By Dan Bodine
(Note: This is a slightly revised version cross-posted at Center on Social Minimalism.)
Dear Mr. David Galland:
As a regular reader who often enjoys your wit and contrariness in your popular Libertarian blog, Casey Daily Dispatch, I disagree strongly on the leaving-the-country liberty option you mention to readers in your recent Paying Lip Service to Liberty.
Living apart–emotionally and financially, too–strays from the way I learned citizenship. Maybe as ‘global citizens’ now, responsibility of the plurality concept incumbent on those in the old nation-state is old hat. That’s a shame.
To esoterically suggest fellow thinkers take their money and move to another country, like a bird without a cage, is still irresponsible and offensive to those of us left with your bill though. Thus maybe we both have unintended image problems.
I especially cringe when I hear libertarians and far-right neoliberalism cronies (apparently together globally now in a resurrection of the old economic liberalism of Adam Smith–with its staunch protection of private property and individual rights) are driving much of today’s violence.
Libertarians and Neoliberals in bed together? That ain’t a odd couple; that’s a freak couple! Neo is corporate-controlled government dictating your actions; what happened to your loathing of government?
Talk about nihilisms of our present economic system, read this Mexican professor’s take on what’s happening– Neoliberal Globalization. Includes disappearing jobs and soaring unemployment; people becoming enslaved in a new fiefdom in the wake of it. Folks who are just trying to cope economically!
Social minimalism spreading like runaway cancer! Unchecked. And where’re the libertarians? Who, in no small amount of influence, helped start this country. And create this current problem. Now you want to walk away?
In your anti-this and anti-that stubbornness, you got yourself drafted unwittingly into a GOP jar of pickles, didn’t you?
The violence today mostly is caused by people imitating the wealthy and independent images, I dare say, you two have projected together (Just playing, you two were, yes; but for all the marbles!); and in a tightening economy desperate people are scrambling for extra revenue via those same images–to “build something with.” To prove themselves worthy! Like you! And dying for it!
Hee, hee. What happened to the Age of Benevolence? Where ‘worthy’ wasn’t determined so much by the amount of coins piled at your feet but the number of hands you had in support of charitable causes? In God’s command to make a ‘just society?’ “Do justly and God will reward you,” right?
Have all those coins you’re seeing possible from new, emerging global markets got you starry-eyed now? Blinded you from on-going civil duties and responsibilities in the U.S.? Things don’t matter so much here anymore? Allowed far-right extremists to walk you to another altar? And you still betrothed to…Yikes, it is, yes!
But am I close here? Is this in any way touching on the truth? Your freedom attitudes, maybe? Especially about taxes? Even though the level for the wealthy we’re told is still a lot lower than when President Reagan entered office in 1981? And still, in all good conscience, you can say—albeit, yes, you prefaced it by saying if you find it more convenient—Ok, get up and leave? And take your money with you! Huh?
If so, my question, Mr. Galland, is what about civil and moral responsibilities? Tax-reform is a continual buzz-word for on-going changes in revenue streams; we’ve all been burdened some, yes. But to slip out of those waters altogether seems almost treasonous. How else can government function without tax levies? Do you feel any tug here from the goodness of old alliances? Old successes?
And if we can
agree on that–in theory, at least–could I suggest how you might salve your feelings some? For I know of a particular need down in Presidio County, Tex., yes. A gaping hole. Worked right, you could use it to lessen some of your tax load while making a meaningful contribution to fill it, too. Interested any?
First let me talk generally. What if–in the blood, gore and greed defining our current economic maelstrom–it appeared society needed a new, or renewed, moral and ethics Covenant? Yes, a spiritual creed for all. Of cooperating? Of giving? Many are now saying we’re very close to entering one of those phrases? Huh? Do your own research; don’t shy away from the thought, please. I got a little do-gooder in me. Crazy as it sounds. Poquito.
Call it, say, a free enterprise Covenant based on a discipleship of sharing, e.g., maybe even a collectivist’s command that recognizes sharing a common floor–be it Spaceship Earth et al or whatever. At some point we hold onto each other in a boat.
‘Discipleship’ too anathema? No? You can squeeze that in? I ask you because–you’re aware—many, indeed, believe indignant clamor you raise the government has infringed upon rights (made by libertarians and neolibs alike) is a large part of a maligned image problem the country faces: We’re not all in this together, si? Even legally, they/you (?)–the 1 % ers, especially–believe this?
Contrariness is causing all kinds of governing problems. Has for some time. For a small example, see Jason Peters’ “Not In My Back Yard (But Pass Me the Good Life, Please)”–a blog posting concerning routing a neighborhood pipeline in this week’s Front Porch Republic.
And a minor example of a proposed new covenant is Rosalynde Welch’s Born on the Cricket Pitch in the July 26 ezine Patheos. It captures some of this spirit, it does; describes transition processes to help clarify moral thinking.
Shane Claiborne, in another Patheos article, A Corrective to our Belief-Only Christianity, writes more from a monastic view in a review of Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s book, The Awakening of Hope – Why We Practice a Common Faith. Seems a belief without discipleship—the actual carrying-it-out part–ain’t much on washing sands. How strong is your Libertarian belief?
A history of political development, indeed, appears to follow this herky-jerky but nevertheless progressive effort to re-stitch sides of a break-a-way, often-torn and separated seam—a seam that joins individualism and collectivism—for that nebulous term, improvement. A stronger dike, say, to hold flood waters back. Are we at another time? Another need for a correction?
Correctives define our faith in a power greater than ourselves, don’t they? Even sub-corrective skull sessions–possibly such as your lengthy retreat of ‘fellow thinkers’ to Argentina’s beauty later this year (mentioned in your article)—would qualify, no?
Ah. Thus, desiring in some miniscule way to contribute toward your thinking in these upcoming months, I am now replying then. Call this letter that.
You need background, of course. Reared fundamental Baptist in rural North-Central Texas, I navigated the first 25 or so years of adulthood as a Unitarian-Universalist Christian, before finally finding peace later as a Roman Catholic. Been there, done that in many respects, too, I guess.
I am also a former newspaper writer and editor, dailies and weeklies, who some 20-plus years ago as a stutterer took a damn judge’s job in a poor border community in far West Texas–solely as second income to keep my weekly newspaper afloat. A capitalist ready for most beds, yes, too. But a humble one now, I dare say. A mere shadow of yours, be assured.
I sold the paper a couple years later after some heart problems caused by both jobs; am now retired with family, and living in El Paso–partially on the small pittance I earned for serving that community as its only judge for many years. Thank you.
But be warned, I’m something, also, akin to the person in your piece who has trouble coming up with the proverbial two nickels to rub together in Life. I’m an alcoholic with almost 20 years of sobriety—and I’ve accepted that part of me. Jethro, I call him. He’s a worry-wart, but still ok! Usually.
Presidio, the community, is part of America’s Last Frontier—in the hot, rocky, mountainous Chihuahuan Desert region–the Rio Grande coming down thru it. Indeed, it’s some like the old condominium of Moresnet in northwestern Europe fellow Libertarian writer Peter C. Earle writes about in Anarchy in the Aachen in Tuesday’s mises.org blog. In spirit, anyway.
And because of your first name, you remind me some of another Dave we had in Presidio years ago, Dirty Dave we called him, a contentious libertarian rascal, he was–but much more like those you described as having a latent inability to work as part of a team.
So enslaved he was to a Universal Code of Commerce’s concept of individual liberty, for instance, local, county and state officers’ traffic tickets for such offenses as No D.L., No License Plate, No Liability Insurance, etc. periodically all piled up on my court’s docket—begging for adjudication. But no Dave around usually.
He was into UCC so deep once he even carried cardboard cutouts for license plates on his auto that screamed boldly, “UCC — All I Need.” When officers brought him in, I intended to jail him for the other offenses he’d left unattended as well.
Like you, though, he knew when to wizen up; and did so as officers were taking him out the door.
“Judge, I’ve got perfectly good license plates underneath those cardboards, if you like?”
I consented to a deal. And then later had to jail him on something else. Once even because he threatened to shoot it out over a dog incident. On and on.
Is there orneriness in contrariness that makes one want to test limits? For the sheer thrill of testing? If so, then it would appear you’ve indebted yourself a lot more to this country than in simple taxes. Might you be interested in a deal, too?
More specifically, Mr. Galland, if’n I could arrange the tax write-off paperwork for you, would you leave a stipend down in Presidio for a Shelter—maybe one even international in scope–to honor and help both the homeless as well as the families besieged with family violence and such along the Mexican border there now?
only 5,000; maybe 60,000 across the river in Ojinaga, Chih. This is the ancient La Junta de Los Rios where the Rio Conchos draining the eastern Sierras in Mexico empties into the stubborn Rio Grande. Weak on stats such an application’d be; most border incidents are never recorded in these places, you’re probably aware. And the southern ‘Big Bend’ area is truly way-off in the desert boonies. But sorely needed, it is. Yes.
Would you, particularly, honor the mother of an ex -deputy sheriff killed, after he got mixed up in drug trafficking? Help her and maybe put a scholarship at the Catholic church, or the local public school, to help her kids out and to educate her grandchildren? More or less to pick up the ball where this knuckleheaded deputy dropped it years ago. Her son.
You’ve contributed handsomely to this country in your own inimical way already, yes. But if you wish to leave it or even suggest others to leave in defiance of taxes or tightening liberty restrictions now (a point made to more than pay lip service to this cause), then I think something other than the traditional sour grapes lament, Don’t let the door hit you in the back on the way out, would be appropriate here, I dare say.
A new Covenant would call for giving back fairly as part of tax code reform, yes. Cayman Island shelters and such would be out. Corporations would take on a new moral responsibility. But, too, with a new respect. Could you use that?
Law officers in our infamous Drug War who’ve crossed over the line themselves at times, and paid handsomely for it, too, are like yourself some—usually pretty good people. They just got caught up attempting to copy that emboldened libertarian way you have of asserting your superiority—I did it MY way! (snarl, snarl)
A good Presidio County sheriff deputy Rigo was then, yes. Worked with him many times on various cases. On the border. On the Frontier, you know people better. He particularly helped me on some juvenile cases. He knew their thoughts. Their ways. I was thankful for it.
And I was acquainted with his mom, Mary Elena, always the voting judge at the Courthouse Annex come election time. She ran a tight ship. And I knew his good-hearted sister, Sandra, initially a billings clerk over at City Hall when I met her.
Rumors had circulated he’d gotten involved in crossing drugs somehow though. You know how these things lure the young in a land with diminished opportunities. Always needing money, he was; probably had gotten hooked on drugs himself, Rigo did. And somehow had missed a payment for one of the loads he carried across. The Plaza mafioso was after him for it, the rumors were.
He stole some ‘spending money’ from my office once too. Few hundred dollars, it seems. To paraphrase colloquialism, he got into “a rat chase” with personal finances, I’d figured—aka, chasing “The Image”—and wasn’t able to pay it back the next day. We noticed it, and reported it. And then after confessing–sparing everyone from taking a lie detector test–he lost his job over it.
A year or so after he’d left, the Presidio County Sheriff’s Office called one morning–and asked me to go downriver and pronounce two men dead. They were found in a vehicle left in the water overnight–similar to the one Rigo drove. Parked in shallow waters.
On the ‘other side,’ he’d been shot in the back of the head so many times I couldn’t even recognize his face. Neighbors had reported gawd-awful noises that night—screamings, pleadings…and shootings. Someone had driven the bodies in the vehicle across to ‘this side,’ and left it. In the murky Rio Grande.
Thus a drug lord, in another deal altogether, killed him. For cheating on him. And all Rigo was doing was chasing that dream you, fellow Libertarians and now neoliberalists have so caustically shoved down American’s throats—‘DO SOMETHING with yourself, Big Boy; do it my way!’ In a Land…full of opportunities. Hee, hee. The image sold a lot of Marlboros for years, too, didn’t it?
But to see Rigo gunned down like that and practically left as trash in the Rio Grande left a haunting memory in me: Is this it for him?
Worsening it, is this image you cynical imitators of a once Wild-West economy insist on painting—while standing idly by in oxymoronic indifference spittin’ out angry rhetoric–all as Rome burns, so to speak, the picture is.
How can you suggest someone freely leave? Collect my senses here, please. While couching an abhorrent drug trade—itself threatening to rip America’s very soul out of it with its violence and mixed, conflicting messages—you simply dismiss its individual killings with Tsch, tsch. Got their just rewards. I ain’t got no dog in this croc!
That’s not it? That’s lower than puke, Mr. Galland. Making a deadly mistake (bereft penance) while otherwise being a good decent person doesn’t warrant being degraded into history’s ignoble abyss of shameful eternal darkness—certainly not by neoliberalism’s cold, indifferent contempt for the lesser ones!
But that’s radical capitalism’s spin-off disease, social minimalism, isn’t it? (More on it here.) You’ve left it with us, haven’t you? And now you want to run from it?!
In your blog you lean on God’s biblical commandment Thou shalt not steal (as in a government plundering individuals by taxation) in defending free marketers vis a vis mercantilists.
With your contrariness to law and order (including the tax code), you’ve done something much worse than steal—You have reduced all but a very few number of people to something less than fully human. Including Rigo. Both his immediate and extended families and communities. And me.
Open markets currently have thrown a monkey wrench into theories of political and economical development, yes, and the chase is on to maximize profits by wrestling new definitions from this emerging trade.
But under America’s capitalism, deigning to God without ‘walking the walk’—acknowledging thru good-faith deeds the merits of Christ’s words in his ministry—is tantamount to blasphemy. Fixed into type and culture. Morality is a double-edge sword: What’s good for the Goose is good for the Gander!
Our Constitution under God checkmates greed—in whatever affiliation or color the latest political chameleon wants to pass under. Questionable economic thrusts by libertarians and neoliberalists ducking in while clamoring about statism, or fears of state control, are no different. They’re in; they’ve been spotted amongst us.
Sister Simone Campbell, a member of the recent national Catholic Nuns on the Bus tour that attacked GOP policies, for instance, characterizes your new economic positioning motives well on the home page of the National Catholic Social Justice Lobby’s NETWORK’s ezine.
“…We are all God’s children and equal in God’s eyes,” she said. “Efforts to divide us by class or score political points at the expense of the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters reveal the worst side of our country’s politics.”
A wannabe rule-by-elitist image you’re threatening, it is. We once fought a revolution over that, remember? How’d you get hooked into this present mess?
A new correction Code must come down, Dave, hard and fast.
When it does, welcome back to the Club.
Judge A. Daniel Bodine
County of Presidio, TX (Ret.)
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