News & Criticism

They Listened to Me! Run for Your Lives!

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New York Times columnist David Brooks today rightly warns about the economic threat of the coming unified Democratic government, concluding:

What we're going to see, in short, is the Gingrich revolution in reverse and on steroids. There will be a big increase in spending and deficits. In normal times, moderates could have restrained the zeal on the left. In an economic crisis, not a chance. The over-reach is coming. The backlash is next.

What Brooks left out: That four years ago, he was hailing "the death of small-government conservatism" and the repudiation of Gingrichism as the Republicans' great chance "to become the majority party for the next few decades."

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  1. It’s doom turtles all the way down.

  2. The over-reach is coming. The backlash is next.

    This should be present tense, what with all the bailouts … though the end of what passes for divided gov’t should accelerate the rush to statism.

  3. One day I’d love to see someone big call these assholes out for their contradictions, failed predictions, and downright lies.

    Oh well, I can dream. Of Brooks getting kneecapped.

  4. Invading Iraq for no reason and cutting taxes at the same time didn’t increase the deficit?

  5. Geotpf,

    You do realize you are posting on a site with primarily anti-war posters, right?

    That this isnt some right wing site?

    You should probably just go back to fark.

  6. Invading Iraq for no reason and cutting taxes at the same time didn’t increase the deficit?

    It did, which is all the more reason to not give the dems both houses and the presidency. Pelosi’s already gearing up for “investing” in her pet programs regardless of any accrued bailout costs she just spent. It’s going to be very bad. Our only hope is gridlock.

  7. Theological Terms

    The Market = The Lord
    Milton Friedman = St. Paul
    Chicago School = Fathers of the Church
    Ron Paul = Pope Benedict XVI
    Libertarian = Faithful member of the True Church
    Democrat = Statist
    Republican = Heretic
    Statist = Atheist
    Socialist = Communist
    Communist = Satan
    Libertopia = Heaven
    Sweden = Hell
    The State = The root of all evil

  8. I’m just saying that saying the Democrats are going to increase the deficit kind of assumes that the Republicans didn’t do the same damned thing.

    Look, here are the philosophies of the two parties:

    Democrats spend a lot of money, but mostly on things that benefit the nation, like health care and infrastruture and schools, and make an attempt to pay for such with taxes.

    Republicans spend a lot of money as well, but mostly on stupid shit like invading countries for no reason, and then refuse to pay for such spending.

    If one is an actual libertarian (instead of a lower-my-taxes-damnit-arian), and is presented with those two (and only those two) choices, which is better (or less worse)?

  9. Our only hope is gridlock.

    Im hoping for a previously undiscovered fault to open up and swallow DC. I think the odds are in my favor.

  10. Cue dogs and cats living together in 3… 2… 1…

  11. Geotpf,

    I never have only two choices. This is my major themes on this site. I keep arguing this in circles with our house liberal.

  12. Hail Market,
    Full of grace,
    Prosperity is with thee.
    Blessed art thou among systems,
    and blessed is the fruit
    of thy womb, Capital.
    Holy Market,
    Mother of Goods,
    pray for us consumers now,
    and at the hour of our bankruptcy.
    Amen.


  13. make an attempt to pay for such with taxes.

    BTW, I have to shoot this down. Where was the $700 billion tax increase (actually, 800 after pork) attached to the bailout bill? The Dems made no attempt to pay for that spending with taxes.

  14. Lefiti, it seems to me that a belief in a benevolent and all-powerful state is closer to “religion” than belief in a market (a major characteristic of which is lack of central control).

  15. anoNY

    The idea is not to worship anything, idiot.

  16. Lefiti,
    Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter

  17. Brooks is a buffoon. He suits the NYT perfectly because he enables the paper to claim it has “balance” among its columnists, while at the same time he only makes the other columnists seem smarter by contrast with his block-headed-ness.

  18. Please ignore Lefiti/Edward/Dan T./whoever he is this month. He just wants attention. He’s kind of like a child.

  19. I still say it’s Gillespie.
    No, wait. joe is Gillespie. Maybe Mangu-Ward.

  20. robc | October 14, 2008, 12:45pm | #

    Geotpf,

    I never have only two choices. This is my major themes on this site. I keep arguing this in circles with our house liberal.

    As a practical matter, there are only two choices in 99% of American elections. Now, if you want to change the Republican Party (or Democratic Party, for that matter) in a more libertarian direction, the primary is where it’s at. Vote for libertarian leaners over neocon wingnuts in the Republican primary. But in the general election, 99% of the time, a vote for somebody other than the Republican or Democrat is a vote to not to vote, to not change the outcome of the election. Welcome to the real world, enjoy your stay.

  21. What on earth are you talking about, Warren?

  22. You’re such a moron, Angry Optimist.

  23. Geotpf,

    I have lived 39+ years in my world, I have no interest in joining your “real” one, thank you very much.

    It isnt just about elections, there are all kinds of choices that can be made – leaving the country, throwing a revolution, arranging your life so that politics has little to no effect.

    Im in favor of two of those 3.

  24. robc | October 14, 2008, 12:46pm | #

    make an attempt to pay for such with taxes.

    BTW, I have to shoot this down. Where was the $700 billion tax increase (actually, 800 after pork) attached to the bailout bill? The Dems made no attempt to pay for that spending with taxes.

    Bush would veto any bill with taxes attached to it, of course. Plus, it would have zero Republican support, so, since the Democratic support for it wasn’t universal, the bill would fail in the first place (like it did the first time in the House).

  25. Geotpf,

    When your goal is not be be hit in the face with a stick, it really doesn’t make much of an impact to argue the superiority of ash over rock maple.

  26. The little Gingrich revolution that could became the train to nowhere.

  27. Democrats raise taxes only on the middle class and above, while Republicans “raise taxes” via inflation on everyone. Of the two, the latter is preferable because everyone should have “skin in the game” whenever government spending is increased.

  28. Geotpf,

    Bush would veto any bill with taxes attached to it, of course. Plus, it would have zero Republican support, so, since the Democratic support for it wasn’t universal, the bill would fail in the first place (like it did the first time in the House).

    So, it would have been an improvement over the piece of trash that actually passed then?

    No wonder the dems didnt do that.

  29. But in the general election, 99% of the time, a vote for somebody other than the Republican or Democrat is a vote to not to vote, to not change the outcome of the election.

    Vote for the guy who’s going to win. Good plan. Got it.

  30. The last time the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the White House, they implemented a fiscal program which restrained spending and reduced the deficit.

    The last time they Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and the White House, they implemented a fiscal program which ballooned spending and blew up the deficit.

    Therefore, we need to be afraid of the Democrats increasing spending and growing the deficit.

    It would take quite a few Nancy Pelosi wish lists to equal a single Iraq War. I find it at least as likely that President McCain would start another one of those, than that a President Obama and a Democratic Congress would pass budgets with record deficits, as the Republicans did year after year since 2002.

  31. But I’d be happy to vote for balsa, SF.

  32. when it’s gonna be birch.

  33. http://wlsam.com/article.asp?id=934062&SPID=17549

    Dennis Moore (Obama) lets it out of the bag – “we need to spread the wealth around”. Lacks the “this redistribution of wealth is trickier than I thought” punch line.

  34. when’s it gonna be bitch?

  35. But in the general election, 99% of the time, a vote for somebody other than the Republican or Democrat is a vote to not to vote, to not change the outcome of the election.

    The odds that you are going to change the outcome of the election based on your one vote approach impossibility. The idea that you will means you reside in the fantasy land of which you are so disdainful.

  36. Lefiti, it seems to me that a belief in a benevolent and all-powerful state is closer to “religion” than belief in a market

    I’ve never seen anyone write about there being a benevolent and all-powerful state. In fact, I see liberals complaining about this or that aspect of the state all the time, and calling for this or that activity of the state to be curtailed.

    Ever see a market fundamentalist complain about any aspect of the market? Or call for some market activity to be curtailed?

  37. Geotpf,

    Dead people have a bigger say in the election than you do….welcome to the real world.

    Your vote doesn’t matter even if you do vote for one of the two parties. When has a state ever swung on one vote in a presidential election? if it has happened the people never find out about it because the real power comes in counting the votes…not voting.

    If it is real close (less than 1000 votes)then judges decide.

  38. Never fear. McCain will win. Remember, you heard it here first.

  39. CN,

    Balsa is just a pie-in-the-sky third party and you know it. Grow up and join the real world.

  40. Or call for some market activity to be curtailed?

    Not by force, joe. The fact that you’ve equivocated two very different things tell me you still really don’t understand.

  41. “Ever see a market fundamentalist complain about any aspect of the market? Or call for some market activity to be curtailed?”

    Brilliant, Joe, you secular skeptic!

  42. Citizen Nothing,

    But I’d be happy to vote for balsa, SF.

    Balsa? What are you, one of those nutjob “third wood” people? Dont you know you can only get hit in the face with two woods – there is no point in choosing something else. Loser.

  43. oh now I get it. Lefiti = shrike.

    anywho, don’t feed the trolls, regardless of how much they “laud” you for being so brilliant.

  44. No, Lefiti is Edward.

  45. Angry Optimist

    You can’t “equivocate” two different things. What’s your native language? Please don’t say it’s English.

  46. BTW, I have to shoot this down. Where was the $700 billion tax increase (actually, 800 after pork) attached to the bailout bill? The Dems made no attempt to pay for that spending with taxes.

    The Democrats wrote in changes to the 3-page, buy-MBSs Paulson bill that make it much more likely that the government will recover some or all of the costs of this bill, such as by buying equity shares instead of just bad debt.

  47. BDB

    That’s like saying Paul is Ron.

  48. Um, the primaries are over.

  49. Firefox+Greasemonkey+INCIF == no Lefiti.

    Plus I dont screw up my name after a spoof post, becuase INCIF handles it for me.

    How do you people put up with seeing posts from Lefiti, LoneWacko and etc?

  50. Anyone else notice that when one party has control, they behave in large part like the other party?

    Got to appease those moderate swing voters somehow right?

  51. TAO,

    Believe it or not, there is actually a point being made beyond ZOMG! teh force!

    Here, let me walk you through it again, since it clearly went over your head:

    Lefiti, it seems to me that a belief in a benevolent and all-powerful state is closer to “religion” than belief in a market

    You see that statement that I replied to? See any references to force is there? Think maybe there’s some other point being made, that I was responding to?

    Optimist, I could put together a better 2000 words on the history and theory of libertarianism than you could at this point. You really don’t need to be condescending to me about what I “don’t get” about it.

  52. robc, you don’t find the trolls at least a bit amusing?

  53. Geotpf,
    Your line of thinking about “throwing away your vote” is the very thing that will prevent ANY changes from occurring. The status quo has gotten us into this mess, and if any changes are going to happen anytime in the future, that attitude MUST change. That’s the real world. What we’re living in now is some Bizarro World version…now you’ll have to excuse me while I dig around for my box of red kryptonite.

  54. How do you people put up with seeing posts from Lefiti, LoneWacko and etc?

    Like most fundamentalists, market fundamentalists are very good at seeing what they want to see.

  55. Wow, we are being lectured on faith by a guy who things that our lives will be improved if the most powerful group with guns is permitted to tell people what to make and what to consume.

    Until today, I didn’t know that there were people whose eye sockets could accommodate a 2X4.

  56. lol dont mind me guys just trollin’

  57. joe, that whooshing sound? Don’t worry about it.

  58. Only if the right people are in charge, tarran.

  59. “that whooshing sound?”

    Jesus. Here we go.

  60. Citizen Nothing,

    For about 5 posts. Then I add them to my list. I never filtered Dan T, although I think he disappeared before I started using it. But even so, I wouldnt have filtered him. Provide me with some entertainment in your trolling. I wish I could filter out the posts in response to the trolls too.

  61. Yawn.

    I thought this was a very simple argument:

    I’ve never seen anyone write about there being a benevolent and all-powerful state. In fact, I see liberals complaining about this or that aspect of the state all the time, and calling for this or that activity of the state to be curtailed.

    Ever see a market fundamentalist complain about any aspect of the market? Or call for some market activity to be curtailed?

    but I guess I’ll have to dumb it down for the lesser lights:

    The people who have the same answer to every question are more faith-based than the people whose answer depends on the facts of the case. The people who declare an institution infallible are more faith-based in regards to that institution than the people who regularly find fault with the institution they are said to “worship.”

    Let’s turn it around: I see liberals discuss the benefits of markets all the time, and talking about different things they do well. When was the last time you saw a market fundamentalist do the same in regards to government?

  62. Joe,
    I’ve never seen a government-power- fundamentalist-worshiper come up with an idea to decrease government power.

    have you?

    Yet, I have seen classical liberals propose new government programs to end/replace old attrociously unfair or inefficient government programs.

    All government-power-fundamentalist-worshipers will never admit that a old failed government program should be ended.

  63. Ever see a market fundamentalist complain about any aspect of the market? Or call for some market activity to be curtailed?

    I seem to recall a couple of posts about curtailing iffy mortgages given to people who shouldn’t have had them to begin with.

  64. Thanks for shitting all over these comments, Lefiti.

  65. Only if the right people are in charge, tarran.

    See, this is another intellectual failure endemic to libertarianism; they can’t think about policy, only people or, at best, groups.

    You can talk until you’re blue in the face about this policy versus that policy, about how doing things in one manner will lead to different outcomes than doing things in a different manner, but you just get these blank stares, and the repetition of this cliche about “the right people.” Nobody’s said a word about people.

  66. I’ve provoked an interesting debate about faith-based ideology, so fuck you, Bingo.

  67. Joe,
    I’ve never seen a government-power- fundamentalist-worshiper come up with an idea to decrease government power

    Really?

    You’ve never seen a liberal decry the Patiot Act? You’ve never heard of the liberal/left push to protect the rights of the accused that culminated in the Miranda ruling? You’ve never seen liberals complain about censorship? You’ve never heard of liberals decrying the drug war?

    Alternately, you’ve never seen a religious-right conservative talk about lower taxes and smaller government?

    You need to expand your reading list.

  68. JW,

    I seem to recall a couple of posts about curtailing iffy mortgages given to people who shouldn’t have had them to begin with. And I seem to recall that the blame for those iffy mortgages was placed squarely on government intervention, in the form of mandates and incentives that changed the behavior of lenders.

  69. “Ever see a market fundamentalist complain about any aspect of the market? Or call for some market activity to be curtailed?”

    Does Rothbard’s bromides against fractional reserve banking count? Or is Rothbard not a free market fundamentalist? Or is the banking system too minor a thing to care about?

    How about Milton Friedman’s support of anti-trust law? Or his opposition to free markets in money?

    joe, sure there are some wild eyed utopians calling themselves supporters of free markets.

    Most of the ones I know are hard-nosed realists, who recognize that forcing people to alter their behavior at gunpoint tends to produce very shitty outcomes.

  70. Ever see a market fundamentalist complain about any aspect of the market? Or call for some market activity to be curtailed?

    Markets have neither aspects nor activities. A market is just a hypothetical construct used to describe a situation when A is traded for B.

  71. “Most of the ones I know are hard-nosed realists, who recognize that forcing people to alter their behavior at gunpoint tends to produce very shitty outcomes.”

    I’ll bet nobdoy has ever held a gun to your head and forced you to do anything, you stupid fuck.

  72. And I seem to recall that the blame for those iffy mortgages was placed squarely on government intervention, in the form of mandates and incentives that changed the behavior of lenders.

    You are correct, sir. And I do believe that many of those same people objecting to the first wanted to curtail the second as well. In fact, if you had curtailed the mandates and incentives, you wouldn’t have had to curtail the market to begin with. Problem solved before it started.

    And yes, I say screw the lenders in this mess too.

  73. joe,

    And I seem to recall that the blame for those iffy mortgages was placed squarely on government intervention, in the form of mandates and incentives that changed the behavior of lenders.

    You left out the lenders and borrowers. Plenty of blame to go around. And it was all directly properly (well, except some of the CRA stuff).

  74. In addition to being a hypothetical construct, a market can neither succeed nor fail, it just exists. If market worship were a religion, it would be Buddhism.

  75. You can talk until you’re blue in the face about this policy versus that policy, about how doing things in one manner will lead to different outcomes than doing things in a different manner, but you just get these blank stares, and the repetition of this cliche about “the right people.” Nobody’s said a word about people.

    You come to a libertarian site and you’re surprised when folks who find the the concept of the state itslef that implemented the policies improper on the face of it, don’t want to get all caught up in the intricacies of the fine print? Seriously?

  76. robc

    If you had a brain, it would be shit.

  77. Does Rothbard’s bromides against fractional reserve banking count?

    The blame for which, IIRC, was put on the existence and activities of central banks.

    How about Milton Friedman’s support of anti-trust law?

    Once again, he supports it only as a response to a problem that he blames on government – monopolies, like risky loans, arising only (allegedly) because of government intervention. So no, supporting a law intended to counteract the effects of the government on the market doesn’t count.

    Or his opposition to free markets in money? Too meta.

  78. I’ll bet nobdoy has ever held a gun to your head and forced you to do anything, you stupid fuck.

    And most of the black people living in the south under Jim Crow never got kicked out of a whites-only restroom. I’ll bet 99.9% never even tried to cross the threshold of a door marked “whites only” when they came upon one. Does that mean that they weren’t the victims of segregation – that it was voluntary?

  79. joe,

    “Ever see a market fundamentalist complain about any aspect of the market? Or call for some market activity to be curtailed?”

    Never! That would be market apostasy.

    PS: You’re begging the question.

  80. You come to a libertarian site and you’re surprised when folks who find the the concept of the state itslef that implemented the policies improper on the face of it, don’t want to get all caught up in the intricacies of the fine print? Seriously?

    To add to what JW said, you first need to prove to us using our premises that the state has the moral authority to undertake these actions before we are going to discuss the frickin details.

  81. You are correct, sir. And I do believe that many of those same people objecting to the first wanted to curtail the second as well. In fact, if you had curtailed the mandates and incentives, you wouldn’t have had to curtail the market to begin with. Problem solved before it started.

    So in other words, JW, this is not a case of libertarians denouncing the actions of the market, but of the government’s distortion of the market.

  82. Joe,
    You just don’t recognize that problems with free markets are simply treated a different way by people who don’t get a thrill out of pushing people around at the barrel of a gun(libertarians).

    The market “failed” me today. I paid $1800 for a guy to do some work in my yard(moving a stone wall around, building a step and planting some grass. The guy didn’t do a very good job and my wfie is all pissed. The good laandscape guy wasn’t available for this job so I ended up looking for a new guy and he sucked. The guy is a part time boxer and I honestly think his brain is not all there. I wish I’d known earlier.

    A government-power-fundamentalist-worshiper would lobby for greater licensing of landscapers, or outlawing boxing or perhaps insist that I hire only union workers instead of part timers trying to earn cash on the weekends or perhaps you complain that I should be forced to not waste my resources on this stupid stuff in the first place and demand I donate more money to recycling projects.

    Instead a volitionist like myself just says, maybe I’ll be more loyal to the good landscaper and wait for him next time.

    Whatever failures we see in the markets, we also see that the government interventions usually magnify the market failures.

  83. I’m such a GENIUS!

  84. Tarran

    Government ended legal segregation, didn’t it? What convoluted libertarian sophistry explains that?

  85. robc,
    .
    You left out the lenders and borrowers. Yes, because the behavior of lenders and borrowers has consistently been attributed to the effects of the government on the market, and was sharply contrasted to how they would behave and what options would be open to them in the absense of that government intervention. So no, this is not a case of criticism of the market by its worshippers, but of excuses for why the mean old government made the market fail.

  86. God, I’m so impressed with myself. I provoked discussion!

  87. True believers unite! You have nothing to lose.

  88. joe,

    Im in a different argument. I was just saying that people were blaming 3 groups: government, lenders and borrowers. You left 2 groups out.

  89. gabe – there’s always the third recourse: breach of contract suit.

  90. JW,

    No, I am not even slightly surpised. It is not even remotely surprising to me anymore that that particular intellectual shortcoming is so widespread.

    That’s one of the reasons why I find libertarianism to be wholly inadequate as a political philosophy; because that shortcoming is not only widespread, but practically mandatory.

  91. So in other words, JW, this is not a case of libertarians denouncing the actions of the market, but of the government’s distortion of the market.

    You can’t object to both? I think most of saw the damage being done by Fannie and Freddie’s incentives and begged for them to stop.

    People react rationally to state actions. If you lower taxes or send out stimulus checks made of magic money, you will find other things to do with that money other than send the money back.

  92. Lefiti – obviously government also began and maintained legal segregation, no? And only ended it, a century later, when forced to by civil discontent?

  93. Oh, and yes, those last 2 groups did behave differently than they would have without government interference. Loose credit allows people who cant get tight credit to use credit. I still blame them for doing it, even if they were only able to do it because of the government.

  94. joe, what is it exactly you’re looking for? For libertarians to say the market does stuff we don’t like? Or stuff that deserves to (forcefully) be curtailed?

    Or do you want us to say that there are things government does well? Hell, any minarchist could reel off a list for you, if that’s what you want.

  95. That’s one of the reasons why I find libertarianism to be wholly inadequate as a political philosophy; because that shortcoming is not only widespread, but practically mandatory.

    You find it inadequate to address the needs of statist beliefs? Seriously?

    C’mon joe, don’t move next to the airport and complain about the noise.

  96. robc,

    To add to what JW said, you first need to prove to us using our premises that the state has the moral authority to undertake these actions before we are going to discuss the frickin details.

    Only if I was interested in arguing you out of your First Principles. I’m not. That would be a useless exercise.

    But let’s recall, I’m not the one who brought up the matter of faith in the practical outcomes produced by institutions. I responded to an argument on that topic raised by an actual libertarian. So now, suddenly, it’s inappropriate for me to discuss libertarian arguments with a libertarian, on the grounds that I’m not addressing some other set of libertarian arguments?

    Let me leave you with this: if I come on here and actually did make broad, values-based statements about the use of force by the government being good and and of itself, and that being the sole proper foundation for human interactions, every word I wrote about that process creating good outcomes would be rejected wholesale. Well, goose, gander, sauce.

  97. joe et al,

    Stop conflating moral and consequential arguments, please.

    Consequentially, markets are pretty effective at distributing scarce recourses. Morally, the government has no right to intervene in peaceful human activity. The two are separate arguments for a libertarian state.

  98. “Correct by definition said:
    Joe,
    I’ve never seen a government-power- fundamentalist-worshiper come up with an idea to decrease government power”

    Joe said:
    Really?

    You’ve never seen a liberal decry the Patiot Act?”

    Gabe said:
    Joe, can’t you see that “correct by definition” was using a loaded term that by definition only included those who love all government action?…I think he was mocking the idea that “market fundamentalist” = “libertarian”….

    It takes a special kind of fundamentalism to believe that taking power from individuals at the point of a gun and giving the power to some morally questionable politician should be the reflexive answer to every problem we encounter in the world.

  99. Hell, any minarchist could reel off a list for you, if that’s what you want.

    Courts
    National Defense
    Ugly ass monuments

    That was just federal level off the top of my head.

  100. gabe,

    As a matter of fact, I understand the values-based argument for libertarianism quite well, thanks.

    I didn’t address it, because that wasn’t the topic of the comment I responded to.

    BTW, “enjoy pushing people around with guns” is the libertoid equivalent of “wanting to give crack to babies.” A big, red flag informing you to ignore whatever comes next, as the speaker is too emotionally wrapped up in his own perception of moral superiority to have anything thoughtful to add.

  101. joe,

    Do they put people who don’t pay their taxes in jail?

  102. joe,

    Only if I was interested in arguing you out of your First Principles. I’m not. That would be a useless exercise.

    You are the one that regularly complains that we dont distinguish between good and bad policy. That we oppose the policy, period. Well, the reason is those first principles. You need to stop complaining about us not paying attention to details if you arent going to attempt to first prove the moral authority of th state.

  103. joe knows the argument about “men with guns”…he just doesn’t care to see it that way. It offends his sensibilities.

  104. JW,

    You can’t object to both? Sure you can. When you attribute the behavior of actors in the market to the incentives provided by government, and declare that they would have acted in a harmless, beneficial manner but for those government interactions, you are not criticizing both. You are criticizing the government.

    By saying “people respond to incentives,” you are saying that are doing what they are supposed to be doing.

  105. joe is unpleasant today.

  106. Government ended legal segregation, didn’t it? What convoluted libertarian sophistry explains that?

    I’ll explain – and I’ll use small words so that you’ll be sure to understand.

    You asked if ever anyone had pointed a gun at me and forced me to change my behavior. Now, strictly speaking I’ve never let things get to that stage. I have changed my behavior when I’ve had a cop with a holstered gun tell me to move my car. I’ve changed my behavior when I received a letter from the Toledo city government threatening me with legal action unless I took certain actions and sent them a bunch of money.

    Oh, and one time, I couldn’t buy some supplies for my business at a particular store, because the owners of the store didn’t have the right tax software for their registers (it was a tax holiday excluding businesses), and they had received a letter warning them that if they were caught selling stuff to businesses without collecting the tax there would be consequences.

    Now, in all those cases, I or the people around me altered their behavior not because there was a gun pointed at our head at that moment, but because if we did what we wanted to, and were intransigent about and persisted in our folly despite escalating warnings from the police eventually we would end up with guns pointed at our head.

    Now, I assume you hate segregation and think that under Jim crow, black people had it bad. I, in fact, agree with you. Certainly black people living under Jim Crow were not happy with those laws. I’m sure they would have liked to pee in any public restroom catering to males etc. But, the law mandated that separate restrooms be provided for males based on race.

    Now, how many black men tried to enter a whites only restroom on any given day? I’d bet the answer was close to 0. How many black people altered their behavior because that law was on the books? Pretty much all of them. There was no guard physically pointing a gun at them at that moment, yes. However, people are aware when the gun is there waiting.

    If your implication – that I have never been the victim of coercion – is correct, then most blacks were never the victims of segregation.

  107. So now, suddenly, it’s inappropriate for me to discuss libertarian arguments with a libertarian, on the grounds that I’m not addressing some other set of libertarian arguments?

    You were complaining that we don’t get the same boner over the latest additions to the CFR. Address all the libertarian arguments you want. Just don’t get huffy when we don’t attach the same degree of importance to the minutia

  108. Ah crap, hit submit too soon, but you get the idea….

  109. The Angry Optimist,

    joe, what is it exactly you’re looking for?

    This is the comment that started all of this:

    Lefiti, it seems to me that a belief in a benevolent and all-powerful state is closer to “religion” than belief in a market

    I’m looking for libertarians to acknowledge that it is they, with their absolutist, univerally-replicated position on the question of more-vs-less government, who are acting with a belief in a benevolent and all-powerful institution, not the people who vary their position on that question based on the facts of the case.

  110. joe et al,

    Stop conflating moral and consequential arguments, please.

    I’m not conflating the two. I am completely ignoring the moral argument, and addressing only the consequentialist one.

  111. joe,

    Bum Fights. I can criticize the people who pay bums to fight and criticize the bums for taking the money and fighting.

    Ditto government, lenders and borrowers. They were all wrong.

    This is also like drug arguments. If government legalizes herion, I will still criticize the moron who ODs and dies, even thought the government said its okay to shoot up heroin.

    (In this case, unlike the others, I think the government would be acting properly, but the point still standings regardless of whether I agree with the government or not)

  112. The moral argument is the only one that matters.

  113. By saying “people respond to incentives,” you are saying that are doing what they are supposed to be doing.

    No, I’m saying that while the lenders were doing extraordinarily stupid and short-sighted things re mortgages, they were responding rationally to market distortions created by guvmint action.

    So, yes, you can criticize both.

  114. Gabe,

    I saw what he was doing just fine. I just used his comment as a launching pad.

    It takes a special kind of fundamentalism to believe that taking power from individuals at the point of a gun and giving the power to some morally questionable politician should be the reflexive answer to every problem we encounter in the world.

    It would indeed. It would take a special kind of fundamentalism to believe that the answer to every problem is any one thing. The point is, you only see that on one side of the aisle.

    BTW, MenWithGuns come and kick you out of your home if you don’t pay your rent, too. Your complaint isn’t about whether to use force, but when.

  115. robc,

    You need to stop complaining about us not paying attention to details if you arent going to attempt to first prove the moral authority of th state.

    I will stop complaining about that, when libertarians stop making consequentialist arguments – for example, that government intervention cannot produce good outcomes, and it requires a religious faith in government to believe that it can.

    Which is to say, never.

  116. Libertarians believe in… what they believe!

    OMG!

  117. No, I’m saying that while the lenders were doing extraordinarily stupid and short-sighted things re mortgages, they were responding rationally to market distortions created by guvmint action.

    How can something the lenders did be both “stupid” and “rational”?

  118. I’m looking for libertarians to acknowledge that it is they, with their absolutist, univerally-replicated position on the question of more-vs-less government, who are acting with a belief in a benevolent and all-powerful institution, not the people who vary their position on that question based on the facts of the case.

    Actually, come to think of it, all of the comments about moral vs. consequentialist arguments amount to exactly that.

  119. when rational means “in one’s immediate self-interest.”

  120. I’m looking for libertarians to acknowledge that it is they, with their absolutist, univerally-replicated position on the question of more-vs-less government, who are acting with a belief in a benevolent and all-powerful institution

    Very few libertarians think the market is “benevolent or an all-powerful institution”. Our point has been (and probably always will be) that “altering your viewpoint” when it comes to the moral issue of force is that utopia is not possible, and, given that, freedom is preferable to statist control.

    I don’t think the market is “the answer” to “everything”, because I don’t believe in “answers”, like they’re detached, floating abstractions. I want people to freely choose the “answers” to their own questions, so long as they do not interfere with others’ right to do the same. When that interference arises, it is right and proper for the State to take action.

  121. No, I’m saying that while the lenders were doing extraordinarily stupid and short-sighted things re mortgages, they were responding rationally to market distortions created by guvmint action.

    In other words, you’re saying that the bad acts occured because of the government – that if you remove the government from the equation, those bad acts would not have happened.

    SugarFree,

    SugarFree | October 14, 2008, 1:56pm | #

    Libertarians believe in… what they believe!

    Boy, do they ever! Like a religion. My point exactly.

  122. How can something the lenders did be both “stupid” and “rational”?

    Sky diving, bungie jumping, etc, etc.

    Lenders responded rationally to the idea that they would have no bad consequences for their poor lending and thus acted accordingly. They knew they would be bailed out in some fashion and were correct in that assumption for the most part.

    It was stupid in that everyone else would bear the consequences of their actions.

    I took the stimulus check I received in the spring and spent it, knowing full well that the money didn’t exist in reality and that we would pay the piper many times over down the road. I suspect that you would be hard pressed to find someone who sent it back.

  123. I’m looking for libertarians to acknowledge that it is they, with their absolutist, univerally-replicated position on the question of more-vs-less government, who are acting with a belief in a benevolent and all-powerful institution, not the people who vary their position on that question based on the facts of the case.

    It is amazing that a “liberal” who has just witnessed 8 amazing years of abuse of power, liberals who cower in fear of seeign the ten commandments in a court room..still can’t understand why libertarians when faced with new proposals of any additional government power automatically look at how the new power can be abused and if it is determined that the power is likely to be abused then they do not support the new powers being taken from the people.

    You would think that thoughtful liberals would understand that this cycnical reflex of libertarians has been proven to be wise…maybe it wasn’t smart for clinton and friends to expand the power of the executive office? maybe starting a pyramid scheme supported by the governemnt wasn’t a smart idea?

    Instead we see fundamentalist statist like Joe who still have unshattered faith that additional power given to the state are not likely to be abused AND he has the nerve to say we are acting on faith!

  124. first paragraph above was joe’s quote…error by me

  125. JW,

    Your last comment just refutes your earlier point.

    If the “stupidity” was in the consequences of a situation created by the government, and not in the actions of the individuals responding to that situation, you are taking all of the blame for the problem and putting it on the government.

    You are not blaming the borrowers and lenders, you are taking the responsibility away from them, and putting it on the government.

  126. joe, despite your pretzel-logic, libertarians do not blame every “bad” outcome on the government. Bad things happen; government interference tends to make things worse rather than better.

  127. It was stupid in that everyone else would bear the consequences of their actions.

    I think the word you’re looking for in this instance is selfish, not stupid.

  128. joe,

    And you don’t believe in what you believe? Spare me. Mad Max wishes he was half as devoted to the Catholic Church as you are to the Democratic Party.

  129. I will stop complaining about that, when libertarians stop making consequentialist arguments – for example, that government intervention cannot produce good outcomes, and it requires a religious faith in government to believe that it can.

    Which is to say, never.

    Government cannot* produce MORAL outcomes, because they arent following moral means. Since I dont make consequentialist arguments, a good outcome to me is whatever the result of following moral means is. So all outcomes from moral means are good. All outcomes from immoral means are bad. Even if the outcomes are the same. ๐Ÿ™‚

    *as a minarchist, there are a few exceptions.

  130. In other words, you’re saying that the bad acts occured because of the government – that if you remove the government from the equation, those bad acts would not have happened.

    Probably, but no psychic am I. That still doesn’t change the fact that libertarians objected to the actions of lenders.

    But seriously, what is your beef here? That you aren’t getting your entertainment value fulfilled? I know you’re not just finding out now that libertarianism isn’t a philosophy based in pragmatism.

  131. Hell, that was a consequentialist argument after all, I just meaure differently.

  132. joe: it can be stupid to get pregnant as a teenager. That teen is responsible. However, looking at the perverse incentives (welfare, in this case) driving individuals in that circumstance is proper, too.

  133. You are not blaming the borrowers and lenders, you are taking the responsibility away from them, and putting it on the government.

    No, I’m blaming all of them for the mess that we’re in.

    I can’t answer why some lenders exercised restraint and saw what a bad idea it was to lend so irresponsibly and why others didn’t see a problem with it, but those that chose to lend irresponsibly, regardless of guvmint distortions, should burn just the same.

  134. Gabe, as much as it might make you feel good to keep using the phrase “can’t understand,” that’s just not what’s going on.

    I UNDERSTAND your argument just fine. I just think it’s bullshit, that’s all.

    I UNDERSTAND just fine why your reaction to the last eight years is to assume that no other set of policies can lead to different results – because you have a moral/religious belief about the rightful role of government which leaves you disinterested in considering how different government actions, and their consequences, can be different.

    I don’t misunderstand that point. That is, in fact, MY point, the one I’ve been arguing the entire thread.

    See, look here: Instead we see fundamentalist statist like Joe who still have unshattered faith that additional power given to the state… I argue against giving additional power to the state all the time. I argue in favor of rolling back power given to the state all the time. You just can’t get your head around that, because unlike me, you are a fundamentalist; you divide the world up into those who proclaim faith in your religion in its entirety and judge everything based on its conformance to the precepts of that belief system; and everybody else, who are an undifferentiated mass of sinners.

  135. Ever see a market fundamentalist complain about any aspect of the market? Or call for some market activity to be curtailed?

    I think Fannie should not have bought up all those crappy loans.

    Does that count joe?

  136. joe,

    There is an essay by Bill James (of the Bosox) from the early 90s about his son and a music box with two switches. Yes, that is a vague description of where to find it. I suggest you read it. I think it relates to this whole government/lender/borrower blame issue. There can be more than one driving force, even if 1 is dependent on the other.

    Actually, the simpler thought is this: without government interference, borrowers and lenders sometimes make stupid decisions. With the government involved, it became more common.

  137. Hey, I am happy to say that I have no faith in “the market” as all.

    As with all collective nouns, “the market” does not actually exist. The words “the market” are just the shortest possible way of saying, “I want to let people spend their own money the way they want to”.

    I will stop complaining about that, when libertarians stop making consequentialist arguments – for example, that government intervention cannot produce good outcomes, and it requires a religious faith in government to believe that it can.

    Good to whom and for what, joe?

    You can’t actually separate the moral and utilitarian arguments, because the premises of utilitarianism are themselves moral arguments.

    To produce a “good” outcome, government intervention would have to produce a good superior to that produced by allowing each individual to seek his own good. To show this to be the case, you have to either invalidate the judgment of each individual regarding what would be good for him, or you have to argue that producing good for some group of individuals is more important than producing good for some other set of individuals.

  138. The Angry Optimist | October 14, 2008, 2:06pm | #

    joe, despite your pretzel-logic, libertarians do not blame every “bad” outcome on the government. Bad things happen; government interference tends to make things worse rather than better.

    If libertarians limited their statement to tendencies, I’d have a lot more respect for them. As it is, they often make ridiculous statements about the delusional, religious faith required to believe, after seeing the government produce bad outcomes with one set of policies, that the government could bring about good outcomes by doing different things.

  139. I’ll bet nobdoy has ever held a gun to your head and forced you to do anything, you stupid fuck.

    There is a lesson to be learned when playing chess, that the threat of a move is many times more powerful than the move itself.

    The bottom line is that if you don’t adhere to the rules set out by elected representives then people with guns come and take you away to prison. While this may be an appropriate response when an individual rapes or murders another individual, it is not appropriate response if an individual decides that he or she has no moral obligation to help someone on the other side of the country build a bridge to nowhere.

  140. SugarFree | October 14, 2008, 2:07pm | #

    joe,

    And you don’t believe in what you believe? Spare me. Mad Max wishes he was half as devoted to the Catholic Church as you are to the Democratic Party.

    I criticize the Democratic Party, and individual Democrats, all the time.

  141. Joe paraphrased:
    “libertarians deserve criticism until they stop saying’ that government intervention cannot produce good outcomes, and it requires a religious faith in government to believe that it can.’

    I think that many hear are realist. We are quite prepared to accept minarchist arguments for now.

    Most here acknowledge that some sort of minarchist world would need to exist before the rothbardian anarcho capitalism could have a chance at being implemented.

    The problem is that we are careening wildly out of control towards the edge of a cliff on a old abandoned railroad straight towards totalitarianism gulch! We tried to pull the old manual brake and it broke right off in our hands and we are holding a old rusty metal bar that is labled “racist newsletters”…the demons that live in totalitarianisms gulch are so excited that thousands of them have come out of the gulch and are surrounding us and pouring grease on the tracks ahead…and then we see Joe and he is telling us that if we only formed a new governemnt program to outlaw gravity then we’d be saved.

  142. Government cannot* produce MORAL outcomes, because they arent following moral means.

    Religious faith. My point exactly.

    TAO,

    joe: it can be stupid to get pregnant as a teenager. That teen is responsible. However, looking at the perverse incentives (welfare, in this case) driving individuals in that circumstance is proper, too.

    My problem with libertarians is that they would take this point, then blame teen pregnancy as a whole on government, then look at a proposal to teach sex ed, and decide that teaching sex ed can’t reduce teen pregnancy, because welfare (allegedly) increased it.

    And then, when you point out that welfare and sex ed are different, explain how they work differently, and consider the different outcomes they are likely to lead to, they give you a conscending look, and mumble something about guns and heads and how naive you must be.

  143. “Partisan Hack Denies Being Partisan Hack”

    Film at 11.

    Whatever, joe. At least you aren’t on the wholesale delusional “The war in Iraq is won and over” Kool-Aid going on in the Hitchens thread. That’s something to like you for.

  144. If libertarians limited their statement to tendencies, I’d have a lot more respect for them.

    Two things:

    1) a moral argument is a powerful thing, especially when correct. Also, as Fluffy pointed out, consequentialism / utilitarianism does not exist absent an idea of what “good outcomes” look like in the first place and

    2) libertarians use numbers, facts, figures, consequences all the time. The fact that you miss it is your failing to see the nuance present; it’s not from a lack of nuance, it’s your cherry-picking.

    the government could bring about good outcomes by doing different things.

    Define “good”, please. And as asked of you before, “good for whom?”.

  145. …and then, when you demonstrate the difference, they’ll admit that they don’t really care about teen pregnancy, and just want lower taxes.

    Then stroke their chins and explain the difference between a moral argument and a consequentialist one, as if they hadn’t just made a consequentialist argument about the government causing more teen pregnancy.

  146. joshua corning,

    I think Fannie should not have bought up all those crappy loans.

    Does that count joe?

    No, because you blame the evil government for making them buy up those loans.

  147. joe – that 2:21 strawman of yours is categorically and unequivocally the stupidest thing I’ve seen you write.

    My problem with libertarians is that they would take this point, then blame teen pregnancy as a whole on government

    Uh, no they wouldn’t. As evidenced by the fact that I said “the teen is responsible AND there might be perverse incentives for this bad choice”.

  148. I think the fundamental issue here, joe, is that state actions are mandatory and “market” actions are largely voluntary.

    Sure, I can complain about the guy next door painting his house purple, but I’m more annoyed by the fact that if your house is located in a designated historic district, you may have to paint your house purple.

    If I live a couple blocks over, I’m really not going to care about the guy painting his house purple. Similarly, I’m not going to be vexed about every outcome by the market that happens to gore the ox of statists.

  149. Fluffy,

    You are assuming a zero-sum game, which has been proven false. The ability of the government to interrupt Mexican Standoff/arms race dynamics is an example.

    People often make decisions in situations they’d rather not be in.

  150. Joe,
    It seems your assuming that we won’t like your new statist plans without actually teling them to us and perhaps I am being unfair by assuming you are for the bailout bill passed by congress. Why don’t you tell us your new statist plans and we will not jump to any conclusions and then let you know if we see reasons why it might be a bad idea.

    When this started it seemed we were focused on the most recent bush backed plans to nationalize the banks…do you need us to explain why faith is not needed to be critical of this plan?

  151. My problem with libertarians is that they would take this point, then blame teen pregnancy as a whole on government, then look at a proposal to teach sex ed, and decide that teaching sex ed can’t reduce teen pregnancy, because welfare (allegedly) increased it.

    The libertarian point of view would be to have mother and father teach daughter not to fuck someone she wasn’t ready to raise a baby with.

    Only a progressive would institute a welfare program to relieve mother, father, and daughter of some of the financial consequences of fucking someone you aren’t willing to raise a baby with.

    Then when the welfare program results in surge of unmarried, teenaged mothers, the progressives want to institute a second program to teach teenagers how to fuck without making babies (most of the time if they actually use the methods they are taught except they don’t anyway).

    Not that anyone could ever contemplate dismantling the welfare program that made the situation worse.

  152. The bottom line is that if you don’t adhere to the rules set out by elected representives then people with guns come and take you away to prison.

    My mortgage company sends my a politely-worded threat every month.

    The moral distinction between a tax bill and a mortgage is merely a difference of opinion.

  153. joe,

    Religious faith. My point exactly.

    That has nothing to do with faith. There are a choice of means available to us all, some moral some not. Using the choices that enable government to force others into action is not a moral means. That isnt about faith at all. It is about principle. Im making no claim what the outcome would be, just that the outcome can never be used as a justification for the immoral means.

    There could, in theory, be a government program that would make us all rich, healthy, happy and safe. I oppose it if it uses immoral means to get there. That isnt an issue of faith, I have no faith that immoral means will lead to poor results or vice versa.

    In those rare instances (as my footnote showed) in which government is using moral means, then the outcome is moral. Whether good or bad.

  154. Gabe, this is your problem right here:

    and then we see Joe and he is telling us that if we only formed a new governemnt program to outlaw gravity then we’d be saved. I’ve never suggested a program to outlaw gravity. You don’t think that you need to know what the proposal is, or anything about how it would work, in order to make up your mind that it can’t work.

    You just have faith that it can’t. I, on the other hand, would need to see the details to make up my mind.

    The former is faith-based, and the latter is not.

  155. joe,

    The moral distinction between a tax bill and a mortgage is merely a difference of opinion.

    Nope. The latter is entered into via free will and a signed contract. The former isnt. I never signed the social contract.

  156. Gabe,

    It seems your assuming that we won’t like your new statist plans without actually teling them to us

    I’m not assuming anything. You have told me that yourself, as have a number of other commenters.

  157. robc,

    Using the choices that enable government to force others into action is not a moral means.

    That is a faith-based statement. It’s about First Things. It is pre-rational, it’s a matter of opinion, it’s the equivalent of “Don’t Eat Pork.”

  158. My mortgage company sends my a politely-worded threat every month.

    If you ignore that threat long enough, then people with guns will come to assist you in placing your belongings on the side of the street.

    Of course, you voluntarily made a contract with the mortgage company. And if you violate your contract the state will help the mortgage company acquire the asset you used for collateral. I think most libertarians will tell you this is a valid function of the state.

    Unless you were trying to make some other point there.

  159. The moral distinction between a tax bill and a mortgage is merely a difference of opinion.

    That’s why joe doesn’t get this. He can’t see the fundamental difference between the mortgage lender protecting their property and government theft (i.e. taxation).

  160. robc,

    That you consider there to be no obligations to your fellow members of society as such is a statement of faith, of principle, of First Things, just as much as my statement that you do have such obligations.

  161. robc said it better than I did.

  162. So, joe, is there *anything* you wouldn’t compromise over? Are you trying to tell us that you are principle free and all decisions by you are driven by utility?

    Inquiring minds want to know about your complete and total lack of faith.

  163. Sigh.

    Once again, and again, and again, and again…I don’t misunderstand that childishly simple point, Thomas. I disagree with it.

    I don’t share your fundamental principles of morality, at least not 100%. I believe it is worse for a child to not be fed than for your taxes to be a little higher. I weigh the harm of your being blahblahblahed by MenWithGuns and the harm of the child not being fed differently than you do, because I have a different moral code.

    I could write a better 3000 words on libertarianism than you could, chances are. I could probably do the same for socialism and monarchism, too.

    You can keep telling me I just don’t get it. I get it; I just disagree.

  164. joe,

    That is a faith-based statement. It’s about First Things. It is pre-rational, it’s a matter of opinion, it’s the equivalent of “Don’t Eat Pork.”

    I agree that is it possibly prerational and a matter of opinion. And maybe the equivalent of “dont eat pork” (which was highly rational considering the nasty buggers in pork – 4000 years ago that was a very rational rule). It is not, however, faith based. It is a judgement of moral and immoral means but is not at all faith based.

    Faith and morality are not the same thing.

    Look, Im a christian (as Ive mentioned before), I know which parts of my religion are faith based and which are morality based. “Thou shalt not kill” is not faith based, it is morality. “I am the Lord thy God”, is faith based. With regards to government, I am talking about the former, not the latter.

    “Thou shalt not give government power to initiate force against others.”

    You may not agree with the principle, but the principle isnt faith based.

  165. JW,

    There are things I wouldn’t compromise over.

    I just don’t hold money in such high regard. I’m pretty flexible about that.

  166. That you consider there to be no obligations to your fellow members of society as such is a statement of faith, of principle, of First Things, just as much as my statement that you do have such obligations.

    But our belief in self stays out of your way, and allows you to believe whatever you want.

    Wants an argument gets to this point you can’t go any further. You believe that persons have obligations to people, and we believe that persons have obligations to no one but themselves. These axioms cannot be broken down any more than that. People have tried, but it just results in irrational nonsense.

  167. Of course government CAN reduce teen pregnancy. If the first propaganda campaign doesn’t work they can double the budegt and have a surge campaign. If that doesn’t work they can outlaw teenager sex, if that doesn’t work they can go mid-evil on our arses.

    My doubts arise when you say that look this 1% tax reduced teen pregnancy….the program was a success!

    what were the real costs? increased financial hardship couples in their 20’s? is the program over? how will this powerful government program seek to expand it’s mission now?

    now that governemnt is involved in teenage pregancy…will we see the program be defunded if they fail next year?

    Asking critical/skeptical questions is the opposite of faith.

  168. I weigh the harm of your being blahblahblahed by MenWithGuns and the harm of the child not being fed differently than you do, because I have a different moral code.

    An excellent summary of the progressive mindset.

  169. “joe is unpleasant today.”
    I blame TAO for baiting him. I know where you lurk, TAO. I can hunt you down and slap you. Or worse, I can force you to read one of those 2000-word essays on libertarianism joe is always threatening to write.

  170. There are things I wouldn’t compromise over.

    Oh, OK then. I’m just confused why you are so put off over people who wouldn’t compromise over things that you would.

    That sounds like somebody’s problem, but not ours.

  171. OK, robc, fair point. There is a difference between statements of morality and statements of fact, even when they are both based on faith. But I maintain that the the latter demonstrates and intellectual shortcoming.

    You can make all the statements about what should be, in order to be moral, and I will respect that. It’s when people make statements about what is, and what will be, based on faith that I object.

  172. I do think I have obligations to others. However, I am not arrogant enough to force the obligations I think I have onto others. It seems that the people who like to think of government force as a solution to most problems do not really care what others want or believe. They relish the opportunity to show how moral they are by forcing others to give to certain causes.

    It is odd that Joe is a faithful christian, yet he is here telling us athiest libertarians how smart he is for relying solely on reason.

  173. I’m sure there are christian libertarians here…I was just speaking for myself above.

  174. . . . . because I have a different moral code.

    So joe, let’s say just for the hell of it, that I have a rather Calvinist view of life that says that poverty is a sign of sin. It is, therefore, immoral in my worldview to help those starving children.

    How do you justify using the power of the state force me to feed those children against my religious beliefs?

  175. So all outcomes from moral means are good. All outcomes from immoral means are bad. Even if the outcomes are the same. ๐Ÿ™‚

    It takes a pretty odd mind to conflate means and ends so completely, but it certainly has a religious flavor.

    Good = arrived at by moral means.
    Bad = arrived at by immoral means.

    Good = comes from the devil
    Bad = comes from god

    Of course, you have to define good somehow. It seems to involve an increase in some beneficial aspect of life.

    Good could be: more happy, more healthy, more wealthy, more free/liberty, or some combination of multiple parameters. If good just means that it came from a moral process, then it loses value as a concept because it becomes detached from the concept of benefit.

    To be fair to robc, he switches to the word “moral” rather than sticking with good.

  176. Thomas,

    But our belief in self stays out of your way, and allows you to believe whatever you want.

    Your belief in self still leaves room for the government to use force to stop trespassers and muggers, even if I believe I should be able to mug and trespass, so it’s not that simple. And now your response is going to be about rights, and people having the right to not be mugged, but not having the right to food. And THAT, rather than the question of force, is where we really differ.

    Gabe,

    Asking critical/skeptical questions is the opposite of faith. Too often, I see a complete lack of skeptical questioning, and merely a smug assumption that something the government does can’t work, or that something else must be responsible when it does work – as well as an uncritical acceptance of statements about how the government is the cause of any problem.

    JW,

    I’m just confused why you are so put off over people who wouldn’t compromise over things that you would. I’m not. As Thomas says, when you get to the level of First Principles, we can only agree to disagree.

    My problem is with people who make assumptions of fact.

  177. However, I am not arrogant enough to force the obligations I think I have onto others.

    Sure you are. You’d have no problem with forcing people to leave someone’s property.

    I just happen to believe that a state of poverty is worse than having someone on your lawn.

  178. It is odd that Joe is a faithful christian, yet he is here telling us athiest libertarians how smart he is for relying solely on reason.

    WTF? How many comments have I written now about what I believe, and my principles being different than yours?

  179. short, fat bastard,

    How do you justify using the power of the state force me to feed those children against my religious beliefs? Easily. The well-being of people is more important.

    I can recognize the Christian Scientist parents have the right to make bad decisions about their kids’ health care…up to a point.

  180. “I’m sure there are christian libertarians here”

    Present

    “I just don’t hold money in such high regard.”

    Money = my precious time on this earth.

    I could be at home enjoying my wife and babies, instead I’m stuck at this computer until 5 p.m. just to earn a little dough.

    So, yeah, I guess I hold money in pretty high regard — and hold in much less regard those who think they have some sort of right to take mine because they believe someone else needs it more.

    (Still, should I ever run against joe for public office, I’ll be more than happy to compare my charitable contributions to his.)

  181. The well-being of people is more important.

    Which people?

  182. To be fair to robc, he switches to the word “moral” rather than sticking with good.

    I was using “good” and “bad” in ways that were intentional silly to drive home the point that I dont care about results, only the moral means.

  183. An example of a faith-based statement made by a libertarian in this thread.

    Bad things happen; government interference tends to make things worse rather than better.

    It is a belief.
    It is not supported by any objective assessment.
    It is not refuted by any objective assessment.

    It is a simple, faith-based opinion.

    It is, unless I am mistaken, an example of what joe is saying.

    The often repeated assertion that “freer markets perform better” is another.

    There are better objective assessments of this statement (certainly not definitive). Grossly, there seems not to be a linear relationship between market performance and degree of freedom. The relationship seems to be more one where too little or too much restriction of the market will result in poorer performance.

    Be skeptical of this provisional opinion about the truth value of this relationship…it hasn’t been objectively confirmed.

    I have faith that it is closer to the truth than the “freer = better” statement.

  184. “The relationship seems to be more one where too little or too much restriction of the market will result in poorer performance.”

    I am skeptical of this opinion.

  185. “tends to make things worse” is standards-based, NM.

  186. TAO,

    “tends to make things worse” is standards-based, NM.

    What is your standard then?

    You have FAITH, based on your standard of “worse,” that it is a TRUE statement.

    See the difference?

  187. Citizen Nothing,

    We are now in a position to have a discussion about the evidence for or against a particular policy. We are both skeptical of the truth value of “freer= better” or “too much/too little regulation = bad outcome.”

    The particular policy can be evaluated on some evidence-based test, and its performance can help to shape/re-shape or faith-based opinions.

  188. NM,

    We are both skeptical of the truth value of “freer= better”

    This is absolutely true, for those who judge by amount of freedom and not by dollars or some other annoying measurement.

  189. So, yeah, I guess I hold money in pretty high regard — and hold in much less regard those who think they have some sort of right to take mine because they believe someone else needs it more.

    And I don’t hold in very high regard those who think the welfare of human beings should depend on the whims of the fortunate.

  190. See ay at the ballot box, Citizen Nothing.

  191. NM,

    “tends to make things worse” is standards-based, NM.

    What is your standard then?

    past observation? Hence the use of the qualifier “tends”.

    “Always makes things worse” would be faith based.

  192. short fat bastard,

    People are people. I show favoritism towards the needy, but only because they are needy.

  193. See ay at the ballot box

    Using force again, I see. ๐Ÿ™‚

  194. Tends to make things worse, therefore THIS would make things worse is, if not faith-based, some really shoddy logic.

  195. Using force again, I see. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Being anti-social again, I see.

  196. Being anti-social again, I see.

    Never claimed otherwise.

  197. Tends to make things worse, therefore THIS would make things worse is, if not faith-based, some really shoddy logic.

    But it is the way to bet.

  198. Joes Code:

    Money isn’t that important to Joe…so he advocates the government take our money.

    Joe cares more about others while we are selfish. That is why Joe is in favor of forcing us to give to the governemnt.

    While it is true that government has done some bad things(like bomb Iraq). Only a market fundamentalist would expect the government to abuse power in the future.

    The bailout as proposed by republicans was bad, but I have faith that the democrats fixed the bill so now it will do good.

    Individuals should not protect their private property, because that is a use of force. However, the government has a right to kill you in order to get it’s share of your income.

  199. I show favoritism towards the needy, but only because they are needy.

    I applaud your priorities, so long as you keep them to yourself.

    I have different priorities including my parents, my children, my friends, my neighbors, my co-workers, and so on.

    Adding the state to the equation merely wastes money.

  200. 201 comments….what is the record?

  201. Not even close.

  202. As far as I can tell, Liberals never complain about government power, per se. They complain about who is wielding that power.

    Once their own guy is elected, everything is hunky dorey.

    Grant Cindy Sheehan a few points for intellectual honesty. Fat lot of good that did her. Once she dared attack a Democrat, she was yesterday’s fish wrap.

  203. joe what you are missing is that libertarians are all about policy, not people at all. So when borrowers and lenders conspire to get the borrower over his head, on an industrial scale, libertarians look for what perverse incentives were a matter of policy. So they find Greenspans inflation, FNM, various tax incentives that cause overinvestment in homes, …

  204. So to refute my statement that in order to justify using a utilitarian approach to measure the good, it’s necessary to tell me that my own evaluation of my own good isn’t valid, joe…tells me that my evaluation of my own good isn’t valid.

    This is one of those times when the site needs emoticons.

    Moving on:

    It is a belief.
    It is not supported by any objective assessment.
    It is not refuted by any objective assessment.

    It is a simple, faith-based opinion.

    Hayek would present it as an information problem: a central decision-making authority always will possess less information with which to make its planning judgments than is possessed by individual economic actors.

    It would in fact be a faith-based statement to say that the state can never make a good decision, ever. But if the state has an information handicap to its decision making, the more decisions it makes, the more likely it is that its efforts will go awry. And the state rarely makes a single discrete decision; on the contrary, its planning process will involve making exactly the sort of ongoing series of decisions that throw its information handicap into stark relief. [If you are even 5% or 10% more likely to make a mistake in any one decision, over the course of a series of decisions your odds of fucking up at least once parabolically approach 100% very quickly.]

  205. Maybe if I make my points in nastier ways, daddy will finally love me!

  206. TAO,

    past observation? Hence the use of the qualifier “tends”.

    “Always makes things worse” would be faith based.

    Incorrect.
    You are, it seems, conflating the concept of “faith-based” with the concept of “absolutism.”

    You believe your assumption to be true without sufficient evidence to support its validity.
    Your belief is faith-based.

    It is not an absolutist belief that government will always make things worse. Your hedge/qualifier is not a hedge on the degree of faith you have in your correctness. It is a hedge on the degree of absolutism contained in that belief.

    Fluffy,

    Your argument, while more subtle, is still based on an article of faith. Hayek’s information deficit is a hypothesis that can be refuted, but it has not been confirmed/validated/refuted objectively in any systematic way to my knowledge.

    If you believe his hypothesis prior to that demonstration, and work from there as if the hypothesis is valid and proven, you are operating in a faith-based fashion.

  207. Hypothesis,

    A government agency containing thousands of full-time employees tasked with aggregating information for the purpose of optimizing decisions of a particular type, will have an information ADVANTAGE regarding the implications of a particular class of actions on the system when compared to the individual actors likely to make those decisions who have fewer information resources and therefore make decisions based on local information structures available to them.

    I am skeptical regarding the veracity of this statement, but it seems as likely as Hayek’s assertion that the government will be working at an information deficit compared to the aggregate knowledge of disparate actors who do not coordinate their activities.

  208. To clarify:

    The total information aggregated across all market actors is greater than the information available to the government.

    However, of all actors in the market, the government has the most information about the larger system and, therefore, has an information advantage when compared with any set of actors involved in an actual decision.

    The question is which “more information” matters when the rubber hits the road? Is it the uncoordinated information that sums across disparate actors, or is it the coordinated information of the largest, most knowledgeable actor?

  209. robc,

    But it is the way to bet. It’s the way to bet if that’s all the information you have. The people who make money off betting collect more information than that.

    Gabe, I can make my own arguments, thanks. Apparently, you cannot, and are reduced to rephrasing mine, slightly distorted, in an in unflattering manner. How sad for you.

    Fluffy,

    Hayek would present it as an information problem: a central decision-making authority always will possess less information with which to make its planning judgments than is possessed by individual economic actors.

    Untrue. A central decision-making authority will have less information about each individual circumstance than individual economic actors, but it will have much more information about the system as a whole. It will also have a greater capacity to act with sufficient scale to influence the system as a whole and – this is the most important part – will have an interest in the pursuit of objectives beyond individual self-interest.

  210. 201 comments….what is the record?

    That would be the DEA/California Treasury (WARNING! MIGHT CRASH SLOW BROWSERS), with a whopping 2,102 posts.

    Praise be to the Anarchrist.

  211. Untrue. A central decision-making authority will have less information about each individual circumstance than individual economic actors, but it will have much more information about the system as a whole.

    The system as a whole cannot experience benefit or harm. Only the individual economic actors can. Therefore the information about individual circumstance is the more important.

    this is the most important part – will have an interest in the pursuit of objectives beyond individual self-interest.

    If it has an interest that is not related to the interest of individuals, that is a negative and not a positive. How will that interest be realized, if not by individuals?

    The belief that goods can be experienced by something other than individuals is definitely a faith-based belief, joe. One might call it a black magic belief.

    The question is which “more information” matters when the rubber hits the road? Is it the uncoordinated information that sums across disparate actors, or is it the coordinated information of the largest, most knowledgeable actor? and If you believe his hypothesis prior to that demonstration, and work from there as if the hypothesis is valid and proven, you are operating in a faith-based fashion.

    If I take 100 households, each with different foodstuffs currently in their pantries and refrigerators, made up of individuals with different tastes and preferences in dining, and with different skill sets in cooking, it is immediately obvious that these households will do better preparing their own dinners than they will do if I attempt to issue cooking directives to them by phone.

    In fact, it’s so obvious that it’s obvious even if we don’t actually do the experiment of finding 100 such households and having me call them.

    My statement that I can’t plan the dinners of these households better than they can plan them by themselves is not faith-based. It’s reason-based. And that’s true whether I personally conduct the experiment or not.

  212. I see Fluffy’s got joe covered here. But I do have to ask: joe, when you say ‘the system’, of what/whom is the ‘system’ composed? And when you say “an interest beyond individuals”, whose interest are we talking about?

  213. We will all look back with fondness on the frugal, small government ideals and fiscal prudence of the Bush administration

    …wait a minute…

    Shouldnt people be thrilled that Bush’s economic bailout plan will bankrupt the federal government? Obama aint gone have no moolah to play around with, and will be forced to enact responsible, deficit-reducing plans…

    aw fuck.

    I think post #1 hit the nail. Doom turtles as far as eye can see. We have met the enemy and they is us.

  214. The question is which “more information” matters when the rubber hits the road? Is it the uncoordinated information that sums across disparate actors, or is it the coordinated information of the largest, most knowledgeable actor?

    In case you haven’t seen or read this before, I give you The Pencil. Which was derived from this essay.

  215. Warren | October 14, 2008, 12:51pm | #

    Lefiti,
    Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter

    Well done warren.

    It reminds me of a tactic I’ve recently adopted that has been semi effective.

    I start singing this song when people try to proselytize on subways

    http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/j/e/jesuslme.htm

    I change the chorus to =

    Jesus loves the screamers!
    Yelling all the time
    irritating sinners
    until they’ve lost their minds

    once i got a small sing along going and the champion of christ abandoned his audience to the devil. and some comparative peace and quiet. I mean, a rush-hour subway level of peace and quiet

  216. It will also have a greater capacity to act with sufficient scale to influence the system as a whole and – this is the most important part – will have an interest in the pursuit of objectives beyond individual self-interest.

    Is that inside or outside the Green Zone?

    Gimme that nasty, old self-interest any day. It doesn’t start wars; drug, imperial or otherwise.

  217. joe,
    There’s a fundamental distinction between markets and governments because governments fundamentally operate by force, and markets fundamentally operate by voluntary exchange.

    Interfering with the use of force generally counts as a good thing in my book. Interfering with voluntary exchanges generally doesn’t. Unless you’re a power-hungry busy-body who thinks it’s their job to tell everyone else how to live.

  218. This whole argument ignores the historical reality that since Reagan took office, spending and deficits have gone up during Republican administrations much more than Democratic. It’s really amazing to see the pundits panicking about Obama’s effect on government spending after 8 years of Bush.

  219. Fluffy,

    This is probably a dead thread, but I have to respond to this.

    If I take 100 households, each with different foodstuffs currently in their pantries and refrigerators, made up of individuals with different tastes and preferences in dining, and with different skill sets in cooking, it is immediately obvious that these households will do better preparing their own dinners than they will do if I attempt to issue cooking directives to them by phone.

    You are, with your logic, demonstrating the underlying principle that too much regulation is bad. But the level of at which regulation occurs matters. So, you have built, essentially, a red herring in terms of the “amount of information” question. Even if your argument is reasonable and likely would be confirmed with an experiment, it is unrelated to the question at hand.

    It is a form of hyperbole.
    Use example from the margins to make a point about the general case. Problem is, the outliers are not representative of the general case.

    A government does not have enough information to properly plan ever exchange in an economy.

    A government may have enough information to improve outcomes by regulating certain CLASSES of exchange.

    The dinner example is not an analogy to the regulatory activity of governments, for the most part. There are historical examples of how moves toward this level of micromanagement will fail. But, those example only help to define what too much regulation looks like. They don’t help define what optimal conditions look like.

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