Movies

The Mesa Hits Manhattan

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A couple months ago I reviewed Off the Grid: Life on the Mesa, an excellent documentary about a community of survivalists subsisting in the New Mexico desert. The film makes its New York debut tonight at Lincoln Center. Details here.

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  1. So what! Les Stroud (a.k.a. Survivorman) lived in the arctic. New Mexico is a resort against that.

  2. None of those people got a three hundred page phone bill. Don’t know what the point is, just seemed appropriate.

  3. (This is a little off topic but it relates to the movie.)

    I’ve developed the theory that there are two basic types of libertarians: the first, that Mr. Walker refers to as “survivalists”, are the type of people who really do see being left alone to live their lives as being very important and thus take what most of us would consider extreme measures to do so (if nothing else, moving out to the middle of nowhere).

    The other kind are what you might call “armchair libertarians”, the people who live comfortably in the cities and suburbs and spend a lot of time and energy complaining about how much better life would be if the government would get off their backs. Yet they continue to live in high-tax, big government areas. Looking at the bios of most of the Reason staff, it appears this magazine represents the armchair contingent.

  4. armchair libertarians as you state (like myself) consider the benefits of social interaction and tapping into mainstream private enterprise to far outweigh the costs of dealing with a over intrusive gov’t.

  5. Not to be confused with “armchair liberals,” who live comfortably in the high-rent sections of cities and suburbs and spend a lot of time and energy complaining about how much better life would be if the government would just do everything for them. Yet they continue to buy groceries, pay medical bills, and work for corporations. I’m guessing you represent the armchair liberal contingent Dan T.

  6. armchair libertarians as you state (like myself) consider the benefits of social interaction and tapping into mainstream private enterprise to far outweigh the costs of dealing with a over intrusive gov’t.

    Of course. So how are you really a libertarian if you acknowledge by your lifestyle that it’s better to live in a place that has over intrusive government?

    It sort of comes across that people want to have the benefits of living in the cities without paying the costs.

  7. What creates wealth and technological advance–liberal/progressive government action or the relatively free market? I’d say most honest liberals would assert that the economic engine must be slowed somewhat to keep the downtrodden from getting, well, more trodden upon. That seems to be joe’s position, for instance. Not anti-business per se, just wanting to prevent “excesses”.

    Just to be clear, I don’t hold with that position, particularly with the means used to achieve that goal. However, unless you want to argue that we’d have had a workers’ revolution or something without progressive legislation, there’s no question at all where the affluence and the technological preeminence of the U.S. comes from.

  8. No Dan, you’re seeing the difference between evolutionary and revolutionary libertarians. Evolutionary libertarians would like to see a steady roll-back of government intervention into our lives. The services offered by government now would be picked by some form of private enterprise. This evolution would continue until some acceptable, minimal government exists.

    The revolutionaries say “fuck it” and move to the desert.

  9. It sort of comes across that people want to have the benefits of living in the cities without paying the costs.

    We reject the thesis that corruption is a necessary cost of city life.

    I myself live farther away from civilization than I’d care to out here in the middle of MO, where we our having our eleventh consecutive day of triple digit temperatures.

  10. Dan T., your argument is nonsense. The Reason staff believes their lives are better by living under leviathan than living in a forest. And it’s also better than living in a volcano. What’s your point?

    Libertarians, liberals, conservatives, etc. often agitate for social change. Prefering one form of living over another (as the current options allow) does not make one a hypocrite when they agitate for that change.

  11. you guys know that Man vs Wild guy? He’s a fake.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UpSlpvb1is

  12. Dan T.,

    There is a spectrum of libertarianism. Some are willing to try to live within the system in order to change it. Others want to live outside the system. But people all along this spectrum can still be libertarians. Hell, I work for the government in a completely non-essential sector. That’s about as hypocritical as you can get. As P.J. O’Rourke once said about taking government benefits: “I’m a libertarian, I’m just not a principled libertarian.”

  13. “Of course. So how are you really a libertarian if you acknowledge by your lifestyle that it’s better to live in a place that has over intrusive government?

    It sort of comes across that people want to have the benefits of living in the cities without paying the costs.”

    The over intrusive gov’t is not responsible for the benefits, it is a parasite on the society that was created mostly by free trade.

  14. We reject the thesis that corruption is a necessary cost of city life.

    Corruption is hardly the main expense of any successfully run city. But it is a cost, since no organziation (government or otherwise) is 100% free of it.

  15. How’d they escape property taxes?

  16. The over intrusive gov’t is not responsible for the benefits, it is a parasite on the society that was created mostly by free trade.

    The government is partially responsible – free trade wouldn’t be possible without regulation and infrastructure. In any economically successful city the government deserves credit for running the city in such a manner that free trade can flourish.

  17. i agree for the most part. It’s not as simple as “gov’t is bad.” They are essential to ensure contracts are upheld and people’s rights are protected, and I BELIEVE (though not all libertarians do) provide the infrastructure for free trade.

  18. i agree for the most part. It’s not as simple as “gov’t is bad.” They are essential to ensure contracts are upheld and people’s rights are protected, and I BELIEVE (though not all libertarians do) provide the infrastructure for free trade.

    Agreed. But I’d take it a step further and say that often government is required to balance the interests of two conflicting parties even when it’s not obvious that one party’s rights are being violated. Also, government is really the only tool to deal with the externalities caused by free trade.

  19. Corruption is hardly the main expense of any successfully run city.

    HA HA HA HA HA … Uh wait, what do you mean by successfully? Do you mean some mythical city that only exists in your imagination? Otherwise if your talking about a city that actually exist, or ever existed, that’s pretty funny.

  20. that’s where i diverge and feel that what you are talking about is social engineering which I disagree with.

  21. that’s where i diverge and feel that what you are talking about is social engineering which I disagree with.

    Well, for example the problem of pollution is an externality that seems to require government intervention. Do you really think that’s social engineering?

  22. I was speaking broadly. I feel that’s pollution is a violation of the citizens’ property/basic rights.

  23. The government is partially responsible – free trade wouldn’t be possible without regulation and infrastructure.

    Free trade requires all parties to assume that the other parties will act in good faith. This typically requires some threat of retribution if a party behaves in bad faith.

    The anarchist wing of the libertartians will argue that retribution can be successfully applied directly by the aggrieved party. However, most libertarians will agree that having a neutral third-party arbitrate is a superior solution. That neutral third party does not necessarily have to be government.

  24. Government may be sufficient to support free trade, but is not necessary.

    So I would respectfully disagree that free trade can only occur if and only if government exists.

  25. However, most libertarians will agree that having a neutral third-party arbitrate is a superior solution. That neutral third party does not necessarily have to be government.

    Who else could it be?

  26. Who else could it be?

    Assuming you were not trying to be ironic, this adequately sums up every post you have ever made on H&R.

  27. It was a totally unironic question. If you and I are business owners who sign a deal and later I fail to live up to my end of it, who besides the government is going to be able to get you compensation for being ripped off?

  28. On carrick’s behalf, Dan T., it’s interesting that you assume that because you’ve come up with these questions that no one else ever has. Basic familiarity with libertarian concepts such as the “invisible hand” will help you overcome this misconception:

    http://www.theadvocates.org/library/gentle-hand.html

  29. How does the invisible hand affect the scenario I brought up? If carrick and I sign a contract, and he lives up to his end but I decide I don’t want to live up to mine, how does he recover what he’s lost without government help?

  30. How does the invisible hand affect the scenario I brought up? If carrick and I sign a contract, and he lives up to his end but I decide I don’t want to live up to mine, how does he recover what he’s lost without government help?

    Without the involvement of government, those contracts would include designated arbitration and enforcement agencies.

    David Friedman covers some of that here.

  31. Without the involvement of government, those contracts would include designated arbitration and enforcement agencies.

    What did our contract say Dan? Was this a black market operation settled with a handshake? If so, you can be expecting a late night visit from some of my guys.

    Did we agree to use the better business bureau for binding arbitration of all disputes?

    Did we agree to seek counsel from the religous authority of your choice?

    Maybe I’ll just get our friends and neighbors to shun you until I get satisfaction.

    Maybe I’ll take out full page ads in the local newspaper explaining in full and truthful detail exactly how you screwed me.

    Whatever.

  32. Without the involvement of government, those contracts would include designated arbitration and enforcement agencies.

    Okay, so carrick and I take our dispute to our agreed upon artibrator. The arbitrator finds that I owe carrick $1,000,000.

    After the ruling, suppose I say, “to hell with that, I’m not paying him”. Then what?

  33. What did our contract say Dan? Was this a black market operation settled with a handshake? If so, you can be expecting a late night visit from some of my guys.

    So you’d collect using violence? Doesn’t that go against your principle of not using the government?


    Did we agree to use the better business bureau for binding arbitration of all disputes?

    Did we agree to seek counsel from the religous authority of your choice?

    Maybe I’ll just get our friends and neighbors to shun you until I get satisfaction.

    Maybe I’ll take out full page ads in the local newspaper explaining in full and truthful detail exactly how you screwed me.

    Whatever.

    Come on, just admit that in real life you’d file a lawsuit against me. As well you should.

  34. After the ruling, suppose I say, “to hell with that, I’m not paying him”. Then what?

    Note that I said both arbitration and enforcement agencies. The enforcement agencies would have the means, including imprisonment, to enforce the agreement. Those means are no different than what the State uses. The rules of engagement would be dictated by contract.

  35. Come on, just admit that in real life you’d file a lawsuit against me. As well you should.

    Ask Starbucks how much they liked the full page ads one disgruntled customer put into a dozen major-city newspapers. I don’t remember the final outcome, but Starbucks offered to settle for many, many times the cost of the original dispute.

    The only people to win in a lawsuit are the lawyers.

  36. By the way, one of my wife’s co-workers put a non-refundable deposit down on one of the special edition Mustangs last year. The dealer did not get its allocation, then refused to give a refund — offering only to apply the deposity to a different car.

    My wife told said co-worker the starbucks story. Said co-worker called the dealer and said there would be a full-page ad in the sunday paper if he didn’t get a refund. He had a check that afternoon.

  37. Note that I said both arbitration and enforcement agencies. The enforcement agencies would have the means, including imprisonment, to enforce the agreement. Those means are no different than what the State uses. The rules of engagement would be dictated by contract.

    Well, if you’re going to have a private goon squad come after me then I guess I’d better hire an anti-enforcement agency to protect me from them. I guess whichever side has the most money to hire the best goon squad wins.

    Really, it’s hard to see how this hypothetical system is an improvement over what we’ve got right now.

  38. By the way, one of my wife’s co-workers put a non-refundable deposit down on one of the special edition Mustangs last year. The dealer did not get its allocation, then refused to give a refund — offering only to apply the deposity to a different car.

    My wife told said co-worker the starbucks story. Said co-worker called the dealer and said there would be a full-page ad in the sunday paper if he didn’t get a refund. He had a check that afternoon.

    That’s great, and nobody’s saying that all disputes must be settled by the government. But the bad publicity method is not going to work every time.

  39. Well, if you’re going to have a private goon squad come after me then I guess I’d better hire an anti-enforcement agency to protect me from them. I guess whichever side has the most money to hire the best goon squad wins.

    You both hire the same goon squad. It’s part of the mutual contract. Just like you hire a single arbitrator.

    And this is as far as I’ll be taking the defense of anarcho-captalism on this thread. I’m not deeply versed in its concepts. My surface level evaluation has also led me to believe that it isn’t particularly practicable and that it isn’t necessarily preferable to a democratic legal system.

  40. That’s great, and nobody’s saying that all disputes must be settled by the government.

    If you scroll back up Dan, you’ll see that I said government was sufficient, but not necessary. Therefore, free trade is possible without government intervention. To which you replied, if not the government then how. Then, I told you many alternate ways of how. None of them will necessarily work in all cases.

    I’m just fed up with your repeated postings that we have no rights if there is no government to enforce them. That’s just bullshit.

    There are many alternative means of enforcing our rights each with its own set of pros and cons. Overall, I’m quite satisfied with a representative republic so long as it comes with a rigorous defense of individual rights.

  41. If you scroll back up Dan, you’ll see that I said government was sufficient, but not necessary. Therefore, free trade is possible without government intervention. To which you replied, if not the government then how. Then, I told you many alternate ways of how. None of them will necessarily work in all cases.

    The problem is that all of your alternate methods depend on one party voluntarily settling. I agree that sometimes this will happen but what happens when neither side to a dispute agrees to capitulate? Either you have to use force (yours’ or the government’s on your behalf) or the problem goes unresolved.

  42. You are sorely lacking in any kind of imagination Dan.

    First, we establish a contract. The contract defines:

    – How to show successful delivery
    – How to register a dispute
    – Who will arbitrate the disput
    – Who will enforce the judgment
    – How will it be enforce

    For one non-governmental example.

    I agree to buy stuff from you for $1M.

    Since we are both members of ACME Trading Association, we agree to let the parent company arbitrate disputes.

    I pay you 20% up front and place 80% in escrow with ACME.

    You deliver a pile of crap. Then we go to arbitration. You lose, then refuse to give back the 20% down.

    ACME expells you from the association, from this time forward no member of the association will deal with you again.

    ACME gives me back the money I put in escrow and I sell your crap as scrap metal to the junk yard. I don’t get all my money back, but at least I know that your business is suffering far more than mine. And I am far better off that waiting 8 years for the laywers to fuck around with the case, then take 40% of anyting I finally succeed in getting from your bankrupt business.

    Good night Dan.

  43. For the love of rational human discourse, please don’t feed the trolls.

  44. the people who live comfortably in the cities and suburbs and spend a lot of time and energy complaining about how much better life would be if the government would get off their backs

    I’m still living where I was born. I’m a native Californian. It’s natural and defensible to want to continue living in my native habitat and want to improve it. One such improvement I want for my culture is to roll back the creeping loss of liberty that I’ve seen occurring over the course of my life. My libertarianism arose from my living my life here, not some alien meme that took hold of my brain.

  45. . . . please don’t feed the trolls.

    Every time I try to get out, they suck me back in . . .

  46. …free trade wouldn’t be possible without (governmental) regulation…

    Only in the sense that without wet there would be no dry, without death no life, without sadness no joy, etc.

  47. Starbucks saga hier.

    Nice, Mr. number, btw.

  48. i agree with dan t once you start talking about private security companies you’re really talking about gang warfare which is not feasible in the real world where the asshole with the most fire power or the person with the most money wins out. People’s rights can only be protected adequetely by a governing body.

  49. Neither private security companies nor a government are necessarily going to protect people’s rights. The only way to protect human rights is to nurture a culture that values human rights.

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