22A035 Conservative Fables by Jim Davies, 8/30/2022


Several times in these Blogs I've recommended videos by Prager U, and indeed about half of them are very good. Dennis Prager is always avuncular and endearing, and when he or his staff get to work on race, or the curriculum in schools, or sometimes on economics, they are very good. On police, the military and some other topics, not so much. They are Conservative, so they believe in government, albeit limited (how?) Though produced very professionally, the presentations are nowhere near as consistent as those of John Stossel - nor even as my own, from 1991.

The worst of them I've seen yet appeared recently, and it's appalling - but very conventional. Ask any informed conservative, he'll echo what it says. In five minutes, one Jay Cost tells of how the Constitution came to be written, and it's a disaster. Watch it now, and notice his key points:

"There was no peace because there was no government." Wow! That just takes away the breath! He suggests that having a national government would promote peace instead of war. 235 years later the FedGov has fought in 115 wars, plus the present one in Ukraine by proxy. To equate peace with the authors of war exhibits a major prejudice untouched by reason. Yes, he was referring just to squabbles among the 12 new State governments, but the principle still applies; adding a 13th at a higher level would raise, not lower, the risk of conflict. Proof of that was provided in 1861.

"There was no mechanism to collect taxes" he continues, clearly identifying that as a serious problem instead of a great benefit. He was referring to the Feds, for each State certainly had such a mechanism and used it vigorously. Recently the IRS announced it was recruiting tens of thousands of new tax collectors who will be armed, in flagrant violation of 26 USC §7608; that may be just a scare tactic but it's what they'd like and is just what the British did prior to the Revolution. Perhaps Mr Cost favors it too.

National defense was not organized well, and he's quite right; the central government could request money from the states, but could not enforce collection, even for that purpose. Even Jefferson acknowledged that it needed "teeth." This was seen as a key defect in a nation that had just narrowly won a bruising war. But Mr Cost completely overlooked the strategy of a "porcupine" defense, which had a very few years earlier been so effective in that war. The idea is that of guerrilla warfare; residents refuse to work for any invader, and pick his agents off one by one, without pitched battles. A form of it also worked in Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Perhaps Cost's most blatant error was to say that - shock, horror - America was on the verge of anarchy! Oh, No! - but that was simply not true. Unfortunately, in 1787 nobody at all, to my knowledge, was advocating the abolition of government, even at a State level. Shay's rebels were certainly not; they rebelled because after risking their lives to expel the over-taxing Brits, they found the Massachusetts government imposing taxes at a higher rate yet! They should have, but they did not challenge the use of taxation altogether.

Finally Mr Cost disparaged the Articles of Confederation. Those weren't perfect; for example they tolerated inter-state tariffs among the twelve "friendly" members in federation. But that could have been fixed, just by having one representative from each, meeting a few times a year. The Articles had already (by 1787) been ratified, and for the purpose of a limited central government (one not at all shared here, of course) they would, duly amended, have sufficed well.

A Far Better Way

The whole drama of the American Revolution could have had a higher purpose and a much better implementation. In 1776, though, nobody had the vision necessary; for the insights developed during the 19th and 20th Centuries about how a zero government society will work, were just not present. That's a tragedy, though it may be unfair to blame the founders too much.

Had they thought more clearly, they would have questioned not merely the "need" for a central, supra-government but also the validity of the 12 already in existence. From where or whom did the authority of those governments come? How did they acquire title to the land areas they claimed? And of course, the big questions we pose here: what is government for, and why is it "necessary"?

Had they asked those, no coherent answers would have been found so they could (would?) have scrapped the lot, and saved us all a bunch of trouble. There would have been no states, no Confederation, no Constitutional Republic; just a set of people living and working in peace with vigorous trade among them and with any elsewhere who wished to buy and sell. Immigration would have been even brisker than it actually was, and slavery would have shriveled up as less profitable than wage-incentivized labor. Nobody would have existed to build a world empire, no wars would have been fought, and the resulting prosperity would have, as promised by that well-known Statue, have "enlightened the world" with real liberty.

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How Government Silenced Irwin Schiff

2016 book tells the sad story and shows that government is even more evil than was supposed