May 22nd, 2013
This week we begin the first of a two-part episode primarily focused on the idea of finding common ground in political discourse. In a round-about way we’ve actually discussed the topic many times before, but it’s always been ancillary to our main focus. This week it’s for reals.
We discuss the topic at length switching between local and federal governance a few different times. One ongoing theme of the night is how people all too frequently pursue legislation that is blatantly contrary to their stated goal.
Towards the end of this first half, Jad advances the anarchist position by asserting that sometimes common ground is deceptively used by politicians to advance already bad agendas. We continue with that thought in part two.
Kevin: Hello and welcome back to the JK Podcast, a free speech haven dedicated to the pursuit of liberty, humanity, and equality. This week we begin with the first of a two-part episode, primarily focused on the idea of finding common ground in political discourse. In a roundabout way, we’ve actually discussed this topic many times before, but it’s always been ancillary to our main focus. This week, it’s for reals[?].
We discuss the topic at length, switching between local and federal governance a few times. One ongoing theme of the night is how people all too frequently pursue legislation that is blatantly contrary to their stated goals. Towards the end of the first half, Jad advances the anarchist position by asserting that sometimes common ground is deceptively used by politicians to advance already bad agendas. We continue with that thought in part two.
Joining us for the episode is our good friend and author, Tom DeLorenzo. I’m Kevin Ludlow, the other voice is co-creator, Jad Davis. Welcome back to the JK Podcast.
What I’m saying is I think if you can look at the smallest form of government and see how dysfunctional it is, it always makes sense to me why the larger government is just beyond inept, right, because it’s the exact same dysfunction that exists at a very small level. And so I guess maybe one of the things that I always find interesting about Austin’s government – and it could just be because I’ve misled myself – is that I believe that the culture of Austin has so much – for lack of a better word – like, hippyness to it, that it surprises me that the people are still so complicit in that type of just over burdening government oversight.
I mean, I think there’s a level of government interference that you’re going to have to expect, and people even come to like it, I mean I get that. But it just surprises me how wide and far stretching it has become here. I wouldn’t expect this population to be quite as complicit with some of those laws that exist – and yet they are. I have no knowledge of this statistically, but I would have to assume then if you cast a big shadow over Austin, your atheist group has to be substantially larger in Austin than it would be in – as a percentage anyways – than it would be in say, a city like Dallas or Houston – I would think, I don’t really know.
I feel that you’d have way more people who would define themselves as like, spiritual agnostics rather than part of a theistic group or what have you. So the reason I say that and bring attention to that is because I feel that the general culture of Austin are people who are less inclined to be supportive of an authoritarianist type of system, and yet at the same time they clearly are. They support it much greater than the people of Houston or Dallas do from what I can tell, given the law structure that we have here.
And so I guess my question gravitates towards why is that. I don’t think it’s an uneducated group of people in the city, there’s a lot of data on this I mean, the education level of Austin is actually substantially higher than that of Houston or Dallas as a whole.
Jad: Well maybe that answered the question then, right?
Kevin: Well maybe so, right? And that’s – I guess that’s what I’m always trying to figure out.
Tom: Yeah when you say kind of spiritual hippy, free thinking that just puts the word liberal into my head.
Jad: And how highly state educated.
Tom: Yeah. So you end up with the touchy-feely, collectivistic type of authoritarian system which maybe that’s what Austin is, you know? You can’t use plastic bags because we’re saving the planet. See, that’s a nice liberal tyranny.
Kevin: Oh, sure. Sure. And so I guess that’s always kinda my goal or my objective to try to find those points to talk to people on to sell them the better counterpoint, right? Like when we talk about religion I mean, you know, you talk to the person who’s basing their decision on religion, right? You try to have a gay marriage discussion with somebody who’s just a diehard fundamentalist Christian, you can’t have the discussion, right – we can agree with that because there’s nothing you can say that sways that opinion because that’s based upon an irrational view to begin with.
None of the three of us or anybody else that we know is smart enough to convince that person – it’s just not going to happen. You can trick them perhaps, but not convince them. But I feel that the person who is well educated and the person who is spiritual and et cetera, so they’re conscious of things but they’re not blindly accepting of this top down authority model I wouldn’t think as much. I feel that there’s ways to logically and argumentatively convince them that there’s a different way to do this, and not only that but that their own system is kind of imploding on itself – it’s kind of counterproductive to what their end goal is. And I guess that’s what I always try to do to local groups here and with mixed success, but I’m just interested in it I guess.
Jad: Yeah, there’s an interesting thing that’s kind of related – I can find this if you guys are interested – but it was a blog post, a really long, long, blog post by a person who was adamantly pro-life because the thought that there was too many aborted babies, and so they [?] through their high school years coming out of a religious background were pro-life, and then they read some New York Times article that very clearly and in a detailed manner explain that access to birth control, and contraception, and education about sex radically decreased the abortion rate and she was like, “oh shit, this is you know, this is crazy”.
No one you know, all the people that I hang out with an all the people in the organizations that I know of are all against contraception and education about contraception and blah, blah, blah, and availability of it and so anyways so she was like, “oh, well I’ll just go tell them and then we can just all start this other you know, start in this new direction of trying to support these things and we can drive the abortion rate down to nearly zero or whatever. You know, and then she bumped into the reality that they don’t really care about what they say they care about for whatever reason – for a million different reasons probably – they all just want to go with the agenda that supposedly has a the goal of reducing abortions rather than actually having the goal of reducing abortions.
And I think it’s the same thing I mean, you gotta be fucking kidding me if you can’t look around and see that the poor are not being helped, or the Blacks and the Latinos are not being lifted up, you know, it’s obvious. It’s just rampantly, totally obvious. If your goal is – if you state a goal, it is clear that that goal is being driven to hell by various levels of government, or even just say through you know, a course of social institutions in general.
And so if you care about the goal, then you’ll immediately say, “oh shit, I was mistaken and now I will set new goals, or I will find new means to achieve my ends”, of whatever it may be or you’ll just dismiss that because you don’t really care about the stated goal, you care about some other – something else is being served in you psychologically, or materially, or whatever that overrides the actual goal.
Kevin: Right. I won’t have like a controversial line to throw out here, but for what it’s worth I mean, that’s the thing I’ve told you for a long time now and Tom, maybe you to a lesser degree I’ve told you, but you know that’s really the thing I’ve tried to do politically and I think sometimes it has legs – in fact, I think it generally has legs because I stay – you know, I stick to the principled view of it.
But locally here, I have sat on a lot of those organizations that oversee various property cases and what have you, and time, and time, and time again I mean, that’s my argument to people is to say, “well wait a second, like what’s our actual end goal here? Is our end goal to accomplish this, are you trying to help the environment in this particular case, are you trying to do this in this particular case? What are you trying to do here?” And in almost every single case as you would imagine, as you just said, whatever the stated goal it tends to conflict with whatever the beaurocratic message is that people are blindly supporting.
And so I just kinda make it my business to try to tell people, I’m like, “look, sure, I see what you think that by putting a $10,000 dollar fee on”, say, a driveway permit, “you think that it’s going to prevent people from”, I don’t know, doing whatever the hell they need to do with their driveway, but at the end of the day it doesn’t because whoever needs to do it is still going to do it, the only thing is is that you’ve screwed them out of $10,000 dollars and the people that have that money, they get to do it anyways because it doesn’t matter – it doesn’t affect their overall budget. They’re planning on a 20-year curve, you’re not.
So I bring up that point just to say that I have had pretty good success of convincing people of that and getting people to see that and really changing some minds on that to say like, “look, you shouldn’t support those things, they’re not to your benefit. It’s a beaurocratic institution, here’s the actual numbers on it – think about it.” And I guess why I try to give Austinites some credit is because they tend to be much more educated perhaps than some other groups might be. I feel that you can – if you’re patient with it and work hard at it – you can kinda sway people in that line.
Again, I recognize it kinda is a line of like libertarianism versus anarchism here, but that’s kinda why like, the Ron Paul think appealed to me over the years right, is because you’ve got this guy who is just sticking to these principles, he’s saying the exact same thing year, after year, after year to completely deaf ears you know, 30 years ago, and to this massive following in present time. And maybe it’s just because things are getting so bad, but in the last 30 years there have definitely been a number of times that the economic bottom has come out quite a bit – I mean, the end of the 90s, for example.
So I mean there have been other times where that should’ve taken shape and it never really did, and all of a sudden it has this now. So I guess what I’m saying is is that there’s this slow and steady process that maybe there is this way to reach people to actually get that anarcho-capitalist[?] message out there a little bit more effectively. But I think generally speaking, most of these groups, they preach to themselves, right?
I mean, that’s your general audiences, to find other people who share that similar belief – and that’s all fine and good, it makes for a fun conversation, but it doesn’t actually help to change anything because you’re just convincing somebody who already believes what you believe. So as I always say, like, take your message to the spiritual educated hippy on the street who completely disagrees with you find any common grounds to get your message across to them, and well now you start changing minds of people.
Tom: And I think what you said – the most important thing about what you said right there is finding the common ground because I think one of the low percentage success rate strategies people use is they collect up a bunch of facts and then they just throw them at people, maybe insultingly. My argument’s going to be your argument and –
Kevin: Right. It’s not –
Tom: And then if you change your mind, no matter what two human beings there are, if you somehow get the connection that you know what, we’re talking about something that we’re both interested in and we are interested in solving something together then it’s just a whole different ball game. But it’s a very difficult way to communicate, even if you’d learn some of the tricks yourself, most people don’t want to communicate that way and it usually turns adversarial pretty quickly and then it’s difficult. But yes, I kinda do believe that just by putting the ideas out there, even if you can’t break through on one day, then you know, you might leave a little bit of something in there for someone to think about.
Kevin: Well then if I come full circle with it then – going back to the Rand Paul speech – Rand Paul was not at the pulpit saying, “I don’t think we should have drums.” He’s not at the pulpit saying, “I don’t think we should have war.” He’s not at the pulpit saying, “I don’t think that we should be invading these countries.” He’s saying, “Can we at least agree that in the United States of America, you shouldn’t have a machine controlled by the president who can kill an American on American soil who poses no threat while he’s sitting at a coffee shop.” That was actually his little analogy that he brought up many times, that they guy is just sitting at the coffee shop – can we agree that that guy shouldn’t be able to get killed out of the sky, he has to have the same due process as anybody else would, and that’s unfortunate you have to get that granular, but I guess the point is why I brought up the whole straw poll thing is that it seemed to be something that both sides of the far isle at least in my sub groups of friends, they seem to be able to say, “OK, we can agree on that”.
But that’s kind of a joke for the negotiation. We’ve established at least some level of logic where we agree, that should be wrong.
Tom: That’s very important, yeah.
Jad: Well except that it’s going to happen in a couple weeks and then it’s going to happen all the time, and then we’ll be on the next thing. Can’t we at least agree that we shouldn’t incinerate thousands of people all at once with drone strikes or whatever because we had the same conversation in 2004 with – can’t we at least agree that there should be some means that the NSA should have to go through before an American phone gets tapped.
Jad: And everyone on both sides of the isles is like, yes, you know, “that is a sovereign, sacred privilege of the American people to have some due process before their phone is tapped and now everyone’s phone is tapped all the time and that’s common knowledge.
Jad: And my point is again, so if you – when you phrase the question just like you did, can’t we at least agree that – I mean, the answer to that question starting 250 years ago would be no at 100%.
Jad: Right? Then it would be around like, maybe 1980 there would be like, 1% of people were like, well if they’re you know, the weatherman or something, we should blow them up. And now it’s like 50/50, right? So the tactic of engaging in a conversation within the structure that says yes, they absolutely have the ability to murder people, that is totally the case – we’re not arguing with that. He absolutely has the ability to murder people who are guilty in the United States without a trial – that’s totally cool. Is he allowed to murder people who are innocent in the United States without a trial?
You’re conceding everything already, right? They totally have the ability to tell you you know, what you can do, what you can – but can’t we at least agree that there should be [?] something that stops them from doing X. That is the anti-authoritarian tactic of the last 200 and whatever, 30, 40 years – it doesn’t work. It consistently doesn’t work.
Kevin: Well I think from a government intervention point of view I would agree with you, and so maybe the problem here is that obviously, Rand Paul being the insider, being the senator, et cetera, that’s right – he’s using that exact same tactic that we’ve seen for really, hundreds of years, probably even longer than that. I guess if I apply that at a “civilian” level, I mean, I feel it’s kind of a similar sort of thing that I try to do in Austin and it’s certainly my intentions for doing so are good, so I mean I guess it’s to say, “you’re right, you shouldn’t have to argue that in the first place”, just like you shouldn’t have to argue marriage, never mind the gay marriage. Just like you shouldn’t have to argue like, the granular taxes, why are you taking my money in the first place, right? Like, that’s the fundamental question.
But it is very difficult I think you’d have to agree in a practical sense to jump that whole thing. I mean, it’s unlikely that we can convince the masses in a single [?] sweep to say, there just shouldn’t be taxes. And maybe you can, maybe that’s the best way to do it – it seems trickier. But I guess in a system like Austin for example, if I localize it – and again, maybe it’s not fair to jump in and out of the federal, all the way down to local level – but I feel the logic is kinda the same, or the principle behind the game is the same, using your recent debacle in the case of the guideline of this roof.
Should we have a law that says the government has to get involved when somebody’s power goes out? Isn’t it sufficient enough just to say that we can rely upon the electric company, which is incidentally own by the city of Austin to handle this type of thing, that we can rely upon a licensed contractor or whatever, we’ve already created this rule set. Why do we have to go through a permitting process? Why do we have to get the city of Austin involved in order to do this sort of thing? And I guess what I’m saying is that I feel that I could probably preach to a number of people in Austin and say, “look, that’s just a stupid law that we have because let’s look at the downside of it, we all can agree, I think, that when somebody has their electrical system destroyed at their house, the priority should be making sure that they get electricity back in this particular climate that we live in.
Now it’s good weather for you, so it was maybe a little bit more [?], but generally speaking, that’s the issue and so I guess what I’m saying is that yes, the question should be why does this law exist at all? Why does the local city council have the authority to enact such law to begin with – totally agree with you. But what I’m saying is I feel it’s an easier message if I go into a group of people locally and I say, hey, this is a law that shouldn’t exist in the first place, the city council has no authority to create such laws, to enact such laws, I think you’re going to fall on a lot of deaf ears in a city like this maybe because people have been – that’s just how they were raised, or that was their education, or whatever the case may be, it doesn’t matter – it’s engrained in their head that this is OK to begin with.
So I think that you kinda have to tailor that argument a little bit to say, well what is our end goal? Shouldn’t our end goal be to restore electricity to a person’s house? I mean, don’t we owe them that? And I think you probably you know, 100 out of 100 people in a group are going to say, “yes, that should definitely be our goal first”, and then to turn in to say, “well why would we put up additional road blocks for that to happen?” I mean, what if this were an elderly couple in this particular case that doesn’t have very much money, how are they supposed to deal with this type of situation, this is insane.
I feel that if you kind of go through that channel, you can eventually arrive at the exact same conclusion to get people on board to say, “Yeah, maybe we should get rid of that law. Maybe that is a bad law to have.” Now I’m not saying it’s that easy but I’m just kind of playing devil’s advocate to say if you can’t find that common ground, I don’t know how you’d go in – to use a poor metaphor – guns blazing to convince people that those authoritative figures shouldn’t exist in the first place.
And that’s where we’ll leave you this week. Remember that this is a two-part episode, and so we’ll pick up next week exactly where we just left off. If you find yourself with five minutes to spare, we’d absolutely love to hear from you. Comments, questions, concerns, ideas – their all welcome. You can contact us through the podcast website at www.JKPod.com, or individually if you prefer. Jad is at Jad-Davis.com, and I am at KevinLudlow.com. Providing transcription services to our show is Deidra Alexander of Galaxy Creative Media. Thanks again, and we’ll talk to you next week.