Politics

Is the "Mushy Middle" Packed to the Seams with Libertarians?

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Forget "angry white guys," "soccer moms," "NASCAR dads," etc. and get ready for a new pollster-tested and AP-approved fake voting bloc perfectly geared to a chubbazoid American electorate: "The Mushy Middle."

That's the phrase the AP is using to describe the roughly 15 percent of possible voters who represent

a complex chunk of people likely to decide the presidential election but difficult to reach and hard to please.

"Yes, we can!" isn't floating their boat. Nothing much is, from either candidate.

They aren't uniformly conservative or liberal, and they don't fit strict Republican or Democratic orthodoxy. They aren't typically engaged in politics, and they don't much care about the campaign. And like so many others, they are extraordinarily pessimistic.

Wait, there's more:

Who exactly are these power-wielding voters?

They look much like the general population. They reflect the same frustration with the status quo. A significant majority has a low opinion of Bush and Congress. They have more favorable impressions of Democrats than Republicans. Many are feeling the economic pinch. They want troops to return from Iraq as soon as possible.

Like the broad electorate, they rank gas prices and the economy as their top concerns, followed by health care, Social Security, taxes and education. Terrorism and Iraq are lower….

They overwhelmingly favor abortion rights and legal rights for same-sex couples, typically Democratic and liberal positions. But they also overwhelmingly say cutting taxes should be a high priority, typically a Republican and conservative refrain.

These voters say they are far less interested in cultural issues and far more interested in bread-and-butter subjects like health care and Social Security.

"All are a few points from the ideological center of the country, and they tend to be fiscally conservative and socially tolerant," said Greg Strimple, a Republican pollster in New York.

More here.

Hmm, fiscally conservative and socially tolerant? Could that really be where the votes are?

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  1. BOBDOLE used this term back in 96.

    BOBDOLE.

    bobdolebobdole.

    [pops another sildenafil]
    mmmm
    Boooooooooooooob Dooooooooooooooole.

  2. And the pollsters continue to read their data set tea leaves…

  3. I think there are a lot that could be won with libertarian ideas, at least as big tent libertarians.

    But when they say healthcare is a big concern, I have the feeling they are leaning more towards socialized medicine than a free market.

  4. Each presidential election, we have a different key demographic. Gosh, we must just be an insanely dynamic and ever-changing culture. That, or this is just made up out of whole cloth by the media. Hmmmm.

  5. But when they say healthcare is a big concern, I have the feeling they are leaning more towards socialized medicine than a free market.

    But it will be called “affordable healthcare” with “wide participation”.

  6. They look much like the general population.

    So they’re stupid and smell of beer sweat?

  7. Mushy Middle, sounds like something from the wordgame crowd again. The same sort that has recently given us “slow motion recession”. You know, so they can say recession when one does not exist.

  8. Indiana Gillespie in Raiders of the Lost Libertarians

    An Egyptian pharoah stole the libertarians from Jerusalem and took it back to the city of Tanis. A short time later, Tanis was consumed by the desert in a sandstorm that lasted a year. But before that, the Pharoah had had the libertarians hidden away in a secret chamber called the Well of the Souls.

  9. They look much like the general population.

    Just like the Canadians we were warned about in the Michael Moore documentry Canadian Bacon!

    They walk among us.

  10. They look much like the general population.

    OMG they’re cylons! Libertarians are cylons and we didn’t even know, like the final 5!

  11. And in other news, scientists have discovered a new disease which has no symptoms. They don’t know what causes it and there’s no known cure. Fortunately no one has caught it yet…

  12. sage,

    Doesn’t that meet the latest definition of epidemic?

  13. Fiscally conservative isn’t the same thing as economically conservative.

    See, health care, Social Security, gas prices, “the economy” as their top-tier issues.

  14. Fiscally conservative isn’t the same thing as economically conservative.

    So they want to spend money on things, but not spend money?

  15. I would add to what joe said. Fiscally/economically conservative doesnt mean fiscally/economonically libertarian either.

    Socially liberal doesnt mean socially libertarian.

    I have always hated the libertarian = fiscal conservative/social liberal meme. It isnt true. The ends may be somewhat similar, but the rationale is radically different.

  16. Don’t be so pessimistic. While it is quite possible that these folks favor hairbrained government intervention to solve the problems of gas prices, health care, and the like, it isn’t necessarily so. A high priority on cutting taxes is a good sign.

  17. Each presidential election, we have a different key demographic. Gosh, we must just be an insanely dynamic and ever-changing culture. That, or this is just made up out of whole cloth by the media. Hmmmm.

    I’ll take “both” for 400, Alex.

  18. “They look much like the general population.”

    I’ve always found that to be an excellent disguise in my super-secret undercover work. The ‘stretch-marked overweight young mother in spandex’ look is particularly effective, when appropriate.

  19. “But they also overwhelmingly say cutting taxes should be a high priority.”

    I’m pretty sure this should read “they also say cutting my taxes should be a high priority, but feel free to raise everybody else’s taxes and handing me some goodies.”

  20. I have always hated the libertarian = fiscal conservative/social liberal meme. It isnt true.

    Er? It *is* true, just not as a sufficient description. In other words, all Libertarians are economic (policy) conservatives and social (policy) liberals [the parentheticals are because, of course, in their personal lives they maybe spendthrifty puritans; the label only indicates policy inclinations], but not all econ. con/soc. libs are libertarians.

    If I could draw a Venn Diagram for you I would. 🙂

  21. Douglas, do you normally dress as a stretch-marked overweight young mother in spandex? Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

  22. Big tent libertarianism is going to have to support people with hairbrained ideas on all kinds of things. You just got to make sure none of the hairbrained ideas get a majority. If 20% of libertarians support socialized medicine, thats okay. If 20% support intervention into gas prices, thats okay. If 20% support tight controls on immigration, thats okay. If 20% support the drug war, thats okay. We just need to make sure those groups have little to no overlap (If you support most of those things, you arent a libertarian – Im looking at you, Mike Gravel) and that they dont get above 20% on any one issue.

    Purity isnt going to happen and get more than .5% of the vote.

  23. LMNOP made my comment already. Including Venn diagram.

  24. As the country spirals rapidly down the shitter, this libertarian middle is poised to have a sad Independence Day.

  25. Taktix, just get shitfaced. That fixes everything. Building your own fireworks with gunpowder also cheers one up.

  26. Elemenope,

    I think your Venn diagram would be wrong. While I will fully admit to falling into the fiscally conservative part of the diagram (so Im both fiscally conservative and a libertarian) Im not within the socially liberal set. But I am socially libertarian.

    Let me give you some examples to distinguish:

    Drug War- Like me, a social liberal would favor legalizing pot, and maybe even heroin. But I want to burn the FDA to the ground. Social liberals seem to support drug testing.

    War (Iraq and otherwise) – I may agree with social liberals on the war in Iraq (but not for the same reasons), but I fully support privately funded merc armies spreading freedom throughout the world.

    Gar marriage – Social liberals support gay marriage. I support ending government sponsored marriage.

    I could go on.

  27. J,

    LMNOP made my comment already. Including Venn diagram.

    Then you are just as wrong. It must be that middle part of the alphabet. K is probably wrong about this too.

  28. Perhaps economic conservatives favor the market while fiscal conservatives favor saving their own money by spening someone else’s.

  29. spending

  30. My point being on this, (and this is for me, but Im sure it applies to others of you, and in reverse for some others of you) I can hang with a bunch of conservatives (real ones, not neocons) and if we stick to fiscal/economic discussions, we will be in agreement a very significant part of the time. If I do the same with a bunch of liberals/progressives and we discuss social issues, we get into arguments. Different arguments, to be sure, than discussing social issues with the conservative group, but we arent in agreement on nearly anything.

  31. robc,

    Gar marriage

    Yes, I am all for the Gar worshipers to have any sort of marriage they like, so long as it does not convey any automagical government status or handouts.

    The main reason we do not hear much about the Gar marriage issue is that they do not, typically, go running to the government to be on the official who-you-can-do roles. The Gar are bright enough to draw up the proper papers, file them in the proper places and stay out of States that impose common law marriage rules on unsuspecting residents.

    🙂

  32. Guy,

    After I saw my typo, my only disappointment was not typing Gwar marriage.

    I oppose Gwar marriage.

  33. Nigel Watt,

    Ever hear of “starve the beast?”

    No, “fiscal conservative” and “economic conservtive” are not the same thing.

    robc,

    Just as important as the policy distinctions you mention – most of which are just differences of degree – are the different visions of what social policy is supposed to achieve.

    For example, social libertarians support abortion rights because out of a set of ideas about the proper scope of government and of individual rights, period, end of story.

    Social liberals support abortion rights because of a (slightly different, but close) set of ideas about the proper scope of government and of individual rights – but also because of a set of beliefs about women’s position in society.

  34. I oppose Gwar marriage.

    On this we disagree, but I am opposed to Gwar breeding.

  35. joe,

    the different visions of what social policy is supposed to achieve.

    exactly. Although I avoided that particular example because Im a “abortion is murder (after some point that Im not sure exactly when)” libertarian.

    My vision of what social policy is supposed to achieve is “nothing other than leaving me the fuck alone”.

  36. An interesting distinction, robc.

  37. Cab,

    I think its an important distinction too. I argued this all thru the 90s but it really struck home in the lead up to the Iraq War. I opposed the Iraq War, but I opposed the thought process of 99.9% of the anti-war people even more.

  38. Social liberals support abortion rights because of a (slightly different, but close) set of ideas about the proper scope of government and of individual rights

    I disagree that it’s a matter of scope. I think the non-agression principle is a completely different creature from what compells most social liberals to support abortion rights – which I think has very little to do with what the scope of government and individual rights is. The support of many social liberals on bans of trans fats is just one example of how there is little similarity between what libertarians consider “individual rights” and what social liberals consider it.

  39. Gwar breeding

    *shivers*

  40. A lot of people I know that are self-identified conservatives (and I think are less neocon-like) overlap with me more closely on economic issues than liberals do with me on social issues (especially drugs).

    Then again, democrats are not the definition of liberals. I know some liberals who want to end the war on drugs too, which is the social thing I think most are furthest from the libertarian view on.

    However, the one point I completely disagree with is gay marriage. I know quite a few liberals who want to make marriage completely separate from the state in any way (although possibly because of gay marriage as an issue, not through ideals about decreasing government involvement)

  41. Social “liberals”, just like social “conservatives”, want to use the government to force people to behave the way they want them to.

    Libertarians want the government to stop forcing people to behave in any way, as long as they’re not doing something that hurts someone else.

    That is the difference. Social liberals are just like social conservatives and nothing like libertarians. Just because certain of their outcomes would be the same as ours has nothing to do with their motivations.

  42. robc,

    My vision of what social policy is supposed to achieve is “nothing other than leaving me the fuck alone”.

    Right. Liberalism has a vision of what the good society looks like, and libertarianism largely doesn’t. Libertarianism is neutral on racial and gender equality, for example, EXCEPT to the degree that promoting those things happens to coincide with shrinking government. Whereas liberals are in favor of racial and gender equality, as well as shrinking government in certain particular areas.

    Reinmoose,

    I think you discount the degree to which liberal support for abortion rights, or opposition to warrantless wiretapping, or opposition to obscenity laws, genuinely does come from a set of principles about the proper relationship between the government and individual liberty. Remember, it was liberals who pushed for things like the Miranda rights and an end to the draft.

  43. Social “liberals”, just like social “conservatives”, want to use the government to force people to behave the way they want them to.

    Hence, their support for abortion rights (liberrals never have babies), Miranda rights (liberals are all criminals) and their opposition to conscription (liberals hate the military).

    Absolutely right on both accounts, Episiarch: all of the above positions exemplify both an eagerness to use force, and an effort to force our childless, decacent, pacifist, mobbed-up lifestyle on everyone else.

  44. Most economic conservatives seem to use the supply-side justification for lower taxes ie “It will create general prosperity, help the poor more effectively than any government program, and raise long-run tax receipts.” This is not necessarily wrong, but it misses the economic libertarian point that the government doesn’t have the right to redistribute income in the first place. Thus, there is a major difference in philosophy between economic conservatives and economic libertarians. With social liberals, the difference is even more stark. In general, I would say social liberals are just as dogmatic as social conservatives as to what the proper social order is, as opposed to social libertarians, who say that as long as you don’t assault, steal from, or defraud anyone else, they really don’t give a damn.

  45. joe,
    Yeah, the Johnson administration was really pushing hard to end the draft. And Milton Friedman and his friends were all gung-ho on keeping it.

  46. joe,

    Liberalism has a vision of what the good society looks like, and libertarianism largely doesn’t.

    Got to disagree with this statement. Libertarianism does have a vision of the good society. Its people peacefully interacting without government intervention. Its Galt’s Gulch. Or Rainbow Puppy Island. It may be libertopia, but the vision always is. A vision you can achieve instead of constantly striving for is lame. It is a different vision than liberalism’s, but it does exist. This is a common, and horribly wrong, misinterpretation of libertarianism.

  47. Damn you italics tag!!!

    Insert a mental close italics after the first sentence above.

  48. What the article is describing as socially liberal and economically conservative sounds like it would be a few notches above centrist towards libertarian on a Nolan type chart. I just think it’s enough overlap for a big tent libertarianism.

  49. Hence, their support for abortion rights (liberrals never have babies), Miranda rights (liberals are all criminals) and their opposition to conscription (liberals hate the military).

    This makes no sense. How about restriction of the right to defend oneself? How about forcing people to participate in single payer health care? How about forcing bar owners to ban smoking whether they think it’ll be bad for their business or not?

    You are laughable, joe. The idea that you and your ilk don’t force people to behave the way you want them to is so risible (running gag!) that I am astonished that you have the bald-faced gall to say it.

  50. joe,
    Leftists only get pissed off by government intervention if it involves the threat of not providing a specific benefit (Hence all the screaming and crying ’95 and ’96 when conservatives said that welfare recipients should be required to at least try to find gainful employment).
    “liberals are in favor of racial and gender equality”
    And they’ll move heaven and earth to enforce it. “Comparable worth” (while it has not been implemented yet) is probably the most blatant example. That a culture of dependency has grown up among large numbers of people of certain races, in part through the programs liberals push, or that certain genders might be more likely to choose professions that pay less, is immaterial to their policy considerations.

  51. Episiarch,
    Because if people weren’t forced to participate in national health care, it would fall apart, because criminals have more of a right not to be shot than you have to be secure in your home, and smoking is bad, M’kay?

  52. economist,

    Congratulations on finding an example from over 40 years ago, involving a liberal who agreed with the loingstanding bipartisan consensus about the draft, in order to avoid noticing who broke that consensus, and how the different sides have positioned themselves during the entirety of my lifetime. You really got me there.

  53. robc,

    Its people peacefully interacting without government intervention. See, that’s not a vision of a good society. It completely fails to address all of the actual issuess and problems and dynamics of how people actually live. Segregated by race? Women working, staying home, or some of both? Large gap between classes, or small? Lots of socio-economic mobility, or little?

    You have a vision of government; not of society. “Government not screwing around with people” is about as much of a vision of the good society as “no arsons.”

  54. robc,

    Methinks you don’t know how a Venn diagram works.

    Nothing you said contradicted my description:

    All Libertarians are for economically conservative policies and socially liberal policies (except the cracked and confused ones), but not everyone who identifies as a social liberal/economic conservative is a Libertarian.

    Envision a BIG circle, labeled [Social Liberal] and another BIG circle, overlapping the first, labeled [Economic Conservative]. The area in which they overlap is the Social Liberal/Economic Conservative conjugate domain. *WITHIN THAT DOMAIN*, there is a smaller circle (from polling data and our own experiences, an unfortunately very small circle) which is labeled [Libertarian]. This smaller circle does not by any means fill the entire aforementioned conjugate domain.

    And on that basis, it does not matter *one bit* why those decisions are being made. All that being a “social liberal” means is that you support certain policies and oppose others; ditto for “economic conservative”. And this is how it should be; for ultimately the force of political will is expressed through zero-sum decision procedures (either a vote for office in the case of a citizen, or a vote on a bill in the case of a legislator). Why those decisions happen is between you and your head, and is otherwise irrelevant to the process of *using* political power.

  55. God Episiarch is predictable.

    Look at me, I found some examples of liberal policies that do involve government action. Therefore, I’m right to say that liberalism is about increasing government action.

    Look, a lion, a tiger, and an elephant. I told you this was a large-cat exhibit.

  56. robc,
    I agree with joe that libertarians do not have a clear vision of society that they wish to impose on others. For the true libertarian, if you want to be a superstitious, fundemantalist bigot, we won’t force you to be otherwise (as long as you aren’t an aggressive bigot or fundie). Or, if you want to a hippie living in a commune, we won’t force you to stop that either (as long as you don’t try to force your flaky lifestyle on us normal folks). While these are extreme examples, I would say that the libertarian view of society comes from having the humility to know that one doesn’t really know the one best way that everyone else must live their lives.

  57. Elemenope,

    Im quite aware of how Venn diagrams work. Im arguing that I, and many other libertarians, are not within the social liberal set at all. Some are not within the economic conservative set. Some arent within either.

    Your description is exactly what I thought you meant. And it is wrong.

    I am saying that on social issues, I and social liberals DONT support the same policies. We have some in common, but not enough to put me within the social liberal set.

  58. Yeah, the Johnson administration was really pushing hard to end the draft. And Milton Friedman and his friends were all gung-ho on keeping it.

    The 35th anniversary of President Nixon’s all voluntary US military was this week.

  59. joe,
    Leftists only get pissed off by government intervention if it involves the threat of not providing a specific benefit

    Sure, like the liberal support for Miranda rights, and their opposition to abortion laws.

    It’s all about government benefits. Try again, economist.

  60. Look at me, I found some examples of liberal policies that do involve government action. Therefore, I’m right to say that liberalism is about increasing government action.

    So if part of liberal policy is using government force, it’s not right to say that liberals force people to do what they want?

  61. I think you discount the degree to which liberal support for abortion rights, or opposition to warrantless wiretapping, or opposition to obscenity laws, genuinely does come from a set of principles about the proper relationship between the government and individual liberty. Remember, it was liberals who pushed for things like the Miranda rights and an end to the draft.

    Episiarch’s examples may not be good enough to justify saying that all liberals want to control our lives all the time, but it’s certainly enough to scrutinize where their motivations for picking certain policies come from. It’s certainly not from the same attitude about government and individual liberty that libertarians have. As far as I can tell, liberal definitions of “individual liberty” include moving heaven and earth to make sure that a (perceived) less powerful person is not oppressed by a (perceived) more powerful person. That’s not the same thing.

  62. joe,
    Mostly I was pointing out that there was significant opposition to the draft outside of the left, and that among the old left (represented by Johnson), support for the draft was actually quite strong.
    “A lion, a tiger, and an elephant. I told you it was a large cat exhibit!”
    So you admit that 2/3 of all liberal social policies are based on government coercion?

  63. robc,
    I agree with joe that libertarians do not have a clear vision of society that they wish to impose on others.

    And thus, economist demonstrates his inability to distinguish between two distinct questions: “what is good,” and “what should the government do to pursue good.”

    I didn’t write anything about “that should be forced on others,” economist. I wrote “a vision of the good,” period, full stop. You didn’t even notice that there is a difference.

  64. “Try again, economist”
    “Look, a lion, a tiger and an elephant.”
    Fine, 2/3 of the time leftists only get pissed off because the government threatens not to provide a certain benefit.

  65. ” I didn’t write anything about what should be forced on others, economist”
    If I could suddenly forget everything you’ve written in every other thread I’ve been on, I might believe you.

  66. Reinmoose,

    It’s certainly not from the same attitude about government and individual liberty that libertarians have.

    No, it’s not, though there are similarities.

    Isn’t libertarian opposition to government planning and coercion conceived as not wanting the (perceived) more powerful government oppressing the (perceived) less powerful individual? I mean, how many people go around fretting about the weak oppressing the strong?

    Where the two visions differ – keeping the social/personal freedom realm – is in how they perceive power relations, who they see as the powerful that needs to be restrained from oppressing the weak.

  67. joe and economist,

    I disagree. They willingness to allow the hippy commune and the fundamentalist bigots to exist in the same society, without defining social mobility, racial equaility, etc IS a vision of society. Its just that on a lot of issues we dont care the result. The vision is, everyone interacts peacefully and whatever results results. It cant be any more detailed, heck, I dont even no what planet said society will exist on, and it doesnt matter. The point is societies arent static, they evolve and devolop. Who am I (or you) to say in what ways they should develop? Technological inventions can and will radically change things. And I cant predict what invention will be next. Teleporter booths would dramatically change society. Since I dont know whether or not they will ever exist, I cant include them (or exclude them) from my vision of society. My vision considers both possibilities. Its a very limited basic framework of society that allows all possibilities that can exist within that framework.

    Its an all-incompassing vision.

  68. Congrats to Reinmoose on his definition of the difference between social liberals and social libertarians.

  69. I thought the Democrats were an autonomous collective.

  70. economist, I usually like to think that even the worst-phrased arguments are efforts to express a meaningful point, but your silly obsession with the figure 2/3 is really making it difficult to give you the benefit of the doubt.

    If I could suddenly forget everything you’ve written in every other thread I’ve been on, I might believe you.

    Man, you are the gift that keeps on giving. If you didn’t exist, I’d have to invent you, to serve as an emodiment of the intellectual shortcomings common to libertarians.

    In this case, your incapacity to think through principles and philosophy, apart from policy preference. As you say yourself, you cannot consider, even on the level of an intellectual exercise, the question of the root beliefs of liberalism and libertarianism, without your opinions about the policy outcomes you prefer determining what you think.

  71. Come and see the violence inherent in the system!

  72. who they see as the powerful that needs to be restrained from oppressing the weak

    Your ideas of who is powerful and who is weak are far too arbitrary to make any useful distinction. To you, an employee being fired for not working extra as demanded by their boss is enough to trigger force against the employer.

    Your willingness to use force to right what you, but not others, may feel is an injustice makes liberals much more petty tyrants than anything else.

    It’s not wrong to want to help people. What is wrong is how easily and quickly you will resort to force based on your perception of power imbalances.

    There will always be power imbalances. Trying to fix that just creates different power imbalances.

  73. Oh but if I went ’round sayin’ I was Emperor, just because some moistened bint lobbed a scimitar at me, they’d put me away.

  74. robc,

    Do you have an ideological preference for a society that is segregated by race, or one that is integrated?

    Do you think a society where most employers refuse to promote women to management positions because of beliefs about their proper role is better, worse, or equally good as one in which most employers leave gender out of their consideration?

    I can answer these questions. You know what? I think you can, too.

  75. Isn’t libertarian opposition to government planning and coercion conceived as not wanting the (perceived) more powerful government oppressing the (perceived) less powerful individual? I mean, how many people go around fretting about the weak oppressing the strong?

    I think it’s a bad assumption to say that you could find anyone who would fret about the strong oppressing the weak, because the weak cannot oppress the strong, or they wouldn’t be weak. That’s not a similarity between liberals and libertarians any more than it is a similarity that they both have noses.

  76. Leftists make no distinction between coercive and noncoercive power. For the leftist, if they think that someone (such as a doctor) is charging too much for a service that someone else wants, then because of the doctor’s relative (though noncoercive) power, it would be okay to use (coercive) government power to force the doctor to set a more favorable price for the patient.

  77. As the Chicago Tribune proves on a daily basis, “social liberals” aren’t even social liberals anymore. “Liberal” these days means sin-taxes, hate-speech laws, and the “socially responsible” segregation of identity politics. When the liberals are liberal again, I’ll carry that banner.

  78. Liberals are also concerned about making sure a (perceived) less powerful person (random guy)is not oppressed by a (perceived) more powerful person (himself). I don’t know where you think that has to do with individual liberty, but I would love to hear an explanation.

  79. Episiarch,

    Your ideas of who is powerful and who is weak are far too arbitrary to make any useful distinction. For the purposes of this thread, I’m not really interesting in discussing whether my vision of power relations is better or worse than yours, whether my vision is or is not more “useful.”

    I’ll just note that you confimed my point: both modern liberalism and modern libertarianism share a belief that the central issue in politics is freedom, and curtailing the oppression of the weak by the powerful. That’s because both ideologies share a common liberal spirit based in Enlightenment liberalism, which conservatism does not.

  80. joe,

    You want serious answers, I can do that.

    Do you have an ideological preference for a society that is segregated by race, or one that is integrated?

    I have an ideological preference for those who wish to segregate to do so and those who wish to integrate to do the same. I have a personal preference to live with the 2nd group. I even like getting the other group(s) away from me. Win-win.

    Do you think a society where most employers refuse to promote women to management positions because of beliefs about their proper role is better, worse, or equally good as one in which most employers leave gender out of their consideration?

    I think that allowing an employer his own choice in the matter is what is best for society and that employers who regularly choose poorly will fail relative to those who choose wisely. And that is also good for society.

  81. “If you didn’t exist I’d have to invent you”
    I would think the same of you, joe, if James and MCW had never posted.
    As for the 2/3 figure, I was pointing out your analogy’s flaw, and also making the point that, more often than not, leftists are interested in imposing their vision of a perfect society through force.

  82. Leftists make no distinction between coercive and noncoercive power.

    That’s a bit strong, “no distinction,” but it gets at a valid point: liberals are concerned about power relations as power relations, distinct and apart from the issue of coercion.

    Liberals are also concerned about making sure a (perceived) less powerful person (random guy)is not oppressed by a (perceived) more powerful person (himself). No, not really. You are just using the term “oppression” to try to draw a linguistic connection where no logical one exists. I know where you’re going with this argument – “sin taxes” and fast-food bans and the like – but the liberal position on these is not based on anyone oppressing himself. Rather, it is based on concern about business “oppressing” (though not really oppressing, just mis-serving) customers.

    And please, I’m not interested in discussing whether you think they are right to be so concerned. This is a discussion about philosophical roots, and how those of two movements are similar and different.

  83. the liberal allowance to coerce you “for your own good” (examples: ban on trans fats, anti-drug laws, etc.) and the acceptable collateral dammage on freedom that they will accept (protect the few at the expense of the many)(example: but some people who smoke crack also neglect the needs of their children – so it is acceptable to prevent everyone from smoking crack for the sake of the children of people who can’t handle it)

  84. joe,

    I’m not interested in discussing whether you think they are right to be so concerned. This is a discussion about philosophical roots, and how those of two movements are similar and different.

    Very liberal of you to think you get to control the direction this thread is heading. 🙂

    Especially since I took it in this off-topic direction to begin with. Not that I think I should be able to control the thread either.

  85. Reinmoose,

    Cut off? Was that going some where?

  86. robc,

    You might as well told me which ice cream flavor you prefer, because you completely dodged the question.

    That you need to keep talking about process, rather than answering the question, is my point: liberalism has a vision of the good society, in a way that “whatever outcome the right process generages is good for me” libertarianism does not.

    You can’t even bring yourself to say that racial equality has any stronger standing than an aesthetic preference.

  87. joe –
    Businesses oppress customers by giving them what they want, even after they are aware of the “dangers” of the product they are buying? I don’t think you have any basis to pair that with the philosophy that libertarians adopt.

  88. and curtailing the oppression of the weak by the powerful

    No, no, no, no, NO. You are absolutely wrong, and this is a fundamental failure in your understanding of libertarianism.

    We are against the use of force. Your definition of “oppression” is far too broad for a libertarian to even approach it, especially because you use it to define situations which do not involve any force at all.

    Once again, liberals decide for themselves when a situation involves “oppression”, even if nobody involved feels oppressed and no force was involved. Then you feel perfectly comfortable using force to change the situation into an outcome that you like.

    A perfect example is “sweatshops”. Because a person in a third-world country makes far less than someone in an equivalent factory in the US makes, liberals freak out about them being exploited (therefore “oppressed”). The fact that this person is making far more than they could expect previously is lost on the liberal, and they proceed to try and use force to stop the practice, never even bothering to check with the individuals involved to see if they consider themselves oppressed.

  89. joe,

    My comment at 11:11 is very telling. You have a vision of where this thread is headed. I do to, but my vision is much vaguer than yours. Yours is specific, mine is general. You want to control the thread to reach that specific end, I want to follow some general rules and ride it out and see where it happens to end up.

    Maybe its a “the journey is the destination” kind of thing.

  90. robc,

    If you want to have a discussion about whether libertarianism is better than liberalism, I won’t stop you. You just won’t be having it with me, is all.

  91. Oh, yes – thanks rob c

    I just meant them as examples of spitting on “individual liberty” for the “common good”

  92. joe,

    I believe that all people of all races (and all genders) are endowed by God with the same natural rights. That makes us all equal. That is as far as racial equality goes however.

  93. Reinmoose,

    I don’t think you have any basis to pair that with the philosophy that libertarians adopt. I know you don’t. That’s because you’re a libertarian. I don’t think you have any basis for paring “having to treat your employees like human beings, rather than cattle” with the fight agaisnt oppression, either.

    That’s because you’re a libertarian, and I’m a liberal, and we have different ideas about what expressions of power, and what limitations on the choices of the less powerful, are acceptable. And, once again, I’m not interested in a discussion of which is better right now.

  94. joe,

    That you need to keep talking about process, rather than answering the question, is my point: liberalism has a vision of the good society, in a way that “whatever outcome the right process generages is good for me” libertarianism does not.

    As I said in a post before I saw this, “the journey is the destination”. I really dont care about anything EXCEPT the process. The right process will lead to the right ends. The means ALWAYS justify the ends.

    Maybe it is from me being a christian, not a libertarian, but “do what is right and accept the outcome” seems a great way to live. If is is also typical of libertarians, maybe it is why I see christianity and libertarianism being an easy meld.

  95. Damn you Episiarch, you stole my point from my 10:57 post.
    Just kidding. Heh heh.

  96. joe,

    My point above is that I agree that liberalism and libertarianism have a different type of vision. However, up above, you said libertarianism DOESNT have a vsion. Just becuase it isnt an ends based vision doesnt mean it isnt a vision.

  97. Maybe it is from me being a christian, not a libertarian

    That reads like I am claiming to not be a libertarian. What I meant was “Maybe it is from the aspect of me being a christian, not from the libertarian aspect” or something like that.

    Im an engineer. Words hard.

  98. Now see, joe, you’re getting all emotional about this. I’m not trying to indicate which is better – just that you can’t rightfully trot out “individual liberty” as a cornerstone of liberal thought. Liberals constantly violate “individual liberty” for the “greater good,” and they will openly admit that.

  99. Reinmoose,

    They wont admit it. They will claim that whatever liberty they are violating isnt a legitimate “individual liberty”.

  100. I think that the whole distinction between coercive and non-coercive power is the root of the argument, and the fundamental point of departure between libertarians and leftists.

  101. liberalism has a vision of the good society, in a way that “whatever outcome the right process generages is good for me” libertarianism does not.

    though you did not mean it as such, i think is actually one of the strong points of the minarchist vision.

  102. Episiarch,

    We are against the use of force. Well, no. You’re perfectly comfortable with the use of force to enforce contracts and property rights – even to the point of supporting the use of force, even government force, to allow employers to fend off efforts by their employees to change how a business operates, for example. (Note: this is not an invitation to explain the philosophical basis of why this use of force is appropriate, which I understand just fine.) In the aggregate, you support less overall government force, while I support less force than you in certain areas. Our willingness to accept the use of force stems from different visions of WHEN it is appropriate to use it, which stems in turn from a different visions of what oppression is, and what power relations are proper.

    Your definition of “oppression” is far too broad for a libertarian to even approach it, especially because you use it to define situations which do not involve any force at all. Yes, this is a restatement of my point – of my two points, actually.

    1) Liberals and libertarians define unacceptable force/oppression in differen ways.

    2) Liberals have a vision of a good society, and the shape and actions of the government are consequence of that; while libertarians have a vision of the proper shape and actions of government, and define the good society as “whatever comes into being under that government.”

  103. cue joe’s declaration that Reinmoose and robc are building a straw man.

  104. For the purposes of this thread, I’m not really interesting in discussing

    Translation: I’m unable to refute that point

  105. “even to the point of supporting the use of force to allow employers to fend off attempts by employees to change how a business operates, for example”
    No, you’re confusing us with certain conservatives. I have no problem with employees forming unions and bargaining with employers for better pay/more benefits. However, if the employer decides he doesn’t want to deal with it and instead replaces them, that’s fine with me, too. It’s when the government forces employers to deal with unions that I have a problem.

  106. cue joe’s declaration that Reinmoose and robc are building a straw man.

    You mean he has not declared himself the thread winner, pwner of all and intellectual superior to anybody who dare disagree?

    He must be in need of an aspirin.

  107. I think social liberal means letting people do what they want to do if it doesn’t hurt others. I don’t see anything liberal about smoking bans, food content regulations or mandatory safety bullcrap. All that is just petty tyranny and has nothing to do with any reasonably defined liberalism.

  108. robc,

    I really dont care about anything EXCEPT the process. The right process will lead to the right ends. The means ALWAYS justify the ends.

    Right. You don’t have a vision of what the good society looks like; you have ideas about process, and are willing to see society end up in any position, so long as the process is clean.

    Anyway, I agree that libertarianism has a vision – a vision about process. What I wrote was You have a vision of government; not of society. “Government not screwing around with people” is about as much of a vision of the good society as “no arsons.”

    I certainly agree that libertarianism has a vision – an important one, and one that throws up challenges to, and acts as a brake upon, the ends-based visions of ideologies (like liberalism and conservatism) that DO have visions about society qua society.

  109. libertarians have a vision of the proper shape and actions of government, and define the good society as “whatever comes into being under that government.”

    Not quite true. If there are problems in society, it is not the government’s place to fix them. That is not to say that these problems shouldn’t be fixed. It’s just that using force to do so (whether in the form of government or not) is wrong.

    So you are wrong in saying that libertarians believe that a good society is any that forms with minimal government interference. We believe, first of all, that a pretty good society will probably come about in that situation, and secondly, that if there are problems, they should be approached from a private perspective without the use of force.

  110. What economist said at 11:33am. You always accuse us of not wanting unions to be allowed to form, which is completely seperate from not liking them, which is completely seperate from having a particular grudge against government employees unions.

  111. joe,

    You have a vision of government; not of society.

    And this is wrong. Using my literary example from above, Galt’s Gulch was a society, not just an example of minimal government.

    Exactly what a 6 billion people minimal government society would look like is beyond my exact guess, but it is the peaceful intereacting society Im after, not just the minimal government (which is a necessary part). Once again, its a less specific vision of society, but it IS a vision of society.

  112. Reinmoose,

    just that you can’t rightfully trot out “individual liberty” as a cornerstone of liberal thought It is A cornerstone. We hve more than one, and we constantly have to balance different imperatives.

    economist,

    I think that the whole distinction between coercive and non-coercive power is the root of the argument, and the fundamental point of departure between libertarians and leftists. I think that this distinction is the root of libertarian philosophy, but it’s important to remember that other ideologies are not defined as mirror images of your own, but have their own internal logic.

    dhex,

    though you did not mean it as such, i think is actually one of the strong points of the minarchist vision. I must be doing a good job of staying objective in my descriptions, then.

    economist, cue joe’s declaration that Reinmoose and robc are building a straw man. Actually, cue joe pointing at you and saying “HA HA!”

  113. joe,

    You don’t have a vision of what the good society looks like; you have ideas about process, and are willing to see society end up in any position, so long as the process is clean.

    Here is an important point – if you disagree with this, then you think some end is more important than the clean process, which means, for some specific case, you think the ends justify the means to get there. Which means, you are a thug.

  114. Hey look! A joe vs. everyone thread! I’ll pass.

  115. I think this thread needs to be archived somewhere (and maybe linked on other sites). We seemed to have truly gotten to the root of the differences between libertarianism and liberalism. I think this would open some eyes and explain some things to people who dont quite get libertarianism.

  116. Episiarch,

    Not quite true. If there are problems in society, it is not the government’s place to fix them. That is not to say that these problems shouldn’t be fixed. It’s just that using force to do so (whether in the form of government or not) is wrong.

    True, but there is nothing in libertarianism itself that allows us to define what a problem is, and what needs fixing. If you are a libertarian AND a feminist, you can view massive gender inequality as a problem, but one can still be a libertarian, and be very supportive of gender inequality. Ditto racial inequality, broad class divides, or any other “problem” that is not specifically about government coercion.

    Liberalism contains more a vision about restraints on government, wholly apart from outcomes, than libertarianism contains a vision of society, apart from the proper role of government.

  117. I am with Reinmoose @ 11:35am and economist @ 11:33am.

    All this agreement in such a short time. Is this what freedom is like on the good days?

  118. That’s funny. The dictionary says a cornerstone is “an indispensable and fundamental basis.” Therefore, individual liberty cannot be a cornerstone of liberal thought. It can be taken into consideration, but it is by no means seen as a deal breaker if a policy violates individual liberty.

  119. MP,

    LOL!

  120. Reinmoose, economist,

    Do you support allowing unions to blockade workplaces? Do you support laws forbidding the firing of striking workers?

    Why, no you don’t. You support the use of force, even government force, to prevent workers from doing that – because of your beliefs about property rights. While you don’t support the use of government force to back up workers. You put much more stringent limits on how employees can influence workplaces than I do, based once again on your vision of the proper role of government.

    You always accuse us of not wanting unions to be allowed to form No, I don’t. Ever. I accuse you of not wanting unions to have any power beyond that of a social club – because, once again, your concern is not about what you want the end product to look like, but because of your ideas about the proper role of government.

  121. If you are a libertarian AND a feminist, you can view massive gender inequality as a problem, but one can still be a libertarian, and be very supportive of gender inequality.

    You view massive gender inequality as a problem. So do I. Others do not. But your solution is to force people (using the government) to behave the way you think they should behave. My solution is to try and get them to behave the way I would like them to through argument, incentive, or social pressure–but never through force.

    This is an absolutely critical difference.

  122. robc,

    The only thing your phrase “people interacting peacefully with each other” means is “without government coercion.” When you say you don’t know “exactly” what such a society would look like, you are saying that you don’t have any vision of particulars, beyond the absence of government coercion, and private-sector coercion of the type you want the government to stop. Once again, the government is the limit of your vision.

  123. I accuse you of not wanting unions to have any power beyond that of a social club

    Here you’re getting all emo again. That accusation would also be false, because social clubs don’t exactly have bargaining power, now do they? Collective bargaining is definitely something that we support. We also support the union in its right to alienate those who do not go along with the strikes or those who do not want to join the union. Property rights are a big key, yes, but you said we weren’t here to judge which was better, and here you are getting all emotional about this.

  124. robc, this is what you wrote:

    I really dont care about anything EXCEPT the process. The right process will lead to the right ends. The means ALWAYS justify the ends. I’m not putting words in your mouth. That’s what you wrote.
    .
    Here is an important point – if you disagree with this, then you think some end is more important than the clean process, which means, for some specific case, you think the ends justify the means to get there. Which means, you are a thug. Actually, that you consider people with different political views than yours to be poopy-heads isn’t actually that important.

  125. Liberalism contains more a vision about restraints on government, wholly apart from outcomes,

    My experience with liberals is that it is very outcome-driven, in that it is all about using the government to achieve certain ends.

    Lots of people agree that those ends would be nice. Libertarians have a problem with trying to achieve them by applying the power of the state, on both moral and prudential grounds.

    than libertarianism contains a vision of society, apart from the proper role of government.

    I don’t think this is true either. Libertarianism has a very definite, if often implicit, view of society, one that is very pluralistic and dense with non-governmental institutions and relations.

  126. Reinmoose,

    That’s funny. The dictionary says a cornerstone is “an indispensable and fundamental basis.” Therefore, individual liberty cannot be a cornerstone of liberal thought.

    Does not follow. Pitching and batting are both conerstones of building a baseball team, and yet teams with budgets will sometimes not sign a pitcher, because they need to leave more funds available for offense.

    If libertarianism had, I don’t know, as many as two cornerstone principles, this dynamic would be obvious to you.

  127. joe,

    If I thought I had the power to predict the behavior of 6 billion people absent government coercion, I would give you more details of the society. I cant even predict what I would do, much less anyone else. I just am acknowledging the limits of the oracle.

    Anyone who has a more detailed vision that me is either lying to themselves about their predictive power or the vision includes a freezing of invention and social movement.

    The loom made a massive change in gender equality. I have no idea what concept shattering changes will take place to even predict levels of gender equality or the like. So I dont.

    However, “peaceful interaction” is about more than just lack of government coercion. It is a change in people’s attitudes too, where they dont expect government coercion. Where rent seeking doesnt exist. Where borders are open and people freely travel from one part of the world to another. Where 2.3 billion people live in Nova Scotia (see, prediction is hard, bet you didnt know that one was going to happen).

  128. Episiarch,

    You view massive gender inequality as a problem. Yes, because of my liberalism

    So do I. For reasons having nothing to do with your libertarianism, but with your having beliefs outside of and in addition to llibertarianism.

  129. You were doing so well there, Reinmoose, but now you’ve started to get emotional yourself. You might have noticed, I haven’t written a single word about YOU, whereas you are now writing post after post about how there is something wrong with me.

    So, I’m going to ignore you now.

  130. That’s funny. The dictionary says a cornerstone is “an indispensable and fundamental basis.” Therefore, individual liberty cannot be a cornerstone of liberal thought.

    Does not follow. Pitching and batting are both conerstones of building a baseball team, and yet teams with budgets will sometimes not sign a pitcher, because they need to leave more funds available for offense.

    Bzzzzz. Wrong. Try again.

  131. joe,

    I’m not putting words in your mouth. That’s what you wrote.

    I know. I was agreeing with your assessment. And then I followed it to the logical conclusion. Which is, if you dont agree with me, then x, then y, then my interpretation of people who support y.

    Are you saying that you sometimes dont believe that the ends justify the means? If you arent, then you actually agree with me that the means are all thats important (that doesnt exclude choosing between different legitimate means to achieve different ends). I think I am on safe footing with “People who say that the ends justify the means are thugs”.

  132. For reasons having nothing to do with your libertarianism, but with your having beliefs outside of and in addition to libertarianism.

    Not true. If the massive inequality is maintained through force, I am all for using force to stop it, which is part of libertarianism. However, most massive inequality through time has been enforced by…government. Remove government’s ability to do this, and you remove the problem.

    If the inequality is not maintained by force, but by, say, tradition, then force is not the way to solve it–again a libertarian position.

  133. So, I’m going to ignore you now.

    Oh MAN! SWEET!

    Guys, guys! Did you see this? joe’s going to ignore me! ME! I can’t believe it.

    I’d like to thank my dad for giving me strong argumentation tools, and my mom for… making sure I didn’t die as an infant.

  134. RC,

    My experience with liberals is that it is very outcome-driven, in that it is all about using the government to achieve certain ends.

    Half true. I wrote that sentence with a “more…than” construction for a reason, but I’m certainly not arguing that liberalism isn’t outcome-driven; I’ve argued just the opposite. My point here is that liberalism is not ONLY outcome-driven. What “outcome,” other than the restraint of government, explains the ACLU’s defense of the Skokie Nazi march?

    Libertarianism has a very definite, if often implicit, view of society, one that is very pluralistic and dense with non-governmental institutions and relations.

    But this is still process. You want “stuff” to be done by private organizations rather than the government, but what “stuff?” The libertarian answer is, “whatever stuff the individuals want” – ergo, no vision of what is good, other than the process.

  135. I dont know who Dan Eldon is but I apparently stole the phrase “the journey is the destination” from him.

  136. joe,

    no vision of what is good

    How about – The individual is good. Hah. Not just about government now, is it?

  137. ergo, no vision of what is good, other than the process

    Not to get all morally equivalent on you, joe, but just because you think something is good doesn’t mean it should be foisted on others. One example: wealth redistribution.

    Libertarianism tries to stay out, as much as possible, of these battles of what constitutes “good”. We’ve decided that “not forcing others to do things” is a very good baseline for “good”.

  138. In the case of us not supporting unions being able to violate the property and individual rights of their employer, it’s because individual rights are necessary in libertarianism, regardless of whose they are. We are for the protection of the few from the many AND the protection of the many from the few.

    Liberals are only for individual rights trumping other things if it’s defending the many from the few, and if it’s defending the few from the many, provided that the few are not seen to be more powerful than the many.

  139. robc,

    How about – The individual is good. Hah. Not just about government now, is it? An individual isn’t society. I do not dispute that you have a strong opinion about individuals not being prevented from doing what they want.

    Episiarch,

    Not to get all morally equivalent on you, joe, but just because you think something is good doesn’t mean it should be foisted on others. One example: wealth redistribution. Yeah, well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man. 😉

    Libertarianism tries to stay out, as much as possible, of these battles of what constitutes “good”. We’ve decided that “not forcing others to do things” is a very good baseline for “good”.

    This is my point – you stay out of conceiving what is the good society, beyond limiting government.

  140. Hmm, that needs some tweaking. Libertarians certainly believe the good society involves people not having their rights (as libertarians conceive them) being violated by other individuals, too.

    So, instead of you stay out of conceiving what is the good society, beyond limiting government, make that:

    You stay out of conceiving what is the good society, beyond your vision of the government doing only what you deem its proper role.

  141. Guys, guys! Did you see this? joe’s going to ignore me! ME! I can’t believe it.

    You rock doode!

    Just don’t count your chickens before they hatch. That hatchet is buried with the handle sticking from the ground. Was a wooden nickle offered?

  142. joe,

    An individual isn’t society.

    An individual is a subset of society. They also create society. I envision a world in which all individuals can create the society they want*.

    You seem to have a problem with individuals creating whatever society they want because that isnt specific in advance. Yeah, Im not being specific, but Im not being specific because I dont know what everyone wants. The resulting society I envision will be some soft of peaceful melding together of 6 billion different wants.

    *some restrictions may apply. Not valid in Rhode Island.

  143. joe,

    Liberals tend to support conscription more than conservatives.They like the collectivism and coercion of it all.

  144. I have two generic problems with the left. First, they have a greater tendency than most to fall for the ends-justifies-the-means fallacy.

    Second, they tend to view the government as the only solution to any problem. When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. I don’t believe that the government hammer has worked as effectively as some people believe to solve social and economic inequities, to the extent that these things have been solved. There’s a lot more that happens cooperatively, in society at large, that people wielding the government hammer can’t see, because all they see are their nails.

    In other words, the libertarian view is that social and other problems can be and should be addressed outside of government. The liberal view appears to be that only government action can solve such problems. Government action requires compulsion or it doesn’t work, so supporting government intervention to solve all of your problems is supporting the use of force, Q.E.D. Most libertarians recognize that some force may be necessary to ultimately protect individual rights (e.g., enforcing the rule of law), but that, ideally, the exercise of that force should be a last resort, not the first.

  145. robc,

    I have a problem with you not being specific because you won’t even say that a society without racism or sexism or poverty is better than a society that features those.

    It really has nothing to do with your statements about individuals.

    Once again, other ideologies are not polar opposites of your own – they have their own internal logic, and the people who adhere to them are NOT motivated by some Bizarro Kirk version of your own ideology.

    Ask Civil Rights Act opponent Barry Goldwater about that.

    SIV,

    No, they do not. Every poll ever taken shows that conscription is vasly more popular among self-described conservatives than among liberals. I can understand how you’d make this mistake; how it is consistent with your political ideology to assume that incorrection factoid. You’d do well to conform your political beliefs to the objective world, than to assume things about the outside world based on your political ideology.

  146. joe,

    I have a problem with you not being specific because you won’t even say that a society without racism or sexism or poverty is better than a society that features those.

    En cetera paribus, a society without racism, sexism, or poverty is better than a society with them.

    En cetera paribus, a society with vanilla ice cream is better than a society without it.

    But these arent the choices Im being offered. Racism, sexism, poverty and vanilla ice cream are ends. The means to eliminate/create them may or may not be acceptable. In other words, I dont know if my vision of society will have racism or poverty (or vanilla ice cream) in it. Hopefully the right means will lead to ending those (or allowing it) but that is personal preference, not ideological.

  147. joe,

    Once again, other ideologies are not polar opposites of your own – they have their own internal logic, and the people who adhere to them are NOT motivated by some Bizarro Kirk version of your own ideology.

    I dont think I ever claimed otherwise. If, however, you are referring to my ends/means comment, I will see that any ideology in which they internal logic says that ends are more important than means is a thuggish ideology.

  148. joe,

    Got any cites on who supports conscription?
    I googled a bit and the only support I could find was Democrat Party politicians and bloggers at all the Traitor sites like communistdreams and huffington post.

    My informal research suggests you pulled that one out of your ass.

  149. robc,

    Opposition to systems of power relations, such as racism or sexism, is inherently ideological. Your opposition to sexism, racism, and poverty is ideological – they just stem from a different ideology than libertarianism. They come from a place outside of libertarianism, because you DO have a vision of the good society, apart from your libertarianism. On that we are agreed.

    SIV,

    If you can google columns, you can google polls, too. Conscription bills have been popular among Democratic politicians in recent years as stunts to embarrass the Republicans by getting people to talk about the administration’s appalling overuse of the military, and the elitist skew in who serves and sacrifices in this war. That none of them even get out of committee is an indication of their sponsors’ seriousness, and he support the idea actually enjoys among Democrats.

  150. The squirrels keep changing my handle.

  151. But they also overwhelmingly say cutting taxes should be a high priority

    I think i like this Mushy middle.

  152. Anyway this gallop poll is a bit more interesting and far more informative:

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/108445/Americans-Oppose-Income-Redistribution-Fix-Economy.aspx

  153. If you can google columns, you can google polls, too. Conscription bills have been popular among Democratic politicians in recent years as stunts to embarrass the Republicans by getting people to talk about the administration’s appalling overuse of the military, and the elitist skew in who serves and sacrifices in this war. That none of them even get out of committee is an indication of their sponsors’ seriousness, and he support the idea actually enjoys among Democrats.

    Well there is that and then there is americorp. Democrats views of conscription and service to government is a bit more then a ploy. Hell just look how often they conflate community with government. It should also be noted that such ideas are the opposite of liberal in origin and flavor.

  154. Is there a better example of the difference between liberal and libertarian social policy prescriptions than fucking hate crime legislation? The liberals fall all over themselves creating classes of victims. The libertarians believe that an assault is an assault.

  155. joe,

    Opposition to systems of power relations, such as racism or sexism, is inherently ideological. Your opposition to sexism, racism, and poverty is ideological – they just stem from a different ideology than libertarianism. They come from a place outside of libertarianism, because you DO have a vision of the good society, apart from your libertarianism. On that we are agreed.

    Here is the problem, I can imagine 2 societies:

    Society A has no poverty, no racism.

    Society B has poverty and racistm.

    Society B is better than society A. Not due to those things, but due to others. A may be an oppressive police state, for example, while B is located on Rainbow Puppy Island.

    B may not be perfect, but it was achieved thru libertarian style means. A got rid of some bad things thru some thuggish means.

    I will take B every time.

    Its why I prepended my comments above with “En cetera paribus”. To be honest, I think racism, sexism and poverty will always be with us. Any realistic vision of society includes them.

  156. joe,

    The h&r greasemonkey script not only allows blocking of certain users, it prefills my name for me so I cant accidentally screw it up. I have to manually change it to joke names and then it changes back for my next post.

    BTW, Dennis was me. See, I didnt screw that up and post under Dennis.

  157. I have no idea what the vast amount of liberals and conservatives think about conscription, I’ve heard it argued by both. I don’t know many people that are pro-conscription, but there are more liberals in this group from my experiences (which also include alot more liberals in general, so I wouldn’t interpret this to mean anything beyond this sample). Apparently conscription can be argued from a liberal point of view to fix race and income disparities among who risks their lives to protect our country and/or to make politicians have to worry about their own family members being conscripted.

  158. Rainbow puppy island sounds good to me. Especially if there are puppies on an island.

  159. joshua,

    Americorp is a volunteer organization. No conscription. Sorry, no.

    J sub D,

    There are zero additional victims created by hate crimes laws. They simply enhance penalties for people convicted of crimes. Sorry, no.

    robc,

    I typed the joke name into the field, but it didn’t change back the next time I posted. I typed “joe” back into the field, but the next time I posted, it went back to the joke name – even though the “remember me” box was checked when I posted as joe.

    BTW, what precepts of libertarianism lead you to believe that society is better, all else being equal, without racism? Please note, I’m asking about precepts of libertarianism.

  160. joe:

    I have a problem with you not being specific because you won’t even say that a society without racism or sexism or poverty is better than a society that features those.

    please see:

    other ideologies are not polar opposites of your own

    The assertion that libertarianism, due to its not espousing a vision of The Good Society beyond limiting the initiation of force, is somehow “not really an ideology” seems a bit like the pot calling the kettle black.

  161. joe,

    I did not claim any additional victims. I faulted the B/S legislation “creating classes of victims”.

    An assault is an assault. To a libertarian, whether it’s because you don’t like someones race or don’t like the way they walk doesn’t really matter.

  162. robc,

    The h&r greasemonkey script not only allows blocking of certain users, it prefills my name for me so I cant accidentally screw it up. I have to manually change it to joke names and then it changes back for my next post.

    BTW, Dennis was me. See, I didnt screw that up and post under Dennis.

    Don’t criticize the Master. He knows more than all of us about everything, including the internet.

  163. “That’s my point. You stay out of conceiving what’s good for society, beyond limiting government”
    That’s not what the argument was about. It was about your insistence on using government to create the society you want.

  164. economist,

    No, that’s not what the argument was about. The other people involved in the argument had no difficulty figuring that out.

    Fortisquince, quote marks are used to, you know, quote somebody. Not only did I never write that libertarianism was “not really an ideology,” but I’ve never even implied it. Rather, I’ve argued that libertarianism is an ideology – and often called it that – which doesn’t have a vision of the good society, only of the good government.

  165. joshua,

    Americorp is a volunteer organization. No conscription. Sorry, no.

    I do not recall volunteering to pay for it.

  166. The assertion that libertarianism, due to its not espousing a vision of The Good Society beyond limiting the initiation of force, is somehow “not really an ideology” seems a bit like the pot calling the kettle black.

    Is anyone really saying libertarianism not an ideology? The argument is that libertarianism is better ideology then socialism because it allows other ideologies to exist within it.

    Plus you know socialism is an ideology that says that it can stamp out racism, poverty and sexism at the expense of eliminating rule of law and equal protection under the law and has had exactly 100% failure rate in achieving those goals.

  167. BTW, what precepts of libertarianism lead you to believe that society is better, all else being equal, without racism? Please note, I’m asking about precepts of libertarianism.

    It depends on your definition of racism. If you take the definition that racism is the use of state power to pick winners and losers based on race then i would say racism is the antithesis of libertarianism which holds that the state must hold everyone equal under the law.

    A state that treats all individuals regardless of race equal under the law is a more libertarian state so I presume a libertarian would perceive that state as better then one that does not.

    Of course in a libertarian state individuals would have the right to participate in what ever society he/she wished.

    Note: Unlike you I did not conflate state and society.

  168. joe,
    Your whole argument rests on implying that in a libertarian society, racism, sexism, poverty, and all those other things would still be present (probably correct) because the only way to solve them is through government intervention (probably incorrect. Some things you can never completely get rid of.) You then use this assumption that the society that your form of government would encourage is better to justify leftists’ support for coercive social and economic policies.

  169. Plus, joe, you have a way of making arguments somewhat eclectic. That is, whenever you’re losing the argument on one point, you bring up another, thus shifting the topic of the discussion.

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