James Leroy Wilson's blog

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Fourteen Points

I thought I would jot down some aspects of my political philosophy. To anarchists who read this, please be patient. For each point, it could easily be said, "but it is better to just abolish the State." But what I'm providing is a general framework by which I analyze and evaluate political issues. Assume that I'm a "statist," who thinks government is grand and the Union should be forever. Assuming those values, and assuming that I am interested not in abolishing the State but working in the best interests of the State, these points explain a lot of what I think. What kind of government would be tolerable? What should the state do, or don't do, if it wants to maintain its own power? If I had political power, what values and thoughts would direct my decisions? Here are 14 points that don't answer it all, but answers quite a lot:

1. Like the landlord of apartment complex, taxes (rent) should be charged to owners of land based on the value of the location of the owned land, and not charged on the people’s incomes or the prices of goods.

2. Like the landlord of an apartment complex, the primary rules that the State should impose on the people are
a) don’t bother the “neighbors” - other people in the country, and
b) don’t damage the property - the land of the country.

3. Like the landlord of an apartment complex, the State is ultimately in charge of the security, safety, and cleanliness of the “property” - the land of the country:

a) It can prevent undesirable guests from entering and, especially, from permanently staying;
b) It can hold a citizen responsible for the behavior of their invited guests.

4. Like the landlord of an apartment complex, the State has no legitimate reason to be concerned with how the people earn their money, which doctors and medication they use, what kind of school their children go to, whom they choose as friends, customers, or clients, or how they entertain themselves.

5. Like a landlord who should be thankful when a tenant successfully resists an intruder, the State has no legitimate reason to prevent its tenants from possessing whatever means to defend themselves as they choose.

6. Unlike a landlord who can upgrade the facility, increase rents, and evict those who can’t afford to pay, the State can not impose public “improvements” that would increase land rents/taxes without the people’s consent. And the “people’s consent” should mean something way more than simple majority rule. If they’re content with the way things are, so be it.

7. Excessive taxation is not as bad as excessive regulation, because regulation itself imposes costs in both money and time. Better to overpay in today’s dollars and have the State leave us pretty much alone, than underpay Big Government and suffer deficit-induced inflation to boot.

8. Public facilities and social services that I would probably call unnecessary and extravagant are still less bad than laws and regulations designed to “protect” workers and consumers but actually just cause joblessness and higher prices. Provided, that the public facilities and social services are a) paid for, and b) that no one is legally compelled to use them, nor prohibited from using private ones.

9. The internal affairs of other countries, the means they choose to arm themselves, and their behavior toward other countries, are none of our concern and we should withdraw all financial support and military and diplomatic intervention in other countries unless

a) their internal political situation cause a refugee crisis on our borders - and this includes economic refugees,
b) their intent is invasion and conquest of our country or a portion thereof.

10. If there isn’t a representative for at most every 40,000 people, the legislature is neither representative nor even remotely democratic, no matter how universal the “right to vote.” Even if nothing is done about it, it should be acknowledged.

11. Legislatures are delegated by the people with the responsibility of imposing taxes, programs, laws, regulations, and wars when necessary. They are not delegated with the responsibility of delegating these responsibilities to other agents, agencies, or the chief executive. Nor to defer judgment of a law’s constitutionality to a judge. A legislature that does any of this means the resulting measure has even less democratic legitimacy.

12. In the United States, the states, not “the people” are the parties to the Constitution. Yes, the Constitution begins with “we the people of the United States” but the ratifiers of the Constitution understood “united states” like the “united countries.” Moreover, it was “the people” acting in representative conventions within each state, that did ratify the Constitution. The states retained their independence and sovereignty, and the federal government was to serve the states’ interests and resolve the states’ differences. The federal government has no more business interfering in a state beyond what the Constitution prescribes, than does a landlord interfering in the personal business of a tenant beyond what’s stated in the lease.

13. My deference to the Constitution is acquiescence, not agreement - it is the law of the land. My father is an expert in the parliamentary procedures of Robert’s Rules of Order. One value I learned early is that it hardly matters if you agree that Robert’s prescriptions are always the most convenient for your own meeting’s controversy, what matters is that abandoning Robert’s leads to disorder at best, and abuse of power at worst. In the same way, to support some deviation from the Constitution for the sake of expediency, when the Constitution has never been formally repealed, is to advocate lawlessness in general. Lawlessness breeds lawlessness, and it is lawlessness that leads to tyranny.

14. The dollar should be issued by the Treasury of the United States, not by the Federal Reserve banking cartel, and be defined as a particular weight in gold. The inflationary policies of paper money and government debt have kept the bulk of the people in almost permanent serfdom.


  1. All good points... I could argue some of them around the margins, but by and large, and decent view of the State.

    However, I've never been comfortable with the "landlord" analogy, because it smacks too much of paternalism. As you mentioned, the landlord owns the property...and the tenets are mere renters. All property is owned by the State, and subject to the rules set by those in charge.

    This is different than the view that the State is simply an agent of Sovereign, self-governing individuals... ie.. the "apartment dwellers" decide to appoint the landlord... In this sense, maybe you could substitute a "homeowners association" analogy with the "landlord"...

    Just a thought.

  2. Good points, but I think you undermine your own landlord metaphor by including point six. Once you have yourself made such an exception to the equivalence of government and landlords, it's harder to object when others point out other exceptions - such as the fact that landlords don't have a legislature and rely on an external judiciary to settle disputes, or that there's a fundamental difference between a collection of (possibly different) leases and a single constitution. Pretty quickly the analogy just falls flat.

  3. Tom Anderson11:49 AM PST

    Replace "apartment" with "condo" and "landlord" with "condo association". Owners of condos in a building belong to an association which governs common concerns and collects dues in order to conduct its business. The people are owners, not renters.