Do Liberals Suffer from Arrested Moral Development?

What 10-year-olds and liberals have in common.

Do kids outgrow socialism? A fascinating new study, “Fairness and the Development of Inequality Acceptance,” [subscription required] published last week in the journal Science by researchers at the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration sheds some light on individual moral development. It turns out that as people move from childhood through adolescence to young adulthood they become increasingly meritocratic, that is, they come to believe that people deserve unequal rewards based on their individual achievements.

The Norwegian researchers studied about 500 children beginning in the fifth grade through the 13th grade (ages 11 through 19) as they played modified versions of the dictator game. In the standard dictator game, a sum of money, say $100, is divided up between two players. The dictator decides how much to keep and how much to give the second player, the responder. Interestingly, research shows consistently that most dictators do not keep all the money.

The Norwegian researchers modified the game allowing for a 45-minute production phase in which players could earn points by finding and clicking on specific numbers in a series of computer screens. The researchers also set up alternative tasks allowing students to choose to play video games or watch cartoons instead of trying to collect points. Most of the participants turned out to be workaholics who clicked away full time trying to gain points. Later the points could be exchanged for money, but in some cases the amount of money was randomly given a multiplier, so that some lucky participants ended up earning more than others who had been equally productive.

Once the game was over, kids from the same grade were paired and told how long each had spent earning points, how many they earned, and what multiplier each received. The pair’s winnings were combined and one—the dictator—would decide how to divide up the total. What happened?

The Norwegian school kids, both male and female, divvied up the money with the mean share given to responders averaging around 45 percent across all grades. The researchers suggest that this nearly equal division results from the fact that “there is no apparent fairness argument justifying an unequal division of the money.”

However, the researchers found that how students divided up money changed as they became older when it was earned and depended on individual achievements and luck. Most fifth graders (63 percent) remained strict egalitarians, dividing up the money equally, despite the fact that some players earned more money through individual achievement. However, the portion of egalitarians dropped to 40 percent by 7th grade; falling eventually to 22 percent by 13th grade. Conversely, the share of meritocrats rose from 5 percent in the fifth grade, to 22 percent in 7th grade, rising eventually to 42 percent in the 13th grade. A full 42 percent of players in the 13th grade kept more money for themselves because they believed that they have earned it. The authors of the Norwegian study conclude that the meritocratic fairness view increases as the cognitive abilities of children mature. In other words: yes, kids outgrow socialism.

The researchers also wanted to see if people are affected by efficiency considerations, so they set up the game so that some players’ earnings could be multiplied by as much as a factor of four. In this case, the dictator can increase the overall total earned by the pair by giving his points to the responder. Younger kids don’t take this multiplier effect into account, but as the age of male players increased, they were more willing to sacrifice points in order to increase the overall size of the pot. In other words, they choose to take less in order to maximize overall income.

In addition, the researchers found that in every grade about one-third of students do not find inequalities in earnings unfair, regardless of whether they are gained either through achievement or luck. They call this group “libertarians.” Oddly, the study does not reveal how “libertarians” played the dictator game, though the overall average 45/55 percent split does not seem to have been greatly affected by their play. The researchers note, “Although there was a sharp decrease in the importance of the strict egalitarian fairness view, the prevalence of the libertarian fairness view was stable throughout adolescence.” Whatever motivates them, it is clear is that they are not egalitarians.

University of Virginia moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt’s research explores similar territory: the differences in ethical reasoning between liberals, conservatives, and libertarians. He argues that there are five dimensions along which people make moral choices, e.g., fairness, harm, loyalty, authority, and spiritual purity. Haidt finds that liberals focus chiefly on the first two dimensions, whereas conservatives deploy all five dimensions in their ethical reasoning.

At a recent lecture at the American Enterprise Institute, Haidt further refined the notion of fairness, asserting that there are three kinds of fairness. Liberals focus on one kind of fairness, where everyone's needs are met to some degree. Conservatives, by contrast, see fairness when people are rewarded for their efforts, e.g., what they put in, they get to take out. They also see retribution as a special kind of equity in which perpetrators of wrongs must suffer to the same degree as their victims, e.g., an eye for an eye.

What about libertarians? After his lecture, I asked Haidt where libertarians fit along the five moral dimensions. He asked me to guess how libertarians tested. "Like liberals," I said, by which I meant that libertarians, like liberals, are less concerned about group loyalty, obedience to authority, and purity. He laughed and said, "Yes, like liberals, but without compassion." Put another way, libertarians react like liberals, but without the concerns about egalitarianism that dominate the way liberals—and 10-year-olds—think about fairness.

Ronald Bailey is Reason's science correspondent. His book Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution is available from Prometheus Books.

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  • ||

    As "science correspondent", one would think Mr. Bailey would know better than to commit the logical fallacy known as the Straw Man.

    But alas, this does not seem to be the case. Pity.

  • ||

    Starve the troll, please.

  • ||

    "You're my third least favorite troll."

  • ||

    Anyway, I'm going to assume that Mr. Bailey knows that liberals in modern-day America do not argue that the country's wealth should be split up evenly, and he was just trying to be cute.

  • ||

    Then what did Obama mean when he said we needed to spread the wealth around?

    In essence you are saying liberals have lost their moral authority by claiming we should all be economically equal and is now simply claiming the government needs to step in and take from those liberals do not like and give to who liberals do like.

  • Tony||

    Liberals think there should be attempts to ensure some equality of opportunity, not of outcomes.

    You know, so all those magical calculations that happen to make the market a font of innovation and prosperity actually work like they're supposed to, rather than just rewarding the already wealthy.

  • Pedant||

    "Liberals think there should be attempts to ensure some equality of opportunity, not of outcomes."

    The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.

  • Ludwig Van Mises||

    Heeeeyyyyyy!

  • F. A. Hayek||

    I don't know why you're complaining since that was my quote...

  • ||

    to make the market a font of innovation and prosperity actually work like they're supposed to

    Hows that workin out for ya?

  • Tony||

    "Hows that workin out for ya?"

    I dunno. America was at its peak of innovation when the rich were taxed to the bone. Now that we're in the waning years of Reaganomics, we're barely managing to dig ourselves out of the muck and praying China won't pound us back into it.

  • benji||

    America was at its peak of innovation when the rich were taxed to the bone.

    The rich were never taxed to the bone, nobody paid the 90% rate after the war. Besides, the post-war boom occurring while the rate was that high is correlation, not causation. Or is your argument that if we set the top tax rate to 9000% then everyone would have their own U.S.S. Enterprise?

  • ChrisK||

    Does mine come with a Couselor Troi?

  • ||

    Easy pal!

  • ||

    Would you not rather have my glossy sexy melon?

  • wackyjack||

    How has that worked out over the course of, oh, human history? Seriously, has any government or collective or neighborhood ever gotten close and not collapsed in on itself?

  • wackyjack||

    Dammit, wylie. I need to refresh more and think less.

  • ||

    Your problem, Tony, is that you automatically assume that opportunity is drastically unequal. Then you pop the hood and start poking wrenches where they shouldn't be, break the fucking engine, and get things like affirmative action.

    You're too concerned with whining about that other guy "getting lucky" and not concerned enough about working to get what you want.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Your problem, Tony, is that you automatically assume that opportunity is drastically unequal. Then you pop the hood and start poking wrenches where they shouldn't be, break the fucking engine, and get things like affirmative action.


    Where else could a JC Penney clerk create the biggest retail chain in the world?

  • ||

    These debates ALWAYS ignore the elephant in the room. There really is a problem with unequal opportunity in this country. It involves elites with access to the levers of power who are able to parlay their connections in such a way that they can not lose no matter what kind of stupid choices or decisions they make. It also involves public employee unions who can exploit their positions to protect themselves from the vagaries of a free market.

    There is a subclass of people who are insulated from the risks involved in a free society. Moral hazard is an integral to the way the system is set up. A Dubya would be a case in point. These debates about whether the free market is fair or not are really beside the point. We don't have a free market. The power of government is used at all levels to protect certain interests - whether it's through licensing and permitting or it involves massive no-bid contracts and sweetheart deals for the pals of senators. There are endless barriers to entry - all of them either erected or enabled through the force of government. Government will always serve the interests of those with influence and will always victimize the powerless.

  • Jen||

    However, the fact that who populates the bottom fifth of our economy changes over time suggests that aren't so many "barriers" as you assume. We have a great deal of social mobility that doesn't exist in "egalitarian" societies.

  • ||

    I would argue that this demonstrates the power of liberty and capitalism - that people are able to succeed and thrive in spite of the barriers. The question become, how many more people would succeed and thrive and how much more prosperous would we be without the efforts of government to intervene on behalf of vested interests?

    There are still vast swathes of society who have little or no hope of ever climbing out of poverty and dependency except through a herculean effort and very good luck. It shouldn't take a herculean effort or abnormal brilliance to be able to succeed reasonably at life and it wouldn't in a truly free society.

    And, yes, I believe that a system that is rigged so that a certain subclass can flourish at the expense of others is worth complaining about. I'm not talking about entrepreneurs who become billionaires - these people create wealth and opportunity all around.

    I'm talking about leeches who are in a position to skim the cream no matter how stupid or incompetent they may be. I'm talking about those who go into "public service" who go onto to become rich selling their government connections.

  • Wegie||

    "Liberals think...." Never happened, never will!

  • Bernard||

    There is no crock of shit libertarian market fundamentalists won't leap into. They are libertarian true believers for one reason and one reason only: some other mindless cult didn't get to them first.

  • ||

    "There is no crock of shit [statist left-liberal] fundamentalists won't leap into. They are [government] true believers for one reason and one reason only: some other mindless cult didn't get to them first."

  • ||

    Bernard: Since you enjoy calling out folks who jump in crocks, perhaps you'll take a look at crocks that leftists enjoy jumping into as reported in my column on "Pathologizing Conservatism" which I also mention below.

  • Bernard||

    Citing yourself is not a healthy sign, Ron.

  • ||

    It's fine when people are responding to your articles without reading them.

  • ||

    Bernard: Not citing myself really, just giving you the opportunity to check out the links I cite.

  • JoshINHB||

    Bernard-
    There is no crock of shit libertarian market fundamentalists won't leap into. They are libertarian true believers for one reason and one reason only: some other mindless cult didn't get to them first won't have them.

    FIFY

  • Alan Vanneman||

    Shouldn't the headline for this be "Science proves libertarians even more retarded than liberals"?

  • ||

    No, "science proves liberals are even more immature than libertarians".

    We're supposed to be teenagers, remember?

  • The Gobbler||

    Shouldn't you be at home working on your next Louis L'Amour book?

  • zoltan||

    "Science proves Alan Vanneman has a dick with help from the LHC"

  • ||

    Meh.

    This is a dressed up version of "If a person is not a socialist before the age of 20, he has no heart. If a person is still a socialist at the age of 40, he has no brains."

    I put no more credence in this than I do in similar studies put out by leftists. It is overinterpretation of a study with very limited scope.

  • ||

    But...but...TEAM RED TEAM BLUE! And now TEAM RED and TEAM BLUE seem to be creating for themselves TEAM EVIL, which is apparently composed of libertarians, even though libertarians want no part of any TEAM.

    It's as if partisans cannot understand not being partisan and have to create partisanship for everyone within their little system; any more is just too much for their soft partisan brains.

  • ||

    Epi, of course there is an intellect disconnect. The part of the brain that controls partisanship also controls the thought process that says that interstate commerce and the right to NOT buy are the same thing (and must be controlled at the Federal level at that).

  • ||

    That's the reptilian part of the brain, right?

  • Warty's reflexes||

    Huh? You call?

  • ||

    My pet Salamander just asked that you apologize for insulting reptiles.

  • Old RPM Daddy||

    Salamanders are amphibians. Just sayin'.

  • ||

    The fallacy in demonizing we poor libertarians to such an extent, while simultaneously making us seem perilously powerful and influential, is that many may decide to get in on the game. That won't help us, of course, because such people will assume that these libertarians must all live in the GOP, but it could backfire spectacularly for the Democrats.

  • ||

    No, what it's going to do is ruin the term "libertarian", just like they ruined "classical liberal".

  • ||

    We're still liberals everywhere else. I say we take back the name and start calling leftwingers fascists. And rightwingers, too, for that matter.

  • ||

    Too hyperbolic. Just call them socialists like everywhere else.

  • ||

    You're right. They're socialists.

    But they want to be fascists.

  • Some Guy||

    I like to say, "Democrats think that America is a theocratic police state. Republicans wish we were."

  • Giovanni Gentile||

    Socialism is just a heresy of Fascism.

  • cynical||

    Fascism is just a watered-down version of Socialism

  • ||

    so a fascist asks a socialist "how many people do I have to kill to be a socialist?"

  • ||

    It's as if partisans cannot understand not being partisan and have to create partisanship for everyone within their little system

    Yes.

  • ||

    GO TEAM PURPLE!

  • ||

    It's interesting, though, that this seems to fit with Hayek's belief that socialism was atavistic. (Although I suspect that the concept of "atavism" is probably verboten in today's PC world of sociology.)

  • Tony||

    Nice little shell game you've played here in order to bash liberals.

    Let's note that while kids outgrew an "unfair" egalitarianism toward a more meritocratic system, libertarians are the sociopaths of the bunch: they are not even meritocratic.

    Let's also note that adults weren't tested. I think we're all aware that libertarians are essentially stunted adolescents.

  • zoltan||

    Libertarians are the ultimate meritocrats.

  • Tony||

    That's just because you confuse having money with having earned it. I presume you favor 100% taxation on all inheritance?

  • ||

    When your parents killed themselves after realizing they raised an utterly worthless internet troll for a son, did you give all of your inheritance to the government, O Spokesman?

  • ||

    They didn't kill themselves. They died in a bizarre gardening accident. The authorities said...best leave it...unsolved.

  • MWG||

    Shit sandwich.

  • ||

    How can this little shitbag give a big bag of IOUs as currency? Or did your mommy and daddy leave a big bag of pent lottery tickets as an inheritance Tony?

    Both scenarios would explain your worthless and vapid economic views. I hope you play the violin well when the Empire falls around you, a la Greece now and the Roman Empire then.

  • ||

    You're just a surgeon by luck, GM. All that schooling and loans were just luck, handed out by the universe.

  • Tony||

    Just because I'm not, like you and your libertarian comrades, a sociopath who masturbates in front of a mirror, utterly delusional about the disgust others would have for me assuming I ever left my mother's basement, doesn't make me a spokesman for the mediocre. I have this thing called empathy. I grew up in large houses surrounded by famous people and still make more money than my parents, yet my mind is open enough to realize that maybe not everyone had it so good as I did, and that the good life I've enjoyed wasn't exactly 100% earned, so who am I to bitch about the less fortunate getting a piddly little leg up in the world?

  • ||

    "The details of my life are quite inconsequential...very well, where do I begin? My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. My mother was a fifteen year old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet. My father would womanize, he would drink. He would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Sometimes he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy. The sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament. My childhood was typical. Summers in Rangoon, luge lessons. In the spring we'd make meat helmets. When I was insolent I was placed in a burlap bag and beaten with reeds--pretty standard really. At the age of twelve I received my first scribe. At the age of fourteen a Zoroastrian named Vilma ritualistically shaved my testicles. There really is nothing like a shorn scrotum...it's breathtaking--I highly suggest you try it."

  • ||

    Mr. Evil. . . .

  • Marc||

    All those years of evil medical school count for nothing, ProL?

  • ||

    If you can call evil veterinarian school "medical".

  • ||

    If society collapsed, and the survivors all went into Road Warrior mode, I bet vets would ply their trade with human patients. So, in that sense, Evil Vet School is "medical."

    "Why must I be surrounded by frickin' idiots?"

  • Sociopath||

    I masturbate in front of my computer just like you do.

    Well, sans ass play.

  • CatoTheElder||

    Tony, nobody is saying you shouldn't give your own money away to those less fortunate. Well, maybe a few over-the-top Randians think that way, but that's not libertarian. Individual, voluntary charity can be quite gratifying, so go help the less fortunate get a leg up if you want.

    A real libertarian aknowledges that it's none of his business what you do with your money and, equally, it's none your damn business what I do with mine. Unfortunately, collectivists, liberals, progressives and the like want to meddle in my business and that makes them jerks.

  • Tristram Shandy||

    Actually I think your presence here proves you choose to masturbate in front of others who disagree with you.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    I grew up in large houses surrounded by famous people and still make more money than my parents, yet my mind is open enough to realize that maybe not everyone had it so good as I did, and that the good life I've enjoyed wasn't exactly 100% earned, so who am I to bitch about the less fortunate getting a piddly little leg up in the world?
    reply to this


    Charlie Samuel.

  • ||

    There are only four legal ways to gain wealth in a capitalist system:

    1. Servitude. You produce something, and get paid for it.

    2. Sacrifice. For example, you work hard and live like a pauper to put your spouse through medical school, resulting in vast riches when he/she becomes a leading eye surgeon.

    3. Risk. Example: Your cousin wants to open a restaurant. You invest half your savings as a silent partner.

    4. Charity. Somebody who cares for your well-being voluntarily gives you wealth.

    Inheritance falls under category 4. It's perfectly fair because it's a voluntary exchange like any other in capitalism (wealth for gratitude and/or the satisfaction of patronage). The fact that YOU might not get as much of such charity from your parent as Sam Walton's kids enjoyed from theirs is not fundamentally unfair. That was Sam Walton's money, to leave to whomever he saw fit.

  • ||

    Unless you are trying to make the case that all voluntary giving needs to be prohibited, but I'm betting you're not.

  • benji||

    How else would you stop people from giving to the wrong charities?

  • Cruz||

    That is so hot when you break it down all rationally

  • ||

    I presume you favor 100% taxation on all inheritance?

    Why? People who have been around a resource since they were born and have the same genetics as the previous owner would generally be better at managing it then someone who was not around it and completely unrelated to the previous owner.

    By the way why should the government get it? What has it done to merit ownership of private property when its owner dies? How is that a meritocracy?

  • ||

    All this nattering about inheritance misses the point.

    There are two claimants on an estate:

    The person(s) who the owner of the estate wants to give it to, and

    The State.

    As between these two claimants, what grounds are there for favoring the second?

  • CatoTheElder||

    Simple: the State has more firepower.

  • Wesley||

    I presume you favor 100% taxation on all inheritance?

    God made cocaine to keep wealth from lasting too many generations, and it works much better than death taxes.

  • AA||

    +1

  • ||

    Don't forget all of the awesome celeb sex tapes we get to watch too.

  • ||

    Why, so Obama can use it to kill Pakistani kids with his pilotless drones? You spending your entire inheritance on strippers and drugs would still be a better use of those funds.

  • Ray Ray||

    I don't know why the "inheritance" thing is so hard to understand. Somebody REALLY earned that money. The fruits of our labor don't just go to the state after we die- we earned it, we have a right to leave it to our children (or hot trophy wives, or whatever...) when we die.

  • Adolf Hitler||

    I do!

    "Therefore we demand:
    ...

    11. That all unearned income, and all income that does not arise from work, be abolished."

  • Oswald Mosley||

    I do, too!

    "60. What changes, if any, will Fascism make in the law with regard to inherited wealth?

    Fascism does not recognise the principle of reward without service. Hereditary wealth, therefore, will not be permitted unless service is given in return. This need not necessarily take the form of productive service. Public service may be given in return for the privilege of hereditary wealth. It is right that a man should be able to work not only for himself but for his children. It is wrong that the children should be able to live in idleness on the wealth which others have created. Service must be given equivalent to the reward enjoyed. Hereditary wealth which is not justified by service will revert to the State."

  • Tim||

    The inheritance tax is an incredibly simplistic concept, and makes little sense with regard to equal opportunity as a great deal of the inequality of opportunity is what parents spend upon their kids before they die in ways impossible to regulate short of raising kids like in Plato's republic.

    Sure inheritance is generally unearned by the recipient, but it is also unearned by "government" and "society" as well; and there are legitimate questions about what government will do with that tax, as much of the libertarian critique of big government comes from public choice type arguments which allege simplistically that government power and goodies tends almost always to go those who already hold power and influence.

    So if inheritance taxes don't address the inequality of opportunity concerns and the funds aren't that likely to be spent any better than other other tax dollars while the public has at best a claim equally good to the money that the heirs do, remembering that children often help care for parents in later years and are often a motivating factor in why the parents worked so hard for that money in the first place; why have one?

  • ||

    Agreed. If you produce what people want then you are rewarded. If you produce what people only sort of want you are rewarded less.

    Tony thinks the only meritocracy is one that government is the grand controller and hands out money to those it deems worthy and less to those who are less worthy.

  • ||

    No wonder his sense of merit is so skewed.

  • ||

    The Spokesman for Mediocrity has spoken. And who has better insights on the nature of merit than someone who has none whatsoever?

  • ||

    Aaaaaaaaaand, henceforth all references to Tony shall be: The Spokesman for Mediocrity.

    Fucking brilliant, SF.

  • ||

    Actually, it was the researcher who labeled those people "libertarians" they didn't self-identify as such.

  • Tony||

    There's a reason for that. You guys don't often factor luck in when you make a moral case for why people should be able to keep every cent they get their grubby hands on.

  • ||

    Ah, luck. The catch-all explanation for idiots who want to deny that hard work and effort have anything to do with success. It's all luck, you see. Blind luck. I'm not a thief! I'm balancing out a mystical force that holds sway over all.

  • Tony||

    Did I say it's all luck and there's no such thing as merit? If not, then thank you for wasting everyone's time with your idiotic straw man.

  • ||

    Why yes, Tony. You have. How quickly you forget the our conversations a couple of weeks ago.

  • Tony||

    I might have said that any given person's wealth is probably mostly luck. But that's a kind of fuzzy math--surely we can agree that there is some amount of luck in anyone's success. That to some degree the crap you own is there just because it's there, no ingenuity or square jaws needed. This is all to say that the libertarian argument that people should get to keep all of their stuff is based on the moral premise that it was earned via work. So what about that which wasn't earned via work but that just fell into your lap for this or that reason? Eventually your moral basis amounts to "finders keepers." Talk about the sentiments of children.

  • ||

    "This is all to say that the libertarian argument that people should get to keep all of their stuff is based on the moral premise that it was earned via work."

    Hey Tony. I work; they pay me - it is mine. That is all.

  • Tony||

    EAP,

    You're still ignoring the luck of being born in a society that allows you to earn a decent living rather than die from malaria. A society, incidentally, you don't want to pay anything to support.

  • The Gobbler||

    I seem to recall that EAP lives in Minnesota. Not much malaria up there.

  • ||

    I is so lucky!

    Tony: "A society, incidentally, you don't want to pay anything to support."

    Tell that to the homeless kids I work with. You know, the black tranny hookers who fit in nowhere; the 15-year-old white girl who's been raped by her mother's boyfriend, etc.

    Or for that matter, the garbage can I pay that's on a corner blocks away from my house Iit's at my bus stop) and the artist I commisioned to paint it because her husband was out of work.

    Fucking moron.

  • ||

    Here's the issue, Tony. If luck plays as big a role in determining a person's success as you say it does, it still doesn't give any reason for why you have any right to the wealth that luck has bestowed on me.

    Also, so you're saying that we owe something to people born in undeveloped countries? Do the Bushmen in Africa want iPods?

  • ||

    No, no, no, you've got it all wrong! It's the indigenous Amazonians (those strong bare-breasted hunks of feminine pulchritude) that are upset that they don't have a Sub-Zero refrigerator.

  • Subsidize Me!||

    Your simplistic frame of mind is confirmed every time you conflate terms like society and government; fairness and equality, etc.

  • Tim||

    Its the society/government conflation again combined with a good ol strawman of libertarianism=anarchy; you're a moron Tony.

  • ||

    I already defined your romantic notion of "luck". The only child I see is you, with your stupid "It's not FAIR," Chris Crocker temper tantrums.

    Do you have a right to my property, provided I own it honorably and legitimately, via deed, receipt, or inheritance?

    Yes or no will suffice, you dime store Socrates.

  • Tony's Pitch Hitter||

    Do you have a right to my property, provided I own it honorably and legitimately, via deed, receipt, or inheritance? Yes or no

    Yes, since even "honorably and legitimately" involves ... luck.

  • ||

    Yes, since even "honorably and legitimately" involves ... luck.

    No, it doesn't. I wish to buy flowers and candy for a special someone in my life. I can either A) steal it (dishonorable and illegitimate) or B) buy it (honorable and legitimate. Or C), I am out of money and give the florist an incredible appeal to pity, with a caveat in writing that I will give the florist a free checkup, and he agrees, also honorable and legitimate. The only luck here might be C) that the florist was in good humor to relent to my offer, but then I offered a tangible good, my services, via barter for the candy and flowers.

  • Chad||

    Groovus: Precisely what about getting your bloody hands on something makes it "yours" in the first place?

    If you would like to opt out of society and all its benefits, go ahead. Start by giving up language and roads, just to prove your good faith.

    If you don't want to, then we will gladly claim half of your income as a fee. After all, it is far less than the value of what society provides you.

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    Congratulations, Chad. You're not even wrong. But out of curiosity, how much do you value language at, monetarily.

  • R.Sole||

    "If you don't want to, then we will gladly claim half of your income as a fee. After all, it is far less than the value of what society provides you."

    I would gladly give up half my annual income to get rid of society. Well, as long as it was guaranteed not to come back.

  • ||

    So your point is that governments should work to eliminate any economic luck, because good luck is unfair to the unlucky?

  • Joe_D||

    "I might have said that any given person's wealth is probably mostly luck. But that's a kind of fuzzy math..."

    I have participated in none of these conversations - I'm an impartial judge here.

    My god, the weasel words are strong in this 'Tony' person. He was caught contradicting himself, and went on to prove that the "straw man" was a perfectly valid criticism of his actual beliefs. Fun stuff!

  • Ray Ray||

    Omg. Get a job. Save money. Be responsible. Have a good work ethic. "Finders keepers"?

  • ||

    Even if one attains wealth through luck, why should he not be able to keep it, squander it, or pass it on to his children? That wealth is still his, after all.

  • CatoTheElder||

    Men much wiser and more brilliant than a dozen Tonys had a number of insightful observations on the role of luck.

    "Diligence is the mother of good luck." - Benjamin Franklin

    "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." - Seneca

    "I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it." - Thomas Jefferson

  • ||

    "Luck is the residue of design."
    -- Branch Rickey

  • ||

    "The outcome of careful planning always looks like luck to saps." -Dashiell Hammett

  • ||

    Luck,as you feebly attempt to conflate random chance with some romantic class envy notion of fortune, is a myth.

    "Luck" is being well-prepared when opportunity presents itself, which, by the way, must be actively pursued. Fortune does not happen by accident, and is modified inversely by the level of risk.

  • Tony||

    So the child of a poor person and the child of a rich person have an equal chance at financial success in the world?

    What about someone paralyzed from the waist down vs. a mobile person? Equal chance of success in the free market?

  • ||

    Equal chance at opportunity there Tony, provided merit is shown. History is rife with examples of upward mobility of remarkable people with extraordinary circumstances against them.

    What about someone paralyzed from the waist down vs. a mobile person? Equal chance of success in the free market?

    Ask Charles, The Hammer of Krauts about that one. Or Stephen Hawking. Mobility simply means travel by conveyance, such as a wheelchair. Or a multitude of folks I have seen with my very eyes as a physician that lead remarkable and productive lives, without letting their disability hinder them. My personal favorite was the Thalomide man who can type better with his feet than I can with my fingers.

    You are contemptable.

  • Tony||

    So your response is a couple of anecdotes?

    Your anecdotes prove that the child of a rich person and the child of a poor person have exactly equal opportunities in life?

    You're a moron.

  • ||

    Nope. And they are also unlikely to contribute to society equally.

  • Tony||

    Nope. And they are also unlikely to contribute to society equally.

    What would be your point?

    In my system, each child would be given equal access to an education, healthcare, and other basic needs, so that the sins of their parents aren't visited upon them, and they are given a truly equal chance to succeed (though in reality, the rich kid will always have more of a leg up).

    What's wrong with that? This system is about actually promoting merit. Yours is just darwinian. People succeed mostly because of luck. How easy is it for a poor child to become a successful surgeon, entrepreneur, etc., truly?

  • ||

    So in your system "each child would be given equal access to an education, healthcare, and other basic needs." But how do you prevent some schools, doctors, diets, etc. from being better than others?

  • Tony||

    So in your system "each child would be given equal access to an education, healthcare, and other basic needs." But how do you prevent some schools, doctors, diets, etc. from being better than others?

    No need to prevent that as long as a baseline of needs are met for everyone.

  • ||

    How easy is it for a poor child to become a successful surgeon

    Truly? Well Tony, considering the MCAT is pretty nuetral, and the main criteria for admission to medical school, I would submit equal opportunity applies. As far as becoming one, since I am one, I can tell you that med school doesn't give two festering donkey cocks about your background. Their concern is: "Can you hack it?!" Residency is even worse. I felt sorry for the legacy med students; they had it the worst as far as expectations went. The rich kid does not always have a leg up, dude. And I would say about 35% of my graduating class came from very poor, like Chad dirt poor, families. I also happen to know that the poorer kids, as a demographic, had higher rates of completion of med school than the more well-off kids.

  • Chad||

    Groovus, the MCAT might be neutral, but the process of preparing to take it is not. Having a mommy and daddy who speak often (and preferably properly) to you and read to you as a child, and can afford to live in a good area with a good school and other "good" families to hang around, can hire you tutors, helping you get into the good college, which gets you the better teachers and the better peers (and more tutors) sure gives you a leg up on the poor kid of a single, uneducated mother who scrapes together enough money while working at McD's during high school that he or she can spend two years at a cc before transfering to directional state university.

    Don't get me started on pre-meds, though. I have taught enough of the little grade-grubbers over the years, far too many of which I have nightmares involving waking up on an operating table with them leaning over me.

  • ||

    How easy is it for a poor child to become a successful surgeon, entrepreneur, etc., truly?

    Not as hard as you might think.
    If you have the brains to get accepted to med school, you can always get student loans.

    And being an entrepreneur is actually a very common way for people to escape poverty. The guy with the hot dog stand is hardly likely to have been a child of the middle class.

  • Tony||

    Well I would go even further. There is an unequal distribution of brain power, and that's a matter of pure luck too.

    I'm not for equality of outcomes. I'm for the basic needs of human beings assured so that people have a chance to succeed or fail in the world without having to worry about starving to death in the process.

  • ||

    I'm not for equality of outcomes.

    You typed this with a straight (no pun or irony intended) face?

    I'm channeling Joe Wilson here.

  • ||

    And we're way the fuck beyond THAT point, Tony. Do you see anyone starving?

    You're on here arguing in favor of a health bill that guarentees free mammograms to women under 40. For no fucking reason except that it's politically expedient.

    We have old people bitching about not getting a cost-of-living increase in the social security checks, because the cost-of-living didn't increase.

    We have unemployment benefits getting extended repeatedly, so people don't have to start considering taking jobs at a lower pay scale than they want.

    We've got government bailing people out of their mortgages so they can keep their overprices houses, so that stock prices won't drop and everyone can keep imagining that their 401(k) is worth more than it really is.

    Yeah, I'm sure all of that is justified by "equal opportunity".

  • Sean Healy||

    How do you propose to distribute brain power equally? Enforced random mating? Unequal brain power distribution is better, on balance and over time, for everyone. It's how we collectively got smart enough so that even keyboard droolers like you can use alphabets.

  • ||

    Actually, when I lived in Manhattan the guy with the morning "bagel and coffee" cart pulled in more per annum than my Admin Assistant did!

  • ||

    So, in your system the poor individual from the wrong end of the socio-politico-economic side of the tracks is given a governmental leg-up? As soon as this underprivileged individual gets over, the same government now steps in and takes it so that the next poor sucker gets it?

  • R.SOle||

    It's extremely easy for a poor or handicapped person to become successful. Most people are so dumb and lazy that just a little bit of effort and discipline make you stand way out from the crowd and get rewarded accordingly. Just take a look at our political and business leaders - honestly, you think the average person can't do better than *that* if they genuinely tried to?

  • TANSTAAFL||

    If that paralyzed person is Steven Hawking ....or has talent and drive, than yes. I see plenty of fully mobile jizz bags wasting away their lives and chances at success...

  • The Gobbler||

    ""Luck" is being well-prepared when opportunity presents itself, which, by the way, must be actively pursued. Fortune does not happen by accident"

    In my case, it truly was luck. Honest.

  • ||

    No Gobbler. Your grandfather bequeathed wealth to you. He prepared, and you were presented with a planned inheritance. I assume you were a planned birth, no?

    If not, then random chance does apply here.

  • The Gobbler||

    "I assume you were a planned birth, no?"

    That's what my mother tells me. My two older brothers though...not so much.

  • ||

    "Luck" is being well-prepared when opportunity presents itself, which, by the way, must be actively pursued.

    THIS A GILLION BAGILLION THRILLION TIMES THIS^!^!^!^

    The number of opportunities I've passed on because i was not willing to put in the effort of active pursuit. "Making Your Own Luck" is ALL about the follow-through.

  • ||

    I disagree. Luck plays a role in any card game. But do we redistribute the winnings afterwards to compensate the players for their unluckiness? No.

    However, the problem is that once the state start taking of redistribution of the winnings, it is no longer an impartial referee, but a participant in the game. The politicians are participants, the voters are participants, and the whole apparatus of the state, including the police and enforcement system, becomes part of the game.

    The only way to be an impartial referee is to set uniform rules, enforce them equally, and do absolutely nothing to alter the outcome after the fact.

  • ||

    "Luck" plays a role in any card game, yet if you watch championship poker on TV, you'll find that you see the same faces show up at the final table again and again. That's because even in a system where luck is a factor, the ones who play the game best win over the long haul.

    Likewise, life can hand you some pretty rotten luck now and then, but in the long run how you play the cards you're dealt matters a lot more for most people. The occasional talentless rock star or homeless PhD candidate are extreme outliers. Most of us build the lives we earn.

  • Admiral Akbar||

    Luck certainly exists. It is highly unlucky, for example, to be born in much of rural Africa, with no food, running water, or electricity. Or to be born poor and black in the inner city. Or to be born a woman in China or the Middle East. For small government people to deny luck at all is silly.

    However, I believe that it is important to point out that the statist solution for these "bad luck" cases has not really helped anything.

    Foreign aid is why much of Africa is underdeveloped, as it kills the oppurtunity to develop businesses. Public education and welfare, created to help the poor, have done much of the opposite, destroying the urban family and giving teachers unions a strangehold over the educational system. And, as for the culture of China or the Middle East, how many women did the Iraq War, supported by prominent Democrats, kill?

    Luck does exist, but the rememdy of statist for luck typically exercerbates the problem. It turns a game of chance, where even at long odds people all have a possibility of winning, into a game of favor, where only those favored by the political power structure win.

  • ||

    Luck plays a role in any card game. But do we redistribute the winnings afterwards to compensate the players for their unluckiness? No.

    Hmmm, and who likes to ban gambling? I know a few religious types are again'it, but aren't the bans the results of those who are "concerned about the poor." (As long as those poor people don't work at a casino. Then FUCK EM!)

  • Chad||

    Hazel Meade|6.1.10 @ 4:10PM|#
    I disagree. Luck plays a role in any card game. But do we redistribute the winnings afterwards to compensate the players for their unluckiness? No.

    Would we, if people had no choice concerning whether to play or not, and life-and-death matters were at stake?

  • Subsidize Me!||

    It must make life so much simpler to believe that a finite supply of wealth exists in the world, and that there are some doomed never to share in it other than by the benevolence of the enlightened.

    It's only about life and death in the scenario you create, Chad.

  • The Gobbler||

    There's a reason for that. You guys don't often factor luck in when you make a moral case for why people should be able to keep every cent they get their grubby hands on.

    FIFY

    BTW, if we washed our hands, would you go away?

  • ||

    Why is luck a bad way to distribute wealth? What evidence is there that government is better at it then luck? And what does luck have to do with maintaining wealth and resources after the lucky have gotten it by chance?

    What is great about the state run lottery games is that the results of these games have proven you wrong Tony. It is very common for these lucky winners to be competently broke after a few years. In fact lottery winners have one of the highest % of bankruptcies then any other group. Even higher then restaurant owners. and definitely higher then those who were born into wealth.

  • ||

    1. Win Lottery
    2. Pay Off The House
    3. Setup an account to automatically pay my utilities for the next 10 years.

    Spend remainder on getting drunk.

  • Underpants Gnome||

    4. ...
    5. PROFIT!

  • ||

    "You guys don't often factor luck in when you make a moral case for why people should be able to keep every cent they get their grubby hands on."

    And you don’t factor in ethics when you make your allegedly "moral" case for why government bureaucrats should be able to take whatever THEY lay their grubby hands on.

  • ||

    Luck favors the prepared.

    Also, is it considered luck that my ancestors built a viable and profitable community and someone else's did not? What right do you have to enjoy the fruits of my ancestors labors?

  • Astropud||

    There's a reason for that. You guys don't often factor luck in when you make a moral case for why people should be able to keep every cent they get their grubby hands on.

    And how does one determine what part is due to luck and what part is due to merit? You can argue that pretty much everything is due to luck. Luck in having the genetics to enable one to produce. If we then wish to factor out all luck, acknowledging that *everything* is due to luck, this then leads to proposing a completely equal distribution of all wealth. This in turn leads to a severe decline in aggregate wealth as people realize they have no incentive to produce any more than they have to. Do we really want to test this? Some do.

  • MJ||

    The problem is it's been tested time and time again and radical egalitarianism always fails.

  • Sean Healy||

    And you never factor in how capricious it is to take someone else's money and distribute it to other people who did nothing to earn it in the first place.

  • ||

    Actually, it seems that Libertarians got the poo end of the stick on this one.

  • Tman||

    "Put another way, libertarians react like liberals, but without the concerns about egalitarianism that dominate the way liberals—and 10-year-olds—think about fairness."

    Can't we just say that liberals act just like 10 year olds and call it a day?

  • Roman Polanski||

    "like 10 year olds"

    I know I do!

  • ¢||

    Haidt may be the world's least self-aware and most ill-intentioned psychologist. That's a fucking feat.

  • ||

    Let's also note that adults weren't tested. I think we're all aware that libertarians are essentially stunted adolescents.

    ...and liberals are stunted pre-adolescents. They are the kids of the political spectrum and they've been in charge of the cookie jar in Europe for decades and now they're in charge in the U.S.

  • Tony||

    For such hapless childlike ignoramuses, why do we have all the power and you geniuses have none?

  • ||

    The Barnum Corollary, Tony. To paraphrase Tulpa, "The notion that Liberty v. Security in logic is a false dilemma; in human behavior, it is a tautology."

  • ||

    Following the example of Christ, allow me to answer your question with a question. Which sort of person is more likely to devote their lives to seeking political power: the liberal do-gooder who feels a burning need to right all perceived social injustices, or the "initiate no force" libertarian crackpot who just wants to be left alone to drink raw milk while smoking weed and getting a fish pedicure?

  • Tony||

    Point taken, but then why do libertarians bitch so much? Kind of silly to whine about how much your society doesn't suit your tastes and then remained determined not to do anything about it.

  • ||

    Point taken, but then why do libertarians bitch so much?

    When you get mugged, it's customary to raise a hue and cry about the perpetrator.

  • Sean Healy||

    Because we have to live the world created by you power-grabbing do-gooders, that's why.

  • R.Sole||

    " Kind of silly to whine about how much your society doesn't suit your tastes and then remained determined not to do anything about it."

    What makes you think we don't? Entering public life and trying to reform the system is not the most effective way to maximise personal liberty. Ignoring silly laws while taking precautions not to get caught or punished is much more effective and enjoyable.

  • I have a question||

    Can I get a blowjob with that pedicure?

  • ||

    Not from the fish, how inappropriate! Have some decorum man! Geez.

    And yeah, Lucy is waiting in room 7.

  • Joe||

    The fish will nibble on anything you put in the tank!

  • Shut up, Tony||

    Because we live in a world where a majority of people are lazy, entitled sponges, happy to live off the earnings of those more talented and determined than them. Ain't democracy grand?

  • ||

    Wolves, Voting, Which Sheep, Dinner, etc.

  • Tony||

    Next wylie will kindly enlighten us as to which form of government is superior to rule-by-the-people.

  • How 'bout||

    Rule by no one.

  • JoshINHB||

    Because we live in a world where a majority of people are lazy, entitled sponges, happy to live off the earnings of those more talented and determined than them.

    Except illegal mexican immigrants!

    They would never ever think about getting a free ride from gubmint.

  • R.Sole||

    "For such hapless childlike ignoramuses, why do we have all the power and you geniuses have none?"

    The same reason pacifist tribes get conquered by warlike ones. People who don't steal from others are less successful thieves than those who do.

  • ||

    Put another way, libertarians react like liberals, but without the concerns about egalitarianism that dominate the way liberals—and 10-year-olds—think about fairness.

    I'm not sure this is actually a fair characterization.

    Libertarians aren't unconcerned about fairness or equality. I've been commenting lately about how rights and institutions like courts, and the "equal justice" principle are intended to be fairness mechanisms. having the state treat all individuals equally is part of what makes the system "fair".

    We just don't view equality of outcome as having a role to play in fairness. The libertarian view is more that the *rules* should be identical and enforced equally for everyone, and if that is the case, the outcome must be regarded as fair, even if it is unequal.

  • ||

    HM: I agree.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Your article doesn't, it seems, get that "egalitarian" is more often construed to mean what HM describes than some odd "equal outcomes" version of things. If libertarian egalitarianism is all about equal access and treatment under the law, it is essentially the same as the "egalitarianism that dominates the way liberals...think." The only point of disagreement being with the idea that everyone deserves a minimum outcome in terms of some basic needs (housing, food, etc...).

  • ||

    The only point of disagreement being with the idea that everyone deserves a minimum outcome in terms of some basic needs (housing, food, etc...).

    You left off cars, flat-screen TVs, and free pussy.

    You really think that removing the incentive to work will make for a better society?

  • Tony||

    If that incentive is "or starve to death," then yes.

  • ||

    If that incentive is "or starve to death," then yes.

    Yeah, lets drop the #2 motive that got mankind to where it is today. (#1 being Sex, if that wasn't obvious.)

  • ||

    I mean what the fuck, that's exactly what i want people to think.

    Hell of a lot better than "Well, i could go do that work, but hey, i won't starve if i don't."

    NICE FUCKING INCENTIVE!!!

  • ||

    Honestly, the threat of starvation is really the ONLY thing that will make some people do any work.

    I've met these people. I know.

  • Tony||

    Hazel,

    How protestant of you. If you're not working, you're not being virtuous, I suppose. Do disabled persons get an exemption to the rule whereby you must work (probably for some corporate fiefdom) or die?

  • MJ||

    Despite their yelling about libertarians wanting to drop out of society, Tony and Chad actually argue against the necessity of an adult to provide any kind of service to society at large. The person who does no useful work because they would not starve otherwise has dropped out out society except to the extent they are a burden on it.

  • SammyA||

    If a sane individual in a free-market society chooses to starve rather than work, well... I think he's made his choice.

  • Neu Mejican||

    You really think that removing the incentive to work will make for a better society?

    Where do you get that from what I said.

    1) Placing a floor on suffering does not remove the incentive to work...although placing that floor at too comfortable a level might.

    2) Where is this "liberal" free-car & flat screen TV program so I can sigh up?

    3) I thought libertarians argued that a pussy should be free to do what it wants. What do you have against free pussy? Are you trying to enslave pussy?

  • ||

    although placing that floor at too comfortable a level might.

    So, people wont starve because we'll give them free oats and hay. And if they don't like that they can work.

    Yeah, that's much kinder than telling them to "get off your ass or starve." Is that the "Teach A Man To Know Whats Good To Pick Out Of The Fisherman's Trash" School of Thought?

  • CatoTheElder||

    You forgot about state-of-the-art cell phones so that you can snap a picture of the First Lady at the food bank.

  • ||

    If libertarian egalitarianism is all about equal access and treatment under the law, it is essentially the same as the "egalitarianism that dominates the way liberals...think."

    No, it isn't. The libertarian definition of equal access and treatment applies strictly to the enforcement of individual rights. It does not include rectifying differences in access to health care or education caused by wealth differences.

    That's not because it wouldn't be "nice" if everyone had "equal opportunity" to buy health care or pay for college, but because having the government step in and rearrange wealth to make opportunity equal is indistinguishable in practice to making outcomes equal. And once you get the government involved, it becomes yet another player to be manipulated, with it's own interests to be served.

  • Tony||

    That's a pretty pathetic excuse. Every first world government in the world has figured out a better healthcare system than our own, and they all involve more government. Wouldn't it be nice indeed.

    But we can't, no sir, we simply have to leave people's healthcare access to whether they can afford it, because... a bunch of speculative gobbledygook completely contradicted by the facts of the world.

    You idiots don't realize that the most free-market healthcare system in the world is the most expensive to you personally. You're not even greedy assholes, you're just stubborn assholes. You're willing to pay more if it means you can maintain your absolutist view of government.

  • Subsidize Me!||

    Ah, the "Why can't you idiots realize that you can vote yourselves free shit" combined with the "our healthcare is an embarassment compared to Europe" sophistry.

    That hamster must have crawled up to your esophagus before he kicked.

  • Edwin||

    "You idiots don't realize that the most free-market healthcare ..."

    uhhhh... no. Not even by a long shot.

    I understand why you'd think that - the government bureaucracies of other countries play a much more active, direct role in administering medical care. But that doesn't make them less free-market. Our system involves much more MASSIVE interruptions in the healthcare market, though less direct involvement of government agencies. It is these sorts of interruptions into the free market that we have that are effectively much worse than any European system that's supposedly less free-market. See Nick Gillespie's article a few months back about preferring France's system. Or maybe it wasn't Gillespie - whoever it was, his wife had French citizenship and they use their system over there.

    In other words, our laws fuck up the free market way more than their bureaucracies.

    No country has anything even close to a free market in health care. Wherever free markets have managed to poke their way in in medicine, the medical care in those segments is mcuh much much better. Also, same holds true for EVERYTHING ELSE THAT ISN'T HEALTHCARE and that isn't restricted by bajillions of words of laws. And don't give me any crap about asymettric information or whatever. Don't knock it till you try it. And we've all tried every flavor of your system - they're bankrupting the entire civilized world. Know how we could do try some alternatives? Leave it to the states, like it says in the constitution.

  • ||

    Actually the really, really, free market health care is in medical tourism. A) When you go to another country, you pay out of pocket. B) the physicians charge whatever they want - no government is going to limit what they can charge a foreigner.

    It would be poetic irony if we ended up with a system where local medicine was socialized and in short supply, but everyone instead travelled to another country to get treatment, because they could pay up front that way.

    Just like Canadians travel to the US, and Americans travel to India already, and people in Massachusetts go to New Hampshire, and vice versa.

    Mark my words.

  • Chad||

    What you also get is a lot of people lying in the streets, dying and unable to afford life-saving care.

    But hey, leave to a libertarian to leave this little caveat out.

  • zoltan||

    Lying in the streets? Really? Where do you live, Calcutta?

  • ||

    Hate to brake it to you Tony, but those high and mighty 1st world countries have about 1/10 of our population size. Oh and they're all going bankrupt too.

  • Neu Mejican||

    The libertarian view is more that the *rules* should be identical and enforced equally for everyone, and if that is the case, the outcome must be regarded as fair, even if it is unequal...

    You are confusing the specific "rules" that there is some disagreement about with the basic principles that are in agreement. Both liberals and libertarians believe in the basic principle of the rules being the same for everyone and that the state should treat everyone the same. The disagreement is over whether certain rules that have been decided upon are justified. If the rule is that everyone has to pay taxes to cover the cost of providing basic services for those that can't afford them and that law is applied equally to all, then the principle of fairness you describe has been applied fairly.

    You seem to be complaining about the nature of the rules, not the criteria for judging their fairness.

  • Neu Mejican||

    having the government step in and rearrange wealth to make opportunity equal is indistinguishable in practice to making outcomes equal.

    Yeah, because it is impossible to distinguish the outcomes for a typical welfare recipient and a typical taxpayer in the upper tax brackets.

    [/sarcasm]

    EQUAL OUTCOMES has a meaning. It is not the goal of most liberal policies. Most liberals do not believe it should be a goal. Who are these boogie men ya'll are seeing in the shadows.

  • ||

    EQUAL OUTCOMES has a meaning. It is not the goal of most liberal policies. Most liberals do not believe it should be a goal. Who are these boogie men ya'll are seeing in the shadows.

    As I eludicate further down the the problem is that equally opportunity is generally *measured* only by assessing outcomes. In other words, you never know you've achieved equal opportunity, until the outcomes conform to come kind of critera that you judge to be equitable. Consequently, liberals are constantly proposing new tweaks in response to outcome differences, with the net result that the functional goal is equal outcomes.

  • ||

    Actually, I would argue that wealth redistribution schemes of this sort are unfair because they undercut more fundamental rules regarding private property and individual autonomy. You have to have internally consistent rules as well as equally applied ones. Otherwise the inconsistencies in the rules will play themselves out in inconsistent application, and thus unfairness.

    And in practice that law that everyone has to pay taxes is NOT applied equally to all. Some people are required to pay a greater percentage of their income in taxes than others, based on arbitrary distinctions.

    "Equal justice under law", in my opinion requires that the laws be completely blind to ALL distinctions between individuals, whether those are based on race or social status, or income.

  • Neu Mejican||

    I have no problem with that in principle, but in application it has as many glitches as the ones you discuss related to the difficulty of measuring "equal opportunity."

    I will again emphasize that "equal outcomes" are not the goal, and are not achieved in any "socialist" policy implemented in the real world. It is silly to pretend that the "strict egalitarianism" that the 5th graders were practicing is a reasonable stand in for "liberal" policy...just as it is probably silly to assume that the "strict libertarianism" (i.e., selfishness) that the researchers mention in their article is a stand in for libertarian ideas.

  • ||

    Certainly, equal outcomes are not actually achieved. I don't think it is even possible to do that.

    But then what are we left with? You attempt to implement equal opportunity, but only by constantly measuring outcomes and tweaking the rules to adjust them until you get some sort of result that somebody (who knows) judges to reflect equal opportunities. But the outcomes never actually equalize, and nobody actually knows what the result would be anyway, so your system is doomed to become increasingly complex and increasingly controlled by niche interests fighting to advance "opportunity" for their particular constituency.

    What does that amount to? It does not amount in the end to anything even remotely egalitarian. It amounts to a system where "opportunity" is entirely determined by political power. That's your concept of "social
    justice"? Not a world where opportunites are actually equal, but a world where opportunities are determined by which ethnic group you belong to, where you live, how you vote, and who you know politically?

    In my opinion, it's far more equitable, to get politics out of it entirely, and just accept the fact that some people are born with more money, but make damn fucking sure none of those people can actively use their money to influence the rules in their favor.

  • Apogee||

    Certainly, equal outcomes are not actually achieved. I don't think it is even possible to do that.

    But then what are we left with?

    You're left with an eternal employment scheme for those who can do little else.

  • phryxian houndmaster||

    I remember reading about the five moral dimensions when livescience reported on it. I tested myself and was surprised to find I was a perfect fit with the liberal camp, almost shocked in fact, since I have less trouble understanding the morality of the conservatives than I do with liberals on average. Then I realized I could reconcile this with a single assumption. It all boiled down to the interpretation of the first law of robotics applied to humans. 1. A human may not injure another human, or through inaction allow a human to come to harm. Personally, I see that as two distinct clauses and when they come into conflict the first takes priority. (exception made for defense against an aggressor) If I were unable to make that distinction, or I gave priority to the second clause it would force a conversion to standard liberal principles upon me.

    I wonder how prevalent my situation is. Perhaps a great number of libertarians could be said to react like liberals who understood asimov's first law of robotics was really two laws.

  • Alan||

    Since this seems to be the first comment on the actual article, I'll put my reply here. I am reminded of Kohlberg's Stages of Moral Development, and at least one source I once looked up suggested that Stage 5 is essentially Libertarian. Keep in mind that most adults halt in their moral development (according to Kohlberg) at Stage 3 or Stage 4, and although there is a Stage 6 (the highest), Kohlberg said he never found anyone whose moral reasoning was consistently at that level.

    The boss I had last year had reached Stage 2.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kohlberg's_stages_of_moral_development

  • ||

    > The libertarian view is more that the *rules* should be identical and enforced equally for everyone, and if that is the case, the outcome must be regarded as fair, even if it is unequal.

    BINGO. Thank you.

  • ||

    Tony will learn quickly that dissenting views are not tolerated here in the land of Free Minds.

    Now drink!

  • ||

    Dan T., Margaret Sanger's poster child. I forgot to add you by name in my Suderman rant. Just as well, you are as forgettable as that dreadful prose that you wrote that Warty posts in response to your inanities.

  • The Gobbler||

    I like his prose, thank you very much.

  • Warty||

  • Warty||

    “Mommy, where to kitties go when they die? To Heaven?” asked six-year-old Janet Yelton.

    Terri Yelton took a slow drag from her cigarette and exhaled. “Doubt it. They just die and they’re gone. Now shut up.” She was trying to watch her soap operas.

    Janet ignored her. “I bet they go to Heaven, at least the nice ones.”

    Terri flicked her cigarette ash in her daughter’s direction. “I said shut up, smart-ass. Why aren’t you outside?”

  • The Gobbler||

    ^^THIS^^

  • ||

    Out of curiosity, have you bothered to peruse the comments section in either of your 2 preferred bibles: NYTimes or WaPo (I won't even condescend to mention Ariana's rag)? If you truly believe that dissenting views are drowned out here, what is your opinion of the Blue Crested Progressive Parrots squawking at any not Radical Left post?

  • Warty||

    I wonder if there are any message boards where Team R and Team D both tolerate each other. I'd be shocked if there were. This place is about as tolerant as it gets.

  • ||

    People may call this board an echo chamber, but i see plenty of worthwhile argumentation.

    It's drown in a sea of lousy trolling from DanT et all, but a skillful Netter can sieve out the good bits.

    From what I've seen of the Team Sites, its nothing but echos.

    Keep up the good work guys.

  • Joe||

    Yes, but I'd like to see less of this Go away Tony stuff. Having someone with a different point of view allows communication and correction of misunderstandings and in a few thousand years, maybe a convergence of view points. The rest of you will be dead, but I will be here to reap the rewards.

  • ||

    Tupla has a point of view. Most of us don't agree with it, but he actually has one.

    TonywardsmorrisT is just a poor attempt at using copy&paste;.

  • Tony||

    I go elsewhere for meaningful philosophical debates. Libertarians can easily be refuted by a few simple lines of argument.

  • MWG||

    So why have you been wasting our time with POS comments like the ones above. Come on Tony, give us the good stuff...

  • ||

    Echo chamber much Tony? If you think that the frequent and infrequent posters here think alike and agree on every issue, then your reading comprehension is poor. I find it far from an echo chamber here; indeed, some of the posters I marvel at most are the ones where I may have fundamental disagreements, Tulpa for example. Fluffy and Hazel are others. All of the posters, including you, make cogent points at various intervals.

    Your last sentence notwithstanding.

  • Tony||

    I like Fluffy and Tulpa. Hazel is kind of scary.

  • Reverend Obama||

    Testify brother! Bring the libertarian heathens out of the desert and to the progressive city on the hill. Praise Marx!

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    Still waiting, Tony...

  • Apogee||

    Tony gets his ass handed to him

    every.

    fucking.

    time.

  • zoltan||

    And tries to pretend he engages in meaningful philosophical conversation elsewhere.

  • AA||

    I love reading these conversations, and like I've said before, it would be boring without Tony/Chad/MNG. I do appreaciate their disagreements... usually.

    Max and Dan T on the other hand...

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    You're absolutely right, AA. Many of the leftists here actually improve the quality of discourse. A couple however, don't.

  • ||

    Hey, heretics must be stopped.

  • Wesley||

    To be fair, the NYTimes' motto is: "All the news that's fit to print". Not nearly as much room for disagreement there as in "Free Minds and Free Markets".

  • ||

    I must apologize to all here, I was discriminatory in my post. I get the same chuckle from reading the posts of the Red Breasted Neocon Cockatoo in the Washington Times and on The New Republic or TownHall for examples.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    " Reason Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey wonders if this means that one might conclude that modern egalitarian liberals reason like fifth graders?"

    That's an insult - to 5th graders.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Wow...that's some thin gruel to hang a conclusion on.

    It turns out that as people move from childhood through adolescence to young adulthood they become increasingly meritocratic, that is, they come to believe that people deserve unequal rewards based on their individual achievements.

    Of course, no where is it shown that "liberals" favor equal rewards - typically the argument is for a floor, without restrictions on the ceiling. Typically.

    Put another way, libertarians react like liberals, but without the concerns about egalitarianism that dominate the way liberals—and 10-year-olds—think about fairness.

    Epi's protest should be aimed most squarely at Ron Bailey here. He is trying to set up a TEAM LIBERTARIAN by explaining how his team is superior to the 10 year old. Of course it requires that he put on partisan blinders and misrepresent the position of the other team.

    Lame, lame, lame. And the man gets paid to write this shit. Talk about an affront to meritocracy...I guess the libertarians running Reason are rewarding him for his loyalty and purity.

    Yeesh!

  • Tony||

    Shit, what's meritocratic about being buoyed by corporate donors in order to spread a political philosophy that's favorable to their bottom line? Ironically, libertarianism is the ultimate welfare philosophy.

  • MWG||

    "Shit, what's meritocratic about being buoyed by corporate donors in order to spread a political philosophy that's favorable to their bottom line?"

    You talkin' about Obama and Wall Street?

  • AA||

    Hmm, a philosophy against government handouts to corporations at the expense of the rest of us is favorbale to their bottom line? You can do better, Tony.

  • Tony||

    That's why I said it was ironic.

  • AA||

    Ironic if it were true.

  • ||

    NM: Just trying to figure out the implications of research into moral psychology. If you'd like to see how leftist intellectuals report their research into the moral development of those whom they oppose , may I direct you to my 2004 column, "Pathologizing Conservatism."

  • Neu Mejican||

    Ron,

    You are either not trying too hard, or you are being disingenuous. If you are trying to figure out how to spin this research as a spirit booster for your TEAM...it is a pretty lame attempt. If you are actually thinking hard about the issues this research raises and this is what you came up with, then, you need to rethink.

  • ||

    See Ron, you Just Don't Understand.

    That's why you're not one of The Right People. If you REALLY REALLY REALLY knew, you'd understand what babies we are. Absolute intellectual infants.

  • ||

    NM: I repeat -- I am not the researcher whose findings report that egalitarian thinking is puerile.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Ron. I am not criticizing the conclusions of the research (I haven't had time to read the study...just your article).

    I am criticizing your article: the points you made with your words based on your own reaction to the work of the researchers. That article (your article) is not well thought out, imo...it does nothing to substantially to explore the implications of the research...your stated point for writing it.

  • Tim||

    These weren't American kids. They tried this in "some" American schools the breakdown:

    Fifth graders: 72% equal distribution
    Ninth graders: 31% equal distribution
    Tenth graders: Scholars beaten and robbed, no money for distribution.
    Thirteenth Grade: All students dropped out by grade 11.

  • Cruz||

    Funny and it makes me proud of those kids. The 10th Graders inherently knew that the State had stolen money from the citizenry to fund the study. Thus they exposed the researchers to the same cruel reality. By the 11th grade they realize that compounding is the greatest force in the universe. By working as low wage entry level workers, they realize that over the span of their life they'll actually earn more.

  • ||

    I'd be prouder if they won all the money with some 3-Card-Monty. And spent the proceeds on a lucrative degree, earned a whole year before their non-dropout peers.

  • ||

    In the fifth grade two-thirds of kids are strict egalitarians, but by the time they reach age 18 meritocratic views dominate.

    That seems at odds with the heavily Democratic skew among young voters.

  • Kpres||

    Well, there aren't any Socialists in the Democratic party after all, they're all "moderates."

    Didn't you get the memo?

  • ||

    "Well, there aren't any Socialists in the Democratic party after all, they're all 'moderates.'"

    Was it the same one that reported that there were no socialists in the Republican party, either--just "compassionate conservatives"?

    'Cuz yeah, I think I just wiped my ass with that memo the other day.

  • ||

    Yep, you're right. There are assholes in BOTH predominant parties.

  • Warty||

    You know what I would love to do? Pay some union pensions.

  • AA||

    "Create Jobs and Save Benefits Act"

    You can sell anything with a name like that.

  • Apogee||

    Please. Go ahead.

    Legislation that puts the SEIU on the same footing as GS and AIG, both loved by the public of course.

  • ||

    The authors of the Norwegian study conclude that the meritocratic fairness view increases as the cognitive abilities of children mature. In other words: yes, kids outgrow socialism.

    Not in Norway. I know an exchange student from Norway, who said she experienced a heck of culture shock coming here, and finding people actually believing in free markets.

  • Warty||

    As I've said before, my dad works for a Norwegian company, and most of the young Norwegians he knows hate it here, while most of the middle-aged Norwegians try to emigrate.

  • Apogee||

    I have a Norwegian friend who fakes an American accent when he returns home - gets him laid easily.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Hard to tell from this article, but...

    A full 42 percent of players in the 13th grade kept more money for themselves because they believed that they have earned it.

    That sounds more like the older kids were calculating how they could game the system to keep as much for themselves as possible without looking like a greedy bastard...placing value on reputation.

    Of course it is very likely that RB left out some important information here.

  • ||

    NM: Always suspicious. I don't believe I left out any relevant info, but the way the study was reported had some holes in it, e.g., why not explicitly report how libertarians divvied up the pot in various games? I read all of the supplemental material searching in vain for that info. In any case, the researchers themselves offer the maturation hypothesis for the shift from childish egalitarianism to more adult meritocratic allocative views.

  • Neu Mejican||

    So they did no analysis related to "merit" and how much a child rewarded themselves versus others...?

    Seems they should have...but if you say it is not reported...it is not reported.

  • ||

    but if you say it is not reported

    Yeah, don't bother to Read the Full Text or anything, just assume RB is leaving stuff out. I mean, he didn't include the link to the study or ANYTHING!

    Such a denier...

  • Neu Mejican||

    Sorry...been busy being productive so that I can earn my rewards. Didn't have time during my short lunch break to delve into the research article. I did have time to read Ron's article...it does not contain any discussion of the issue I raised...but I'll take Ron's word for it if he says the did not provide this information.

  • Neu Mejican||

    the researchers themselves offer the maturation hypothesis for the shift from childish egalitarianism to more adult meritocratic allocative views.

    Yes ... in the same sentence that they equate the libertarian strategy and the egalitarian strategy as simplistic strategies requiring less cognitive processing. Both are single dimensional strategies requiring no nuance and very little information to implement. In one, merit doesn't matter because everyone gets the same reward regardless of effort. In the other merit does matter because the reward is a perfect stand-in for merit.

    BTW, my reading would say that the "libertarian" approach which says that "all inequalities are justified" was a stand-in for selfish behavior...e.g., rewarding yourself as dictator while ignoring the merit of the other person. But they do not seem to give details.

  • Neu Mejican's editor||

    In the other merit does NOT matter because the reward is a perfect stand-in for merit.

  • Chad||

    Ron, the big problem I see with this study is that "merit" was well-defined and easily measured.

    The real world is completely different. If God were to come down and measure it for us, I would suspect the correlation coefficient between income and merit is less than half.

  • ||

    Yeah, lets get god involved.

    I believe God has better things do with with his time than settle our petty squables about 4-dimensional "property". Who owns anything when the universe will eventually tear itself apart? And that science is more settled than climate change (Read: Not Settled At All.)

  • AA||

    Good point Chad. But how would you define the word "merit" differently in "the real world?"

  • ||

    Why not consider "merit" like "value" to be an entirely subjective individual assessment?

  • AA||

    Thats what I was thinking.

  • Chad||

    I agree, Hazel. They are both subjective. But that doesn't mean you simply ignore them and stick your head in the sand, which is the libertarian position on everything.

  • ||

    Well, no. The subjective nature of value is the starting point for the concept of trade. Two people each subjectively value what the other person has more. They trade. As a result, both people's values are better satisfied.

    Why can't "merit" be the same. That guy, Person X, causes my company to pull in an extra $10,000,000 in profits. Why shouldn't I pay him $1,000,000? As far as *I* am concerned, he merits that pay, and it's nobody else's fucking business.

  • Chad||

    Funny. You now believe that you CAN accurately measure how much someone brings into a firm, which of course no manager actually can.

    Odd how you ignore subjectivity when you need it to disappear in order for your ideology to work.

  • Apogee||

    Chad - The real world is completely different.

    Oh sweet irony.

  • CatoTheElder||

    It would be even more instructive to discover how tournament poker players divvy up their winnings at the final table. Quite often poker tournaments are concluded before there's only one player with all the chips. At the final table, the remaining players agree to split the prize money in some fashion. For example, if there are three remaining players and the sum of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prices is $1000, they agree to split the $1000. But seldom do all three get an equal share; rather, the split is typically proportional to their relative chip stacks. In other words, the split reflects their relative performance (and luck) in the game. Here we have real people in a real game deciding among themselves how to split the real prize money and, more importantly, no dictators. And the split almost always reflects performance in the game.

    With the popularity of online poker, this would be a feasible study. However, it would probably be difficult to determine the age of the players. Perhaps the only valid conclusion would be that online poker players have a more morally developed than the typical liberal. But we already knew that.

  • ||

    Do the stakes in your typical match of OnlinePoker ever reach the same heights as what tournament players can win?

    I think your you idea is going in the right direction, but i don't think "the popularity of online poker" will help with the data. But there's plenty of tournament play that could be studied.

  • Joe_D||

    In games with friends, I've seen splits happen too, though we're playing with inconsequential amounts of money.

    Usually, we'll make a quick evaluation of the stacks - if they're anywhere near equal, even split. If it's two people with 1x vs 2-10x chips, it'll go $2:$1. If someone has a 10:1 advantage, they'll either play it through (should be quick) or just split the money along the standard 1st/2nd/3rd lines.

    This has been worked out informally and without any conflict.

  • CatoTheElder||

    I always play to the bitter end, but that's because I enjoy playing heads-up poker. And I never whine about my opponent getting better cards and getting more money than I did in a particular tournament. Lots of players whine about their opponents getting all the luck; it's the lament of losers. Well, losers and jerks like Phil Hellmuth.

  • Andy_D||

    I strongly prefer to play it to the end, but sometime, we're just making other people wait, and it's either split now or have some other people leave without playing another game. We don't get much whining about bad luck... I think it's because whiners would be tormented, as they should be.

  • Tony||

    You fucking libertarians will never learn. Have fun ruining society with you asinine ideas.

  • Subsidize Me!||

    Have fun getting ritually bitch-slapped by the invisible hand while implementing your third way bullshit.

    I delight in the idea that I could be ruining the craptastic society your goons have forced on me.

  • ||

    Have fun getting ritually bitch-slapped by the invisible hand

    My own observation is that most liberals are in complete denial about the effect of economic incentives on people's behavior.

    A great deal of their response to libertarianism amounts to objecting to the notion that humans largely act according to their self-interest, no matter how much you want to believe otherwise.

    And that is why they get bitch-slapped by the invisible hand, over, and over, and over again.

  • Tony||

    To quote an economist I heard on NPR yesterday, people behave less like Spock and more like Homer Simpson in the marketplace.

    A sea of rational actors is one among many myths that inform libertarianism. It's like you have this burning need to make things simple, and then to believe that simple=true.

  • ||

    Did I say rational? I said self-interested.

    And there are lots of ways you can be irrationally self-interested. Some of them are only "irrational" according to a very limited definition of rationality.

    problem is that when you really get into it "rational" is a vague term.

  • Tim||

    I agree Hazel, the big problem here is that people start claiming that certain preferences are irrational; and that people who pursue preferences based upon imperfect information are behaving irrationally. Further people's stated preferences aren't always what they really prefer. As such I believe that most people do what is most rational to them to achieve certain preferences given what they know.

    Most relevant to liberals, I think that they confuse people who prefer to have more goods today at the expense of tomorrow along with ignorance for irrational behavior such that they can use it to subvert claims about the market.

    Which is ironic because that very ignorance is what makes ever more complicated and large government ever more dysfunctional, and because the decentralized nature of the market system when left to itself tends to dispose of failed experiments much faster than would happen if such experiments are enshrined at the government level. The libertarian point is that in a decentralized system irrationality and stupidity are much easier to avoid and correct for; and while sometimes government is needed most functions that the liberals want could easily be carried out by the states and indeed many municipalities as evidenced by their favorite "western democracies". Yet since they have a monopoly on genius and are morally and intellectually infallible they aren't content with conducting their experiments in Massachusetts and Vermont but have to impose them on everyone else.

    If Tony and Chad are reading, why can't public health plans be left to the states? This is perfectly compatible with the libertarian view of the commerce clause if the states actually decided to engage in honest redistribution rather than disguising it as "insurance regulation".

  • ||

    "Have fun ruining society with you asinine ideas."

    No, no, no--YOU have fun ruining society with YOU asinine ideas, honey! You have all the power--remember?

    Hugs and kisses, sweetheart!

  • MWG||

    "For such hapless childlike ignoramuses, why do we have all the power and you geniuses have none?"

    Wait. What?

  • Astropud||

    Have fun ruining society with you asinine ideas.

    I have to admit there are things Liberals are much more effective at.

  • Warty||

    Tony is chippy today. Is he pissed because he suffocated his hamster or something?

  • ||

    No, he's afraid people might start listening to libertarians for a change and booting statist Rs and Ds out of office.

    Well, OK, he's only worried about the statist Ds losing.

  • ||

    Here's the real question though: is he MORE afraid of the R's winning the D's positions, or of NEITHER of them having any of the positions?

    I suspect he'd prefer the R's to steal the next election, because he knows they'll screw it up and setup the D's for a win in the next cycle.

  • ||

    *the following cycle

  • Apogee||

    he'd prefer the R's to steal the next election

    because then he gets to work with paper mache again! It's so much easier when you don't have to carry water!

  • Marc||

    He just needs a juice box and a nap.

  • Wesley||

    His favorite family broke up.

  • Subsidize Me!||

    The claws can really mess up ones innards if not properly trimmed.

  • A is Awesome||

    Wow Tony is hilariously retarded, but he sure knows how to get everyone riled up. It's cute.

    Is he some "know-it-all" liberal Communications major or the most convincing troll ever?

  • Tony||

    Is he some...Communications major

    Ok now I'm offended.

  • A is Awesome||

    Sweet.

  • ||

    Of course, no where is it shown that "liberals" favor equal rewards - typically the argument is for a floor, without restrictions on the ceiling. Typically.

    Barack Obama: "I mean, I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money."

    Maximum progressive marginal federal income tax rate under FDR: 94%

    historical table here

  • ||

  • Neu Mejican||

    So how is pointing to an atypically high tax rate an example of the "typical" argument?

    There are, of course, those who believe the extreme version of every philosophy, but the typical person does not.

  • ||

    " Oddly, the study does not reveal how “libertarians” played the dictator game, though the overall average 45/55 percent split does not seem to have been greatly affected by their play."

    Yeah, just like libertarian voting! No effect whatsoever.

  • ||

    You say that likes its a bad thing.

  • Rob||

    Interesting article, but I wonder how wide an audience it will get among liberals who are equated mentally to 10-year olds. Insulting the opposition may not be optimum for getting the message out. Maybe it doesn't matter.

  • ||

    The truth can hurt? Honestly, I think mankind is doomed because there's NO way to teach the "Stop Coveting Your Neighbors Shit" to the acolytes of that faith.

  • ||

    Insulting the opposition seems to be working for the main stream media.

  • His RedNeck Lover||

    That's good, real good how you get 'er done, Tony. Now squeeze mah ballz hard. Squeez'em tight! Make me scream out winning lotto numbers!

  • Gilbert Martin||

    And then there is the morality that says the Constitution was written to constrain the federal government to specifically enummerated powers. Redistributing wealth for allegedly egalitarian purposes wasn't included in the set of them.

    It is flat out immoral to claim the Constitution is a "living documument" as a means to pretend that the case is otherwise.

  • ||

    Dippy, simplistic and cocksure enough to earn Bailey at shot at replacing Ross Douthat at the NYTimes.

    So long, "Reason." I used to learn useful things from you.

  • alan||

    So, you are taking your marbles and going home to prove Bailey wrong?

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    DRRRRRRINNNNNNK

  • alan||

    For that one, I brought out my good port!

  • Chad||

    Leave it to a libertarian to believe that uselessly clicking buttons on a screen demonstrates "earning" anything, but anyway...

    It doesn't surprise me at all that as children get older, they tend to reward "merit" more. Liberals damned well do understand this. The problem is that libertarians get stuck in freshman econ while totally skipping sociology, and never seem to grasp that the distribution of money spawned by our very-not-free markets has only passing resemblance to anything approximating merit.

  • ||

    "[L]ibertarians get stuck in freshman econ while totally skipping sociology, and never seem to grasp that the distribution of money spawned by our very-not-free markets has only passing resemblance to anything approximating merit."

    Now here, I dare say Chad might be on to something. But notice that left-liberal knee-jerk reactionaries have no such concern about markets not being free, they just go right for the Giant Government Sledgehammer as if that's actually a good solution to not-so-very-free markets.

    Hey, if they wanna join us in making markets freer, I'd be the first to give them big wet sloppy kisses, but it seems pretty obvious to me that they think property rights and free markets are evil.

  • ||

    but it seems pretty obvious to me that they think property rights and free markets are evil.

    BECAUSE IGNORING THOSE RIGHTS LEAD TO WHERE WE ARE NOW. That's WHY we have to abandon them. Burn a village to save it, like Saint Hillary said!

  • AA||

    Agreed G for the G.

  • AA||

    And it seems to me that it is us Libertarians saying that our markets aren't very free. Although I think we may be defing "free" differently...

  • Chad||

    They will never be "free" under your conception of the term. You may as well get over it.

    But more importantly, even if they were "free" as you wish them to be, they would still underperform, because all sorts of market failures would remain. So would massive inequalities that would have nothing to do with merit.

  • Subsidize Me!||

    The "performance" of the market is irrelevant. So long as commodities are exchanged freely, the market is performing properly.

    We're not referring to the S&P 500 when we talk about the market, Chad.

  • ||

    Disagree. I think the performance would likely be close to optimal. Partly because people are often irrational in ways that lead to better overall outcomes (i.e. spontaneous cooperation when PD would predict defection), but also because none of the government administered solutions proposed are likely to do anything to rectify suboptimal performance. Invariably, the political process becomes just another set of players, who are as subject to incentives and as irrational as everyone else. Only with guns.

  • Random Dude||

    "But more importantly, even if they were "free" as you wish them to be, they would still underperform, because all sorts of market failures would remain."

    Market failures, specifically continuous and decentralized failures, are the reason for widespread success in America. Failure is the most effective form of education.

    When you centralize failures through socialism, bailouts, and centralized banking, the failures occur less often but are radically more destructive.

    Once again, your post goes to the liberal utopian mindset that failure can be avoided. Libertarians understand both that failure is a necessary component of life and that economic centralization increases structural risk. By decentralizing risk through an actual free market, those institutions which are legitimately successful prevail, and those which are failures do not take down the entirety of society.

  • Tony||

    Failure is the most effective form of education.

    Yeah, it teaches us how to avoid failure the next time. You want to enshrine failure as a good thing. Damn those it leaves in misery--we're better off for the repeated education we've received.

  • Random Dude||

    "You want to enshrine failure as a good thing."

    Because small, repeated failure is a good thing.

    Tony, would you prefer lots of small, recoverable failures or a few catastrophic ones? Oh wait, I forgot. In your magic fucking society everyone is so enlightened and there are no failures because the State is the bastion of all that is good and pure in the world and it won't let it happen.

    The State centralizes decision-making in a homogeneous culture. When the State fails in its monopolistic decision-making, it causes havoc on the society attached to it.

    See: Soviet Union, or the coming collapse of the cartelized American investment banking system in 2011-2012.

  • Tim||

    Markets do not have to be perfectly competitive to work, and most market failures cause less disruption than government solutions; especially given the arguments behind public choice economics. If you remember your "freshman" econ you would know that government is only one solution to market failure, and the costs of its solution must be weighed against the cost of doing nothing.

    Yes the concept of static efficiency will never be perfectly obtained, but the advantage of markets really lies in their ability to more rapidly correct errors than governments. Businesses tend to go under when they fail unlike government departments.

    There are also many areas where government could easily get out of the way, like licensing for things like barbers and manicurists and taxi drivers which have nothing to do with public safety or product quality. Things like school choice which I think I remember you being for, so maybe if more liberals started getting rid of such barriers then more libertarians might sign on with a limited social safety net that many consequentialist libertarians support as did Friedman and Hayek. Of course liberals have a very different concept of "limited"; doling out benefits to many folks that are not poor either out of a false concept of poverty or as the political necessity created by the very poor incentives they invoke with regards to markets existing in their favorite service, government.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Yeah Chad, Libertarians never seem to grasp the virtues of being charitible with other peoples' money. Of forcing others to pay the price for the luxury of your pity.

    What you authoritarians never seem to understand is that it is of no consequence at all whether you or a panel of politicians feel like someone has earned his/her money through merit or not, it only matters whether the transactions that made him/her rich were voluntary.

  • ||

    Because having the government in charge of wealth distribution will bring us all closer to a meritocracy.

    Tell me, Chad, what agency should I go to to apply for my merit badges?

  • Chad||

    Hazel, I would propose that a blind monkey throwing darts at a dart-board would come up with a income distribution little different than the one we have now.

  • ||

    Ho ho, but since you claim "the distribution of money spawned by our very-not-free markets has only passing resemblance to anything approximating merit," you seem to be implying that there exists some other system where the distribution of money is based on merit. What system is that? Does it exist in the real world, or just in theory?

  • AA||

    It seems he is implying that a true free market would distribute money based off of merit. We need his definition of free market.

  • Chad||

    No, actually it wouldn't, not that a free market actually has or could exist anywhere anyway.

    Even if you did manage to implement one, it would still be riddled with market failures, and absurdly high levels of inequality, where the children of the mega-rich would hold all the cards and win, merit be damned. And of course, is being naturally healthier/taller/more beautiful/smarter than someone else a measure of "merit"? And even if you could magically erase all these things, you would still be left with plain old dumb luck, which by definition would always remain.

    Actually, I think the entire point of Ron's article is that the difference between liberals and libertarians is that the latter are blind to the effects of luck. That Ron somehow attempts to twist this to make liberals look bad is just beyond me.

  • AA||

    Market failures could also be considered market corrections. Inequality is also subjective like "merit" and "value" that we agreed on above. In order for us to eradicate "inequality" we would have to come up with a uniform definition.

    "And of course, is being naturally healthier/taller/more beautiful/smarter than someone else a measure of "merit"?"

    Of course not. But based on my personal experience, real merits like honesty, hard work, creativity and loyalty have gotten the people I've interacted with way farther in life than physical features or inherited wealth. And I do think a big reason the rich stay on top is because they are cozy with those in power, as I'm sure you agree with. I don't think the wealth dispaity would be what it is, and people would get the general requiremnets of existence in a more libertarian society. I'm sure we would all voluntaraly help each other out without having to filter our help through the government.

  • Chad||

    It's always interesting to see libertarians arguing if we can't measure something perfectly, we shouldn't account for it at all, as if estimating the problem and using our best guess is somehow a worse plan that sticking our heads in the sand and KNOWING that our answer is wildly wrong.

  • Tim||

    The imperfection in measuring it combined with the ability of those who measure it to reap rewards dependent upon how they measure it leads to a situation that is often worse than tolerating the inequality. How is that sticking one's head in the sand?

  • Apogee||

    Chad - libertarians. . . are blind to the effects of luck.

    No they're not. They just don't fall for the idiotic idea that it can be adjusted by some collection of 'the right people'. The very idea of 'corrections' is in itself a fallacy.

    Example: Ennis Cosby.

    Black in America = - 4
    Son of Bill Cosby = + 7
    Dyslexic = - 4
    College Student = + 3
    Murdered by a racist in West LA = - 400.

    Was he lucky?
    As a libertarian, there's one thing I'm sure of, and it's that I have no idea how to judge Ennis Cosby's 'luck'.

    Would you be a billionaire with MS? How about an unintelligent super-model? A short lived rock star? A rock star who lives long enough to become irrelevant? A centenarian janitor? A Marine who saves his platoon but dies in the process?

    Only people that believe your philosophy, Chad, think that they can calculate some equation that will 'correct' these vague things - things that hold different importance to different people.

    Strangely enough, it almost always involves the confiscation of other people's money.

    This article is entirely correct. The Chads and Tonys of the world know that it's not fair, they're just not smart enough or mature enough to realize that they don't have any solution that will make it fair.

    But in reality, it isn't about others. It's about pretending to 'solve' these inequalities (regardless of the true outcome) in order to assuage their guilt and combat their helpless feelings.

  • Neu Mejican||

    This article is entirely correct. The Chads and Tonys of the world know that it's not fair, they're just not smart enough or mature enough to realize that they don't have any solution that will make it fair.

    This comment shows a complete lack of understanding of the research being discussed. If we take the researcher's "libertarians" as a model for real libertarianism (we shouldn't, nor should we take the strict egalitarian 5th graders as a model for liberals, but just for fun...), the libertarians are using the most immature strategy (my guess is that the percentage would increase as you went younger than 5th grade) as they are using an egocentric model which says - I'm the dictator, I decide. Luck and merit don't matter. The outcome is a perfect proxy for fairness. Whatever I decide (i.e., what ever happens) is the best possible, most fair outcome.

    The research, of course, isn't about liberals and libertarians...it is about kids. The research says that as kids mature and develop a more sophisticated ability to understand the world, they move away from a world view that is blind to both luck and merit. Except for a stable percentage of strictly selfish dictators that they label "libertarians."

  • Apogee||

    the libertarians are using the most immature strategy (my guess is that the percentage would increase as you went younger than 5th grade) as they are using an egocentric model which says - I'm the dictator, I decide. Luck and merit don't matter. The outcome is a perfect proxy for fairness. Whatever I decide (i.e., what ever happens) is the best possible, most fair outcome.

    This comment shows a lack of reading comprehension. The article specifically states "Oddly, the study does not reveal how “libertarians” played the dictator game, though the overall average 45/55 percent split does not seem to have been greatly affected by their play."

    NM then goes on a projection spree in an attempt to link the term "dictator" and libertarian. Of course everyone can name the infamous libertarian dictators from the 20th century, right?

    This projection is illustrated in the confused attempt at expounding libertarian ideals - "I'm the dictator, I decide. Luck and merit don't matter."

    Dictators don't believe that luck and merit don't matter - they decide not only that they do, but they also assume they are capable of evaluating both the degree of each and the 'solution' for their removal.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Apogee.

    Sorry, but you need to read the research article. The "libertarians" in the study are defined as described as those for whom "all inequalities are justified." Given the design of the study the inequalities are decided by the dictator...and the dictator in the study is classified as using either merit, egalitarian, or libertarian strategies. The egalitarians give equal to both parties no matter what effort/merit and the libertarians give to selfishly to themselves regardless of the effort/merit. The numbers of those "selfish" dictators stays constant across the ages.

  • Apogee||

    Since it's behind a subscription wall, why don't you instead talk about Bailey's article - which is what the comments section is discussing.

    It's interesting that your conclusion - that 'libertarians are using the most immature strategy...Whatever I decide (i.e., what ever happens) is the best possible, most fair outcome' is, in itself, a completely circular assumption.

    Could you explain how any of the 'dictators' did not follow that specific line of reasoning? Did the 'egalitarian' dictator not simply decide, but just in a way that you approve?

    Again, this seems like an exercise in promoting the false ideal that 'libertarians' are "selfish".

    Please answer the questions I posed before:

    1) Where are the great libertarian dictators?

    2) How does the realization that you cannot control luck, and therefore are not capable of correcting for it, render one 'selfish'?

    It should be pretty simple.

  • Neu Mejican||

    apogee,
    Sorry you don't have the ability to read the research article...but if you read my comments on this thread you will see that the main problem I have with RB's article is that he attempts to take a study about kids and draws an improper assumption that it somehow informs discussions about political thought. He inappropriately equates the "strict egalitarianism" of the 5th graders in the study with "socialism" and then points to the fact that more mature kids use a meritocracy strategy that rewards effort. However, he seems to ignore the part of the paper that talks about kids labeled alternately "selfish" and "libertarian." These kids are the opposite of the strictly egalitarian children. Their strategy is not well described, but the implication is that it is the opposite of the "egalitarians" who always split the pot equally. The parallel...still inappropriate,but parallel...line from these kids is to "libertarianism."

    RB's premise is that "socialists" are immature because they think like the 5th graders and ignore effort. But in the same study the "libertarians" also ignore effort and, indeed, any concept of fairness at all and behave selfishly. Following from the premise of RB's argument, their strategy, which also ignores the cognitive complexity required of the merit-based reward strategy is an immature strategy.

    SO, what does the have to do with your questions? Well..."libertarian dictator" is a reference to kids in the study...it has nothing to do with historical political figures. As for the question of luck...it is tangential... the libertarians in the study COULD correct for luck...only the "libertarians" who acted selfishly decided not to. In the confines of the experiment, they used the least information...the most cognitively immature...strategy.

  • Apogee||

    I'll agree with you that it's problematic to 'extrapolate' studies like this to the 'real world'.

    With that in mind, I would assert that the study itself is flawed, in that the very existence of a libertarian 'dictator' is an oxymoron.

    However, I understand RB's point.

    I consider myself a libertarian, and I do value effort. I do not believe, however, that it is proper (or even possible) to force by coercion my valuation of other people's effort onto others in society to the extent that I can guarantee a fair outcome.

    This is not to say that I will not support, by my own volition, others who I see as valuable and worthy.

    But forcing others in society to bend to my will for the purposes of 'fairness' is not (IMO) possible or effective, because every 'correction' produces multiple and unknowable effects, which then influence the outcome - an outcome that I must then pretend is in alignment with my stated 'goal'.

    For example, to enact some of these 'corrections', it has sometimes in the past been necessary to break contracts, ruin lives and even kill.

    After such actions, it has always been explained that those 'standing in the way' were 'selfish', and therefore had to be 'dealt with' in order to procure the 'right result'.

    The entire purpose of 'correcting' for 'fairness' is an exercise in narcissistic image building in service of scamming power and money. This is demonstrated by the repeated need for the minimization of failures and the hyping of unmeasurable successes.

    History has taught this lesson, again and again, and I view those who fail to grasp such a lesson with extreme distrust.

    Because it's pretty obvious at this point that it's not about 'fair'.

  • ||

    And of course, is being naturally healthier/taller/more beautiful/smarter than someone else a measure of "merit"?

    I thought we agreed that merit is subjective.
    It's my own damn business if I rate beautiful, smart, healthy people more highly and choose to reward them in my personal choices more.

    Fact of reality. Attractive salespeople make more sales. Should a store implement an equal employment policy for ugly people, even though it will hurt their bottom line?

    If you stick to your philosophy, you have to say yes.

  • Tony||

    Hazel,

    Exceptions are made to antidiscrimination laws if a reasonable case can be made that a certain "type" of person can better perform the job.

    I think it's reasonable to put the burden of proof on the employer, but I don't have a problem with this caveat.

  • ||

    So then you're okay with saying that beauty can "merit" higher pay for some jobs?

  • Tony||

    If your job is to be beautiful, say if you're a model. I think sales is a little iffy.

    That being said, you are admitting to one among many factors that can affect your success in life that is nothing but dumb luck. I'm not saying we should attempt to mitigate it all, just that we should admit it's the case and that we have a moral imperative to make life a little less darwinian for civilized people.

  • Apogee||

    I'm not saying we should attempt to mitigate it all and we have a moral imperative to make life a little less darwinian for civilized people.

    Thanks, bible-thumper, but why don't you just admit that if you have no real capability to fully comprehend the extent of the first part, then your attempts at the second part really have no 'moral' authority.

  • Chad||

    I have no problem with the pay being higher, precisely because I have no problem with the taxes being higher as well.

    While it is certainly possible that by transfering money from rich to poor that we could theoretically be transfering money from the unlucky to the lucky, 99 times out of 100, it will be the reverse.

  • SammyA||

    Why should an employer have to make a "reasonable case" at all? Isn't his hiring of that individual reason enough?

    And who decides if his case is "reasonable"? You?

  • Apogee||

    Harrison Bergeron.

  • Subsidize Me!||

    Is this how stimulus recipients are chosen, oh great central planning genius?

  • skr||

    so which is it? Do the rich prey upon the poor thus increasing the disparity between rich and poor or is it a completely random distribution based on the vagaries of luck? Would a random distribution have such obviously non-random results?

  • Edwin||

    a world that's as close to libertopia as is feasible would be extremely egalitarian. Note that the word feasible is key here - there are entire sections of the economy/law system that libertarians don't even talk about and don't even seem to have a position on - namely liability, and environmental regulation (or the equivalent thereof), and commons regulation (the things that absolutely can't be privatized - fisheries, for example), and health and safety regulation (or the equivalent thereof).

    Assuming those parts of the law were administered reasonably and fairly, a world as close to libertopia as possible would be very egalitarian. There would be few barriers to doing any business. Competition would be intense. It would be FUCKING INTENSE. Instead of there being a few firms each providing for a large chunk of their market like we have now with most industires, you'd have tons of firms providing small bites of their respective markets, with low prices. Far more people would have a far more direct, but smaller stakes of ownership in firms. Sure there'd be more factories in more cities - but people take NIMBYism too far as it is anyway. Sorry, your idea of "pretty" doesn't justify us all paying an arm and a leg for goods.

    Blkah - anyway, any schmuck, could, for example, get some buddies and build a small rental house, and quickly become a little capitalist. You don't need to be a genius, you just need to know the basics of good workmanship (and yes, there might still be a building code).

    Our hyper-centralized financial system would be completely alien to such a almost-libertopia. Suggesting that someone might invest in something 3,000 miles away that they'll never see would draw weird looks from people. Ditto for "buying mortgages". Money was already loaned to a dude to buy a house - why the hell would anyone complicate that by selling it? The loan is how you make the money, why would the bank sell it? It just doesn't make sense, other than for a really nice, big house and a dependable, wealthy house-buyer. For reference, see the 80's. Or better yet even way earlier than that.

    Everything in general would be a lot smaller, more direct, and more local. And highly competitive.

  • ||

    there are entire sections of the economy/law system that libertarians don't even talk about and don't even seem to have a position on - namely liability

    Reading ability fail.

    Does Edwin just listen to himself talk or something?

  • Edwin||

    yo what's your fucking problem?

    And I have NOT seen much mentioned about how liability would work in a libertarian world in libertarian writings. It isn't brought up a lot.

  • Apogee||

    That's because you can't read, fuckstick.

    Idiots like you are the fucking problem.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Pretending someone can't comprehend Pretending that others fail in their comprehension only works if you demonstrate it.

    Simply raising the question means nothing.

    ;^)

  • Chad||

    Thanks for adopting my term "libertopia".

    I never saw it used before by anyone but me (around here, at least).

    You know an ideology has jumped the shark when it starts babbling about the uptopia its followers would live in if only they could just get all their policies implemented.

  • ||

    I believe the pirate republic in the movie "Against All Flags" (1952) was called "Libertopia."

  • ||

    "You know an ideology has jumped the shark when it starts babbling about the uptopia its followers would live in if only they could just get all their policies implemented."

    Sounds to me like a perfect example of what we are now experiencing with the Blue Crested Progressive Parrots in office today.

  • Edwin||

    If you were paying attention you'd have noticed that my description was distinctly UNutopian. It'd be like America, but hard to get rich - the richest anybody'd get is what we would compare with our upper-middle class.

    You know what's utopian? Expecting the government to run the healthcare industry, and the banking industry - and when you get right down to it almost the entire economy. There is very little that I haven't heard liberals advocate the government get involved in.

  • Random Dude||

    "The problem is that libertarians get stuck in freshman econ while totally skipping sociology, and never seem to grasp that the distribution of money spawned by our very-not-free markets has only passing resemblance to anything approximating merit."

    I'm going to invoke Random Dude's Law here and say that those who invoke "even a cursory knowledge of freshman economics" actually only have a cursory knowledge of freshman economics.

    Monetarist theory is fundamentally designed to increase the money supply in proportion to the existing supply of money. The differential equation governing money that represents my previous sentence, as well as the ultimate wealth distribution that results from the MV=PQ equation, guarantees that the rich get richer based upon ever-escalating levels credit.

    That is not a meritocracy--it is based upon State imposed control--and it would not exist if we had a free market in money instead of the centralized, legally-imposed Federal Reserve.

  • ||

    C'mon guys, read the thread before posting your "Leave it to a libertarian", "For a Magazine named 'Reason'", and other comments that have probably already been posted by someone as lame, but more eloquent than you.

  • Joe_D||

    This is absurd!! It's obviously true that Republicans had judgmental fathers and therefore have no sympathy for people when they fail, and wish to punish any 'abnormal' behavior. It's also obviously true that liberals had absent fathers and overbearing mothers, causing them to be overly sympathetic to the weak and left with an instinct to 'nurture' and ‘unconditionally love’ (i.e., infantilize) the general populace. And don't get me started on the "Greens".

    But trying to pigeon-hole Libertarians (like me!) into any kind of pseudo-scientific are-chair psychiatry is dead wrong. Libertarians are too complex, multi-faceted, and intelligent for anyone to understand or generalize about.

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    Now that's satire.

  • Joe_D||

    Thanks, I try.

    Fun times, characterizing liberals with the classic "gay-making" parents.

  • Alice Bowie||

    I use 2 think I was libertarian because I believed in the Rule of Law, Free Markets, and REASONable government regulations.

    However, I'm way too too progressive in the sense that I would rather
    a> pay higher taxes
    than
    b> give up liberties
    if the choice were either a or b.

    ***NOTE: Today, the choice is pretty much a or b.

  • Alice Bowie||

    ...and don't give me that charity shit either. When I say pay more taxes I mean all of us contribute for the following:

    --------------------------------------
    1. Public Healthcare for all
    --------------------------------------
    I mean SOCIALIZED medicine where the government owns the property, employees the entire staff (doctors, nurses, etc.) and runs non-profit. A MAYO CLINIC look-a-like.

    Everyone on Medicare/Medicaid and public assistance would have to go to these clinics. I would NOT PAY PRIVATE DOCTORS outside of my clinics via Medicare/Medicaid. I'd leave that to the free market. People who can afford it can go to private doctors/clinics can pay cash or insurance.

    --------------------------------------
    2. modest pension for all
    --------------------------------------
    Anyone of a certain age (why not 65) or anyone disabled that has an income less than two times the median income would be eligible to a pension no higher/lower than 80% of the median income.

  • Apogee||

    No. A) leads to B)

  • ||

    Actually, today there is no choice. We both pay higher taxes AND have fewer liberties. Here's an example: how much of your taxes go towards the current Prohibition, the so-called "War on Drugs"? Dealing with the costs of rehab for addicts will be considerably less costly, in the long run, than the continuing totally ineffective interdiction policy which includes policing, court costs and incarceration (for possession of a naturally growing weed).

    Before you give me grief about our drug problem and youth, for the sake of argument replace "drugs" with "alcohol". Yes we incur costs because of alcohol abuse, and we have young adults drinking, but overall the costs to society are less under the current alcohol statutes than they were during Prohibition.

  • ||

    Norwegian child reasoning = American adult reasoning
    Really?

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    Oh shit. Then Norwegian adult reasoning = ?????

  • alan||

    Alice Bowie|6.1.10 @ 7:22PM|#

    I use 2 think I was libertarian because I believed in the Rule of Law, Free Markets, and REASONable government regulations.

    However, I'm way too too progressive in the sense that I would rather
    a> pay higher taxes
    than
    b> give up liberties
    if the choice were either a or b.

    ***NOTE: Today, the choice is pretty much a or b.

    I'd rather not make my neighbor's life a more difficult burden than it already is by raising his taxes. He makes more than I do, at least on a consistent basis, but he has kids, I don't. Empowering an out of control public sector to offer subsidies to offset his high taxes is not a feasible solution as invariable those on the inside take the largest chunk of the skim, jack up the price of alternative means so they are the only game in town, and leave the rest of us with a huge debt burden. It is a mugs game, and I'm not interested in playing along to make some children who have dreamed up excuses to why I am indebted to them happy.

  • ||

    The problem with tweaking the rules of the game to favor the unlucky is this:

    Once you start tweaking the rules, you need some measure of weather you've tweaked them enough. And what is that measure? Outcomes, obviously.

    The only way to tell if you've provided enough free student loan money, pre-natal care, preschooling, and public education, is to assess *after the fact* whether economic success is still dependent on economic class status at birth. And if it is, they you obviously keep tweaking until it isn't.

    Not only does this *effectively* mean that you are fixing outcomes, rather than opportunity, but it opens the system up for an infinite variety of abuses, as the state institutes special programs for this or that disadvantaged group - Native Americans, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders, you name it, whatever. There are niche programs targeted to helping dozens of different interest groups, no doubt with their own lobbying associations. And frankly, there is no evidence of ANY sort of assessment as to whether these things all come out "equitable". The reality is that it's pretty much a matter of which congressman is on which committee and who has the most influence with him.

    The fact is that we really have no idea what sort of outcomes to expect from a truly equal playing field. Would everyone come out equal? Highly unlikely. But there's no measure of "opportunity" that we can use to assess whether everyone opportunities are equal, and our current system certainly doesn't even approximate that with it's gazillion tweaks.

    The fairest thing to do is to stop tweaking the system and set equal rules and let the chips fall where they may. It's also a lot less expensive, and a lot less contentious. Instead of having every fucking identity group fighting over scraps from the government table.

  • AA||

    "Not only does this *effectively* mean that you are fixing outcomes, rather than opportunity, but it opens the system up for an infinite variety of abuses, as the state institutes special programs for this or that disadvantaged group - Native Americans, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders, you name it, whatever. There are niche programs targeted to helping dozens of different interest groups, no doubt with their own lobbying associations. And frankly, there is no evidence of ANY sort of assessment as to whether these things all come out "equitable". The reality is that it's pretty much a matter of which congressman is on which committee and who has the most influence with him."

    Seems this just encourages people to look at race and other ways of categorizing people. I've allways found it funny the way left leaning people have all these nifty categories everyone. Which you would inevitably have to do when you try to ensure certain outcomes. So much for treating everone equaly.

  • Apogee||

    Instead of having every fucking identity group fighting over scraps from the government table.

    But Hazel, then where would the government bureaucrats and politicians get their power? Without power, you know, there's no raises!

  • ||

    Apogee, don't you know that today's bureaucrats are the equivilent of the 1960's "Welfare Mother"? Their sole purpose is to breed in order to increase their income.

  • Apogee||

    Agreed, with the caveat that the endless tweaking between inputs and outputs becomes a lifelong career for many otherwise unemployable folks.

    Not to mention the incredible opportunity for fraud, as each 'tweak' gives the bureaucrats power over the tweaked.

  • Neu Mejican||

    The only way to tell if you've provided enough free student loan money, pre-natal care, preschooling, and public education, is to assess *after the fact* whether economic success is still dependent on economic class status at birth. And if it is, they you obviously keep tweaking until it isn't.

    But, of course, relative improvements are the goal, not perfect solutions. And, of course, research into the effect of many of these programs shows relative improvements, not perfect outcomes. These programs are aimed at reducing the inequities as much as possible TAKING INTO ACCOUNT the negative consequences and minimizing them. The tweaking is all about getting the balance right taking everything your worry about into account...perfect balance will never be reached, of course. No serious person claims that it will. But improved outcomes can be both achieved and measured...as history has shown us.

  • ||

    So you continue tweaking and improving the outcomes .... (note that you just said "improved OUTCOMES" in your own words) until what?

    Until perfect equality is achieved? Until all ethnic disparities are eliminated? Until men and women are exactly 50/50 in every field?

    You know as well as I do that there isn't some sort of uniform assessment as to what counts as an acceptable outcome. You know as well as i do, that each and every little niche group fighting for more tweaks for their side isn't EVER going to cease when they get to some sort of "equality" measure.

    Every single one of them will keep on fighting for more special programs to help their own little slices of society, however defined.

    And hence, in practice, your program is nothing but a constant war to use political influence to get special advantages for your group.

    In practice, it has nothing to do with equality. It just degenerates into factionalism. More advantages for my people, fewer for yours.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Hazel,
    You are over analyzing. Outcomes of a program are measured in terms of their state goal. If the goal is to increase equality of access - the the outcome measure is degree of equality of access. Not, necessarily, mean income of group x, or whatever.

    As for the tribalism you think comes from the process I am describing...that behavior is part of human nature and will occur no matter how you set up the rules to some extent.

    The libertarian insight that you need to limit the power of the state to limit the damage that power can do is an important factor to consider in any policy discussion. But as a pure doctrine, it is unworkable as any other. Societies choose between imperfect solutions and, historically, human civilization has incrementally moved toward more liberty and more equity and I see no reason to believe that the continual tweaking that you complain about will not continue to move us, overall, in a positive direction.

  • Apogee||

    Societies choose between imperfect solutions and, historically, human civilization has incrementally moved toward more liberty and more equity

    And they're finding out that imperfect solution of less government intervention is far preferable to increased regulation and micromanaging. Even Russia and China learned that lesson during the 20th century.

    Why can't you?

    Oh, and the tweaking will never be done, because there will always be a need for government jobs, not because the tweaking helps correct anything.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Apogee

    WTF are you talking about?
    Did you read what I wrote?

  • Apogee||

    Pretending that others fail in their comprehension only works if you demonstrate it.

    Simply raising the question means nothing.

  • Neu Mejican||

    I did not pretend you did not comprehend me...I stated that I did not comprehend you.

    The second line is known as an indirect request.

    Next time I will use a direct request. In this case it would be: Read what I wrote before you comment.

  • alan||

    Ms. Hazel,

    I article I think you will find to your edification . . .

    Spain's Drop Out Generation

    http://mises.org/daily/4430

    Hmmm, long term public policy of subsidy does have negative consequences.

    Who would have assumed that? A mature person, or an immature one?

  • ||

    I like how Chad whines about libertarians being wrong when the "free market" doesn't create what are in his opinion perfect outcomes. He seems to think that the goal of libertarianism is to make everyone rich and get rid of all inequality. No one here wants utopian society ala Chad, we just want a free society.

  • Tony||

    You want to cement the inequalities in nature as much as possible, even against the will of the people--for their own good. We get it.

  • Apogee||

    ...against the will of the people--for their own good.

    =The leftist platform in a nutshell.

  • SammyA||

    Brilliant.

  • ||

    Bullshit, libertarianism doesn't cement inequalities. It merely hands the responsibility of progress to each individual. Inequalities aren't against the will of the people if the people create those inequalities themselves.

  • Apogee||

    I'd say it's the government bailing out failed institutions that more closely resembles 'cementing inequalities'.

  • SIV||

    libertarians react like liberals

    I wonder how they were defining "libertarian"? Self-defined? I took those quizzes. I must be an outlier.

  • jls||

    Why for conservatives spend so much time trying to convince themselves that liberals are stupid? Complex, anyone?

  • SIV||

    Why for conservatives spend so much time trying to convince themselves that liberals are stupid? Complex, anyone?

    You can stop supplying supporting evidence now.

    I was convinced in no time.
    liberals = stupid
    conservatives = evil

  • Edwin||

    Hey Tony, if healthcare is so important, how about we exempt hospitals and medical structures from zoning laws - only require they provide the necessary parking (and any traffic-related land improvements necessary).

    How about that? If that came up on your city's ballot, how would you vote?

  • Edwin||

    *That is, to make it that much easier and cheaper for businesses to open up hospitals and medical buildings

  • ||

    Yeah..what this proves is the purity of a childs heart & then later how it is marred by the desire to grow Vis; a vis; fighting W/parents & supported by their friends.to become something entirely different...part good sense & part not..the oldest parent/child story...how the kids are taught to think on their own is the crux of it though...STORY TWISTERS....

  • ||

    It is my experience that most persons pass through the " NO " phase about age two years. There are also those who never completely mature through that phase and continue to say NO to that which displeases them, including recognizing their failures and learning from them. The absence of experiential knowledge is a severely crippling condition that blocks full maturity.

  • ||

    Essentially, humans are apes who never grow up. Neoteny is also common among our domesticated animals.

    Now what? This is a result of long evolutionary process and won't go away any time soon. Learn to live with that.

  • π||

    Compassion could be loosely defined as
    the ability to recognize the suffering of others coupled with the desire
    to relieve that suffering.

    This type of compassion is a central theme in Christianity. Each denomination approaches it differently with some reserving it for their own congregation, others spread it around the world, with some it's almost universal, more than a few exclude various other denominations, like Ireland's Catholics and Protestants, or individuals, such as drug users, whores, and homosexuals. Generally speaking efforts to relieve suffering are financed by passing the plate among themselves, the work part is performed by volunteers from among themselves.

    The progressive statists will require formulation of a new definition for compassion just as they did for the word liberal. Perhaps they should be called contraries would be a more fitting name for them than even statist/progressive since every line and word associated with or used by them far more often than not means the opposite of it's accepted or implied meaning.

    Compassionate? Egalitarian? "less concerned about group loyalty, obedience to authority" ...say what?

    The statists often referred to as "liberals" are about as purist and group loyal as is humanly possible when it comes to preferences involving governance.They love authority, they worship authority, it just must come from their own totalitarian master-planners.

    And egalitarian? I'm egalitarian, I absolutely believe no deserves preference or special immunity or treatment of any kind and it should never matter who you are. Shall we have rules? Or shall we have no rules? Either way is fine with me. Without rules we are equal. And without rules our lives of course are uniformly very short and very violent. Someone will always see the best means of improving that situation it to rule it. So no rules can not last, anarchy is a myth and an impossibility, you know, like utopia.

    Obviously H. sapiens needs a few basic rules prohibiting murder, assault, and property. If those rules aren't equally applied to all egalitarianism is not present.

    The classical liberal was egalitarian, today's "liberal" is completely anti-egalitarian favoring a system of rules granting elevated privileges and enhanced punishments, the fact that their authoritarian master-planning is formulated from their racist and sexist views doesn't excuse them, it only further condemns them further.

    But the compassion one is by far the most ludicrous. An act of compassion is working, getting paid, using that pay to buy two shirts, seeing someone without a shirt wishing like hell they had a shirt, and saying here have a shirt. Seeing the same person without a shirt and saying "I feel your pain" getting angry, seeing a shirt store with lots of shirts, then inventing an issue called social shirt justice, then installing another who happens to be a moral retard and would just love a position of authority to exploit into a position of authority and having him steal half the shirts then giving the shirts away isn't compassion, far from it. It's still theft, it's just theft that's been made even more despicable and disgraceful..

    My friends back home gave me a lot of crap for carrying a little coin in one pocket when I'd walk at night, it was for my neighborhood winos and assorted panhandlers, supposedly if people like me didn't do that they'd not panhandle. Maybe so, they'd break in to our homes instead. But that's not why I would do it, I did it because they asked instead of sticking a gun or knife in my face, which also happened in most of the neighborhoods I lived in. But you know what, those people weren't part of our neighborhood, they come from theirs to do it then go back. The ones who ask were usually regulars, and they get mugged more often than I ever did. If one of my neighbors has decided he wants to live on the street like me giving him a couple bucks to buy a 40ozer it's his choice, no coercion involved, maybe he's content with it, likes it, and all that's missing is a crack rock or bottle ripple now and again. I don't have to do it myself to understand that. It's my money, it's my choice, and I'm hardly the compassionate type.

    It just kills me anytime someone is being sincere and associates "liberals" with compassion. What I see is a lot of people with very serious issues involving immaturity, self worth, adjustment, getting along with others, accepting personal responsibility, and on. and on. Pretty much everyone must resolve issues as such at some point in their life, and many do before their mid-late teens. Just barely a century those who hadn't by then stood little chance of surviving to die of old age.

    The reason I'm not the compassionate type is because compassion is self serving far more often than not. True compassion is extremely rare and even then it can be very damaging. When parents love a child and that child is having some real maturation problems they hate seeing their child suffer and trying to help just makes it even worse now the kid is angry, so out of love they just back off. Well, that parents love is no more love than a liberal compassion is compassion. Love for another is honestly caring about another. When someone cares more about losing the love another has for them than taking the risk to help that person avoid a seriously screwed up life they care only about themselves. Selfish? Yes. Rooted in greed? No. You know what they about having to love yourself first. Big mistake to think substituting another's love in it's place will fix the problem. When the other is your own child, the reason you did all those things you wouldn't have done for yourself, congratulations, the cell division is complete now you have a nice fucked up copy of yourself. We're animals, if we somehow fail to develop the self preservation part of the program, the part that carried our lines on for millions of generations to now, the chain has been broken.

    We humans like to think we're pretty clever, much separated and above the rest of the animal kingdom. We're not that separated, look past our highly developed communication abilities and all the other skills, and not much is changed,our offspring still learn by watching , copying, mimicking. Today these fucked up specimens around the world have found countless ways to fill the voids, and one of them is raising all the children by the state. Parents who love their children give them all the tools they can and allow them to begin taking on risk at an age far younger than 18. If a child isn't allowed until then it's about the equivalent of a domesticated animal, cats and dogs may become ferals, most animals perish without the socialistic style care. With humans the missing parts lead do lives of dependence on other's to fill all their needs. Doesn't take a rocket scientist to see what kind of end this one will have.

    And people wonder how communist socialists could murder over a hundred million and the vast majority were their own people. Just a teaser, a small preview of things to come. The fact that so called liberals are completely unfazed by that says one hell of a lot. Want to see the real action hang around and catch the main feature.

  • zoltan||

    tl; dr

  • π||

    Crap, sorry that was so long, didn't realize it was until after I hit submit or I would have done some serious word count reduction.

  • Jen||

    I actually read it. I feel like you owe me a dollar for that. Had some good points, but yeah....

  • ||

    " He argues that there are five dimensions along which people make moral choices, e.g., fairness, harm, loyalty, authority, and spiritual purity. Haidt finds that liberals focus chiefly on the first two dimensions, whereas conservatives deploy all five dimensions in their ethical reasoning."

    I don't buy this in regards to liberals, and thus the premise seems flawed. If they only focused on fairness and harm, they might be much more laudible even if not pragmatic.

    I think whereas liberals might not have strong "spiritual purity" concerns, liberals seem to have exchanged it for VERY STRONG "ideological purity".

    Thus things like political correctness and the pursuit of policies which have proven failures time and again dominate what they do and how they think. They are not really results orientated as being supposedly fixated on fairness and harm suggests.

    I think what at first blush looks insightful actually has some major gaps in logic.

  • ||

    And the more I think about it, how are liberals as we know them today, LESS interested in Authority? They seem to love authority in nearly every aspect of our lives as long they hold the reigns; ie, your Nanny-State series. The right can do it too, granted, but the left seem to be the ones pushing hard on almost all fronts.

    Yep, that premise has got a few holes in it.

  • ||

    Not all 10 year olds out grow socialism. They become college professors and “educators”. They are adults by definition but bound to an occupation which accepts and tolerates childish behavior. The sad complicity amongst these people is one group of educators do a poor job such that the victims of their malfeasance must then pay the other perpetrators to complete their education. That is, individuals in the university setting manufacture educational schemes for the primary, middle and high school teachers to carry out in the name of making kids unprepared for participation in society the Monday after high school graduation. College is the only option for these newly unemployable. Worse, too many kids “graduate” from high having to pay a college to conduct their senior year of school in order to be ready for a real college education. This colossal waste of time and confiscation of peoples’ income can only be viewed as a crime against society and the republic. A crime committed over the preceding decades by liberals and progressives bent on imagined social engineering goals. They have not out grown trying to boss other people around just like the bossy know-it-all on the school play ground. Where these liberals are really just 10 year olds, they should be treated as a 10 year old would understand. Maybe they should be pantsed, or given an atomic wedgie or just stuffed in their locker, metaphorically of course.

  • ||

    I don't know if academia is childish. But is is a wierdly authoritarian system. "The academy" is something that goes back centuries to the feudal era, and the whole mentoring process is pretty much guild system stuff.

    There are lots of ways you could do this differently.
    Personally, I think the academic system is highly limiting. It tends to force people to stay in a narrow specialization. Not that interdisciplinary studies don't happen, but in most cases, the hierarchical nature of the departmental and advising systems work against it.

  • Arrgy||

    In other words, greed turns people into arse hole republicans. Very good. Thanks but I knew that.

  • Jen||

    Wow, what a nuanced opinion! Do you, by the way, even realize what you did to prove the article's point when you decided to post a decidedly immature comment?

  • ||

    bet charity giving would also decrease if measured. WWJD?

  • Will||

    So the authority dimension of ethics would be that the greater one questions authority then the greater their ethics? For example, Hugh Thompson, Jr. was one of America's greatest heroes because he was ethical enough to question authority. I would think libertarians score very highly on that dimension of ethics and conservatives score miserably.

  • ||

    "Yes, like liberals, but without compassion."

    This is such bullshit. Liberals fight for their plan for everyone else. Libertarians fight for everyone else so they can have their OWN plan. What could possibly be more compassionate than that?

  • Ayn R. Key||

    This article makes sense to me. While liberals like to refer to libertarians as in "adolescent rebellion" I see them as akin to a 6 year old longing for mommy to take care of everything and daddy to beat up the bullies.

  • ||

    I would point out that fundamentalist religious movements like Wahabi Islam --as well as many Christian and Jewish sects --focus on the same 3 dimensions of morality emphasized by conservative morality--loyalty, authority, and spiritual purity.

    Also, it is simply not true that liberals do not believe in meritocracy.

    A meritocracy is a system in which success is based on talent and achievement rather than wealth or class.

    Liberals--at least this liberal-- believe that in a just society, the opportunity to compete (notice I did not say succeed) in a meritocratic system should be available to as many people as possible and not limited to those of high birth or wealth.

    Conservatives believe in meritocracy as long as the outcome maintains the status quo. When the status quo is undermined by meritocratic competition, conservative elites will usually try to limit participation in the meritocracy to those of their social or economic class. Or, they will denounce the meritocracy as not really meritocratic.

    Libertarians, as the article points out, lack any real moral compass unless one believes that complete freedom to act selfishly in pursuit of one's best interest constitutes a moral system. (For a much longer and fuller depiction of libertarian morality, pick your favorite Ayn Rand novel.)

    The wonderful growth and prosperity that this country has enjoyed over the past 65 years is due to the fact that liberal policies and institutions such as the GI bill, the Civil Rights bill, desegregation of the military, public university systems, Affirmative Action, Americans with Disabilites Act, etc. . . opened the meritocracy to a larger percentage of the population than at any other time in our history. These social changes coupled with a liberal financial regulatory framework that promoted open, fair and responsible economic competition combined to create the most powerful economic engine in the world.

    Conservatives believe in Reganomics, which is essentially a meritocracy for financial elites with the rest of us picking up the tab.

  • Jen||

    Did you hire a 10-year-old to help you with that line of bullshit, Colin?

    "Conservatives believe in meritocracy as long as the outcome maintains the status quo. When the status quo is undermined by meritocratic competition, conservative elites will usually try to limit participation in the meritocracy to those of their social or economic class. Or, they will denounce the meritocracy as not really meritocratic."

    Sorry, but the US has greater social mobility than anywhere else in the world. The bottom fifth of our income scale is constantly changing, suggesting that EVERYONE has the opportunity to compete, and that people increase their status and put themselves in a better position all the time.

    "These social changes coupled with a liberal financial regulatory framework that promoted open, fair and responsible economic competition combined to create the most powerful economic engine in the world."

    ...except that these changes took place AFTER we already were the most powerful economic engine in the world.

    And are you really positing that patently unfair programs like Affirmative Action constitute a meritocracy?! LOL!

  • Triatomic Tortoise||

    This is another attempt by retard Republicans and Tea Baggers that the other side is retard. But I am not buying it. There is too much proof of retard brains on side of the right wingnuts.

  • Jen||

    The retard that can't put a coherent, grammatically correct sentence together calls others retards. Did you decide you weren't buying it when you first sat down in an English class, too?

  • Punk||

    Why is it that liberal statists keep using the word "tea bagger"? I thought they were tolerant of the gay lifestyle?

    Oh wait, I forgot that most liberal suffer from rectal-cranial inversion syndrome. My mistake.

    BTW - fuck you.

  • Justen Robertson||

    That's funny, I wanted to ask the same question after watching one of his presentations. Like liberals but without compassion, interesting way of phrasing it. I don't think libertarians lack compassion as a general rule, they just lack the ability to self-deceive into calling theft compassion-by-proxy.

  • luke1249||

    I'm disappointed to see Reason contributors engaging in the kind of juvenile left-right demonizing/baiting game that the left and right so love. Aren't Libertarians supposed to be able to see beyond that?

    The Norwegian study produced results which are interesting exactly because they seem to point to an innate human moral sense of equality. Instead of dismissing this by implying (for the sake of your own immature desire to bait the other team) that there's something defective in 10-year-olds, why not look at it a bit more objectively and consider what these results mean?

    Note that I'm not arguing that socialism is therefore humanity's ideal state. We grow and our views change as we respond to our environment. That's the smart thing to do, and it's why humanity has lasted so long. At first glance, this innate desire for equality would seem to be entirely logical from an evolutionary point of view, since early humans' communal/collective lifestyle meant that what was good for the group was good for the individual.

    But to reduce what is potentially an interesting discussion to finger-pointing and juvenile name-calling is a waste of time, and I expect more from Reason.

    10-year-olds indeed.

  • Beelzebud||

    And yet liberals founded this country and can field candidates that get elected.

  • Jen||

    No one who thinks there is any connection between the classical liberals who founded this country and the "liberals" of today should ever be taken seriously.

  • ||

    It is ironic that Reason would presume to cast stones regarding 'liberalism arrested moral development' less than a day after its (supposedly) libertarian writers failed to take a strong position condemning the Israeli state's slaughter of unarmed citizens in international, non-state waters. This is particularly reprehensible considering that one of the ships seized was American owned and flagged, several of those kidnapped were Americans, and one teenaged American citizen was executed by the Israeli commandos with four bullets to the head.

    While it might, perhaps, be arguable that Israel had a right to defend its borders, they had no right to take action until those borders were breached and a clear and imminent threat was presented. The bullet hole in the crown of one of the slaughter victim's head clearly demonstrates that the IDF fired on the ship from the air.

    Reason, by gutlessly only printing links to the articles of other publications (mostly Israeli apologist) in "reporting" on this atrocity, has not only abrogated its moral authority to criticize the morality of liberals, it has abrogated its moral authority to speak on the behalf of libertarians. No person who will not, at the minimum, speak to the defense of an individual's right to life has any just entitlement to label themselves a libertarian.

  • gong||

    White sneakers look good,but combine it with an eye-catching color and you get a great-looking sneaker.A good example is the Nike Air Max Light 88 – Orange Blaze/White sneaker which can easily catch attention when placed against the sun's light.The same is true even if you wear this sneaker on a dancing nightThe sneaker is accented by orange blaze on all the leather panel found on the upper.Your heart will melt once you see the nice combination of white and orange blaze on the midsole.

  • ขายคอนโด||

    I'm not arguing that socialism is therefore humanity's ideal state. We grow and our views change as we respond to our environment.

  • ปลวก||

    .A good example is the Nike Air Max Light 88 – Orange Blaze/White sneaker which can easily catch attention when placed against the sun's light.

  • Sprinklers||

    Is the term "wisdom comes with age" prevalent here! The kids as they get older become wiser ;)

  • ran||

    Be arguable that Israel had a right to defend its borders, they had no right to take action until those borders were breached and a clear and imminent threat was presented.

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  • designer sunglass||

    I just want to tell you to say thanks

  • elektromotoren||

    Just reduce your police. thanks

  • a-chat.org||

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    The faculty of reason, rationality, or the faculty of discursive reason

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    The reasoning for the black box is to document what exactly happens in a crash.

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    ast update?

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    si on ne mélange pas les torchons et les serviettes

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    Once registered and logged in, you will be able to create topics

  • f-orum.info||

    You don’t need to add your email if you are already subscribed by email to Reason

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    we try and we hope.

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  • Scarpe Nike||

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  • ผลบอล||

    We're animals, if we somehow fail to develop the self preservation part of the program, the part that carried our lines on for millions of generations to now, the chain has been broken.

  • ||

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  • mbt imara||

    good

  • andsonjhon||

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