On Friday, November 18, Boise Chief of Police Mike Masterson wrote in the Idaho Statesman about the BPD’s acquisition of a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle (MRAP). Ostensibly, these vehicles that were previously used in war zones and given to local police departments by the federal government are supposed to increase public safety. Chief Masterson asks a prudent question: “Are we seeing the militarization of local police?”
Media sources in Idaho cheerfully announced the arrival of 1,800 new jobs last July when Virginia-based firm Maximus, Inc decided to open a call center in Boise. Aside from a couple threatening notes that caused its building to be evacuated for several hours, Maximus has been out of the spotlight in Idaho. This isn’t particularly surprising, considering Maximus employees are forbidden to speak of the company, even on social media, without permission.
I spotted the above bumper sticker while cycling through Boise’s North End. On its face, it seems rather straightforward: one should be able to vote regarding one’s own health. Well, certainly we should all be able to make our own health decisions if we are mentally capable; that only seems right. But while the message of this sticker might seem to be one of personal empowerment, I would argue that it is exactly the opposite.
“How can this be?” one might ask. Surely a woman is more empowered when she is allowed to vote on her health than when she is not. Would I sooner have some bureaucrat or politician or insurance company make her decisions for her?
But the idea that she is either allowed to vote on her health or else she is not in control of it is a false dichotomy with a rather nefarious assumption: the State ought to be the one fundamentally making the decisions about her health, whether or not she is able to give her opinion on it through the ballot. Ultimately, by advocating her right to vote on it, she is acknowledging the State as the final decision maker, not herself.
This fallacy that “voting = empowerment” is not uncommon. We are taught that “democracy” is synonymous with freedom, political equality, and good government. But should we really think about democracy in this way?
There really is no magic in majorities. In US history, majorities thought it was perfectly fine to enslave human beings. No sensible person, I imagine, would think that a majority voting for such a thing would justify it.
We must conclude, then, that there ought to be some limits to democratic decision making. Most of us do not want what foods we eat, what books we read, the places we go, or the people we associate with decided for us, regardless if a majority makes the decision. So my question is, “Why would we want our health decisions made for us by anyone but ourselves as individuals?” Continue reading →
Note: This article is the third of a series on the political concept of secession. The series will explore some historical aspects, and we certainly welcome comments on the historical record. But it will largely focus on contemporary questions of a theoretical and practical nature, striving to shed light on how the principle of secession relates to political life today.
In the first two articles on secession, we tackled some basic myths and took on the Hobbesian theory of political association. Having freed ourselves from these unjustified prejudices against peaceful political separation, the next reasonable question is “When is secession possible?” A seceding polity must be able to demonstrate its viability as an independent, self-governing society, and it is on precisely this question that some commentators scoff at the possibility of increasing the number of countries on the North American continent.
As a disclaimer, I am not concerned now with the legal question of whether any state could secede, only the practical question of viability. The legality of secession is not a trivial question in its own right, and perhaps I will take it up in the future. There is, however, a deep-seated and morally blinding hypocrisy in those who claim secession cannot be considered because it is “unconstitutional.” There are entire departments of the federal government whose very existence is an affront to the constitution. The implicit view of such constitutionalists-by-opportunity is that the constitution may be ignored by the feds but not the states – a legal theory that, fortunately, I’ve never met anyone so insane as to openly defend. Continue reading →
Utah governor Gary Herbert has signed a bill calling for the return of federal lands to the state. Six other Western states could follow suit, and Idaho has a resolution demanding 32 million acres be returned.
Many dispute the efficacy of federal forest management. This August, California was battling the 4th largest fire in its history in Yosemite National Park. In Idaho in 2012, it cost the federal government almost $200 million in fire risk and another almost $300 million in management. The federal government has done less than the minimum to restore trails after fires raged through, yet the main purpose of preserved lands are public recreational use. Should Idaho residents commit their trust, best interests and most importantly safety to federal agencies? How can federal agencies manage raging fires and management services in all states? Why not leave this to the states and their people? Continue reading →
In the first part of our series on secession, I made a couple of references to the political doctrine of Thomas Hobbes without providing much detail. In this article, I’d like to explore this most important of modern political theorists and what his thinking means for secession and localizing/decentralizing political societies. Doing so will require a somewhat specialized discussion in political theory, but this is absolutely necessary if we are to achieve a clear, accurate picture of secession itself. Continue reading →
Note: This article is the first of a series on the political concept of secession. The series will explore some historical aspects, and we certainly welcome comments on the historical record. But it will largely focus on contemporary questions of a theoretical and practical nature, striving to shed light on how the principle of secession relates to political life today.
Despite the fact that peaceful secessions have taken place continually throughout human history, mainstream media have convinced many Americans that any secession is an ignoble or even dangerous act. The most common misconception sees a necessary connection between secession and slavery, as if a single historical event in a single country has somehow forged the two concepts together for all time. But this is akin to believing that vegetarianism expresses approval of Hitler, since Nazi propaganda portrayed him as abstaining from meat. Thoughtful citizens cannot take such “arguments” seriously. What, then, are we to make of the naked principle of secession? To begin cutting through the fog and distortion, here is a brief look at five myths about secession we can safely lay to rest. Continue reading →
Though it may not be still at the top of the headlines, it’s not as though the NSA isn’t still spying on Americans. So, even if the subject matter of this podcast doesn’t seem timely because of the attention spans the media have given us, I believe it is. But a further question is, why should you want to hear the TNP take on it?
It is our contention at TNP that all, or nearly all, political problems could be extensively mitigated or solved by bringing decision making to the most local level possible. This is the what we refer to as localism. And though at first glance localism might not appear to apply in this case, we believe it does.
Although Congress’s approval ratings were lower than head lice, traffic jams, and cockroaches earlier this year, American’s approval of their own congressional representative is much, much higher. As far as I can tell, this largely accounts for the paradoxical phenomenon of a popularly elected representative body that is totally unpopular. It is also an empirical falsification of James Madison’s most famous argument in Federalist No. 10 that a large, extended republic would better guard against the perils of faction and majority oppression. What we actually have is a multiplicity of special interests across the states, each exercising control over the representative from its district. And the simple act of logrolling ensures that each and every one of these factions gets more or less what they want – at the expense of representative government, to be sure. Continue reading →
"While media attention is focused on a possible effort to shut off water to the NSA data center in Utah, I'm introducing the Arizona Fourth Amendment Protection Act to back our neighbors up,” she said. “Just in case the NSA gets any ideas about moving south, I want them to know the NSA isn’t welcome in Arizona unless it follows the Constitution.”
When viewed in light of the government’s ongoing attempts to amass power at great cost to Americans—in terms of free speech rights, privacy, due process, etc.—the debate over Common Core State Standards, which would transform and nationalize school curriculum from kindergarten through 12th grade, becomes that much more critical.
Today, we find ourselves at a crossroads. Do we continue down the path of unquestioned support of the expansion of government power, or do we return to our intellectual bedrock of limiting government and the people who run it?