Lindsey Graham, on Americans’ Relationship With Government: 'You have the right to come back for more'

Comprehensive immigration reform is being led by the Senate's Top Men. ||| AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, PoolAP Photo/Charles Dharapak, PoolThe Ryan Lizza-authored New Yorker article about immigration reform that I referenced last night in a post about John McCain's zig-zagging immigration politics contained several paragraphs that illustrate the unseemliness of Washington micromanaging and dealmaking. Two of my favorites:

An equally delicate set of negotiations, by Senators Bennet, Rubio, Dianne Feinstein, of California, and Orrin Hatch, of Utah, brought the agriculture industry on board. "In Arizona, we want workers to pick lettuce three months a year," McCain said. "In the Southeast, where they process chickens, they want 'em twelve months a year. In the Northeast, because of dairy, for some reason—I guess it’s .001 per cent of the economy—but, still, the dairy farmers need a certain kind of program as well. So you've got a disparate agricultural-jobs issue. [...]

As for high tech, several staffers involved with the bill started to notice that every time the Gang satisfied the industry its lobbyists returned with new demands. "They keep coming back for more," [Sen. Lindsey] Graham told me. But he didn't mean it in a bad way. "This is America I don't know how you say that in Latin. That should be on some building somewhere: You have the right to come back for more when you don't get what you want. The country where you can ask for almost anything!"

It's an old insight, but worth remembering in the context of the immigration debate: The more the federal government controls, regulates, and decides which micro-sub-category of human activity is legal or illegal, the more that succeeding in America will depend on one's ability to "come back for more" from Washington, D.C. No wonder the District of Columbia is a boomtown these days.

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  • Metazoan||

    It's too bad there's not some decentralized thing that can take into account all available information and allocate resources accordingly. That would be great.

  • ||

    Social Contract?

  • Pro Libertate||

    The transparent hand?

  • Tony||

    The market does not take into account all available information. It ignores a great deal of it. It also completely ignores the overall well-being of humans.

  • sarcasmic||

    Or, as my three year old would say, "Not faaaaiiiirrr!"

  • Rhywun||

    It also completely ignores the overall well-being of humans.

    The idea is that people care about their *own* well-being, but you knew that.

  • Marshall Gill||

    They may care about their own well being, but they can't be trusted to be wise enough to know what that is. Fortunately, through the Magic of Democracy, all of the stupid people voting together ARE able to elect someone wise enough to tell them what to do.

  • Tony||

    Which is another way of saying "throw vulnerable people into an even more dire situation," presumably because that's a better system? Either the free market is a panacea or it isn't. If, as it seems, it is completely unconcerned with producing positive social outcomes, then you have absolutely no good reason to deny people other avenues to do so.

  • sarcasmic||

    Either the free market is a panacea or it isn't.

    Another false choice! Hooray for false choices!

  • ||

    Tony, move to Venezuela if you want to see a country where the government is allowed to be openly hostile to capitalism and self-interest.

    Amazing how socialism produces neither prosperity in an economic sense or positive social outcomes.

  • mr simple||

    then you have absolutely no good reason to deny people other avenues to do so.

    Like theft or rape. After all, these produce positive social outcomes for some people involved. It just happens to be at the expense of others, like everything you endorse.

  • Tony||

    Taxation is merely the least invasive way of benefiting from others. For the same reason that unicorns don't exist, removing the social contract and government/collective action will not eliminate humans abusing each other. It will just make it all the more bloody.

  • sarcasmic||

    Limited government is no government at all! Hooray for Tony and his broken brain!

  • Fluffy||

    Either the free market is a panacea or it isn't. If, as it seems, it is completely unconcerned with producing positive social outcomes, then you have absolutely no good reason to deny people other avenues to do so.

    Remember, there isn't actually any such entity as "the market".

    You can have market sites where goods are bought and sold, but in this context we're talking about "the market" as the sum of all economic activity.

    In that context, the words "the market" are a linguistic shorthand for the set of all voluntary economic transactions between people.

    So Tony is directly saying that if your voluntary economic transaction, to which he is not a party, is not specifically designed with the intent of producing a positive outcome for him, you have no good reason to deny him "another avenue" to secure that positive outcome.

    Since "the market" consists of the set of voluntary transactions, "another avenue" has to mean violence.

    So, translated, Tony's statement is:

    "If I think you are doing anything at all that doesn't have my well being as its object, I get to fucking kill you."

    Congratulations, Tony. Even the Sun King didn't dream so big.

  • tarran||

    As I said below, he has this charming faith that he can keep Mussolini on the reservation.

  • Tony||

    These semantics don't amount to an argument about how society should operate. I could just as well say "government" isn't a thing but a group of people and pieces of paper with rules written on them.

  • Fluffy||

    That's exactly what it is, Tony.

    It's not semantics. It's a constructive exercise in reductivism.

    When you argue that "the market" should not control how men interact, and people should feel entitled to pursue "other avenues" if "the market" doesn't get them what they want, we need to reduce those words to their granular meanings in order to translate what you really mean.

    It's really easy to bandy about collective nouns or placeholder nouns like "the state" and "the market" and feel you're morally justified. It's harder to do that when you force yourself to speak in concretes and say, "(A bunch of guys holding pieces of paper with rules written on them) should be allowed to (use violence and threats to force other people undertaking voluntary transactions) to (do so in a way that serves the interests of people outside those transactions)."

  • Tony||

    It's not harder for me, but I'm perfectly aware of what constitutes a government and a market, and think neither is some kind of alien force (which can't be said for most libertarians, who treat government as a Thing That's Out to Get Them).

    So let's assume we both know the reductive definitions of markets and governments, and just use the words as shorthand, shall we?

    The market provides positive social outcomes only to a limited extent, can produce negative social outcomes, and wouldn't exist in any acceptable (fair, orderly) form without government anyway. So your two main presumptions are faulty: that everything that happens in a free market is truly voluntary, and that government force is always a restriction on voluntariness. You need government force to validate your claim to the stuff you get in exchanges! There is no market without government force--there's only illegitimate force and low-level bartering.

  • sgs||

    " and wouldn't exist in any acceptable (fair, orderly) form without government anyway"

    Which came first, a voluntary exchange of goods, or government?

    Historically? Because I find it hard to believe no one ever exchanged anything fairly or in an orderly fashion before government was invented.

  • sarcasmic||

    Then there's the idea that in the market, the only way to get someone to voluntarily purchase your goods and/or services, the only way to make a profit (ewwwww) is for them to believe that those goods and/or services will increase their well-being.
    So in a non-intuitive way, profit seeking requires benefiting the well-being of other people.

    But Tony only understands noble people in government forcing people to purchase things that they don't want. That is how you increase their well-being. Because they are too doopid to understand that their well-being will be met if only they listen to their betters instead of their own wants and desires.

  • ||

    "Tony" doesn't understand anything. It's a sockpuppet designed to get you to do exactly what you did: respond to it, waste your time, and argue with a character.

    Don't be its porn.

  • sarcasmic||

    I think that lurkers or newbies may benefit from his nonsense being refuted.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Wait...bear with me a second on this one. What if Tony is real and earnest in his beliefs and you're the sockpuppet designed to get us to respond to you?

    Like I just did.

    LIZARD PEOPLE!

  • ||

    Well then you fell right into my little trap, didn't you?

    HA HA HA HA HA HA

  • Tony||

    Clearly Epi is here to make reasoned arguments and participate in productive debate. No wait, he's here to say the words "sockpuppet" and "TEAM" a million times and order people around.

  • ||

    Damn that first amendment! If only there were TOP MEN who could stifle his remarks!

  • SugarFree||

    Fuck off, sockpuppet.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    No, Epi is Italian. He's here to bust balls.

    You haven't figured that out yet you drooling, microcephalic Mongoloid?

  • Tony||

    I couldn't give the slightest shit, and it's a mystery why he hasn't figured that out yet.

  • ||

    A committee of TOP MEN would never ignore the overall well-being of humans, right?

  • ||

    A committee of TOP MEN would never ignore the overall well-being of humans, right?

  • Tony||

    Only if the right incentives are in place. As in, say, they would have to pay attention to the will and well-being of the people when running for office rather than how they can get the fattest checks to pay for their campaigns.

    But we can't have that because you guys say unlimited spending on elections is freedom.

  • sarcasmic||

    they would have to pay attention to the will and well-being of the people when running for office rather than how they can get the fattest checks to pay for their campaigns

    Another false choice! You're on a roll!

  • Rhywun||

    The only reason there is so money in elections is because there is so much power to be bought - but you knew that.

  • Tony||

    Yeah it's the government of the most powerful country on earth. It has power. Its job is to have power. All you're saying is we should transfer that power to the private interests so there's no need to walk the check up to Capitol Hill, they can just seize what they want.

  • sarcasmic||

    Limited government means no government! Hooray for Tony and his broken brain!

  • sgs||

    "Its job is to have power."

    Who the what now?

  • ||

    Damn, if only the right TOP MEN had been on the supreme court you never would have been stymied by Citizens United.

  • Tony||

    Indeed.

  • ||

    Bureaucrats aren't accountable to anyone. Have you not been paying attention to the IRS and NSA news?

    All Congressman Fuckface has to do is bribe voters with free shit at the expense of their neighbor and he'll never lose.

    You are promoting a parasitic system where everyone endeavors to live at the expense of everyone else and accountability is not in the interest of the people in power.

  • Tony||

    I'm all for accountability. That takes more government, though, not less.

  • Brandon||

    How? How would more government, requiring more layers of bureaucracy, become more accountable?

  • sarcasmic||

    We need more government to take government back from the corporations that control it! Only then can the government control the corporations instead of it being controlled by the corporations! Power to the people!

    Broken brain.

  • ||

    It's like he reads Kafka as an instruction manual...

  • Rrabbit||

    How about Congress simply impeach itself?

  • ||

    "That should be on some building somewhere: You have the right to come back for more when you don't get what you want special pleading."

  • ||

    Damn close tags. Try again:

    "That should be on some building somewhere: You have the right to come back for more when you don't get what you want special pleading."

  • ||

    Why hasn't a meteor devastated DC yet?

  • Pro Libertate||

    God is still punishing us.

  • ||

    For what? You?

  • Pro Libertate||

    While that's possible, I believe there are lower hanging fruit.

  • tarran||

    For you, Episiarch, for your crimes against good taste. For thinking this isn't funny.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    That wasn't funny.

    Jus' sayin'

  • Juice||

    The BBT is a horrible show and you should feel bad for liking it.

  • Tony||

    How do you balance the liberty people and businesses have to petition and inform Congress with the corruption that can follow from the means by which Congress is influenced?

    Of course you say less government, since that's your answer to everything including a stubbed toe, but it doesn't mean anything in this context. Take away Congress's power to allocate money? That's not really an option, since that's its principal job. I'm not sure how you guard against overly complicated legislative language. This is usually a bullshit complaint made by semi-illiterate Congressmen, but not always. But when it is a problem, it's a symptom of the larger problem, too much influence by private interests over legislation.

    The only solution I see is find some way to level the playing field so that certain interests don't have undue influence simply because they are wealthy. Getting money out of politics is the solution to nearly everything everyone here bitches about. When Congress has to pay attention to voices rather than just zeroes on checks, maybe it will put the people's interests first, since that is its even more fundamental job.

  • tarran||

    But when it is a problem, it's a symptom of the larger problem, too much influence by private interests over legislation.

    Beautiful setup for an argument for a benevolent dictatorship!

    OF course, Tony has this charming idea that the Mussolini he helps put in power will only pour castor oil down the throats of people who Tony doesn't like, and has no awareness that the dictator will unhesitatingly turn on him in a heartbeat should it benefit the dictator.

  • Tony||

    The world isn't all freedom vs. fascism, and you sound childish and shallow when that's where you go every single time.

    I said it's a balance. People should have the freedom to influence Congress, but corruption is obviously possible. It's not an easy problem, but of course libertarians show up to proclaim all it needs is a little Windex.

  • sarcasmic||

    I said it's a balance.

    So a little fascism is OK? Maybe just a little more? And just a tiny bit more? It's only a tiny bit. What about another tiny bit? The intentions are all pure...

  • ||

    He's had over 200 years of just a little more fascism here and a little more there. He won't be satisfied until he has a full-blown totalitarianism to felate.

  • sarcasmic||

    You don't think we're living in a totalitarian state right now?

    Name one bit of economic activity you can engage in without first asking permission and then taking orders from someone in government.

    I've got a picnic table that I made sitting in my front yard with a sign on it. I'm probably breaking some law in doing so. Hopefully no busybodies notice.

  • mr simple||

    If you take away the government's power to pick winners and losers, the money will stop flowing to congress. Also, allocating money is not the principle job of congress. It is allowed to allocate money in furtherance of its stated powers, like national defense.

  • Tony||

    So it can pick winners and losers as long as we're talking about defense contractors? That just leaves Congress with nothing to do but collect checks from defense contractors while the whims of nature determine whether people are fed.

  • tarran||

    Congress with nothing to do but collect checks from defense contractors while the whims of nature determine whether people are fed.

    Folks, have you ever seen such a charming, childlike expression of superstition? It's like watching an eight year old girl praying for God to make sure puppies don't go extinct.

  • Rhywun||

    The vision I had was of a nest of 300 million baby chicks with our beaks hanging open, waiting for momma to come around and throw up into our mouths.

  • Rhywun||

    WTF? Not even in your wildest fever dreams is it the government's responsibility to fucking feed me.

  • sarcasmic||

    But, but, but if the government didn't grow all the food we'd starve!

    Oh, wait. That's North Korea where the government grows all the food. And they are starving. But that's only because the right people aren't in charge.

  • Tony||

    Hate to break it to you but the US government plays a huge role in the growing of crops for food in this country.

  • sarcasmic||

    Yes. They do wonderful things like paying farmers to let fields stay idle, propping up the prices that poor people pay for food. I bet you're glad for that, right? Government making food more expensive for the poor.

  • ||

    That's true. The feds have managed to make corn absurdly expensive by mandating that we use it for fuel instead of food. They've created sugar tariffs that caused the modern reliance on HFCS as a sweetener. They've jailed people for drinking milk. They've jailed people for growing wheat. Shall I go on?

  • Tony||

    No need because the corruption that distorts the food market in this country is like in my top 3 policy concerns.

    You don't seem to get that the policies you support are specifically what allow this corruption to happen. You're the corporate whores, you do realize that?

  • sarcasmic||

    You don't seem to get that the policies you support are specifically what allow this corruption to happen.

    Yeah. If prices go up then they're gouging, if prices go down they're dumping, and if prices stay the same they're colluding. Or something like that.

  • ||

    TOP MEN will save the day!

  • Brandon||

    Wow, projection and a straw man, rolled into one uberfallacy. I'm almost impressed, Tony.

  • sarcasmic||

    So, Tony. Government making food more expensive for poor people doesn't bother you? Why do you want poor children to starve?

  • Tony||

    Almost everything about US agricultural policy bothers me.

  • sarcasmic||

    Almost everything about US agricultural policy bothers me.

    Does this mean you actually can see how too much government can be a problem?
    Maybe, just maybe, undoing legislation and regulation would be beneficial?
    Maybe, just maybe, limiting the role of government in agriculture would make things better?

    Or does it bother you because it's not all centrally planned like North Korea?

  • Tony||

    There is no legitimacy to the bullshit about big vs. small government. It is completely irrelevant. Government is there, will god willing always be there, and its job is to make policy for the people in its jurisdiction.

    It's entirely possible that a more hands-off approach to agriculture is the appropriate solution. But you think that's the solution to everything, so you're explicitly not thinking through the specifics of what needs to be done.

  • sarcasmic||

    But you think that's the solution to everything, so you're explicitly not thinking through the specifics of what needs to be done.

    No. I understand that the people who do the work understand what they are doing far better than myself or the government morons who presume to have the knowledge to tell them what to do.
    And, more importantly, when the people who do the work get it wrong, they can much more easily change what they are doing if government is not involved.
    This is because policy backed with force, no matter how stupid it is, rarely goes away. Even when it is proven to be terrible, once on the books it's there to stay. Like the farm bill or ethanol mandates. Terrible, terrible policy, but it will never go away.

    I'm not thinking through the specifics because I don't have the knowledge. Neither do the regulators. That knowledge is dispersed.

    Better to let markets and prices carry that knowledge than to make presumptions backed with violence.

  • sarcasmic||

    If the military stuck to defense instead of world cop, the there wouldn't be such a huge pile of money to compete for.

    Like I said on an earlier thread, your broken brain cannot fathom the distinction between symptom and cause.

    Big money in politics is a symptom. Can you guess the cause? Yeah. Didn't think so.

  • Tony||

    If wishes were horses... You don't have arguments, you have utopian fantasies.

  • sarcasmic||

    Broken brain.

  • Fluffy||

    Right, but that's a very simple and straightforward corruption problem to manage.

    It creates a finite set of issues where lobbying is relevant. Right now, we have an infinite set of such issues.

    You can beat a finite set. You can't beat an infinite set.

  • sarcasmic||

    Uh oh. There's a distinction between finite and infinite. Tony don't do distinctions very well.

  • Tony||

    Well, it's not literally infinite, but fantasies about a nightwatchman state are not exactly relevant to real-world discussions. (And honestly, picture a country whose only major institution is its armed forces. Sound like a fun place to live?)

    Of course simpler is simpler. But if the undue influence of wealthy interests is a problem, it's a problem no matter what government does. I don't even know how to solve it satisfactorily except perhaps through public financing of elections.

  • sarcasmic||

    But if the undue influence of wealthy interests is a problem, it's a problem no matter what government does.

    No. No it's not. If government does not pick winners and losers in the economy, then there's no incentive to influence non-existent economic policy.

    What we need is a separation of economy and state.

  • ||

    "Getting money out of politics" is just a roundabout way of saying we need to kill the First Amendment because it won't let the government regulate what citizens hear.

    In Tony's ideal world a Federal agency would regulate the airwaves so no private interest could speak out with ads that it does not approve of.

  • Tony||

    Well stop bitching about the consequences of having money in politics then, jesus christ.

  • sarcasmic||

    Big money in politics is a symptom. Can you guess the cause?

  • Tony||

    Lemme guess, the existence of government.

    With no government, there would be nothing to corrupt! Just like if you shoot yourself in the head, you won't get brain cancer.

  • sarcasmic||

    Um, no. Nice straw man though. Except that you probably believe that since your broken brain can't comprehend the distinction between limited government and no government.

  • Tony||

    Sure I can, just not why you think your preferred level of socialism is morally superior to mine, when it simply amounts to different policy preferences. But if you dropped off the moral high horse, you'd be forced to defend your preferences on their merits, and that wouldn't be good for you.

  • sarcasmic||

    your preferred level of socialism

    You are so distinction-challenged that it's pathetic.

    That you see no distinction between employing force in the form of police and military, and employing force in the form of wealth redistribution, is further evidence that your brain is broken.

  • ||

    I have this picture in my mind of Tony falling asleep every night with a wistful smile on his face and a copy of 1984 in his lap.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    You forgot the imagery of the sticky pages, and the wet palm-print of his right hand on top of his Snoopy blanket.

  • Fluffy||

    Bring back Lochner.

    That would solve 90% of the problem right there.

    You'd still have rent-seeking and corruption, but it would be of the Teapot Dome variety. Straight-up procurement graft.

    And baby doll, give me all the procurement bid information in a SQL dump and I'll have those grafters in a Gimp suit for you inside of an hour.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    "This is America I don't know how you say that in Latin. That should be on some building somewhere: You have the right to come back for more when you don't get what you want.

    How about 'America est. Postquam non fēcistī, licet repetere'?

    Dumbass.

  • Pro Libertate||

    "Non, te pedicabo, incide sumptūs."

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Fair enough as the motto on the Graham coat-of-arms is "Tibi pēdīcor".

    You don't even want to know what the full blazon is.

  • SugarFree||

    Yay! Another thread you guys let a sockpuppet control.

  • Brandon||

    You responded to it too.

  • SugarFree||

    A quick "fuck off" is not arguing with it like it's an honest actor. Because it isn't.

    I'm not mad, I'm disappointed.

  • Tony||

    If you guys can't even handle a free message board, what makes you think you can handle a free market? People won't use resources and cunning to dominate and take charge in ways you won't like in a free market, because... unicorns!

  • Pro Libertate||

    I dunno, but just about everyone here supports the rights of Illinois Nazis to march in a town inhabited in no small part by Holocaust survivors. And we hate Illinois Nazis.

  • ||

    It is a free message board. Some actors engage you in exchange, some point out that you do not act in good faith, and should therefore be shunned in the marketplace to discourage the survival of your inferior and defective product.

    No one makes anyone do anything, though, and hardly anyone ever gets shot to death in a wrong-door raid.

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