Atlas Huggies

Our afternoon guest columnist is Thomas Wright, author of “The Fisherman’s Catch: A Conservative Bedtime Story.”

The original concept for this story came about in October of 2008 while trying to figure out a way to talk to one of my co-workers who could not understand why I felt taxing one group of people more than another was morally wrong. I finally came up with a story about a fisherman in a small village long ago that discovered a new way to fish with a net. He caught many more fish than before and became wealthy. A few men from the village decided to force the fisherman to spread the wealth. They went up with rocks and clubs and told the fisherman to give them half his catch each day for ‘the good of the village’ and thus the first government was born.

I then closed with these thoughts for my co-worker, “How is the government taxing you any different from a group of armed thugs taking what you have? Can you say no without horrible consequences?” and finally the statement that really hit home, “You realize that the moment you are okay with one group being taxed more then another in our society, YOU BECOME THE THUG!”

After 18 months of polishing the original terse concept, and with thanks to the beautiful artwork done by Heather Dixon, a wonderful children’s book has been created that engages children’s imaginations as it takes them down a path that shows the Conservative views on innovation, taxation, and social programs. The book does this in a way that even young children can follow and understand. It has helped me teach my own sons values such as working hard not only with their bodies but their minds as well. It has helped me teach them what governments role should be rather than what it has become. It has helped them realize that there is a difference between working for your money and having it handed to you.

I know that you will enjoy this book as many others have before you. Please purchase it here on our products page so that we can start on the next book in the series.

Conservative Bedtime Stories

What a waste.

A pop-up book with a hand with raised middle finger would have sufficed.

Give conservative spawn an allowance, they’ll turn liberal in college; teach conservative spawn propaganda with a cutsie book, they’ll be conservative forever.

Asswipe fails to mention that his fish come from our collective waters. So they are our fish which he has privatized for his own benefit.

So I take it these kids have to pay for their own copy of the book, because the parents wouldn’t want to undermine their precious values by handing them something they didn’t earn.

And then everybody else in the village died of starvation and the little boy and girl had to commit incest to propagate the species. The End.

Sounds about par for the libertarian course: get rich by imposing negative externalities on everyone else (overfishing) then bitch about it when people call you on it.

Guess RW parents can read this to their kids instead of the parable of the fishes and loaves; wouldn’t want them getting any COMMIE IDEAS now… :)

@al2o3cr: My fish bumper magnet is bigger than your fish bumper magnet.

@nojo: Dammit nojo, how can anyone follow that?

Oh hey, one of you might know: why is Unicorn here in Seattle? What’d we do to deserve the Presidential ass-reaming? (No flying allowed, traffic fucked, etc.)

Very apropos of this: “Our Daughter Isn’t a Selfish Brat; Your Son Just Hasn’t Read Atlas Shrugged.”

A real conservative would have given the village thugs all the fucking fish, fattened them up and then killed and eaten them alone on the beach. How do these assholes get to call themselves conservatives?

@IanJ: I left the Paul the Octopus gag wide open for the taking.

Fuck Godwin. Adolf Hitler hated the jews because he hated their morality, he hated what we would call “judeo christian values,” especially the values that said that you should care for the weak and the sick, and oh, yeah, “thou shalt not kill.” He hated these values, because he thought they got in the way of darwinian selection, and thus made the “races” weaker. He looked back to the Spartans, and to the later Mongols, as examples of the older, classical morality, the natural order under which the strong had a right to subordinate the weak, and the sick, lame, retarded, and flawed, well, they died, and good, that way that would not reproduce and pollute the gene pool with their pathologies. (This is why I fucking hate so-called “liberals” who think the “Darwin Award” is funny, when it celebrates eugenics, and you know who else would have approved.) Hitler hated Jews because it was the Jewish morality of the bible that introduced this “socialist” idea that anyone owes any moral obligation to anyone else.

In other words, Hitler was an Objectivist. And Objectivists are Nazis. And this guy should have called his cute little ode to selfishness “The Fisherman’s Kampf.”

@IanJ: I think you should go hold up annoying, misspelled placards with OA.

@Prommie: Remember, Ghengis started his career by murdering his brother. They still write books about Khan and his progeny populated a huge portion of the planet. If you aren’t killing, you aren’t living!

@Prommie: Funny you should mention Godwin. I was just, um, thinking about him.

@Prommie: or “Der Kampf der Fischer” in the original.

Still, cryptofacist children’s author is a writes cryptofacist children’s books, right? What do you guys expect him to write about, the benefits of cooperation and collective effort? This is the “fuck-you-I’ve-got-mine” crowd. It’s a moral cesspool to begin with, so why be shocked when they force-feed their degenerate swill to babies as well?

ADD: Godwin is right about one thing, though. Comparing anything to Hitler invariably changes an opinion into a screed. Maybe it shouldn’t , but it does.

@Tommmcatt Cannot Be Arsed To Think About Sharon Angle: I have changed my mind about Godwin’s law, its another case of liberals muzzling themselves, and conceding the debate. Dammit, the Randian Objectivists are fucking Nazis, its not a false comparison. The southern racists are nazis, the GOP is a fascist party. Its no longer hyperbole, it was hyperbole in the 1960s, it was an exaggeration in the 1970s, it was an overstatement in the 198os, and it has become a valid and accurate comparison now in the new century.

Lol, figure I should get my 2 cents in as I wrote the book… I understand what you all are saying, actually this book is not about being selfish, it is supposed to be a primer for questioning authority and other peoples right to decide to distribute wealth that has been earned by, well to be honest anyone. It is a parable in a simplistic form to help both children and parents enter into the messy world of politics, with admittedly an agenda that I hold to be true.

Now the question of collectivism is always one that must be weighed carefully. In this book there are actually several questions asked. First and foremost is where does true ‘wealth’ come from? The second, is where does the authority to decide who should give what come from and to what end should it be enforced.

Lastly, this book teaches that there is a personal responsibility to be kind, generous and giving. That there is a difference between someone else deciding to share your wealth with others versus you ‘learning to share’ your wealth with others.

I understand the want to ‘make things fair’ but in the end it is an impossibility because the moment you force others to give of their wealth you are no longer making things fair. I would contend that there is a difference between teaching people to want to give of their wealth versus imposing a collective or singular will to force the same response.

lol I love the comment about common waters and overfishing. First of all this is simply a story device to make a point. It could be anything, heck call it figuring out how to better use land, or hydroponics, etc. It is simply an ‘innovation’ that takes place that makes that person more efficient. I chose fishing and a net because it is a simplistic method that can be used to illustrate the point.

Now if someone would like to actually discuss with me how I am being inconsistent or how I have managed to be a Nazi in this response I am more then happy to continue the discussion. All political theory stems from an objective overview of how to best manage people. My take is that you let people manage themselves and simply create a minimalist structure of laws and understandings to allow a framework of trust to be established between individuals and cooperatives. How in anyway shape or form could that be considered Nazi? Which favored a strong Government with rigid rules and hierarchical standings. Heck I would say it does not even get close to fascism as the main thrust of the argument in this book is against any form of government involvement at all as it simply gets in a persons way. ( Not to say I am anti-government, only that it gets in the way more often then not, it does however serve a purpose and should not be done away with entirely )

Please those of you you who were truly raging against what I have written please help me understand where I have gone so wrong in my opinions. By the way I believe in helping the poor and needy, in fact I think charity is one of the center values that make a person great. I just make a differentiation between enforcing charity and someone being charitable. It is easy to be charitable with other peoples money, it is much more difficult to be self-sacrificing.

@Fishermen: Welcome! Glad you dropped by, and I’m impressed you can maintain your civility amidst our braying. I’d be chewing up the scenery, myself.

Fun detail: Your Google ad showed up here first, which is how I was tipped to your work. So, presuming there’s no such thing as bad publicity, it was money well spent.

@Fishermen: Did you once consider the possibility that the other fishermen would simply copy the new technique instead of shaking down the innovator? Your story equates government with thieves, which gives a very clear picture of your opinion about government. I’m surprised to find you using the internet, which was originally financed and built by your thieves with rocks and clubs.

Your feelings about charity somehow didn’t translate into your book. Did your synopsis leave out the part where the wealthy and charitable fisherman shared his largess with his brothers and sisters of the village? No, I think there’s another book that mentions someone feeding the hungry.

@Fishermen: there is a difference between someone else deciding to share your wealth with others versus you ‘learning to share’ your wealth with others.

Lol it sure as heck helps when that ‘learning to share’ thing is tax deductible too, right?

A problem with the premise of your book is that the fisherman is a self contained individual. Who builds the boat? Who makes the nets? Who keeps the village safe? Who cures the fish? I presume it would be other people besides the fisherman as he would be too busy fishing. They have to eat too.

Besides from what I’ve seen with kids, they don’t need anyone telling them to be selfish as they do a pretty good job on their own.

@Fishermen: The book would have been far more entertaining had the Fisherman invented the spear gun, completely eclipsed the village in fishing efficiency and, when the villagers turned on him, used it to go totally Death Wish on their asses. Better chance at scoring a movie deal, too, with a kick ass story line like that. I can just see Fisherman standing over some protostalinist, with the spear gun straight-armed to his head, quivering in insensate rage, intoning righteously, “Take my fish, asshole. Make my day.”


Ok, maybe “degenerate swill” was going a little too far. As was “cryptofascist “, really. The truth is that Fascism really isn’t a coherent political philosophy- it is a description of a political body that has abandoned philosophy and intellectual consistency altogether and subordinated itself to the will of an individual, subordinating all interests, including the economic, to the will of that individual. As such, to call anyone a fascist is to create an argument which is immediately false. Fascists are fascists after the fact; there is no dominant political organization other than that which serves the will of the strongman at the top of the heap. This is why Hitler persecuted socialists as the head of the National Socialist Party- it was about power, not principle.

We react negatively to your book-or, to be fair,to what we imagine your book says- because the argument you present is a false one. There is no group of villagers forcing you to pay for your own medicare, or for your own social security, or for the roads you drive on or the fire department which protects the investment that is your home. There are only elected individuals, governing as best they can with the funds they have. The Right rails against government, but offers no cogent alternative to it. If you want a road, you have to pay for it yourself or band together to pay for it. Most of us as individuals couldn’t pay for the kind of transportation network it takes to sustain an economy like ours, therefore we needs must redistribute wealth in the form of taxation to do so.

By simplifying this complex political necessity to a parable cast in the black/white dichotomy of all parables, you teach our children to ignore their responsibility while enjoying the benefits of government you so reville. It is the ultimate irony, I think, that you sell your book over the internet, developed out of whole cloth by the government, and yes, introduced to the public arena by a certain Democratic vice-president through legislation he sponsored. Furthermore, you cast those of us who take the opposite side in a complex discussion as villains, as evil as a wicked stepmother or scheming uncle in a fairy tale. This does little to elevate the tone of our national discourse going forward. In fact, it creates an environment where the term “fascist” can be used with impunity. What is “fascist” if not “evil”?

I am not evil because I believe that government can, and should, solve some of the large-scale problems in the lives of individuals. I simply have a different opinion. When you reduce the complexity of this discussion to the bare bones morality of a fairy tale, you lower the level of our discourse, and help create a generation which cannot compromise.

Compromise built this country, sir, and we would all do well to remember that.

And this is coming from someone who called you a degenerate ;)…

I thank you for your time, and for your kind indulgence of my incivility.


I dunno. How much executive cock are you willing to suck? I imagine they could be bought with blow too.

Stranger things have happened in this company, Chainsaw.

@Tommmcatt Cannot Be Arsed To Think About Sharon Angle: What? I was expecting they’d send out Snow White to negotiate the contract.

@Dave H: He is selling his book via Internet, the progeny of DARPANET, a defense project to design a packet-switched network that could survive a thermonuclear war with a store-and-forward architecture that could route around damage as opposed to conventional circuit-switched technology. He’s leveraging a technology of apocalypse to sell his books about cannibal anarchy.

@FlyingChainSaw: The fact that so many geeks are libertarians never ceases to amuse me. Hands off our government-developed and funded communications infrastructure!

@Fishermen: Taxes are the dues you play for the privilege of living in a civilized society. If you want to live somewhere where there aren’t taxes or pesky government regulations I suggest you investigate emigrating to Haiti or Somalia.

You won’t have to worry about the socialist fascism of things that you have to suffer and endure here in the Kenyan Mooslem’s regime like Social Security, food stamps, the interstate highway system, building codes that keep schools from killing thousands of children in earthquakes, or efficient fire fighting and law enforcement.

@SanFranLefty: TJ/ Did you see your veedeooh in the clubhouse?

@Fishermen: O Hai! I dig that whole Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville “self-interest rightly understood” thing, but you might not dig him if you’ve ever called pommes frites “Freedom Fries.”

@SanFranLefty: Heh. I damn near singed off my eyebrows!

@JNOV: Yeah, I was worried that you had a cigarette stuck to your lip when you were futzing around with the container of gasoline. I think the gasoline was a little extraneous. That thing burned, though.

I’ll give y’all the update tomorrow in the sandbox. It was an insane and intense day, and some scary shit happened.

the author surprises the discussion of his work….
“you know nothing of my work!”
“if only life was really like this”
fishermen gives us a true annie hall moment!

Though the temptation can be great it is in very poor taste to respond to comments left by strangers about one’s work. Just as the impulse to respond to reviews should be resisted. This is particularly true when commenters at a jokey site are responding to a synopsis, not having had an opportunity to read the work in question. An author needs to ask him or herself: why do I feel the need to respond?

@Tommmcatt Cannot Be Arsed To Think About Sharon Angle: Or dynamite. Fisherman learns how to fish efficiently using dynamite. Instead of hunting down the protostalinists one by one he hurls lit sticks of TNT into surging crowds of them. Christina Kendricks, playing dottir of chieftain, defects to Fisherman’s side, helps him light dynamite, provocatively holding the sticks between her teeth before lighting and handing them to Fisherman to hurl, and in second plot point fucks Fisherman savagely atop a pile of defeated, dead villager protostalinists.

The tragedy of the commons.
An extractive, commonly-owned industry, first off, is just about the worst possible example to use.
Second, increasing wealth and power disparity and monopoly. Redistribution of wealth is a good thing in and of itself, and not merely as a means to an end, or a moral good, it is a practical good. Taxation for the purpose of redistributing wealth has practical benefits which, to be Benthamite about it, produces the greatest good for the greatest number. Fact, simple fact, is that unregulated enterprise inevitably leads to monopoly, and un-taxed wealth leads to extreme wealth disparity, which really is like another form of monopoly. You don’t want to live in the countries that have monopolistic businesses and extreme wealth disparities. Those places all suck.

@Nojo – thanks for posting it, I understand that not everyone thinks the way I do nor am I trying to convince others to have to think the way I do. I simply explain my thoughts and beliefs as I see and understand them and am not afraid to reexamine them as people question or attempt to criticize them. In the end self examination is needed in order to know why you believe what you believe and why. I welcome the opportunity to explore.

@ Benedick – lol I just like talking about political thought and philosophy so I noticed this site and I have found that those who can ridicule often have sharp wits and can see many political ideals more clearly then others, this is fun for me so long as it is civil. I understand what you mean about not responding, however think of it this way, this is publicity since it is on the internet and yet another forum to introduce the concepts I believe in. In the end discussion of any kind ( again so long as it is civil ) yields a greater understanding of both sides of thought on any topic. Just my opinion on the matter lol. Will I respond to all sites? Of course not, but it is fun to talk to people about my book. Plus I wouldn’t mind if you picked up a copy lol. Perhaps coming here will spur you into action?

@SanFranLefty – the question of taxation is a question of moral imperatives ( just like all things are ) the question is not whether or not to tax, but rather how to tax and why you are taxing. The Mafia extracts “taxes” from those around it but is it just? Is it moral? Or is the reason the Mafia is bad mouthed because it is in competition with another government entity? When does a tax become unfair or undue? These are the moral questions about taxes that I believe we must explore and come to conclusions on.

@Dave H – It does talk about charity at the end of the book lol. But the purpose of the book is about taxation and forcing others to give of what they have. Not generosity being the well spring. Again easy to be generous with others money, a lot more difficult to do so on your own accord.

@Tommmcatt Cannot Be Arsed To Think About Sharon Angle the purpose of the book, as in all things, is to express a point of view through common occurring themes in a simplistic manner.

I understand the theme is simplistic. It has to be for children. The questions at the back of the book are where children get to think and examine ideals. Let me ask a few questions ( again major points the book tries to make ) When is it right to tax one person more then others? Why? When is it right to give to one person rather then another? Why is it right? When do you stop? How is ‘wealth’ created? What happens when the source of wealth in a social program no longer exists? Is it proper to force others to be charitable or is it something that should be cultivated in individuals? Can taxation stifle competition, innovation? If you stand by when one group or individual is taxed more then others are you giving tacit approval of said results? Do social programs only do what they are meant to or do they expand over time? Can taxes chase away investment?

From a simple book and story many questions can be asked that allow people to explore concepts that they have not thought of. Again I do not advocate a cessation of taxation. Nor even the ending of social programs. I do not think the ones we currently have are managed well ( I think that implementing them on the Federal level is a mistake ) I also do not believe you should implement things you cannot pay for ( whether that means raising taxes or cutting the programs ) I do not believe that targeting one person because he has more is morally correct. I know it is VERY tempting, because why do they need all they have anyway, they can afford it. I simply feel that this is a dangerous moral position to take as I could continue to justify it to the point where they have no more then I, and what if someone decides I have too much? Who decides this?

I know it may seem like selfishness when you talk of allowing people to keep what they earn. However I do not believe you can help others until you yourself have taken care of your own house so to speak. You have to know something in order to teach it, by the same token you have to be on a firm foundation before you can boost/pull others up to a higher level.

In the end this is an exploration ( on a child level please remember ) of these questions and concepts meant to help spur understanding and questioning of the way we do things and of their own values and beliefs. It can be used as an education tool meant to bring to bear hopefully a questioning of self at later ages in life and an introduction to discussion ( on either side by the way ) of why their parents believe the things they do. This book can be used as an example for ideals or against ideals as it is the thought process that matters not simply the material. The material presents a point of view it is in the hands of those that read it to create understanding.

I know I am not terribly articulate, sorry, this is just stuff off the cuff so to speak. I believe that the journey and quest for knowledge lies in questions. It is easy to justify ourselves to ourselves, or to those who believe as we do. It is entirely different to explain yourself to the ever present question of Why? I enjoy these conversations and hope you do as well, forgive my own befuddling of words when I make obtuse statements.

@Fishermen: Do you understand the phenomenon known as the tragedy of the commons? Are you aware of the economic and social effects of concentrated wealth and power?

Taxation cannot be voluntary, ever. The freeloader effect would destroy the entire system.

And as I stated, wealth redistribution is a social good independant of the need for the tax money or any moral or social justice concerns. Extreme wealth inevitably results in monopoly, and along with the inevitable extreme disparities in opportunity and competitiveness, the extremely wealthy and powerful will, they always will, erect deliberate barriers to prevent others from competing with them.

Our society and economic system is not a little fishing village, and your analogy is simply completely false, and children are better off having no knowledge of this complicated topic, than they are being indoctrinated to have a simplistic and false understanding.

Ronald Reagan once said “some people say there are no easy answers, but I say there are.” Ronald Reagan was a fucking retard. Some things are irreducibly complex, as the creationists say, and having a simplistic understanding is worse than having no understanding at all; someone who is ignorant is at least open to learning, someone who thinks they know, but really doesn’t have a clue, will fiercely resist learning anything which contradicts their simplistic, false, but comforting and self-serving notions.

@Fishermen: How is wealth created? That’s easy! You float a bond issue for a genocidal government to murder tens of millions of people. Then your grandkid becomes president and he makes sure that his cut of the sploils isn’t taxed. That’s what America is all about! So, what do you say about redrafting Fisherman as a spear gun wielding, dynamite hurling, Hendricks-pestorking superman. Tomcatt has all but guaranteed us a deal with The Mouse.

@Fishermen: You maybe ought to start with some Hobbes, and the social contract, its free, on the internets!

THE right of nature, which writers commonly call jus naturale, is the liberty each man hath to use his own power as he will himself for the preservation of his own nature; that is to say, of his own life; and consequently, of doing anything which, in his own judgement and reason, he shall conceive to be the aptest means thereunto.

By liberty is understood, according to the proper signification of the word, the absence of external impediments; which impediments may oft take away part of a man’s power to do what he would, but cannot hinder him from using the power left him according as his judgement and reason shall dictate to him.

A law of nature, lex naturalis, is a precept, or general rule, found out by reason, by which a man is forbidden to do that which is destructive of his life, or taketh away the means of preserving the same, and to omit that by which he thinketh it may be best preserved. For though they that speak of this subject use to confound jus and lex, right and law, yet they ought to be distinguished, because right consisteth in liberty to do, or to forbear; whereas law determineth and bindeth to one of them: so that law and right differ as much as obligation and liberty, which in one and the same matter are inconsistent.

And because the condition of man (as hath been declared in the precedent chapter) is a condition of war of every one against every one, in which case every one is governed by his own reason, and there is nothing he can make use of that may not be a help unto him in preserving his life against his enemies; it followeth that in such a condition every man has a right to every thing, even to one another’s body. And therefore, as long as this natural right of every man to every thing endureth, there can be no security to any man, how strong or wise soever he be, of living out the time which nature ordinarily alloweth men to live. And consequently it is a precept, or general rule of reason: that every man ought to endeavour peace, as far as he has hope of obtaining it; and when he cannot obtain it, that he may seek and use all helps and advantages of war. The first branch of which rule containeth the first and fundamental law of nature, which is: to seek peace and follow it. The second, the sum of the right of nature, which is: by all means we can to defend ourselves.

From this fundamental law of nature, by which men are commanded to endeavour peace, is derived this second law: that a man be willing, when others are so too, as far forth as for peace and defence of himself he shall think it necessary, to lay down this right to all things; and be contented with so much liberty against other men as he would allow other men against himself. For as long as every man holdeth this right, of doing anything he liketh; so long are all men in the condition of war. But if other men will not lay down their right, as well as he, then there is no reason for anyone to divest himself of his: for that were to expose himself to prey, which no man is bound to, rather than to dispose himself to peace. This is that law of the gospel: Whatsoever you require that others should do to you, that do ye to them. And that law of all men, quod tibi fieri non vis, alteri ne feceris.

To lay down a man’s right to anything is to divest himself of the liberty of hindering another of the benefit of his own right to the same. For he that renounceth or passeth away his right giveth not to any other man a right which he had not before, because there is nothing to which every man had not right by nature, but only standeth out of his way that he may enjoy his own original right without hindrance from him, not without hindrance from another. So that the effect which redoundeth to one man by another man’s defect of right is but so much diminution of impediments to the use of his own right original.

Right is laid aside, either by simply renouncing it, or by transferring it to another. By simply renouncing, when he cares not to whom the benefit thereof redoundeth. By transferring, when he intendeth the benefit thereof to some certain person or persons. And when a man hath in either manner abandoned or granted away his right, then is he said to be obliged, or bound, not to hinder those to whom such right is granted, or abandoned, from the benefit of it: and that he ought, and it is duty, not to make void that voluntary act of his own: and that such hindrance is injustice, and injury, as being sine jure; the right being before renounced or transferred. So that injury or injustice, in the controversies of the world, is somewhat like to that which in the disputations of scholars is called absurdity. For as it is there called an absurdity to contradict what one maintained in the beginning; so in the world it is called injustice, and injury voluntarily to undo that which from the beginning he had voluntarily done. The way by which a man either simply renounceth or transferreth his right is a declaration, or signification, by some voluntary and sufficient sign, or signs, that he doth so renounce or transfer, or hath so renounced or transferred the same, to him that accepteth it. And these signs are either words only, or actions only; or, as it happeneth most often, both words and actions. And the same are the bonds, by which men are bound and obliged: bonds that have their strength, not from their own nature (for nothing is more easily broken than a man’s word), but from fear of some evil consequence upon the rupture.

Whensoever a man transferreth his right, or renounceth it, it is either in consideration of some right reciprocally transferred to himself, or for some other good he hopeth for thereby. For it is a voluntary act: and of the voluntary acts of every man, the object is some good to himself. And therefore there be some rights which no man can be understood by any words, or other signs, to have abandoned or transferred. As first a man cannot lay down the right of resisting them that assault him by force to take away his life, because he cannot be understood to aim thereby at any good to himself. The same may be said of wounds, and chains, and imprisonment, both because there is no benefit consequent to such patience, as there is to the patience of suffering another to be wounded or imprisoned, as also because a man cannot tell when he seeth men proceed against him by violence whether they intend his death or not. And lastly the motive and end for which this renouncing and transferring of right is introduced is nothing else but the security of a man’s person, in his life, and in the means of so preserving life as not to be weary of it. And therefore if a man by words, or other signs, seem to despoil himself of the end for which those signs were intended, he is not to be understood as if he meant it, or that it was his will, but that he was ignorant of how such words and actions were to be interpreted.

The mutual transferring of right is that which men call contract.

@Fishermen: Are you familiar with the old saw that the fish will be the last to discover water? That fish are blind to the water in which they swim? Its not literally true, of course, its a reference to the fact that if you live in an environment which has elements that are always, always present in your experience, it can become impossible for you to even conceive of their absence, and if you cannot even imagine the absence of something, then you will also lose awareness of its presence.

I think that almost every ‘libertarian” of the Rand variety, with their worship of selfishness, is attracted to these ideas because they are blind to the enormous benefits of “government,” because they are fortunate enough to have been swimming in them all their lives, and cannot imagine their absence.

You don’t seem to be able to imagine their absence. Lets take your fishing village. In a natural state, free from the tyranny and evil of government, here is what would have happened: the first fisherman who was bigger and stronger than the others, would have murdered all the others and stolen their wives. Or maybe, he would have kept some as slaves, so he could sleep all day and eat what they caught. Of course, this would only be the status quo until one of the slaves, or one of the wives, poisoned him, and then, the next biggest of the survivors, would kill everyone else. And so on, and so on.

Government is an absolute necessity, and a positive good, without which, life is “nasty, brutish, and short.” I would argue all day about how much government there should be, and what it should undertake to do and what it should not do, there is tons of room to debate all those things.

But I will not debate these things with someone who has adopted the insane belief that government is per se evil, that its bad, and at best, a “necessary evil.” Thats false, thats not true, and it will lead you far astray when deliberating over the important questions of just what government should do or shouldn’t do.

@FlyingChainSaw – I love it, maybe the sequel! lol

@Prommie – First I do not say that taxation should be voluntary. It should not. Nor do I argue against taxation where taxation is needed. I do take issue with your next couple statements and would like to place them in context of my understanding.

Extreme wealth inevitably results in monopoly, and along with the inevitable extreme disparities in opportunity and competitiveness, the extremely wealthy and powerful will, they always will, erect deliberate barriers to prevent others from competing with them.

Our society and economic system is not a little fishing village, and your analogy is simply completely false, and children are better off having no knowledge of this complicated topic, than they are being indoctrinated to have a simplistic and false understanding.

Our society is not a simple fishing village, however all complex systems are made up of simplistic ones. For instance the above analogy about having money/wealth and then this creating a monopoly is a simplistic argument is it not? Would you not there for by the same token mean you should not have made it? No it is valid, it illustrates your belief and why you believe there is a legitimate reason to take wealth from one person and give it to others in a progressive manner. However it is overly simplistic from the truth and illustrates a simplistic view of a complex and chaotic system. Just like my book, which simply grants the opportunity to learn and grow, it does not force, cajole, inhibit, or teach more then a base of understanding, you may argue that the system is false and thereby argument within it is false however you may do so with any argument and therefore what you state is simply a strawman fallacious argument is it not?

I enjoy reading Hobbes and he was a favorite philosopher of mine in my youth though lets break down what he is really saying in your post from him. I really do not see how this enters into the discussion at hand as to the justification of progressive taxation or the question of why we should take more from one then another however I will humor you in attempting to lay out my understanding of what Hobbes speaks of here.

1) First understand that Hobbes was writing to those who believe that all man should be allowed to do what he wants when he wants for whatever reason he wants regardless of contract obligation, that a man’s word should not be enforced regardless of circumstance or law.

2)He begins by defining the argument that defines liberty basically saying liberty is anything that takes away a mans will or ability to make decisions.

3) Next he makes an absolute comparison of ‘lex naturalis’ or natural law in which man by nature of ‘reason’ will not do against their own good. He explains that people use this as a justification against ‘jus and lex’ or right and law. Explaining that right vs liberty or in another way of speaking obligation and liberty are at odds.

4) Hobbes then takes us down the slippery slope of absolute ‘rights’ explaining that to go down this road creates absolute war one against another. I know you roll your eyes and say, well duh you mean if ALL I were to do is think about how to get my own it would mean I would fight against everyone else to get it? But remember he is arguing against people who actually believed there should be NO LAW or contracts. He then explains that by doing this there is of course no security ( if everyone is out to get you how can there be? )

5) this leads by his argument to a conclusion of concessions. 1) Seek peace first 2 ) if that fails by all means defend what is yours.

6) this ends in basically the golden rule ( Do unto others as you would have them do unto you ) or as Hobbes puts it “This is that law of the gospel: Whatsoever you require that others should do to you, that do ye to them.”

7) After this Hobbes moves a little astray in his argument moving to that right is therefore transferred and once transferred law is established and since law is established consequence must needs be implemented in order to justify the law. And thereby creates what people define as justice and injustice.

8) Finally he finishes by laying out that the transferring of the ‘right’ which we defined at the begin is always for a good or right to be transferred back to him. Again pointing out that all such transfers of rights are done in order to secure something of equal or greater value. He then ends the discussion by pointing to the fact that the transferring of these said rights is called contract.

Again I fail to see what you are attempting to explain here other then that people are in general selfish and nasty and must be FORCED to submit? Actually the argument here by Hobbes is expressed as the purpose behind these motivations and that it creates a stable environment in which to exist in a productive manner. Again I fail to see what you meant to explain by this?

Again the purpose of my children’s book is to ask questions that while I see you believe they are overly simplistic they are actually very deep and meaningful. Again my opinion on the matter. In the end it is only though the exploration of these themes in which we can come to consensus. So I ask you what is the right and proper way that wealth should be built and distributed? The only way I know is in the end allowing those that produce and manage their wealth to have power over said wealth as a reward for obtaining it. This motivates others who desire the same result to attempt to succeed as well.

Ever asked a mountain climber what they would think of a level playing field? Ever notice what our stories that inspire us are about?

If you have found another way by all means propagate it.

It seems all to often it is so easy to justify that others should not have. Why? Perhaps it is that we think less of ourselves when we compare ourselves to those that have succeeded?

I believe that there is a moral question that comes into play when you start ‘justifying’ the extortion of wealth from one person or group of people. Robinhood took from the tax collector. Not the person who EARNED the money. It was to them he returned what had been ‘justly’ taken.

I hope again that I have at least articulated my position in some way shape or form that makes sense. If not I apologize.


Ahhh, okay now I see where you were going with Hobbes.

You are arguing a little extreme. It is not a question of needing Government or not… I thought I had made it clear earlier that there need must be a framework of laws and understandings ( a contract mind you ) in which people can and must operate.

Nor is this book about the absence of Government and the adoption of a Utopian Mercantile Society. Lol.

Your point is correct, laws must be had. Taxation must be had. However how far can you go before you enter into a tyranny, which as we all know laws in some shape or form are always tyrannical ( Why is killing against the law? For instance ) But it comes down to how far will you take these laws before you have overstepped a CONTRACT and created something else?

Would the fisherman imposing violence against other fishermen be ‘wrong’? In the framework you phrased it in it is obvious it would be, then why is the justification of the “Chief” taking from the fisherman any different? Because he is the government? you see by framing the situation in a simple format you get to see the absurdity or the merit behind the discussion. That is why a simple situation is a good one in which to foster understanding because you can use it as a refernce point.

Just as you do not start off in school teaching about Calculus, rather it is the fundamentals behind Calculus that are taught, and slowly. Starting with 2+2 = 4. The same is true with this book which is meant to be, to be honest a companion for life. Now you may argue that this book really teaches that 2+2 = 5 and therefore is invalid, which has been I believe the thrust of your argument, which is fine. I understand your concern and can only suggest that I disagree. However one thing that this book does do is challenge the reader at the end to explain these concepts. In this what it is really attempting to do is force a person to express themselves to a greater degree and start self teaching which is in the Socratic method, where true knowledge is attained.

I would rather a child read this book and in the end disagree with it when they are older because they have reasoned for themselves it is incorrect then simply accept what it says as truth. I hope I make that clear and I hope that others strive to do the same.

@Fishermen: I was looking on Amazon to find your book. It’s not listed. So, I went looking for the publisher. That would be you? How much did the first run cost? At $15.95 a pop (that’s pretty expensive for a kid’s book — how many pages is this thing?), you should recoup your costs in no time.

Oh, never mind:

When do you plan to release another book?

We are just concerned with paying for this first book at this point. However, we do have two more manuscripts prepared. We will not begin on the next one until at least 3,000 [how many have you sold?] copies of The Fisherman’s Catch : A Conservative Bedtime Story have been sold which would generate enough money (we hope) to pay for a second printing of The Fisherman’s Catch : A Conservative Bedtime Story and commission an artist to work on the art of the next manuscript.

So doubtful anything new would come out before early 2011. Though if you get your friends and family to buy this book it may help us get the next one out faster. (That is a hint by the way)

@Fishermen: We know you are a good guy. Your parables, however, will only be employed by teabagger homeschoolers who will teach their kids that any government must be shot at and besieged and destroyed because all government is satanic enterprise. The Promster, I think, is assuming the point of view and vocalizing the likely interpretations of your books by the face-biting, psychoconservative right. You ever think of doing a parable on the balance of things and the competition of philosophies in popular government?


I agree with FCS, what our children really need to learn about politically is how factual distortions, hyperpartisan sentiment, and a lack of respect for differing points of view harm our country and throw our process into a kind of institutional inertia.

That is the kind of book I would buy my kid.


I have to disagree with your statements about children. To begin with, your argument posits a false equivalent between math, which has objective and measurable truth, and politics, where truths are at best subjective and situational. Furthermore, by framing your lesson in the context of a parable, you distill years of traditional narrative to create an environment where a child has no choice but to accept your intellectual argument, given that to do otherwise would force the child to identify with “the villian” in the piece. A child is not going to do that and you know it. The issue is too nuanced for a young child, and too nuanced for such a black-and-white portrayal. As such, even your synopsis reads like propaganda and not the intellectual exercise in nascent political thought you present above.

@Tommmcatt Cannot Be Arsed To Think About Sharon Angle: Our children need to learn logic and critical thinking skills so they gain the ability to examine arguments and determine whether or not certain theories or assertions hold water. In other words, teach the Trivium:
Logic is the art of thinking;
Grammar, the art of inventing symbols and combining them to express thought;
Rhetoric, the art of communicating thought from one mind to another, the adaptation of language to circumstance.
Although commonly referred to as “liberal” arts, these are surprisingly popular among home-schoolers and Christian conservatives. If the subjects are taught properly, this decision could really backfire on those proponents. One can only hope.

@JNOV: I was, alas, somewhat Seuss-deprived in my childhood, so I’m not familiar with Yertle.

My Seuss Deprivation is no fault of my parents, who kept me very well-funded for Scholastic Book Club purchases, and had no interest in helicoptering my library. And, I suspect, I received Sneetches by some kind of accident — probably the most prominent book on the shelf that year.

But when it comes down to it, it’s Sneetches and Grinch. And Grinch because of Chuck Jones, not the book.


Heh. Velcro trumps Relativity.

Man, no wonder Republicans get voted into office.

Did I miss anything? I’ve been skipping about the garden.


We actually met a polite conservative. We’ve been having reasoned discussion.

I know, it’s like opposite day, right?

@Fishermen: Ah, OK, I mistook you for a rabid right-winger, and not a semi-reasonable conservative, which is a different thing entirely.

I will only cavil to say Hobbes was not positing that murderous anarchy is the natural state because he was catering to any audience expectations, he was discussing it as the way of starting off looking at the situation in the absence of government (a social contract), so he could then go on to discuss the nature of the trade-off, and why we have governments.

Now, disagree as you will, but, without government regulation of trade, things trend toward monopoly, and monopolies represent a breakdown of the free market. They are not good, they stifle competition and deny the majority of people a fair chance to succeed by working hard and being smart.

And without government action to reduce economic inequality, things trend toward the few obtaining a monopoly on wealth, and vast majority becoming very very very poor, and this is proven by history across all societies, forever, and still today. And as with monopolies in trade, monopolies in wealth and power, oligarchies, deny the vast majority of people of a fair chance to compete and succeed in life.

So, ya see, I do actually feel that from a purely utilitarian view, and not because I am a commie or a bleeding heard liberal (even though I am both of those things) that progressive taxation for the deliberate purpose of wealth re-distribution is a good thing because it results in a more fair, more free, and overall, more wealthy society. And as practiced moderately in the US from the 1930s to the 1980s, it does not seem to prevent anyone from getting as rich as anyone needs to get.

Why is is that the United States achieved its greatest things, its highest achievements, when the income tax had a top rate somewhere north of 75%?

The laffer curve is a fucking sad joke, a myth.

Keep in mind that, as Adam Smith pointed out at length, under natural law, a person only has a right to the amount of wealth he or she could use and possess, literally, what they could carry and protect from others.

Accrued wealth is ONLY possible because of government, because of money, a creation of government, which allows people to keep wealth in an imperishable form (grain rots, animals get sick and die), because of government maintenance of security and civil order, so people don’t hit you on the head and take your shit, through government enforcement of property rights, government enforcement of contracts, these things all even more basic than the government building roads and ports and infrastructure and market regulation and the rest.

Thats the water I suggested that many libertarians of the Randiot variety cannot see; that wealth is itself a creation of government, of the social contract, and would be completely impossible without government.

You give up your natural right to kill, murder, and steal from weaker people, in exchange for everyone else giving up their right to kill you and take your stuff. I am not making an extreme argument, I am pointing out the things that are taken for granted.

@Tommmcatt Cannot Be Arsed To Think About Sharon Angle: We actually met a polite conservative. We’ve been having reasoned discussion.

Oh, there are plenty out there. They’re just not the fun ones.


lol Yeah it is rather an expensive proposition to print these things lol. So far I have sold about 100 copies to date, mostly going out and talking to people door to door. It is a long drawn out process. The book is really, really nice as far as the production values ( think Miss Spider quality paper printed on, hard back cover etc… ) but again currently I am deeply in debt because of this thing lol. May never go anywhere but I have hopes and am willing to put in time, energy, and effort. I would list it on Amazon but they take like half the money ( ouch ) so I just can’t afford that right now so I am going about it on my own ( live what you preach as it were )


Well thanks for the compliment. I understand that anything can be taken out of context with the information you have, look at the first comments about the book based on what little information I provided on the website lol. Again this is a book designed to hopefully get people to think. It is easy to rail against something it is more difficult to think it through and examine belief. It can be used for good or ill, that does not make it less worth creating and building.

As far as a parable about balance… well to be honest balance is a hard thing because no one believes in balance, do you teach that everyone is right? For instance If I were to suggest that balance comes from having a tiered Government where each layer of Government is upside down of the current philosophy ( Local being the strongest with the Federal being the weakest ) would that be balance? Balance is difficult because there are to be honest as many differing political and economic philosophies as there are people ( back to Hobbes and everyone out for themselves )

Do you teach that despite points of view we all have a common interest in the well being of our society? Perhaps but in the end, name calling is what tends to come out of that as in the end demonizing someone is easier then dealing with the thought process within it.

I do not know how to achieve balance because I am not everyone. Better to create material that causes people to think and examine whether something is correct and allow them to battle it out for themselves much as like what happens here.

I believe it is wrong to create a progressive tax system. However I understand why it is used. By the same token do I allow it to persist if I believe if amounts to extortion? Do the ends justify the means? ( Which is actually another theme of the book ) Where is the balance on this topic?

By the same token I believe you cannot spend without taxing. ( Deficit spending is simply a financed tax ) So I would argue that IF you are going to spend x amount of dollars you need to tax x amount of dollars. As a Conservative I would argue that Government should always first ask not can I spend but should I spend first, if the justification or imperative nature of the expense is such that IT MUST BE DONE then by all means spend and tax.

Is that considered balance? You see this is the problem with balance. I would love to say everyone has a stipend of $1,000 a week to spend on all that they need ( actually if you look at Federal, State, and Local Spending last year we spent about $55,000.00 per household in government spending last year ( about $6.1 trillion dollars ) how long however would it be before people had contracted into agreements to get things they want and be giving some people more then others?

These are all concepts I have tried to understand and analyze. I admit I have no silver bullet, I do however, perhaps with a bit of naivety, ultimately believe in the goodness of most people. I believe that if you saw someone in the street and you could help them you would, call it charity of heart. Because I believe in people I become slightly less enamored with institutions that provide welfare because they tend to do exactly what I have been accused of creating black and white rules that HAVE TO BE FOLLOWED and in the end do not seem to solve the problem.

So where is the balance? I do not know, however I fear that we have moved too far in one direction and perhaps we do need to be pressed back into the other. Perhaps not. I am willing to debate on the merits of various systems. But the true question I come back to over and over again is where is the line between liberty and tyranny, between law and freedom? How easy is it to cross from one to the other, chaos and order?

To be honest our current economic state is not improving. We have moved from an industry based economy to serviced based. I fear that this means our current wealth will not stand as is. Whether this is good or bad depends on if you are looking for a job right now. What it really means is the Keynesian economic model that both sides have used for a century ( Republicans with Reaganomics and tax breaks to spur investment, Democrats with increased social spending and welfare ) is not going to work. Or at least not to a very large degree. You see the Keynesian economic model works best when the government that implements it also has production jobs to produce the goods derived from it. Currently these come from China, so our increase in monetary flow actually is simply a widening of trade deficit lol.

Now, retailers and the like to exist to gain the middle man mark ups, but that is nothing to write home about.

I worry about the direction we are headed for many reasons. Tax cuts, or increased taxes, or political posturing in the end does not fix the issue. Again I know the idea is simplistic in the book but the idea of wealth coming from work and producing something is a real concept that I think needs to be more focused on. To be honest that is where I really was going with the, ‘where does real wealth come from’ issue.

lol wow that was a bit of a ramble… sorry…

I would love to teach a parable about balance of political thought. I don’t know that I see one. If you believe the best way to create jobs is to support programs that take the profits off of industry which in turn create demand I do not see how you then balance it by suggesting that the best way to foster industry is to allow people to profit from it. Two opposing view points with little left in between.

If you see one in there please by all means I think it would be lovely to simply fix things so everyone was equal and contributed equally.

@Fishermen: Do you mind sharing the topics of the next two manuscripts, if you can do so in such a way that no one steals your ideas. But, you know, there’s really nothing new under the sun… ;-)

@Tommmcatt Cannot Be Arsed To Think About Sharon Angle: Speaking of which, I haven’t run my ad hoc mission statement for awhile:

It was the truths that made the people grotesques. The old man had quite an elaborate theory concerning the matter. It was his notion that the moment one of the people took one of the truths to himself, called it his truth, and tried to live his life by it, he became a grotesque and the truth he embraced became a falsehood.

Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio.

Point being: I’m not about Team Blue. I’m about making merry with American Grotesques. It just happens that I find the infrared part of the spectrum more amusing than ultraviolet most days. Such are the times we live in.

Back in my college days, it was the other way around — the Radicals were far more amusing than the Reactionaries. But it’s been a long time since they had any prominence.

@Fishermen: The genius of science is that it does not depend on logic for proof, but rather, on empiricism, on observation. The dark ages were the dark ages in large part because people thought logic was enough, which is the whole point of the “if she weighs the same as a duck, she is a witch” gag in Holy Grail.

What society on earth now has the overall highest level of wealth, and freedom? What societies in the last 75 years or so have had the highest levels of overall wealth and freedom?

Did those societies have progressive taxation? How do you explain the exact coincidence, in our own society, with the decline of the “middle class” and the reduction of the dismantling of the “progressive” aspect of our tax system since Reagan? How do you explain the data showing an accelerating concentration of wealth in the US, during this same period?

@Tommmcatt Cannot Be Arsed To Think About Sharon Angle:

I understand your accusation and the ‘false’ postulation between math. The true question is when do you start introducing these concepts to people then. And I have read many children books that bring to bear political and social ideals. I figured this was a good topic to try and get out there.


Heck I don’t mind… actually if you would like to know more please email me at ( or is that lol ) it is on the website

So, I’m going to insert my largely ignorant toe into the waters and ask, how does any of this relate to having a flat tax rate? Everyone gets charged (let’s say) 20% on income from any source, period, the end. No excuses, no loopholes, and this includes corporations. Call a cutoff around 2x the nominal poverty level (which is ridiculously low in this country).

This strikes me as a solution that would reduce government size (basically taking the IRS and shrinking it to a few computer operators and an enforcement division that went after scofflaws) and increase tax income (by eliminating all the loopholes that allow companies like GE to get out of paying most of their taxes). It would also make filling out your taxes dead simple, even if you had lots of investment income: add it all together and multiply it by .2, send that many dollars to the government.

I understand, from a political standpoint, why this will never, ever happen. But from a practical standpoint (assuming we shot all the politicians into space, and somehow got everyone to agree to it), what’s wrong with it?

@IanJ: Tax loopholes will never be closed. The flat tax statute will read “All animals shall be taxed equally, but some animals shall be taxed more equally than others.”

@redmanlaw: I know, that’s what I meant about why it will politically never happen. I should just secede and form my own nation-state. It’d be simpler.


Prommie, I actually explain it as we have moved away from a production based society to one where we now produce service rather then goods… I know where you are going but the truth of the matter is based on the understanding I can glean from history is this is what happened. We started out at the turn of the century moving from an agrarian society to an industrialized one. We got caught in the old over capitalization monetarization issue in the late 1920’s and fell flat on our faces for a couple of decades. We got back on our feet thanks to an industrialization effort brought on by the war and a pent up demand.

We have had several bumps since however had been doing fairly well until the 70’s after which time our own economic success caught up to us and we started the process of off shoring production to reduce costs on the consumer. The 1980’s marked Japan’s march to prominence and out sourcing continued. 1990’s hit and investment within the USA became so hard to do because of environmental and other regulation that the only place to invest money became overseas or in Dot-Coms.

2000 – trend continues but Dot Com bubble bursts and then the rise and fall of the housing bubble. The erosion of the middle class has been something I have heard about for over 30 years now this despite the progressive income tax. I find no correlation between the two as Europe has an even higher progressive tax and they are exhibiting the same trends.

Just my understanding.

The usual compliant about the tax code’s too complicated blah blah blah is somewhat ironic as the tax code is what various folks who lobby for a flat tax (ie: the rich and the corps) are the very people who make it complicated with those uncloseable loopholes that they lobby for.

Okay all… I have had fun. Thank you for talking to me about this stuff but I do have a real job I actually need to focus on lol. Thank you for talking to me on these subjects and Prommie I see where you are coming from, I really do.

Thanks for taking me down memory lane with Hobbes… I do need to read him again lol.

In the end I thank you all for the civil tone you have kept with me, even if I am but a Fanatic Conservative. I hope that all political discussions could be as friendly and even though we have differing opinions all we can ultimately do is discuss them.

Vi dico ciao e tante belle cose!

@Fishermen: The Mafia? Oh honey, no. This analogy does you no favors. Criminal syndicates are entirely selfish and provide nothing to the common good. Then there’s that whole representation thing that is so in vogue to deny the existence thereof. Last I checked, the godfather wasn’t elected by the shop owners who pay the so-called “tax”.

@nojo: You too? I thought I was alone out here in my ignorance of the Suessian oeuvre. I’m not even familiar with these Sneeches. All I know is Karloff’s Grinch is a bad mother … Shut Yo Mouth!

@TJ/ Jamie Sommers /TJ:

Okay I have to respond that you have not lived in Italy lol, don’t knock the Mafia and you should learn a little about the history of the Mafia to truly understand it. Just because something has become a certain way does not meant it always was lol.

@Fishermen: Just like Robin Hood, I am sure, and as accurate.

Strong government promotes wealth, manufacturing fled, though, to go to places with weak government, and they are arbitraging the difference in wage rates between the developed world and the 3rd world. When rates equalize, we will be screwed. It happened because of Republican, conservative “free market” policies enacted since the 1970s. Countries used to use “barrifs and tarriers” to prevent poor countries from dumping huge amounts of cheaply-made goods on them and destroying their manufacturing industry. For some reason, we have decided to promote this. Say goodbye to Boeing, the last thing we had left is leaving the building as we speak.

@Fishermen: Thanks for playing! It’s not often we discuss these things around here without indulging in catty flame wars.

Not that there’s anything wrong with catty flame wars, mind you.

@TJ/ Jamie Sommers /TJ: Brings to mind something I had on my mind and talked with a Mexican reporter about this morning.

I ran into a national crime round up from Mexico this morning (large numbers of people shot all over the place, government officials kidnapped, grenades thrown at television stations). The reporter (now a US American citizen who lives here) and I wondered what our national shooting round up from the week so far would look like in comparison (NM father kills 8th grade daughter in murder-suicide, TX teens shoot man and wife, eight shootings in 24 hours in Portland, etc.)

I don’t know how this stacks up in terms of raw numbers, but we determined that there are different types of violence in the two countries. Here, it appears to be on a more interpersonal level, whereas in Mexico the violence is directed at groups (rival gangs) and institutions (government, law enforcement – bound corpse bearing signs of torture found buried with federal police badge – and media).

Also, there is a significant difference in how the shootings are done. To shoot up a backyard pool party, the assailants will block off the two ends of the street with vehicles and move in on the target. Kidnappers will wear federal police uniforms. Here, some nut pulls out his piece and starts shooting, or someone will do a drive by on a bus stop.

Attacks on authorities and institutions are still rare and uncoordinated here, and are often inept to the point of hilarity (guy in Texas pulling up to government building with a truck full of weapons, some explosives and wood chips and gasoline. Was he going to set up a barbeque? He is unfortunately no longer around to say.)

ADD: Mexico’s 2009 murder rate — eight killings per 100,000 people — was still more than twice as high as the U.S. rate. Mexican think tank says the killing are mostly concentrated in the nine northern states and that the nation’s murder rate has actually declined since the mid 1990s, when it was 17 per 100,000, but the nature of the crimes and numbers of victims in mass killings skew the picture of the violence.

South of Manchu is a violent place.

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