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Oct. 30 column -- playing out the clock

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Subject: Oct. 30 column -- playing out the clock
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    THE LIBERTARIAN, By Vin Suprynowicz
    Gamely playing out the clock in a hopeless contest

    Every even-numbered year, literally scores of candidates come trooping
through the offices of the newspaper where I work, seeking our endorsement
for every office from constable or justice of the peace, to governor or
U.S. senator.

  Playing out the game by the established rules, we cross-question them on
their little memorized spiels about how they "respect the Second Amendment"
and "want to make government more efficient and more responsive to the
people's needs."

  By and large, those candidates who start out insisting they "respect the
Second Amendment" will quickly agree with any new hare-brained scheme you
can propose to register or restrict where folks can carry guns, or to ban
people from owning "really dangerous" semi-automatic weapons or concealable
handguns, for which "obviously no one can have a legitimate use."

  (Uzis seem to be a favorite weapon for which "no one can have a
legitimate use" this year. The only ones available in local gun shops are
semi-autos, of course -- essentially a 9mm handgun with a shoulder stock.)

  Naturally, those who "want to make government more efficient" can rarely
name a single government office or program they'd close.

  But every year, a few candidates show up who actually understand a little
economics, have read the Constitution, and volunteer that the purpose of
government is to protect individual rights.

  Pinching ourselves and wondering how they "slipped through," every year
we celebrate these few brave souls in our editorial pages. Many people vote
for them. And then what happens? Taxes go up, more laws are passed,
government grows more intrusive, and our rights are eroded faster than

  How come?

  Well, of course, not all the candidates we endorse get elected. A certain
number of incumbent redistributionists are "automatically" returned by the
voters, no matter what we say or do.

  Fine: A newspaper has no dictatorial powers, nor should it.

  But what's more discouraging is how little difference these
well-intentioned people seem to make even if they do get elected to the
state legislature, or the Congress, or wherever they're headed.

  I've been in the newspaper business for 25 years. Call me a cynic -- I'll
respond that it's simply an objective observation: No matter who we elect,
it doesn't matter any more. Government is a machine that crunches anyone
you send into it into a cog or gear of the required shape and size to keep
the machine running and growing.

  Why are fewer and fewer folks registering to vote, or showing up at the
polls? Vote for the most radical of Libertarians, he will get 4 percent of
the vote, and nothing will change. They still won't let him into the TV
debates next year, and no corporation will hand him the protection money
which we still daintily call "campaign contributions."

  Vote for (start ital)and elect(end ital) the most radical-sounding "less
government" Republican you can find, and the best result will be a
government that grows at the rate of 7 percent next year, instead of 8
percent. You will still have to get fingerprinted to obtain your new
driver's license, there will still be armed soldiers at the airports
strip-searching people "to prevent terrorism and drug-running" (starting
next year), and your take-home pay will still be a smaller percentage of
your gross earnings next year than it was last year.

  Oh, these things are never accomplished overnight, say the eternal
optimists. Besides, these are all just a bunch of cynical generalities.

  OK: Let's get specific. in my next column, I will present you with five
or six races in which the Las Vegas Review-Journal -- largest newspaper in
Nevada -- has made loud, strident, forceful endorsements in Election '98.
The five or six candidates the newspaper endorsed may astound you with just
how dedicated to personal liberties and limited government they sound,
given that they are all "electable" (that is to say -- from one of the
"major parties.")

  But if each voter could personally interview every candidate on his or
her Nov. 3 ballot for half-an-hour apiece, not allowing them to get away
with any slick double-talk, I daresay you too could find and vote for five
or six "viable" candidates in your own town and state who sound just as

  Then you too could have the experience of seeing them go to the capital
and vote for new tax hikes and more gun control laws, vote to send away
harmless minority kids for even longer terms in the pen for "getting high"
on harmless vegetable extracts, authorize more restrictions of our economic
freedom and invasions of our privacy, and then give you a look of shock
when you tell them you're disappointed.

  "But that bill had some good stuff in it!" they will insist. "No bill is
perfect. You always have to compromise on something to get things done. We
had to make our gun licensing rules just a little stricter, in the hopes
our permits will now be recognized by other states. And as for the
fingerprinting for the new driver's license, most people favor that, since
it will make it much harder for someone else to cash your checks if they're

  Next time: five excellent and "viable" candidates, and why voting for
them probably won't make a bit of difference at all.

Vin Suprynowicz is the assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas
Review-Journal. Readers may contact him via e-mail at [email protected]


Vin Suprynowicz,   [email protected]

The evils of tyranny are rarely seen but by him who resists it. -- John
Hay, 1872

The most difficult struggle of all is the one within ourselves. Let us not
get accustomed and adjusted to these conditions. The one who adjusts ceases
to discriminate between good and evil.  He becomes a slave in body and
soul. Whatever may happen to you, remember always: Don't adjust! Revolt
against the reality! -- Mordechai Anielewicz, Warsaw, 1943

* * *

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Robert A. Hettinga <mailto: [email protected]philodox.com>
Philodox Financial Technology Evangelism <http://www.philodox.com/>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'