Romanticizing Taxation

The irresistible temptation to spend other people's money

In the debate over avoiding the "fiscal cliff"—especially over whose taxes should and shouldn't be raised—I detect an annoying attempt to romanticize taxation. I read this as an act of desperation on the part of those who want higher taxes on the wealthy, for there is nothing romantic about taxation.  

The other day MSNBC's Chris Hayes invoked Franklin Roosevelt in support of higher taxes on the top 2 percent. Pulling out all the stops, Hayes quoted from one of FDR's October 1936 campaign speeches, in which Roosevelt said

In 1776 the fight was for democracy in taxation. In 1936 that is still the fight. Mr. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said: “Taxes are the price we pay for civilized society.” One sure way to determine the social conscience of a Government is to examine the way taxes are collected and how they are spent. And one sure way to determine the social conscience of an individual is to get his tax-reaction.

Taxes, after all, are the dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society.

As society becomes more civilized, Government—national, State and local government—is called on to assume more obligations to its citizens. The privileges of membership in a civilized society have vastly increased in modern times. But I am afraid we have many who still do not recognize their advantages and want to avoid paying their dues.

Hayes is impressed that Roosevelt was willing to say this just weeks before election day. When did taxation become a dirty word? Hayes wondered.

Let's not get carried away. To say that "in 1776 the fight was for democracy in taxation" is misleading. Yes, the revolutioners objected to taxation without representation. But it hardly follows from this objection that they looked on taxation with representation benignly. There is every reason to think they would be appalled by the national, state, and local tax regime we labor under today, particularly income taxation, complete with IRS inquisitors. One need only look at the causes of Shays's and the Whiskey rebellions to gauge early Americans' attitude toward the taxman.  

Roosevelt's claim that we can judge the social conscience of the government by how it collects taxes is true in a way he could not have imagined. Contrary to FDR and Justice Holmes, taxes are neither a price (in the voluntary-transaction sense) nor club dues. On the contrary, they are exactions by threat of violence. Some social conscience! How ironic that organized society and civilization itself are said to depend on the government's threatening peaceful people if they fail to surrender their property as demanded by politicians who presumptuously and self-servingly claim to "represent" all the people.

Far from some enlightened institution, taxation began when conquerors realized that formal and continuing appropriation of a subject population's wealth was preferable to hit-and-run pillaging. For this to work, however, the rulers needed to convince the peasants that the regime would protect them from predators in return for their regular remittances. That's right: It was a protection racket, from which the racketeers and their cronies profited handsomely. For the taxpayers, there was little choice in the matter. They weren't buying protection as people buy insurance in the market, and they weren't paying dues as they would later pay dues to mutual-aid societies. They paid or they were punished. The ideology of benevolent state protection reduced enforcement costs because the ruled outnumbered the rulers and widespread tax resistance would have doomed the regime. Things have changed little in our time.

Roosevelt's shameless self-serving posture is clear in this line: "And one sure way to determine the social conscience of an individual is to get his tax-reaction." We are expected to believe that someone who objects to surrendering his money to politicians and bureaucrats lacks a social conscience—as though we need them to exercise generosity. The long bloody history of government militarism, brutality, destruction, duplicity, exploitation, and economic havoc provides ample reason for reluctance accommodate the voracious politicians.

"As society becomes more civilized," Roosevelt said, "Government—national, State and local government—is called on to assume more obligations to its citizens." 

Note the passive voice "is called on." Who called? Again, in light of the nature of government, there's supreme irony in asserting that we need more of it as society becomes more civilized. One should expect the use of aggressive force to diminish as society evolves.  

At times people have favored bigger government, but this hardly proves FDR's point. Typically the demand for government action followed crises—real or imagined—created by the government in the first place. Take the Great Depression. With the economy in shambles, the public supported government relief, and the Hoover and Roosevelt administration were happy to oblige. But the economic catastrophe was the government's doing. The central-bank-engineered boom of the Roaring Twenties ended, as sound economics teaches, with a bust, and a mere recession became a Great Depression through official mismanagement and corporatist intervention—complete with a variety of tax increases.  

The systematic exploitation of crises (again, real and imagined) to increase the intrusive power of government is best documented in Robert Higgs's classic, Crisis and Leviathan. Recommend this book to anyone who sees politicians as knights on white steeds riding to our rescue. As someone else put it, government is good at breaking our legs then making a big show out of distributing crutches.

Even if one believes there is no alternative to taxation for the provision of security for life, liberty, and property, one still should want to keep taxes low and transparent, since government itself is always the biggest potential threat to those values. As Adam Smith put it, "Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice: all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things." 

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  • Caleb Turberville||

    OT: http://www.politico.com/story/.....84779.html

    Speaking of taxes, could Bill Maher be any more of a thug?

  • ||

    He added: “Everybody knows that more government spending — whether it’s in the form of tax expenditures or social services, helps the economy grow. But you have to balance that with not letting your budget get out of hand.”

    How he ever claimed to be a libertarian spouting nonsense like this TEAMBLUE talking point is a just a testament to the fact that Bill Maher is clearly a) not a libertarian (no true Scotsman, FWIW) b) not as smart as he thinks he is c) a giant, smug, elitist douche d) the most unfunny comedian since, well, ever e) the world's luckiest teevee personality, that gets paid to remain smugly uninformed, smugly condescending, smugly, annoyingly annoying, all while spouting pure shrikeshit.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Of course Maher was never a libertarian--he was always in it for the legalized prostitutes and blow, not for the economic or social aspects.

    Let's face it, anyone who donates $1 million to getting Obama re-elected isn't in a position to call themselves libertarians.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Only a few hundred have actually scored 100 on the LP Purity Test.

    It is a fucking tough test.

    Keeps the undesirables out and the party pure.

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    Scoring 90/100 is one thing. Scoring 10/100 is another.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    This is a good topic.

    I would weight social issues evenly with economic and war/Imperialism (33/33/33).

    So rating Bill Maher would go:

    33 for srugs, prostitution, secularism, gay marriage.

    But give him only say a 10 on economics since he favors single-payer but does like to own things.

    And give him only a 15 on war and US Imperialism since he supported John McCain for POTUS and is gave Bush hell on Iraq but is politely criticizing Obama on Afgahns.

    Net 58 though. Just middling.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    "Drugs" - dammit.

    And needless to say Ron Paul would score high 90's on my scoring system.

    The only slight demerits would be his love of earmarks and his opposition to individual privacy.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    That scheme seems deliberately crafted to forgive left-statists at a much higher clip than right-statists (surprise!). And of course, Maher hardly deserves a perfect score on social issues given his stances on school choice, gun rights, eminent domain, and food social engineering.

    And how does "liking to own things" get him 1/3 of the economic points? Stalin liked to own things, too.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    If Bill Maher is for handgun bans then he gets a big demerit. I watch his shows and honestly don't remember.

    And social issues/war Imperialism are equal weight issues because they are something that can readily changed - as opposed to taxes and SS/Medicare state, both of which will only be toyed with on the edges.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Perhaps you should have researched Maher's positions before scoring him on the buttplug scale?

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Perhaps you should have researched Maher's positions before scoring him on the buttplug scale?

    Shrike can't be bothered to read the shit he posts half the time--I'd hardly expect him to do original research.

  • Sevo||

    Palin's Buttplug| 12.9.12 @ 11:27AM |#
    ..."But give him only say a 10 on economics since he favors single-payer but does like to own things."...

    So long as that number is preceded by a minus sign, you'd have a point.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Only a few hundred have actually scored 100 on the LP Purity Test.

    Wow, what a lovely man of straw you've erected, you Team Blue gloryhole.

  • ||

    Psh, I score AT LEAST 110 every time. Usually it's much higher though.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    It has nothing to do with "purity". It's a matter of basic definitions. A person who rejects libertarian principles does not meet the definition of a libertarian.

    A cat is not a dog, no matter how loudly you insist otherwise that it's true because both have four legs.

  • PapayaSF||

    Everybody knows that more government spending — whether it’s in the form of tax expenditures or social services, helps the economy grow.

    "It ain’t what you don’t know that hurts you. It’s what you know that ain’t so."

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Whenever someone starts a statement with "Everybody knows", you can be fairly certain that it's a bunch of shit.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    Also OT: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrHlQUXFzfw

    The Japanese cut of the Star Trek into Darkness teaser trailer indicates that a certain Vulcan has it coming.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    I will not bother seeing this movie, or anything involving that twat JJ Abrams. But it's hilarious that he is apparently ripping off the original movies once again.

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    I wish Disney would have bought Star Wars about 5 or 6 years sooner. JJ would have been too distracted with that to fuck up Star Trek.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Honestly, I think Abrams is just fucking with Trekkies.

  • JW||

    Still. Not. Caring.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Instead of raising taxes on the wealthy, I suggest human sacrifice.

    http://lfb.org/today/why-the-r.....hemselves/

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

  • Sernylan||

    I shall fly my top-hat at half mast.

  • SIV||

    RIP

  • GILMORE||

    Father!! FATHER!! The sleeper must awaken...

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    Thugs, Spock's gonna die, human sacrifice, dead show host...
    Well, we are an "up" bunch today!

  • Sernylan||

    Needs moar coffee.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    Yep! I'll be buying some on the way to my first appointment this morning. (First Sunday I've worked in months, but sometimes it has to be done.)

  • Mr Whipple||

    If a tax on cigarettes deters smoking, does a tax on investment deter investment?

  • Rich||

    A modest proposal: The Meta-Tax.

  • gaijin||

    I never meta tax...I didn't like ;)

  • Mike Laursen||

    You're not supposed to ask that question. And I would love to hear Rob Reiner's answer.

  • Sevo||

    Mr Whipple| 12.9.12 @ 8:42AM |#
    "If a tax on cigarettes deters smoking, does a tax on investment deter investment?"

    Team Blue:
    "No. They're different sort of and profits something something. See?"

  • Ghetto Slovak Goatherder||

    Unless you've got so much money that the tax is relatively inconsequential... wait a second... Warren you sly dog!

  • anarch||

    As someone else Harry Browne put it,

    “Government is good at one thing: It knows how to break your legs, hand you a crutch, and say, ‘See, if it weren't for the government, you wouldn't be able to walk.’”

    Just a mite more emphatically phrased.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...the ruled outnumbered the rulers and widespread tax resistance would have doomed the regime.

    At the risk of incurring the righteous wrath of the anti-47% crowd, Benjamin Franklin had it right. "When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic." It is not just politicians and their media cheerleaders enamored with the idea of a solution of more taxation.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Which is why rulers from Caligula to George W. Bush claim divine right. Whey the masses believe them they are more likely to submit to taxation.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Curious that you end that progression at GWB, who was a tax cutter. Isn't there someone after him you're forgetting? Someone who is demanding that the masses submit to his will based on 0.5% of the vote?

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Obama does not claim divine privilege. But yes, all presidents are statists of one stripe or another. Even the great Thomas Jefferson was.

    And to this date Obama has only cut taxes - both for individuals and business (save the cigarette tax).

    Of course he is reversing both soon - to pay for Bush's overspending as well as his own upcoming spending.

    There needs to be an anti-statist party - something along the lines of the LP.

  • injanear||

    Oh and that little health care thing.

  • Mike M.||

    Obama is the assclown who claimed that he was going to heal the planet and cause the seas to stop rising. Sounds to me like he thinks of himself as some kind of divine being.

  • MacKlingon||

    He could learn from an English King, making the point of limited power.

    "Canute (or Cnut or Knut), a Dane who ruled England from 1015 to 1035, as well as Denmark, Norway, Parts of sweden, Pomerania and Schleswig, was a down-to-earth man anoyed by flattering courtiers who tried to tell him that he was all-powerful. To demonstrate that he was not, he had a throne placed on the seashore, sat in it, ordered the tide to go back, and duly got his feet wet."

  • Sevo||

    Palin's Buttplug| 12.9.12 @ 10:28AM |#
    "Obama does not claim divine privilege."

    “We are not going to play that game next year,”
    http://www.mediaite.com/online.....that-game/
    Notice the royal "We"

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    OT - The War on Christmas.

    Fox News' #1 conservative apologist calls Christianity a "philosophy" exempt from the Establishment Clause:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/....._blog.html

    Poor Christians! Christmas is nearly gone from our lives.

  • ShagNasty||

    It is pretty funny when christians act like becoming less dominant is the same thing as being persecuted.

  • GILMORE||

    I had the impression from Foucault that modern taxation followed the census, formalized after the dark ages/during the plague because suddenly the government cared somewhat who everyone *was*, and suddenly needed to spend lots of money keeping them all in control out of concern that they'd spread some new productivity-destroying disease... essentially, an expansion of feudalism up to the nation-state level... but then, it wasnt like my sociopolitical philiosophy teachers focused on it all that much... they were more concerned with justifying communism...

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I'm not sure what you, or Foucault, mean by "modern taxation". The Romans also cared greatly about whom everyone "was" and with a civil service that puts anything in the dark ages to shame, also conducted censuses and used the results for taxation. Indeed, even the ancient Egyptians depicted the consequences of not paying taxes, complete with papyrus and stylus-holding auditors.

  • Rhywun||

    Aw, I like the cute little taxpayers - on their knees trying to fend off the bludgeons of their masters.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    That particular depiction is from the Old Kingdom (~3000 B.C.), prior to that, Egypt was a collection of autonomous city-states with a shared language. When Upper and Lower Egypt were unified, taxes began to be paid as "the price of Egyptian civilization", financing such "advances" as vainglorious eternal-life machines for the various pharaohs.

  • Sevo||

    "taxes began to be paid as "the price of Egyptian civilization", financing such "advances" as vainglorious eternal-life machines for the various pharaohs."

    Same damn lies.

  • Mickey Rat||

    So in about 5000 years of civilization, nothing about politics has changed.

  • juris imprudent||

    Ezra Klein: No, no, that isn't possible.

  • GILMORE||

    Heroic Mulatto| 12.9.12 @ 11:58AM |#

    I'm not sure what you, or Foucault, mean by "modern taxation"

    in ancient periods there was little control of movement, there was no fixed ID system, etc. Yes, ancient regimes taxed whomever they could find, but the systematic 'numbering' of people and registration of property and income is a more post dark-ages innovation. at least per Foucault. What do i know. He was french and probably wrong about everything.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • GILMORE||

    .Foucault's observations on the development of the panopticon during the 18th century most definitively come to mind.

    his book 'discipline and punish' was exactly what i was referencing. the book examines how power over time became more pernicious by becoming omnipresent and invisible (which he thought was best symbolically manifasted in the Panopticon) He discussed how the modern western bureaucratic-state began to take shape after/during the black plague, where 'emergency powers' gradually morphed into permanent elements of the modern state.

  • Whahappan?||

    "Don't let a crisis got to waste!"

  • ||

    All government consists of a criminal gang, claiming a monopoly right to rob and oppress you, and suppress competition from other gangs. All taxation is theft, and is immoral and evil and wrong.

    Any politician who claims otherwise is either delusional about objective reality, or is lying to you, or both.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Your POV is not objective reality. In the case of the US, the government is selected by the people, so it's not like the Mongols riding in on camels and raping and pillaging. Yes, there are parallels to protection rackets, but the nature is different. Also, if we're casting aside the rule of law, how can they be a criminal gang as opposed to just a regular gang?

  • ||

    In the case of the US, the government is selected by the people

    I don't recall getting to select the government I wanted, the way I get to select the groceries I want at the store I choose to shop at. A bunch of other people imposed their wishes upon me.

    Your "the people" preferred NOTA (None Of The Above) for president, yet somehow the second place choice got re-elected.

    A minority of the populace voted to send the equivalent of mob bosses to DC to rob and oppress us, and threatened to toss the vast majority who did not consent to this arrangement into cages if they resisted.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Did someone stop you from voting? Silence gives consent. If you refuse to vote, this indicates that you don't care.

  • ||

    Silence gives consent. If you refuse to vote, this indicates that you don't care.

    I voted for the lesser of four evils for president. I didn't want any of them.

    Other people, like Episiarch, didn't vote for any of them because none of them represented his POV.

    If someone in a dark alley pulls a gun on you and demands you hand over your wallet or else, and you silently hand it over, does your silence there indicate "consent"?

    If someone puts a knife to your throat and demands you submit to getting ass-raped, and you silently submit because you don't want to die, is that consensual sex?

  • Tulpa Doom||

    In those situations there are potentially severe consequences for not complying with the "winner" of the encounter.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    In those situations there are potentially severe consequences for not complying with the "winner" of the encounter.

    And that's different that tax protesting how?

  • Jerryskids||

    JINX!

  • Jerryskids||

    "If you didn't vote, you have no right to complain" is a stupid argument - it is exactly backward. If you vote in an election you know, going into it, is a "majority rules" election, you are implicitly giving consent to be governed by the will of the majority.

    I didn't vote, I didn't agree to be governed by the will of the majority. I can complain. *You* voted, you agreed to be governed by the will of the majority, STFU.

    As far as the idea that we somehow have agreed to the taxes imposed upon us, it's kind of like me putting a gun to your head and asking you to give me your money. Even though you hand over your wallet, is this really a sign that you have agreed to give me your money?

    The fact that the public supports higher government spending doesn't mean they support higher taxes *for themselves* - to the extent that politicians propose higher spending paid for with higher taxes on somebody else, it only means that the public supports getting free shit. Not exactly a revelation about human nature.

    You want to know what the public really wants? Make taxes voluntary. It's one thing to say we 'need' more spending on this, that, or the other, it's something else to put your money where your mouth is and prove that you really do believe this 'need' isn't just a 'want'.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    "If you didn't vote, you have no right to complain" is a stupid argument

    which is why I didn't make it.

    Of course you have a right to complain, but I have a right to ask why you didn't act to stop the thing you're now complaining about.

  • Jerryskids||

    ""If you didn't vote, you have no right to complain" is a stupid argument

    which is why I didn't make it."

    I didn't say you made that argument.

    I have a right to ask why you didn't act to stop the thing you're now complaining about.

    I did act to stop the thing I am now complaining about - I told everybody I could "Don't vote! It just encourages the bastards."

  • robc||

    I have a right to ask why you didn't act to stop the thing you're now complaining about.

    If they would put "None of the above" on the ballot AND allow it to win, your point might make sense. But they dont. If they did a bunch of current non-voters might show up (and I would join them in voting to not have a president for 4 years, for example).

  • Jerryskids||

    Talk to anybody from Atlanta for 5 minutes and it's a safe bet that the subject of the terrible traffic around Atlanta is going to come up. Everybody bitches about getting stuck in traffic and agrees that 'something needs to be done' about the traffic problem.

    These people should be vigorously punched in the head. No, you dolt, you weren't 'stuck in traffic' - you *are* the fucking traffic! You want to do something about the traffic problem? Stop being the traffic problem!

    See, people will *say* that 'we *need* to do something about traffic', but their actions indicate that they simply *want* something to be done about traffic. Something that doesn't cost them, personally, anything.

    So too, with the idea of voluntary taxation. People will *say* they support higher taxes to address this, that, or the other 'need', but see what they do when you tell them to put their money where their mouth is. That ought to give you a good idea as to whether they really see the difference between 'needs' and 'wants'.

  • ||

    Voting doesn't mean you're giving consent. A person can vote simply because that's the only way they can have any influence on the outcome at all, an outcome that will influence their lives. Choosing to have some influence doesn't mean you're "consenting" to be ruled, only that you're trying to influence something that affects your life.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    You want to know what the public really wants? Make taxes voluntary. It's one thing to say we 'need' more spending on this, that, or the other, it's something else to put your money where your mouth is and prove that you really do believe this 'need' isn't just a 'want'.

    All services, government and private, should be on a pay per use basis. That is the only true way to discern what the people ACTUALLY want and need and are willing to pay for.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Selected by some of the people.

  • ||

    Mr. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said: “Taxes are the price we pay for civilized society.”

    Taxes are the price we pay for not yet living in a civilized land.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Stolen

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Taxes are the price we pay for government.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    How ironic that organized society and civilization itself are said to depend on the government's threatening peaceful people if they fail to surrender their property as demanded by politicians who presumptuously and self-servingly claim to "represent" all the people.

    Reality is ironic.

    Does Mr Richman have a better system for sustaining civilization in mind? Is he willing to answer doubts about the efficacy of that system with more than question begging and pleas to just give it a shot, it might work?

  • ||

    Does Mr Richman have a better system for sustaining civilization in mind?

    The current system does not "sustain civilization", any more than a mob boss does. What civilization occurs, does so despite this criminal gang.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Right, our society would get along just fine without police and the military. The Mafia and the PRC like your ideas very much.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    ive always wondered for any libertarian thats not an anarchist, whats the appropiate level of "theft and violence" as they call it? if your a minarchist or higher what percent is acceptable? or is everyone who uses those terms to describe taxation an anarchist?

  • Tulpa Doom||

    The minimal amount necessary to sustain the legitimate functions of the state.

    Yes, that's vague, and would require "eternal vigilance" as they say, to keep it from growing. So it doesn't appeal to black-and-white thinkers. But the no-tax alternatives simply won't work due to the free-rider problem on the one hand (if you try a monopoly voluntary-contribution security force), and the inherent power-lust in human nature on the other (if you try competing security forces).

  • robc||

    So it doesn't appeal to black-and-white thinkers.

    Im regularly accused of being a b&w thinker (and interestingly, I dont consider it an insult) and I agree with your general statement. So, once again, you are wrong, even when you are right.

    However, no "theft" is necessary. Its why the only tax I can support is the Single Land Tax. As I cant see any natural law property theory that works beyond "because some gang of thugs granted you a deed" yet I also see property rights as being core to protecting other rights, an SLT is the only tax I can support on moral grounds.

    And a 6%, for example, SLT would be more than enough to support all levels of government at the size I would like to see (Its my 2-2-2 plan, give 2% to Feds, 2% to state, 2% to local).

  • Tulpa Doom||

    As I cant see any natural law property theory that works beyond "because some gang of thugs granted you a deed" yet I also see property rights as being core to protecting other rights

    Which means you're a pragmatist, not a monochromer. Welcome to the fold.

  • robc||

    Nope.

    Still black & white.

    Might makes right in property rights is absolutely monochrome.

  • robc||

    Or better put, as Mises said it (paraphrasing here of course): Might makes right up until the point where we draw a line and say "From here on property rights are absolute".

    Anything before that line, tough shit. Anything after, the rule of law prevails.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Some forms of taxation are less coercive than others.

    I would say income taxes are probably the most coercive form of taxation.

    I would say sales taxes are demonstrably less so since people figure them into the price of whatever they're buying and choose to either pay the tax or not.

    Regardless, if we ever get to some sustainable form of anarcho-capitalism, it will only happen if we convince enough people that this is what they want. Since so many of the people necessary necessary to achieve that critical mass are statists right now, before we convince them to get rid of the government entirely, we probably need to convince them to make the government smaller.

    Marketing is important. If libertarians of all stripes marketed ourselves better than the progressives, we might have the influence the progressives have. We're right on policy; they're wrong on policy. We have no influence; the progressives have tons. Why is that?

    The answer is marketing. From what I can tell, that's what this website is all about. Incidentally, there's a donation button around here somewhere. Everybody in this thread that says we would do well if taxes were entirely voluntary--and doesn't voluntarily give money to Reason's pledge drive? Is making a fool of themselves.

  • ||

    Marketing would help, but as libertarians we're grossly disadvantaged in that department since we spend most of our time not giving a damn about what other people do. I couldn't tell you the first thing about influencing our neighbors to vote for less government.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    The biggest "marketing" problem libertarians have is the coherent philosophy. Liberals and conservatives have no trouble "bending" their philosophy to please various factions whose votes they crave, because their philosophy is confused and multiform as it is. Unfortunately, most libertarians like their coherence and are totally unwilling to bend it.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    The biggest "marketing" problem libertarians have is the coherent philosophy.

    "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds."

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Unfortunately, most libertarians like their coherence and are totally unwilling to bend it.

    Which is what makes it a cult and not a political movement for the true believers.

  • ||

    Liberals and conservatives have no trouble "bending" their philosophy to please various factions...

    Team Red/Blue have no philosophy. They have arbitrary positions on various issues.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I won't claim any marketing expertise either, but the first step may be convincing them that we're not necessarily anarchists.

    I'm thinkin' one step at a time, you know? When you're dating a nice girl, before you try to get her pants off, maybe you try for a kiss first.

    Usually, the first thing you do is try to convince her you're not an axe murderer. Then maybe you try to convince her that you're not like a drunken frat boy, either.

    There are a lot of people out there who think libertarians really are axe murderers anarchists. If they won't even consider libertarian ideas when identified as such because they associate "libertarian" with "anarchist", then breaking that association may be an important first step.

    And for those anarcho-capitalists among us, maybe they can console themselves with the realization that having more small-state libertarians in the world is a step in their direction. I don't know the answer. I just know that the way we're perceived now isn't getting us the results we want.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Referring to female genitalia as little as possible, and in a respectful manner when necessary, would probably help too.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Poor Ken, still striving to sit at the "cool kids" table.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Yeah, obviously libertarian shouldn't worry about what people think of them...

    The whole point of this website is to make libertarianism more appealing to average people.

    I mean, libertarianism needs to appeal to more than just stupid ass Islamophobic Trinidadians, right?

  • iggy||

    I think you mean 'Stupid ass Islamophobic Somalians.'

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Nope, Ken is just trying to insult me. Poorly, from the looks of it.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Some forms of taxation are less coercive than others.

    A 3" knife in the back is less deadly than a 6" blade in the back.

  • The Derider||

    And a scalpel in the back isn't necessarily harmful, assuming it's tackling some larger problem.

  • JSebastian||

    "Since so many of the people necessary necessary to achieve that critical mass are statists right now, before we convince them to get rid of the government entirely, "

    How is that any different than saying before we will no longer be victimized by thieves, we need to convince them to stop stealing?

    Thieves aren't going to stop stealing. Society (meaning people in general) need to have collectively the mindset that stealing is wrong, not that the end justifies the means, which is what they currently believe.

    What will resolve this situation is a bloody revolution in which people who condone stealing are killed in horrific and visible fashion. Basically you'd have to execute the entire leadership of at the very least, the federal government, on TV, in order to provide an effective deterrent to other people who think that they can ever have the "right" or the "authority" to steal from other people.

    That's what will be required. There is a lot wrong with the Muslim world, not the least of which is their insane theism, but at least they understand how to treat thieves.

  • DGPFL||

    I wish that were true.

    However, I think the fact is that most people are not interested in taking responsibility for their own lives. They actually want and believe in a progressive utopia where they give up whatever freedoms are necessary to be comfortably taken care of by big government.

  • Mike Laursen||

    You're in luck. I can explain my thinking as a non-purist libertarian.

    I don't know exactly what the ideal minimal level of government is. I know that things have gone extremely far in the two much government direction, and that all I'm going to see in my lifetime is incremental victories for freedom. So, that's what I focus on.

    I don't even find it interesting to have theoretical discussions about libertarian ideals. I used to, when I was younger, but now I find it boring and repetitive.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I don't even find it interesting to have theoretical discussions about libertarian ideals. I used to, when I was younger, but now I find it boring and repetitive.

    Then why bother commenting, except to be supercilious to the "young'ins"?

  • Mike Laursen||

    I was directly answering Zack's question above.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    "I don't know exactly what the ideal minimal level of government is"

    sounds like me, im pretty sure its not 0 or 100, but ive moved more left economically recently, not as far as your typical liberal but i dont feel comfortable saying im a libertarian anymore. i usually say socially tolerant, fiscally responsible, and anti war if someone asks.

    i still like libertarian news better than liberal news though. reason and stossel for the most part.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    "... but ive moved more left economically recently, not as far as your typical liberal but i dont feel comfortable saying im a libertarian anymore."

    In what way have you moved left economically?

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    hmm, this can be a difficult question because my opinions change fairly often, and im not entirely sure what i believe yet.

    but i just dont see how pure libertarianism leads to anything but hegemony, like i said i dont have any exact numbers to throw out but i do think that programs that increase opportunity like publicly funded education(i still like variety such as charter schools, private schools and whatever else someone comes up with) are good , plus im ok with breaking up monopolies and encouraging competition.

    i think ppl should only starve because of nature, like a severe drought or some other catastrophe, not because there is food or resources available but are being hoarded for whatever reason.

    idk, really i just realized that i am a utilitarian first, where as pure libertarian requires dogmatic adherence to a certain set of rules that can never be violated.(and they like to say liberalism is a religious cult lol) all that being said i think the government is too big now and we need to move in the direction of liberty for the time being, but at some point i think consequences will outweight the benefits. sort of a laffer curve of liberty i guess.

  • ||

    idk, really i just realized that i am a utilitarian first, where as pure libertarian requires dogmatic adherence to a certain set of rules that can never be violated.

    Libertarians are fully capable of being utilitarian. Those that are believe that more freedom, not coercion, best increases utility.

  • ||

    (and they like to say liberalism is a religious cult lol)

    Having principles is "cultlike"? Even utilitarianism has principles, they're just utility-based. You're a moron.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Purity rituals make some libertarians cultists.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    umm i was laughing at them calling liberalism a cult when they do the same thing, just with different principles. they seem to think that their not a cult cause there right. so i basically said the same thing you did darius. so youre the moron! jk im sure your ok, just didnt get what i was trying to say.

    as to utilitarian libertarians, of course there are like tulpa, and once upon a time me. the difference with utilitarian libertarians is that if they decide that more freedom in every case doesnt increase utility, they will stop being libertarians. the deontologist libertarians are the ones i have a problem with, because no matter how bad things got ( assuming things got bad under libertarianism, which is not what im saying) they would still adhere to there principles.

  • ||

    umm i was laughing at them calling liberalism a cult when they do the same thing, just with different principles.

    You referred to a "dogmatic set of rules". What you're talking about are principles, and you claimed that having "principles" makes libertarianism cultlike. I called you an idiot. Now I know you're a liar too.

    the difference with utilitarian libertarians is that if they decide that more freedom in every case doesnt increase utility, they will stop being libertarians.

    No duh. But you're making the assumption that any utilitarian libertarian will suddenly change his mind about the utility of liberty. There's no reason to think that will happen for them more than anyone else.

    the deontologist libertarians are the ones i have a problem with, because no matter how bad things got ( assuming things got bad under libertarianism, which is not what im saying) they would still adhere to there principles.

    Yes, I can see why you would have a problem with consistent moral principles of action, Mr. "If I think they're a meany I can beat them and take their shit".

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    "" umm i was laughing at them calling liberalism a cult when they do the same thing, just with different principles.

    You referred to a "dogmatic set of rules". What you're talking about are principles, and you claimed that having "principles" makes libertarianism cultlike. I called you an idiot. Now I know you're a liar too.""

    so when i said the word principles what i was actually talking about was principles? thanks for the heads up.

    i have seen libertarians repeatedly accuse liberalism of being a cult because of how they treat people who don't follow their principles devoutly enough, they do the same shit with a different set of principles and yet dont see the irony in that, that was all i was talking about, im not a liar, and i didnt say utilitarianism cant be cultish, i was just pointing out a hypocrisy i noticed in these comments. i am not personally making any claims about what constitutes a cult, im just saying by their own standards they would fulfill the criteria.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    “No duh. But you're making the assumption that any utilitarian libertarian will suddenly change his mind about the utility of liberty. There's no reason to think that will happen for them more than anyone else.”

    im not making that assumption. but to be fair the way i talked about my utilitarianism leading me away from libertarianism in my first post was ambiguous, so ill give you this one to you.
    “Yes, I can see why you would have a problem with consistent moral principles of action”

    you can see why i would have a problem with holding on to ethical beliefs even when they result in mass pain and suffering? can you maybe see that, because thats literally what i have been writing about up and down this comment section? nice one sherlock.

    im seeing a pattern here, i dont think your actually reading my posts, its more likely your rolling your face across the keyboard and submitting whatever pops up on the screen.

  • ||

    you can see why i would have a problem with holding on to ethical beliefs even when they result in mass pain and suffering?

    Wrong. You have a problem with ethical beliefs that don't JUSTIFY inflicting pain and suffering when there's something you want. All you're doing is asking a loaded question that amounts to "If you beliefs were wrong, would you still believe them?" as some sort of gotcha. There's no reason to think that being against coercion leads to "mass pain and suffering". People don't suddenly lose all reason to help others because someone isn't threatening them.

    i have seen libertarians repeatedly accuse liberalism of being a cult because of how they treat people who don't follow their principles devoutly enough,

    You'll see liberalism called a cult here because of a lack of logic to their arguments, with a dogmatic belief they're right in the face of direct evidence to the contrary. When evidence fails, appeals to emotion (fear, envy, anger) are made instead.

    i was just pointing out a hypocrisy i noticed in these comments

    You only demonstrate that you have no idea what we're actually talking about.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    i would readily change my beliefs if they lead to pain and suffering, dogmatic libertarians would not. that is what i have a problem with. if libertopia exists i have no problem with that. what bothers me is people who value property rights above happiness and wellbeing.

    even though i think force is appropiate in some cases i can still logically reject north korea levels of it. if your philosophy leads to higher than north korean levels of misery you cannot reject it.

    so you can call me a thug, but it doesnt bother me when someone who would call mass starvation and disease and misery just if the right principles are involved calls me a name.

  • Draft Tulpa 2016||

    Problem is, if food or medicine is subject to confiscation or redistribution if someone is purported to need it, then few people will store food and medicine.

    People were starving in Moscow in 1922, so the Soviets went out to the farms and took wheat at gunpoint from "kulaks" for "equitable redistribution". Guess what happened when they tried to do this again in 1923? There wasn't any wheat to take.

    The way to prevent mass starvation and disease and misery is to have a thriving economy. The free market is how to do that.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    tulpa you are way better than any other commenter ive come across today, i didnt really like you a few months ago because you were arguing for romney and current military levels of spending(i think? could have been john) anyways even if you dont agree with me, you have pointed out that not all of my criticisms are idiotic and fallacious, and you actually try to present real arguments as to why liberty is better, as opposed to oh bad things would never happen and your an idiot for even questioning us or the market.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    anyways, im not a mega leftwing nut who believes in communism, it just seems like that compared to the anarchists here. so i agree that in most cases force can lead to bad consequences, but i think that in some cases it could work out.

    i think that a relatively free market is a good way to achieve prosperity, but i think government force is legitimate in fighting monopolistic industry that wont care if a few million die of starvation because they can keep selling to the everyone else. no need to innovate or compete because of hegemonic control. its not necessarily redistribution i want so much as making sure opportunity exists even for those born in the wrong place and the wrong time. and tbh some redistribution to the extent that people dont die without good reason. (although im not a fan of medicare because i think that the money could produce more good elsewhere, opportunity costs and all that).

    but yes i agree that to an extent a free market provides most of the needs and wants of the people, i just happen to think that where it does fail, government should step in for the greater good.

  • ||

    i would readily change my beliefs if they lead to pain and suffering, dogmatic libertarians would not. that is what i have a problem with.

    And because we haven't changed our beliefs in the actual ABSENCE of a reason to change them, we're "dogmatic". Right.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    i dont care if your beliefs are libertarian, its if you would still have them if they lead to horrible consequences. thats all, srsly, if you believe that libertarianism will lead to the best society then fine, but if you think it doesnt matter what happens then not fine. its not complicated im just saying i have a problem with the deontologists, if your not one of them then great, i dont have an issue with you

  • ||

    if your philosophy leads to higher than north korean levels of misery you cannot reject it.

    Again, you just make things up and expect us to believe it. Why in the hell would you expect to be able to convincingly lie to me ABOUT MYSELF?

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    what am i lying about? if your not a deontological libertarian then im not saying anything about you. wtf am i making up? im just saying if you value logical consistency over human welfare then i find you morally bankrupt, idk what your problem is with that? you act like im attacking rule utilitarians, im not.

  • ||

    so you can call me a thug, but it doesnt bother me when someone who would call mass starvation and disease and misery just

    Again, you just outright LIE if it suits your agenda. Nowhere have I said mass starvation and disease are just, and you've given no reason to believe that an absence of coercion would lead to those things.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    what lie? if you are a deontological libertarian then you DO find mass starvation just assuming the correct principles were followed. if you dont then im clearly not talking about you am i? if your uncomfortable defending such outcomes then great, but dont pretend to be a means justify the ends libertarian, cause you wouldnt be.

  • ||

    if you are a deontological libertarian then you DO find mass starvation just assuming the correct principles were followed.

    Ok, now I'm thinking you're just stupid: THINKING COERCION IS WRONG IS NOT THE SAME THING AS THINKING STARVATION AND SUFFERING ARE JUST. I SHOULDN'T HAVE TO SPELL IT OUT, YOU IDIOT. You're either really stupid or very consistent in your bullshit accusations.

  • ||

    The principles I'm talking about obviously have to do with actions. Saying that you beating someone over the head is unjust has nothing to do with what I think about starvation or suffering. I don't need to "defend such outcomes" because I'm not TALKING about the ridiculous outcomes you moronically assume would happen absent coercion. As previous commenters have said, lifeboat ethics may seem clever but doesn't make any sense.

  • ||

    ZackTheHypochondriac said:

    idk, really i just realized that i am a utilitarian first, where as pure libertarian requires dogmatic adherence to a certain set of rules that can never be violated.


    So, does this mean you're not a rule Utilitarian?

    we need to move in the direction of liberty for the time being, but at some point i think consequences will outweight the benefits. sort of a laffer curve of liberty i guess.


    I think a lot of libertarians would agree with you in principle, but just not go quite as far to the left as you have.

    For example: taxing to provide for defense: good. Taxing to provide free playstations: bad. I'm glad no one is seriously proposing free playstations, but at least we (probably) agree that taxes can be justified for some purposes, and not for others.

  • ||

    ive always wondered for any libertarian thats not an anarchist, whats the appropiate level of "theft and violence" as they call it?

    Damn I wish I was in on this earlier.

    The only legitimate purpose of government is to protect the rights of the individual. If it doesn't fall into that category, it is immoral.

    That provides the needed protections while maximizing liberty.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    "The only legitimate purpose of government is to protect the rights of the individual. If it doesn't fall into that category, it is immoral.

    That provides the needed protections while maximizing liberty."


    you sir are socialist utilitarian, using force and coercion to provide you with things you want, and the betterment of society. fuck off slaver.

    -anarchist

    the only difference between you and me, in the eyes of the ancaps are decimal point. you say 2% taxation for certain things are moral, and i say 20% for certain things.

  • ||

    the only difference between you and me, in the eyes of the ancaps are decimal point. you say 2% taxation for certain things are moral, and i say 20% for certain things.

    Uh, no. As is entirely clear from your posts, the difference is the things funded and, most importantly, WHY they're funded. Not the level of taxation itself. Not "decimal points".

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    then you are ok with coercion to protect property rights, the thing you "want"

    if not then me and francisco arent really different, each wants to use government force to achieve the ends we find desirable. since this is what you have a problem with(the force) then what we want to do with it is irrelevant.

  • ||

    I am not an ancap.

    What is your 20% based upon? What are the bounds of government? Or do you bound it by how YOU feel on particular issues.

    Um..we want to pass universal health care...not sure if that's ethical...call up ETH and ask him if HE feels it's within the scope of government...

    Dude, if you can't define the scope of government, you haven't given it enough thought.

  • ||

    er...ZTH

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    i admit i havent given it enough though, i think there are more legitimate roles to government than you do, thats really all i know. im a recent ex libertarian so i dont have an answer to what the right number is. i just know that if government involvement creates a better situation than a lack of it then it is good, if it creates bad outcomes then it is bad.

    but why arent you an ancap? if if government redistributing wealth is ok for national defense then why not for feeding the hungry? if your answer is that the free market can do a better job of feeding the hungry then fine, but why cant it do a better job of providing defense? if you are ok with 1% taxation then you are only different from a person who thinks 10% is ok by a decimal point.

  • ||

    if government redistributing wealth is ok for national defense then why not for feeding the hungry?

    If you bothered to read his comments you'd know why. He makes it very clear.

  • ||

    I worship liberty. I have two premises.

    1. A person can do anything he wishes, PROVIDED, in doing so, he does not infringe upon the rights of others.

    2. The ONLY legitimate role of government is to protect the rights of the individual.

    Both these premises maximize my liberty.

    if government redistributing wealth is ok for national defense then why not for feeding the hungry?

    First, I don't believe in redistributing wealth. The government provides services that comply with 2 above. Every man, woman and child in this nation should pay an equal share for the equal services provided.

    Second there are those that would take my (and your) liberty, bad people with no morals, that cannot be defended against with a citizen militia. Call me a utilitarian... Ancaps cannot provide a legitimate response to this (that is workable).

    Having food is not a right. Everyone makes their own way. If you cannot provide for yourself then you must depend upon the charity of others for your survival.

    i admit i havent given it enough though, i think there are more legitimate roles to government than you do, thats really all i know.

    How do you know? You cannot even bound the issue. You are correct. You haven't given it enough thought.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    “Or do you bound it by how YOU feel on particular issues.”

    kind of like you did when you said “oh well its ok for defense, because I want that.”

    “Um..we want to pass universal health care...not sure if that's ethical...call up ETH and ask him if HE feels it's within the scope of government...”

    um.. we want to build a tank...not sure if that’s ethical...call up FD and ask him if HE feels it’s within the scope of government...”

    “1. A person can do anything he wishes, PROVIDED, in doing so, he does not infringe upon the rights of others.”

    unless you want an ICBM, then all of a sudden others rights dont seem so important.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    “First, I don't believe in redistributing wealth. “

    ? oh, i thought when you said its ok for the government to have a national defense system you meant through coercive taxes,(which is redistribution) if you meant people voluntarily contribute to national defense then maybe you are an ancap and not just a hypocrite.

    “Second there are those that would take my (and your) liberty, bad people with no morals, that cannot be defended against with a citizen militia. Call me a utilitarian... Ancaps cannot provide a legitimate response to this (that is workable).”

    i agree with everything you said here, i just go one tiny* step further in saying that they we can also maybe use force to do some other good things. *you accept the use of force, thats the big step, picking slightly different percentages we find tolerable is then relatively tiny.

    “Having food is not a right. Everyone makes their own way. If you cannot provide for yourself then you must depend upon the charity of others for your survival.“

    having defense is not a right. everyone makes their own way, if you cant defend yourself from marauders just hope someone else will risk themselve to do it. this contradicts the paragraph immediately above it lol.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Right, our society would get along just fine without police and the military.

    In many cases, our society would be far better off without either of those.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Does Mr Richman have a better system for sustaining civilization in mind?"

    It should be noted that arguing against higher taxation as a cure all fetish and arguing against the very existence of taxation are not the same thing.

    Some people say I didn't really build my business because I used roads that were paid for by the government--all the while ignoring that taxpayers like me paid for those roads, and I wasn't necessarily arguing against taxes going to roads specifically anyway.

    How much government can we get rid of before we have to start doing away with public roads and public schools? Just because I benefit from public schools, does that mean I have to support the government raising my taxes instead of slashing some teachers' bloated pension benefits?

    The question on the fiscal cliff negotiating table right now isn't whether to get rid of taxes entirely--it's whether the solution is to raise taxes or cut spending. Just because some of us are on the FUCS side of that equation, doesn't necessarily mean we want anarchy and we want it right now.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Richman's inflammatory language in that part of the article doesn't seem to leave room for saying that some taxation is necessary, though he tries to walk back his overreach later in the article.

    It's also cute that Richman restricts the meaning of "price" to the "voluntary transaction sense" in order to take a shot at Holmes. The word has a broader meaning, as in "body odor is the price humans pay for an efficient cooling system", though I don't recall being offered a choice of having sweat glands or not.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Does Mr Richman have a better system for sustaining civilization in mind?

    Perhaps, something like this:

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig3/long1.html

  • Tulpa Doom||

    What was the population density of Saga Iceland, Whipple?

  • Mr Whipple||

    I don't know. Does population density invalidate morality?

  • Tulpa Doom||

    No, but it does make quaint political systems less viable.

  • Mr Whipple||

    As opposed to.....

  • Tulpa Doom||

    a system that has lasted nearly 250 years, despite massive religious, ideological, ethnic, and geographical changes in its territory, and having a massive target on its back for the past 100?

  • JSebastian||

    It won't last much longer. And remember, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Do you recall what happened to the Roman Empire? They are part of the PIGS bankrupt bloc...living on austerity. Fucking pathetic outcome for the masters of the world, ain't it?

  • VG Zaytsev||

    It won't last much longer.

    Any evidence to support that contention?

    The Roman analogy is illustrative. The US is now at a similar point as Rome was in the early late republican period, after the destruction of Carthage but before the rise of Marius and Sulla.

    The Roman Republic and Empire lasted 600 more years in the west and 1,600 more years in the east.

    What makes you think that the US empire won't have similar success?

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    not to mention this small population was a self selected group who wanted freedom and nonviolence. so this was an absolute best case scenario of what happens under extreme privatization. try this with a random sampling and i doubt you would ever get 300 years again.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Such as the original population of this country?

    Since centralized governmetn is inevitable, we should embrace it. Forget about the morality or philosophy of it.

    You do understand this is a self-defeating argument against less government, right?

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    i think that only government and no government is a false choice. we can have something in the middle, or even something that leans towards one or the other and we will be better off than in the first two scenarios.

    logical consistency is just a means to an end imo, if it leads to worse outcomes than a mixed philosophy then it should be rejected

  • Mr Whipple||

    we can have something in the middle, or even something that leans towards one or the other and we will be better off than in the first two scenarios.

    Yes, voluntary governments. I do not think anyone opposes the idea of government. They oppose the idea of coercive government.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Since centralized governmetn is inevitable, we should embrace it. Forget about the morality or philosophy of it.

    Right, because the limits of scale would NEVER be a cause for concern!

  • Tulpa Doom||

    To put that time frame in perspective, Al-Andalus (Islamic Spain) lasted more than twice as long and has been almost forgotten.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Forgotten, or intentionally ignored?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Al-Andalus (Islamic Spain) lasted more than twice as long and has been almost forgotten.

    Almost forgotten by whom? Examine the rhetoric of any Islamo-Crazy group and they always claim that the contra-Reconquista is the next step after getting the Mid-East in order.

  • robc||

    has been almost forgotten.

    They were still teaching "Song of Roland" when I was in middle school.

  • JSebastian||

    Believe me, no school child in America will ever hear that song again. Future school children will be singing odes to Che Guevara and Hugo Chavez in their mestizo peasant Spanish dialect.

  • Mr Whipple||

    not to mention this small population was a self selected group who wanted freedom and nonviolence

    Yes. Most of them left to escape the tyranny of the King of England Norway.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    admirable that they managed for 300 years with that system, but it does seem to confirm my belief that minimal government leads to oligopoly and hegemony, which leads to lower innovation and less freedom

  • Mr Whipple||

    Unfortunately, it was the 1% tithe imposed by the Church. Churches were on privately owned land. It was the land owner that ultimately received an improper benefit from that tithe.

    This paper gets into more detail:

    https://notendur.hi.is//~bthru/contents.html

  • Tulpa Doom||

    That's one (very ideologically biased) author's conjecture. Keep in mind of course, we're dealing with a period where written records are very sparse.

    And of course, a system that can't withstand the appearance of a new religion must not have been a terribly robust one to begin with. So far the Saga system only appears to (possibly) work for a low-density, small island far from any other populated area, with no natural resources that anyone wants.

  • Mr Whipple||

    You didn't read the paper, did you, because everthing you just said is false. Written records are abundant, today. Christianity was not a "new" religion to the area, they brought it with them, and trade with other nations was rich.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    From your previous link:

    A more plausible explanation for the Free State’s decline points to the introduction of the tithe in 1096. Made possible by Iceland’s conversion to Christianity a century earlier, the tithe – to pay church officials and maintain church buildings – was Iceland’s first real tax. (Previous "taxes" generally turn out on closer inspection to be voluntary exchanges of fees for services.)

  • Mr Whipple||

    Iceland was settled, roughly a century earlier. And yes, the tithe is what the author believes caused the decline in Iceland's economy, not Christianity.

    IIRC, the "conversion", referred to all members of the Commonwealth. Christianity existed at the time of settlement but was not accepted by all.

    Did you get to the part where "full outlaws" were ostracized and could only be readmitted into the community by killing 3 other full outlaws?

  • Mr Whipple||

    And I still haven't heard you attempt to morally justify your, or any other position. Except, maybe, that we need big government.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    I don't need to morally justify my position. It's a utilitarian position which maximizes stability, prosperity, and liberty in that order.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Slavery is a utilitarian position.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    It was also justified morally by those at the time. Read the Dred Scott decision.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    Mr Whipple| 12.9.12 @ 11:50AM |#

    "Slavery is a utilitarian position."

    its a libertarian position as well, although in libertarianism its "voluntary"

    and if you want to talk about some of the consequences of ethical philosophies, the one you follow would be just fine with letting people starve because a rich person had bought the available food, or die of some horrible illness if one misanthrope owned all the medicine. the standard argument ive heard is oh well that wont happen.
    but if it does you have to defend it. and if your allowed to pretend horrible things wont happen with your philosophy then i think the rest of us should get the same privilege

  • Mr Whipple||

    the one you follow would be just fine with letting people starve because a rich person had bought the available food, or die of some horrible illness if one misanthrope owned all the medicine. the standard argument ive heard is oh well that wont happen.

    That is the moral position. There are no "positive rights" in libertarianism. There are, however, mutual-aid societies that are voluntary. To suggest that libertarians would allow someone to starve is to suggest that libertarians must sacrifice all compassion, which is false. All libertarians say is that no one should be forced to sacrifice for others.

    And slavery is not a libertarian position, if that's what you meant. Self-ownership trumps all.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    That's really begging the question, Whipple. Libertarianism does not imply the existence of voluntary charity, so you can't assume its existence to allow you to disregard the problem of what happens to the "losers" in the market.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Libertarianism does not imply the existence of voluntary charity

    Mutualism isn't a layer of the philosophical strata upon which Libertarianism (big and small "L") was built? C'mon, son.

  • Mr Whipple||

    I believe Mises addressed the "losers" in the market.

    See: Catallactic competition

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    the one you follow would be just fine with letting people starve because a rich person had bought the available food, or die of some horrible illness if one misanthrope owned all the medicine

    Indeed. To prevent this from happening I say we enslave all the farmers and pharmacists! Much better than a system of voluntary exchange, where people follow their rational self-interest, such as farmers not selling all their crops to someone, so they can eat themselves.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    This is a better response to ZTH's concerns.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    eat themselves? sounds horrific.

    and if this magical voluntary exchange should happen to not be enough for some, (i know this would never happen, the free market would send its only begotten son to multiply the loaves of bread and baskets of fish before it would let anyone starve or get sick) but if it should happen, are you ok with a situation in which one person has a stockpile of medicine and he refuses to sell to a group of sick ppl who then die?

  • ||

    This is seriously the example you're coming up with? A single person just happens to have all the medicine and refuses to sell it? Without resorting to James Bond supervillans, please give an example of why any person would stockpile "all" the medicine without intending to sell it to sick people.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    or just answer my question, if the means justify the ends to you guys, then you should have no problem saying that ppl dying and suffering is just fine as long as nothing was stolen.

    but i only rarely see propetarians admit to this, the standard response is that if the means are right nothing bad will ever happen.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Zack, your "question" is nothing more than a silly thought-experiment in lifeboat ethics. Again, as Mad Scientist points out, your scenario requires a large amount of people to act irrationally. In what world do people stockpile life-saving drugs and laugh maniacally, while fiendishly twirling their mustaches, as orphans die? Your convoluted scenario is not germane to the topic at hand, and only serves to distract from the fact that implicit in taxation is a hegemony's threat of initiation of force against peaceful people.

  • ||

    The hypothetical guy with the medicine stockpile has every incentive to sell the stuff to sick people. If they all die, his stockpile becomes worthless. You're true complaint here is that if someone has something you want, a libertarian society doesn't provide you with any means for legally stealing it. How about you dispense with the pretense of legality and just come out and say you think it would be perfectly OK to brain the guy and take his stuff?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    How about you dispense with the pretense of legality and just come out and say you think it would be perfectly OK to brain the guy and take his stuff?

    Straight-up admitting that you're a violent thug puts a damper on intellectually mau-mauing your opponents with charges of orphan-starving and widow-raping.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    apparently so does admitting that your ok with orphans starving as long as the right principles were followed. top principles were followed, orphan starving is a feature not a bug. maybe ill remember a few other memes that are popular here later.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    apparently so does admitting that your ok with orphans starving as long as the right principles were followed

    How many peaceful people a year have to have their property confiscated, beat up, raped, or killed in order to fulfill the yearly orphan feeding quota?

    I have no problem with, and follow me now because this is the key word, voluntarily feeding orphans; however, forcing me at metaphorical or literal gunpoint to feed orphans before I even feed my own family is hundreds-fold more immoral.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    i have no problem voluntarily feeding them either, i do have a problem with voluntarily letting them starve.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    i do have a problem with voluntarily letting them starve

    A personal problem? Then you and I have no quarrel. However, if you think it's acceptable to use the threat of violence to force me to help, then well, you're a thug, regardless of the motivations behind your violence.

  • ||

    i have no problem voluntarily feeding them either, i do have a problem with voluntarily letting them starve.

    That's a flat out lie. Nothing prevents you from feeding the hungry. Your complaint is that you can't compel other people to do so.

  • ||

    i do have a problem with voluntarily letting them starve.

    Then you are quite simply....immoral. You believe it is okay to solve problems by being unjust. Ends justify means. It makes you a bad person.

  • ||

    Straight-up admitting that you're a violent thug puts a damper on intellectually mau-mauing your opponents with charges of orphan-starving and widow-raping.

    This is what pisses me off about both TEAMS. They have no problem with violence so long as they don't have to do the wet work themselves. Their whole governmental charade is predicated on convincing other people it's OK to steal and murder so long as they're not personally doing it. For the left, getting 51% of the people to vote for it is sufficient. For the right, it's just fine if god says so.

  • The Derider||

    This assumes the guy with all the medicine is rational.

    Sometimes people aren't.

  • robc||

    Ends never justify means. That is the evil philosophy of sick utilitarian fucks like yourself.

    The means are what matter. If the means are moral, the ends will take of themselves (which doesnt mean that nothing bad with never happen, it means I will accept the ends that come).

    If there are multiple moral means, then feel free to choose the one that leads to the ends you want.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    (which doesnt mean that nothing bad with never happen, it means I will accept the ends that come).

    That's easy when it's someone else who has to suffer the ends of your philosophy.

  • ||

    Tulpa, if you're going to take your new puppy home you should at least have the good grace to train him not to crap on the floor. You are fully capable of articulating a reasoned argument when you choose to. Encouraging Zack to tug on the frayed strings of lifeboat ethics might be cute but it won't teach him how to fetch your balls.

  • Draft Tulpa 2016||

    I'm just nurturing one of my new followers. You'll see four years hence how you're supposed to build a movement. Something Gary Johnson wouldn't know if it bit him in the nose.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    i give up lol, i think it was the
    less than sign three mad scientist that was doing it. anyways funny you criticize my hypothetical but all you have provided is ad hominem attacks and pretending that bad things would never happen if the means are right.

  • ||

    Hardly. I responded to your hypothetical earlier. I'll repeat. "The hypothetical guy with the medicine stockpile has every incentive to sell the stuff to sick people. If they all die, his stockpile becomes worthless. You're true complaint here is that if someone has something you want, a libertarian society doesn't provide you with any means for legally stealing it. How about you dispense with the pretense of legality and just come out and say you think it would be perfectly OK to brain the guy and take his stuff?"

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    i think its ok to brain the guy and take his stuff if he is a misanthrope or psychopath who enjoys watching people suffer, and refuses to help. your turn, admit that you would be perfectly fine with all those people dying and suffering, that you would sit there with them, while they are coughing up blood or whatever visceral imagery you want to think about, and tell them, hey at least your not a thief.

    "worthless" /facepalm, no it is not, its worth was in the feeling the guy got as he had the power of life and death over others and chose to let them die. you measure of worth is obviously different than this guys. which is why you cant seem to understand that situations like this can very much arise in a voluntary society. because some people dont care about money, they just want to watch the world burn. lol i felt silly writing that reference but it felt appropiate.

  • ||

    So you're argument against libertarianism is that Stavro Blofeld might want to watch the world burn. To prevent that, everyone should be subject to whatever use of force you feel like inflicting. Fuck off, slaver.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    much better that we all sign our lives over to the couple of hegemons or oligarchs who will eventually own everything, and submit to whatever force they decide is appropiate. you just want a different kind of slavery than me. so get as mock-emotional outraged as you want, doesnt make your type of slavery more preferable.

  • ||

    your turn, admit that you would be perfectly fine with all those people dying and suffering, that you would sit there with them, while they are coughing up blood or whatever visceral imagery you want to think about, and tell them, hey at least your not a thief.

    People die all the time. People suffer all the time.

    Yes. I admit it. At least I'm not a thief.

    And your scenario is absurd.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    "People die all the time. People suffer all the time."

    therefore its ok? cause if that is what your saying then my argument becomes a little easier too. for example, people use coercion all the time, therefore its ok.

    if thats not what your saying then i dont have a clue what your point is.

    "And your scenario is absurd."

    yes, nothing bad can happen in a libertarian world. i heard you guys the firt 17 times.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    propetarians

    Shut the fuck up, Mary.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    It's certainly possible to imagine a scenario where a person is in an isolated area and only one person in that area has the medicine they need.

  • robc||

    It's certainly possible to imagine a scenario where a person is in an isolated area and only one person in that area has the medicine they need.

    And I dont see how that matters at all. Meet the sellers price or GTFO.

    You probably support anti-gouging laws too, you sick fuck.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Technically I'm not agreeing with ZTH, just showing how his hypothetical could be made less contrived. One could argue that the person who has the medicine probably needs it themselves, otherwise why do they have it. Plus, if medicine is subject to confiscation, it's more likely that it won't be available in that situation for any price (which parallels the pro-gauging arguments).

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    all more convincing arguments than your an idiot, thug, liar, and my personal favorite " oh well such a thing would never happen, hrmf."

    so thanks for making a real effort tulpa, unlike these zealots i am capable of changing my stance if a good enough evidence or argument is made.

  • Draft Tulpa 2016||

    Does this mean I can count on your vote in my presidential campaign?

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    possibly, but you probably will have as much chance of winning as the last guy i voted for. and he could climb the tallest mountain in the world lol. tough act to follow.

  • Jumbie||

    "A single person has all the medicine and refuses to sell it" is a hypochondriac's nightmare. Cut him some slack on the logic.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    lol a hypochondriacs nightmares are far, far worse than that. if the medicine exists i can just kill the greedy fucker* and take the medicine.

    *(i fully admit im a greedy fucker too, i hate liberals that pretend not to be just as greedy as the corporate ceos, but still if he doesnt want to help i dont feel any remorse taking his shit**)

    **(assuming he actually earned his shit and didnt just get it from being politically, economically, geographically, or chonologically connected.)

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    but if it should happen, are you ok with a situation in which one person has a stockpile of medicine and he refuses to sell to a group of sick ppl who then die?

    I'll answer that when you tell me at what point did you stop beating your wife.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    dont have a wife, there now answer my question :P

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I'm not comfortable with the entailment within your loaded question.

    There are many things that people do that I consider unethical, but that I recognize that they have a moral right to do so. Morality is different from ethics, you know.

  • robc||

    Since HM wont, I will answer it.

    The person has the absolute right to hoard the medicine, but he would be sick fucking asshole douchbag to do so.

    Which is basically the answer HM gave.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    thanks for answering, heroic mulatto lied to me, not sure if thats unethical or immoral though lol.

    but basically you really believe then that the means justify the ends, no matter how horrible the ends are. thats fine i guess but can you at least see how i wouldnt believe the same thing?

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    i see you answered this above actually

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    thanks for answering, heroic mulatto lied to me

    ???

    How so, Zack?

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    "ill answer yours if you answer mine" -HM

    "no wife" - ZTH

    "i dont think your question is fair" - HM

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    So, you never learnt the classic example of a loaded question. I'm guessing you're a precocious 14-year-old.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    ohhh, you didnt really think i beat my wife, my bad, i think an understandable mistake on my part given all the other names and accusations you guys are throwing out there.

    im not really sure how my question was loaded though. your principles justify that situation, i was just asking if you are sticking to your principles.

    so it would be more like asking how hard do you beat your wife, after learning that you support wife beating.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Umm...no. It's more akin to asking how hard you beat your wife, after seeing you hug and kiss her.

    My principles are peaceful, voluntary interactions between individuals. The situations you present are overly-contrived, lifeboat-ethics thought-experiments to justify the initiation of force under the guise of sanctimonious, faux-compassion; they have nothing to do with how voluntary economic exchange works in the real world.

    I am neither the orphan, nor am I the medicine stockpiler, so to say that my belief in non-coercive, voluntary interaction would let "orphans die from disease" is disingenuous, to say the least. If the two of us walk by a panhandler, the fact that you don't give him a dollar doesn't stop me from giving him one, yes? Even if I feel that it is immoral not to help those less fortunate than me, is it justifiable for me to beat you up and take a dollar from you to give to the panhandler? Do two moral wrongs make a right? I don't think so, do you?

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    if you really are a caring and compassionate person, AND everyone were like you, then yes i think libertarianism would be fantastic.

    but you pretend that bad people dont exist with one breath while claiming im one of them in the next.

    you can say orphans lives and well being are important to you, and maybe they are, but not stealing is even more important to you. just like not stealing is important to me, but it is less important than orphans lives and well being.

    maybe bad situations would never happen in a 100% free market, but if they did you would have to stand by it and call it just (as opposed to moral i guess). i can disagree with the way the government uses force, you cant disagree with the outcomes of a voluntary society even if they are horrible.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    but you pretend that bad people dont exist with one breath while claiming im one of them in the next.

    I've never argued that bad people don't exist, nor have I argued that voluntary societies or libertarianism were utopian.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    "nor have I argued that voluntary societies or libertarianism were utopian."

    oh, well then i believe weve been wasting each others time lol, as this was my only real point.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Fair enough.

  • robc||

    Means dont justify ends. Acting morally is all that matters, and accept the consequences of your actions. There is no need to justify the ends.

    can you at least see how i wouldnt believe the same thing?

    Yes, you are an immoral asshat.

    Morality is about actions. The whole reason someone acts in an immoral manner is because they dont like the results moral action leads to.

    All immoral action is the result of someone using the ends to justify their means.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Lots of people act immorally even though they don't like the results. People aren't as rational as you supppose.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    mine is also utilitarian, although im less economically conservative than tulpa.

  • Mr Whipple||

    I don't need to morally justify my position.

    So, you are a moral Nihilist.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    De nihil ain't just a river in Egypt.

  • Mr Whipple||

    De nihil ain't just a river in Egypt.

    And? Do you not know what morality and ethics are, or are you being intentionally obtuse to avoid defending your position?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I don't need to morally justify my position. It's a utilitarian position which maximizes stability, prosperity, and liberty in that order.

    Nice to know your priorities.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Liberty is not worth much if you're impoverished and constantly worried about how the coercive landscape is going to change tomorrow.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Is this Backwards Day? Liberty is the prerequisite for prosperity and stability.

  • BelowTheRim||

    Tell that to the Americans that forged the West.

    I'm sure they would agree with you wholeheartedly.

    That's why so many people were willing to pioneer the uncharted and dangerous frontier.

  • robc||

    Fuck utilitarianism.

  • MJGreen||

    It's a utilitarian position which maximizes stability, prosperity, and liberty in that order.

    B-b-b-b-but that's begging the question!!1

  • Mr Whipple||

    And I do not know what you mean by a "Saga system". It was a Polycentric system based on Customary Law. There was no government, only courts.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    The system that existed in Saga Iceland.

    Or the thing you plug into the TV to see the blue hedgehog.

  • Mr Whipple||

    I know it as the Icelandic Commonwealth.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    And I call hamburger helper gourmet dining, so?

  • Mr Whipple||

    It doesn't make any difference to me what you call it. A=A

  • Mr Whipple||

    I'm not saying that the Icelandic system was perfect or that it could work as a whole in today's society. I'm saying it is something to be studied and, perhaps, parts of it applied to present day politics. Nor am I saying that it could be applied tomorrow or even within my lifetime. It is philosophically consistent, however, with the libertarian position of non-aggression, private property and voluntary agreement. If one is not willing to at least entertain the idea of taking libertarian ethics to its logical conclusion, then one has no business invoking any libertarian principles as a point of argument.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    But that's the problem, you see... libertarian principles are never going to be put into action except incrementally. You have to somehow convince nonlibertarians to go part-way.

  • Mr Whipple||

    I see no problem except that people can not reason logically. All one needs to accept is the principle of self-ownership. From there, everything else is a logical step away.

    I can not guarantee that libertarian principles are the most utilitarian or pragmatic. What I can prove is that they are the most moral. It is through morality, the justification of actions, that utilitarianism will eventually follow.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    But if someone disagrees with your moral principles, you have no means of convincing them.

    The nice thing about a utilitarian/pragmatic system is that it does not require a uniform set of moral principles.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Who would disagree with self-ownership? I drive the Marxists nuts. All they can say is, "who can't own yourself, you are yourself".

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    self ownership implies you can sell yourself, and therefore yes there is libertarian slavery. you are in a dire situation and someone offers to help you out of it in exchange you agree to be there slave, do whatever they demand whenever they demand, and accept any punishment they see fit for failing to do so.

    and you can't prove a damn thing, you can say that if we define morality like this then clearly this is the most moral system, but your problems start when someone disagrees with your definition of morality.

  • ||

    self ownership implies you can sell yourself, and therefore yes there is libertarian slavery.

    Self ownership means you have an inalienable right to your body in perpetuity. It means you can rent the use of your body and labor for specified periods of time, but if you decide that isn't working out for you, you can quit that job.

    Slavery means you can't quit that job if you feel you are getting hosed by the deal.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    if you cant make a contract to sell yourself in perpetuity how can you claim self ownership?

  • Tulpa Doom||

    So ownership of self isn't the same as ownership of, say, a car? Because you can definitely sell your car in perpetuity, not just lease it.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    i was just about to add this, except i was gonna use house for an example.

    im eager to see how he dodges this one.

  • JSebastian||

    When they disagree and express that disagreement by initiating force or violence against you, kill them. That is usually pretty convincing.

    That's the only way to stop thieves. Deterrents so dreadful that they simply won't risk it.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    hmm, unless they will die if they don't steal?

    nice priorities btw, stealing a penny deserves the death penalty. and if that doesnt work maybe we could torture them too? and there families? how dreadful can we get these deterrents?

  • Tulpa Doom||

    When they disagree and express that disagreement by initiating force or violence against you, kill them.

    What if they have more men and more guns than you do?

    A common mistake anarchos make is assuming that the criminal behavior in Anarchotopia is going to be similar to that which exists under the state. The state makes difficult the bringing of large forces to bear for criminal purposes, so you get a lone burglar sneaking in in the night, or maybe two of them working together. These are relatively easy threats to counteract for an individual homeowner.

    But under anarchy, the criminal activity would be much more difficult to fight.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    And a common mistake you make is assuming that anarchists never work together to protect themselves against mutual threats.

  • General Butt Naked||

    @zack

    I know enough chemistry to make my own medicines from natural products, how to grow food, a bit of animal husbandry, how to hunt and fish, etc; so I'll be okay. I'm sure if some asshole bought all the food you could use your skills in hypothetical question creation to feed yourself. Or maybe you're really good at video games, or something.

    You've given control over your own destiny to the charity, skill, and violence in others, and expect them to keep you alive.

    You're a fool.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    i congratulate you on your self reliance, perhaps you can get a spot on doomsday preppers and show off your mad survival skills.

    but if they are at some point not enough, and you get desperate, i would be very, very impressed if you did not use those skills to force someone to help you.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    i would be very, very impressed if you did not use those skills to force someone to help you

    Or, you know, he could just barter for what he needs, like people have done for millenia.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Or, you know, he could just barter for what he needs, like people have done for millenia.

    Now we're back to the barter economy? I'm not seeing how we're better off under this anarchy system.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Now we're back to the barter economy? I'm not seeing how we're better off under this anarchy system.

    I was referring to Naked's prepper scenario. Though, I see nothing wrong with barter, per se; it's just that currency is easier.

  • General Butt Naked||

    As for being a doomsday prepper, no. I grew up in the country, and went to school for chemistry. Not that one would have to get a full 4 year degree to do some simple extractions and reactions on natural products to make medicine.

    i would be very, very impressed if you did not use those skills to force someone to help you.

    How am I going to use those skills to coerce anybody? "If you don't give me bread I WILL fucking grow these tomatoes motherfucker! Don't make me go fishin' on yer ass!"

  • Tulpa Doom||

    You could use your tomatoes and celery as a lure for starving sluts.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    You could use your tomatoes and celery as a lure for starving sluts.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    you missed the part about hunting. those are the applicable skills i was referring to.

    also i grew up in the country as well, and just recently learned to how to distill and recrystallize and all that jazz. im hoping next semester they finally teach us how to make meth, thats the carrot theyve been dangling throughout this whole organic ordeal.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    There's no reason to think they would. Plus not all the threats would be mutual. Assuming we're not talking about some feudal agricultural society, some of the anarchists would be in competition with each other, right? So what's to say one anarchist auto mechanic wouldn't sit back and let his competitor anarchist auto mechanic get knocked off by marauders? It's certainly in his best interest for the moment.

  • Whahappan?||

    Actually, the state makes it inevitable that a large force will steal from you, by definition, in perpetuity.

  • ||

    But if someone disagrees with your moral principles, you have no means of convincing them.

    Yes you do. You defend yourself, or hire others to defend yourself.

    The nice thing about a utilitarian/pragmatic system is that it does not require a uniform set of moral principles.

    That is a bug, not a feature. In practice, it means you get stripped of the means to effectively defend your rights.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    What if they're richer than you, and/or have more men and guns than you do?

    Every time we have this discussion there's an unspoken assumption that the principled anarchists are the biggest badasses in the society. It mirrors the communists' assumption that the people in power would always be principled communists.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    What if they're richer than you, and/or have more men and guns than you do?

    The same thing that happens when a poorer, less populated and armed state is attacked by a richer, larger state. They lose.

    Or they engage in 4th-generation asymmetrical warfare and use the insurgency to slowly bleed the occupying state until the price of occupation is no longer worth it to them.

    Either way, I don't see how that is an effective argument against stateless, voluntary societies.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    The same thing that happens when a poorer, less populated and armed state is attacked by a richer, larger state. They lose.

    WHICH MEANS YOU DON'T HAVE AN ANARCHY ANY MORE. Precisely my point: anarchy is too fragile to last. You have to assume that the strongest and wealthiest in the society are also incredibly principled anarchists who will never try to translate their superiority into power over others.

    Or they engage in 4th-generation asymmetrical warfare and use the insurgency to slowly bleed the occupying state until the price of occupation is no longer worth it to them.

    That only works against touchy feely enlightened invaders. Ask the Tibetans and Uighurs how that works.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    You have to assume that the strongest and wealthiest in the society are also incredibly principled anarchists who will never try to translate their superiority into power over others.

    Again, that's why assassination was invented. Furthermore, like Rothbard said, it takes a long time to reestablish control once anarchy sets in. The history of Tibet and Xinjiang are perfect examples of this, as is every failed state that exists today.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Furthermore, like Rothbard said, it takes a long time to reestablish control once anarchy sets in.

    But you do have dominant coercion in the interim. As Epi et al keep "reminding" me (even though I already know it), anarchy is not mere lack of a formal government. It's the absence of dominant coercion.

    Look at Somalia. You can't plausibly tell me they've had anarchy there for 20 years. The entire time there have been warlords and other coercers in (temporary) control of little pieces of the country.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Look at Somalia. You can't plausibly tell me they've had anarchy there for 20 years. The entire time there have been warlords and other coercers in (temporary) control of little pieces of the country

    I agree that Somalia is no anarchist poster-child.

  • Whahappan?||

    No, there's no unspoken assumption of the sort. Anarchists merely assume individuals would band together or contract out for protection. Also, most anarchist philosophy assumes that prior to a voluntarist society evolving most people would be on board with the moral principles underlying said society.

  • Draft Tulpa 2016||

    Also, most anarchist philosophy assumes that prior to a voluntarist society evolving most people would be on board with the moral principles underlying said society.

    That assumption is even stronger than the one I was mentioning.

  • GILMORE||

    Does Mr Richman have a better system for sustaining civilization in mind?

    remind me again of the civilization that collapsed because its taxes were too low?

    funny how in studies of ancient civilizations they tend to focus on things like art, technology, literature, science, architecture...and not the apparent lifeblood of all culture, the richness and depth of the tax code.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Some social conscience! How ironic that organized society and civilization itself are said to depend on the government's threatening peaceful people if they fail to surrender their property as demanded by politicians who presumptuously and self-servingly claim to "represent" all the people."

    This is a remarkable psychological phenomenon that can demonstrated in other areas of public policy.

    It's the same psychology that had so many Americans convinced that to help the people of Iraq, we needed to bomb, invade, and occupy their country. Many of us convinced ourselves that the people of Iraq wanted us to bomb, invade, and occupy their country. At the height of that mania, I saw Americans denounced as traitors, terrorist sympathizers, or racists for suggesting that maybe the Iraqi people didn't want to be bombed, invaded, occupied.

    It's the same psychology behind the individual mandate. ObamaCare was originally sold as a means of helping the working poor and uninsured. It quickly morphed into siccing the IRS on working people who, for instance, when they get into financial trouble, try to keep their home rather than buy health insurance. Just like with Iraq, some of us imagine we're helping people by using law enforcement against them!

  • Ken Shultz||

    It's the same psychology behind the Drug War. We need to help the disadvantaged by militarizing our police forces and setting them loose on the communities of the disadvantaged. And how dare the disadvantaged complain about being treated that way? Why they're just a bunch of drug dealers and gangsters--a menace to society, that's what they are!

    Now we're gonna have to double-down on law enforcement again to save their precious little hearts.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    In 1776 the fight was for democracy in taxation.

    Really?

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Ever heard of "no taxation without representatin"?

  • Ken Shultz||

    Why isn't that an example of the fight being about democracy in taxation?

  • Mr Whipple||

    Yo, yo, yo, we be representin'.

  • ||

    Holy shit. Two firsts. A Sheldon article I liked and I found something FDR said that I agree with:

    ”One sure way to determine the social conscience of a Government is to examine the way taxes are collected and how they are spent.

    Yep. Charging some more than others for the same services shows the government to be immoral.

    And one sure way to determine the social conscience of an individual is to get his tax-reaction.

    Yep. The fact that I'm outraged by the government's immorality makes me a decent person (at least wrt tax policy).

  • ||

    Taxes, after all, are the dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society.

    Anybody a member of a club where the membership of some are subsidized by the dues of another?

    Fuck FDR with a hot cattle prod.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    I've been in a union before.

  • JSebastian||

    FDR was a war mongering socialist, a mediocre intellect, a scion of the privileged class. Fuck him indeed.

  • Robert||

    Actually that's not an unusual arrangement in team sports clubs. The general dues may be used to fund the membership of a poorer child, or (usually in the case of adults) to pay a particularly good player.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Actually that's not an unusual arrangement in team sports clubs.

    Difference being, membership in a sport club is entirely voluntary.

  • ||

    Don't worry, we can fix that.

  • The Derider||

    How is citizenship in the USA not voluntary?

    Who is stopping you from leaving?

  • Calidissident||

    Does someone have the option of not joining any sports club?

  • ||

    If I don't want to be part of a sports club, do I have to leave campus?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    How is citizenship in the USA not voluntary?

    Who is stopping you from leaving?

    Ummm...the U.S. State Department, moron.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Jesus- Stabenow is on the teevee talking about the Democrats' HUGE spending cuts, and nobody is laughing.

    We're fucked.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Ever heard of "no taxation without representatin"?

    I find it hard to believe that's what Hipster Douchebag Leader was referring to. Particularly in a discussion about the income tax.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Re-reading the first couple of paragraphs, I see Hayes quoted from one of FDR's October 1936 campaign speeches.

    So Roosevelt made the duplicitous claim.

  • ||

    If they did, they wouldn't be fretting over the automatic (and meager) cuts in the Pentagon's outrageously bloated budget under sequestration.

    While I agree the Pentagon can probably absorb $600B in cuts over the next 10 years, the way it is being imposed (across the board) will end up costing taxpayers more than the savings in the long run.

    Critical programs to replace the equipment decimated in two useless wars will be turned off for lack of funding, only to be restarted again later. The taxpayer gets to pay the money spent to this point twice, plus fines and termination fees. Brilliant.

    Nick, Matt, hire someone who knows something about the military. You really lose credibility commenting on that which you know nothing about.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    This is a valid point, but we all know the Pentagon would squeal like a stuck pig even if the same amount of cuts were allowed to be applied in a more intelligent manner.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    whenever cuts are not across the board, everyones pet program becomes vital and cutting it will kill ppl or do something horrible. so we end up with these across the board cuts, which are not as good as specific cuts but might actually result in a real decrease in military spending.

    also when your military spends more than all the other ones combined i think even some cuts in these "critical" but un-named programs will be fine.

  • ||

    I can only speak from the AF perspective, but I'm told and assume the other services are experiencing the same thing. Our aircraft are falling the fuck apart. Literally wings coming off and falling out of the sky.

    They were designed with such and such a service life, which means so many hours a year of flight time results in the aircraft lasting X long. The Clinton development hiatus ensured these service life times were exceeded PRIOR to going to war (needlessly), where they were flown at 10 times the daily rates. The shit is used up and needs replaced.

    Our fighter and tanker fleets have been on a war-time footing for 22 years. (Anyone remember Norther/Southern Watch?)

    What most people don't realize is the most expensive thing in military acquisition, is CHANGE. The process is so regulated, it takes forever. Upsetting the apple cart half way through, be it through Pentagon requirement creep, or funding cuts, requires you go back and re-flow your program, which takes a lot of time. Well, Boeing has already hired the employees to do the work. What do you do with them while you're re-flowing your program? You pay them or they'll go find another job. More $$$.

  • ||

    If program A is cut by X% in the development phase, you ask what capability can we get rid of that will get us a less capable product (plane, missile, radio...) within the new budget. This drives a redesign which costs more money and delays the program by years, which costs more $$$.

    So Congress approves the programs, then cuts the budgets and then they (and the rest of the world) wonder why the military can't get anything done under budget and on time.

    The system is so fucked up, it needs to be seen to be believed.

    THIS is why across the board cuts are REALLY bad. Better to kill programs outright and continue those with the highest priority.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    " the highest priority."

    i agree that across the board cuts are worse than cutting where cuts are most effective. my point is just that when you do one of these program by program cutting strategies every program is top priority. everyone finds horror stories about why their program is vital, eg. planes are falling apart midair... and so forth.

    i really dont have a solution to offer, just saying that everyone always says just cut where we can, but this can be just as probelmatic in practical terms as across the board

  • robc||

    i really dont have a solution to offer

    Priority based budgeting.

    This requires some sort of REAL cap on spending, whether balanced or deficit of size X or whatever.

    Then, as part of the budget process (which they have been ignoring for years now), a priority # is put on every program, starting at 1 and going to however many there are.

    No matter how many programs are authorized, you start spending with #1 and stop when money runs out. If more money comes in than expected, more programs get money. If less comes in, the cutoff is lower.

    This allows almost any program to be approved, but to actually get funded it needs a high priority number and that is where the budget fights occur. If congressman X wants his pet earmark for his district to actually get funded, he has to convince congress to put it about congressman Y's pet project.

    And within each area, such as defense, it allows the high priority projects to have a high priority while others slide down and dont get funded.

  • ||

    What should happen is Congress should tell each branch, "this is how much you got" and let the services decide. But here's what happens:

    The services make the hard calls and decide to cut whole weapon systems out of the force and Congress turns around and tells them they can't. So some congressman gets reelected for saving jobs in his district and you get a bloated, more expensive, less capable military.

    In the 03 time frame the AF tried to kill the F-117. People (not military people) lost their mutherfuckin' minds. It was a political shitstorm. The politicians delayed it so long that any savings were lost.

    Does the military always want more capability? Yep. But from what I've seen, by and large, the military does a pretty good job of providing the most capability for the money allotted. When asked to choose, they choose the things that provide the most bang for the buck. It's the shitbags who "work" in the Capitol Building that cause 90% of the problems, because they don't really give a fuck about capability. They give a fuck about getting reelected.

    Term limits anyone?

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Term limits have made every aspect of CA's government worse.

  • ||

    Probably because they didn't implement correctly.

    A single term (10 years as Senator 4 years as Rep [you can talk me into different lengths of term]) AND, I'M USING CAPS CAUSE THIS IS THE IMPORTANT PART... votes of confidence at least every two years (probably during the primary) to ensure loyalty to constituents. If 2/3 vote him down, HE'S OUT early.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    What bothers me is not so much the fact that they speak of what they don't know -- I mean, everybody does that -- it's that they blithely spout the same nonsense after having been corrected by people who do know.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    it's that they blithely spout the same nonsense after having been corrected by people who do know.

    You've succinctly describe Cavanaugh's journalist career.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Krugabe just said, "The only thing that really matters is whether they (Congressmen) have an R or a D after their name."

    It's nice to see you being honest.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Did he actually say that or is that just your interpretation?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    He said it. Of course, he was projecting this view onto someone else.

    He's not really honest enough to say it about himself.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    So is all taxation immoral? If so why does Reason continue to lie about being libertarian instead of just admitting it's anarchist? If not, what distinguishes morally permissible taxation from morally impermissable taxation?

  • Mickey Rat||

    The increased tax rates on higher incomes the Obama adminstration are pushing are obviously immoral. They single out one classification of people to increase their already higher rates of taxation. Tax prograssivity is theft and all the arguments made by its supporters hsow that that is exactly the point of it.

  • robc||

    Single Land Tax is the only non-immoral tax, in my opinion.

  • ||

    So is all taxation immoral?

    Yes.

    If so why does Reason

    A particular writer wrote this article. Other writers working for Reason have other POVs.

    continue to lie about being libertarian instead of just admitting it's anarchist?

    Anarchist is a subset of libertarianism. Anarchists don't believe in any statism at all. All other libertarians believe in varying degrees of statism.

    If not, what distinguishes morally permissible taxation from morally impermissable taxation?

    The former is an oxymoron. The latter isn't.

  • np||

    If so why does Reason continue to lie about being libertarian instead of just admitting it's anarchist?

    on this point, it's not mutually exclusive as there are three levels of libertarianism: Classical Liberalism, Minarchism, Anarchism (ancap).

    The only difference is that the next one is willing to go further in applying the same principles.

    I like how Reason covers all three, and some not-so-libertarian perspectives

  • ||

    If not, what distinguishes morally permissible taxation from morally impermissable [sic] taxation?

    Simple. The only legitimate purpose of government is to protect the rights of the individual. If it doesn't fall into that category, it is immoral.

    Additionally, any person paying more for those protections than another is immoral.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    So is all taxation immoral?

    Yes.

    I ask you, in which of the situations shown in the video do you believe it becomes acceptable to threaten George to get him to help?

  • robc||

    SLT isnt immoral, IMO. But using the money from the SLT to help George still would be.

    Using it for national defense, courts, police*, etc would be okay.

    *and even that one is questionable, as we could go back to a thief-taker type system.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    But what if I choose not to pay tax on the land? What is it about a Georgist-style land value tax that makes the initiation of force acceptable in that situation?

  • robc||

    It is about the theory behind the existence of the deed. The SLT is payment to the government that creates the deed. No initiation of force.

    If you think there is some sort of natural law of property, like mixing labor with the land makes it yours, obviously the SLT is just as immoral. Other than a grant from God (so the Jews might have this claim on Israel), I dont see any natural PROPERTY ownership. I agree with George on this.

    No initiation of force necessary. You pay the deed fee each year or the property reverts to commons. Then someone else calls dibs and gets to pay the deed fee on it.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Well, let's dig even deeper. Why do we need a government deed? If there is a disagreement over the boundaries of one parcel of land or another, what is the need for a third-party to mediate, except in cases of initiation of force?

    Now granted, in the case of the United States, this is all moot, as the U.S. doesn't recognize allodial title (i.e. the 5th Amendment makes the government the ultimate landowner of all land within its claimed boundaries).

  • robc||

    Allodial title is bullshit.

    The only way it could exist, IMO, is via a grant from God, in which case it isnt really allodial anymore, as that argument acknowledges a superior landlord.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Well, from the Georgist point of view, yes allodial title is nonsensical. However, indulge me in a small thought-experiment.

    On Earth, Georgists argue that land is held in common as it is the property of humanity as a whole, yes? But what if, in the future, I travel to Alpha Centauri and find a inhabitable planet? Could I establish ownership of property on that planet? You can't argue that it is the common property of humanity, as I am the first human to step foot on its soil. And to argue that since I am a human, I owe something to the rest of humanity just because they are the same species as me seems very Collectivist to me. What would be the Georgist view on space colonization and property rights? Can I establish allodial title on extra-solar exo-terra nullius?

  • robc||

    I dont exactly agree with the Georgist view, but my argument based on that would be to analogize to the new World from Europe's POV (ignoring the fact that the Indians were already here, just like the Europeans did).

    Why would the "new world" of the Americas be any different than the "new world" of Ceti Alpha five?

    From the Georgist view, all land in the universe is the common property of all "humans", whether of Earth descent or from other worlds.

    In reality, I think that your trip to Alpha Centauri is a perfect example of pre-governmental "might makes right" and you can set up the government that controls AC just as the US government controls its land.

    So, yes, you could establish ownership of the property of the planet...as long as you can defend it.

    But you have no natural law claim to the land just by showing up first.

  • robc||

    Here is another part of my point.

    Lets say you land on AC3 and claim it as yours. And set up household on the eastern continent.

    A few years later I land and set up on the western continent and claim it. Have I initiated force against you because you claim the whole planet? I say no. But if you attack me to drive me off for trespassing, you are initiating force. I have just as much "right" to claim a chunk of the planet as you do.

    In the end, whichever (or both) of us sets up a successful criminal gang to hold the land will be able to issue "legitimate" deeds to future arrivals.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    That cvnt Elizabeth I had a point when she said "prescription without possession availeth nothing".

  • ||

    No initiation of force necessary. You pay the deed fee each year or the property reverts to commons. Then someone else calls dibs and gets to pay the deed fee on it.

    You're talking about a criminal gang (government) stealing money ("deed fee") under the threat of using violence to steal your property ("reverts to commons") if you don't pay.

    That's initiation of force. Prettying up the violence with euphemisms doesn't change what is going on.

  • robc||

    How is it stealing? Why do you own the land except for the government granting you the deed.

    I admit it is very much a might makes right type situation, but get rid of government and the same thing happens.

    What is your natural law theory of property if mine ("there isnt one") is wrong?

    Yes, the government granting the deed is a criminal gang, but they are the criminal gang granting the deeds. Without them, YOU would be the criminal gang granting the deed if you tried to claim a parcel of land.

    Tomato, Tomahto.

  • AuH2O||

    Taxes are not about raising revenue. It is about hurting the rich. Seriously, the narrative has been played out in every nation where a populist leader has risen to power, including the communist countries, but also Africa and Latin America, as well as parts of Asia:

    "These people only got rich by stealing from you, the working man. But through the power of government, you can take back what is rightfully yours!"

    Seriously, we are going to get an industry-nationalizing Latin American style populist leader within the next 40 years. Mark my words.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Seriously, we are going to get an industry-nationalizing Latin American style populist leader within the next 40 years. Mark my words.

    If you start the count at the year 1890, then I agree.

  • JSebastian||

    Hopefully someone will kill that guy, and overthrow his government....frequently. Because thats what happens in lA.

  • robc||

    industry-nationalizing

    like the auto industry?

    I dont think we have to wait 40 years. -4 is about right.

  • Mr N.||

    If we raise the taxes on the wealthy, they may no longer be able to afford buying politicians.

  • Nuked||

    Which only furthers the argument that taxes are immoral if the party collecting them can be bought and/or influenced.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Term limits have made every aspect of CA's government worse.

    I have seen/heard this claim many times, but have yet to see a convincing case made to support it.

  • np||

    One argument I've read is about having your political career be more vulnerable, so politicians make better choices. But that's really an appeal to democracy, not just of people, but of propositions and legislation, which would not really change anything and may make the situation worse.

    One way to improve the significance of term limits in general, not just in CA, is to have an automatic repeal of laws enacted by the outgoing legislators.

    *Assuming* negative rights--where you don't need law to expressive legalize something, I can think of some variations of that theme: like legislation requiring renewal and people leaving taking their votes with them... or even having some negative consequences, maybe placed on voters as well...

  • The Derider||

    For one thing, term limits reduce the need for politicians to get re-elected. The threat of not being re-elected is pretty much the only check that voters have on politicians once they're elected.

    California has recall, yes, but that doesn't happen nearly as often as an incumbent losing.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    So your hypothesis is that enough lame duck representatives will band together and pass something more stupid/evil than they otherwise would if they were just freshly elected and covered in the people's warm, sticky, mandate?

    Doesn't jive, joe. Doesn't jive.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    No the idea is that they will pass stupid shit to please their donors and not worry about the future costs because they won't be around and it will be someone else's problem.

    Term limits sound great in theory. I was a big supporter when the passed in CA a couple of decades ago.

    But I am honest enough to admit that they have been a disaster in CA. Could the be done in a different way that would make them work? Maybe, but I'm skeptical as hell because the idea behind term limits is that they'll eliminate career politicians and usher in a golden era of citizen legislators.

    But the reality is that they just rotate the politicians through positions, the bureaucracy and public advocacy groups.
    Citizen legislators are a myth. No normal person is going to go to the expense and trouble of winning a legislative seat and then put their career on hold for four, six or eight years.

    A better solution for CA is getting rid of term limits and making the legislature part time, as in sitting for a couple of weeks - a month a year.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    No the idea is that they will pass stupid shit to please their donors and not worry about the future costs because they won't be around and it will be someone else's problem.

    This differs from the current legislative process, how exactly?

    Term limits sound great in theory. I was a big supporter when the passed in CA a couple of decades ago.

    But I am honest enough to admit that they have been a disaster in CA.

    Good for you. Care to give specifics on these lame ducks with teeth?

    But the reality is that they just rotate the politicians through positions, the bureaucracy and public advocacy groups.

    True.

    Citizen legislators are a myth. No normal person is going to go to the expense and trouble of winning a legislative seat and then put their career on hold for four, six or eight years.

    Not a myth, but a rarity. Doesn't help that the sheeple demand their representatives "do something."

    A better solution for CA is getting rid of term limits and making the legislature part time, as in sitting for a couple of weeks - a month a year.

    I take the opposite tack. If there were a constitutional amendment that every piece of legislation had an automatic 10-year sunset clause tacked on it would 1) clear old and/or bad laws off of the books 2) force legislators to vote on and defend old and/or bad laws and why we should live under them today rather than being a pack of pusillanimous coprophages.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Agree with you on the automatic sunset provision. I love the idea.

    As to the performance of legislators, you seem to be comparing CAs term limited legislators with the non term limited Congress. Which is not a valid comparison, and one that I don't think you want to make anyway since is shows that term limits don't make politicians more responsible.

    Today's CA legislature is orders of magnitude worse than it was twenty, thirty and more years ago. For example, Willie Brown was a hard core partisan democrat and progressive. But he also had a brain and knew not to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. That's a stark contrast to the current speaker John Perez who is a literal moron.

  • Skyhawk||

    Just add a lifetime, one term, one government position limit.
    You serve one term, you're done.

    Is there a reason we need career politicians?

    Is someone like Bill Richardson the best person and only option to fill dozens of different offices, cabinet positions, director position?

    Is Leon Pannetta the only person in the US to able to fill all of the positions he held/holds?

  • waaminn||

    Dude seems to be talking a LOT of smack!
    www.GotzAnon.tk

  • buybuydandavis||

    Should cattle romanticize ranchers? I don't expect tax livestock to romanticize tax farmers.

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