Debate on IP, 1983: Wendy McElroy vs. J. Neil Schulman


Greybird

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Phil still haunts these pages. I continue to be amazed that nobody has outed him yet.

That's just the inertia in our own minds from the strength of his former presence.

--Brant

I'd say the stench of his former presence.

J

You would say it but you shouldn't. Don't assume your olfactory arbitrariness is universal.

Edited by daunce lynam
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You know you're fucked when you talk about missing Phil.

Rich, my fellow madman iconoclast, there are a couple of us here (at least) who have been keeping in touch with Phil. From all reports he is doing well and feeling pretty sprightly. He shares with me from time to time some fun things he has written. I paste one such below in an attempt to turn mere drift into a tidal bore.

Two things jump out. Don't say 'speak frog,' please. It suggests something about you that cannot possibly be true: bigotry. Bete noire is a fully-functioning part of the English language now, like rendez-vous, hors d'oeuvre, apéritif and va t'en faire foutre, bub. As we say in Canada, checkez vos premises . . .

Secondly, yes, Steve throws red meat and George chomps. Comme toujours. Who could expect anything different (especially when he prepares the chomping by telling the dogs to be nice or he will be disappointed)? That said, you are the other face of the coin at times -- we all can be -- taking the part of competing Miss Manners, chiding and pursing lips and sighing and fainting at bad form in the other dog's performances.

[in my own guise of Madame Etiquette, I would think that if Steve wanted discussion of the discussion and its points, he could have opened the gambit. It reminds me of someone standing at the kitchen counter, with a tin of Spaghettios and a can-opener, grizzling and keening: "Won't anyone help me with dinner!"]

Finally, how dare you post the picture of that accordionist? Surely everyone knows Johnny Puleo deserves the honour!

-- here is Phil the light-hearted:

For a long time many of the most interesting programs on PBS and elsewhere on tv seem to have come from England. But lately I've noticed a disturbing trend for the few things I watch to be coming from Canada, in its bid to culturally dominate its shallow, flatulent, supersize-me big brother to the South.

First, there was "The Guard". If you looked closely you noticed that it was the -Canadian- Coast Guard, not the USCG. It featured the usual angst and guilt and strife among les petit fonctionaires. I've started watching Rookie Blue, about struggling fresh out of the academy police officers. If you look closely, you can see that they are stationed in Toronto. And, now, finally, this year, it looks as if your imperialism is set to take over...Just in the past month, "Combat Hospital" started up. You would think, nah, not more Canadiana. It's set in Afghanistan. The headband wearing colonel in charge of the field hospital says "welcome to Kandahar!" But if you look not even very closely and notice the comments about 'you are in the Canadian armed forces', it becomes clear that this MASH unit is not about Hawkeye Pierce and a bunch of draftees from the Midwest. We're not in Kansas anymore.

Now here is the goddamn last straw: Last night for the first time, I watched another show that just started this summer: "The Border". The longest unmilitarized border in the world. Guess where that is?? They could have had it being defended by the U.S., by Homeland Security.

But, nah, the police and security and immigration forces are all Canadian. And the scenes shuttle between Toronto and Vancouver. What's next, are you guys going to try to seize the intellectual high ground so long owned by Americans and take over NASCAR? Create Hollywood movies full of fart jokes and bodily fluids humor?

Yikes!!!!

The funny thing is that to my cultural chagrin many of these shows are damn good. Last night I found myself shuttling between The Boirder and MI-5 (about the -British- counter-terrorism force of the same name.)

--Phil

PS, I'm just preparing to teach a course this fall called "a survey of great poetry". Thirty five poems in six weeks. Just want to let you know that only one of the greatest Engliish-language poems seems to have been written by a Canadian. So hah, hah, hah .... and poo on you.

PPS, You may quote any parts of this on OL if you wish...if not, my feelings will not be hurt and the royalty payments will be slight.

Edited by william.scherk
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Steve's passive-aggressive behavior is only tiresome now. I prefer Phil jumping in with both feet, elbows swinging wildly and the irony of his taking the problem he was complaining about with him when he left.

--Brant

Yeah, I was thinking on that. He was better. Phil would, from time to time, resurface and he would do some beautiful things. Well, maybe not Beauty, but awfully damn good. You could see his nature.

You know you're fucked when you talk about missing Phil. That is the pregnant fact of it, methinks. Jeez.

rde

Waiting for the Curmudgeon or Someone Like Him

Phil still haunts these pages. I continue to be amazed that nobody has outed him yet.

I saw this weird shadow on my wall this a.m. It could be so.

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You know you're fucked when you talk about missing Phil.

Rich, my fellow madman iconoclast, there are a couple of us here (at least) who have been keeping in touch with Phil. From all reports he is doing well and feeling pretty sprightly. He shares with me from time to time some fun things he has written. I paste one such below in an attempt to turn mere drift into a tidal bore.

Two things jump out. Don't say 'speak frog,' please. It suggests something about you that cannot possibly be true: bigotry. Bete noire is a fully-functioning part of the English language now, like rendez-vous, hors d'oeuvre, apéritif and va t'en faire foutre, bub. As we say in Canada, checkez vos premises . . .

Secondly, yes, Steve throws red meat and George chomps. Comme toujours. Who could expect anything different (especially when he prepares the chomping by telling the dogs to be nice or he will be disappointed)? That said, you are the other face of the coin at times -- we all can be -- taking the part of competing Miss Manners, chiding and pursing lips and sighing and fainting at bad form in the other dog's performances.

[in my own guise of Madame Etiquette, I would think that if Steve wanted discussion of the discussion and its points, he could have opened the gambit. It reminds me of someone standing at the kitchen counter, with a tin of Spaghettios and a can-opener, grizzling and keening: "Won't anyone help me with dinner!"]

Finally, how dare you post the picture of that accordionist? Surely everyone knows Johnny Puleo deserves the honour!

-- here is Phil the light-hearted:

For a long time many of the most interesting programs on PBS and elsewhere on tv seem to have come from England. But lately I've noticed a disturbing trend for the few things I watch to be coming from Canada, in its bid to culturally dominate its shallow, flatulent, supersize-me big brother to the South.

First, there was "The Guard". If you looked closely you noticed that it was the -Canadian- Coast Guard, not the USCG. It featured the usual angst and guilt and strife among les petit fonctionaires. I've started watching Rookie Blue, about struggling fresh out of the academy police officers. If you look closely, you can see that they are stationed in Toronto. And, now, finally, this year, it looks as if your imperialism is set to take over...Just in the past month, "Combat Hospital" started up. You would think, nah, not more Canadiana. It's set in Afghanistan. The headband wearing colonel in charge of the field hospital says "welcome to Kandahar!" But if you look not even very closely and notice the comments about 'you are in the Canadian armed forces', it becomes clear that this MASH unit is not about Hawkeye Pierce and a bunch of draftees from the Midwest. We're not in Kansas anymore.

Now here is the goddamn last straw: Last night for the first time, I watched another show that just started this summer: "The Border". The longest unmilitarized border in the world. Guess where that is?? They could have had it being defended by the U.S., by Homeland Security.

But, nah, the police and security and immigration forces are all Canadian. And the scenes shuttle between Toronto and Vancouver. What's next, are you guys going to try to seize the intellectual high ground so long owned by Americans and take over NASCAR? Create Hollywood movies full of fart jokes and bodily fluids humor?

Yikes!!!!

The funny thing is that to my cultural chagrin many of these shows are damn good. Last night I found myself shuttling between The Boirder and MI-5 (about the -British- counter-terrorism force of the same name.)

--Phil

PS, I'm just preparing to teach a course this fall called "a survey of great poetry". Thirty five poems in six weeks. Just want to let you know that only one of the greatest Engliish-language poems seems to have been written by a Canadian. So hah, hah, hah .... and poo on you.

PPS, You may quote any parts of this on OL if you wish...if not, my feelings will not be hurt and the royalty payments will be slight.

If you believed for a minute that I cared about what languages are used. Heavens, William. That was just for him, effete as he appears. There's no crying in baseball, and yes, I realize what French Canadia<tm> is. French is a beautiful language. It is a Movable Feast!

Rightio.

It is very difficult to kill a zombie.

Phil was better, I guess. It's like deciding between weird meats in a strange shop.

Regards,

r

Nice hearin' frum yuh.

Edited by Rich Engle
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You know you're fucked when you talk about missing Phil.

Rich, my fellow madman iconoclast, there are a couple of us here (at least) who have been keeping in touch with Phil. From all reports he is doing well and feeling pretty sprightly. He shares with me from time to time some fun things he has written. I paste one such below in an attempt to turn mere drift into a tidal bore.

Two things jump out. Don't say 'speak frog,' please. It suggests something about you that cannot possibly be true: bigotry. Bete noire is a fully-functioning part of the English language now, like rendez-vous, hors d'oeuvre, apéritif and va t'en faire foutre, bub. As we say in Canada, checkez vos premises . . .

Secondly, yes, Steve throws red meat and George chomps. Comme toujours. Who could expect anything different (especially when he prepares the chomping by telling the dogs to be nice or he will be disappointed)? That said, you are the other face of the coin at times -- we all can be -- taking the part of competing Miss Manners, chiding and pursing lips and sighing and fainting at bad form in the other dog's performances.

[in my own guise of Madame Etiquette, I would think that if Steve wanted discussion of the discussion and its points, he could have opened the gambit. It reminds me of someone standing at the kitchen counter, with a tin of Spaghettios and a can-opener, grizzling and keening: "Won't anyone help me with dinner!"]

Finally, how dare you post the picture of that accordionist? Surely everyone knows Johnny Puleo deserves the honour!

-- here is Phil the light-hearted:

For a long time many of the most interesting programs on PBS and elsewhere on tv seem to have come from England. But lately I've noticed a disturbing trend for the few things I watch to be coming from Canada, in its bid to culturally dominate its shallow, flatulent, supersize-me big brother to the South.

First, there was "The Guard". If you looked closely you noticed that it was the -Canadian- Coast Guard, not the USCG. It featured the usual angst and guilt and strife among les petit fonctionaires. I've started watching Rookie Blue, about struggling fresh out of the academy police officers. If you look closely, you can see that they are stationed in Toronto. And, now, finally, this year, it looks as if your imperialism is set to take over...Just in the past month, "Combat Hospital" started up. You would think, nah, not more Canadiana. It's set in Afghanistan. The headband wearing colonel in charge of the field hospital says "welcome to Kandahar!" But if you look not even very closely and notice the comments about 'you are in the Canadian armed forces', it becomes clear that this MASH unit is not about Hawkeye Pierce and a bunch of draftees from the Midwest. We're not in Kansas anymore.

Now here is the goddamn last straw: Last night for the first time, I watched another show that just started this summer: "The Border". The longest unmilitarized border in the world. Guess where that is?? They could have had it being defended by the U.S., by Homeland Security.

But, nah, the police and security and immigration forces are all Canadian. And the scenes shuttle between Toronto and Vancouver. What's next, are you guys going to try to seize the intellectual high ground so long owned by Americans and take over NASCAR? Create Hollywood movies full of fart jokes and bodily fluids humor?

Yikes!!!!

The funny thing is that to my cultural chagrin many of these shows are damn good. Last night I found myself shuttling between The Boirder and MI-5 (about the -British- counter-terrorism force of the same name.)

--Phil

PS, I'm just preparing to teach a course this fall called "a survey of great poetry". Thirty five poems in six weeks. Just want to let you know that only one of the greatest Engliish-language poems seems to have been written by a Canadian. So hah, hah, hah .... and poo on you.

PPS, You may quote any parts of this on OL if you wish...if not, my feelings will not be hurt and the royalty payments will be slight.

"She was only a Border Guard's* daughter.."

but she liked Phil's piece a lot.

*I really was, they were called Customs & Immigration Officers in those days.

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You know you're fucked when you talk about missing Phil.

Rich, my fellow madman iconoclast, there are a couple of us here (at least) who have been keeping in touch with Phil. From all reports he is doing well and feeling pretty sprightly. He shares with me from time to time some fun things he has written. I paste one such below. . .here is Phil the light-hearted:

I'm just preparing to teach a course this fall called "a survey of great poetry". Thirty five poems in six weeks.

It's a pity Phil's no longer here. I'd love to read his comments on "Fern Hill" by Dylan Thomas.

JR

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I wonder what happens when you give a banana to a monkey and tell him you trust him not to eat the banana.

Mostly because you don't really approve of monkeys eating bananas.

You elucidate that it results in low-quality monkeys.

But then he eats the banana.

What do you do?

sigh...

:)

Michael

"You" talk to monkeys?

--Brant

where's my banana?

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I wonder what happens when you give a banana to a monkey and tell him you trust him not to eat the banana.

Mostly because you don't really approve of monkeys eating bananas.

You elucidate that it results in low-quality monkeys.

But then he eats the banana.

What do you do?

sigh...

:)

Michael

You introduce checks and balances, of course. These will magically mitigate the unimaginable excesses committed by monkeys doing what they naturally do, just as checks and balances magically mitigate the unimaginable excesses committed by politicians doing what they naturally do (abuse the power they have been naively given by the voters, who naively trusted them not to abuse it).

But you know all this.

JR

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I wonder what happens when you give a banana to a monkey and tell him you trust him not to eat the banana.

Mostly because you don't really approve of monkeys eating bananas.

You elucidate that it results in low-quality monkeys.

But then he eats the banana.

What do you do?

sigh...

:)

Michael

You buy more bananas, and start over. That's one way. Or, buy them typewriters--maybe hit eBay and treat them to IBM Selectrics. IPads . . .something.

Then you wait until they get done throwing poop at one another. After that, you are kind of on your own.

rde

Primate Fever

Edited by Rich Engle
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I wonder what happens when you give a banana to a monkey and tell him you trust him not to eat the banana.

Mostly because you don't really approve of monkeys eating bananas.

You elucidate that it results in low-quality monkeys.

But then he eats the banana.

What do you do?

sigh...

:)

Michael

You introduce checks and balances, of course. These will magically mitigate the unimaginable excesses committed by monkeys doing what they naturally do, just as checks and balances magically mitigate the unimaginable excesses committed by politicians doing what they naturally do (abuse the power they have been naively given by the voters, who naively trusted them not to abuse it).

But you know all this.

JR

Geo. Washington was America's first American king.

Maybe he should have just said so.

Then everybody would have known the truth from the get-go

AND FOUGHT FOR THEIR FREEDOM--from the get-go and the continual-go

--Brant

Edited by Brant Gaede
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I wonder what happens when you give a banana to a monkey and tell him you trust him not to eat the banana.

Mostly because you don't really approve of monkeys eating bananas.

You elucidate that it results in low-quality monkeys.

But then he eats the banana.

What do you do?

sigh...

:)

Michael

You introduce checks and balances, of course. These will magically mitigate the unimaginable excesses committed by monkeys doing what they naturally do, just as checks and balances magically mitigate the unimaginable excesses committed by politicians doing what they naturally do (abuse the power they have been naively given by the voters, who naively trusted them not to abuse it).

But you know all this.

JR

Geo. Washington was America's first American king.

Maybe he should have just said so.

Then everybody would have known the truth from the get-go

AND FOUGHT FOR THEIR FREEDOM--from the get-go and the continual-go

--Brant

That's right. And, I can imagine the attempted, er, "insertion" of checks and balances on this thread alone. Yeah, that sounds fucking fabulous. I can hardly wait to get started!

rde

Oh boy me first me first!

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You introduce checks and balances, of course. These will magically mitigate the unimaginable excesses committed by monkeys doing what they naturally do, just as checks and balances magically mitigate the unimaginable excesses committed by politicians doing what they naturally do (abuse the power they have been naively given by the voters, who naively trusted them not to abuse it).

But you know all this.

Jeff,

It has more to do with weird ways of getting a momentary place in the spotlight.

I see a lot of loneliness in O-land and l-land. A hell of a lot.

These muted cries for attention in the form or set-ups with a preemptive criticism built in either get me in a poignant mood where the loneliness by empathy aches in my spirit, or they make me start thinking about a little 5 year old girl who comes up to you and says, "Don't you tickle me. Don't you dare tickle me." And if you don't respond, she will say, "You better not tickle me. You hear?"

And then I can't take it seriously anymore. I start laughing in a good-natured way and shove off into comedy.

I know my reaction is not typical in our neck of the woods, but ain't life a bitch, anyway?

How's that for balance? (Ain't no check coming in the mail, though...)

:)

Michael

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Speaking of checks and balances, here's a cute little quote from the big lady herself (my bold):

In mankind's history, the understanding of the government's proper function is a very recent achievement: it is only two hundred years old and it dates from the Founding Fathers of the American Revolution. Not only did they identify the nature and the needs of a free society, but they devised the means to translate it into practice. A free society—like any other human product—cannot be achieved by random means, by mere wishing or by the leaders' "good intentions." A complex legal system, based on objectively valid principles, is required to make a society free and to keep it free—a system that does not depend on the motives, the moral character or the intentions of any given official, a system that leaves no opportunity, no legal loophole for the development of tyranny.

The American system of checks and balances was just such an achievement.

This is from "The Nature of Government" in The Virtue of Selfishness.

Some people disagree with Rand on this, but I don't. From what I have learned over life and study about human nature, she was spot on.

I may disagree with those people who disagree, but I won't call them names like Rand did. I realize that she was lonely in her own fashion and had her own ways of getting attention.

Michael

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Speaking of checks and balances, here's a cute little quote from the big lady herself (my bold):

In mankind's history, the understanding of the government's proper function is a very recent achievement: it is only two hundred years old and it dates from the Founding Fathers of the American Revolution. Not only did they identify the nature and the needs of a free society, but they devised the means to translate it into practice. A free society—like any other human product—cannot be achieved by random means, by mere wishing or by the leaders' "good intentions." A complex legal system, based on objectively valid principles, is required to make a society free and to keep it free—a system that does not depend on the motives, the moral character or the intentions of any given official, a system that leaves no opportunity, no legal loophole for the development of tyranny.

The American system of checks and balances was just such an achievement.

This is from "The Nature of Government" in The Virtue of Selfishness.

Some people disagree with Rand on this, but I don't. From what I have learned over life and study about human nature, she was spot on.

I may disagree with those people who disagree, but I won't call them names like Rand did. I realize that she was lonely in her own fashion and had her own ways of getting attention.

Michael

I can speak only for myself, of course, but I know that I am struck dumb with admiration by the way the American system of checks and balances has left no opportunity, no legal loophole for the development of tyranny. Every time I think about it, it brings tears to my eyes.

JR

Edited by Jeff Riggenbach
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Speaking of checks and balances, here's a cute little quote from the big lady herself (my bold):

In mankind's history, the understanding of the government's proper function is a very recent achievement: it is only two hundred years old and it dates from the Founding Fathers of the American Revolution. Not only did they identify the nature and the needs of a free society, but they devised the means to translate it into practice. A free society—like any other human product—cannot be achieved by random means, by mere wishing or by the leaders' "good intentions." A complex legal system, based on objectively valid principles, is required to make a society free and to keep it free—a system that does not depend on the motives, the moral character or the intentions of any given official, a system that leaves no opportunity, no legal loophole for the development of tyranny.

The American system of checks and balances was just such an achievement.

This is from "The Nature of Government" in The Virtue of Selfishness.

Some people disagree with Rand on this, but I don't. From what I have learned over life and study about human nature, she was spot on.

I may disagree with those people who disagree, but I won't call them names like Rand did. I realize that she was lonely in her own fashion and had her own ways of getting attention.

Michael

Years after ratification of the U.S. Constitution, James Madison -- the "father" of the selfsame document -- characterized the system of checks and balances contained therein as a mere "parchment barrier" to the growth of governmental power. Madison argued that the possible encroachment of any one branch into the jurisdictional spheres of the other two branches was not the real danger. Rather, each branch would expand outward into the public sphere, i.e., into areas in which no branch of government had any legitimate business.

Skepticism about the American system was fairly widespread among the Founders, even before ratification. The American system was based largely on the British model, especially as this had been idealized by Montesquieu in Spirit of the Laws (1748). The British system had proven reasonably effective because the three branches (King, Commons, and Lords) actually represented different interests, for the most part, and these competing interests would frequently oppose and thereby "check" one another.

But, as critics of the American version pointed out, the three branches of the federal government did not similarly represent different interests in any significant sense. Members of all three branches would be drawn from the same "class," so members of all three branches would have a common interest and would therefore join hands in a common cause to expand the powers of the federal government far beyond its original jurisdiction and constitutional limits.

Ghs

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Speaking of checks and balances, here's a cute little quote from the big lady herself (my bold):

In mankind's history, the understanding of the government's proper function is a very recent achievement: it is only two hundred years old and it dates from the Founding Fathers of the American Revolution. Not only did they identify the nature and the needs of a free society, but they devised the means to translate it into practice. A free society—like any other human product—cannot be achieved by random means, by mere wishing or by the leaders' "good intentions." A complex legal system, based on objectively valid principles, is required to make a society free and to keep it free—a system that does not depend on the motives, the moral character or the intentions of any given official, a system that leaves no opportunity, no legal loophole for the development of tyranny.

The American system of checks and balances was just such an achievement.

This is from "The Nature of Government" in The Virtue of Selfishness.

Some people disagree with Rand on this, but I don't. From what I have learned over life and study about human nature, she was spot on.

I may disagree with those people who disagree, but I won't call them names like Rand did. I realize that she was lonely in her own fashion and had her own ways of getting attention.

Michael

I can speak only for myself, of course, but I know that I am struck dumb with admiration by the way the American system of checks and balances has left no opportunity, no legal loophole for the development of tyranny. Every time I think about it, it brings tears to my eyes.

JR

I remember a day when that was true, Jeff; it was the ultimate in human innovations. But, I do not for a minute believe it has nearly the strength it used to. For that matter, I wonder if it exists anymore at all. I see it subverted, constantly--there is a reformation of thought being enforced. Checks and balances? Have you seen what goes on with the cops? The fascism? And then, on the other side, even the remaining good cops have their hands tied on things that they used to be able to fix very easily. I find it very skewed, inverted, and generally a fucked-up Orwellian nightmare.

I always, always thought that the U.S., what it stood for, how it was incepted, was inviolate, but I was either naive as hell, or things changed, or both.

Not buying it. Not only do I see the check/balance system failing miserably (or becoming extinct), but I see it turning into an angry, reverse backlash. And mind you, I am a man of faith and hope--two fairly dirty words in these waters.

I hope I am wrong, and you are right, but it smells like swamp.

Best,

rde

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I can speak only for myself, of course, but I know that I am struck dumb with admiration by the way the American system of checks and balances has left no opportunity, no legal loophole for the development of tyranny. Every time I think about it, it brings tears to my eyes.

Come on, Jeff.

Us against them again? The same rhetorical gimmick again?

Nobody I know of claims that the system of checks and balances closes all loopholes against tyranny. It just slices power up. In fact, the only people I know of who are perceived as claiming your meaning are people who don't, but are misrepresented by being misassigned that meaning like with your remark above.

So, am I for you or against you in this argument? How about neither?

That's exactly where I'm at.

I'm more in line with Glenn Beck, who holds that freedom doesn't work unless people (not just the leaders) are also active in trying to be good. In his case, that means going to church and getting his morals from there, but he has said often that he includes atheists who think right and wrong through and practice the right--in terms of individualism, of course.

The truth is, if you have a situation where a bunch of thugs get freedom, you soon have violent gangs. Then freedom evaporates.

Prove me wrong if you can.

Michael

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Not only do I see the check/balance system failing miserably (or becoming extinct), but I see it turning into an angry, reverse backlash.

Rich,

A popular reaction is precisely the last check and balance before surrender to absolute tyranny.

We are in the middle of such a popular reaction. And, yes, the abuses are terrible--but they are still not at the dictatorship level I have seen with my own eyes in South America.

Anyway, if power did not get abused, what would be the point of checking and balancing it? These things exist as prevention, but also as a corrective when prevention doesn't work.

In fact, that's one of the reasons why South America has gradually adopted checks and balances with individual rights over dictatorships. It's a far better alternative.

Michael

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Years after ratification of the U.S. Constitution, James Madison -- the "father" of the selfsame document -- characterized the system of checks and balances contained therein as a mere "parchment barrier" to the growth of governmental power. Madison argued that the possible encroachment of any one branch into the jurisdictional spheres of the other two branches was not the real danger. Rather, each branch would expand outward into the public sphere, i.e., into areas in which no branch of government had any legitimate business.

Skepticism about the American system was fairly widespread among the Founders, even before ratification. The American system was based largely on the British model, especially as this had been idealized by Montesquieu in Spirit of the Laws (1748). The British system had proven reasonably effective because the three branches (King, Commons, and Lords) actually represented different interests, for the most part, and these competing interests would frequently oppose and thereby "check" one another.

But, as critics of the American version pointed out, the three branches of the federal government did not similarly represent different interests in any significant sense. Members of all three branches would be drawn from the same "class," so members of all three branches would have a common interest and would therefore join hands in a common cause to expand the powers of the federal government far beyond its original jurisdiction and constitutional limits.

Ghs

One more thing....

When most people think of the American system of checks and balances, they also think of the power of judicial review exercised by the U.S. Supreme Court. But this power is not contained in the Constitution at all -- though Alexander Hamilton, the great evil genius of early American history, argued that this was an "implied power."

Hamilton's argument was adopted by Chief Justice Marshall -- a political appointee and Federalist minion -- in the landmark case of Marbury v. Madison (1803). Thus was the doctrine of judicial review enshrined in American law. The Jeffersonians -- the limited government people of their day -- were not happy campers. Many of them argued that the supreme courts of the respective states should have the power to declare federal laws unconstitutional, an approach known as "nullification."

Ghs

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George,

Believe it or not, I learned these things from Beck on his TV show. I would have to look for it (probably in the Founder's Fridays series), but there are several shows devoted to this stuff.

He also presented some of the vituperation of the times. Those guys were a hoot. And back then, they even had dueling. Imagine them on Internet forums.

Michael

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Not only do I see the check/balance system failing miserably (or becoming extinct), but I see it turning into an angry, reverse backlash.

Rich,

A popular reaction is precisely the last check and balance before surrender to absolute tyranny.

We are in the middle of such a popular reaction. And, yes, the abuses are terrible--but they are still not at the dictatorship level I have seen with my own eyes in South America.

Anyway, if power did not get abused, what would be the point of checking and balancing it? These things exist as prevention, but also as a corrective when prevention doesn't work.

In fact, that's one of the reasons why South America has gradually adopted checks and balances with individual rights over dictatorships. It's a far better alternative.

Michael

By 18th century standards, the U.S government became tyrannical many years ago. Virtually every complaint that Jefferson made in the Declaration against the British government has modern counterparts in the current U.S. government -- and to a far more serious extent.

Ghs

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