Libertarian History/Philosophy

Gillespie on Bill Moyers' Journal: Video

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Last night, Reason Editor-in-Chief Nick Gillespie appeared on the PBS show Bill Moyers' Journal and discussed the religious right, the Republican spending explosion, how libertarians will decide the next presidential race, radical Islam, and much more. The video is now online and can be viewed here.

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  1. Apparently, I was wrong when I said the other day that I am the sole spokesman for libertarianism. Nick Gillespie is our spokesman.

  2. Excellent remark: Gillespie said “I don’t think you see the encroachments” of the religious right which people like Moyers sees (although he was too polite to call Moyers on his paranoia).

  3. Roger Williams (whom Gillespie praises in the interview) was certainly an American original, and he was commendably committed to having the government be religiously tolerant. I would like to point out that Williams’ focus, as a hard-core Calvinist, was to have a “church” whose membership was confined to God’s elect, which meant excluding all members of the soteriologically-challenged community. All existing religious institutions which Williams came in contact with flunked his test of purity, so it’s not surprising that he didn’t want the government underwriting the agenda of any religious organization. Government sponsorship, as he saw it, would contaminate the true church beyond remedy.

  4. Key question: Was Moyers overwhelmed by the Black Leather Jacket of Freedom?

    Nick, you wouldn’t happen to be related to Leonard Nimoy, would you?

  5. I thought Roger Williams was a Baptist

  6. I watched Bill Moyers on Friday night and liked the way Nick refused to ‘nudge, nudge, wink, wink’ with Bill.

    I have just begun reading Sean Wilentz’s, “The Rise of American Democracy” and on page 23 the quotes from Tom Paine:

    “Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness ‘positively’ by uniting our affections, the latter ‘negatively’ by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions …
    Society is in every state a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil.”

  7. Ok, sure, we’ll agree, no government in our lives is a good thing, stay of our homes and bedrooms, we can all get on board with that. So do we need the government anything? Yes, he says, national defense and road construction (although I don’t know your heralded free market cannot take care of road construction). But then Moyers asks about poverty, and Gillespie just shrugs it off? Not a problem? Free market creates more wealth than any other system? What in the world? For you guys economic inequality is just “not a problem”? Let me guess: health care’s not a problem either? Y’all’s theme song should be George Harrison’s “I Me Mine”.

  8. Y’all’s theme song should be George Harrison’s “I Me Mine”.

    This assumes that libertarians don’t want to share, when in fact libertarians just don’t think the government should decide who they share with.

    That said, I also would like clearer libertarian explanations of how to best help people who really can’t help themselves.

  9. Paul — The free market has done more to help the poor than any government. The profit motive — rewarding good innovation and smart work — has caused the standard of living in the West to rise steadily across the board, enabling people at every level of income to live longer, in greater comfort, and with more opportunities than people at the same relative income level 30, 50, 75, 100, and more years ago.

    In addition, many (most?) libertarians are strong supporters of private charities (and not just with lip service). Part of the libertarian ideal is that private organizations will take the place of government in providing aid to the disabled, destitute old people, etc.

  10. To refine Les’s question:

    Roger is rich, Peter is poor.

    Sammy the compassionate statist fears no rich Roger will help poor Peter (sufficiently) unless compelled by credible threat of violence.

    Larry the libertarian and Andy the anarchist believe Roger will share his wealth (sufficiently) with poor Peter absent a credible threat of violence.

    And the mechanisms for that distribution are…?

    (I too am here to learn.)

  11. “That said, I also would like clearer libertarian explanations of how to best help people who really can’t help themselves.”

    You mean like Congress, who really can’t help themselves when it comes to helping themselves to our money, or to restricting our behavior in thousands of different ways?

    Oh: you didn’t mean “can’t help themselves” as in “no self control.” You meant it as in “no capability.” And clearly Congress seems capable of taking our money and restricting our behavior.

    Seriously, do you mean people who encounter temporary misfortune that is simply too big for them to handle, or people who are just not up to whatever life might throw at them? In the first case, insurance can work. If someone was blindsided by something that they couldn’t reasonably anticipate, then institutional charity, perhaps (when the charity of family and friends fails or is absent altogether). The second case is by far the tougher: how to help people who aren’t able to help themselves for the long term. I think that you come down to two main alternatives: private charity and public (government) assistance. In the latter case, you have to be cool with taking resources by force from those who have them, to provide for those who will likely never have enough resources or opportunity to provide for themselves.

    Finally, who distinguishes between those who can’t help themsevles and those who won’t help themselves? Is it OK to force others to pay for those who “can’t,” but also OK to socially and economically shun those who merely “won’t”?

    However you look at it, whatever choices you make about what is and is not OK, I think this question eventually gets down to fundamental ugliness, which most people would rather pretend does not exist.

  12. No one needs to mess with Roger. If he doesn’t want to help Peter, he’s entitled to do so.

    Larry may not be as rich as Roger, but he has more money than Peter and can spare enough to keep Peter from starving. And Larry and Andy are both probably more likely to help out Peter than Stan the statist, who assumes that helping Peter is the responsibility of the government (de Tocqueville’s “powerful stranger”).

    Meanwhile, Roger has to do something with his wealth. Unless he’s insane, he will either spend it or invest it. Either way, he is pumping money back into the economy, providing livelihoods for others.

  13. Key question: Was Moyers overwhelmed by the Black Leather Jacket of Freedom?

    I’m glad to see a priest of the Church of the Fonz support religious freedom.

  14. “you wouldn’t happen to be related to Leonard Nimoy, would you?”

    Not Nimoy,

    McCoy
    http://www.startrek.com/imageuploads/200307/mccoy01/200×150.jpg

  15. In addition, many (most?) libertarians are strong supporters of private charities (and not just with lip service). Part of the libertarian ideal is that private organizations will take the place of government in providing aid to the disabled, destitute old people, etc.

    Agreed, although I’m sure Baily will claim that only “bleeding-heart pinkos” support charity also.

  16. “I thought Roger Williams was a Baptist”

    I thought he was King of the Road…

    Ohhhh, wait. Miller, Roger Miller.

  17. LOL, Neu Mejican.

    Must say, Moyers did not do his usual self-righteous schtick. For some reason he likes libertarians even if does think we’re cruel bastards who want to eat puppies for breakfast. He had an awful lot of nice things to say about Ed Clark in 1980 as well.

    Good show, Nick. And Yeah, the leather jacket is a good touch. Love it.

  18. Must say, Moyers did not do his usual self-righteous schtick. For some reason he likes libertarians even if does think we’re cruel bastards who want to eat puppies for breakfast. He had an awful lot of nice things to say about Ed Clark in 1980 as well.

    Moyers is certainly self-righteous, but this Baily troll doesn’t do much to help change this perception of libertarians, as erroneous as it is.
    It’s bad enough when Bill Maher and Neal Boortz claim to be libertarians, but when a pro-eugenics social Darwinist does it, it just plays right into every negative stereotype about libertarianism.

  19. Paul,

    Poor people don’t have political connections. Getting something out of congress requires political connections.

    So what we get out of congress is spending on entitlements for the well connected and lip service to the poor.

    Helping the poor is the rhetorical grease that results in political spending on well off and well connected individuals.

    If the government actually spent the money on helping the poor the libertarians would be pleased at how much smaller the government has gotten.

  20. Jeez, Nick, are those sideburns or zip lines? Seriously, the TV exposure is great. It’s so frustrating being labeled in the media as extremists when most of the people I talk to share the same core values about government and freedom. Maybe it’s the impractical LP that people see as representing all libertarians. Maybe I should get out more.

  21. But then Moyers asks about poverty, and Gillespie just shrugs it off? Not a problem? Free market creates more wealth than any other system? What in the world? For you guys economic inequality is just “not a problem”?

    At what point did Nick say, “The poor? Fuck ’em.”

    Instead of coming in half cocked and just naively filling in the blanks with your biases, ask questions. That is, if you are actualy interetsted in learning.

    Otherwise, kindly go back to Kos.

  22. “Asharak | May 12, 2007, 8:18pm | #”

    Whaaaat?

  23. Folks like JW always leave me scratching my head. Being poor is about insufficiency, not inequality. What do I care how much more someone else has, if I have enough for my own needs? Note, I wrote needs, which are limited, rather than wants, which are theoretically infinite.

    Kevin

  24. That said, I also would like clearer libertarian explanations of how to best help people who really can’t help themselves.

    I really thought Nick covered that. When the free market is allowed to flourish ALL rise.

    The implication is that folks who are doing well (or quite well) help others who are having trouble helping themselves. The same way I help my family members (and they have helped me when I was not so well off) and the same way I help others, not related (and they have helped me in the past).

    It is not a hard thing to get your brain around, unless you are a heartless Leftist.

  25. I>What in the world? For you guys economic inequality is just “not a problem”?

    I hope yor parents wasted a fortune on that PhD.

    Economic inequality is not a problem, it is inevitable as an outcome even in your Che/Fidel/Stalin/Lenin/Karl/Kerry world.

    Some of us would rather it be by one’s own devices rather than an elitist edict as to who becomes the spit traugh swabber.

  26. Whaaaat?

    Check out “Baily”‘s comments in the replies to Ronald Baily’s piece about health care. He’s a different person from Mr. Bailey.

  27. Check out “Baily”‘s comments in the replies to Ronald Baily’s piece about health care. He’s a different person from Mr. Bailey.

    I am quite sure that you are correct.

  28. As if it needs to be stated, Nick can take Chuck Norris easy.

  29. What about the poor?

    What did the poor do before the Great Society programs came along to provide for them?

    Once upon a time when there were many informal jobs, many marginally productive types managed to find marginally useful jobs.
    Now nobody can afford to hire them.
    Too much liability involved.

    Said an old freind working at a mental health center in West Virginia: “As soon as they get on SSI disability, they start to go downhill.”

    What do you suppose that is all about?

    How many people support government welfare because it relieves them of guilt and responsibility for their fellow downtrodden?

  30. I’ll go even further than Les: Governments have created more poverty than they have alleviated…by far.

    Even in the U.S., I think it was in Walter William’s The State Against Blacks that he showed that government took more money out of poor communities than went back in via welfare, grants, etc.

  31. Hey, good job Gillepie!
    Even if you didn’t kick Moyers ass, I digged the whole “above the fray” mentality you pulled off…

  32. But then Moyers asks about poverty, and Gillespie just shrugs it off? Not a problem?

    Haha! A trick question, because poverty is always relative. There will always be people who are “poor” relative to the average standard of living.

    Let me ask you; do you see anyone starving in the streets? No, the poor are actually more likely to be obese than any other demographic. They’re also likely to own cars, TV’s and CD players. Poverty in a wealthy country like this one is a whole ‘nother breed of cat than it is in a country like Ethiopia. To the best of my recollection, there hasn’t been anything like a famine in this country since sometime in the 17th century.

    So, no. In general, I don’t consider it a problem. I’d shrug it off too. There are a helluva lot of people on this planet who would jump at the chance to be poor in this country.

    Free market creates more wealth than any other system? What in the world? For you guys economic inequality is just “not a problem”?

    Is it a problem for me that Bill Gates is infinitely richer than I am? Not really. Particularly since in the process of getting rich himself, he created a comfortable job for me, and thousands of others like me. Other people getting rich does nothing to make my circumstances any worse. Usually it makes them better.

  33. Great job Nick…..very confident without arrogance….well done

  34. I don’t have any health insurance. I haven’t in 5 years. I agree [completely] that the government should stay out, so it gets cheaper, so i can buy some on my own.

    I, me, mine?

  35. of course, i don’t take charity/handouts.

  36. Good to know, as any scribbler who gives creepy Bill Moyers the time of day is not worth my time.

  37. Isaac Bartram: “…who want to eat puppies for breakfast”

    mmmm, puppies.

    A little olive oil, onions and garlic, maybe some rosemary and savory, slowly braised for a late Sunday morning repast.

    Yup, sounds like a plan.

  38. The big news of the day is that NASCAR will race today, Mother’s Day!*

    Too bad Nick couldn’t work in some NASCAR talk with that Moyers boy.

    Oh, and HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to Mrs. Gillespie and all the other moms out there.

    *I don’t think they have ever raced on Mother’s Day or Easter and this is the first re-schedule of a race I know of happening on Mother’s day. One of the few sports that has never cancelled a competition.

  39. Inequality?? Free markets reward some who have the initiative and drive with great wealth, but you know what? You can get from LA to NY in a 86 Chevy about as fast and safe as in a 2007 Lexus…in other words, inequality does not mean as much as long as nearly everyone has at least the minimum amount necessary to get the job done. Free markets provide the poor in this country with more of the basics for a good life than in more government dependent countries–and yes, that includes health care.
    It is useless to talk about “access” to health care when that access means you can see a doctor for free about a cold but have to wait for months or years in line for more serious procedures.
    Nick specifically mentioned that markets bring more OPPORTUNITY for more people. When markets are free, people see more opportunity and take it, than when the state controls with licenses, regulations, taxes, red tape, etc.

  40. Folks like JW always leave me scratching my head. Being poor is about insufficiency, not inequality.

    kevrob–Normally, I would agree with you on the head scratching, but in this case I think you have me confused with someone else.

  41. Left turn. Left turn. Left turn. Left turn.

    Repeat.

    Ad nauseum.

  42. You’re all ignoring the big question: How much does Gillespie spend on his haircuts?

  43. Not as much as John Edwards.

  44. I can usually tackle the question of what a libertarian’s solution to the poor is, but the question that stumps me is: what is the libertarian answer to preventing pollution and overconsumption of our natural resources? Surely, this is not something to be ignored and allowed.

  45. Kris

    LOL!

    You’re all ignoring the big question: How much does Gillespie spend on his haircuts?

    Perhaps they are free and he is in the pocket of Big Hair?

  46. what is the libertarian answer to preventing pollution and overconsumption of our natural resources? Surely, this is not something to be ignored and allowed.

    For pollution, if you keep it to yourself it should not be a big deal to anybody else. If you are damaging the property of others then you should be liable for that damage. This is pretty ancient law too, long before zoning and such.

    It would be nice if the topic of pollution stuck with actual pollution, rather than imagening Freon and CO2 as “pollutants”.

    Over consumption? Do you mean using more than I need or using more than YOU want me to use of something? That question is handled perfectly fine with free choice in a free market.

  47. over consumption: I always hear the argument that we are extracting natural resources to the point that ecosystems are thrown out of balance, causing drastic changes to biodiversity of these areas. Does man’s rights trump nature’s rights? the free market has no way of preventing this action.

    i’m not defending this over consumption argument, i’m just curious as to how a libertarian would solve this.

  48. I always hear the argument that we are extracting natural resources to the point that ecosystems are thrown out of balance, causing drastic changes to biodiversity of these areas. Does man’s rights trump nature’s rights? the free market has no way of preventing this action.

    1. We are part of nature.

    2. When a resource gets rare it usually gets expensive and people use alternatives. Whatever the big fad making something expensive was usually disappears when an alternative becomes popular. Greenpiece did not save the whales, petroleum did.

    Many species died out long before humans came along and plenty of them keep getting “rediscovered” annually that were thought extinct.

    The whole environmentalist argument that you mention (and I hear all of the time and used to believe) is a bunch of emotional claptrap.

  49. i’m not defending this over consumption argument, i’m just curious as to how a libertarian would solve this.

    As mentioned earlier, a free market will take care of it just fine.

  50. Yesterday I saw an extremely fat kid buying a half cake and a pint of ice cream in the grocery store. Later on I saw that same kid in the parking lot behind the wheel of a car sobbing. I immediately thought “Holy shit, that kid is old enough to drive?”

    But back to the topic, I haven’t had date in around a year, I’m interested in hearing what Nick Gillespie plans to do about this.

  51. We need a safety-net sex service for poor folks like mk. Let’s call it AmeriWhore.

  52. For pollution, if you keep it to yourself it should not be a big deal to anybody else. If you are damaging the property of others then you should be liable for that damage. This is pretty ancient law too, long before zoning and such.

    agreed, but pollution historically wasn’t being kept by the producers, hence, laws against pollution

    It would be nice if the topic of pollution stuck with actual pollution, rather than imagening [sic] Freon and CO2 as “pollutants”.

    define “pollutant”, then, Guy. is ozone a pollutant?

    Greenpiece [sic] did not save the whales, petroleum did.

    Petroleum provided an alternative fuel source, relieving some hunting pressure but whales were and are still hunted for meat. Would it be OK for whales to be hunted to extinction, as long as there was a market? (By the way, “Greenpiece [sic] saved the whales” = obvious strawman.)

    Many species died out long before humans came along and plenty of them keep getting “rediscovered” annually that were thought extinct.

    Many species died out before humans, true. Also, people die of heart attacks, but that doesn’t make murder acceptable. If “plenty” of supposedly extinct species keep getting rediscovered annually, then name five examples. The ivory-billed woodpecker doesn’t count, because its existence hasn’t been established, despite the hopes of birdwatchers and conservationists.

  53. Nick, great job on Moyers’ show, by the way. You’d make a great press secretary for Ron Paul’s campaign and administration.

  54. By the way, the non-libertarian Paul above is not to be confused with the semi-regular Paul. So b’fore yall start asking “what have you done with the real Paul”, now you know.

  55. It’s nice to see Nick throw some cold water on the mainstream “talking points” based debate.

  56. biologist,

    The U.S. Civil War saved the whales. 😉

    In all seriousness the war caused such a demand for oil that it was one of the primarys spurs for the search for alternative sources which lead to the oil industry.

  57. Correction: Folks like JW non-libertarian Paul…

    As for overconsuming resources, quite a bit of that is due to the Tragedy of the Commons. Government regulation is one way to handle that, but putting the resources into private hands may work better.

    Kevin

  58. agreed, but pollution historically wasn’t being kept by the producers, hence, laws against pollution

    I already covered that. See ancient law or nuisance law.

    define “pollutant”, then, Guy. is ozone a pollutant?

    Something that actually injures you or devalues your property (not “neighbor’s house is ugly so it is eye pollution”). Ozone could be a pollutant, but that is caused by solar activity reacting to oxygen (if you are talking about real ozone). If you are causing it then you should be liable for whatever damages you caused. Didn’t I explain that well enough before?

    Petroleum provided an alternative fuel source, relieving some hunting pressure but whales were and are still hunted for meat. Would it be OK for whales to be hunted to extinction, as long as there was a market? (By the way, “Greenpiece [sic] saved the whales” = obvious strawman.)

    No, it is an example of how a market shifted, in this case the whales were no longer needed for lighting.

    Now, if you really think that whales would be “hunted to extinction” when they become too expensive to harvest for people to buy them for meat and ivory (with plenty of alternatives), then continue with that fantasy.

    Many species died out before humans, true. Also, people die of heart attacks, but that doesn’t make murder acceptable.

    Talk about a strawman.

    If “plenty” of supposedly extinct species keep getting rediscovered annually, then name five examples. The ivory-billed woodpecker doesn’t count, because its existence hasn’t been established, despite the hopes of birdwatchers and conservationists.

    Should be more than five here. Google is your friend.

  59. Andrew — I consider myself a libertarian, but I remain undecided on the issues you raised. One thing to keep in mind is that we’re so far from needing to decide those issues that they’re nearly academic. As David Friedman points out in The Machinery of Freedom (but not in so many words), you don’t have to agree that the government should get out of the pollution-regulating business in order to agree on more achievable goals, such as ending price supports for agricultural products or making school vouchers available in more states.

  60. making school vouchers available in more states.

    Could just get rid of “gun schools” too.

  61. Ron Paul isn’t someone you look up to in the political world Nick? I thought for sure you would have pointed him out given his inclusion in the Republican debates.

  62. RPS,
    I thought that Nick was very clear about where he stood on the subject of immigration on the show, a topic that seems particularly important to him.
    Perhaps Ron Paul’s stand on that issue will give you an idea of why he wasn’ there to shill for him.
    Anyway, there seems to be this idea going around that Ron Paul owns all libertarians. I like him more than the other candidates, but that isn’t saying much.

  63. “Free market creates more wealth than any other system? What in the world? For you guys economic inequality is just “not a problem”?”

    The long answer Nick didn’t have time to flesh out: The real problem is anyone who is so poorly versed in economics as to think that economic equality is achieveable at all, ever. People are simply not equally talented, smart, hardworking, or inclined to pursue lucrative occupations. Some people will make more money than others. If a government tries to redistribute income equally, it will harm the incentive of the more productive people to work, and they will tend to spend more time on personal leisure instead, shrinking the pie. Meanwhile, the politicians doing the redistributing will have an incentive an the legal ability to take unequal shares for themselves (do statist congresspeople who give lip service to equality earn an average income? hardly.), once again creating inequality.

    No system can eradicate inequality (except nuking our species into extinction, since dead people have exactly equal incomes). The free market, without forcible redistribution, is the best way to minimize the inevitable suffering. Or, as Jesus put it more pithily, “The poor will be with us always.”

  64. I am a fairly political person (I am the only person that I know, who is of my age of 20 that voted in either of the past two ballots), and my own personal political ideals have for the most part been set. I knew I was in the middle of Republican and Democrat, but however I still kinda felt lost on what party I fit in with the most.
    Just this Friday, I was working at my local PBS station when this program came on. Mentioning of libertarian party, of whom i have never given a second thought about before. I then realize after some extra research, that ideal through idea. My political standpoint fits perfectly.

    It was a great program! 🙂

  65. With the exception of spacing out Ron Paul, Nick did a stellar job. He’s quite adroit at marshaling the case for liberty and he also comes across reasonable and likeable.

  66. Nick,

    The leather jacket always looks great. It’s you now. This summer, if anyone asks if you’re warm, remind em that the Ramones always wore black leather jackets. It’ll give ya street cred.

  67. Ramones always wore black leather jackets

    Well, before the Ramones there was the original Man In Black too.

    WTF are you doing up Rick? Pretty sure it’s a two hour time diff which means it really is about zero dark thirty on a work day night before.

  68. Lol!

    I know it’s not totally related to the blog subject and from last month, but it’s still(unintentionally) funny.

  69. a libertarian response to poverty – besides arguing that it isn’t a problem, or if it is nothing really can/should be done about it anyway:

    http://www.aei.org/books/bookID.846/book_detail.asp

    In Our Hands
    A Plan to Replace the Welfare State
    By Charles Murray

    America’s population is wealthier than any in history. Every year, the American government redistributes more than a trillion dollars of that wealth to provide for retirement, health care, and the alleviation of poverty. We still have millions of people without comfortable retirements, without adequate health care, and living in poverty. Only a government can spend so much money so ineffectually. The solution is to give the money to the people.

    This is the Plan, a radical new approach to social policy that defies any partisan label. Murray suggests eliminating all welfare transfer programs at the federal, state, and local levels and substituting an annual $10,000 cash grant to everyone age twenty-one or older. In Our Hands describes the financial feasibility of the Plan and its effects on retirement, health care, poverty, marriage and family, work, neighborhoods and civil society.

  70. Thanks for the link, Eric.

  71. Happy Birthday Israel!

  72. Guy, if you are trying to support the claim that plenty of [species] keep getting “rediscovered” annually that were thought extinct, a link to a google search where the second entry reads “Finding a species once thought extinct is a rare and exciting event,” doesn’t really settle the question in your favor.

  73. The Wine Commonsewer:

    WTF are you doing up Rick?

    Yep, it was about 12:10 am. An hour earlier for you. I do tend to stay up too late on occasion. Too bad we have to sleep in order to function.

  74. How much does Gillespie spend on his haircuts?

    Not enough?

  75. Not enough?

    When he shuts down a section of LAX to get his hair cut on the runway, then we know he’s spent enough.

  76. I e-mailed RCP Sat. night and asked if they’d put the interview up in their Video Vault. They put it up Sun.

    Hey, Nick. Marry me!

    http://video.realclearpolitics.com/video_vault/

  77. Guy, if you are trying to support the claim that plenty of [species] keep getting “rediscovered” annually that were thought extinct, a link to a google search where the second entry reads “Finding a species once thought extinct is a rare and exciting event,” doesn’t really settle the question in your favor.

    I said it happens, others refuse to admit that it does.

    If you are keeping “score” or something have fun over there.

  78. I didn’t read all the diatribe but I’ve been dying to ask:

    Has Harlan Ellison asked for his haircut and wardrobe back yet?

  79. Nick and Harlan could have been sideburn-sporting brothers.

  80. me: define “pollutant”, then, Guy. is ozone a pollutant?

    GM: Something that actually injures you or devalues your property (not “neighbor’s house is ugly so it is eye pollution”). Ozone could be a pollutant, but that is caused by solar activity reacting to oxygen (if you are talking about real ozone). If you are causing it then you should be liable for whatever damages you caused. Didn’t I explain that well enough before?

    well, I guess when you get to make up your own definition of pollution, then you can’t really be wrong.

    Merriam-Webster Online states that a pollutant is “something that pollutes”. It also has several definitions for pollute. The relevant one seems to be: to contaminate (an environment) especially with man-made waste. Carbon dioxide definitely qualifies for that definition. Is carbon dioxide harmful? It can be, depending on conditions. Ozone is a pollutant at ground level, but a necessity high in the atmosphere to shield us from harmful radiation. Therefore, it’s a pollutant depending on conditions. So is carbon dioxide, but its status as a pollutant is dose-dependent.

    me: Petroleum provided an alternative fuel source, relieving some hunting pressure but whales were and are still hunted for meat. Would it be OK for whales to be hunted to extinction, as long as there was a market? (By the way, “Greenpiece [sic] saved the whales” = obvious strawman.)

    GM: No, it is an example of how a market shifted, in this case the whales were no longer needed for lighting.

    Now, if you really think that whales would be “hunted to extinction” when they become too expensive to harvest for people to buy them for meat and ivory (with plenty of alternatives), then continue with that fantasy.

    I posed a hypothetical, and asked for your opinion, you responded with a red herring.

    me: Many species died out before humans, true. Also, people die of heart attacks, but that doesn’t make murder acceptable.

    GM: Talk about a strawman.

    If that’s not the thrust of your argument, then please elaborate on your argument. I think is it an excellent illustration of your commission of the naturalistic fallacy. Just because species go extinct without anthropogenic cause doesn’t mean that it is OK for humans to cause extinctions.

    me: If “plenty” of supposedly extinct species keep getting rediscovered annually, then name five examples. The ivory-billed woodpecker doesn’t count, because its existence hasn’t been established, despite the hopes of birdwatchers and conservationists.

    GM: Should be more than five here. Google is your friend.

    You’re right, of course there are more than five rediscovered “extinct” species.

    I found:

    okapi, 1901
    coelocanth, 1938
    Fender’s blue butterfly, 1989
    Vietnamese javan rhino, 1999
    Cymbidium bicolor spp. [sic] pubescens [sic] (a type of orchid), 2000
    Siamese crocodile, 2001
    western Pacific gray whale, 2001
    Canterbury knobbed weevils, 2005
    Mt. Diablo buckwheat, 2006
    Tasmanian tiger, 2007

    I didn’t complete my thought when I typed my sentence. You claim “plenty” of extinct species are rediscovered every year. If true, name five species rediscovered in the last year.

    Even so, what’s your point? Merely because some species that were thought to be extinct turned out to be extant, we shouldn’t worry about extinction? True extinction is difficult to determine.

    GM: The whole environmentalist argument that you mention (and I hear all of the time and used to believe) is a bunch of emotional claptrap.

    Yes, too much of the environmental movement relies on ad hominem arguments. That doesn’t make it worthless. Conservation and environmental preservation is an ethos and a philosophy. Application should be done logically and with an eye to cost/benefit analysis.

  81. Here is a comment I posted at Bill Moyers blog site:

    I was hoping that Bill would challenge Nick Gillespie’s comments more strongly, and point out the logical inconsistencies of libertarian political and economic positions, besides the moral ones.

    For example, Gillespie’s comment “you know how to live your life” (as justification for free markets, lack of government regulations, and removal of government’s role in enforcing human and civil rights) requires the addition of “if you’re a straight white male citizen”, since that’s the only group who has that privilege unencumbered by social and sexual politics. Gillespie seems to believe that everyone in this society is in the same position and has the same freedom to create wealth, work where they want, choose when and where to access health care and affordable housing, etc.

    Gillespie’s conditional statement “as long as you’re not interfering with anybody else” is the typical libertarian argument that ends in a conundrum; for example: a)companies (and people) should be allowed to hire whom they want; and 2) people should have the right to work where they want to. How do libertarians meet Gillespie’s condition, or resolve the logical and practical disconnects of their positions?

    Gillespie’s wistful harkening back to the way things were in “the 17th century” and the “founding of the country” is bogus (or else shows his true political colors): this was not a democracy then. The only people who were allowed to govern, vote, make laws, and had the kind of freedom that libertarians advocate for were (again) white male property-owners: an oligarchy. Hopefully, we’ve come a bit further in civic enlightenment and democracy since the 17th century. In addition, if we reverted to those “good old days”, we would have to revert to the level of scientific, medical, technological, and social knowledge of the 17th century. Are libertarians also Luddites?

    The defense of reason that makes more sense to me is Robert Reich’s book “Reason: Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America.” If Gillespie and thinkers of his ilk used more “reason” and less advocacy for maintaining the economic and political privilege of a small group of society, they might make more of a contribution to political thought in the US.

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