If you haven't read Mr. Dennon's letter yet, here it is.



To the editor ...

Two observations in reply to Mr. Dennon:

(1) He writes:

Ask yourself, does the direction of government change when control switches from the Democrats to the Republicans? It changes not one iota.

Mr. Dennon is, of course, correct. What is so frustrating is that even people who recognize that the control has not changed manage to imagine that if the losing side had won everything would have changed for the worse.

That is an irrefutable position for the simple reason that there is no evidence for it. It is an imaginary state of affairs that we are invited to contemplate and then to congratulate ourselves for not permitting to come to pass.

... A monarchy [is] controlled by a king who owns the government and who therefore has an owner's long-term interests in view....

This claim lies at the heart of Hoppe's contention. But while most of his criticism of democracy is on target, this position isn't.

Among the long-term interests an owner has is the condition of the property when it devolves to his children. Perhaps Mr. Dennon or Dr. Hoppe could supply us with a list of wise monarchs who resisted embarking on a ruinous war because they wanted to preserve something for their kids. Or perhaps they could supply a list of monarchs who refused to raise taxes out of concern for their children's inheritance. Or who moderated spending on that account. Or who refrained from incurring debts on that account.

Please note: I am not saying that there weren't monarchs who avoided war or who didn't raise taxes. I am asking for a list of monarchs who followed those policies for the sake of their children's inheritance.

An element of an empirical test of this thesis might be to look at monarchs who were childless to see what kind of stewards they were of their "property." The Hoppe thesis would lead us to expect that those monarchs would "consume" as much of the "property" as they could before death.

Dr. Hoppe often imagines that a country can be treated for analytical purposes as though it were the property of the governing party. This is the basis also for his discussion of immigration.

But it is not property. It is loot. Sometimes people treat their loot as though it were property; sometimes they make use of it with long-term goals in mind. Neither condition makes it property. Possession is part of what turns a good into a property, and therefore some elements of property analysis will apply. But other elements will not.

Criminal behavior and market behavior have some attributes in common, but they are not the same thing. In Misesian terms, criminal behavior and loot would be the subject of a different branch of praxeology from economics.

Ronn Neff
Senior editor, TLD
November 22, 2003

I think it does matter for a lot of folks whether the Democrats or Republicans are in office, and especially for those who are employed in the government or are employed as a result of government. Remember, the government is the biggest employer and subsidizer of employment in the United States. It's a mistake to say "nothing changes" when the parties change. There are huge changes for families, students, and institutions.

The change between parties, it is true, largely amounts to a change as to which special interest groups get to cut their piece of pie and how big it's going to be. Here's an example.

In the area of social work, mental health, and addictions counseling there is more money for black and Hispanic workers who work in those human-service fields when the Democrats are in office. As the money for mental health was evaporating, meaning no COLAs and the closing of some programs, in Chicago there was a feud for control between Jews and the blacks and Hispanics. Those groups fought over existing funding and the new program coming into being then, TANIF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families). They clawed and scratched. The Jews wanted a medical model, using more psychiatrists and doctors, and the blacks and Hispanics wanted a social model using more counselors.

It was sad to for me witness that, since my education was in philosophy, and social-service work was a day job for me while I played music at night. I enjoyed working with my clients and I got a great deal from it, but it was not my carrier.

People who are unaffected by which party is in power are a dying breed. They sure do cut the pie differently depending who is in power: it's a welfare state! I made a promise to myself when I was in my twenties to never work for any facet of the war machine. That limited my chances, and today at 50 I wonder whether I was just young and stupid. I have never supported the war efforts in any way, that I am proud of.

I think there are great differences between Demos and Repubs, but not, of course, when it comes to foreign policy, Israel, class (class is America's ugly little secret), and other financial-control areas. But to flippantly say. "Who's in the power seat doesn't matter" is irresponsible. If you are not employed by government, or as a result of government, or in war industry, it may not matter directly. But it does matter, and I think it will matter more in the future.

Dave Hoffman
November 28, 2003

Unfortunately, Jack Dennon is exactly right!

The reason we have such a low turnout for our elections is that the people are tired of voting for the "lesser of two evils."

Sad, too, is that our founding fathers did not have a "democracy" in mind, but a "republic" in which people like most of them would be elected to positions of power and would consider the interests of their own country first and act within the Constitution, not above it.

As Mr. Dennon intimates, from the moment one is elected to any office, his main objective is to be re-elected, and his actions are aimed at pleasing those who have the most interest, whether they be unions, the industrial/military complex, and, especially during the last several decades, Israel, whose interests now come before ours for "fear of the Jews" and who control the votes in the key states.

The electoral system was fine for the young Republic this nation was; but it is time now, I believe, for a constitutional amendment establishing a strictly popular vote, or, at the very least, doing away with the "winner-take-all" policy that distorts the true will of the people.

Dick Meyer
November 22, 2003

The continued harping on the popular vote and the President overshadows the original thoughts of there being honest elected officials at all or at any levels of government. If honesty and integrity were demanded (the only one with honesty and integrity is Ron Paul), plus the idea of government being "for the people and by the people" instead of allowing it to have become a lifetime occupation of sorts (for the likes of Ted Kennedy who has never worked a day in his life yet thinks he's qualified to dictate to the lower class) with better benefits than the peasants receive, the Electoral College would function as it was intended. This definition of democracy is the best I've ever seen, and it's from SFC Steven M. Barry, USA (ret.): "The demand by the stupid to rule the intelligent because the stupid outnumber the intelligent!" That's the norm today.

Larry E. Bigham
November 29, 2003

Mr. Dennon replies to Mr. Neff

If my first letter suggested need for defense of monarchy with documentation, then it misrepresented Hoppe's thesis; for he does not suggest that the Founders should have adopted monarchy rather than democracy. What Hoppe does suggest is summarized on page 271 of Democracy: The God That Failed, quoted below:

Having successfully seceded and thrown out the British occupiers, it would only have been necessary for the American colonists to let the existing homegrown institutions of self-defense and private (voluntary and cooperative) protection and adjudication by specialized agents and agencies take care of law and order.

...This did not happen, however.

The fact that it did not happen is the problem, and the reason it did not happen is that our forefathers got caught up in the notion that under democracy everything would come up roses. It didn't and it won't. Hoppe is not saying that monarchy would have been better. What he is saying is that it would not have been any worse. The quest for good government must fail; there is no such thing.

Further support for Hoppe's thesis is found on page 5 of the February 1999 issue of Chronicles, where Dr. George E. Mohun of Novato, Calif., writes: "The United States government is, today, the largest and most successful criminal enterprise in all of human history."

If the American people someday were to realize that coercion is illegitimate even when exercised by the state, and that no one can be trusted with monopoly of force, we might see the dawn of a better day.

Jack Dennon
Warrenton, Ore.
November 30, 2003

Mr. Neff replies

In his first letter, Mr. Dennon wrote, "Unlike a monarchy, controlled by a king who owns the government and who therefore has an owner's long-term interests in view, democracy by definition operates under the control of temporary caretakers dependent on the vote for tenure of power."

I think that that passage implicitly asserts that monarchy is better than democracy. Moreover, I do not think Mr. Dennon misrepresented Dr. Hoppe at all; Dr. Hoppe has made the same argument.

Moreover, in suggesting — by way of analyzing immigration — that a democratic government would do better by the people it rules if it were to act as the owner of "public property," Dr. Hoppe has extended that argument. (He has not, of course, argued that monarchy is superior to anarchy.)

I like Mr. Dennon's final paragraph and his quotation from George E. Mohun very much; would that Dr. Hoppe's own efforts were founded on them. I think they are a much sounder basis for analyzing the state and for understanding it than any pretense of just ownership by government officials, including monarchs.

Ronn Neff
Senior editor, TLD
November 30, 2003

To Mr. Dennon's letter.