Most People Distrust the Government, and Themselves

The political powers that be are not popular. A recent poll from YouGov showed that most Americans are tired of political partisanship and believe that they are not well represented. Yet, while the political establishment is widely viewed with suspicion and frustration, a majority still believes that most people are not capable of making good decisions about political issues. It seems that many would rather entrust legislative concerns to incompetent and corrupt officials rather than risk the results of increased choice and personal responsibility. Unfortunately for libertarians, it looks like most people conform to what the Roman historian Sallust remarked on over two millennia ago, “Few men desire liberty; most men wish only for a just master.” We are in a situation now where not only are liberty and just masters are hard to find, but government intrusion is normalized.

Standard public choice economics explains why the political machine is inept and corrupt. What is harder to explain is why people remain so hesitant to embrace even a little more personal responsibility and freedom. Institutions that are now embedded in the political and economic establishment, such as the departments of education, health, and transport, were all formed well within living memory. Americans were winning Nobel Prizes, healing the sick, and travelling on roads before these departments, yet there is not a libertarian who has not had to endure baffling questions such as, “Then who would make the roads/heal the sick/educate our children?”

What the situation in Europe shows us is how quickly moronic government measures become part of the cultural landscape. Government-issued ID cards in France are now perfectly accepted as normal. In the UK the National Health Service, the seventh largest employer in the world, is practically a national institution that enjoys an almost religious level of faith and devotion. Even in the midst of the worst financial crisis in decades there continue to be demonstrations demanding free education and an expansion of welfare and public pensions.  Recent elections in France and Greece reflect the delusion that is taking hold in much of Europe, namely that growth in the middle of a recession is possible without austerity.

Thankfully, the U.S is not as culturally wedded to government as Europe. But this is not a historical inevitability. How best to convince people to desire liberty I am not entirely sure, but I do think it a more worthwhile pursuit than seeking out ‘just masters’. Politicians like Ron Paul do good work, and he in particular has done well to move libertarianism into mainstream politcs. However, we will need more than legislative agendas to quell the popular urge to be slaves. 

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  • Ken Shultz||

    It seems that many would rather entrust legislative concerns to incompetent and corrupt officials rather than risk the results of increased choice and personal responsibility.

    Liberty really is a self-esteem issue. You're much more likely to defer to politicians to make your choices for you when you think very little of yourself.

    There's also the fear factor. A lot of the important choices are made in the face of fear.

    How many people were bullied by the idea that anybody that didn't agree with using our future paychecks to bail out Wall Street, was so stupid their opinions shouldn't have mattered...

    It takes a certain amount of audacity to stand up in the face of that and claim you'd rather make choices for yourself anyway.

    It's that very audacity that makes sheep on both sides of the aisle furious at libertarians for refusing to come into their fold. It all boils down to: why can't you just do as you're told?

    I'm not advocating the stupid kind of audacity that can't be persuaded by anything. But, the solution to our political problems happens when enough people start insisting on making their own choices.

  • wareagle||

    at a more basic level, it's about deciding. Simply making a decision, right or wrong. A lot of folks are so petrified of making the wrong choice that they make no choice, or wait for someone else to do it then bitch about the decision that was made.

  • Robert||

    It's all about fear of regret at having made the wrong decision. Same sort of phenomenon as deciding not to go on a picnic and then hoping it rains, so you won't have missed out on anything good by your decision.

  • ||

    This is seen in poker all the time. Results based thinking. I folded my hand, I hope it doesn't hit so that I will feel reinforced in my decision (even though the result has nothing to do with whether or not the decision was sound).

  • Hyperion||

    Myself, I trust our government way less than I trust myself. In fact, I trust the Russians, Chinese, the Muslims, and Satan more than I trust our government.

  • RickC||

    Understand where you're coming from but I wouldn't go that far.

  • Hyperion||

    Just give incumbents a few more terms, and you will.

  • box_man||

    "What is harder to explain is why people remain so hesitant to embrace even a little more personal responsibility and freedom"

    To me it's simple. Peoples personal experiences of increased freedom usually correlates with a decline in responsibility. Las Vegas is a perfect example. They sell the idea of "freedom" to do what you want and what you actually see is usually a bunch of drunk morons acting like a_holes. So increased freedom is fun for a few days, but most don't want to live there forever. On the flipside for example, people don't recognize the regular pot user who maintains his personal and business affairs in order as an example of how increased freedom doesn't necessarily lead to decreased responsibility.

    I think the libertarian party misses out on the opportunity to improve peoples opinion of increased freedom by not also pointing out the increased responsibility that comes with it. The party appears to be in favor of having a good time, but ignoring the consequences. While technically not true, that's the message that gets out.

  • Hyperion||

    There's also the fear factor. A lot of the important choices are made in the face of fear.

    I really wish I knew how to put this into words and express it eloquently. Not being a great writer, I will try.

    I once worked with a guy that had joined the military when he was 18 and had decided to give the civilian life a go at 32. This was the first private sector job that he had ever had. We were hired on within a few days of each other. I was still in college and working nights to pay my way.

    As I became sort of work friends with the guy, you know, taking breaks toghter, occasional lunch, he started to confide in me. I thought he was very strange at first, very reserved.

    One evening he dropped a sort of bombshell on me that I will never forget. Basically he said, 'I don't know, I don't think I can make it out here. Everything is too strange. There is no one to tell me what to do, it is just not normal, I don't think I can do this'. Really, the guy was scared, really scared, I could see it in him.

    After that summer, I never saw him again, but it make a lasting impression on me, mostly to the effect of how I never wanted to be like him, needing someone to tell me what to do so that I could feel normal.

  • ||

    Sounds like how Red described being "institutionalized" in Shawshank Redemption.

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    @box_man: "The party appears to be in favor of having a good time, but ignoring the consequences." It appears that way because those outside the party who tell its story get it wrong. It isn't so much that the LP misses out on the opportunity to educate people about freedom; it misses out on the opportunity for its own voice to be heard directly, without filter or bias. The danger of nominating "electable, presentable" candidates is that they will ALSO get the LP story wrong, on those rare occasions when outsiders seek out a party representative.

  • box_man||

    Maybe so James, I don't know. Myself, I don't use drugs, don't favor gay marriage, don't favor abortion etc., yet I register and vote libertarian because I value the idea that people should be free to come to the same conclusions I do of their own free will or decide otherwise without the repressive hand of a government. That's what I find compelling about libertarian ideals and I suppose I would agree that the media does filter that message some.

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    Don't get me wrong. I think the party should definitely try to cultivate a "winning personality." But it needs to be careful to do so in a way that doesn't mislead others into thinking libertarianism is something it is not: a form of GOP conservatism, for instance. It's one thing when the outsiders mischaracterize libertarianism, either accidentally, out of well-meaning ignorance, or willfully, out of a need to to marginalize it. It is quite another for the party to nominate candidates, or invite people to join the party, who really don't understand or agree with exactly what you said: "I value the idea that people should be free to come to the same conclusions I do of their own free will or decide otherwise without the repressive hand of a government." It is the rare GOP or Demo party-jumper -- especially someone who has actually held public office -- who has such convictions, much less the courage of them. Not that they don't or can't exist. They're just rare.

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    Forgot to add this last thought: The party candidates and officers will be seen as libertarian exemplars by those who are unfamiliar with the ideology. If our exemplars offer confused, warmed-over versions of the positions or platform planks they left behind when they switched to the LP, members of the public who encounter them will likely be confused or misled, perhaps coming away with mental definitions of "libertarian" that are widely divergent from your eloquent statement above, Box_Man.

  • Robert||

    Now see, this is why the LP will always be useless: because there will always be people like the above who insist that familiarity with an ideology that he believes to be difficult to understand, such that the default assumption is non-understanding, is necessary for the standard operation of a political party. Sorry, but a party that requires that of its rank and file or even just its candidates and officers is worthless for what political parties are designed to do, i.e. politics. The great majority of people just aren't going to devote themselves to such deep study, but a political party needs widespread support from vast numbers of people to have influence. Otherwise it should not pretend to be a political party; there are plenty of other things it can be, and be more effective at once shorn of political pretentions.

  • The Heresiarch||

    Perhaps it would it be pedantic to point out that it was not Sallust writing in his own voice "Namque pauci libertatem, pars magna iustos dominos volunt," but it was rather his transcription of a letter written by Mithradates to Arsaces. Of course, to what extent such a letter existed, and what part was a fabrication (or elaboration) by Sallust, remains an open debate.

  • Flex Nasty B.I.G.||

    Who the fuck is Matthew Feeney?

    For real doe, good piece. I applaud any writing which explores the question of why morons are so set in their ways. Such folks are really maddening to talk with.

  • wareagle||

    people get set in their ways because it's easy; having your opinions challenged and taking the time to consider that you may be wrong is tough. Most folks don't like it.

    Take Tony below. He routinely comes here with straw men arguments like health care = slavery because he believes most people are too stupid to make their own decisions about a host of things. Absent the benevolent hand of govt, they might make (gasp!) the wrong choices, wrong as defined by him, of course.

    Add to that our system, dominated by the two parties, which makes it extremely difficult for additional voices to be heard. Simply getting on a state ballot is quite a feat.

  • TomD||

    I was just getting ready to make a similar comment. I find these sorts of step-back, birds-eye-view pieces far more interesting than anything else.

    This has long been a fascinating question to me:

    Institutions that are now embedded in the political and economic establishment, such as the departments of education, health, and transport, were all formed well within living memory. Americans were winning Nobel Prizes, healing the sick, and travelling on roads before these departments, yet there is not a libertarian who has not had to endure baffling questions such as, “Then who would make the roads/heal the sick/educate our children?”
  • Robert||

    I applaud substantial analysis of why people think what they think. i don't appreciate commenters categorizing large swaths of humanity as morons.

    You know what? Many of those "morons" would find you maddening to talk with, and think you were set in your ways.

  • T o n y||

    The best way to make your movement more legitimate and mainstream is to keep comparing a national healthcare program to slavery. Yep.

  • wareagle||

    you dishonest fuck. Once again, you come here hoping to whitewash reality by tossing out a scare word like "slavery" in hopes no one will remember:
    -the president lying to you - which is exactly what Obama did - about a game-changing piece of legislation
    -being forced by govt into buying an available product breaks new ground

  • T o n y||

    The use of the word "slaves" in the last sentence of this article is what prompted me. I realize that would necessitate you reading the entire article, and people with your political leanings, in my experience, don't read too good.

  • wareagle||

    take your own advice. The article did not link 'slaves' to health care, but you already know that. If anything, you confirmed the author's correct use of the term, given your slavish devotion to all things govt.

    The condescension is cute, albeit typical. Folks here would take liberals more seriously if they spared us the self-righteousness and simply put their cards on the table. But that the malicious truth about liberals is they can never tell you what they really want because even they know no one would support it.

  • Ken Shultz||

    However, we will need more than legislative agendas to quell the popular urge to be slaves.

    I think an excellent definition of a slavery would be people who don't have any power to make choices for themselves.

    People who willingly give up the power to make choices for themselves should be ashamed--no matter what you call them, Tony. ...even if your word for them is "Progressives".

    The best way to make your movement more legitimate and mainstream is to keep comparing a national healthcare program to slavery.

    He didn't compare ObamaCare to slavery--he compared people who would rather have a master make their choices for them to slaves.

  • T o n y||

    "Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work."

    Wikipedia.

    National healthcare is, rather, the most efficient known means to providing universal access to healthcare services. People all over the civilized world *choose* to enact and maintain such programs. They choose by the only known way people can choose in groups: regular democratic voting.

    If a national healthcare program is an elimination (rather than an expression) of choice, then so is national defense, a collective pooling of resources for a social end. Is national defense also slavery?

    No, slavery is defined above. It does exist today in the world. What do you think someone living under actual slavery might have to say about this comparison?

  • wareagle||

    wrong, Tony. People do not choose this; govt chooses it for them and then confirms how ill-equipped it is to manage such an enterprise. Entities like Britain's NHS are red flags to be heeded, not models to be emulated.

    National defense, unlike nationalized health care, is a Constitutionally-prescribed function of the federal govt. Most of us have bothered to read the document, even if proggies and their leader choose to dismiss it.

    Obamacare forces people to participate; if they do not, they are sanctioned. It is using the police power of the state to compel citizens to participate in something whether they want to or not. It is the absence of choice, a form of slavery unto itself.

  • T o n y||

    The state also compels people not to commit crimes, and has a history of compelling them to become armed soldiers, alongside compelling them to go to prison or pay fines for not doing what society wants it to do (like not murder or jaywalk).

    Your logic leads you to concluding that the existence of the state necessarily entails slavery. You try to wiggle out of it by treating the constitution as a magical exemption-from-logic talisman. Are you saying if the constitution had explicitly endorsed national healthcare, it would no longer not be a choice or like slavery?

  • wareagle||

    you are actually equating laws prohibiting one person from violating another's rights to govt forcing you to buy something? No one here has ever advocated for anarchy and even you know that. Even the most libertarian of people draws a line at the point where one person's actions infringe on another's right to go about his business.

    Had the Constitution called for health care to be a function of govt, then this question would be moot. Curiously, it is your side, and its insistence on forcing folks to buy something, that brings it to the fore.

  • T o n y||

    Had the Constitution called for health care to be a function of govt, then this question would be moot

    Why would that possibly be so? The constitution is not necessarily a perfect document. It is a document that allowed actual slavery at one time, after all, one so practically minded that it was felt necessary to keep people enslaved as a political compromise to ensure its own existence.

    We're forced to buy national defense and courts and all the things you think are OK despite it being a direct contradiction of your own logic. I don't endorse the individual mandate to buy private insurance, but I don't endorse many things Republicans came up with.

    Anyway I was talking about the article's reference to Britain's national healthcare. Is that system OK because it doesn't force you to buy a commercial product, but instead forces you to opt in to a national service, just like we do with armed national defense? If so, then I'd be happy to support such a system in the US right alongside you.

  • wareagle||

    jesus, tony. You keep grasping at straws in hopes of finding something that justifies the govt's forcing people to buy an existing product. Along the way, you sprinkle false arguments regarding the draft and the slave trade. It is tedious and does nothing to advance your claim that it is okay for the state to force you to buy a product.

  • T o n y||

    I have explicitly opposed the policy of the state compelling you to buy private insurance, right here. So who's making the strawman now?

    As to whether it's constitutional, I guess our precious Roberts court gets to decide that question. (You do understand the distinction between constitutional and morally laudable, don't you?) An interesting conversation, but it's not one we're both having right now.

    As I said, I'd just prefer the state compel people to pay taxes to support a national healthcare program. And I don't see why it doesn't pass your test, so let's just agree to have socialized healthcare and call it a day?

  • wareagle||

    I have explicitly opposed the policy of the state compelling you to buy private insurance, right here.

    without the compulsion, there is no Obamacare whether one is buying private insurance or kicking into whatever pool replaces it. Force remains force.

    The state, the Dems anyway, did not heed your suggestion of passing a law and going from there. They chose to force folks to buy a product that is already available, plowing new Const ground.

  • Ken Shultz||

    The state also compels people not to commit crimes, and has a history of compelling them to become armed soldiers, alongside compelling them to go to prison or pay fines for not doing what society wants it to do (like not murder or jaywalk).

    How many times have you had this shot down?

    1) What is a crime? Isn't a crime forcing yourself on someone else--against their will?

    That's the definition of rape, armed robbery, murder, fraud... Just about every crime I can think of. If the state exists for the purpose of stopping people from forcing themselves on others, then there's nothing inconsistent about libertarians opposing people using the government to force themselves on people either.

    Actually, that's the most consistent thing in the world.

    2) The government isn't supposed to decide whether people are sent to prison for crime. Rather than the government, that's done by a jury of "your peers". "Your peers", that means a jury made up of people--who are not the government.

    The state...has a history of compelling them to become armed soldiers.

    Do you imagine that libertarians generally favor conscription?

    I don't know of any libertarians that favor conscription. I'm sure they're out there, but all the libertarians I can think of opposed conscription, so why bring that up?

  • T o n y||

    But the fact is you think it's good, in certain circumstances, for the state to compel people to do things against their will. How that power is used can certainly span the spectrum from useful and freedom-enhancing to slavery. But your political bugaboos don't necessarily all fall on one end.

    Obama's healthcare plan is actually more explicit on its own terms than other countries' when it comes to the purpose of the state you articulate, preventing harm to others, in this case financial harm.

    You are better than most here at keeping consistent. Consistency-wise, there's nothing wrong with supporting only a nightwatchman state. Buy it's problematic when you call any other form of state compulsion morally evil only on the grounds that it's state compulsion to social ends you don't endorse. I think you should have to defend a policy choice one way or the other with respect to and utility of its outcome, not say only your choices are legitimate and end it there.

    And I don't know about you but when I was on a jury, I was compelled by the state to walk into a government building and do a job I didn't want to do.

  • wareagle||

    But the fact is you think it's good, in certain circumstances, for the state to compel people to do things against their will.

    when the hell was that said???? No one, which is a consistent tactic for you. Plucking things like jury duty as justifications for socialized medicine is a dubious tactic.

  • T o n y||

    Could you clarify? Do you or do you not think it's good in certain circumstances for the state to compel people to do things against their will? (Say, if it were someone's will to commit murder.)

    Jury duty was Ken's (admittedly good) point (and my response perhaps a tad to the side of glib misdirection.)

    My comparison is national defense. Of course one form of state compulsion doesn't necessarily justify another. I just think the people should be free to use public resources in whatever way they choose, assuming they have chosen to be at least educated enough to make decisions that won't end up killing us all.

  • wareagle||

    You can want, even wish, people dead or otherwise harmed all day long, but the exercise of that will infringes on another's right to life.

    Defense takes us back to the beginning. The nation was founded through war and a national defense was among the list of things the federal govt would provide.

    Had Obamacare simply been a case of establishing a health care system, another version of Med/Med, that would have been one thing. It's the requirement that we all buy in or face fines that is a problem. Defense is funded through general revenues; health care seeks to compel citizens toward supplying a new and separate revenue stream. Not the same.

  • T o n y||

    Agree with everything you wrote. Glad we can both get behind national healthcare.

    If we must, we can go through the charts and graphs showing why its superior on social outcomes and budgets. I'd be happy to get to that point instead of this pointless game of swatting each other across the face with a pocket constitution.

  • T o n y||

    But states can compel you to buy private insurance if you've taken the unrelated commercial action of buying a car and intend to use it. I don't really see much of a difference. Only that with respect to healthcare you acquire the insurable item at birth. Whether it's constitional will be decided by a few rather stupid and partisan supreme court justices, so that's less of an interesting question to me, while not totally uninteresting as a question itself and certainly interesting with respect to the political fallout.

  • wareagle||

    car insurance is to protect others in case you make a mistake. The health requirement is a function of existing.

  • T o n y||

    Health insurance is to protect others in case you make a mistake (such as the mistake of walking in front of a bus or the mistake of being genetically unfortunate). The only difference is that while isn't compelled to buy a care, everyone is compelled to have a body. And it's not even government doing the compelling in that case.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Health insurance is to protect others in case you make a mistake.

    There you go confusing health insurance with liability insurance.

    The only difference is that while isn't compelled to buy a care, everyone is compelled to have a body.

    Everyone is "compelled" to shit. What we need here is a good old mandate to buy toilets. Preferrably low-flows. We can appease the State and Mother Gaia in one stroke.

    Some bodies are built better than others. Some are better maintained than others. I see no rational cause for financially punishing the hale and strong to support the feeble and diseased like yourself.

    And it's not even government doing the compelling in that case.

    Derp, you say?

  • wareagle||

    I didn't claim being behind it; I oppose it. But had it just been a simple vote without the mandate, then it's a vote I lose. The SC may well reduce it to that. My argument will remain that providing health care to the masses is not a function of govt and that govt would manage it just as poorly as it has most other things.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    preventing harm to others, in this case financial harm.

    Who do you sue when you break your own leg?

  • Ken Shultz||

    And I don't know about you but when I was on a jury, I was compelled by the state to walk into a government building and do a job I didn't want to do.

    There may be certain things that are absolutely essential to a free society--to a society that protects people's individual rights from both criminals and false accusations.

    Maybe we need jurors. Certainly, the cops need to be able to hold suspects against their will while they gather evidence to see if someone should be charged with a crime. Maybe it's impossible for the state to protect people's individual rights if it can't compel witnesses to appear in court by way of a subpoena.

    But if those compulsory things are necessary in order to protect our right to make choices for ourselves (and the violation of that right is how I defined "crime"), then none of those compulsory things contradict the libertarian suggestion that we should be free to make choices for ourselves.

    Certainly, needing jurors to decide whether someone is guilty of a crime doesn't justify President Obama using the government to force us to buy insurance--which is what you seemed to be suggesting.

  • Ken Shultz||

    In other words, if you can prove that Obama's individual mandate is absolutely essential to the functioning of a free society--in that it protects our right to make choices for ourselves--then I'll be really interested in your argument.

  • T o n y||

    I think the Republican universal healthcare plan, like all Republican plans, is a bad idea. I'd prefer Obama were able to pass a real plan.

  • Robert||

    I can't find a link to the actual poll, only to a summary statement about it. And from that summary statement I can't conclude a thing, other than that poll takers gotta have something to write about.

    Otherwise I don't see much evidence of the premise. Legal choices have greatly increased across the USA and even more locally over my lifetime, and I haven't seen any popular revolt over the increased freedom, nor do I have any sense that there's been a great shift in most people's thinking on the subject recently. People like having choices; you even hear advertisers making that point a lot.

    The only substantial counterpoint I can think of to that point is that there was some grousing, but less and less over the years, about how complicated getting phones and telephone service had become. Meanwhile every time there's an edict running against the general trend toward increase in freedom -- such as airport searches and restrictions on ephedrine sales, I never hear of people saying these are a positive good, only complaining about them and at worst simply not complaining. Nobody cheers them, they're always taken as bad news.

  • Robert||

    BTW, keep in mind that when I was a child, Sudafed was a prescription-only drug. Not only that, but no generic or competing brands were licensed.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    That's generally true, but there a number of setbacks too.

    Among them:

    The soft prohibition of tobacco.

    The neo-temperance movement towards alcohol.

    General overcriminalization, John Edwards trial for example.

    The militarization of police forces with escalating civilian casualties.

    Ever increasing regulation of business activity.

  • Robert||

    Are civilian casualties actually escalating in encounters with police? Or is your att'n just focused there? I'd like to see some stats.

    I don't believe the regul'n of business activity is "ever increasing". The regs change, but they don't always increase.

    I remember when home schooling was generally illegal in most of the USA, and when licensing of broadcast and non-broadcast wireless transmitting was much stricter. Simple marijuana possession was a felony in many states, and homosexual intercourse and even many forms of heterosexual intercourse were at least misdemeanors. Porn was generally illegal rather than presumptively legal. Broadcasting was subject to the Fairness Doctrine, and cable TV was heavily restricted and not allowed in most places. There were gambling casinos in Las Vegas, period, and very few legal gambling options generally. Heck, you couldn't even own gold bullion! Worst of all, males were subject to a military draft.

    And the top federal income tax bracket's rate was an astounding 70%.

  • Robert||

    As to this "neo-temperance movement" you've mentioned, it doesn't seem to be having much effect. Liquor sales are legal more hours and more places than ever, and has been privatized in many states were there had been state stores. I haven't heard of any state where they're doing the opposite, stat-izing liquor stores. Even when it comes to private organiz'ns, broadcasters are no longer adhering to a voluntary ban on advertising of distilled spirits.

  • Robert||

    I forgot to mention the federal legaliz'n of home brewing, untaxed even. And you can even buy absinthe.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Thank you master! You sure are a kind master. I didnt realize how loose my bindings were.

  • Robert||

    What would i get out of binding you, anyway? You gonna do something for me?

  • Paul.||

    This article was written with the kind of optimism I can get behind! Biden 2016!

  • Huck||

    For the young, liberty should be an easy sell. But I can understand why folks beyond a certain age might want to trust the government more than themselves. If they've established a certain life for themselves: let's say this person is 45 years old, a school teacher, and has started to develop a few health problems. He's never heard of libertarianism before and has been a democrat all his life. The only alternative to his views he's been aware of are of the Republican kind, but that's not a real alternative as they just want some different stuff...as well as some of the same stuff, but don't want people at the top to pay as much in taxes. That doesn't seem fair to him. And then one day he encounters libertarianism, which says, "Hey, if you follow the logic of it, it really would be a better deal - more prosperity and freedom." But it's too late for him. He's locked in to the system and he fears more of what he might lose in the transition, entitlements he would have to give up, his health benefits, ss, maybe even his job.

  • Libertarian||

    I'm surprised that the only use of the word "risk" here is by Feeney, but I think that's a core problem. Our society has become extremely risk-averse over the past decades. Haven't studies shown that people would rather get punished twice right away than get punished once for sure with only the possibility of getting punished again later? People seem to be saying, "sure, things are bad, but they could worse if we actually change things." You don't have to look further than the current GOP candidate to see how much in love with the status quo people are. What surprises me is that candidates even dare to use the word "change" in their speeches.

  • Robert||

    Where's the evidence that society has become more risk-averse in recent decades? All sorts of highly speculative investment instruments have been invented, and casinos have burgeoned alongside a surge in "extreme" sports.

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