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Government for the 21st Century - A Proposal To Return Law Back To The People

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February 12, 2011 – Comments (44)

I would like to make a proposal. This is not a radical proposal though it may be viewed as such. This is a compromise between a voluntaryist-anarchist and his progressive opponents. I hope to hear from devoish, awallerjr, rofgile, leohaas, and the many other adherents of Social Contract theory.  This is not a competition or a debate. Just a proposal.

Some background:

I don't particularly have any interest in good government. I don't think there is such a thing. I especially don't think it is possible when a minority of the people are allowed to dictate to the majority. I don't think voting solves any problems. I will stop here.

I do, however, understand that there is an operational reality, to borrow one of my least favorite terms, to the current system of government.  With that in mind, I propose one change, but it's a significant change.

This change will update American government for the 21st century using the technology available to modern Americans. It will make the federal government less barbaric, less arcane, and more responsive to the people it supposedly serves.

This change takes into account the realities of governemnt. I list the most important realities as follows:

1. The federal government will always seek to maximize its power no matter what powers you delegate to it or what limitations you place on it. There is no point in bothering with that.

2. The federal government will pass laws regardless of their Constitutionality. Congress has no interest in determining the limits of their own power. They leave that up to the men in black, the President and the voters.

3. Elected representatives will delegate any matter that could be dangerous to their reelection to other institutions. In other words, if Congress doesn't want to be blamed for monetary/economic matters, it will create a Federal Reserve. If Congress doesn't want to answer for its military adventures, it will stop requiring a declaration of war. Etc.

The Proposal: Remove the Power to Make Law from Congress

Before you reject this, hear me out.

Congress shall make no law. Period. End of Sentence.

Instead, Congress' new function will be to propose law only. Voting on federal laws will be done by the citizens of the United States of America.  All federal laws. Voting can be handled securely online without great difficulty.  The technology to create and maintain secure user credentials, secure connections, databases for existing and proposed laws, etc, is readily available to the federal government.  We don't have to reinvent the wheel here.  We simply need to take the existing technology used in online banking, for example, to create a secure method of online voting.  I'm sure there is an entrepreneur or two among us that could think of many ways to solve this problem.

Further Details

1. We will need a time frame for proposing law and a limit to the number of laws that can be proposed.

I'm going to go with abitrary as the answer, since the operational reality of government is that laws and limits are pretty much abitrary anyway. Why are there 9 Supreme Court Justices? Why not 11, 3, or 9347?  It's all abitrary.

So we'll say that there will be a one month time frame for proposing laws. We will use a cycle so that you don't have to be voting every day.  During that one month time frame, our law proposers can debate and argue and filibuster all they want about the laws that will ultimately be presented to the public for voting. 

Or, if there is already a standard number of days it takes for a bill to be proposed before it is voted on, we can go with that. Some Congressional scholar among us might have that answer. Personally, I don't care, as long as it's enough time for the do-somethings to get their heads wrapped around a few proposals to put before the public.

2. How many laws shall they be able to propose? 

Again, I go with abitrary. Is there a usual number that gets voted on per year? Fine, stick with that. Whatever that number is, that's what it will be. 100 per year? 1,000?  I don't care. Divide that by our agreed upon time frame, and that's how many laws Congress is allowed to propose to the people for voting in each cycle.

I like the monthly cycle personally. This way it can become part of the American experience and it is easy to schedule on your calendar. Every month, with a few clicks, you vote and you're done. If you want to research a proposal (I think many will on topics that affect them directly, but some of our cynics will disagree), you are free do so for a month to come to your conclusion.

Checks on the public

There's that old saying about democracy and 51% tyranny. Well, I've never found a government that is run by 51% of its people so I don't know how it'll go. Regardless, let's look at the checks we can put on the John Q. Public.

We still have the Presidential veto, although he may not want to be so bold if with re-election around the corner and these same lawmakers voting on his job performance.

We still have the Supreme Court, which as before will rule on the Constitutionality of laws when they are challenged.

We stil have the States, Counties, and Cities where nothing has been changed.

And we still have a Congress that can refuse to put forward any laws to be voted on (oh wouldn't that be divine?)

We also have the Republican system (not the Party) still in place and here's how it could work:

Each individual State's vote could be tallied up, with the result being determined by State totals rather than individual totals. No law can pass unless it wins 2/3rds of all States (34 out of  50 if my math is correct.) In other words all votes for Illinois are tallied up and counted as 1 vote for Illinois, and then 1 vote for Idaho, etc. 34 votes of Yes and the law is passed.

So you may have a vote win a popularity contest, something disgusting like all gays must wear a mark on their clothing, but still not pass because it doesn't win in two-thirds of all States.

Will This Prevent Tyranny?

Of course not. Nor is it a libertarian solution or an anarchist solution. It's an attempt to mollify the worst aspects of centralized government while utilizing the technology available to a modern society.

Some Benefits

I'll start with my favorite benefit:

Members of Congress could no longer run reelection campaigns on their accomplishments. They'll have no accomplishments!!!  All they can say is, "I proposed this law or that law."  Their reelection will be decided by the votes their laws get.  An opponent could say, "The incumbent proposed 72 laws this year and you rejected every one."  What is the incumbent's response to that?  "Well, you're all idiots."  Yeah that'll get the job done.

Without accomplishments, there is no point in gerrymandering districits. You gerrymander to get elected. You want to get elected to pass laws. You can't pass laws. Why gerrymander?

What is the point of lobbying? You lobby to buy votes. Congress can no longer vote. Why lobby?

Campaign finance reform also becomes a non-issue. Why bother? Who is going to spend millions of dollars to help someone get elected so they can propose law?  That's not very cost effective. What will special interests do instead?

Some Negative Consequences 

Special interests will lobby you directly. I say, "Great!!"  You might say "eff that."  If they want to buy votes, well let's at least have them buy votes from us, the taxpayers (if there would still be taxes hehe.)  Imagine them trying to buy 20,000,000 votes.  Ha!  So you will see a rise in commercials and advertisements from special interest groups. Your NFL game will be sponsored by some law firm that wants to see you naked before you step on an airplane. So be it. This is an operational reality.  At least this way they are spending money to convince us, instead of a few "elected representatives."

Your online privacy is obviously a concern and that will have to be dealt with. But the governemnt doesn't care about your privacy right now, so having to worry about online privacy is a better arrangement in my opinion. You'll want your voting record to remain secret, I would think. You'll want to know that the system itself can't be hacked. I would prefer open source solutions to the voting application. Nothing proprietary. Etc.  These are technological issues that are solvable.

The federal government may lose a great deal of power. Heck, it may even lose the ability to operate. Well, here's a challenge: I am told by social contract theorists that the public endorses a strong federal government and taxation. If so, why would we expect the people to vote for its castration?

I certainly don't expect it. I don't think this idea brings about a libertarian paradise. Heck, the public might turn out to be worse in voting on laws than they are in voting on Congressmen! 

Where Does Responsibility Lie

But what really excites me about this idea is that no matter what happens, Americans would have no one to blame but themselves.  They can't whine about the law. It's their law. They passed it. They can't complain about their loss of civil liberties. They took it away.  They can't complain about how bankrupt the nation is. They bankrupted it.

Politics is the art of screwing up the affairs of private citizens. You might as well allow the citizens to screw it up for themselves.

David in Qatar

44 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On February 12, 2011 at 1:29 PM, dbjella (< 20) wrote:

I like this idea. 

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#2) On February 12, 2011 at 2:01 PM, Starfirenv (< 20) wrote:

David- see this. Not the place but good to know. The times they are a changin'.

http://us.mc806.mail.yahoo.com/mc/showMessage?filterBy=&.rand=1201051872&midIndex=2&mid=1_136977_AEdIv9EAAUpETVYr2QZ%2F1XySlA0&fromId=blwood6%40hotmail.com&m=1_138331_AEtIv9EAAJ9KTVakRw2OTT%2BGLow%2C1_137560_AEtIv9EAAHEcTVZ54AZZliJTDeI%2C1_136977_AEdIv9EAAUpETVYr2QZ%2F1XySlA0%2C1_136466_AE5Iv9EAAWz6TVYf9gORDiFiC8c%2C1_135931_AEhIv9EAAFJUTVX52gbS%2BWn9Xqg%2C1_135217_AElIv9EAAQ4PTVX2aAv4pCU61No%2C1_295_AEpIv9EAAOOSTVWXiAGRXwyyZbg%2C1_834_AE1Iv9EAALwATVWOSQh12VmjXhk%2C&sort=date&order=down&startMid=0&hash=1187cc4b3d88bf611cd61e1b5038427a&.jsrand=1303843&acrumb=eK788aomkSZ&enc=auto&cmd=msg.scan&pid=2&tnef=&fn=Attach0.html

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#3) On February 12, 2011 at 2:11 PM, awallejr (83.81) wrote:

From a philosophical point of view, removing the delegation of voting on laws from Congress back to individual citizens would be a more democratic system, but unless you are dealing with a small society, it is just not practical or workable.

Let's leave aside the whole amending of the Constitution for allowing this, which ironically would require Congress to propose and pass it.

The problem is people simply don't have the time or even the education to study and review every single proposed law.  Imagine people actually even trying to read the recent Health Care Law. 

Also how do you even insure the integrity of the voting process?  It can only be done at delegated centers to insure that the person voting is eligible and to prevent any form of hacking into the system.  You'd also have to hold these votes basically every week.  Not going to happen.

Finally your voting procedure loses sight of the purpose of a 2 house Congress.  During the Constitutional Convention there was legitimate concern about smaller population states being trampled on by the larger population states, and on the other hand it seemed unfair to give small population states equal voting power with large population states. A compromise was struck where the House of Representatives was based on population of the given states, and the Senate gave each state equal number of representatives.

In your example you give equal voting power to a state such as Maine with California.

And under the current system Americans have no one to blame but themselves anyway since they chose to vote for their given representatives (or chose not to vote at all).

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#4) On February 12, 2011 at 2:27 PM, whereaminow (22.15) wrote:

awallejr,

Glad to hear from you!

Let's leave aside the whole amending of the Constitution for allowing this, which ironically would require Congress to propose and pass it.

I'm definitely aware of this and it gave me a chuckle when I thought about it. The other solution would be a Constitutional Convention (which states like California and Illinois could really use, but that's not the focus here).  But a ConstConv for all purposes declares the existing government (and its laws) void, and I don't want to be so radical.

The problem is people simply don't have the time or even the education to study and review every single proposed law.  Imagine people actually even trying to read the recent Health Care Law. 

Heh, the legislators didn't read the law either. Do we really lose something here? Another recommendation I would make is that the laws get posted with no opinion. Not even links to opinion. Let the people find opinion on their own. Lord knows there's an abundance of that on the Internet.

Perhaps I am a bit faithful in humanity, but I think when you give people responsibility, they act more responsible. If you take away responsibility, they act more like children.  Looking at the American political landscape today, I agree that most people would be stone cold clueless on almost every issue. But I think that would change over time as people realized that they are responsible for their own predicament.

Also how do you even insure the integrity of the voting process?  It can only be done at delegated centers to insure that the person voting is eligible and to prevent any form of hacking into the system.  You'd also have to hold these votes basically every week.  Not going to happen.

I don't think you have to hold them every week. Emergency votes could be scheduled on short notice if need be. Assuming a partially interested electorate, you won't need alot of time to vote on emergency measures (like the bailout, which would have been routed).

As far as hacking, you are correct. You can never create a completely secure system. I don't see that as a problem. We don't have a very good system now. We already have massive hacking in our system, i.e. the influence of lobbyists/special interests. What are they, if not hackers in our political vote taking process?

So yes, there will be problems with hacking and privacy, especially at first, but we already have those problems on a much more severe level.

Finally your voting procedure loses sight of the purpose of a 2 house Congress. 

Agreed. And if you have any ideas of how to keep that system intact, I'm happy to hear it. I only want to change one aspect, not the whole system and all its tradition.

In your example you give equal voting power to a state such as Maine with California.

That's true. It's similar to the situation in the Senate. Of course you could do away with this if you felt it wasn't necessary. I was just trying to keep some American flavor in it.

And under the current system Americans have no one to blame but themselves anyway since they chose to vote for their given representatives (or chose not to vote at all).

Unfortunately, this collection we call elected representatives is the best we can do. As George Carlin famously quipped, "They don't drop from outer space. They don't pass through a membrane frrom an alternate realtiy. These people come from American families, American homes, American universities, and American businesses. This is the best we can do."

There simply are no people fit to be master. Certainly, many Americans have proven themselves fit to be slaves. But promoting one dolt to master simply because you have to have one doesn't make any sense to me. It only gives that dolt an unearned air of superiority.

John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi have no qualifications to run my life. They won popularity contests. The only people who care about popularity contests are the people least fit to make important decisions. They failed the first important decision which is, "should you care about popularity contests?" and the second, "should you rule over others?" If you answer yes to those two questions, I think you should be locked up in a mental institution (half-kidding), but you definitely should not be in charge of important decisions. That's my litmus test.

Let the people decide.

David in Qatar

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#5) On February 12, 2011 at 5:54 PM, awallejr (83.81) wrote:

I actually think you are putting too much faith in humanity. You think the gangs from the hood are going to read all those opinions and laws?  What about poor working miners in the Appalachian mountains?  Or the homeless? Or even the guy working two jobs a week just to keep his family taken care of?

And then how do you even disseminate the TONS of data to all voting citizens?  And it is tons. The bills themselves along with the committee data accumulated in support of many bills.  And the Courts will require this.  And how can one really vote on amendments of sections of existing laws without knowing what those laws are.  Federal Rules of Civil Procedure?  Internal Revenue Code (good luck understanding that one in its entirety)?  Bankruptcy laws, etc. etc. etc.

Yes you are right that most representatives don't read all the laws in their entirety mainly because they just wouldn't have the time.  These laws come out of committees who devote the energy and time to creating the proposed bills.  Those not on committee will tend to instead rely on the committee's recomendations.  And if anyone has issues they can then propose amendments to the proposed bill on the House or Senate floor and engage in debate.

As I said, in a small "town hall meeting" society it could, and in some localities, does work.  Just not practical in a Country of 300 million.

 

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#6) On February 12, 2011 at 7:11 PM, whereaminow (22.15) wrote:

awallejr,

Believe me, I considered your objections as I was ruminating on this idea. And I appreciate this discourse. If I ever feel like turning this idea into something more than just an idea, I'm going to want every angle covered and reviewed by someone skeptical of my view.

The committees can still do their thing. The politicians still do theirs. The only thing that changes here is who gets to have the yea or nay vote. Nothing else has to change.

Your second paragraph makes my point. You see all of this cornicopia of bureaucratic maze and say, "see, no one could possibly make this work," but that's just it. No one can make that work. It's like that for a reason. They don't want individuals being able to decipher what is happening to them.

My faith in humanity may be misplaced, but I have to question your faith in the political process. They don't care about you. I know this for a fact.

What would happen? Well, they can continue to present 900 page laws with zillions of unintelligible code to their hearts' content. Americans may or may not pass laws they don't understand and cannot comprehend. We don't know for sure. I suspect they won't. I suspect that the politicos and committee bureaucrats will be forced to write laws that are more comprehensible to the lay person. Would that be so bad?

I think that would be a great advance.

As for the refuge of society, they have no voice now. You don't seriously expect me to believe that the Democratic Party looks out for the poor, do you?  No one cares about them. Maybe we'd all be pleasantly surprised and find out that they'd take a more active interest politics and bringing sympathy to their plight. If not, so what?  It'd be no different than it is right now.

Anyway, this was my compromise offer to you and other social contract theorists. I asked for only one, albeit significant change, in hopes of making the state less parasitic and barbaric.

Again, thanks for taking the time to pick this apart. It may seem like a silly idea, but I am 100% serious.

David in Qatar

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#7) On February 12, 2011 at 7:14 PM, whereaminow (22.15) wrote:

No one cares about them.

Should read "no one in political power cares about them."

Which brings me to another point. If Americans are as naturally giving and caring as I think they are, I suspect they will do a better job of providing for the poor than the politicos. It's a hunch.

David in Qatar

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#8) On February 12, 2011 at 7:30 PM, topsecret10 (< 20) wrote:

Thats what I like about your blogs whereaminow ....  you think outside the box,and that Is a good thing...  :)   TS

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#9) On February 12, 2011 at 8:08 PM, whereaminow (22.15) wrote:

Thank you TS! You're one my favs. I wish you'd hang out with us more :)

David in Qatar

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#10) On February 12, 2011 at 10:29 PM, russiangambit (29.30) wrote:

I would settle in the beggining for the opportunity to ditribute my taxes across departments. Let those who pay into the system be able to decide how the resources are spent and according to their contritbution. If you don't pay into the system you don't get to decide where to put the money.

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#11) On February 12, 2011 at 10:49 PM, awallejr (83.81) wrote:

 whereaminow

The committees can still do their thing. The politicians still do theirs. The only thing that changes here is who gets to have the yea or nay vote. Nothing else has to change.

Except where is the debate and discussion by the voters themselves? They are basically given a yes or no option. You will simply find that there is insufficient time to set these votes up.  Courts will require proper notification of the votes to reach as many people as possible.  Courts will require that sufficient time be given to allow all to at least have some type of debate and discussion.

Don't forget that Third Branch, The Judiciary (contrary to Senator Charles Schumer who thinks the 3 branches are the Executive, House of Representatives and the Senate heheh).

You have to realize many laws are procedural in nature, not necessarily substantive.  You can't dumb down these procedural laws like Federal Rules of Civil or Criminal Procedure so a person without a high school diploma can understand.  Those laws are specific in nature and intended to be understood by, basically, lawyers.

Same thing with Maritime law, or Bankruptcy law, etc., etc.

Your suggestion isn't really a compromise offer to Social Contract theory.  What you are presenting is a more democratic process.  But I am submitting that that democratic process is unworkable in a more populated and complicated society.

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#12) On February 12, 2011 at 11:58 PM, whereaminow (22.15) wrote:

awallejr,

Your objections are not objections which are unique to my proposition, and could easily be made against the current system. I'll take them into consideration as I think more about this, but I seethat any of the objections you cite could easily be leveled against things as they stand. 

Since I originally did not set out to reinvent the wheel, but merely to change the balance of power between state and people, I did not intend to make a foolproof system that could withstand any criticism.

I will have more to add tomorraaaahahhhhhhh! =D 

David in Qatar 

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#13) On February 13, 2011 at 12:32 AM, awallejr (83.81) wrote:

So in the end the lesser of all "evils."

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#14) On February 13, 2011 at 10:18 AM, whereaminow (22.15) wrote:

So in the end the lesser of all "evils."

I think that's valid. Although I don't view human choice as necessarily evil. I think that coercion is immoral and voting, even in the manner that I have described, is immoral as it implies that you are selecting the people who will carry out coercion on your or "society's" behalf.

My suggestion fails on every libertarian test. I know already what the champion of liberty Michael Bednarik would have to say in response to my proposal.  It would go something like this, "You can take all the votes you want. But then you have take a second vote, which determines who will carry out the designs you have in mind."

In other words, even under my scenario let's say that 34 states ratify a bill that outlaws gun ownership. The libertarian's response is that now you have to take another vote to decide who will come and get my guns, because I'm not handing them over. And he's right.

No matter the method of government employed, if it violates the property rights of a single individual, it is invalid and immoral. The only libertarian way to run the affairs of any society, no matter the size, is through voluntary free association.

It's true that larger societies are harder to control. That's not a problem but a benefit. Control is the method of the state. Libertarians do not seek control.  They seek liberty.  It does not matter at all to us whether 60 or 60,000,000 people wish to live together. We have no interest in maintaining control. If they choose to do so voluntarily, why should we care?

It's true that the pyramids would never have been built. What can I say in response? Slavery gets sh*t done. As does conscription, corvee labor, and confiscation.  But what does it really accomplish?  Certainly nothing that reflects the actual preferences of society.  If it did reflect those preferences, it would have been done through voluntary cooperation.  That's an irrefutable law, not conjecture.  People act in accordance with their subjective evaluations.

So I propose this "amendment" in seriousness as a way to make an inherently immoral institution less barbaric and aloof. However, it's not a solution in any meaningful sense and I don't view it as such.

David in Qatar

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#15) On February 13, 2011 at 11:50 AM, awallejr (83.81) wrote:

No matter the method of government employed, if it violates the property rights of a single individual, it is invalid and immoral

Only to a certain sect of people. 

The only libertarian way to run the affairs of any society, no matter the size, is through voluntary free association

And in this libertarian state what do you do with those that choose not to cooperate?  The mob, street gangs, serial killers, bank robbers, burglars, etc.

And would you even have a police force, or a fire department, sanitation department, transportation department?  And how is this all paid for?

And would you have a standing army to defend against potential aggressive countries?  And how do you pay for this?

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#16) On February 13, 2011 at 1:58 PM, whereaminow (22.15) wrote:

Only to a certain sect of people.

Murder is only a bummer for the guy that gets whacked. Or robbery is only a bad thing for the person robbed. Etc.

And in this libertarian state what do you do with those that choose not to cooperate?  The mob, street gangs, serial killers, bank robbers, burglars, etc.

You can refuse to cooperate with them. You can refuse to provide them with service, refuse to allow them on your property, refuse to exchange with them. If they don't like it, there is nothing they can do. However, unless they initiate aggression against you, there is no justification for your aggression against them. 

And would you even have a police force, or a fire department, sanitation department, transportation department?  And how is this all paid for?

In the same way food, clothing, and shelter are paid for and provided. These things are the building blocks of society, the most perilous needs of mankind and yet the market provides them without any coercion required. 

Pick your example and I will show you how the market, and most importantly why, the market would provide it.

And would you have a standing army to defend against potential aggressive countries?  And how do you pay for this?

I prefer the model of Executive Outcomes, which was far more effective and far less expensive. But there are many ways in which armies could be raised an funded without resorting to coercion. It's easier to use coercion and fraud, yes, but it's not the most effective (see Iraq, Vietnam) or the most humane (see every state-run war).  The model of state-run warfare is not particularly glowing, so I don't have a problem with looking at other ideas.

David in Qatar 

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#17) On February 13, 2011 at 4:40 PM, awallejr (83.81) wrote:

David you didn't really answer the questions.

Murder is only a bummer for the guy that gets whacked. Or robbery is only a bad thing for the person robbed. Etc.

Apparently under a Libertarian system.  See following.

However, unless they initiate aggression against you, there is no justification for your aggression against them. 

What else do you think the mob, gangs and serial killers do?  Sings songs around the campfire?  Assume murder and at least physical extortion being committed by them. Now under your social order how do you deal with them?

Pick your example and I will show you how the market, and most importantly why, the market would provide it.

I thought I did, so I will ask them again:

1)  Would you have a police force and how would you pay for it?

2) Would you have a fire department and how would you pay for it?

3) Would you have a sanitation department and how would you pay for it?

4) Would you have a transportation department (which covers bridges, roads, tunnels, highways, mass transit systems) and how would you pay for?

there are many ways in which armies could be raised an funded without resorting to coercion

State the one you think is best of the many ways and the way it is funded.

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#18) On February 13, 2011 at 5:26 PM, whereaminow (22.15) wrote:

awallejr,

I only have time to answer one question right now, but I will get to the rest soon. I don't want to short change you. I am short on time today, that's why I hoped you would pick one example for now.  I'll have to answer those tomorrow.

What else do you think the mob, gangs and serial killers do?  Sings songs around the campfire?  Assume murder and at least physical extortion being committed by them. Now under your social order how do you deal with them?

For starters, you are free to not only defend yourself, but to prepare to defend yourself and your property from all aggression. You are free to hire protective services, to install security equipment on your property, to carry a gun, etc.  You don't have to sing songs by the campfire either and wait around to be stabbed.

It's important to note that you can do all these things now, so it's not like we're reinventing the wheel here.

But let's assume that you're caught off guard by a would-be criminal. 

I would like to introduce you to the Principle of Non-Aggression. When a person commits aggression (e.g. a mob burns down your garage or a gang kidnaps a family member) they select the amount of violence that is acceptable to them.

You are free to retaliate. Libertarians are not all pacifists (though in order to be a pacifist, you must be a libertarian but that's a separate issue.)  It is important to understand that a person who initiates violence, by doing so, indicates a willing acceptance of that level of violence. If they did not accept it, they would not have chosen it.

A libertarian is fully consistent with libertarian principles to either:

1. Deal with the aggressor themselves, for example seeking damages against the arsonist and detaining them if necessary in order to acquire this restitution; and executing every last gang member on the planet that dares to f*ck with their family.

2. Hire professionals to carry out this service if necessary.

Libertarians don't have a problem with police or court functions per se, though I don't think very highly of their abilities or methods. I think state police are lazy, under trained, and lacking common sense.  I think their function is to protect the state from the people.  The courts merely perpetuate it.

State police and state courts did not come into existence to keep you safe, nor is that their intent. They wish to keep order, which is essential for control.

Private police and courts on the other hand may provide safety and actually intend to provide you with the service you request.

Ultimately you work for the person who pays your salary. Although it's popular cliche, the police do not work for you and you do not pay their salary. Their salary is paid by the government(s) they work for.  And that is who they answer to.

It is unsurprising to a libertarian, considering the reason for the existence of this institution, that Egyptian state police were the primary attackers of the non-violent protestors.

David in Qatar

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#19) On February 13, 2011 at 6:42 PM, whereaminow (22.15) wrote:

There's an exhausting exchange on libertarianism and retaliation here, another one here, and if you are still awake here.

David in Qatar

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#20) On February 13, 2011 at 10:46 PM, checklist34 (99.71) wrote:

this is an interesting concept...  

some challenges that would come up would be massive, widespread manipulation of uneducated people, I'd guess.  Teams driving through neighborhoods helping people log on and passing out 20's to votes in their favor, spreading propaganda, and so forth. 

participation patterns would be fairly predictable, as Awall mentioned above, and that would give rise to cries of bigotry and so forth...

but yes.  I think that a majority of americans AREN'T in favor of a great many laws that have a great impact on our society...

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#21) On February 13, 2011 at 11:57 PM, ChrisGraley (29.89) wrote:

With technology the total population really doesn't matter. Computers can process billions of calculations in about the same amount of time that they can process millions of calculations.

I myself would prefer to get rid of the House all together, let the Senate propose the legislation, ( maintains the balance of State Rights) Then let the population decide with a majority vote. 

Wanna throw in a curve ball? Force the Senate to line item all proposed legislation and give the population the ability to vote on it line by line. With technology that wouldn't be very hard at all.

Just the thought of kicking 435 power grabbing leaches and their entire entourages to the curb puts a smile on my face.

 

 

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#22) On February 14, 2011 at 1:32 AM, awallejr (83.81) wrote:

 whereaminow

Self help is avaiable in  any social structure.  I was referring to a societal response not an individual response.  If, however, your societal response is limited to self help that is a different matter.  Trust me the mafia or russian mob would love to only have to deal with self help scenarios.

But if you do require a "police" there is no such thing as "private police" since by definition police is an organized civil force designed for keeping order and enforcing laws.

Basically I need to know if your libertarian society utilizes a police force or not.

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#23) On February 14, 2011 at 1:53 AM, russiangambit (29.30) wrote:

> Self help is avaiable in  any social structure.  I was referring to a societal response not an individual response.  If, however, your societal response is limited to self help that is a different matter.  Trust me the mafia or russian mob would love to only have to deal with self help scenarios.

Well, in Russia the police is the mafia. So, it is all on the self help basis. You just pay whatever they demand whenever they demand it or hire your own. Unless you are so poor you are not a target of extortion  ( that was me when living there. I was quite safe-)) ).

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#24) On February 14, 2011 at 11:12 AM, whereaminow (22.15) wrote:

awallejr

Basically I need to know if your libertarian society utilizes a police force or not. 

Yes.

(It takes me 500 words to say what could be said with 1 sometimes.)

David in Qatar 

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#25) On February 14, 2011 at 5:26 PM, awallejr (83.81) wrote:

Well I was hoping for a one word answer. 

And therein lies an inconsistency.  I think we can agree that the general purpose of a police force is to protect society and to enforce the law.  How they enforce the law in your libertarian society I can't answer, but I would assume some type of restraint or penalty meted out against the violator. 

So when we discussed income taxation in another thread you were adamant about how it is immoral because you are coerced into complying via threat of potential imprisonment for noncompliance, yet in your libertarian society coercion through your police force, by its nature, isn't immoral;  unless you think it is immoral in your libertarian society as well, in which case this conversation has become pointless and we go back to my comment of which is in the end the lesser of "evils."

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#26) On February 14, 2011 at 8:18 PM, rfaramir (29.37) wrote:

a la Kinsella, "it is retaliation–the right to respond with proportionate force against the aggressor–that is the primary right the victim has under libertarian justice"

It is the libertarian private police force which assists in helping you exercise this right.

And no, we can't "agree that the general purpose of a police force is to protect society and to enforce the law". It protects the state (its employer) and enforces the laws of that state. Many of those laws purportedly protect us, too, but that is almost incidental. It has been proven that a policeman has no obligation to protect any particular citizen at any time from any crime. It is his job to pursue the committer of that crime in order to bring him to justice as the state sees fit. "To protect and to serve" is a slogan, not a strict truth.

 

The Kinsella quote is from http://blog.mises.org/9367/fraud-restitution-and-retaliation-the-libertarian-approach/ which David linked above. You don't write like you read it. (Admitedly, I haven't read but part of this one link, myself.) 

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#27) On February 14, 2011 at 9:46 PM, whereaminow (22.15) wrote:

As you all know, I can write thousands of words on libertarianism and economics without breaking a sweat, but I can't find the time at the moment. 

So here's what I'm going to do for now, since we've strayed off topic anyway. I'm going to link to works which cover the subjects asked. Some will be scholarly, some discussion, some fun.  If you wish to peruse, that would be great. If not, no biggie. But that's the best I can do until later in the week.

How State law enforcement came into existence: England

Medieval communes

Society without coercion: Police Forces

Defense Services on the Free Market (from Rothbard's Power and Market)

Medieval Iceland and the Absence of Government

Municipalized Trash: It's Uncivilized (recommended reading)  

Does the Free Market Burn Down the House (fire services) 

The Development of Municipal Fire Department in USA

I suppose that's enough to keep us busy.

David in Qatar 

 

 

 

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#28) On February 14, 2011 at 9:53 PM, awallejr (83.81) wrote:

No one is disputing one's right to self defense.  That is not unique to libertarians.  In the US you have the absolute right to defend yourself, provided it is not excessive under the circumstances (i.e., someone spits on you and you shoot them with a gun).

As for "private police force" that is a misnomer.  "Police force" is an arm of the gov't/state. If you want to hire private people to act as your security force that is up to you and your ability to pay I suppose, but it is not germane to the discussion.

And while you may think "to protect and serve" is just a slogan you may be right when concerning a totalitarian state. In that circumstance the police's main purpose is probably to protect those in power and/or suppress when necessary the public.  But David and I are discussing the US and a libertarian society.  I can recall a time in history when police were oppressive, but with the advent of the 1964 Civil Right's Act, the times began to change.  It is not just a slogan now, but something the NCAA and generous juries consider.

In any case, accepting your definition only strengthens paragraph 2 of my comment #25, since it appears you are acknowledging the coercive nature of a "police force."

As for Kinsella, I read it but didn't feel like debating him.  He is only addressing certain points.  This discussion is not limited to aggression/retaliation alone since many crimes/actions can be completely passive and/or victimless.  You went through a red light, not another car was in sight except for the police car behind the billboard, you get a ticket.  Now your property is taken (the fine paid). You might have paid it because you accept the fact that you were wrong and you accept the obligation to pay it, or you pay it out of fear of going to jail.  Same end result, different motivations.

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#29) On February 14, 2011 at 10:01 PM, awallejr (83.81) wrote:

 whereaminow

Ya snuck in while I was writing a response.  I'd rather not get into a battle of links. While I acknowledge that the topic, to do it justice, can't be resolved through a few blogs, I was hoping to keep the discussion limited in nature.  Otherwise this can get too long and one of us might invoke the Godwin law ;p

Good, civil discussion.

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#30) On February 14, 2011 at 10:15 PM, awallejr (83.81) wrote:

Oh man can't believe I referred  the ACLU as NCAA.  I guess people can see where my mind is at ;p Can't wait until March Madness.

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#31) On February 15, 2011 at 4:11 PM, rfaramir (29.37) wrote:

"If you want to hire private people to act as your security force that is up to you and your ability to pay I suppose, but it is not germane to the discussion."

That is completely germane, as in a pure libertarian area, there is no state, and hence no "police force" by your definition. Under liberty, no select group has state protection to use more force than anyone else. It may be that re-using the term "police force" is getting in the way, since the two are very different even though they are performing analogous roles in society.

"You went through a red light, not another car was in sight except for the police car behind the billboard, you get a ticket."

Who gives you this ticket? No one has the authority to take your property unless you have signed a contract saying you will abide by such-and-such rules of this private road and then you go and violate these rules. If that's what you did, you cannot complain. Enforcing contracts is central to protecting private property in a libertarian society. The situation you complain of is common on public roads where the inflexible rules are enforced by public police whose departments are remunerated the more they ticket. On a private road, the rules would be negotiated by consent and competition would keep the rules sane. (Bad owner: "Don't like my rules? Drive somewhere else!" Good customer drives elsewhere, bad owner loses money, becomes more reasonable or sells road to more reasonable owner.)

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#32) On February 15, 2011 at 4:33 PM, whereaminow (22.15) wrote:

Thanks for comments rfarmir!  

I have a question for awallejr in regards to social contract theory (ok, it's a question with follow-ups):

The notion of the social contract is that individuals unite into a society by a process of mutual consent, agreeing to abide by certain rules and to accept duties to protect one another from violence, fraud, or negligence.  

What happens if the government commits an illegal act, agreed to be illegal by a majority of citizens, and yet continues upon this course irrelevant to the wishes of the citizens? In this case, which if the two has occured:

1) The government has broken its social contract
or
2) The people acutally consent with the government's action even if they claim otherwise pubicly

Using a recent example, the Iraq War was clearly illegal. Yet it persists. The majority of people claim they are unhappy with the war (an irrelavant and purposefully vague polling question. The better question is do they think it was illegal.)

No matter what you believe about Obama's supposed draw down of troops, America is in its 9th year of a war of aggression. (Over twice as long as WWII.)

1.) Did the government break its social contract 
or
2.) Do the people actually consent to the war even if they claim otherwise.

And Bonus Follow Up:

If the war is illegal and if the people actually do consent, are the people providing material support for illegal warfare?

And Bonus Bonus Follow Up:

If the preceeding is true, would Iraqis be justified in attacking American citizens, since they are complicit according to Social Contract Theory?

David in Qatar 

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#33) On February 15, 2011 at 6:50 PM, awallejr (83.81) wrote:

 rfaramir you are kind of walking into the middle of a discussion basically between myself and David.  Your private security force is not germane in light of David's prior response to a question of mine

"awallejr

Basically I need to know if your libertarian society utilizes a police force or not. 

Yes.

(It takes me 500 words to say what could be said with 1 sometimes.)

David in Qatar "

Now in your fictitious world you are free to make up whatever rules you wish I suppose. I suspect, however, that the Mafia would have a field day in your world.  A lot of offers that can't be refused will be made.

 

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#34) On February 15, 2011 at 8:32 PM, awallejr (83.81) wrote:

 whereaminow

You are kind of all over the place with your questions so it might be difficult for me to respond without appearing to be rambling.

You've presented "a" definition of social contract. But the United States Government derives its power from a written Constitution.

You then ask a difficult question to answer when you state "an illegal act committed by the Government."  The US Federal Government has 3 branches (Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary), each, in theory, acting as a check and balance against the other two.  I will just concentrate on the Federal level although all states are set up with 3 branches as well. So if the Executive branch commits an illegal act, the other 2 branches must respond first.  "Watergate" may be a classic example. 

If there is an ultimate breakdown of all branches refusing to act, then the Constitution has been violated and the public would have a duty to respond. I am answering vaguely because I really would need a more specific example.  Your Iraqi War example is not one since your premise that is "illegal" is incorrect from a constitutional perspective.  The Constitutional process was followed.  I would need you to be specific as to where in the Constitutional process was there an "illegality" committed and not redressed within said process.

I really don't want to get drawn into a discussion about the Iraqi War, however, but to respond to this:

would Iraqis be justified in attacking American citizens, since they are complicit according to Social Contract Theory?

Assuming you mean "justified" from a violation of "Social Contract Theory" within the US, and assuming said violation, although I don't see where, but assuming it nevertheless for purposes of answering this question, the answer is no.  They don't have privity since they are members of a foreign country. What Iraqis may feel from their own perspective, however, is another matter.

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#35) On February 16, 2011 at 9:21 AM, whereaminow (22.15) wrote:

awallejr,

Your private security force is not germane in light of David's prior response to a question of mine

This isn't that hard to understand. If you or your community want police services (crime prevention, investigative/detective services, etc) and these services are agreed to buy all parties, then you can have them. It just won't be provided by a government monopoly.  It would be provided by a for-profit private business. It might specialize in one area. It might do many function. It might be an all-in-one with jailing services included.

Most likely, there will be a great deal of variety, just as all services that are not monopolized.

David in Qatar

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#36) On February 16, 2011 at 9:26 AM, whereaminow (22.15) wrote:

awallejr,

Ok, how about this?

The Iraq War was an unjust war that killed tens of thousands (perhaps more) innocent Iraqi civilians. It was an illegal war by Geneva Convention standards, if not by the US Constiution.  GWB has been declared a war criminal and cannot travel to Sweden without fear of arrest.

(Yet Obama just hilariously gave him a defender of freedom award. Most. Ironic. Moment. Ever.)

If, by Social Contract Theory Americans have given implicit support to this effort, are Iraqis justified in counterattack, either by conventional or guerilla means?

David in Qatar

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#37) On February 16, 2011 at 6:23 PM, awallejr (83.81) wrote:

whereaminow  I really don't care which definition you pick.  I asked you if your Libertarian society utilizes a police force.  You said yes. rfaramir joins the conversation and actually corrects you saying a libertarian society wouldn't use police, but private services.  Now you change your position.  Perhaps you didn't realize that police BY DEFINITION can never be private.  If it was private it wouldn't be the police.

Personally I think you were better off sticking with the "public" police and deal with the theoretical inconsistencies.  You and rfaramir want private, so be it.

Under that scenario your libertarian society would be destined to fail, and for the reason I already gave.  Organized crime would thrive and corrupt your system.  Your private "security" forces would collapse since you couldn't pay people enough money to endure the extortion and brutality that would be perpetrated on them and/or their families.  You would never have Mom and Pop stores since the gangs would extort the hell out of them.

The US had a very serious problem with organized crime in the 1930s-1970s.  It wasn't until Congress passed the RICO act in 1970 and then created joint Federal/State/Local task forces to attack organized crime that started to change the tide.  And that has taken considerable public resources.

There's concern that Russia's foray into democracy might be jeopardized as a result of their serious problem with organized crime and corruption.

You can talk all the theory you want, but reality is what really matters. 

 

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#38) On February 16, 2011 at 6:54 PM, awallejr (83.81) wrote:

whereaminow

Regarding your comment #36, as I said I really don't want to get sidetracked into another Iraqi War discussion.  We already went down that road in another thread and I don't feel like going down it again.  I just don't want to get drawn into a debate over your comment that "the Iraq War was an unjust war." This will be my last reply on that topic. 

I asked you to show me where in the US constitutional process was there an illegality committed by the Government as you claimed occurred.  You come back and hit me with the Geneva Convention and Sweden. Really?

When two countries are at war obviously each side is trying to kill the other and each side may feel they are justified in doing so.  That is war.  It has nothing to do with  "Social Contract Theory." 

The Iraqi's killed Sadam.  It was their choice.  The Iraqi's are trying to put together a workable, democratic government.  Seems most want to make it work.  Some don't and don't seem to care who they kill, Americans or Iraqis.  Right now the US nation and the Iraqi nation are not at war. It's over.  Been over for years. The occupation is winding down as well. Hopefully the new democratic Iraqi government will flourish.  Time will tell.  Move on.

 

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#39) On February 16, 2011 at 7:53 PM, mtf00l (45.52) wrote:

I know I wasn't invited and I'm probably not welcomed either however;...

First, let's define Social Contract;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_contract

An interesting read to be sure.

Second, let's define Libertarianism;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarian

If you read the links above you'll note that a Social Contract and Libertarianism are variable or open to interpretation. At least that's what I come away with.

Now, the question seems to me, how to merge the two into one cognizant theory that works for the people?

It is an interesting thought exercise.

The failure of the current system is it is for sale to the highest bidder and as the wealth redistributes to the top one percent so goes the system. This includes all three branches, executive, legislative and judicial. Therefore, there really is no system of “checks and balances”.

I have a friend who years ago professed to be a proponent of personal liberty, basically an anarchist, who felt no laws were required and that each person’s conscience would be deterrent and or punishment enough for any wrong doing. Later on he had a daughter so I asked him if he still felt the same about laws and individuals. He replied he did. So I asked him what if someone rapes your daughter, do you feel their conscience will be enough. He thought about it for a few minutes and walked away in silence. Practical application is the best litmus test.

Another true story to illustrate the thesis above; two teenagers riding around in the same car shoot the same gun from the car while joyriding. The police catch them and they go to court. One has the best criminal defense attorney in the state the other has the public defender. The teenager whose parents have resources goes home with his parents, the teenager without goes to jail. Same crime, same time different consequences.

So, clearly some type of enforcement authority “is” required. “What” is to be enforced and “How” is the slippery slope. Additionally, for lack of a better term who polices the police?

It seems the best we can hope for is a combination of imperfect systems. Then the question becomes how do we choose which systems to combine and how.

I believe there is a need for a cooperative “authority”, let’s call it the federal government, responsible for protecting the nation, transacting trade with other nations and perhaps settling disputes between states. I believe that for those purposes the organization should be able to collect monies to cover reasonable operating costs and reasonable staffing.

Once we accept the premise of a federal government we then must address states. Then, which takes precedence, states’ rights or federal rights? Next, if states’ rights prevail then what about county, city and township rights?

If we follow private property rights as has been suggested, who owns the “public” properties? Are they to be sold to private entities? Is a corporation considered an individual in the new way of doing things? How do we define the “rule of law”?

What if we go the other way and say it is all “community” property. Does that solve the issues of property rights? Then, we can define the scope of the community from my house, my street, my block, my neighborhood, my town, my city, you get the idea. How would that be?

This is clearly another imperfect system. People are people and “rules” or “laws” would have to be adopted with an enforcing authority.

So, we return to the original thesis of “returning law back to the people”. I submit the people never had it. The law was adopted by men who took power. This from the laws created for the common wealth of England and an infrastructure was created to provide authority.

Those men of power were the robber barons of their day. Today’s robber barons don’t have to be public; they can purchase all the human resources they need to get their bidding done.

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#40) On February 16, 2011 at 8:00 PM, whereaminow (22.15) wrote:

awallejr,

I don't have any interest in nitpicking over your, my, and rfarmir's definition of the word police. You can have it. I really don't care, nor do I care why you would want state police services. They exist to prop up the regime. If you don't like me calling private police services like those I outlined in comments # 18 & 35 by the word police, I will cheerfully and happily call them something else. It's not material to me.

There is no fundamental difference between a mafia organization and the state, so claiming that the mafia would end a libertarian world is silly. It already did. It's called the state. I think we covered this topic before. There is no evidence that governments in their present form (states that use coercion) arose by happy agreement of a majority of people, and ample evidence that all states arose from criminal enterprises that used violence to subdue, conquer, and subjugate their human capital.

So my biggest concern in a libertarian world is that it might end up looking exactly like the world we live in? My goodness! Well, I guess I'm just a risk taking kind of guy.

As for Iraq, I will move on. Those that are dead have moved on as well, though in a different way. If you don't want to address the issue of Iraq, can I choose a different one? 

David in Qatar

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#41) On February 16, 2011 at 8:19 PM, awallejr (83.81) wrote:

mtf00l

So, we return to the original thesis of “returning law back to the people”. I submit the people never had it. The law was adopted by men who took power. This from the laws created for the common wealth of England and an infrastructure was created to provide authority.

Partially true.  The real reason why the US has an electoral college procedure for picking the President as opposed to a majority vote was that the delegates during the original Constitutional Convention didn't trust the average person with the task. 

However, the Constitution created what was and still is a truly unique form of government.  When one takes an oath for example, it is not to defend the Federal Government, but to support and defend the Constitution of the United States (well except perhaps the President of the US, he preserves, protects and defends)

whereaminow

There is no fundamental difference between a mafia organization and the state

I am going to assume you never had to deal with real mafioso.

As for choosing another topic, well it is taking me forever scrolling down this thread now ;p

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#42) On February 16, 2011 at 8:24 PM, whereaminow (22.15) wrote:

I am going to assume you never had to deal with real mafioso.

Though I admit I don't have any experience with the real mafia, I have worked closely with the highest elechon of the state (working in American embassies overseas.) All I can tell you is that its nothing like the civics textbook says. It's much closer to what I am told is a mafia organization.

We'll move on till another day. Thanks again for the discussion. I always appreciate your thoughtfulness.

David in Qatar

 

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#43) On February 16, 2011 at 11:53 PM, awallejr (83.81) wrote:

David I am going to tell you from real experience.  I used to practice Criminal Law.  I was got quite good at it.  I was becoming known as a "Law man" (someone who is good at making legal arguments). As a result I was drawing a harsher and harsher clientele.  I had a South American embassy referring cases to me.  I had Mafioso retaining me.  I had the Russian mob seeking my representation.  I eventually had to quit that area.  The horror and brutality that was committed just turned my stomach.

I then switched to divorce law, but that got ugly too heheh.  So I do Real Estate now.  No pressure. 

I am sure a war zone setting is just as brutal if not more so.  It is why I hate war, but I am always a realist and recognize that there are vicious and dangerous people out there, which includes political leaders.

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#44) On February 18, 2011 at 3:14 PM, leohaas (32.32) wrote:

David,

Thanks for inviting me in the first paragraph of your blog. Due to lack of time, I cannot join. I could shoot form the hip like I usually do, but this topic deserves more than that.

Leo.

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