abaptists, because he knowes them to be enemies not of Government, but oppression in Government, and all those who intend to oppresse in any manner, ought, if they will be true to themselves to doe so too; for the Anabaptists are oppressions enemies, whoever be the oppressours.
Anonymous Leveller (1646) - The Compassionate Samaritane
Let us sow clarity.

All my best....

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Here's the postscript to that letter. Sound familiar??
PS: Last week (when I finally ventured forth into the world of online services) I chanced upon a message in the CompuServe Libertarian Debate Section on the subject of GOP "Reform" from Steve Dasbach, chair of the LP, dated January 8. In response to an earlier statement in that forum that "the LP will never become a truly viable 3rd Party until it can attract and hold those who may only share 70% of the 'pure' Libertarian views," it read:
I fully share your opinion. In my view, the LP must become a Party where we all agree on the direction that the country needs to head (toward greater individual liberty) while holding a variety of views about how far and how fast we should move in that direction. In effect, we need to work together to implement the changes we all agree on, and worry about our differences when they actually become relevant.
Steve Dasbach
Chairman, Libertarian National Committee
I remember one night when you were to have him, or someone else from the LP National, on. I rushed out of the barber's chair to be in my car in the parking lot for it[,] only to be disappointed at the no-show. I hope you have an opportunity to try again, if you have not already.

A dozen years later, I repeated my point, to be libertarian is not to be an anarchist. Indeed anarchy is not even in the direction of greater individual liberty - Hey hipsters, liberty is the new left (2007)
It was bound to happen. Libertarian is the new left.

Decentralization defines this new spectrum. Decentralization and liberalization are our best defense against those who would take us down the road to serfdom. Isn't that the great lesson of the 20th century? Yes, yes, in so many ways, but ...

Wait! Just one question.

Looking at this diagram, wouldn't anarchy be on the left?

No, I'd say... it's somewhere on the right.

Constitutional law, grounded in the American Declaration of Independence, with its presumption of liberty, with its limited powers, with its mixed republic, with its elections and juries, with its federalism, with its measured taxation, would stand to the left. True progress comes from the respect each of us has for a certain sphere of innocence and independent action that attaches to every person in his or her individual life and social interactions. The rights in this sphere are equal, innumerable, and inalienable. They do not conflict. They are natural. They are neutral. Creative people thrive in this freedom and build the world without having to ask permission. The Declaration of Independence is far left. It calls for a revolution in our thinking, in our culture, of which we have barely scratched the surface. The Constitution, in its art, merely tries to measure up.

As for the rest of the spectrum, amid the legal anarchy, you might find semblances of law. Perfunctory law would lie somewhere in the middle, going through the motions. Zombie law would patrol on the right, dead yet walking, and arbitrary.

Liberty and anarchy are distinct and opposed, as are liberty and collectivism.
We can agree to move towards Liberty, but not Anarchy, nor Collectivism.

Speaking of anabaptists, was the Dallas Accord a modern-day Bocholt? Better for libertarians the civility of the Levellers, who wrote the nearest thing to a precursor of our Declaration of Independence, An arrow against all tyrants (Richard Overton, 1646), except perhaps for the Dutch "declaration of independence" (1581), which does need a better translation.

Note on CCHC:

CCHC recently waged a successful campaign to stop SF 3138, a bill passed overwhelmingly by both parties in the Minnesota legislature to warehouse DNA information from blood samples taken from babies born in Minnesota without parental consent. It's like taking each baby's fingerprints. Can you picture that? It's an invasion of medical privacy. Parents have the right to choose with whom they entrust such sensitive information. It's troubling to see government office-holders barging in to procure this valuable information, uninvited, and holding onto it. Governor Pawlenty vetoed the bill 11 days ago. From his letter announcing the veto, it sounds like Minnesota officers still will take each baby's DNA fingerprints without parental consent, only they will refrain from storing it in their warehouse. Do I understand that correctly?

CCHC's change of name since has been unfortunate. I'd argue against it vehemently if I were still a Director. Innocent denotation, but bad connotations.

No comments: