Common Kos?

Liberal blogger and fashion plate Markos Moulitsas has occasionally referred to himself as a Libertarian Democrat. Today he unpacks the philosophy of that would-be political movement.

The core Democratic values of fairness, opportunity, and investing in our nation and people very much speak to the concept of personal liberties -- an open society where success is predicated on the merit of our ideas and efforts, unduly burdened by the government, corporate America, or other individuals. And rather than always get in the way, government can facilitate this.

Of course, this also means that government isn't always the solution to the nation's problems. There are times when business-government partnerships can be extremely effective (such as job retraining efforts for displaced workers). There are times when government really should butt out (like a great deal of small-business regulation). Our first proposed solution to a problem facing our nation shouldn't be more regulation, more government programs, more bureaucracy.

The key here isn't universal liberty from government intrusion, but policies that maximize individual freedom, and who can protect those individual freedoms best from those who would infringe.

I'm not sure if I buy it, but if there's one Libertarian Democrat it's probably a bigger movement than Little Green Footballs Libertarianism. (See #9, #23, #37, and #108.)

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  • ||

    Is "BDS" short for "Bush Derangement Syndrome"?

  • ||

    "The core Democratic values of fairness, opportunity, and investing in our nation and people very much speak to the concept of personal liberties "

    No, they don't. There is nothing further from liberty that the Democratic notions of fairness, opportunity, and investing in our nation, whatever that last one is. This sort of explains why no one on this Earth, outside of Kos' head apparently, perceives that he is anything other than a modern liberal.

  • ||

    Do you hear that? It's the sound of no one giving a shit about your opinion.

  • ||

    I to was wondering what BDS is. Also, Buchanotarian??? The only similarity I can see between Reason-type libertarians and Buchanan is restraint on foreign policy.

  • ||

    The core Democratic values of fairness, opportunity, and investing in our nation and people very much speak to the concept of personal liberties

    Which part of personal liberty does taking from the productive at gunpoint and giving to the unproductive speak to? With the possible exception of Republican libertarian there are few more oxymoronic expressions than Democratic libertarian.

  • ||

    When mom and pop sell 1,000 cookies, they deserve not to be interfered with by an intrusive government. Because, you know, that would be bad.

    When mom and pop sell 1,001 cookies, they are a corporate juggernaut that must be stopped. Fairness dictates that we use the government to crush them like a bug.

    Liberty, glorious liberty.

  • ||

    I await in the inevitable stream of bloggers coming from Kos' site to tell us how misguided we are. :)

  • ||

    "The core Democratic values of fairness, opportunity, and investing in our nation and people very much speak to the concept of personal liberties"

    That is one of those he is lying because his lips are moving moments. With freedom comes responsibilty and risk. With risk comes occasional unfairness. If you want to make the world fair, you are not intrerested in people's freedom. Fairness and opportunity are just code words for, "we would love to let you continue to do X, but we can't and are going to have to prevent you from doing it anymore as well as take a big chunk of the money that you have lawfully earned because not to do so would be unfair to someone else."

  • ||

    investing in our nation

    "Spending" sounds best when it's call "investing."

    And with the D loss in California's 50th, Kos is 0-20 in endorsed candidate wins. Tell me why the Ds are taking him seriously?

  • ||

    Traditional "libertarianism" holds that government is evil and thus must be minimized. Any and all government intrusion is bad. While practical libertarians (as opposed to those who waste their votes on the Libertarian Party) have traditionally aligned themselves with the Republicans, it's clear that the modern GOP has no qualms about trampling on personal liberties. Heck, it's become their raison d' etre.

    The problem with this form of libertarianism is that it assumes that only two forces can infringe on liberty -- the government and other individuals.

    The Libertarian Democrat understands that there is a third danger to personal liberty -- the corporation. The Libertarian Dem understands that corporations, left unchecked, can be huge dangers to our personal liberties.


    I love how Kos just invented his own term (Libertarian Democrat), and then invented his own definition for what a libertarian is.

    Almost as hilarious is how clueless his drooling masses of commenters are.

  • ||

    "And with the D loss in California's 50th, Kos is 0-20 in endorsed candidate wins. Tell me why the Ds are taking him seriously?"

    And I also have no idea why Democrats bother paying attention to moveon.org, they don't exactly have a winning record either. They even failed at their original mission--preventing the impeachment of President Clinton.

    It should be changed to loseon.org

  • ||

    Its also pretty funny to hear the borderline fascists and LGF saying that Reason (or anyone) has "gone off the rails". Im not sure many people at that blog were ever on any rails to begin with.

  • Warren||

    John,
    One of your better comments. It's funny because it's true,

  • ||

    BTW, in the interest of fairness and balance, I only made it through about two pagescrolls of the idiot commenters on LGF as well. I can't believe anyone other than a complete sheep actually regularly visits either Kos or LGF (or Powerline, or Atrios, or DU, or Redstate.org).

  • ||

    D's nutz don't take him seriously.

    hrr hrr.

    Anyway, I know it's been said, but, holy SHIT, where does this lame idea of egalitarianism via government fiat fit in with libertarianism?

    Here's a clue for Kos: "libertarianism" is a political philosophy, dealing only with the political realm. It is not a worldview, by any means. Therefore, when we advocate "fairness", it only pertains to what the state is doing. For instance, if the state is going to tax people, it should tax brown people more than white people. That is "fairness" as libertarianism regards it. This should not be confused with egalitarianism, as Kos does above. This sort of Robin-Hood-esque theft is no more "fair" than me stealing from the local 7-11 because I think it's "unfair" that they have all that candy and beer and I don't.

    As for opportunity, this runs back to the same place: egalitarianism. If I am born to a poor family and grow up in a trailer park, that sucks---but it doesn't mean that it needs to be "fixed" via government force by limiting the opportunities of others so that I may have more. Again, this in no way even comes close to anything libertarian.

    And "investing in the nation", well, do I even have to say it? Stealing money from people at gunpoint and then redistributing ("investing") it in other places (at the choosing of the majority or the well-connected) is about the furthest thing from libertarianism that I've heard today.

    How can Kos be that uninformed? It sounds like all the other jackoffs who try to make themselves sound more "intellectual" by tacking "libertarian" onto their actual political philosophy.

    "The key here isn't universal liberty from government intrusion, but policies that maximize individual freedom, and who can protect those individual freedoms best from those who would infringe."



    Again, the "policies" of the left of which he speaks, e.g. egalitarianism, do nothing to maximize individual freedom.

    It's seeming more and more like Kos doesn't even understand the basic concept of "freedom" at all. methinks that someone just might be operating under the pretense of positive rights....

  • ||

    [EDIT]

    "it should tax brown people more than white people" = "it should nottax brown people more than white people

  • ||

    I thought that Moulitsas went away after he made an offhand comment to the effect that the folks who had been burned to death and hung from a bridge in Iraq had it coming to them?

    Or was it that the people being beheaded on camera really actually deserved it, because they probably voted Republican anyway?

    Or was it him that made the comment that the formed NFL star who bought the farm in Afghanistant was a moron who had gotten his just desserts?

    I can't recall, but the man is an ass, and for him to call himself a libertarian is as ridiculous as that conservative "libertarian" who was admiring the efficiency of Nazi Germany in getting rid of undesireables.

    Is it just me, or is "libertarian" the new black in political fashion?

  • Timothy||

    The problem is that nobody other than we libertarians on the fringe has any notion that there are problems completely unsolvable by "policy". Anyone with the notion that we can make the world perfect with the right political pandering is certainly voted off of my libertarian island.

  • ||

    For instance, if the state is going to tax people, it should tax brown people more than white people.

    Am I the only one who missed how it's libertarian fair (as opposed to egalitarian fair) for the government to tax brown people more than white people?

  • grylliade||

    To be fair, he has a point about us libertarians often having a blind spot as far as corporate intrusions into the private realm are concerned. Not always, but far too often. The rest of his ramblings are crap, though.

  • ||

    "There are times when government really should butt out..."

    Yeah, and who gets to decide when that time is? Oh I get it, elected politicians decide, at their whim. And who are these politicians? Easy, the good guys, the ones Moulitsas supports. So in other words, he is saying "just trust our guys, we're really on YOUR side!"

    Blah-freaking-blah, we've heard it all before.

  • ||

    And with the D loss in California's 50th, Kos is 0-20 in endorsed candidate wins. Tell me why the Ds are taking him seriously?

    Actually, one of his candidates won a primary as the lefty alternative to the establishment candidate, so depending on what goes into that number (does it include primaries?) he may be 1-19.

    Still doesn't explain why anyone takes him seriously, except as a pretty good barometer of which candidates are unlikely to appeal to a broad enough swath of citizens to actually win an election.

  • ||

    I don't much buy into Kos' "Liberal Democrat". That having been said, while I consider myself very libertarian, I find myself moving farther and farther "left" - perhaps because the "left" is not what it used to be.

    It is now "left" to oppose government spying without a warrant. It is "left" to oppose a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. It is "left" to oppose huge national deficits. It is "left" to oppose the drug war. It is "left" to oppose pre-emptive wars in general. It is "left" to resist the arrest of US Citizens, suspension of their rights to habeus corpus, and indefinite detention without charges. It is "left" to believe (generally) in the free movement of labor - even across borders. And on and on and on.

    I guess what I'm saying is that it seems to me that today the Republicans are much more proponents of the nanny state than are the Democrats.

  • ||

    To be fair, he has a point about us libertarians often having a blind spot as far as corporate intrusions into the private realm are concerned.

    Since corporations are in the private realm already, I'm not sure I see how the private sector can intrude on the private sector.

    But I guess that what makes it a blind spot, right?

  • Michael Hampton||

    I don't believe this for a moment.

    Until he's willing to admit that government is evil, he can't possibly be called a libertarian.

    Now, back to your regularly scheduled debate on whether the evil is necesssary or unnecessary.

  • ||

    grylliade,

    I don't that is true. Libertarianism (if I can stretch the term that far) has a long history of bashing businesses which combine to screw people over via government mandate, etc. (e.g., the writings of Hume, Smith, Bastiat, Mises and Hayek all mention this).

  • Kevin Carson||

    "Government-business partnerships" in areas like job retraining don't strike me as all that "libertarian."

    Or if they are, then Hjalmar Schacht and Gerard Swope must be patron saints of the libertarian movement.

  • ||

    No, but seriously, what the hell is a "libertarian with BDS"??

  • ||

    Cunning lunguist...

    BDS=Blubbering Democrat Syndrome

  • ||

    Rather than telling you what to think- I have questions- what is the difference between 3 companies controlling all that you see, hear and read versus a govt controlling all that you see, hear and read? Let's pretend that the Internet (which ironically was created by a govt entity wasn't around so that you could bitch about the govt), given that you are a minority position in society (that doesn't make much money) how would anyone hear you?

    Full disclosure: I am a pragmatist which means liberals, conservatives, libertarians and just about all idealogues take issue with me. Therefore, I require proof that a position outside of the realm of theory matters. Ie, here you should be able to defend your position that propaganda from 3 big companies is better than propaganda from govt. Do your theories allow for concepts such as fascism? How do you deal with right leaning dictatorships? I have one friend who claims they don't exist outside of theocracies- do you say the same thing?

  • ||

    Linguist, I think SR had it right with Bush Derangement Syndrome.

    According to this Townhall Article BDS is defined as: the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency -- nay -- the very existence of George W. Bush.

    Google is my friend and it keeps me from reading the majority of drivel on Townhall so if I am wrong, well then I am wrong.

  • ||

    How do you deal with right leaning dictatorships? I have one friend who claims they don't exist outside of theocracies

    nazi germany
    fascist italy
    franco's spain
    tojo's japan
    argentina

  • Trent McBride||

    So not only did they have to take the word "liberal: from us, now they are trying to take "libertarian", too?

  • ||

    "Since corporations are in the private realm already, I'm not sure I see how the private sector can intrude on the private sector."

    bit of a tangent but...

    Really? I'd love to live in that private sector. I'd really love huge tax breaks along with other assorted subsidies to increase my wealth.

    I'd also like to be a giant entity with many rights but few responsibilites.

  • ||

    I don't think Kos is a libertarian. But if "Democratic Libertarianism" means you are more worried about the government locking you up without charge or conviction and/or spying on you than you are about the government taxing you, then I am all for it. I don't think either parties' record on total freedom is worth a damn, but I'll take an argument over welfare or tax rates over an argument about just how tiny and shitty a cell the goverment can throw me in based on Presidential fiat. I know libertarians over time have become reflexively (and justifiably) distrustful of statist Dems, but I don't know how you can watch what the current version of Republicanism has done to this country and not be sick about it.

  • Wild Pegasus||

    Wonderful. Another group of big government yutzes calling themselves libertarians. Didn't we go through this with the conservatives already?

    - Josh

  • ||

    3 companies controlling all that you see, hear and read

    Are these three "hypothetical" companies in collusion? Is there a fourth company that they are acting together to surpress? Do they really control "all" that you see, hear and read? (meaning do they really control every conduit).Where is the content that they are in control of derived from? Are they really in control of that content?

  • ||

    For the trendsetters, calling yourself a libertarian is this year's trucker cap.

  • ||

    To be fair, he has a point about us libertarians often having a blind spot as far as corporate intrusions into the private realm are concerned. Not always, but far too often.

    I find that libertarians usually have a knee-jerk reaction to defend corporations against the oft unreasoned criticisms of the left without making it clear that there are many facets of modern corporations that libertarians strongly disagree with, which only makes it more difficult to delineate the very important distinction between corporatism and capitalism.

  • ||

    So not only did they have to take the word "liberal: from us, now they are trying to take "libertarian", too?

    Maybe we can pull the ol' switcheroo and steal "liberal" back from them while they're not looking.

  • ||

    Craig,

    "Ie, here you should be able to defend your position that propaganda from 3 big companies is better than propaganda from govt."



    Let's see...it's "better" (i.e. "less evil") because:

    1) Those three big companies didn't steal my money by force in order to fund the production of said propaganda. Gov't did.

    2) Unless the government has illegally/wrongly given said corporations undue "rights", tax breaks, subsidies, etc., or allowed said corporations to illegally force you to listen to them somehow, then you are perfectly free to go elsewhere for your information.

    3) Government is back up by force. Guns. Short of being in bed with the government (which is another matter entirely), the only thing the Corporations have is your voluntary decision to listen to them.

    4) Consumer advocate & information groups. If enough people find out that said corporations are screwing people, then people will go out of their way to avoid them, even if it costs them time and money. Same is not true for the government. You can't simply go find a new government, unless you want to leave the country, and that's not really the same thing as flipping the channel or ignoring newspaper ads.

  • ||

    Say what you will, but it is a fact that nowadays, Libertarian Democrat is less of an oxymoron than Libertarian Republican.

    Then again, that probably will change once the Dems come into power. I guess power corrupts as they say. But they also say the anus is meant as an exit, so don't always believe what they say.

    PS Kos isn't 0-20. His guy in MT won a primary and he went out on a limb and endorsed Barack Obama.

  • ||

    "To be fair, he has a point about us libertarians often having a blind spot as far as corporate intrusions into the private realm are concerned. Not always, but far too often"

    I think this is something that separates libertarians from Republican douche bags who claim to be libertarian yet have no problem when corporations use government to further their own interests, using the blunt hand of government rather than competing on the free market.

    I remember reading Milton Friedman once explain to a business group (perhaps I was linked to it through Hit and Run) about how there is a BIG difference between being pro-business (and the unfair tax breaks and corporate subsidies and all that entails) and being pro-free market.

  • ||

    ...what is the difference between 3 companies controlling all that you see, hear and read versus a govt controlling all that you see, hear and read?



    Very simple: gov'ts have the unique ability to bring force into the equation. A company cannot force me to consume their product - or their propoganda. Gov'ts can (and does, viz. North Korea).

    Simple enough, even for the Kosians who've followed the linkback over to here.

  • ||

    what is the difference between 3 companies controlling all that you see, hear and read versus a govt controlling all that you see, hear and read?

    It's a loaded question which includes a rather absurd assumption buried in it. Absent some kind of government force, there is simply no way three companies (or any number of them) can control all that you see and hear. Absent government force, there is no way a company can compel you to deal with it, give it a dollar you don't want to, or otherwise control your life (not offering you something you want to see or hear or read is not controlling you, by the way).

  • ||

    I think liberarians might be better served in discussions with the left by focusing on the relative merits of voice and exit power. Concede that corporations are evil. Concede that they want to do evil things and are sometimes capable of doing evil things. Don't argue about this. Concede it all way.

    Then demonstrate that it is much cheaper to exit a relationship with a corporation than with a government and all that this fact entails.

  • grylliade||

    Since corporations are in the private realm already, I'm not sure I see how the private sector can intrude on the private sector.

    I should've been more clear in my original post. What I'm talking about is things like companies requiring, as a condition of employment, that I not smoke, or similar things. I'm not advocating government intervention necessarily, but it's something that worries me. What does it matter if it's companies that take away my freedom, or governments? Yeah, I can refuse the job, but what if every company demands that I not smoke? Do we just chalk it up to the free market and leave it alone? Or do we at least try to find a solution that doesn't involve the government?

    All too often I've seen people here (and elsewhere) wonder why we complain when corporations do things, since they're corporations and can do whatever they please. Yes, but as libertarians I think that we need to fight for freedom, and criticize intrusions on that freedom. I wouldn't advocate government intervention, but things like workplace safety and corporate control of private lives would be problems in a libertarian utopia. Not unsolvable problems, but problems nonetheless. I don't want to be freed from government control, only to discover that my employer has installed cameras in my bedroom to make sure that I don't practice sodomy in private. Far-fetched it may seem, but what if every business required that as a condition of employment? Would we stand by and say, "Well, that's the free market at work"? I think that far too many of us would.

  • ||

    Steve,
    You do have a point. I've gotten some good reactions lately when people asked me about the evil, greedy oil companies and their price gouging and I asked "So, when prices were lower, were they NOT greedy back then?"
    Herrick,
    As a lad, I used to believe the fallacy that corporations like competition and the free market. Of course, that was very naive of me.

  • Jesse Walker||

    It's a loaded question which includes a rather absurd assumption buried in it. Absent some kind of government force, there is simply no way three companies (or any number of them) can control all that you see and hear.

    What Brian said. Does anyone really think the ABC/CBS/NBC triumvirate could have existed without the FCC suppressing the competititon?

  • ||

    Both corporations and governments share the essential characteristics of A. wanting your money and B. giving you something in return for it.

    The degree to which either is evil is measured by how good a deal you're getting. I think most people here would agree that the government offers an incredibly bad deal at present.

    This is only because they can afford to. They are going to give you the worst deal they can afford to as measured by that point where you will stop dealing with them and seek out a better deal elsewhere. And you can do that, by leaving the county.

    And this is true for a corporation as well. They are going to give you the worst deal they can afford to as measured by that point where you will stop dealing with them and seek out a better deal elsewhere. And you can do that, too.

    Why are governments more dangerous than corporations? Because leaving the country is a hell of a lot more expensive than finding a new corporation to deal with. This means the degree of wiggle room with which to screw you over is vastly greater with regards to governments than corporations. Both would like to screw you as much as possible, there can be no question of that.

  • ||

    I'm one of those Kosians that most of you are so disdainful of. I can understand that you don't like having the term libertarian co-opted by those who aren't real libertarians.

    But what's so bad about the dailykos community talking about having less government?

  • fyodor||

    Let's pretend that the Internet (which ironically was created by a govt entity) wasn't around so that you could bitch about the govt, given that you are a minority position in society (that doesn't make much money) how would anyone hear you?

    You work at it, and you accept that utopia is not an option and that egalitarian outcomes cannot be guaranteed by government and attempts to guarantee them only make things worse. So yeah, some people will have greater means to be heard than others. But that's better than the available alternatives.

    Do your theories allow for concepts such as fascism?

    I do not know what you mean.

    How do you deal with right leaning dictatorships?

    The purist libertarian position (and please note that the most extreme of ideologues of any stripe geerally consider themselves every bit as "pragmatic" as you do yourself) is neutrality and non-intervention across the board, except in cases of an attack on or a real and present threat of one to one's own nation. Many of us here would not adhere to that absolutely, but most of us would need damn good reason to deviate. To keep things brief, allow me to simply observe that I don't see why right leaning dictatorships necessarily pose any greater threat than left leaning ones. Do you see a difference?

  • ||

    After a number of recommendations at Sadly No, I wandered over here. I consider myself a liberal, but not the typical modern liberal. I'm not sure how much I agree with Daily Kos but I see some broad, and even particularistic, areas of agreement with libertarians: strong on civil libertaries, no to the drug war, preference for a restrained and scaled down military, suspician of governmental power - especially extra-constitutional actions emerging from the executive branch, wary of the religious right's intrusion of values onto the rest of us (their opinions on abortion, fetal cell research, and any other sorts of bio-tech), favoring of open borders, free trade, and against laws about personal vices in addition to drug usage. I even don't dismiss gun rights, at least the right to own a weapon powerful enough to resist a larger attacker. I could go on where I think I agree with libertarians. But where I disagree is that I don't dismiss legislation, regulation, or regulatory bodies out of hand in places where I think the market comes up short: health and safety regulations for the worker, workers comp, some form of governmental social safety net for the disabled, elderly, or the unemployed, environmental regulations, laws against racial discrimination. I think a governmental safety net is needed because of the problem of free riders. And I think safety regulations and workers comp is needed because of prisoners' dilemmas. Environmental regulations are needed becauses where pollutants come from cannot be proved in court of law. And parks and forest areas are just essential for a healthy life. I know a lot of people here would disagree with me on these latter points but all in all such a system would be much freer/more libertarian than what we have now.

  • fyodor||

    But what's so bad about the dailykos community talking about having less government?

    Speaking strictly for myself, I suppose there's nothing "wrong" with it per se. But I'm skeptical there's anything meaningful to it beyond appealing sounding rhetoric. Without libertarian principles to guide the rhetoric, as soon as you see a "problem" that you don't think will be "fixed" to your satisfaction without government intrusion, that rhetoric will go out the door. If this elicits "disdain", perhaps it's because it seems so disengenuous. To get a handle on why we might feel that way, think: Compassionate Conservative! :-)

    Though I should add that being that virtually all of my friends are far leftists, I'm rather philosophical about whatever "disdain" I feel myself!!

  • fyodor||

    I know a lot of people here would disagree with me on these latter points but all in all such a system would be much freer/more libertarian than what we have now.

    Well, then we should form coalitions where we agree and respect each other as we fight over where we disagree! :-)

    It would certainly be nice if Democratic politicians were as skeptical of the Drug War as it seems most of the people who vote for them are!

  • ||

    I think that what Kos tried to illustrate but got distracted in the ingrained anti-capitalist mentality is that it isn't necessarily the dichotomy between Government vs Corporations vs People, but rather People vs. Power itself.

    Unchecked power of all kinds is evil. Whether you are democrat, republican, the owner of the Triangle Shirtwaist company, or whatever - if the structures in place allow you to gain more power while becoming less accountable to others, then the power is bound to be abused.

    The only saving grace that companies get over governments is that the players involved get the power of exit. Unless contractually obligated, workers can switch jobs or consumers can switch products relatively easily, but its very much harder to switch governments when its their power that impinging on your rights.

    Thusly, companies are accountable to people in the sense that they would be forced out of business if they did not acct accountable. And likewise, there really is no check on equivalent governmental power, because how do you police the police?

  • ||

    This kind of talk comes up all the time with me and my friends. They always accuse me of being against all regulations and are fond to point out where a regulation actually does a good thing. After giving them a counter-example or explaining to them that the solution probably would have been arrived at without govt' fiat.

    Anyway, I also have to tell them that I, personally, would be willing to compromise. There are plenty of policies that I could say, "Ok, sure, we can keep that one, if you'll agree to get rid of this other one over here." Just think, if we could get a "keep one, lose one" compromise going, we'd scale back the federal gov't by 50%! That would be amazing.

    Sadly, compromise at the gov't level means everyone gets a lot of what they wanted, which means it costs more and usually curtails liberties more than either side's solo proposal.

    So I stick to my guns, 'cause no one's offering any real compromises.

  • ||

    Corporations are not free market entities; they are created by government fiat to limit the liability of the individuals who own the corporation. They can own property, be sued, etc., just like a real person.

  • ||

    I would like to see an end to state backed corporations. I wonder what that would look like. Less like Exxon, more like Lloyds, I suppose.

  • ||

    Heh. What's really funny (to me, at least) is that I've in other fora at other times argued for a "big tent" libertarianism. Now I find myself hoist by my own petard (which sounds painful!), trying to figure out just where these bastards get off calling themselves "libertarians."

    I guess that the line in the sand that I'd have to draw is whenever anyone suggests that we be forced to do (or not do) something "for our own good." Or that there are "rights" that entail goods and services being seized from one person and given to another.

    It's pretty hard for me to consider anyone who espouses such positions as any form of libertarian -- not that we can't work together on issues where our views coincide, but they must, of necessity, be treated with suspicion even then, for their views are not generally derived from any logical extension of first principles.

    (For those new to the idea of a first principle, try this one on for size: I own myself, completely, without reservation, and without exception.)

  • fyodor||

    Corporations are not free market entities; they are created by government fiat to limit the liability of the individuals who own the corporation.

    Unless one is an anarchist, there is nothing contrary to the free market for the State to define property rights and liability obligations. To say that corporations are not free market entities because the government has something to say about the rights and obligations involved is like saying your home is not a free market entity because the law says that cops cannot enter it without a warrant.

    Actually, libertarians are sometimes at odds over the legitimacy of limited liability. I used to think it was a free market perversion myself until someone explained to me that the theory behind it is that it acknowledges that not eveyone who invests in or works at a large company should be accountable for everything done by it. Whether you agree with this position or not, there's a logic and reason to it that does not make its presence automatically contrary to a free market whose freeness is only limited by a logical and intuitive protection of private property rights.

    We could discuss this further, but for now please understand that my point is that limited liability is not necessarily any more contrary to a free market than any other State defined protections on private property.

  • ||

    Really? I'd love to live in that private sector. I'd really love huge tax breaks along with other assorted subsidies to increase my wealth.

    Holy strawman! Because libertarians feel that the private sector can't control people without government interference, you provide a counter-example by showing how corporations stick it to us thanks to... government interference. Was there a point there that I missed, or did you just really hit wide of your target?

  • ||

    fyodor--Thanks for the honest repsonse. I can understand the skepticism.

    Obviously, liberals such as myself don't believe in the whole of libertarian thought. What I think could be useful is common ground. There are real opportunities to create political majorities around halting certain government abuses--Domestic spying, the drug war, eminent domain abuse, to name a few. I wouldn't be disdainful of incrementalism.

  • ||

    I think liberarians might be better served in discussions with the left by focusing on the relative merits of voice and exit power. Concede that corporations are evil. Concede that they want to do evil things and are sometimes capable of doing evil things. Don't argue about this. Concede it all way.

    Then demonstrate that it is much cheaper to exit a relationship with a corporation than with a government and all that this fact entails.


    The problem for this libertarian is that the evil things I see corporations doing--using the government to access special privileges such as regulations, subsidies, and protected monopoly status--"mom and pop" businesses do as well. There is no distinction for me of degrees of evil by the varying size of a business. They all want to maximize their profits by milking me. They all use the government to do so.

    So I end up defending corporations sometimes. It's not that I really like them; I'm completely indifferent to how you set up your business structure, so long as it brings me savings. It's just that I have no affinity for small businesses. I don't want to save or preserve them. I don't want to help them. I do not care if they go belly-up because someone else is taking advantage of a scale economy. In fact, I see most attempts to help them as plots to screw me.

    As long as liberals insist on a dichotomy between small:good and big:evil (rather than my own mantra of me:greedy businesses:greedy politicians:greedy) I'll have to focus on this relatively silly issue.

  • fyodor||

    I would like to see an end to state backed corporations.

    You'll find no more consistent opponents to taxpayer supported corporate subsidies than libertarians. Whether the entire concept of a corporation is one that inherently reflects government "backing" is debatable. Again, saying that corporations are backed by the government because the government restricts the players' liability to the assets of the business is like saying that all protections of private property amount to government backing. And what is wrong with a corporation owning property and being sued?

  • ||

    It would certainly be nice if Democratic politicians were as skeptical of the Drug War as it seems most of the people who vote for them are!

    I suppose the same could be said about Libertarians, and the Republicans they tend to vote for.

    It always seems to me that libertarians are more likely to give a GOP politician the benefit of the doubt over a Democrat, despite the fact that both only pay lip service to the beliefs in liberty, freedom and markets.

    It's hard to take many Libertarians seriously, when they tend to be MUCH MUCH more skeptical of lefties who espouse libertarian beliefs as opposed to righties who espouse libertarian beliefs.

  • ||

    What if every business required [the installation of cameras in my bedroom to make sure that I don't practice sodomy] as a condition of employment?

    Then I would start a company (or several for that matter) that required no such absurd restriction and reap windfall profits due to the onslaught of workers rushing to work for me for slightly lower wages to avoid such onerous conditions. With my pick of qualified candidates and lower labor costs I'd trounce those other companies and continue to expand and siphon off ever more of their labor to better jobs. Pretty soon (before I could even post a help wanted ad I suspect) lots of other people with the same idea would jump at this obvious opportunity. Pretty soon those other companies are run out of business and no such requirement exists anymore.

    Of course in reality, in a free market the threat of competition I just described would prevent such ridiculous restrictions in the first place.

  • fyodor||

    What I think could be useful is common ground. There are real opportunities to create political majorities around halting certain government abuses--Domestic spying, the drug war, eminent domain abuse, to name a few. I wouldn't be disdainful of incrementalism.

    Agreed, and I'm sure it happens. But it's tough because, except in the case of popular referendums, which have their own problems, you have to get the folks in power to respond. And they have their own set of priorities, such as working their elective coalition to maintain power. That's why Democratic politicians ignore the majority of their backers who want to at least scale back the Drug War. Because those backers have nowhere else to go, and because the politicians may lose swing voters if they appear Soft on Drugs. To cite one example. Also, anyone in power is liable to view the exercise of that power more favoribly once its in their own hands.

  • ||

    Corporations are not free market entities; they are created by government fiat to limit the liability of the individuals who own the corporation.

    Partnerships can attain limited liability as well. Since different states have differing laws regarding the formation of such partnerships, you can bet that Tiebout competition is at work.

  • ||

    "For the trendsetters, calling yourself a libertarian is this year's trucker cap."

    Yes, but only if you wear your libertarian at a jaunty angle.

  • theOneState||

    With the possible exception of Republican libertarian there are few more oxymoronic expressions than Democratic libertarian

    A "Republican libertarian" is a libertarian that gets to vote in Republican primaries. There's nothing remotely oxymoronic about it.

  • ||

    Libertarians like to talk about Government being the only one to inititate force, but can't economic hardship act as a force?


    IE, paying two poor single mothers 300 dollars to fight. Legal according to the free market right? But who could deny the presence of an economic force on a person.

    Its like the invisible hand shoving you.

  • ||

    And if "Democratic Libertarianism" is preventing Institutional as well as Economic force on someone, chalk me up as such.

    But obivously, I don't want it to be construed to mean "Government stepping in with susbsidized apartments so the lazy aren't forced to work". That's crap. And european.

  • ||

    Libertarians like to talk about Government being the only one to inititate force, but can't economic hardship act as a force?

    Sigh. No, economic hardship is not force.

    Just because force is bad, and economic hardship is bad, does not mean force is economic hardship. Don't they teach the fallacy of the excluded middle in logic class anymore?

  • ||

    So your saying, if you got knocked up by a dude, and then he leaves you, and your trying to feed your kids, but your up short for rent and heat and bills, and a guy offers you 300 dollars to do something you wouldn't otherwise do, and you take it and despise it?

    Isn't that economic force? How is it different coming from government or your situation? Sure you don't have to take the money, you just go poor, just like you don't have to pay taxes, you just go to jail.

    And isn't your citing of a fallacy a sort of red herring in the face of the problem I put up?

  • Larry A||

    The Libertarian Democrat understands that there is a third danger to personal liberty -- the corporation.

    Step one of forming a corporation: Apply for a government charter. Step two: Follow government regulations. Purpose of forming a corporation: Protect the owners and managers of the corporation from the people. Corporations are part and parcel of the government threat, not a "third danger."

  • ||

    "...success is predicated on the merit of our ideas and efforts, unduly burdened by the government, corporate America, or other individuals."

    The problem here is that libertarians believe very much in allowing corporate America and individuals (if they are wealthy enough) to squash ideas and efforts, regardless of merit, if those corporations and individuals decided it's in their self interest to do so.

    There's nothing the slightest bit contradictory about standard Democratic values and the smaller-government ideas Kos is advocating. It's just a series of judgements about the most pragmatic course to follow that cause "libertarian" and "non-libertarian" Democrats to differ on specific issues.

  • ||

    http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=force

    "To compel through pressure or necessity"

    I don't see how economic force is not under there.

    Again, not all economic force, much is beneficial to in indivudual liberty.

    Just like the government forcing society to recognize the fact I own my house isn't bad government force.

  • ||

    Say what you will, but it is a fact that nowadays, Libertarian Democrat is less of an oxymoron than Libertarian Republican.?

    That's my conclusion, and I'm quite willing to listen MaxLongstreet and, yes, even Kos. But all too often many left-of-cetnter bloggers ridicule and caricature libertarians, so if y'll want to forge a coalition with us to end Bush/Frist populism and an Exceutive-cum-monarch who spies and tortures regardless of law, stop mindlessly dissing us, m'kay?

  • fyodor||

    Jared,

    The more dire one's financial situation, the more difficult one's choices are likely to be, that's true.

    But unless one violates your rights or threatens to, one is not using force on you.

    One way I like to look at is that giving you a difficult choice is not making things any worse for you had I not given you the choice.

    Even in your somewhat absurd and extreme example, would the single mothers be worse off for being given the choice of that proposition? No, because they could refuse, and they'd be no worse off. If they accept, then I would accept their judgment that they're better off for it, as distasteful as it may be for others to witness or even be aware of such a transaction.

    When the government says do something or you must pay a fine or go to jail, you clearly are worse off if you disobey than you would be had the government not passed the law in question. You have no choice to say no thanks. You have to do what the government says or have your free will violated.

    This is why libertarians feel the law should be restricted to punishing people who have similarly violated the rights and free will of someone else.

    I don't expect to change your mind, and we could likely go back and forth till the end of time, but just if you just want to understand our position, it is no, economic hardship does not by itself constitute force because while it may put one in a situation of having less favorable choices from which to choose, that does not literally keep one from being able to choose from among choices that do not make you worse off than if you were not offered the choice. Uncoerced choices do not violate your freedom to choose. Coercion, which is how the law works, does.

  • ||

    Starving to death because you can't pay for food kind of fucks over the whole free will thing too.

  • ||

    I like the quote "investing in our nation"

    that's the liberal mantra - pay teachers more not to work!

  • ||

    Say what you will, but it is a fact that nowadays, Libertarian Democrat is less of an oxymoron than Libertarian Republican.?

    That's my conclusion, and I'm quite willing to listen the MaxLongstreets and, yes, even Kos. But all too often many left-of-centter bloggers ridicule and caricature libertarians, so if y'all want to forge a coalition with us to end Bush/Frist populism and an Exceutive-cum-monarch who spies sans warrants and tortures regardless of law, stop mindlessly dissing us, m'kay?

  • ||

    Jared,
    It sounds like without the option to fight the single mothers would surely starve. But by giving them the option to earn $300 for a fight would stop them from starving - Good think I think?

    The single mom fighting sounds like a great reality show concept. Get a bunch of poor, near starving, single mom's and have them fight each other. The only thing is that I am sure they would make a lot more then $300

  • fyodor||

    if you got knocked up by a dude, and then he leaves you, and your trying to feed your kids...

    Along with rights go responsibilities. Of course getting a woman pregnant creates some degree of responsibility for the kids. This is a separate matter from however poor the new mother is.

  • ||

    Hey I'm not against single mom's being able to take that cash legally, just morally. (remember, libertarian is still half of democratic libertarian, heh heh.) It's just that I don't see a problem taking a little bit of other peoples cash via government to be charitible.

    I would much rather see everyone forced a little, than her forced alot.

  • ||

    jared - you're missing the point that they would "starve" if no one had given them the option to fight, anyway.

    And I want to know how many people actually starve to death in this country every year. I did a quick google, but didn't see any hard numbers. I can't imagine that we have a lot of people who actually starve. Not saying there aren't a lot of hungry people here, but just not starving to death.

    Also, you're totally ignoring the fact that, even in libertopia, there would still be private, charitable organisations that would provide food, shelter, clothes, etc to people who need such things. Not to mention the network of family and friends that many of us can count on. Not only that, but with less of a tax burden, people like me could afford to give more to charity.

  • fyodor||

    Starving to death because you can't pay for food kind of fucks over the whole free will thing too.

    If someone forces you to starve to death, then of course they have deprived you of free will. But if no one has put you in that position, then no, there has not been any force, however sad and unfortunate it is that someone is in that position. Naturally, you do have the free will to help people in that position, and libertarian policies would never prevent you or anyone else from doing so.

  • ||

    Maybe this will help: the government should exist to protect the rights to property, liberty and due process, in my view anything else the government does is on shaky philosophical ground. The government does not exist to perpetuate fairness or infringe on my rights to my own body and my own goals and ambitions, so long as those goals and ambitions do not infringe on your right to your property, liberty, or due process.
    If you are unfortunate to be born with nothing except the aforementioned rights, as most of us are, you have many choices to make (including birth control, but we won't go there in this post). A starving mother has choices, and so does her neighbor have a choice to feed her. In any event, it should never be the government's role to stack the deck for or against any citizen.

  • ||

    Look I'm not saying this is a common, and here's my solution to it, its more to highlight something that might have potentially happened, or will, and that such a thing as economic coercion is possible.

  • ||

    No, coercion through economic means is possible, it is not a subtle difference.

  • ||

    Starving to death because you can't pay for food kind of fucks over the whole free will thing too.

    No it doesn't. First the percentage of people who really could not be productive enough to feed themselves in a country like the US is very small. So, even if we grant you the right to decide who to take from, simply by fiat, in order to prevent someone from starving, that taking would likewise be very small. However, even absent that power, nobody would starve to death in this country under libertarian principles. To assert that is to be utterly ignorant of the fact that people would (and do!) voluntarily choose to help feed those who truly cannot feed themselves. Throwing out bogus fears of starvation as an argument that somehow "fucks over" free will is silly.

  • fyodor||

    I would much rather see everyone forced a little, than her forced alot.

    Then you're admitting that taxation is force? :-)

    As I just mentioned in my previous post, libertarian policies would never prevent people from voluntarily helping others. And the economic effects of taxation may be what keeps that starving mother from finding a job!

  • ||

    Pretty much:

    Me: Broad view of force
    You: Narrow view of force.

    But ok, to continue, aren't property rights a man made government enforced construct? Wasn't it created because society was better off with property rights versus none? Is it not enforced with (duh) force? Don't you ok government force here, because you see its a positive construct of government, and overlook forcing others to accept it?

  • ||

    So you do have free will when your dead? I see...

  • ||

    So you do have free will when your dead? I see...

    Huh? Ok then...

  • ||

    If you're going to do away with corporations, then you will have to accept that your standard of living will go down the pooper. The private corporation -- an institution that enables numerous people to invest in a business enterprise without risking everything else they own -- is arguably the greatest wealth-building invention since the division of labor.

  • ||

    Property and liberty rights are the core of the philosophy I call libertarianism, an utter lack of property rights is extreme communism, maybe anarchy.
    Listen, we are off track, only anarchists think there ought to be no government. It is just that government should only exist to protect each individual's right to their property and their liberty. Period.

    Also, to elaborate on fyodor's post, not only does government regulations keep our poor hypothetical waif from getting a job, they also make the food too damned expensive for her to buy.

  • fyodor||

    Me: Broad view of force You: Narrow view of force.

    Yeah, we think force is something that someone does to someone else. That's why the word, "compel" is in the definition you quoted. Force is not merely found in an unfortunate circumstance.

    aren't property rights a man made government enforced construct? Wasn't it created because society was better off with property rights versus none? Is it not enforced with (duh) force? Don't you ok government force here, because you see its a positive construct of government, and overlook forcing others to accept it?

    We believe society is best off when the use of force is restricted to punishing those who have already used it (or attempted to or threatened to). Libertarians are not against the use of force but rather the initiation of force.

  • ||

    Jared,
    How would this 'forced charity' be divided up? Who get's to decide where my former money goes? I am not too keen on supporting lazy people and would much rather my money go to helping heroin junkies stay safe with needle exchanges. Amazingly, our Government, yes the same one who takes my tax money and the redistributes it, sees these priorities in the exact opposite light. They give freely to lazy people and vehemently protest spending tax money on clean needles to drug users. This hasn't changed with Administrations either so none of this "it's the Republican's fault" bs.

    The Government not only abridges my rights by taxing me, they do so by spending it on things I don't believe in like abstinence only education, the Iraq war, building a fucking fence along the Mexican border, spraying coca in Columbia and others.

  • ||

    Corportions do not always act as we would all wish, but give me an organization with choice-empowered customers as its core constituency over an organization with power-driven bureaucrats as its only constituency anyday.

    The corporate entity has allowed a huge segment of the poluation to become real economic stakeholders in the future of the country and the world, and that is a beautiful thing.

  • fyodor||

    So you do have free will when your dead? I see...

    You wanna learn about each other, or you wanna make dumb comments?

  • ||

    Compel - To force, drive, or constrain


    So if a guy owns a large amount of property, I'm talking thousands of acres, and then someone is squatting on a very small part, using that part to get food and have a small dwelling, then its not ok for the government to force him off the land, right?

    Its not like the squatter of forcing anything on the guy right?

  • fyodor||

    jared,

    Kwix's comments notwithstanding, allow me to make clear that libertarianism is not based somehow based on the belief that all poor people are lazy. Personally, I like to say there are as many reasons people are poor as there are poor people. But government programs lack the flexibility to make the kind of distinctions between different poor people that individuals can when giving their money voluntarily.

  • ||

    eminent domain abuse,

    Max, my boy, liberals in Pennsylvania are some of the world's largest abusers of eminent domain. They're the polar opposite of libertarians...

  • ||

    Jared,

    Compel - To force, drive, or constrain

    Did the squatter purchase the land? If not, then he has no rights to the land. The squatter is constraining the owner of the land from using it as he sees fit.

    If some homeless guy decides to sleep on the hood of your car to stay warm (preventing you from driving anywhere but not from listening to the radio) is he not constraining you from using your property as you see fit?

  • fyodor||

    jared,

    Sigh. Y'know my aunt is a leading linguist, and she once told me that if you work hard enough at it, you can discredit any definition in the dictionary.

    Furthermore, you can always find extreme examples on the margins that make the normal way of doing things look unfair.

    Do you really think that a person's economic circumstance should be used to determine whether trespassing laws should be applied to him? Private property is an institution that, as you noted above, is recognized because it results in the greatest good for all. Now would I necessarily want a Sheriff fired because he looked the other way when a few very desparate yet very well behaved squatters survived off a very remote and unused corner of a huge, wealthy estate? Of course not! But do I want to live in a society where a land owner has the right to kick off his land whomever he chooses? Yes. And when some burglar breaks into where you live, you'll probably be glad the law is on your side regardless of that burglars economic situation too.

  • ||

    Sure he purchased it, but if you go back, at some point, its the government giving an unnatural recognition to something because its to societys advantage to do as such. Aren't property rights a positive liberty, as disdained as it is amongst libertarians?

  • ||

    Its not like the squatter of forcing anything on the guy right?

    I am really confused now.

    To the first point, if the two parties cannot reach an accord and the rights of the property owner are being infringed, then it must be up to the government to compel, force, and drive the squatter off. Either that or its gunplay time.

    The squatter is using his power of choice to infringe on someone else's property. A truly liberated system would leave an infinite number of other chioices to the squatter, if he/she is ingenious enough to scratch out a living squatting, then a free job market would surely find a position for the individual to earn money and maybe buy a chunk of his own land some day.

    Problem is, no one is hiring him because of... well here is a short list: the IRS, the ADA, the EEOC, the FBI, the DHS, the DEA, or hell, even the DMV who won't let him drive because he can't afford 100 bucks for a fucking license to pay for roads he has never used, not to mention hundreds of other state and local laws, councils, regs, rules, departments, and bureaus.

  • fyodor||

    TPG,

    Do you mean liberal citizens or politicians? My GF brought a petition for a referendum to limit emminent domain abuses here in Colorado to a Democratic caucus, despite my warning that she might find resistance, and EVERYONE wanted to sign it!

  • ||

    fyodor,
    I was not implying that all poor people are lazy, nor that all rich people are industrious.

    However, having lived a fair amount of my life in what would be PC referred to as a "lower class urban center" (aka ghetto), I have seen my fair share of lazy folks kickin' back on the government dole. I have also seen some seriously down and out get rejected from the dole because they didn't lie well enough on the application. I would rather allocate my money to those who really need it instead of some bureacrat who doesn't know these people personally.

  • ||

    TPG,
    Do you mean liberal citizens or politicians? My GF brought a petition for a referendum to limit emminent domain abuses here in Colorado to a Democratic caucus, despite my warning that she might find resistance, and EVERYONE wanted to sign it!


    I mean both. Liberal citizens are only against eminent domain abuses when it affects them personally. Around here, they send up great huzzahs when the city wants to tear down an old "run down" block for a new cultural center or senior center or a new hotel that will bring in conventions and save the union jobs...

  • ||

    My point with the squatter thing is that, if you don't agree with the government stepping in to prevent a nonperson compelling (he he) a person to make an unwanted choice, then why is it ok for the government to step in when a person forces himself on a nonperson (property, which is effectively tied into that person via government).

    Semantics, look, I've been a subscriber to Reason for a year, i've voted libertarian (yikes), so its not that I don't agree with most of what you guys do, I just like to get the nitty gritty about janks.

  • fyodor||

    Aren't property rights a positive liberty, as disdained as it is amongst libertarians?

    Ideally, property rights would originate with the people who peaceably settled in an area first.

    Unfortunately, it's true that it hasn't always worked out that way.

    But that leaves us with the matter of what to do about it now. We cannot go back in time to make sure all property rights were originally derived legitimately, we can only go forward, and society works best with a healthy respect for property rights. The failure of Communist nations has starkly shown what happens property rights are not respected.

  • ||

    Looks like Jared's a libertarian communist! It's libertarianism without the property rights -- and a lot more government.

  • ||

    Aren't property rights a positive liberty, as disdained as it is amongst libertarians?

    No, property rights precede government. Governments are instituted to protect those property rights, not to create them.

    For an example of a good starting point, I like Clean Hands first principle above:

    I own myself, completely, without reservation, and without exception.
    Comment by: Clean Hands at June 7, 2006 04:49 PM

    That should be true absent any government.

  • Lincoln||

    The problem here is that libertarians believe very much in allowing corporate America and individuals (if they are wealthy enough) to squash ideas and efforts, regardless of merit, if those corporations and individuals decided it's in their self interest to do so.

    No we don't. We just differ on what "squashing" means. If there's force or fraud involved then you've "squashed" and we're against it. And you've read enough of Reason's articles on patent and copyright law to know that Joe. You mind giving an example of where libertarians supported the "squashing" of ideas?

  • fyodor||

    I was not implying that all poor people are lazy

    I suspected that, but, with all due respect, I don't think you made that clear the first time.

    I would rather allocate my money to those who really need it instead of some bureacrat who doesn't know these people personally.

    Well said!

  • ||

    Libertarian communist? When did I advocate the government owning all the property? If anything, it would be lib-anarchist, or anarcho capitialist or whatever.

  • ||

    And with New London V Kelo, I would say the government is given free license to crush all property rights anyways.

  • ||

    The rights to property and liberty are not constructs of the government, Jared. Government is a construct designed to protect these rights that I believe belong to every individual, no matter what regime they are born under.

    We are happy to have you amongst the ranks of people who at least think about this stuff, too many people just take the shit that is handed to them without ever really exploring the crap-bowl existence that is their reality.

  • ||

    There are times when business-government partnerships can be extremely effective

    It's bad when corporations make a profit...

    EXCEPT when the government makes the profit for the corporations.

  • ||

    You know something, Mona? I am with you. Let's stop all this a-fussin' and a-fightin' and get back to ridding ourselves of the a-holes in power now.
    I've always said that I don't like the Dems, but I'm scared of the Repubs. The 1st and 4th amendments have always been the nearest and dearest to my heart. As long as we retain those, we have a fighting chance at regaining the others as we lose them. The conservatives seem ready to crap all over them.

  • ||

    I would rather allocate my money to those who really need it instead of some bureacrat who doesn't know these people personally.

    You mean to people like this:

    http://www.modestneeds.org/features/ledger/

    ?

    Yeah - I give every month as it is -- if I wasn't being taxed to the gills, I'd give much, much more.

  • fyodor||

    Semantics, look, I've been a subscriber to Reason for a year, i've voted libertarian (yikes), so its not that I don't agree with most of what you guys do, I just like to get the nitty gritty about janks.

    You bastard!! Well, you probably know everything I'm trying to say then, but enforcing private property is not for the sake of the property but for the sake of its owner. With that, we'll have to continue this some other time. My workday is over, thus I have no more time for this...

  • ||

    fyodor,
    I suspected that, but, with all due respect, I don't think you made that clear the first time.

    Then I guess it's a good thing I gave up on my first draft that involved Satanists and fetus eaters eh?

    Seriously, I didn't want to drag out the post with the traditional disclaimer. For chrissakes, it's not like I own stock in Soylent Green or anything.

  • ||

    Kelo is a sucky decision, but that decision is based on principles of eminent domain, not taking.
    The poor bastards did get paid for their homes...I know, it is sacrilege to many on this site to even admit that, but we can't drift off into sound-bite land again today. (I know, I was on my soap-box yesterday).

  • ||

    Yeah, don't get me wrong, I agree with eminent domain, in that, yeah the government will protect everyones property from everyone else because its what's best, but that sometimes it needs to take property from one, because its what is best for all.

    But fuck a taking it to improve revenue for the city. Truly there would be not many limits to government violation of PR.

  • ||

    TPG,
    That is beautiful!! I guess I have one more outlet for giving. Thanks!!

  • ||

    "The problem with this form of libertarianism is that it assumes that only two forces can infringe on liberty -- the government and other individuals.

    The Libertarian Democrat understands that there is a third danger to personal liberty -- the corporation. The Libertarian Dem understands that corporations, left unchecked, can be huge dangers to our personal liberties."

    So the defining characteristic of Libertarian Democrats is to take a common method for private individals to organize for a common goal and demonize it? Nice.

  • ||

    Jared, Read Justice Thomas' dissent in Kelo for some more ammo.

    Kwix: I love the Soylent Green reference, reminds me of my favorite Motorhead song: "Eat the Rich"

    "They say music is the food of love,
    Let's see if you are hungry enough,
    Take a bite, take another, just like a good boy would,
    Get a sweet thing on the side,
    Home cooking, homicide,
    Side order, could be your daughter,
    Fingerlicking good

    Come on baby, eat the rich,
    take a bite of the sonofabitch"

    Lemmy rules. :)

  • ||

    That is beautiful!! I guess I have one more outlet for giving. Thanks!!

    You're quite welcome. It's become my sole charity for donations. You get completely transparency and you can choose exactly who you help.

    Now, if the taxes on beer weren't 47%, I'd have a helluva lot of people to help.

  • ||

    "Looks like Jared's a libertarian communist! It's libertarianism without the property rights -- and a lot more government.


    Or maybe he's a Geolibertarian (google it). An even more "first principles" based philosophy than the one espoused 'round these parts.

  • ||

    First off, it seems a bit odd to me that people who vote libertarian would mock Kos for endorsing people who lose elections. He's not trying to endorse people who he thinks would win, he's trying to endorse people who take positions consistent with his principles. In the short term, such people are likely to lose, but I think he's trying to create long term change, in the way that endorsing Goldwater was a surefire loser but started a larger movement that eventually had some success. I would think a lot of you would sympathize with that.

    It has always seemed to me that if libertarians are serious about choosing the lesser of two evils they should choose the Democrats over the Republicans, and it seems even clearer to me now that the Republicans have shown a complete lack of interest in fiscal restraint. At least the Dems aren't interested in imposing a theocracy.

  • ||

    Or maybe he's a Geolibertarian

    I don't think someone who espouses taking the fruits of one person's labor and giving it to another person would be considered a geolibertarian.

    An even more "first principles" based philosophy

    Anyway, how is it more first principles based than more traditional libertarianism?

  • ||

    "So your saying, if you got knocked up by a dude, and then he leaves you, and your trying to feed your kids, but your up short for rent and heat and bills, and a guy offers you 300 dollars to do something you wouldn't otherwise do, and you take it and despise it?

    Isn't that economic force?" - Jared

    The problem with your little scenario, Jared, is how is it the woman has no other option to make money other than the fight? In the real world, ther are always other options, maybe not very good ones, but they always exist. Therefore the notion that the woman is being coerced into that specific fight simply cannot be.

    Minus all the sob story aspects of the your scenario, what your argument boils down to is: society owes me a living or else I am not free. An able bodied adult worthy of the title has a responsibility to earn his or her own keep and those of the minor children he or she has brought into the world. That responsibility cannot be divorced from freedom without losing both.

  • ||

    First off, it seems a bit odd to me that people who vote libertarian would mock Kos for endorsing people who lose elections.

    Nice one, Ted

    Minus all the sob story aspects of the your scenario, what your argument boils down to is: society owes me a living or else I am not free.

    My libertarianism becomes tainted not when I ask what society owes me, but what society owes those who cannot take care of themselves.

  • ||

    So your saying, if you got knocked up by a dude, and then he leaves you, and your trying to feed your kids, but your up short for rent and heat and bills, and a guy offers you 300 dollars to do something you wouldn't otherwise do, and you take it and despise it?

    Isn't that economic force?

    No woman should allow herself to become pregnant and have a child unless she is capable of supporting herself and the child. She had a choice in this unless she was raped. (Don't get me wrong; the man is an ass as well. I wouldn't hire him for a job, nor would I associate with him on any level other than to call him the scumbag piece of shit that he is.)

    People who have children by "accident" are no better than wild animals. They do not deserve sympathy. They irresponsibly create HUMAN BEINGS! How horrible is that? Unfortunately, much of humanity thinks it's impossible to control ones reproductive urges. This attitude truly sickens me. If you can't control your reproductive urges, you should be leashed or put in a zoo. Try being a rational human being instead of a rutting beast.

    (Sex is great and perfectly natural, but irresponsible sex contributes to the world being a fucked up place.)

    Basically, the woman was not forced into her position; she chose it. She should have been responsible. I feel for the child and would consider helping it, but the mother should suffer for her mistakes, otherwise, she'll likely never learn from them.

    (This is just one of the many reasons that I married my wife: She refuses to get pregnant until she has finished her degree and worked for at least two years. Even though we have a stable relationship, she believes that it is wrong to bring a child into this world that she cannot care for on her own. She's a libertarian, too, and I'm damn lucky to have her.)

  • ||

    But does society then have a responsibility to help the children, who didn't ask to be born to idiot parents?

  • ||

    Jared,

    Let's have a duel of "force" -

    Your Move: Refuse to hire me, charge me extra for batteries during a storm, and exclude me from your country club

    My Move: Beat you about the head, face, and neck with an ax handle.

    I think you'd understand the difference between economic "force" and plain old force after that.

  • ||

    I thought all the way home from my office about this one. My completely unscientific opinion is that Kossites and Reasonoids have a lot in common. For one thing, both groups generally argue from actual, discernible facts. They don't pick the same facts as ar rule, but neither group would ever argue for a public policy based on the need to make all the rest of us moral. (With one exception: Kossite liberals are much more friendly to smoking restrictions. Marijuana is okay but not tobacco. Go figure.) In this both groups differ significantly from, say, the commenters at Free Republic or LGF, who pretty much qualify as clinically insane.

  • ||

    Karen,

    I don't know...

    People who have children by "accident" are no better than wild animals. They do not deserve sympathy.

    ...sounds pretty fucking insane to me.

  • ||

    My libertarianism becomes tainted not when I ask what society owes me, but what society owes those who cannot take care of themselves.

    Who can't take care of themselves? It must be a very small group of people with some serious mental or physical limitations. As such I don't buy that this is really what we're talking about. For such a small percentage of the population private charities would have no problem getting enough funding to take care of those who truly cannot take care of themselves as most people would be glad to support such charities voluntarily.

  • ||

    Brian --

    The group of people who can't take care of themselves is larger than that. You'd have to include all infants and children, plus a lot of the elderly, and many people find themselves unable to work for periods of time through no fault of their own. Now, you might say that the adults should have prepared better, but with the kids, I'm not sure how you make that stand up. I'm not convinced that private charities would take up the slack. It's tough to really discuss that because like a lot of other libertarian theories it's never been tested in the real world. You can say it's the parents' responsibility to take care of kids, but in the real world we know that that doesn't always happen, and why should kids suffer for their parents' failures/misfortunes?

  • ||

    therefore, when we advocate "fairness", it only pertains to what the state is doing. For instance, if the state is going to tax people, it should tax brown people more than white people. That is "fairness" as libertarianism regards it.

    WTF!?!?!

    man do i have a different idea of what libertarianism then you do!!!

    then again it could have just been a typo

  • ||

    I generally view property rights as important but I think there are exceptions and grey areas. You cannot always determine where one's own property ends and another's begins, depending on the kind of property we are talking about. You can own the ground beneath your feet but not the air above it (or even if you decide you do own this air, at what point does ownership stop - 5 feet, 10 feet, 300 feet?). Water rights present similar conundrums. You cannot do anything to the water just in front of your house as that could effect the quality of the water in front of my house - you want to go jet skiing but saying you will only do this on your property doesn't work with water. And original property rights to land, were first come first serve. Finally, if one's health is suffering from the effects of air pollution it's difficult to determine from whose property the causal agent came from - cars, nearby factories, etc. So property rights cannot be unlimited or absolute, merely utilitarian constructs.

    Also, in a free market, one can choose which factory to work for and that is a good thing. I do agree that poor choices are not the same as forced choices by law. But a Hobson's choice is nearly as bad as force as it has the same effect or nearly the same effect. It would be in the general interest of the population for all factory owners to have basic safety and health conditions in place. But it presents a prisoner's dilemma to the factory owner if he must go at this alone. This is the reason I see the need for health and safety conditions in factories, as supported by government. Since property rights are not absolute, the need for a worker to be safe and healthy in his own factory trumps the need of the owner to what he pleases at his factory.

  • ||

    I generally view property rights as important but I think there are exceptions and grey areas. You cannot always determine where one's own property ends and another's begins, depending on the kind of property we are talking about. You can own the ground beneath your feet but not the air above it (or even if you decide you do own this air, at what point does ownership stop - 5 feet, 10 feet, 300 feet?). Water rights present similar conundrums. You cannot do anything to the water just in front of your house as that could effect the quality of the water in front of my house - you want to go jet skiing but saying you will only do this on your property doesn't work with water. And original property rights to land, were first come first serve. Finally, if one's health is suffering from the effects of air pollution it's difficult to determine from whose property the causal agent came from - cars, nearby factories, etc. So property rights cannot be unlimited or absolute, merely utilitarian constructs.

    Also, in a free market, one can choose which factory to work for and that is a good thing. I do agree that poor choices are not the same as forced choices by law. But a Hobson's choice is nearly as bad as force as it has the same effect or nearly the same effect. It would be in the general interest of the population for all factory owners to have basic safety and health conditions in place. But it presents a prisoner's dilemma to the factory owner if he must go at this alone. This is the reason I see the need for health and safety conditions in factories, as supported by government. Since property rights are not absolute, the need for a worker to be safe and healthy in his own factory trumps the need of the owner to what he pleases at his factory.

  • ||

    Oh, and BDS is Bush Derangement Syndrome. Bush is so awesome to the LGF people that failing to share their love for him can only mean you're mentally deranged. That this would currently mean that about 70% of the American people and a larger percentage of the world's population are deranged either escapes them or, if recognized, confirms in their own mind their superiority to the common herd.

    Surely the Kosites and Reasonites can find common cause in a healthy disgust for those who feel a worshipful adoration of the current president? See, there's another link....

  • ||

    "it should tax brown people more than white people" = "it should nottax brown people more than white people

    ah got it :)

    should i read a little past a post before i make a comment??

    fuck yes

    will I?

    Fuck no

    :)

  • ||

    Safety Net 1) A job

    Safety net 2) A thriving job market due to extremely minimal government interference such as taxes adn regulations

    Safety Net 3) Savings

    Safety Net 4) Family

    Safety Net 5) Friends

    Safety Net 6) Your church, synogogue or mosque

    Safety Net 7) Help from private charitable organizations or individual strangers (e.g. people who give to panhandlers)

    It is ludicrous to say we need an 8th safety net, especially since what happens is several of the above get seriously diminished or disappear as a result.

    On another note, there are basically two types of libertarians (not counting pretenders who think it is trendy to misuse the label). First, what I refer to as pure libertarians, who sometimes call themselves anarcho-capitalists, for lack of a better word. They basically believe in no government at all. There are very few of those here at H&R as far as I can tell. Second, you have minarchists, who believe government should pretty much be restricted to commons problems. One such commons problem is enforcing individual liberties. Most of us believe there aren't all that many genuine commons problems, and that most of them exist due to government owning something it shouldn't own. Most libertarians at H&R fit some form of minarchist definition, although I'm sure we all define it a bit differently.

    The link I quoted gave some examples of minarchists, some more well known than others. They are: Benjamin Constant, Herbert Spencer, Leonard Read, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, James M. Buchanan, Milton Friedman, Ayn Rand, John Hospers, Robert Nozick, George Reisman. Feel free to google for them to learn more about them. Actually, I can see that they allhave wiki links at the link I provided so you may not even have to google for them.

  • ||

    It is now "left" to oppose government spying without a warrant. It is "left" to oppose a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. It is "left" to oppose huge national deficits. It is "left" to oppose the drug war. It is "left" to oppose pre-emptive wars in general. It is "left" to resist the arrest of US Citizens, suspension of their rights to habeus corpus, and indefinite detention without charges. It is "left" to believe (generally) in the free movement of labor - even across borders. And on and on and on.

    I guess what I'm saying is that it seems to me that today the Republicans are much more proponents of the nanny state than are the Democrats.


    dude if you think the democrats in anyway supprt any of those things you are describing as left (actually libral which isn't left but we won't get into that) you are fucking smoking crack.

    The left support's the drug war

    the left supports premtive war (what the fuck makes you think they don't)

    the left supports huge huge national deficits. (what the hell do you think social security and medicare are)

  • ||

    Also, the notion that private charities will do the job is, as I agree with Ted, an untested notion. Why put our trust in faith when it comes to taking care of disabled people or old folks? Relying on just private charities also presents a problem of free riders. This is not to suggest we need be satisfied with how the safety net is cast as it is now. There could be many other and better options than the system in place, and perhaps ones that do not attract so much moral hazzard.

    Hopefully, bio-tech though will be another tool to help resolve some of these issues at some point in the future, one reason I'm all for it. I do not romanticize the state to the point I reach for it as the first or only option. I also think there are many wonderful tools made available through markets, technology being one of the best ones, to approach social problems as well.

  • ||

    Until he's willing to admit that government is evil, he can't possibly be called a libertarian.

    what do you mean he calls government evil all the time...the problem is that his solution to big evil government is that we need more of it.

  • ||

    nazi germany
    fascist italy
    franco's spain
    tojo's japan
    argentina


    i associate the at least the first three with the left...which all had heavy support from labor.

  • ||

    Sigh. I managed to leave out a safety net. Call it

    Safety Net 2.5) Insurance. Examples: auto insurance, health insurance, life insurance (granted this does not help you per se), property insurance, disability insurance etc.

  • ||

    Yes, the list of safety nets mentioned above are useful to remember. Not all safety nets need come from government and I acknowledge that one of the best ones comes from having an open market that allows workers the freedom to change jobs easily, or if fired find a new one. But some of these just don't apply to the disabled and/or to someone who doesn't have a family. Developmentally disabled people are sometimes abandoned by their families when they turn 18, sometimes before. And for some lower skilled workers just entering the job market (maybe they're down on their luck for whatever reason as well) some jobs don't pay enough to get by or handle even basic medical expenses. Until they can move up to a better job some form of assistance, as long as it doesn't attract moral hazzard, could be beneficial to not only them but to civil society as a whole. Many things are about personal responsibilty but not all.

  • ||

    paleolib,

    you are a fucking idiot...lets talk about water rights for a second...you know one of your problem areas...

    In washington state (very blue) if you do not use the water to which you have rights for five years you loose your rights and it goes to the goevernment... so lets say you own 30 acre feet of water rights to water your orchard (acre feet is the amount per year you water an acre...typically for an orchard you need 3 feet of water per year)

    now lets say you take special care to use less water only 20 acre feet...well after 5 years of conservation effort the 10 acre feet of water you don't use goes to the state...thus any interest a farmer may have to use less water is destroyed becouse he will simply loose a valubale comodity to the state if he does.

    It was not always that way...but the left came in and intentially weakened water rights and who owns what when...a policy that not only steals property from people but in fact ultimatly wastes water and harms the enviornment.

  • ||

    Also, the notion that private charities will do the job is, as I agree with Ted, an untested notion.

    Untested notion!? What do you mean? Americans give hundreds of billions of dollars every year to all kinds of private charities that help people all over the world. You think if the government stopped taking from people by force they would sit around and let the truly needy starve to death? That is simply not believable.

  • ||

    Also, the notion that private charities will do the job is, as I agree with Ted, an untested notion. Why put our trust in faith when it comes to taking care of disabled people or old folks?

    Untested? Go back to the list of safety nets and remember who took care of people before the new deal. And don't give me "government had to step in because of the depression" because government caused that shit in the first place.

    Untested? We outpace the world in charitable giving year in and year out and you say it's untested? Stop taxing the bejesus out of everyone and charitable giving skyrockets.

    Like I said before - knock off the 47% of the cost of beer that is taxes and I'll give it to charity.

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    Trent said, "So not only did they have to take the word 'liberal' from us, now they are trying to take 'libertarian', too?"

    This has been going on for quite a while. Here in Santa Cruz, the notion of a "libertarian democrat" has been getting a lot of play for several years. These are people who believe, for instance, in minimum wage, rent control, a reasonable amount of government protection of the environment, and the absolute necessity of the government-implemented "social safety net." They do tend, however, to advocate lower taxes than most Democrats (or GOP, these days), stricter observance of individual civil rights, "sensible" gun control, and the elimination of corporate welfare (though the retention of personal welfare programs).

    As someone said above, that sounds like garden variety "liberal" to me. It's pretty easy to flush 'em out by exploring the question of "who decides," in any particular scenario. True Libertarians tend to leave nearly all decisions in individual hands. Libertarian Democrats (as well as Libertarian Republicans and other species of faux libertarians) tend to leave smaller decisions to people, but reserve "big" decisionmaking for government.

  • ||

    "you are a fucking idiot." Yeah, that's what my best man said...

    But anyway, it's an ad hominem. And J.C.'s additional arguments don't answer the questions I asked though or resolve the point that property rights cannot be absolute. Where do you decide your ownership of the air above your head begins or ends (any point you decide is only a practical solution, not a natural law one)? The same goes for water flowing in front of you house in a lake or river. If you build on your land but the run-off falls into the lake it does not only affect the water in front of your house, no? Similarly, the particulate matter from your car, factory, or house, affects the air around not only you but others. We could leave this to the courts, but how will you decide where the agent that caused the damage came from when we're talking about water and air pollution? And why should we wait until lots of people get hurt?

  • ||

    Of the above mentioned by the Santa Cruz Democratic libertarians I think rent control is a terrible sham, as are price controls in general. I think these have been empirically proven beyond any doubt to lead to decreased availability of goods and eventually to higher priced goods. I'm not sure about minimum wages, still considering that one. And it seems that the literature runs both ways. So, you see, not even libertarian democrats agree on everything.

  • ||

    Re: private charity - Social Security paid out $521 billion last year. Let's say we get rid of the program. I'm not at all confident that Americans are going to give an additional $521 billion to charitable organizations to cover the shortfall, or that charitable organizations could handle charity on that kind of scale even if they did. Now if you want, you can say that families would pick up some of the slack - it wouldn't all fall on charities - and that's undoubtedly true, but we don't know how much, and some of us either don't have large families, have families just as poor as we are, or are estranged from our families (for being gay, or after being molested by someone).

    And, frankly, if I end up old and poor (which can happen to anyone) I don't want to have to convince someone that I love Jesus in order to get fed. Obviously we're not going to agree on what counts as coercion, but if I have to rely on my community (friends, family, churches, neighbors) to take care of me in hard times that means I'd better be sure they like me, which means a lot of pressure to conform. (Yes, I realize I could always choose to die instead).

  • ||

    Social Security paid out $521 billion last year.

    And almost all of it to the richest members of society.

    It's a poor example to use if you're concerned about people in need.

  • fyodor||

    Ted,

    In addition to Isaac's excellent point, consider this analogy.

    Moses: Let my people go!

    Pharoah: How will the pyramids be built?

    Moses: Surely, the private sector could pick up the slack.

    Pharoah: Yeah, right...

    Point being, that yeah, taking money from people at the point of a gun no doubt nets you more of the stuff than depending on them to give it voluntarily. But taking money from people at the point of a gun is still doing just, and it's still doing just that even if a majority of the citizenry supports it. Furthermore, as both Isaac and my analogy point out, the way the government uses that money is not likely to be nearly as "charitable" as when individuals decide for themselves where that money goes.

  • ||

    Fyodor,
    If you have a problem with tax money being used for a social safety net (because it's at the point of a gun) are you an anarcho-capitalist then? If not, then why wouldn't you have a problem with the government taking money, at gunpoint if necessary, for the military, for the police, for the courts, for the legislative and executive branches of government? Are these also tools of Pharoah or forms of enforced slavery?

  • fyodor||

    paleolib,

    Whatever label it puts on me, I do "have a problem" with money being taken at the point of a gun, period. I would, however, allow that for certain things it may be a necessary evil. To justify taking the money for charitable purposes you must show that the charity is curing a greater evil than taking the money is creating, and to do this honestly, you should not whitewash the manner of collection. I'm potentially if skeptically open to social safety nets that deal directly with poverty and desparate need totally aside from any other consideration (such as age, with Social Security), truth be known, but I'm not going to whitewash what's really going on.

    Anyway, the context of my analogy was to address Ted's point that he didn't think the American people would voluntarily cough up as much money as Social Security distributes. And I'm saying yeah well of course not, but let's look at why that is and what's really going on when taxes are collected!! And do we really need Social Security per se anymore than Pharoah needs another pyramid? Or is it merely a sacred cow (at the risk of mixing my metaphors...)?

  • fyodor||

    paleolib,

    Allow me to follow up on my last post by saying that my view of taxation is that at the very least we should not use their existence and their necessity for certain purposes act as a catch-all justification that makes them okay for whatever 51% of the population thinks they should be used for. Because I think that happens, and your response is evidence. I.e., if I don't object to ALL taxation, then what logic is there to point out that taxation comes at the end of a gun? But just because taxation may be absolutely necessary for certain purposes does not make other people's money a plaything for any nice sounding idea the majority comes up with.

  • ||

    Fyodor,
    We might be closer than you think (at least slightly). I'm not a simple majoritarian who thinks a 51 percent vote can be used to justify any form of taxation, as you suggest. And actually truth be told, I would do away with the IRS if I could. But I still think taxation is a necessary evil (as you agree though perhaps for more limited purposes) and for this I'd prefer a national sales tax or some other less thuggish form of collection.

    I don't deny that taxation or any law for that matter, is backed by force. I understand that that's how the law works. That's fine if libertarians also acknowledge that the laws they like are also backed by force.

    The problem I have with the libertarian view that says, 'taxation is theft' or 'taxation is no different from slavery' or 'taxation happens at the point of a gun' is that most libertians agree that taxation is needed for a few purposes as well; Admitting this, libertarians shift the argument then from a moral to a utilitarian argument while still trying to imply their opponents are arguing for something akin to slavery - when their opponents are simply enlarging what they believe taxation should be used for.

    Trying to minimize coercion is worthy moral goal. Yet, other valuable goals can be, trying to protect people from harms - that might come in the form of certain types of social safety nets. MOst of the time I don't think freedom from coercion and these other worthy goals conflict. In fact, like libertarians I think they mostly go hand in hand. Markets are one form of social safety net. But I do think they rub up against each other on occasion - and when that happens then freedom of the individual must be weighed against protection of the community or another individual. Safety regulations in factories are a good example. In my view, the need for a factory worker to work in a safe environment outweighs the need for a factory owner to run his factory any way he pleases.

    But I agree that social security, as it stands now is a problem. It needs to be retooled, recast in a different form.

  • Libertopian||

    Kos has a point. Corporations are creatures of the state. They can and do use the state's guns and other coercive powers against the individual and his freedoms.

    When regulation by the government serves as a check on entities which limit our freedoms, it actually enhances our personal liberties. To put it another way, limiting corporations' freedom to take away our freedoms is a good thing.

    Right now, the GOP is controlled by large corporations (which seek to exploit individuals and take away their freedoms) and big religion (which likewise seeks to control us and take away our freedoms). In short, there's not much libertarianism in the GOP. While it pretends to champion liberties, it champions not PEOPLE's liberties but rather the "liberties" of corporations (which are not people but rather legal fictions). The Dems have a real opening here and a real chance to do some good.

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