Zuckerman’s Classic Bureaucratic Solution: Silence

in vermont •  last year

The following is a recent e-mail exchange I had with David Zuckerman, Lieutenant Governor of Vermont:

AK: Mr. Zuckerman:

With respect to Phil Scott's recent veto of marijuana legalization (well, re-legalization since 1937, really), Seven Days VT quoted you thusly:

Supporters of legalization were disappointed in Scott’s veto. Lt. Gov.
David Zuckerman, a Progressive/Democrat, called it “very short-sighted.”

“I am sad to see the governor disregard the will of most Vermonters and reduce individual liberties in our state,” he said in a statement.

While I too am an advocate of marijuana re-legalization, I am also interested in knowing how it is that you reconcile your above-avowed regard for individual liberties with your long-standing and quite outspoken animus for Vermont's current first-in-the-nation status with regard to individual firearms freedoms. Surely you must recognize that advocacy of or for any reduction in the freedom Vermonters currently enjoy with respect to owning, carrying, buying, or selling firearms is undeniably a reduction of those individual liberties, and would hence then seem to stand in flagrant conflict with your above statement.

Would you please clarify your position? I earnestly and patiently await your response.

Sincerely,

Alex Knight

DZ: Dear Alex,

Thank you for your message and your support of marijuana legalization.

I, like the majority of Vermonters, do support universal background checks. This only "reduces firearm freedom" for those who have chosen to break the law or who have a mental or medicinal history that makes it dangerous for them to possess a weapon.

I believe both positions will result in individual and public good. By changing how we regulate cannabis usage we can reduce stress on our prisons and release approximately 100,000 Vermonters from what is now considered illegal activity.

By requiring background checks we reduce (I know we don't eliminate) the risk to society of irresponsible gun ownership.

Thanks again for writing to me.

David Zuckerman, Lt. Governor

AK: Hello again Mr. Zuckerman:

Thank you for your response. Perhaps I have been remiss in the wordage of my question to you. Perhaps, in turn, I can more succinctly encapsulate the impetus of my inquiry thusly.

From your reply, you state: "I, like the majority of Vermonters, do support universal background checks. This only 'reduces firearm freedom' for those who have chosen to break the law or who have a mental or medicinal history that makes it dangerous for them to possess a weapon."

Your prior statement in which Seven Days VT quoted you reads accordingly: “I am sad to see the governor disregard the will of most Vermonters and reduce individual liberties in our state."

While that second statement was obviously in reference to marijuana legalization and not firearms laws, it implicitly evinces a more general interest in individual liberties beyond the scope of governmental marijuana policy.

In response to my first inquiry, however, you made the aforementioned statement; one which, to wit, seems to be predicated upon your own personal opinions, rather than an objective and empirical consideration of individual liberty itself.

It goes without saying that all classes of Vermonters currently enjoy liberties which -- were universal background checks to become legal reality -- would no longer exist. Not simply for certain categories of individuals selected by State fiat, but for the entire population. Universal background checks would entail, at the very least, payment of fees in order to compensate gun dealers (and possibly government personnel) for their services, and a registry of firearms in order to insure compliance. These are requirements which obviously do not at present exist. So to impose them quite clearly institutes a reduction of individual liberties -- not an increase in them, nor even some neutral non-effect.

So aside from your personal convictions with respect to universal background checks (which I obviously disagree with, but that is of no moment with respect to my question), are you prepared to contend that the nature of your statement, as quoted by Seven Days VT, does not stand in sharp and distinct conflict with your stated position with respect to universal firearm background checks? If you would, please clarify.

I look forward to your reply. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Alex Knight

Perhaps to no one’s surprise, I have yet to receive a response to this last. Should I ever, rest assured I’ll promptly post it below in the Comments section. Don’t hold your breath.

It seems the irritating penchant of every bureaucrat to simply sweep away their inconsistent statements, self-contradictions – and outright lies – with impenetrable silence. This is far from the first time I’ve encountered such a non-tactic. From all the extensive letters I once sent to the IRS asking them to identify the law or laws that compel me to comply with income taxation (including one that requested an expansion from then Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, when he contended that he didn’t believe the IRS had no such authority – even as he’d been provided by Yours Truly with a trove of evidence), to the Exeter, New Hampshire Police Department , to the US Census Bureau (who, to their credit, I suppose, remained silent and did nothing – including not demanding a form nor trying to impose a $100 fine).

The problem is, as the old saying goes, that no answer is often just as or even more incriminating than an answer. I suppose though, in their view, not being quotable aids the memory hole of most people – who are infinitely more concerned with sports and videogames and posting pictures of their cat of Facebook -- and collecting government handouts -- than to pay attention to pesky and alienating fringe element things like liberty and whether or not a police state has de facto arisen.

Hence, society becomes beset upon and infested by predatory and obfuscating individuals such as Zuckerman (and similar such personalities who populate other government offices and agencies such as the aforementioned), whose driving modus operandi, whether they will admit to it or not, is wielding power over other people; shaping the world according to their ideals – while using the violently controlled lives and property of others in order to do it – to the maximum extent possible.

And in order to get away with this, in order to deceive the average man or woman on the street, often all they have to do is remain silent. Then, just listen to the meaningless bleating of sheep they have spent the last few thousand years of human history capitalizing on.

It is the politician’s -- the bureaucrat’s -- “solution” that has repeated itself throughout history altogether too often.

Will people in general ever stop just accepting it?

And then, just maybe, stop the political class altogether?

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UPDATE -- July 3, 2017 (after having shared the above essay with Mr. Zuckerman's office):

Dear Alex,

Thank you for sharing this. Just so you know I have had your email with the Lt. Governor’s personal comments to type and send to you for about a week. I am sorry that I have not had time to complete this task. It is in my pile to work on Wednesday.

Lt Governor Zuckerman works to reply to every message he gets in as timely a manner as possible.

Again, I apologize for the delay, wholly my fault.

Meg

Megan Polyte
Chief of Staff for Lt. Governor Zuckerman

My reply:

Thank you. I look forward to Mr. Zuckerman's reply.

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UPDATE -- August 5, 2017:

It has been exactly one month since I sent my above reply to David Zuckerman, and there has in the interim been zero response. I would assume that he intends, at this point, to make none.

Witness that this entails not only an unwillingness, refusal, and/or inability to address the more fundamentally germane points raised, but also such relatively simplistic considerations -- such as a definitive and unambiguous stance with respect to the subject of individual liberty, and precisely how he intends to make universal background checks for firearm purchases enforceable absent a gun registration system.

As alluded to before, I won't be holding my breath. I invite one and all to evaluate this entire conversation -- such as it was -- for yourselves.

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UPDATE -- July 18, 2018:

The following e-mail was sent to David Zuckerman:

Mr. Zuckerman:

Below is a statement that has been credited to yourself:

" (T)he reality is that the paid law enforcement and fire departments are regulated by the elected leaders. They collect the costs (taxes) and distribute them (salaries and vehicles etc.) as they see best for the community. It is "socialized" cost for the benefit of all even if some never use the services. One can rationalize how that is not a socializing of the costs of something that not everyone will use. But it is socializing the cost no matter how you put it. And it is taking control away from the individual who is paying for it by collectivizing the resources for the general good. So really, it is simply a matter of deciding which of these services should be socialized or born by the individual. We seem to have decided that defending our land is better done through a national military (against other nations/states) and a local police force rather than each protecting our own without a collective force. We have also chosen to do that through our volunteer and professional fire fighters. Even the volunteer firefighters generally rely on tax dollars collected from everyone for their equipment (trucks, clothing, hoses, building etc.) And I think these are all good things. But without socializing the costs to everyone how well would they work in modern society? We also socialize the costs for mental health. A portion of the society needs those services, but we generally feel that for all of our well-being and many feel for the well-being of the person receiving services, that it is better to collectively pay in even if it (selfishly) does not appear to help the self. The reality is that all of these are socializing the costs for the benefit of the whole society more than the individual. It really is just a matter of collective decision making as to which aspects of society do we want to socialize the costs. For instance, we are also socializing the costs of water pollution for the benefit of the few. Less so today than in the past, but basically a corporation used to be able to dump toxics into surface waters (or aquifers for that matter), and not be responsible for that. It was up to all of us to treat the water or clean up the water. We also socialize the cost of sports team stadiums. The fact is, we do it all the time. It is simply a matter of who is deciding what we do it for."

I would be interested in knowing to whom you refer when you use the pronoun, "we." Certainly, I can confirm that I have neither taken part in, nor consented to take part in, any of the activities you describe here.

Respectfully,

Alex Knight