INCLINED TO LIBERTY
A Geographic Perspective
By Bob Bennett
On the evening of the first debate between President Obama and Gov. Romney I attended the screening at UNR, which included a talk with Libertarian Vice Presidential candidate Judge Jim Gray. I enjoyed Judge Gray’s talk and found his answers to questions from the small audience to have more common sense than either of the televised candidates.
At the end of the evening campus libertarians handed out a book – INCLINED TO LIBERTY- The Futile Attempt to Suppress the Human Spirit, by Louis E. Carabini, and I looked forward to reading it. The book starts out fine, with how people are attracted to one of two competing theories – those who are inclined towards liberty – freedom of the individual to live life as he or she sees fit- as long as they are peaceful – versus those who are inclined to mastery – and want to permit others to exist only in a manner in which they, the masters, see fit. From my perspective, however, those who have mastered themselves have no need to control others, favoring liberty for all, but willing to give a helping hand. The more people take responsible for their own actions, intended or otherwise, the greater liberty & freedom can be enjoyed by all.
There are good things in the book, it is one which forces the reader to think, but some assumptions by the author turned what promised to be an enlightening read into a difficult chore where I sometimes found myself arriving at vastly different conclusions than that of the author.
“It is not fair that companies can terminate workers just to increase profits.” This is the first of many arguments/ statements in the book that can give rise to thoughtful discussion, and for this I thank the author. Companies are formed to make a profit. Should the workers share in these profits, or should they be disposed of as soon as possible if an avenue to make even greater profits arise? The answer the author gives is yes, it is fair that workers should be terminated with little or no notice. A more provocative and thoughtful answer is given by The Twelve Vision Party –which incorporates many of the values of Libertarians, but contains some frightening aspects as well. TVP believes current corporations- and newly formed companies, should be formed or re-formed along lines which reward individuals/ employees according to the value they add to the product or revenue line. This would provide incentive to employees to continue to give their best, avoid burn-out, increase loyalty and profits. While the owners would wind up with a smaller percentage of revenue, they would gain in actual dollars. Unfortunately, to my way of thinking, this would likely break down when a company grows beyond 15 – 20 employees, although with contract employees, it could possibly work until 200-250 people worked for the organization. Still I believe this portion of TVP should be endorsed by every small business – while acknowledging difficulties will arise, and will be addressed when they present themselves – after all a nation of small business people – and those working for small businesses has many advantages.
While I could probably write a book (and am seriously thinking of such a venture) to counter various arguments presented in INCLINED TO LIBERTY (as well as some TVP assumptions), for the balance of this article I will limit myself to what I see as the most galling error/ assumption of the author while trying to illuminate or spur creative solutions to a few of the many current and near term challenges which face the nation and world.
The error is that the Malthusian belief – that population growth is out growing the ability of the planet to provide for all who reside upon it – is fallacious. Malthus wrote An Essay on the Principle of Population in 1798, and in doing so provided a spur to the development of the technology which increased crop production, as well as having some influence on the opening of new and marginal land for crops. Political leaders, at least some of them, strove to solve problems, and without Malthus’s essay, they would have been ignorant of the problems they needed to address.
World population is expected to rise from the current 7 billion people worldwide to 9.1 (some estimate 12) billion by 2050, before leveling off, with the greatest population increases occurring in the developing world. This increases the risk of famine, war, and other deprivations. In Beyond Malthus: Sixteen Dimensions of the Population Problem (1998) the authors lay out the various problems, as well as presenting partial solutions in diverse areas – a sort of geographical compendium – (grain production, fresh water, biodiversity, climate change, Oceanic fish catch, jobs, cropland, forests, housing, energy, urbanization, natural recreation areas, education, waste, meat production, and income) which have resulted from the technology, and abuses of technology, which grew out of Malthus’ essay, as well as human greed and indifference.
These are stresses upon the planet which threaten much of the current life on earth, including the various structures we all depend upon to varying degrees. While I am confident that life on earth will endure, it will take intelligent effort to maintain an adequate living for all. The more living standards decline, the greater the risk for all, including stable governments. Increased harmony among the peoples of the nation and world is needed to achieve this. Those who look to the bible for direction should reread Revelations, and ask themselves “Is this God’s intention – or is it a challenge? Can mankind overcome ignorance and hatred – and instead spread understanding and harmony? Or will ignorance take the upper hand – snatching defeat from the hand of victory?” The many advances in science made during the past century should not be ignored; but neither should the law of unintended consequences. Ignoring problems will not make them go away.
In the U.S., those individuals ages 5 -14 are expected to rise in number by 10% to 43 million, by 2050. Schools need to be reorganized to adequately meet the current and approaching challenges. Gardening needs to become a topic of study – not just book learning, but actually growing food which can be used for school lunches or taken home by urban students who will hopefully also start home gardens. The current economic realities require greater reliance on individuals and families. A course on economics should be given in Junior High, perhaps something along the lines of Thinking Like an Economist – which is available from the Teaching company; as well as a course along the lines of How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci, by Michael J. Gelb. There is a need to encourage people to use both sides of their brain. The ability to recognize and possibly treat trauma should also be required of teachers. Those who live with the effects of trauma are frequently not able to make rational decisions. This includes a good many students. Schools should also present information on being in control of one’s emotions, including anger, not controlled by them. Perhaps Nonviolent Communication, by Marshall Rosenberg, should be an area of study at the high school level.
An over reliance on courts and jails to solve problems has merely led to a huge prison population, the U.S. – with 5% of the world population has 25% of the world’s prisoners. Many youth see prison as their inevitable destination. That must change, and change soon, or our society will collapse. The Supreme Court already encourages malicious prosecutions (Imbler v Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 1976 & REHBERG v. PAULK No. 10–788. Argued November 1, 2011—Decided April 2, 2012) and with the unintended consequences of Miranda v Arizona (384 U.S. 436, 1966), how far will Los Angeles County style justice, where the members of the Dancing Rectum Brigade (one of several unfavorable references to the public defenders) consider pointing to their rectums as the equivalent to assisting the accused in the preparation of a defense, spread across the nation before sanity is restored to the justice system? While private attorneys acknowledged to me that the problem is common, they also stated that nothing can be done about it. My elected representative in Sacramento told me – nearly 20 years ago: “Oh no, we’re wonderful – we don’t do that.” As far as I can tell the problem still has not been addressed, and California has the worst prisons in the nation.
Government and the major corporations imposing top down solutions which benefit solely their elites – with “the devil take the hindmost” – is not the answer. It appears as if the Supreme Court, Republicans, and many Democrats, as well as much of the bureaucracy, has adopted a Reactionary viewpoint – one of official indifference towards the results of their actions, intended or otherwise. God loves us, and we can do as we damn well please to the common people, because we will always be God’s favorite –the philosophy of the French Reactionaries didn’t work out too well in 1789 for the French elites – or the common people. Hopefully common sense, harmony, and liberty will prevail.