3 Cheers for Coercive Paternalism - Or, Why Rich, Elected Officials Really are Better than You.

Writing in The New York Times, Bowdoin College philosopher Sarah Conly nods toward the recently suspended New York City soda ban and argues:

Is it always a mistake when someone does something imprudent, when, in this case, a person chooses to chug 32 ounces of soda? No. For some people, that’s the right choice. They don’t care that much about their health, or they won’t drink too many big sodas, or they just really love having a lot of soda at once.

But laws have to be sensitive to the needs of the majority. That doesn’t mean laws should trample the rights of the minority, but that public benefit is a legitimate concern, even when that may inconvenience some.

Conly rebuts John Stuart Mill's presumption toward maximum freedom in one's personal sphere, noting that Mill's simplistic understanding of autonomy has been complicated by deeper understandings of how the human mind works. Mill, says Conly, didn't know what we know now, that our minds are structured to keep us from making the "right" choice. She concludes:

In the old days we used to blame people for acting imprudently, and say that since their bad choices were their own fault, they deserved to suffer the consequences. Now we see that these errors aren’t a function of bad character, but of our shared cognitive inheritance. The proper reaction is not blame, but an impulse to help one another.

That’s what the government is supposed to do, help us get where we want to go. It’s not always worth it to intervene, but sometimes, where the costs are small and the benefit is large, it is. That’s why we have prescriptions for medicine. And that’s why, as irritating as it may initially feel, the soda regulation is a good idea. It’s hard to give up the idea of ourselves as completely rational. We feel as if we lose some dignity. But that’s the way it is, and there’s no dignity in clinging to an illusion.

Read the whole thing here.

The essay is titled "Three Cheers for the Nanny State," and it delivers.

But there are so many holes in Conly's case, you've got to wonder if she's gonna make it past the assistant prof level. For starters, she invokes a "public benefit" without even bothering to specify what that might be, even as she assents to a cost-benefit analysis for public policy (go ahead, she says, "where the costs are small and the benefit is large").

She simply assumes the vague connections put forward by Mike Bloomberg and others that somehow soda drinking is a meaningful cause of people becoming overweight and that being overweight increases health costs (let's leave aside for the moment whether the size of your ass is a proper concern of local government). Neither of these is true. As Jacob Sullum has pointed out, the research cited to make a causal connection between soda and heftiness is softer than a push-cart knish. And while being overweight may not sit well with the solons of skinny jeans, it's not a health risk per se either. If the basis for a particular problem isn't established, then you don't even have to get to the point where you question whether the costs outweigh the benefits.

Her dismissal of John Stuart Mill smacks of building a straw man as well. Mill's "harm principle" - the idea that as long as your actions don't directly hurt others, you should be free to wreck your own life - doesn't depend on any notion of "ourselves as completely rational." It's a much softer conception than that. Conly is right that our general understanding of the human mind has developed greatly from the 19th century. Indeed, it's gone all the way back to Hume's understanding that reason is a slave to the passions (broadly speaking, that the brain is a sloppy computer that is marinated in all sorts of fluid that keeps us from being pure Vulcans). But shouldn't that recognition also work to limit government actions as well as those of individuals? The soda ban, for instance, doesn't spring from the spirit of the people or of the era but from a handful of highly placed individuals whose rational faculties are just as brokered as the most soda-enslaved among us. If the shlub on the street can't be trusted to run his own life due to evolutionary limits placed on his decision-making apparatus, why would Mike Bloomberg be any different?

Perhaps more important in this sort of argument, Conly is - consciously or not - smuggling in a highly tendentious sense of role of government - it's supposed to "help us get where we want to go." That's as peculiar an interpretation of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" as you'll ever read, and it's certainly one that stands opposed to the safeguards put in place to limit government and maintain the rights of minorities. Who's we, kemo sabe?

Which leads me to two final quick points: First, it's worth looking at the power dynamics of the soda ban, in which a billionaire mayor - the 7th richest American! - is acting like an Albanian dictator. Rather than outlawing pets or certain forms of music, it's easy to imagine Bloomberg simply deciding that goddamnit, I don't want to see another fatso drinking a Big Gulp ever again - make it happen! This goes beyond micro-management in a corporate context to a deranged focus on tiny details that no elected official should give a shit about. Second, the issue of soda sizes is so bizarre and irrelevant to almost anything that matters in this vale of tears, you've got to wonder what function such a gesture the soda ban serves. Mike Bloomberg presides over a city that has so many first-order problems and issues to deal with - a stop-and-frisk policy that targeted minorities? pension liabilities up the ying-yang? an inability to deliver on post-disaster redevelopment? the list goes on - you can be forgiven that the soda ban is like some sort of happy place he can go when the real world is too much to bear.

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  • ||

    Do we really need to tear this idiot apart again?

  • John||

    Yes. She is a special idiot worthy of special and repeated scorn.

  • Jerryskids||

    It’s hard to give up the idea of ourselves as completely rational. We feel as if we lose some dignity. But that’s the way it is, and there’s no dignity in clinging to an illusion.

    It sounds to me as if she admits that she is not rational. Yet, despite the fact that she knows she is not rational, she thinks it rational for her to prescribe for others how to behave rationally. That's a whole big ball of messed up right there.

  • anarch||

    Whom do I have to legislate against in order to get a hat-tip around here?

  • Restoras||

    Forget it. If they give out one hat-tip the commentariat will clamor for more, and you know where that leads.

  • Way Of The Crane||

    If they give out one hat-tip the commentariat will clamor for more, and you know where that leads.

    Free research for H&R?

    A plethora of links to Daily Mail stories?

    Nick Gillespie in the unemployment line?

  • Wind Rider||

    Or he has to show at the tipster's houses to clean the bathrooms.

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    If the shlub on the street can't be trusted to run his own life due to evolutionary limits placed on his decision-making apparatus, why would Mike Bloomberg be any different?

    This is the first flaw that jumped out at me in her argument. If I cannot be trusted to make my own decisions because I'm not rational, what the hell is rational about delegating those decisions to another irrational person?

  • anarch||

    The wise, benevolent tyranny of the majority.

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    I know she would want to answer my question with, "We're better than you are."

  • Pro Libertate||

    Bastiat addressed this in The Law:

    The claims of these organizers of humanity raise another question which I have often asked them and which, so far as I know, they have never answered: If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind? The organizers maintain that society, when left undirected, rushes headlong to its inevitable destruction because the instincts of the people are so perverse. The legislators claim to stop this suicidal course and to give it a saner direction. Apparently, then, the legislators and the organizers have received from Heaven an intelligence and virtue that place them beyond and above mankind; if so, let them show their titles to this superiority.

    They would be the shepherds over us, their sheep. Certainly such an arrangement presupposes that they are naturally superior to the rest of us. And certainly we are fully justified in demanding from the legislators and organizers proof of this natural superiority.
  • sarcasmic||

    Might makes right.

    /Tony

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's a fair question--why are these people better at making decisions that we are? Are they more moral? More ethical? More able? More intelligent? I sure don't see any evidence of that, even accepting that many Americans are either doofuses or just don't pay attention.

  • sarcasmic||

    It's not necessarily that they are better decision makers than the rest of us. It's that they can back up their decisions with organized violence. Might makes right.

  • Lord Humungus||

    that's one thing I never understood myself - hell, working in a medium-sized corporation and seeing the effects of bad management decisions - do people really want that multiplied at a national level? Apparently so.

  • sarcasmic||

    Corporate management cannot command people to do great violence. That's why it's OK to criticize the evil corporations and the shitty decisions that their managers make.

    Our masters in government can command people to do great violence. For that reason their decisions are all good and wonderful and above criticism.

    Might makes right.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I'm better situated to make decisions about my life and, of course, I feel the pain of bad decisions and reap the rewards of good ones. Central authorities, especially the more tyrannical they become, are totally isolated from the repercussions of their poor decisions.

    In theory, voters would bounce ineffective puppetmasters, but, as we can see, that process doesn't work, except maybe in extreme crises, and even when it does happen, it's imprecise at best.

  • sarcasmic||

    Central authorities, especially the more tyrannical they become, are totally isolated from the repercussions of their poor decisions.

    Which is precisely why they should be the ones making the decisions. They're not biased in any way and can look at things objectively. This allows them to make the tough decisions that biased people may not like, and they have the ability to use organized violence to back it up.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's an amazingly bad way to run things. It's like spending money that isn't yours--of course you aren't going to be careful with it.

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    In theory, voters would bounce ineffective puppetmasters, but, as we can see, that process doesn't work, except maybe in extreme crises, and even when it does happen, it's imprecise at best.

    And even if it did occasionally happen effectively, it only happens at most every two years, and sometimes longer. A politician can do a lot of damage in two years.

    Also, in a representative democracy/republic/whatever, a politician from Idaho has no incentive to care about policies that might harm Florida. So senators from Massachusetts and California can support $22 minimum wages and gun bans and will never have to pay for their unpopular or harmful stances.

  • anarch||

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    These people are superior to us peasants, because they HAVE to run everything. They WANT TO. And if we won't as they say, their will hold their breaths and drum their little heels on the floor until we give in.

    They are morally the same as the Sumerian High Priests, the European Aristocrats, the Southern Plantation Owners, and all similar vermin.

  • some guy||

    Junk in = junk out.

    Many, perhaps most, people act in their own irrational self-interest. At any given moment they will do what they believe is best for them. Their representatives will naturally be those who are most able to win the support of irrational people. They aren't more ethical, able, moral or intelligent. They are more charismatic. And charisma has always been a terrible predictor of ability.

  • deified||

    Y'know, I'd be willing to consider the idea that Mike Bloomberg is of above average intelligence and even ethics.

    He has a pretty good answer to the question If you're so smart, why aren't you rich? (He is.)

    And he seems to donate some to certain charities.

    But, for chrissakes, it really turns me into a fucking deontologist when he pulls this bullying crap. There's a really good argument to be made that chugging 32oz of soda is a form of stupid self-abuse.

    So, you know what you do? You make the fucking argument.

    It's not so difficult to behave like a civilized person in a free society. It's really not.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    All that matters is that someone gets put in charge so that one general policy plan can go forward. It doesn't really matter what that is. Can't have a bunch of people doing their own thing, going against the grain, or nothing would ever get done.

  • Jerryskids||

    It's just so messy, so disorganized, so sloppy letting everybody do their own thing. How the hell could central planning not be more efficient?

    Look at my situation - when I want bread I have a hundred different places offering me hundreds of different products and prices. If I want booze, there's only one place to go and the prices are fixed. Isn't the booze market so much tidier than the bread market?

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    History has shown that an efficient State is an authentic menace to life and limb.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    History has shown that an efficient State is an authentic menace to life and limb.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Sorry about the double-post. Not sure how that happened.

  • JD the elder||

    History has shown that an efficient squirrel is an authentic menace to H&R posts.

  • some guy||

    Unless you want booze on Sunday. On Sunday there is no booze market.

  • Suellington||

    Bastiat was the man. It would be nice if college students were reading more of him and less of Marx.

  • SumpTump||

    Sounds like a pretty solid plan to me dude, I like it.

    www.GoinAnon.da.bz

  • ||

    It's amazing, the lengths these people will go to to try to gild FUCK YOU THAT'S WHY and FOR YOUR OWN GOOD. It's kind of like when I beat up a woman and then I have to find validation for my actions in some bullshit pick-up artist manual to keep myself from feeling bad about it.

  • ||

    Bloomberg is just giving NYC negs.

  • Virginian||

    Hahahahahahahah

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    The more you treat women like shit, the more they are attracted to you. I read that in a book that one of the scholarship kids lent me.

  • Randian||

    The Roissification of Governance.

  • ||

    How'd they get a picture of me on the bus?

  • JW||

    Hey fuckhead, "That’s what the government is supposed to do, help us get where we want to go." is right there in the Constitution. It's Amendment 47 or something.

  • Brutus||

    And the best part: The government gets to tell us where we want to go, too!

  • John||

    This woman is a piece of work. She is in favor of forced population control as well. Her current project

    In One, I argue that opposition to population regulation is based on a number of mistakes: that the right to have a family doesn’t entail the right to have as many children as you may want; that the right to control one’s body is conditional on how much harm you are doing to others; and that nothing in population regulation entails that those who break the law can be forced to have abortions, or subject to any sort of punishment that is horrific. If population growth is sufficiently dangerous, it is fair for us to impose restrictions on how many children we can give birth to.

    http://www.bowdoin.edu/faculty/s/sconly/

    Why is it that professional ethicists are often the most immoral and murderous people in any faculty lounge?

  • ||

    Hitler's greatest crime was to make eugenics unfashionable for a while.

  • sarcasmic||

    All he did was take the concept to its logical conclusion.

  • Zeb||

    I'm not sure his was an entirely logical conclusion. Though the actual logical conclusion wouldn't be much better.

  • sarcasmic||

    How else can central planners correct the mistakes of society allowing undesirables to reproduce except by killing them?

  • Zeb||

    The illogic I was thinking of is deciding that whole ethnic groups are "undesirables". Killing Jews and Gypsies and others wasn't going to do shit to help create a master race.

  • sarcasmic||

    It's wasn't just about creating a master race. It was about purging the gene pool of those who are inferior. The Supreme Court sanctioned forced sterilization in this country for decades. All he did was take it a step further from sterilization to death.

    Don't doubt for a second that the left would happily do it again, except they would be killing in the name of tolerance by exterminating all intolerant persons who disagrees with them politically.

  • Virginian||

    Don't forget the hoarders, wreckers, and kulaks.

  • Zeb||

    It was about purging the gene pool of those who are inferior.

    Sure, but if that's what you wanted to do it's still not logical to go after whole ethnic groups. Maybe I'm presuming a better knowledge of inheritance and genetics than they had. Anyway, it doesn't matter. They;re all evil fucks.

  • Virginian||

    Racism is illogical. You know what's funny? Arguing with the "scientific" racists about how since Asians outperform whites on IQ tests and overall have better social pathology numbers, we should really all leave this country to them because they're obviously the superior race.

    Racism is a way for some moron loser who happens to be white to look down on people like Ben Carson, or Hernando de Soto. Particularly as a Southern institution, it's a way for white people who lived in filthy squalor and poverty in rundown shacks to feel superior to black people who lived in filthy squalor and poverty in rundown shacks.

  • ||

    So how does that now explain the racists like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton?

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Holy crap!

  • sarcasmic||

    I once felt something similar. I mean, you've got all these stupid people having kids. Maybe people should have to get a license before being allowed to reproduce. Then when I unlearned how to emote and learned how to think, I took the next step and asked myself who would make that decision. That ended it right there.

  • wareagle||

    I would settle for people being required to pay for raising the kids they have rather than the welfare state that incentivizes breeding for its own sake.

    Instead of trying to control everyone else, might be nice for folks to promote liberty and self-reliance. Of course, doing that would mean a huge loss of power for the statist wing along with the ickiness of having to find real jobs.

  • Zeb||

    I wonder if this woman is in favor of child tax credits and such?

  • Restoras||

    You dummy, if we bred the stoopid out of the jeans pool who would we get for gubmint offishalz!!

  • CatoTheElder||

    The problem is that the State with full popular support indemnifies people for the adverse consequences of bad choices, including the consequences of having children without the ability to pay for their upbringing. Eliminate welfare and various tax deductions and credits related to dependent children, and the problem -- if there is one -- resolves itself.

  • Restoras||

    Nice kayak you got their. I wonder if she has considered the resources that were used in the prodcution of that kayak and how they might be better apportioned.

    I love how jackasses like this think that because they espouse such rules they will be immune from them when enacted.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    This is why individual freedom is important, Professor. To defend ourselves against eugenicist would-be tyrants like yourself.

  • Randian||

    You know, I am trying to figure out how population control does not necessarily lead to forced abortions.

    I mean, it just has to. Otherwise there is no effective enforcement mechanism.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Because they have pure hearts. So their policies would never have "unintended" consequences.

  • some guy||

    It could lead to forced sterilizations first.

  • ||

    the right to control one’s body is conditional

    I wonder how that goes over with the NOW audience.

    Wait, don't tell me they're completely unprincipled as well!

  • wareagle||

    and you have to wonder what the conditions where control would be forfeited are. If said control is conditional, then conditional on what?

  • Tony||

    If population growth is sufficiently dangerous...

    So you're in favor of choosing the outcomes of dangerous population growth over the outcomes of population regulation. Fine. Doesn't make you any more moral or less murderous.

  • some guy||

    You're right Tony. She's begging the question. Good catch.

  • DanD||

    Awwww, the little guy's learning new things finally. Isn't that sweet? We're so proud of you, Tony!

  • Virginian||

    Derp derp derp derp derp

  • Knutsack||

    What is "sufficiently dangerous"?

  • MJGreen||

    Hey, so long as "we" are doing it to "us," what's the problem?

  • Restoras||

    noting that Mill's simplistic understanding of autonomy has been complicated by deeper understandings of how the human mind works

    The human mind, while unfathomably complex, is also hard wired for just a couple of things; survival and passing on genetic material. So, the choice of consuming lots of fat and sugar is arguably the proper choice for ensuring survival since large quantities of calories can be consumed in a shorter period of time than could be done so if/when humans had to either kill/find thier food or grow it, both activities which also required the expenditure of vast amounts of calories and making survival a rather tenous proposition.

    I also can't help but wonder - it wasn't really that long ago when Rubenesque figures/physiques were considered the most attractive since it was a sign of wealth and prosperity, and signalled one as a member of the elite of society. Now that those kinds of physiques can be had by anyone if they desire the elites of society now wish to deprive the hoi polloi of their new status.

  • John||

    It used to be that bigger figures were lorded over everyone by the elites because they were a sign that they could afford a good diet. Now a good diet is obtainable by everyone so the elites lord being thin. Only the elites can afford the exercise and effort needed to stay thin. And being thin has the added bonus of often being the result of genes. So it is an indication of good breeding and superior moral status.

  • AuH20||

    The skinny ass hipster look is definitely the product of insanely high metabolism.

    I have friends like that. They never gain much muscle, but they eat like 5 cheeseburgers a day and are super skinny.

  • Randian||

    Yeah that's all great when you're 22. Just wait.

  • ||

    It's the product of never doing any damn thing with their bodies and eating a horrible diet their whole lives, is what it is. Tell your pussy friends to squat more.

  • wareagle||

    lots of were able to overeat without weight gain, even with a minimum of exercise. Then the calendar turned and every one of those burgers became easier to spot. Add the deadlift to squatting and they might be less annoying.

  • ||

    It's true, there is an inverse correlation between deadlift ability and cuntiness.

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    Hey Warty, what do you think about GOMAD?

  • ||

    If you're skinny, it will make you no longer skinny. Be prepared to pay the Porcelain Price.

  • Randian||

    I can't even begin to think what a terrible idea that is.

  • ||

    For 6-foot, 140 pound teenage boys, it's a great idea. For 5'8", 250-pound 40 year old middle managers, it's a less great idea.

  • deified||

    Whoa, that's eery.

    I'm 6'0", 142 lbs., and 33y.o.

    What should I do?

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    6' 2", 157 in January. I've been doing Starting Strength and averaging about 5000 calories a day, and now I'm at 170. I was a little higher but I got really sick and lost some progress.

    Anyway, eating good food, more than is comfortable, plus weight training and plenty of sleep has been working for me.

    Ice cream and brisket is better for guys like us than protein shakes and chicken breast.

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    For the record, I haven't put on much body fat, if any. I'm down a notch in my belt, and my skinny hipster jeans and undersized shirts don't fit anymore because my thighs and shoulders are too full of awesome.

    The downsides are the crapping all the time and not sleeping or concentrating as well as I did in ketosis.

  • sgs||

    Yes John, nice job repeating exactly what Restoras said...?

  • R C Dean||

    Hume's harm principle is completely indifferent to whether you harm yourself, so this budding totalitarian's "rebuttal" that sometimes we are wrong and do harm ourselves is completely inapposite.

    You aren't free unless you are free to be wrong.

    If she wants to invoke our better understanding of how people's minds work (a point I would not necessarily concede), then she also has to deal with our better understanding of how large groups work, namely, public choice, distributed information, etc.

  • Counterfly||

    But that would lead away from her pre-conceived conclusion, not towards it.

    Why do you hate women, RC.

  • An0nB0t||

    Have you ever met a woman, CF? My last two dozen dates hadn't even heard of Jeff Tucker.

  • Jordan||

    I take it that giant brown stain on that person's ass is representative of Sarah Conley and Mikhail Bloombergovich.

  • Way Of The Crane||

    Who's we, kemo sabe?

    I'm guessing Elizabeth Warren and the others left leaning members of the Senate and faculty at Harvard.

  • np||

    Be they philosophers or not, there is no reasoning with statists and control freaks. She herself can't even resolve how "sensitive to the needs of the majority" while preserving the rights of the minority. But fuck, even the needs of the majority are defined by top men in her world.

  • Lord Humungus||

    whatever happened to leave me the fuck alone?

  • Counterfly||

    We, as a society, are more responsible for the way you are, and the poor choices you make, than you are yourself.

    Thus, since we have unfortunately formed you into this hurtful form, it is our responsibility to do as much as we can to stop you from hurting yourself.

  • Jerryskids||

    You mean 'you didn't make that'?

  • sarcasmic||

    Externalities.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    "Mill, says Conly, didn't know what we know now, that our minds are structured to keep us from making the "right" choice."

    Bitch.

  • ||

    Yeah, but not her mind. Her's is perfect.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    that our minds are structured to keep us from making the "right" choice."

    Proof of this?

  • some guy||

    Is she not aware of the ongoing exponential improvement in mankind's quality of life?

  • MJGreen||

    Sure, people are living into their 80s and 90s, but quite a lot of those people are fat! Humanity has never faced such a crisis!

  • Counterfly||

    Now we see that these errors aren’t a function of bad character, but of our shared cognitive inheritance.

    Well there's your problem, right there. /Adam Savage

  • Zeb||

    In the old days we used to blame people for acting imprudently, and say that since their bad choices were their own fault, they deserved to suffer the consequences. Now we see that these errors aren’t a function of bad character, but of our shared cognitive inheritance.

    No, that's what bad character, or at least poor self control is. Everything we do is a function of our shared cognitive inheritance.

  • Professional Target||

    As I read Ms. Conly's statement, I was helpless when I became obese, so I had no choice but to remain obese. I wonder what went wrong and I lost all that weight?

  • some guy||

    Yeah, every time an alcoholic gets sober or a transient settles down this woman is proven wrong.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    But to her and her ilk, the only way an alcoholic sobers up is through government intervention i.e. jail, court mandated AA, CDC, HHS, etc. Transients only settle down because of Section 8, low-income housing, government job training, etc.

  • some guy||

    So, she has no experience with the real world. Imagine that...

  • John||

    The entire history of benevolent social engineering is filled with death and enslavement. African slavery was nothing but paternalism. The Europeans who enslaved the Africans really thought they were bringing them up from a lower life. But that history is always forgotten. The nannies never have to explain themselves no matter how many people they kill.

  • Zeb||

    The Europeans who enslaved the Africans really thought they were bringing them up from a lower life

    That always seemed like more of an after the fact justification. They were doin git to make money.

  • John||

    That always seemed like more of an after the fact justification

    Hardly. They honestly believed in the white man's burden, which is all this woman is advocating.

  • Zeb||

    I'd still say the people doing the actual slave trading were just trying to make money. Maybe the intellectuals of the time justified it that way.

  • Randian||

    Well, yeah, but this is the same thing: a post-hoc rationalization for a naked power grab.

  • CatoTheElder||

    Randian, you got that right:

    THIS IS THE SAME THING.

    Conly's argument for oppressing others is almost identical to that of the European apologists for African slavery. The shared cognitive inheritance of black Africans, in their view, were such that they needed the benevolent guidance of their betters.

    The only difference between Conly and slavery advocates is that Conly wants to oppress the vast majority of all humanity whereas slavery advocates directed their attention to black Africans.

  • CatoTheElder||

    were=was

  • Zeb||

    I still think that the modern paternalists have better intentions than slave traders, or those who sought to justify slavery. But good intentions count for jack shit if the results are evil, so close enough.

  • Jerryskids||

    "Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of
    authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was
    made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to
    govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters."

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    That always seemed like more of an after the fact justification. They were doin git to make money.

    This, plus it was a rationalization so they could continue to keep enslaving them. If someone was "less than human" it was acceptable to own them, similar to a horse or a plow.

  • John||

    All paternalism eventually devolves into a rationalization for our worst instincts.

  • ||

    "Devolves into"?

  • Randian||

    I am afraid that ship has sailed.

  • ||

    I don't know if we have any worse instincts than paternalism. Maybe rape.

  • John||

    At least the rapist doesn't pretend he is doing his victim a favor.

  • Brett L||

    At least the rapist doesn't pretend he is doing his victim a favor.

    "That bitch totally wanted it."

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "all the way back to Hume's understanding that reason is a slave to the passions (broadly speaking, that the brain is a sloppy computer that is marinated in all sorts of fluid that keeps us from being pure Vulcans)."

    Um, I think that this sort of insight extends just a little bit before Hume. There was this guy called St. Augustine who talked about concupiscence and the limits on human free will. And there was this guy called St. Paul who said: "For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it." (Romans 7:19-20) (NIV).

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    There was this guy called St. Augustine who talked about concupiscence and the limits on human free will. And there was this guy called St. Paul...

    And who has ever heard of these two, much less read them?

  • Randian||

    That stuff's like, 100 years old man.

  • John||

    They are almost as old as the Constitution.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    They are almost as old as the Constitution.

    I would say a bit older, and not even in English.

  • John||

    Sorry. Forgot the sarcasm tag.

  • MJGreen||

    That's nice, but Hume's the man. If you can ever give credit to Hume, you must do so.

    Respect the fat Scotsman.

  • $park¥||

    I guess maybe she missed the part where Mill said it would be an absolutely bad idea to put all of the most intelligent people into the government.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    The Simpsons dramatized Mill's thesis in the episode where Mayor Quimby fled the city, leaving the municipal government in the hands of the local intellectuals.

  • Brett L||

    Couldn't be any worse than letting a pack of sociopaths run it.

  • ||

    Well, the smart sociopaths anyway.

  • Capt Ace Rimmer||

    Clicked on the link, saw "Three Cheers for the Nanny State" and vomited.

  • dalewalt||

    Fine, Conly. If you get to decide how much soda I can purchase/drink at one time, then I get to decide how many/when babies come out of your c*nt!

  • Andrew S.||

    Look upthread. That wouldn't work to sway her. She's a eugenecist She believes in population control for the good of humanity.

  • ||

    population control "regulation"

    you forgot the Newspeak

  • dalewalt||

    Yeah, I saw the upthread comment after I posted this.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I think it's pretty obvious Bloomberg made a bet that he could ban any random thing and asked his buddies to toss out random suggestions and Big Gulps is where they landed.

  • ||

    People like this should be encouraged as much as possible.

    Progressives need to be esposed as the bien-pensant bootlicketrs of authority that they are. It will help to ensure that young people are driven as far away from them as possible.

    It's just never, ever, going to be hip in any universe to advocate less freedom and praise central control, especially of things as silly as the size of a soda.

    When your enemies start openly saying that they are "Against Autonomy" that's when you hand them more rope.

  • John||

    It's just never, ever, going to be hip in any universe to advocate less freedom and praise central control, especially of things as silly as the size of a soda.

    1930s Germany would disagree. The Nazis advocated for just that and had their brands of silly nonsense. And all of the right thinking people, especially the young and the hip ate it up.

  • Lord Humungus||

    that's why I call Tony - and his ilk - fascists. Because that's what they are.

  • Finrod||

    Not just Germany. Look at the 2012 election and ObamaCare (hello central control). The under-30 crowd swallowed it hook, line and sinker. The over-30 crowd voted for Romney 49-48.

  • JD the elder||

    I wonder if when the Nazis started banning "undesirable" art, some of the "progressives" applauded it, or at least sneered at anyone who had a problem with it? "Oh, like not being able to listen to a few atonal jazz pieces is a big human rights issue."

    Then again, the Nazis were mostly attacking high culture, which tends to draw an intellectual defense, as opposed to attacking popular culture, which gets all the intellectuals on your side.

  • Randian||

    It's just never, ever, going to be hip in any universe to advocate less freedom and praise central control, especially of things as silly as the size of a soda.

    I can't tell if you're serious right now.

    Look at what happened in the past election. The Administration manufactured a War on Women over free birth control.

    The leftists still blame Reagan for "killing" AIDS patients because he didn't give them free stuff.

  • ||

    Yeah, but they framed it as "evil employers trying to control what women do with their bodies!".
    Not "Yay, forcing people to violate their religious beliefs!"

    When they stop framing issues as pro-freedom and start openly saying that freedom is bad, give them more rope.

  • ||

    Yeah, but they framed it as "evil employers trying to control what women do with their bodies!".

    That was part of it. The other part was the belief that they were bad for not doing what they were told and thus needed to capitulate or give up and let good, obedient groups take up the slack.

    It was framed as controlling the bad people to free the good people. It's the old left-liberal idea that we can't be free unless everyone is coerced into doing things the "right" way. It's the paradox of control as a means to "freedom", with freedom meaning "you give me what I want". It's always "control for thee, but not for me".

  • Anonymous Coward||

    It's just never, ever, going to be hip in any universe to advocate less freedom and praise central control, especially of things as silly as the size of a soda.

    That's why you don't call it "control." You call it stability, certainty, security, or safety.

  • ||

    I like "freedom from fear", myself. It's got such a nice Orwellian ring to it.

    How can you be in favor of fear? How can you be against freedom?

  • R C Dean||

    It's just never, ever, going to be hip in any universe to advocate less freedom and praise central control, especially of things as silly as the size of a soda.

    It already is, Hazel, as long as it can be dressed up as an attack on Rich White Men and their evil schemes for mindraping and profiting from the Helpless Masses.

  • ||

    Right, they have to rationalize it as "We're really FREEING YOU from the MIND CONTROL of the ADVERTISERS! We're not actually controlling you! This is freedom really!"

    Except for this chick who is stupid enough to say outright that you're too dumb (irrational) to make your own choices.

    I mean, we know that's what they really think. It's just that they usually don't say it out loud.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    SIUYA, honey.

  • John||

    http://www.breitbart.com/Big-G.....s-Atlantis

    Poor people cant have their 32 oz soda. But for the enlightened, it is Spring Break Baby!!

  • Randian||

    You can take that even further within Bloomberg's own sphere. Were Starbuck's beverages subject to the ban? how about a 32 oz. craft beer? A glass of wine?

    No, of course not. The same way that high-end restaurants don't have to put calories on their menus but Mickey D's does.

  • sarcasmic||

    Um. I thought the reason why high-end restaurants don't have to put calorie counts on menus was because they aren't chains. If some high-end restaurant opened up some arbitrary number of locations, wouldn't they have to post calorie counts?

  • robc||

    But the reason for the non-chain exception is that those are the high end restaurants.

  • sarcasmic||

    I thought it was because Joe's Diner couldn't afford it.

  • robc||

    "They" dont care about Joe's Diner.

  • sarcasmic||

    Stated vs actual. Got it.

  • Zeb||

    I think it's more that they do what they can get away with.

  • ||

    Easy - Ruth's Cris is a high-end chain. Someone needs to go in there and see if the calories are on the menu. I'll be waiting at Outback.

  • dalewalt||

    There's a Ruth's Chris in the building where I work... but, uh, I can't afford it; my money is tied up in paying for others' birth control pills.

  • John||

    That is the most appalling part. Have you ever been to a Capitol Grill? I can't imagine having a full three course meal there by myself. It would have to be close to ten thousand calories. And that is not including wine.

  • Professional Target||

    Were Starbuck's beverages subject to the ban? No, of course not.

    Actually, Starbucks was subject to it and announced they planned to defy it.
    http://www.latintimes.com/arti.....omberg.htm

  • Adam330||

    "If the shlub on the street can't be trusted to run his own life due to evolutionary limits placed on his decision-making apparatus, why would Mike Bloomberg be any different?"

    Not only this, but the shlub on the street also got to vote to put Mike Bloomberg where he is. The fact that he was elected by a bunch of irrational, imprudent, good-for-nothings is indisputable proof that he can't be trusted to make any decisions.

  • ||

    Here's her book. It's godawful expensive ($95 new, $60 Kindle), I doubt she expected to sell many copies. There are two 5-star reviews, one of which is satirical and one of which is serious. Here's part of the satirical review:

    And indeed, our history proves Conly's claim, as objective government officials have acted with the reason and balance of experts who are not tempted by direct involvement in the questions being decided: the Sedition Act of 1798, which led to the imprisonment of newspaper editors who criticized government. Indian removal. The Fugitive Slave Act. The Dred Scott decision. The Wounded Knee massacre. Plessy v. Ferguson. Jim Crow laws. The firebombing of Tokyo. The mass internment of Japanese-Americans. The secret bombing of Cambodia. Drone attacks on Pakistani wedding parties. Indefinite military detention. The wisdom of government is virtually infinite, and has created a world of steady progress. When we act individually, we are irrational and reckless. When government officials act upon the human society from which they ascended, they do better to help us all reach our proper goals.
  • ||

    And the serious review (in it's entirety):

    Having read Cass Sunstein's far more thoughtful review at the NY Review of Books, the salutary aspect of Dr. Conly's book is that it helps us recognize the tautologies and limits of the "libertarian" position about "choice." Nearly all of our arguments have a soft underbelly and Dr. Conly is writing in a society (Anglo-American) and time where the libertarian positions about "choice" are nearly sacrosanct to the point of religious fervor. Again, her book is a semi-polemic corrective that adds value to our public policy discussions.

    I have twice tried to paste the link to Sunstein's review, but Amazon.com won't let me. Just check it out on the Internet, I suppose...
  • Brett L||

    My favorite review:

    Yes, I could never be trusted to pick this book myself. I will join a book club and only read books chosen by the group. That way I'll never read a silly book like this one. It is for the good of my own mental health, yes I am convinced it is for my own good. Thanks book group, thanks government bureaucrats, thanks to all those groups of individuals smarter than me, myself and I.

  • Wind Rider||

    libertarian positions about "choice" are nearly sacrosanct to the point of religious fervor

    So this makes Gillespie like the pope or something? A cardinal? Or just a Monsignor that wants to molest Ann Coulter?

  • John||

    The satirical review is fabulous. The one thing missing from Conely's book is a single example of paternalism ending in success.

  • 21044||

    I doubt she expected to sell many copies.

    I bet that she does intend to sell a lot of copies - all as a required text book.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    But laws have to be sensitive to the needs of the majority.

    That cotton ain't gonna pick itself.

  • Pro Libertate||

    But laws have to be sensitive to what you can con out of the majority.

  • ||

    If we're not sensitive to people's needs, how will we ever fool them into giving us more power?

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's true--con men know their marks very, very well.

  • Killazontherun||

    Conly has an irrational, impulse driven need to pursue a career ouutside the home which not only makes her feel unnessarily discontent and biologically unfulfilled, thus unhappy, but goes contrary to the need of society to have stable homes with fulltime moms for the security ofour children. She should be compelled by government to quit her job and disavow her profession for the greater good.

  • John||

    Children raised in the homes of single mothers, especially boys do much worse than those in two parent or even single father homes. I guess single mothers need to give up their children for their own good.

  • Killazontherun||

    You re absolutely riight. When single mothers insist that they are autonomous individuals with a right to raise children on their own we know now with advances in science that is just their messy harmones talking. It serves no social good to allow these women
    to unduly burden themselves with child rearing. It would be unconsciouble of society not to outlaw single parenthood.

  • Randian||

    I wouldn't mind shaming it a bit. It hasn't produced good outcomes.

    OT: Speaking of something that has not produced good outcomes:

    Federal Government Admits ADA Failed

    The job numbers for the disabled haven’t budged much since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which gave millions of disabled people civil rights protections and guaranteed equal opportunity in employment, public accommodations, transportation, government services and more.

    I am quite sure it couldn't possibly have anything to do with an employer being abjectly terrified at the prospect of hiring a disabled worker.

    And of course the one comment in the article just doesn't get it, and probably never will:

    Perhaps the U.S. Chamber of Commerce needs to stop and consider the cost of lawsuits from pwd who are unfairly denied employment then sit down and have a good hard think about their position again.

    THEY ALREADY DID YOU IDIOT. That's why the employment rate is so low.

  • R C Dean||

    I'm consistently amazed by people who are surprised by the notion that employers might not be all excited about hiring someone who comes with a higher risk of lawsuits.

  • Randian||

    It's gobsmacking. I used to do small business compliance law, and the thing no one ever says is that "you would have avoided all of these problems had you not hired someone disabled in the first place"

    Other than race, the first card that comes out of a Plaintiff's deck is disability discrimination. It's a virtual certainty.

  • R C Dean||

    Anybody who has been through the mill once with civil rights complaint from an employee quickly figures out that it safest to avoid "protected classes" at hiring.

  • Pro Libertate||

    All of these laws are actually affirmative action. . .for attorneys.

  • John||

    And it cost the country hundreds of billions of dollars. But we need to the have the government force people to do what is right.

  • ||

    check.mate.

  • MJGreen||

    Nicely done.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    click to read more

    That's rather paternalistic of you. Intrinsically so.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    it helps us recognize the tautologies and limits of the "libertarian" position about "choice."

    And just what the fuck is THAT supposed to mean?

    Those "libertarians" are so mean, tricking the proles into doing as they wish with no consideration for my feelings!

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    Now with scare quotes:

    "Fuck" "off", "slaver".

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Of course, what people fear is that this is just the beginning: today it’s soda, tomorrow it’s the guy standing behind you making you eat your broccoli, floss your teeth, and watch “PBS NewsHour” every day. What this ignores is that successful paternalistic laws are done on the basis of a cost-benefit analysis: if it’s too painful, it’s not a good law.

    If she could cite one of these "successful" paternalistic laws, it would be greatly appreciated.

    P.S.
    Utilitarians? I believe she's one of yours. Please explain to her how keeping the greatest good in mind will always ensure the protection of our rights.

  • ||

    Dude, this place is already Tulpical enough. Don't make it worse.

  • Tony||

    The protection of which rights? And to what end? Isn't "the protection of our rights" (whatever that means) what you consider to be necessary for "the greatest good"? Or are the rights you refer to available only to the few and not the many?

  • Anonymous Coward||

    The only rights you as a human have: your rights to life, liberty and property. To the end of malefactors being punished for violating your right to life, liberty and property. I do not hold the greatest good to be any standard of consideration because I do not hold that it even exists. No, Tony, everyone enjoys those rights, except when thieves and parasites like yourself abuse the common force (which we know as government) to enrich yourselves at the expense of others (thus violating property) and/or impose your grand schemes to remake man to your own benefit (thus violating liberty).

  • Tony||

    The only rights you as a human have

    As I've said all along: you guys are rights minimalists. Makes it kind of strange that you talk about freedom so much, when among all the nonautocratic political philosophies, yours allows for the smallest number of rights.

    I do not hold the greatest good to be any standard of consideration

    How then do you justify your system of rights minimalism? Why is it good if not because it's for the greater good? Because it's good for you alone, fuck everyone else? (In which case, fuck you, who do you think you are.) Or do you not necessarily require that your system be "for the greater good"? Otherwise there would be no point in advocating it.

  • ||

    Rights that conflict with eachother aren't rights.
    I could SAY that everyone has a right to a pony, but given that there are a finite number of ponies in the word, and there aren't enough for everyone, saying that gives me absolutely no more guidance than I had before as to how to divide up the number of ponies available.

  • Tony||

    That doesn't have anything to do with my post, but any right can conflict with another. Your right to property can conflict with my right to mobility. (BTW, isn't property technically finite?)

    If a right to ponies were considered essential to maintaining a modern decent standard of living, then it could be managed. Tax people to pay for a massive pony breeding program, then distribute.

  • ||

    You aren't getting it. The objective is to define rights in a way that they can be applied universally. Rights that conflict can't be applied universally. If they do, you havn't defined them properly. The reason we have a "minimalist" set of rights is because we're making progress towards that goal. There is one set of rights, they apply to everyone equally, and they can be enforced in a uniform way. Otherwise, they aren't really rights at all.

  • Tony||

    That sounds like a fun(?) intellectual exercise, but in reality people have different "rights," or authorities/licenses/liberties depending on who they are, what their job is, whether they've committed a crime, and many other criteria.

  • ||

    Why is it good if not because it's for the greater good? Because it's good for you alone, fuck everyone else?

    Can you possibly be that obtuse?

    Your system requires that you violate the rights of some for the benefit of others. Ours does not.

  • Tony||

    Sure it does, depending on what you include in the list of rights people have. My list is much longer than yours so it's likely that your system violates some of them.

  • ||

    My list of rights is infinite. However they don't include positive rights that require someone else to sacrifice for my benefit.

    (The exception are the positive rights granted in the Constitution, which, by and large, concern the protection of individual rights)

  • Tony||

    You require would-be murderers to sacrifice their freedom to murder. It's a right you think we should deny for the greater good.

  • ||

    Basically, Tony doesn't understand what rights are or why they exist. He thinks a right and an entitlement to some free shit are the same thing.

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    Tony doesn't understand a lot of things. Statements like "freedom to murder" show his flagrant ignorance of what a right is, though.

    Idiots like this see libertarian views of rights as "I can do whatever I feel like doing because I said so and fuck everyone else". Apparently the NAP excludes murder...

  • ||

    So you're claiming the right to violate rights? Since rights rely on being able to do things without interference, you necessarily can't coerce someone since that's a violation of their rights. But you're well aware of the concept, you just don't care.

  • ||

    He's claiming the right to invent as many entitlements to free stuff as he feels like, and call those rights.

    No word on what he plans to do when there's not enough free stuff to go around, or how he plans to decide who gets it.

  • ||

    You require would-be murderers to sacrifice their freedom to murder. It's a right you think we should deny for the greater good.

    How would anyone have the right to murder someone?

    To do so would require an initiation of force.

    Please try again.

  • Tony||

    A person who lives in a community with no law against murder has a right to commit murder.

  • ||

    A person who lives in a community with no law against murder has a right to commit murder.

    No he doesn't.

    WHY? Because you have the right to do as you wish, PROVIDED in doing so you do not infringe on the rights of others.

    Law doesn't create or negate rights. Murder is morally wrong whether a law against it exists or not.

  • sarcasmic||

    Murder is morally wrong whether a law against it exists or not.

    Not in Tony's world. In his world might makes right. So something is only wrong if someone mightier than you is there to punish you for it.

    He does not believe that murder or rape are morally wrong, provided that you can get away with it.

    All progressives feel this way. They are all liars and cheaters.

    Winning is all that matters. Winning by any means necessary.

    The only thing that stops him from rape and murder is the government. He has no self restraint. No self governing principles.

    He is not a human being. He is a human animal.

  • ||

    Did you see what he did? He snuck back in 4 hours later to respond.

    Tony is a progressive nutjob incapable of reason, but he's no sock. A sock wouldn't bother to do that. He believes everything he says.

  • sarcasmic||

    He believes everything he says.

    Yep.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Makes it kind of strange that you talk about freedom so much, when among all the nonautocratic political philosophies, yours allows for the smallest number of rights.

    Because you, in your servile idiocy, misunderstand rights to be purely statutory, and not inherent, natural, and discerned based on logic and reason. Want to stand on the corner and talk about chemtrails? The right to liberty covers it. Want to stuff gold ingots under your mattress? The right to property? Want to cohabitate with one or several men and share your property with them? Right to life and property. Want to deny others access to your home? Right to property? Want to wander the Earth as a vagrant with only the clothes on your back? Life, liberty and property.

    As any rational person could observe, the rights to life, liberty, and property, encapsulate any number of actions by individuals and interactions between individuals.

    How then do you justify your system of rights minimalism?

    What's rights minimalism?

    Why is it good if not because it's for the greater good?

    Because the smallest unit of political power is the individual. Natural rights apply to all humans and in equal measure, irrespective of their physical or mental faculties, as opposed the chimerical, ad hoc system of privileges you espouse.

  • Tony||

    Sounds like you simply lack imagination, believe in magic, and don't understand the specific nature of your philosophy that you think is the product of logic and reason--not that such has ever been demonstrated, but just because you say it is.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    That's a lot of ad hominem there, but no specific refutation of anything I've written. May I take your pathetic mewling as conceding to my points?

  • R C Dean||

    What this ignores is that successful paternalistic laws are done on the basis of a cost-benefit analysis

    For the values of "success" that matter to the Master Class, this is true:

    (1) Does this law benefit me, my cronies, and/or my political supporters in some way?

    (2) Does this law impose costs on people I don't know or care about?

  • MJGreen||

    Too painful to whom?

    Certainly not to the bureaucrats hired to watch you eat your broccoli. And even if you hate eating it, we all know the pain's worth it.

  • Tony||

    It’s hard to give up the idea of ourselves as completely rational. We feel as if we lose some dignity. But that’s the way it is, and there’s no dignity in clinging to an illusion.

    Excellently put. The point is libertarians justify a laissez-faire market on the grounds that it maximizes rational outcomes, but that's clearly not true given what we have learned about both markets and the human mind.

    And you must stop pretending that your silly, strange, fringe idea of how society should be run is some kind of default that all things must be measured against. Yours is a proposition about how things should--radically--change, and if anything must meet a higher standard than systems that have already been tried.

  • sarcasmic||

    how society should be run

    Liberty requires central planning! Derp!

  • Tony||

    Yours isn't a system of central planning or an imposition--because you say it isn't! Quite convincing.

  • sarcasmic||

    It is only an imposition on those who would use violence and coercion to get their way.

  • R C Dean||

    Ours isn't a system of central planning, because it specifically disavows, delegitimizes, disempowers, and opposes central planning.

    Its only an imposition on those who want to exercise control over others, and can't. Them, I'll impose on.

  • ||

    Goddammit, if only I had some way to force you not to respond to dipshit sockpuppets.

  • Randian||

    I'm on the Troll-Free Train.

  • ||

    Maybe we could establish a system of camps...

  • Randian||

    Where people could concentrate on avoiding the trolls!

  • ||

    Oh, come on. This place would be boring if not for the dumbasses. Everybody agreeing with everybody else in one big echo-chamber. Is that what you want?

  • Randian||

    Francisco, when the hell have any of the regulars agreed on anything for more than five minutes?

    The fact is that whoever is behind Tony is deriving emotional and probably some form of sexual satisfaction in arguing the same banal, insipid, continually refuted points over and over and over and over.

    Seriously, he says the exact same shit every. single. day. That's the part that gets tiresome.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Randian, don't you know that Reason is Tartarus and we are all Sisyphus?

  • ||

    He may very well be a sock. But if he is, he's damn good at it, because I spent several hours trolling CNN on this subject yesterday and Tony's points are indistinguishable from theirs.

    I like to argue. If nothing else, he's good practice. And because there is absolutely NO CHANCE of convincing him, I can call him a stupid, fucking moron without hurting my chances of winning over the opposition. This makes me "FEEEEL" good.

    AND, if I gotta scroll past the endless yammering about sports, everyone else can scroll past my replies to fuckhead.

  • Randian||

    You calling a sock names is right up there with a homeless person arguing with himself.

  • ||

    You calling a sock names is right up there with a homeless person arguing with himself.

    Meh. It makes me happy.

  • robc||

    dumbasses != trolls.

  • R C Dean||

    I don't engage them in extended slangfests. Occasionally, I entertain myself with a one-post dismissal of their derpery.

    Note my response to his reply below. Oh, that's right. There isn't one.

  • ||

    That's right. Because I threatened you with the camps. COERCION.

  • Tony||

    Who does the disavowing, disempowering, etc.? Who gets to repeal all the laws or make whatever (many) changes are necessary to implement your system? And do people get to vote on whether they want it?

    Sounds a lot like central planning to me, even if the outcome is claimed to be central planning-averse.

  • sarcasmic||

    Undoing is doing. You're like so Zen and stuff, you know?

  • Tony||

    Undoing is doing. Why can't you see that? Just because it has the prefix "un" doesn't make it any less of an action.

  • wareagle||

    actually, it's more a reaction. That sort of thing happens with most actions, and always with bad ones.

  • sarcasmic||

    actually, it's more a reaction.

    Well put.

  • sarcasmic||

    Taking power away from the central planners is not central planning. Destroying the power structure is not a power grab.
    Dark is not light.
    Cold is not heat.
    Silence is not sound.

  • Tony||

    You would like to think that--which is to say, that you're on a mission from God to deliver the One True system to people, and that it's OK that nobody actually wants it or that it would take far more legislating and setting up than anything I advocate--because it's the Right Way, and you know best.

    Who does the "taking power away" and "destroying the power"? You? Who, if not some replacement central planner?

  • sarcasmic||

    Ah yes. Personal attacks. The surest sign that you've lost the argument.

    Oh, and who said anything about replacements?

  • Tony||

    What personal attack?

    All I'm asking for is an explanation of how you get from the current system to the one you want without any central planning or coercion.

    Since being against those things is central to your worldview, in theory you should be able to answer the question quite simply.

  • sarcasmic||

    Do you seriously not see the distinction between central planners initiating force upon all of society, and stopping central planners from initiating force upon all of society?

    I'm not against force. I'm against the initiation of force.

    Might it require force to stop the central planners? Probably. But not an initiation of force. That has already been done.

  • ||

    Sarc. Stop. Or I will put you in the camps.

  • some guy||

    And do people get to vote on whether they want it?

    You're right Tony. The majority will almost always get its way through violence or the threat of violence. Threat of violence is what holds the current system together and the only way our preferred system can come to be is if a majority of people agree to end that threat.

  • dalewalt||

    Decades of 'doing' in restricting rights (what you can smoke, what you can drink, how you can protect yourself' is okay, but any attempt to roll back those restrictions is central planning?

    Nice logic there Tony.

  • Wind Rider||

    "Yeah, we hate each other, but we hate YOU more"

  • ||

    but that's clearly not true given what we have learned about both markets and the human mind.

    Citation required.

  • sarcasmic||

    Citation?
    It's common knowledge that this, the worst economy since the Great Depression, was caused solely by deregulation and casino capitalism!
    I mean, government distortions of the economy played no role whatsoever!
    It was all caused by the free market!
    All intelligent people know this!

  • ||

    Oh yeah, I forgot. Silly me.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    that's clearly not true given what we have learned about both markets and the human mind.

    Citation needed.

    And you must stop pretending that your silly, strange, fringe idea

    Argumentum ad lapidem.

    of how society should be run is some kind of default that all things must be measured against.

    Why do principles frighten you so much?

    Yours is a proposition about how things should--radically--change

    So radical that up until the end of the 19th century it's how things were done?

    and if anything must meet a higher standard than systems that have already been tried.

    And that means a lot to me, because you said it.

  • Tony||

    I'll respond to the one bit of substance in your post: why on earth would anyone want to live in any system that disappeared in the 19th century? What exactly was better about life--in the civilized world or otherwise--back then?

  • ||

    What exactly was better about life--in the civilized world or otherwise--back then?

    Um...disgusting immoral pigs weren't allowed to steal my property for the benefit of others.

  • Tony||

    Especially not your slaves!

  • ||

    Libertarians do not endorse slavery Tony, in fact just the opposite. We abhor it.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    I'll respond to the one bit of substance in your post: why on earth would anyone want to live in any system that disappeared in the 19th century?

    What was that, Tony? I couldn't hear you over all of that chronological snobbery.

    What exactly was better about life--in the civilized world or otherwise--back then?

    We had open borders back then. Unless you started hating brown people and I wasn't informed.

  • wareagle||

    we've tried your way, tony, and it ends badly. Every time. Maybe ours would, too, but maybe it won't. That you find liberty a "silly, strange, fringe idea" is meaningless. Even a blue state like NY gets the potential implications of more Bloombergism.

  • Tony||

    My way doesn't end badly. At least it hasn't yet. I don't find liberty a fringe idea, I find that you guys take a collection of radical, fringe ideas and then slap a sticker that reads "liberty" on them, and expect no one to notice that you define "liberty" in a radical and stupid way.

  • ||

    Actually, our way is the most consistent, fair, simple, elegant philosophy there is. It revolves around one simple principle and all else stems from it. One may not initiate force.

  • Tony||

    And simplicity and truthfulness always go together. Especially when we're talking about how to organize millions and billions of human beings. It'll all work out if we just distill every rule and regulation to one sentence! So convincing...

    Especially when you start adding your inevitable "except whens" to the end of that sentence.

  • ||

    Did you or did you not say...

    I find that you guys take a collection of radical, fringe ideas and then slap a sticker that reads "liberty" on them,

    We slap nothing together and the only collection of ideas we have stem directly from the NAP. You implied our ideas were inconsistent. I pointed out our ideas are EXTREMELY consistent.

    Liberty-

    Being able to do as you choose, PROVIDED in doing so you do not infringe upon the rights of others.

  • ||

    What makes you think people are any more rational when acting collectively?

  • Tony||

    The whole point is that they aren't. But people are capable of acting rationally when they are applying solutions to problems. It's the laissez-faire advocate who claims that people act rationally in a collective way--that the market mechanism (an inherently collective concept) produces the best outcomes. But we know people to make market choices not based on rationality and that can lead to large problems.

  • sarcasmic||

    The market is indeed collective. It is collective in a strictly voluntary way. There is no violence or coercion. Every transaction is a choice entered into by free will. In every transaction both parties believe they are getting the better end of the deal.

    Your brand of collectivism involves force. People are forced into transactions that they would have not entered into voluntarily, or are prohibited from entering into transactions that they would have entered into voluntarily.

    How can the collective outcome of the latter be better than the former?

  • Tony||

    A free market involves force too, you just don't recognize it because you don't recognize forms of force that don't originate with government or thugs on the street.

    You're describing a utopia, not a type of market the world has ever experienced.

  • sarcasmic||

    Please go into detail about force in the free market, and answer the question as to why your system of violence and coercion results in a better collective outcome than one that involves voluntary transactions.

    You're describing a utopia, not a type of market the world has ever experienced.

    Well, your perfect collectivist utopia of violence and coercion has never existed. It's been tried, and every time it results in the death of millions of people.

    The closest thing to a free market the world has ever seen is the last couple centuries, and the result has been the greatest explosion of wealth in the history of human kind.

  • Tony||

    It has been discovered that unfettered market participants can pollute common resources, cause entire populations to be economically disadvantaged through systematic discrimination, and engage in market-unfriendly collusions and other manners of exploitation that don't require a government. A free market is one that is not unfettered, just as a free society is not one in which everyone can do everything he wants.

  • ||

    It's also been discovered that governments can pollute, can disadvantage entitre populations through institutional discrimination and can establish unfair monopolies and subsidies that benefit some market participants over others.

    What makes you think that the system that involves more government coercion is likely to be either more rational or more fair?

  • Tony||

    You do have a point: governments that don't behave rationally are not much better than anarchy. Good governance is all that I endorse, and do believe is possible. People can be smart and do smart things, and there's no magical attribute of government that always excludes that from it.

    But you're really changing the subject. There will always be a government. Anarchy is impossible, and in all likelihood even a well-functioning anarchic market (which is hard to imagine) will have far worse outcomes with respect to rationality and fairness than a managed state. We're either fucked, or we have good governance.

  • ||

    Again, you are being obtuse.

    But you cannot do whatever you want. You cannot infringe upon the rights of others. That is why we have government. To protect the rights of the individual.

    What you describe is not a free market. It is criminal activity.

    Free markets, by definition, involve no force.

  • sarcasmic||

    Polluting violates property rights and is legitimate grounds for government intervention.
    Discrimination is bad for business. Jim Crow wasn't markets discriminating by choice. They were coerced by government.
    The other things you mention resolve themselves naturally in free markets, barring government barriers to competition.

    Try again.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    A free market is one that is not unfettered

    Awww, look at that, Tony using double negatives to conceal the fact that he's a tyrannical little pissant.

    Let me clarify for Tony: A Free Society is a Controlled Society, Free Markets are Fettered Markets, and Freedom is Slavery.

  • Tony||

    I'm 2 for 3. Even you believe a free society is a controlled society. Or do I get to drive through your front window and take all your shit?

  • sarcasmic||

    Even you believe a free society is a controlled society.

    Your sarcasm detector needs recalibrating.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    That would violate my right to property, so no, you don't get to drive through my front window and take all my shit.

  • Lord Humungus||

    You must buy this car! You must buy this television!

  • ||

    You're the one that's claiming that when people act collectively through government, they are able to make choices that are more rational.

    But what if the collective choice made via "democracy" is even more irrational than the one I would have made individually?

  • Tony||

    It can happen. Bad laws do exist.

  • ||

    So, why do you think that government is capable of making better choices on your behalf than you can make for yourself?

  • sarcasmic||

    No one believes government can make better choices for themselves.

    The problem occurs when someone else is making a choice that you wouldn't have made for yourself. Then you get government to force them to make the same choice you would have made.

    It's never about making better choices for yourself.

  • Tony||

    Depends on what we're talking about. Choices that can be perfectly rational for myself might cause harm to others. It's rational for me to drive using a gas vehicle. But it's destroying the planet. What am I alone gonna do about that?

  • Jon Lester||

    I don't think it's any coincidence that autocratic oligarch Bloomberg also wants to curtail our gun rights. Historically, people like him have been pretty consistent on that count.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    As I reflect upon this finely polished gem, But laws have to be sensitive to the needs of the majority, I think I see her cognitive malfunction.

    She believes she represents the "majority". In much the same way one could be surprised by the election of Richard Nixon due to never coming into contact with anyone likely to vote for him, she undoudtedly never comes into contact with anyone outside the Academic Hive Mind; why wouldn't she be shocked and dismayed at the choices made by the unwashed, uneducated masses?

    "If only I could reach these keeds!"

  • The Late P Brooks||

    successful paternalistic laws are done on the basis of a cost-benefit analysis

    Keeping those scary desirable dope-smoking, cocaine-snorting bad boys in the shadows keeps the soccer mom's thighs from getting that horrid frightening itch they had all through college.

  • Fluffy||

    One striking thing about her is how unphiliosophical she is, in that she never asks why I would care about justice, once she defines it this way.

    For me to care about justice, there has to be some element of it that's just TO ME. I am a person who is not a fuckup or genetic defective. And she's point blank telling me that she intends to undertake systematic and pervasive injustice against me. That's how she defines the just society.

    Once she defines it that way, why should I just reject justice utterly and smash up the whole works?

  • Fluffy||

    Shouldn't. Sorry.

  • Randian||

    Sometimes a few rams have to be culled for the good of the herd.

  • ||

    Social justice: because I don't like the outcomes of the usual kind.

  • sarcasmic||

    nice

  • John||

    Yes, implicit in her entire argument is an epistemology that admits we can know not just the good in one individual case but the good in big cases involving millions of people.

    My guess is she has never even considered this issue. Questioning authority is not going to get you tenure at Bowdin.

  • Fluffy||

    It's worse than that.

    What we might call the "naive" definition of justice is "an order fair to all participants". This naive definition automatically gets a lot of buy-in and prestige, because everyone "should" by definition consider it a good thing.

    But she's abandoning that definition in favor of one where she admits up front her intention to systematically treat me unfairly. But she never asks herself why, in such a case, I should continue to buy in and consider justice something desirable.

    "What if justice were a woman?" Nietzsche would ask. She never asks that.

  • John||

    You are supposed to buy into it because you should put the needs of the collective over your own. Sure, in your mind you think you can handle the 32 oz coke. And you may in fact be able to. But that doesn't matter because if you get the 32oz coke everyone gets it and that creates all of these problems. So you sacrifice your access to make sure no one is able to abuse theirs.

    You buy into the injustice because you feel it is the sacrifice you should make to the greater good.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    If population growth is sufficiently dangerous, it is fair for us to impose restrictions on how many children we can give birth to.

    That's a rather prodigious "if" there, lady.

    But of course, in the paranoid fever swamp of the Hive Mind, the distasteful ignorant rabble are always a threat.
    They are why we can't have nice things.

  • R C Dean||

    So she's totally on board with the Chinese "One-Child" policy, forced abortions, prison sentences, and all.

  • sarcasmic||

    It's different when we do it.

  • Wind Rider||

    They just didn't frame the spin correctly to explain it to the haters.

  • Loki||

    That’s what the government is supposed to do, help us get where we want to go.

    Fuck this stupid statist cunt up her (probably) fat ass with a splintered broken broom handle. Good God I can't take another second of these worthless shitbags!

    RAGE TAKING OVER!!!

  • The Late P Brooks||

    What exactly was better about life--in the civilized world or otherwise--back then?

    Duelling.

  • Lord Humungus||

    ^this^

  • 0x90||

    "It’s hard to give up the idea of ourselves as completely rational. But that’s the way it is."

    And you know this how?

  • Wind Rider||

    She definitely bought that concept for a dollar, and is running with it.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Tony,

    The point is libertarians justify a laissez-faire market on the grounds that it maximizes rational outcomes, but that's clearly not true given what we [sic] have learned about both markets and the human mind.


    First, who's "we"?

    Second, all human action is rational whether you like it or not, otherwise it would not be action but reflex, instinct or twitching. The fact that the results are not palatable for YOU or Ms. Conly is irrelevant. Opinions are not valid baselines to judge market outcomes. People may prefer Bud Light over Miller Lite, that does not mean the Miller Lite people can argue that the Bud Light people are being irrational.

    And you must stop pretending that your silly, strange, fringe idea of how society should be run is some kind of default that all things must be measured against.


    Libertarians do not believe society should be run in any way, shape or form, a fact that makes your request silly and hysterical.

    The protection of which rights? And to what end?


    Natural rights only: Life, Liberty and Property. The purpose (or end) is so you get to keep yours
    .

    Or are the rights you refer to available only to the few and not the many?


    You mean entitlements? If you do, then no. Libertarians refer to those rights eveyrbody already possesses: Life, liberty and property.

  • Tony||

    You're beating the definition of "rational" into a formless pulp. Rational means sensible and logical. Not every human action is rational. That is a ridiculous claim.

    You can't help but run a society. You have a plan same as anyone else. It may be a hands-off plan, but it's still a plan. You just want to escape responsibility for its consequences (no doubt why you insist on casting moral blame on individuals so much).

  • OldMexican||

    But laws have to be sensitive to the needs of the majority. That doesn't mean laws should trample the rights of the minority, but that public benefit is a legitimate concern, even when that may inconvenience some.


    There's a lot wrong with this proposition. First, there's no such ting as the needs of the majority. Majorities have no needs, for one simple reason: a "majority" is nothing more than a concept of comparison, not a body or a being. If we count the US population, we can find that women are the majority of human beings in the U.S. compared to men. However, that does not mean ipso facto all women are a single body and that they all have the same needs; we're just making a comparison between the number of men and women in a given population and realizing that there are more of one than the other; we call one the "majority" as a way to save precious time when transmitting ideas.

    Second, the author makes a stark contradiction when she mentions that laws should be "sensitive" to the needs of the majority (whatever that means) but that such should not be construed as meaning the laws should trample over the rights of the minority. But the problem is that that is exactly what it means: Laws that cater to the needs of the majority must by definition trample over the rights of the minority, as she concedes just one sentence forward: "public benefit is a legitimate concern, even when that may inconvenience someone"

  • Tony||

    Majority needs are less essential a concept to democracy than majority desires. Oftentimes needs and wants will coincide (people want to have their needs met).

    Whether you feel the practice irrelevant (meaning you prefer to keep people's actual wishes out of it--at least the wishes of those you disagree with), majority desires can be determined, and that happens by polling and voting.

  • Astorix||

    This ban exempted 7-11, so he was being disingenuous on top of paternalistic.

  • Tony||

    Actually, our way is the most consistent, fair, simple, elegant philosophy there is. It revolves around one simple principle and all else stems from it. One may not initiate force.

    A word on elegance: Elegance generally has a positive connotation. An elegant dinner or room is good, as is an elegant mathematical proof or scientific theory. But an elegant political system is one of the most frightening things imaginable.

    Human beings are the product of Darwinian evolution, and as for all species, life is messy and dangerous in the best of environments. Humans live in an unprecedented and new technological environment for which we are certain to be imperfectly suited. A perfect system is probably even theoretically impossible, and anyone claiming to have figured it out already is certainly selling snake oil at best, a dangerous ideology that leads to elevating the ideology over the welfare of human beings at worst.

    The best systems have many ad hoc elements. The worst are certainly more elegant, though, once you mop up all the blood.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Progressives are totalitarians. Yawn. Wake me when you have something I didn't know 20 years ago.

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