Politics

Luck and Virtue in America and Haiti

Understanding the impact of the Haitian earthquake

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We sit in the shade of trees we did not plant.—Peter Raible

Most Haitians may have never cut down a tree, but just as we enjoy trees someone else planted, they suffer from the absence of trees their forebears destroyed or didn't plant. Haiti is a desperately poor place plagued by rampant corruption, bad government, and violence, and it always has been.

Not coincidentally, it also has few trees: Less than 4 percent of the country is forested. That compares with more than a quarter in the Dominican Republic, with which Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola. Deforestation is economically debilitating, depriving the country of a valuable renewable resource. It's also environmentally harmful, because it fosters soil erosion, flooding, and desolation.

I look after the trees in my yard, making sure they get water, checking them periodically for signs of distress, and getting them treated as necessary. Such care may be virtuous on my part, but I can't claim much credit for the trees around my house or my leafy suburban community. They owe their existence mostly to people who came before me.

There is no question that our society is superior to Haiti's in almost everything that touches on human well-being. Americans need not feel bashful about acknowledging this fact. But we should resist the temptation to assume that because we on average are more productive, disciplined, future-oriented, and law-abiding than Haitians, we as individuals are somehow superior to them.

Our society achieves those qualities because it rewards them. If Haitian society did the same, Haitians would develop them as well. Placed in the appalling conditions that afflict most Haitians, we would not necessarily do better than they do, and we might well do worse.

Americans tend to regard themselves as masters of our own destiny, which is partly true and highly useful to believe. We often forget that most of what allows us to succeed was bequeathed by history: a stable, democratic government based on the rule of law; a dynamic economic system rooted in personal freedom and secure property rights; a tradition of self-reliance and individual responsibility; and a faith in our capacity for progress.

We can congratulate ourselves on preserving those assets. But it's a lot harder to create such valuable commodities than to preserve them. It's especially hard for people who come into this world with the cruel, overwhelming handicaps borne by the people of Haiti. While our past is a blessing, theirs is a burden.

How to lift Haitians out of misery is an enduring puzzle. U.S. intervention, undertaken periodically for nearly a century, hasn't worked. Foreign aid, of which Haiti has gotten billions over the past 20 years, has failed. Left-wing despots haven't led the way to salvation, and neither have right-wingers.

One of the poorest countries on Earth—far poorer than even its communist neighbor, Cuba—most of its people live on less than $2 a day. Two years ago, the Associated Press reported that in the slums, some people were often reduced to an unusual local staple: cookies made of salt, vegetable shortening and … dirt. They sold for a nickel apiece.

Haiti is also one of the worst-governed nations, with laws that are generally ineffectual and most power wielded by a few wealthy families, paramilitary groups, drug lords, and other criminals. Barely a country, it is no more governable than, well, an earthquake.

A 2006 report by the National Academy of Public Administration noted, "The international donor community classifies Haiti as a fragile state—the government cannot or will not deliver core functions to the majority of its people… Others have variously characterized Haiti as a nightmare, predator, collapsed, failed, failing, parasitic, kleptocratic, phantom, virtual or pariah state." In short, it is a plague that dwarfs the worst natural disaster, even while it magnifies the destructive power of such events.

This bleak condition should not really be blamed on the people who happen to have been born Haitian. They inherited a world they didn't make and have only minimal capacity to change. That's their misfortune. We did the same, with far happier results.

As Americans, our virtues are important, particularly in the long run. Haiti could benefit from cultivating them. But before we congratulate ourselves, we should remember that we owe our greatest debt to our immense good luck.

COPYRIGHT 2010 CREATORS.COM

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  1. Good Morning reason!

  2. “The international donor community classifies Haiti as a fragile state?the government cannot or will not deliver core functions to the majority of its people?

    How does this turn a situation “bleak”? I’d prefer a response from any individualist or libertarian standpoint, or even *grnng* objectivist, but I’d rather skip any “international donor community” points of view.

    1. Well, let’s see…if a government could not or would not provide the basic things a proper government should be providing (ethical courts, non-criminal police, politicians not out simply to rob from the citizenry, etc.), I can damn sure see how things would get bleak pretty quick….

      1. Are you talking about Haiti or the USA?

      2. If you’ve got UN troops patrolling your country for years on end, the situation *is* bleak.

  3. “I look after the trees in my yard, making sure they get water, checking them periodically for signs of distress, and getting them treated as necessary”

    sing to em too treehugger?

    🙂

    1. I always suspected he was a Na’vi.

    2. What is wrong with hugging trees? You should try it some time.

  4. It occurs to me that the “Pingback” above – apparently triggered merely by the inclusion of the word “rewards” in the article – is only slightly less pointless than the article itself.

    I suspect that Chapman felt obliged to write something about Haiti, but didn’t really have anything substantive to say. Or is there a point I’m missing?

    1. It’s all about the unobtanium (Uo) and this smokescreen of an article is more proof of that.

    2. The pingback above is entirely related to spammers gaming google with “Search Engine Optimization”…

  5. and have only minimal capacity to change

    Not buying that.

    1. Me neither. Without giving some concrete reason why this would be, it comes off like the worst kind of liberal paternalism.

      1. Here’s an interesting thought experiment. Could you, if born in a situation where you have no education, no material resources, no access to resources, a government that routinely takes whatever it can and systematically deprives the populace of any sort of infrastructure, life yourself out of that misery by your own bootstraps? I think that’s rather the point of this. Although we’d all like to think that we’d be like the hero of invictus (“head bloodied but unbowed”), most of us would shrivel up like little pansies when faced with the obstacles almost anyone in Haiti faces on a daily basis.

        It’s hardly unlibertarian to point out that the power of the individual is severely hampered by a complete lack of any semblance of good governance or functioning rule of law.

        Whether it fits with our myths or not, we are standing on the shoulders of giants. We can squander that easily enough, and once it’s gone, it’s hard to build back up.

        Let’s look at it another way: if they folks could change their circumstance in the face of their obstacles, why haven’t they? Surely they don’t like eating dirt cakes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

        It’s hardly paternalistic to point out that there are tremendous structural obstacles to Haitians trying to better themselves. WHat you do about them is another matter.

        1. Damn, no offense to Steve Chapman, but I think your post was better than the article.

        2. What you’ve described is exactly why there is such a large Haitian ex-pat population in the US.

          The best you can do for yourself and your family when the government is intent upon stealing everything of value is to leave.

          1. don’t I know this!
            +1 Untermensch.

        3. we really can’t say what we want to say.

          Haiti is a Mad Max sequel because the tinkering of the UN and the US constantly make it so.

          The only time we pay attention to it is when it is a dramatic major disaster rather then when it is simply a major disaster. And so we send aid which perpetuates ill government and retards the grass roots creation of the institutions of wealth and stability.

          If not now when will we leave Haiti alone so Haiti can fix itself?

        4. I blame Pat Robertson.

        5. I agree, but …
          The environment the Haitians live in is a product of Haitian culture.

          You can’t just declare all Haitians innocent victims of an amorphous system that oppresses them. That system didn’t just pop out of the ether, and it wasn’t imposed by an evil demon either – voodoo style or foreign imperialist style. The Haitians created it.

          1. You are making too much sense.
            I like how people like to say that they are standing on the shoulders of giants, but when you point out that others are standing on the shoulders of midgets or, worse yet, in quicksand, then you are labelled a racist or displaying your western civilization bias.
            We should take Haiti over and make it a commonwealth. Those who stand to lose are the top 0.1% who were in power.

  6. Maybe you can get Obama to write an article on Haiti for you.

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  9. Why not make a surge? Or do a surge. Make a surge happen.

    1. Could use all those illegal Haitian immigrants that we are not returning just yet.

      1. It would be so easy. First, get a trillion dollars…

  10. I vaguely remember an Ayn Rand question toward those who complained that they were born into a world they hadn’t made: Why didn’t you?

    1. Because it’s hard to get much done before you are born.

    2. Also, it you want to make a world, it helps if you have some resources to start with. If you’re reduced to eating dirt cakes, chances are that there simply is not the stuff to make that world with. Of course, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, but excuse me if I have some sympathy for those who try and simply have nothing to work with.

      1. None of which is to excuse any of use from trying or to argue that we should be paternalistic and take care of people (versus providing them with the means to take care of themselves).

      2. “If you’re reduced to eating dirt cakes”

        Isn’t Haiti a country on the ocean?

        Teach a man to fish…

  11. The Haitians continue to accept things as they are because they cannot envision a different way. If we really want to help Haiti, we should sponsor the creation of schools for their children and train the next generation of their leaders in the merits of civil government, individual liberty, and property rights. I can’t see anything else being anything other than new curtains on a condemned house.

    1. You mean they’re stupid.

      1. Hey, everyone’s ignorant in some ways.

    2. How about we show them Avatar?

    3. Perhaps this society is totally worthless because it is a black society. Can we say this?

      1. Wow, brilliant train of thought. Yeah, the only black republic in the Western Hemisphere, which was created by a slave-led rebellion and whose growth was completely hampered by the international community is completely worthless. Yep

    4. The way problems like Haiti were historically solved was for their neighbors to invade them and annex them, and impose a functioning government upon them.

      At some point in the past nearly every European country, as well as China and Japan, was a collection of warring kingdoms. Until one of them managed to conquor the rest. Eventually the people of these warring kingdoms identified themselves as “German” or “Chinese” or whatever. Local alleigances persist, but have faded.

      Our modern obsession with national “sovreignty” prevents this from happening. National identity is a social construct. The Haitians would almost certainly be better off if the Dominican Republic or some other country simply annexed them. But the belief that there is an entity called the “Haitian people” which has some sort of collective right to a separate government makes that unthinkable. Even though the idea of “Haitianness” exists only in our heads. Most actual people living in Haiti have demonstrated a repeated desire to live under some other government, by fleeing the isle en masse in boats whenever possible.

      Yet still, the idea of someone coming in and taking over the place is verboten.

      Honestly I’m not advocating that we invade them. I just wouldn’t interfere if someone else chose to do so.

      1. I think Trujillo tried to do this with the Parsley Massacre but he may have also intended to wage genocide and the US called for him to back off.

  12. Good morning all, Happy Dr. Martin Luther King Day.

    1. Happy Doc King Day to you, too LM.

      1. In my businesses, today is a paid holiday for the staff. I do not give my staff a paid holiday for Labor day-
        I’m the boss and company policies, at least in part, reflect the boss’ outlook on life.

        Although I do have problems with Dr. King’s redistribution of wealth advocacy, he does hold a special place in LM’s heart for his willingness to confront real racism and his courage. IMO, his defiance of the state deserves to be applauded. He did what the kid in front of the tank in Tianamen square did a thousand times.

    2. Little known fact: Only mandatory holiday at the DC Reason office.

    3. I knew a guy who was unhappy when congress so honored MLK. He said, “Well, I guess I’ll take another holiday. But I’ll call it Booker T. Washington Day.”

  13. Here’s what to do: Establish a beachhead of freedom – a free trade zone that is completely free from the Haitian government, fenced and guarded by some serious force (I think the Gurkhas are underemployed these days). Set up housing and schools and invite companies to set up assembly lines and invite any Haitians willing to work entry with their children. If they work they get paid and a residence card, of not, they get the boot.

    If this is successful, grow it and continue to do so until everyone in Haiti belongs to this new society — conquer the island. In a generation or so Haiti should be a much more prosperous place.

    If it does not work then, yes, we can blame the Haitians for their misfortune.

    1. I like the way you think, KHAAAAAAAAAAN

    2. Seriously excellent contribution to alleviating the disaster.

      Hey, if you email it to the White House you might get to sit next to Michelle at the SOTU!

    3. I, Kahn O’Clast, It’s been done: Dominican Republic

    4. Something tells me that the socialist response to the overwhelming prosperity in your beachhead of liberty would not be “oh, well, I guess you’re right, I’ll go get a job”, but rather “WAHHH, THE EVIL CORPORATIONS ARE IGNORING THE PLIGHT OF THE DOWNTRODDEN! WE *DESERVE* SOME OF THAT!”….and the video of Gurkhas shooting poor people at the gates would not play well on the 5o’clock news….

  14. Oh man…Monkee and That Chick from Ohio. Is it just me or has it been along time since either of you have left a comment on these hallowed forums? Ohio, I think it’s the former, not the latter.

    1. Artie – may I call you Artie? – it HAS been a while, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not just you.

  15. Is there now, or has there even been, a Haitian libertarian student group, a free market think tank, a pro-freedom political party? Change has to come from within Haiti (unless America wants to take over – 51st state or Puerto Rico type deal.)

    1. I would love to set this up. Seriously, that is a good idea

  16. VENEZUELA’S CHAVEZ ORDERS NATIONALIZATION OF EXITO, OWNED BY FRENCH COMPANY:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/…..inesEurope

    1. Big fucking deal. He nationalized one of our steel mills months ago and I didn’t hear a peep out of you. Or the french, for that matter.

      1. Bullshit.

      2. I didn’t hear about that one… Lame.

  17. Don’t worry, comrades, I’ll fly down and make a powerful speech, a hope-and-change cure-all oratorical elixir for every occasion.

  18. “Americans tend to regard themselves as masters of our own destiny, which is partly true and highly useful to believe. We often forget that most of what allows us to succeed was bequeathed by history: a stable, democratic government based on the rule of law; a dynamic economic system rooted in personal freedom and secure property rights; a tradition of self-reliance and individual responsibility; and a faith in our capacity for progress.”

    Yes, because the Secret Cabal That Runs America is responsible for all these things, and we should be all thankful for them. What the hell kind of a moron writes this paragraph? “History” didn’t bequeath us these things; our parents did! And their parents bequeathed it to them! And so on. It wasn’t some vague, mysterious force that’s preserving American culture, which despite its many faults is still the country that supports human liberties the most. It was PEOPLE acting responsibly. People who were willing to throw off the greatest military force in the world at the time, who then decided on freedom in economics and politics as the way to run their new country, and who have been stubbornly safeguarding that ever since. Don’t claim it was some nebulous force like “society” or “history”. Don’t dehumanize it and make people think it is just the way it always was and always will be. It’s personal sacrifice and responsibility (a word that used to mean something to libertarians!) that’s gotten us the country we have, not some abstract concept. Any single generation could have pissed away the American dream, and not even the Woodstock generation did. And until people in other countries realize this, that America is the way it is not because we’re somehow gaming the system but that we are fighting every single day to preserve our way of life rather than descending into cronyism and fueling totalitarian urges, it’s their own goddamn fault. Yes, even the Haitians. The early American colonists were poor as hell too. It didn’t stop them from championing liberty.

    Governments, markets, cultural values, and institutions do not preserve themselves. They are completely artificial constructs (with the exception of markets, however free markets are artificial constructs) that can easily collapse if people do nothing to uphold them. They require the vigilance of the general population in order to be maintained.

    1. *Nice* rant.

      Especially Any single generation could have pissed away the American dream.

      1. Yeah, even the Obamasocialists can’t handle the general public telling them to fuck off. Coming soon to a polling place near you.

    2. Don’t be a jackass thenino85. You know damn well the difference between the colonization of people who CAME from a society that had all the elements for success and those who were brought out as slaves, given no rights and had any societal construct bred out of them.

      1. They’ve had a couple of humdred years to outgrow their history of slavery.
        Haiti’s revolution happened in 1805.

    3. there is too much of the collective “we” in your little rant.
      you do realise that many european countries are pretty similar to the US?

    4. My problem with this rant is that Chapman was not positing some sort of superorganic “history” responsible for this, and he was pretty clear about that, even if you somehow missed it. When he talked about trees, those were trees that people planted: “They owe their existence mostly to people who came before me.” If you have a better term for the sum of the actions of those who have gone before us than “history,” I’d really like to hear it. I’m sorry he didn’t have space in a short article to outline a theory of historiography suitably clear to you, but he gave you enough clues to know that your reading of it is not what he had in mind, that it is not some sort of mechanical determinism.

      We are not totally divorced from history and our present position, while not absolutely determined by it (we can and do change it), is heavily influenced by it. It should be blindingly obvious that those of us in the U.S. have very different choices than those born in Haiti or elsewhere, and that those choices are determined in part by the choices of those who have gone before. No need to posit “Secret Cabal That Runs America” or “nebulous force[s]” for that, even if the term history is used. Again, Chapman talked about those who planted trees and did other things, not something out there…

      Throughout our history we have been headed mostly in the right direction, and we do have tremendous advantages as a result. The Haitians, through no fault of present generation, who were born into their circumstances, do not have the benefit of that kind of history of good governance and everything else we take for granted. To help them out requires that their historical trajectory change from bouncing off the bottom to angling upwards.

      Your statement that “[a]ny single generation could have pissed away the American dream” actually fits nicely with Chapman’s thesis: in Haiti’s past (i.e., history) these dreams were pissed away (by PEOPLE, if it makes you feel better), and as a result, those in the present suffer. They need to change it, but your rant and refutation really doesn’t contradict Chapman’s point.

    5. Agreed.
      I wish there was some easy way to teach Haitians the virtues of these things, so they can create a better environment for the next generation, but I think their culture has entrenched some values that are directly contradictory.

    6. To thenino85

      Well put.

  19. What an appropriate targeted advertisement on the right: a fat chick with the tagline “1 Trick of a Tiny Belly”.

  20. This bleak condition should not really be blamed on the people who happen to have been born Haitian. They inherited a world they didn’t make and have only minimal capacity to change. That’s their misfortune.

    Now Newsweek readers know who Obama’s ghost writer will be. It’s all about good fortune. It’s really no different than the “disadvantaged” here in the States. If you are born poor in this country, you’re merely disadvantaged and can’t be expected to have any capacity for change. More importantly, your “disadvantaged” parents cranking out offspring despite the capacity for the financial responsibility that accompanies having children certainly don’t bear any responsibility. Ah, and the cycle continues.

    People don’t just happen to be born. People make decisions, informed or otherwise, to have children. I guess you are just either born with good fortune or not. It just happens, without any explanation.

  21. I’m a treehugger. I like my trees.

  22. “It’s especially hard for people who come into this world with the cruel, overwhelming handicaps borne by the people of Haiti. While our past is a blessing, theirs is a burden.”

    I can agree with this. My heart truly goes out to the people of Haiti.
    I don’t have the answer as to how they can be uplifted from this bleak situation- yet an answer must exist.

    1. They had a promising start, as a nation of slaves who rose up and overthrew their masters….unfortunately, they had no sense of entrepreneurship, and they had the misfortune of having a bigger neighbor who embraced the Monroe Doctrine.

      See earlier comments, especially the one about creating a Hong Kong-style beachhead, for a libertarian response to the problem.

      1. If any imperial power can be blamed for Haiti’s problems, it’s not the US, it’s France.

  23. That’s some tasty rant there, thenino85.

  24. Chapman felt obliged to write something about Haiti, but didn’t really have anything substantive to say.

    That pretty well sums up most of Chapman’s work.

  25. …laws that are generally ineffectual and most power wielded by a few wealthy families, paramilitary groups, drug lords, and other criminals.

    And when libertarians take control, American too can know this freedom.

    1. “laws that are generally ineffectual”

      Sounds more like a socialist paradise….witness Zapatero’s stated desire to criminalize failure.

    2. As opposed to now when laws are generally ineffectual and most power is wielded by a few wealthy families, paramilitary groups (LEO, anyone?), drug lords, and other criminals (Congress).

    3. Yes, Tony… Because when libertarians “take control” (generally an oxymoron to begin with), we will make sure that all the laws benefit a few wealthy people. That’s what we’re all about… Cause, you know what? We like the way things are now.

      Dolt.

  26. The US became independent roughly around the same time as Haiti, but the fact that the former was born of reasonably educated colonists while the latter of conscripted laborers seems to be lost on a bunch of people.

  27. “Placed in the appalling conditions that afflict most Haitians, we would not necessarily do better than they do, and we might well do worse.”

    This is where libertarianism falls apart. People are simply not born equal. When you do place Haitians in better conditions – in New York, Quebec or France – they do worse than other immigrant groups. There is no blank slate. An island of Chinese, Swedish or Punjabi slaves would never have degraded to the level of modern Haiti. It’s not a coincidence that the only countries in the world exhibiting the same level of poverty and disfunction as Haiti are all in sub Saharan Africa.

    Sure, it’s stupid to blame Haitians for being born in a situation they have no control over, but it’s also a pipe dream to suggest that there’s any free market solution for lifting an overcrowded island of low IQ people out of poverty. On a level playing field Haitians simply cannot compete equally. But I’d like to see “I, Kahn’s” free trade zone solution tried – I’d love to be proved wrong. Treating Haitians as “special needs” people until the end of time is clearly not working either.

    1. Racist.

      1. This is why the ironic “Racist!” comments bug me. Here’s an actual racist comment, and now calling the commenter out on that is ineffectual.

        That, and that it has never been funny.

        1. Are you suggesting that claiming that people of African decent are genetically inferior is racist?

          1. I don’t think it was a suggestion…It was a statement in fact.

            Dominican Republic have the same genetic stock as Haiti. So it is not only racist but a statment of intentional ignorance.

            Dominican Republic/Haiti is a text book example of why the racist explanation does not work. And yet dipshit Peter A goes head first into it.

        2. Really? I think it’s doubly funny when it’s actually true….

        3. So what happens if it turns out the racists are, er, right? Do we keep sweeping the unpleasant reality under the rug?

          Equality may perhaps be a right, but no power on earth can ever turn it into a fact.
          –Honore de Balzac

          1. Because there have never been any successful Haitians….oh, wait…
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L….._Americans

            1. Do you understand what a standard deviation from the mean means? I know a woman who’s 6’6″ and can kick my ass in basketball. Should I extrapolate from that that most women play basketball just as well as men?

              1. Should we extrapolate obvious physical differences into intellectual ones?

                It’s non-controversial to state that there are physical differences between the various races, differences which can be explained by the environment they were historically adapted to.

                However, modern geneticists are loathe to extend those differences into areas of intelligence and culture. A simple look at adopted children will prove your hypothesis wrong.

                1. Actually adopted children tend to prove the opposite – this is, sadly, why even PC white liberals run to China to get children rather than adopting American black children or American white trash children.

                  1. Actually, being related to some “white liberals” who “ran to China to get children”, it is because China had a much easier process for adoption than the US. Far less investigation to see whether you were a desirable, heterosexual couple.

                    And they had a rather large surplus of girls available, due to the “One child” policy.

                    Sadly, this is no longer the case, as China realized that shipping all of its girls overseas and having a generation of only boys was a terrible idea.

                    1. As bad as I feel for the countless Chinese men who will never know the experience of having a girlfriend, I cannot help but find it a little bit hilarious that the Chinese government didn’t seem to realize that this would be a problem for them.

                    2. I cannot help but find it a little bit hilarious that the Chinese government didn’t seem to realize that this would be a problem for them.

                      I think the better analysis is the Chinese government did not care that it was a problem for the little people. I bet members of the party do not have any trouble getting some tail.

                  2. why even PC white liberals run to China to get children rather than adopting American black children or American white trash children.

                    In what world do you live in where White trash American Children do not get adopted? They go to China because all the Black American and white trash American children have already been adopted. The demand for adoptable orphans in the US far outstrips the supply.

                    1. Thanks. When I went running to China get my daughter, most of the people there adopting were midwestern evangelicals. Oh, and it’s nobody’s fucking business why I chose to adopt from China.

    2. Peter A, another jackass remark: “low IQ people”. When immigrants come from similar societies they tend to amalgamate rapidly but it most often takes at least one generation,if not two. The fact that Haitians live in disaster and are still alive suggest that they have a higher IQ than people who live in a society without survival challenges.

      1. Reproduction does not imply intelligence.

        Sorry, I reject the notion that Haitians (or anyone else of African descent) are somehow genetically inferior, but your argument doesn’t hold water.

        1. The cutting edge of genetics is discovering that there are indeed major genetic differnces between races.

          1. Show us a paper which purports to find a genetic link to intelligence or productivity, that cannot be explained by culture or environment.

              1. No, I’m not going to read the $102 book. Sorry, I just don’t care to spend that kind of loot on a book.

                But getting back to your point about James Watson, his main argument was that “we shouldn’t expect intelligence to evolve in the same way in geographically disparate areas”.

                Which, despite all of the furor surrounding it, isn’t that outrageous of a comment to make. However, even Watson admits that no genes have been found that are concretely linked to intelligence. He supposes that within the next 15 years, we will find them, but we have not found them yet.

                Furthermore, it points to the nature of the IQ tests themselves, something which sociologists have been screaming about for many years. The relative IQ scores of various people says less about them than it does about the test itself. IQ tests a specific set of mental abilities, but does not test the entire spectrum of intelligence. Some attempts have been made to address this, such as the “EQ” test.

            1. Somehow I got on a mailing list of some sort of white-supremicist group about a decade ago. They sent me a reasonably well produced book advocating genetic linkages of physical strength and intelligence to races. Although they gussied it up, they basically said that blacks were big, dumb folks ideally suited for manual labor, while white folks were physically weaker but much smarter and better suited to abstract thinking and invention, while Asians were supposed to be weak like whites and more clever in mechanical skills, etc. They had all sorts of charts and photos to prove their points (including, of all things, pictures of erect Anglo-American and African-American penises that were supposed to show differences in the angle of erection to prove Cthulhu only knows what). I don’t care what the charts and so forth looked like, it was still racist crap of the vilest sort.

              I’ve never known how I got on their list, except that I was subscribed to Reason and National Review (a gift subscription from a family member) at the time, so one or other sold their list to these troglodytes.

              1. Could you send me those pictures? I need them for research purposes.

              1. Try again, your url is broken.

          2. Shhhh! Don’t wake the children!

            1. I must congratulate you, as that link totally hoses my Firefox, for some unknown reason. 150% CPU utilization, according to top.

              Does it work for anyone else?

              1. It happens to work fine, if you keep your pants on and wait for the page to load.

                1. How long should I wait for Firefox to become responsive again?

                  Also, I believe I addressed your points upthread.

                  1. She was not unresponsive…

        2. I agree with you that saying Haitians are “genetically inferior” is wrong. But it does appear likely that Haitians on average find it harder to successfully navigate a Western style technologically dependent society where the ability to think in abstractions is heavily valued, and those abilities probably are to some extent genetically determined. As individuals any given Haitian might do very well in a technologically advanced society, but averages tend to play out over time.

          1. How do you know this? How can you find anything like a control group to test this. Sure, Haitians who come to the U.S. might have trouble dealing with technology, but so did my grandfather, just by virtue of when he was born. I’d be highly surprised if most of us survived more than a week in the kinds of conditions that Haitians live in, but does that prove that on average we’re not suited for navigating a Haitian-style subsistence society, or does it just show that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks and that when you dump someone into a situation where things are very different than what they’re used to, that the tend to have some trouble?

            1. “How do you know this? How can you find anything like a control group to test this.”

              The Dominican Republic.

              1. OK, if we take that, do citizens of the Dominican Republic who come to the U.S. at an early age have a terrible time adapting to all this abstract and critical thinking and so forth? If not, then peter’s point is bunk…

                1. The hypothesis of comparing Haitians with people of the Dominican Republic is erroneous. It would be the same as contrasting residents of Cuba to our guests in Guantanamo Bay .

                  1. @put up or shut up

                    Or comparing libertarians with statists.

                    1. More like comparing libertarians with adults.

                    2. “More like comparing libertarians with adults.”

                      No, I don’t think the Cubans and the “detainees” in Gitmo are that similar. The Cubans for years fled their sorry excuse for a country and came to the US. The “detainees” at Gitmo can’t just pull up stakes and leave.

                      Libertarians and statists are not similar. Libertarians want reduced government, personal liberty and economic freedom. Statists want all-encompassing government, restriction of personal liberty and economic control.

                      Libertarians and adults are similar.
                      Libertarians see that there are solutions to problems that don’t involve the path of least resistance. Most adults understand that concept.

                      Trolls and adults are not similar.

                    3. “Libertarians and adults are SIMILAR.” Thank you for once again proving my point little boy.

                    4. Yes – SIMILAR. It works in upper and lower case.
                      As in “alike”, “comparable”.

                      “Libertarians see that there are solutions to problems that don’t involve the path of least resistance. Most adults understand that concept.”

                      Sorry little troll girl. A concept you don’t understand.

                      put up or shut up/RCTL/rather crazy that Libertarian and troll are SIMILAR.

                    5. Troll comments and talking points are similar.

    3. Oh please. Whitey had the same opinion of the yellow man until the mid 20th century — you should have seen some of the crap being written about the Koreans around the time of the war. That they were no good layabouts whose culture and lack of intelligence left them ill equipped for progress. Sure North Korea seems to have proved those people right, but South Korea is quite the opposite.

      Same for the Chinese, etc. To blame culture on genetics is truly racist.

      1. Fine. Declare everyone equal.

        Now, show us your results.

        1. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!

          “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…..”

        2. Who were your forebears? I bet they were at one time barbarians and savages looked down on by some neighboring society. I know my Irish ancestors were. The Romans thought so ill of us they didn’t bother conquering the island just picked off a few for slavery here and there. We were savages!. And it was true. But that was due to culture which is changeable… not genetics.

          1. The Irish were considered savages (and still are, in some circles) well into the 20th century.

            1. Hey, I resemble that remark!

          2. Genetics are also changeable over time, often over surprisingly short periods of time. You are not the same as your Irish ancestors of 50 AD. This is why the fact of genetic differences between races does not support “white power” – whites aren’t genetically superior, just better adapted on average, and for the moment, to the society and rules they themselves created.

            1. I forget the exact numbers but anyone from 3000 years ago who has descendents still alive is the ancestor of EVERYONE on the earth.

              2000 years if they lived in the middle east.

              1. I’ve seen geneological studies which concluded that if you were of European descent, you could almost certainly trace your lineage to Charlemagne, and if you were of Asian decent, you could almost certainly trace your lineage to Genghis Khan.

                http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200205/olson

                One hypothesis I’ve read was that rich people tended to survive things like plagues and wars, whereas poor people did not. Therefore, poor families tended to die out, whereas rich families tended to live on.

                1. So all of us alive are descended from the rich and we can stop this crazy national healthcare tax the rich shit? Great!

              2. I am not sure if that can really apply to everyone on earth. It seems to me that there are some populations in the Amazon and other isolated places who have been isolated until recently enough that they do not all yet share the 3000 year old MRCA.

                1. Just like the Antarcticans.

            2. You are an idiot. Or just trying to get a rise out of people.

              1. You are an idiot. Or just trying to get a rise out of people.

                He is an idiot.

                1. All libertarians are idiots.

            3. I think some people need to be reminded that there is no genetic basis for race. No one can tell if you are white or black from your genes (although they might be able to guess correctly based on ancestral groupings).

              1. I can tell by looking at you.

                1. That’s a pretty subjective way of going about things…

                  But the point is that some people here are arguing that certain races have inferior genes while others do not. This is simply not true. There is no genetic basis for the purely visual concept of race.

    4. When you do place Haitians in better conditions – in New York, Quebec or France – they do worse than other immigrant groups.

      Collectivist premises aside, is that even true?

      1. Nobody does worse than the French in Quebec of France.

    5. Re: Peter,

      This is where libertarianism falls apart. People are simply not born equal.

      What does one thing have to do with the other?

      When you do place Haitians in better conditions – in New York, Quebec or France – they do worse than other immigrant groups.

      Which proves – what?

      There is no blank slate. An island of Chinese, Swedish or Punjabi slaves would never have degraded to the level of modern Haiti.

      I have yet to see an island populated by Swedish slaves. I can imagine it would be a very popular tourist place for admirers of Britt Ekland.

      It’s not a coincidence that the only countries in the world exhibiting the same level of poverty and disfunction as Haiti are all in sub Saharan Africa.

      Well, now, you don’t know what you’re talking about – the sub Saharan region is not an island.

      Sure, it’s stupid to blame Haitians for being born in a situation they have no control over, but it’s also a pipe dream to suggest that there’s any free market solution for lifting an overcrowded island of low IQ people out of poverty.

      Exactly. They must remain as they have remained – as zoo animals, being fed and cared for by more fortunate and kindhearted individuals… you know, like our government officials.

      On a level playing field Haitians simply cannot compete equally.

      Of course they can’t compete – I mean, every instance of competition between Swedish former slaves and Haitians have rendered the same God awful results!

      Treating Haitians as “special needs” people until the end of time is clearly not working either.

      So let’s kill them. I’m with you on this one – eugenics rules!

    6. Did Dick Hoste get a new username?

  28. Ive never seen a case where more help is needed, seriously folks these people need help and they need it now.

    RT
    http://www.online-anonymity.se.tc

  29. we should remember that we owe our greatest debt to our immense good luck.

    True. So we can’t say that we shouldn’t be taxed since all our wealth is the “fruit of our labors.” If it’s mostly the fruit of luck, then our moral claim to our property is not much stronger than “finders keepers.” Libertarians should be grateful that the concept of property rights exists at all. It wouldn’t, of course, without a government there to enforce it.

    1. Wow, Tony is defending property rights? Well, kind of.

      “Luck” is how people who have no clue how wealth is made describe the process.

      1. I must have missed the chapter when John Galt chose to implant himself in an American womb and genetically engineer himself with a noble, capitalist jawline.

        1. Because America has never allowed immigrants to come to these shores. Every single person here came from a family who has ALWAYS been here.

          Right. No choice involved, just luck!

          1. The ability to emigrate surely is dependent on your access to the resources needed to do so. Not everyone in the world has the same amount of freedom to become entrepreneurs. It’s just an obvious fact. This is the entire point of the liberal project to decrease economic inequality and provide a level playing field. We want the great individual entrepreneurial spirit to actually work like it’s supposed to, and not be an excuse for fortunate people not to contribute to society.

            1. Re: Tony,

              The ability to emigrate surely is dependent on your access to the resources needed to do so. Not everyone in the world has the same amount of freedom to become entrepreneurs.

              Indeed, just look at the poor people of Denmark, whose disposable income is so low they cannot become either entrepreneurs nor emigrants.

              This is the entire point of the liberal project to decrease economic inequality and provide a level playing field.

              Why would you want to decrease income disparity? And what better level playing field can there be than simply respecting your rights?

              We want the great individual entrepreneurial spirit to actually work like it’s supposed to, and not be an excuse for fortunate people not to contribute to society.

              Yes because we all know people become rich by happenstance.

            2. In what fantasy of yours are entrepreneurs *NOT* contributing to society?

              Or do you view anyone not working for the government as a leech?

              Surely, not every has the capital to become an entrepreneur. This is why capitalism was invented. That way, would-be entrepreneurs can borrow the capital required to start their ventures. Of course, lending can only happen if there is a return on investment for the lenders.

              And that is why the Muslim world is a shithole, and the western world has produced all of the important advances since the mid 1500’s.

    2. Re: Tony,

      So we can’t say that we shouldn’t be taxed since all our wealth is the “fruit of our labors.” If it’s mostly the fruit of luck, then our moral claim to our property is not much stronger than “finders keepers.”

      The problem is that it is not true that our property comes from luck – all comes from toil and moil, out of transformation. But even if all property fell from the sky, it would still NOT follow that such fact justifies taxation, as taxation is theft.

      Libertarians should be grateful that the concept of property rights exists at all.

      Without property rights you would not be able to write the words” Libertarians should be thankful. YOU should be thankful that freedom to produce and trade exist at all, otherwise you would not be here bitching about how the world is unfair.

      It wouldn’t, of course, without a government there to enforce it.

      Again you make the claim that government creates rights by virtue of protecting them. If that were the case, then the Binks Alarm guy owns your house.

      1. What proportion of your wealth comes from hard work and what proportion comes from luck is central to the moral argument that you are entitled to keep it. “Finders keepers” is not sophisticated enough to convince me of the absolute right of people to keep what they have.

        Also, taxation is not theft because it’s legal, and theft is by definition illegal.

        1. Re: Tony,

          What proportion of your wealth comes from hard work and what proportion comes from luck is central to the moral argument that you are entitled to keep it.

          It does not, because moral arguments cannot come from subjectivity or guessing as in “I guess this much of your labor comes because you’re cuter than me, so the State has to take it.”

          “Finders keepers” is not sophisticated enough to convince me of the absolute right of people to keep what they have.

          That is a red herring, Tony. “Finders keepers” is jsut one way to settle ownership of a good for which no one has made a valid claim. Otherwise, it SHOULD be just as valid to tax people for collecting aluminum cans from streets and dumpsters – certainly under YOUR standards, they cannot be “deserving”.

          Also, taxation is not theft because it’s legal, and theft is by definition illegal.

          You’re indulging in circular thinking, Tony. “Taxation is not theft because the government that does the thievery SAYS it is not theft”. Good argument there, Tony. Top notch.

          The definition of THEFT is taking someone’s property by force. Just because a government says it’s legal for government to steal does not mean that what the government does is NOT stealing.

          1. It does not, because moral arguments cannot come from subjectivity or guessing as in “I guess this much of your labor comes because you’re cuter than me, so the State has to take it.”

            So by what standard do you decide that you are entitled to what you own? With no agreed-upon framework, you’re only really entitled to what you manage to defend from others. That’s why we have government, to provide the framework. Government can’t exist without taxation, just be glad it’s not a king saying he owns all your stuff in the first place.

            The definition of THEFT is taking someone’s property by force. Just because a government says it’s legal for government to steal does not mean that what the government does is NOT stealing.

            Theft is defined statutorily. There are instances in which property can be taken by force but it’s not called theft. Say I take something of yours, and you sue to get it back. You are taking what I claim as mine by force, and you are using government guns as the force. Is that also theft? Theft is therefore not just the taking of someone’s property by force, but the unlawful act of doing so. Taxation is legal (not only legal, but ubiquitous in all societies), therefore it is not theft.

            1. Re: Tony,

              So by what standard do you decide that you are entitled to what you own?

              Whatever I obtained by voluntary trade or homesteading. Whatever I obtained by stealing or fraud, I am not entitled to. I do not understand what more you want.

              With no agreed-upon framework, you’re only really entitled to what you manage to defend from others.

              I don’t know about others, because I do not live in the dangerous area you do. I know I have to defend my property from that raving band of malcontents that constitutes the American political system.

              That’s why we have government, to provide the framework.

              That’s a red herring. The framework always existed – free people freely trading.

              Government can’t exist without taxation,

              Of course: Looters prefer to loot – I know that.

              Theft is defined statutorily.

              Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me! USE YOUR HEAD, for a change!

              Can you suspend gravity statutorily?

              There are instances in which property can be taken by force but it’s not called theft. Say I take something of yours, and you sue to get it back. You are taking what I claim as mine by force, and you are using government guns as the force. Is that also theft?

              You’re equivocating. Getting my property back is not theft – it is “getting my property back”. You cannot thus say that government’s thievery is the same as getting property back from thieves.

              Theft is therefore not just the taking of someone’s property by force, but the unlawful act of doing so.

              Tony, you cannot legislate concepts into existence. Theft IS wrong, malum in se, therefore it is made illegal to steal. You think it is the other way around – which is the way tyranny can be legitimized.

              Taxation is legal (not only legal, but ubiquitous in all societies), therefore it is not theft.

              This is circular thinking, Tony. Taxation is legal because the organization that taxes makes it legal – there is no true justification in this, just circular reasoning. Saying that taxation is ubiquitous is just relying on a red herring, because many things are ubiquitous in societies yet they are not made legal.

        2. HAHAHAHA! I know it’s wrong, but I can’t help myself, I just have to Godwin this thread!

          Also, taxation is not theft because it’s legal, and theft is by definition illegal.

          So by that logic, sending the Jews to the ovens was not murder, because the Reich had made killing Jews legal, and murder is by definition illegal.

        3. Theft is not by definition illegal, you just define it that way because it is convenient to make your half witted rebuttal to an admittedly half witted libertarian generalization. Not all taxation is theft, but taxation which funds no legitimate public purpose most certainly is; this distinguishes coercively funding national defense and public order from building some congress person’s pet project. For the former, a legitimate case can be made that in the circumstances of a collective action problem that people would consent provided that they could be assured that everyone else consents too. Or simply to rebut the anarchists p.o.v., a real sin tax to enclose a real externality is a tax that is not theft because it is imposed to prevent a harm from being done when property rights can’t be clearly defined and the harm will only occur if the action is done repeatedly.

    3. The morality of allowing poeple to keep their property has nothing to do with how they got it “luck” or “fruit”.

      The morality comes from its utility and benefits. Economies which allow individuals control over their property tend to be more like the US and less like Haiti. They are more prosperous and individuals have more social economic and political freedom.

      But your claim is telling. You would rather the “lucky” be limited and make everyone more poor and limited then allowing the lucky to be free so we can all be freer.

      Your politics are simply a reflection of your envy.

      1. All I’m saying is that you can’t argue that people are entitled to keep everything they have because they acquired it via hard work and ingenuity. This may account for some of their wealth, but certainly not all. It’s something that can theoretically be measured, but I’d venture that most of an individual’s wealth is dependent on luck. At any rate it’s not zero.

        So if you admit that, your claim that people have the right to keep what they manage to get their grubby hands on rests on a moral foundation akin to that which governs kindergarteners on the playground.

        I believe that prosperity and individual freedom are both enhanced when wealth is not concentrated with the few. For utilitarian purposes I believe in more economic egalitarianism.

        1. Therefore, it’s cool if we steal. Don’t worry… The person you’re stealing from got a lot of what he has by dumb luck anyway.

          I wonder if I can use this argument to take all of the winnings from the next Powerball winner.

          1. Our society is so free you can keep fully half of your powerball winnings.

            1. Well… Sure, I mean the government is gonna take half anyway – but I’m saying, based on Tony’s logic, I should be able to take the other half from the winner just cause it was dumb luck. Right? Why not…

            2. Society isn’t half-free, or semi-free. Either we live in a free society, or we don’t. We don’t.

        2. Re: Tony,

          All I’m saying is that you can’t argue that people are entitled to keep everything they have because they acquired it via hard work and ingenuity. This may account for some of their wealth, but certainly not all.

          If you cannot discern how much wealth was adquired in other ways besides work, then your argument is invalid, Tony.

          It’s something that can theoretically be measured,

          Welll theoretically I should be a blond surfer. This “theoretically” shit always looks to me like a cop-out whenever I find it, as in “I am too lazy to objectively come up with a solution to my own conundrum.”

          but I’d venture that most of an individual’s wealth is dependent on luck. At any rate it’s not zero.

          Yes, every single day people just keep finding bags of money on the street, the lucky bastards – they should be all taxed!

          So if you admit that, your claim that people have the right to keep what they manage to get their grubby hands on rests on a moral foundation akin to that which governs kindergarteners on the playground.

          Tony, I would venture my well-informed opinion that your arguments are quite childish, seeing that they rely so much on arguments from envy.

          I believe that prosperity and individual freedom are both enhanced when wealth is not concentrated with the few.

          I beg to differ – I believe that prosperity and individual freedom depend on allowing wealth being concentrated with a few, so long it is done honestly. For if people cannot keep their honestly adquired wealth, then there cannot be freedom nor Progress.

          Once the wolves eat the bigger sheep, they will turn to the smaller ones . . .

          For utilitarian purposes I believe in more economic egalitarianism.

          Something like “Let’s be equally poor together”. It is a good thing the best egalitarian societies have very wealthy overlords . . .

          1. If you cannot discern how much wealth was adquired in other ways besides work, then your argument is invalid, Tony.

            Ah, the ever-useful all-or-nothing approach. Just because the variables in an equation cannot be exactly determined by measurement doesn’t mean that one of them is zero.

            Welll theoretically I should be a blond surfer. This “theoretically” shit always looks to me like a cop-out whenever I find it, as in “I am too lazy to objectively come up with a solution to my own conundrum.”

            We come up with a system that is just. It doesn’t have to be based on precise measurements. That would be unwieldy. But, again, whatever the proportion of hard work vs. luck is, it’s not 100%: 0%. So if we’re basing distribution on this formula, we should work to come to the best guess we can, rather than making the very bad guess of assuming no luck is involved.

            Tony, I would venture my well-informed opinion that your arguments are quite childish, seeing that they rely so much on arguments from envy.

            What’s childish is assuming my arguments come from an irrational psychological place. I have no reason to be envious. I do pretty well.

            I beg to differ – I believe that prosperity and individual freedom depend on allowing wealth being concentrated with a few, so long it is done honestly. For if people cannot keep their honestly adquired wealth, then there cannot be freedom nor Progress.

            Well, this makes sense if you accept the premises that you do. I don’t get the feeling that you even care if our society is economically stable, so long as people are free to act autonomously. I disagree about “freedom” and “progress” though. I believe a society in which wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few does not have much freedom and doesn’t result in much progress either.

            Something like “Let’s be equally poor together”. It is a good thing the best egalitarian societies have very wealthy overlords . . .

            I’m no communist. I don’t believe in making everyone equally wealthy. Just having as level a playing field as possible so that your claim to your wealth actually is based on your working hard to acquire it.

            1. Re: Tony,

              Ah, the ever-useful all-or-nothing approach. Just because the variables in an equation cannot be exactly determined by measurement doesn’t mean that one of them is zero.

              Or, that the purported variables are irrelevant. Which explanation is easier?

              It doesn’t have to be based on precise measurements. That would be unwieldy.

              It would also be futile, subjective, and evil.

              But, again, whatever the proportion of hard work vs. luck is, it’s not 100%: 0%. So if we’re basing distribution on this formula, we should work to come to the best guess we can

              You cannot determine what has been adquired by luck, not because the variables are difficult, but because the concept itself is fallacious. You say “luck” to give a negative connotation to certain ways people create and obtain wealth. “Luck” actually means “happenstance”, or “randomly”, and only if people found moneybags on the street would that concept of “wealth by luck” have any meaning.

              What’s childish is assuming my arguments come from an irrational psychological place. I have no reason to be envious. I do pretty well.

              Tony, you keep equivocating – I am not saying YOU are envious, I am saying your arguments are based on envy.

              Well, this makes sense if you accept the premises that you do. I don’t get the feeling that you even care if our society is economically stable, so long as people are free to act autonomously.

              You’re being foolish. What’s with this “economic stability” nonsense you keep coming up with? What does that mean? Are you trying to argue from equilibrium theory?

              I am arguing from the principle of human freedom – that people progress can be achieved much quicker and for most through freely acting
              than through restriction. Equilibrium theory is just a model to understand how markets work, but it is not something that needs to be achieved.

              I believe a society in which wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few does not have much freedom and doesn’t result in much progress either.

              Again, an argument from envy. You keep recurring to these mytical “wealth possessors” or Scrooge McDucks that have all the gold coins while the rest of us live in penury. That’s not reality, not by a long shot.

              I’m no communist. I don’t believe in making everyone equally wealthy.

              No, no, no! I did not imply you want to make everybody equally wealthy – just equally poor. There IS a difference.

              Just having as level a playing field as possible so that your claim to your wealth actually is based on your working hard to acquire it.

              Again I question – what better playing field than allowing people to freely trade, exchange and produce?

        3. So if you admit that, your claim that people have the right to keep what they manage to get their grubby hands on rests on a moral foundation akin to that which governs kindergarteners on the playground.

          Tony go fuck yourself. The moral authority resides in the fact that it produces better outcomes then any alternative. Who the fuck cares where they got the wealth?

          They conserve it better and spend it where it does the most good. Government wastes it and spends it where it does the least good. That is where the moral authority is derived.

          Gibbering about “luck” does not change these facts.

    4. Actually, Tony – Property rights are very clearly one thing that would exist without government and do so in nearly all societies. Even when they are infringed upon by some aggressor or another, everyone recognizes what they are independent of government. I’m quite sure the word “thief” is one of the oldest in the world for a reason.

      1. The concept of ownership is surely innate. But your ability to secure a piece of land for yourself depends either on a) your ability to get there first and shoot anyone who trespasses or b) an agreed upon framework of property rights, backed up by government’s guns rather than your own. The latter is more conducive to individual freedom in my opinion, not to say civilization.

        1. Re: Tony,

          But your ability to secure a piece of land for yourself depends either on a) your ability to get there first and shoot anyone who trespasses or b) an agreed upon framework of property rights, backed up by government’s guns rather than your own.

          I don’t understand the difference.

          The latter is more conducive to individual freedom in my opinion, not to say civilization.

          Why would delegating the shooting of trespassers to government be more conductive to freedom than doing it yourself? And for that matter, why do you think government makes a better steward of people’s freedom than people themselves? If you worry about bullies, why would making the ultimate bully make you better off?

          1. I don’t understand the difference.

            The difference is if we’re all left to defend our own stuff by ourselves, inevitably those with the biggest guns will get all the property. Civilization was invented because “might makes right” was a pretty brutal way of cooperating with other human beings. Governments allow us to all have an equally strong 3rd party arbitrator for such disputes. It both has to be strong enough to fend off anyone with big guns and has to possess the legitimacy in its use of force as agreed by those involved.

            1. Re: Tony,

              The difference is if we’re all left to defend our own stuff by ourselves, inevitably those with the biggest guns will get all the property.

              You did not understand the question – you posited that either people protect their property or they delegate the protection to a government. I fail to see a difference, except in the expense of government.

              And I don’t see a difference between the supposedly bigger guns of some fictitious roaming band of property takers and the ever biggest guns of the ultimate prooperty-taker: the government.

              Civilization was invented because “might makes right” was a pretty brutal way of cooperating with other human beings.

              Civilization actually came to be thanks to the surplus food supply that farming and other results of division of labor made possible. This allowed for a class of people not involved in food gathering, that could employ their time to think and apply ideas, to appear. It had NOTHING to do with shedding this “might makes right” idea – in fact, government operates exclusively under the very principle of “might makes right” (i.e. the bigger guns will prevail, to justify theft or “taxation”), otherwise governments would not insist on the people disarming themselves.

              Governments allow us to all have an equally strong 3rd party arbitrator for such disputes.

              Absurd. Irrelevant – such 3rd party arbitrators can be hired from private practice attorneys. If one of the parties does not comply with the ruling, people around will know who NOT to have business dealings with as the person does not have a word of honor. No need for government.

              It both has to be strong enough to fend off anyone with big guns and has to possess the legitimacy in its use of force as agreed by those involved.

              Again – absurd. Governments actually HINDER self-protection. Throughout history, the easiest people to subjugate were those that relied exclusively on government to protect them. Those that were the toughest did NOT – Afghanistan being one example. A government can become a very obvious and visible jugular into which an enemy can sink his teeth into and collapse all resistance.

              1. Ironically, Tony is constantly arguing exactly that “might makes right” every time he talks social contract theory – since I have no choice but to be owned by the monolith the moment I’m born, or I can move. Guns & jail if I disagree. And that of course, is legitimate.

              2. I’m not a anarchist, but prior to the enlightenment and for many minority groups on into to the modern era Government was pretty nasty. “Government” then pretty much amounted to the formerly roving bandits with the biggest guns settling down and setting up shop in one area. So unless civilization only occurred after the civil rights movement, your argument about government replacing “might makes right” to create it is simply more revisionist progressive history designed to support your agenda. Prior to majoritarian constitutional democracy “government” couldn’t begin to claim to be anything more than precisely being those folks with the biggest guns taking out their competitors.

    5. Libertarians are grateful for the property rights. Progressives should be grateful people who favor property rights also respect life and freedom of expression else the progressives find themselves up against the wall.

    6. Libertarians are grateful for the property rights. Progressives should be grateful people who favor property rights also respect life and freedom of expression else the progressives find themselves up against the wall.

  30. I’m not impressed with this article. The author would be well advised to learn a little about the history of Haiti. (Just a little would be a vast improvement.)

    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/01/17-6

    1. DURR HURRR HURRR
      YOO KILLED BLACK PEEPLE
      PAY UP CRACKERS
      HURR DURR HURRR

    2. Why does anyone link to Commondreams?

  31. “Everything you have is just luck.”
    If I ever meet that fucking dipshit Gladwell, I am going to kick him right in the nutz.

    1. Gladwell only said that to a degree about outliers, not the vast majority of people; and plenty of people other than Bill Gates and Warren buffet need to be taxed to fund the progressive dream. Gladwell also pointed out that such people in the right place at the right time had to work really really hard, something like 10,000 hours, to get good at what they do.

      Further, government doesn’t replace arbitrary luck; it just shifts how one needs to be lucky. Instead of networking with business people, you have to network with politicians and hope that they don’t pass some new tax or regulation that cripples the industry you make your living in.

      I would argue that in Government’s attempt to try and make things more fair it ends up making it even harder for people to rise to the top; because, among other things, even if some people get lucky they aren’t going to sink large amounts of money developing those skills if they don’t get to keep the gains. Just because one is smart enough and lucky enough to get into Harvard law or something doesn’t magically negate the time, work, and money it will take to graduate and if one can’t earn a solid rate of return one will often look for work elsewhere.

  32. And when libertarians take control, American too can know this freedom.

    It amazes me that, after all this time coming to Hit’n’Run and metaphorically rubbing your own shit in your hair, you still don’t have the slightest idea what a libertarian is. Did your mother have any kids that lived?

    1. These lectures about how I don’t understand what a libertarian is would mean something to me if this place weren’t overwhelmingly populated by armchair anarchists who think that ineffectual governance is exactly what is needed for a prosperous society.

      1. Yeah, we all love oligarchic plutocracies. Shut the fuck up, you dishonest little twerp.

        1. I don’t think you love them, I just think you don’t realize that is the inevitable result of the sort of economic “freedom” you peddle.

          1. Tony-logics, 101:

            Liberty leads to Plutocracies.

            If that is so, then:

            Statism leads to Denmark’s style of socialism.

            Makes perfect sense!

      2. Only a statist could interpret “less governance” as “ineffectual governance”

        1. Only a statist could interpret “less governance” as “ineffectual governance”

          +1.

      3. I agree with criticizing anarchists, however it’s tough to claim that libertarians just want “ineffectual governance” when they argue against wealth redistribution based upon arbitrary notions of social justice along with attempts to manage the economy that aren’t based upon any set of sound economic reasoning that there is a problem or how government can actually improve on the situation when it suffers from many similar poor incentives compared to market failures, especially the more government does, the more distant that government is from the people, and the more complex it’s actions.

        Hence the libertarian critiques based around rational ignorance, concentrated benefits and diffuse costs, and the economic calculation problem. Most notably, how can the same stupid and greedy people who can’t take care of themselves and just run around exploiting each other somehow through a democratic process elect leaders smart enough to know how to fix things and moral enough to do so when fixing things contradicts their self interest.

  33. Any single generation could have pissed away the American dream

    We have a team of our finest minds assigned to that project, as we speak.

    Top men, all.

    1. And they will select a blue ribbon, bi-partisan commission to study the process and make recommendations.

  34. These lectures about how I don’t understand what a libertarian is would mean something to me if you possessed a modicum of an ability to comprehend a damn thing.

  35. Ton y can’t write the word freedom without scare quotes.

    OMG! Teh Peeplz might do something I disapprove of! I can’t imagine a world without a big kind omniscient cuddly nanny to tell everybody what to do.

    1. Sure I can… I can imagine a world in which people’s power over me is measured by their wealth, rather than by democratic consent. A country with 5 trillionaires and everyone else a sweatshop worker is totally compatible with the libertarian definition of freedom.

      1. A world in which people’s power over me is determined by democratic consent.

        I think the word you’re looking for is “heaven”, for I can imagine nothing finer.

        1. Really? Because I fear such a place…democratic consent is what gave us Prop 8, among other things.

          Democracy is great, until you’re in the minority.

          1. Y’all misunderstand Tony: He does not mean he wants the majority rule when it comes to protecting favored minorities, he means majority rule when it comes to plundering the productive and giving handouts to the unproductive. That’s all.

            “Democracy is when the wolves and the sheep decide on what to have for dinner.”

      2. Re: Tony,

        Sure I can… I can imagine a world in which people’s power over me is measured by their wealth, rather than by democratic consent.

        Please, don’t get me started! Stop it, stop it! A world where people can retain their wealth instead of it being stolen by a mob of 50% plus one! I am crying!

        A country with 5 trillionaires and everyone else a sweatshop worker is totally compatible with the libertarian definition of freedom.

        Wow, that world already exists! Except there are more trillionaires than 5. That would be Zimbabwe, where people can possess assets valued in the trillions! Ok, maybe bubble gum is not really an asset, and people are really not in a libertarian society, and the government is not really limited (kinda like other socialist kleptocracies in Africa) and the people would kill to work in a sweatshop rather than starve with a useless currency in their hands . . . but other than that, exactly as you described it!

      3. If someone’s power over me is measured by democratic consent, how does that make me happier?

        When my head is one the chopping block, do I care if the executioner was elected by popular vote?

      4. Ah, democratic consent. It’s OK for you to have power over me as long as 51% of other people agree.

        Democracy is necessary to keep politicians and other nasties from accumulating too much power, but it is not equivalent to freedom or respect for rights in the least.

      5. A country with 5 trillionaires and everyone else a sweatshop worker is totally compatible with the libertarian definition of freedom.

        Who do the trillionaires sell their goods to if everyone else is a sweetshop worker?

        I am not surprised that Tony’s politics are based on an irrational fear of an impossible distopia.

        1. And a mindblowingly stupid conception of reality.

        2. Who do the trillionaires sell their goods to if everyone else is a sweetshop worker?

          Exactly. But people with the ability to amass as much wealth as they want and keep all of it are not prone to ensuring the stability of the economy as a whole. Strong middle classes don’t come about spontaneously, but when they exist greater economic prosperity tends to ensue for all concerned.

          1. Re: Tony,

            Exactly. But people with the ability to amass as much wealth as they want and keep all of it are not prone to ensuring the stability of the economy as a whole.

            This reply of yours tell me you completely ignore the subject of economics, or to put it more succinctly: you have no idea of what you’re talking about. Wealth has to be created in order for it to be accumulated. This means a so-called “trillionaire” (a relative term depending on which currency you’re measuring wealth with) had to first create or generate trillions in whatever currency you chose to use to measure, in goods or services.

            Strong middle classes don’t come about spontaneously, but when they exist greater economic prosperity tends to ensue for all concerned.

            Strong middle classes come by way of division of labor and productivity, Tony. This is certainly not spontaneous as in suddenly appearing out of nothing, but the result of capital investment, productivity and time.

          2. people with the ability to amass as much wealth as they want and keep all of it are not prone to ensuring the stability of the economy as a whole. Strong middle classes don’t come about spontaneously, but when they exist greater economic prosperity tends to ensue for all concerned.

            So your argument is that rich people have no incentive to nurture the middle class despite the fact they would be poorer if they don’t.

            It is actually kind of elegant how the internal logic of your argument falsifies itself.

            1. So your argument is that rich people have no incentive to nurture the middle class

              No, I’m saying that they have exactly that incentive, but good luck having them realize it. Some do. Warren Buffett comes to mind. But as we have ample evidence of in these days, they’re at least as likely to engage in short-term profitmaking for themselves, probably with the idea that they’ll get out on top, and frankly screw the losers of the middle and working classes (the ones who actually do work.)

              1. Rich people have the incentive to produce things the great bulk of the people want, unless they don’t want to stay rich.

                When will you realize that the only way to get wealthy in a market – absent a crony government that can simply gift you special favors backed by taxes and guns – is to offer trades to everyone. People cannot get rich, or stay rich, only servicing themselves and the 1% of people who have as much money as they have.

                Money *isn’t* wealth. And lets say a generation of the top 1% completely bowed out and left the economy with all their money (which isn’t possible, since they need to buy stuff like food, clothing, cars, houses, and all that other shit that’s made by the middle class). So what? All that would do is leave 99% of the market up for grabs by anyone else who wanted it and would bump up the value of all remaining currency in circulation.

                Without government force, rich people not only have no ability to “hoard” wealth or to screw the middle class by having their money taxed & redirected, they have no incentive to do that what so ever.

                Buffett may give a ton to charity, but he doesn’t reflect anything but other crony fake “capitalists” who are more than happy to get laws written to favor them and to benefit from government contracts and special deals.

                That’s what harms the middle class, not freedom. Freedom does the opposite.

                If you understood the economics involved in any of this, it would be helpful, but you could even bypass that by just being honest about history.

                When Rockefellar got his first Billion dollars, the rest of society wasn’t poorer for it – but in fact, the opposite. His employees were vastly better paid, and the world just saw an immense increase in productive output of energy as a result – which in turn made all other goods cheaper, easier to come by and made the lives of the average poor person immensely better.

                According to your idiotic beliefs, the opposite should have occurred. Unfortunately, your beliefs are asinine and are theoretically contradictory, logically unsound and don’t stack up to reality even slightly.

              2. The middle class doesn’t need “nurturing”, it just needs some liberty. That’s it, Tony…

                If you would stop for ten minutes and quit trying to give government more and more power over people’s lives, ordinary people would be vastly better off because they could run their businesses in an environment that didn’t either punish them for becoming more successful, or cost them tons in licensing and other onerous fees, or worst of all, which regulated them out of existence to give special favors to the big players… They will do just fine.

                Entrepreneurs (a concept you really don’t understand) do not need your help, Tony. They need you to stop giving power to the people who consistently hurt them.

                Here’s a video I scored that’s quite relevant. Teaching is Not a Crime

                The evidence actually shows that the bigger government gets, the more big businesses are able to influence that power to fuck over those middle & working class people. You’re the only one around here clamoring for a bigger and more powerful state… So if you want to know who’s destroying the middle class, look in the mirror, dude.

  36. Tony can’t write the word freedom without scare quotes.

    That’s because he fails to comprehend the Iron Laws, including:

    You aren’t free unless you are free to be wrong.

  37. I can imagine a world in which people’s power over me is measured by their wealth, rather than by democratic consent. A country with 5 trillionaires and everyone else a sweatshop worker

    Seek professional help, Tony; seriously, I’m worried about your mental state. You might injure yourself, or someone close to you.

  38. I can imagine a world in which people’s power over me is measured by their wealth, rather than by democratic consent.

    Ok, dumbshit, I’ll use small words: LIBERTARIANISM = YOU IN POWER OVER YOU

    1. A nice sentiment. What does it amount to in practice? Conflicts among autonomous individuals arise the moment you step off your front porch.

      1. Re: Tony,

        Conflicts among autonomous individuals arise the moment you step off your front porch.

        Man, you live in one tough neighborhood – no wonder you want to tax the rich!

      2. It’s funny when people with mindsets like Tony’s are actually inserted into environments where individuals behave autonomously. Oh, wait, did I say funny? I meant incredibly frustrating and obnoxious. Kind of makes you wish there were a state-like power to get them to stop behaving badly.

        We have a word for people who cannot behave responsibly. They’re called “Children”.

        Sadly, this situation does come up relatively frequently in quasi-anarchist settings.

      3. Conflicts among autonomous individuals arise the moment you step off your front porch.

        Well Tony is single living. Most poeple do not have to leave the house to get in a conflict with an autonomous individual.

        1. True. You actually can’t roll over in the morning without potentially creating a legal conflict. Prior to Lawrence v. Texas this was even more true!

          1. And this is why people have never been able to trade or get along with each other without a dictator present at all times controlling their every move and preventing them from making their own decisions.

            No one has any incentive to get along with other people after all… As we all know, humans are by nature very anti-social animals and must be forced to behave better by their vaunted, and superior “leaders”. In fact, it’s quite simply astounding that without any policeman living with us, my roommates and I are able to figure out such complex tasks as paying rent together or doing the house-work in a way that doesn’t cause us to murder each other.

            /snark

            Good god, Tony. Do you realize that your world view is essentially that, absent someone with a huge stick with which to beat people for not towing the lion, the world would degenerate into fearful, rapacious, murderous hell? Your opinion of your fellow man is about as low as I could ever imagine.

            On that note… I just mistakenly saw The Book of Eli last night.

            1. You can get along fine with your roommates… until you can’t. Even if you have a contract signed in blood, it has no enforceability except that which you’re willing to do with your own two hands. Governments exist so we don’t have to resort to that.

              1. It has enforceability – you can just leave the apartment if the roommies violated the contract.

                The function of government is not to spare you from using your own hands to enforce a contract. Government exists to despoil the productive and give the spoils to the unproductive. That is what it does, like the scorpion in Aesop’s tale.

                1. Where does the force of a contract come from? The honor system?

                  Either you believe in a fairy tale world of all people acting in good faith all the time, or you just don’t care, and you’d prefer a society in which you almost certainly would have been killed and your home pillaged long ago.

                  1. Re: Tony,

                    Where does the force of a contract come from? The honor system?

                    Sure – Why not?

                    Do you believe people are out there to get you, all the time?

                    Either you believe in a fairy tale world of all people acting in good faith all the time, or you just don’t care, and you’d prefer a society in which you almost certainly would have been killed and your home pillaged long ago.

                    I trust people will act according to their best interests, which will be better served by doing the right thing – respect for my property as I respect their, and voluntarily exchange goods, services, favors, etc. I also keep my eye for fraud and dishonesty.

                    If you believe all people are out there to get you, that is your problem. I certainly do not suffer from paranoid delusions.

                    1. Not just the Honor System, though OM… The fact that it is psychologically and financially painful for my roommates & I to mistreat each other. Our arrangement is only successful for us to the extent that it benefits us as individuals, and since there are many negative costs in both friendship & money to not honoring our respective contracts, there are incentives for us to work together well.

                      This is something that, for some reason, Tony doesn’t grasp. Incentives matter. It’s not just that I get along with my roommates cause I’m a trustworthy sort of guy, but also because I have a ton of incentives to keep everyone happy in this situation since it’s good for me.

                2. This is getting old. Tony just goes in and out of the necessity of government and its limits.

                  “Government is good at punishing murderers and recording deeds therefore the Tennessee Valley Authority is justified.”

                  I does not matter how bad the TVA is and how destructive it was because government is good at recording title.

                  It is a loop playing in his head counting to zero. No real reason to stop it. Just leave him to its end.

              2. Governments exist so we don’t have to resort to that.

                No, tony, governments exist so that people like you don’t have to get their hands dirty, and can keep on telling yourselves that they didn’t do anything wrong.

              3. And if government *only* existed for that purpose, I actually wouldn’t complain about it at all… However, mostly, government exists to steal from some people to give to the friends of the ruling class.

                1. mostly, government exists to steal from some people to give to the friends of the ruling class.

                  You’re right, which is why good government takes painstaking work to create and an educated population to maintain. Which is why antigovernment zealots who’d rather see the entire system fuck itself are not useful for the job.

                  1. Why is it so hard for you to realize that there is no such thing as “good” government. At best, you can claim it as a necessary evil (I certainly wouldn’t, however), but the entire principle of it is based on the terrible idea that some people should get a special power to use force against others. It pits some people against each other and it’s thus quite unsurprising that A. greedy, power-hungry people try to get into government and B. Other greedy and unscrupulous people spend the majority of their efforts trying to bribe & influence politicians to get them to use force in their favor.

                    It’s an inevitability… And history shows this to be true.

                    The irony of your comment is that if you were actually educated, rather than having been indoctrinated by other state-worshipers, you’d realize that there’s no good that can come of the things you want to do.

  39. It’s kind of ironic when libertarians (and I am one of them) blame Haiti’s problems on a lack of a free market when, as a free republic that banned slavery, they essentially were shut out of the free market by those nations still trading slaves, for about 50 or 60 years. The U.S., Britain and France refused to trade with Haiti after they had the *nerve* to ban slave-trading and become a free republic. They are still paying the price for their gall.

    1. So, what happened to them after 1865?

    2. I have heard a lot more libertarians blaming Haiti’s problems on a kleptocratic government and bad geography than on the lack of a free market. I think that the important thing is that the addition of more free market would help get them going in the right direction. There are lots of countries without much in the way of free markets who are not nearly as fucked as Haiti.

  40. Re: Peter,

    This is where libertarianism falls apart. People are simply not born equal.

    What does one thing have to do with the other?

    When you do place Haitians in better conditions – in New York, Quebec or France – they do worse than other immigrant groups.

    Which proves – what?

    There is no blank slate. An island of Chinese, Swedish or Punjabi slaves would never have degraded to the level of modern Haiti.

    I have yet to see an island populated by Swedish slaves. I can imagine it would be a very popular tourist place for admirers of Britt Ekland.

    It’s not a coincidence that the only countries in the world exhibiting the same level of poverty and disfunction as Haiti are all in sub Saharan Africa.

    Well, now, you don’t know what you’re talking about – the sub Saharan region is not an island.

    Sure, it’s stupid to blame Haitians for being born in a situation they have no control over, but it’s also a pipe dream to suggest that there’s any free market solution for lifting an overcrowded island of low IQ people out of poverty.

    Exactly. They must remain as they have remained – as zoo animals, being fed and cared for by more fortunate and kindhearted individuals… you know, like our government officials.

    On a level playing field Haitians simply cannot compete equally.

    Of course they can’t compete – I mean, every instance of competition between Swedish former slaves and Haitians have rendered the same God awful results!

    Treating Haitians as “special needs” people until the end of time is clearly not working either.

    So let’s kill them. I’m with you on this one – eugenics rules!

  41. Tony, i assume you’re just fine with the way democratic majorities keep voting for laws against gay marriage, then. After all, you can’t be trusted to run your own life, right?

    1. Just because I believe that democratic consent is superior to all other means of deciding how my own freedom should be limited doesn’t mean I don’t also believe in equal protection of the law.

      1. I love the phrase “democratic consent”, because it implicitly differentiates itself from actual consent. Just like “social justice”.

      2. Which is it, Tony? Democracy uber alles, or equal protection? Because you can’t have both.

        1. Well, democracies are free to enact equal protection, just as this country did. The whole point is that government–however it is structured, whatever protections it provides–is made legitimate because it exists via democratic consent. Even the most basic constitutional liberties are subject to amendment, thankfully by a more arduous process than majority vote. But that process still came about by democratic means.

          1. Re: Tony,

            Well, democracies are free to enact equal protection, just as this country did.

            That does not mean that Democracies will enact equal protection.

            The whole point is that government–however it is structured, whatever protections it provides–is made legitimate because it exists via democratic consent.

            That’s circular thinking.

            “Our government is legitimate because we say it is legitimate – we voted on it.” So said the 50% plus one.

            Even the most basic constitutional liberties are subject to amendment, thankfully by a more arduous process than majority vote.

            Liberties are not constitutional, Tony – they are not by virtue of the Constitution’s existence but by virtue of our capacity to reason and act. It is the Constitution which is subject to amendment, not the freedoms people already have.

            1. That does not mean that Democracies will enact equal protection.

              I suppose. Don’t misunderstand me, anything like a direct democracy is too flawed to work. You’re quite right to note the possibility of tyranny of the majority. That’s why we have protections against it (supermajorities required for certain changes, checks & balances). But we can’t reject the idea of majority vote altogether. That would be absurd. How would anything get done?

              “Our government is legitimate because we say it is legitimate – we voted on it.” So said the 50% plus one.

              It’s a valid question whether consent requires unanimity. If you think so, then the right of secession must also exist. You’re born into a territory that is the domain of a particular government. You can either live according to its rules, or move someplace else, kinda like renting an apartment. You implicitly grant your consent to be governed by not seceding. You don’t own the country, at best (like an apartment) you own some stuff in it.

              Liberties are not constitutional, Tony – they are not by virtue of the Constitution’s existence but by virtue of our capacity to reason and act. It is the Constitution which is subject to amendment, not the freedoms people already have.

              If no one had the physical ability to enjoy a particular right, does that right actually exist?

              I say no. There is no rights organ. They are not innate, otherwise more people would have enjoyed them in history. They only exist in a meaningful way if people are actually able to practice them, and people are only able to do that when a government exists to protect their ability to do so from anyone who would abridge them.

              1. There is no rights organ. They are not innate, otherwise more people would have enjoyed them in history.

                Make a note: Tony is here asserting that there is no such thing as human rights.

                Would that include the right to health care, Tony?

                1. I believe in human rights, I just think they are the inventions of humans and not something that exist etched in a stone somewhere. For precisely this reason I believe we can make healthcare a human right.

                  1. In defiance to all rational though… Tony strikes again!

                    Anyway Tony, good luck with your “right” to health care, irrespective of the horrendous consequences which result from the reality that you have to steal from and/or enslave producers to make that “right” possible. Good luck dude.

                    1. *thought… my “t” isn’t working well anymore 🙁

                    2. Every advanced country except the US considers access to healthcare an individual right.

                      Not one country in the history of the world has ever declared that we have the right to be free from taxation.

                      See how arbitrary this can get? That’s why it’s dangerous to assert the existence of natural rights. You can just make anything up and declare it sanctified by a sky fairy or the universe. But that just makes it vulnerable to other people’s sky fairies beating yours up and asserting different natural rights–say the divine right of kings. Much better just to have a legally enforceable contract between individuals and the government to protect basic liberties.

                    3. Wow, sometimes Tony makes flapping noises that approximate words that seem to form logical strings —

                      Much better just to have a legally enforceable contract between individuals and the government to protect basic liberties.

                      And where in our (by which I mean USA) legally-enforceable contract does it say that you have a right to healthcare?

                    4. The right to retain your own property, however *is* enshrined by even such retarded documents as the UN Charter of Universal Human Rights.

                      Problem is what they, and you, fail miserably to understand, is that you don’t get to have BOTH! You misunderstand privileges (being given shit) as rights (being free from force) and as a result, you think it’s possible for people to have a right to “stuff”, while you completely blank out the fact that you are stealing and enslaving people to accomplish it. And that is a road to utter destruction which has been borne out by history repeatedly. Something else you’re woefully ignorant of.

              2. Re: Tony,

                You’re quite right to note the possibility of tyranny of the majority. That’s why we have protections against it (supermajorities required for certain changes, checks & balances).

                The “supermajority” is just a chimera. In California, people voted in Prop 13 back in the 70s to stop the government from raising property taxes without a supermajority. Who do you think are bitching about it?

                Hint: It’s not Libertarians.

                But we can’t reject the idea of majority vote altogether. That would be absurd. How would anything get done?

                Things already “get done” without resorting to voting in the Agora, Tony. You give free people too little credit.

                It’s a valid question whether consent requires unanimity. If you think so, then the right of secession must also exist.

                Of course it exists but not by virtue of vote alone. Do you consider reasonable to have to shoot your way out of a club membership?

                You’re born into a territory that is the domain of a particular government.

                “Domain” as like the Feudal Barons of yore? I though the power of governments emanated from the People, which means governments do not domain anything.

                You can either live according to its rules, or move someplace else, kinda like renting an apartment.

                At least you seem to accept that governments tend to treat the citizenry as mere tennants . . .

                You implicitly grant your consent to be governed by not seceding.

                Makes perfect sense – the same way a battered wife consents to be beaten up by staying. Same shit.

                You don’t own the country, at best (like an apartment) you own some stuff in it.

                You cannot presume to determine what I own or not, Tony, nor could I determine what you own or not. I can tell you that you own that which you came by honestly, regardless of form or shape.

                If no one had the physical ability to enjoy a particular right, does that right actually exist?

                Of course, so long as the person is human – you cannot know if a miracle will happen.

                I say no.

                I’ll remind myself that when you become unconscious – surely YOU of all people will recognize that smothering you would be legitimate if you cannot exercise your rights . . . right?

                They are not innate, otherwise more people would have enjoyed them in history.

                A) You cannot know what people’s choices were back in history, and B) if people act and reason, they enjoy the freedoms emanated from these two features. What was lacking back in the day was the knowledge about freedom.

                They only exist in a meaningful way if people are actually able to practice them, and people are only able to do that when a government exists to protect their ability to do so from anyone who would abridge them.

                Tony, you don’t seem to understand. Rights exist by virtue of our ability to reason and act. The fact that people try to abridge them does not mean they do not exist. These rights do not exist by virtue of having a government – instead, government is supposed to exist by virtue of our rights, exactly the other way around you think.

                1. “Things already “get done” without resorting to voting in the Agora, Tony. You give free people too little credit.”

                  This is an interesting thing to me… The vast majority of our lives – while affected by one governmental decree or other – are run in absence of anyone telling us what to do. Every day people interact peacefully, trading stuff, enjoying good times, trusting people and everything else… We do all this all the time with no help from government, with no knowledge of government officials, and it works just fine. I always have to wonder what’s happened in Tony’s life that makes him believe that without someone pointing guns at people ordering them around everything would go to hell.

                  1. This morning I was awoken by my alarm clock powered by electricity generated by the public power monopoly regulated by the U.S. Department of Energy.

                    I then took a shower in the clean water provided by a municipal water utility.

                    After that, I turned on the TV to one of the FCC-regulated channels to see what the National Weather Service of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration determined the weather was going to be like, using satellites designed, built, and launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

                    I watched this while eating my breakfast of U.S. Department of Agriculture-inspected food and taking the drugs which have been determined as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

                    At the appropriate time, as regulated by the U.S. Congress and kept accurate by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the U.S. Naval Observatory, I get into my National Highway Traffic Safety Administration-approved automobile and set out to work on the roads build by the local, state, and federal Departments of Transportation, possibly stopping to purchase additional fuel of a quality level determined by the Environmental Protection Agency, using legal tender issued by the Federal Reserve Bank.

                    On the way out the door I deposit any mail I have to be sent out via the U.S. Postal Service and drop the kids off at the public school.

                    After spending another day not being maimed or killed at work thanks to the workplace regulations imposed by the Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health administration, enjoying another two meals which again do not kill me because of the USDA, I drive my NHTSA car back home on the DOT roads, to my house which has not burned down in my absence because of the state and local building codes and Fire Marshal’s inspection, and which has not been plundered of all its valuables thanks to the local police department.

                    And then I log on to the internet — which was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration — and post on Hit & Run about how SOCIALISM is BAD because the government can’t do anything right.

                    1. This is so full of holes it only serves to point out the ignorance of the person posting it.

                    2. Actually socialism & government running any kinds of services are bad because they have no means of performing rational economic calculations – since they lack the feedback mechanisms markets provide in the form of profits and losses. Additionally, the incentives are severely skewed away from providing people with stuff they want and towards whatever things happen to reward politicians and their best friends & biggest campaign contributors. Naturally, since they can take people’s money by force, and they don’t go out of business if they repeatedly fuck up, over time this just leads to pure oligarchy where they take over more and more of people’s lives and destroy wealth.

                      This is a cute little tirade which I think we’ve all read before, but since the government retains monopolies over all of the various services you’ve presented, Mr. “Libertarian”, it’s an entirely moot point. I use DOT roads because in general, it is against the law for people to set up large scale private roads… But where there are private roads, they are invariably in better repair, cleaner, safer and the traffic flow is faster & more effective. In fact I can run down the list and not a single bit of it is a point in favor of government power – but against it…

                      But yeah, I mean since you don’t understand the arguments being made, a strawman will work just as well, right?

                      Monopoly power suppliers? Cause we all love the electric company and, for instance, there are never rolling blackouts in California – where I live – as a result.

                      Without the FCC I wouldn’t have TV? Without the national weather service I wouldn’t be able to figure out what the temperature was outside?
                      The FDA is a nightmare of captured regulators and is partly responsible for the explosion of the cost of medicine, and of all fucking things, you list the Federal Reserve as if it wasn’t the worst idea of all time to give a secret cabal of the nation’s richest bankers the sole ability to control the quantity of money and interest rates for the whole country (and basically the world).

                      Who do you think is responsible for the housing bubble anyway, you dumbass?

                      Geesh. I love stuff like this, if only because it exposes the classic statist arguments of how great government is and how much stuff it provides in such an ironic way. Oblivious to this poster is obviously the fact that nothing he lists is a credit to government but an excellent reason to increase freedom.

                    3. +1

            2. The whole point is that government–however it is structured, whatever protections it provides–is made legitimate because it exists via democratic consent.

              Check your premises, Tony. You seem to be saying that, so long as government is democratically elected, it is legitimate no matter what it does.

              Do you really want to take that position?

              1. He already has repeatedly RC… He even defended wiretapping & torture a few weeks back on those grounds, citing that if they were illegal, the Supreme Court would strike them down, but until that happens it’s A-Ok.

                1. I don’t recall this. I certainly think wiretapping and torture ARE illegal, and would hope the courts agree with me.

                  Until they do, what’s to stop government from doing those things? Maybe if we aim our moral transmitters and hope real hard in its general direction?

                  Actions are merely legitimized by being the product of democratic consent. That doesn’t mean they’re morally laudable.

                  1. Unfortunately Tony, I’m not usually that great about saving your old comments or remembering which threads you said them on because I don’t give a shit about you in general… But incidentally that one I made a point out of on my blog, so I do know what you said and from where.

                    It was from here: A Bill of Goods, Maybe, and you said:

                    “I believe torture was illegal. I hope that the system is strong enough to punish any and all responsible for the illegal act. But it’s not my job to declare it illegal, it’s for our system of jurisprudence.”

                    It is because you hold these attitudes about “social contracts” and the will of the majority that you are comfortable accepting whatever the majority decides as legal & legitimate until someone *else* (judges in this case) decides that it’s not.

                    You are the king of abdicating your own morality and reason for some higher power in the form of a dictatorial state which doesn’t give the slightest shit about protecting you or your liberty. As a result, you paint yourself into corners where you are weakly telling me you don’t think that wiretapping & torture are legal per-se, but much more strongly contradict that point by saying that it’s not up to you to decide what’s legal or constitution and what isn’t, so whatever the government decides to do is ok.

                    This is a function of your circular reasoning. Government says X is legal, therefore it is, until they change their minds.

                    Aside from the fact that that’s stupid and insane, it doesn’t even fit your definition of majority rule… But you don’t grasp this problem, because your other bit of circular reasoning is: Government in the US is made up of the people, therefore whatever it does has been legitimized by democracy.

                    Both wrong.

            3. Tony is really the king of circular reasoning though man… It’s kind of the major driving feature of his ill-defined philosophy.

              1. And boy can he pull a train!

      3. Re: Tony,

        Just because I believe that democratic consent is superior to all other means of deciding how my own freedom should be limited doesn’t mean I don’t also believe in equal protection of the law.

        The two concepts are contradictory – if you have democratic consent, you don’t have Rule of Law, you have rule by majority. If you believe in the Rule of Law, then that renders majority rule irrelevant. You cannot have your cake and eat it, too.

        NO, Rule of Law is not the same as having a majority coming up with laws – the Law is based on natural law or common law, or that which is just, not that which is desired.

        1. So we just need high priests of jurisprudence consulting the great oracle of natural law to decide how we should live? This is bullshit. If your philosophy depends on a mystical kernel like “natural law” then it’s a flawed philosophy.

          1. Re: Tony,

            So we just need high priests of jurisprudence consulting the great oracle of natural law to decide how we should live?

            No. Where did you get that idea? Please, show me.

            If your philosophy depends on a mystical kernel like “natural law” then it’s a flawed philosophy.

            There’s nothing mystical about it – our freedoms and rights come from our capacity to reason and act. Law should conform to that very fact, otherwise it is not LAW but TYRANNY.

            1. The only non-mystical way to describe natural rights is as what people have the ability to do in the natural state. But this is not the same thing as a right. If you are prevented from exercising a freedom, you don’t have that right as a matter of fact.

              The alternative to this Hobbesian conception of rights is Rousseauian social contract theory, wherein rights don’t depend on being innate, but come about by a contractual agreement between citizens and government.

              I think the latter is much more convincing, especially since any two people can disagree about exactly which rights exist in the fabric of the universe and which don’t.

              1. Re: Tony,

                The only non-mystical way to describe natural rights is as what people have the ability to do in the natural state. But this is not the same thing as a right. If you are prevented from exercising a freedom, you don’t have that right as a matter of fact.

                That’s where you’re wrong – people do not have rights as a matter of operating in a natural state. People have rights as a matter of their ability to act and reason, not by the particular situation.

                The alternative to this Hobbesian conception of rights is Rousseauian social contract theory, wherein rights don’t depend on being innate, but come about by a contractual agreement between citizens and government.

                Rousseau was, unfortunately, very much an idiot – a romantic idiot, but one nonetheless. This “contractual agreement” is a red herring: it is based on the idea that rights come as a post facto consideration: “Oh, by the way . . .”

                If you have government purported to protect contracts, who is there to appeal to when the government breaks the so-called “social contract”?

                Rousseau was of the idea that people were savages that could not govern themselves, hence the “social contract” to have government stop people from being savages. He did not convincingly inform us savages where the suppossedly non-savage overlords were supposed to come from.

                I think the latter is much more convincing, especially since any two people can disagree about exactly which rights exist in the fabric of the universe and which don’t.

                Indeed, said the wolf to the sheep – let’s agree on which rights exist and which don’t, shall we?

              2. People have rights because they own themselves. Murder violates that concept, rape violates it, etc. Since people own themselves they own their labor and thus their stuff they traded their labor for, which can’t be taxed for frivolous purposes unless you can somehow point to the person being taxed being better off and that government is the only way to reap that reward.

      4. The term “democratic consent” doesn’t even make much sense. People cannot collectively consent to something. And other people certainly can’t provide consent for me. Consent is given by an individual, or it really has no meaning.
        You may be right about democratic decision making being the best way to decide such things, but to call it “democratic consent” is disingenuous at best and probably just incoherent.

        1. It works if it’s assumed that you give consent until you revoke it. Lots of contracts work this way.

          If you don’t think so, try committing a crime and then using as your defense the fact that you didn’t consent to this social structure, therefore you aren’t bound by its laws. Is it then tyranny for them to throw your ass in jail?

          1. Re: Tony,

            It works if it’s assumed that you give consent until you revoke it. Lots of contracts work this way.

            No contract I know works that way.

            If you don’t think so, try committing a crime and then using as your defense the fact that you didn’t consent to this social structure, therefore you aren’t bound by its laws.

            The answer to that is that people’s rights do not come by because of social structures or contracts, so your defense is illegitimate.

            Is it then tyranny for them to throw your ass in jail?

            Would it be valid to strip a person of his rights by virtue of a social structure? Revisit the gay marriage question I posited to you many blog posts ago.

          2. Fine. Then I revoke my consent. Now it is tyranny for anyone to put me in jail for any reason.

            It doesn’t work, because I cannot practically revoke my consent to be governed. So it is involuntary and therefore non-consensual.

            If you think that that some sort of majority rule is the best we can do with government, that is a perfectly consistent position and that is fine. Just don’t try to pretend that it has anything to do with consent.

            1. It doesn’t work, because I cannot practically revoke my consent to be governed.

              Well, you can revoke your consent to be governed by this government, by moving someplace where it doesn’t have domain. You may not be able to find a place with no government, but there’s a finite amount of land on the planet, and most of it is governed, often much more oppressively than you experience here.

              That should be enough to constitute revoking of your consent. You like markets right? Well there is a marketplace of about 200 governments out there. That’s plenty to choose from for any product. Nobody is entitled to the perfect mp3 player or the perfect government.

              Of course you can declare your plot of land an independent state, but that would be stealing.

              1. Well, you can revoke your consent to be governed by this government, by moving someplace where it doesn’t have domain.

                That’s not what the US government says….they feel fully within their rights to abduct anyone, anywhere, through “rendition”, and deliver them to any government they please. Or hold them indefinitely in Guantanamo.

              2. Why would that be stealing, out of curiosity? Isn’t your plot of land something which you conceivably paid someone for? And more to the point, how exactly did the *government* acquire the land other than by walking out onto it and simply planting a flag?

                The ridiculous thing is that while homesteading actually makes some sense (land can be claimed based on your use of that land – i.e. building a house/living & maintaining grounds, or building a business on it, etc.) as a default position – that’s something that can only be done by individuals. Government ambling about the land of the world, planting flags and walking away, then hunting down people who don’t think the flag is enough is remarkably ridiculous.

                1. how exactly did the *government* acquire the land other than by walking out onto it and simply planting a flag?

                  Let’s not forget the wholesale slaughter of the previous inhabitants. Governments planting a flag somewhere and being able to defend the area is historically a perfectly legitimate way of acquiring territory. Sure, that’s pretty goofy, but no less so than some guy claiming he has domain over a square of land because he exchanged round pieces of metal for it. It’s all a system that works because we agree on the terms, even though some of them may be totally arbitrary. Government exists to provide those terms, preferably with the consent of the governed.

                  All territory within a country’s border by definition is part of the jurisdiction of that country’s government. It’s only yours because there exists a legal way for you to claim it to be so. You try seceding and see if the US doesn’t consider it at least as bad as stealing.

                  1. Damn right, man! Let’s NOT forget that governments around the world have routinely engaged in wholesale slaughter of indigenous inhabitants so that they could expand their territory!

                    And then somehow, you spend the rest of your post defending the group of murderers who did that??? WTF is wrong with your brain, Tony!?

                    “Governments planting a flag somewhere and being able to defend the area is historically a perfectly legitimate way of acquiring territory. Sure, that’s pretty goofy, but no less so than some guy claiming he has domain over a square of land because he exchanged round pieces of metal for it.”

                    Yeah… Except, those pieces of metal are the abstract representation of legitimate trades made by the trader and some recipient of a good or service! If you don’t actually understand what money is, and why it represents voluntary exchange of goods and the productive activities of man-kind and why that’s a fundamentally different way of acquiring things of value (including land) than walking into a new place, killing everyone who’s there already and planting a flag, then you are the biggest retard on the planet.

                    Regardless, that’s not what I said. What I was talking about was homesteading. Mixing the land with your labor… Going into unoccupied territory, building something on it, etc. Thing is, when you do that, you’ve produced something… Something that didn’t exist before, and which has made you (and potentially others) better off, like a house, or a farm, or a mill, or a factory. And once you’ve done that, you can rightfully say that you own that product, as it was a result of your ideas and your labor that created that thing… And if someone wants to give you pieces of metal for what you’ve created, and you (and everyone else) recognize those pieces of metal as a valid means of abstracting value, then the person who is trading you now owns everything you’ve sold to him. All the terms were voluntary, everyone was made better off in the process, and no one is killed and stolen from. Land once homesteaded can and should be traded in a voluntary process like any other good… The alternative is more guys with guns (or disease ridden blankets) coming in and just killing you and reclaiming the land for themselves violently… Which is the mode of governments and thugs all over the world.

                    How is it that you are unable to recognize money, trading and voluntary action as the superior moral and philosophical underpinning to society? Doubly disconcerting is that you don’t realize that the alternative is violence and force, supposedly “legitimized” by little more than fancy titles and greater numbers.

                  2. And yes, Tony, I get that the US government will consider an attempt to secede and disconnect my property from the government will be frowned upon and retaliated severely against.

                    But why does that make it legitimate?

                    Let’s say I discover an unused spot of Montana in the middle of the woods somewhere. And let’s say I spent a year or three building a nice house, landscaping, setting up an electric generator, and whatever else I need, and trade my services for whatever I can’t make myself. I live there, I raise a family there, I work there, I do all this stuff without any interference from anyone else and no violence or aggression.

                    Then the government shows up and says that the property is “theirs” and I must vacate or pay them an immense sum of money or they will forcibly evict me, throw me in jail and seize all the stuff I built over the years – displacing my family and prohibiting me from working and making a living for myself.

                    By what standard do they do this???

                    By what standard do they claim the right?

                    No one within the governmental organization has set foot on that piece of land since I’ve been there, no one in government helped me build my house, set up my life or anything else. The only people who’ve done anything “for” me, I have paid and voluntarily traded with.

                    So you see where i’m going with this? The government’s *only* standard or claim on my land is the fact that they have bigger and more guns than I have.

                    The ONLY claim they have is that they are willing and capable of instigating severe violence against me which I cannot defend myself against.

                    THEY are the aggressor… They are the thug and the theif. Not the other way around… Regardless of whatever it is their propaganda ministers might say to everyone else.

        2. Just because I believe that plutocratic consent is superior to all other means of deciding how my own freedom should be limited doesn’t mean I don’t also believe in equal protection of the law.

          Just because I believe that autocratic consent is superior to all other means of deciding how my own freedom should be limited doesn’t mean I don’t also believe in equal protection of the law.

          Just because I believe that bureaucratic consent is superior to all other means of deciding how my own freedom should be limited doesn’t mean I don’t also believe in equal protection of the law.

          I figured that while we’re butchering the concept of consent, we might as well make stew out of the bones.

      5. Doesn’t your world view hold that it is the majority that sets the laws; as opposed to a kind of natural law derivable from reason? Such that if there are some inalienable natural rights out there, shouldn’t infringement upon them be beyond the power of the majority? What differentiates infringing upon someone’s freedom based upon the fact that they are gay from doing the same based upon the fact that they had a rich dad or just thrived in a rich society? Very few people just have wealth dumped upon them by pure luck, most people are born with some advantages and disadvantages but it matters a great deal how people use them; while minarchist libertarians accept taxes for things like the police and military paying for one of the biggest advantages in society, they get other wealth through mutually beneficial trade, and much of the wealth they inherit was created and willingly bequeathed to them from the ancestors who specifically worked or fought for the next generation. So I feel even with the existence of luck, individuals still have a strong moral claim to their property; at the very least a stronger claim than some other person on the street who didn’t or whose ancestors didn’t use their advantages as well as others.

        1. It looks like Tony’s further posts make this clear; but the bottom line is that although in some circumstances government by majority rule is necessary to get a job done that a kind of market spontaneous order won’t provide, the fact that the majority says something is ok does mean it is so.

          This doesn’t rely on some “mystical conception of natural law”, but simply the belief that we own ourseleves and by extension the fruits of our labor; and thus the only reason for government to attempt to alter that endowment is to solve collective action problems that leave everyone better or no worse off based upon presumed consent if all other individuals consented. Self ownership determines the natural law, and if you want to infringe upon it in anyway you must provide an explanation of why freedom won’t work and then how will government stepping in solve the problem and make everyone better off including the person whose rights are being infringed.

          As Sean Malone mentioned earlier, on most things government has terrible incentives and a complete lack of knowledge on how to run them better than markets. Sure “the trains run on time” now more or less but that doesn’t mean that things wouldn’t get done and likely done better if government just got out of the way. Government depends entirely on assuming away second order effects and pointing to “the seen” to justify itself, even when it’s not that hard to observe “the unseen” getting messed up; with a good dose of relativism and bullshit to claim that natural rights that get violated in the process don’t really exist anyways so it doesn’t matter if they screw stuff up.

  42. Old Mexican, I don’t remember how long you’ve been hangin out here, but I have enjoyed your comments. They have just the right balance of fact, logic and sarcasm. Thank you for your contributions.

  43. Conflicts among autonomous individuals arise the moment you step off your front porch.

    And how many of these “conflicts” REQUIRE the mediation of the government?

    1. As many as you can’t resolve on your own. Any claim you make to your property is backed up by government. Otherwise anyone with a bigger stick gets to claim it, and without government to resolve the dispute, or prevent it in the first place, all you’re left with is whining about your natural rights to someone who doesn’t give a damn because he has a bigger stick.

      1. Re: Tony,

        As many as you can’t resolve on your own. Any claim you make to your property is backed up by government.

        If a claim has to be backed up by government alone then it is not a valid claim. A claim has to be backed by LAW and RIGHTS – no need for government.

        Otherwise anyone with a bigger stick gets to claim it, and without government to resolve the dispute, or prevent it in the first place, all you’re left with is whining about your natural rights

        Indeed – and that has been the awful truth for many, considering the government IS the one carrying the stick (Eminent Domain, Environmental “laws”, Taxation, Seizure by fiat…)

        1. If a claim has to be backed up by government alone then it is not a valid claim. A claim has to be backed by LAW and RIGHTS – no need for government.

          And how do you have laws without government? How do you have rights for that matter? Who gets to decide? Again, pretty much the person with the bigger stick, in the absence of government.

          Indeed – and that has been the awful truth for many, considering the government IS the one carrying the stick (Eminent Domain, Environmental “laws”, Taxation, Seizure by fiat…)

          Right, government is the only entity with the legitimate right to use force. That’s what defines a government. Otherwise everyone has an equally valid claim to the right to use force, and we have anarchy.

          1. Re: Tony,

            And how do you have laws without government?

            How do you treat others without government? Does it not make sense to treat them as you want to be treated? And if enough people find the same just as reasonable, don’t you THEN have a LAW upon which to base your judgments?

            You don’t need government to FIGURE OUT the Law. The LAW can be determined by reason alone – that which is good, and that which is evil, can be arrived at through reason.

            How do you have rights for that matter? Who gets to decide?

            You have RIGHTS by virtue of your reason and ability to ACT. Or, did you ask your parasitic owner (read The Puppet Masters) before you wrote your words? Or did you file your papers with the government? No, you used your mind, you made the choice and acted upon it. That’s freedom.

            Again, pretty much the person with the bigger stick, in the absence of government.

            In the absence of government, people can always band together with smaller sticks, like they did in the Old West.

            Right, government is the only entity with the legitimate right to use force. That’s what defines a government.

            Well, the word legitimate is only your opinion. It does have the monopoly of force.

            Otherwise everyone has an equally valid claim to the right to use force, and we have anarchy.

            God forbid! Imagine that – disputes having to be settled in a reasonable way so that nobody gets hurt!

            1. How do you treat others without government? Does it not make sense to treat them as you want to be treated? And if enough people find the same just as reasonable, don’t you THEN have a LAW upon which to base your judgments?

              You can decide, via what you call reason, how to act in a collective all you want, till someone from down the street decides he wants to act in a different way and comes to bash your head in and take your stuff. Why can’t people collectively agree that a government is the best way to prevent this?

              Get any group of people of sufficient size together and governments come about spontaneously. It can take many forms, most of which aren’t conducive to individual freedom. I believe the best form is the one in which everyone has an equal voice in it.

              You have RIGHTS by virtue of your reason and ability to ACT.

              Platitudes don’t become substantial facts by repetition. Most every human being has the ability to reason and act. How come only a tiny fraction throughout history have enjoyed individual rights?

              In the absence of government, people can always band together with smaller sticks, like they did in the Old West.

              Because the Old West is the model of a society that protects individual freedom. What happens when you have tens of millions of people needing to interact with each other? Band together and create a representative democratic government? Or is the freedom to do that not allowed?

              Well, the word legitimate is only your opinion. It does have the monopoly of force.

              It doesn’t have a monopoly on force. It has a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. Nobody can assault me without the express permission of government, and insofar as I have the right to use violence (say, in self-defense), it exists only by statute (the permission of government).

              Without this central principle, everyone is free to act with force with impunity, and nobody has a higher claim on legitimacy than anyone else.

              God forbid! Imagine that – disputes having to be settled in a reasonable way so that nobody gets hurt!

              Well aren’t you Miss Pollyanna Prissy Pants. Since I’ve amply demonstrated that lacking a principle of who gets to use force legitimately, anyone can claim the right to use it. Your enlightened pockets of self-governing individuals are pretty much sitting targets for the neighboring group who’s decided it’s more efficient just to kill you and take your stuff. Ah, anarchy, sounds so wonderful.

              1. Re: Tony,

                You can decide, via what you call reason, how to act in a collective all you want, till someone from down the street decides he wants to act in a different way and comes to bash your head in and take your stuff.

                A) I don’t see how government can stop a determined individual from bashing my head, and B) I don’t see then how relying sorely on government will help ME.

                Why can’t people collectively agree that a government is the best way to prevent this?

                Many here already addressed the problem with “collectively” deciding anything.

                Get any group of people of sufficient size together and governments come about spontaneously.

                I played street soccer many times when I was little and I be damned if just by virtue of coming together we would have a guy with a baseball bat playing the role of cop. You’re just making stuff up.

                It can take many forms, most of which aren’t conducive to individual freedom. I believe the best form is the one in which everyone has an equal voice in it.

                Many of us here already addressed the problem of collectively deciding anything, Tony. Having an “equal voice” amounts to nothing when the wolves speak as loudly as the sheep – if the wolves ooutnumber the sheep, then the wolves will have the larger vote on what to have for dinner.

                Platitudes don’t become substantial facts by repetition.

                I will remember you said that next time you repeat the canard that governments are legitimate because people vote them that way.

                Most every human being has the ability to reason and act. How come only a tiny fraction throughout history have enjoyed individual rights?

                What do you mean a “tiny fraction”? There are more people alive today than all of history combined.

                Also, acquiescing to tyrants IS a free choice, Tony.

                Because the Old West is the model of a society that protects individual freedom.

                Not a model, Tony – an example. And NO, the West was NOT wild.

                What happens when you have tens of millions of people needing to interact with each other?

                That’s what phones are for. If you are asking “How do they interact in such a way they do not step on each other rights”, the answer to that is: Reasonable Expectations. People end up better off when they trade freely and honestly, worse off when somebody steals. People detect the fraudulent quite quickly, much quicker than government (judging by how “quickly” the got their hands on Bernie Madoff), and stop transactions with the dishonest.

                It doesn’t have a monopoly on force.

                Of course it does.

                It has a monopoly on the legitimate use of force.

                That’s a red herring – a government calling itself “legitimate” will say that their wielding of power is “legitimate.”

                Nobody can assault me without the express permission of government, and insofar as I have the right to use violence (say, in self-defense), it exists only by statute (the permission of government).

                Makes for an interesting case of having to license people to defend themselves . . . while being attacked.

                “911?”
                “Please – I need to file a permit to defend myself from an assailant!”
                “Ok, please fill in form SF-88 and SF-101, in triplicate.”
                “No! Stop! Aarrrgh!!! . . . ”
                “Ma’am?”

                Without this central principle, everyone is free to act with force with impunity,

                That’s bullshit – try enter someone’s home. I suggest one that has a sign outside that says “NRA Member since 1972” and see how much impunity you have.

                Well aren’t you Miss Pollyanna Prissy Pants. Since I’ve amply demonstrated that lacking a principle of who gets to use force legitimately, anyone can claim the right to use it.

                Well, anybody can – does not mean that they can actuall ACT upon it, government or not.

                Your enlightened pockets of self-governing individuals are pretty much sitting targets for the neighboring group who’s decided it’s more efficient just to kill you and take your stuff.

                You mean like the IRS?

      2. I’d hate to live in Tony’s world, where nobody can do anything with anyone else without government there to facilitate it. Didn’t Elinor Ostrom just win a Nobel prize in economics for demonstrating that locally-defined norms, not governmental, tend to be the most efficient at resolving conflict and allocating resources?

        Na, couldn’t be, because Tony told me it’s all rule of the jungle out there until the government comes in and raises us from our brute stupidity.

        1. Hate to break it to you but you do live in Tony’s world. The things I’m talking about are mostly descriptive rather than normative.

          I think you’re misreading Ostrom. Do you like what she has to say about private property rights? Besides, even she admits her ideas don’t apply to groups of people larger than a few thousand. Beyond this, norms are hard to enforce and free-riding becomes hard to avoid. You’d need government at this point.

          1. So the only reason we aren’t brute savages is government? I don’t buy it. If that were the case then only the Soviets would have been halfway human.

            1. Seriously… Tony’s positions are almost entirely a product of the portrayal of people in bad movies.

              1. Or from some Hobbesian concept of the state of nature, omg without government it would be so bad we must tolerate government no matter what it does! So is this conception that good and evil, right and wrong only exist when there is some coercive authority defining them as such.

                I’m not an anarchist, but since natural law can be derived through reason; there are some natural limits that government cannot justly cross that are more than merely things the majority of people disagree with.

            2. No, the only reason we aren’t savages isn’t government. It’s necessary but not sufficient.

              1. Your statement makes no sense, and you’re ripping off Friedman in the process.

                Let me turn it around. You’ve just said:

                “Lack of government is a necessary, but not a sufficient, condition for people to become savages.”

                While I suppose it’s true that “savages” wouldn’t have much use for a government I don’t see how that’s a key part of being a savage. I’m quite certain that if you just took every single person on this message board and put them into a community with no government… Including you, Tony (I’m giving you a benefit of the doubt that I wouldn’t give someone like Chad, for instance)… We would not degenerate into cannibals, rapists & murderers.

                My extremely realistic guess is that we would get along quite well, trading and exchanging with each other without violence of any kind. If resources were scarce, I would be willing to wager just about anything that the people on this board would probably solve that problem by creating a bidding process, and things would sort themselves out rather handily.

                Point is. Lack of government has no bearing on whether or not people are going to be savages. It’s an unrelated issue. But it comes back to your annoying conflation of “society” and “government”. These aren’t the same things, and frankly – government is the one that rewards savagery. See your own post above about how governments historical use of genocide to take stuff from original inhabitants of land.

                1. That’s because, for the most part, this message board is inhabited by *adults*.

                  Adults can take responsibility for their own actions, and do not need a parental figure watching over them.

  44. “The international donor community classifies Haiti as a fragile state ? the government cannot or will not deliver core functions to the majority of its people . . .

    Kind of like America’s – people have yet to see the “core functions” like uber-limited government and no international entanglements. But maybe it’s all subjective.

    Others have variously characterized Haiti as a nightmare, predator, collapsed, failed, failing, parasitic, kleptocratic, phantom, virtual or pariah state.

    Wow! Sounds exactly like America’s . . . Uh, except for the virtual part: America’s kleptocratic and predatory state is all too real.

  45. The biggest problem with Haiti is Haitians – the haves and the have-nots. How about if we just call it “Bush’s fault?” Nice and resolute.

    It’s not the fault or responsibility of the US electorate for continuing to elect fuckheads to office and perpetuating their stay in office, it’s the fuckhead politicians that keep running. It’s their fault.

    You can’t blame politicians for taking bribes (campaign contibutions and/or accepted legal/illegal sundry forms of favors) from lobbyists to stay in power. It’s the lobbyists’ fault.

    This could go on forever. Here’s a solution for Haiti that should be popular: a surtax on the wealthy here in the States (the Retroactive Haitian Slavery Reparation Tax) or a Haitian Responsibility Tax on banks in the US.

  46. But wait- Pat Robertson said it’s because they made a pact with Satan a couple hundred years ago. It’s inconceivable that he’s just a jackass.

    1. Nooge, I believe Danny Glover explained it better – you see, the tragedy happened because Obama did not get what he wanted at Copenhagen.

      So you ahve two explanations – the Haitians were cursed, or they are victims of Global Warming. Maybe it is both . . . and then we can also throw in that they don’t have access to free healthcare.

      1. I bet if we can get the global warming crown to blame climate change on Satan, Robertson would be all for it!

    2. He’s just misinformed. They actually made a pact with Stan.

      1. No, Santa. He flies through the air the other 364 nights and slips down Haitian chimneys to steal everything. It’s how he finances his free toy distribution empire. The Haitians have all sacrificed material wealth not only so they could be free, but so that the rest of us could have toys Christmas.

  47. Uh-huh. Nobody’s responsible. Nope.

  48. Of Plundering and Men.

    (PEOPLE.com) — Nicolas Cage is determined to get his financial house in order and to pay the IRS all that he owes in back taxes.

    While the government recently placed a tax lien on his real-estate holdings, including an additional $6.7 million from 2008, “over the course of my career I have paid at least $70 million in taxes, unfortunately, due to a recent legal situation, another approximate $14 million is owed to the IRS,” Cage told PEOPLE in an exclusive statement.

    However, I am under new business management and am happy to say that I am current for 2009, all taxes will be paid including any to be determined state taxes.

    Cage will next be seen in the thriller “Season of the Witch” in March.

    What services did he get back from the gun-vermin-int that were worth $84 million USD?

    Next time, Nick, get your contract to stipulate to be paid in US Gold Eagles and then report your income sorely on the stamped value of the coins.

    1. “be paid in US Gold Eagles and then report your income sorely on the stamped value of the coins.”

      That’s brilliant. I wonder if anyone has tried it.

      1. Yep, it was tried – it almost worked, and only just because the judge decided to play advocate for the State.

        http://www.liberty-watch.com/volume03/issue08/coverstory.php

    2. Next time, Nick, get your contract to stipulate to be paid in US Gold Eagles and then report your income sorely on the stamped value of the coins.

      Does that work?

      And how?

      1. Right now, the US Gov will not protect contractual agreements stipulating payment in Gold, only Legal Tender. However, an actor with the revenue potential as Nicolas Cage can stipulate payment in US Gold Eagles in his contract by saying that he wants his salary to be “this much in legal tender US gold eagles” (let’s say $800,000.00 in US $50.00 Gold Eagles) and pay taxes only on the stamped value of his coins. $800,000.00 of $50.00 US Gold Eagles comes about $16 million in the open market, which can be anywhere – he can open an account in Switzerland and sell his coins there – he can always travel with less than $10,000 USD, which would be something like 200 gold coins.

        1. Eagles are, in fact, legal tender. They are stamped by the US Mint, after all.

          I think the potential catch here would be that your basis in the coins would be their legal tender value, but when you sell them at their market value, the difference would be taxable.

          I would note, however, that this would be taxed as a capital gain, and possibly even a long-term capital gain, so anyone in a high tax bracket would come out ahead.

          This is driving me nuts now. I’m wondering if I shouldn’t ask to be paid in Eagles. It sure seems like it would knock my income tax way the hell down.

          1. I think the potential catch here would be that your basis in the coins would be their legal tender value, but when you sell them at their market value, the difference would be taxable.

            True but that would be capital gains tax which is like 15% not the 35% income tax.

            1. Crap i should finish reading the whole post before replying to it.

  49. I put up a site through Mercy Corps (a private aid group recommended by Cato’s Tom Palmer) to channel donations by liberty-minded-types:

    http://www.mercycorps.org/fundraising/vanlibete

  50. Dear Steve,

    Thank you for this article. It touches on the fact that individual virtue does not account for our relatively high level of welfare in America as compared to Haiti, but it gives few reasons. At marginalrevolution.com, an interesting discussion flared up, at a supposedly free market site, in which a large number of historical determinists clashed with an almost equally large number of geographic determinists (ie., their leader will be called Jared Diamond).

    I have personal experience tackling the problem of Haiti from a humanitarian aid worker perspective. When I was there in 2006, I battled with MINUSTAH, the mission of which was ‘stabilization’ for elections, which its name accurately states, in order to break away humanitarian aid functions from the peacekeeping mission, as they were entirely subsumed as compared to other priorities.

    Among the meetings I had during that failed mission were two that particularly stick out in my mind. One was with the folks at UNEP, where an Algerian who had been posted more than 3 years described to me how $100 million a year had been spent on reforestation to no avail. The frustration was palpable, but he had hit on something I share as an economist and geographer, and that was that without property rights, noone had any incentive to preserve the saplings planted to maturity. It was a rational race to the saplings to turn them into charcoal. If you didn’t, your neighbor certainly would.

    A second meeting I had following that was with cadastre, which had not been called to a meeting by the UN, ever (or by USAID). They described to me the horrid state of property rights in Haiti, where 99% of Haiti, almost everything outside of the prosperous area of Petionville, lacked land titles.

    As Americans, we should reflect on our good fortune for having had George Washington the surveyor as our first President, and the Northwest Ordinance as our first law drafted. The order this brought our country’s expansion really sets the United States apart from the rest of the Americas, where hacendados were dominant, and this territorial ordering was tremendously influential on the distribution of wealth over the coming decades and centuries. In Haiti, the slave revolution left no coherent property rights structure in place. Today, even the distribution of public water resources is frequently co-opted by armed actors which charge impoverished residents for access. The looting of public goods for private profits is one of the few economic activities left intact. While there is a long list of additional factors which can be mentioned from the historical and geographical determinst camp, property rights should, in my view, top the list of the reasons Haiti is impoverished today.

    Best regards,

    JR

    1. thanks for sharing your experience JR. Something as basic as property ownership/rights should be at the top of the “to do” list in Haiti.

  51. Also, taxation is not theft because it’s legal, and theft is by definition illegal.

    Chonyward, you ruin the troll performance art when you make it so obvious.

    1. Also, taxation is not theft because it’s legal, and theft is by definition illegal.

      So circular it makes my head spin…

  52. Their misfortune, but still their responsibility.

  53. Apparently, Steve Chapman is on vacation

  54. Tony, stop plagiarizing from the Critiques of Libertarianism FAQ. First of all, you shouldn’t plagiarize. Second of all, the arguments on that website are either idiotic or not even relevant to any libertarian who knows the basic philosophical roots behind his ideas.

  55. Tony said: No one deserves to be better off than others. The purpose of a progressive state is to drive people towards equity and fairness.

    And there is only one way towards that: DOWNWARDS.

    1. To be fair, that quote is from someone pretending to be Tony, although it seems close to what Tony would actually say.

  56. 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.

  57. I like your point! It is of wisdom.

  58. Thank you for this article. It touches on the fact that individual virtue does not account for our relatively high level of welfare in America as compared to Haiti, but it gives few reasons. At marginalrevolution.com, an interesting discussion flared up, at a supposedly free market site, in which a large number of historicalreplica omega determinists clashed with an almost equally large number of geographic determinists (ie., their leader will be called Jared Diamond).

  59. This can be a fascinating matter if you ask me… The majority some of our world : even though suffering from one particular governmental decree as well as additional : tend to be manage within lack regarding any one showing us all how to proceed. Each day men and women socialize quietly, stock trading products, savoring excellent situations, having faith in men and women in addition to the rest… Most people complete almost all this specific at all times without aid through govt, without expertise in govt administrators, plus it succeeds properly. POST want to be able to ask yourself what exactly is transpired within Tony’s living which can make your ex believe with no an individual directed firearms from men and women placing your order these folks all-around every thing would certainly look at terrible. Finnish Lapphund breed

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