Reclaiming Rights

The never-ending struggle to go about your business without fear of government sanction

Our cover story this month describes the historic and stunningly rapid restoration of the Second Amendment as a guarantee of an individual right that must be respected throughout the United States. As you luxuriate in that momentous victory of individuals over their governments, allow me to direct your attention to a tale that is microscopic by comparison: On page 43, in the midst of a long and remarkable exchange between reason’s finest and the Cleveland City Council, two different city councilors attempt to explain to TV funnyman and Reason Foundation trustee Drew Carey why the owner of a local car wash faced a four-month approval process to install a commercial sign on his own property.

Council President Martin J. Sweeney’s explanation was, alas, good enough for government work: “If you apply for a sign that’s within our regulation, it would take somewhere between three and five days. If it’s outside the regulations, it needs to be [no bigger than] four foot by eight foot, no more than two or three colors. If you want to go 10 by 10, and put it up a little bit higher, and have 10 colors on it, you have to get approval to go outside the variance,” Sweeney said. “The three to five days is if you stay within the regulations, if you agree with them. If you want to go outside, it’s six weeks to put it on the calendar and have it heard. And then all the other steps…because there has to be some type of structure.”

There has to be some type of structure. From this one default setting springs all manner of tyrannies, from the trivial to the profound.

Carey had the best comeback to this Office Space-meets-Kafka gibberish: “You should be able to put up whatever sign you want, man.” But it’s elected officials like Sweeney, from Bakersfield to Bangor, from the statehouses to Capitol Hill, who too often have the last laugh. Every day brings fresh reminders that we are not technically free to go about our business.

In August, Multnomah County health inspectors in Portland, Oregon, shut down a lemonade stand at an art fair because its 7-year-old proprietor failed to obtain the necessary food distribution license. Days earlier, a Quincy, Illinois, man was arrested via a sting operation (for a second time) for the crime of offering free rides home to inebriated bar patrons; the service conflicted with some new taxi cartel–influenced language in the relevant city ordinance. And all summer long, councilmen in recession-ravaged Los Angeles, who earn higher salaries than any municipal lawmakers in the country, threatened to crack down on one of the few interesting and growing business models left in L.A.—food trucks—despite the fact that the only people complaining about them are nonmobile restaurant owners who don’t like the competition.

On the federal level things get even worse. In July the Department of Labor unveiled new child labor regulations that make it a crime for 17-year-olds to clear brush (a classic summer job in timber-heavy states such as Oregon) or for 15-year-olds to wave signs on the roadside, which the last time I looked was about the only job teenagers could still get in Southern California. ObamaCare requires every single vending machine and restaurant chain with 20 or more outlets in the country to list calorie counts for its products, under threat of federal sanction.

The financial regulation bill enacted in July, like the health care law that preceded it, asserted vast new governmental powers over an industry’s operations while delegating to future rule makers the task of telling the industry exactly what is and is not now legal. As Associate Editor Peter Suderman wrote when the law was being passed, “For regulators in Washington, this is a He-Man moment: They get to lift thousands of pages of legislation above their heads and declare, ‘I have the power!’ The trouble seems to be figuring out what to do with that power once they have it.”

There are any number of unhappy consequences from this relentless public push into private activity, not least of which is, as Senior Editor Jacob Sullum explains on page 11 (“Bono vs. Buttman”), the inevitably arbitrary enforcement of vaguely written laws. People who don’t know if their day-to-day behavior will trigger criminal prosecution are not truly free. As the great civil liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate observed in a 2009 book of the same name, Americans on average now commit “three felonies a day.” That means our basic liberty exists at the discretion of law enforcement. If cops or motivated government attorneys decide they don’t like you, life can soon become hell.

What’s perhaps more frightening than the existence of such an all-powerful enforcement apparatus is the argumentation supporting it even in the face of public outrage and ridicule. Car wash signs need four months of approval because there has to be some type of structure. Lemonade stands need to be forcibly shut down because, in the words of Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, “The county has the responsibility to fairly enforce the rules on permits.” U.S. News & World Report columnist Mary Kate Cary, while pointing out that ObamaCare is “not fiscally responsible” and “creates a nearly trillion-dollar new entitlement program that doesn’t pay for itself,” nonetheless gushes that the new calorie count requirement “may change American diets.” Once you take it as a given that the government has an important say in what you do with your property or put in your body, a whole universe of appalling actions and apologia becomes possible.

It’s time to change the default setting. Every victory of a citizen over the government in the never-ending struggle to do as we please is worthy of a 21-gun salute, whether on the individual level, as in pornographer John Stagliano’s successful fight against federal obscenity charges, or on a group level, in the case of those who want to own handguns. The battles are usually uphill, as with the 21 states suing the federal government over ObamaCare’s abuse of the Commerce Clause (see “Rogue States,” page 44), but the liberation is exhilarating. We can all learn from the examples of those who fought back and won, such as the 7-year-old lemonade entrepreneur Julie Murphy, who was helped and encouraged at the art fair by a group of Portland anarchists and eventually won an official apology from Multnomah County.

But sometimes it feels like we’re losing a game of whack-a-mole. For every outrage reversed through bad publicity or expensive lawyering, there are untold dozens of quiet capitulations to a rampaging state. Think of all the government restrictions on what you can and can’t do with your own house, to say nothing of the taxes the government collects on it. At some point the burden of proof should shift to the government, which should have to persuasively explain why an industry needs to be managed from Washington or why an individual needs a license to act like a human being.

The U.S. is in an economic, fiscal, and public policy crisis with no end in sight. Indeed, it looks almost certain to get far worse. We can and will talk about what rights need to be reasserted, what programs need to be cut, what sectors of this American life need to be left the hell alone. But until we make a dent in the widespread notion that there always has to be some type of government structure or some taxpayer-financed watchdog to police every imaginable peaceable transaction, any contemplated fix to the mess we’re in will be temporary at best. 

Matt Welch is reason's editor in chief.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    What we need to do mainly is to reduce the size of government. We have too many bureaucrats, pencil-pushers, regulators, and other busybodies making up new rules for the rest of us to try to deal with. Till we get rid of a vast majority of them, we will still be playing that game of whack-a-mole.

  • Your President||

    Any reduction in the size of government is dangerous. We can't afford to make even the tiniest of cuts.

    Except for the military.

  • IceTrey||

    You have an incredible grasp of the obvious.

  • Suki||

    “You should be able to put up whatever sign you want, man.” Drew Carey, Reason Trustee

    Best line in the whole article.

    Good morning reason! Happy Labour Week.

  • Wegie||

    So it's OK if I put up a sign next door to you saying my neighbor is an asshole? Or if I put up a sign blocking a stop sign? Or if I put up a sign blocking your sign?

  • Chris||

    Of course. What's the issue? What, you think once you put a sign up it can't go down? If your neighbor puts up a sign that says you're an asshole, maybe it's because you're an asshole. Maybe the best thing to do is go talk to him. Or shoot him, what do I care? As for the stop sign, what makes you think that sign wouldn't be taken down immediately? If it isn't, then it must not be a useful stop sign in the first place. Also, who would even bother putting a sign in front of a stop sign? What would they gain? The only motivation would be from people like you who want to prove that lack of regulation leads to chaos. Anyway, look, why is your default setting to run to the government to solve your problems? Regardless of who's right, just ask yourself why you look to them to fix your problems. THAT'S the issue.

  • Wegie||

    "Or shoot him, what do I care?" You might care if you were the neighbor shot.
    "As for the stop sign, what makes you think that sign wouldn't be taken down immediately?" What makes you think it would? This sounds like fun a god damn pissing match over a sign. Wow Anarchy is great.
    "Also, who would even bother putting a sign in front of a stop sign?" You're bullshitting me...right?
    "Anyway, look, why is your default setting to run to the government to solve your problems?" Who would you run to? I am against big government, but no government will never work.

  • Chris||

    You're still not looking at the root of that impulse, man.

  • Chris||

    Also:

    "You might care if you were the neighbor shot."

    Then I guess I shouldn't have put that sign up.

    "What makes you think it would?"

    Because the stop sign is there to keep people from crashing. It would be pretty obvious that it's covered up, and people would take it down.

    "You're bullshitting me...right?"
    No. Why do you assume the worst of people? Essentially, the desire for government to serve as protector is rooted in an irrational fear of everyone.

    "Who would you run to?"
    Myself. Some friends. I might pay someone to take care of things. Whatever.

  • ||

    It will never work Chris. There will always need to be a means to reasonably solve disputes. Government grows out of this need, and the vast majority of us support limited government. Wegie's questions are reasonable, and a government solution can be provided. However it is our responsability to check the size of government in order to keep it from becoming overly athoritarian.

  • Chris||

    "Government grows out of this need..."

    False. Go ask a caveman if he was free before he had a dispute with another cave man and needed it resolved.

    "Wegie's questions are reasonable, and a government solution can be provided."

    True. But the natural actions of free people provide a better solution.

  • ||

    "Go ask a caveman if he was free before he had a dispute with another cave man and needed it resolved."

    Agreed. However when the cavemen decide to congregate into a mutually beneficial societies, rules are required. It is the extent of how many rules, and over what issues, that is the issue.

  • Anarcho||

    And we're not doing a very good job of that.
    Besides, it's a matter of costs vs. benefits. Sure, maybe a government solution can work, but at what cost? The cost of uncontrollable growth. Is it worth it? I think not.

  • :(||

    You just went ass-to-mouth. Good job, Wegie.

  • Sock Puppet||

    This sounds like fun a god damn pissing match over a sign.

    Typical emasculated male response.

    Always running to the cops, or government, to solve his minor problems. How about you be an adult and take care of these issues yourself? Or, better yet. Stop being such an asshole and maybe people would be more inclined to not post signs in their yards declaring how big of a douche you are.

    http://blog.sellsiusrealestate.com/wp-content/neighbors.gif

  • Wegie||

    That is too rich an asshole named Sock Puppet calling someone else emasculated.

  • DesigNate||

    The stop sign is located on "public property" and thus you couldn't build a sign that would block it. But I get what you were saying.

  • Zeb||

    I think it is reasonable to have a law forbidding people to obstruct traffic signs. This is a safety issue, not a signage issue. The other examples you mention could be resolved without an onerous sign permitting process that lasts 18 months if you are lucky.

  • Wegie||

    "I think it is reasonable to have a law forbidding people to obstruct traffic signs. This is a safety issue, not a signage issue." ....a law...a law what the fuck kind of Anarchist are you? That's pussey Anarchy!
    "The other examples you mention could be resolved without an onerous sign permitting process that lasts 18 months if you are lucky". Really??? How??? I think you dipshits better look up the meaning of Anarchy.

  • ||

    If my neighbor wants to put up a sign that calls me an asshole, there are a millions ways that we could resolve that dispute. I personally wouldn't be all that bothered. The only reason that people even care about such things is that they have delicate sensibilities. If the neighbor were to put up a sign that said something directly slanderous about me, then I would have a reason to take him/her to court.

    Putting a sign over a stop sign should be illegal, primarily because the person does not own the stop sign. It is not there property to do with as they wish.

    You really missed the fucking point.

  • Wegie||

    "If the neighbor were to put up a sign that said something directly slanderous about me, then I would have a reason to take him/her to court." Court??? Court??? This is the biggest bunch of chickenshit Anarchists one could imagine. There is no government remember that means NO FUCKING COURT!!!

  • ||

    I'm not an anarchist. I guess you were arguing against out and out anarchy, but that is not how it comes off.

    "So it's OK if I put up a sign next door to you saying my neighbor is an asshole? Or if I put up a sign blocking a stop sign? Or if I put up a sign blocking your sign?"

    This was your original comment. I never said anything about anarchy, and neither did you.

  • Anarcho||

    "NO FUCKING COURT"

    Why would lack of government mean lack of one or more dispute mechanisms, such as courts, arbitration, etc.?
    It seems to me that the means of peaceful dispute resolution is valuable in any society.

  • ||

    A bigger sign that says he'a a bigger asshole, for example. Maybe you could paint it on the side of your barn.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Stop signs and all road signs usually tend to be in public right of way, so if someone were to put anything in that space it would be illegal. The statement "You should be able to put up whatever sign you want, man" obviously means you should be able to do whatever you wish WITH YOUR OWN PROPERTY. Way to miss the fucking point.

  • Wegie||

    Hey Colonel_Anus what is this bullshit about "public right of way" and "illegal"? We are talking about Anarchy here, there is no public right of way. What does illegal mean and says who??? You sure as fuck did miss the point!

  • ||

    Why are you arguing against anarchy with people other than Chris? None of us are anarchists.

  • ||

    Why are you arguing against anarchy with people other than Chris? None of us are anarchists.

  • jeremyjanson||

    Then your neighbor will put up a sign saying "says him ->"

  • ||

    As much as I agree with the sentiment of the article, I fear that a nation that passively accepts taking off their shoes at airports is only one bend over away from daily anal probe-ery.

  • :D||

    This nation is fucked...

    If you want a picture of the future, imagine a penis raping a human anus — forever.

  • TheOtherSomeGuy||

    the 7-year-old lemonade entrepreneur Julie Murphy, who was helped and encouraged at the art fair by a group of Portland anarchists and eventually won an official apology from Multnomah County.

    Screw the apology, did the 7 year old get damages? Kid lost money because of an idiot working for the government, and the government, like BP was forced to do, should make that right.

  • ||

    One of your best, Matt. Definitely worth the second read.

  • ||

    Hi.
    Is "whack a mole" the same as the UK splat the rat?

    If you think you have problems, then come to the UK. We have had the Labour Party's Welfare State for over 60 years.
    They promised to take care of us from the cradle to the grave. Now all we have is an infantilised population which constantly sucks at the tit of the government for everything it demands. The benefit and control culture here is a nightmare.
    ie.Question
    What are the world's 3 largest employers?
    Answer.
    1. The Chinese Red Army
    2. The Indian National Railway.
    3. The U.K. National Health Service.
    Look at the size of the UK compared to China and India, although crowded we are a tiny nation in the world.
    The NHS size doesn't even include any of the benefit agencies.
    The whole idea behind such things is control of votes to keep socialism in power. Which voter ever really bites the hand that feeds it? It takes a really patriotic voter to let go of his tights in favour of the nation.
    What will State Health eventually bring to the USA? Obama is building

  • ||

    One would think with the money you collectively save on dental care, your NHS wouldn't be so large.

  • steve||

    Yeah, and adding that extra "u" in labor was a windfall for your typesetters as well.

  • ||

    "Yeah, and adding that extra "u" in labor was a windfall for your typesetters as well."
    Ha Ha
    Just cos you lot at the other side of the pond who can't afford the extra paper for our long words!
    Proper spellings are:-
    Programme
    colour
    arsehole
    etc. (yes a very short word!)

  • Scooby||

    What about Wal-Mart? It has over 2MM employees, putting it in at #2, and pushing NHS out of the top 3.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    I wouldn't consider the Chinese military to be an "employer", per se... if they have compulsory service in China.

  • ||

  • Mark||

    There will always be someone around who wants to tell everyone else how to tie their shoes. They're easy to spot (and ignore) when working within small groups, but not so easy (to ignore) when they get elected to office.

    Mommy and Daddy need to know we're all growed up now; sometimes we like to leave our shoes untied.

  • steve||

    Great article and most who read it, even non-libertarians, would agree with it... until it was their turn at the teat.
    Then to compound the problem, the tea party, the closest thing to a large-scale libertarian vehicle of change, gets hijacked by the likes of Beck and Palin and other GOP douchbags while they marginalize real libertarians out there.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Actually, according to a highly libertarded friend of mine, libertarianism is a made up philosophy of the tea party in order to appear to be something other than republicans.

  • Concerned Citizen||

    We could take a page from Ghandi's playbook, and simply refuse to deal with them. Mass civil disobedience. It works for the Amish.

  • Wegie||

    It works for the Amish because they are protected by the rest of us.

  • Chris||

    Wow, dude, you're on a roll this morning. What a cranky sack of shit you are. What, did the mouse refuse to come back out? Put a little cheese on your asshole and maybe you'll be able to lure him.

  • Wegie||

    "Wow, dude,..." Wow dude??? Like I thought you're a fucking hippie asshole. You better hope we never have Anarchy, your worthless ass wouldn't last 10 seconds.

  • Chris||

    What makes you think anarchy would be violent chaos? Look at your own behavior. Are your actions determined by laws? If so, you must be a shitty human being.

    Also, assuming a person is a hippy because of the usage of the word 'dude' is a big stretch. Try again.

  • Tony||

    What makes you think anarchy would be anything but? I mean, until a strongman with fewer scruples than you decided to turn it from an anarchy into a totalitarian state led by him.

  • Chris||

    "What makes you think anarchy would be anything but?"

    Did you answer the question I asked wegie for yourself? That's my answer. Is your behavior determined by laws? What makes you think other people's behavior is?

    As for your scenario of the creation of a totalitarian state, why would an entire society allow a single man and his thugs gain control? Oh, that's right: Because they are already used to being governed and controlled. You think Hitler would have come to power if the machinery by which he came to power had not existed?

  • Tony||

    Chris I guess as an empiricist I can only remain skeptical until such a society is actually tried. I rather think governments were invented because they solved certain problems associated with anarchy. Not that anarchy even really existed in our 'natural state' which seems to more closely resemble strongman totalitarianism.

  • Jason||

    What makes you think anarchy would be anything but?

    Studies and history.

  • Anarcho||

    You mean like almost every country on earth?
    You're right, that's exactly why we don't have anarchy, because the strongmen (governments) have decided on the totalitarian state.

  • Wegie||

    Fuck!!! You're stupid!

  • Tony||

    Anarchy, of course, means "anything less than the current level of government".

  • Chris||

    Indignation is not refutation, buddy.

  • Barry Loberfeld||

    What Welch describes is the central fallacy of our mixed economy:

    To be capitalist or to be socialist? -- that is the question. Precisely what is the mix of the mixed economy? When is it capitalist and when is it socialist? When does it protect property and when does it confiscate it? When does it leave people alone and when does it coerce them? When does it adhere to the ethics of individualism and when does it obey the code of collectivism? And just which is the metaphysical primary -- the individual or the collective (e.g., the nation, the race, the class)? The fundamental truth about the mixed economy is that mixed practices imply mixed principles, which in turn imply mixed premises -- i.e., an incoherent grasp of reality. With socialism, the chaos was economic; with "social democracy," it's epistemological. Ultimately, the latter can no more generate rational policies than the former could generate rational prices. The mixed economy doesn't present us with a mosaic portrait of the just society, but with a jigsaw of pieces taken from different puzzles.
  • Tony||

    Of course, that description is undermined by its own central fallacy: the notion that "mixed practices imply mixed principles, which in turn imply mixed premises -- i.e., an incoherent grasp of reality."

    This, to me, is nothing but a defense of absolutism and dogmatism.

  • Chris||

    No, dude, you don't get it. There isn't a spectrum between capitalism and socialism. They are completely different and incompatible things based on contradictory assumptions about reality.

  • Tony||

    That would imply a pretty broad definition of socialism, then, and I'd certainly take it (and its premises) over pure capitalism any day.

  • Chris||

    Shocking.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Tony's like that. Though his idea of a mixed economy would have much more socialism than anything else, which is the real danger - a lot of people agree with that concept.

  • Chris||

    Yeah, no kidding. It's so bad that it's not even a concept that needs to be agreed with. It's an assumption that is rarely even thought of or contradicted by other people.

  • ||

    That would imply a pretty broad definition of socialism, then, and I'd certainly take it (and its premises) over pure capitalism any day.

    And yet you still haven't moved to that pure socialist paradise, North Korea.

  • Hooha||

    +1

  • Jason||

    The Fascists positioned Corporatism as a third way between capitalism and socialism.

  • Neu Mejican||

    But isn't libertarianism as typically professed a mixed philosophy as well? It seems essentially a mix between anarcho-capitalism and some degree of statism. And while most people will generally agree with many of the basic tenants, arguments ensue when you try to say where the statism line starts/stops.

  • Chris||

    I'm with you. I think most of us libertarians contradict our fundamental assumptions by believing in anything other than anarchy. I'm more of an anarchist myself, but then again I don't participate in politics. If I did, I'd probably seek a compromise, but only because it's a fact that the freer the market, the freer and richer the populace. It's like when Tony takes a shit on your chest and the room smells terrible. You open a door to let in some fresh air. As for myself, I prefer to be outside where the air is always fresh.

  • Tony||

    the freer the market, the freer and richer the populace

    Check your premises! In practice, too much freedom in the market means a certain small elite is freer and richer, and everyone else is fucked.

  • Chris||

    No, look at a basic ranking of market freedom and you will see societies at the top that are freer and better off than societies at the other end. Deal with it. As for the elite, even assuming you're right (and you're not), the general populace of nations with those elites are better off than the populations in the various socialist paradises.

  • Chris||

    Also, give me an example.

    Also, the only reason socialist countries don't have an elite class is because the elite class is the government. Even then, I'd prefer to be a Canadian elite over a Cuban elite ANY day. Of course, I wouldn't be able to bash as many heads in Canada.

  • Tony||

    Your bias and bigotry over the elites is clouding your judgment, Chris.

  • Tony||

    I think your binary thinking is clouding your judgment. The fact is the best places to live on earth are mixed economies, including Canada and the US. Nobody is advocating for authoritarian communism, which is not the only alternative to pure laissez-faire capitalism.

  • Chris||

    No, man, you still don't get it. You only think it's binary because you can't understand a society in which the government plays no role in the actions of its constituents (if it exists at all). You see a free market as a pole on the same spectrum as a totalitarian regime, and you think the best bet is somewhere between the two. But the reality is that any meddling with a free market destroys its freedom. The countries you mentioned as being successful are successful DESPITE the mixed economy they have. The closer they are to a free market, the better off they are. If the trend of less government interference in the economy leads to a richer and freer population, then obviously the notion that government interference is necessary at all is absurd.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Nobody is advocating for authoritarian communism

    http://www.cpusa.org/

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2208912296

  • Jason||

    We could use some of Sweden's "socialist" ideas -- education vouchers, private ownership of roads...

  • Bill||

    "a small elite is freer and richer"

    This can happen but it also happens under corporatism and mixed socialist economies except in these cases it is not how good your product is that matters but who you know.

    Many gov't programs encourage and support monopolies and higher prices but enforce them by law. In a free economy with world-wide free trade to the extent possible, it is almost impossible to SUSTAIN a true monopoly for very long. And what's more, what is the real danger? If you have a free economy and they can't use that money to buy politicians to give them favors because the things the gov't can do are very limited in a "free" economy, then there is no real danger.
    Many, many charities were founded in the early part of the 20th century by these rich elites.

  • ||

    make a dent in the widespread notion that there always has to be some type of government structure or some taxpayer-financed watchdog to police every imaginable peaceable transaction

    I have no hope for this.

    Right now I am simply going to go after every local politician I can and use every dirty trick I can think of to get them voted out office.

    There is no hope...

    ...but there is revenge.

  • DesigNate||

    I like the way you think.

  • ||

    As the great civil liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate observed in a 2009 book of the same name, Americans on average now commit “three felonies a day.”

    What book?

  • steve||

    "Three Felonies a Day"
    Google much?

  • Tony||

    Among the sectors that you want left the hell alone, can we exempt the financial industry? You know, since my retirement income will depend directly on how it behaves, except for the firewall of social security, which you guys also want to hand over to that "private" sector.

  • DesigNate||

    Or you could get it through your head that you don't have the right to retire.

  • Tony||

    That's why libertarianism is dumb. In the name of freedom, it advocates for the least number of rights of any political philosophy outside of anarchy or despotism. Why shouldn't people have the right to retire?

  • ray||

    because libertarians are cruel and they want old people to slave away and eat cat food.

  • Chris||

    The notion of rights only come about when freedom is impinged. Under the present system, a right is what the government gives you. Naturally, you start thinking of everything the government gives you as being a right. Hence your confusion. There is no right to retire, only government assistance for it.

  • ray||

    Dude don't you understand. FDR was going to give us rights. The right to a job, a house, a car, a chicken, free pot. I think retirement was in there too. Whats so wrong with rights? We must demand the right to retire or else libertarians will force you to work till you die.

  • Chris||

    I have seen the light, and it is glorious. Bless that angry cripple. Bless him.

  • Your President||

    Negative rights are referred to that way because they ARE negative. Government HAS to do things for and to the people; if it doesn't, it's not government.

  • ||

    Well, in the broader sense that you have a right to do as you choose with your own time, sure, you have a right to retire. What you don't have is the right to an income derived from sources other than your own labor.

    You do understand the distinction, right?

  • Tony||

    What you don't have is the right to an income derived from sources other than your own labor.

    But my CEO profits from my labor. Is that wrong?

  • Chris||

    No, he just makes more from the overall product of the company's overall labor. He has a different function in the company, and it is deemed more important than yours by $x.xx. Or $xxxxxxxxxxx.xx, as the case may be.

  • ||

    Are you an indentured servant, unable to move on to other employment? Or do you figure that your employer should keep you on the payroll whether it benefits him or not?

    Just curious.

  • Ray||

    Not as long as you make sure you are profiting from the CEO's labor. I'm sure he is not doing anything important for the company you work at so you will have to profit by stealing his stuff.

  • :(||

    But my CEO profits from my labor. Is that wrong?

    You went full retard, man. Never go full retard.

  • Chris||

    +1

  • Tony||

    I'm not the one who said it was wrong to profit from anything but your own labor.

  • ||

    I'm not the one who said it was wrong to profit from anything but your own labor.


    Can you point out where anybody has said that? I'm not seeing it anywhere, but maybe teh stupid is contagious and I've somehow overlooked it.

  • The Queen||

    I'm not the one who said it was wrong to profit from anything but your own labor.

    It's semantics, my dear. More specifically, you don't understand what this person meant, or are purposefully being deceptive/naive.

    What the nice people above have elucidated upon, although unfortunate such simplistic examples were lost on you, is that this labor, and the fruits thereof, are mutually agreed by two (or more) consenting adults.

    I shall offer no further explanation.

    Although, thank you for the good laugh. Right to Retire! How brilliant, in a sad, sad way. What's next? A Right to Get Laid, too? You seem like the type that would need a government program for that.

  • Bill||

    After the increase in the power and size and scope of the Federal govt. since the 1930's, why do CEO's now make a bigger multiple of their lowest paid employees salaries? With all the agencies, laws, regulations passed each and every year, why does it seem like the politicians and rich elites are doing so much better than the average citizen? It may or may not be worse than before, but why do we still have all the problems that you have been trying to fix for 80 years?
    The gov't has been helping Americans in the housing industry for the last 20 years. Why do we now have such a problem in that industry? Why didn't all of these agencies, rules, and regulations work? Why is it the one law or rule that you call "free market" that was the problem but the 97,000 other laws were not to blame at all?

  • Shorter Tony||

    Anything short of full government control is lassiez-faire capitalism.

  • SAM||

    "You went full retard, man. Never go full retard."

    "You don't buy that? Ask Sean Penn, ...Went full retard, went home empty handed... "

  • Tony||

    They failed because there wasn't enough government intervention.

  • TANSTAAFL||

    Tony = Failed

    "The Bush team has spent more taxpayer money on issuing and enforcing regulations than any previous administration in U.S. history. Between fiscal year 2001 and fiscal year 2009, outlays on regulatory activities, adjusted for inflation, increased from $26.4 billion to an estimated $42.7 billion, or 62 percent. By contrast, President Clinton increased real spending on regulatory activities by 31 percent, from $20.1 billion in 1993 to $26.4 billion in 2001.

    The sad implication of these data is that today it costs more to produce each rule than it cost eight years ago. If the regulator's budget is going up while the number of final rules is decreasing, and yet the number of pages in the Federal Register is growing, then the regulatory process is becoming increasingly inefficient. And since the regulations are becoming more expensive, taxpayers are losing on all fronts."

    http://reason.com/archives/200.....y-kiss-off

  • Thomas Jefferson||

    "Why shouldn't people have the right to retire?"

    Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness...

  • Libertarian DoI editor||

    ...unless you're too old or infirm to do backbreaking, menial labor. Then you are free to die.

  • Hooha||

    Hope you spent your life learning how to do something other than backbreaking menial labor. Or at least saved something to live on if that was too damned tough.

    If not, then yes, feel free to die; It is not the responsibility of society at large to cover for a worthless individuals' prior lack of foresight, motivation, or ability.

    Geez libtards, seriously contemplate the deeper meanings of 'you reap what you sew'. It explains SO much.

  • Zeb||

    Of course people have the right to retire. Just like we all have the right to freedom of the press. It doesn't mean that you are guaranteed a printing press of your own.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    "Why shouldn't people have the right to retire?"

    People have the right to retire, or never engage in any work of any kind from the day they're born until the day they die for that matter, so long as nobody else is forced to pay for it.

  • Alpheus||

    What you advocate as a right--the right to retirement--is really a duty: a duty to prepare for old age, through a mixture of savings, investments, insurance; a duty of your children to care for their elders; and a duty for churches and private charities to care for the poor.

    That, and the financial chaos you describe was also caused, in large part, by government meddling...which is kind-of funny, when you consider that the "solution" is to have government meddle even more!

  • J_L_B||

    Among the sectors that you want left the hell alone, can we exempt the financial industry?

    I would prefer not to because I would like to invest in hedge funds, but since the SEC deems me unqualified, I am prevented from doing so. What they really mean is that while I may have the mental acumen to invest correctly, others may not. Hence, my rights will be elimintaed in order to maintain the appearance of fairness for those of inferior investing ability.

    And you don't seriously think your investments gain or lose value based exclusively on the behavior of the financial sector?

  • Tony||

    And you don't seriously think your investments gain or lose value based exclusively on the behavior of the financial sector?

    Given recent events, the entire planet could plausibly say that.

  • J_L_B||

    Because certain events happen simultaneously does not mean they are directly related by cause and effect.

    The entire economy, including the financial sector, suffered from the distorted value of housing investments caused by Fannie and Freddie.

  • ||

    Wait, are you saying correlation doesn't equal causation?

  • Tony||

    Holy crap not this again.

    This is just flat-out factually wrong. It is a lie meant to shift blame from the financial sector (and the GOP) to poor black people. Christ man. Wikipedia is better informed than you, so I suggest you start there.

  • J_L_B||

    It is a lie meant to shift blame from the financial sector (and the GOP) to poor black people.

    I haven't played the race card yet; it's still in my deck. The severity of this recession (I say that because I consider a recession inevitable) was NOT caused by poor black people. It was caused by mispriced housing securities that assumed housing prices up at a 15-25% rate forever. They believed this because Fannie and Freddie loosened standards for their mortgage purchases in late 1999 and went on a buying frenzy in the 2000's. Left to itself, Wall St. did not have the capital necessary to drive housing prices to the ridiculous levels they reached.

    To put it in perspective, the dot come bubble came and went without government interference and the effects were mild at worst. Yet imagine how severe the ensuing correction would've been had there been a government agency buying up dot-com stocks alongside day traders at a pace comparable to Fannie and Freddie.

  • :(||

    It is a lie meant to shift blame from the financial sector (and the GOP) to poor black people.

    Oh, FFS! Your blatantly atrocious reading comprehension, and subsequent drooling rebuttal, gives Goebbels an erection. Freddie / Fannie != Poor black people. Sorry, but Wiki doesn't cure retarded.

    http://www.rhlschool.com/reading.htm

    I suggest you start there.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Good point.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    ^^^Directed @ J_L_B|9.7.10 @ 11:33AM

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Yep, it's all about teh racism.

  • Tony||

    FIFY I'm not the one who fabricated a story about how a government mortgage program that's existed since 1938 caused the financial crisis (or the CRA, which has existed since 1977).

  • Sean W. Malone||

    /sigh...

    Way to ignore virtually every important change or external contributing factor that would make those existing programs a problem in the last 10 years... Like, oh, I dunno, radically different lending rules, new mandates and trillions of dollars of Fed-created credit.

    Dumbass.

  • Wegie||

    This is what I meant the other day when I posted that, there were a number of people promoting Anarchy as libertarians. I am for a MUCH smaller government, but no government at all....noway.

  • Chris||

    Pussy.

  • Bill||

    It's a no-win position. If you can't convince more than a handful of people that it might be good to lower tariffs just a wee bit or that we may not want to pay people to not grow food or that we should decriminalize pot, then what hope is there to convince them that anarchy is the way to go? But the anarchy argument just allows people to dismiss the whole movement as crackpot so they listen even less to the other arguments. Thanks a lot, Chris!!

  • Chris||

    I'm here to help.

  • Chris||

    Also, for the record, I'm not actively working to make anarchy happen. Anarchy can't be instituted, primarily because it would require an institution and would then stop being anarchy. I just believe that anarchy is the inevitable result of cultural evolution. I won't get into why, because this is not the place for it. Anyway, all I can do in the mean time is not vote, talk shit to people and mock the Tonys of the world whenever possible.

  • Bingo||

    +agreed

  • ||

    You know, I'd grant you your point if Chris (or anybody) were arguing for the wearing of tin-foil hats or belief in young earth creationism or any other clearly crackpot notion as being a necessary component of libertarianism; I'd be all in favor of keeping that shit hidden from anyone but true believers. But seriously, libertarianism isn't Scientology, and we shouldn't be concerned with keeping what we really believe a secret.

    If the notion of individual liberty is really that scary to people then the project is already doomed, anyway, isn't it?

  • Wegie||

    "individual liberty" does not equal Anarchy. How fucking dumb does one have to be to believe that it does?

  • ||

    About as stupid as I am, I guess. Because really? I think that your concept of individual liberty differs from mine; in my world, as long as I am bound by the choices of others my autonomy and liberty are fatally compromised. I don't love democracy because I don't believe the mob should have the power to impose its whims and chosen rulers on the individual.

  • Wegie||

    "About as stupid as I am, I guess." We have found common ground!

  • Wegie||

    "If you can't convince more than a handful of people that it might be good to lower tariffs just a wee bit or that we may not want to pay people to not grow food or that we should decriminalize pot,...." I agree with all that I am just drawing the line well before Anarchy, which is a bridge too far!

  • Jorj X. McKie||

    Anarchy = "no government at all"? Not true. In an anarchy everyone gets to govern themselves. Do you think you could handle that?

  • Tony||

    And just as your economic theory requires ideal circumstances (everyone's a rational actor), anarchy would require everyone to respect the rights of others... via the honor system. Sounds like a great idea!

  • Alpheus||

    It already happens: or do you follow all the laws, all the time, because you have a police officer stalk you all the time?

    Most of us have no idea what the law is--it's impossible, because it's so darn big--but we mostly do what is right, because we innately want to. If everyone decided they didn't want to be polite, no amount of government will be able to reign in the chaos!

  • ||

    As Associate Editor Peter Suderman wrote when the law was being passed, “For regulators in Washington, this is a He-Man moment: They get to lift thousands of pages of legislation above their heads and declare, ‘I have the power!’ The trouble seems to be figuring out what to do with that power once they have it.”

    It's obvious what they'll do with the power: enjoy it! How else do people like them get laid, for instance?

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Rentboy.com

  • ||

    As long as people are taxed, they want something for their money. That requires goverment to do things for them. The more taxes rise, the more we want in return, the more we get in return the more taxes rise.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    'Carey had the best comeback to this Office Space-meets-Kafka gibberish: “You should be able to put up whatever sign you want, man.”'

    That was the great comeback?

  • Leif||

    My daughter (college age) lost her cat, and posted flyers throughout her neighborhood in DeKalb, Illinois. She received a call from the police ordering her to take the flyers down. What public interest is served when the police go after a kid with a lost cat?

  • Colonel_Angus||

    "Department of Labor unveiled new child labor regulations that make it a crime for 17-year-olds to clear brush (a classic summer job in timber-heavy states such as Oregon) or for 15-year-olds to wave signs on the roadside"

    At 15 I was doing volunteer work with heavy machinery in 90 degree weather. At the grocery store where I worked, I wasn't (officially) allowed to use a motorized pallet mover or box smasher. Also, fuck you very much to child labor laws for killing a job opportunity I had before I entered college.

  • Bananarama||

    It's a cruel, cruel summer.

  • ||

    I'll grant you everything else -- but I'm with the town board when it comes to signs; not that they have to take a long time but that a community has a right to determine its own standards. See the tenth amendment.

    Ever seen a commercial strip with no sign regulation whatsoever? It's a cacophony of visual dementia. Its ugly and it also lowers local property values.

    Ever seen a community that enforces reasonable uniformity to commercial signage? Here's a hint: you'll usually see them in very well to do neighborhoods with very high property values.

  • ||

    Thanks, Matt Welch. Over time, I've found that one becomes indifferent to this constant government meddling, until before you know it, they've butted into every aspect of your life. Though perhaps less onerous than the examples in the article, why should the government tell me that I can no longer buy incandescant light bulbs, or that my toilet can only flush with 1.6 gallons? I can see real advantages to Congressional gridlock--at least the Congress wouldn't be enacting more buttinski legislation.

  • Kevin Mahoney||

    America's obsession is not liberty -- it's safety. Better to suffocate us with rules that may prevent some accident or the exercise of flawed judgment, even if it dispirits us in the process. The freedom loving Americans rejoicing on the 4th of July with fireworks and hotdogs have what they've been demanding: Every area of life is now regulated.

    No where is this regulation more suffocating than in the area of criminal defense. I've devoted an article to it at my website, www.relentlessdefense.com, if you're interested.

  • ||

    New York property laws are insane- if a child under 13 wanders onto your property and hurts themselves, you can be sued, even if you were away on vacation!

  • Mick||

    Bravo, Matt! Well said.

  • ||

    I totally agree that government pushes too far into private interests with burdensome and poorly written rules. But this fear that your everyday behavior will trigger prosecution is a total canard, and you know it.

    So the authorities shut down a 7 year old's lemonade stand. What if she was using tainted lemons? Regulations are in place to make sure the supply chain is safe. If somebody got food poisoning, the whole community would rail against the government for inadequate oversight. Can you imagine the nightmare skyline if cities didn't regulate the size and shape of signs? If everyone was allowed to build 100 foot high signs on hideous metal poles in front of every business? That's why you need to apply for a variance.

    Somebody has to make sure the community good is taken into consideration. Private interests only have themselves to worry about. Government is the only "sector" that really has the public at large in mind.

  • Alpheus||

    What makes you think that government always has the public at large in mind? And, if they really do, what makes you so sure they are competent to adequately ensure the public safety?

    This is problematic, because when we get so caught up in safety, we do so at the detriment of just living our lives.

    Suppose that 7-year-old really did use tainted lemons: At what point are we allowed to be adults, and accept that risk, rather than run to the government every time we get sick?

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  • Debra Garrison||

    I currently mentor several high school students in the veterinary technology curriculum at my veterinary hospital. Under the new law, I would be require to pay them, but since they are just observing and are learning, I cannot afford to pay them. I would have to eliminate the mentoring program all together which would be a great loss to these wonderful students

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