TCS Daily

What Hayek Might Think About Chavez

By Lee Harris - December 5, 2007 12:00 AM

Something quite remarkable happened in Venezuela last Sunday. Hugo Chavez did not get what he wanted. By a vote of 51% to 49%, the people of Venezuela voted against Chavez' radical proposals to alter his country's constitution. They refused to hand him even more discretionary power than he already has. They also made it impossible for him (for the moment) to continue to run for the Presidency until he was 95, as Chavez boasted that he wished to do. Perhaps more remarkable still, President Chavez, after some initial hesitation, accepted the verdict of the people, despite the fact that he was defeated by a very small margin—only 2%. Indeed, Chavez appeared to take his defeat philosophically, conceding that his program might have been too ambitious for the present.

Matters did not have to end this way. Prior to the election, Chavez had made charges that the United States was trying to steal the election from him. His 2% margin of defeat was tiny enough that Chavez might have persuaded his devoted supporters that a conspiracy of Yankee imperialists had indeed robbed them of his rightful triumph. Chavez, the wily demagogue, has often played the anti-American card to great effect, and it is conceivable he may have debated about playing it once again in the immediate aftermath of his defeat. It would have been easy to manufacture evidence of American interference, and to argue, on this basis, that the elections were invalid. Such a gambit would have saved Chavez face. It would also have provided him with an excuse to hold another election—one in which he could exercise a great deal more care counting the votes than he did in the last election.

Of course, it is always possible that Hugo Chavez did the right thing for the right reason—I am personally inclined to give people every benefit of the doubt, and perhaps President Chavez is genuinely committed to the principles of democracy, and does not aspire to become dictator. But there is another explanation that does not tax our charitable impulses unduly, and the key to this explanation comes from a thinker who is probably not high up on the list of Chavez' idols, namely, the Austrian philosopher Friedrich Hayek, whose realistic analysis of democracy sheds some interesting light on Chavez' decision to abide by the election results.

Hayek, like his compatriot Karl Popper, had mixed feeling about democracy. Both knew very well that democracies could vote themselves out of existence at the bidding of populist demagogues like Hugo Chavez. This had happened to the short-lived French Republic when Louis Napoleon had used popular elections, with universal suffrage, in order to make himself dictator, showing the path that would be followed by both Mussolini and Hitler in the twentieth century, who also used democratic elections in order to destroy the democratic system. Because all democracies vest sovereignty in the people, the people will always have the power not only to elect demagogues, but to change even their constitution at the behest of the demagogues they have elected, making it virtually impossible to erect a foolproof barrier against the rise of a dictator. Indeed, this is exactly what Chavez asked the Venezuela people to do in the recent election, namely, to thrown out the safeguards put in their constitution precisely to prevent someone like himself from seizing absolute power.

This brings us back to the question, Why didn't Chavez find a pretext to invalidate the election? What stopped him from doing this, I would argue, was not his respect for the existing constitution, which he was obviously willing to toss aside, nor was it his great love for the abstract principles of democracy, which he was willing to manipulate for his own purposes. What stopped him was simply the sobering realization that if he refused to accept the result of the election he would be faced with an outright rebellion among his political enemies, like the coup that removed him from power in 2002.

Hayek believed that democratic elections were valuable because they could prevent bloodshed and civil strife, like the 2002 coup. To see how this works, consider how elections took place among primitive armed tribes. To vote for someone to be your leader, you got up and stood next to the man you supported. By doing this, you were indicating that you would fight on your leader's side against his opponent. Hence the result of the primitive election was to disclose the relative power, in terms of armed supporters, of the various candidates. If one candidate had ninety men standing around him, while the other had only ten, then it was obvious that in an armed struggle the weaker side would lose and the stronger side would win. As a result, the man with only ten supporters would concede defeat, acting on the principle that it is better to lose an election than to lose one's head. By the same logic, when two men had nearly equal support, then this too sent a signal to the community—namely, that unless the two sides would work out a compromise, they would be plunged into a civil war that would inevitably end by weakening the community's capacity to survive struggle against their collective enemies. In short, the primitive election was a way to avoid bloody power struggles that would end up destroying the solidarity of the community.

By gracefully accepting his defeat at the poll, Hugo Chavez was skillfully averting a much worse defeat in the streets. If all the population knew that half the population had defied his bid for power, then it was obvious that there would be ferocious resistance to any attempt on Chavez' part to seize what he wanted by fraud. How ferocious this resistance might be had already been shown in 2002. It was a risk that Chavez chose not to take—but only after looking at the election returns.

Paradoxically, it was Venezuela's history of political instability, the knowledge that he could be unconstitutionally removed from power by a coup d'etat that led Hugo Chavez to abandon his efforts at mangling the constitution that is the only remaining obstacle to his own dictatorial ambitions.

In short, the happy outcome of Venezuela's most recent election should not be construed as showing that Hugo Chavez harbors no dictatorial ambitions, but neither should it be taken to be proof of the infallible wisdom of the democratic system. Instead, it indicates what we should suspect already—namely, that Hugo Chavez is no fool, and he is prepared to be prudent in order to get what he wants. And one day, he still may.



Difficulty comprehending the result
The author is finding it hard to wrap his head around just what happened. But he just doesn't get it.

"Of course, it is always possible that Hugo Chavez did the right thing for the right reason—I am personally inclined to give people every benefit of the doubt, and perhaps President Chavez is genuinely committed to the principles of democracy, and does not aspire to become dictator."

The point of the whole exercise is that Chavez wanted to become dictator. And to that end he fashioned a plebiscite, so the voters could decide. And they decided not to.

The funny thing is that here in the US we've been fed such a distorted view of Venezuela that we can't understand why he said "Okay, the people have spoken" and put his plans on the shelf.

Every day here on TCS I read people saying we shouldn't have too much democracy, and that it is bad for people in power to pay attention to what the public wants. In fact if a politician does do what the public wants, you guys all call it pandering for votes.

Hugo Chavez would appear then, to be more democratic than you libertarians. He asked the people if they wanted him to run a one man show. And by a narrow margin, they told him no. So he went along with them. Why should that surprise anyone?

No Subject
The problem with democracy is precisely when it does choose to elect someone to be a one man show. A Constitution is supposed to prevent people from voting away their own rights. But apparently that would be okay with you, so long as it was done democratically. Democracy is mob rule. Fortunately, the mob, this time, was on the side of right. Chavez certainly is not.

a big Roy.
It must be terrible for you after having invested so much in being an apologist for this thug.

The lesson of the Dirty War
It is always important that the wishes of the public be respected, without exception. Even had Chavez won, it would hardly have been the end of goodness and justice for all time. Next year, things would have looked a little different. And over time, the picture would have changed.

Here's an example of what can happen when the public's wishes are disregarded. Algeria in 1991.

The Islamist party FIS was running in an upcoming election, and had announced in advance that if they won they would impose sharia law and cancel the hope of any future elections. They considered democracy to be the devil's work. So if the party of God came to power, naturally it would rule for the rest of time. They were genuine Islamo-Fascists.

Not only that, they were going to win. All the polls put them in the lead. So the president did what he thought was the natural thing. He cancelled the elections himself, putting the country under martial law.

It was the wrong move. From that point forward, well over a hundred thousand lives have been lost so far in the Dirty War. Half have been killed by the Islamists, the other half by the death squads. No one knows the exact number, because of the great fear people live under. Plus, as yet there is no end in sight.

Had the president held the elections, and acceded to the Islamists as graciously as Chavez acceded to the wishes of his people, Algeria would have become an Islamic Republic. But over time they would have run the place into the ground, and been replaced in turn by whoever came next. And all those dead people would not have died.

Look at Libya, next door. Qaddafi was considered a terrorist, and we could have tried to foment a civil war there. Many thousands of lives would have been lost, and bad blood would have been injected into the body politic for a generation or more. But we didn't. And in time, Qaddafi moderated on his own.

Peace is better than the sword. If you want to take over a country, do it by convincing a majority to vote for you. Don't just invade and crush all opposition. There will always be another election.

I wanted to add "Do it the Chavez way... not the Bush way." But I decided that might be inflammatory. :)

v.Hayek + Chavez
I guess v.Hayek would said that this thug who distorts the economy in so many other ways, just didn't spend enough to buy votes for this particular excercise. So he'll probably rectify it next time, by either spending even more, or just taking over no matter what the people think. Remember, v.Hayek is used to dictators because he witnessed the Hitler time in europe, and would notice all the similarities with the aspiring young dictator Chavez.

Actually, my side won
I'm sorry you missed my comment elsewhere, on the eve of the election. I said that Chavez was going too far, and that if I were Venezuelan I'd be voting against him. So my side won.

You confuse being in favor of policies with being in favor of people. People can make mistakes-- and Chavez is certainly a bombastic blowhard. But his policies so far have been very good for his country-- better than those of any previous president.

So now that his excesses seem to have been curbed, I look forward to steady progress being made-- on the right track.

"It is always important that the wishes of the public be respected, without exception"
Even if the public were to wish for your death Roy?

Don't evade the issue by feigning ignorance of the principle involved.

People make mistakes
But a majority of people don't make mistakes?

Do it the American way
With a constitution, the rule of law and representative government.

My Wager
I will wager that the election result was far from the 51 to 49 as reported and that Chavez sees that his time is ending soon.

Pseudo-Socratic dialogue
"Even if the public were to wish for your death Roy?"

In such an event I would resort to the Napoleonic Code. It is their duty, as outraged citizens, to condemn. It is my duty, as a suspect, to escape.

We have a very recent example of this sort of reasoning: the English teachers in Sudan who unwittingly stepped into the snare of having a teddy bear named Mohammed.

The people spoke, demanding her execution. But wiser heads spirited her out of the country. The people did their duty, the diplomats theirs.

Not the best of all ways
The American way actually results in an inferior brand of democracy. We cling to an outdated mode of national elections, in the elctoral process, that makes the citizens of New Hampshire, Iowa and now South Carolina far more powerful than the puny mortals living in, say, California.

And as we saw in 2000, manipulations and chicanery in the Florida vote resulted, not in a small shift in the vote totals, but the crowning of a president supported only by a minority of the public.

I like the rule of law. Even though "the law" is easy to buy, it's better than naked autocracy. But you should know that every constitution on earth can be amended or replaced according to the will of either the people or the government, whichever holds more power. Ours, for instance, has been patched and cobbled on many occasions. It needs a fresh patch, one that would allow direct voting.

Learning from our mistakes
Majorities do in fact make mistakes. It happens all the time. Half of Venezuela, for instance, thinks the other half made a mistake.

But when it's the majority that makes the mistake, they only have themselves to blame. So each mistake then becomes a learning experience. When it's an autocratic ruler who makes the mistake, it becomes cause for revolution.

Democracy is inferior
How do you stop democracy from turning into mob rule?

If the USA Constitution is an inferior form of government, please suggest a better system that has existed for at least two hundred years.

Quite a theory
I'll be happy to consider that hypothesis. Why don't you support it with actual evidence?

If a man is willing to cheat to bring an election result up to 49-51, is he not capable of cheating a bit more to put it over the top? What would be his motivation for almost winning?

Fatal mistakes.
A majority condemned Socrates to death.

They changed their minds after he was dead.

If the USA were attacked from the middle east with a nuclear weapon and a US majority demanded a total nuclear response, you would support incinerating millions of people?


The stupidity thickens
for the Beanie Baby.

The wishes of the general public are not worthy of respect, let alone implementation as policy.

Beanie just doesn't get it.

The public elects leaders--those who are supposed to lead. If the (m)asses could lead, there'd be no government at all.

Roy believes the common idiot can be a leader. Well, I see a Congress and Oval Office mostly filled with common idiots. Like the result?

Which president?
" a president supported only by a minority of the public."

Bill Clinton, who got only 43% of the vote in 1992 and only 49% in 1996 or are you referring to Bush who got 49.5% in 2000 and 50.74% in 2004?

Because if you are engaging in Bush Derangement Syndrome, why didn't we hear of the same concerns over Clinton having even LESS support?

We are a federation of several states and thus direct voting is a joke. It's bad enough that the States handed away the only direct influence they had in the Senate.

What we are confused about is..
"You confuse being in favor of policies with being in favor of people"

Is that the policies you favor are conductive to allowing people like Chavez into power in the first place.

I doubt that
Because, he'll play the 'see, I respect the will of the people even when it goes against me' card to lower more people's guard to the hilt and try again.

Not only will he try again, but he'll probably try to push for even more 'reforms' (er, grab more power). Time is on his side, not against.

Another way of putting it: This is a sign of his sense of security of position, not the other way around. And what the author says is no doubt another contributing factor as well.

If we put it to a democratic vote, which of the following things do you think would happen:

1. ban the Koran
2. ban the teaching of evolution
3. ban the sale of Origin of Species
4. ostracism (in the ancient Greek sense) of Ted Kennedy
5. ban The Communist Manifesto

Personally, I am glad we have a Constitution that makes it illegal for us to vote to do any of those things (though I might be persuaded with 4). If the U.S. were a democracy, I would not be surprised if any of those things happened.

Clinton won handily
You're just playing with the numbers. Clinton got far more votes than either of his opponents. Bush in 2000 got fewer than did Al Gore.

Therefore Clinton got the mandate of the people.

Your version of states' rights means engineering the union so the little states get to push the big states around. Why is it more equitable when Nevada equals California in the Senate?

People like Chavez?
The policies Chavez initiated have been good for Venezuela, and I stood with him. Then at his inauguration this past January he took a turn toward autocracy that I felt was going in the wrong direction. Now this latest mandate from the people should have him back on the right track. Let's see how it goes.

More moral relativism
Bush received more votes than Clinton. (period)

92: Clinton 44.9 million votes (43%), 69% electoral votes
Bush: 39 M (37%), 31% electoral

96: Clinton 47.4 M (49%); 70% electoral
Dole: 39 M (41%), 30% electoral

00: Bush 50 M (48%); 50.37% electoral votes
Gore 51 M (48%); 49% electroal

04: Bush 62 M (51%); 53% electoral
Kerry 59 M (48%); 47% electoral

In 92, 57% did NOT vote for Clinton.
In 96, 51% did NOT vote for Clinton.

In 00, 52% did NOT vote for Bush.
In 04, 49% did NOT vote for Bush.

How can anyone have a mandate when more people do NOT vote you?

At least 5 million more people voted for Bush than voted for Clinton in each election.

It is pathetic Roy, to see you NOT take an UNEQUIVOCAL stand on your own innocence
Even a hardened criminal caught in the act with the proverbial smoking gun is likely to challenge the Right of people to call for his death.

But here you are, in the anonymity of the web, NOT doing it.

Duty Roy? You mean Right, don't you, even though you can't quite bring yourself to use that word?

So, people have a duty (Right) to call for the death of anybody they think offended them, and the only recourse the condemned have is escape, is it Roy? They don't have the Right to challenge the accusers and fight them, is it Roy?

arGUing iN cAPS
It seems apparent that you and I have entirely different approaches, on this and every issue.

I was referring to the Napoleonic Code, which you seem to be unfaniliar with. Under this legal code the government has a duty to itself, and its citizens also have duties to themselves. We're on very different legalistic ground than we are with American jurisprudence. Rights are not at issue under Napoleon.

Also, if I may say so, your pugnacity gets in the way of any actual point you may be trying to make. We can almost see the spittle on your keyboard as you write stuff like this.

Maybe less coffee would be good. Also less use of the uPPer CaSe.

"Rights are not at issue under Napoleon". Are they with you Roy?
Didn't I tell you many times that you try to deluge the discussion with details and irrelevances (my use of Upper Case, for example, which I am using to highlight as we seem to be NOT able to use the HTML tags for that purpose anymore) in the hope of avoiding arguing at the principles level?

We are discussing YOUR principles, if you have any, in the context of a majority calling for your death and other things.

And your answer does not discuss principles.

So, responding to your posts qualifies one as "inclined to quarrel or fight readily; quarrelsome; belligerent; combative" or, in one word, pugnacious, is it Roy?

Driven by distractions
"We" are not discussing "my" principles. You are trying to interrogate me, after posing a ridiculous hypothetical.

Why ridiculous? Because we have no instance I can find in the historical record where a majority, living in a democratic society, have called for the heads of either an individual expressing his free opinion, or a class of people being persecuted for their beliefs. That only happens in totalitarian states. And it only happens at the behest of a ruling party or an autocrat.

So the fact that I answered you at all is irrelevant. My comment went to the fact that only the Napoleonic Code could describe properly the relationship between a state, which wanted a certain individual murdered, and an individual, not wanting to be murdered by that state.

To pursue this empty subject would be unrewarding. If you want to continue, let's go back to my original comment, on the lesson of the Dirty War. Unlike your own side track, it relates directly to the article we are supposed to be commenting on.

And where we get confused is...
...over the fact that most of people reading this and had followed Chavez's career (he staged an unsuccessful military coup just like Hitler did), pretty much KNEW of his autocratic qualifications long before you did.

And we wonder why that is. I believe this is where someone would write a post with a subject that starts with "In Roy's world..."

P.S. Hitler's policies were good for the people of Germany, too. In three years German unemployment rates went from 30% to 3%. Napolean had an equally impressive economic track record when he consolidated his power, too.

Hitler clones found in Venezuelan cave...
We're left with the spectacle of an aspiring autocrat who's polite enough to first ask the public whether they'd like him to rule absolutely over them... then when they say "No, we wouldn't" he accepts it and moves on.

Hitler, this isn't.

We have zero evidence of his plan to overrun the entire continent by force-- another distinction between him and Hitler. True, he's an impulsive and headstrong lad. Witness his hotheaded diplomatic gaffes with Colombia and Spain. But what he wants is buddies. He'll be content to have Bolivia, Argentina and Ecuador on his crew, until more nations sign up to the program.

BTW excuse me in our last exchange for confusing you with NeNo. I still have trouble telling all of you apart.

The nice totalitarian
Yes, Chavez lost, so that legitimizes his socialist ideology and all is well.

Just read the NYT editorial talking about his glorious road to socialsim.

Alas, the MSM has no bias, right?

Oh really,a MANDATE?
Bush won handily in 2004, do you feel the same? Did you feel the same when Reagan absolutely flamed Mondull?

I hardly think 46% is a mandate. I am always amazed at how mediocre the standards the left has.

BTW, the Constitution mandates 50 senators which means Nevada gets a equal say in the senate. It has served us well but you don't like it because it doesn't stack the deck?

In fact, Senators were supposed to be appointed, not elected.

Your total lack of understanding of the founders intent is profound and noted. That you favor the tyranny of the majority is disturbing.

Mob rule is primitive and frightening. Our form of governence is divine in nature and profoundly fair.

Quit acting like a spoiled child Roy. Buy a history book.

Electoral College, Populism and a Poll driven presidents
To Roy and the left only victory matters. They could win by one vote and it is a mandate for sweeping reform and they are always shocked when they find resistance for the new socialism.

In addition, Roy favors a poll driven agenda by a populist president.

So the latest fad presents a electoral mandate, a must and real leadership AKA making a unpopular decision is not only unacceptable but taboo.

Scary huh? That a nation like the US could create a subject class is beyond my comprehension.

BTW Hitler won a mandate
He was a majority leader and took power by popular mandate.

I have met people who still think he was a Savior. Sheep nation?

But what you liberals do not understand....
about how our democracy was supposed to work was that the constitution explicitly prevented laws that impinged on ones individuality to even be made whether a mojority wanted it or not.

For example, take welfare. Welfare is a blatant confiscation of ones liberty (and wealth). It does not matter if the majority thought it a good idea or not. For those opposed to welfare it was/is a involutary confiscation of earned wealth/wage. This is not permitted by our constitution even as written today.

What the government can do is make laws preventing other citizens from taking away another's liberty. Robbery or murder laws would be examples.

This is why the founders made it so difficult to amend the constitution. As you can see these days since we basically abandanded the above principle the government has grown to enormous proportions as everyone now has their hand out looking for redistributed wealth via the government. How you liberals can construe this as in any way fair or just is simply beyond me.

So all this..."the majority spoke" and Chavez (or any one else) listened is mostly a smoke screen for the liberal agenda to incrementally expand the size and scope of government.

Hahaha, what policies?
Socialism? Nationalism? Sure Roy, despite all history showing Socialism is a utter failure and that Capitalism brings the highest standard of living for the most people were going to go down that road?

I know, the right people have not tried it or how did Chavez's aid say it; "the people are not mature enough for socialism"?

Funny how you have to be "mature" enough for servitide.

Viva Castro?

Responding to your posts is interrogating you?
This is what you wrote

"It is always important that the wishes of the public be respected, without exception"

This is an unquivocal statement of the principle on which you want GOVAGs to work.

That majority is Right has been your principle all along. This only confirms it in so many words.

So, I just asked you the question "if majority wants you to be dead will YOU accept it as Right".

As usual, you are evading; this time, by feigning ignorance of the meaning of the word "IF".

As for "Because we have no instance I can find in the historical record where a majority, living in a democratic society, have called for the heads of either an individual expressing his free opinion", you are feigning ignorance of the fate of Socrates.

Divinely ordained
It changes everything when you claim our way of life to descend from God. Trouble is, those pesky Islamists happen to believe the exact same thing. Which one is wrong? God himself isn't saying.

I'm quite aware of the history of our way of governing. In fact for a very long time senators were chosen by rich people-- power brokers. It was a bad way to do things and quite rightly, Congress changed it.

Now we have another obvious inequality. The people living in the little states, like Wyoming or Montana, have more say in the way the country is governed than do those of us living in cities. A direct vote would correct that problem. That's why I'm in favor of it.

As for Clinton's mandate, he did receive the most votes of any of the three candidates. You know that, but can't admit to it. Give it up.

The one thing that most explains you is your fear of the majority. If the public were ever able to take control of its government-- as the Founding Fathers, let's not forget, intended that they do-- things would be done very differently. We wouldn't **** away the national wealth trying to rule the world, for one thing.

Forget the ideologies
Socialism. nationalism and capitalism are not policies, they're ideologies. The policies I refer to are those that have been raising Venezuela back out of poverty.

Remember, they've been trying capitalism for decades now, ever since the oil was discovered. And while the economy has been very good for capitalists, it has been very bad for the Venezuelans. The capitalist miracle transformed them into the poorest country in South America, save for Bolivia. They were even behind Paraguay!

The investors thought this was just fine. Now the money is going toward the alleviation of unemployment, lack of education and poor health services. Which is where the wealth of the nation should be going.

So let's not forget why it is that Chavez has been so popular. He has been the best thing ever to have happened to his country. They just aren't about to let him be dictator.

I'd like to read it
When you say something like "Just read the NYT editorial talking about his glorious road to socialsim" it's good form to attach the page address, so we can actually read it and see what you are talking about. I'd like to.

Mostly because I'm dubious that the NYT would ever have said such a thing. This is the paper that beat the drum for war, and repeated every rumor the administration told us about why we were going in. Rumors subsequently found to all be false. So I think of the NYT more as a Bush administration mouthpiece.

So if you can find something revealing that they are all in fact secret socialists, I would be interested very much. Thanks for finding and posting the address.

It changes everything when you claim our way of life to decend from government.
What has made the USA great is, so far, its insistence that government power is on loan from the people who have their liberty from a higher power than man or government.

The USA is a REPUBLIC for a reason and it has proven to be a very wise choice.

Down with democracy?
I didn't say democracy was perfect, I just said it was a better way to decide how a nation is to be run than any other way. In fact I share your low opinion of the average person's ability to be swayed by artful propaganda.

But I accept it. The problem with having things run by a tiny group of puppet masters is, which group will be doing the job? Oligarchy inevitably sets the best interests of the whole against the special interests of the few.

You seem to be a big fan of history. Tell us what happens when an oligarchy gets into power-- a small group of big brains who know much better than anyone else how things should be run?

Most often it leads to autocracy and totalitarianism.

All these isms start out as being somebody's great idea, like Marxism. Who could be against everyone contributing according to their ability and getting a fair share of the profit? That's just a description of basic fairness.

Instead, look what happened. A small number of revolutionaries takes over in Russia and destroys society.

Am I supposed to believe it would be any different if we allowed a small band of libertarian True Believers to run our country? That would be very, very dumb of us.

"A small number of revolutionaries takes over in Russia and destroys society."
A small number of revolutionaries take over America and create a triving, prosperous society.

How did they do it? Where was the democracy?

What was different about Washington, Madison, Jefferson, Franklin and so many others compared to other revolutionaries in history?

Policies are important
"they've been trying capitalism for decades now, "

It they have they would be thriving.

"Capitalism is a social system based on the principle of individual rights. The term capitalism is used here in the broader philosophical political sense, and not in the narrower economic sense, i.e. a free-market."

Did they respect the rule of law, private property rights, ...all the policies and philosophies required to implement capitalism?

How is ti that Ven. is doing better???
Please explain...

Another Example.....
We have had a series of votes over the years in this country to tax 40%-50% of my wages away much of which is then given to those deemed "deserving".

I would raher keep most of that and be taxed at maybe 10-15% only to cover police, fire roads, common defense and a few other essential untilitarian functions of the government.

Why is it that the majority has the "right" to vote "my" taxes higher and give it to others of its choosing that I have no desire to share with?

Democracy, two wolves and a sheep voting what to eat for dinner.
A constitutional republic, two wolves and sheep with a gun, deciding what to eat for dinner.

re Roy and Ven.
It's not, it's just that Roy as a left wing authoritarian(of course he always denies it) always blames capitalism, even though these crappy places he admires don't practice it, then he proposes statist solutions. Left wingers have always done that, not put the blame where it belongs, but on capitalism in order to justify socialism.

Operating a true democracy
You may be laboring under a misperception. Half the country enjoys the right to pay taxes and dictate that some of them go toward maintaining certain social supports: among them income support for the temporarily unemployed and the elderly, and health care for those eligible under the rules.

The other half enjoys the right to protest this, and to indicate their preference for fighting wars without end, putting the costs on the tab, while reducing taxation to the point where the federal government will wither away.

That's your right in a free, democratic society. I note with especial concern, though, that on this board there are a number of us who don't like democratic rule. For them, it becomes "mob rule". Their preference is an oligarchy, where we are ruled by people who promote their own ideology.

Note further that in my own state the Libertarian Party has failed to stay on the ballot, for the curious reason that they drew less than one percent of the popular vote back in 2004. The lesson I would draw from this is that any supposedly enlightened rule of the country by a clique of Libertarians would be resented by the vast majority of the public, all of whom prefer rule by a majority of the public.

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