Government

Five Reasons Why Libertarians Shouldn't Hate Government

Plus, Five Big Projects That Went Well and Five That Were Disasters

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When we tell our limited-government friends that we have written a book titled If We Can Put a Man on the Moon: Getting Big Things Done in Government, about how government can better accomplish what it sets out to do, the reaction is often horror.

"I don't want to make government work better, I want it to go away" is the typical response. Government, in their view, is the enemy.

This way of thinking is deeply misguided, a troubling blind spot that keeps libertarians on the fringe of many policy debates. If you reflect only scorn for government, it's hard to get anyone who hasn't already drunk the Kool-Aid to take your opinions on the topic seriously.

This is not to disparage the argument that government is too large, for which the case is strong. But holding government in sneering contempt is a misinformed corruption of that sentiment.

Our Founding Fathers, fondly quoted by limited-government advocates, didn't view government as evil, but as a flawed institution with some important jobs to do. They studied how government worked and they served in office, not because they viewed government with disdain, but because they knew the importance of good government.

[Article continues below Reason.tv interview with Eggers and O'Leary]

Small-government advocates should care deeply about improving government. Here are five reasons why:

1. Bad government leads to bigger, badder government. Today, only 23 percent of Americans trust government to do the right thing. At first blush, this would seem to be an encouraging statistic for those opposed to "big government." After all, the less citizens trust government, the less willing they should be to give it big new responsibilities, right?

Wrong.

An important recent academic study called "Regulation and Distrust" shows that, paradoxically, the worse government performs, the more citizens demand greater government intervention. The authors' explanation for this curious finding is that in societies where people distrust large institutions—whether government or big business—the demand for more regulation and for more government is higher, even when government is incompetent or downright corrupt.

2. To shrink government, you need to love government.  Most liberals believe deeply in government. As a result, they sit on school boards, city councils, and regional planning boards. They become expert at navigating through the bureaucracy and know which bureaucratic levers to pull to make their policy vision reality.

Many conservatives and libertarians come from the world of business. They don't particularly like government. They view it as merely a necessary evil. As a consequence, they rarely immerse themselves in the intricacies of governing, preferring to make their case from a safe distance.

Once in power,  they tend to have far more difficulty navigating the complex terrain of the public sector. The result? From Ronald Reagan's Grace Commission to the 1995 government shutdown by a GOP Congress, most high-profile attempts to shrink government fail.

Until small-government types better master the nuts and bolts of the public sector—how to design policies that work in the real world and how to execute on large public undertakings—their initiatives to downsize government will continue to disappoint.

3. Market-based reforms are not self-executing.  Fans of limited government are quick to point out the shortcomings of "big government" policy initiatives. But market-oriented policy prescriptions will also fail if they aren't well implemented. 

The deregulation of the airline and trucking industries were two of the biggest and best things done by government in the 1970s. Well-designed and well-executed, they demonstrated the benefits of choice and competition. Consumers saved billions. 

In the late 1990s, free-market think tanks were pushing the idea that competition could cut costs in the stodgy, monopolistic world of electricity. So what happened when California actually tried electricity deregulation? 

Within just a few years, the new law caused soaring prices, rolling blackouts, and the recall of Gov. Gray Davis. Consumers lost billions.

What went wrong? The short answer is that energy companies such as Enron exploited design flaws in the legislation to game the system. Competition could work in electricity, but California's poorly designed "deregulation" was a disaster.

Without a keen appreciation of the process by which legislation and programs are designed and implemented, efforts to move from monopoly to markets carry a high risk of failure.

4. Government bashing alienates those you want to reach. According to many libertarians, politicians are corrupt, bureaucrats are lazy, and public unions are a collection of thugs. The whole enterprise of government is a moral cesspool filled with Randian villains scheming to drain every bit of life, cash, and liberty from the noble John Galts of the free market.

This view is so at odds with the daily experience of millions of Americans that libertarians are easily dismissed by the average citizen. The distorted worldview in which government performs no useful functions—ever—is silly.

Incessant government-bashing may make you feel good, but alienates most everybody who knows and loves a police officer, firefighter, teacher, social worker, anyone who has ever collected an unemployment check, and anyone who saw NASA put a man on the moon.

In the short term, a philosophy of "government never works" might sell to the base but it's not an effective strategy for building a broad-based electoral coalition or actually governing. Voters won't trust people who hate government with the keys to City Hall.

5. Nobody will care what you know until they know you care.  Many voters today may indeed want smaller government, but what they want most of all is competent government. In addition to pointing out the flaws of government, free-marketers also need to communicate a genuine interest in the effective performance of the important duties of government.

After all, what is it that gets you so worked up about the current state of affairs? It is the human potential squandered by a government that isn't the best that it can be. The ultimate goal is the pursuit of happiness, and when a properly limited government does its job well, it fosters freedom, peace, and prosperity. That is a noble goal. Why not embrace it?

When Government Was Good: Five Big Projects That Went Swell

1. Democratic Reconstruction in Japan Post WWII. Gen. MacArthur's title "Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers" left no doubt who was in charge during his six-year stint. Worked through the locals to help forge a model democracy.

2. The Marshall Plan. Aid to rebuild Europe following WWII. This initially unpopular idea was dubbed "Operation Rathole" by its opponents. Truman took his time working this through Congress and making the case for public support. Executed by experienced business leaders, this operation closed up shop when the job was done.

3. The Apollo Moon Landings. A come-from-behind win in the space race. On time, on budget, and 40 years later still never repeated. A strong head of NASA, James Webb, and a start-up culture made this incredibly audacious effort reality.

4. 1996 Welfare Reform. Put time limits on welfare benefits and encouraged work rather than dependence. Based on a program in Wisconsin, a good example of building off the demonstrated success of our nation's laboratories of democracy—the states. Cut welfare rolls by more than 50 percent in many states.

5. Acid Rain Reduction. This emissions trading market approach to a serious environmental problem yielded a 40:1 benefit to cost ratio. After years of political gridlock, this bi-partisan effort relied on the input of economists to yield a solution both business and environmentalists could live with.

When Government Was Very Bad: Five Big Disasters

1. Hurricane Katrina. The failure of the Corps' to adequately prepare was less visible but just as disastrous as the Keystone Cops response.

2. Big Dig.  Boston's Central Artery Road and Tunnel project. Billions of dollars in cost overruns. Years in time overruns. Federal dollars just weren't spent like real dollars, and the oversight from Washington was too little too late.

3. The 1970s War on Inflation. Wage and price controls? Whip Inflation Now buttons? Are you kidding? When an idea is based on mistaken beliefs about the world, failure ensues.

4. NASA's Shuttle Tragedies. The Challenger and Columbia disasters were both eminently avoidable said two presidential commissions. A culture of top-down hierarchy contributed to these high-profile disasters.

5. Democratic Reconstruction in Iraq. No plan B and a dizzying rotation of leaders: Franks, Garner, Bremer, Rumsfeld, et al. Partially remedied by the surge, the initial three years of occupation created a lasting impression of incompetence.

William D. Eggers has written six books on government reform. John O'Leary is a research fellow at the Ash Center of the Harvard Kennedy School. Their new book is If We Can Put a Man on the Moon: Getting Big Things Done in Government (Harvard Business Press).

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537 responses to “Five Reasons Why Libertarians Shouldn't Hate Government

  1. I stopped counting the number of overtly stupid things in that article when I got to ten. I didn’t even make it to page three.

    1. Please, I’d enjoy reading your list.

    2. I thought it was one of the best, and most honest, articles to appear in Reason in a long time. Bravo!

    3. I thought this article was well-said and well-reasoned. I am skeptical of some of the five “good” things listed, however.

      Free-market philosophers need to realize that effective persuasion of the popular mind best implements political policies, not whining.

    4. That they don’t list the ghettoization of American inner cities through giant housing projects as a large failure tends to make them chumps in my eyes.

  2. The Marshall Plan is not an example of a government project that went well. The reason Germany saw such rising prosperity afer WWII were free market reforms implented by s Minister of Economics Ludwig Erhard.

    France got more money from the Marshall plan (both in absolute terms and per capita) and did not see the enormous rise in prosperity Germany did.

    1. forget that, the implementation of GATT and the reduction of trade barriers had more to do with Europe’s revival than the Marshall Plan

      1. Possibly, but the post WWII rejection of defense spending by the Euros (free-riding on the US defense budget) allowed the Euro politicos to buy votes by handing out free ‘stuff’ to the voters.
        The further, obnoxious, result is the Euro-trash sniveling about US ‘gun-slingers’ (who saved their asses)
        I wonder what the Euro economic ‘successes’ would be if they could afford gas for their tanks, let alone a creditable force to deal with the Russians while *we* did.

      2. I thought that the lifting of trade barriers was a part of the Marshall Plan?

  3. This is almost as dumb as the “liberaltarian alliance” idea.

    1. You know what? At least some Republicans think limited government is an end in itself. Many leftists wanting to have legal drugs, etc. doesn’t make them libertarians, because, you see, they think government should allow drugs, etc. to be legal. See the problem?

      1. No. How many Republicans do you know who don’t want government to continue forbidding drug use? Let alone having government force their religious morals on everyone. Now why is that better?

        1. That’s an emotional response to my statement, not a rational one. My point is that the GOP, at least, houses a minority of non-statists. I don’t think that’s true of the Democrats anymore. It was once, of course.

          Nothing I’ve said should suggest that I think that the major parties aren’t totally corrupt, power-mad, and scummy.

          1. Yes the GOP certainly has whored and abused libertarian antigovernment rhetoric for its own purposes. But it’s never served as much more than sloganeering used to justify corporate giveaways.

            You don’t have to support Democrats, but dear god why would anyone with a brain show support for Republicans? Forget big vs. small government. They both fail miserably. The GOP is composed mostly of insane people.

          2. Pro Libertate
            “My point is that the GOP, at least, houses a minority of non-statists.”

            Which explains why I, as a lifelong Republican, hang out at the Reason website. More Republicans, and old style Democrats, are totally disillusioned with the statists in the far left community.

            1. I live in New York City, I’m a registered Republican, and I hold anti-statist views and love reading articles on Reason. Guess I’m a good kind of minority.

        2. Actually a lot of Republicans believe just those things. I know Republicans who favor legalization, freedom of religion, and gay marriage, the whole thing.

          They just either feel economic freedom (as they (wrongly) suppose the GOP offers) is more important, or they just aren’t very political and were born into GOP families and have been taught to (properly) revile the Democrats.

          The same is true of Democrats. They don’t fit into the narrow minded conception of DC democrats. They are fiscally conservative but have been taught to revile (properly) the GOPS. Often they can’t even explain it.

          1. My generalization applied to the leadership and elected officials of the parties, not to their voters. Jesus, half the country doesn’t know why they’re voting the way they do in the first place.

      2. Semantics, or state of mind?

      3. I feel the need to correct you, some republicans claim they think limited government is an end in and of itself. I’d say you could count the number of (R) congressmen making this claim who practice what they preach on one hand.

  4. Ooooo, this is going to be fun to watch.

  5. You know what? I love Apollo, I’m in awe of the achievement, and I’m glad that I was alive when we went to the Moon. All that said, we did it the wrong way. No attempt to build a permanent presence in space or to develop cheap access to space. One big disposable effort.

    When private sector companies finally open up the solar system–and it looks increasingly likely it will be them and not government–they won’t drop some flags and pick up some rocks and not leave LEO again for forty years..

    1. It was a fucking RACE to the moon; it had nothing to do with opening space. It was “our government is going to beat your communist asses to the moon, bitches”. And we did, and the government was happy and just turned NASA into a sinkhole.

      Yeah, there have been positive tech developments out of the space race, just like there are positive technical developments out of war. That doesn’t mean the money spent to produce those developments was spent well.

      1. I completely agree. NASA wouldn’t have gone to the Moon at all without the political pressure to do so. It was kind of like war-lite, and, as I say below somewhere among the muddled nonsense that is threaded comments, I’d rather do something like that than blow shit up.

        We got some things out of it, but not in any efficient manner. If we poured a trillion into fusion research, we’d probably get the grail and some other things, but it’s probably doable for substantially less.

        1. I’d rather do something like that than blow shit up.

          See, that’s why i like particle colliders. It’s a better expenditure than war, and we still get to blow shit up.

          Cake. Eating it Too. nom nom nom.

          1. You know, if someone would give me a hundred billion or so, I’d show them my Higgs boson. I keep it under a rock in my backyard.

            I’m reading a physics book that says that finding the Higgs boson could get physics out of the small theoretical rut that it’s in and open the door to some cool advances in the science.

        2. I’d rather do something like that than blow shit up.

          I thought the point was to demonstrate to the Soviets how we could blow shit up from the comfort of a bunker in Colorado.

          1. Not entirely. If we just wanted to do that, we could’ve simply nuked the Moon.

      2. Agreed, Episiarch, the cold war was the motivator in getting to the moon first. The Soviets had been winning the space race up until that point. But why is that important. Because the ability to construct a reliable platform that can carry a payload on a predetermined trajectory through space to a specific destination is an indicator of ability to deliver a nuclear warhead to a target. The fact that Sputnik could be seen and heard passing over our heads hardly inspired our devotion to space as a new frontier, it was more like a wake-up call making it impossible to deny our opponents, despite their socialist form of governance we so rightly despised, were very close to being able to nuke us at will. This hardly inspired faith in our own government. Maybe some politicians enter the stage with selfless ideas about serving us, but that can’t last if they intend to hold the reins of power for more than a moment. Nothing motivates government like a threat to the power of the elites running it. A loss of confidence unchecked would result in a lot of pouting incumbents pausing at the door with little boxes of personal junk to say farewell to their beloved offices. As far as disasters go, what about those suffered in getting to the moon? They didn’t put anything on hold even when the astronauts died. We honored the fallen, threw them in the ground (pretended to, can’t bury what you don’t have) and got back to work.

        If there had been a reason to return to the moon we would have. We didn’t because at that same time when we pulled a head the Soviets had a string of misfortunes causing them to falter and not long after that their collapse was beginning to roll. Not for a lack of trying, they never did get a man on the Moon’s surface.

        On our end NASA’s original military role evolved into a civilian space exploration one. The most notable recent contributions by the agency have been pissing away the last of the credibility gained in it’s original role by putting it’s brand name on pseudo-scientific theories supporting AGW.

    2. I’d have to agree. I get the government spending money argument and hate to make an ends justify the means argument. (here’s the but) But the number of positive outcomes from the program and its impact are pretty big, it also opened up a push (albeit slow) for private companies to try it.

      I wish government wasn’t the driving force behind the achievement, but I’m pretty happy the achievement was reached.

  6. The authors are of course making the assumption that the government program was both necessary and worked better than the market solution. A good example is the moon landing. What benefits did society gain from landing on the moon for all the millions that were spent? Would we be better off if people had been able to use that money on other endeavors? The others don’t seem to consider that possibility.

    Also,
    This emissions trading market approach to a serious environmental problem yielded a 40:1 benefit to cost ratio.

    [Citation needed]

    1. I got to touch a moon rock.

      1. Molest inanimate objects on your own dime.

        1. Sadly, it was unresponsive. I was hoping to get superpowers.

          1. Moonknight?

            1. I’m not clear on what Moon powers entail. Certainly, control over tides and menstrual cycles–that’s a given. Probably some light shooting powers of some sort, too.

              1. You’re probably synchronized with your wife already, just like NutraPussy. So that’s sort of control over menstrual cycles. As for tides, well, you are the Prince of Tides.

                1. Ugh, I don’t like the implications of that. How about I stop touching Moon rocks. Mars powers sound better, anyway.

                  1. Mars powers, like projecting images of fake firs?

                    Fine, fine journalism there, especially the headline-writers.

              2. light shooting is a sun power the moon only reflects

                1. True. Okay, immense powers of reflection?

                  1. Prince of Albedo?

                  2. “Ooo… shiny.”

                    1. Blinding my enemies with my reflective powers. If I hold up my ruby ring, I can shoot laser beams through it. Better.

                      Mars powers should include war-like abilities, right? And, of course, the power of red.

                    2. “For love and justice, I am the pretty sailor-suited soldier Sailor Moon! In the name of the moon, I will punish you!”

                      You have to wear the costume too.

                    3. +1

              3. Moon Knights powers were a martial arts batman like. Mystically enhanced so a more durable/strong than one could attain naturally with exercise during certain moon phases. He had lots of gadgets and a couple different armed, and moon themed, air vehicles.

            2. I’m thinking invisibility as in reflecting your environment. Get ready to wane.

              1. Moon powers sound pretty sucky, so far.

                1. What happens when you show someone your ass after obtaining moon powers?

                  1. They go blind?

      2. That wasn’t a moon rock, and you are going to go blind.

        1. It’s actually pretty cool. At the Air & Space Museum and at the Kennedy Space Center (and doubtlessly elsewhere), they have moon rock fragments you can touch. KSC also has a piece of a Mars meteorite that you can touch.

          No, no superpowers from Mars, either.

      3. I got to touch Buzz Aldrin once.

        No, I won’t show you on the doll where I touched him.

        1. I’ve met a couple of astronauts, but no one who has been to the Moon. That would be so cool.

          1. It was *very* cool. When I was at Heritage, on of the analysts managed to get him to come in to meet about some subject (which I don’t recall any longer). This guy knew about my interest in all things space and arranged it for me to be “security,” meet Buzz at the door and escort him up.

            It’s not often you get a chance to meet a childhood hero, and yes, Aldrin is a hero.

            1. I’ve dealt with a number of celebrities (political and entertainmentical) over the years, but I’ve almost never been impressed (the astronauts and Friedman being exceptions). But introduce me to Neil Armstrong, and I’ll probably bow like Obama.

              1. Or Aldrin. Or really, anyone who has been to the Moon.

                1. One of the VPs at Heritage has a picture in her office of herself, in her early 20’s, with Hayek. THAT was impressive.

                  One of our Board members collects very expensive modern art and has a Cartier-Bresson print (man jumping over a puddle) on his office wall that he *swears* he printed personally for him. That is also high on the very cool scale.

                  Agreed on celebrities issue. Through a series of dumb luck episodes, I’ve come to know a good many well-known people and no, as a rule they aren’t that impressive up close.

                  The exception I’ll grant is Ken Feinberg, despite his current role in gummint. I’ve said this before, but I’ll repeat it: he always makes you feel like you’re the most important person in the room. A necessary talent of his, no doubt, but it is impressive that he takes the time to do this with everyone.

    2. A lot of technology development fell out of the space program that was important to every day life. The need to remotely monitor the health and well-being of the space crew lead to the first generation heart monitors and other sensors that fill hospitals today.

      That is not an argument for the space program, nor is it proof that the technology wouldn’t have developed without the space program, but it is evidence that purpose-built technology for the space program found its way in to everyday life.

      1. It’s not sufficient justification, given the huge investment. Look, if NASA had built an infrastructure for colonizing and exploiting space, I’d have fewer objections. I understand the political reasons behind Apollo and look at it as a very nice alternative to war, but the spin-offs don’t justify the expense for a short-term splash. We should have a permanent base on the Moon right now, for Artemis’ sake!

        1. I was responding to this:

          What benefits did society gain from landing on the moon for all the millions that were spent?

          And I said it wasn’t justification. I was merely pointing out that there were lots of commerical applications that fell out of the early space program.

          Not that much different that your basic Garmin navigator that would not and could not exist if the federal government didn’t need precision navigation to drop ordinance in far away lands.

          1. Well, I’m not arguing that we didn’t get any benefits from the space program.

            1. Like I said, I responding to Mad Elf 😉

              1. Who can tell with these God-forsaken threaded comments? Probably a government invention, too.

                1. It’s a commie plot, I tell ya . . .

          2. I should have worded the question differently. Were the benefits worth the money? Would the private sector have been able to develop the same technology cheaper and more efficiently if they were given the same budget? Would there have been private efforts to develop space travel which could have led to many of the same advances without the government crowding out effect?

            1. Were the benefits worth the money?

              That’s not really relevant. As Epi says above, this was a military project which was intended for propaganda purposes. Any positive commercial benefits were an after thought.

              If you want to argue whether the cold war and the space race were valid uses of our precious resources, that would be an entirely new thread.

            2. The R&D that spun out of the space program is broader, and worth more, than you seem to have any grasp of.

              It’s possible the private sector could have done the same thing cheaper. The private sector could probably also build air craft carriers cheaper too.

              But odds are high that the private sector wouldn’t have done it. Hence the R&D would never have happened.

              As much as I’m a small government advocate, it’s never been clear to me that cutting government out of R&D funding is really in our overall best interest. As someone who works in R&D, I’m strongly inclined to believe government funded research is actually worth the investment.

              I’ve always seen the moon landings as a gigantic R&D program.

              1. As much as I’m a small government advocate, it’s never been clear to me that cutting government out of R&D funding is really in our overall best interest. As someone who works in R&D, I’m strongly inclined to believe government funded research is actually worth the investment.

                The money the government gives me is worth it. It is the rest of the spending that is bullshit. Really? Really?

                1. It’s just a tad more complicated than that.

                  Ron Baily had a whole thread on this subject some months ago, I’ll see if I can find it. Much of the story was spelled out there, and it’s too long at thread to repeat here.

              2. Is the R&D we got worth it in the long run? Is the result necessary for society to survive and prosper? I have an extremely hard time believing that.

                That money could have fed and clothed millions of poor people. I wonder if they would agree it was “worth it”.

                1. Sorry if I seem a little confused, but you’ll have to explain exactly what these “millions of poor people” had invested enabling them to determine whether or not it “”worth it”” because since they apparently are running around naked with nothing to eat it’s safe to assume they are not poor Americans, and even if they were to be poor they’d have no investment since their benefits received would be far in excess of any amount of tax paid. How does one with nothing ventured determine the value returned on any investment not made. If you are thinking logically, as opposed to emotionally, then why not actions instead of words. Nothing is stopping you from laboring to build a profitable enterprise so you may give those profits to others who may in turn give them to those in need as they see fit. Yes, I understand to be socialist one must be centered on extreme materialism, but if you aren’t even willing to do something as simple as demonstrate your sincerity by first doing yourself what you expect others to be forced to do, how is one such as myself who thinks logically ever going to be able to find value in your words. You see, I invested my time in reading what you wrote, then in considering your words. It’s my opinion having invested in you, at this point in time, was not “worth it.” Should the additional time I chose to invest in you with this comment, or anyone else formulating opinion from irrational emotion who reads it, find reason in doing so to reconsider the methods being employed, then all is not a loss. It in no way benefits me for you or anyone else to make themselves unhappy or impoverished by opting to depend on flawed thought processes when seeing the world we share. It is however my opinion it is your right to do such, and it’s also my hope if that is your choice you, and the others mongering your philosophy, won’t murder millions more to add to between 100 and 200 million in the last hundred years already murdered by those who share your emotion charged faith in redistribution materialism.

              3. As someone who works in R&D, I’m strongly inclined to believe government funded research is actually worth the investment.

                Of course you are.

                The argument gets polarized but it boils down to this.

                It’s not true that all resources are wasted by government. They aren’t.

                It is true that they are always less efficiently used then free people making free choices.

                If it was actually required to go to the moon to win the cold war and somehow make ourselves safer when there was no profit to be made, then government is the only entity to do it.

                However it’s misguided at best to assert that we were economically better off. It’s true there were positive outcomes. But many would have arisen on their own and many were not developed in the free market because of the opportunity cost.

                We don’t know what those might have been. We never do. By now most of the innovations have likely occurred.

                But in any given situation we can empirically see by the data, which is abundantly clear, that government spending always is associated with increased unemployment and decreased quality of living.

                Did the incidental technologies developed as a consequence of the moonshot really increase quality of living more than people making free choices with their own resources?

                There’s absolutely no reason to believe so.

      2. The technology probably wouldnt have developed without the space program. However, that money would have been spent by the private sector on developing different (and probably more) technology.

        1. It’s not all useless. When Lunar Disney opens, I plan to take the family to see the Apollo 11 exhibit–with talking robot Neil Armstrong! “Welcome to Tranquility Base. I’m Neil Armstrong, and I’ll be your guide to mankind’s greatest adventure. Please be sure to keep your hands inside the train and to secure your safety belt before we begin our tour.”

          1. “I’m gonna go build my own theme park! With blackjack and hookers! In fact, forget the park!”

            1. only another 990 years till Bender’s Hooker-and-Blackjack Extravaganza opens its doors.

              *posted from the line forming at the future location*

              1. Why wait that long? You can visit the Sexeteria in Jerusalem before his park opens.

            2. When low-gravity brothels are opened on the Moon (along with low-gravity porn studios), mankind will finally conquer the rest of the solar system.

              1. Brothels on the Moon,
                We sing our hooker tune,
                We spread our legs and tap the kegs,
                Brothels on the Moon

                1. Address all complaints to the Monsanto Corporation.

                2. Now that is a catchy chorus.

        2. The technology probably wouldnt have developed without the space program. However, that money would have been spent by the private sector on developing different (and probably more) technology

          Agreed – the cold war/space race focus on aerospace provided some interesting technologies for that sector, but probably at the expense of drawing talent and resources from solid state device development in particular.

    3. What benefits did society gain from landing on the moon for all the millions that were spent?

      Massive advancement of computers? Those guys were pretty much responsible for the new era of non-vacuum tube computing.

      1. Not true – that’s largely Bell Labs, Fairchild, IBM et al – IBM was already buying batches of Si transistors from Fairchild before the Mercury program started. If anything the focus on aerospace probably resulted in fewer engineers and scientists working on solid state devices.

    4. “A good example is the moon landing. What benefits did society gain from landing on the moon for all the millions that were spent?”

      Tang, mmmmmmmm Tang!!!

  7. Voters won’t trust people who hate government with the keys to City Hall.

    This is exactly what the local Republican Party told me when they said they were no longer supporting me in my run for city council.

    I got 32% of the vote out of about 12K votes cast in a district that is 75% registered Democrat, and I was outspent 30:1 by a three-term incumbent. Plus I’m lazy.

    So I don’t believe the premise, especially these days.

    1. Oh, and Obama was at the top of the ticket.

      1. Where you at again? Owensboro, Paducah?

        1. I’ve said too much! Where is anonymity bot when I need him, dammit!

          [smoke pellet]

          1. Oh, HoneyBunny, you don’t have to hide your love away.

            1. I think I found your nemesis, SugarFree.

              Don’t worry. Everybody knows these Library Journal awards are just popularity contests.

              1. SF’s nemesis, of course, is Episiarch.

  8. Hating government should be a litmus test for participating in government.

    1. Maybe we could implement term limits by making holding public office for twelve consecutive years a capital crime.

      You can serve two terms in the senate, but then we get to kill you.

  9. Running for office is a cure for wanting to participate in government.

    1. NO FUCKING JOKE!!!

      NO FUCKING JOKE!

    2. It takes some more than one run for office.

      You know the slow ones.

      1. We call them politicians.

  10. List is not bad; government efficiency is important. Next time, perhaps create an international version including the man who made the trains run on time

    Sincerely,
    Benito Mussolini

  11. Incessant government-bashing may make you feel good, but alienates most everybody who knows and loves a police officer, firefighter, teacher, social worker, anyone who has ever collected an unemployment check, and anyone who saw NASA put a man on the moon.

    Umm, guess what- fuck those people, and the idiots who love them.

    1. It’s also pure piffle.

      I am friends with several teachers. They are my fiends, I love them, but they are cogs in an evil system. Sometimes we argue about it, sometimes we don’t. Being their friend and listening to what they tell me has only strengthened my position.

      I’ve collected more unemployment checks than I can remember. But the thing is, I can count. I know I paid for those checks several times over.

      The Apollo program was the center of my youth. I love the space program. The technology, the pictures, everything. But the fact that I love it, doesn’t mean I feel justified in picking my neighbors pocket to make it happen.

      1. Warren,
        The article is not about how to appeal to you.

      2. Very disappointing to hear that you collected unemployment checks. How can it ever get so bad that you have to suck on the tit that you don’t even believe in? I’ve been out of work for long periods of time and have radically slashed my spending — even moved to a cheaper place — or borrowed from family who know I will pay them back. There are countless remedies to being out of work that don’t require a single goddamned drop of nanny-state milk. And you can believe I told the IRS that when they wanted to know why my estimated quarterlies had lapsed during a particularly nasty dry spell. They actually recommended that I collect unemployment so that I could pay my taxes!!!!!

        1. BTW, Warren, I’ve always respected your positions on things, I was just shocked at your admission.

        2. Good for you that you have a family you can borrow money from. Everybody doesn’t have that option.

    2. And fuck the idea that those people are allowed to vote *their* economic interest, and we’re expected not to vote ours.

  12. There always seems to be an opening on my local planning board. I just feel that I would be being dishonest if I was to try and gain a position on it. I’d be a rubber stamp because my only question would be:

    “Do you own the property?”

    Is it honest to participate in a process just so you can subvert the process?

    1. A political process that cannot be subverted is a table leg of tyranny.

      1. It has a good beat and I can dance to it.

        1. MP it is very honest. Go forth and do good things

    2. Yes, As long as you are honest about it up front.

    3. Sure, its fun to be on the wrong end of a 6-1 vote to require the builder to install tons of green stuff that ultimately prices the project outside the price point of half your town’s residents.

      1. you just described my town

    4. Do you think liberals are honest? Do you think they don’t get involved in government for just exactly that reason?

      Which is precisely one of the (incredibly valid) points of this article.

  13. “hate” seems like an unnecessarily harsh standard. I’d recommend a healthy, logic-based distrust, however.

    I’m not a libertarian because it’s the right choice, I’m one because it’s the least bad one. I’m always on the (skeptical) lookout for something better.

    1. Okay, “profound distrust of and skepticism about government.”

      1. Hate works for me.

        1. “Profound distrust of and skepticism about government” for the rest of you, “hate” for Episiarch.

            1. “Scorn and defiance; slight regard, contempt,
              And any thing that may not misbecome. . . .”

              1. Can’t you have all 3?

                1. Shakespeare says yes.

  14. “In the short term, a philosophy of “government never works” might sell to the base but it’s not an effective strategy for building a broad-based electoral coalition or actually governing.”

    So we should change our beliefs in order to win a political office that we would want primarily for the reason of putting our beliefs into action? Fail.
    This statement only makes sense if political office is an end and not a means.

    1. I don’t think anyone seriously contends that government “never works.” There are really two major issues with government activities: (1) government does most things inefficiently, at high cost, and with often dubious motivations, and (2) too much power in anyone’s hands is dangerous to the rest of us.

      1. Hell, I agree with both of those.

        1. I agree with your agreement.

      2. Government does everything less efficiently.

        Which is not to say it never accomplishes anything.

        There are just some things which need done which freedom can’t deliver.

        Utilities, roads, licensing, etc are definitely not these things however.

        The military, presumed to be necessary, is not efficient. The right likes to think so, but it’s not. We are just told there is no safe way to let it be privatized. I’m not sure I agree but I can see the argument.

        If you look at private military outfits (mercenaries) they are far more efficient.

    2. I would disagree that “government never works.”

      (1) Government works very well at achieving some ends (graft, monopolization, etc.). They just aren’t ends we should want to achieve.

      (2) Government works better than the alternatives at achieving a few ends (protection against military aggression, serving as a final arbiter of disputes, to name two). That list is vastly shorter than the list of what we actually have government doing, though.

      1. What is this, Lawyers Listing Things Day?

        1. I would agree to disagree that government never works all the time.

      2. Right. I think the OP is engaging in reductio. Most libs are not anarchists. We have educated ourselves about economics and what can and should be privatized though.

  15. “Voters won’t trust people who hate government with the keys to City Hall.”

    I think many in the so called “Tea Party” movement would beg to differ.

    Small government is coming in a decade, it will start at the local level and move its way up.

    1. Bullshit. Those people would hop on the Mandatory-Creationism bus in a heartbeat.

      1. I’ll take mandatory creationism if I don’t have to pay for it.

      2. Ahnk-Morpork has a standing agreement with the Unseen University: the wizards promise to do what the city asks, so long as the city doesn’t actually ask them to do anything. So, how about the Tea-Party folk can mandate creationism in the public school curriculum so long as they don’t actually have any public schools.

        1. Right, it’s just too hard to admit that evolution is still just a theory and no one likes that there’s always the trump card on whatever might actually be proven, God created that too!

      3. “Those people”

        Like you would even know. Still getting all your news from Jon Stewfart?

        1. I went to ours in Austin. Shut your cock-holster.

  16. I love how the first two things that allegedly went well are the broken window fallacy in action. Let’s bomb the crap out of people and have the US citizens pay to rebuild everything. I guess in 20 years, Reason will point to our adventures in the Middle East as a model of efficiency. This entire article was the biggest bunch of tripe I have seen in a while.

    1. What’s wrong with tripe? It’s great in pho.

    2. This is exactly why LewRockwell.com is far superior to Reason.

      1. Apart from the Creationists, Truthers, Anti-Vaxers, AIDS deniers, natural cure quacks, and general conspiracy theorists, I would have to agree with you.

        1. Compamy man.

          1. Company

        2. Creationists can’t be reasoned with.

          Truthers may be on to something, sometimes.

          Anti-vaxers I sort of agree with.

          AIDS deniers are detestable.

          Natural cure “quacks” are right sometimes too.

          General conspiracy theorists are my kind of people — intelligent, open minded, and automatically distrustful of the “official” explanation. History has been driven by conspiracies.

  17. Incessant government-bashing may make you feel good, but alienates most everybody who knows and loves a police officer, firefighter, teacher, social worker, anyone who has ever collected an unemployment check, and anyone who saw NASA put a man on the moon.

    Or collects a government check, or works for a company that contracts for the govt, or…..

    If hating the govt alienates the vast majority because the vast majority are on the dole, we’re screwed no matter what level of anger we display.

    1. Someone who fulfills a government contract is on the dole?

      1. See, I think “being on the dole” means you get something for doing nothing. I don’t see government employees or contractors as being “on the dole.”

        1. Knowing what most government employees do (or dont, rather), its not horribly inaccurate.

          1. This is exactly the kind of talk the authors are pointing to. You can write off the votes of anyone who is or loves a government employee with that talk…

            Lot’s of government workers work hard, and lots of employees of private employees don’t. Such generalizations are not just bad politics, they are false.

            1. Trolling message boards all day isn’t considered working hard.

                1. Don’t you have some statistics you should be fudging right now?

                  1. “Don’t you have some statistics you should be fudging right now?”

                    That’s at 1, right after lunch at 12 and banging your mom at 12:30 during your nap-time…

                    1. Oh, so you’re the one that likes to get pegged. She told me about you.

            2. My business partners wife works for the state. She agrees with me.

              1. She agrees she is lazy and incompetent? Wow, sounds like she has a self-esteem problem imo…

                Or maybe she thinks those who work around her are lazy and incompetent? That would place her with The Rest of the Freaking World…

                1. On the dole doesn’t mean lazy or incompetent. But if you are getting your income from the government in any form at all, it’s safe to say you are getting paid more than your effort is worth. If your contract was no-bid, it’s safe to say you are getting paid exponentially more.

                2. incompetent? Where did that come from?

                  Also, there is a difference between lazy and doing something that isnt really work.

            3. Yes, many public employees work hard…at meaningless tasks that cost too much. I’ve sat in on meetings with government contractors (me being sub-contracted)…they will have 16 people in a room, each charging the government $100/hour or more. The 4 hour meeting, where we all worked very hard, just cost taxpayers $6,400.

              1. Hell, I’ve shown up to work as a govt contractor, at the direct request of the manager, and sat quietly and done nothing for hours because they weren’t really ready to have me show up, and aren’t ready to have me do the work they’re supposedly paying me for.

                And you can be sure I billed them for every minute of it.

            4. As a vet who has worked in the private sector and for government I can attest that the assertion that government employees are more efficient than private or do as good a job are absurd. Anyone who has visited the DMV or City Hall knows this.

              They are indeed on the dole in the sense almost every public employee would have to produce more and work harder if they worked in the private sector.

              And your assumption that all people that work for government are sellouts to big government is wrong. People take the best job they can find. It doesn’t mean they aren’t politically aware.

            5. I hate to have to agree with you, MNG!

              1. Government employees = giant welfare queens.

                contractor, I’ve heard far worse stories. Hundreds of people getting paid to do nothing for months on end. And I mean nothing. Assigned zero work for 3 months.

  18. I would think government, albeit a much less involved one than at present, would be fundamental even in Libertopia. A world without enforcement of contract, property and force/fraud laws would suck big time imo. I guess you could fantasize about voluntary associations providing all that, but a government would fit the bill…

    1. Many of us–maybe even a majority–are minarchists. Much less government, with strictly defined and limited powers. A lot could be done outside of government that current lives there, but I’m not advocating the abolition of government. Just of a lot of it.

      1. I am. Government always grows, always. So you go and create your minarchist paradise, and in 100-200 years your descendants will be right where we are now, or worse.

        Minarchism is great, except it is unsustainable because government is a vicious parasite.

        1. Revolution every 40 years. Build the reboot into the constitution.

          1. How did Jefferson’s pet theory work out in principle, rob? Pretty fucking awful, right?

            To have recurrent revolutions you need enough tyranny to drive them. Which means those 40 years suck pretty bad. If they don’t, you don’t get a revolution, since prosperous people aren’t really keen on fighting a dying.

            I love Jefferson, but that theory is fucking stupid, and needs to be pointed out as such every time it’s brought up.

            1. He failed to build the reboot into the constitution.

              1. Have the constitution expire on a certain date.

                1. Jesus, could you imagine what the Constitution would look like if we had a Constitutional Convention today? The shreds of that old document are all that stands between us and the final sprint to tyranny.

                2. Won’t work, because people don’t want to be thrust into a revolution if they’re happy. It would get amended before it could happen, or a peaceful process would be devised for re-creation. Plus, you’d fucking hate the new constitution. Trust me.

                  You can spin as many dreamy scenarios as you want, but nothing–nothing–changes the fundamental fact that it is literally impossible to create a government that will not grow over time. It is the nature of government to do so, and you cannot stop it.

                  1. Maybe if it was worked into the Constitution that every program had a mandatory sunset provision.

                    1. Until that gets amended. See my post just above.

                      If you straightjacket the government so much that it can’t grow, you’ll get tyranny real damn quick as it tries and then people start breaking those rules. If you make it flexible, you give it the means to grow legally, and you get tyranny nice and slow.

                      It’s a catch-22, which is why government is not viable.

                    2. But an anarchist situation will be unsustainable for the same reasons, no?

                    3. Exactly, anarchy is metastable. As soon as something happens, you have a government again (usually of the Somalia variety). Which inevitably grows.

                      Minarchy at least tries to avoid the warlord stage.

                    4. Abrupt changes in the status quo lead to “revolutions” while slow changes lead to acceptance.

                    5. Maybe if it was worked into the Constitution that every program had a mandatory sunset provision.

                      Entirely logical.

                      You’re making me think you may not be a statist shill.

            2. It’s supposed to be a gritty reboot.

        2. When I think of Hit & Run anarchists, you’re at the top of the list. When I was writing the previous (or was it later?) comment, I said to myself, “There’s always Episiarch. There’s always Episiarch.”

          1. I think at heart I’m an anarchist, much as any hard-core socialist is a marxist.

            I do think it is the only workable solution in the long run, but I don’t think we as a people are anywhere close to being ready for such a society to function and succeed. It would probably take a massive disruption in civilization for an anarchist society to even start to come about.

            Then again, I live around DC and loath people in general (and I believe the latter followed the former), so I my view of mankind may be a bit jaded these days.

            But, in the meantime, a minarchist state would be just fine.

        3. Mo’ better checks and balances.

      2. Count me in as a minarchist.

        Sure, the government will try to grow in future generations, but frankly, if my legacy to future generations is a minarchy and my descendants blow it, that’s on their heads, not mine.

        1. The problem isn’t so much that government will grow – its not a “real” thing, afterall – its that we let it grow. People unable to put aside “their” desire for “that” (undeserved) piece of the pie forces government bigger and bigger.

          Education, strict strict education on the principles, could possibly enjoin the growth of government. Or long, long work hours.

          Jefferson pretty much predicted as much. He thought a city-based society would corrupt itself, and that the best path for the country was for most of us to be farmers.

          A small country of mostly small farmers could probably prevent the growth of government. Writ large though, I’m afraid the society most of us want isn’t possible.

      3. Minarchists are to anarchists what agnostics are to atheists. They don’t have the balls to follow their assumptions to their logical conclusions.

        No offense, though, ProL. I’m sure your balls are of adequate size and function.

        1. See my post above. Following to the logical conclusion, I conclude that anarchy gets us back to the same place, but is worse on the way back.

          1. Somalia is actually thriving in many areas, all moral arguments countering piracy aside. Also, the governements there are hardly effective (though that could change); social customs and codes rule, as they do in states with government (for example, gang members kill regardless of what the law says).

            Also, here’s a good article about the ivory coast I read yesterday (hell, maybe even at this site. I forget).
            http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8446994.stm

            Not quite governmentless, but pretty damn close. I don’t subscribe to the Hobbesian argument that people are fundamentally brutal. People basically want to get along with as little effort as possible, and they rarely would jeopardize their social standing by breaking a custom. What I’m getting at, I suppose, is that government is irrelevant but can lead to nasty things…like an appendix.

        2. I’m with robc. No government can morph into government at least as easy as minimal government can. The U.S. did okay–though not great–as a limited government for quite some time. Recall, too, that the government may have been allowed to start as rather larger than it might’ve been.

          Also, I don’t agree that agnostics are somehow wimpier than atheists. If the agnosticism is simply about whether there is a god, gods, or a creator, well, that’s hard to argue against. It’s a little different than if someone is agnostic about a particular religion. Certainty that there is no such thing, while an admirable exercise in Occam’s razor, isn’t any more rational than uncertainty. We lack the evidence to know. Besides, we may just be in the middle of some crazy Russian doll of VR experiences (or Platonic caves) and don’t have sufficient enough access to reality to know what the fuck is going on.

          1. Regarding my thoughts on anarchy, see the above post to rob. Also, I agree with what you say in your first paragraph. I basically just think government is irrelevant. Once that’s seen and accepted, there’s no need for a government to form. But that’s up for a debate I’m too lazy and hungry to have at the moment.

            As for agnosticism, here’s my take:

            You admit (through implication, I think) that agnosticism in relation to a particular religion can be argued against easily, but that against the general idea of a god, it doesn’t work. But the idea of God either came to Man through divine revelation or through his limited and flawed reasonings. If the former, then it must be tied to a particular religion, as there is no record of divine revelation occuring otherwise (that I know of). If the latter, then while the idea can’t be disproved, it is relegated to the same class of imagination as fairies, which can’t be proved to not exist either. And since ultimately nothing can be proved or disproved absolutely, I dismiss that as a reason to believe that a god might exist. Am I absolutely certain that there is no God? No. But I’m still not an agnostic, because I believe there is no god. Beliefs, however, are never based on absolute proof. Knowledge just doesn’t work like that. So when I imply that agnostics are wimpier than atheists, I do so because it seems that ultimately the only real motivation one would have for claiming agnosticism in the face of such reasoning would be that it’s socially more acceptable than atheism. Then again, I don’t know what anyone’s motivations are, and I don’t wish to make any assumptions about yours.

            1. I have no motivations other than world dominion. Er, and libertopia.

            2. Agnosticism holds more water than atheism as a rational position. Like you said, you’re not absolutely certain there is no god, therefor, you look at the evidence and take it on faith that there isn’t a god. As an agnostic, I just acknowledge that I don’t know what’s out there. Were I a betting man, all my chips would be on no god.

              1. Completely agree with this. Most atheist arguments eventually turn to agnosticism once it falls on the atheist to actually prove something other than “there have been religious people who were bad”. It’s the agnostic who has the balls to admit that he has no idea what the hell is going on, not the atheist who claims to know for certain that something doesn’t exist.

                1. Nino,
                  People believe something or they don’t. Agnostics generally don’t believe in God, but they keep that escape route of ‘we can’t know’ open at all times for social reasons (not ALL agnostics, of course). Proof enough of this is that agnostics, like everyone, don’t go around saying such a thing about all of their beliefs. It’s usually just selective, and is therefore, in my opinion, a cop-out at best and cowardice at worst.
                  Also, I’m an atheist and I don’t claim certainty in my statement that god doesn’t exist. But I state it anyway, just as I would state that the sun will rise tomorrow, even though I can’t prove that it will.

              2. “Agnosticism holds more water than atheism as a rational position. Like you said, you’re not absolutely certain there is no god, therefor, you look at the evidence and take it on faith that there isn’t a god.”

                You equate rationality and certainty. Certainty is the loch ness monster of mental endeavor. It doesn’t exist (probably). Being rational is about bringing your beliefs in line with your experience and your reasoning. I’m not even certain that 2 + 2 = 4, but withoulding the conclusion that it is true because I can’t be absolutely certain is in fact irrational.

                1. Again, it’s all contradictions from you: “Then again, I don’t know what anyone’s motivations are…”
                  Only a couple minutes later, you assume we call ourselves agnostic because we’re afraid of some social repercussions.
                  Time for you to visit your dictionary – agnosticism is the view that we’re dealing with the unknowable… I don’t think you can argue with that. Well, maybe you could, but it’d be the same unsuccessful attempt at analogies you’ve already made. Keep the faith.

                  1. Thirteen,
                    You said, “Only a couple minutes later, you assume we call ourselves agnostic because we’re afraid of some social repercussions.”
                    Which is in reference to what I said:
                    “Agnostics generally don’t believe in God, but they keep that escape route of ‘we can’t know’ open at all times for social reasons (not ALL agnostics, of course).”
                    Which contains the word ‘generally’ and the phrase ‘not ALL agnostics.’ Clearly, I wasn’t stating an absolute.

                    “agnosticism is the view that we’re dealing with the unknowable… ”

                    That’s the non-religious definition of the word. We’re talking in the context of God, and while it is true that I believe one can’t know for sure, I also state that certainty is not a requisite of knowledge, and so I can believe that we can’t know while also believing that there is no God. And since I don’t believe in God, I’m an atheist. But since you require definitions, here’s what Wiktionary says about atheism:
                    “Absence of, or rejection of, belief in the existence of a god or gods.”

                    My take on god is as much a take on knowledge itself, so I don’t blame you for misreading what I have stated (except for your first accusation, which is clearly a misrepresentation of what I said).

                    1. First, you were clearly making the assumption that the majority of agnostics choose that designation for social reasons (as you in effect state that there are, of course, exceptions to your statement); don’t pretend that you weren’t now that your inconsistency is clear.
                      Second, the definition I provide does not just relate to the ‘non-religious,’ as you claim – your personal definition may differ from the dictionary, but that’s not enough to say the dictionary definition doesn’t apply. Maybe the solution is for you to come to a better understanding of agnosticism….
                      The point is, we both believe the same thing – that god doesn’t exist. However, I also believe there’s a chance, however slim, that we could be wrong; it’s unknowable, and because you seem intelligent enough to admit your lack of certainty as well, we’re both technically agnostics.

                    2. Regarding your first point, I simply wanted to show that it doesn’t apply toall agnostics. But, in general, it has been my experience that most agnostics tend to just rest their elbows on the ‘can’t know for sure’ table, and in the course of conversation it usually tends to seem that they do so out of an unwillingness to detatch so completely from popular opinion. Am I wrong to base my assumption on experience?
                      As for your second point, I’m very familiar with agnosticism, as I used to be one myself. In fact, I used to be a Baptist. Then I realized, much against my will, that I didn’t believe in God anymore. To fit in with my friends I played the agnostic role just for the sake of argument. (Which is why I can tell when other people are doing the same thing [though projection is possible here, but I doubt it].) The fact, though, is that if you don’t believe in God, you’re an atheist. Agnostics don’t believe one way or the other BECAUSE they can’t be certain (so they claim). But really we’re just getting into epistemological and semantical differences. My main point in all of this is that in my experience agnostics tend to hide behind the uncertainty card in order to escape social unease.

                    3. “Again, it’s all contradictions from you: “Then again, I don’t know what anyone’s motivations are…”
                      Only a couple minutes later, you assume we call ourselves agnostic because we’re afraid of some social repercussions”

                      This isn’t a contradiction by the way. I can guess what people’s motivations are and make judgments and conclusions, but that doesn’t mean I know what they are really thinking.

                      Where were the other contradictions you implied were there?

          2. Government is a belief. It only “exists” at all because people keep the dream alive.

            Minarchists do a good job of pointing out how the government is a bad idea in almost every situation, but are somehow incapable (eh, maybe I shouldn’t say that, I was a minarchist at some point) of realizing that the government idea is a contradiction of their core values they make these judgements on.

            1. Some form of government is inevitable in this stage of our culture. I think believing otherwise is, sadly, na?ve. Wish it were otherwise. Maybe when we have robot bodies, AI-enhanced brains, and the wisdom of alien superbeings to draw upon, it will be otherwise.

              1. Yes, some form of government is inevitable now. Just like there will always be murderers.

                Do I have to believe that people will stop murdering each other to believe murder is wrong?

                Also, murder is an observable human action while government is just an idea/illusion (that cultivates actions). If there was ever any cultural moment when the myth of government can realistically be shattered, it is now.

                Still, I understand that this will probably outlast my lifetime. But I don’t want to be remembered as one of those who did nothing or legitimized the government because it was convenient.

                1. That’s a bit of a different matter. Reality aside, I think a perfect society would involve zero coercion and be based on cooperation. Naturally, that’s not likely as we’re a flawed species.

              2. I agree. If anarchy is to be legitimate, it must be the product of a cultural evolution. It can’t be created, because it would require a body to create it. I’m an anarchist in that I believe anarchy is inevitable. What do I do in the meantime? Jabber on about its inevitability, i guess.

                1. The above was directed to ProL.

                  1. I’m lost in a thread of commentary.

        3. Or like dieters to people that don’t eat.

          1. Are you implying the government has nutritional content?

      4. Minarchist’s represent!

        There’s are some problems I see with the extreme anarcho-capitalist solution. I’m open to the ideas but I’m not convinced.

        In the meantime surely advancing towards a government more curtailed should put US minarchists and anarcho-capitalists on the same team?

    2. read about anarcho-capitalism

      1. More folks here should.

    3. Government functions are as necessary as food and water. All we (anarchists) advocate is a choice of provider.

      1. Perhaps the solution is a kill-switch held by each citizen. If, say, 60% of us hit the kill switch, the current government has to leave en masse

        1. isn’t that what the 2nd amendment was intended to be?

          1. I meant with less literal killing. Just removal.

            1. the killing part only happens if they resist.

  19. The need to remotely monitor the health and well-being of the space crew lead to the first generation heart monitors and other sensors that fill hospitals today.

    Considering how fat and lazy your average nurse is, I’d say somebody would have come up with a way of checking on the inmates without arising from their chair, sooner rather than later. At a substantially reduced cost.

    1. Considering how fat and lazy your average nurse is,

      A fat and lazy nurse will have a very short tenure in an actual hospital. In other settings, I couldn’t say, but hospital nurses, almost without exception, work their asses off.

      1. every nurse I’ve ever known has been overweight, but you’re right that they work very hard. makes me wonder how they can be overweight. And most of the ones I know work in hospitals.

        1. The stress hormone cortisol is believed to cause weight gain.

  20. One big straw man argument. Libertarian say they want government gone because they know that would never happen, but aiming there might hit the sweet spot. Silly article stating the obvious and completely missing the mark.

    1. Libertarian say they want government gone . . .

      Anarchists want government gone.

      Libertarians want government limited to securing our unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

        1. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

          I defer to the master.

          1. — Here is the complete text of the Declaration of Independence.
            The original spelling and capitalization have been retained. —

        2. Is that “us the people” or “we the people”?

      1. Bingo.

        The issue isn’t that all government is bad or is to be considered the “enemy”.

        That is a strawnam position.

        The issue is that government should stick to it’s explicitly enummerated powers and concentrate on doing those things effectively.

        It doesn’t matter if government is effective or not at attempting some function that was never any of it’s business to begin with.

        The main point is the fact that the function ISN’T any of it’s business – not that it is not efficient at perfoming it.

      2. If they’re inalienable, why do we need a government to protect them? And why should this organization called government rely on a method (taxation) that is exactly what it is trying to prevent (theft)?

        One reason why the government idea is so bad is because it is such a blatant contradiction.

        Might it be possible to solve social problems without BEING a social problem?

        1. Might it be possible to solve social problems without BEING a social problem?

          Methinks this is not the group to ask that particular question of. There seems to be a positive delight in being a social problem around here.

      3. Anarchist and libertarian are not necessarily mutually exclusive terms, in fact by strict definition they are mutually inclusive. I am an anarchist, and I am a libertarian. Libertarianism is defined by the nonagression principle, which forbids coercive taxation.

  21. WTF?

    145 billion dollars to send 3 guys to the moon is a success? The order of magnitude is IBM’s market capitalization, resp. their yearly revenue for the past decades.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A…..ncellation
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibm

  22. It may suprise some folks around these parts but I think it’s pretty hard to identify any government done tasks that were or are done efficiently for the reasons Mises discusses in his book Bureaucracy: there’s no profit in government to discipline actors and direct resources. However, like Mises, I think there are some things that are needed that only the government is going to provide.

    Ironically I think one thing that makes government inefficient are attempts to make it more accountable and efficient. Having to comply with the requirements of oversight is a very time consuming process…But what can you do? Turning ’em loose is a worse idea…

    1. The U.S. government was designed to be inefficient, as the Founders and many of their successors viewed limited government and the protection of liberties more important than centralized efficiency. This inherent bias towards inefficiency is one important reason to keep government involvement in life to a minimum.

      1. This inherent bias towards inefficiency is one important reason way to keep government involvement in life to a minimum.

        FTFY

        1. You’d think so, wouldn’t you?

          1. why do you think it took 150 years for the “new deal”?

            Slowness and inefficiency is a feature, not a bug.

            1. Not arguing that, just regretting that it didn’t work for longer.

              1. Keep in mind that the original idea was to not have political parties. That would have slowed it down even more.

            2. It’s a bug. Anarchocapitalism is the bug-free solution. Minarchism is an abject failure at stemming the growth of government, by any measure. Hans Hoppe makes a good case that monarchy allows more individual freedom than any form of democracy.

              The only way to stem the growth of government is not to have a government, if government is defined as an agency with a monopoly on force.

    2. Stop it. Don’t make me respect you. David may leave and we’d only have Tony and Chad:(

      1. Seriously scary to see the troll make any comments that are worthwhile.

  23. I have no problem with government as long as it doesn’t steal people’s money and force people to do things they don’t want to do.

    So basically I have a big problem with government.

  24. “I have no problem with government as long as it doesn’t steal people’s money and force people to do things they don’t want to do.”

    So no traffic laws? Because they force me to do things I don’t want to do all the time, and if I break them the government takes money from me…

    1. traffic laws are rules of the road, they would exist in a private road system to. You agreed to them when you got your license and/or signed the contract to drive on the private road.

      1. In other words, stop making stupid fucking semantical arguments.

        1. The stupid fucking semantical argument is one that says that any government that “steals money and forces people to do things” is bad. I just pointed out one reason for that. There are many reasons that something is going to have to exist that will “steal money and force people to do things.”

          1. User fees dont require stealing money.

            1. Oh yea, driving laws will be enforced with user fees!

              You’re just digging this hole deeper…

              1. Not at all. Roads, including enforcement, can be paid for with user fees. They arent, but they can be.

              2. No, they will be enforced with the threat of rescinding your privilege of use. User fees might be applied to monitoring, but what? You don’t think private companies can enforce terms of use?

              3. You’re just digging this hole deeper…

                That’s better!

                You’re the one digging the hole. There’s no need for laws at all because if the road proprietor allows you to behave dangerously they are liable to lost profits and tort.

                Sports fans are often a rowdy and drunk bunch. So are many night clubs’ clientele. Yet they manage to maintain order and safety in almost all cases. Their profit depends on it. Their existence depends on it.

                Can you really believe that a public transportation safety bureaucracy, which cannot be fired en masse, and is almost impossible to be fired individually, is more motivated to maintain safety than a private road operation would be?

                1. Faithkills – just wanted to say “bravo”. You saved me from writing a long-winded rebuttal.

          2. Except that nobody forces you to drive. There are many other options for transportation available.

            That’s the legal rationale for compulsory breathalyzer tests, that your driving license is a contract

      2. Yeah, and who’s going to enforce the terms of that agreement robc? The Road Fairy?

        1. On a private road, the same people who enforce rules at Disneyland.

          1. That would be the government. See, if you break the rules at Disneyland their security tells you to leave. If you refuse they call the cops. And the cops are….

            1. Which is why Im not an anarchist.

              1. And the cops are…

                …just a security company that has a particularly cozy relationship with the municipality. The municipality pays them for a service and grants them unusual latitude to perform it.

                1. Do they wear t-shirts underneath their uniforms that say “SUE ME”?

            2. Subtract the government cops from the equation and you have legitimate use of force by private cops. If said private cops turn out to be lazy/inefficient/corrupt/incompetent you FIRE them and hire cops from a different private company.

              Just like any other private service.

              What is so difficult about this to understand?

    2. So no traffic laws? Because they force me to do things I don’t want to do all the time

      Some of those things you’re “forced” to do actually increase your safety while on the road. Should we be forced to do it? Nah. Seatbelt laws are fucking stupid, just like people who don’t want to wear a seatbelt.

      So i say drop the all the road laws. If people don’t want to behave smart enough to survive, then fuck em.

      But being forced to do things that are good for you? Not the biggest crisis in the world.

      1. A town in Belgium? Netherlands? removed all road markings, signs and traffic signals (no stop signs, no lights). Accidents are down.

      2. I disagree about the crisis part. Being forced to do things against your will when you aren’t harming anyone seems like a pretty big rights violation to me. Who gets to determine what is good? That opens the door for all kinds of tyranny. Sure being shot is worse but still.

      3. The fallacy is thinking that your survival on the road depends upon you. Your driving along fine and then some idiot losing control at 150 mph kills everyone in your car.

        1. Then my clan hunts his relatives down and slaughters them all.

          After a few iterations, people slow down.

        2. And the fallacy in your argument is that people who follow traffic laws are doing so because a law is in place. Personally I don’t drive on the wrong side of the road because I do not want to get hit by another car; the last thought in my mind is am I following the law, my thinking is more on the lines of “I don’t want to fucking die!”. Someone who is suicidal and crazy enough to drive on the wrong side of the roads is also not thinking about the law either. If they are crazy enough to be suicidal, I highly doubt a law is going to deter them. So what is the point for the laws other than it is a source of revenue for the state?

      4. “So i say drop the all the road laws. If people don’t want to behave smart enough to survive, then fuck em.”

        Wow, I hope you’re not really this stupid. How about this, when you are the only one on the road, drive like an idiot and hurt yourself. Until then, I’ll happily take road rules to keep morons like you from hurting me or damaging my property.

        1. Because its those laws keeping me from hurting you or damaging your property.

          Or maybe its that i know better. Or just have better uses for my time than crashing through your living room window. Then again, its sounding better the more i think about it.

          1. Keep pretending that one’s actions are rational and self-serving.

            Speed and traffic signs aren’t there because the big, bad government wants to make money off you, it’s because idiots like you sometimes need reminders, so you don’t hurt the rest of us.
            … well, sometimes it’s just to make money, but that’s the exception.

      5. Turkey has no lines painted on the roads.

        Somehow they still manage to get where they’re going.

        1. yes, but have you ever driven around in turkey? managing to get around isn’t exactly the same thing as pleasantly driving around.

          I’d be curious to see to what extent the cost that goes into painting lines saves money down the road in reduced accidents and traffic.

          1. Driving in Turkey is not for the faint of heart, no.

            But you can make the argument that restricting lots of freedoms would result in reduced accidents. That doesn’t mean we should do it.

  25. So we should change our beliefs in order to win a political office that we would want primarily for the reason of putting our beliefs into action?

    Well, yeah. Much as we should fight a tyrranical philosophy based on irrational fear by becoming irrationally paranoid, and stamping out freedom.

  26. May I hate this?

    http://pajamasmedia.com/zombie…..-near-you/

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/201…..eding_fine

    1. Actually I don’t see a problem with that. Governments, as small as I would like them to be, are supposed to be just. It’s not just for a law to be such that the rich are not subject to them.

      Fixed fines are unjust in exactly the same way progressive taxes are unjust, just in reverse. Ultimately you are taking a greater proportion of lifespan from one person than another.

      With a progressive tax, the more you earn the more of your lifespan you spend enslaved to the state.

      With a fixed fine, the more you earn the less of your past lifespan is punitively confiscated for a crime, and vice versa.

      Put another way, when taxation is necessary, it should be a flat percentage to be just. When fiscal punishment is necessary it should also be a flat percentage.

  27. Yeah, and who’s going to enforce the terms of that agreement robc? The Road Fairy?

    No.

    The Grim Reaper.

    1. Speaking of this, there was a Liberty magazine article in the 90s on alternate car insurance models. Including one that was pretty much “no-fault”. Any damage done to you is fixed by you or your insurance. You bought the ticket, you take your chances.

  28. The point of the article isn’t that one should abandon cherished political philosophies and beliefs. The point is simply that speaking and acting as if most of the people in the country are “evil cogs in an evil machine” – wasn’t that the comment? – is not going to get them to vote for you or for your program of smaller government. A program of “no government, ever” is suicide. Think no? Consider how long we’d last as a nation if the Feds disbanded the armed forces. Canada? Maybe, but more likely Mexico. “Oh, but the veterans and armed local militia forces would crush the invaders in a surge of libertarianism and a hail of bullets!” Sure, and Poland’s horse cavalry could have defeated Germany’s tanks and radio-coordinated air support if they had just “believed” hard enough. No government –> being a conquered people.

    Problem is too much power in governments, not that there are governments. Problem is a take-over of too many institutions in society by those whose beliefs are in authoritarian governments and “We know better than you” philosophies of one sort of another. Problem is government has become – nearly entirely, if not entirely – a mechanism to reward friends, punish enemies and to give scope to the whims of megalomanical folks who are frankly insane. Not that we have government. To claim otherwise is like claiming that since some people commit arson, we ought to do away with fire. Wake up, folks. Anarchy is a dream, not something that can actually be good for us. Less and better government on the other hand, would actually be good for us. What is “less” and “better”? Different questions for another argument.

    1. Wait, what. Your primary argument against anarchy is lack of national defense? As generally wars (and invasions) are won by increasing applications of force until one side surrenders I’m wondering who exactly does the surrendering in an anarchist society?
      In addition, we have a fairly good ongoing object lesson (or two) about how a small number of people who refuse to be conquered can sure mess things up for an “invasion” force.

      1. Plus we have like 5 billion guns

        1. How many nuclear missles do you have?

          Because the Soviets and the Chinese have plenty.

          1. I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t nuke an anarchist territory since they would probably want to occupy it at some time. Plus why waste all that money when conventional would work fine. I mean we have nukes but we use regular guns when we go to war.

      2. “In addition, we have a fairly good ongoing object lesson (or two) about how a small number of people who refuse to be conquered can sure mess things up for an “invasion” force”

        That only works if the invading power is trying to spare civilians.

        If the objective is total subjugation or total destruction, the small force won’t be able to do anything about it.

        1. If the objective is total subjugation or total destruction no government’s “national defense” is capable of defending against Soviet or Chinese (or US, etc.) nuclear missle strikes.
          If the “invasion” plan is one of scorched-earth total destruction, there is no sufficient national defense against a nuclear armed nation.
          The M portion of MAD is of little comfort if you’re already part of the D group.

      3. Ask any of the descendants of the Plains Indian culture, tribes, nations, whatever the currently P.C. word is, who anarchists surrender to. They were the closest to true anarchies we’ve seen within recorded history. The U.S. ran them and shot them and ran them and shot them until they gave up. All of them, not just the leaders. Yes, it took about 100 years to reach the end state, but it happened.

        The “ongoing object lessons” are all cases where the invaders – or more effective military in the PLO, et al vs. Israel match – refuse to brutalize the civilian populations in order to “win”. Compare and contrast with the Nazi methods in Occupied Europe and Stalinist methods in the Ukraine. Although, truth to tell, the last was to enforce the implementation of agricultural regulations which were meeting with some local opposition rather than conquest. The English in Wales and in Scotland. The Chinese in their provinces that are predominantly Muslim and not ethnically Han. No, that last bit doesn’t make the grade, unless you accept at the same time that John Wayne’s movie, “The Green Berets” was how it really was. *sigh*

    2. I basically agree with you, but

      Problem is government has become – nearly entirely, if not entirely – a mechanism to reward friends, punish enemies and to give scope to the whims of megalomanical folks who are frankly insane.

      You do realize, this is an unfortunately essential element of the whole process of building a government in the first place?

      I’ve said around here for years, the first thing libertarians need to do is throw the anarchists over board. It’s a no-starter on the national stage.

      OTOH, while I disagree with those who believe anarchism can work, I remain sympathetic to what they’d like to accomplish. Because the matter of restraining government to a reasonable size is an incredibly hard problem.

      1. Yes, sir, I do realize that is an essential element, but believe that its scope and depth can be minimized by a tightly reined-in government at all levels. That’s what the Constitution was for, you know, but the state and local governments didn’t have the restraints imposed on them. A bit of judicial sophistry on “police powers” and “sovereignty” and Tammney Hall and Mayor Daily are on the march. It is the local and state levels which require pruning and restraining as well. It is there, also and unfortunately, where the strongest impetus and motivation for using government that way exists. Not likely to root it out as it’s the same human nature/psychological problem as wanting to tax everything except what I own, or to share everything except what I make. *sigh* The eternal puzzle. Quis custodiet ipis custodes.

        1. Sorry; mis-spelled “ipsis”.

    3. I’m an anarchist and I believe that most things that government employees do aren’t actually unethical (although probably poorly thought-out). Most people in the military, for example, don’t actually kill people day to day, they just manage and maintain the “system” and use a ton of resources in the process.

      When ordered to kill an innocent civilian, their moral agency is NEVER gone. If human beings should take one lesson from the 20th century, it should be that “I was just following orders” is NOT an excuse.

      My main deal with “government” is that people use the idea of it to justify actions which would be considered terrorism/evil/unnecessary if it was done by anyone else.

      Don’t think anyone would step up to defend their way of life unless their actions could be paid for by mass robbery? If not, is it even worth it? What are they fighting for in the first place?

  29. government bashing alienates those you want to reach?

    Let’s touch on the reverse. I am a young father of a family of 3 who works for a bank. I help to finance the treasury and it’s agencies. Consider me alienated. I am a pariah and the president has been less than presidential. I am no fatcat, but everyone thinks that I am. I am frustrated, alienated, and have no inclination to embrace a government that can’t adhere to the principles of the tenets that you have laid out for civilians.

  30. Problem is government has become – nearly entirely, if not entirely – a mechanism to reward friends, punish enemies and to give scope to the whims of megalomanical folks who are frankly insane

    Has become? I think that’s what it was invented for.

    1. @ Ike @ 11:30

      Damn you threaded comments.

  31. Honestly, these popular threads are a bitch to deal with in this new world of threaded comments. Please make them go away. Can’t somebody hack the server or something?

    1. Ask the Chinese.

      1. I hear that Google plans to hack every server in China to force all their blogs into threaded comments. Just before they pull out.

    2. I rather like the way DailyKos (shudder) deals with them….you can collapse the comments into just their subject line. It makes dealing with massive threads much easier, as much more of the thread is on the screen at once.

      1. also, comments made since you last loaded the page are marked *new*

  32. It begins with properly and precisely defining the role of government. And it always devolves into endless, counterproductive bickering between rational, objective libertarians and anarchists who call themselves libertarians.

    1. I know! And don’t get me started on the true Scotsmen!

    2. The anarchists are not irrational they are just considering the argument from a deontological perspective. All government emanates from violent coercion. Violent coercion is immoral therefore government is evil. The teleological arguments that the government does good or bad things are completely irrelevant because they don’t believe that the ends justifies the means. I am very sympathetic to this argument but that doesn’t mean that I won’t work towards the immediate goal of limiting the size and scope of government because that would at least mean there is less of the evil.

      I would also argue that the teleologists are far more subjective than objective since “the good” is based on relative positive and negative consequences.

      1. All true. The issue isn’t philosophical, however, for precisely those reasons, most especially as there exists no way to induce or parse out a “correct” answer. The issue is who decides on how things of value are allocated or used. Should those decisions be made by “angels in the form of kings” – or bureaucrats and politicians – or should those decisions be made by those who produce and/or earn by their physical and mental efforts those things of value? Having those who produce the things of value decide = freedom; having others who “know better” and are “wiser and more sober” = tyranny. Each and every time. Doubt me? Review history. Problem today is that those who consider themselves better suited to decide are ascendent and the way away from their rule is not obvious nor apparent.

    3. More like rational, objective anarchists and libertarians who haven’t figured it out yet 😉

  33. Jesus, could you imagine what the Constitution would look like if we had a Constitutional Convention today?

    Why am I reminded of the question about whether God can make a rock so big He cannot budge it?

    1. It’s not a paradox. It’s a disaster. Can you imagine the rights that would be built into the document? And the expansion of government to service those “rights”?

      1. Fortunately, no, I cant imagine how bad it would be. Personally, I dont think we could get one passed without an armed revolution breaking out.

    2. Go read the EU constitution. That will give you some idea.

      1. I can’t. I’m too scared.

    3. People might realize that social contract theory, which gets its legitimacy from the consent of everyone involved, is highly impractical on a large scale. Then we’d start thinking about business models and voluntary organizations that are actually effective at solving our problems?

      Pfft, yeah right. People would come up with an even worse constitution than the last one and claim that its authority actually eminates from social contract theory.

  34. The list of top 5 “good” things government ever did should have included the law against dueling! 😀

    1. What? Screw you, bring back Dueling!

      Gloveslap, baby, gloveSLAP.

      1. Why yes sir I accept your challenge. I choose pistols at dawn.

        1. Pistols are gay. Try swords, preferably sabers.

          1. I would hate to see the wounds from a round ball at 10 paces.

          2. Cannons. Like in The Baroque Cycle.

          3. Rubber chickens at 10 paces, at dawn. Death by humiliation, dammit.

          4. ok ten paces you with a saber and me with a pistol.

            1. Better not fail to kill or disable me. ‘Cause I’ll hack you to bits with my sword if you do.

              1. pfft gun kata ftw

          5. The ancient bone sabre of Zumacallis. The only way to duel.

  35. Great article.

    As someone who is interested in libertarian ideas ACTUALLY being implemented (unlike some here it seems), I think this is a pretty good focus.

  36. Overall this is a great article and I’ve argued much the same, more than once around here.

    But the article nonetheless does not give us solutions to the biggest problems. For example —

    In running a government, there is no constitution or set of laws that can substitute for (or constrain for long) the intentions of those in power. And the people who tend to go into government jobs, tend to be those who like having power over others.

    How do we actually restrain government growth? No clear answers in sight.

    Much as I’m sold on the necessary evil of having a government, I’m also convinced that some anarchist arguments against government, are pretty much on the mark.

    Mini-anarchists claim to be the solution to this dilemma, but I’m not convinced they have a viable answer either.

    And btw, we’ve got to find a better solution than representative democracy. Public choice research and the logic of large groups makes it pretty clear that democracy is a rotten system, if protecting individual liberties is your end goal.

    I’d strongly encourage Reason to do more exploring down these avenues. If they’re interested in contributing to the cause of making Libertarians politically relevant. Which today they simply aren’t.

    1. Yes, but do you think any other system besides represenative democary would actually happen?

      I think the major flaw with our system happened because of misinterpeation of the consitution, specifically intersate commerence etc. Perhaps a couple adendums to the consitution to make it REALLY clear that government was being limited would help.

      1. No matter what government you get, the people that hold the offices will screw it up over time.

      2. Well, your point about addendums might help.

        But my thoughts have been running along these lines, to fix democracy problems —

        The central issue is that the people who would best serve our interests in government, don’t want to be there. They’ve got other things to do with their lives. Unfortunately we need to get them in there anyway.

        So rather than our current electoral system, things like the House and Senate should be appointed by lot. Something like jury duty.

        I’m all in favor of putting some kind of income/education requirements on positions for both the House and Senate. And btw, the whole idea behind a House of Lords and a House of Commons has got to be retained and preserved.

        I’m not sure how well this would really work. But I’m convinced that democracy will never do anything but destroy liberty over the long haul.

        I’m still looking for a better idea…..

        1. What if the candidates were chosen at random (like the jury pool), but the winner was still elected from that pool via a normal democratic process? The majority of people chosen to be a candidate probably wouldn’t want to do it, so they wouldn’t run a campaign. We’d have to base our decisions off what they’ve actually done and what information is available about them, which thanks to the Internet is considerable, and likely represents a good cross-section of who they really are.

          1. I think the primary poison of our representative system is the amount of GDP at the disposal of the elected. It is something like 20%. For a new system to satisfy me, it would explicitly limit the amount of revenue the federal government could generate, make work-arounds a felony, mandate an actual balanced budget (not on the Clinton model) and make that section unamendable by law. If it was set at a discrete amount, rather than a percent of GDP, I suspect inflation would be a thing of the past.

            And war should never be an acceptable excuse to go into the red. As the most prosperous nation on earth, we should have an emergency fund.

        2. Appointed by lot, from a list of folks who qualified for appointment by way of being wealthy and/or educated? You haven’t looked at the C.V.’s of the people in office now, have you?

          Consider this: the problems arise from the ability of politicos and some businesscritters – politicos’ buddies -to use government for their economic advantage. Neither wealth nor education are going to reduce that; indeed, will exascerbate it.

          Try what has worked at the state levels – for so long as it was enforced – namely: genuinely balanced budgets, no borrowing (other than via an enormous super-majority vote 75%?), no paper money from the Feds or States, no income tax, no SS tax – ca. 75% of Federal revenues from those two. Forbid governments at any level from economic rules, laws, etc; period. Maybe starving it for money would work; being professional cynic, I doubt it so try blanket prohibition of any economic regs period. *shrug* Can’t get to there from here anyway. Fasten your seat belts; ride gets rougher from here on out. Unless enough people, not just politicos, get a new infusion of good sense, we’re headed for a self-inflicted thumping of Biblical proportions.

  37. I work with this guy who thinks he’s the master of tact and political manuever. If I say, “Program X is a failure; it needs major attention now”, he’ll turn that into “There are several ways we can make Program X even better, moving forward”.

    He swears that his is the better way to get things done, because it doesn’t antagonize the designers and (gag) the stakeholders who originally built Program X.

    The funny thing is, he never gets anything done – but he always get placed in charge of creating the illusion that things like Program X actually work.

    He swears that one day, he’ll really be entrusted with the power and authority to do whatever, and that I’ll be sorry…

    These guys are just like that. They would see freedom become the custodian and part-time image consultant of statism.

    Bad idea.

    1. He swears that one day, he’ll really be entrusted with the power and authority to do whatever, and that I’ll be sorry…

      And he’s right.

      Just as the day came when the government was given the power to do whatever and America is very sorry.

  38. Can you imagine the rights that would be built into the document? And the expansion of government to service those “rights”?

    The page count, alone, would be mind-boggling; a 2692 page definition (counting exclusions, exceptions and addenda) of “is”.

    1. There would be all sort of rights for lobbyist.

      As Zappa said, they only look out for number one, and you ain’t even number two.

  39. The distorted worldview in which government performs no useful functions?ever?is silly.

    Please name some useful functions that government does that wouldn’t be provided otherwise.

      1. Blackwater.

        Next?

        1. Blackwater is paid for by the government.

          You need to do a lot more explaining before you get to say “next”.

      2. Why not? I mean, sure, it would be impossible to sustain the ridiculous size and scope of what they do now, but personally I think that’s a GOOD thing.

        Voluntary service, donations, market processes, value for tradition. Do we REALLY need to steal money to defend ourselves?

        1. Considering our FFs opposed a standing army anyway….

          1. A standing army wasn’t required in the days of the Founding Fathers. Two oceans and 18th Century technology pretty much guaranteed that no other nation had much chance of invading successfully. Two hundred plus years later, guess what?

            The habits of American military over that 200 + years has mostly done away with all the objections of the FF’s in any event.

            Do you suppose that enough folks will voluntarily pay enough money to maintain the force levels and equipment levels and tech that our national defense requires? This is 2010, not 1940, not 1860, not 1776. Blackwater couldn’t pour piss out of a boot with the instructions printed on the sole and a large arrow on the heel pointing down, with the legend, “Look here”. Created by folks who couldn’t cut the mustard in combat, staffed by overweight rejects from the active duty and reserves, who think that a “security tour” means they get to act like some movie punk. No, they’re not what national security requires.

            If we got the Feds out of all the unConstitutional stuff that they’re spending taxes on, there’d be enough money for proper Fed expenses and an much much smaller tax bill for the folks who work for a living. And those are the folks, let’s remember, who create the wealth for all of us. Reward what you want more of and you get it; punish the same thing and you get less, no matter how badly you need it.

  40. Considering how fat and lazy your average nurse is

    Come say that to my face.

  41. My mom is a police officer, about to retire in less than 2 weeks. She recently told me that she has come to the conclusion that cops act properly about 25% of the time and act like corrupt jackasses about 75% of the time(she works in the small town which was the setting for John Grisham’s “The Innocent Man”). So, as a person who “loves a police officer,” I’m not in the least bit alienated by government-bashing. In fact, my mom bashes the government with regularity too.

    1. Hah, my Dad was like that too: he held a federal civil service job for a while; I’ve never met anybody (not even me!) who despised the government more.

      I guess it’s just a matter of seeing it from the inside. Everybody I ever knew who worked at a Pizza Hut told me not to eat there.

  42. here in Pennsylvania energy deregulation hasn’t had the problems California ran into.

    1. The deregulation in California wasn’t really deregulation at all. For example, price caps were kept in place, that limited the profitability of the energy companies.

  43. For the record, during my fellowship at the White House–during a Democratic administration, I might add–I heard all sorts of anti-government comments about Congress and administrative agencies. And their employees. Especially the ones not in the EOP.

  44. One of you knobs without a handle needs to do something to differentiate yourself from the other. That is damned infuriating.

  45. Familiarity breeds contempt.

    1. No doubt. And, of course, there is a difference in employee quality between plum agencies and others. An OMB staffer is likely on the more talented side, where a Labor employee might not be.

      I knew some very smart bureaucrats, but to assume that most of them respect the system is to forget that they have to tolerate the ass-end of government as citizens, too.

  46. The Apollo program seriously and permanently damaged government-funded space exploration:

    “…But that organization was absorbed by NASA, and effectively became extinct on May 25, 1961, when the resources of the agency were marshalled to meet one monolithic operational goal. The agency began evolving from an R&D organization to an operational one. And then, to make matters worse, the agency succeeded in that goal and became convinced that the Big Monolithic Program, not Many Small Programs, was the One True Way.

    The agency hasn’t been the same since. All the other debates – capsules vs, spaceplanes, science vs operations, EELV vs Direct, what have you – have been mere sideshows…”

    Read the whole thing here:
    http://forum.nasaspaceflight.c…..#msg299836

    Much of it is somewhat technical, but all of it is good.

    Yeah, it’s just some anonymous guy on a web board. He still makes more sense than anyone else I’ve read on the subject.

    As a counterpoint, here’s an example of a government-funded program that’s a huge success: The Global Positioning System.

    1. I’ve read in several different fora the suggestion that NASA should revert to its NACA roots. In other words, it would act more as an enabler and R&D funder of aerospace and space than as a direct participant.

    2. Google GPS operational status and come back.

      1. Done. Search results did not yield your point. Care to be more explicit?

        1. The satellites that are up there are reaching the end of their planned lifetime. Upwards of half of them ae a single fault away from shutting down. The replacements have been plagued by major engineering design errors, budget overruns, and schedule overruns.

          It is far from clear whether or not the replacement will get up in the air before the constellation starts suffering significant outages.

          As with any major government R&D project brute force and massive investiments result in a brilliant first-time-ever capability only to be followed with piss poor business performance over the long run.

          1. So what? The capability would not exist at all without the major government R&D effort.

            All the problems you list sound fixable, and not unusual for a space based system.

            1. government-funded program that’s a huge success:

              I disagree with you contention that GPS is a huge success.

              The fed expended huge amounts of money to create a new capability that is busy revolutionizing warfare. They certainly get credit for that.

              The market place also gets high-fives for exploiting this new capability.

              I have no problem arguing that GPS is necessary and that it represents a legimate government activity to field this great public infrastructure.

              But the feds are busy turning a major technological feat into yet another public-run fiasco.

              1. There’s so much regulation in place, I’m not surprised that the market didn’t create the Internet and GPS before the government did. You’d be mired down in the planning stage for either project, just trying to figure out what red tape you’ve got to cut through… what legal loopholes you’ve got to jump through… which politicians’ palms would need greasing. You think you could just run copper and fibre cabling across the country without the government in the way? You think you could just rocket up into space without someone in the government making a big fuss? The FAA, the EPA, the FCC…

                Not to mention the fact that these things were put in place by an entity that had little concern for things like continuous innovation and keeping costs under control. The economy probably would have been better off without the massive tax burden required to fund these projects and their supporting agencies.

      2. GPS was made by the DoD, no?

        1. Yes, and DoD still runs it. Which makes every other nation on earth a bit nervous that they could kill the civillian band in a heartbeat.

  47. Repost from upthread (because, well, the threading sux):

    The problem isn’t so much that government will grow – its not a “real” thing, afterall – its that we let it grow. People unable to put aside “their” desire for “that” (undeserved) piece of the pie forces government bigger and bigger.

    Education, strict strict education on the principles, could possibly enjoin the growth of government. Or long, long work hours.

    Jefferson pretty much predicted as much. He thought a city-based society would corrupt itself, and that the best path for the country was for most of us to be farmers.

    A small country of mostly small farmers could probably prevent the growth of government. Writ large though, I’m afraid the society most of us want isn’t possible.

  48. Government should “set out to do” anything. Where did people ever get the idea that government should do stuff? The reason we are in this miserable mess is because of all the things that government has decided it needed to do.

    1. Damn it. I meant “shouldn’t” set out to do anything, not should. Is the argument, seriously, that because government doesn’t absolutely fuck every single thing it touches up completely so therefore it’s a good thing???

  49. yeah right like the US would be drenched in acid rain if it weren’t for almighty government lol

    1. When it comes to pollution all actors INCLDUING business often need government to step in. This is because a business can’t take unliteral action without giving a price advantage to competitors.

      IE, government action prevents a race to the bottom, and in cases where the costs of pollution to society exceed the benefit of the cheaper goods then yes government action is a benefit.

      1. yeah but specifically acid rain, was it really a huge problem that wouldn’t have been resolved without congress pretending to do something about it? or was it just hype? and why does CONGRESS have to step in, isn’t there already ways to take an entity to civil court to sue for property damages?

        1. I’m not a big expert on acid rain, but quick google shows that acid rain can be a big problem.

          http://library.thinkquest.org/CR0215471/acid_rain.htm

          http://www.sciencedaily.com/re…..075630.htm

          As for trial, sure that’s always an option. Then again, should suing someone be the only way to solve anything?

          1. Yes, it should. It is better for a court to solve your problem in your case rather than forcing the solution to your problem onto every citizen in the nation, whether we are facing your problem or not.

  50. From here:

    Condemning limited government for not performing the functions of the charity, the church, the family, the firm, the school, and the other organs of the body politic is like condemning the skeleton for not performing the functions of the brain, the heart, the stomach, the liver, the lungs, and the other organs of the body proper. Freedom is the framework that secures all other virtues.

    1. Nice.

    2. Well put.

  51. Finally, someone hired Tony to write for REASON.

  52. So many good points in this article. Why is it ever acceptable to base your entire political worldview on a stupid caricature? The problem is black & white thinking, which dumbs down so many different ideologies. Government=evil is the extent of a lot of people’s thoughts. Therefore, less government in all instances no matter what must be good. This can get so simplistic and dogmatic that libertarianism starts to look like a cult.

    People more interested in protecting their cherished first principles than in reality. This leads to blaming the nearest government agency for any problem that happens, even if it can be more correctly attributed to capitalism.

    And it also means not giving an inch for rhetorical reasons. If you admit that government can be a solution to certain problems, you’d have to realize there is a legitimate debate about the role of government on each and every policy concern. The lazy, and unfortunately common, way out is just to say government is always the problem, and anyone who believes otherwise is evil.

    1. Beats saying government is always the solution, when the vast amount of evidence indicates that “solution” and “government” should rarely be used together in a sentence.

      1. Nobody ever says government is always the solution. This is exactly what I’m talking about.

        1. You usually do.

        2. No, nobody states it like that. But name one major social problem where politicians haven’t suggested government intervention or regulation as a solution.

        3. Hell, name one small social problem where no politician has suggested intervention or regulation.

          1. Well I believe that government not acting in a particular instance still has consequences and still amounts to making a policy choice. Government by definition has domain over everything within the borders of the country it governs. Ignoring something, while often the correct choice, is still a choice. I don’t make a moral distinction between acting and not acting in this way.

            1. Domain? Choices? What about the friggin’ people? Must we defer all decision-making to the government? Why?

              1. In theory a legitimate government acts according to the will of the people.

                1. Government has, and always will act according to the will of the elected, anointed or otherwise victorious. In election years, that may well have the veneer of populism, but rest assured it is all in the best interest of the somebody who isn’t us.

                  1. I would add that the sense that your ideals and the leaderships ideals are aligned at any given moment is more accountable to the fact that you agree with them than the reverse.

    2. I’m not sure if there is room for debate on each and every policy concern. I think there is a whole slew of things that government shouldn’t have ANY business in.

      But, for a limited number of concerns government can be in certain instances have a postive impact

    3. Evil is evil. Calling it “government” does not make it good. Also, evil exists outside of government.

      So, should we fix the “evil” problem by using theft and violence? Is that really the best we can do?

      I don’t care WHAT we call it. But I seriously think that the “government” idea is a terrible solution, for all the reasons and more that libertarians point out.

      1. Do what now? Government is whatever we make it to be. Nobody’s presented a convincing case why government isn’t necessary, so it’s just not helpful having a bunch of antigovernment ideologues running the place. Better to have people interested in thinking about the ways government can do good.

        1. No, government is force. No matter how you cut it, government is force. Now, in my fantasies that force could be used only to promote/enforce justice, but ALL evidence is to the contrary.

          1. OK, government is force, but why is force always bad? Governments exist so that we can put the legitimacy of using force in one place where we can keep an eye on it.

      2. Sure governemnt is a terrible solution, but there are some things for that it’s still the best or only solution. For example, fighting off foreign aggressors etc.

    4. This is really about whether a deontological moral framework is legitimate. Yes when you are talking about a deontological moral framework, some answers will be very simple because an action will either be right or wrong. This is usually accompanied by reasoning as to why the action is absolutely right or wrong. It may not be by the individual performing the action but there is usually literature out there. Once that analysis has been performed, it doesn’t need to be performed again but that doesn’t mean thought hasn’t gone into the decision. In the case of government as I have stated earlier in the thread the argument is, violent coercion is wrong. Government is born from violent coercion. Government is evil. Now if you maintain a teleological moral framework, this argument will not carry much weight with you. What always scares the hell out of me is that once you accept that violent coercion is allowable you just need a potent enough ends for all kinds of atrocities.

      1. The problem with deontology in this case is that forbidding government from coercion means people are free to act coercively on their own. Deontological moral principles are, after all, subjective opinion (usually dressed up as natural law or something). If you’re interested in decreasing violent coercion, how are you going to prevent unscrupulous people from engaging in it without government telling them not to? There will always be someone with a bigger stick. The reason government should have the biggest is because it at least has the permission of the people and acts, in theory, for their collective sake.

        1. But I’m definitely more of a consequentialist, so you’re right it doesn’t carry much weight.

          1. If you were a consequentialist you wouldn’t be a statist.

            I’m a libertarian because I’m a consequentialist. I observe results not stated intentions.

            War on drugs. Fail. Trillions spent.
            War on poverty. Fail. Trillions spent.
            War on terror. Fail. Trillions spent.
            Public education. Fail. Trillions spent.
            Social ‘security’. Bankrupt. Trillions spent.
            Endless ‘stimulus’ programs. Fail. Trillions spent.
            Every ‘jobs’ program ever attempted. Fail. Trillions spent.
            Government intervention in mortgage markets. Fail. Trillions wasted.
            Every single government health care market intervention for 100 years. Fail. Trillions wasted.

            You can’t be a consequentialist Tony if you ignore consequences.

            1. You’ve got to be kidding. I think we can agree at least on the drug and terror wars. But it’s a fact that public school is a failure? And social security? And the stimulus? In my opinion these are all great successes (though they all need major and minor tweaks).

              I don’t know what you’re doing here but it seems like a huge amount of question begging.

              1. “In my opinion these are all great successes”

                That makes you not a consequentialist, but a fucking idiot.

              2. Health care was no more expensive than any other profession before government got involved.

                Public education sucks up more resources than ever before and results are poorer than ever before.

                All those social welfare programs are bankrupt are putting our children into indentured servitude to pay off present goodies for the living.

                Stimulus programs and ‘targeted’ subsidies and bailouts have created much more unemployment.

                You would think the one thing government could do efficiently is destroy jobs. Unfortunately not even that. It’s cost the government about $4000 for each job destroyed.

        2. The problem with deontology in this case is that forbidding government from coercion means people are free to act coercively on their own.

          The problem with that is that they still can and already do act coercively even with the state. All you have done is create a protected monopoly.

          The state is not responsible to protect you. See what happens if you try to sue the state for failing this. You have no recourse.

    5. If you admit that government can be a solution to certain problems, you’d have to realize there is a legitimate debate about the role of government on each and every policy concern.

      Oh don’t worry we understand you Incrementalists. You’ve now got the media parroting that debt is wealth and slavery is freedom. This is exactly why many libs are not inclined to give another inch.

      Just because there are grey areas doesn’t mean black is white.

  53. Summary of “libertarian troubling blind spots” mentality:
    They’re stealing from me.

  54. Having a little government is like having a little slavery.

    1. Wrong, sir! Having the correct amount of government is like having the correct amount of food and water and fire.

      Government is a tool, a social institution we humans use as a tool, just as fire and machinery and … well, you get it. When it’s used appropriately – that is to say, where it is the tool for the job – it is good. Where it is used inappropriately, it’s like burning down the pig barn to get roast pig. Just as we don’t use a welding torch to open the gas cap on our cars, we ought not to use government to “make people equal”. Unlike welding torches, the “bad” – gotta have a short term here; pretend I wrote “inappropriate” okay? – uses of government aren’t immediately obvious in their “badness”. The “bite us in the ass” part is usually long in coming and it isn’t usually “our” assess that get bit, it’s some other poor schmuck. Point is, our solution is to limit government to what seemed at the time to be appropriate uses. We’ve ignored that over the years since. That’s what the fuss is about.

  55. Force = (necessary?)evil
    Government = force
    Less government = good
    Tony = MNG without the advanced degree

    1. Tony (AFAIK) has never supported the execution of innocent people.

    2. Force is not necessarily evil. My problem is with the idea of evil itself. It’s a pretty strong word and should be used judiciously. There are many levels of good and evil. If government forcing you to do something (say, not killing people) is partly evil because of the force, fine, it prevents a much greater evil (rampant murder with impunity). A good tradeoff.

      1. The government doesn’t force someone to not murder. They use force to exact punishment for an evil act. It’s not even good coercion as data indicates that the severity of the penalty doesn’t correlate with the rate at which murder is committed. What has happened is that the murderer has caused damages and is liable for that. The enforcement of that liability is well within the bounds of both libertarian and anarchist ideas, but the legitimate enforcer isn’t necessarily government. It can only be used as justification for government if government is the only agency that could theoretically provide the service. The argument isn’t that force or violence is evil, but the initiation of violence that is evil.

        1. It’s not even good coercion as data indicates that the severity of the penalty doesn’t correlate with the rate at which murder is committed.

          That doesn’t mean that a punishment of sufficient severity isn’t necessary in the first place. Is there data that suggests that murder rates are unaffected by the presence or absence of laws against murder? I find it hard to believe that could be the case.

          At any rate, it requires force to repel a would-be murderer. What legitimizes your use of force and not theirs, except an agreed-upon framework such as laws?

          1. That doesn’t mean that a punishment of sufficient severity isn’t necessary in the first place.

            I never said that, that is the whole liable for damages part.

            At any rate, it requires force to repel a would-be murderer. What legitimizes your use of force and not theirs, except an agreed-upon framework such as laws?

            That would be the initiation part, as long as you believe that you have a natural right to your own life you have the right to defend it from violence.

            1. What if your neighbor believes he has a natural right to kill you and take your things? Sorry, I’m not buying the way of life you’re selling.

  56. There’s evidence that countries that received the least amount, or no amount of Marshall aid money recovered quicker than countries that received a lot of it. You have to show that Europe recovered because of the Marshall Plan and not despite of it.

    Once again, unless you can show that a recovery of Japan brought about by market forces and without US occupation would have been worse I’ll consider this one a wash. Also, considering the fact that it was states that created the mess, I’ll call it a wash.

    Welfare reform is the government easing off, reducing its role. So in this case I’ll agree with the author.

    Spaceships are swell, but you never see where the money could have gone had it been left to the market. Governments tend to go for the wow factor rather than substantial. And the issue of acid rain could have been addressed through the enforcement of property rights through nuisance suits.

  57. Hey. You know what might be the only way to handle situation X?
    Make people behave in way Y under threat of fine/jail/execution.

    And I’m crazy/dumb/cultlike for believing that the number of situations when that scenario is true is small?

  58. William and John,”it’s hard to get anyone who hasn’t already drunk the Kool-Aid to take your opinions on the topic seriously.” No W&J it is hard to take anyone seriously who used the Kool-Aid cliche.

  59. A great topic, but I can’t even follow my own posts anymore.

    Threading absolutely and undeniably sucks.

    1. How can anyone like this abomination on commenting? In small, slow-moving threads, okay, it only sucks horribly, but in threads like this one? I’ve been in riots with more order.

      1. When is the new “vote” on threading after the trial period? Next Tuesday, like in Mass?

        1. Please, God, just make it end.

  60. This article sounds like someone trying to convince me to play three card monte by telling me “you have to play to win”.

    1. I agree, except you should’ve used state lotteries as your example. That’s exactly what Florida tells me about its lottery.

      1. Back when I live in Az, the lottery used the tagline “it’s going to happen to someone”. I had a friend lay that one on my in an argument over the validity of state-sponsed gambling, and I responded that rape, murder, and bugglery was going to happen to someone every day also.

        1. My favorite is, “you can’t win if you don’t play”, well I can’t fucking lose either if I don’t play.

  61. When people question your opposition to big government, you can find things about big government that you agree on like being anti-war and pro-civil liberties. You don’t need to agree with them that big government can sometimes be a good idea to have a discourse. This article is really bad advice.

    1. How is being anti-war and pro-civil liberties part inconsistent with opposing big government, Will?

  62. Amen. Half the Libertarian Party candidates sound like drug-using paranoid survivalists to the public.
    What is the point of running a guy out to get 0.25% of the vote, not debate, and not shape the election? It might make you feel better and give you a reason to complain for 4 years, but IT DOESN’T CHANGE ANYTHING.
    If you could find an amalgam of Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich, you might be getting close to a winner, or at least someone that would GET INVITED TO THE DEBATES for once.

    1. Because, of course, Bob Barr could never win an election. Ever. Even if he ran as a republican.

    2. Oh yeah…the “major” parties would be dying to have such a person invited to the debates. Uh-huh.

  63. Where’s the LP? Where is it when people are probably the hungriest they’ve been for an anti-big-government party? This election should be a huge opportunity. Instead, they’ll sleep through it.

  64. If you could find an amalgam of Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich…

    The Gold Bug from Outer Space.

  65. So how many envelopes have you stuffed today, Pro L?

    1. They can have some of my money if they’ll show they’ll do something productive with it this time.

  66. I agree with the gist of this article and I would add an additional point: corporations are often highly inefficient and dysfunctional. This is why I no longer call myself a libertarian.

    I think libertarians/liberals don’t really understand this type of position though. The liberal view is that government always improves things and is always a good thing. Libertarians are the mirror image: government is always bad, market always good. I would call myself a pragmatarian. I believe that there are a narrow range of problems for which governments are well-suited but that it general government solutions are overused, abused and should be generally avoided where possible.

    To compare it to programming: government is like using global state, it is generally a bad idea but judicious of it can often improve a program.

    1. What the fuck do corporations have to do with the notion that government should be limited to securing the unalienable rights of individuals?

    2. Free markets can produce disasters, but those disaster were the result of free individuals making uncoerced choices.

      Liberals have this quaint notion that government coercion will somehow prevent the disasters from the free market without generating an entirely different set of market disasters.

    3. corporations are often highly inefficient and dysfunctional.

      yeah, i work for one. And you know what? When this joint gets too inefficient and dysfunctional, we’ll go out of business and the productive assets will be sold off and we’ll all have to find new jobs.

      On the other hand, when the government gets too inefficient and dysfunctional, we have to burn the fucking thing down and kill people to effect a change. I think I like the corporate model better.

      1. I thought corporations going out of business was so 2007

    4. “I agree with the gist of this article and I would add an additional point: corporations are often highly inefficient and dysfunctional. This is why I no longer call myself a libertarian.”

      That’s good, because you probably weren’t one to begin with.

      New rule: Whenever corporations are equated with free markets, drink.

      1. In a free market with limited government interference, corporations inevitably rule. I think government should be big enough to be able to suppress any agent foreign or domestic that is doing harm to the people. Corporations can be very big and very powerful. Don’t pretend that they are incapable of doing harm to people.

        1. In a free market with limited government interference, corporations inevitably rule.

          [citation needed]

          I think government should be big enough to be able to suppress any agent foreign or domestic that is doing harm to the people.

          Aside from the obvious fact that this means no logical end to the size and scope of government, what if the government is causing harm? Does it then have to be big enough to suppress itself?

          Corporations can be very big and very powerful.

          Usually, they get that way by colluding with the government. But you don’t seem to acknowledge well-documented phenomena like regulatory capture.

          Don’t pretend that they are incapable of doing harm to people.

          Last time I checked, corporations were made up of people. People do things, not corporations. And all of us well realize people are capable of doing harm.

          1. Well done. You beat me to it.

          2. Aside from the obvious fact that this means no logical end to the size and scope of government, what if the government is causing harm? Does it then have to be big enough to suppress itself?

            Government suppressing itself is normally referred to as checks and balances. It’s not perfect, but nothing is.

            Usually, they get that way by colluding with the government. But you don’t seem to acknowledge well-documented phenomena like regulatory capture.

            Government failure, regulatory capture being an example, of course is possible. Do you admit the same about market failure?

            Last time I checked, corporations were made up of people. People do things, not corporations. And all of us well realize people are capable of doing harm.

            Pedantic point that doesn’t say anything. Fine. People in corporations are capable of doing harm. Just more harm than the average citizen since they have the means of a corporation to do it.

            1. “Do you admit the same about market failure?”

              Markets don’t fail. They correct. They, like all natural processes, strive for equilibrium, which both creates and destroys. Markets are as incapable of failure as gravity, meaning that the concept doesn’t apply.

              “People in corporations are capable of doing harm. Just more harm than the average citizen since they have the means of a corporation to do it.”
              Should read:
              “People in government are capable of doing harm. Just more harm than the average citizen since they have to means of government to do it. And since governments have more power than corporations, they can thus do more harm.”

              1. Not true. Market failure is generally used to refer to an instance where the market can’t/won’t price something correctly usually because of externalities like pollution.

                1. Well, this is my own pet theory, and it’d be a bit complicated to explain in a discussion post, but what is called market failure is really a failure to define what a market is. So, yeah, you’re right about how it’s presently defined. I probably should have kept that to myself for now.

                  1. previous was to kroneborge.

        2. “In a free market with limited government interference, corporations inevitably rule.”

          What’s your reasoning behind this?

          “I think government should be big enough to be able to suppress any agent foreign or domestic that is doing harm to the people.”

          Then it’s probably going to be big enough to define ‘harm’ any way it likes, and thus stands more of a chance of legitimately harming the people since it has a monopoly of control, whereas corporations compete for customers and thus have no incentive to hurt them.

          “Corporations can be very big and very powerful.”

          I am assuming, given the context, that you think that size and power are bad things. Well the government is larger and more powerful than corporations. What now? And to argue that the government is for the people and thus wouldn’t hurt them would be an absurd one, so let’s skip that route completely, shall we?

          “Don’t pretend that they are incapable of doing harm to people.”

          I wasn’t aware that that’s what I was pretending.

        3. A corporation is a construct created by the government to limit the liability of the owners of the corporation to exposure to the consequences of the screwups of the corporation.

          I expect almost all libertarians would love to see corporations go away.

          1. “A corporation is a construct created by the government to limit the liability of the owners of the corporation to exposure to the consequences of the screwups of the corporation.”

            Yeah, that’s true enough, but there are also good things about corporations. That limited liability fosters greater risk-taking, which leads to creation of greater wealth and innovation. Just an example. That said, I’m not 100% behind corporations in and of themeslves. But I think the ‘common knowledge’ that they are all evil or at least damaging is, if nothing else, annoying.

            1. Corporations serve a purpose.

              And did not say ALL libertarians want to get rid of them.

              The question is basically after the miracle occurs and we cut the government back to it legitimate purpose how would corporations fit in?

              1. Oh, I see. Good point. Not sure.

            2. read up on your history – corporations were created to MAKE companies/businesses liable. This happened at around the turn of the century.

              Before incorporation laws they were having trouble prosecuting businesses for payment for damages.

              I’m open to the idea that the laws have now started to favor corporations – but we all have to admit that the legal concept of incorporation for businesses is always going to be necessary. Not having corporations could end up with some screwy consequences, since every single business would be a sole proprietorships and COMPLETELY defined and dependant on its owner. Should entire factories shut down because the owner gets in a car accident and goes in a coma? Should a person be able to take money from a company he owns to pay for damages he personally created? and etc. etc. with the examples

              1. Edwin, I’m fairly certain you’re mistaken in that assertion about why the idea of corporations become popular and/or a common business form. The business corporations derived from the old English charitable corporations – yes and from the chartered towns, but we’re talking about businesses, not former Catholic abbeys and the like – and were for quite a long time in both England and the US only issued by a legislature – e.g. Parliament’s creation of the “Honorable East India Company” or the New York legislature’s creation of the “New York Central and Haarlem River RR” by statute – rather than as it is these days, where it’s a “fill out the form, pay the fee, follow the corporate formalities”. The earliest business corporations were organized to relieve the owners and managers from any personal legal liability for the debts and other liabilities incurred by the corporation. That’s why it was made “a person” in the law. The changes at the end of the 19th Century – which I what I think you’re talking about – were to use the law to solidify the oligarchical position of the major industrial trusts which had been organized to evade personal liability. That position was protected by the various anti-trust acts and establishment of regulatory agencies which handed out permits to existing corporations and made very restrictive rules to protect them from new entrants. Wow. There’s a lot more, but you are mistaken as to the economic history of corporations.

        4. When have corporations ruled this country? They have influence, to be sure, but so do others. And a huge part of their influence is through an overly powerful government.

          I don’t get the idea that businesses are some sort of awful bogeyman. For every evil the business world commits, the government commits six million. It’s not even rationally debatable.

          1. “It’s not even rationally debatable.”

            This is Tony, after all…

        5. Wrong Tony. Look at the first century of America, compared to now. Look at the prosperity in America between the second and third national banks. Prices kept going down and wage earners could afford more stuff. Bankers couldn’t bear it. Hence the Fed.

          ‘Corporate’ power needs and is abetted by Government power.

          We probably agree in large part about the desired goal but you’re ignoring the reality of what happens when government gets big.

          Without an interventionist government corporations have to compete for market share.

          With government they just need a lobby.

          Standard Oil provided cheaper oil than the competition. People were better off with Standard Oil. The competition hated it tho, so they got government to break up Standard Oil.

          And Oil prices went up.

          Similarly I know you probably hate Walmart but the fact is they provide more for less for millions of people. People are better off because of Walmart.

          1. With government they just need a lobby.

            Does it have to be this way? Granted corporations have found ways to control government and grow its size for their purposes, but that attests to the powerlessness of government (relative to corporations), which you want to increase.

            1. This doesn’t make any sense. The powerlessness of government? Good one, buddy.

            2. Why are you statists so retarded? Corporations only have as much power as the government grants them. If the government just stuck to protecting people’s rights, there wouldn’t even BE a place for corporations to lobby.

              In other words – corporations can lobby and change laws only because idiots like you believe government can “do good” and have given it power of economic matters.

              If government had no power over economic matters whatsoever, other than upholding property rights and carrying out liability (reasonably – our current liability is over-the-top e.g. the spilled-McDonalds-coffee-old-lady), then there wouldn’t even BE a place for corporations to lobby.

              There wouldn’t BE anyone to grant subsidies.
              There wouldn’t BE anybody to abuse eminent domain and grant automatic right-of-ways through people’s properties.
              etc.

              Do you get it? Do you freaking get it yet?

              And on top of this, none of this excludes basic safety regulations. If the local code enforcers can make me use a certain maximum stud spacing, does NOT mean that the government must also have the power to give corporations billions of dollars in subsidies.

            3. Hmm what is it with collectivists being thoughtful all at once?

              Regardless as you’re asking reasonable questions I’ll forego gratuitous abuse of collectivists;(

              Yes it has to be this way as soon as people believe government power will be used for them.

              Understand it’s the monied interests that have always been behind expanding government.

              Phony capitilists (which is granted most rich people) don’t want to have to compete fairly. But there’s only one way for them not to do so, use force and there’s only one game in town when it comes to force: Government.

              On very rare occasion that force gets turned on them. But it’s never for long, and it never lats, and in those situations it’s worse for the worker. Look at N Korea, Cuba, Venezuela. (Venezuela probably isn’t a good example, it’s really a typical crony capitalist state). Look at what happened in China and Russia. Both became crony capitlist states in short order. Merely with the trappings of communism.

              I KNOW you’ve read neo communists complain of this very thing. The difference between me and them is I see the real mechanism of crony capitalism. The government. They think they can do it right, THIS time.

              But can’t you look at the US government today and see pretty clearly, if it’s possible at all, which I think is historically, logically, psychologically, and economically indisputably false, the Peoples’ Utopia is NOT in the US future.

              The political (ne artistocratic) class need the capitalist class to maintain their position/lifestyle.

              The more managed an economy is the less wealth it produces. As the dream of the political class is not to be Kim Jong Il or Castro they some small amount of a free economy. They want to be Putin or Obama.

              It didn’t take long after the USSR was formed for the leaders to see that most food was produced on private plots and not on public farms. This was co-opted and generalized, and the oligarchs were born.

              As a collectivist you may be interested in reading de Jasay’s “The State”.

              It’s available in it’s entirety online here:

              http://www.econlib.org/library/LFBooks/Jasay/jsyStt.html

              He’s french and it’s intellectual depth makes it hardly light reading but you might enjoy it. I certainly did, it actually challenged me which I enjoy.

    5. Fuck yeah corporation can be evil. You know how they get that way? Government favors.

  67. The Gold Bug from Outer Space.

    Most highly bitchin’.

  68. “corporations are often highly inefficient and dysfunctional. This is why I no longer call myself a libertarian.”

    Oh yeah? Well did you know that in 1998, Shakespeare in Love beat out Saving Private Ryan for the Oscar? This is why I no longer call myself a libertarian.

  69. Here’s an idea for a lottery that probably already been thought up:
    Once a week, the state puts to death a citizen chosen at random. So in a state like mine, the odds are about 1 to 12 million against that you’ll be the “winner.” But if you buy a lottery ticket, your name is taken out of the hat. Would it generate more revenue than the current state lotteries?

    1. Isn’t this an episode of Sliders?

  70. corporations are often highly inefficient and dysfunctional.

    Or do they dissipate their energies in the pursuit of regulatory capture, making them appear to be inefficient and dysfunctional?

  71. I want to see three-axis flow charts of these threaded comments.

    In color.

    Millions and millions of colors.

  72. According to many libertarians, politicians are corrupt, bureaucrats are lazy, and public unions are a collection of thugs. The whole enterprise of government is a moral cesspool filled with Randian villains scheming to drain every bit of life, cash, and liberty from the noble John Galts of the free market.

    This view is so at odds with the daily experience of millions of Americans that libertarians are easily dismissed by the average citizen.

    Well, no. Non-delusional people who actually experience politicians, bureaucrats, and public unions up close and personal ought to recognize that the first paragraph is spot-on accurate, with limited exceptions.

    1. Couldn’t be that you’re so clouded by ideology that you assume this to be your experience. There are millions of people working at all levels of government who are decent people doing good. Why do you hate the troops prolefeed?

      1. People aren’t evil. At the height of Bush hatred (and I disliked Bush even more than I dislike Obama) I got screamed at by arguing that Bush was still just a guy that loves his family, etc (I went to highschool with his daughters, and they seemed quite loved). It’s the ideology that’s bad, and that led him to such idotic and seemingly ‘evil’ actions. Even Nazis were just regular people under the sway of an ideology. But you can’t justify something because the people that compose it are ‘good people’. And even if Libertarianism is a bad ideology (and it isn’t), it at least would do less harm based on its own principles.

        1. Most People aren’t evil.

          otherwise, carry on.

        2. Dogmas are bad as political worldviews, no matter what. If you aren’t changing your opinion in light of new evidence, and if you believe in a non-pragmatic, all-or-nothing approach to governing, then you’re just not working hard enough at thinking.

          A lot of libertarians I’ve encountered base their entire philosophy of life around a few slogans, such as “government is the problem, not the solution.” They also have a bad habit of cherry-picking historical evidence. If it’s more important to you to hang onto your first principles than getting at the truth, then you’re being dogmatic. If anarcho-capitalist systems proved to result in better societies than mixed economies do, as a pragmatist I’d be forced to support them.

          1. What about using genetics to create a society with genetic castes a la “Brave New World”? I mean as a pragmatist, you should be ok with checking that out and seeing if it works better. How about solving the problem with not having enough energy for everyone by exterminating 75% of the worlds population? That could probably be a pretty efficient solution.

          2. “If anarcho-capitalist systems proved to result in better societies than mixed economies do, as a pragmatist I’d be forced to support them.”

            http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8446994.stm

            and

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somalia

            While neither are perfect anarchies, they’re relatively close. As for what happens when states get closer to totalitarianism:

            http://www.scrapbookpages.com/…..rave03.jpg

            “Dogmas are bad as political worldviews, no matter what. If you aren’t changing your opinion in light of new evidence, and if you believe in a non-pragmatic, all-or-nothing approach to governing, then you’re just not working hard enough at thinking.”

            I used to be a socialist until ‘new evidence’ convinced me otherwise.

            “If it’s more important to you to hang onto your first principles than getting at the truth, then you’re being dogmatic.”

            You misunderstand the nature of knowledge. It all rests on assumptions and first principles. What we conclude as being true is an extension of these things. But I get your point, and I agree. Just remember: not all that disagree with you are close-minded.

          3. The western world ran a real-life experiment with unfettered progressive social constructs from the October Revolution in November 1917 (figure that one out) to start of Peristroika in June 1987.

            The results were less than optimal (I’ve seen them first hand).

          4. as a pragmatist

            Pragmatists are one of the few classes of people that I believe to be inherently evil. The foundation of pragmatism is that end justifies the means.

            1. Doesn’t it sometimes?

              You can’t think of ANY instances, where you might take an unmplesant action because the result would be worth it?

              1. only if it is not a moral question

            2. This is not true at all. Pragmatism says that the consequences of any proposition should be weighed in assessing whether that proposition is true, and that the meaning of a proposition is in its practical consequences.

              Justification is a term of ethics. Pragmatism doesn’t preclude strong moral rules, it just says that the value of moral rules should be assessed according to their consequences to human beings.

              1. “Pragmatism doesn’t preclude strong moral rules, it just says that the value of moral rules should be assessed according to their consequences to human beings.”

                equals

                “The foundation of pragmatism is that end justifies the means.”

            3. in fact pragmatism rejects the ends-means dichotomy in terms of how people should live. Having an “end” to strive toward is the opposite of pragmatic.

              On the other hand, there are innumerable dogmas that have certain abstract ends for which any and all means are justified.

              1. “in fact pragmatism rejects the ends-means dichotomy in terms of how people should live.”

                How so?

                “Having an “end” to strive toward is the opposite of pragmatic.”

                Are you for real?

                “On the other hand, there are innumerable dogmas that have certain abstract ends for which any and all means are justified.”

                Agreed.

                1. Well, it rejects abstractions such as “ends.” If a moral proposition doesn’t result in good consequences, then it’s not useful. No moral rule should be followed as the means to an end (say, heaven or libertopia), but because so doing is justified by the practical outcome of that rule (i.e., an increase in the wellbeing of people).

                  Now, we can’t normally wait for proof when it comes to moral questions. But there is a pragmatic solution: as long as everyone concerned agrees on something and has reason to believe others will follow the same rule, the goal of cooperation if achieved by that fact alone.

                  Sports teams are an analogy. The rules of a game may be more or less arbitrary by themselves, but if the goal is a fair and enjoyable game, all that matters is that everyone understands they have to follow them.

                  1. Well, it rejects abstractions such as “ends.” If a moral proposition doesn’t result in good consequences, then it’s not useful. No moral rule should be followed as the means to an end (say, heaven or libertopia), but because so doing is justified by the practical outcome of that rule (i.e., an increase in the wellbeing of people).

                    So you reject abstract ends such as heaven and replace it with an abstract end “the wellbeing of people”. Who gets to decide what the wellbeing of the people actually is? Which people and how much wellbeing? But you said no moral rule should be followed as a means to an ends, so I have to assume you mean ends that you don’t like.

                    Now, we can’t normally wait for proof when it comes to moral questions. But there is a pragmatic solution: as long as everyone concerned agrees on something and has reason to believe others will follow the same rule, the goal of cooperation if achieved by that fact alone.

                    The flaw here is that we aren’t talking about “everyone concerned” agreeing. This is majority rule which is far more pragmatic since it just coerces the other 49%.

                    Sports teams are an analogy. The rules of a game may be more or less arbitrary by themselves, but if the goal is a fair and enjoyable game, all that matters is that everyone understands they have to follow them.

                    Except that everyone has to play whether they want to or not.

                    1. The wellbeing of people doesn’t have to be an abstraction. There are many quantifiable ways to describe it. The only point of this is that you can’t make up an ethical system in advance. That doesn’t mean it isn’t informed by values (such as we should work to increase the wellbeing of people), just that the practice of it should be informed by experience, and it should be alterable to deal with different problems. Of course this means the idea of what peoples’ welfare is, is itself subject to alteration.

                      Except that everyone has to play whether they want to or not.

                      You really have no idea how whiny and entitled this sounds? Don’t want to play, get off the field. You don’t get to decide what is best for everyone around you without consulting them first. And your mere presence in space affects them in many ways. You don’t really want the ability to opt out of government, you want the ability to do so while still enjoying its benefits. That’s stealing. Because I don’t see a lot of libertarians moving to any of the shitholes with ‘limited government’ in this world.

                    2. “Because I don’t see a lot of libertarians moving to any of the shitholes with ‘limited government’ in this world.”

                      Examples?

                    3. “Well I believe that government not acting in a particular instance still has consequences and still amounts to making a policy choice.”

                      “Couldn’t be that you’re so clouded by ideology that you assume this to be your experience.”

                      “You really have no idea how whiny and entitled this sounds? Don’t want to play, get off the field. You don’t get to decide what is best for everyone around you without consulting them first.”

                      OK, let’s get some things straight. You want to talk about empirical evidence? Of course, since you seem to want to evaluate government policy. Show me a government worker, and I’ll show you a human with a uniform on. Show me a government office, and I’ll show you a building with a flag out front. You show me a law, and I’ll show you a piece of paper with writing on it. How shall we evaluate these things and their effects?

                      You commented earlier that government programs have had positive effects, and other posters disagreed with you. Don’t you think it’s just a bit possible that people are making these judgments according to their own values and beliefs, including yourself?
                      If so, what’s the way to handle such a problem?

                      “Government” is just one idea. Many of us point out the flaws with it, offering our own solutions using reason and debate. You debate back, but when you get frustrated with other people’s value judgments, you essentially say “FORCE is ACCEPTABLE in the defense of this particular idea!” then have the nerve to call others dogmatic?!?

                      If you think that the “wellbeing of people” is a good idea, why not just try to convince more people to help you volunteer? That’s what I do. If my friends don’t want to help, I don’t force them to.

                      Re-examine your three statements I quoted above. Put yourself in my perspective, or at least try to. If you really can’t see the absurdity of your statements as a defense of using force in the name of the government idea, then you are truly the dogmatic one.

    2. It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.

      — Mark Twain

  73. Many conservatives and libertarians come from the world of business. They don’t particularly like government.

    Im my experience, people who come from the world of business are usually fans of government. They like government to be their partner. Washington is full of businessmen, whether in Congress or as lobbiests. And they’re not ANY sort of libertarian.

    I suppose Reasons ownership makes this point difficult to make but businessmen are not libertarians in the main.

  74. In spite of the fact that I am against the militarizing of police, I have only had one bad incident with a cop. All the others were extremely positive.

  75. When Government Was Good: Five Big Projects That Went Swell

    This whole article reads exactly like some I’ve read by neocons waxing lyrical about the glories of the FDR years – “when big government worked!”

    I never thought I’d read the same stuff at Reason though.

  76. Please explain why the Apollo moon landing was such a good idea.

    1. It was cool, nuff said.

    2. We own it?

  77. 1) Only anarchists think all government is evil/wrong. 2) The Founders would consider the current U.S. Government as something close to a tyranny. If it were still only performing the tasks they intended it for there would be very few people who hated it today. 3) The first two items in the list of things the government has done right were necessitated by military conflicts, which falls under its normal responsibilities. Welfare reform should not have been necessary since welfare shouldn’t exist. The moon landings, although great for popular ego, did little material good for the nation. The acid rain can be debated under the neighborhood effect. 4) I’ve never had any problem connecting with people and then showing how, in the societal areas they are concerned, government is an impedance more than a help. The truth is generally a simple thing to convince people of if you get them outside their instinctive reactionary stance.

  78. Untold billions of dollars have been made by people selling Apollo-related stuff. There are even Apollo theme parks. Hardly a day goes by without some sort of science show running tape from the Moon landings. It was and is an entertainment bonanza!

  79. “This way of thinking is deeply misguided, a troubling blind spot that keeps libertarians on the fringe of many policy debates. ”

    Why is it deeply misguided?

    It does keep libertarians on the fringe of policy debates, as the policy being debated is some form of theft and the principled opposition to theft isn’t a tolerable position in the thieves debate club.

    “If you reflect only scorn for government, it’s hard to get anyone who hasn’t already drunk the Kool-Aid to take your opinions on the topic seriously.”

    The Kool-Aid is power. Mao called it correctly – power comes from the barrel of a gun. As Lord Acton correctly noted, power corrupts. Those who have drunk of power and who have corrupted their being with it are not going to take the pure of heart seriously.

    “Democratic Reconstruction in Japan Post WWII. ”

    Replacing one system of theft, corruption, and slavery with another is a reason to support systems of theft, corruption, and slavery? Put down the Kool-Aid, put down the gun (or at least stop waving it around at everyone), and take a few slow deep breaths.

    “The Marshall Plan. Aid to rebuild Europe following WWII. ”

    Robbing and impoverishing Americans in order to put Europe on the dole while ignoring Stalin is a good thing?

    “The Apollo Moon Landings.”

    Yeah, the government put a man on the moon while it failed to teach kids to read despite the huge sums of money spent on literacy programs. Fantastic. A super fancy Coliseum and all the fixings would have been cheaper and provided better entertainment, and might have even encouraged a higher literacy rate as mothers would have nagged their kids “better do good in school or you’ll end up in the Coliseum being eaten by a lion!”

    “1996 Welfare Reform”

    Handing out less loot to some folks while handing out more loot to other folks is a triumph of the power of government?

    “Acid Rain Reduction.”

    So…the government spent decades protecting and even subsidizing pollution and because it finally did something to lessen that outrage we should all sing the praises of taxation and regulation?

    “But holding government in sneering contempt is a misinformed corruption of that sentiment.”

    No, holding government to be a necessary evil or a workable good is a misinformed corruption of the correct sentiment, which is that government is inherently a monopoly on crime which can lead to nothing good.

    1. Its monopoly on force leads to something very good: not being what we call a failed state.

      1. great. So we can be sure that North Korea isn’t a failed state.

        1. Nope. You want the U.S. to be classified as worse than North Korea?

          Or perhaps there are choices between anarchy and absolute dictatorship?

          1. OK you’re clearly drawing conclusions that aren’t there. You know what I meant – don’t be an asshole.

  80. We’re living through a huge expansion of government right now. I’m not sure that “down with the evil anti-government anarchists!” is the most appropriate and useful response, if you want to stop it, but that’s just me.

  81. Pity some faux libertarians don’t realize that ignoring reason to maintain loyalty to free markets is about the worse thing you can do to further the libertarian agenda. It’s an insult to libertarians and serves to promote unnecessary state power.

  82. No sale. The 96 Welfare Reform Act was merely mopping up after a failed government policy which was the creation of the welfare state. The post war efforts were fine but again I would give more credit to free market economics than government.

    The Space Program since Apollo has been mainly a failure. There are thousands of examples of government being incompetent and corrupt than the few meager successes cited here.

    Government has gotten to a size and scope where it is hurting us far more than helping. And yes, small government candidates can and will win.

  83. The observation that liberals are the ones who do all the heavy lifting at the local government level is simply ludicrous.

  84. All VERY good, but I’ll take exception to “Acid Rain Reduction”, since it was proved to never exist and the regulations had no effect whatever on the claimed “Ozone Hole”. The 40:1 benefits are sheer poppycock.

  85. This article makes way too many irrational arguments and too many assumptions against Libertarians.

    “To shrink government, you need to love government.”

    That’s ridiculous. Using the word ‘love’ like that…come on really?? How can you ‘love’ a system that is littered with bad ideas and bad people and that infringes upon your liberty? Does not make any sense.

    “But market-oriented policy prescriptions will also fail if they aren’t well implemented.”

    And true market oriented policies without businesses and government being ‘in bed’ with one another will always allow the next great idea to succeed and the old failing models to go away.

    “Enron exploited design flaws in the legislation to game the system. Competition could work in electricity, but California’s poorly designed “deregulation” was a disaster.”

    This is just wrong on the face of it. When the state of CA created their laws it was specifically designed to be a pay out to the people that supported their campaigns. The new federal laws around testing for lead in toys is the same thing. Mattel pushed hard for those laws to keep the smaller toy manufacturers at bay because they know that smaller businesses cannot incur the same amount of cost as they can. Hence, that gives them an unfair advantage in the market; thanks to a law that panders to people’s fears that their children will die if these elaborate tests are not but into place.

    That nonsense is the primary reason why this country is in the state it is in.

    “Incessant government-bashing may make you feel good, but alienates most everybody who knows and loves a police officer, firefighter, teacher, social worker, anyone who has ever collected an unemployment check, and anyone who saw NASA put a man on the moon.”

    This is a good point but people should not base their opinions on an emotional response to a given political issue because they ‘love’ someone who works for the government. That will never solve anything because bad behavior, lies, and corruption will always get a free pass.

    Again, ‘loving’ a system and blindly putting faith in it allows the people in that system to have unlimited powers. That is bad.

    “Nobody will care what you know until they know you care.”

    Caring about everyone’s liberty is not enough?

    I don’t hate government. But I do want to change it. And calling out people in our government who infringe upon our liberty, lie to us, and commit crimes is not bashing. It’s the truth. And it’s the only way to set us free.

  86. 5 reasons people should hate the state.
    1: They are mass murderers.
    2: They kidnap and imprison millions of innocents for exercising their rights.
    3: They unjustifiably assault and beat people.
    4: They force us to use fraudulent money which they steadily erode for their benefit and society’s detriment.
    5: They systematically rob hundreds of millions of people, on average half of each person’s income.

  87. I see where you’re going. But National Review has got there already. You 2 are the biggest NON-libertarian morons on the planet.

  88. If “libert”arianism were a product, it would have fallen off the edge of the market years ago. The overwhelming majority of people don’t want the full scheme you’re selling, and many of you (though not all) seem unwilling to admit that anything short of full-scale adoption of the full scheme would do any real good. As such, many (though again, not all—I’m liberal, in the modern and better sense of the word, and care more about fairness than about selling my point) of you hold a contempt for your fellow citizens—or as I’ve heard a fair number of you opine, ‘sheeple’—which is thinly veiled if at all.

    Of course, an election is not a market, because (apart from children and prisoners) some people are not privileged to hold much more power than others. One of the differences between us is that I think that this means it superior, as opposed to a system that can allow some people seven orders of magnitude more power than others on the basis of their skill (George Soros), inherited wealth (Howard Ahmanson II), or both (Wm Gates III). Basically, I believe that any single system of assessing human value (as with the value of anything) is inadequate across all domains, and should be governed by our good sense, informed (obviously!—who could possibly disagree?) by the rationalist secularist atheist values common to my rachmones-rich corner of the Enlightenment.

    (How am I different? My social-democratic views are not shared by most Murkins, but I believe them to be expressing their class-interests as they have been misled to perceive them—as such, I respect their doing so, though I wish they’d wise-up and stop. [I _have_ seen real contempt for the masses well to the Left of me, which is extremely stupid, as they’re much more determinist than I.] As someone who doesn’t trust any market to be optimal at all times, I’m not disturbed that our political such is not so. Also, since I have political beliefs instead of a simple algorithm that works perfectly in all situations at all times, I am both willing to see that some good would ensue from some parts of what I hold’s success in the political market, AND am capable of being wrong, which is a power which has seemingly eluded many of the LPs I’ve met.)

  89. Given the fact that government is essentially a monopoly on the use of force, and always demands a piece of your property whether you desire the services of government or not, I’m greatly saddened by the appearance of this article in Reason. As some previous poster rightfully pointed out, this is why LewRockwell.com is superior; it doesn’t fall for the illusion that a system that operates on threats of force for its income could result in a better society. In fact, it sets a precedent for worse things to come.

    There is only one problem with Libertarian Anarchism, and it isn’t so much a problem as a challenge: Educating the masses on the importance of property right theory, on homesteading, its protection, and how to resolve conflicts peacefully. Libertarian Anarchism is by no means a world without rules as many miniarchists claim; it is a world without monopolies. And that means no state.

    If the state violates our property rights by its very existence and means of generating income (threats of force via taxes, forced annexation, etc), why should we expect it to enforce anything? That’s like expecting the fox to protect the hen house.

  90. Tyranny is evil. To say that the founders thought they could construct a government based on some level of consent (not to include meaningful consent by women, black slaves, natives, or non-property-owners) is not to say that they embraced tyranny.

    The current USA government is tyranny and should be destroyed. It has declared war on the American people with the war on drugs and the war on terror. It has violated every right in the constitution, including the enumerated rights in the Bill of Rights, as well as many non-enumerated ones generally available at the time of the founding fathers.

    What it has not done is to create a sustained presence in space based on economic activity. Putting men on the Moon was not an achievement, it was a stunt. Like building government financed supersonic passenger aircraft, it worked for a little while, and is now gone.

    Fly me to the Moon? A Russian company is offering flights for up to six passengers at $100 million each for a trip around the Moon and home.

    What has NASA done for me lately? Blown up two batches of astronauts in two shuttle failures, failed to build the Reagan promised space station in ten years from 1994, nor for $8 billion, and destroyed Beal Aerospace among many other entrepreneurial companies.

  91. This is the worst article I’ve ever read in Reason. The whole point of using reason is to understand not just the short-term, but the long-term consequences of any position. To believe that we should act pragmatically in each case, that is to simply accept whatever new initiative government decides to embark on, is, to but in bluntly, the position of one who would rather not think. Governments continue to systematically grow everywhere with no sign of abating. Perhaps it is time to reason about the efficacy of governments in general, the alternatives available (Hoppe has an excellent book addressing this question: Democracy: The God that Failed), and then pragmatically map out the quickest way from here to there. Anyone who does not acknowledge the current failures, and I mean the long-term historical tendency of all governments to abuse their power, is part of the problem. These are the people that, in every age, accept the world as given. The world does not change thanks to such people; they are the ghosts of every history book, the boring statistics that never garner more than a histogram with pretty colors. So, Reason, please go back to doing what you do best; leave the rest of the magazines to coddle their readers to a sound sleep. I prefer to understand, rather than rationalize, my world: that’s why I read this magazine.

  92. Even though I consider myself a Constitutionalist with strong leaning towards libertarianism, I’m insulted by the assumption that Libertarians are anti-government. Libertarians are not anarchists simply for recognizing our government routinely encroaches upon and even violates our liberties. Such a mistaken assumption as when made in such a way as can appear to be false accusation, in being such it is in my opinion offensive, misleading, and to my knowledge, in not helpful or constructive in any way.

    As for “hate” towards government, or just hate in general, it’s been my experience from those Libertarians I’ve interacted with that more so than other groups, rational thinkers are present in greater numbers percentage wise. For myself when judging others an attribute that serves as a clear indicator of reasoned and rational thought processing is the individuals ability to set emotion aside to prevent contamination of the process and skewing of the output. No group is homogenous, but implying Libertarians have hate issues is like saying Emos shouldn’t fear letting their emotions show. There’s just no basis in ordinary reality for such a generalized claim even if it is true for a few, that would make it the exception to the rule. If we judge groups by these exceptions we should all lock ourselves in prison now, because a few humans commit series of brutal murders.

    Furthermore, personal opinion was given concerning party popularity without offering evidence in support of the opinion. I too have opinion on that subject and it differs considerably. While my opinion may, or may not, be more valid, if asked I could easily offer more supporting evidence than anyone sane would ever care to read. So accurate or not it should be obvious considerable thought was involved in formulating the opinion, as opposed to intuitive species of opinion that leaves one wondering if thought was even involved in the origins of the feces in question at all.

  93. The only people “drinking kool-aid” are you crazy statists with your fantasies of efficient bureaucracies and religious notions about how the broken window fallacy can be dodged with the proper magic spells and incantations (known to you by the occult word “legislation”, I gather).

    Not my problem really, you keep doing your rain dances, I’ll keep laughing : )

  94. Wow, guys and gals! What a great discussion or several discussions actually!! Now if the “threaded threads” issue could just be fixed … say, how about a forum. I can set up phpBB and …. heh. Just a joke.

  95. Nice link there to If We Can Put a Man on the Moon: Getting Big Things Done in Government.

    So Nick Gillespie’s using Vista or Windows 7 on his computer and he uses Outlook and IE? Is 319 his office number?

    Anyone looking for the real link can try If We Can Put a Man on the Moon: Getting Big Things Done in Government.

  96. “I don’t want to make government work better, I want it to go away” is the typical response. Government, in their view, is the enemy.

    This way of thinking is deeply misguided, a troubling blind spot that keeps libertarians on the fringe of many policy debates.

    If you believe in the natural right to be secure in your own person and in your own peacefully acquired property, government is the enemy.

    Those of us who view government as institutionalized theft, slavery, and murder on a mass scale naturally don’t want to be in any policy debates, if the range of available policies include how to best divide up the stolen loot.

  97. Government is a fat-fingered lummox–very good at forcing particular outcomes, but incompetent at juggling tradeoffs.

  98. A well reasoned article. At last.

  99. Government is often more efficient than private business once you take externalities into play.

    You dumb fucks don’t understand the concept of an externality and so you espouse a political-economic philosophy that is inherently inefficient and UNREASONABLE.

  100. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there’s more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I’m not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It’s just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight…the Bible’s books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on…the Bible’s books were written by people with very different mindsets…in order to really get the Books of the Bible, you have to cultivate such a mindset, it’s literally a labyrinth, that’s no joke.

  101. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there’s more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I’m not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It’s just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight…the Bible’s books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on

  102. As for “hate” towards government, or just hate in general, it’s been my experience from those Libertarians I’ve interacted with that more so than other groups, rational thinkers are present in greater numbers percentage wise. For myself when judging others an attribute that serves as a clear indicator of reasoned and rational thought processing is the individuals ability to set emotion aside to prevent contamination of the process and skewing of the output. No group is homogenous, but implying Libertarians have hate issues is like saying Emos shouldn’t fear letting their emotions show. There’s just no basis in ordinary reality for such a generalized claim even if it is true for a few, that would make it the exception to the rule. If we judge groupsreplica omega replica IWC by these exceptions we should all lock ourselves in prison now, because a few humans commit series of brutal murders.

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