The Empty Case for Big Government

Looking at Leviathan through rose-colored glasses

(Page 2 of 2)

Lurking behind so many of these arguments is what we might call the magic money fallacy. People seem to think that money from the federal government just materializes out of nowhere. In fact, resources must come from somewhere. They can be taxed away from the productive private sector. They can be borrowed from the productive sector to be used in the coercive, non-competitive sector, and paid back later with tax money. Or the Federal Reserve can just create money out of thin air—write “$1 trillion” on a piece of paper, thus producing inflation.

Not only is the money not free, it is often forcibly diverted to politically chosen purposes. That’s the reality that these books gloss over in gauzy talk of “community” and “government economic intervention on behalf of a common or national good.” As the economist Thomas Sowell has famously written, “The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.”

Some of government’s accomplishments cited in these books bring to mind Foundation for Economic Education president Lawrence Reed’s point: “Have you ever noticed how statists are constantly ‘reforming’ their own handiwork? Education reform. Health-care reform. Welfare reform. Tax reform. The very fact that they’re always busy ‘reforming’ is an implicit admission that they didn’t get it right the first 50 times.” 

So government is hailed for ending slavery and Jim Crow, but the long government enforcement of those repressive laws is passed over. In the last chapter of To Promote the General Welfare, Paul Light of New York University identifies the federal government’s greatest accomplishments from 1945 to 2000. Several actually involve lifting the burden or reducing the power of government—devolving responsibility to the states, freeing trade, limiting nuclear weapons, reforming government operations, making government more transparent, deregulating sectors of the economy, reforming welfare, cutting taxes, even restraining spending. It’s hardly a triumph of big government for government to correct its longstanding errors.

There is a Pollyannaish view of state power running through the liberal defense of centralization. A government with the power to establish, oversee, subsidize, or regulate education, transportation, communications, money, health care, and housing has sufficient power to do much harm. There is no consideration in these books of the federal government’s shameful treatment of Indians. Nor do we hear about the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Nor the role of the Federal Reserve and government regulatory agencies in creating and prolonging the Great Depression and the Great Recession. While both books praise the Progressives who ushered in many of government’s advances, neither notes the Progressives’ unsavory attitudes about race and eugenics, nor their twin disasters of alcohol Prohibition and drug prohibition. Any honest accounting of whether big government promotes the general welfare must at some point grapple with murderous big-government mistakes.

For instance, war. World War I just may have been the biggest disaster in history. It not only took 16 million lives, but as Jim Powell put it in a book title, “Woodrow Wilson’s Great Blunder Led to Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, and World War II.” Yet you won’t find WWI discussed in To Promote the General Welfare. Dionne does mention it, mostly to lament that it “unleashed a deep cynicism about public life and grand aspirations.” As well it should have. World War II, which grew out of the Progressive Wilson’s great blunder and cost 60 million lives, goes similarly unexamined.

The real conflict in political theory, contra these authors, is not between individualism and community. It’s between voluntary association and coerced association. The case for big government should be cross-examined by looking at costs as well as benefits, risks as well as achievements, what is not seen along with what is seen, and the repeated horrors that have stemmed from leaving state power unconstrained. No wonder statists are getting nervous. 

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  • SIV||

    NEWSFLASH!

    Arlen "Single-Bullet" Specter To Feed Worms

  • Paul.||

    That is new. Which reminds me, anyone watching Felix Baumgartner's attempt to scatter his own ashes over Eastern New Mexico?

    http://www.youtube.com/redbull

  • Paul.||

    *news*

  • pradaguccioutlet@gmail.co||

    Since the program’s creation, the Energy Department has guaranteed $16 billion in loans for a total of 26 projects. Although Section 1705 is mainly known for funding such high-profile bankruptcies as Solyndra and Abound Solar, the companies it helps generally do well. That’s because most of the loan guarantees have gone to projects backed by large and financially secure companies. For instance, the energy producer Cogentrix, recipient of a $90 million guarantee, is a subsidiary of the investment bank Goldman Sachs. There’s every reason to believe Congentrix could have obtained a loan on its own.cheap nfl jerseys State backing confers subtler advantages as well. In 2010 the Government Accountability Office concluded that federal subsidies signal to investors that a company is relatively safe, a perception that helps attract additional private capital. During a July 18 statement before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Craig Witsoe, former CEO of Abound Solar, one of the Section 1705 companies that recently went under, explained that his company managed to collect an additional $350 million from private investors after it had secured its government guarantee. Much of that funding could be the product of the security that the federal support implied.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    Now we can find out if Red Bull really does give you wings.

  • Paul.||

    Starting egress checklist...

  • Voros McCracken||

    I don't know why he jumped out. I got gas in El Centro a few weeks ago and I can't imagine anywhere in the universe more desolate. That balloon had to hit a service station at some point.

  • ||

    Anyone else think CNN is gay for not showing this live? I mean we watched every other space related endeavor live. ABC's wide world of sports showed Evil Knievel try to jump the Snake live...

    WTF? How the fuck did the whole world become such a bunch of pussies?

  • Paul.||

    TV... how quaint...

  • Voros McCracken||

    Discovery showed it.

  • Sam Grove||

    He made it fine. Landed on his feet.

  • ||

    Meh. He's no Chuck Yeager, who was the first person to break the sound barrier, on this day in 1947, no less.

    I think it's much more risky to fly an experimental aircraft trying to surpass said barrier than doing the equivalent of really high, "Watch that first step Mac! It's a lulu!"

  • Paul.||

    Still cool, though. I mean, not cooler -than-the-most -important-election-of-this-generation cool. But still cool.

  • ||

    I suppose. Was Rip Taylor there to throw confetti? It's only meh-cool if Rip Taylor was there to throw confetti.

  • Paul.||

    Why you're not promoting extreme sports events for a living, I know not. Because that's fucking epic win right there.

  • ||

    Funny you should mention that, as I am currently searching for a the Slav-Russkij-Ukrainij equivalent of Rip Taylor to be a part of extreme sports over there as side job whilst I establish practice in UKR.

  • ||

    I think it's much more risky to fly an experimental aircraft trying to surpass said barrier than doing the equivalent of really high, "Watch that first step Mac! It's a lulu!"

    Used to be. Back in the Yeager days they built it and somebody jumped in and tested it. Fight Test today is orders of magnitude safer. With all the computer modeling available they pretty much know how things are going to go before they ever strap in.

  • ||

    Precisely my point, FdA. It's exactly like the legends of that mythical Dune theatrical release, where a movie was just slapped together with lots of moolah and then thrown out for release, according to legend.

    Seriously though, I am quite sure for this aerial stunt, much planning was made and logistics performed before he ever even thought of packing his chute and stepping into any type of aircraft.

  • ||

    That, and Joe Kittinger did it in 1960 without any computers guiding him and in an experimental space suit.

    And Chuck Yeager also had an accident in an experimental NF-104A that caused him to fall a considerable distance.

  • ||

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    I heard the hard part is missing the ground while trying to hit it.

  • SKR||

    Nice

  • John||

    The waiting list to hell just got one place shorter.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    So does that make this the largest viewed suicide in history?

  • John||

    I was thinking more of Spector. And I think the people leaping off of the WTC would be bigger.

  • John||

    http://www.powerlineblog.com/a.....nghazi.php

    Someone in the State Department, Hillary cough cough, released a transcript of an October 9th State Department briefing to reporters describing the horrible events in Bengazi.

    OPERATOR: The next question is from the line of Brad Klapper with AP. Please, go ahead.

    QUESTION: Hi, yes. You described several incidents you had with groups of men, armed men. What in all of these events that you’ve described led officials to believe for the first several days that this was prompted by protests against the video?

    SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: That is a question that you would have to ask others. That was not our conclusion. I’m not saying that we had a conclusion, but we outlined what happened. The Ambassador walked guests out around 8:30 or so, there was no one on the street at approximately 9:40, then there was the noise and then we saw on the cameras the – a large number of armed men assaulting the compound.

    That pretty much says that the whole "this happened because of a video tape" excuse put out by the White House was a known lie from the start.

    Wow is this getting entertaining.

  • Paul.||

    Remember, the first amendment is a creepy old uncle you just wish would go away!

  • Paul.||

    You know what I'd like to know? I'd like to know if the State Department made a call to the local cops and "urged/requested/suggested/asked if it might be possible" to arrest that guy who made the youtube clip? That would be a delicious scandal.

  • John||

    It wasn't the local cops. It was the feds. He was on federal supervised released. I would very much like to know if anyone from the White House or the State Department called the BOP or DOJ and asked that question.

  • ||

    I would venture to bet they did. I still find to really hard to believe that some dopey yootoob video was witnessed by so many in a country where The Interwebz is not exactly prevalent. Besides, why that particular clip, when a cursory search of similar clips yields much more offensive content. And with arguably better production values.

    They needed some stoolie who easily fit of the bill of a perceived nutbar and being on fedgov supervision simply made it easier to swoop him up and make the lie all that more convincing.

  • John||

    It is just a little too perfect that he was on federal parole isn't it?

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Yep,

    Has anyone looked into his bank fraud case?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Are you insinuating that the bank fraud case was a setup so that he could be jailed after making an anti-Islam video years later?

  • Paul.||

    Besides, why that particular clip, when a cursory search of similar clips yields much more offensive content. And with arguably better production values.

    The youtube clip, I'm slowly coming to conclude, was a creation of the State Department, and Nakoula is the Lee Harvey Oswald.

    By "Creation", I don't imply they made the clip, but they made it into what it was. An obscure video amongst literally billions became the source of all the State Department's woes. It's just too perfect.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    How do you explain the protests against the video in other countries then?

    The original story was that some radical imams heard about the video and denounced it to their congregations. No one was claiming that large numbers of Libyans were themselves watching the video.

  • Paul.||

    How do you explain the protests against the video in other countries then?

    It was being fed to these other countries as cover. The more the state department talked about the video, the more protests there were.

  • Paul.||

    State Department: They're attacking our embassies because of this video, this one right here, this video which depicts Muhammed and Islam in a very, very negative light.. this video, this one right here... no not that one, that one... see how it shows The Prophet Muhammed in a negative light? I mean, we would be mad if someone showed Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in a negative light. It's really a disgusting video. I mean just look at it. Very irresponsible that video, that video right there, the one you guys need to look at. See? See how horrible that video is? I mean, it's no excuse or anything, but I mean, just look at it! That video... right there. That one. It's just... very insulting to all things Islam. Hit refresh and tell me that video doesn't insult the Islamic world?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Oh come on. This is beyond silly conspiracy theorizing.

    It's more likely that there was a protest movement brewing at the same time as the attack was planned, and the BO admin found it useful to conflate the two after the fact.

  • Paul.||

    It's not silly conspiracy theorizing.

    The State Department was aware that a protest was brewing at the same time, so they threw gas on the fire.

  • ||

    The State Department was aware that a protest was brewing at the same time, so they threw gas on the fire.

    And Paul wins a Kewpie Doll.

  • Paul.||

    Look at it this way:

    A conspiracy theory usually requires hundreds if not thousands of people at all levels of government to create and operate a complex narrative without the truth ever getting out.

    Obscuring the evidence that Amassador Stevens was killed in a coordinated terrorist attack doesn't require any of that.

    Advisor: Mr President, Mrs. Clinton, we've got information that there was a coordinated attack on the embassy in Libya, and it appears Ambassador Stevens is dead.

    Obama: What about these protests I'm hearing about.

    Advisor: No evidence that this is part of that.

    Obama to Hillary: Ok, look, we've got this video thing causing some unrest in the Middle East, let's talk about that, let's focus on the video and that should give us time to figure out what happened in Benghazi, and prepare a response.

    Once that narrative went out to a willing Main Stream Media, they ran with it faster than Forrest Gump at a University of Alabama football game, becaue they wanted it to be true. It felt true. And that's why a coordinated attack on the embassy in Benghazi couldn't be kept hidden: because it would have required the coordinated efforts of hundreds of government officials at all levels to maintain a false narrative without ever spilling the truth.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    That's not what you were claiming. You claimed that the State Dept intentionally caused the other protests.

    I would totally agree that it was likely that they knew about the real nature of the attack but hoped they could just ride the video explanation till it went away.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    That's not what you were claiming. You claimed that the State Dept intentionally caused the other protests.

    The other protests happened after Obama started apologizing for the video. So it's not a stretch to say that Obama caused them.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    You missed the "intentionally" there.

  • ||

    The original story was that some radical imams heard about the video and denounced it to their congregations.

    So? And that is different from anything else that offends these rather overly sensitive Islamo-Poobah clerics and imams and and all the other stuff they denounce to their congregations? Gee, Tulpy-Poo, using that logic, the entire staff of Reason should have met the same fate as Amb. Stevens and his staff for Reason holding that "Draw Mewhammad" contest. Which, by the by, actually caused a thread to be shut down and locked here at HampersandR, and the only time I recall that happening; I also seem to be recall you being a nagging, wet blankety fuddy duddy over that one also.

    Again, one stupid, ill-produced video out of literally hundreds of thousands of less than complimentary videos and THIS exact video, ONLY this supposedly exceptionally blasphemous yootoob clip caused such mayhem, ire and ruckus?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Reality is a strange place, GM. You never know what's going to crystallize a movement. The Jyllands-Posten Mohammed pictures that sparked protests and death threats and, as you note, Reason's EDM fiasco* weren't exactly heavily hyped historical events until after they were published.

    And I'm not saying the video was the inspiration for killing the ambassador. The protests were the 12 Monkeys opening cages to AQ's David Morse spreading the virus.

    * My issue was that EDM was a case of offending for the sole purpose of offending, which is not a good use of freedom. (SLD, just because I disapprove does not mean I favor coercion to prevent.) And if you read the comment threads running up to the EDM contest you see that AoG members and others were turning the vulgarity dial up to 11, and our resident anti-Islam bigots were taking full advantage of being the "good guys" for a time... until Reason realized the monster they'd created and shut down the comment threads. If certain H+R commenters had been marginally mature and resistant to playing into bigots' hands, the threads probably wouldn't have been shut.

  • PapayaSF||

    A couple of years ago there was another thread about some sue-happy lawyer that got entirely deleted.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    They needed some stoolie who easily fit of the bill of a perceived nutbar and being on fedgov supervision simply made it easier to swoop him up and make the lie all that more convincing.

    I'm starting to think that the video was some kind of twisted false flag operation and Sam Bacille is working for some goverment agency.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    It's a pretty bad sign for the state of journalism in this country when damaging govt agency statements made directly to the press have to be leaked before they're reported on.

  • Paul.||

    Think of Barack Obama as John F. Kennedy. There are some things you just don't report to the public.

  • Randian||

    Still, somebody did it right. Leaking on a Sunday afternoon is a perfect way to ensure that it is the sole subject all morning tomorrow. Naturally, this has the Clintons all over it.

  • ||

    Excellent point, TAO. Normally, something like this would be part of the ever popular and oft used Friday Document Dump which seems to be SOP for the MSM and this administration.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Friday doc dump is decades old. BO isn't smart enough to have come up with that on his own.

  • cw||

    Dionne does mention it, mostly to lament that it “unleashed a deep cynicism about public life and grand aspirations.”

    Quite amazing there are still so many influential persons who still conflate "community" with "coercion." These people must believe that, were it not for centralized political power, their vision of what makes us "great" would never be fulfilled.

  • Paul.||

    “It is only in relation to society that the individual can fulfill himself.”

    Didn't Hitler say something very similar? Something about there only being the nation. And without the nation, the individual is nothing...

  • cw||

    Mussolini developed such a theory in his Doctrine of Fascism.

    These statist types should know they are a mere stone's throw away from advocating for a Fascist Italy.

  • Paul.||

    But a nice one with free healthcare and prepaid birth control!

  • ||

    God I wish Amtrak was anywhere near as punctual as that

  • Sam Grove||

    Amen, Sheldon.

  • Sam Grove||

    Scratch that...
    Amen, David.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Dionne focuses on the “irrepressible and ongoing tension” in U.S. history “between two core values: our love of individualism and our reverence for community.”

    There is no such tension, for those who understand what a community is. I think Dionne has "community" confused with "concentration camp".

  • cw||

    If it weren't for men like him, you see, there would be no community - just individualist savages roving the lands and plundering villages.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Show me an anarchist individualist "community" that lasts more than a year and I'll question whether there's tension there.

    Sawyer's idea of community is probably distorted, but don't pretend there isn't a tradeoff.

  • Paul.||

    Show me an anarchist individualist "community" that lasts more than a year and I'll question whether there's tension there.

    Unlike the communal shared resources/division of labor types?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    There are still non-individualist elements there.

    If you're claiming that there's no tension between individualism and community, then there should be communities that are uncompromisingly individualist. Where are they?

  • Paul.||

    If you're claiming that there's no tension between individualism and community

    I'm not, I'm claiming that the 'marxist' communal/shared resources/division of labor ones are far, far worse.

    Frankly, I don't know of many anarchist individualist communes... seems... contradictory.

    But once you start peddling that division of labor shit, it's all downhill, and downhill fast.

  • ||

    What do you even mean by "uncompromisingly individualist"? You don't have to be a hermit relying only on yourself to be individualist. It's all about individuals pursuing their own goals. To achieve those goals, or achieve them more efficiently, people generally cooperate with others.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Around here we usually understand individualism to include voluntary associations. In any surviving community there are elements that do not arise from either individual choice or voluntary association.

  • ||

    And again, we usually call those "crimes". Yet we wouldn't say that normal criminal behavior is what causes community success. Why would we say government coercion is?

  • ||

    Because communities TOTALLY aren't made of individuals cooperating with each other, right?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Every community that has survived for long periods of time has had a coercive element. They're not voluntary organizations (if we're talking about geographic communities).

  • ||

    That's not a tension between the community and the individual. The element of coercion isn't what defines a community.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    It isn't. But the element of coercion is a red flag indicating that individualism isn't sufficient to explain what makes the community survive and prosper.

  • ||

    In what way does coercion against people in a community indicate that it's necessary for a community to survive and prosper? You can't just say, "coercion has always existed" as justification for it's necessity. We generally call those "crimes", but I wouldn't say criminal behavior, or violating someone's rights, is what makes communities prosper.

  • Randian||

    Define 'community', Tulpa.

    Because all of those hoobyist communities (the photo-hobbyists, wine snobs, foodies, home-schoolers, Tiger Moms Support groups, etc.) exist without an ounce of coercion.

    Neighborhood Block Watches exist this way as well. Our street has block parties every once in a while, and no one forces me to participate or attend.

    Are those not communities?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    I specified geographic communities in anticipation of this nitpick. As if it wasn't clear enough what kind of community we're talking about.

  • Randian||

    And I used my street block parties and Neighborhood Watches in anticipation of your whinging.

    Next?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Those are events, not communities. Does your block function in a purely individualist and voluntary manner at all times? No coercion at all?

    What happens if someone drives into the street closed off for your block party and refuses to leave?

    What happens if a Neighborhood Watch volunteer spots a suspicious person running away from a house with a TV?

  • Killazontherun||

    Government Can Be Prevented! Repelling States: Evidence from Upland Southeast Asia

    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/pa.....id=1715223

  • Killazontherun||

    Abstract:
    Although many economists recognize the existence of stateless orders, economists such as Cowen, Sutter, and Holcombe question how viable stateless orders are in the long run. Research documenting the historical existence of stateless societies is much more developed than our understanding of whether societies can successfully remain free of states. This article analyzes historical and anthropological evidence from societies in Southeast Asia that have avoided states for thousands of years. The article provides an overview of some of their customary legal practices and then describes the mechanisms that they use to avoid, repel, and prevent would-be states. Such stateless societies have successfully repelled states using location, specific production methods, and cultural resistance to states. A better understanding of these mechanisms provides a potential explanation for how such societies remained free of states for long periods of time.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Depends on how you define "state". You can have plenty of informal coercion without a state, as in the case of Somalia or Mafia underworlds.

    Plus, you're talking about subsistence level societies in that study. Complex economies absolutely cannot exist without something resembling states.

  • Killazontherun||

    I've never thought of mafia enforcers as civil servants, but okay.

    Complex economies absolutely cannot exist without something resembling states.

    We witness daily how it is impossible for government to manage complex systems. Government is the action of applying primitive be ruled thinking to a world of complexity where that is at best an appendage and at worst a destructive element.

    Take the effect of government on your daily quest to get ahead in life:

    From a recent Robert Wenzel post:


    I know an anesthesiologist, and he tells me that most of his day is spent filling out government paperwork.

    I know several people in real estate that have told me about the minutia of regulations...from what they can say on the phone, to what size the print in their advertisements can be.

    I work for a tech startup, and the process of taking the idea into an actual business required a mind-numbing amount of form after form.

    Right here on The Robert Wenzel Show, Peter Schiff described how regulations have forced him to open up brokerages outside of the U.S.

    In my town, you can't even sell your junk to other people without first paying $15 for a yard sale permit. And you're only allowed to do it twice per year.

    Yet, you argue, in spite of what is evident, and almost every non academic here can make a similar list, at some imagined macro level of abstraction government is a net beneficiary to our society? That takes a lot more faith than most creeds.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    The element of coercion isn't what defines a community.

    Not necessarily--the coercion might not be overt, but in small town and rural communities, social conformity is fairly common because it's tied to the stability of the community. Deviant elements tend to create social fissures that these places can't afford to tolerate, or the trust bonds and cooperative ventures that the community's residents rely on to survive become fractured and threaten to dissolve it.

    Dionne's fallacy is one of false choice. His marxist inclinations tell him that community=collective, individual=anarchy. He can't fathom how individual rights are respected in communities as long as those individuals don't threaten the stability of the community, because that would mean giving up that false dichotomy he holds to his breast.

  • ||

    social conformity is fairly common because it's tied to the stability of the community.

    That's not an argument that coercion defines society though, it's more an argument that coercion is needed to perpetuate a society.

    Anyway, social conformity doesn't have to rely on coercion. And in no society is there ever complete conformity. I agree that too many divisions and fissures will break up a community, but I don't believe that coercion is a necessity to maintain social cohesion.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Well...yes and no. Up to a certain point of communal control intervention and control, there probably is such a tradeoff. But, empirically, once you pass some (actually fairly modest) level of communal control, civic participation plummets and people start looking at the rest of the community as potential competitors for the largesse of the community. That's the reason why the America visited by DeToqueville was remarkable for the vibrancy and robustness of its civil society and civic participation. It's also the reason for the post-New Deal/WWII decline in civil society documented by "Bowling Alone" (although the author would cringe at the implications).

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    Anybody who would use the phrase, "radical form of individualism" with a straight face should be viewed and treated like an Orwellian dictator.

  • amelia||

    Pretty much. But the average lefty seems to equate radical individualism with sociopathy.

  • ||

    But we ALL belong to the government!

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Since nobody's posted it yet:

    Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.

    We disapprove of state education.
    Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education.

    We object to a state religion.
    Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all.

    We object to a state-enforced equality.
    Then they say that we are against equality.

    And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.

    It says a lot about EJ that his world view was successfully rebutted 150+ years ago in a single paragraph.

  • wernererik@hotmail.com||

    Your opponents (if you wish to call them socialists, that is more a statement about your ignorance, than their politics) would say that you are opposed to education for those who cannot afford it.

  • newshutz||

    And they would be just as wrong.

    Socialism is as socialism does.

    Government run schools are socialistic.

  • Karen Kelly||

    Well don't get your hopes up - the bulk of immigrants coming into this country overwhelmingly support big government over small (75% to 25% or more), as every poll and analysis of them shows. So the liberty movement will be very short lived unless we attract people who are innately attracted to liberty, personal responsibility, and small government. Open borders and the dream act will only increase a voting block devoted to big government, so good luck

  • SKR||

    Where did you get those numbers?

  • Whahappan?||

    Pulled 'em straight out her ass.

  • reason readin female||

    Google broken?

    Here ya go:

    http://www.nmtelegram.com/2012.....migration/

    Took me all of 2 seconds.
    I don't like the idea of it either, but begging someone to hand deliver what you can find yourself doesn't serve anyone.

  • Karen Kelly||

    You're going to have to tell that to the people over at Pew. But you are very polite! Yes correction, my number was too low. The information comes from 2011 and 2012 Pew Hispanic Center studies, which actually found no fewer than 81 percent of first-generation Hispanics want bigger government and more services. Even third-generation Hispanics are 17 percent more likely than what Pew calls the “general population” to want big government and more handouts. Only 11 percent identify as Republicans, according to Pew. Most others identify as Democrats - there were no findings as to how many identify as Libertarians. The longer Hispanics live in the United States, the more likely they are to have children out of wedlock. Children of immigrant Hispanics have a 69 percent chance of living with both parents, whereas the children of US-born Hispanics have only a 52 percent chance, according to Pew's 2012 study.

  • Karen Kelly||

    That's why support of the Dream Act will be a big surprise to Libertarians. Again, good luck!

  • ||

    And this is why just citing just one study doesn't mean jack shit. A study I just found (via Google, how about that!) shows that second-generation hispanics are more conservative than liberal. I'd guess it'd be a huge surprise to you, but it'll probably just be dismissed out of hand.

    http://www.breitbart.com/Big-G.....-Hispanics

  • Karen Kelly||

    I cited two studies, actually, and if you want to have a battle of the studies, I'll probably win. But no need - we'll find out soon enough which studies are the most predictive of actual behavior. As long as the Dream Act is accompanied by the welfare state, I'm not sure libertarians will be on the winning side.

  • ||

    I'll probably win.

    Sure you will.

  • ||

    Oh, and according to the poll you cite, every generation becomes more conservative as well. So much for the liberalization of America.

  • ||

    And frankly, this position "closed borders are all right if it politically benefits us" seems more like a major party politician than a libertarian. I care much more about preserving freedom, including the freedom for people to migrate from place to place, than I do about your feelings on our chances with immigrants. Not to mention that with looser immigration laws, fewer immigrants would feel the need to settle down here, since they could go back and forth across the border.

  • tarran||

    What freedom-mockers like Karen Kelly miss is that it really doesn't matter how people vote.

    The United States government is as doomed as the Soviet Union was in the 1970's. We will get freedom not because people vote for it in the ballot box, but because people will someday stop carrying out its dictates because they are too busy trying to earn a living. How they vote will be irrelevant to the process. (Of course, even if it were relevant, that would be no justification to violate people's rights by forcing them to stay on one side or another of the imaginary lines)

  • Karen Kelly||

    I'm not missing anything - the US government is doomed because eventually people will look around and think why I am working so hard to support people who don't care about freedom?

  • tarran||

    No it is doomed because with all the money they are printing to pay for their operations, eventually civil servants will have to turn to graft or non-civil servant work to keep food on the table. Same as happened with the Soviet Union.

    That's when the dominos will fall like a house of cards. Checkmate!

  • Karen Kelly||

    Yes correction, my number was too low. The information comes from 2011 and 2012 Pew Hispanic Center studies, which actually found no fewer than 81 percent of first-generation Hispanics want bigger government and more services. Even third-generation Hispanics are 17 percent more likely than what Pew calls the “general population” to want big government and more handouts. Only 11 percent identify as Republicans, according to Pew. Most others identify as Democrats - there were no findings as to how many identify as Libertarians. The longer Hispanics live in the United States, the more likely they are to have children out of wedlock. Children of immigrant Hispanics have a 69 percent chance of living with both parents, whereas the children of US-born Hispanics have only a 52 percent chance, according to Pew's 2012 study.

  • ||

    Good news! Most of those children tend more toward the conservative end of the spectrum!

    http://www.breitbart.com/Big-G.....-Hispanics

  • Robert||

    So government is hailed for ending slavery and Jim Crow, but the long government enforcement of those repressive laws is passed over. In the last chapter of To Promote the General Welfare, Paul Light of New York University identifies the federal government’s greatest accomplishments from 1945 to 2000. Several actually involve lifting the burden or reducing the power of government—devolving responsibility to the states, freeing trade, limiting nuclear weapons, reforming government operations, making government more transparent, deregulating sectors of the economy, reforming welfare, cutting taxes, even restraining spending.


    That's because people commonly perceive "gov't" as changes in policy rather than maintenance of programs. That's why you see appeals to keep gov't's "hands off" Medicare (not medical care, but specifically Medicare). When narcotics prohibition is repealed, that too will be seen as a triumph of gov't action. Once a gov't program is established, its problems are seen as endemic -- in the demos, the (people of) the district, rather than a problem of gov't per se.

  • juris imprudent||

    I'm not sure, has Dionne ever produced anything of any worth whatsoever?

  • Ted S.||

    Yes.

    Oh wait. That's the wrong Dionne.

  • ||

    We create the government, ideally, to perform certain functions, mostly having to do with protecting our life, liberty, and property.

    I substitute a more accurate phrase whenever I read "government", usually exposing the statement as ludicrously wrong:

    "We create the mafia-like gang, ideally, to perform certain functions, mostly having to do with protecting our life, liberty, and property."

  • ||

    Plus, you're talking about subsistence level societies in that study. Complex economies absolutely cannot exist without something resembling states.

    A Tulpa clone, circa 1775: "Complex economies absolutely cannot exist without a monarch or some other individual ruler."

    Because we have not yet managed to throw off the yoke of the slaveholder state doesn't mean the state is indispensable.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Do you know where the name "Senate" comes from, protefeed? The Founders had a history of republicanism and democracy to look back upon.

    There are very strong logical reasons to believe that a society without a dominant coercer will not endure. The main one being that there will always be people who want to coerce others, and they can only be controlled by coercion. In a simple society you might be able to have every family or every clan look after their own self-defense needs and that would be sufficient. Even most simple societies need more than that, they need specialized coercers. In a complex society there's no hope of having every family fend for themselves; the web of dependency is too fragile. And those specialized coercers will, in the end, sort each other out and the strongest will be the dominant coercer.

    These are much more fundamental and rigorous arguments than divine right monarchists deployed in the 1700s.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Tulpa,

    There are very strong logical reasons to believe that a society without a dominant coercer will not endure.

    The contrary is true: There's also a strong logical reason to believe that a society WITH a dominant coercer will not endure PAST the life of the coercer.

    The main one being that there will always be people who want to coerce others, and they can only be controlled by coercion.

    And so the solution is to find an even bigger boyfriend... uh, coercer, to keep the rest of the coercers at bay? Is that what you're saying?

    In a complex society there's no hope of having every family fend for themselves; the web of dependency is too fragile. And those specialized coercers will, in the end, sort each other out and the strongest will be the dominant coercer.

    As Etienne de la Boetie argued, the only way that coercers can coerce is though the acquiescence of the people they purport to coerce. Certainly, some may not stomach confrontation, but as Jesse James and his gang found out the very hard way, when people do NOT acquiesce, then it does not matter how much the coercers duke it out between each other.

  • DeadLenny||

    "The libertarian idea has grown beyond a narrowly defined movement."

    That is the most heartening sentence I've read in months.

    Politically, my own views are so spastic that me stating, "Yeah, I'm a libertarian" is a pretty loose box to rattle around in... But for brevity's sake, it's the only box that fits at all. I mean, I can't be the only self-described libertarian who also feels that Ayn Rand was a generally horrible person; to quote Randall Munroe, "I had a hard time with Ayn Rand because I found myself enthusiastically agreeing with the first 90% of every sentence, but getting lost at 'therefore, be a huge asshole to everyone.'"

    Sure, Rand had some good ideas. (*shrug*) So did Noam Chomsky. I refuse to be beholden to either one.

  • tarran||

    Ayn Rand wasn't a libertarian; in fact, she hated libertarianism.

    So there really isn't any conflict between loving freedom and concluding that Ayn Rand was a giant asshole.

  • ||

    True. I don't think part of her ideas boil down to "therefore, be a huge asshole to everyone", but that's a different matter.

  • OldMexican||

    Show me an anarchist individualist "community" that lasts more than a year and I'll question whether there's tension there.


    All communities are functionally anarchic, Tulpa. Unless, of course, you want to tell me that you check with absolutely everybody else in your community before making a decision. You make decisions based on your preferences, which will include civility (unless you tell me you live in a mountain alone or belong to a group of feral humanoids,) trade, the use of your own time, etc.

    Sawyer's idea of community is probably distorted, but don't pretend there isn't a tradeoff.

    Considering the importance of Division of Labor for economic progress, I can't see what would be the tradeoff to which you allude. We live in communities because is more convenient than living alone.

    For fools like Conn, Dione or our own Tony, society becomes the thing itself and thus conclude that humans are meant to exist only in collective action. They further their mistake by confusing government with society, but it all stems from their clumsy collectivism.

  • T o n y||

    It's a fact of nature that humans are behaviorally collective animals. It is not only more convenient to live in communities--people who live totally alone are quickly driven insane if they aren't already. Society is thus a thing itself, just as a bee hive is a thing separately describable from a bee, which is to say we can glean information about society that we can't get from individuals.

    Your relentless obsession with the semantics of all this clouds the issues. Sure "collectivists" talk about society as a thing. It is a thing. We can learn from describing people acting collectively. In fact it's the only efficient way to discuss and formulate public policy.

  • ||

    Right, but the problem comes in where suddenly, a set of separate individuals suddenly form a group, and now their whole moral nature changes, as if they are no longer people.

  • T o n y||

    We don’t see how all the money spent on such efforts might have been used had it been left in the hands of those who produced it.

    Sure we do. They spend it on increasingly garish mansions and other elite dick measuring contests. Now, a lot of the Gilded Age mansions are national treasures, and perhaps it's the case that we get either Biltmore or we get a minimum wage. Sad choice really, but modern moral sensibility must point in one direction.

  • ||

    False dilemma.

  • Cavpitalist||

    You mean the Biltmore that was constructed by the rich guy's grandson after decades of philanthropy?

    I sure do hope you don't own a television or cell phone.

  • wernererik@hotmail.com||

    It seems to me that libertarians do not want an America that is identifiably a nation. No community, no common sense of purpose, no concern for fellow citizens. What they seem to want is an America that is simply a geographical location: a kind of Grand Theft Auto (the video game) style sandbox wherein each person is simply trying to accumulate as much cash as possible. Is this the case, libertarians?

  • fish||

    You're new here aren't you?!

  • Proprietist||

    This was posted on Real Clear Politics, so I bet we're getting some outside traffic.

  • wernererik@hotmail.com||

    Contrary to right wing belief strict intellectual homogeneity is not a good thing. The discussions and their practical results are analogous to incest.

  • pmains||

    Imagine I wandered over to Mother Jones, Democratic Underground or wherever you normally go to discuss politics.

    Me: You guys want a progressive income tax? It seems to me that all progressives want an absolutist communist state where Ukrainian kulaks are intentionally starved to death and dissidents are sent to the gulag. Is this the case, progressives?

    Erik's Progressive Friends: Buzz off.

    Me: Why don't you guys open your minds? Despite what leftist dogma maintains, it's not good to be part of a homogeneous hive mind slavishly serving the interests of the omnipotent state. You're all sheep who seek carnal pleasure with close relations.

    Erik's Progressive Friends: Gee, we never thought of it that way. Thank you for opening our eyes.

  • wernererik@hotmail.com||

    Hey, I am a progressive commenting on this particular circle-jerk, not one of the jerkees!

  • pmains||

    Yes. And if I was reading a progressive circle jerk -- I have and it's revolting -- I probably wouldn't start trying to win converts by offering ridiculous straw men arguments that said progressives would immediately see through.

  • pmains||

    Ok. You want a serious answer?

    1) American Identity: This is overly broad. Some libertarians clearly like America and the American Constitution, which is why they criticize the current government's usage of the Constitution as bathroom tissue.

    2) Community, Common Purpose, Empathy for Fellow Man: Community, yes. Common sense of purpose: this is extraordinarily vague and bordering on meaningless. If by common purpose, you mean spreading democracy throughout the globe, the answer would be no. If by common purpose, you mean creating a free and open society, then yes. Concern for fellow citizens: this is a subject of much debate within libertarian circles. Broadly speaking, libertarians favor private over public charity, which is not the same as being against charity.

    3) GTA: The pursuit of happiness may mean acquiring as many dollars as possible. It depends on your value scale. Is there anything in life that you find more worthwhile than accumulating cash? Perhaps learning a foreign language, reading the classics, playing in a local softball league? If you answered yes to any of the above or were able to come up with one or more of your own, then you've identified the reason why libertarianism is not simply about the accumulation of cash.

  • wernererik@hotmail.com||

    The thing is, there is historical precedent for an America without Social Security: Seniors were starving to death in the streets. There is also precedent for America with Medicare: Seniors were going bankrupt from medical bills. This is not an abstraction, it is a matter of historical fact.
    It is also a fact that when I walked to my car, drove to work, and walked in from the parking lot, I did not trip over a single emaciated seniors' corpse. Not one! When I look at the taxes that come out my paycheck, I remember my corpse-free commute instead of getting all worked up about it.

  • pmains||

    Corpse-strewn streets is a bit of an exaggeration. Nevertheless, libertarian Milton Friedman believed in a "negative income tax" that would serve much the same function as the current welfare state for, he believed, a lower cost. In other words, instead of handing out food stamps, providing government health insurance, etc. simply provide the poor with direct cash transfers. Maybe that wasn't the most libertarian idea Friedman ever had, but it should clue you into the fact that libertarians (a) are not monolithic and (b) have given more thought to the question of poverty than you imply.

  • pmains||

    Ron Paul has talked about a belief that poverty relief should be handled by localities. This echoes Thomas Jefferson's concept of the "ward," which IIRC would correspond more or less to the English "hundred." Additionally, Paul talked about Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, etc. as a promise that must be kept.

    Again, nobody is advocating corpses in the streets. To imply that we must choose between the status quo and starving grandmothers is a false dilemma.

  • wernererik@hotmail.com||

    What small government conservatives propose is a choice between the 2012 status quo and the 1912 status quo. In the 1912 status quo corpse-strewn streets was a reality.

  • ||

    Can you provide a citation for the corpse-strewn streets of 1912?

  • ||

    werenerik said:
    "When I look at the taxes that come out my paycheck, I remember my corpse-free commute instead of getting all worked up about it."

    I respect that. If you like a portion of your income going to retirement benefits for old people and to pay their medical bills (however poor they may or may not be), I respect your choice.

    However, there are lots of different people, with lots of different circumstances, incomes, family situations, dependents, medical realities, etc. They may not want to make the same choice.

    Do you respect their choice?

  • wernererik@hotmail.com||

    "Do you respect their choice?" No, and here's why: Those seniors have paid into social security and medicare for life. The money to bankroll their twilight years was provided by them. To cut that funding off, and to give it to "job creators" (your vocabulary) or "hedge fund managers" (mine) is nothing short of thievery.

  • ||

    wernererik said:
    ""Do you respect their choice?" No, and here's why: Those seniors have paid into social security and medicare for life. The money to bankroll their twilight years was provided by them. To cut that funding off, and to give it to "job creators" (your vocabulary) or "hedge fund managers" (mine) is nothing short of thievery."

    To be consistent, then, while you may resent the fact that part of your income goes to hedge fund managers, you cannot claim you're being shown any less respect than you show others.

    Since I did not suggest giving social security taxes to hedge fund managers, I have no idea why that point is relevant.

    Also, the money they paid in taxes went into government bonds, while the government spent it on current retirees and whatever else. The money to provide for their twilight years will be provided by relatively poorer, younger working people. In contrast, the elderly, as a demographic, are much more relatively wealthy.

  • theakeman||

    The Big Government People want to tax us to death. Please Google: Model T Stock Trends Beware of the Tax Zombies

  • pradaguccioutlet@gmail.co||

    Unfortunately for Johnson, each party also thinks the other party can be too libertarian – Republicans on economics, Democrats on social policy. He also faces the third-party Catch-22: He doesn’t get much media coverage because he doesn’t have much popular support – which he cannot get without media coverage.cheap nfl jerseys Besides, many people do not want to vote for someone who cannot win. A vote for a third-party candidate, they think, is a wasted vote. Johnson disagrees. “A wasted vote,” he says, “is a vote for someone you don’t believe in.” By that standard, millions of Republicans and Democrats will be throwing their votes away on Nov. 6. Johnson voters – what few there are – will not.

  • Catherine||

    This article is so right. America was founded on the premise that there was a huge boundary between government and the people, with a healthy DISTRUST of government. There has barely been comprehensive enough reporting on the damage this administration has done. The movie 2016 Obama's America touched on it and thankfully came out on dvd before the election www.2016dvd.com. If people could wake up- they'd understand the federal gov didn't make America what it is- our people did!

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