Live from the LP Convention: Friday Afternoon's Alright for Fighting (Also, Weekend Political Thread)

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I'm going to skip the usual Political Thread this week, but please go ahead and tear our political class apart in the comments.

There are really two Libertarian Conventions happening right now. The first is what I described yesterday: Polite delegates deeply aware of their differences, but happy to see each other. The other is the roiling rumors-and-platform-fights convention. Bob Barr's campaign had to turn back a rumor that he was trying to take over the convention floor, reorganizing the delegations. The spark of the rumor? The Barr campaign had asked for TV cameras to be seated halfway from the stage, instead of near the back of the room. Meanwhile, at the other convention, Richard Viguerie took the convention stage to pound the podium about the rotten GOP. No one booed. "Leadership starts not at the top," Viguerie told the delegates, "but with you." No coups here!

The platform fight hasn't started in earnest, but a few early arguments are giving a sense of what could come. Radicals have changed the rules of appealing to the party's judicial committee. Where once 10 percent of the national committee had to sign onto a complaint, now one percent of Party membes or 10 percent of LP delegates have to sign on. At the convention's current size, that would mean 39 or 40 people could force a fundamental debate, or a rule change, pick your destabilizing event.

That passed easily, and I don't see any bad faith efforts to use it afoot, but the bylaw session I watched rumbled over issues like the wording of the scheduling of the VP election. There was a voice vote, which the "change it" crowd loudly won, but division was called. The "change it" crowd won better than 2-1, with more than 260 votes cast. A George Phillies delegate called for quorum. Party chairman and MC Bill Redpath stared daggers at him. "Quorum is more than 40 percent of delegates. We have, as of now, 393 delegates. Do the math." Raucus cheers broke out, but the fight still took close to ten minutes.

I've posted some photos from this second day of the convention, all annotated: Photos taken tonight will be posted late tonight. And Independent Political Report is really drumming with reports from around the convention. Like this one:

[A] man charged the stage last night at the "alternative debate" hosted by Jim Burns. The target of his anger seemed to be Presidential candidate George Phillies. The man was restrained and as it turns out, he had a firearm on him.

From the comments there: "It wouldn't be an LP event without someone pulling one."

While I was writing this post, the District of Columbia's floor sign skittered down from its pole onto the ground. Overheard: "That's what I call smashing the state!"

NEXT: Now Playing at Reason.tv: Take Us Out of the Ball Game—Are Sports Subsidies Worth It?

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  1. [A] man charged the stage last night at the “alternative debate” hosted by Jim Burns. The target of his anger seemed to be Presidential candidate George Phillies. The man was restrained and as it turns out, he had a firearm on him.

    From the comments there: “It wouldn’t be an LP event without someone pulling one.”

    WTF?!?!

    I think there is a difference between a guy running up to a stage to point his finger at someone and yell a bit who happens to have a gun and someone who runs up on stage and points a gun at someone.

  2. Libertarianism will lie stinking and rotting in the earth.
    And these fucking loons are making sure of it.

  3. Also “quorum”

  4. What a neat word!

  5. I hope the LiberParCon doesn’t get any mainstream coverage until everything is settled down and the crazies go back home.

    In other news, the Libertarian Party got ballot access in North Carolina today.

  6. I guess the Libertarian Party needs a steady injection of “squares” until the loonies are marginalized.
    Heh, this place would seem to make ComicCon look like the House of Representatives.

  7. As for the change in the Judicial Committee appeal process: I am hearing that some in the Radical Caucus want to use the Judicial Committee to remove the nomination if Bob Barr is selected on Sunday.

  8. Nice read, Art. I’m not sure if you were being sarcastic or not, but it does seem like the LP regulars are scared of the guys who have actually won an election or two invading their party and making things a bit more serious.

    Also, I’m talking out of my ass, and I let my LP membership expire years ago, but I might re-up if they get serious. The radicals are a nice touch.

  9. I hope the LiberParCon doesn’t get any mainstream coverage until everything is settled down and the crazies go back home.

    Sunday morning will be quiet. That’s when the worst crazies (Barr and his supporters) are in church nodding approvingly at hellfire sermons against drugs and/or gay marriage.

  10. Sunday morning will be quiet. That’s when the worst crazies (Barr and his supporters) are in church nodding approvingly at hellfire sermons against drugs and/or gay marriage.

    oh yes, and that will be the opportune time to have another pow-wow with the Truthers and have Mary Ruwart explain, exactly, what that “child pr0n” answer in her book meant.

    woo-hoo.

  11. 1. Maybe Weigel could ask Bob Barr for, you know, his detailed positions on things, especially since they aren’t returning my emails. That outreach program ain’t looking too good.

    2. Barack Obama lied (yet again).

    3. Dana Milbank misled in support of BHO. It’s catching!

    4. Here are some questions for Reason’s favorite Constitutional protectors.

    5. Don’t hit yourself just because there’s no prog.

  12. The best part about that discount coupon is that it describes the establishment as a showclub for “gentleman.”
    When they use quotes, you know it’s a lie.

  13. The best part about that discount coupon is that it describes the establishment as a showclub for “gentleman.”
    When they use quotes, you know it’s a lie.

    Or that they’re saying their clientele is GINOs (Gentlemen In Name Only).

  14. From the link to Independent Political Report:

    During a forum hosted by Libertarians for Justice, Starchild asked presidential candidate Mike Gravel how he could support coercive taxation for things like education and healthcare, while still claiming to support the core libertarian idea that people should be able to do whatever they liked with their own property, so long as they did not initiate force against others.

    A lengthy exchange ensued, with Gravel becoming increasingly angry. At one point, a frustrated Gravel asked if what libertarians wanted was voluntary education. The crowd responded affirmatively. Gravel said, “Fine! Let’s go back to the 18th century.” Well-known libertarian activist Andy shouted from the crowd, “It’s not going back to the 18th century, it’s going back to freedom.” The crowd of delegates cheered.

    I’m SO not going to vote for Gravel if he wins the nomination.

  15. prolefeed – some people just don’t “get it”…the key, of course, isn’t shouting them down.

  16. Didn’t Milton Friedman give a defense of public education in Freedom to Choose?

  17. The truth can now be told. The Bay Area Ron Paul Meetup had a secret gentlemen’s agreement to not inform Starchild of any event where the media might be present. When even the Truthers think SC is weird, you know s/he has entered an entirely new dimension of weird.

  18. I think of he many, many folks who, via a public education, became people who had choices they would never have imagined (much less been able to exercise) and provided, through entrepeneurship, crazy choices to the public at large.

    If we did the pure libertarian thing we could, of course, have hoped that some rich guy or charity would have taken up the slack….

    That’s a blow for “liberty”? WTF?

  19. “There is this T-shirt with the slogan ‘Bro’s before Ho’s”

    “Cute, but remember ‘Ho’ is short for ‘whore'”

  20. I can’t believe the amount of press this convention is getting! As usual, it’s not very flattering coverage, but the duty of the press is not to flatter. The fact that we’re even being noticed is flattering to this long time LP’er. It’d be nice if we could behave at least in front of company, though.

  21. Doesn’t it look like Shotgun Willie needs some Viagra for his weapon? Or has he just been bested by Bugs Bunny?

  22. The idea behind why fraud is often included as “bad” among libertarians seems to involve the fact that when a person does not know a material fact their decision to contract is not really “voluntary.”

    I submit that people without a basic education are usually in the same position as the person being misled on some material fact.

    There was a time, of course, where there was no broad based public education. And private charities and wealthy patrons made sure all persons got a basic education. Oh wait a minute, they didn’t. That model has little support in what’s called “reality.”

  23. And private charities and wealthy patrons made sure all persons got a basic education. Oh wait a minute, they didn’t. That model has little support in what’s called “reality.”

    The underlying presumption, of course, being that providing everyone with a “basic” education at the expense of everyone else is a “good thing”.

    MNG – given that we’ve never tried a wholly private education system, on what historical and philosophical basis are you condemning that model?

  24. Ayn-Randian-I’ve always thought you’re an obviously smart guy, so take the following as spirited debate, not attack.

    1. I don’t think that assumption is “underlying”, I argue explicitly why someone has a “right” to a basic education, because the less someone knows, the more you can argue any decisions they make are not really voluntary (like with fraud).

    2. You realize hardcore Marxists make this same kind of argument? “Since we’ve never had a truly socialist state, you can’t say it won’t work.” We have had periods of much less government involvement in education, and it resulted in much less people having access to a basic education.

  25. I argue explicitly why someone has a “right” to a basic education

    A “right” at whose expense, MNG? What if I never have children? And to lead into my next point, I would ask you to define “basic”.

    the less someone knows, the more you can argue any decisions they make are not really voluntary (like with fraud).

    Alright, so the assertion you’re making is “The more people know, the less likely they will have fraud perpetrated against them”. Now, can you quantify the odds on that? Can you tell me what level of education would be acceptable (to you, I guess) to minimize the chances of a person being scammed?

    We have had periods of much less government involvement in education, and it resulted in much less people having access to a basic education.

    Because you’ve already swallowed the premise of a “basic” education, that is, there is a set of things that one person just has to know, else he’ll be a hapless victim and a ward of the state.

    I would argue that the blossoming of variety in the educational sector that would follow privatization would allow individuals with different learning curves to choose which education system is right for them (or, more likely, for their parents to choose that for them).

  26. As a follow-up, if the level of education is inversely proportional to the odds of one being defrauded, does that mean everyone is entitled to post-secondary education? post-grad education? PhDs?

  27. I didn’t attend the convention this year because I figured my candidate, George Phillies, didn’t have a chance, and I just can’t quite bring myself to crowning Bob Barr. It’s not that I don’t like him–I do–but I really wish he had stayed in his own party.

    But I would like to see what wardrobe Starchild brought with him this year. Hopefully Mr. Wiegel will remember to keep his camera ready.

  28. I think of he many, many folks who, via a public education, became people who had choices they would never have imagined (much less been able to exercise) and provided, through entrepreneurship, crazy choices to the public at large.

    Can you give a source, other than “everyone knows that” for your claim that public education was responsible?

    Read up on your American history. Literary rates in 1840, according to the first census where the question was asked, were 90 percent for the white population. This was before public education really took off.

    Historian Lawrence Cremin, a liberal advocate of public education, who pieced together various sources including wills, newspaper readership, militia rolls, have estimated that during the late eighteenth century, literacy of the white population ranged from 70 percent in certain states to nearly 100 percent in others. The main exception was the slave population but this was not because of a failure of private education but because of lows making it illegal to educate them.

    Interestingly, black literacy in the South reached 70 percent by 1910 despite a massive disinvestment in public schools for them after Reconstruction. Much of this was the result of private and informal education

    There are plenty of historical works on this (by mainstream historians) that bear this out including Cremin and John Ois Glenn.

    A good case could made that literacy in a practical sense is less widespread that it was 100 years ago.

  29. 1. I would guess you are ok with forcing people to pay tax money to the police to protect people’s right to make voluntary decisions? And to pay some enforcement authority to police fraud abuses? An ignorant person cannot make a free, voluntary decision, that’s my argument. It’s the basis behind fraud: to hide a material fact. A person who cannot comprehend a material fact, just because, perhaps, his parents were fools and did not value an education, or because they could not for whatever reason afford one, is not making a voluntary decision. There can be debate about what level of education should be guaranteed, just as there can be some debate about what level of police protection is warranted.

    Basic would be the level that would allow a most people to make truly voluntary decisions on most life choices. It’s no more problematic than what “basic” level of police protection the average person is owed.

    2. “I would argue that the blossoming of variety in the educational sector that would follow privatization would allow individuals with different learning curves to choose which education system is right for them (or, more likely, for their parents to choose that for them).”

    Blah, blah, blah. We tried that, it did not work. When we had much less government intervention on education, how come this result did not happen, eh?

    2.

  30. Let me ask an affirmative question A-R:
    Two kids, in Libertopia, A and B.

    A’s parents work hard to educate him.

    B’s parents do not, for whatever reason.

    Do you not think B has a significant disadvantage to A? I mean, I know in Libertopia people pull themselves up by their bootstrap, but are we to expect this kid, in spite of his parents, to educate himself? WTF?

    So then, how in the world is it “just” that kid A outperforms kid B in life. He “deserved” it?

  31. Blah, blah, blah. We tried that, it did not work. When we had much less government intervention on education, how come this result did not happen, eh?

    you keep asserting that without evidence. “It didn’t work…it didn’t work”…what about “it” didn’t “work” for you? you cannot retroactively judge on modern standards. We value education more than we did previously. It’s an apples and oranges comparison.

    MNG, your argument boils down to: “If a man has an empty stomach, how can he truly be free?”, except you change out “mind” for “stomach”.

  32. I thought StarChild only wore American flag hotpants. Now he’s a pirate? Nniiiiiiiiiiiice.

  33. ” Literary rates in 1840, according to the first census where the question was asked, were 90 percent for the white population.”

    I’m going to need a source on that, buster (you already anticipate how bullshit that is with the “answered the census question” line).

    If you have a source that literacy rates were HIGHER in 1840 America than now, I’d LOVE to see it.
    “A good case could made that literacy in a practical sense is less widespread that it was 100 years ago.”

    If you read that sentence closely it does lend support to such an argument 😉

  34. A-R
    Do you want to argue that in periods of less government intervention more citizens received basic educational opportunities? By all means, do so. I’d love to hear it.

  35. “”I have indeed two great measures at heart, without which no republic can maintain itself in strength: 1. That of general education, to enable every man to judge for himself what will secure or endanger his freedom. 2. To divide every county into hundreds, of such size that all the children of each will be within reach of a central school in it.”

    “”This [bill] on education would [raise] the mass of the people to the high ground of moral respectability necessary to their own safety and to orderly government, and would [complete] the great object of qualifying them to secure the veritable aristoi for the trusts of government, to the exclusion of the pseudalists… I have great hope that some patriotic spirit will… call it up and make it the keystone of the arch of our government.”

    “”The less wealthy people,… by the bill for a general education, would be qualified to understand their rights, to maintain them, and to exercise with intelligence their parts in self-government; and all this would be effected without the violation of a single natural right of any one individual citizen.”

  36. o then, how in the world is it “just” that kid A outperforms kid B in life. He “deserved” it?

    The reality that when education was private (see above) in the early nineteenth century the overwhelmingly majority of Americans sought and obtained education for their children. Now….of course, there are always some irresponsible parents who fail to teach their children. Look for them in the remedial classes (where they continue to fail) in your public school utopia.

  37. Do you not think B has a significant disadvantage to A?

    Yes, I am sure he does.

    are we to expect this kid, in spite of his parents, to educate himself? WTF?

    I don’t have any expectations of him. I’m not sure what this “we” stuff is, though, Kemosabe.

    So then, how in the world is it “just” that kid A outperforms kid B in life. He “deserved” it?

    I’m not saying whether it is just or unjust. I would argue that those parents did that child an extreme disservice, and I would find it in my own self interest (both because I don’t want him wandering around ignorant and because I like educating people) to help him out. And you would too…so what’s the problem again?

    Are you really so distrustful of mankind that you think we’ll just rob, cheat and steal some poor ignorant wretch over and over again? Your view of your fellow man terrifies me.

  38. Now, maybe the opportunities are less than perfect, but surely the “private sponsored” opportunities that existed prior to public education on a wide scale were often so as well.

    The question remains, do more people have more educational opportunities SINCE the government started to get involved on a wide scale or not? I think it will be hard to argue the contrary…

  39. So then, how in the world is it “just” that kid A outperforms kid B in life.

    Suppose kid B has a severe cognitive disability. Is it just that kid A outperforms in this case? Or is it not the government’s job to redress every injustice in the world?

  40. Do you want to argue that in periods of less government intervention more citizens received basic educational opportunities? By all means, do so. I’d love to hear it.

    It is on the asserter of a proposition (“we should tax the general populace to educate the general populace’s children”) to justify it.

    furthermore, any and all historical evidence that has been offered to you has been insufficient, because you have the nebulous policy goal of providing “everyone” a “basic” education…and by basic you mean “I don’t know what that means just yet.”

  41. And to further add to TJ above (whom I don’t even like; I’m a Hokie and a Hamiltonian); to mangle a cliche:

    ‘If you think education is a threat to liberty, wait ’till you see ignorance’

  42. A-R
    Some people are born with better physical gifts, and some get exposure to better fighting methods.

    Is it fair then to let one who is stronger and a better fighter to then pummel his neighbors, perhaps extracting money from them, on a regular basis?

    So what is the difference when a kid has less brains or opportunities, to let that kid be “unpoliced” in the crucial area of contracts? Can’t we give him some “protection” like we do police for the physically challenged?

  43. Mr. Nice Guy:

    As I mentioned, historians have not just rely on the census stats. They have also used wills, evidence of newspaper and book readership (which far outstripped current rates, etc. Then again, since you are a true believer in the theory that government has magic powers, I’m not surprised that you skipped over that part. BTW, I cited several historians (you glossed over that too) but you did not cite a single one. Since you apparently do not rely on empirical evidence, what is the source for your claims? Feelings?

    BTW, another good source on the high quality of literacy in the late eighteenth century, you might want to also check out Forrest McDonald’s anthology, Requiem. Again, please give me one, just one, source of a legitimate historian who agrees with you.

  44. Since the current policy IS to tax everyone to provide educational benefits to all who meet the requirements, I would say it is you who must make the assertion (which would be “we should not tax everyone…”)

    Why can’t you answer the question? Did people have more or less educational opportunties (opportunies for some level of schooling) before or after the government got into the business of wide spread education? It’s an easy question…In FACT, charities and rich benefactors have NEVER offered the same level of opportunities as the government has. NEVER.

    So, if you want to argue that not everyone needs these opportunities, then go ahead (it appears you are doing so at times). But let’s not pretent that empirically there is some evidence that the magical market will supply this demand the way government has…There is none historically.

  45. Is it fair then to let one who is stronger and a better fighter to then pummel his neighbors, perhaps extracting money from them, on a regular basis?

    Of course not. Of course, my issue isn’t fairness but justice, which I believe to be fundamentally fair.

    So what is the difference when a kid has less brains or opportunities, to let that kid be “unpoliced” in the crucial area of contracts? Can’t we give him some “protection” like we do police for the physically challenged?

    perhaps when we have fleshed out, psychologically and sociologically, what that would look like, I would be an advocate for that. However, because the definitions are so nebulous (i.e. we haven’t evolved our thoughts on the subject enough), government should stay out.

  46. Why can’t you answer the question? Did people have more or less educational opportunties (opportunies for some level of schooling) before or after the government got into the business of wide spread education?

    Why is that question even “the question” to start?

    I am sure that, prior to the institution of public parks, there were very few public parks, but that’s circular.

    you’re thinking of education in a very limited, K-12 public schools kind of way. I’m not.

  47. Dodsworth
    Are you kidding? Let’s skip the historians buddy and go straight to the data.

    Check out table the first table here buddy.

    http://nces.ed.gov/naal/lit_history.asp

    You are really letting your ideology get to you buddy. There was MORE literacy in 1870 than 1970? C’mon friend! Wake UP!

  48. A-R
    Is it not wrong for someone to make someone sign a contract because he threatens to beat his ass?

    Is it not wrong for someone to get someone to sign a contract by misrepresenting a material fact?

    It would be wrong because it was not really “voluntary” in any sense, right? In the latter case, a person’s willing and KNOWING agreement is a voluntary, but less than that is not. Right?

    So, it you have a great many people who would not have been given even the most basic tools to understand material facts, would it not be the case that such folks would not be able to INTELLIGENTLY make contracts? Is it any more fair to leave these people to their fate than it is to leave the physically weak people to their fate (getting pummelled by us stronger dudes)? Why and how so?

  49. There’s actually more to the strip club card than you might think at first glance. Shotgun Willie’s is located in a weird island in the middle of Denver that is actually Glendale, Colorado. Glendale was formed as a way to bypass the Denver ordinances restricting strip clubs and the like.

  50. But let’s not pretent that empirically there is some evidence that the magical market will supply this demand the way government has…There is none historically.

    As I said, this is an apples-to-oranges comparison. Man’s attitude toward education has changed. We can argue whether it was right to “force this function” (I’m not convinced this is so), however, that would be rife with the tendency to offer constant historical factuals and counterfactuals.

    Since the current policy IS to tax everyone to provide educational benefits to all who meet the requirements, I would say it is you who must make the assertion (which would be “we should not tax everyone…”)

    Not if you view it as unjust that parents of privately-taught schoolchildren still have some kind of nebulous “responsiblity” to educate children for whom they are not responsible.

    Your argument is alike in kind, if not in magnitude, to “because we have slaves now, it is incumbent upon anti-slavery advocates to prove their case.”

  51. “perhaps when we have fleshed out, psychologically and sociologically, what that would look like, I would be an advocate for that.”

    Why is that so much more difficult? A person fooled is in much the same position as a person who is threatened. Some people are taught by their parents to fight, and to lift weights. And so they may dominate their fellows if the law allowed such attributes to be part of bargaining. But some people are taught by their parents to be smart, critical thinkers, good speakers, etc., and so are these people to be allowed to dominate those without that? Or can we take some affirmative action to make sure everyone can defend themselves in this area, because to do otherwise would be to let individualism be sacrificed to historical accident?

  52. In the latter case, a person’s willing and KNOWING agreement is a voluntary, but less than that is not. Right?

    we already have a way to redress the misrepresentation of facts. Those ways are called the criminal and civil courts. And I don’t think you can argue there is some shortage of attorneys who are more than ready to inform the individual how he was defrauded.

    This is an honest question, MNG: If a man is hungry, can he truly make rational decisions? If not, should government provide food as well?

    If a man is cold, should government provide jackets?

  53. A-R
    My argument is: never in history has private sources offered the range of educational opportunity that currently exists from governmental sources.

    Is that wrong? Is it wrong for me to conclude that leaving this to private sources, which have been available throughout history, will not suffice if I think everyone should have “a shot?”

  54. “This is an honest question, MNG: If a man is hungry, can he truly make rational decisions? If not, should government provide food as well?

    If a man is cold, should government provide jackets?”

    People in unequal bargaining positions are not equally, nor equally “FREELY”, bargaining. Perhaps that answers the question?

    But c’mon now, answer SOME of mine!

  55. Dave Weigel:

    Get some video for reason.tv at Shotgun Willies. That ought to bring up the page counts even more than Drew Carey.

    AR: you’re wasting your time

    MNG: you act like you’ve never read this website before. also, you can knock off the logical fallacies (ad hominem, false equivalence, etc.). no one’s buying those arguments.

  56. Person A had parents that taught him much, and paid for an extensive education.

    Person B lacked all that. His parents were douchebags.

    The two, A & B, contract over janitorial services.

    Are the agreemtents that B made “voluntary?” Noone was stopping him from using the brains he has…

    Person X was taught to lift weights by his parents. He was also given lessons in martial arts. Person Y lacked both.

    Person X told person Y that if he did not sign a contract for janitorial services, he would beat his ass.

    Noone was stopping person Y from using whatever phsycial capabilities he has from using them to thwart this threat.

    What’s the difference? Physical factors are somehow ethically magical?

  57. Mr. Nice Guy:

    That 1870 figure includes the black population. I already said that they was exception (because of a government ban on teaching them under slavery which had ended only five years earlier) and that most blacks were not literate until the turn of the century period. Remember? Take a deep breath and re-read my first post.

    How many times do I have to repeat it to you?

    Your argument is also contradictory on your own terms. Your first response was to automatically dismiss the 1840 census stats of the white population on the grounds that they were based on non-verifiable questions asked of respondent. Fair enough, I agree that that is a problem and why they are an incomplete measure.

    Now, however, they are the ONLY source you rely on? Which is it? Do you think that the census is an accurate measure of literacy or don’t you. As I said in the first post, any attempt to measure the QUALITY of literacy must rely on diverse sources including but limited to the U.S. Census including wills, newspaper readership, etc.

    Please let me also point out that I did not argue that the quality was higher (you put words in my mouth). Again, re-read what I actually said in my very first post to you. i said a case could be made. Nuances of that type appear to escape…..as befits a true believer. I’m afraid that history is messy and contested, despite your “feelings” to the contrary.

    BTW, I’m still waiting for you to cite one historian (who relies on multiple sources including, but not limited to, the census) who agrees with you. I have cited three thus far. You have cited zero.

  58. “MNG: you act like you’ve never read this website before. also, you can knock off the logical fallacies (ad hominem, false equivalence, etc.).”

    C’mon, you know logic. So do I. Make your arguments. Otherwise your just “Waah, I don’t like the conclusions you make…”

  59. People in unequal bargaining positions are not equally, nor equally “FREELY”, bargaining. Perhaps that answers the question?

    so, “yes” is the answer to both those, then?

    MNG, face it, if you equate monetary situations, or intellectual and/or genetic situations, with physical ones, you’re always going to find inequality.

    If a man has 1 million dollars and offers some poor slob who can’t feed his family* 10,000 to sleep with his wife, is said poor slob really in an “equal bargaining position”?

    * – I am not convinced that any such person exists in the United States.

  60. According to the stats the White illiteracy rate went from 1870 to 1970 to 11.5 to .7.

    Look at the black rate (the whole point about hte desirability of government intervention is its ability to make sure people who would NOT be served by the market will be).

    The current literacy rate for the US, with all this government intervention, is near 99%:
    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/us.html#People

  61. A-R
    Do you think fraud is wrong?

    Why?

  62. Do you think fraud is wrong?

    Why?

    Yes. Deliberate misrepresentation of facts automatically disables a man’s ability to make an informed decision.

  63. “If a man has 1 million dollars and offers some poor slob who can’t feed his family* 10,000 to sleep with his wife, is said poor slob really in an “equal bargaining position”?”

    I can’t believe you wrote this, because the answer is so obviously: yes.

    Person B is faced with the choice: allow person A to sleep with my wife or, as you say “allow my family to starve.”

    Why in the world do you think this would be a “voluntary” choice? Well, I guess he could have allowed his family to starve. Everyone is free like that…

  64. So what about a misinformed man to begin with?

    What about a retarded man? I can enforce any contract I can convince him to sign?

  65. “disables a man’s ability to make an informed decision.”

    So to be voluntary, a decision should be informed.

    Hmmmn.

  66. Only truly informed consent is voluntary. Any other is not. And hence, not libertarian…

  67. Why in the world do you think this would be a “voluntary” choice? Well, I guess he could have allowed his family to starve. Everyone is free like that…

    The point was to illustrate that the logical conclusion of your position is mass redistribution of wealth. Because at any given point, Person A will be wealthier/healthier/smarter/richer/faster/stronger than Person B, Person B is *never* really free to choose, which is, of course, bunk. All choice require trade-offs.

    What about a retarded man? I can enforce any contract I can convince him to sign?

    No more than you could a child.

    MNG, let me nip this shit in the bud right now: we have an apparatus available to prevent the initiation of force (or, at least, administer punishment for said initiation): it’s called the criminal justice system. We have an apparatus in place to prevent the initiation of fraud (or, at least, “punish” the initiation thereof): it’s called the civil court system.

    you’re not advocating for “mental protection” equivalent to the police force. Said protection exists. You’re advocating the equivalent of mandatory kickboxing classes. “Because some are stronger than others, any fight will be inherently unfair. Therefore, we have to mandate kickboxing to ensure everyone can handle himself in a fight!”

    That is, of course, not realizing that the vast majority of people aren’t looking to fight; that kickboxing isn’t the best self-defense course (different defenses vary on the situation) and that it would be wrong to make other people pay for what you called an “historical accident” (If it’s an accident, for which no one is responsible, why I am I paying to rectify it?)

  68. “The point was to illustrate that the logical conclusion of your position is mass redistribution of wealth. Because at any given point, Person A will be wealthier/healthier/smarter/richer/faster/stronger than Person B, Person B is *never* really free to choose, which is, of course, bunk. All choice require trade-offs.”

    So why draw the line at physical superiority (or are you against the police)?

    “Said protection exists.”

    Does it? I don’t think so. Not to the same extent. Again, why is this government taxation to provide for the proctection of the physcially inferior not mirrored by government protection for those who are unable to comprehend material facts (the basis of fraud laws, right)?

    Again, what makes a contract signing voluntary? Should the government intervene to make sure they are voluntary? Only in physicak situations?

  69. So why draw the line at physical superiority (or are you against the police)?

    “Morality ends where the gun begins”.

    again, MNG, under your rubric of “voluntarily”, anybody who is relatively worse off than his neighbor, in any aspect of life (socially, intellectually, monetarily) can never, ever make a contract with him, because he must be, de facto, disadvantaged because he’s not on “equal footing” in some area.

    Again, why is this government taxation to provide for the proctection of the physcially inferior not mirrored by government protection for those who are unable to comprehend material facts (the basis of fraud laws, right)?

    Again, the criminal and civil court systems are provided for this!

  70. But, in your hypo, I need to feed my kids, and I cannot. You, for whatever reason, have the resources to feed my kids (maybe you worked hard and smart to get them, but maybe you had some ncredible rent-seeking agreement or what not). You offer me what I need to feed my kids, let’s say money to sleep with my wife. I can either 1. decline or 2. let you.

    How can you call this a “voluntary exchange.” Of course the uber-libertarian weasels out of this :”but here will be a third way because of the magical market!!!” Maybe, maybe not (realistically). Given your own hypo, how is this the morally correct resolution (the guy who, for whatever reason, legitmate or not, gets to coerce the other guy [oh, smell the LIBERTY]) the right one?

  71. “”Morality ends where the gun begins”.”

    Nice quote. But please explain WHY.

    “Again, the criminal and civil court systems are provided for this!”

    So you are for a civil system that disallows anyone from taking advantage of someone who did not understand the material facts involved in a contract? Glad to know you are with us A-R!

  72. I’m surprised that there was almost 90% (white) literacy in 1870. I did not think it was that high.


  73. * – I am not convinced that any such person exists in the United States.

    I am totally convinced there are people who have pimped out their wives, girlfriends, daughters, and sons for (probably drug) money.

  74. Given your own hypo, how is this the morally correct resolution (the guy who, for whatever reason, legitmate or not, gets to coerce the other guy [oh, smell the LIBERTY]) the right one?

    would you rather that the “poor slob” not have had the opportunity in the first place? Should the millionaire’s ten grand be taken by force because he has demonstrated he’s willing to trade it for something? There was no choice for the “poor slob”…his family was going to starve. Now there is a choice and you call it coercion, of all the galling things.

    So you are for a civil system that disallows anyone from taking advantage of someone who did not understand the material facts involved in a contract? Glad to know you are with us A-R!

    uhhhhhhh….no. That’s not what I said. I am for a civil court system that allows the victims of fraud redress and compensation.

    MNG, tell me again how your argument does NOT boil down to “A hungry man isn’t truly free?” and how the logical extension of that isn’t the equalization of incomes and abilities? Do you not see it?

    I am totally convinced there are people who have pimped out their wives, girlfriends, daughters, and sons for (probably drug) money.

    Oh sure… I was saying I am not convinced there is an honest, hard-working man who is, through a whole mess of unfortunate circumstances, unable to feed his family.

  75. I missed the ‘feed his family’ part. Sumimasen.

  76. There was a time, of course, where there was no broad based public education.

    That time being, of course, 2008 — see the Detroit public high school system graduation rate of about 25%.

    So you’re happy with everyone getting, on paper and at an exorbitant expense, an education, however sub-par and however many students drop out, rather than letting people spend their money on the private school of their choice?

  77. Let me ask an affirmative question A-R:
    Two kids, in Libertopia any inner city of your choice, A and B.

    A’s parents work hard to educate him.

    B’s parents do not, for whatever reason.

    Do you not think B has a significant disadvantage to A?

    You keep assuming, MNG, that attending a public school results in a decent education. This is at odds with reality.

  78. Is it not wrong for someone to make someone sign a contract pay taxes because he threatens to beat his ass? …

    It would be wrong because it was not really “voluntary” in any sense, right?

    MNG — glad you’ve seen the light and recognize the wrongness of coercion. Now, just take that epiphany to its logical conclusion …

  79. prolefeed-

    Doesn’t every school choice plan still use taxpayer dollars?

  80. The education discussion in this thread is being conducted in entirely the wrong place.

    I’m glad someone brought up Jefferson. Jefferson provides lots of good quotes in favor of public education. Jefferson is also the source of most of the best quotes about the separation of Church and state.

    Jefferson simply did not see the contradiction in these two positions. That’s not surprising, since he didn’t see the contradiction between writing the Declaration of Independence and owning a harem of concubines.

    Jefferson’s argument against a state church boils down to the proposition that it is inherently tyrannical to tax a man and use the proceeds of that tax to support beliefs anathema to him. But there is no real way to segregate religious belief away from all other areas of human thought as the one area in which this proposition is true.

    I regularly cast aspersions against fundamentalist Christians on this board. But despite my contempt for them I simply have to concede that it is absolutely, positively tyrannical to take tax money from them at the point of a gun and use it to teach the populace that the beliefs of fundies are absurd. Even though they are absurd. If you’re the kind of person who thinks cavemen put saddles on dinosaurs and rode them around, I think you’re a dope, but your tax money should not be used to teach the public that you are a dope.

    Even if getting rid of public education would have grievous economic and social effects of the sort MNG anticipates, I simply would be forced to not give a damn. You can’t conduct the debate at the level of utility, because discussions based on utility will always be biased in favor of the familiar. If no society had ever had freedom of religion, and we were debating in this thread about abolishing the state church, I am sure lots of practical, utilitarian arguments would be put forth about how devastating that would be to the morals of the public, how it would set up fraticide between religious sects and destabilize society, etcetera. Those arguments would all be irrelevant, but that would probably not be obvious to people who had never lived without the institution under discussion. I think something similar is at play here.

  81. DENVER – The part time press pool Libertarian observer reports that the crowd at this week’s LP convention – estimated by organizers as high as 200 persons and held at the Hour’s Stop motel east of downtown – was shocked when Dave Weigel of Orange Line Magazine – a so-called “Beltway Libertarian” – began asking LP candidates a series of questions about their policies, and even began pointing out flaws in those policies. As he was being taken away by the LP Security Force, Weigel was heard to blame his condition on a visit to the nearby Rocky Mountain National Park. “I’ve got HAPE! I’m sorry!” Weigel was heard to shout as he profusely apologized to BobBarr for the slight of asking him real questions. “Give me oxygen! I’ll be back to normal”, he shouted as he was transported to a treatment facility near the Kansas state line. He is expected to be back in the Beltway when he’s completely rehabilitated.

  82. If you want to go to a strip club, you could go to La Boheme on 14th & Stout or the Diamond Cabaret on Colfax & Glenarm. They’re just a few blocks from the Adams Mark hotel.

  83. Weigel’s a tool. Couldn’t Reason find anyone better to cover the convention?

  84. Why I don’t concur “The education discussion in this thread is being conducted in entirely the wrong place.”

  85. prolefeed-

    Doesn’t every school choice plan still use taxpayer dollars?

    Kolohe — I think the FAPE law (Free and Appropriate Public Education) would pretty much mandate that some tax dollars be used. Fewer tax dollars? Under the control of someone other than public teachers’ unions? My daughter is enrolled in a public charter school, and they hit up the parents for donations to make up for the gross underfunding of charter schools relative to regular public schools.

  86. I remember when the Arizona LP presidential candidate differed from the National LP choice. Then there’s the whole membership mess up and petition driven coup in the New Jersey LP. The party’s future is starting to look bleak.

  87. Starting? You mean just now?

  88. MNG,

    My argument is: never in history has private sources offered the range of educational opportunity that currently exists from governmental sources.

    I for one agree, you’re right about that.

    OTOH, I have a real problem with a lot of what they teach in public schools today. First graders are indoctrinated, true believers of Global Warming a la Gore.

    First graders are being thrown into the global warming debate? There is something really fucking wrong with this picture. They aren’t even close to being ready to deal with these kinds of issues.

    Let the government hand out the education, and what you get are people who learn what the government wants them to learn. And then we have this little problem with teacher’s unions……

    Show me how to solve the problems of public education, and I’ll be firmly in your corner. Otherwise, I’m not so sure in the big picture that we’re really better off with the “opportunities” that our government is giving us.

  89. AR,

    MNG, let me nip this shit in the bud right now: we have an apparatus available to prevent the initiation of force (or, at least, administer punishment for said initiation): it’s called the criminal justice system. We have an apparatus in place to prevent the initiation of fraud (or, at least, “punish” the initiation thereof): it’s called the civil court system.

    That’s a great theory. Except that not everybody — and certainly not poor people — can afford to spend all their damned time in court.

    As much as I hate much of what the EPA does, there is the story of the corporation that once wanted to dump cyanide in Lake Erie. I suppose in an EPA-free world we would have just let them, and then there could have been some kind of class action lawsuit to follow.

    But you will have a very hard time convincing me that we’d be better off this way. You’ll have an even harder time convincing me that no corporation would ever do such a thing (if you’ve ever worked inside one then surely you know better from first hand experience).

    I admire much of Rand’s thinking, but she had her flaws. One problem — just one — with Rand-topia, is her idea of what “rational men” would and would not do.

    Rational men might, or might not. But that will never change the fact that the people who get into positions of power will often not be anywhere close to rational, in a Randian (or any other) sense.

    If there was a way the government could make educational opportunities more readily available to everyone in the country — without all the problems that come with it (as I mention above) — we would all be better off. You cannot rationally argue against this in any general sense.

    The question of who and how it will be paid for is valid. But it is also true that police and fire protection and a military are “public resources” that must be paid for, and the very same question arises. Why should the rich pay for police service that is given to the poor? Yet that is precisely what happens today.

    I have long thought that philosophy is like physics. Newton was the first approximation, Einstein was the second, someday there will be a third.

    Rand’s philosophy is crying out for the next approximation. Because the lines between “public” and “private” are often just not as clean and clear cut as Rand would have us believe.

  90. AR, MNG,

    Thank you for the interesting and worthwhile debate. “Libertarians” in general should be having many more like this one.

    If they can ever come up with answers that actually make sense, then — after the philosophy is evolved a little better — the political front might actually start getting somewhere. After we run the lunatics out of town.

  91. Weigel’s a tool. Couldn’t Reason find anyone better to cover the convention?

    Could you please elaborate on your view? I think Weigel’s alright. And Hunter S. Thompson is dead (R.I.P.).

  92. Yawn.

    How crazy is a political convention when . . .

    No one claimed to see imaginary Weapons of Mass Destruction?

    No one advocated torturing terrorists who are being held without charges because there’s no evidence to charge them with because they’re not really terrorists and we’re just pretending they are so it looks like we’re doing our job?

    No one sang “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” to the tune of a 1960s ditty?

    No one wanted everyone in America to be forced to carry an ID card and surveilled at every waking moment?

    No one wanted to spend the country into bankruptcy?

    No one wanted to shred the Constitution while pretending to save it?

    No one?

    Huh, I guess the crazies are going to a different convention!

  93. Huh, I guess the crazies are going to a different convention!

    No, I think it has been oft-suggested that The Republican and Democratic Parties both have their share of, um, interesting people, but because the LP is so small in comparison, our eccentrics provide easier targets for inquiring minds/prying eyes.

  94. the comparison of 19th century education to modern ‘Education’ is, indeed, a comparison of apples to oranges. what was referred to then was actually education, while what is deemed education today should be more accurately labeled ‘training’. Nock was hip to this over 75 years ago:

    http://www.mises.org/story/2765#I

    so if what we call education is in fact training, we arrive at the question of whether the Government should be in the business of vocational training. from a libertarian perspective this easily resolved.

    1) to the extent education/training/schooling is compulsory, it is anti-liberty.

    2) to the extent it is coercively funded with tax money it is anti-liberty.

    3) to the extent is in fact job training it is a subsidy to commercial interests, and therefore anti-liberty.

    plus this subsidized training produces vocational boom/bust cycles, exacerbating un/underemployment. and of course that gives the pretext for even more subsidized training programs and so on.

    but libertarian principles aside, if you are just talking about maximizing literacy as a societal goal, then, you Know, it only takes a year or two to teach a kid how to read.

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