Government's Work Is Never Done

The endless expansion of big government

"When," humorist P.J. O’Rourke has asked, "can we quit passing laws and raising taxes? When can we say of our political system, ‘Stick a fork in it, it’s done’?... The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop."

Alas for O’Rourke and those who sympathize with him, the project of contemporary liberalism is never done. You might look upon the vast expansion of the regulatory state over the past couple of decades and conclude that government could afford to take a breather—maybe even a three-day weekend. Wrong. To the liberal or progressive eye, the remarkable thing is not how much government does—but how much it has yet to do.

Take the recent tragic crash of a tour bus in the Bronx, which killed 15. Nobody knows yet what caused it. No matter. "Lax Rules for Discount Buses Cited After I-95 Crash," ran the New York Times headline over a story which began: "Discount tour buses transport millions of passengers a year"—sounds good so far, but here comes the but—"but the federal government has little control over who gets behind the wheel." Better pass some more rules, stat.

Warning about too little regulation is a house specialty at the Times, which over the past couple of years has run a "Toxic Waters" series about "the worsening pollution in American waters and regulators’ response"; a "Radiation Boom" series about advanced medical techniques ("As Technology Surges, Radiation Safeguards Lag"); and a "Drilling Down" series on natural-gas fracking ("Regulation Lax as Gas Wells’ Tainted Water Hits Rivers").

But it’s not just The Times. The default position for most major media outlets is that more regulation is good—and whenever a new problem arises, the obvious and necessary answer is a firmer government hand.

Or even when a new problem does not arise. A few days ago The Washington Post ran a lengthy story on car booster seats for children who weigh more than 65 pounds, which "are not held to any government safety requirements." Missing from the story: Any evidence that this has increased carnage on the roadways. To the contrary, the article quotes a car-seat specialist for the Safe Kids advocacy group, who confirms that "we’re not seeing large numbers of kids affected by shoddy products." Nevertheless, the article lamented the fact that "parents are confronted with a barrage of safety seat choices"—why can’t the government mandate just one?!—and "many parents say they find little information about seats beyond what they cull from private testing organizations, such as Consumer Reports magazine and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety." Oh, is that all?

"Just when you thought it was safe to pull up to a table to eat," warned NPR’s Joanne Silberner not long ago, "infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm of the University of Minnesota says think again." Even though a new food safety measure recently has been signed into law, even though the number of people sickened from eating tainted food has actually declined, not all is well, because—ready for it?—Republicans in Congress have been "expressing great reluctance" about meeting the FDA’s $326 million request for new food safety activities, Silberner reported.

Note what her story did not say: that Congress had refused the request. Or that the new activities could not possibly be performed for less than the sum requested. Or, more pertinent, that the regulatory activities would actually produce commensurate gains in food safety. Or any gains at all, for that matter. Those gains were simply assumed.
But not all regulations are created equal. A 1980 ban on unvented space heaters cost around $100,000 per life saved (in 1995 dollars), according to an article in the Fall 2002 issue of Regulation magazine. By contrast, a 1991 rule governing the chemical 1,2-Dichloropropane in drinking water cost $1.9 billion per life saved.

Since money is finite, it makes sense to spend regulatory dollars where they will do the most good. The platitudinous statement that "if it saves one life, it’s worth it" is not only wrong, but tragically wrong if the resources used to save that one life could have saved 500 others. And sometimes, regulations actually have the opposite effect of that intended. There is even a term for the phenomenon—the Peltzman Effect, named after Sam Peltzman, a University of Chicago economist who found that seat-belt laws and other safety measures often encourage more reckless driving. (This has been demonstrated in, among other places, Drachten, Holland, where the frequency of accidents at a particular intersection declined after lights and traffic signals were removed.)

Considerations such as these seem to carry little weight with fans of the regulatory state such as The Washington Post’s Harold Meyerson—who noted, in the wake of the once-in-a-millennium tsunami that has devastated Japan, that "we haven’t defeated risk." Once we have—presumably after the Rapture comes—then maybe the expansion of the regulatory state can throttle down. Until then, this much is clear: If O’Rourke wants to stick a fork in anything, he better have a permit.

A. Barton Hinkle is a columnist at the Richmond Times-Dispatch. This article originally appeared at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

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  • ||

    not how much government does—but how much it has yet to do

    Still wondering how I manage to sleep at night...oh yeah, fitfully.

  • ||

    Don't worry, the government is hard at work to solve your sleeping problems.

  • Old Salt||

    My Russian mail order bride "Lady AK-47" gives me great comfort resting under my bed at night but then again, she'd probably give me even greater piece of my mind if I ever actually slept...

  • ||

    Right. He's probably sleeping on an unregulated mattress, eating foods way past the time the FDA recommends, and using too many unregulated herbal products.

  • ||

    1. I better warn Tempurpedic of the upcoming legislative/regulatory shitstorm they're going to face.

    2. Ate the 2nd half of a tub of cottage cheese thta sat in the fridge for 2-3 weeks...no mold, no foul.

    3. no comment.

    4. stop stalking me Len.

  • ||

    (oh, wait...eating way past the recommended time of day...not expiration dates...d'oh)

  • ||

    A man may work from sun to sun,
    but a regulator's job is never done.

  • ||

    Taking the nanny state a bit literally, eh?

  • Old Mexican||

    To the liberal or progressive eye, the remarkable thing is not how much government does—but how much it has yet to do.


    Akin to the Winchester mansion, and just as nutty.

  • Spanky||

    Come on! We need more stairways to nowhere!

  • Team Blue||

    Tiffany stained glass windows that overlook adjoining walls... progress is great!

  • celtigirl||

    At least Sarah used her own damn money to appease her demons.

  • ||

    If only Japan had used the power of words on paper to stop that wall of water.

  • Almanian||

    Lacist!!

  • Robert||

    Not "craw", C£aw!

  • Tim||

    And of course, the FCC wants to regulate the internet.

  • Hobie Hanson||

    It will regulate the delivery of the Internet, not the Internet itself. That's like saying government regulates pizza because it imposes a speed limit on the delivery guy.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Hobie Hanson,

    It will regulate the delivery of the Internet, not the Internet itself.


    What's the difference?

    That's like saying government regulates pizza because it imposes a speed limit on the delivery guy.


    Wrong analogy. More like the government regulating the size of each pizza regardless of cost.

  • Hobie Hanson||

    Nice red herring. The FCC will still allow them to charge higher for more banwidth.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Hobie Hanson,

    Nice red herring. The FCC will still allow them to charge higher for more banwidth.


    Are you involved in a different discussion? It was YOU who brought up the analogy; I am showing you it is an incorrect, improper, i.e. FALSE analogy. Where's the red herring, you fool?

    Again, WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE? "It will regulate the delivery of the Internet, not the Internet itself."

  • Anonymous Coward||

    The FCC shouldn't have the power to allow them to charge anything.

  • slowburnaz||

    Bad analogy. The Internet is NOTHING without its delivery mechanism. I can still go pick up a pizza myself.

  • Scruffy Nerd Herder||

    And I was just getting ready to order that MP3 and pick it up at the Apple store.

  • ||

    Conveniently stored on a semi-durable plastic disc...hey, waitaminute....

  • ||

    Only deep dish though. The thin crust has to be run over by the delivery guy; that's part of how they're made.

  • Hobie Hanson||

    You can go to the library and access the Internet directly there, too.

  • Dr. Peter Venkman||

    How did your brackets hold up after last weekend, Hobie? Any of your teams still in?

  • cynical||

    No, dipshit net neutrality advocates would like the FCC to regulate delivery of the internet. The government, of which the FCC is actually a part, would like to regulate content of the internet, and has indicated this preference through its censorship in other domains, its tentative attacks on the internet (seizing thousands of domains at a time), its demands for greater access to private information, greater control over security of "critical" private assets, its backdoor meetings with major network service/content folks (Google, Facebook, etc.) and so on. Anyone vaguely paying attention knows the government wants more power over the internet, include at a minimum the capacity to identify speakers, which will make it much easier to punish speech.

    And when government uses its powers to attack speech, the same useless idiots that can't understand why President Obama is so different from Candidate Obama will stand around looking confused and upset, saying, "but this isn't what we asked for". Their gullibility is a major externality, one which needs to be resolved.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Wow, Hobie... you are one trusting soul. You TRULY believe what you typed, don't you?

  • Otto||

    The platitudinous statement that "if it saves one life, it’s worth it" is not only wrong, but tragically wrong if the resources used to save that one life could have saved 500 others.

    But Michael Moore says scarcity is a myth!

  • ||

    I thought progressives believed in a zero-sum game concerning resources? They can't make up their mind it seems.

  • OhioOrrin||

    renewable energy is not a zero-sum game. try again

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: OhioOrrin,

    renewable energy is not a zero-sum game. try again


    It is if you have to subsidize it in order to fool buyers into believing it is just as cost-effective as the other alternatives - out of one pocket, into another, i.e. ZERO-SUM game.

    You lack thinking skills.

  • OhioOrrin||

    try, just try to think in the future tense. renewables require subsidizes NOW because of THE ENTIRE LOGISITC INFRASTRUCTURE FOR carbon fuels already exists. this will also be true for wind, solar, geothermal, ocean currents one day (since hydro exists now).

  • ||

    Now it finds the shift key.

  • Trespassers W||

    Exactly. I mean, how would one ever find capital for long-term projects without subsidies?

  • Almanian||

    Fucking venture capital, how does it work?

  • The market crash||

    tell us please

  • fish||

    Infant Industry fallacy! Fail urine fail!

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: OhioOrrin,

    try, just try to think in the future tense.


    You're avoiding the issue.

    renewables require subsidizes NOW because of THE ENTIRE LOGISITC [sic] INFRASTRUCTURE FOR carbon fuels already exists.


    Not only are you a fool, you're an arrogant fool. There was a HUGE logistical apparatus to supply whale oil to consumers, yet NO subsidies were required to shift the market to kerosene and natural gas. Your contention makes NO SENSE.

    If the government sees a need to subsidize so-called "renewables," is because the government wants to hide the COSTS from consumers. Besides this, the energy infrastructure is THE SAME for coal-fired, nat gas, oil and nuclear electricity generation as it would be for renewables since they use the same distribution network. You're talking as if renewables required a totally different distribution system, which is not true.

  • OhioOrrin||

    the tax code (nor federal income taxes) wasnt in place when we used whale oil or no doubt it would've enjoyed subsidises (including research grants to universities) when it first started.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: OhioOrrin,

    the tax code (nor federal income taxes) wasnt in place when we used whale oil or no doubt it would've enjoyed subsidises [sic] (including research grants to universities) when it first started.


    World - meet again the shithead who thinks tax credits/loopholes/breaks are a form of "subsidy."

  • UrineOhio||

    Welcome back, Urine! Your unique brand of stupid is always welcome here! Dumbass....

  • OhioOrrin||

    and u continue to estalk a "dumbass" ! wow

  • UrineOhio||

    Just keep running into you at the adult table, Urine! Run along with the other children, now!

  • Brett L||

    Right. Good thing Rockafeller had all of those subsidies to break free of the entrenched whale oil industry.

  • OO||

    exactly my point. the whale industry wasnt entranched. and rockefeller is the last example one would use to describe fair competition.

  • shorter OO||

    The people are too stupid to know what's good for them. We must subsidize "renewable" energy and impose it upon.

    This is the will of the philosopher-kings.

  • Ron||

    There are millions+/- of gas stations across America and not one of them was subsidized by the government. the oil industry itself was created by private citizens so again why should should we subsidize windmills and solar plants.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    the oil industry itself was created by private citizens so again why should should we subsidize windmills and solar plants.

    Because it will make OhioOrrin feel good, and to him that's all that matters.

  • fish||

    Apparently in Michael Moore's world scarcity is a myth.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "But Michael Moore says scarcity is a myth!"

    It sure ain't a myth to anybody behind Moore in the all you can eat buffet line.

  • fish||

    When Michael Moore is in town he dines at "The Locust Buffet"!

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    So... are we supposed to drink if someone calls Michael Moore fat here at the hit'n'run, or is that something they should be doing at salon, huffpost, rollingstone, msnbc, rachelmaddowlikesfisitng.com, and/or rather's blog?

  • ||

    rachelmaddowlikesfisitng.com,

    I LOVE THIS !!!!

  • Tim||

    "if it saves one life, it’s worth it"

    Depends on whose life we're talking about.

  • Typical DC Politician||

    Mine, of course!

  • Old Mexican||

    [S]ometimes, regulations actually have the opposite effect of that intended. There is even a term for the phenomenon — the Peltzman Effect, named after Sam Peltzman, a University of Chicago economist who found that seat-belt laws and other safety measures often encourage more reckless driving.


    People like Tony would argue that these regulations are required because, otherwise, people would act irrationally and damage him. Such thinking underlines the typical liberal's siege mentality, the thinking that he or she is the only thinking person on the very planet being besieged by unruly barbarians sans government.

  • ||

    Actually, I think it's projection. They think about what they would be like without rules and want to imagine everyone else is as hollow and ugly on the inside as they are.

  • ||

    You only need a small minority of people with hollow and ugly interiors to fuck up a blissful anarchy. And yes, that minority exists in every society.

  • ||

    Good thing I'm not an anarchist then.

  • ||

    You're saying rules are unnecessary.

  • Dr. Peter Venkman||

    Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!

  • ||

    Everything was fine until dickless here turned off the power.

    Is this true ?

    Yes. This man has no dick.

  • ||

    No, I didn't.

    A world without rules would include those who think the worse of everyone else, the people I postulate are the worse themselves. That is not an endorsement of no rules, but rather a suggestion that those who love rules--as opposed to those who see them as a necessary evil--are the ones who need rules the most.

    I guess I must have touched a nerve there.

  • ||

    Nice try. That's not what you said.

    "without rules" != "with minimal rules"

  • ||

    Hypothesizing about someone else's view of the perils of anarchy is not an endorsement of anarchy.

  • Puppet of the Sock||

    It has never stopped him before.

  • Anarchy||

    Why is Tulpa always picking on me?

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tulpa,

    You only need a small minority of people with hollow and ugly interiors to fuck up a blissful anarchy.


    ... because the majority of people are woefully naive. Like the Eloi. All of them.

    Got it.

  • cynical||

    Hardly. You're assuming other people lack the capacity to deal with assholes other than through government. Even with government, you pretty much have to handle imminent threats yourself.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: SugarFree,

    Actually, I think it's projection. They think about what they would be like without rules and want to imagine everyone else is as hollow and ugly on the inside as they are.


    That is it. I always ask people like Tony: "Do YOU need rules to be a good person?"

    They might answer "Well, certainly not me, but everybody else does!" To which I reply "what makes you think everybody else does not think like you do, where they say to themselves 'I don't need rules, I know better?' The net effect would be a society where everybody follows unwritten rules but still consider everybody else a barbarian. It may not be a place devoid of risk, but certainly people would be VERY polite!"

    But statist fucks want one ring to rule them all, one ring to find them,
    one ring to bring them all and, in the darkness, bind them!

  • Anonymous Coward||

    If only they took such a dim view of themselves with power.

    They are too evil to live free, but not too evil to rule over others.

  • OhioOrrin||

    look old mex, i would not care if u didnt wear a motorcycle helmet provided ur health care costs are not passed-on in part to me. but they are in larger costs & deductables...so put the damn helmet on.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: OhioOrrin,

    look old mex, i would not care if u didnt wear a motorcycle helmet provided ur health care costs are not passed-on in part to me.


    I will make sure that never happens, as long as you do not pass your costs on to me. Can you afford to give me the same courtesy I am offering you, or are you just full of shit like your fellow socialist thieves?

  • ||

    Well then it should be law that you get 20 minutes of exercise each day, have your smoking, drinking, & consumption of red meats regulated by law so that you're increased health care costs are not passed on to me! This stupid game can be played all day long until no one has any freedom at all.

  • OhioOrrin||

    if ur behavior passes costs to me then ur a socialist too.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: OhioOrrin,

    if ur behavior passes costs to me then ur a socialist too.


    Which behavior?

  • ||

    EXTERNALITIES!!!!!11!!!

  • Old Mexican||

    That's what I thought the double-asshole (or "OO") was thinking: a hobgoblin, to shift the focus away from monetary costs.

  • ||

    Wow, now your making a case for deregulating insurance so you can join providers that only allow the healthiest people and safest drivers, where your costs would be minimally impacted by the bad choices of others. See, now we're on the same page!

  • ||

    Fuck'n shit! I've used "your" & "you're" incorrectly twice in two posts now! Can't blame the public schools on that one...it's the laziness! I will learn to proofread...I will learn to proofread.

  • Puppet of the Sock||

    It would be great if they added an editing option. In my own post below, I caught a 'to' for 'two', and 'of' for 'up', an unnecessary 'also' that mangles a sentence construction, and a few more minor errors. I would blame it on English being my second language but I haven't used my native (Klingon, lol, just keeding) in several years.

  • Almanian||

    Fucking preview...

  • Puppet of the Sock||

    That actually makes it worse more times than not. You have the full field to see the preview material but a tiny four lines and fourteen character length to correct in. That is the source of many miscalculations that leave an editing job with out-of-place words dangling about. You preview again, and it takes forever for the second preview screen to pop up. Just a shite design you have to work around. Not worth the time to have Word up either.

  • ||

    On Chrome, you can resize the "typing" window.

  • Puppet of the Sock||

    I've suspected Google of being a CIA front from the time they gained market share over their competitors. Check out the wayback machine and punch in a year 2000 version of the Yahoo front face, categorical layout still looks more useful to me than google.com.

    However, I admit I was likely wrong in my assumption; they are a product of the NSA. Should have guessed that from the start given the neoliberal rhetoric the company spouts.

    http://www.google.com/search?q.....=firefox-a

    Yeah, the irony of linking that link is not lost on me.

  • ||

    In other words the government doing wrong (passing on costs), justifies the government doing wrong (regulating behavior harmful only to the individual). You don't see the problem there?

    And of course being the statist worshiper you are, rather than advocate for less government on one part which would make sense, you just go right ahead and support as much control by the government as possible.

  • OhioOrrin||

    no, in the case of motorcycle helmets, the health costs are passed-on to other consumers by the for-profit insurance industry.

  • ||

    Fine...now follow that logic through. The government should not be charging ME extra taxes to help educate YOUR kids. Your decision to have kids is costing ME money. How is it so easy for you to apply that sort of logic against "for-profit" organizations but not when it comes to big government spreading costs in the same way? So now lets make laws about how many kids you can have since their costs affects me.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    The government should not be charging ME extra taxes to help educate YOUR kids. Your decision to have kids is costing ME money.

    Repeat the mantra...

    IT'S FOR THE CHILDREN.

  • ||

    "no, in the case of motorcycle helmets, the health costs are passed-on to other consumers by the for-profit insurance industry."

    I don't ride motorcycles or work in the industry, but I would have to assume that the rates would be dependent on whether or not one wears a helmet. So if someone who under the terms of their insurance didn't wear one was liable for their costs then how are they being passed on to you. If the rates are adjusted properly for those who do and those who don't, again how are costs being passed on to you?

    Are you exercising enough, eating the right diet, getting enough sleep? I can just as well argue that you are passing on costs to me.

  • ||

    I would have to assume that the rates would be dependent on whether or not one wears a helmet.

    You'd be wrong. In PA no helmet is required but there is no discount for wearing one. It is a non-factor in determining rates.

  • ||

    if ur behavior passes costs to me then ur a socialist too.

    Ken? Ken Schultz? Is that you?

  • ||

    [Well then it should be law that you get 20 minutes of exercise each day, have your smoking, drinking, & consumption of red meats regulated by law so that you're increased health care costs are not passed on to me!]

    Has there ever been a better argument against mandated government healthcare??

  • Old Mexican||

    "Considerations such as these seem to carry little weight with fans of the regulatory state such as The Washington Post's Harold Meyerson — who noted, in the wake of the once-in-a-millennium tsunami that has devastated Japan, that 'we haven't defeated risk.' "


    Another feature of typical liberal philosophy: Severe risk aversion.

  • Scruffy Nerd Herder||

    I always figured it was a required component of bureaucracy.

  • ||

    This has been demonstrated in, among other places, Drachten, Holland, where the frequency of accidents at a particular intersection declined after lights and traffic signals were removed.

    And traffic has slowed to a crawl.

  • Another Phil||

    ...which you can't possibly know.

  • ||

    I don't need to know it to know it.

  • Zeb||

    Bullshit. It depends quite a lot on the nature of the intersection, which you know nothing about (neither do I). I have personally witnessed intersections that went from smoothly running at all times to significant backups at busy times when a stop sign was installed. This proves nothing about the Dutch intersection, but does illustrate that you should not be so certain.

  • Puppet of the Sock||

    It has never stopped him before, why would it now?

  • ||

    See, this is the problem with H&R. The author mentions a vague example with no references to support his position, and you don't cry foul the least bit because you agree with his position.

    Then I come along and point out the inconvenient obvious -- that simple uncontrolled intersections (ie, not roundabouts) can't handle as much traffic flow -- and y'all jump down my throat for not having five citations.

  • Puppet of the Sock||

    When was the last time you had a traffic jam at a purely private parking lot? Your obvious is not so obvious, buttface.

  • ||

    Uh, every weekend at the grocery store? Don't get out much, do you.

    And of course, roads aren't parking lots -- they typically have much more traffic.

  • Puppet of the Sock||

    You fail for that jab. See the left hand hook below. Lol@cha's!

  • Puppet of the Sock||

    BTW, the megamart center with the Wal-mart, Best Buy, Home Depot, Super K, Sam's Club, Audies and seventy odd other shops handles traffic along it's private system of roads much more efficiently than the much congested and smaller highway just a half a mile away. So, in your face! Anyone who lives near one will instantly realize the obvious, you are most terribly wrong, Mr. Roadz.

    BWAHAHAHAH!

  • ||

    There's a reason traffic reports on the radio refer to an extremely slow-moving section of highway as "a parking lot", silly.

  • Puppet of the Sock||

    Tulpa|3.22.11 @ 1:42PM|#

    There's a reason traffic reports on the radio refer to an extremely slow-moving section of highway as "a parking lot", silly.
    You can't box worth crap.
    You're still stuck on that jab fake out, long after I have popped you a few times with the other hand. Not talking about parking lots now.

  • Zeb||

    They refer to traffic jams as "parkinglots" because cars are not moving. Not because parking lots are particularly bad when it comes to traffic flow. Most cars in parking lots are generally parked.

  • Puppet of the Sock||

    Just did a look up of the .8 mile public highway corridor between to exits near that megamart center.

    In the last five years, # of traffic fatalities -- 22.
    # of traffic fatalities for the seven roads that make of the megamart loop -- 0.

    (Megamart -- has heavier traffic over all as well)

    You lose, Statist!

  • Puppet of the Sock||

    The obvious (to use your favorite word above, chief) conclusion to be drawn from this is, government doesn't give a fuck about liability because it doesn't cost the decision makers a penny when they make mistakes that cost people their lives. Private markets can't ignore it. Thus, the public ROADZ are much more dangerous and also inefficient than they need to be.

  • Almanian||

    Uh, you're wrong, Tulpa. I read an excerpt from a book anbout this very experiment - some Dutch guy, "Mister Traffic Genius" who's a guru at this shit - the traffic now flows more smoothly and FASTER after removing the signs.

    And not just this town, multiple towns and cities over years of research and application.

    No, I'm not going to go find the damned link...

  • some guy||

    Not necessarily. They recently took out a stop sign near my work and put in a traffic circle. Even though they drew the lines wrong in the circle people still figured out how to use the thing properly. Flow through that intersection has increased as measured by the amount of time it takes me to get through it every day. See... without signs and signals to tell you what to do you end up driving in a way that maximizes your risk/reward ratio. You pay more attention because accidents are expensive. You don't stop unnecessarily because wasted time is annoying. It all works out!

  • ||

    I fucking hate roundabouts/traffic circles.

    If anyone in DC knew or cared how to use them correctly, I might hate them a little less, but for fuck's sake, give me a traffic signal any day.

    More interesting to me is how conventions appear spontaneously at certain intersections and on certain roads I drive daily. At several, cars from both approaching sides on the same road turn in the same direction at the same time because of short cycles. On Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park, letting people out from cross streets is the norm for etiquette at 1-way stops, with people going every-other-car during heavy rush hours.

    The Park Police installed a stop sign at one of these intersections a few years ago and it completely fucked traffic. They took the sign out after a few days, thank god.

  • Spanky||

    I've got it! Let's start the War on Risk! Oh, wait.

  • seguin||

    Can I be in charge of the Purples?

  • ||

    I got Western Australia, bitches!

  • ||

    Too obvious, you'll get hemmed in.

  • fish||

    Don't know....sounds risky!

  • Scruffy Nerd Herder||

    We should be required reading in high school.

  • ||

    To the liberal or progressive eye party in power, the remarkable thing is not how much government does—but how much it has yet to do.

  • Realist||

    "The endless expansion of big government"....will bring this country down.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Warning about too little regulation is a house specialty at the Times, which over the past couple of years has run a "Toxic Waters" series about "the worsening pollution in American waters and regulators’ response"; a "Radiation Boom" series about advanced medical techniques ("As Technology Surges, Radiation Safeguards Lag"); and a "Drilling Down" series on natural-gas fracking ("Regulation Lax as Gas Wells’ Tainted Water Hits Rivers").

    But it’s not just The Times. The default position for most major media outlets is that more regulation is good—and whenever a new problem arises, the obvious and necessary answer is a firmer government hand.


    And yet they fail to address the extent of existing regulations.

  • Zeb||

    Aren't waters in the US generally massively cleaner than they were 30 or 40 years ago?

  • Almanian||

    Exhibit A - Lake Erie

  • OhioOrrin||

    so yes

  • UrineOhio||

    URA GENIOUS, URINE! Dumbass

  • ||

    Due to what? Lawsuits from damaged citizens or the EPA??

  • Colonel_Angus||

    New York Times most toxic water in the United States (probably):

    1. East River
    2. Harlem River
    3. Newtown Creek
    4. Gowanus Canal
    5. Coney Island Creek

    Stay classy, New York.

  • OO||

    kramer swims in the east river

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Since money is finite...."

    It is?

    Tell it to Helicopter Ben.

  • Scott||

    Interest rates are zerooooooooo!!!

  • Esteban||

    That prick Schmuck Schumer is all over the unregulated bus panic. I used to take the Chinatown bus to Boston because it was cheap and I understood that these buses were riskier, but that the the risks were worth the cheap cost. Everyone I knew who took he chinatown bus understood this too. Why does the government have to regulate this? Why can't people be free to make the choices themselves? If less people start to take the buses because they are scared of the dangers, then the bus companies will respond and increase safety.

  • Hobie Hanson||

    The Constitution, which you guys claim to love so dearly, requires Congress to regulate interstate commerce. Buses traveling from one state to another seem to fit the definition.

  • ||

    Please don't feed the troll.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Hobie Hanson,

    The Constitution, which you guys claim to love so dearly, requires Congress to regulate interstate commerce. Buses traveling from one state to another seem to fit the definition.


    Ha ha ha ha!!!!

    Butterflies also travel from one state to the other.

  • Almanian||

    REGISTER ALL OF 'EM!

  • OhioOrrin||

    so ride one

  • UrineOhio||

    Fuck, you bring the stupid hard! Does it hurt? Cause I gotta believe it HURTS to be so stupid!

  • some guy||

    http://www.fws.gov/midwest/end....._fact.html

    "Zoos are propagating Karner blues and those butterflies are being released in suitable habitat in Ohio, Indiana and New Hampshire to start new populations in areas where this butterfly had been extirpated."

    Interstate butterfly travel is regulated. Next!

  • Esteban||

    Well Chuck Schumer wants NY State to do this.

  • Zeb||

    Wrong, asshole. The commerce clause allows congress to regulate, it requires nothing. The Chinatown buses probably do fall under this power, but that doesn't mean that it is not a bad idea.

    Sorry, SF, can't help it sometimes.

  • ||

    It's OK. Just say 4 Hail Wartys and 5 Our Episiarchs and make an act of contortion.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    What Hobie thinks the Commerce Clause says:

    The Congress must regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes;

    What it actually says:

    The Congress shall have Power to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes;

    Because you have a power doesn't require you to use it.

  • cynical||

    With great power comes great... oh fuck it.

  • ||

    Yeah, if you're selling people.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Esteban,

    Why can't people be free to make the choices themselves?


    Statist fuck: "But where's the fun in that"?

  • ||

    Think of the churlren.

  • Pedophiles||

    always

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Riskier how? Do they take a different road than Greyhound or something?

    Riskier than flying? Riskier than staying home?

  • Esteban||

    Who knows if they were statistically riskier, but based on anecdotal evidence (ie, people I knew dealt with bus fires and minor accidents and other incidents on the chinatown buses while I never heard of people who took Peter Pan or Greyhound never seemed to encounter the same problems) the Chinatown buses are riskier.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    That's just part of the atmosphere on Chinatown operations. Greyhound has an atmosphere too: its called Port Authority. Is there anything in your day to day life honestly riskier than that?

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Has anyone ever been stabbed on a Chinatown bus? Decapitated? Who wasn't a chicken?

    It's happened on Greyhound.

  • ||

    Why does the government have to regulate this?

    Because, there is all that juicy revenue/campaign contributions in those companies, just waiting to be squeezed out.

  • ||

    renewable energy is not a zero-sum game. try again

    It's more like a net loss.

  • ||

    And traffic has slowed to a crawl.

    And you're complaining? I would have thought you, of all people would see that as a triumph of social engineering.

  • ||

    Hey, the kingdom of heaven isn't going to come down to earth unless we make it.

  • Zeb||

    A lot of people seem to be fighting for the role of God in this project.

  • ||

    renewable energy is not a zero-sum game.

    The available pool of investment dollars is finite, however, so diverting investment to renewable energy from more economic alternatives has opportunity costs.

  • ||

    Leviathan cannot be sated. Ever.

  • ||

    Not even by the 1120 calories in Hungry Man XXL Backyard Barbecue Dinner?

    It has 3300mgs of sodium! That's 138% of the recommended daily allowance! Yum!

  • Tony||

    the project of contemporary liberalism is never done.

    Do you guys think it is? All I hear are a bunch of complaints about how the world works. Many of which are valid. Why do you guys pretend you can achieve your policy goals by not governing? In fact, to achieve libertopia would require much more legislation than to achieve the incrementally more 'socialist' system I'd favor.

    You think you are extra virtuous because your policy choices are laissez-faire, as if leaving things alone equals freedom. This is not always true You can have a policy to forbid selling rotten meat, or you can have a policy to allow selling rotten meat. Put another way, you can have a policy that treats X amount of human deaths by rotten meat as OK, compared to Y amount. Not having a rule is not the same thing as not having a policy, and it's certainly not always the same as freedom.

  • ||

    You think you are extra virtuous because your policy choices are laissez-faire, as if leaving things alone equals freedom.

    We don't think that. And yes, me leaving you alone, either directly or via gummint proxy, is exactly that.

    You can have a policy to forbid selling rotten meat, or you can have a policy to allow selling rotten meat.

    Why would you buy rotten meat?

    Do you know of any business which tries to increase its profit margin by intentionally sickening or killing their customers? Other than the gummint, that is.

  • Tony||

    Being left alone is liberty, but does anyone really want to be left alone when it comes to food safety regulations?

    Supply and demand won't cut it. Having no rules on rotten meat means more people will die from eating rotten meat. Maybe that's OK with you, but I don't think a reasonable person would agree that an increase in human deaths is worth the "freedom" that comes from not having food safety regs. I mean, what's supposed to happen? Oh, 20 people died after shopping at this grocery store last week, we'll go down the street to their competitor! Would YOU be the first volunteer to try out a new grocery store? Who is harmed by having rules in place beforehand so that we don't have to bother with this nonsense?

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    Being left alone is liberty, but does anyone really want to be left alone when it comes to food safety regulations?


    One has to love Tony's non sequiturs. They're so... surrealist.

    Supply and demand won't cut it.


    "People are too stupid." Up is down.

  • Tony||

    No, people are smart enough to develop regulations when supply and demand are inadequate.

  • ||

    Huh, that makes no sense. Regulations cannot magically conjure up more resources or more labor, although in the sense you seem to be saying they can force people to provide for other people, and that is slavery.

  • Edwin||

    regulation is slavery? That's funny, being part of a business, I have to abide by regulations all the time, and I sure as hell don't consider my situation nearly as shitty as the slaves of antebellum America. Why, I've never even been whipped.

    You think hyperbole makes a stronger statement, but it just makes you look like an idiot.

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    A slave wasn't whipped either if they did what they were told. Do you think that if a slave is given comfortable lodgings, plenty of food, recreation time etc. they're not longer a slave? The problem with slavery was not the shitty living conditions - it was the requirement to obey a master or else be beaten.

  • Edwin||

    again, your hyperbole only makes you look stupid

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    Again, you have to explain the relevant difference between the situation of early American slaves and someone who has to provide a service on someone else's terms without contract or else go to jail. And by the way, this isn't hyperbole. Hyperbole would be saying that being a business owner in the 21st century is like being a slave in the 19th. I don't believe that's what Len was saying. I think he meant, and I agree, that being forced to provide services you don't want to provide is, in fact, slavery. If you look at what he wrote:

    "...you seem to be saying they can force people to provide for other people, and that is slavery."

    this interpretation is apparent.

  • Edwin||

    your life nor anyone else's life in modern America is anywhere near as crappy as that of actual slaves

    you know this, you understand this, on some level

    and yet you keep asserting your nonsense

    maybe if libertarianism keeps make you assert silly things, then libertarianism is silly

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    No, I deliberately did not assert that anyone's life in modern America (I'm British by the way) is as bad as that of 'actual slaves' - I asserted that they were actual slaves. Sure, they're actually slaves with a quality of life a slave in the 19th century couldn't possibly have dreamed of, and they're slaves to a lesser degree. Here's my suggestion: go back and read what I wrote. Thoroughly.

  • Edwin||

    yes you did, that was the original comment on this sub-thread. poster "Len" said "that is slavery" at 4:28

    you're trying to make strong claims by making absurd ones - you are deliberately trying to compare actual slavery to modern states, because your brain is so frazzled that you think there's a valid comparison somewhere there.
    Why don't you try to un-fuck your brain, stop being such a fucking aspberger douche nerd, go out, and try to get laid a little, and get used to people a little

    FYI, it isn't nearly slavery when I can freely move to any country/jurisdiction in the world, and even in the context you stated the punishments allowed are limited and might only be confiscation of some property (fine) - whereas a slaveowner can do ANYTHING he wants to the slave

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    No, nobody compared the life of a modern American or modern Englishman or anyone to the life of a 19th century slave. Len didn't even mention the 19th century. He said 'that is slavery', not 'that is like slavery'. As in, that ACTUALLY IS slavery (and if I've interpreted Len's comments wrongly, I apologise, but my position is it ACTUALLY IS slavery, so imagine you're just arguing with me). As in, when you tell someone that they have to do something for you, and you threaten them with physical assault if they don't, you're enslaving that person. You are making them a slave. A slave they fucking are. This says nothing about whether they're a happier slave or a healthier slave or a richer slave than slaves were in the 19th century because that's not relevant. The point is they are a slave.
    Don't give me that social contract bullshit. No contract was entered into. The government has no right to demand that I leave my land if I don't obey them, since I own my land, not the government. They do not have my consent to rule over me or my property.
    And imagine this: instead of slavery being entirely outlawed, a law was passed to stop slaveowners using overly harsh punishments on their slaves. If the slave disobeys, the slaveowner can now only take the slave's property (assuming they have some). If the slave has no property, or the slave resists paying the fine, the slaveowner can then capture the slave and lock him up for a couple of years. If the slave resists capture, the slaveowner is then authorised to use lethal force. Now, is the slave still a slave? Of course he is.

  • Edwin||

    it isn't slavery if you have a choice, you can leave any country you want any time, and the gov's ability to punish you is limited

    You keep making this absurd claim. there's something very wrong with you if you think every citizen of modern democracies are in fact slaves

  • ||

    Shh, OM. Tony almost certainly thinks "The Jungle" was a work of non-fiction.

  • ||

    "Being left alone is liberty, but does anyone really want to be left alone when it comes to food safety regulations?"

    God yes! Please, leave me the fuck alone when it comes to food and drugs. I'd say that is probably the single most important thing we can do to improve our society is to eliminate the DEA and FDA.

  • ||

    You don't know how to tell when meat is rotten? Really?

  • ||

    Well, when one cuts off their nose to spite their face.....

  • ||

    Oh, 20 people died after shopping at this grocery store last week, we'll go down the street to their competitor! Would YOU be the first volunteer to try out a new grocery store?

    You really have absolutely no idea how the world operates, do you?

  • Tony||

    I know that food safety regulations weren't just a socialist conspiracy to oppress you.

  • ||

    So, you don't. Got it.

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    Nobody is ever going to buy rotten meat voluntarily because it has no value to them. Obviously. I mean, like, duh.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    Do you guys think it is? All I hear are a bunch of complaints about how the world works.


    Yeah, why bother, right?

    "Mr. Salk, why keep bitching about how the world works? Stop finding a cure for polio and just sulk like a good, obedient little serf. Tony said we should."

    Why do you guys pretend you can achieve your policy goals by not governing?


    There are no policy goals, asshole. There's only freedom, or slavery.

  • Tony||

    Only freedom or slavery. No gray area. And don't bother to define what freedom means, it's written in a stone somewhere. See I think having restrictions on selling rotten food contributes greatly to freedom over the alternative. Or is the liberty to purchase rotten food worth the lives it will cost? How are you free when you're dead?

  • ||

    "How are you free when you're dead?"

    Really? Everyone dies Tony, so what matters is living and how one lives is what is germane. Does one live as a slave to others, or free, and yes quality does matter, but you errantly believe that government is the source of better quality.

    How do you even argue that in the light of all the examples we have of truly big government, such as the former USSR, the present N. Korea, Cuba, China?

  • Tony||

    For the thousandth time, believing in government is not the same thing as believing North Korea's government is a good one.

    Government doesn't make fresh food, but it can forbid you from selling poisonous good, punishing you if you do. That's what it's there for. Most people don't feel oppressed by having such regulations. On the contrary I think people would say they are more free than they would be without them. I can go to any food seller anywhere in my city and know I probably won't be poisoned. If there were no minimum standards, no health inspections, you would not be able to say that.

  • ||

    Government can forbid you from selling poisonous food. So in other words it can only do what is already natural law, as selling me poisonous food is an assault against me.

    Again you just totally miss the fact that regulations aren't needed, and that the market can set the standards without intervention.

    In a free market there will be inspection companies to give the stamp of approval to groceries, restaurants and vendors, AND the accountability will be greater as government gives itself immunity, but in a free market businesses will be liable for fraud or malfeasance.

  • Tony||

    There's ample evidence for how this works absent government regulations... look at history prior to them existing.

    in a free market businesses will be liable for fraud or malfeasance.

    Meaning government has to have standards to enforce!

  • ||

    Meaning government has to have standards to enforce! No, it doesn't enforce them, but it provides the justice system for when they are violated. Also, the government is not setting those standards, the market is, and if the market is that means that it is truly the people being boss as consumers.

  • Tony||

    No, it doesn't enforce them, but it provides the justice system for when they are violated.

    The difference here is minimal. You want "poisoning people" to be a legal injury. I say "selling poisoned food" should be the injury. Absolutely no difference in the freedom equation, my system just results in fewer dead people.

  • Edwin||

    indeed. And pre-codified law, as opposed to post-incident judgements, have the HUGE advantage of letting investors know what to expect from the law, as opposed to having their investments wiped out by the judges after they've already made their investments

  • ||

    "All I hear are a bunch of complaints about how the world works."

    No they're actually complaints about how government works.

    ---------------------------------------

    In fact, to achieve libertopia would require much more legislation than to achieve the incrementally more 'socialist' system I'd favor.

    Admittedly I don't believe in libertopia due to human nature, but as a political goal it's worthwhile. Anyway,no, it would require much less legislation and much simpler legislation as interaction would be more consent based and laws (minarchist model) would reflect that. Laws would also not grant privileges to anyone, or in other words the government would not do what people themselves cannot do. So for me, government could not do education, money,welfare, etc.,as I have in a state of nature no right to your money or time for my purposes other than through consensual contract. Government however can administer justice or protect people and property as in a state of nature I could do that myself.

    Now granted the anarcho-capitalist thinks I'm a heretic, but eh, I say at least get to the minarchist state before waging war, non-agressive war of course.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Tony, are you still fighting the "inactivity is really activity and therefore Commerce" battle?

  • Tony||

    I'm saying that there's no such thing as no policy. We are both equally responsible for the policies we support, whether they are more regulations or less. Both have consequences.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Tony, by the definition of the word policy, neither you nor I, as private citizens, establish policy. Policy is an organizational phenomena. We are as "responsible" for the policies we support as we are for who our favorite sports team decides to start and who rides the pine.

    There is such a thing as no policy. It's called not working in government. Then it is merely opinion.

  • Edwin||

    except for that whole voting thing...

  • And...||

    When's the last time you got the exact policy you thought you were voting for?

  • ||

    No, he's arguing here that absent policy there'll still be some organically-arrived-at "default", and that refusing to make policy altering the default amounts to tacit endorsement of the default.

    Unlike much of what Tony says, it's not a retarded argument. The problem is that it's freighted with a lot of Tony's completely asinine assumptions about the world, e.g., that having your existence managed by hopefully-benevolent technocrats is superior to relying on the dispersed wisdom of free people.

  • Tony||

    Right. But I think people in their wisdom are capable of deciding when it's appropriate to have themselves managed, and that relying on a Darwinian system of emergent benefits is both the least efficient system imaginable and contrary to how humans actually live.

  • ||

    relying on a Darwinian system of emergent benefits is both the least efficient system imaginable and contrary to how humans actually live

    (citation needed)

  • Tony||

    Well, a Darwinian system relies mostly on the cream of the crop emerging while everything else, the vast majority, dies off. If that's how you want human society to work, then you're a lunatic.

    And humans are, genetically, social animals. As a sort of corollary to my point about policy, there is no such thing as no government. People will be managed, and most such arrangements are not amenable to individual liberty. The trick is to make sure the management is accountable and checked. You don't get to wish authority away, and without a huge amount of ingenuity and even perhaps serendipity, that authority will be a form of tyranny. By definition that's something you don't get to choose--and the minarchist system most of you endorse would leave a power vacuum waiting to be filled.

  • ||

    Your original claim was that the oftentimes-implicit social arrangements that arise organically in the absence of central planning are "both the least efficient system imaginable and contrary to how humans actually live."

    Absolutely nothing you have said in your subsequent post comes anywhere close to substantiating that claim. Instead, you've gone on a completely irrelevant rant about the evils of social Darwinism and the omnipresence of coercive government.

    I will repeat my challenge to you: please demonstrate empirically that emergent social arrangements are not merely inferior to centrally-planned ones, but are "both the least efficient system imaginable and contrary to how humans actually live." For extra credit, explain why efficiency should be regarded as a higher-order value than individual liberty.

  • Tony||

    Well it's not emergent social arrangements I'm talking about--that can take the form of anything from informal customs to formal governments. Technically that's all "emergent." Either we're talking past each other or you really do endorse a prohibition on top-down management, something that might sound good to someone enamored with emergent complexity, but is completely inadequate. Part and parcel of many social arrangements is top-down management and organization. It's one way things get done. It works for private businesses, right? And in a much more autocratic fashion than our government.

    The arrangement I was responding to was one of complete rugged individualism, working under the assumption that human well-being will increase in an emergent way in the same way evolution increases fitness. But the reality of both evolution and the unregulated marketplace is that a tiny few manage to prosper, and everyone else fails. This is not an efficient way to produce innovation or prosperity. I'll take a centrally planned system where large amounts of resources can be thrown in useful directions over that any day. Humans aren't completely blind and feckless when it comes to figuring things out.

    I don't know whether efficiency is more important than individual liberty. But I do think human well-being is more important than both, and that both are only good insofar as they service human well-being.

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    And once again you think you get to define 'well-being' for everyone, which you bloody well don't. Also, a free market is not analogous to Darwinism, since the outcomes of the free market would be driven by the desires of the actors within.

  • Edwin||

    the elements of well-being can be pretty easily agreed upon by the vast majority of people.

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    So?

  • ||

    the elements of well-being can be pretty easily agreed upon by the vast majority of people.

    (citation needed)

  • Edwin||

    you need a citation for common sense?

    if fewer people die, that's better. If more people have more money, that's better, etc.

    common sense, you might want to try it sometime

    (now hold for libertarian strawmanning about 5 mph speed limits)

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    Yes, you have to make an argument for why anyone should be bound against their will to what you think is common sense. You have to make a goddamn argument. You have to make a motherfucking argument. They are your opinions, you are responsible for them, so make a goshdarned argument.

  • Edwin||

    I have to explain to you why fewer people dying or people being richer is a good thing, as viewed by the majority of people?

    Maybe you should hang around people more if you can't guess that they'd think like that. Libertarianism is just a form of aspberger's after all.

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    No, I said you had to explain why everyone has to be bound by law to what the majority of people think is a good thing. I'm asking you to give an ethical argument for your policy. Why is that so hard to understand? You do know that argument ad populum is a logical fallacy, right?

  • Edwin||

    except that's not what we were discussing

    in the original comment you complained about defining well-being

    and I'm telling you that that's silly and you know that's silly - we all know what more well-being is

    libertarians have an added element of well-being where even the smallest "freedoms" overrides everything else, and Tony and I (and pretty much everyone in the world) has told you that's stupid - but still, ignoring that issue, more health, more wealth etc. would be better, no? I mean that would be a preferable outcome if you had your libertopia, right? or are libertarians sadists?

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    We don't all know what more well-being is is my point. You want to say that the collective of humans has a measurable 'well-being', and that well-being is judged on what the majority of people think is 'well-being'. My point is how can we say that the majority's 'well-being' is the same as the remaining minority's 'well-being' when your only argument is 'because the majority say so'. So let's say we decide well-being includes longer lifespan. And then some guy puts his hand up and says, no, I want to die as soon as possible. Do we just tell him he's wrong, that he has no idea what well-being is, or do we admit that his well-being may not necessarily resemble ours? I want a longer lifespan. But I'm not going to try to claim that a longer lifespan is a universal good because I simply don't have the arguments to prove such a claim - and neither do you. So no, we don't know what more well-being is, unless we're talking about ourselves as individuals. Suffering isn't an absolute bad, it's merely undesirable for most people. Happiness isn't an absolute good, it's just something a lot of people want. The libertarian position (or at least my position) is that whatever belongs to me - my body, my time, my talents, and whatever property I come by legitimately - can be put to use pursuing what I think is good. Whatever belongs to you can be put to use pursuing what you think is good. The problem I have is you trying to tell me that the majority has gotten together and agreed what is good, so now I have to give some of what's mine for the effort, when you can't show me that what you're saying is good is actually good because you refuse to make any fucking argument to that fucking conclusion further to 'the majority fucking says so' which is fucking lame. We clear now?

  • Edwin||

    tl;dr

    not talking about policy, just the basic fact:

    most people will easily agree on the basic elements of well being. Few people would say more people getting diseases and dying or more people becoming poorer are worse things.

    End of story.

    That you can go on arguing a simple tiny basic common sense point proves you're an ascetic moron.

  • Edwin||

    face it, you lose

  • ||

    No, I need a citation for your assertion that the tenets of "well-being" are nigh-universal such that
    "the vast majority of people" would easily agree on them.

    Given, you know, that people have pretty much constantly been killing one another over slightly varying definitions of "well-being" the world over and throughout history.

  • Edwin||

    that's not what they've been killing each other over

    and when it was, it was a matter of how to get to "well-being", not what "well-being" was

    you're not going to tell me that ceteris parabus more wealth, longer lifespans, less disease etc. aren't better things that everyone can agree are better things

    you morons run out of any real steam in your arguments so you argue on stupid little points

  • ||

    "And in a much more autocratic fashion than our government."

    Really? Really? A job you can walk away from at any time, for any reason or no reason at all, is "much more autocratic" than a government which continues to claim the right to seize your property even AFTER you've left the country and renounced your citizenship? That kind of top-down management and control is less autocratic than business, really?

    "But the reality of both evolution and the unregulated marketplace is that a tiny few manage to prosper, and everyone else fails."

    And again with the completely baseless assertions, Tony. Please demonstrate empirically that in a free market only a tiny few prosper while everyone else starves to death. For extra credit, please account for the blood-soaked historical record of managed economies, i.e., in the twentieth century alone tens of millions of people were deliberately murdered by the managers.

    But I do think human well-being is more important than [both efficiency and liberty], and that both are only good insofar as they service human well-being.

    Then you have exactly the opposite view of the people who founded this country, who regarded liberty as an end unto itself and not merely an instrumental good to be dispensed with whenever it was convenient.

  • Edwin||

    "Really? Really? A job you can walk away from at any time, for any reason or no reason at all, is "much more autocratic" than a government which continues to claim the right to seize your property even AFTER you've left the country and renounced your citizenship?"

    Actually they don't do that at all. They'll chase you for back taxes and in a few rare situations the very rich will be taxed when doing business outside the country, but otherwise you're pretty much in the clear once you're doing business outside the U.S.

  • ||

    You demonstrably have no idea what you're talking about, Edwin.

  • Edwin||

    no, you have no idea what you're talking about

    once your outside the country, living in another country, you don't have to pay taxes to the U.S. - again, there are only a few exceptions to this

  • And...||

    Uh, yes you do. The government makes claims on all your income anywhere in the world.

  • And...||

    And the U.S. is basically the only country in the world that does it to that extent.

  • Edwin||

    "Then you have exactly the opposite view of the people who founded this country, who regarded liberty as an end unto itself and not merely an instrumental good to be dispensed with whenever it was convenient"

    yeah, for fucking fundamental liberties like taxation only w/representation and no quartering mandates and free speech, etc.

    I doubt they'd piss and moan about having to fill out permits a few times in their life

    If they really cared that deeply and were that much against economic/commerce regulations, they would have put it in the constitution, both at the state and federal level. (that is, even if you believe the commerce clause does NOT give the feds the power they have now, that states would still have that kind of reuglatory power within their own jurisdictions)

  • ||

    If you imagine that libertarian objection to the modern welfare state is nothing more than resentment over having to fill out permits a couple of times during one's life, you're an even bigger imbecile than I thought.

  • Edwin||

    but that is one of your major complaints, isn't it? libertarianism is absolutist, and in your guys' eyes any regulation is immoral. YOU guys are the ones comparing fucking small regulations to slavery and trying to claim that the founding fathers would have agreed with you

  • Edwin||

    you're trying to move the goalposts

  • Big Cat Kahuna||

    It works for private businesses, right?

    I've been writing software for 15 years for a variety of organizations and the only place that came close to top-down management was the DoD. (No one with any skills stayed as the atmosphere was asphyxiating.)

    My experience is anecdotal but in my world small autonomous groups get things done more efficiently and with higher quality than highly organized "teams."

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Tony, "people in their wisdom" don't NEED to be managed.

  • ||

    The thing that REALLY annoys me is the extent to which the Government's legitimate work is not only never done, it is seldom even started. For example; gasoline taxes are collected to maintain the highways - and somehow before it gets around to the highways the government blows the money on all kinds of non-essentials.

    The CDC exists to control epidemics, but seems to spend an awful lot of time and energy poking its nose into smoking and gun control policy.

    We spend billions bailing out financial institutions, but there is actual debate about supporting the Post Office .... which institution is actually named as the responsibility of the government in our founding document!

    It seems to me that there is a seldom addressed problem in that a certain fraction of the political class HATES routine work and LOVES to get involved in what are, when all is said, distractions.

  • Robert||

    One thing that bothers me is that in the USA (and probably elsewhere even more so) the idea that regulation is a good thing in and of itself has found its way into court decisions as to whether a gov't agency had jurisdiction. Of course the example I have in mind is many decades old, and it's likely judges wouldn't write such a thing in an opinion in the USA these days, at least at the federal level, but it's still galling.

    However, with all that, if regulation were just limited to the basics of health & safety, I'd be pretty happy. We could concede everything Tony wants and it'd be totally reasonable, because they'd just be regs mandating that people do what 99% of them would've done anyway.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Alas for O’Rourke and those who sympathize with him, the project of contemporary liberalism is never done.

    No kidding. Just look at Libya.

  • Edwin||

    as per the Tony sub-thread

    What Tony's saying is correct. There is no such thing as no-policy. Or, at the very least, you guys DON'T support no-policy. Property rights are a policy too. They are just as much of a human social construct as legislation or courts. Claiming that you AREN'T promoting a policy, that you don't have a policy, is just false.

    The libertarian policy is highly axiomatic and deliberately shallow. That is, you have property rights and you have the right to enforce them or have them enforced no matter how much it harms people, no matter how unjust the method of getting property was in the past and may have effects now, no matter how much someone changes his mind in a contract, or how weasel wording was taken advantage of, etc.

    Calling this "liberty" is silly. Of course over all property rights are a part of liberty, but the doctrinaire libertarian position is anything but. I mean, I've said myself repeatedly how as a business owner your libertarian policies would suck for me. Yet you keep telling me you're defending me and my freedom.

    Another way to look at it is the force issue. Property rights are force. Libertarians believe in the right to use force for property rights. So immediately you ARE in favor of initiation of force, you DO believe that some people have the right to use force sometimes. Right off the bat this is far from no policy.

    The only people who are truly no-policy are complete pacifists. Then again, some libertarians are that, and at least they're being somewhat more consistent.

  • Edwin||

    I mean for Christ's sake, I once brought up Walter Block's comment that business owners have the right to grab their secretaries' asses, and one of you commenters was defending his claim - saying it was voluntary on the part of the secretary.

    In libertarian world, if marriages were contracts, and the wife owed you sex, you could still rape your wife (like the laws in the 50's) - or you could contract away your right to provide child support even if later you turned out to be a wife-beater, your contract would still be enforced because, hey, she signed a contract! it's property rights™!

  • Mr. FIFY||

    So... if we didn't have property rights, we'd be better off. Is that what you're saying, Edwin?

  • Edwin||

    no, that's not what I'm saying at all. That's not even remotely what I was saying.

    Try reading it again

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    Sorry, who's this imaginary person who signs a contract specifying that one party may freely beat another? And if someone does sign a contract like that, who the hell is anyone to tell them it doesn't apply because they have no right to make that kind of agreement?

  • Edwin||

    maybe the marriage contract says carnal relations are due by the wife to the husband as long as the husband provides a home and basic lifestyle, maybe there is no divorce clause based on physical abuse, maybe the woman didn't have a lawyer help her when she signed. There's no avoiding that from a pure contract-obligation standpoint, there are fucked up situations that could arise

    at some point there has to be a limit to the enforceability of contracts

    in libertopia there is none, hence most people finding libertarianism silly or outright disgusting and you're guys' inability to get any followers or votes

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    That's not how contracts would work in libertopia. You think that we'd have the contract enforced in such a way that if the contract said the wife owed the husband sex (or vice versa), they could be forced to have sex. But let's say I agree to sell you my house for five pounds, and then I take the five pounds and refuse to give you my house, I don't owe you for the house - I owe you for what I stole, namely five pounds. So if a wife contracts with a husband to have sex for whatever criteria he's bound to in the contract, and she refuses to have sex, she doesn't owe him sex - she owes him recompense for the damage done, namely the man's end of the contract. If she simply did not understand the contract when she signed it, then there is no consent, and the contract as a whole is nullified.

  • Edwin||

    says you, I've heard other opinions from libertarians - like the aforementioned idea that groping secretaries is consensual, or that you have the right to enforce contracts by any means necessary including killing the other guy

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    Okay, well then maybe you totally win the argument against those forms of libertarianism, and bully for you for doing so. If you think that amounts to a disproof of libertarianism overall you're absolutely wrong.

  • Edwin||

    except that when fucked up shit like that comes up all the time in your philosophy, it's because the philosophy is faulty

    in other words you can't tell me that libertarianism is great except for all the bad parts

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    You're an idiot. Different forms of libertarianism are not the same philosophy, they're just similar. If one form of libertarianism leads to 'fucked up shit', it may well be because that form of libertarianism is faulty. But you can't then claim that disproves the forms of libertarianism to which the 'fucked up shit' does not apply. You are an idiot.

  • Edwin||

    no, you're a moron. So what, every single libertarians' ideas is a whole separate system? Bullshit. Libertarianism is a network of similar ideas, like any other philosophical term. However, in this case, the people who believe in such ideas also manage to repeatedly come up with fucked up shit in their ideas. When this happens, it's because the philosophy itself is faulty.

    Liberals also tend to say fucked up shit, just watch the Bill Maher show sometime, are you going to tell me there's nothing wrong with their philosophy?

  • Edwin||

    read what I wrote again, thoroughly

  • ||

    In Nevada there is a pending bill for this years legislature that will require automotive mechanics to check the tire pressure whenever servicing a vehicle. Watch out for the tire police in Nevada!! Its another reason Nevada is losing people. First it was light bulbs, then home energy audits, now the tire police. The Californian's keep moving east and bringing their environmental spin with them.

  • sevo||

    Edwin|3.23.11 @ 10:28AM|#
    "....Property rights are a policy too..."

    Oh, yes, and atheism is a religion, too, right?
    Nonsense on stilts.

  • Edwin||

    Bullshit. It's just as much of a policy itself. you guys have a highly axiomatic view of the world that deliberately involves only property rights - that's a policy, a position (or however you may call it)

  • عرب سيريس||

    asdgasdfsdf

  • ||

    The Work of Governing is never done. When it is done -- no more people. That is the advantage of government and indicates where government is useful. Businessmen aren't going to support a project that requires losses for more than a few years -- yet government can run at a loss for years at a time while promoting commerce. There would be no postal service, no railroads, no telegraphs, no electric lighting, etc... without government involvement. Businessmen can't even afford to think ahead more than 5 years unless they have deep individual pockets.

    Thus this argument represents on absurd analogies and comparisons -- government projects may end, but most government programs are intended to serve the needs of their constituents; including business, workers, old folks, etc... Private industry isn't even interested in doing many of the things they brazenly complain about. If we trust private enterprise to educate our children only a small percentage will be able to afford an education. If we had trusted social security with privatization, it would be gone.

    Our real problem is not with "government" but with arrogant would be local tyrants who want to do away with any checks and balances on their behavior.

  • And...||

    [blockquote]If we had trusted social security with privatization, it would be gone.[/quote]
    Whew. Glad we missed that bullet.

  • And...||

    :( tag fail.

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