I pressed the FSP about several examples which I thought illustrated the need for a government, as opposed to private sector efforts, and I pressed them about the value of being free from government interference vs the value of insuring the just functioning of a free society.
|The heavy hand of government|
Take, for example, slavery.
Would the FSP people have sat home in 1860 and not gone off to force slave owners to give up their property in states where slavery was legal? After all, the federal government waging war on slave owners trying to defend their property rights is the ultimate in the heavy hand of government.
Yes, they said, they would have sat home and allowed slavery to persist in the South.
But they would have opposed the Fugitive Slave Act to prevent the slave owners from pursuing slaves in New Hampshire.
But by what means would the FSP have opposed the private armies of the slave owners when they appeared in NH to reclaim their "property?" Would the FSP have called out he NH national guard? Again, government getting between a man and his property. Or would the FSP have hired a private force to oppose the slave owners' armies? Who would have skin in that game, to pay for a force to protect runaway slaves? No profit in that.
The problem is, the profit motive does not motivate change for those who cannot immediately contribute to your profit. (I would argue there are whole parts of the economy where the profit motive has proved a conspicuous failure, driving up costs and decreasing quality, e.g. health care.)
The big vulnerability in the FSP people was they had never thought through the implications of what they were saying, which is they basically are anti social, and if you follow their line of reasoning to its logical conclusion, they want to live "off the grid."
How much appeal would these hermits have to the 1.3 million citizens of New Hampshire? The best disinfectant for these thinkers is sunlight. Just let them talk in open venues and they will burn up under the glaring light of scrutiny.
If an agent from the federal government shows up at a man's private farm and says he wants to test his cows for Mad Cow Disease, would the FSP be opposed to that heavy hand of government?
--Yes. The market would close that man down if his cows had Mad Cow disease.
--Ah, but the disease does not show up for 15 years in human beings who eat that meat, the market is too slow. That cow is out of the barn.
-- But that's like Moody's and all those private companies rating stocks--they were motivated by profit to rate stocks highly, for fear of losing the business of the companies they were rating. What company paid by the farmer would find the disease in the cattle of the man who is paying them?
What about thalidomide?
Better than laying the heavy hand of government on the drug companies?
Government requiring the individual to not be a threat to others or a burden to others.
Many also oppose requirements for health insurance as a government intrusion into their lives.
If we had an Ebola outbreak in New Hampshire and vaccine to prevent it, would you oppose mandatory vaccinations, knowing those who refused vaccination could pose a threat to the entire population by getting and spreading Ebola?
Blank stares in response and much blinking.
Back in the 1940's and 1950's every child and parent knew about and feared the yearly epidemics of polio--would you want to return to that?
FSP answer: It's up to the individual to assess risks for himself.
We went back and forth about all this and I understood the FSP stance, or rather, their variety of stances, always coming from the point of no government, and I understood it is no more monolithic than the Catholic population of America. The pope would forbid contraceptives, but American Catholics use them anyway. They reject parts of the orthodoxy but still consider themselves Catholics. So it is with the Free Staters who disagree with some dogma and embrace other parts of it.
They are not "ridiculous," although as is true of many absolutists, their absolutism gets them into precarious intellectual positions.
Even the American Civil Liberty Union accolyte gets hung up on his absolute belief in free speech when Oliver Wendell Holmes asks, "But do you have the right to shout 'Fire!' in a crowded theater when there is no fire?"
|Small government guru. Worked for him. Owned slaves. Except for the Louisana Purchase|
The microphone lady kept going on ominously about the 20,000 FSP subversives who have moved in to the state to seize control.
Personally, I've got no problem with 100,000 true believers moving here--they still have to convince others they are right and given my conversations with them last night, I doubt they'll ever be able to persuade more than their own numbers. They find few converts beating up on meter maids as the example of the oppressive hand of an overweening government.
If you want to look to a model, look at Utah, where true believers flocked and set up a utopia which over time gave way to the demands of the greater nation.
I would hate NH to become Utah, but we are a free and open nation, with no borders which prevent free travel and relocation. We have to defend our ideas, not our borders. Even the Mormons had to change their beliefs to accommodate the heavy hand of a federal government which forbade polygamy.
The trouble with Democrats is they react in the authoritarian /scold mode.
I do not fear these FSP guys.
They collapse quickly enough when you press them on their positions.
They are hardly a pernicious threat. Listen to them. Argue with them. Respect their right to believe crazy things and then demolish those crazy things and watch to see if they are capable of seeing the truth as you see it.