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Posts tagged David Miller

Have you seen what they do with that stuff?

In a conversation over on Facebook about the quarrels among the governing politicals parties over fiscal policy and deadlines, Keith Taylor summoned the spectre of repudiating the US government’s debts. This is as you may know the course that I favor for moral reasons; I also think that it is, rhetorically and strategically speaking, the best demand for radicals to make. (Any other demand, any bit of reformism, is always going to entangle you in an inescapable, and ultimately ridiculous trap: it’s not a radical’s job to try to find a way to keep the apparatus of government or the apparatus of global finance capital running efficiently. Our only job is to demand that people be freed of the coercive and exploitative demands of both.) Anyway, in reply to Keith’s comments, David Miller replied:

As the resident non-radical, there’s a lot I could say here, but I’ll just ask — how do you just cancel the debt? Investors and foreign governments buy up our debt because they see the U.S. as a trustworthy investment (a fact that eludes the people who endlessly try to terrify people into thinking we’re on the brink of financial collapse). If you just declare that it doesn’t exist, how do you not topple the global economy in the process?

Here are my answers to David’s questions and comments.

Q1. How do you just cancel the debt?

A. By not paying it anymore.

C1. Investors and foreign governments buy up our debt because they see the U.S. as a trustworthy investment . . . .

A. Right, and if the government repudiates its debts then they may no longer be willing to buy up government bonds in the future. Now, this might seem like a bad thing if you think it’s important to make sure that the US government is always able to issue more bonds in order to raise more money. But how desirable or even acceptable that is is going to look will depend (in part) on how desirable or even acceptable you think it is for the US government to have lots of ready cash. Since the major function of US government debt has always been to fund the US government’s imperial foreign policy and its repeated capital-intensive wars; and since the ready cash it has is constantly put into merciless bombing, war machines, atom bombs, international sanctions, drug prohibitions, prisons, ICE raids, border patrols, detention centers, warrantless wiretaps and surveillance, assassinations, military incursions, and the whole apparatus of massive global violence — along with the occasional multitrillion dollar banking bailout to preserve the habitats of endangered capitalists — I really have trouble seeing the loss here.

Q2. If you just declare that it doesn’t exist, how do you not topple the global economy in the process?

A. I think there’s a big and important difference between toppling the government’s account books and toppling the global economy. That said, toppling the present economic system would also be a massive improvement for the overwhelming majority of people in the world.

I didn’t mention this on Facebook, but I will add here that the fundamental flaw in most pragmatic discussions of fiscal policy, debts, and repudiation is that they are pervaded by an unargued presumption that government offers services that benefit the people it governs. In fact the overwhelmingly dominant function of government, in everything it does, is overwhelming dominance; it is characteristically an institution of violence against the governed, not a service to them. It would be better for us to take all the cash that government takes in through credit issues or through taxes and pile it up on the White House lawn, douse it in gasoline, and set all that money on fire than for it go towards keeping the U.S. Treasury running.


Let’s ask the experts

Roderick has a good post up called A Question for Critics of Ron Paul’s Critics, which does an excellent job of deflating one of the common rejoinders that Ron Paul boosters make to Ron Paul’s libertarian critics–specifically to those, like me, who consider Paul’s anti-libertarian position on abortion or immigration to be a poison pill. It’s well worth reading the whole thing.

There’s a lot of interesting exchange going on in the comments. Here are excerpts from five different comments that oppose treating Ron Paul’s support for forced pregnancy as a poison pill:

David Miller:

Given the complexities of NAFTA (and the same is true of immigration and abortion), it does seem to me rather silly to use this as a litmus test, ….

Max Raskin:

Immigration, free trade, abortion, and cosmopolitanism don’t really mean anything if any of the other candidates get elected and throw us into World War Five.

Rich Paul:

If I have to tolerate Kansas outlawing abortion in order for Kansas to tolerate New Hampshire legalizing drugs, then I think it a good trade.

Otto Kerner:

To me, personally, it seems clear that federalism and opposing the war are much more important libertarian issues than immigration and abortion.

Stephen W. Carson:

To those who support Paul but voice their criticisms of his positions on immigration, abortion, whatever… Hurrah! To those who don’t support Paul, for whatever reason, I have only one question: What is your plan for stopping the killing?

Perhaps it is rude to point this out; perhaps it is even dirty pool. Certainly it is not a demonstration that their reasoning is flawed. Nevertheless, can you guess what all five of these commenters have in common when it comes to abortion?

If you’re baffled, try reading the first block quotation in Roe v. Wade Day #34.

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