Very Enlightening Ron Paul Speech

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Under What Circumstances is Democracy Legitimate?

In his essay The Charade of Participatory Democracy, written in 1991, Ridgway K. Foley Jr. writes the following:

“Remember the fundamental question that must be asked of any proposed governmental or public activity: Does this constitute an appropriate state function? If the answer lies in the affirmative, the town meeting may afford an acceptable, if not superior, method of determining and implementing public policy. However, if the answer is negative, no amount of “citizen involvement” procedures will convert an improper act into an ethical and acceptable one. Unfortunately, almost all the instances of participatory democracy assume the propriety of the end sought, concentrate on the superficial means employed, and avoid this central issue which should be studied and answered.

Elsewhere, I have suggested the test to be applied to the central question: Does the proposed state function reasonably concern (1) the protection of nonaggressive persons from acts of force or fraud, (2) a defense of the realm, or (3) the resolution of otherwise insoluble disputes? If the function falls within these limited boundaries, it provides a ripe source for public concern and the exercise of the coercive force we term “government”; if the function lands outside these narrowly circumscribed perimeters, human conduct ought to be left to the individual choices of the people involved.

Deplorably, omission of this seminal question serves to obscure the fact that most, if not all, public hearings relate to matters properly relegated to private choice. Land-use planners don’t consider whether or not the state, or any individual or group of citizens, ought (philosophically, morally, and empirically) to dictate to other, unwilling neighbors the uses of the real property belonging to the latter. Instead, they hold witless hearings (ignoring the basic question or assuming its answer) designed to carve up the countryside into brightly colored blocks and blobs on a map, representing the (presumed) community calculation of how land ought to be employed. Likewise, advocates of mass transit never examine whether taxpayer-residents (1) want a bus system or (2) if so, desire to pay public monies for a municipally owned system as opposed to a private enterprise; instead they ignore the indispensable disquisition and spend citizen time, money, and energy in a search for ways to implement their grand design—through street closures, residence relocation, mandatory ridership in the name of energy conservation, and the like.”

Read the entire essay here, http://www.thefreemanonline.org/columns/the-charade-of-participatory-democracy/.

Three Arguments for a Stable Rule of Law

In his essay Invasive Government and the Destruction of Certainty, written in 1988, Ridgway K. Foley Jr. writes the following:

“In the first place, mankind encounters less difficulty in dealing with the vicissitudes of the natural order than it does with the amorphous mass created by unpredictable human beings. Man must plan and attempt to predict; since he lives in a regular, not random, world, and since he possesses the equipment and acuity to grasp relationships, he enjoys the ability to adapt and adjust to the natural order, albeit imperfectly. By virtue of the complex matrix created when fallible men attempt to order human life and action, the world becomes more random and human endeavor becomes less predictable.

In the second place, economic success depends upon accurate prediction. Since all value is subjective, the successful producer creates and distributes the goods, services, and ideas most desired in the marketplace. Satisfaction of consumer demand requires the supplier to assess those desires, an assessment which requires certainty and regularity in order to avoid mere fortuity. Thus, to the extent that the law renders the legal or permissible results of human activity uncertain, economic efficiency declines into misapplication of scarce resources to satisfy nonexistent or less pressing human wants.

In the third place, unnecessary interference with human activity and needless uncertainty creates significant human unhappiness and anxiety. Creative, innovative, and adventurous actions spice life and lift the individual from the doldrums, at the same time occasioning the material and mental wealth of the world. Useless dampers on such creative action not only impede personal and societal growth but also cause that mold of frustration which breeds in unnatural cultures. Litigiousness, instability, incivility, shoddiness, sharp practice, dishonesty, and their unpleasant companions become natural sojourners in the mandate state.”

Read the entire brilliant essay here, http://www.thefreemanonline.org/columns/invasive-government-and-the-destruction-of-certainty/.

Equality or Equality Under the Law?

In his essay Invasive Government and the Destruction of Certainty, written in 1988, Ridgway K. Foley Jr. writes the following:

“A commonplace tautology equates justice with fairness, without any feint at content or elucidation. Nonetheless, “fairness” in the common law tradition gives birth to the beguiling beauty of equality_ Equality, in the guise of Cain, cultivates a leveling egalitarianism, quite apart from sound tradition or good sense. Equality, in the garb of Abel. calls for like treatment in similar situations: it is “fair” or “just” if commoner and king each must keep their uncoerced promises, avoid trespassing upon the next-door neighbor’s land, and restore gains secured by deception and malevolence. The grand phrase, “equality under the law,” properly conveys no more than this notion.

Certainty represents an essential component of this sort of fair or just behavior. Occupants of all stations in life start legally equal if each individual understands that similar responses will follow like acts or omissions. The common law participated in a sentiment that every man should know the law and govern his actions accordingly. This presumption—less a fiction in the fifteenth century than in the twentieth—obviated any defense of the unintended consequence; one could not avoid an unpleasant outcome by the subjective assertion that he did not understand his act to be unlawful, or that he did not contemplate a specific binding result. Derided by some modernists as unduly formalistic, the certainty of the common law allowed men to organize their activities and to accommodate their behavior to regular, common, known rules of order, similar in concept to the natural rules of order of the physical and praxeological universe.”

Read the entire essay here, http://www.thefreemanonline.org/columns/invasive-government-and-the-destruction-of-certainty/.

Does the U.S. Have a Self-Governing People?

Thomas Sowell answers:

“You do not have a self-governing people when huge laws are passed too fast for the public to even know what is in them.

You do not have a self-governing people when “czars” are created by Executive Orders, so that individuals wielding vast powers equal to, or greater than, the powers of Cabinet members do not have to be vetted and confirmed by the people’s elected representatives in the Senate, as Cabinet members must be.

You do not have a self-governing people when decisions to take military action are referred to the United Nations and the Arab League, but not to the Congress of the United States, elected by the American people, whose blood and treasure are squandered.

You do not have a self-governing people when a so-called “consumer protection” agency is created to be financed by the unelected officials of the Federal Reserve System, which can create its own money out of thin air, instead of being financed by appropriations voted by elected members of Congress who have to justify their priorities and trade-offs to the taxpaying public.

You do not have a self-governing people when laws passed by the Congress, signed by previous Presidents, and approved by the federal courts, can have the current President waive whatever sections he does not like, and refuse to enforce those sections, despite his oath to see that the laws are faithfully executed.”

Read the entire article here, http://lewrockwell.com/sowell/sowell116.html.

Personal Responsibility: The Touchstone of Freedom

In his essay The Unkept Promise, written in 1987, Ridgway K. Foley Jr. writes the following:

“Freedom necessarily includes the freedom to fail. Choice involves selection from a range of alternatives. Finite human creatures may choose beneficially, or they may err significantly, or their pick may rest somewhere along the continuum between merit and detriment. Further, the range of effects, good or ill, may not become readily ascertainable. Freedom compels each choosing actor to accept all consequences of his selection; it does not permit him to toss out his bad choices, to ameliorate the detrimental effects thereof by compelling another individual to accept those unintended or unhappy results, in whole or in part. A society which allows some participants to retain only beneficial results and to thrust the discards upon their neighbors is not free; it operates in the same fashion as the mandate state of the past, where, in George Orwell’s prophetic Animal Farm, “some pigs are more equal than others.” The compelled recipient of another’s bad choice loses an important aspect of his very humanity; only a poltroon would term him “free.”

Personal responsibility forms the touchstone of freedom. The delegates understood that each man’s liberty depends upon that equal and reciprocal right residing in every other individual. If A employs the law to shunt the burden of his bad choices unto the unwilling shoulders of B, B loses his freedom to that extent, no matter how moderate and polite A’s motives. A also loses some of his liberty (albeit by his own choice) and humanity, for tyranny requires unproductive effort to keep the slaves in line. Also, in the democracy of the day, B may seize the juridical apparatus in order to get even or get ahead. The result: Frederic Bastiat’s circle of pickpockets, each mulcting the other.”

Click here to read the entire essay, http://www.thefreemanonline.org/columns/the-unkept-promise/.

 

Using Force to Provide Charity

In his essay Essay on Caring, written in 1984, Ridgway K. Foley Jr. writes the following:

“A remarkable duality pervades the concept of caring and its current implementation. Force represents the dividing line. Application or refrain from coercion separates the wrongful intrusion into the sanctity of the life of another from the permissible compassionate endeavor. The law ought not impede attempts to aid others or to solve problems where those enterprises occur without compulsion. This should be true where the majority decries the problem as ridiculous or the solution as ill-advised; after all, the crowd often proves ineluctably wrong and, in any event, no human being possesses either the ability or the moral privilege to substitute his judgment for that of another choosing sentient being.

Conversely, no one should employ the legal monopoly of force to compel adherence to, participation in, or compliance with an artifice designed to better another, no matter how well intentioned or meritorious the plan. No individual should be permitted to thrust a decision or shunt responsibility for the consequences of his choice upon another, unwilling human being. Disregard of this salient principle necessarily denies the dignity of that other individual, since moral choice and accountability constitute an essential element in the human condition.

Those who purport to care, then, must submit to a test of means and motive.

The law (rules and orders created and enforced by mankind) should not address the means employed by those who promote compassion as a political or economic discipline except to assure that no individual or entity compels a dissenter to assent to, support or participate in a proposal disagreeable to the latter for any reason.

All too often, those who preach caring, compassion and concern rest their case upon the root of envy: Loathe the rich and trust the poor; take from the evil producer and give to the high- principled but helpless victim of circumstance and oppression. Such caring persons really do not care at all about others: The creators must be plundered, the users must be pandered, by force and violence, by false premises and promises, in order to salve the promoter’s inordinate ego and to effect his flawed view of mankind and the world. In these, the vast majority of instances, one can always count upon the concerned to care—for themselves!”

Read the entire essay here, http://www.thefreemanonline.org/columns/essay-on-caring/.