Still running from my imagination...
1. My only purpose in limiting the scope of our budget discussion, is that the monster has grown so huge, we can spend the rest of our lives picking it apart piece-by-piece. I'm willing to concede that there are issues with the Military budget. Specifically, it has too many things we don't need or over-pay for the value received or are not relevant to defense or don't simply belong. My only concern is that we don't hack-and-slash the military side of the budget blindly, without considering the ramifications of expenditures which are legitimately needed for national defense. Again, I point out that national defense is by definition a function of federal government, and is constitutional mandated. Many (most?) aspects of domestic (e.g. entitlement) spending are NOT. I'd like you to concede the domestic budget has similar problems - i.e., things we don't need (not consititutionally required) or over-pay for the value received (whee!) or are not relevant to proper government ("pork") or don't belong in the federal budget (too many to list). If so - we can jointly agree - THE BUDGET IS BROKEN and move on. (And leave this for another discussion later).
2. I think you may have misinterpreted my post on TYRANNY. Number one - I wasn't talking about LAWS. I was talking about the forced implementation of social policy objectives - which you implied was a proper function of government with "enforced generosity"). If I implied that LAW was subject to equal treatment (civil disobedience?), I erred in my presentation. I *do* think we have moved FAR away from where government should be with respect to personal conduct. Government should apply the LAW as a means of protection of Individual Rights, not as a means of imposing social policy goals. Kaczynski BROKE THE LAW - and, interfered with the rights of other individuals: his motivations for doing so are irrelevant. In a similar way, using the force of government to "enforce" specific social policy ideals upon others - who may legitimately disagree with the policy (which are not, nor be considered to be, The LAW) - is WRONG.
3. I remind you of a quote attributed to our friend Bernardo de la Paz... "I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free, because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything that I do."
4. "...you are an individualist and I am a collectivist? Is this a comment on what each of us think government should do, or what government should be? The distinction is important. Without doubt, I have a more liberal view than you of what government should do. So far I have proceeded on the assumption that this is the entire basis upon which we differ. But - do we have a more fundamental difference?"
I think the "fundamental differences" in our viewpoints drive how we view government for what it is and for what it should be. So the answer is YES. Thus, we justify the continued existence of this blog. :)
5. "...As for myself, except for (an admittedly arbitrary) requirement of age, I think every citizen should be allowed to vote and that our system of government is just fine as it is." Not surprisingly, I think the age limit is unnecessary. In simple terms, I would prefer that the "right to vote" be limited to people who pay the bill (e.g., taxes). I see no reason why someone on the dole should have a voice in deciding WHO will run things (i.e., write the check), while - for example - an employed teenager, generating tax revenue to support government, should not. The "Golden Rule", if you will: "he who has the Gold, makes the Rules." Of course there are obvious implications to this approach, and it certainly needs to be fleshed out beyond this simple statement - but you get the idea. (another thread?)
That said, I believe our Founding Fathers did a spectacularly Good Job. I think our system of government is fine - at least, as originally defined and designed; but not necessarily what it has become. Clearly, the government we have today has severe and significant problems with the feedback mechanisms. But it *can* be fixed. We just need the will and courage to make some tough choices by defining the proper scope of government (what is can, cannot, should and should not *DO*), get it established with proper and functional checks-and-balances in place, and - most importantly - leave everything else alone.