Economics

The Liberaltarian Jackalope

The liberal-libertarian rapprochement is probably dead on arrival.

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In late January, for the third time since Barack Obama's historic election, a group of Washington, D.C., writers and think tankers, roughly half liberal and half libertarian, gathered for an evening of robust discussion and debate exploring a potential "liberaltarian" overlap in our new Democratic age. Fittingly, the event was held at the idiosyncratic-for-D.C. Tabard Inn, a charming hotel/restaurant that decades earlier was saved from the redevelopment wrecking ball by a coalition of mostly liberal stalwarts, including the old New Lefty Robert Scheer.

The exchange was cordial and vigorous, the lamb was divine, and after three stimulating hours I left more convinced than ever that any new "fusion" project between libertarians and liberals—at least where the rubber meets the road in government policy—is doomed.

In theory, I should be the ideal audience for this exercise. As I mentioned at the dinner, I have described myself as "liberal" (albeit using a definition that few Americans share) for far longer than I have let others describe me as "libertarian." I've spent much of this century bashing not just George W. Bush and John McCain but the mind-set among self-described libertarians who supported them. I'm even a longtime friend of and collaborator with Scheer. And in 2005, when Democrats were about as depressed as Republicans are this year, I wrote a series of articles urging the donkey party to shed its politically correct Northeastern liberalism for a Western, live-and-let-live libertarianism, embodied by Mountain West Democrats like Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer. The idea attracted New York agents and publishers, and for a while there I was tempted to write a book-length description of this marvelous new liberaltarian jackalope.

In the end I opted out, partly due to the same sentiments magician Penn Jillette expressed to reason just before the November 2008 elections: "I believe in individual rights so much that I don't like any sort of 'what's good for the cause'–type question.…I'm even uncomfortable telling people who to vote for." But mostly, I never believed Democrats would embrace limited government principles for any purpose other than regaining power. Events have borne me out.

In the exile years of 2005–06, the lefty commentariat overflowed with examinations of three modern conservative milestones: the failed yet influential Barry Goldwater presidential campaign of 1964, Ronald Reagan's electorate-reshaping revolution of 1980, and the 1994 GOP uprising in the House of Representatives. In the HBO documentary Mr. Conservative, Goldwater's granddaughter Julie Anderson portrayed the Arizona legend as a sort of proto-liberal. The "values voters" who helped put Reagan over the top in 1980 became Democrats' most soughtafter voting bloc in the wake of John Kerry failing miserably among self-identified Christians (an error that was assiduously addressed by the Scripture-quoting, Rick Warren–wooing Obama in 2008). And the Gingrich Revolution in particular was mined as a source of inspiration—but for tactics and messaging, not ideas.

In February 2005, when minority Democrats stiffened in opposition to Bush's half-hearted Social Security privatization plan, Los Angeles Times political analyst Ronald Brownstein reported, "Those Democrats urging scorched-earth opposition to Bush's central proposals cite the relentless attacks by Gingrich…against the Democratic congressional majority through the early 1990s." After years of apologetic politics, Democrats were rising off the mat with a say-it-loud-say-it-proud attitude cribbed consciously from their opponents, in the service of keeping government big.

The poster child for this transplanted GOP attitude was the newly appointed Democratic Party chairman, Howard Dean, who claimed to champion "the Democratic wing of the Democratic party" (a phrase used to great effect in 2000 by Ralph Nader). In 2003 Dean had been the relatively obscure governor of Vermont, known for his surprising support of gun rights, military interventions, and fiscal conservatism. By 2004, after running as the anti-war candidate in the presidential primaries, Dean had moved much further to the left, even while boning up on the new-media successes of the Gingrich revolution. "We can learn a lot," he explained to Mother Jones in October 2004. "The question is, are we capable of that discipline? We know we need some more infrastructure. We need leadership institutes. We need media institutes where we can get our message out the way the Republicans do. But we mostly need to work together. That's what Republicans do and we don't."

For a brief time, this political crossdressing allowed for some experimentation on the ideas level as well. At the popular netroots website Daily Kos, Logan Ferree penned a lengthy and much-discussed "Left-Libertarian Manifesto" in May 2006. The catch: "The most heated disagreement comes in the area of economic issues." To the surprise of many, the basic idea was endorsed by site founder Markos Moulitsas. "It's no secret that I look to the Mountain West for the future of the Democratic Party," Moulitsas wrote, "people like Brian Schweitzer."

Sure enough, the Montana governor was the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention in 2008. But if you think Schweitzer used the opportunity to stress his libertarian Democrat bona fides—the tax cuts, the National Rifle Association endorsements, the oil drilling, the opposition to the Real ID Act—you probably weren't paying attention to Democratic politics between the summers of 2006 and 2008.

The party retook Congress in November 2006 not by railing against big government but by running against free trade, fielding more anti-abortion candidates in red states, and stressing Republican incompetence and corruption. By 2008, when the economy started tanking and Bush became a millstone, Dems positioned themselves still further to the economic left. Mountain West "libertarian Democrat" Bill Richardson, an ardent free-trader for much of his career, became an unconvincing NAFTA basher on the stump. Hillary Clinton ran against her own husband's "New Democrat" economic policies. By the time Schweitzer sidled up to the convention podium, any libertarian notion beyond refusing to torture U.S. citizens was going to be about as welcome as a nude calendar of Karl Rove. "Four billion in tax breaks for big oil?" he howled. "That's a lot of change, but it's not the change we need!" The crowd roared.

It is certainly no surprise that any party, let alone the Democrats, would want to use that fancy government once it held the awesome reins of power. Unified Republican governance this decade should disabuse even the most gullible from the notion that either of our two major parties is ever going to enact a small-government agenda, especially during a perceived crisis. But already during Obama's first 100 days we've seen how quickly liberals will turn against libertarians once they're no longer swinging at the same piñata.

During the debate over the $1 trillion stimulus package, for example, a remarkable academic fight broke out: Liberal fans of John Maynard Keynes, led by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman (a man whose Nobel Prize award last year was cheered by many libertarian economists), tried to airbrush free marketeers out of the debate. "They just don't read anything that doesn't come from their cult circle," Krugman wrote in one blog post; in another he called them "barbarians in the grip of an obscurantist faith." (For more on the false consensus of liberal economists, see Veronique de Rugy's "Stimulating Ourselves to Death," page 17, and Daniel M. Rothschild's "Whitewashing FDR," page 55.) The same liberal bloggers who complained for years about being called "unserious" by pro-war Republicans were using the same word to describe libertarian arguments against the bailout.

At the liberaltarian dinner, the discussion focused on campaign finance reform, and how the editor of the liberal American Prospect, Mark Schmitt, had gone from being a strong supporter of restrictions on political speech to being…a less strong supporter of restrictions on political speech. I asked how it was that someone who had discovered a First Amendment objection to campaign finance reform could maintain any enthusiasm at all for the project. "Look," he eventually said, "not all of us are going to be libertarians." True enough.

Matt Welch is editor in chief of reason.

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261 responses to “The Liberaltarian Jackalope

  1. You linked this to the Iraq article (also linked to in an earlier post).

  2. You linked this to the Iraq article (also linked to in an earlier post).

    Yeah, I’m not really in favor of relocating the discussion/argument/soon to be flame war. We’ve already got the prelims out of the way on that post. I should be able to start calling folks naive Obama fanboys in short order. 😉

  3. maybe the article is why the liberaltarian alliance is dead. CHAPMAN!!!!!!!!!!!! *shakes fist*

  4. It was a joke from the beginning. We libertarians oppose unlimited government, see.

  5. Thanks for alerting us to the link. It’s fixed now.

  6. any new “fusion” project between libertarians and liberals-at least where the rubber meets the road in government policy-is doomed.

    So, we’re back in agreement, Matt.

  7. Didn’t we hash this out last week about conservatives? Can I go and repost those comments after swapping a few words and phrases out?

  8. So, have we now reached a consensus that any new calls for “liberaltarianism” will be coming from liberals trying to scam the libertarians?

  9. R C Dean,

    I’m in.

  10. RC, not as long as dickshits like Glenn Beck claim to be libertarians.

  11. Libertarians and modern liberals – aside from the odd policy position – really don’t have much in common re: their worldview, so I’ve never very much understood this whole fusion thing except as a tactical, well, marriage of convenience, and that doesn’t even make much sense.

  12. I’m in.

    Me too.

  13. Anyway, I’m pretty skeptical about the usefulness of politics, except for on a long time scale on especially egregious issues. I think if one is going to be a libertarian you have to ignore most of the world of politics and just be a libertarian.

  14. “Geez, guys. If you abandon half your principles, we could be the bestest pals ever!”

  15. SugarFree,

    Are you channeling Montaigne? 😉

  16. Libertarians and modern liberals – aside from the odd policy position – really don’t have much in common re: their worldview, so I’ve never very much understood this whole fusion thing except as a tactical, well, marriage of convenience, and that doesn’t even make much sense.

    Libertarianism and modern liberalism have irreconcilable philosophical underpinnings. We view government and society as different entities. Our goal is for government not to interfere with society. For the liberal, government and society are one and the same. This difference is a non-starter.

  17. I don’t think it is that doomed. Ultimately, I think people vote and chose by culture as much as anything else. At least among Washington libertarians, their culture is pretty similiar to liberals. Is there really that much difference culturally between say the TNR and Reason? Libertarians have a choice, they can either make common cause with icky people who do things like go to church, live in unfashionable cities, eat at chain restaurants, listen to bad music and read all the wrong books. Or, they can make common cause with upscale liberals who have none of those sins. In the end Libertarians, at least the Washington variety will kiss and make up with liberals. There is certainly a bit of Richard Burton and Liz Taylor in the relationship. Liz didn’t like Richard’s phalandering and Richard didn’t like her pill popping just like Libertarians don’t like liberals love of taxes and economic control and liberals don’t like libertarians commitment to this strange thing called a market. But in the end, like Liz and Dick, they still love each other if for all the wrong reasons.

  18. “Look,” he eventually said, “not all of us are going to be libertarians.” True enough.

    Take it easy, Matt. These progressives aren’t about to take an extreme position on this whole ‘Bill of Rights’ thing. I mean, let’s be reasonable, here.

  19. Even on issues where libertarians and liberals agree on what the end result should be, they do so for very different reasons.

    The best example of this is gay marriage. A libertarian supports gay marriage because it’s not any of the government’s business to say who can get married and who can’t. We think people who oppose gay marriage are idiots, but we don’t question their right to have that opinion–we object that they force their opinion on others.

    For the liberal, however, they think that gay marriage should be legalized because the ignorant anti-gay-marriage crowd should be forced to accept it. Since government and society are the same, the government legalizing gay marriage is the equivalent of society accepting it. This forced acceptance is the “progress” in progressivism.

  20. The question is do libertarians want to be associated with the ultra-right fringe, which is just about all that’s left of the Republican party, or with the centrist Democratic party (the party that is, incidentally, winning right now)? I don’t personally care. But if you guys continue to play this game where American liberals are pretty much considered Leninists while ignoring the radicalism the right has embraced more and more over the past few decades, you’re being just about as honest as Sean Hannity.

  21. John,

    Or they can choose neither of those two options. That’s the choice I’ve been making for a while now.

  22. “Sure enough, the Montana governor [Schweitzer] was the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention in 2008.”

    I could have sworn that Virginia governor Mark Warner gave the keynote in 2008: http://blogs.forbes.com/trailwatch/2008/08/schweitzer-spee.html

  23. When did centrist start equaling socialist?

  24. “But in the end, like Liz and Dick, they still love each other if for all the wrong reasons.”

    In the end, Liz and Dick divorced.

    Folks don’t vote by culture. Sadly. They vote for what they think is in, will be in, their pocket books. And they will ignore the fact that their choice may be a busy-body, nation builder, philanderer, liar, dictator, bomber, buffoon, and let’s repeat busy-body.

    Quite a pity.

  25. Where’s Terry Michael now, bitches?

    But in the end, like Liz and Dick, they still love each other if for all the wrong reasons

    While I very much like your use of the Taylor/Burton metaphor, you’re wrong. You conflate cosmopolitanism with liberalism. Just because some of us like arugula and sushi and expensive suits doesn’t mean we think like them.

    There are cosmopolitan conservatives, though they have mostly been driven from the GOP. There are hick liberals, too.

  26. Tony & John,

    I don’t think there are merely two options.

    What I find most distasteful about politics is how much of a zero sum game it is; that is partly why it is so damn dangerous; compare to that the liberty of the marketplace.

  27. “This forced acceptance is the ‘progress’ in progressivism.”

    Right on, Stagman.

  28. this post last Friday reminded me why the left liberal – libertarian alliance is almost inevitably stillborn.

    If a fairly mainstream young liberal whose been known to deviate from orthodoxy every so often can’t agree that decriminalization mj includes decrim of commerce in mj, there’s very little room for common ground outside the obvious ‘thou shall not torture’ type stuff.

  29. For the liberal, however, they think that gay marriage should be legalized because the ignorant anti-gay-marriage crowd should be forced to accept it. Since government and society are the same, the government legalizing gay marriage is the equivalent of society accepting it. This forced acceptance is the “progress” in progressivism.

    Well played, Stagman, well played.

  30. Pro Libertate,

    Centrist is one of the more useless, nearly Hobbesian terms in the political lexicon.

  31. Pro Libertate,

    BTW, “pragmatic” runs a close second to “centrist.”

  32. “But if you guys continue to play this game where American liberals are pretty much considered Leninists while ignoring the radicalism the right has embraced more and more over the past few decades, you’re being just about as honest as Sean Hannity.”

    Why don’t liberals be honest and admit their problems with freedom? Think about something like card check. They want to take away people’s right to a secret ballot. On top of that, they want to have a government bureacrat have the power to enforce an agreement on both sides of a labor dispute. That means Washington, not the employer, not the worker sets the wage. That is an appalling infringment on people’s freedom.

    Liberals talk about how the government should have no say over your body. Great. I am all for that. But liberals only think that matters for abortion. Liberals want to tell me what kinds of food I can eat at restaurants (transfat bans), what substances I can put in my body (drug prohibition), what kinds of treatment I can take for diseases (liberal love of the FDA), and ultimately what doctor I can see and if I can get treatment for a disease (socialized medicine).

    That is just two examples of infringment on freedom. That doesn’t even start to address liberal issues with the 1st amendment and equal protection for non minority groups. If you look at the countries liberals hold up as ideal (Canada, UK to name two), you see countries rife with security measures, increasingly restrictied free speech done in the name of tolerance and outrigh barbaric socialized medical plans. If liberals don’t want to be called Lenninsts, they need to staop acting like them.

  33. It’s mindnumbingly insane how many people believe in the generalizations about the two major political parties. We’re talking about 100 million voters, roughly divided between the two parties. Half of them are socialists and urban elites? Half are crazed fundamentalist wackos? No and no. Not even remotely close.

    Dick was best in Beckett, I think.

    Seward,

    Damn them all to hell.

  34. Sorry, that’s Becket.

  35. John,

    Why don’t liberals be honest and admit their problems with freedom?

    Ditto for conservatives of course.

  36. John,

    Pay attention to what Democrats are actually doing and saying and not what Limbaugh says they are doing and saying.

    Thank you for proving my point.

  37. “While I very much like your use of the Taylor/Burton metaphor, you’re wrong. You conflate cosmopolitanism with liberalism. Just because some of us like arugula and sushi and expensive suits doesn’t mean we think like them.”

    I was only being about half serious in that post. I think for many libertarians you are right. But for some, I am right. In the end, the split is between those who respect individuals and those who think an enlightened elite ought to rule. Cosmo libertarians think of themselves as part of the elite and are thus seduced by liberal appeals to their vanity.

  38. Folks don’t vote by culture. Sadly. They vote for what they think is in, will be in, their pocket books.

    Imo, they do both. And the current branding by both parties convinces many people and each side that there is a synergy between the political folks that share their culture and those that will help their wallets.

  39. “John,

    Pay attention to what Democrats are actually doing and saying and not what Limbaugh says they are doing and saying.

    Thank you for proving my point.”

    Do liberals not support trans fat bans? Was the member of the Dutch Parliment not recently refused entry into the UK for being anti-muslim? Did the Canadian human rights commission not try to prosecute Mark Steyn for an article in McCleans that was critical of Islam? Does the UK not have security cameras nearly everywhere. Do Canadaians not routinely come to the US to pay for treatment they can’t get at home? Have the Dems now changed and want to get rid of the FDA and renounce the trial lawyers?

    Rusch Limbaugh? What the fuck are you talking about you moron? Those are facts. Get your head out of your ass and look around. You ignorant provential motherfucker.

  40. Cosmo libertarians think of themselves as part of the elite and are thus seduced by liberal appeals to their vanity.

    No, we just believe that people in power ought to have some competence. And that leaders thinking with their guts and getting advice from deities is not the most efficient means of exercising power.

  41. Why don’t liberals be honest and admit their problems with freedom?

    Because to many a liberal, a restriction paradoxically means more freedom.

  42. “No, we just believe that people in power ought to have some competence. And that leaders thinking with their guts and getting advice from deities is not the most efficient means of exercising power.”

    And your idea of competance is BO? Really? Is that your final answer there sparky?

  43. Competance Tony. Like saying America invented the automobile. Like running around talking down the economy and then acting shocked when the markets tanked. Like letting Nancy Pelosi write your budget for you. Like appointing a petty theif and tax cheat as head of the treasure. Yeah competance.

  44. Look, I’m not someone who comes on here and pretends to be a libertarian. I’m a liberal I guess, and I say it.

    However, I think liberals and libertarians have more in common than libertarians and conservatives. There is a reason why both liberals and libertarians hang their name on the root “liberty.” Both are really concerned with creating more avenues of opportunity and less restrictions on more and more people. This is why liberals could walk hand in hand with libertarians on issues involving the direct oppression of many groups (slavery, womens rights, religious dissenters, etc.). Now the two break at the idea of negative and positive liberties and the idea of whether government coercion can actually used to foster liberty.

    Libertarians think government coercion can be used to foster overall liberty (for example, think the police and the enforcement of laws against force/fraud). Liberals just think there is a wider range of areas where government coercion can produce more freedom for more people.

    Conservatives have a long train of thought where they are upfront and open that they are all about order and authority, not liberty, which they think devolves into a dangerous free-for-all of liscence and people marrying dogs. They really don’t even share the same endpoint as libertarians.

    Now it’s a little difficult here in the U.S. because obviously with out nation being founded on anti-monarchial, anti-state church ideas and grounded in freedom it was hard for conservatives in the U.S. to argue, as their European forerunners and counter-parts did rather unabashedly, for monarchy, legal artistrocracy, state churches, etc. What our conservatives are trying to conserve is a liberty-drenched project, so our conservatives are a bit constrained from being the full blown fascists that many European ones happily were (have some fun with de Maistre one day).

    But really guys, we’re cousins.

  45. And that leaders thinking with their guts and getting advice from deities is not the most efficient means of exercising power.

    Hey, looks like liberals and libertarians do agree on something. Have any leaders in mind, Tony?

  46. John,

    I wasn’t referring to European liberals, who I totally agree have often gone way off the deep end with Big Brother crap. Liberals do have a tendency to take their collective/statistical view of people too far, justifying certain ends (like reduced health problems) with draconian means (like banning trans-fats.)

    But aren’t these pretty minor issues compared to, say, torturing people and invading countries illegally and shredding the constitution? My point is that American Democrats have been pushed quite a bit rightward in recent decades. But so have Republicans, to the point where they’re practically garden variety fascists.

    I dunno if you listen to Limbaugh but you obviously get your ideas from his echo chamber. How can anyone truly believe that card check is about the principle of secret ballot? Where did Republicans find time to care about voting rights while they were coming up with endless harebrained schemes to disenfranchise people who tend not to vote for them? We gotta stop believing this incessant spin provided verbatim by the likes of FOX news from Republican party press releases.

  47. Competence? Where? Who?

    What bullshit. It’s covering for these losers that has rewarded us with unlimited and incompetent government in the first place. As the GOP made a mistake not rejecting the excesses of the Bush administration, the Democrats are going down the exact same road with Obama. They did the same thing for the most part with Clinton, but that wasn’t as apparent due to the loss of Congress in 1994.

    Faith in politicians is a losing proposition.

  48. Tony, I don’t know what Rush Limbaugh says, but John nailed it. His examples were precisely what the establishment left and, generally, so-called centrist Congressional Democrat desires. He used dead-on examples and you ignore them. Take the blinders off, man.
    John could have also thrown in the second amendment as well. Maybe the left-liberal opposition to Heller in the landmark ruling was a figment of my imagination and simply something Rush Limbaugh said.

  49. Liberals, imo, need libertarians around them to say “hey man, while you are maybe opening something up for guy x don’t you see you are impinging the freedom of guy y” and such. And libertarians need liberals around to say “hey, making y stop polluting the air I breathe is no different than making y not throw a rock from his yard and hit me in the head in my yard” among other things…

  50. “But aren’t these pretty minor issues compared to, say, torturing people and invading countries illegally and shredding the constitution? My point is that American Democrats have been pushed quite a bit rightward in recent decades. But so have Republicans, to the point where they’re practically garden variety fascists.”

    they are not. I think telling me what food I can eat and what doctor I can see and how I can defend my home and if I can own a gun and what wages I can accept for a job is a hell of a lot bigger deal than any of the things you listed.

    Furthermore, since when are Liberals immune from the sins you list. Clinton rendered people to countries knowing they would be tortured. Clinton engaed in a completely illegal war with Serbia. Johnson and Kennedy used the FBI and CIA to spy on their political opponents. Obama is currently waging a low level war in Pakistan without UN or congressional approval. Obama’s top Intel appointments would not fully renounce “aggressvie interrogation techniques” and plan to engage in the same rendition tactics that Bush and Clinton did.

  51. Dick was best in Beckett, I think.

    What about Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

  52. I’ll let you guys in on a little secret (looks both ways, then leans in with hand up to mouth and whispers)

    Liberals support something like card check, or unions in general, because we believe that sometimes employees agree to things that they really don’t want because they need to keep a job or position, we see that as less than fully voluntary or “free”, and we think bolstering unions will, by giving them greater bargaining power (greater power to say “no” to their bosses) make their lives (at least the eight hours a day they spend at work) that much more free.

    Really. I don’t want to fight with you over the specifics, but that is really our goal, to expand the freedom of shitloads of folks…

  53. 1. The liberaltarian project is all about getting along with liberals better because liberals are so close-minded and urban libertarians want to go to their parties.

    2. Fiscally conservative is the more important part of the equation. As I’ve said before, you can buy social freedoms when you have enough cash (drugs, prostitution being prime examples). Thus true libertarians should see aligning with fiscal conservatives more important than aligning with social liberals.

    This is especially so because this country is getting more socially liberal (and will continue to do so) while at the same time it is getting less fiscally conservative.

  54. I always like Where Eagles Dare. Dick and a young Clint Eastwood. Burton is a total bad ass in that movie, everything James Bond should have been. Burton would have made the best Bond ever.

  55. “Liberals support something like card check, or unions in general, because we believe that sometimes employees agree to things that they really don’t want because they need to keep a job or position, we see that as less than fully voluntary or “free”, and we think bolstering unions will, by giving them greater bargaining power (greater power to say “no” to their bosses) make their lives (at least the eight hours a day they spend at work) that much more free.”

    Basically you are saying that people are incapable of acting in their own best interests so therefore you should act for them for their own good. But you support freedom right? That paragraph is some real newspeak. We must restrict your freedom so you can have more of it.

  56. Jackalopes are mythical, much like these “liberals,” “conservatives,” and “libertarians” that you guys are talking about.

    That’s all.

  57. MNG,

    You post sums up the divide. It is between those who respect the individual and those who think that an enlightened group of elites need to act for the individual. You can’t hold the latter view and believe in freedom.

  58. Really. I don’t want to fight with you over the specifics, but that is really our goal, to expand the freedom of shitloads of folks…

    No we’re about expanding government for no reason other than it tickles us. Sheesh. How many big-spending, government-bloating Republican governments do we have to go through before they stop getting credit for being the fiscally responsible party?

  59. Liberals support something like card check, or unions in general, because we believe that sometimes employees agree to things that they really don’t want

    But what if an employee really doesn’t want to form a union? Are you saying employees should be free to form unions but not free to opposing unionization? You’re choosing what you think is best for other people, plain and simple.

  60. Becket. He and Peter O’Toole should’ve done more together.

    MNG,

    By any means necessary. That credo is my problem with the left these days. The fact is, if you aim for goals that are achieved by taking away the limits on government power, you’ll get your goals–for a week. Then the tyrants you’ve empowered will do whatever the hell they want. A lot of the abuses during the Bush years came thanks to the left pushing for expanded government for the last century.

    If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.

  61. Libertarian: Government should stay out of people’s lives as much as possible.

    Liberal: Government should enforce the way I think people should live.

    Conservative: No, government should enforce the way I think people should live.

    Populist: No, no, no, government should enforce the way I think people should live.

    Only one in four of the major philosophical models thinks government itself is the problem.

    Get used to being lonely.

  62. From our April issue, Editor in Chief Matt Welch explains why the liberal-libertarian rapprochement is probably dead on arrival.

    But will there be an article in the issue on the breaking news that the government is, like, big?

  63. MNG doesn’t see, when libertarians talk about force and fraud, that his definition of “force” is an all-encompassing exception to government action that swallows the rule.

    If I enter into a deal at 20K of net worth and the other guy has 900K, libertarians see two free people entering into a contract. MNG sees it as “economic coercion” (force) that requires government intervention.

  64. John
    Can you see how stupid your comments are? It’s the supporters of card check who MUST be about taking choice from people for their own good, because the poor average worker could never muster up enough sense and courage to, oh, I don’t know, NOT SIGN THE FRIGGING CARD…

    You really think that is why liberals like me support card check, because I want to see workers have less say in their lives?

    I mean, maybe I am wrong that card check will accomplish that goal, but do you really doubt that?

  65. Only TAO would create his hypo with the “poor” guy with 20,000 dollars worth of NET WORTH…

    It’s like the dude has never met a poor person in his friggin life and has an image of them from watching Silver Spoons when he was a kid…

  66. Pro L
    It’s a problem I have with many fellow lefties, yes.

    What struck me the most about Hayek’s Road to Serfdom was when he said “hey, you liberals think coercion can occur from employers as well as from policemen, then why in the world would you want to put both forms of power in the hands of one institution, the government.”

    Imagine if the government could not only lock you up, but also fire you and starve you. That’s Russia 1940, and that’s what Hayek was talking about, and liberals should listen well.

  67. It’s evident that MNG doesn’t even undestand what freedom is.

    It is the absence of government control – period.

    It has nothing to do with using government coercion to guarantee or improve the odds of any particular person or group of achieving some particular outcome they happen to want or that you happen to want for them.

    Nothing whatsoever to do with it.

  68. Those who make political decisions based on ideals shorn of context are the most dangerous.

    Those who consider opinions from all sides with a view towards a better outcome are the only ones with a chance of having a positive impact.

  69. “You really think that is why liberals like me support card check, because I want to see workers have less say in their lives?

    I mean, maybe I am wrong that card check will accomplish that goal, but do you really doubt that?”

    How can you possibly support a bill that lets Washington mandate labor agrements over the objection of both parties and not think that? You are either a liar or a fool. In either case the result is the same.

  70. ‘s the supporters of card check who MUST be about taking choice from people for their own good, because the poor average worker could never muster up enough sense and courage to, oh, I don’t know, NOT SIGN THE FRIGGING CARD

    So lets figure 100 employees want to form a Union. 90 vote in favor, 10 against. The 90 who vote in favor sign the card, the 10 who don’t refuse to sign….

  71. Conservative: Only employers should be allowed to exploit workers.

    Liberal: Only union leaders should be allowed to exploit workers.

    Progressive: I like the liberal guy on this one.

  72. Well, okay then!

  73. Only TAO would create his hypo with the “poor” guy with 20,000 dollars worth of NET WORTH…

    Where did I say he was poor?

    The point stands. You engage in lifeboat ethics and “emergency logic” to the point where, following your train of thought, you can justify ANY government intervention.

  74. Because to many a liberal, a restriction paradoxically means more freedom.

    Yes, new laws give both freedom from choice and freedom from the possibility that your neighbor might make the wrong choice. Sweet, sweet freedom!

  75. “It is the absence of government control – period.”

    Well, yeah, that’s where liberals and libertarians disagree…Duh.

    My point is that a classical conservative would be more like “freedom? WTF are you talking about that for?”

  76. You really think that is why liberals like me support card check, because I want to see workers have less say in their lives?

    I think you support card check because you want the unions to have more power than the employers.

    If you think a union worker has more say in the workplace or in his life in general than a non-union worker, you need to get out more.

  77. Really. I don’t want to fight with you over the specifics, but that is really our goal, to expand the freedom of shitloads of folks…

    Why am I reminded of the dumbass who stopped by a few days ago to argue that tossing pot smokers and prostitutes in prison actually increases people’s freedom? Feel free to continue helping him pave the road to hell.

  78. TAO
    You’ve misunderstood me greatly. All my hypos and such were never meant to justify ALL interventions. In fact I tend to start from a point that is skeptical of any intervention. Those things were meant to show that there are SOME interventions that could be justified, or rather that it’s POSSIBLE to justify them. It’s a reaction to the extreme deontological positions that many libertarians take.

  79. MNG,

    Unions are just as likely to impinge on the liberty of the individual as an employer is; indeed, one of the major problems with unions is that they impede the efforts of some employees to get ahead by treating all employees as a collective. Indeed, there is really no way for a union of any significant size not to be at least rule utilitarian in outlook, which means that some percentage of union members will have their ox gored, so to speak.

    Now, if unions weren’t basically monopolistic by government design things might be a bit different (I don’t really have a problem with non-government created monopolies as a general rule).

  80. “I think you support card check because you want the unions to have more power than the employers.”

    DING, DING, DING, we have a winner!

    And see, we think because since a union is ideally a collection of the very employee’s whose freedom is at issue here, and since they all have a say in determining it’s positions, that the unions being stronger relative the employer will lead to more freedom for the employees.

    Really.

    But look, let’s not have a big brawl over card check for Pete’s sake…I was just trying to illustrate that our end point is the same as yours, more voluntary contracts and choices for more people. We disagree on whether the means we choose will lead to that.

  81. The real story behind The New Republic.

    classic passages below from Carroll Quigley’s Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time, on the foul Wall Street bankster origin of this nefarious publication by agents of the House of Morgan, soon after they had established the Fed, just prior to the First World War in 1914:

    “More than fifty years ago the Morgan firm decided to infiltrate the Left-wing political movements in the United States. This was relatively easy to do, since these groups were starved for funds and eager for a voice to reach the people. Wall Street supplied both. The purpose was not to destroy … or take over but was really threefold: (1) to keep informed about the thinking of Left-wing or liberal groups; (2) to provide them with a mouthpiece so that they could “blow off steam,” and (3) to have a final veto on their publicity and possibly on their actions, if they ever went “radical.” There was nothing really new about this decision, since other financiers had talked about it and even attempted it earlier. What made it decisively important this time was the combination of its adoption by the dominant Wall Street financier, at a time when tax policy was driving all financiers to seek tax-exempt refuges for their fortunes, and at a time when the ultimate in Left-wing radicalism was about to appear under the banner of the Third International.

    “The best example of this alliance of Wall Street and Left-wing publication was The New Republic, a magazine founded by Willard Straight, using Payne Whitney money, in 1914. Straight, who had been assistant to Sir Robert Hart (Director of the Chinese Imperial Customs Service and the head of the European imperialist penetration of China) and had remained in the Far East from 1901 to 1912, became a Morgan partner and the firm’s chief expert on the Far East. He married Dorothy Payne Whitney whose names indicate the family alliance of two of America’s greatest fortunes. She was the daughter of William C. Whitney, New York utility millionaire and the sister and co-heiress of Oliver Payne, of the Standard Oil “trust.” One of her brothers married Gertrude Vanderbilt, while the other, Payne Whitney, married the daughter of Secretary of State John Hay, who enunciated the American policy of the “Open Door” in China. In the next generation, three first cousins, John Hay (“Jock”) Whitney, Cornelius Vanderbilt (“Sonny”) Whitney, and Michael Whitney (“Mike”) Straight, were allied in numerous public policy enterprises of a propagandist nature, and all three served in varied roles in the late New Deal and Truman administrations. In these they were closely allied with other “Wall Street liberals,” such as Nelson Rockefeller.

    “The New Republic was founded by Willard and Dorothy Straight, using her money, in 1914, and continued to be supported by her financial contributions until March 23, 1953. The original purpose for establishing the paper was to provide an outlet for the progressive Left and to guide it quietly in an Anglophile direction. This latter task was entrusted to a young man, only four years out of Harvard, but already a member of the mysterious Round Table group, which has played a major role in directing England’s foreign policy since its formal establishment in 1909. This new recruit, Walter Lippmann, has been, from 1914 to the present, the authentic spokesman in American journalism for the Establishments on both sides of the Atlantic in international affairs. His biweekly columns, which appear in hundreds of American papers, are copyrighted by the New York Herald Tribune which is now owned by J. H. Whitney. It was these connections, as a link between Wall Street and the Round Table Group, which gave Lippmann the opportunity in 1918, while still in his twenties, to be the official interpreter of the meaning of Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points to the British government.

    “Willard Straight, like many Morgan agents, was present at the Paris Peace Conference but died there of pneumonia before it began. Six years later, in 1925, when his widow married a second time and became Lady Elmhirst of Dartington Hall, she took her three small children from America to England, where they were brought up as English. She herself renounced her American citizenship in 1935. Shortly afterward her younger son, “Mike,” unsuccessfully “stood” for Parliament on the Labour Party ticket for the constituency of Cambridge University, an act which required, under the law, that he be a British subject. This proved no obstacle, in 1938, when Mike, age twenty-two, returned to the United States, after thirteen years in England, and was at once appointed to the State Department as Adviser on International Economic Affairs. In 1937, apparently in preparation for her son’s return to America, Lady Elmhirst, sole owner of The New Republic, shifted this ownership to Westrim, Ltd., a dummy corporation created for the purpose in Montreal, Canada, and set up in New York, with a grant of $1.5 million, the William C. Whitney Foundation of which Mike became president. This helped finance the family’s interest in modern art and dramatic theater, including sister Beatrix’s tours as a Shakespearean actress.

    “Mike Straight served in the Air Force in 1943-1945, but this did not in any way hamper his career with The New Republic. He became Washington correspondent in May 1941; editor in June 1943; and publisher in December 1946 (when he made Henry Wallace editor). During these shifts he changed completely the control of The New Republic, and its companion magazine Asia, removing known liberals (such as Robert Morss Lovett, Malcolm Cowley, and George Soule), centralizing the control, and taking it into his own hands. This control by Whitney money had, of course, always existed, but it had been in abeyance for the twenty-five years following Willard Straight’s death.

    “The first editor of The New Republic, the well-known “liberal” Herbert Croly, was always aware of the situation. After ten years in the job, he explained the relationship in the “official” biography of Willard Straight which he wrote for a payment of $25,000. “Of course they [the Straights] could always withdraw their financial support if they ceased to approve of the policy of the paper; and, in that event, it would go out of existence as a consequence of their disapproval.” Croly’s biography of Straight, published in 1924, makes perfectly clear that Straight was in no sense a liberal or a progressive, but was, indeed, a typical international banker and that The New Republic was simply a medium for advancing certain designs of such international bankers, notably to blunt the isolationism and anti-British sentiments so prevalent among many America progressives, while providing them with a vehicle for expression of their progressive views in literature, art, music, social reform, and even domestic politics. In 1916, when the editorial board wanted to support Wilson for a second term in the Presidency, Willard Straight took two pages of the magazine to express his own support for Hughes. The chief achievement of The New Republic, however, in 1914-1918 and again in 1938-1948, was for interventionism in Europe and support of Great Britain.

    “The role of “Mike” Straight in this situation in 1938-1948 is clear. He took charge of this family fief, abolished the editorial board, and carried on his father’s aims, in close cooperation with labor and Left-wing groups in American politics. In these efforts he was in close contact with his inherited Wall Street connections, especially his Whitney cousins and certain family agents like Bruce Bliven, Milton C. Rose, and Richard J. Walsh. They handled a variety of enterprises, including publications, corporations, and foundations, which operated out of the law office of Baldwin, Todd, and Lefferts of 120 Broadway, New York City. In this nexus were The New Republic, Asia, Theatre Arts. the Museum of Modern Art, and others, all supported by a handful of foundations, including the William C. Whitney Foundation, the Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney Foundation, the J. H. Whitney Foundation, and others. An interesting addition was made to these enterprises in 1947 when Straight founded a new magazine, the United Nations World, to be devoted to the support of the UN. Its owners of record were The New Republic itself (under its corporate name), Nelson Rockefeller, J. H. Whitney, Max Ascoli (an anti-Fascist Italian who had married American wealth and used it to support a magazine of his own, The Reporter), and Beatrice S. Dolivet. The last lady, Mike Straight’s sister, made her husband, Louis Dolivet, “International Editor” of the new magazine.”

  82. Seward
    I’m a utilitarian, so I like that.

    If the union increases the freedom of 100 of it’s members by 5% while restraining or constraining 3 of its workers freedom by 10% then I’m happy as a clam.

    But don’t say I don’t give a shit about freedom. That’s the very criteria I’m using.

  83. “Well, yeah, that’s where liberals and libertarians disagree…Duh.”

    It ain’t a mater of disagreement.

    It’s a matter of you being flat out wrong.

  84. However, I think liberals and libertarians have more in common than libertarians and conservatives.

    MNG,

    Until last week or so, I thought libertarians had more in common with conservatives. Now I realize the error in my thinking — too general. Libertarians have more in common with the conservative base than the liberal base. But libertarians have more in common with liberal politicians than conservative politicians. This is the lesson I learned the last eight years.

  85. MNG,

    Well, there is no such thing as a typical or a uniform “classical conservative.” Burkean conservativism is different from Hobbesian is different from Humean, etc.

  86. In fact I tend to start from a point that is skeptical of any intervention.

    Don’t make me laugh, MNG. The instant we talk about any government program, you jump to the starving/poor/weak/racially “oppressed”.

    Two words you use to do this: “economic coercion”, which you cannot define in real life, but you play at Potter Stewart and say “I’ll know it when it offends my sensibilities”.

  87. Gabe the thread-killer pulls his mighty sword, a shiny bunch of irrelevant nonsense forged by mental dwarfs in mines dark as pitch, and with his Mongoloid facial features apparent ‘neath his helmet swings at the hoary beast.

  88. And see, we think because since a union is ideally a collection of the very employee’s whose freedom is at issue here, and since they all have a say in determining it’s positions, that the unions being stronger relative the employer will lead to more freedom for the employees.

    Your analysis depends on using government to obtain a desired output. That is a foundational problem for most libertarians.

  89. MNG,

    Well, utilitarianism is ultimately swallowed by extreme skepticism; so what “freedom” means to a utilitarian is just about anyone’s guess.

  90. MNG,

    My point is demonstrated by the fact that the Mills, Bentham, etc. embraced the early modern skeptics like Grotius, Hobbes and Montaigne.

  91. Seward
    I agree, but Humean conservatives are pretty scarce. Burke-Kirk-National Review is what we have.

    TAO
    I’ve defined economic coercion many, many times, and pointed out many, many real life examples. You just start by begging the question, defining cercion as physical force or fraud and then saying “see, you can’t give me ONE real world example of coercion that is not force and fraud.”

    My definition does not beg the question, it hinges coercion on the absence of voluntariness and THEN looks at possible forms this could take, rather than building the very forms debated into my definition of coercion.

    But then, you are bit philosophy challenged 😉

  92. And see, we think because since a union is ideally a collection of the very employee’s whose freedom is at issue here, and since they all have a say in determining it’s positions, that the unions being stronger relative the employer will lead to more freedom for the employees.

    What a lovely fair tale this is.

  93. that our end point is the same as yours, more voluntary contracts and choices for more people

    Provided, of course, the person making the contract isn’t doing it due to economic/social/familial pressure. So, if he’s working at a job he hates because he’s got a sick kid, that’s not because he is making a rational choice about life, he’s doing it because of “circumstantial coercion”.

    it hinges coercion on the absence of voluntariness

    And conveniently, you highlight all kinds of manufactured morally-repugnant scenarios and, voila, economic coercion!

  94. “Well, utilitarianism is ultimately swallowed by extreme skepticism”

    Seward, I’m not sure I follow you here.

    “Your analysis depends on using government to obtain a desired output.”

    You don’t seek to use government to obtain certain desired outputs (like having a society where force and fraud are prevented?). Oh you do? I thought so…So the difference between liberals and libertarians can’t be that one wants to use government to get desired outputs and the other does not. It’s a matter of degree and when and where.

  95. And see, we think because since a union is ideally a collection of the very employee’s whose freedom is at issue here, and since they all have a say in determining it’s positions, that the unions being stronger relative the employer will lead to more freedom for the employees.

    What a lovely fair tale this is.

    And from this I can deduce that MNG has never lived in Illinois, Michigan, California or Hawaii.

  96. TAO
    Did you understand the whole discussion of you begging the question, or do you need me to break it down in another way? It seems like the latter…But if you’re just stomping your feet because you never thought about it that way let me know so I don’t have to waste my time…

  97. Jesus, gabe. I didn’t even rtfa. I really glazed over when I came to your post.

  98. I’ve defined economic coercion many, many times, and pointed out many, many real life examples.

    Real life? Give me a link to a story, not hypos.

    Regardless, you don’t see anyone in an unfortunate circumstance making a difficult choice as a rational actor. They’re under some sort of duress that magically vitiates voluntariness, as if we don’t all live in a perpetual state of varying pressures on our lives.

  99. MNG,

    And see, we think because since a union is ideally a collection of the very employee’s whose freedom is at issue here, and since they all have a say in determining it’s positions, that the unions being stronger relative the employer will lead to more freedom for the employees.

    This basically ignores the iron law of oligopoly. In any large enough group the vast majority of its members are marginalized and most of the decisions are made by a small number of individuals within that group. A lot of that has to do with the transaction costs and such of being actively involved in decision making.

    I suspect that most union members have about as much to say about how their organization works as most American citizens have to say about how their government works; very, very little.

  100. If the union increases the freedom of 100 of it’s members by 5% while restraining or constraining 3 of its workers freedom by 10% then I’m happy as a clam.

    The basic premise of libertarianism is that 97 people don’t have the right to fuck over 3 people just because they’re a majority.

    So if the 3 fucked-over individuals had joined an organization with the understanding that they would submit to the will of the majority, then they made their choice and have to deal with it.

    However, if the 97 people decide to create a new organization and drag the 3 fucked-over souls along with then against their will, then this is just another form of indentured servitude.

    Card check is evil.

  101. TAO
    How is that you can be in law school for as long as you say you have been and you have not come across the idea of constructing a hypo that illustrates the straining points of principle? When someone claims something like “coercion is NEVER justified” then sure the hypo maker is free to dig up any scenario they want to show just how morally crazy that idea is. This is standard fare in any good law school or undergraduate philosophy program…

  102. “Force and fraud” in terms of physical force, isn’t some deontological sin that the government needs to guard against, MNG. That’s what you don’t get. Practically speaking physical force and fraud are the only two forces that abrogate fair and honest dealings and rational decision-making ability. Having a sick child at home and being made to work more else you lose your job is life, and employing force against it is simultaneously impractical and immoral.

    It’s not “pragmatic utilitarian you” v. “crazy religionista Libertarians”.

  103. You don’t seek to use government to obtain certain desired outputs (like having a society where force and fraud are prevented?). Oh you do?

    Not the same thing at all. A society where force and fraud are prevented is the result of the input of the proposition that one should pay for the damage they cause to another or their property. There is no importance in this proposition of the identity of either party.

  104. MNG –

    You said “real life”. Now give me real life.

    When someone claims something like “coercion is NEVER justified” then sure the hypo maker is free to dig up any scenario they want to show just how morally crazy that idea is.

    Huh? You’re the one trying to justify government intervention to *correct* coercion, and I am telling you how practically foolish that is.

  105. When that pressure reaches a certain point then yes voluntariness can be said to not be present.

    I mean, you know this. When you say force is wrong do you really mean that only in cases where I grab your hand and actually force you (make you put the pen to paper) to sign a contract giving me your stuff? Jesus christ!

    I bet you mean that the duress that occurs when I say to you “I am so going to kick the shit out of you if you don’t sign this thing” vitiates your voluntariness. Oh noes, don’t you believe in rational actors defying pressure blah blah blah (I mean, you rationally could just choose the ass whooping, people lieve through that all the time).

    Your out of your league buddy, but I appreciate the light sparring practice.

  106. And that leaders thinking with their guts and getting advice from deities is not the most efficient means of exercising power.

    Actually that strikes me as an extremely efficient means of exercising power.

  107. The real difference between liberals and libertarians is the liberal’s insistence on clinging to that most inhuman and degrading of philosophies, utilitarianism. The individual is a mere speck of dust to be wiped away for the sake of a cleaner windshield. Like all totalitarian belief systems, adherence requires one to believe that they will never have to be the individual that is sacrificed for the good of the whole. Sickening.

  108. MNG,

    Seward, I’m not sure I follow you here.

    Why do you think rule utilitarianism arose in the first place? Because the regular old utilitarianism of Bentham simply had no moorings by which to determine what is of the greater or lesser utility. With the rise of rule utilitarianism it is hard for me to determine its difference from plain old non-consequentialist ethics.

    Now I’m not suggesting that either position is the correct one; however, utilitarianism has always been successfully attacked because it ultimately seems to be in many ways merely a restatement of much of the early modern skeptics had to say vis a vis their dislike of Aristotelianism/medieval ethics.

  109. TAO
    So you’re saying that as a rule, as in rule utilitarianism or some such consqeuntialism, that prohibitions on physical force and fraud act to maximize freedoms and prohibitions on, well, whatever the fuck you think I’m saying, do, what, not?

  110. “This is standard fare in any good law school or undergraduate philosophy program…”

    Yeah, but TAO is at Ohio State!
    (I keed, I keed.)

    And I’m perfectly willing to sacrifice three MNGs for the good of the cause. Any cause.

  111. Seward
    I agree with you about rule utilitarianism, they way many people interpret it it becomes some strange deontology.

    A common criticism against act utilitarianism is that it is not possible to come up with a way to rank the different utility of different acts in a satisfactory way, this is true. But I think this is done practically every day and that the guiding principles of utlitarianism, i.e. that only welfare matters when determining the correctness of an act and that all welfare must be equally weighted are the proper guides to use once the weights of utility have been ascertained…

  112. Oh Citizen Nothing, you have wounded me to the quick…

  113. Well said, John, on most points.

  114. The real difference between liberals and libertarians is the liberal’s insistence on clinging to that most inhuman and degrading of philosophies, utilitarianism.

    If liberty wasn’t empirically proven to aid in the happiness and welfare of all humanity, it wouldn’t be very useful at all.

  115. I know you’re tougher than that, MNG.

  116. “If the union increases the freedom of 100 of it’s members by 5% while restraining or constraining 3 of its workers freedom by 10% then I’m happy as a clam.”

    The claim that this outcome constitutes an “incease in freedom” is erroneous to begin with. It is merely engineering an outcome that MNG happens to like.

    In fact, this government engineering has negative consequences for more than just the 3 workers who don’t want a union. It harms the corporate stockholders, customers and other non-union classes of workers.

  117. “Practically speaking physical force and fraud are the only two forces that abrogate fair and honest dealings and rational decision-making ability. Having a sick child at home and being made to work more else you lose your job is life, and employing force against it is simultaneously impractical and immoral.”

    And that’s where we differ, I think that’s crazy talk.

    If my kid is sick, and needs drugs, and I don’t have the $ to buy the drugs, then I am pushed to say yes to offers that will supply that drug in a way far greater than I am if you say “go work this job or I will kick your ass!”

    And anyone who has had a kid and been in a fight knows that.

    Shit, I could just as easily start off by defining “getting your ass beat by stronger people” as “life.” Your begging that question like a blind man in the intersection…

  118. So if the 3 fucked-over individuals had joined an organization with the understanding that they would submit to the will of the majority, then they made their choice and have to deal with it.

    Like the United States of Fucking America??? A democracy? If you don’t like it go buy your own island like that Ponzi schemer did with Antigua. You can write your own laws then.

    Libertarians don’t like big government. Liberals don’t like big corporations (who corrupt government via lobbying.) Bureaucracy is interested in increasing its power and turf. Corporations are interested in profits period.

    Thing is democratic government can be influenced by elections and so is accountable. Big government is the only entity powerful enough that can take on big corporations, which is why I’m more of a liberal than a libertarian.

    It’s interesting that Matt mentioned Krugman. Krugman has a sound narrative of what caused the current crisis. I haven’t yet come across a sound narrative by a libertarian. The govenrment forced banks to lend to poor people?

  119. If liberty wasn’t empirically proven to aid in the happiness and welfare of all humanity, it wouldn’t be very useful at all.

    Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.

  120. But I’m completely over my head when it comes to actually technical defintions of philisophical utilitarianism.

  121. Like the United States of Fucking America??? A democracy? If you don’t like it go buy your own island like that Ponzi schemer did with Antigua. You can write your own laws then.

    Yo wetback! The USA is a representive republic with a constitution intended to protect minorities from the tyranny of the majority. It has never been, and hopefully, never will be a democracy.

  122. Gilbert
    Arguing with you is like when the beekeepers tried to outbargain Homer:
    Beekeeper 1: Well, very clever, Simpson, luring our bees to your sugar pile and selling them back to us at an inflated price.
    Homer: Bees are on the what now?

  123. MNG,

    Well, I would just say that it is impossible for the government to do that, especially a large government like that of the United States. The larger the group, the less likely it will be able to make such judgments accurately and the more likely it will be that its decisions will be disastrous for large segments of the population. We can link this to the Hayekian knowledge problem.

    This is why whenever I hear phrases like “we are going to revamp the entire U.S. ______ sector” I sort of roll of my eyes. It is simply impossible to do that in any centralized or systematic way which leads to what we might all agree are generally good outcomes. Systems just aren’t amenable to that sort of “engineering.” The libertarian attitude is by way of analogy the “open source” means of “engineering” society.

  124. Oh, Kolohe don’t sell yourself short.
    You’re not usually over your head at anytime.

    (Batts eyes at Kolohe)

  125. Kolohe,

    The salient point is that they have no problem fucking over individuals as long as the group prospers. Basically, imagine a philosophic stance that reads Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and doesn’t have much of an objection. I mean it’s only one person a year, right? And they get chosen in a fair manner, so there’s no discrimination, right? It’s a sick mindset driven by the worse form of imagined exceptionalism.

  126. The libertarian attitude is by way of analogy the “open source” means of “engineering” society.

    I’ve always wondered what percentage of libertarians use Linux. I know of at least 1…

  127. And your pretentious prattle is as stale as old dishwater, MNG.

    You have no point other than the one on the top of your head.

  128. You may not believe it Seward, but I agree with most of what you are saying.

    There are some restrictions I would put on “voluntary” transactions, especially when one person really has a poor bargaining position (which would of course be a function of more than just that person’s poverty, but also things like how necessary and urgent one’s needs are or the item at question is, etc), but for the most part market economies work nearly literal magic, not only in terms of economic productivity, but in terms of increasing human welfare, reducing irrational prejudices and inequalities, and more.

    Interestingly enough I don’t think many really top notch liberals have disagreed much ever since Rawls argued that market and inequality are to some extent good because they increase material prosperity overall by providing incentives…

  129. Pedro,

    Like the United States of Fucking America??? A democracy? If you don’t like it go buy your own island like that Ponzi schemer did with Antigua. You can write your own laws then.

    One thing that would be helpful with that regard is this: if governments allowed for easy exit and entry. They don’t do that however. There are high transaction costs associated with becoming a citizen of another state or setting up your own state. Governments really don’t like to compete in that way; indeed, one of the most problematic things that they do is their mercantilist attitude towards labor markets.

  130. Sugarfree
    I actually see what you are talking about. But what’s the alternative? A non-consequentialist ethics would be a pretty disturbing one indeed at times (this is what Kolohe was getting at 2:49, imagine an ethics that wasn’t disturbed by the fact that most people were living horribly).

  131. Thing is democratic government can be influenced by elections and so is accountable.

    Ah, so anything they do is cool then? Torture? Slavery? Hey, if the majority wants it, right?

    Big government is the only entity powerful enough that can take on big corporations, which is why I’m more of a liberal than a libertarian.

    Nobody is forced to deal with a corporation.

    I haven’t yet come across a sound narrative by a libertarian. The govenrment forced banks to lend to poor people?

    It’s not our fault that you’re a lazy, dishonest hack. Reason has a shitload of articles on the housing bubble.

  132. “if governments allowed for easy exit and entry.”

    You mean like the subsidization of KY Jelly?

  133. It’s not our fault that you’re a lazy, dishonest hack. Reason has a shitload of articles on the housing bubble.

    Jordan wins the thread.

  134. “Thing is democratic government can be influenced by elections and so is accountable.
    Ah, so anything they do is cool then? Torture? Slavery? Hey, if the majority wants it, right?”

    No Jordan. You know monarchies can have torture and slavery too, right? But the kewl thing about democracy is that unless the people are just retarded there is a built in mechanism to at least keep the majority protected from shit.

    That still leaves a lot to be desired though, I’d agree with you. It’s why we need rights that majorities can’t trump*

    *And before anyone gets upset by this statment wondering how a utilitarian like me can be for majority trumping rights, I will guide you to a copy of On Liberty which is all about how the utility of society overall is increased by allowing minorities to follow their muses and such
    http://www.utilitarianism.com/ol/one.html

  135. Hey, with joe seemingly really gone do I get to be the H&R House Liberal now?

    And does that position grant me the right to wear a cape?

  136. And see, we think because since a union is ideally a collection of the very employee’s whose freedom is at issue here, and since they all have a say in determining it’s positions, that the unions being stronger relative the employer will lead to more freedom for the employees.

    AH HA HA ha ha ha ha.

    I suspect that most union members have about as much to say about how their organization works as most American citizens have to say about how their government works; very, very little.

    Yeah, pretty much. Unions are controlled by deeply entrenched management of their own. Union elections turn over that management maybe once every generation or so, at best.

    Unions are a source of additional control on workers, not a source of freedom for workers. If you are unionized, you have two sets of bosses – your union bosses, and your other bosses.

  137. Hey, with joe seemingly really gone do I get to be the H&R House Liberal now?

    Principle: ” You OK with this?”

    Gym Teacher: “Let the little fruit have it”

    Tobias Funke: “Huzaa!!!!”

  138. do I get to be the H&R House Liberal now

    Looks like it. But Tony has laid unequivocal claim to H&R House Partisan already, cape and all. 😉

  139. MNG,

    A non-consequentialist ethics would be a pretty disturbing one indeed at times (this is what Kolohe was getting at 2:49, imagine an ethics that wasn’t disturbed by the fact that most people were living horribly).

    The problem comes when utilitarianism is migrated from an ethic to a policy. There is precious little the individual can do to act on his belief that other individuals can be sublimated to the benefit of the majority, but a government with that as a policy is a monster unparalleled. Economics and society is always going to be a bell curve. I’d rather have a steep one than a shallow one. The outliers on the shit end of the stick can be helped by other individuals. The notion that charity can only exist through coercion is the pernicious idea, not an emphasis on individuals.

  140. But Tony has laid unequivocal claim to H&R House Partisan already, cape and all.

    Cape? I though that only came with a “Hello my is…” sticker and a penis sheath.

  141. Hooray. Another pointless argument over semantics.

  142. And I “thought” it too! I am so sick of my ‘tarded fingers.

  143. Cape? I though that only came with a “Hello my is…” sticker and a penis sheath.

    It’s stuff like this that shows that racism against the indigenous people of Papua is alive and well in the US today.

  144. I’ve always wondered what percentage of libertarians use Linux. I know of at least 1…

    LinuxUsers++;

  145. There are some restrictions I would put on “voluntary” transactions, especially when one person really has a poor bargaining position (which would of course be a function of more than just that person’s poverty, but also things like how necessary and urgent one’s needs are or the item at question is

    So now you see what I meant when I said you play at Potter Stewart with economic coercion?

    We have a hard enough time fighting actual force and actual fraud, and now you want the varying pressures that are present as an occurrence of everyday living to vitiate voluntariness as well?

    Beautiful. So, in the hypothetical of “man with 20K bargains with man worth 900K”…is that coercive in nature? Or does the item have to be of a certain kind or level of ‘need’ before the owner of the item (makes no difference to whom you assign it) is (dis)allowed from charging the price he wants to charge?

  146. Anyway, I think an argument over unions is a bit moot; in very few developed countries do they represent anything more than a small minority of the workforce, and they no longer wield the sort of political, economic or cultural power that they once did. That’s probably in significant part because they are such problematic entities for so many individuals.

    MNG,

    There are some restrictions I would put on “voluntary” transactions, especially when one person really has a poor bargaining position…

    You know, as long as there were opt out clauses associated with that wouldn’t be that problematic for a free market type to buy into. But what tends to happen is uniform programs like SSI which everyone must fork over money for.

  147. Libertarians think government coercion can be used to foster overall liberty (for example, think the police and the enforcement of laws against force/fraud). Liberals just think there is a wider range of areas where government coercion can produce more freedom for more people.

    Like war for peace. Or burning the village in order to save it.

    But I’ll agree with your distinction — to an extent. However, the modern term ‘liberal’ is a misnomer. Once upon a time ‘liberal’ referred to people whose primary value was liberty. That ceased to be the case during the FDR era, when it shifted to egalitarianism and social equality. Libertarians are the true inheritors of the classical liberal tradition. The word was pretty much invented because ‘liberal’ had been corrupted by socialists.

    You could argue that people are more free when they have more money, but I really don’t think that’s the primary motivation. Even Tony here argued explicitly that people are happier when they are more equal, so this is really about utilitarian measures of the greater happiness (via equality) than about liberty.

  148. Well, I’ve got to continue stimulating the economy. 🙂

  149. Seward,

    Of course, after Congress passes a few laws to make unionization not only easier but compulsory (mostly kidding), maybe unions will become “popular”!

  150. As a libertarian, I’ve noticed that a problem with Libertarian Party members (with a capital “L”) is that they blindly worship the free market. They don’t take into account how the free market sometimes serves to subvert equality of opportunity. Others are anti-abortion, which is anti-freedom, and others believe in no social responsibility whatsoever.

  151. Liberals just think there is a wider range of areas where government coercion can produce more freedom for more people.

    Force and fraud are actually things that bad actors do to vitiate consent.

    A sick child and an unfortunate bargaining positions are things that happen to people that people just have to deal with.

    Apparently, no person can ever be placed in a bargaining position unless that person is entirely unencumbered by any alternative considerations or reasons for making the deal. I.e. that person has to be a robot.

  152. When did centrist start equaling socialist?

    When Bush signed TARP I after it was passed by a bi-partisan coalition of “moderate centrists”.

  153. TAO
    I’ve told you before you are conflating two distinct things: 1. is this decision voluntary and 2. if not, who is responsible for that being the case?

    The fact that you may not have been responsible for my kid being sick in no way makes my agreeing to take your job offer because it is the only one that will fund his treatment and though I loathe the job duties voluntary.

    “Apparently, no person can ever be placed in a bargaining position unless that person is entirely unencumbered by any alternative considerations or reasons for making the deal. I.e. that person has to be a robot.”

    Well of course not, it’s a matter of degree, and I think it’s funny that you don’t think you recognize this in your own principles and stances.

    1. I say on this thread “TAO, I am going to pound you unless you email me your bank PIN number.”
    2. I find your number and call you and say the same thing (assume your number is listed and your address beside it)
    3. I see you across the street and shout the same thing
    4. I am one foot away from you with my fist raised and say the same thing
    5. I say the same thing after having punched you a few times
    (many, this is a GREAT hype ;))

    When did the force kick in? Having degrees and factors doesn’t mean something is “know it when I see it.”

    And don’t get me started on fraud!

  154. “You could argue that people are more free when they have more money, but I really don’t think that’s the primary motivation.”

    Hazel, maybe there are some liberals out there (well, sure there are) that would want equality at the price of improvements in the welfare of the majority, but none I would take seriously. Really. Most want to see less inequality and everyone better off. Really.

  155. “You know, as long as there were opt out clauses associated with that wouldn’t be that problematic for a free market type to buy into. But what tends to happen is uniform programs like SSI which everyone must fork over money for.”

    Ahh, I’m not so much talking about that Seward as I am things like bars on certain adhesion contracts, minimum wage laws, protections on organizing into unions, that kind of thing. Things that would protect people in a bad bargaining position so they could help themselves by entereing into better contracts.

    I’m uneasy about money transfers because I think a lot of poor people are so because of habits/culture etc., that means that giving them a pot of money means they will squander it in five days on Wild Irish Rose and still have forgotten to buy baby food and diapers…

  156. Really. Most want to see less inequality and everyone better off. Really.

    Okay, but that still has nothing to do with liberty. That’s equality plus “general welfare”.

    The real difference between liberals and libertarians is the liberal’s insistence on clinging to that most inhuman and degrading of philosophies, utilitarianism. The individual is a mere speck of dust to be wiped away for the sake of a cleaner windshield. Like all totalitarian belief systems, adherence requires one to believe that they will never have to be the individual that is sacrificed for the good of the whole. Sickening.

    What SugarFree said.

    Incidentally, brain damage causes utilitarianism:
    http://www.slate.com/id/2162998/

  157. “They don’t take into account how the free market sometimes serves to subvert equality of opportunity.”

    What makes you think an equality of opportunity is something you’re entitled to in the first place?

  158. Hazel,

    Incidentally, brain damage causes utilitarianism:
    http://www.slate.com/id/2162998/

    Neat article.

  159. And does that position grant me the right to wear a cape?

    No, but you get free paper cup with your name on it. Provided your name is “Dixie”.

  160. Note that in all of your examples, you have a bad act, a type of application of force.

    Now, in the “sick child” scenario, what is the “bad act”, or application of force? The fact that your child is sick? nooo…I didn’t do that.

    I understand you think I am “conflating” the two, but I really am not. In your world, if I were to offer you a loathsome job knowing that you have to take it, you would advocate the government force me to give you the job at more favorable rates or force me (in the hypo where you already work for me) to refrain from making you work more because you’re in a tough spot.

    In all of your other examples, the “bad actor” PLACES you in the tough spot. He’s manufacturing the leverage through the application of force.

    In your world, logically, there’s no (should be) no such thing as leverage.

    Things that would protect people in a bad bargaining position so they could help themselves by entereing into better contracts.

    By preventing them from buying things like software, electronic devices and using websites. Very “helpful” of you.

    What do you suggest supplant the adhesion contract? Bargaining for every use and sale of a website or software?

  161. Jordan:

    “It’s not our fault that you’re a lazy, dishonest hack. Reason has a shitload of articles on the housing bubble.”

    Hey angry guy, I went browsing and I can’t find any. Please provide a link (put up or shut up in other words.) All I sees is bitching about government spending.

    So what caused the housing bubble? Big government? Too much regulation? Lazy poor people?

    I just think many liberals think libertarians are too naive in their faith in the magic of the free market.

  162. Beats faith in the government.

  163. Pro Lib, according to the news, faith in the “free” market has completely ruined the economy of the whole friggin world. I am lazy, and relatively ignorant, like many voters. So now I give my faith to unlimited government. Let them try it for a generation and we’ll see how we do.

  164. I just think many liberals think libertarians are too naive in their faith in the magic of the free market.

    I’m sure they do. Of course, faith in the magic of big government has even less empirical grounding. Mote, beam, and all that.

  165. So what caused the housing bubble? Big government? Too much regulation? Lazy poor people?

    Stupid people doing stupid things. And there is no law you can ever pass that will get rid of that problem.

  166. Meh. Edward used to talk about libertarian “faith” in free markets. I never understood that. I don’t expect miracles from the marketplace, only more optimal results than allowing politics to reign supreme by ceding power to the government. The failures of government are legion, and the evils done by government–even our own–are orders of magnitude greater than anything that can be attributed to the “unrestrained” market. Which, of course, has never existed, anyway.

  167. Liberals support something like card check, or unions in general, because we believe that sometimes employees agree to things that they really don’t want because they need to keep a job or position, we see that as less than fully voluntary or “free”

    Freely and voluntarily agreeing to employment conditions that include some conditions you would rather not have (such as having to, you know, work hard) is still free and voluntary. No one is forcing anyone to work there.

    Taking away the right to a secret ballot about whether to form a union (i.e., card check) — not so free or voluntary.

    Forcing someone to join a union because 50.1% of the other employers voted for a union — not so free or voluntary, although the employee can then freely and voluntarily quit rather than suffer such an imposition.

    The problem with liberals is they agree with Giuliani that freedom means accepting a great deal of force and coercion from the government, so long as YOUR people are in the majority.

  168. 1. I say on this thread “TAO, I am going to pound you unless you email me your bank PIN number.”
    2. I find your number and call you and say the same thing (assume your number is listed and your address beside it)
    3. I see you across the street and shout the same thing
    4. I am one foot away from you with my fist raised and say the same thing
    5. I say the same thing after having punched you a few times
    (many, this is a GREAT hype

    When did the force kick in?

    After you threw the first punch and then got your sorry ass beat down.

    The coercion kicked in at number two, when a credible threat was made.

  169. “After you threw the first punch and then got your sorry ass beat down.”

    LOL

    Good one.

  170. Well prole it’s nice to know though that you recognize that the coercion is a matter of degree and several factors (like imminence, capacity, etc). That was my point to TAO, that his methods of coercion were not so clear cut but involved the weighing of several factors. Just like mine…

    Fraud is another example. It depends on many things. If you get me to sign a contract and latter a judge finds out that I was illiterate, could not speak Enlish well, was sick that day, etc., and you knew it, then even though may have “voluntarily” signed my name the judge would throw it out. He’d weigh those factors, and maybe more…

    TAO
    You say I think you are conflating the two questions, but then you make no argument as to why you are not. In fact, you go on and on right afterwards and conflate the two again by rambling about bad actors. What do bad actors have to do with whether something is coercive or not, voluntary or not? Unless you simply define coercion as involving bad actors and define a bad actor as one who uses force and physical fraud, in which case your begging the question…Again…

  171. And prole, I would not find coercion even in case number two. Are you telling me that if a telemarketer called you, and you told him off and he said “buddy, I am going to pound you unless you buy something” that you think he has just “coerced” you to buy that?

    I think that’s daft.

    I think maybe 3 qualifies. Surely 4.

    But notice that we all would agree that something coercive happens before a step where I physically grab his hand and make him sign a contract or write his PIN number…When TAO was still “free” to utter the word “no” just like the man with the sick kid could tell the employer no…

  172. “could not speak Enlish well”

    Boy, that’s irony…;)

  173. And TAO, I’m not thinking of software contracts when I talk about adhesion contracts, I’m talking about things like this (surely this one is in your contracts casebook):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Williams_v._Walker-Thomas_Furniture_Co.

    I know the term has been used about software where there is a “buy it or leave it” approach, but since nobody really needs software I wouldn’t think economic coercion could ever exist in such a case to be honest…

  174. “I am so going to kick the shit out of you if you don’t sign this thing”

    Sounds a lot like what might happen with card check…

  175. Oh no, that could NEVER happen.

  176. “No one is forcing anyone to work there.”

    See, if you don’t have a lot of capital saved up then you actually do HAVE to work somewhere or you will starve and freeze to death, and if all of the possible places you could work make demands on you that you would turn down had you the resources to get by without it, then that’s a little less than ideally “voluntary.”

    “Taking away the right to a secret ballot about whether to form a union (i.e., card check) — not so free or voluntary.”

    That’s stupid. You mean the person can’t freely and voluntarily NOT SIGN THE CARD? WTF?

    “Sounds a lot like what might happen with card check…”

    Since threats of violence would be illegal under card check or not this is so stupid. I mean, what if I argued FOR card check by saying “unions have to have this because without it employers might hire goons to beat up the workers if unionization wins the vote.”

    But of course they don’t have to threaten to beat them up, they can simply close the plant down and put them all out of work. So with the threat of losing your livelihood you can go into the secret ballot and “freely” cast your vote!

  177. Coercion and economic leverage (or advantage) is not the same thing.

    There is no consideration given (in the legal sense of the word) in using or theatenting force to coerce someone into giving you something.

    Taking or not taking a particular job regardless of one’s economic straits is in no way comparable to that.

  178. When did centrist start equaling socialist?

    Wasn’t it 1932?

  179. “But of course they don’t have to threaten to beat them up, they can simply close the plant down and put them all out of work.”

    And there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be able to do just that. The company, after all, belongs to the stockholders – not the employees.

  180. Cover your ears Pedro, you wont like this:

    Fannie’s Smoking Gun
    Posted by Bill Anderson at March 2, 2009 02:39 PM

    It seems that the editors of the New York Times and Paul Krugman are practicing selective amnesia again. You might recall that they have been adamant in their insistent that Fannie and Freddie were not the cause of any difficulties in the markets, and it was all due to the lack of regulation of private markets.

    Rob Blackstock has sent me a copy of an article from the September 30, 1999, New York Times in which Fannie began to ease credit:

    In a move that could help increase home ownership rates among minorities and low-income consumers, the Fannie Mae Corporation is easing the credit requirements on loans that it will purchase from banks and other lenders.

    The action, which will begin as a pilot program involving 24 banks in 15 markets — including the New York metropolitan region — will encourage those banks to extend home mortgages to individuals whose credit is generally not good enough to qualify for conventional loans. Fannie Mae officials say they hope to make it a nationwide program by next spring.

    Fannie Mae, the nation’s biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits. (emphasis mine)

    In addition, banks, thrift institutions and mortgage companies have been pressing Fannie Mae to help them make more loans to so-called subprime borrowers. These borrowers whose incomes, credit ratings and savings are not good enough to qualify for conventional loans, can only get loans from finance companies that charge much higher interest rates — anywhere from three to four percentage points higher than conventional loans.

    ”Fannie Mae has expanded home ownership for millions of families in the 1990’s by reducing down payment requirements,” said Franklin D. Raines, Fannie Mae’s chairman and chief executive officer. ”Yet there remain too many borrowers whose credit is just a notch below what our underwriting has required who have been relegated to paying significantly higher mortgage rates in the so-called subprime market.”

    I always am amazed when smart people like the NYT editorialists and Krugman cannot remember a few simple details….

  181. Williams v. Walker was a contract involving unconscionability, not an adhesion contract. And what happened with the Court is exactly what you would do: despite the fact that Williams knew what she was signing (or legally, “knew” because she didn’t care), the Court declared that these contracts are “unconscionable”.

    It’s an attempt to justify the vitiation of contracts because they offend your sensibilities. Read Judge Danaher’s dissent in that case.

  182. If I were to quit my job and let my family starve, perhaps I would have time to read all these comments. In the meantime, I got about as far as this:

    For the liberal, however, they think that gay marriage should be legalized because the ignorant anti-gay-marriage crowd should be forced to accept it. Since government and society are the same, the government legalizing gay marriage is the equivalent of society accepting it. This forced acceptance is the “progress” in progressivism.

    I know a number of self proclaimed progressives. That statement has nothing to do with how they view the world. It must be horrible to have ideological “enemies” living in your head.

  183. but since nobody really needs software I wouldn’t think economic coercion could ever exist in such a case to be honest…

    Williams didn’t “need” the particular pieces of furniture she contracted to buy.

    See, if you don’t have a lot of capital saved up then you actually do HAVE to work somewhere or you will starve and freeze to death, and if all of the possible places you could work make demands on you that you would turn down had you the resources to get by without it, then that’s a little less than ideally “voluntary.”

    Just as I suspected. While you couch it in terms of “necessity” because the person will literally freeze to death without work, what you really mean is that you’re bothered by the realities of life.

    People have to work eat and have a house…and that just irks you, doesn’t it?

  184. It is a bit ironic that most of you neo-isolationist libertarians held your noses and voted for Obama based on his anti-war stance, hoping he would be somewhat centrist and Clintonesque on the economy.

    Boy did you get burnt.

    Even as Obama ramps up the war in Afghanistan and leaves lots of wiggle room about getting out of Iraq, he is using scare tactics, talking down the economy, and doubling the national debt in a matter of months in order to move the country toward full-scale socialism.

    Next will come a “re-evaluation” about where all the taxes are going to come from to pay for Obama’s utopian dreams. And the $250,000 income level designation of evil (job producing) needing-to-be-taxed rich people, will be adjusted downward toward $50,000.

    Of course, the wards of the government will no doubt sky-rocket as Obama’s economy killing socialism sets in over the next few years (they will all vote Democrat don’t ya know).

    So all of those who do earn 50K-plus should expect to be slammed with taxes, hidden or otherwise, because this vast middle is where most of the money is at. Socialists cannot and will not leave middle income earners alone.

    In other words. You are being lied to by Obama.

    “Obama lied and the economy died!”

  185. Unions are just as likely to impinge on the liberty of the individual as an employer is

    So you admit employers can negatively affect liberty?

    As someone said above, liberals simply believe that government isn’t the single sole threat to liberty in the world. Any powerful entity can be a threat to individual liberty. And most of them aren’t subject to accountability in the way government is supposed to be.

    My problem with libertarianism is partly that it doesn’t recognize non-state powers as legitimate threats to liberty, but that this blind spot often extends to overzealous advocacy on behalf of employers–even to the point of corporate welfare that characterizes the modern right, which gladly uses your guys’ talking points on government and freedom to further its agenda.

  186. I’m pretty sure threats of violence have already been illegal for some time. Has that really mattered to unions in the past?

  187. I can’t speak for most libertarians, but I think corporations and other non-state actors can do bad things. But the government is worse, and ceding power to it and taking away the shackles by which we attempt[ed] to control it is crazy.

  188. My problem with libertarianism is partly that it doesn’t recognize non-state powers as legitimate threats to liberty, but that this blind spot often extends to overzealous advocacy on behalf of employers–even to the point of corporate welfare that characterizes the modern right, which gladly uses your guys’ talking points on government and freedom to further its agenda.

    I’ve never met a libertarian who advocates for corporate welfare. I find the practice quite sickening.

  189. Tony, try not to punch above your weight.

    Unions are just as likely to impinge on the liberty of the individual as an employer is

    So you admit employers can negatively affect liberty?

    There’s no gotcha here, rather a recognition that, once you adopt definitions of “coercion” and “economic liberty” that allow you to claim that employers engage in coercion and infringe on economic liberty, then you cannot escape the conclusion that being subject to a union against your desires means that the union is also engaging in coercion and infringing on your economic liberty.

  190. Oh I forgot that was a furniture case, I was thinking of an apartment leasing case (you do need a place to live). It was the reasoning of the majority that I remembered as being particularly impressive actually, I guess that is why it stuck with me.

    “People have to work eat and have a house…and that just irks you, doesn’t it?”

    Not at all, work is good for you. But what’s bothering is that some people start off with so many more advantages than other people, and many of those advantages can be directly traced to instances of force and fraud that were then passed down to their ancestors or are products of current force and fraud. Those advantages then allow person one to leverage person two in a way that makes the latter’s decisions less voluntary.

    And I would like to see a world in which more people’s decisions are more voluntary.

  191. “Unconscionability has generally been recognized to include an absence of meaningful choice on the part of one of the parties together with contract terms which are unreasonably favorable to the other party. … In many cases the meaningfulness of the choice is negated by a gross inequality of bargaining power. … The manner in which the contract was entered is also relevant to this consideration. Did each party to the contract, considering his obvious education or lack of it, have a reasonable opportunity to understand the terms of the contract, or were the important terms hidden in a maze of fine print and minimized by deceptive sales practices? Ordinarily, one who signs an agreement without full knowledge of its terms might be held to assume the risk that he has entered a one-sided bargain. But when a party of little bargaining power, and hence little real choice, signs a commercially unreasonable contract with little or no knowledge of its terms, it is hardly likely that his consent, or even an objective manifestation of his consent, was ever given to all the terms. In such a case the usual rule that the terms of the agreement are not to be questioned should be abandoned and the court should consider whether the terms of the contract are so unfair that enforcement should be withheld.”

    That’s tight. 1. Manner in which contract was entered into. 2. Gross inequality in bargaining power (this includes need of either party). 3. Commercially unreasonable. Looks good to me.

  192. And here we are again: because (dead)people of X skin color, which happens to match my skin color, did bad things in the past, we must recompense those wrongs done to (dead) people by taking the money and livelihoods of the living…who had nothing to do with it.

    Look, I don’t care if your great-grandfather was Nathan Bedford Forrest and your father was Bull Connor. YOU didn’t do anything that deserves retribution and you certainly shouldn’t have to pay for the mistakes of others.

  193. That’s tight. 1. Manner in which contract was entered into. 2. Gross inequality in bargaining power (this includes need of either party). 3. Commercially unreasonable. Looks good to me.

    So…wait, you don’t care about need now? Lest we forget, the last thing that Williams purchased (while on SSI, no less), was a stereo set. You’ve basically just rewarded her CHOICE to be ignorant in what she was signing.

    It’s that exact logic that has led to bailout-and-stimulus mania.

  194. Often we talk of examples where someone’s current job is at stake and if Tony, me or joe notes that the employer can coerce the employee by threatening to fire them folks here just say “well he can just go get another jonb, that is not coercion.” But that is spoken like a 22 year old kid who can switch jobs like that with little punishment. For a 42 year old that is vested in their job it may be quite difficult to find similar employment, and so dangling the threat of her job over her head is like saying “do this or I will take $20,000 dollars a year from you.”

    Now, the next move for the libertarian is to point out that the job belongs to the employer. And it certainly does I guess, but why? Because he has the capital crucial to the enterprise. Why do some people have a lot of capital for such enterprises while many others have very little? Because they worked hard and honest and saved it or their ancestors did? No doubt some. Or because they benefited from current or past force and fraud? No doubt some too.

    Either way you’ve got all these people whose choices are now restrained because they have to work somewhere to live and they can’t hold out as long as the few who have this capital. Since I like liberty and don’t have some deontological fetish about it but a consequentialist view of it I don’t mind restricting the few with plenty’s freedom in order to open up more important freedoms for more people. And as an added benefit some of those people I’m restricting have their position through ill gotten gains and some of those people I’m helping were victims of the same.

  195. “YOU didn’t do anything that deserves retribution and you certainly shouldn’t have to pay for the mistakes of others.”

    If my grandfather stole your grandfather’s life savings, used it to send my dad to Harvard, and then he did well and got me into same school and a VP position at his company, and your dad had to drop out of school to support your grandad because he was penniless and so you went to terrible schools and then you have to support your dad and then you come to me and now we bargain over a possible job for you, you mean to say a governmental provision that would restrict me a bit and protect you a lot would be wrong?
    WTF?

  196. Same shit, different day.

    But that is spoken like a 22 year old kid who can switch jobs like that with little punishment. For a 42 year old that is vested in their job it may be quite difficult to find similar employment, and so dangling the threat of her job over her head is like saying “do this or I will take $20,000 dollars a year from you.”

    So, the 42-year-old now has more *rights* than the 22-year-old? Is this what justice looks like to you?

    What if he was only going to lose 5,000? or 2,000? Or 500? What’s the line?

    I’m sorry, but for all your talk of loving freedom, you talk like Lenin, where the rich capitalists (the bourgeoisie, the few) whip the many masses of slave proles because they have unfairly accumulated capital.

    It’s so Disney it hurts.

    The fact of the matter is that unfettered capitalism causes greater wealth mobility than any government scheme, and it is government force that caused the past injustices you’re referencing.

  197. “That’s tight. 1. Manner in which contract was entered into. 2. Gross inequality in bargaining power (this includes need of either party). 3. Commercially unreasonable. Looks good to me.

    So…wait, you don’t care about need now?”

    I cut and pasted this whole part because I wanted you to see how I plainly mentioned NEED in the very quote which under you say “so now you don’t care about need?”

    Whether contracts should be vitiated should be decided by looking at the following factors:
    1. The manner the contract was entered into (I’m an illiterate foriegner and you knew that and took advantage of it to get me to sign)
    2. Gross inequality in bargaining power (not inequality in income or wealth necessarily, but bargaining power, this is where need comes in, the more I need something and the more you know it and the less you need what I offer then the less my bargaining power is relative to yours)
    3. Commercially unreasonable terms (ascertainable by looking at the relevant industry)

  198. RED ALERT!! WE KNOW HAVE “JACK BAUER LOGIC” AND “LIFEBOAT ETHICS” ON THE RADAR!! UP PERISCOPE!!

    you mean to say a governmental provision that would restrict me a bit and protect you a lot would be wrong?
    WTF?

    Yes, I mean to say that would be wrong. YOU should not be punished for mistakes OTHERS made. It’s a very simple argument about justice.

    I’ll play with your hypo a bit, though: was your grandfather ever convicted in court? Why or why not? And, if he wasn’t, what standard of evidence should we use to justify restricting you?

  199. They both have the same rights, because I wouldn’t write protections for “42 year old workers” but for “workers.” While the 42 year old would take a bigger hit from being fired, the 22 year old also likely has less to fall back upon, so both could use protecting.

    What matters is they both don’t have anything like the resources the employer does in most cases.

    “and it is government force that caused the past injustices you’re referencing.”

    Actually it is government working in conjunction with, or often for, non-governmental powerful interests to be more exact.

  200. Actually it is government working in conjunction with, or often for, non-governmental powerful interests to be more exact

    Without force, your asinine “hypotheticals” would never exist.

    By your logic, we should give all living descendants of Native Americans like, 100 million dollars. Taken from your bank account, of course.

  201. While the 42 year old would take a bigger hit from being fired, the 22 year old also likely has less to fall back upon, so both could use protecting.

    Alternatively, because you’re heavily encumbering capital, it is more likely that you will entrench the 42-year-old and reduce the job opportunities for the 22-year-old. Depending on the regulation, you might just incentivize companies not to keep employees around all that long, lest they start to feel entitled to what they have due *solely* to their age and vestments.

    See: France.

  202. TAO
    Good example.

    Why do you think Native Americans in the US have a poverty rate three times that of white Americans?

    It doesn’t have anything to do with past governmental practices (and private belief systems, i.e. racism)?

    Or do you think that Native Americans are just three times more likely to be lazy, or irresponsible, or not as talented?

  203. “See: France.”

    Well, it would take a while for us to reach that goal…

    Because lord knows how miserably enslaved all those Frenchmen are! Having to enter into contracts they don’t like just to pay their health care costs or their families health care costs…Oh wait a minute…Well, having to agree to do certain things at work or else not be able to get any vacation time to be with your kids…Oh wait a minute…Etc. It’s a real hell hole of slavery over there 😉

  204. “It doesn’t have anything to do with past governmental practices (and private belief systems, i.e. racism)?”

    And you don’t think any people benefited from these either (like those who got their land on the cheap, perhaps?)? And you don’t think any of those advantages were passed down to subsequent generations?

    But your answer is, well, since the actual culprits are lost in a haze of mystification, it would just be immoral to do something about that…”It’s a shame we couldn’t go back in time and punish the actual evil doer, but what can you do? And oh, if you want the job working what used to be your ancestors land but I inherited Mr. Proudfoot, you have to agree to x, y and z…”

  205. well, since the actual culprits are lost in a haze of mystification, it would just be immoral to do something about that

    Yeah, that’s right.

    Why do you think Native Americans in the US have a poverty rate three times that of white Americans?

    It doesn’t have anything to do with past governmental practices (and private belief systems, i.e. racism)?

    It has a lot to do with it. What’s your point? Did I have anything to do with that?

    Perhaps you should talk people who have had experience with the DoI and the BIA, where government “help” has kept Native Americans in disastrous poverty for generations.

    I’m sorry, but I’m not buying in to your Socialist-version of “original sin”, where the iniquities of the father are visited upon the son. This is all about trying to get people chained to their guilt forever.

  206. t’s a real hell hole of slavery over there 😉

    Not what I was talking about. When I was talking about overburdening and heavily encumbering capital and how it enshrines the old, white workforce at the expense of the new, brown workforce…that’s what France looks like.

    Did you think those riots in the Muslim areas were for fun? Employers are so heavily burdened with government-mandated benefits they are loath to take on new employees, so the employment rate among young Muslims (which France coveniently “forgets” to survey when it does economic surveys) is estimated to be 25% – 30%. 30 percent!

    Many economists have recognized for more than a decade that the generous minimum wages and other rigidities of the French labor market caused unemployment rates that have remained stubbornly high since the early 1990’s. Immigrants, youths, and other new entrants into the labor market have been hurt the most since they have had the greatest difficulty finding jobs.

    Since we’ve been invoking Krugman left and right, that’s Gary Becker and real live EKONOMIST!, MNG! ZOMG!

  207. “I’ll play with your hypo a bit, though: was your grandfather ever convicted in court? Why or why not? And, if he wasn’t, what standard of evidence should we use to justify restricting you?”

    First, let’s say he was. Now your answer? If I read it right it shouldn’t change, and that’s a bit bizarre. It means you just have to get one generation away from a crime and you’re scot-free (or maybe even worse just you should give any property you steal to your family ASAP, that way since it wasn’t THEM that did the stealing it would be wrong to take it back and give it to the victim)…

    Secondly, what if the “crime” was something legal at the time but which we now recognize as being morally abhorrent (I mean, the Nazi extermnators acted within German law mostly), so there would of course be no “conviction.” We should just let bygones be bygones, eh?

    But third, why not try to find policies which would restrict everybody who had these advantages, whether it could be traced to ill gotten gains specifically, in a minimal way but would open up the opportunity for the ancestors of the victimized who are still effected by that victimization to largely overcome it. So we might restrict employers from discriminating against all Native Americans. This will punish some employers whose positions cannot be traced back to wrongs, and help Native Americans whose position cannot be traced back to wrongs, but it would help many Native Americans, who are in a weak position to bear such disadvantages, who can trace their position back to that while imposing a minimal restriction (the only freedom they lose is the freedom to discriminate against Native Americans) on a relatively small number of people who are in the best position to bear it.

  208. “Did I have anything to do with that?”

    Ahh, but you may have benefited from it! Does that not matter?

  209. I hope you got a deal on resetting your arm after you broke it patting yourself on the back I hope for your sake some one hides your soap box.

  210. TAO
    It’s a shame about the unemployment rates for Muslim youth in France. really it is.

    But it’s lucky for them they live in a country where their health care and housing costs are pretty much taken care of either way and the safety net that catches them is nice. I mean, when I think about how unemployment would suck, I think about how I would pay for the place my family lives and how I would pay our insurance costs the most…In fact, you might say that in France I’d be “free” of such constant worries…

    What a hell hole!

  211. Either the moral argument in favor of maximum retention of wealth, that it is earned, exists or it doesn’t. No one can deny that some amount of wealth is acquired by luck. You don’t earn lottery winnings or inheritance. You were just at the right place at the right time. So this can be taken two ways. Either people are not as morally entitled to that wealth, or blind Darwinian struggle is our greatest possible moral attainment.

    But you can’t have it both ways, arguing that luck is one cause of our wealth, and that’s OK, we still have a natural right to what we gain by luck; and on the other hand arguing that we shouldn’t tax wealth because it was all gained by hard work and ingenuity.

  212. “Perhaps you should talk people who have had experience with the DoI and the BIA, where government “help” has kept Native Americans in disastrous poverty for generations.”

    Yeah TAO, peddle that bullshit you read on right wing blogs! I knew that was coming…

    I mean, because the DOI and the BIA FORCE Indians to stay on the reservations and collect welfare checks, I mean, they have “kept” them poor by keeping them from getting jobs and saving and such.

    Jesus, if someone you disagreed with used such sloppy language you would literally have a cow. Moooo!

    The best thing for you: swear off all right wing media for 6 months.

  213. It’s a shame about the unemployment rates for Muslim youth in France. really it is.

    But it’s lucky for them they live in a country where their health care and housing costs…

    Amazing! you’re so sad at the unemployment rate and then, in the next breath, continue to defend the policies that caused these disastrous consequences.

    I think about how I would pay for the place my family lives and how I would pay our insurance costs the most…In fact, you might say that in France I’d be “free” of such constant worries…

    Ah, so it really does bother you that people have to work to eat and live under a roof. It should just be manna from Heaven the Government.

    It means you just have to get one generation away from a crime and you’re scot-free (or maybe even worse just you should give any property you steal to your family ASAP, that way since it wasn’t THEM that did the stealing it would be wrong to take it back and give it to the victim)…

    Lulz. We have laws against receiving or buying stolen property. And being “one generation” away from a “crime” means you still didn’t do anything!

    Ahh, but you may have benefited from it! Does that not matter?

    “May have”, based on the color of my skin? Oh boy, that sounds like loads of fun and justice right there.

    Playing with the Natamerican hypo a bit more: say a white guy gets off the boat in 1980 and starts a business. He should have his capital encumbered because of something other white people did over 100 years ago?…people to whom he could not even possibly be related?

  214. I mean, because the DOI and the BIA FORCE Indians to stay on the reservations and collect welfare checks

    Huh? I didn’t say anything about force, MNG. Perhaps you need to learn something about subsidies, welfare and incentives and what it does multi-generationally?

    Go read, plz. And how was I “sloppy”?

  215. The best thing for you: swear off all right wing media for 6 months.

    I am not a regular consumer of any “right wing” media. Please don’t assume you know what I read.

    Would you care for a list of blogs and fora I regularly read? I don’t listen to the radio anymore, so that’s out.

  216. “I didn’t say anything about force, MNG.”

    “where government “help” has kept Native Americans in disastrous poverty for generations”

    TAO, I’m confused…How could the government have “kept” the Native Americans in disastrous povery for generations without using force or fraud…Certainly nobody can be “kept” against their own will by something other than force or fraud…Hmmm…

    “”May have”, based on the color of my skin?”

    Well, sure actually. Those that benefited were certainly white folks, right? They may not have been your white ancestors, but they were SOME current white folks ancestors…

    And one thing all white folks gained was, relative to Native Americans competing for the same jobs, school slots, etc., was that we didn’t labor under a commonly held belief of potential employers, customers, administrators, that we were inferior in many ways…And that belief was caused by what now?

    “say a white guy gets off the boat in 1980 and starts a business.”

    Yes he can justly be the target of the kind of restrictions I talk about above, minimal restrictions (to pay a minimum wage, to not discriminate on race, etc) that fall on those who can bear them the best (those with the capital to own a business) in order to help folks who will disporportionately be the victims of past wrongs (Native Americans, blacks, poor whites, etc).

    See, I am trying to right the present wrongs created by past wrongs in ways that do minimal wrong to those who may or may not have benefited from those wrongs and who can best bear it.

    You just want to let it keep disadvantaging those harmed…

  217. “I don’t listen to the radio anymore, so that’s out.”

    Judging from what you’ve said about your taste in that area, that is probably the best thing you could have done!

    Are you reading the Balkinization folks I recommended?

  218. How could the government have “kept” the Native Americans in disastrous povery for generations without using force or fraud.

    If you want to play word games, we can end this conversation. “Kept” meaning that the government has strongly incentivized generations of NatAmers to stay on the reservation, which has resulted in disastrous rates of unemployment, alcoholism and broken families.

    Say it over and over again in your head, “People. Respond. To. Incentives.”

    Yes he can justly be the target of the kind of restrictions

    Justly? You’re going to say that with a straight face?

    . Those that benefited were certainly white folks, right? They may not have been your white ancestors, but they were SOME current white folks ancestors…

    Uhhh, yeah, and?

    Not only are you proposing punishing those who have done no wrong, but you’re proposing they be punished for the benefit of those who have suffered no injustice, all based on the actions of dead people and on the basis of skin color.

    Are you reading the Balkinization folks I recommended?

    No. Is this the quality of their arguments? Looks like I am not missing much.

  219. TAO
    So people can be where they are not because of force or fraud but because of incentives…These incentives can come from the private sector, right? And then how responsible are the people that respond to them?

    “Not only are you proposing punishing those who have done no wrong, but you’re proposing they be punished for the benefit of those who have suffered no injustice”

    Yes, because the “punishments” are so minimal, and they are geared towards those who can bear them with minimal problems, and while they may benefit some who have suffered no injustice they will benefit only by giving them a bare opportunity and are geared towards those who are most disadvantaged. Yes indeed.

  220. But hey TAO, it looks like we are the only ones arguing on this thread, and that is not going to lead to much.

    Perhaps some common ground.

    I remember in a past thread you mentioned a fondness for Brutus. I share that.

    I just finished watching the HBO series with my wife. What did you think of it? I liked the series, but did not like how they obviously favored Cesar and Antony and had less respect for Brutus…It seems like staking it all to fight irrational dictators is not something that gets you admired in today’s world…

  221. “all based on the actions of dead people and on the basis of skin color.”

    I do want to respond to this. No and no and no and no. I’ve gone too many rounds here with joe on affirmative action to let this pass…Remember, I’ve got a doctorate, I’ve seen the terrible effects of affirmative action in the realm in which it is most powerful: academe.

    I would make NO laws based on skin color. The provisions I advocate would protect the white employee from the black employer as much as the black employee from the white employer. I advocate certain minimal protections for employees, regardless of skin color.

    Affirmative action is the most important issue to me as a voter and citizen and I probably agree with you on it. I pay money every year to anti-affirmative action groups (the Civil Rights Initiative and the CEO), write letters to my representatives about this, letters to the editor, etc.

  222. RED ALERT!! WE KNOW HAVE “JACK BAUER LOGIC” AND “LIFEBOAT ETHICS” ON THE RADAR!! UP PERISCOPE!!

    If your radiating on the radar, the periscope should already be raised.

    Just sayin.

  223. Don’t you try luring me in with your….FRIENDLESS AND AMIABILITY! It’s a trap :P!

    Not to start another academic argument with you :D, but it seems to be the way of the world that big-time dictators and political bullies get venerated later in life. I was just reading a counterfactual the other day where T. Roosevelt got reelected and, long story short, solved all the world’s problems. Pfft.

    I feel like Caesar and Antony have always been favored, especially post-Shakespeare.

    I think it’s the compelling imagery of eagles and standards and a single man, marshaling a city to its Grand Destiny. You didn’t think all of the totalitarians used that shit on accident, did you? 🙂

  224. The provisions I advocate would protect the white employee from the black employer as much as the black employee from the white employer.

    Uh, OK, if you want to make them facially AND consequentially neutral, I don’t like it, but that’s better…but how do you propose to fix this past inequities you’ve been yelling about for the past hours?

    And what about that new immigrant in the 1980s? Color me confused.

  225. I never understood how any libertarian could vote for Obama. His record and rhetoric was as non libertarian as any nominee in history. Yet there were several Libertarians For Obama websites.

    It is sad that so many of you were deceived. I for one will never understand why, but I’m glad that the Kool Aid is wearing off rather quickly.

    I just hope that next time libertarians will actually look at what a man believes and not be fooled by “hope and change.”

  226. “but how do you propose to fix this past inequities you’ve been yelling about for the past hours?”

    Really slowly and with the least cost possible to innocent persons. Really. Perhaps I’ve been putting it very badly lost in the joy of arguing. Sorry for that. But I’m a white guy from a working class family. My dad got no checks in the mail addressed to “white guy”, in fact in his job he was actively discriminated against because he was white (he was a government employee). In academe I saw first hand less qualified, but well off, black folks get positions and scholarships that I could not. It’s one reason I don’t work there now.

    But, all that aside, I agree with Hayek and Mises that many advantages that currently exist are rooted in past injustice. But unlike them I don’t think the best way of addressing that, whether morally or practically, it to ignore it. I think something should be done for those still effected by it, but I really want that something to be something that has the least negative effect on others.

    “especially post-Shakespeare”

    uggh, I agree! I love Shakespeare, but man that guy loved himself some dictators…I guess when you made a living back then, often at the monarch’s favor, you had to watch that, and so maybe he was just being prudent, but he has certainly influenced so many on that subject.

    I think Brutus was an amazing hero. The HBO series often tried to depict him as weak and confused while depicting Ceasar as noble and powerful…They got some cred back with me with Brutus’ death scene, but yuck…Ceasar was a lawless demagogue…

  227. “I was just reading a counterfactual the other day where T. Roosevelt got reelected and, long story short, solved all the world’s problems.”

    Let me tell you my problem with TR.

    I admire how he overcome his asthma to become an active man. I admire how he was both a man who could write admired histories, articles for orthinological journals, etc., and yet still storm San Juan Hill…

    But the guy was a pretty lawless guy…Great guys don’t help us out as a civilization, our system of laws does…And he cared very little for that when it got in his way…

    But I guess that is why they have “biographies” which are the story of a great individual and less stories about great systems…But yeah, it is depressing…

  228. “Ronald Reagan’s electorate-reshaping revolution of 1980”

    modest disagreement about the importance of reagan’s election in 1980, when compared to 84.

    84 was the pinnacle, 80 was just a clutching at straws. Reagan didn’t win, so much as Carter lost.

    When 84 came, it was the coronation of conservatism. It worked, the people believed in it, and suddenly, the weight of a recession, a lost war, and dwindling america were forgotten.

    Had everyone agreed with Reagan, it would just be a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Because he had those detractors, that momentarily held crediblity, they made him and his success into something that much more to be marvelled at.

    Reaganism is dead?
    The marginal tax rate was in the 80’s. He brought it down to 28%. Yes obama can go back to 40%, but the marginal rate will never go beyond fifty again.

    If obama wants to ‘defeat’ reagan, he needs to go back to a period of high marginal rates that the world, who laughed at Reagan, also provided to their own citizens.

  229. “Since threats of violence would be illegal under card check or not this is so stupid.”

    Making something illegal does not prevent that thing from happening. The secret ballot prevents violence from happening by removing the crucial facts required for successful voter intimidation, that is, knowledge of what a specific individual’s vote is. Attacking random voters is not an effective strategy for influencing an election, targeting those who vote the “wrong” way is.

  230. If my kid is sick, and needs drugs, and I don’t have the $ to buy the drugs, then I am pushed to say yes to offers that will supply that drug in a way far greater than I am if you say “go work this job or I will kick your ass!”

    And anyone who has had a kid and been in a fight knows that.

    Shit, I could just as easily start off by defining “getting your ass beat by stronger people” as “life.” You’re begging that question like a blind man in the intersection…”

    You seem pretty obtuse. Whose initiation of force caused your kid to get sick? Whose fault is it that some people have an IQ of 85? How come people get addicted to things? Blame God or Charles Darwin or Gaelic faeries if you want to but sometimes shit happens to people that is not caused by someone else and sometimes it makes them do stuff they wouldn’t ordinarily want to do.
    A threatened ass whoopin has a clearly defined initiator of force (perceived). A sick kid does not. If you are bound and determined to indemnify folks for shit that ain’t nobody’s fault, go ahead but do it with your own dammed money.

  231. The trouble I think is we’re looking in the wrong direction. What we need are conservatives who care more about the constitution, small government, and low taxes than they do about authoritarianism and religion on the one side. On the other, liberals who care more about civil liberties, privacy, equal rights, and reducing government corruption than they do about social engineering, welfare and central planning. The problem is the approach – rather than looking at all the things they have in common with these people, they stick on the things that are contrary to libertarian ideals and demand surrender.

    If libertarians stick to their particular brand of purism that says you must agree with all our principles or none of them they’ll never grow out of a tiny niche, in the same way that other small political groups with deeply held ideologies would be marginalized if they didn’t suck up to (or get sucked up to by) the two big parties. Imagine where religious conservatives would be if they demanded more than lip-service from their political representatives, or where social democrats would be if they demanded nationalized health care or bust. Libertarians propose a third way of thinking about policy that is outside the bounds of the “how should government interfere to fix this problem” box. Although others may not agree that any given problem is best solved without the government’s help, I would be willing to wager there’s a broad demographic who could agree more often than not.

  232. You contract X to supply Y for your business. X fails to deliver Y because his kid is sick and he has to stay home. You lose income and possibly future contract with customers.

    You

    A) Forgive X because you understand the circumstances (e.g. he has loyally completed contracts for 10 yrs. and this is only the second time)

    B) You sue him in court for breach of contract.

    C) You find a new contractee.

    D) You accept the circumstances even though it’s the first time you’ve done business with him because you figure he must be new to the business and probably down and out and realize that it would be coercive on your part to not forgive him because, hey!, your business is successful.

  233. @Brandon: When do libertarians have any choice but the lesser of two evils (or sometimes a third, carpetbagging, candidate)? You want to try to tell anyone here that McCain/Palin, Mr. National Greatness, ask what you should do for your country, and “Dude What’s My Job” Palin were a great call? Come on. Might as well just bury that one right now and accept the fact that either way we’d be stuck with an administration radically opposed to libertarian ideals, whether at the right top or the center top of the political compass. These guys are so different from any of us porcupine-sorts it’s always a game of damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

  234. “If my grandfather stole your grandfather’s life savings, used it to send my dad to Harvard, and then he did well and got me into same school and a VP position at his company, and your dad had to drop out of school to support your grandad because he was penniless and so you went to terrible schools and then you have to support your dad and then you come to me and now we bargain over a possible job for you, you mean to say a governmental provision that would restrict me a bit and protect you a lot would be wrong?
    WTF?”- MNG

    What an awful analogy. If there were definite crime that ocurred between the two grandfather’s, why do think a general regulation affecting all potential hires is a solution to the crime? Really, WTF?

    Esssentialy, it seems, you disapprove of certain ways of acquiring capital and therefore wish to treat all acculmulations of capital as morally suspect. Guilty until proven innocent and probably not even then.

    The business owner owns the job because he has put more at stake in the business than the employee who is merely hiring out his skills. Recovering from a job that’s gone south is more easily recoverable from than losing X portion of your savings.

  235. “What an awful analogy. If there were definite crime that ocurred between the two grandfather’s, why do think a general regulation affecting all potential hires is a solution to the crime? Really, WTF?”

    Becuase it’s all about nothing more than concocting rationalizations for using government force to engineer outcomes he happens to like.

    As I said before, freedom is the absence of government force – pure and simple.

    Hundreds of posts of blather from MNG haven’t been able refute this basic fact.

  236. Freedom is not the absence of government force, for that would be anarchy, in which case life would be ruled by whoever arbitrarily had the most physical power of coercion.

    If the government disappeared tomorrow, that would be the folks with the most material wealth (as money itself would be meaningless, being backed by government). In which case most people’s individual freedoms would completely vanish.

    If we “rest the clock” and began an anarchist civilization from scratch, it would be a free-for-all where the physically strongest and/or the most heartless would be in power. That’s in fact how civilization did develop, and its taken us thousands of years to get to the point where we have a government that is able to ensure a basic level of freedom for most of its people. I don’t believe most libertarians would like to undo all of humanity’s hard work.

    So, the statement that “Freedom is the absence of government force” is the complete opposite of truth.

    The argument between liberalism and libertarianism lies in determining the balance of collective rights versus individual rights, as arbitrated by a coercive, publicly accountable government. No libertarians who aren’t actually anarchists suppose an elimination of all forms of coercive government. No libertarians who aren’t actually fascists/totalitarians would want to remove the public accountability part.

    Basically, liberals just believe that it is morally justifiable to use coercive government to help the poor and needy, while libertarians do not. Other than that there’s a lot of variety on both sides (gay marriage, drug legalization, safety/food regulation, etc.)

    And by the way, I do not believe that gay marriage should be legal because I want to force my views on social conservatives. I could care less what they think about gay marriage, they’re not the ones getting married. I don’t believe its the government’s role to arbitrarily deny people’s rights based on religious beliefs, and that is the basis of the argument for almost all liberals.

  237. It’s not right vs left
    It’s politicians vs YOU!

  238. “Libertarians think government coercion can be used to foster overall liberty (for example, think the police and the enforcement of laws against force/fraud). Liberals just think there is a wider range of areas where government coercion can produce more freedom for more people.”

    No, no, no! We don’t believe that government fosters liberty or “produces freedom” at all! We believe that government exists to protect the life, liberty and property of its citizens.

    “Liberals support something like card check, or unions in general, because we believe that sometimes employees agree to things that they really don’t want because they need to keep a job or position, we see that as less than fully voluntary or “free”, and we think bolstering unions will, by giving them greater bargaining power (greater power to say “no” to their bosses) make their lives (at least the eight hours a day they spend at work) that much more free.”

    Libertarians don’t support card check, or unions in general, because we believe that many times employees agree to a contract that is against their best interest because they fear upsetting the union bosses. We also oppose unions because we believe the union leadership often uses the dues collected from the membership to support politicians and political causes that the individual employee disgrees with. Finally, we believe that unions end up sinking the companies providing the jobs their members depend on. How can anyone look at what happened to the US auto industry and say, with a straight face, we need more union representation!

    “You don’t seek to use government to obtain certain desired outputs (like having a society where force and fraud are prevented?). Oh you do? I thought so…So the difference between liberals and libertarians can’t be that one wants to use government to get desired outputs and the other does not. It’s a matter of degree and when and where.”

    No, it isn’t. In this regard, Libertarians believe that government exists to establish a legal framework for the enforcement of contracts. The idea being that all parties to an agreement should have an objective body of law that governs their actions. The government is not guaranteeing or encouraging an outcome, it is simply saying that a valid contract must meet certain legal standards. You are free to make a bad contract as long as it meets the legal standards spelled out by the government.

    “Since threats of violence would be illegal under card check or not this is so stupid. I mean, what if I argued FOR card check by saying “unions have to have this because without it employers might hire goons to beat up the workers if unionization wins the vote.”

    Racial quotas are supposed to be illegal under our civil rights laws, but that has not stopped the EEOC from enforcing the law by using racial quotas. It’s “stupid” to think that unions will not resort to threats of violence or acts of violence just because some scrap of paper says they can’t.

    “And you don’t think any people benefited from these either (like those who got their land on the cheap, perhaps?)? And you don’t think any of those advantages were passed down to subsequent generations?”

    The accident of birth can give some people advantages others don’t have. That doesn’t mean we should adopt a “Corruption of blood” policy like you are proposing. Libertarians believe in freedom so that everyone has the ability to lift themselves out of a bad situation. You can start out with all the privileges in the world and still fail in life, and you can start life in absolutely horrible circumstances and still come out on top. History has shown that this is much more likely to happen in a society ruled by limited government.

    “Secondly, what if the “crime” was something legal at the time but which we now recognize as being morally abhorrent (I mean, the Nazi extermnators acted within German law mostly), so there would of course be no “conviction.” We should just let bygones be bygones, eh?”

    Yes. That’s why the Constitution of the United States specifically bans “ex post facto” laws. It’s not fair to punish someone for actions that were perfectly legal at the time they were taken. Of course, many of our environmental laws and regulations violate this clause of the Constitution, but that’s another story.

  239. by giving them greater bargaining power

    This is honest. You want to grant and deny power. That’s what modern liberals are about. It’s Hayek’s “Fatal Conceit”. You know better and are willing to abrogate the freedom of others to see your opinion enforced.

    Libertarians seek to maximize freedom. Collectivists (left and right) seek to maximize control.

    There’s nothing wrong with unions or business. The problem lies in government abetting one side. Unions needed to exist because arguably govt was acting in favor of companies. This is no longer the case.

    Card check is clearly coercive. There’s no case to be made that removing the right to make choices in secret is anything but anti freedom.

  240. Hey Matt, great article!

  241. I’m a Reagan-type Conservative. Pro-life leaning but not interested that much in so-con moralizing, and i’m gay.

    More interested in remaining true to the US Constitution, the principles of the D of I , and restoring a semblance of Federalism to this country.

    Because I’m gay , I know a lot of others. 90%+ are Leftists (I refuse to call them liberals). I watched with puzzled concern as the Leftists get more and more strident, angry, irrational, intolerant, etc etc this past decade.

    It’s like a psychological thing with them if their side is not in power. The people take it so personally, they’re consumed by it. I can’t really relate to it.

    I view of them as holding to no princples and the princples they state they have are merely pretexts. The only thing they want is power and to Lord over as much as they can.

    It has always puzzled me why Libertareans on the Internet (i dont know too many in real life) have such animosity towards those on the Right. Does everything for L’s get reduced to drugs and sex? I’m sincere in asking that.. I dont know..and dont want to assume.

    The Republican has been a perputual disappointment to me ever since Ginrich was the one to lose the Government Shutdown Budget War in 1995. After their strong ascendency in 1994, they immediately started their “OH please don’t hate me” ass kissing.

    I dont know what makes Democrats think the Republicans are some ruthless, devious, unbeatable machine… I wish it was. I have always seen them as the Stupid Party. They will always do the Stupid thing when it comes to conflict with Leftists or the Media.

    I really think the GOP politicians are not prepared for the struggle that waits them in Washington. I think they go there all idealistic.. thinking they’re going to be Mr Clean doing his best to serve the Country with Civility and High Mindedness.

    (Or… will use hte job for self-agrandizement, greed, leverage power, milk system dry)

    They are not going there to fight against Leftists who commit their entire life to their politics.

    I think the Left just overwhelms their entire being.

    U never been to Washington, and I live in Chicago.. so I rarely see GOP politicians in office. I’m only trying to come up with a rational explanation for their behavior which I only can witness through the news.

    I knew this campaign would be fruitless when somehow McCain beacme the nominee.

    I caught onto Michelle’s Marxist rhetoric in Winter of 97. It was so stark and distinctive, and scary. I would tell pepole that the Obamas were Marxists.. but most people dont want to ehar it.

    I think they want all talk of 9/11 and Jihad to be buried forever and by voting against Bush and for the ‘This war is lost’ Dems , the voters think they’re voting the enemy away. Nothing can change thier mind and divert them from Obama. Their minds are gone.

    As 2008 went on I was just in dread over the election. McCain is a weak man.. he is not confrontation, and he has this bizarree obsesion with being bi-partisan.

    I loved Palin. To me, that is what the Founding Fathers wanted in an American… everything about her. She’s an inspiration to me.

    I was shocked by the ferocity of the attacks on her and quite sadened.

    Her speech at the Convention blew me away especially when i learned the teleprompter broke 1/2 way through and she improvised the last half.

    McCain was doing good in the polls after that, and I thought they found Obama’s achilles heel… his pride. The McCain ads were doing a great job mocking Obama.

    But then someone triggered an economic collapse. And instead of focusing the publics’ anger on the GSEs and the dems who control it, idiot McCain just complained about “greed”

    That is when i gave up on election.

    Now this maniac is in the White House actively bringing about his radical revolution.

    I hope those of us who believe in Liberty can work together to defend our nation from this onslaught.

  242. I made a few huge typing errors.. its so early i’m not firing on all pistans yet.

    U never been to Washington
    s/b
    I never been to Washington

    I caught onto Michelle’s Marxist rhetoric in Winter of 97.
    s/b
    I caught onto Michelle’s Marxist rhetoric in Winter of 07.

  243. Vince, I thoroughly enjoyed your posting, though you certainly could use a spell-checker. 🙂

    I am on the fringe, as far away from the two major parties as one can be without being an anarchist.

    Most voting citizens watch the pocketbook, believe the government is the only viable safety net, because there is “allegedly” some accountability. So they wish.

    There’s more to the libertarian mindset than conservatives who want sex and drugs: non-interference in other nation-states, unflagging rights to property (your own person being foremost), the end of corporatism. These are just a couple, and there are hundreds of others.
    In addition, as a gay man, you certainly ought to appreciate the stand on marriage — nobody’s business who can marry whom, nor how many!

    It’s all a losing battle, though. The size of the federal government has grown on a per capita basis in every presidential term. Reagan was no different. And it shall continue to do so. No matter how many brain-dead leftists think otherwise, economic freedom and personal freedom are one and the same. And more government spending = more government intrusion, privately as well as economically.

    Enjoyed also your comments on Palin. The circus was kind of fun this past year and I thought injecting her into the political version of American-Idol added a great dynamic. But your disdain for McCain is right on. They mis-managed her.
    I remember when the moronic establishment-leftist, hypocrite Katie Couric asked her what books she reads to keep up on current events…..
    Just astonishing in its condescension and arrogance.
    Palin blew the answer. But, by the same token, the real answer to such an offensive and condescending remark is not accepted in the political fantasy world of feigned courtesy and media celebrity-hood. The answer Katie deserved was: “Fuck you.”

  244. “Events have borne me out.”??? This from a man who supported Obama.

  245. Let’s see, you claimed one wanted to set up a theocracy and you gave the other a blow job. It was always more realistic that Obama, Reid, and Pelosi would enact socialism than it ever was that Dobson, et. al., would be able to be more than noise. Yet you feared the latter more than the former. At least now have the courtesy to swallow.

    The last election taught me that so-called libertarians are nothing but arrogant know-nothings. I used to describe myself as libertarian-leaning conservative. But you all disgust me so much I just tell people I believe in free markets and small government and avoid the “l” word like the plague. Thanks for electing the economic debacle we all have to suffer for. Too bad the rest of us are screwed by your hypocrisy.

  246. Um… jackalopes or jackanapes?

  247. I have come to the conclusion that we as a nation have reached the point where are differences are greater than our common culture and language. Libertarians and true liberals favor the individual over the state. The Republican Party of Ronald Regan espoused a similar meme with its emphasis on small government. The GOP under George Bush lost sight of this principle. Now the country appears to have broken into regions dominated by Progressives who in the name of the state are all too happy to trample individual rights as opposed to regions where individuality (the old American pioneer spirit) still hangs on. The latter are often called Conservatives, Ron Paulists, Libertarians, etc..Perhaps the time has come for our own “velvet revolution” and recognize that the interests of the citizens of San Francisco can never be reconciled to the interests of Tulsans.

  248. “But you all disgust me so much I just tell people I believe in free markets and small government and avoid the “l” word like the plague.”

    Don’t overgeneralize to people who still call themselves libs for want of a better term. And don’t be _like_ the people you criticize for voting for Obama (validly) in your rejection of anyone who doesn’t agree with you 100%.

    Many of the people that voted for O are what you describe, probably. But lots of us who call ourselves libs didn’t.

    There’s something you may not have considered. Bush was a collectivist already, painted up in bible print. So if you didn’t recognize what O was, or recognize the magnitude of the threat it’s not entirely invalid if you didn’t educate yourself to think lowercase ‘change’ might be better.. ie shift power from a known evil with a consolidated power base to another known evil, but one whom it might make sense to presume would take some time to consolidate power enough to do damage.

    That’s not me. But the heat you project will just make people defensive who otherwise might be inclined at this point to recognize the mistake they made, and perhaps honestly made.

  249. .. including the old New Lefty Robert Scheer

    That’s a polite description for an outright communist.

  250. I’m even a longtime friend of and collaborator with Scheer.

    Holy shit! Do you share his fondness for Fidel Castro? What about his admiration for North Korea?

  251. .. this country is getting more socially liberal (and will continue to do so) while at the same time it is getting less fiscally conservative.

    It’s almost like there’s a connection between the two, and you have to pick one or the other.

  252. I think the idea that “liberaltarianism” ever had a ghost’s chance is evidence that Nancy Reagan was correct.

    Dare to keep libertarians off drugs.

  253. FD: Thanks for your response. Interesting.

    I regret the Superpower status of America. I think it’s dangerous, thankless, impoverishing, too risky, etc…

    Plus I think this country is getting ever increasingly stupid and naive.. especially the university educated and the people in Government.

    Until this decade I think I actually used to have confidence in the government. This past decade has seen each year reveal more rot than the one behind it. And now the money system has exploded (on purpose) and we have a Marxist doing a slow motion revolution.

    argh!!

    Am I fcking dreaming?

    What the mother fuk!

    I’m glad I believe the end of the world is soon.. it actually keeps me sane.

  254. David: You’re calling for Disunion.

    I think it’s coming.. when the US Dollar collapses.

  255. Any substantial change won?t be made through half-steps and compromise. It will be made by people prepared to engage in knock-down political brawling, to call out the conservatives and progressives on both their record and the bullshit assumptions their positions on based on. If your goal isn?t simply getting a pat on the head and being the token libertaripet then putting the other sides on the defensive is the best approach. Work with progressives and conservatives on structural issues, decentralization, and certain issues. But compromise will only achieve slow piecemeal change that is usually negated by the subsequent growth of government and hijinks coming from another direction. The ultimate goal ought to be to reduce progressives and conservatives to political dust, and to reclaim the name liberal.

    Neca eos omnes, deus suos cognoscet.

  256. Right on, ABC. Shall be a difficult challenge. A snowball-in-hell’s chance but a chance nonetheless.

    I clicked to get onto a yahoo mail account, and I was confronted with the “news” of the day. The headline is “Capitol Hill goes gaga over Pitt.” Not the University, the Brad. And my Friday coffee is ruined by Pelosi’s artificially-frozen visage next to… a damn movie actor.

    This is who gets an audience with the Pres. See, if you make a living mouthing words that somebody else writes for you, then you can have a podium for policy. Errr, I mean empty-headed actors, not empty-headed politicians, though the job is eerily the same.
    If your life is about modeling dresses and tuxedoes at the Kodak theater on Oscar night, and you have gazillions to throw at hobbies and charities, you get to use your narcissistic existence to smile with Pelosi and Obama and tell everybody else how to fix the world.

    Come to think of it, transforming the political discussion into what ought to be the true nature and role of government has far less than a snowball’s chance.

  257. Yeah; we’re screwed. Going to have to invest in whoever owns Everclear and Wild Irish Rose.

  258. So the more important question is this: Why do those with a libertarian bent align themselves with the authoritarians in the Republican party rather than the egalitarians in the Democratic party?

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