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Posts Tagged ‘Libertarianism

“Libertarians sometimes prove that a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, and that there is a difference between logic and wisdom”*…

 

Art Martinez de Vara, the architect of Von Ormy’s incorporation as a liberty city

For the last few years, Von Ormy has been in near-constant turmoil over basic issues of governance: what form of municipal government to adopt, whether to tax its residents, and how to pay for services such as sewer, police, firefighters and animal control. Along the way, three City Council members were arrested for allegedly violating the Open Meetings Act, and the volunteer fire department collapsed for lack of funds. Nearly everyone in town has an opinion on who’s to blame. But it’s probably safe to say that the vision of the city’s founder, a libertarian lawyer whose family traces its roots in Von Ormy back six generations, has curdled into something that is part comedy, part tragedy.

In 2006, fearing annexation by rapidly encroaching San Antonio, some in Von Ormy proposed incorporating as a town. But in government-averse rural Texas, incorporation can be a hard sell. Unincorporated areas are governed mainly by counties, which have few rules about what you can do on private property and tend to only lightly tax. There’s no going back from what municipal government brings: taxes, ordinances, elections and tedious city council meetings. Still, the fear of being absorbed by San Antonio — with its big-city taxes and regulations — was too much for most Von Ormians.

Enter Art Martinez de Vara. At the time, Martinez de Vara was an ambitious third-year law student at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, a local boy with a penchant for Texas history and right-wing politics.

Martinez de Vara suggested a compromise of sorts. Von Ormy could become a “liberty city” — a stripped-down, low-tax, low-government version of municipal government that’s currently en vogue among the tea party in Texas.

Initially, the city would impose property and sales taxes, but the property tax would ratchet down to zero over time. The business-friendly environment would draw new economic activity to Von Ormy, and eventually the town would cruise along on sales taxes alone…

* Molly Ivins, Fort Worth Star-Telegram (7 September 1996)

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As we seek the middle way, we might recall that this is International Left-Handers Day.  Celebrated since 1976, it promotes awareness of the inconveniences faced by left-handers– 7 to 10% of the world’s population– and celebrates their uniqueness and differences in a predominantly right-handed world.

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Written by LW

August 13, 2017 at 1:01 am

Purple Hazing…

 

Freemasonry was born out of medieval craft guilds — working men distinguished by their freedom, not bonded into serfdom, indenture, or slavery. Their ceremonies and regalia were legendary, and their initiations mimicked harsh entries into religious order, initiations which might involve ritual humiliation, pain, or fear. Masons were primarily aristocratic, and if not wealthy, then at least refined. The fraternal lodges of the Elks, the Shriners, the Woodsmen, and the Moose, to name a few, offered a more casual form of brotherhood. Developed with masonic screeds in mind, they populated small towns and suburbs and its provided its members with a reason to get together once or twice a week. What they did each week was up to the members, sometimes they provided food and drink, more often they would debate bylaws and initiation fees (the lodges were originally developed to provide insurance for injured workers). Things could get a little sleepy.

Enter the DeMoulin brothers and their wonderfully strange DeMoulin Brothers catalogs, collected by New Yorker cartoonist Julia Suits in her new book, The Extraordinary Catalog of Peculiar Inventions. In 1892, a Woodsman lodge member asked his friend Ed DeMoulin to make him something that would really shake up dull lodge meetings. DeMoulin owned a local factory that manufactured uniforms, flags, patches, hats, seating, upholstery, and regalia of all kinds, and he was also at heart a trickster. When the Woodmen asked him to come up with a set piece that would really impress and scare the newly initiated, he delivered something darkly delightful: The Molten Lead Test, a flaming pot of seemingly boiling metal that turned out to be nothing more than mecurine powder dissolved in water (an element still not without its hazards). The pledge was convinced he was being burnt with hot lead, and the lodge would laugh uproariously at his misfortune…

The motives were the same as any college fraternity hazing: to scare, humiliate, and confuse the pledge. A lodge could order any number of devices to humiliate, including spanking machines, trick telephones, wobbly floors, and something called Throne of Honor, in which a pledge is led up a set of stairs transformed into an embarrassing slide…

Read more about the implements of initiation– and see more of them (and larger)– in Michelle Legro’s “The Extraordinary Catalog of Peculiar Inventions: Vintage Arsenal of Masonic Pranksters” on Brain Pickings.

 

As we prepare for the ceremony, we might might send “Don’t Tread on Me” birthday cards to Robert Nozick; the philosopher was born on this date in 1938.  While he made contributions to both epistemology and decision theory, he is surely best remembered as a political philosopher, and for his 1974 book Anarchy, State, and Utopia, the Libertarian “answer” to John Rawl’s’ 1971 A Theory of Justice.

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Written by LW

November 16, 2011 at 1:01 am

I don’t know about Atlas, but *I* shrugged…

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Few authors have inspired such passion in their readers as the Russian-American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum– better known by her pen name, Ayn Rand.

Rand’s philosophy, “Objectivism” (rational self-interest) has guided followers as various as Alan Greenspan, Ronald Reagan, Brad Pitt, and Oliver Stone.  While she distanced herself from Libertarianism (“too soft”), she’s been embraced by Libertarians and by the Right at large.  Glenn Beck , Rush Limbaugh, Ron Paul, and Clarence Thomas have all affirmed their admiration.  South Carolina Governor (and noted hiker) Mark Sanford wrote a 2009 review for Newsweek in which he recalled being “blown away” after first reading The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.  And “going Galt” (emulating John Galt, the protagonist of Atlas Shrugged, commandeering the airwaves to preach the evils of collectivism and of the Christian notion of collective guilt and sin… thus by extension seemingly, of collective responsibility and care) has become a catch phrase of the Tea Party movement.

So perhaps one shouldn’t be surprised by the length to which Rand devotee Nick Newcomen went to promote his idol’s works– over 12,000 miles.  As The Guardian reports, Newcomen spent…

… a month driving more than 12,000 miles to inscribe his message – “Read Ayn Rand” – on a vast swath of US land.

Using a GPS tracking device as a “pen”, Newcomen took about 10 days to complete each word, turning on his GPS logger when he wanted to write and turning it off between letters, videoing himself at landmarks along the route for documentation. He drove 12,328 miles in total, across 30 American states, inputting the data once he was finished into Google Earth to create the world’s largest book advertisement.

Read the full story here.

As we toss a couple of pennies into The Fountainhead, we might raise a contemplative glass to St. Caesarius of Arles, whose Feast Day today is.  The leading ecclesiastic in early Sixth Century Gaul, Caesarius had a somewhat different perspective than did Ms. Rand…

Do the proud and wicked souls who commit serious sins seem happy to you because they do not suffer evil in this world?… They are not scourged at all in this world, because they are reserved for eternal punishment due to the excessive number of their sins. They cannot be punished in this short time, for they require endless torture.
– Sermon 5.3

St. Caesarius of Arles

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