History

Now We See the Conflict Inherent in the System

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The Browser's Eve Gerber recently interviewed liberal Columbia University historian Eric Foner about the five books he thinks best illustrate "how concepts of American liberalism have changed over the past 50 years." It's an interesting selection and Foner makes some sharp points about the racism and hostility to civil liberties that you find when you start looking at Progressive Era left-wing reformers. But his thoughts on the tensions within today's progressive movement are particularly illuminating. Here's the relevant Q&A:

What would you define as the core tenets of today's progressivism?

As I see it, the core tenets are somewhat at odds with each other. On the one hand you have the belief in governmental assistance to the less fortunate, governmental regulation of economic activity and very modest governmental efforts to redistribute wealth to assist those further down the social scale. So it's active government, in the pursuit of social goals, when it comes to the economy. On the other hand, modern liberalism emphasises privacy, individual rights and civil liberties – keeping government out of your life when it comes to things like abortion rights. In other words, in the private realm liberalism is for autonomy and lack of government intervention.

Foner returns to this point later in the interview, noting that modern liberalism features two "conflicting tendencies," support for "activist government" on the one hand and support for "retaining an area of life sealed off from government intrusion, surveillance and intervention" on the other. You could make a similar observation about the conflicts inherent in modern conservatism, which also generally prefers activist government in some areas and a more libertarian approach in others.

The upshot for libertarians is that there are strong anti-statist tendencies among both liberals and conservatives. The downside is that both camps also appear to love activist government much more than they fear it.

NEXT: Reason Writers Around Town: Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch on the Debt Ceiling and Independents in the L.A. Times

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  1. very modest governmental efforts to redistribute wealth

    BWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH ha-ha-ha-haaaaaa!!! *snort* GASP wheeze — !!!

    1. When you think it would be just for every person in a society to have the exact same level of material wealth, programs like food stamps must seem small.

    2. My reaction exactly. Well, I wheezed twice, but otherwise…

  2. Why do liberals have to accept the “statist/anti-statist” frame of things? Everyone wants government to do be active in certain areas and lay off in others. There’s no contradiction because the primary motivation is not keeping government out of people’s lives, it’s improving people’s lives by whatever means are available, whether through government action in the economy or through government vigilance in not invading privacy.

    1. I don’t see why it’s so hard to trust that a government that raids Amish farmers for selling raw milk wouldn’t have the restraint not to do things like warrantless wiretapping.

    2. Everyone wants government to do be active in certain areas and lay off in others.

      For someone exposed to libertarians everyday, you seem to have completely missed the point.

      1. Or it’s a sockuppet arguing in purposefully bad faith. Shocking, I know.

      2. Libertarians, as I’m often reminded, aren’t anarchists.

        1. Not bad, Tony.

          The problem is that your “side” is much more philosophically and logically inconsistent than the libertarian side. Libertarians may have disagreements and even some contradictory positions, but that does not compare to the mishmash that is “progressivism”.

          1. I don’t know what form of progressivism you have in your head, but its positions only seem contradictory if you expect them to live within the zero-sum libertarian framework of government=bad. Progressivism sees government as the only institution that is supposed to, and is empowered to, act on behalf of the people. So to liberals (I prefer that term), attacks on the concept of government itself are simply attacks on the democratic power of the people. That’s no solution to anything, no matter how bad government is. Ideally it’s supposed to place the people’s interests above those of powerful private, nondemocratic entities and other forces that may act against them if unchecked. To the extent that government fails in this and only works in the interests of the elite, it’s bad government. But that doesn’t mean all government is bad–no government is probably the worst possible alternative, after all.

            1. You are right: you are not inconsistent, you are all are insane.

              it’s supposed to place the people’s interests above those of powerful private, nondemocratic entities

              Define “nondemocratic”. The majority of institutions outside of government still operate on popular appeal (limited to a constituent group, which, face it, the government is limited, too). For example, corporations have to please the holders of a majority of shares, HOAs and other private organizations hold elections, churches usually have governing councils that are elected. So what are these “nondemocratic” institutions our White Knight Government is defending us from?

              And what are the interests of the so-called “elite” versus the “nonelite”, and why do progressives believe government should work for one and not the other?

              1. Government is by definition the only entity that acts on behalf of all the people. If it’s a democratic government, it does so with their democratic consent. That means a poor person has exactly the same say as a wealthy person (in theory). Since the wealthy person will have power by virtue of his wealth, government remains the only entity that gives poor people any voice at all in the society they live in. Surely you can appreciate that attacks on government itself seem often as a smokescreen for attacks on the interests of people for whom government is the only entity responsible for their interests and grievances.

                Sure other institutions may have democratic qualities like voting, but none of them admit access to everyone. If you’re a poor person, how much power do you have over anything? Except, in theory, a government that must respond to your democratic agency and that of other people like you.

                It’s no coincidence that the antigovernment movement of the last 30 years has gained power as the economic and political power of the non-elite have diminished radically.

                1. Government is by definition the only entity that acts on behalf of all the people.

                  There is no such thing as rent seeking, nope, none!

                2. “Government is by definition the only entity that acts on behalf of all the people.”

                  Considering that the “people” are not a monolith, I doubt that government can be all good all the time for all.

                  But I would ask a number of questions:
                  1. Was the government acting on our behalf on attacking (or liberating – which ever word you like) Iraq?
                  2. Substitute Afghanistan
                  3. Has the Federal Reserve been a good stewart of the economy?
                  4. Was Tarp et al good policy?
                  5. As Gore won the popular vote, did the government make a good decision in making Bush president?
                  6. What percentage of republicans are honorable?
                  7. Was Bob Rubin, Larry Summers, Ben Bernanke, and Tim Geithner good appointments?
                  8. Has government been effective at reducing poverty?
                  http://www.econlib.org/library…..erica.html
                  if not, why not?

                3. Government is by definition the only entity that acts on behalf of all the people.

                  That’s not what ‘by definition’ means, you moron. And I can think of governments that act only on behalf of a few people – absolute monarchies, for example, so I guess your ‘definition’ is fucked. At any rate, governments clearly don’t act on behalf of the people who disagree with them.

                  If it’s a democratic government, it does so with their democratic consent.

                  When are you going to be done abusing the word ‘consent’? If nine people in ten want to rape the tenth, the tenth hasn’t consented.

                  Since the wealthy person will have power by virtue of his wealth, government remains the only entity that gives poor people any voice at all in the society they live in.

                  “If you haven’t got money, you’ve got to have violence.” Nevermind that the poor can live by their own strength or the charity of others – nope, they have to steal.

            2. and what do you do if the government doesn’t act on behalf of “the people”? Examples are numerous.

              1. and what do you do if the government doesn’t act on behalf of “the people”? Examples are numerous.

                Start a revolution. Not my preferred solution in this country, where government fails to act on behalf of the people in a huge way. But I’m not gonna encourage revolution in a country where right-wing fanatics are the ones itching for it most.

                1. So we need revolutions? But how do you know “your” side will win?

                  Now I know you are a sockpuppet.

                  1. Generally I’m not in favor of revolutions–they rarely turn out well. The usual method people have to reject a government they don’t like is to elect a new one. Is there an alternative to these two choices?

            3. Re: Tony,

              [B]ut its positions only seem contradictory if you expect them to live within the zero-sum libertarian framework of government=bad.

              This tells me you have no grasp of the concept of “zero-sum,” making you liable to commit the sin of equivocation.

              Progressivism sees government as the only institution that is supposed to, and is empowered to, act on behalf of the people.

              That would make Progressivism a religion.

              So to liberals […] attacks on the concept of government itself are simply attacks on the democratic power of the people.

              I rest my case.

              1. The other part that disturbs me is that families are nondemocratic institutions and, on the aggregate, familial ties are some of the most powerful bonds on Planet Earth. Should the government be working to undermine this powerful, nondemocratic institution?

                Democracy is great when it is appropriate, but not everything should be up for a fucking vote.

                1. Families by definition contain children, who aren’t allowed to vote even though government policies affect them too. Democracy isn’t appropriate in all situations. Like the military. But without democratic will at the base of public policy, all you have left is one form of tyranny or another. Libertarian daddy knows best is one possible form.

                  1. Democratic “will” (to power?) is tyranny of the majority.

                    1. Only if it it violates individual rights–things that are still subject to democratic will (just a higher majoritarian barrier than other things). It may not always produce optimal outcomes, but what’s the alternative except tyranny of some individual or minority who thinks they know best?

                    2. Only if it it violates individual rights–things that are still subject to democratic will (just a higher majoritarian barrier than other things)

                      I am sorry, but did you just say that “rights” are subject to a majority vote?

                    3. tyranny of some individual or minority who thinks they know best?

                      Wholly unintentional irony, so rich and nougat-y, it literally makes you fatter just reading it.

                    4. Only if it it violates individual rights–things that are still subject to democratic will (just a higher majoritarian barrier than other things). It may not always produce optimal outcomes, but what’s the alternative except tyranny of some individual or minority who thinks they know best?

                      Now, either this is a spoof, or Tony definitely has some kind of brain illness that makes him forget arguments put to him previously. I mean, he can’t really be this disingenuous, can he?

                  2. Tony, it is almost as if Republican Rule never happens in your world. This fancy philosophical two-step in which you are currently engaged is an attempt to justify permanent Democratic rule, despite the fact that there is a total illogicality to the argument and, worse, you know that this argument is false, but you keep it up.

                    1. No, I have to accept Republican rule if that’s what the people indicate they want. I’m still waiting to hear an alternative that’s not a form of tyranny.

                      Yes, your rights are quite clearly subject to (super)majority vote. The Bill of Rights can be repealed, can it not?

                    2. Yes, your rights are quite clearly subject to (super)majority vote. The Bill of Rights can be repealed, can it not?

                      So what is your moral authority for claiming that anything should be an inalienable right? How can you condemn those states that do not allow gay marriage? How can you condemn those nations that execute people without trial? After all, in those particular polities, the majority is either acquiescing to, or actively encouraging, the suspension of rights. If you believe that anything that is defined by the State is a right, then you are at the point where rights are nothing more than a tautology, and you possess absolutely no authority to condemn or applaud State action in any realm.

                    3. I don’t think you are on any firmer ground. Rights are inventions of human beings, they do not exist in the fabric of the universe. We both think certain rights are good based on moral premises. The state works to make those rights real, and that’s true for you and for me. What exactly are you appealing to that’s so superior?

                    4. I think rights are an inherent part of what it means to be human. I think rights are a logical necessity to actualize a human being’s faculties.

                      You, on the other hand, think that rights exist on the whim of the supermajority. I can actively protest those times when rights are violated; you can’t, because you have subordinated morality to the majority, and you must condone anything the majority does, by your own standards.

                    5. I think rights are an inherent part of what it means to be human. I think rights are a logical necessity to actualize a human being’s faculties.

                      I can say almost the same thing: rights are useful for these ends. But “inherent part of what it means to be human” doesn’t mean anything. It’s mysticism. We’re just bags of meat.

                      It is not my opinion, but absolute fact, that our rights are subject to the “whim” of the supermajority. It’s a supermajority intead of just a majority specifically to reduce the whim-like quality of that reality. Do you deny that the Bill of Rights could, in theory, be repealed? What right do you have to your guns then? Only what government doesn’t take away.

                      This fact absolute does not mean I have to condone everything the majority does. It can, and often does, get it wrong. My point isn’t that what majorities do is right, but, as the founders and their sources in political philosophy put it, it’s what makes it legitimate.

                      You seem to want to force even near-unanimous democratic will to subject itself to your arbitrary system of morality. Why do you get that power? Why should anyone? What makes you right and a right-wing Christian theocrat wrong? To which authority do you appeal to decide what the correct morality is to impose on people?

                    6. To which authority do you appeal to decide what the correct morality is to impose on people?

                      The authority of everyone over their own (and only their own) lives. This has been explained to you before. “Leave me alone.” is not an imposition.

                    7. Tony, are you saying you have no objection to execution without trial as long as that’s the majority will?

                    8. Two Tonies and a Blue Moon deciding what’s for lunch? What a delicious topic!

                    9. Tony|7.26.11 @ 12:35PM|#
                      No, I have to accept Republican rule if that’s what the people indicate they want. I’m still waiting to hear an alternative that’s not a form of tyranny.

                      Yes, your rights are quite clearly subject to (super)majority vote. The Bill of Rights can be repealed, can it not?

                      ————————-

                      You prove my statement about your character correct time after time. I’ll say it again. If you had been born and raised in the Soviet Union, you would not have been a person demanding rights, nor would you have been a person who avoided contact with the government in order to keep a low profile and keep safe. No, you would have been a person in lock step with the murderers who ran that nation as they marched people off to their deaths/intentionally starved them. You would have supported them fully. You prove yourself to be a twisted f*ck over and over.

                    10. Alex you don’t know anything about my character. I’m simply saying something that’s trivially true: you don’t have rights if they aren’t protected. Rights don’t exist in the fabric of nature. They are human inventions that have to be maintained.

                    11. Jesus H. Christ you are a moron.

                      The Bill of Rights was never intended to give Americans rights; it was designed to protect their rights from infringement by the new and powerful central government under the Constitution.

                  3. Even with democratic will at the base of public policy you still have a form of tyranny.

                    1. The tyranny of the majority.

                      So if 51% vote to kill off the other 49% – no problem!

                    2. Tony attributes magic to the terms, “will of the people” and “democratic will” and that their very invocation should just transform us into being progressive flag wavers.

                      The founders did not think much of democracy. Look it up.

                      Democracy is tyranny. Its socialism, communism and the administrative state and by the national security / perpetual surveillance / military industrial complex.

                      BTW, democracies are much more apt to initiate and escalate wars than non-democracies.

                    3. So for the love of God can you, Libertymike, describe the alternative. Don’t say “constitutional republic,” which is just a form of democracy as I’m using the term. Offer an alternative that’s better than people being asked for their consent in how they are governed. Nobody has done this yet and I’ve asked a lot.

                    4. You’re a liar, sockpuppet. I’ve advocated anarchism long and hard (haha), and you and I have debated it, in detail, before. So when you say that no one has ever offered you an alternative, you’re lying.

                      Of course, if you rest of the word “better”, then that’s subjective and you can always easily claim that no one has ever offered you a “better” alternative, because you’re the one who is getting to decide what you think is “better”. Then you’re not a liar, just disingenuous.

                    5. *should have been, “if you rest on the word better”

                    6. I’m pretty sure the entire point of any form of government is that it’s better than anarchy. You have not made your case.

                    7. So when you say no one has offered you a “better” alternative, you’re resting on the completely bullshit application of the word “better”.

                      Which means that essentially, you will always be able to make that complaint, since you’re the only one who can decide if you personally think something is “better” or not.

                      You are not arguing in good faith.

                      And the point of gov’t is to rule over people; it has nothing to do with the moral convictions of it being “better” than nothing. Many original gov’ts were priest-kings who did nothing for their societies except leech, and were able to do so only after agriculture allowed excesses to be produced, and thus able to support non-productive and useless members of society. The advancement came first, then the rulers appeared to take advantage of it; the rulers did not produce the advancement.

                    8. Anarchy, unless proved otherwise, will always be among the worst possible options–it is almost by definition so. All you have is speculation about fairy tale worlds, whose rules you can make up to suit your purposes.

                    9. Seriously, Tony, you need to taboo ‘by definition’. It’s making you sound like a moron.

                    10. Tony, as a progressive, I would assume that you would not favor business combinations which resulted in a given concern having a monopoly in a particular market. Is this assumption correct?

                      If so, I would assume that you do not favor monopolies in a given market because the monopolist would reap profits otherwise unattainable in a perfectly competitive marketplace for the good or service produced or rendered. My bet is that you would also not like the misallocation of resources which always inheres with monopoly.

                      Moreover, you probably do not like the mediocrity and lack of innovation which always ensue with monopolies.

                      Thus, why do you think that the above do not apply to government? By government, I mean any entity which purports to have a monopoly over currency, law and violence?

                      There are some of us here who do agree with your contempt of “the rich” when “the rich” are the Paulsons and Buffets of the world who use government to enrich themselves at our expense. (Yes, Buffet. A good deal of his fortune was predicated upon buying privately held family businesses unable to ante up the death tax tab due Uncle Sam, on the cheap).

                      So, alternative? First, as a free and sovereign individual, I am not beholden to Caesar and Empire. Guess what? You and OM and Blue Moon aren’t either.

                      Second, please read Rothbard. Please, read For a New Liberty, chapters 10, 11, and 12. Competition Tony, competition!

                      Third, if you have to identify with statist pop culture in order to see the light:

                      Watch Your Eyes Only. Near the end of the movie, you will observe Roger Moore throwing the computer guidance system, ATAX (IIRC) off the mountain and then telling Walter Gotell, “that’s detente, comrade; you don’t have it and I don’t have it.”

                      Tony, we all would live more prosperously and peacefully when we throw government off the mountain. You won’t have it and I won’t have it.

                    11. Libertymike monopolies are bad in capitalism because they undermine the purpose of capitalism: to serve as a tool to promote innovation and decrease prices. That doesn’t mean all monopolies of any kind are bad. Government is supposed to be a monopoly on legitimate force. What’s the alternative? Farm out force and see which private entity gets the best at it at the lowest cost?

                    12. —“which is just a form of democracy as I’m using the term”—

                      Make the word mean whatever you want and you can’t be proven wrong. Words already have meaning, you don’t get to make up new ones to suit your purpose.

                    13. Well I’m not referring to strict majoritarianism, and to claim that I am is to be deliberately stupid.

                    14. No, you don’t mean strict majoritarianism. You mean strict majoritarianism for some issues, and super-majoritatianism for others. Presumably you get to decide which. Or maybe the majority decides which, but a supermajority on some issues, of course…

                    15. —“Well I’m not referring to strict majoritarianism”—

                      It’s difficult to determine what you are referring to when you say yourself that you are using a word that doesn’t mean what you say it means.

                    16. The US has been referred to as a democracy by many long before I was born. It doesn’t necessarily mean strict majority rule.

                      And I believe the authority on what types of majorities get to decide what types of issues is the constitution.

                    17. Anyone honestly interested in the alternative, please read this. http://mises.org/daily/5270/St…..aw-Society

          2. See below for Tony’s asinie comments about the Bill of Rights.

            The Bill of Rights was never intended to give Americans rights; it was designed to protect their rights from infringement by the new and powerful central government under the Constitution.

    3. What would you define as the core tenets of today’s progressivism?

      “MINE! Minemineminemineminemiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnne — !!!”

      1. not even close. more like “fm each according to ability; to each per need”.

        1. There’s a vaster, more significant gulf of appreciable difference between adjoining Xerox copies of the same office memo than there is to be found between those two statements.

        2. exactly close. Why don’t you define “fair” along with your justification to confiscate private property and redistribute according to your whim.

    4. Improving people’s lives by whatever means are available, means different things to different people and will depend on the opinion of each administration. We aren’t a society that enjoys bowing to whims of a executive.

      Also, poor decisions are often used to justify intrusion into private economic decisions; are we to believe these same people make much better private non-economic decisions, or, if not, why would poor private non-economic decisions be any more acceptable?

      1. What’s a private economic decision? If government is involved in private transactions it’s usually for a macroeconomic purpose.

        But government is empowered to do whatever the people want it to do or are too complacent to punish it for doing. The solution to that isn’t “no government,” which is absurd, but good government empowered from within a context of an educated public who knows what it wants. That didn’t use to be utopian thinking.

        1. What’s a private economic decision?

          See this why you failed economics.

        2. If government is involved in private transactions it’s usually for a macroeconomic purpose.

          You need to provide some examples; most interference I see is supported by the premise that “we need to protect people from themselves”, not “this is good for the economy”.

          1. I think there is a role for government in correcting some of the irrational habits of market participants if those habits lead to negative macroeconomic consequences. Money is a human invention, so we can make it do what we want it to do. There’s no etched stone that says we have to allow markets in complex financial instruments or economic bubbles to inflate unchecked. I guess I’m not sure what private transactions are being referred to. Do you think deposit insurance is a bad idea?

            1. Do you think deposit insurance is a bad idea?

              There are times where it is a good idea and where it is a bad idea. I do not pretend to know when something is “good” or “bad” and try to run around enforcing it on everybody. There are prime examples of where insurance goes wrong: flood plain insurance, health care insurance (to the extent that it is tax-incentivized over monetary compensation and is therefore overused). Deposit insurance may be a bad thing when it encourages people to save with an irresponsible bank, and the taxpayers have to subsidize that irresponsibility in the form of a bailout/payout.

            2. but who gets to decide what is bad or what is good? How do you know the government will always make good decisions? If they don’t, then what is the corrective mechanism? Do we have to wait 2-4 years for the next election? Or must we suffer different tyrants?

              1. Obviously government will not always make good decisions. But define “good decisions.” What the people want should be the most basic guideline, then we have checks for majority tyranny and such. Elections, as you acknowledge, are the corrective mechanism. What’s a better alternative?

                1. What’s a better alternative?

                  Constitutional republics. Federalism. A loose confederation of states. Ever since New York passed gay marriage, I have seen a raft of leftists start talking a good game about federalism and the benefits of “local government”. If it’s good for one issue, why not all of them?

                  1. it certainly beats mob rule which Tony seems to be advocating.

                  2. Constitutional republics. Federalism. A loose confederation of states. Ever since New York passed gay marriage, I have seen a raft of leftists start talking a good game about federalism and the benefits of “local government”. If it’s good for one issue, why not all of them?

                    That is not an answer to the question of what’s an alternative to democracy, it’s simply shifting the size of the jurisdiction with the power. And for every state with liberal gay marriage policies there’s two that are trying to make gays second-class citizens (alongside Mexicans and Arabs). States can have more liberty-friendly policies, or they can have more restrictive policies. But even in those jurisdictions the principle of representative democracy applies. I’m asking what’s the alternative to will-of-the-people.

                2. “But define “good decisions.” What the people want should be the most basic guideline”

                  Do you not hear yourself?

                  If “what the people want” is “the most basic guideline” then LET THEM DO WHAT THEY WANT… not what 51% of the people want forced on the others. Let ALL people do what they want and reap the benefits or pay the consequences themselves.

            3. Re: Tony,

              I think there is a role for government in correcting some of the irrational habits of market participants[…]

              Market participants – that’s us humans. A Government populated by beings that can detect irrational habits cannot thus be human.

              Progressivism IS a religion.

              By the way, market participants participate rationally as they act purposefully (that means: with a goal, for the intellectually limited.) IRrational beings act by instinct, not purposefully.

              if those habits lead to negative macroeconomic consequences.

              You should not talk about subjects for which you have NO grasp, Tony.

              There’s no etched stone that says we have to allow markets in complex financial instruments or economic bubbles to inflate unchecked.

              You have NO understanding of what money is; you obviated what makes money inflate.

              Again, you’re an ignoramus. You’re just parroting talking points made by charlatans. The fact that you cannot see they’re charlatans makes you the bigger fool.

              1. Market participants – that’s us humans. A Government populated by beings that can detect irrational habits cannot thus be human.

                So humans are incapable of detecting irrationality? The problem is you have to have macroeconomic policy, because millions of microeconomic choices are not going to make it by magic. You’re the one who believes in magic, so you are the one espousing a religion. People are simply not as rational as your Romantic conception of markets requires them to be. I fail to see how you even define “rational” as applied to external consequences–what may be the rational micro choice in one instance, added to all other instances, may lead to disaster on the macro scale. Even human rational market behavior is something that must be monitored–for example in a recession, where rational behavior on the individual level contracts the economy on a macro level and causes problems for everyone despite their intentions.

                1. Re: Tony,

                  So humans are incapable of detecting irrationality?

                  You SAID SO above: “I think there is a role for government in correcting some of the irrational habits of market participants.”

                  If the market participans cannot detect their own irrational habits, requiring overseers for it, and since market participans are all humans (as amoebas, cats and mice do not purposefully act) then it follows humans cannot detect irrationality.

                  It is obvously a fallacy: market participants ALWAYS ACT RATIONALLY, as exchanges only happen when both exchangers expect to gain from the exchange. There’s nothing irrational about that.

                  The problem is you have to have macroeconomic policy,

                  The only things I *have* to do is grow old and die.

                  because millions of microeconomic choices are not going to make it by magic.

                  Are not going to make WHAT?

                  You’re the one who believes in magic,

                  So, it would seem, evolutionists, since it is the same concept: Spontaneous order.

                  so you are the one espousing a religion.

                  Am I? Thinking only a wise overseer can mend wrongs is NOT being religious?

                  I fail to see how you even define “rational” as applied to external consequences[…]

                  What does one thing have to do with the other? What you’re doing is moralizing people’s choices, but that does not mean ipso facto their choices were irrational.

                  Even human rational market behavior is something that must be monitored–for example in a recession, where rational behavior on the individual level contracts the economy on a macro level and causes problems for everyone despite their intentions.

                  Despite the proven fact that recessions are mainly caused by a few participants acting under a government-established policy, i.e. the Fed inflating and the government spending.

                  1. market participants ALWAYS ACT RATIONALLY, as exchanges only happen when both exchangers expect to gain from the exchange.

                    But this is simply not true. People can be conned into accepting a bad deal, happens all the time. More importantly, as I said, what may appear to be rational behavior at the individual, momentary level, can lead to bad consequences on the aggregate that can only be described as the consequence of irrationality–better described as imperfect information. A recession is when everyone reduces spending–rational behavior at the individual level, negative consequences on every individual as a result. We can have rational behavior at the government level to correct for these phenomena.

                    1. Re: Tony,

                      But this is simply not true. People can be conned into accepting a bad deal

                      That’s a post facto assessment. At the moment of the exchange, both parties had an expectation of gaining from the exchange; there’s NOTHING irrational about that.

                      More importantly, as I said, what may appear to be rational behavior at the individual, momentary level

                      There’s nothing else, Tony. There’s only individuals – only individuals act and ONLY INDIVIDUALS act rationally.

                      can lead to bad consequences on the aggregate that can only be described as the consequence of irrationality

                      No, that’s a moral judgment post facto. Someone else’s moral judgment is NOT PROOF OF IRRATIONALITY.

                      better described as imperfect information.

                      That’s a neo-classical canard, Tony. You have been in the company of charlatans for far too long.

                      A recession is when everyone reduces spending[…]

                      No, you fool – that’s one result. A RECESSION is the period of liquidation of malinvestments.

                      We can have rational behavior at the government level to correct for these phenomena.

                      All purposefull actions ARE rational, so you’re not saying much here. The problem with government intrvention is that the premise is wrong: That a few individuals can *KNOW* the preferences of millions of individual actors, also known as The Knowledge Problem. This has NOTHING to do with the “imperfect information” canard, but with the real impossibility of READING MINDS. This is why governments ALWAYS mess up recoveries they purport to “fix” or estimulate.

                    2. As a passerby (who really doesn’t care that much about this argument) I have to say you seem to be acting irrationally with this post. Actually, by your definition, I suppose it’s rational (since everything everyone does is)…maybe hysterical is a better word. Seriously, what’s with the caps? The insults? The Tony person is presenting a more persuasive argument.

                    3. We can have rational behavior at the government level to correct for these phenomena.

                      Government, being made up of people seeking their own ends, is perfectly capable of irrational behavior as well.

                2. …because millions of microeconomic choices are not going to make it by magic…

                  It’s not magic, it’s just called scale. You might find this book interesting.

              2. @Old Mexican: “Progressivism IS a religion.”

                Actually, I like to call it a “hyper-religion.” Religious people have faith in a system in the absence of evidence. Hyper-religious people have faith in a system in the face of overwhelming evidence against it.

                Progressives might as well join The Flat Earth Society.

            4. There’s no etched stone that says we have to allow markets in complex financial instruments or economic bubbles to inflate unchecked.

              Yet that’s what happened under the both the previous and current administrations. Why does your team continue to enable the corrupt practices of financial institutions.

            5. I think there is a role for government in correcting some of the irrational habits of market participants if those habits lead to negative macroeconomic consequences.

              So why should the irrational habits of market participants in non-macroeconomic settings be allowed to continue unimpeded?

                1. Gambling: why are those with few resources allowed to spend those few resources on lotteries and casinos. Arguably a poor, yet unlimited choice.

                  1. Love: Why should people be permitted to spend so much money on an irrational emotion? Hell, see: entertainment generally.

                  2. That’s a good question.

                    1. Is there an answer?

            6. Money is a human invention, so we can make it do what we want it to do.

              Money is a human invention that is correct. However, that has absolutley zero to do with human activity, which is what causes the market bubbles you refer to, and is just part of the business cycle.

              1. Yes, which is why a laissez-faire market is flawed. We did manage to reduce the frequency of panics for a while with certain interventions.

                1. Was it the interventions or just the size of the economy? Or the redcution in growth rate?

          2. Money is a human invention, so we can make it do what we want it to do.

            Tony, I just counted a total of nine dollars in my wallet right now. How much are they worth?

            Please take some time to contemplate your answer before replying.

        3. If government is involved in private transactions it’s usually for a macroeconomic purpose.

          Like keeping a company’s profits up.

          1. Or keeping union members employed.

    5. Everyone wants government to do be active in certain areas and lay off in others.

      Abortion…unprotected anal sex! Okay we won’t get involved in those.

      Everything else we want.

    6. There is a very simple answer to your question. The more we ask government to do for us, the less power/freedom we have to control our own fortune.

      That is the thing that all of the liberals I’ve debated refuse to accept. You want your privacy, but you want government to fix all your problems. I just don’t get how you can’t see how those two things are clearly contradictory.

  3. You can’t have a government with unlimited powers and keep a full slate of civil liberties. Keep going down this path, and that fact will get more and more obvious.

    1. I don’t see the conflict here.

      How else do you protect the fundamental right to a smoke-free environment that punishes property owners, free health care that somebody else pays for and the right to be infinitely offended where the offenders are swiftly and brutally punished?

      Oh, and free money to reward repeated failure. Where’s the problem?

      1. It’s truly pathetic how little we, as a society, value our freedom and let the government lead us around like children.

        1. Well, when you’ve been free as long as we have, and no one teaches anymore that tyranny was the typical arrangement for centuries and accounted for 99.999999% of all people who ever lived, then yeah, people get lazy.

  4. Modern liberalism is incoherent. I’m shocked, shocked!

  5. In other words, in the private realm liberalism is for autonomy and lack of government intervention.

    Just because you say this doesn’t make it true.

  6. […] the primary motivation is not keeping government out of people’s lives, it’s improving people’s lives by whatever means are available […]

    It may just conceivably have been possible to somehow conjure up creepier phrasing than this.

    Note that I said “may.”

  7. In other words, in the private realm liberalism is for autonomy and lack of government intervention.

    OK, I think modern-day progressives can point to abortion. But I can’t think of any other issues where they aren’t in favor of MOAR STATE!

    A little help, here?

    1. Freedom of speech — when left-wing shitheads are challenged anywhere, and that’s it!

    2. Keep your laws off my body, except for the ones where I can get scraped for free.

      1. … and don’t let me sell any of it.

  8. That’s interesting. I’ve noticed a similar conflict in sports teams — they like points being scored sometimes, but at other times they don’t like points to be scored.

    1. Tribalism–it’s not just for sports fans.

    2. Mr. Decker, I don’t think that criticism reads how you think it reads.

      1. Or maybe you just don’t think I think it reads the way it reads, but I do.

  9. Both the progressive and conservative ideals start with one fundamental assumption — the government can make the world a better place by forcing people to behave in a certain way. The only difference between progressives and conservatives is which particular aspect of human behavior they want to regulate on any given day.

    Progressives believe that they can force the population as a whole to be saintly in order to help the poor. Conservatives believe that they can wipe out sin by punishing vice.

    Both progressives and conservatives live their lives in total delusion.

    1. Don’t forget their delusion that they’re “doing good”, because that’s what makes them the most dangerous.

      1. Do good == Make the world a better place

        1. It’s not so easy to agree on what makes the world a better place though. So why force your vision of a “better world” on others?

        2. for who?

        3. Cliff Notes:

          Both progressives and conservatives live their lives in delusion thinking that government can be used to make the general population behave better (where the definition of better is part of that delusion).

    2. “It’s the Pax. The G-23 Paxilon Hydrochlorate that we added to the air processors. It was supposed to calm the population, weed out aggression. Well, it works. The people here stopped fighting. And then they stopped everything else. They stopped going to work, they stopped breeding, talking, eating. There’s 30 million people here, and they all just let themselves die.”

      Dr. Caron, in Serenity

  10. “Modern liberalism emphasizes privacy, individual rights and civil liberties.”

    HA HA!!!!!

    1. Yeah, that’s a line of such stinking shit-filled nonsense I literally facepalmed in front of my monitor.

      Privacy? Like the privacy afforded by PATRIOT?

      Individual rights and civil liberties? Like what? What particular individual rights and civil liberties are progressives concerned with, other than the right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy? They don’t give a shit about marijuana decriminalization, they want to repeal the 2nd amendment, and they want to take my money and spread it around a little.

      Progressives and conservatives are mostly all statist authoritarian tools. They just want to control different aspects of peoples’s lives.

  11. What a bunch of garbage. In both cases, liberals are trying to protect the rights of citizens. They should be secure in their persons, and they should be protected from abuse by those in power, e.g. the richest citizens and corporations.

    1. Fuck, dude, you are terrible at this. Just fucking give up already and spare us the boredom.

      1. No, wait, dude. I never thought of things this way. We need some fresh thinking like this. If we’re too dismissive, we may never get a chance to subscribe to its newsletter.

        1. The newsletter! I didn’t think of that! Maybe that won’t be terrible?

      2. Do. Not. Feed. The. Trolls.

        1. Aw, but they’re so cute with fuzzy wittle paws.

    2. protected from abuse by those in power

      Given that they can unilaterally pirate your wealth, lock you in durance vile or even have you killed, outright: there is no “power” in this nation more apt (or given) towards “abuse” than that of the federal government.

      Anyone attempting to tell you otherwise is selling you something, plain and simple.

      1. But, the advertising takes away your freedom!

    3. Re: Truth Will Out,

      What a bunch of garbage. In both cases, liberals are trying to protect the rights of citizens.

      Just as long as none of those rights are spelled P-R-O-P-E-R-T-Y. Right?

      Because if liberals defended THAT ONE, the whole theater of the absurd would collapse in pieces.

  12. Modern conservatism is a mess. But modern liberalism is an incoherent disaster. The Democratic Party is a cobbled together miasma of special interests that have only one thing in common: accruing more government benefits to their interest.

    1. It makes sense, when you see what they’re up against.

      1. I know, I know: Democrats are well-meaning (but buffoonish) goofballs who are just trying to Do Good against the Evil Warlocks who populate the other side. They seek power solely by accident and their mistakes should be forgiven because “They Try”.

        Fuck off, Chumley.

  13. “On the other hand, modern classical liberalism emphasises privacy, individual rights and civil liberties

    Fixed

    ? keeping government out of your life when it comes to things like abortion rights.

    If the only choice that you see as legitimate is defined so incredibly narrowly, then you really don’t believe in choice at all.

  14. On the other hand, modern liberalism emphasises privacy, individual rights and civil liberties ? keeping government out of your life when it comes to things like abortion rights.

    Then why, in the Mercatus ranking of states by personal liberty, do the bluest states dominate the bottom of the list?

    1. Because Mercatus defines freedom as the absence of government. Liberals don’t.

      We would also argue that freedom, properly understood, can be threatened as much by the weakness of the state as by overbearing state intervention. Individuals are less free the more they have reason to fear private assaults and depredations, and a useful government punishes private aggression vigorously. However, we focus on threats to individual liberty originating in the state. Therefore, we do not code the effectiveness of state governments in punishing rights violations. For instance, we do not include measures of the efficacy of state police and courts or measures of violent- and property-crime rates.6 Thus, our freedom index does not capture all aspects of freedom.

      To liberals, freedom is much more than the absence of something; it’s the presence of the opportunity to enjoy freedom.

      1. Re: Tony,

        Because Mercatus defines freedom as the absence of government. Liberals don’t.

        Slavery is freedom.

        Up is down.

        1. OM it is not indisputably obvious that freedom equals absence of government. As the king of all logic surely you can understand this.

          1. Re: Tony,

            OM it is not indisputably obvious that freedom equals absence of government.

            Sure, just like it would not be obvious TO YOU that health is the absence of disease.

            Up is down.

      2. To liberals, freedom is much more than the absence of something; it’s the presence of the opportunity to enjoy freedom.

        Furnish an example of this in action. Tony, it is all well and good that you have pie-in-the-sky floating abstractions that sound great on paper, but I want to hear some concretes that worked out to the good. And I want to hear the calculus behind “here it is appropriate to limit freedom to promote freedom”.

        See, the problem is that you have, in your head, a utilitarian calculus that decides “winners” and “losers” by forcing those outcomes through the State.

        1. You believe the same thing, you just don’t like admitting to it.

          Restricting the freedom of murderers and rapists is unquestionably a net increase in freedom for individuals in society. Restricting the freedom to cross an intersection whenever you want by installing stoplights increases freedom in that instance by preventing traffic deaths.

          Liberals take this obvious principle (you can gain meaningful freedom by sacrificing trivial freedoms) and apply it to things like the safety net. Being free to do things is pretty small comfort to people who can’t afford to do anything. Frankly, the freedom that equals a pittance in tax dollars for someone could equal a bonanza of freedom for someone else–say if they are provided health insurance as a result. These are not pie-in-the-sky, they are the basic underpinnings of political thought for centuries. What’s totally abstract, untested, and contradictory is the radically antigovernment stance libertarianism has taken.

          1. No, sorry, I do not buy into your utilitarian calculus, and no, that is not the principle upon which I operate. The principle on which I operate is that people have rights; these rights are justified by a merger of the pragmatic and the moral, and anything that requires somebody to labor for somebody Restraining murderers does not require someone to labor for somebody else; the “safety net” does.

            1. *and anything that requires somebody to labor for somebody else is slavery, not a “right”

              1. Look, to actualize the prevention of murder (and the consequent increase in individual freedom), you have to pay police. Are they all slaves? They aren’t, because their labor is voluntary and paid. But you still could say that you have a “positive” right to police, which is necessary to enact the “negative” right not to be murdered.

                It takes tax money to pay for police, and it takes tax money to pay for a safety net. Are they really meaningfully different?

                1. When have police officers prevented murder? Police (are supposed to) apprehend criminals after said crime has taken place.

                  The rare exception might be the apprehension of a serial killer. In that case I’ll chalk up a buck to pay for a citizen group to investigate and capture him. For 99.9999% of the time that other potential crimes are perpetrated against me, just give me a gun and I’ll handle them.

                2. But Blue Moon didn’t claim that you have a positive right to police protection. He simply said you have a negative right not to be murdered. Defend that right yourself, with friends, or pay someone to do it. Nobody’s obligated to help you.

                  1. That’s called anarchy and is a rather ridiculous escape hatch for the fact that there are very few rights that don’t take tax money to actualize.

          2. It is based on an assumption that those who have to give will do nothing to shield the level of economic activity available for taxation. What should happen should they do otherwise (as they often do)?

            1. If there are market actors that are so powerful that they can play toddler-like games with the economy because they don’t like being taxed, that’s a big fat argument against the free market and an argument in favor of government with stronger police power over those people. We don’t praise rapists for evading the law, why should we implicitly praise wealthy people who do the same on taxes?

              1. Tax evasion is illegal; tax avoidance is not. Tax law is tautological: those things which are illegal are illegal, and those things which are not, are not. Contrast that with rape and murder, which are naturally and morally repugnant to most. Finally, add a dash of “rights violations”, and you might see why that analogy does not hold.

                1. Tax law is tautological: those things which are illegal are illegal, and those things which are not, are not.

                  Malum prohibitum.

                  Contrast that with rape and murder, which are naturally and morally repugnant to most.

                  Malum in se.

              2. why should we implicitly praise wealthy people who do the same on taxes?

                I’m recognizing (not praising) the reality of offshore trusts, corporations, and other entities which lie outside the reach of your desired government with stronger police power over those people. If and when asset shifts to those entities occur, the tax revenue available for an expansive welfare state disipates. This occurs whether you, I, or anybody else praises or decries it.

                1. It doesn’t have to be allowable under the law. They’re just exploiting a system that is set up to reward them. I fail to see why we should make policy under extortion.

                  1. Even though the left would love it, our tax policy and laws do not apply in the Cayman Islands, the Bahamas, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, or any other tax haven.

                    The unlimited and stationary pool that would, in theory, fund the welfare state is neither in practice. Denying that truth and calling it “extortion” doesn’t change that reality.

                    1. We could make it illegal to make a profit in this country if you engage in tax dodging. We could do that.

                    2. So, if I try harder to keep more of that which I earned, I am punished all the more?

                      Great! Sign me up, Tony!

                    3. Go ahead. Preventing people who have vast amounts of capital offshore from working or owning a business here wont entice them. They don’t need to do either as the offshore profits are enough for them to sustain a comfortable lifestyle.

                    4. I’m well aware of the fact that in the modern economy one’s wealth isn’t tied to concern for the well-being of your fellow citizens. I just don’t see why those citizens should be required to subsidize such behavior.

                    5. Sovereignty

                      Unless you are willing to violate the sovereignty of the offshore tax havens, your tax revenue is limited to being extracted from domestic sources.

                  2. The system is set up to punish them – hence the offshore nature of the assets. What they have that regular joes don’t is access to the system that created the perversion.

                    1. They’d claim that no matter what. Seeing as how effective taxes are the lowest in decades, it can hardly be described as punishment. I think they’re just doing what they can get away with to maximize return.

                    2. I agree. However, if tax rates were low and penalties/hurdles were high for keeping stuff offshore, more of it would be here. Problem with that is, it doesn’t allow for demogoguery by congresscritters to use for re-election purposes. So the congresscritters create a penal tax code with one hand, and loopholes for thier wealthy donors with the other.

      3. Do ever stop trying to be Cass Sunstein?

      4. To liberals, freedom is much more than the absence of something; it’s the presence of the opportunity to enjoy freedom.

        Awesome circular definition is awesomely circular.

  15. I seem to remember reading a long time ago that both modern conservatives and liberals are totally down with activist government. The reason they aren’t total statists, although really, these days, there is a lot of overlap, is because they actually don’t care about the issues that they’re more open on.

    That is, conservatives don’t actually care about the market, all they really care about is the culture war, traditional values, etc., so they battle ferociously on those issues to get the government to force things to go the “correct” way.

    Liberals don’t care about civil liberties; they just care about total economic “equality”, consequences and reality be damned, so they try to force more and more redistribution and centralization.

    So neither group is really ever pro-liberty, they just have different issues they think need to be worked on.

  16. […] keeping government out of your life when it comes to things like abortion rights.

    … but not, mind you, normal, everyday health care.

    Because… you know… that would just be flat-out crazy.

  17. Since when does modern Liberalism give a crap about civil liberties?

    1. Since when does modern Liberalism give a crap about civil liberties?

      When it is trying to win an argument…..never in actual practice though!

  18. Agree with him or not, Foner is a great historian. But calling him a liberal is like saying Warren Buffett is well off financially.

  19. There is no contradiction once you understand the two core “meta” principles of liberalism:

    FIRST: corporate charters are state action. Corporations are an extension of state power. The corporation is endowed by the government with limited liability, indefinite life span, autocratic rule, and host of other eerie and unnatural powers and immunities that are not available to human individuals. Corporations should be held accountable to public policy the same way other government entities should be held accountable. Only individuals should have “inalienable” rights. Corporations should be fully subject to the democratic process.

    SECOND: “capitalism” should apply to human capital, not just investor capital. Labor unions — which are nothing essentially different from corporations for workers rather than investors — should be just as strong, robust, respected, and easily established as corporations. Investors and workers should be on a completely equal footing in terms of “accumulating capital” (human or otherwise) and enjoying the privileges of organized participation in the market.

    Capital is chronically scarce.
    Labor is in chronic surplus (reserve labor).

    Thus, capital always has a stronger bargaining position than labor, and can always outbid labor for control of the government. Look at what is happening in Wisconsin and Ohio. Can you even imagine corporate vendors to the government being subjected to the same restrictions as the labor unions? Can you imagine saying that the investors in a corporate vendor for the government can’t bargain with the government over a given price or contract term? Can you imagine saying that investors in a corporation should not be allowed to organize or bargain because the investors, as voters, get to “elect their own customers” the way we say unions can “elect their own bosses”?

    Of course you can’t. Because the corporations have the upper hand and they set the terms of the debate.

    There is really no such thing as a “Libertarian.” Libertarian government is government by the Pinkertons. There won’t be small government under Libertarians. Under Libertarians, there will just be “Big Government” in the service of strikebreakers, payday lenders, gated-community moguls, and casino conglomerates. Everybody has an agenda, even so-called “Libertarians,” and an agenda requires power, and the state is the essence of power. The state will never die, never whither. Especially not under Libertarians.

    1. You are so far off, you aren’t even wrong. Trying to unbundle and refute all of those mistakes would take more time than I am willing to commit to trying to unbreak your brain.

      1. Heheh.

        Looks like a cop-out to me, Reverend. Smells like one, too.

        If there’s so many mistakes, maybe pick just one…? Nah. I think you’re a punk to the marrow.

        1. [::low, wet noise::]

        2. Fine, here’s one:

          corporate charters are state action. Corporations are an extension of state power.

          So what? All of the powers endowed to a corporation by charter could be had by private contract. Because those powers could be had by private contract, it does not therefore follow that corporations should be subject to the will of the political majority. Unless, of course, you want to say that all contracts should be subject to the purview of the political majority, in which case, you are a totalitarian, not a liberal.

          1. Wrong. Corporations have limited liability in tort, not just contract. Try again. Or don’t.

            1. Corporations have limited liability in tort, not just contract.

              Fun fact: did you know that you can contract to give up your rights to pursue tort cases? HOLY SHIT! It’s almost as if arbitration clause don’t fucking exist in your world!

              1. Please don’t feed it.

              2. They have limited liability against the public at large, not just with people with whom they individually agree to liability limits. You get hit in the head by a ladder owned by a corporation tomorrow, and you don’t have recourse against the investors. You only have recourse against the corporate entity (and maybe the individual worker with the ladder). And if the corporation has more liabilities than assets, too bad for you.

                1. Where did you get hit in the head with this ladder, in your example? If it was in the course of dealing with the corporation (that is, you walked in the building to do business with the corporation), there is nothing stopping the corporation from having you sign a contract with them limiting their liability. And why should the corporation be liable, instead of the knucklehead who dropped the ladder? If a private person dropped a ladder on your head during the course of say, his own personal home repair, should you be able to sue the company for which he works?

                  1. Respondeat Superior. Google it. You want to rewrite three centuries of tort law now?

                    Anyway, this is your best shot? I’m “so far off” that I’m not even wrong, and this is the best you can do? You wanna pick another cookie out of the jar? Huh? You got anything better?

                    1. Another punk.
                      Another cop-out.
                      Another notch on my belt.

                    2. You want to rewrite three centuries of tort law now?

                      Argumentum ad antiquitatem. And if you want to appeal to pragmatic concerns, you want to make every mutual fund investor liable for the actions of the janitor who cleans the building? Does that comport with any notion of fairness or justice in your world?

                  2. Where did you get hit in the head with this ladder, in your example?

                    I like to imagine it as a happy, sunny sort of place, filled with cheery little Disneyesque birdies and bunnies who all pointed and giggled, in sweet, sweet cartoon unison.

                2. Another punk.
                  Another cop-out.
                  Another notch on my belt.

                3. Wait a minute. I don’t get the logic here. Why should you be able to go after investors? What makes them liable for the actions of the company and the employees of the company?

                  1. T, if you want the answers, go to law school.

                    Unincorporated investors are liable for their enterprise’s torts.

                    The “corporate shield” or “corporate veil” (google it) protects investors in a way they would not be protected otherwise.

                    1. Look, dipshit, I know the law school answer. I want your answer, since it’s pretty obvious the closest you got to a law school was driving past one. What makes investors liable for the action of the corporation? Fiat? Because you think it’s a good idea? Articulate a reason why investors should be liable for the actions of the corporate body or its employees.

                    2. You’re the one questioning the status quo, T. The burden of proof is on you. You first. State your position and try to justify it.

            2. Another punk.
              Another cop-out.
              Another notch on my belt.

            3. Corporations have limited liability in tort, not just contract.

              First, if you think corporations have some kind of limited liability, you’re an idiot. The only limited liability involved with corporations is of their shareholders, not the corporation itself.

              Second, these passive corporate investors have limited liability under traditional tort and agency principles.

              1. Unincorporated investors are liable for their enterprise’s torts.

                Bzzt. Wrong. There are plenty of organizations that are not corporations that provide limited liability protections for passive investors.

                Plus, of course, there is a long history of law in a number of countries that recognized that a purely passive investor should not be held jointly and severally liable for the firm’s debts.

                1. LLC, PC, Ltd, whatever — they’re all “corporations” for purposes of this discussion. Nothing turns on the label.

              2. Frolic and detour are not at issue, here. We’re talking about the enterprise.

                1. Another punk.
                  Another cop-out.
                  Another notch on my belt.

    2. There is really no such thing as a “Libertarian.” Libertarian government is government by the Pinkertons.

      Holy fuck. Tony, shrike and MNG had an unholy three-way… and this is the resulting helldrop progeny.

      1. Another punk.
        Another cop-out.
        Another notch on my belt.

        1. PWNED?

          1. PWNED indeed.

        2. Another punk.
          Another cop-out.
          Another notch on my belt.

    3. If:

      Only individuals should have “inalienable” rights.

      And:

      Corporations should be fully subject to the democratic process.

      And:

      Labor unions — which are nothing essentially different from corporations for workers rather than investors

      Then:

      Labor unions should be fully subject to the democratic process.

      Like when the people elect a governor who promises to break up public sector unions.

      1. Exactly — same rules for both sides. Right now, it’s one set of rules for workers in unions and a different set of rules for investors in corporations. Instead, they should be treated the same. Glad we agree.

        1. These present rules were implemented by elected officials, so what’s your problem? Your argument stands on the shoulders of the democratic process which has produced the conditions you so decry; the people aren’t buying what you’re selling.

          I could just imagine the wailing and gnashing of teeth if labor unions had to abide by antitrust laws.

          1. 1) antitrust is a dead letter; and

            2) duh — making the argument is part of the democratic process. Libertarians aren’t offering any improvement over the status quo on these issues. My point isn’t some indictment of democracy, let alone something to leverage in favor of the get-your-shinebox “Libertarianism” being shilled around here.

            1. Capitol l, you just got FACT PWNED.

              1. Another punk.
                Another cop-out.
                Another notch on my belt.

                1. That’s right. Just stay joking on the sidelines, punks. You do not want a taste of this.

                  1. Another punk.
                    Another cop-out.
                    Another notch on my belt.

                  2. Oh, this one’s going to burn out in a hurry. 😉

            2. antitrust is a dead letter

              Wow, just wow.

              Libertarians aren’t offering any improvement over the status quo on these issues.

              Whatever “these issues” are, I’ll say that libertarians don’t, or at least shouldn’t argue for maximum utility via state force by ignoring unintended consequences and poor outcomes born from so-called good intentions. Actually we shouldn’t be making utilitarian arguments at all as they are antithetical to an individualist philosophy.

              Unlike the left or right liberty and autonomy are our general aims; the outcomes we strive for. Don’t worry though, it’s a common mistake to argue with libertarians/anarchists from a utilitarian standpoint.

              Like a conservative arguing that with legalized drugs there would be more drug addicts. Maybe so, but I wouldn’t be arguing for less addicts. I would be arguing for more autonomy. Addiction rates are tangential to the main argument of whether adults should have control over their consciousness.

        2. Another punk.
          Another cop-out.
          Another notch on my belt.

          1. Damn. Should have copyrighted it.

            1. Another punk.
              Another cop-out.
              Another notch on my belt.

              1. BE CAREFUL SF YOU DO NOT WANT A TASTE OF THAT.

                1. la-la-la LOOMS LARGE.

    4. The state will never die, never whither

      But perhaps whence.

      1. tell that to the Romans.

  20. If the excerpted passage is the only contradiction Foner sees in contemporary progressivism (I haven’t read the whole thing), then that’s pretty weak sauce. I would point to the conflict between claiming to support the right of gays to marry while simultaneously agitating for an expansive welfare state that’s largely dependent upon transfer payments from an ever shrinking pool of young, healthy workers to an ever growing number of retirees.

  21. Oh, and. . .”Help! Help! I’m being repressed!”

  22. Choney: “the primary motivation is not keeping government out of people’s lives, it’s improving people’s lives by whatever means are available”

    Arbeit Macht Frei!!

    1. You know who else thought Arbeit Macht Frei?

      I thought I’d go full Godwin right out the chute, yo.

      1. You know who else thought Arbeit Macht Frei?

        JOOS?

  23. To liberals, freedom is much more than the absence of something; it’s the presence of the opportunity to enjoy freedom.

    More incoherence. The absence of a prohibition to do X is the opportunity to do X.

    I have the opportunity to own a Bugatti Veyron, because nobody is stopping me from buying one. The fact that I don’t have the money doesn’t mean I don’t have the opportunity.

    I don’t have the means to acquire a television station or newspaper. Does that mean I don’t have “freedom of . . . the press”? I don’t think so.

    Saying that you don’t have the opportunity or liberty to do something because you don’t have the resources to do it just shows that you don’t understand what the words “opportunity” or “liberty” mean.

    1. To liberals, freedom is much more than the absence of something; it’s the presence of the opportunity to enjoy freedom. Therefore, in order for you to have the opportunity to enjoy the freedom to buy a Bugatti Veyron, liberals should be forced to buy you one. Since I came up with this wonderful new government power, you’ll let me drive your Veyron, no?

    2. They mean different things to different people. I prefer important words like those to have useful meanings, not just exist as abstract concepts you can claim people enjoy as if we all lived as non-corporeal beings.

      You are not at liberty to buy a Veyron. You just aren’t, because of lack of money. Your lack of money is an impediment to your freedom in this instance, and I don’t understand what other interpretation there is. Just as you aren’t at liberty to cross a ravine unless there’s a bridge. There exist real-world impediments to freedoms. Same goes for someone who can’t afford food. But while it’s absurd to say people should have a right to a Veyron, why shouldn’t they have the right to eat? Is there a good answer for that?

      Freedom defined as something people only enjoy abstractly is not useful as a concept–without real-world facility to enjoy it, it doesn’t actually exist.

      1. But while it’s absurd to say people should have a right to a Veyron

        Why is that absurd? You are begging the question.

        1. It’s absurd because nobody needs a Veyron. People need food and healthcare in order to live. We are capable of figuring out why there’s a difference.

          1. Well, you don’t “need” your computer, or the subscription to the internet for which you are currently paying, nor the undoubtedly comfy chair from which you are typing. So I am going to seize all of that, liquidate it, buy rice, and give it to the poor in Uganda.

            1. If you want to be a communist. I’m not interested in that, just making the world better than what it is now. You obviously don’t care about such things.

          2. Holy fuck. I haven’t had health care in something like five years. Shouldn’t I be dead, or at least close to it?

            1. Something like that.

            2. More me-centric front porch wisdom that’s supposed to give us all we need to make national policy.

              1. You dumb twat. I meant that I haven’t seen a doctor yet I miraculously haven’t keeled over. I was merely pointing out how you and your ilk continue to conflate health insurance with health care. Now politely go shove your condescension of us “folksy” types up your ass as far as it will possibly go.

      2. why shouldn’t they have the right to eat? Is there a good answer for that?

        Does this only apply to Americans, or what? Are you actively violating the rights of poor Africans and Asians because you have more to eat than they do?

        1. I think a decent world is one in which everyone has a right to the basic necessities of survival. Just because we can’t make the whole world perfect at once is no reason not to extend that right to as many people as possible.

          1. Just because we can’t

            Stop. I can do what you want, but I am going to start with you, because that would be complying with your morality on your terms. Tony, by majority vote, you are directed to live no more than above a sustenance level, so that we may liquidate all of your “unnecessary” assets and give that money to poor Ugandans.

            1. Even that extreme example is more fair and sophisticated than “I got mine, fuck you!”

              1. If it’s more fair, why won’t you let me actually do it?

                1. Because I didn’t elect you.

                  1. That’s right, bitch. Gape that shit. Unnnhhhh…. Fuck. Spread it wider. Uhhhh….. Uhhh……. Hold still, I’m cumming. Hold still!!! Unnnnnnhhhhhhhhh……

      3. You are not at liberty to buy a Veyron. You just aren’t, because of lack of money. Your lack of money is an impediment to your freedom in this instance, and I don’t understand what other interpretation there is.

        __________________

        He most certainly is at liberty to buy the Veyron. No one is stopping the buyer from kaing an offer to buy and closing the sale if a deal is reached. The issue is that the seller is at liberty to charge a price beyond the buyer’s means. So despite complete freedom, a deal isn’t reached, and that is a quite natural result of the freedom to engage in commerce. The buyer is also free to seek out other sources of income and save for the car. Or not. Again, freedom. Freedom can’t be defined as the ability to actually acquire objects of desire, for nreasons too numerous to list.

        Of course, the notion that the liberal vision steps in to preserve freedom in this instance is patently ridiculous. You’d have the government control the price of the Veyron to make it “affordable” — hence trampling on the seller’s rights — and then tax third parties and transfer the money to the buyer to facilitate the sale, hence trampling on the rights of the third parties. The buyer’s “freedom” to buy now comes at the expense of everyone’s else’s freedom. And before you know it we have the crushing and unsustainable welfare state we now have. Great job, progressives!

        1. No one is stopping the buyer from kaing an offer to buy and closing the sale if a deal is reached.

          But you’re just changing the terms of the example. If someone reduces the price to something he can afford, then he becomes free to buy it. That’s the point. The impediment is removed. The only question that remains is should government be in the business of subsidizing Veyrons. Obviously not, since there is no justification for providing everyone with a Veyron. The same can’t be said, necessarily, about food. Having people with excess wealth pay a small amount in taxes so that their fellow citizens don’t starve to death is arguably the proper role of a collective. You don’t even have to inject morality into it (although you guys do at every opportunity–particularly a warped version of the Protestant work ethic). Having masses of starving people isn’t any good for anyone, including those with means.

          1. So he’s free to acquire the car if he has the means, and he’s free to do what is necessary to acquire the means to buy the car, but if he fails to do so, he’s not really free. What a cramped and utterly unrealistic view of freedom, but it is what lies at the heart of today’s “progressivism.” It is rather like saying one is not free to speak if one has not acquired the skill to pen artful prose.

            As for the food issue, exacty what is the point you are trying to make? No one is starving to death in this country, much less “masses” of people. Last I heard from the left, our much bigger problem is that our poor are obese (and they are). I see your game, though: try and establish that government action would be justified to prevent mass starvation, and then proceed to argue that government-funded retirement and health insurance are basically the same thing.

            1. They are basically the same thing. We are dealing in reductios right? The only point with the Veyron example is that freedom and agency are dependent on each other. Freedom is not a mystical force that people have regardless of agency. You either have the ability to act or you don’t.

              Of course we do have starvation and especially malnutrition in this country. Poor people are fat not because they are given too much loot, but because they are not free to make healthier decisions because those decisions cost more money. It’s a counterintuitive feature of wealthy countries–the poor are fat and the rich are skinny. That doesn’t change anything about the argument.

      4. I prefer important words like those to have useful meanings, not just exist as abstract concepts you can claim people enjoy as if we all lived as non-corporeal beings.

        `When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

        `The question is,’ said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

        `The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master – – that’s all.’

        Go for it, Humpty.

      5. Just as you aren’t at liberty to cross a ravine unless there’s a bridge.

        It is most revealing that you do not consider the possibility of me building my own bridge.

      6. I don’t understand what other interpretation there is.

        Well, that’s no one here’s fault. It’s been explained to you probably several dozen times, and the distinction between positive and negative liberty is one of the most discussed concepts in political philosophy. You have nobody to blame for your continued ignorance but yourself.

  24. Re: Tony,

    So humans are incapable of detecting irrationality?

    You SAID SO above: “I think there is a role for government in correcting some of the irrational habits of market participants.”

    If the market participans cannot detect their own irrational habits, requiring overseers for it, and since market participans are all humans (as amoebas, cats and mice do not purposefully act) then it follows humans cannot detect irrationality.

    It is obvously a fallacy: market participants ALWAYS ACT RATIONALLY, as exchanges only happen when both exchangers expect to gain from the exchange. There’s nothing irrational about that.

    The problem is you have to have macroeconomic policy,

    The only things I *have* to do is grow old and die.

    because millions of microeconomic choices are not going to make it by magic.

    Are not going to make WHAT?

    You’re the one who believes in magic,

    So, it would seem, evolutionists, since it is the same concept: Spontaneous order.

    so you are the one espousing a religion.

    Am I? Thinking only a wise overseer can mend wrongs is NOT being religious?

    I fail to see how you even define “rational” as applied to external consequences[…]

    What does one thing have to do with the other? What you’re doing is moralizing people’s choices, but that does not mean ipso facto their choices were irrational.

    Even human rational market behavior is something that must be monitored–for example in a recession, where rational behavior on the individual level contracts the economy on a macro level and causes problems for everyone despite their intentions.

    Despite the proven fact that recessions are mainly caused by a few participants acting under a government-established policy, i.e. the Fed inflating and the government spending.

    1. Old Mex why do you even bother? He is totally and seamlessly impervious to reason. For Tony government is the reason! Individuals exist in the abstract…and are required as the pretext for the governments existence…but Government is what is to be worshiped. You’re trying to reason with someone in the throes of religious ecstasy…. might as well save yourself the keystrokes!

      1. Not like the evidence-based assertion that “market participants always act rationally.” Nothing religion-like about that at all.

        1. I don’t care if they act rationally or not…let a few fail and the rest will “learn” from the failures of the others.

        2. Re: Tony,

          Not like the evidence-based assertion that “market participants always act rationally.” Nothing religion-like about that at all.

          Sure. Up is down.

          People act irrationaly when buying Pampers.

    2. So, it would seem, evolutionists, since it is the same concept: Spontaneous order.

      Here you give away the game, and I’m surprised this comparison is ever made. There is absolutely no reason we should want markets to behave like natural selection. Yes, order arises from the process, but that process involves most every participant dying off–the result are the lucky few survivors. But since you only observe the survivors, you assume the process is geared toward producing the “fit.” It’s not. The fit are just the tiny minority who manage to survive. An economy that works like that is a very brutal and ugly one and one nobody has any reason to support.

      1. Please save us all Tony we are not worthy of your love but will adore you and your creed!

        Get over yourself Cass!

      2. Re: Tony,

        But this is simply not true. People can be conned into accepting a bad deal

        That’s a post facto assessment. At the moment of the exchange, both parties had an expectation of gaining from the exchange; there’s NOTHING irrational about that.

        More importantly, as I said, what may appear to be rational behavior at the individual, momentary level

        There’s nothing else, Tony. There’s only individuals – only individuals act and ONLY INDIVIDUALS act rationally.

        can lead to bad consequences on the aggregate that can only be described as the consequence of irrationality

        No, that’s a moral judgment post facto. Someone else’s moral judgment is NOT PROOF OF IRRATIONALITY.

        better described as imperfect information.

        That’s a neo-classical canard, Tony. You have been in the company of charlatans for far too long.

        A recession is when everyone reduces spending[…]

        No, you fool – that’s one result. A RECESSION is the period of liquidation of malinvestments.

        We can have rational behavior at the government level to correct for these phenomena.

        All purposefull actions ARE rational, so you’re not saying much here. The problem with government intrvention is that the premise is wrong: That a few individuals can *KNOW* the preferences of millions of individual actors, also known as The Knowledge Problem. This has NOTHING to do with the “imperfect information” canard, but with the real impossibility of READING MINDS. This is why governments ALWAYS mess up recoveries they purport to “fix” or estimulate.

        1. OM you’re defining rationality in a tautological way that’s getting ridiculous. The ability to perform rational actions implies the ability to perform irrational ones. You seem to be so enamored with the market that you can’t see any scenario in which participants in it do anything irrational–because whatever they do is by definition rational. And I suppose whatever the market produces is by definition a thing everyone should support.

          1. Re: Tony,

            The ability to perform rational actions implies the ability to perform irrational ones.

            It doesn’t imply that at all. You’re equivocating.

            “Writing words implies writing non-words.” Nobody writes non-words as the meaning of “Writing” implies words – one would be then scribbling or sketching, but not “writing.” Just as the meaning of action implies reason, not non-reason.

            1. So people are always rational when they’re spending money, but rarely if ever so if they’re casting a vote.

              1. Re: Tony,

                So people are always rational when they’re spending money, but rarely if ever so if they’re casting a vote.

                Is that your conclusion?

      3. Re: Tony,

        Here you give away the game, and I’m surprised this comparison is ever made.

        You’re easily surprised.

        There is absolutely no reason we should want markets to behave like natural selection.

        I never mentioned “natural selection.” That’s just the mechanism that makes evolution itself work, just like purposeful individual action is what makes markets work; but both evolutionary systems and markets are examples of spontaneous order – i.e. not requiring a superbeing. That is the point you’re trying too hard to obviate.

        1. But I’m supposed to believe that markets produce spontaneous order in a much, much more efficient way than natural selection, why?

          1. Re: Tony,

            But I’m supposed to believe that markets produce spontaneous order in a much, much more efficient way than natural selection, why?

            Why are you asking this? Why do you want to compare the efficiency of one over the other?

            Both are examples of spontaneous order just as cats and dogs are examples of mammals, but that does not mean you can then ask “who is better: a cat or a dog?” That’s pure nonsense.

            I am getting tired of your non sequiturs, Tony. You’re now rambling.

            1. You made the comparison, I’m just wondering why it’s apt. A planet is formed by spontaneous order too. Does that mean we should just let one collide with us? Why stop at the spontaneous order markets create. What if that order is morally repugnant? A tough question for you, since whatever the market produces is by definition morally laudable, right?

      4. But this is in fact how they do behave. You might find this book a fascinating discussion on the subject.

  25. […] why shouldn’t they have the right to eat?

    *Yawn* The putative “right to eat” and your own implicit “right to force others to pay for my food” are not even remotely analogous. But you knew this, of course.

    1. The “right to eat” inheres in nature, where food is naturally available from the common environment. Fencing or claiming pieces of that common environment as parcels of real estate reduces same, impinging upon the rights of others. Recognizing a right to eat is nothing more than compensation for that impingement.

      1. Another punk.
        Another cop-out.
        Another notch on my belt.

      2. […] naturally available from the common environment.

        Stupidity this brazen and lumpen is simply too delicious to resist.

        1.) Do tell us, pray, of those parcels of “the common environment” where the following food staples — just as examples, you understand — are “naturally available.” Be as specific as you possibly can:

        Bread.
        Cheese.
        Wine.
        Pasta noodles (any sort).
        Jam/Jelly.

        Note that attempting to weasel out of things by gesturing haplessly at, say, a field of wheat and feebly intoning the word “bread” automatically equals an open concession of abject failure.

        2.) Fencing or claiming pieces of that common environment as parcels of real estate reduces same, impinging upon the rights of others.

        Can you, by means of this argument, walk into any grocery store of my choosing — or, failing that, of the choosing of a mutually agreed-upon third party — and “rightfully” help yourself to a full cart’s worth of meats and vegetables, sans payment? If not, then why not?

        1. Somebody never heard of the paleo diet.

          Anyway, you have a right to eat same as you have a right to breathe. It should never come to necessity-based shoplifting, just as no one should have to “steal air” in order to fill their lungs.

          1. Another punk.
            Another cop-out.
            Another notch on my belt.

          2. 1.) Do tell us, pray, of those parcels of “the common environment” where the following food staples — just as examples, you understand — are “naturally available.” Be as specific as you possibly can:

            Failure to even attempt answering Question #1, noted. Fail.

            Can you, by means of this argument, walk into any grocery store of my choosing — or, failing that, of the choosing of a mutually agreed-upon third party — and “rightfully” help yourself to a full cart’s worth of meats and vegetables, sans payment? If not, then why not?

            Failure to even attempt answering Question #2, noted. Fail.

            Oh, yeah. You’re fierce, you are.

            *snort*

            Dismissed, kitten.

            1. Your first question didn’t even make any sense.

              Your second question was a fragment, predicated on some huge unstated assumptions the reader is supposed to guess at.

              I tried, charitably to frame a response to your nonsense. No charitable gestures goes unscorned around here.

              1. Another punk.
                Another cop-out.
                Another notch on my belt.

              2. Your first question didn’t even make any sense.

                Coward. It’s a perfectly straightforward and grammatical query. If you’re now openly claiming abject illiteracy as your excuse for failing to man up, however: fine by me. You’re a dunce, self-confessed. So noted and acknowledged.

                Your second question was a fragment, predicated on some huge unstated assumptions the reader is supposed to guess at.

                Weaker sauce still; nothing more than the leftover portion of Failed Dodge #1, feebly reheated. I’d have some real measure of respect for you, however mingy, if you’d actually managed to shrug into some big boy pants long enough to give ’em a go, even if (when) you ended up bloodying your own silly nose in the process.

                But… this? Really? This is all you’re able to muster, ultimately…?

                You didn’t even last the full day, muffin.

                L.
                O.
                L.

                1. Verily, verily, cheese does not grow on trees. Nor does pasta (of any sort!).

                  Wow. What an argument-ender. You really scored from the three-point line on that one, JoJo.

                  Let’s do the replay on the “slo mo cam”:

                  1) Air exists naturally (as do paleo foods) BUUUUT…

                  2)People have to make cheese.

                  3)QED: S.N.A.P. and W.I.C are…

                  …THEEEFFFFTTT!!!!
                  MOOOCHERRRRRS!!!!
                  ARRRRGGGGGGHHHH!!!!

                  This was so much fun.
                  Thanks for playing, JoJo.

                  1. Another punk.
                    Another cop-out.
                    Another notch on my belt.

                  2. SELF-CONFESSED ILLITERATE: people, purportedly, possess the Right Absolute to free foodstuffs, arising from (in his own gibberish) “rights” which magically “inhere” as said foods are “naturally available from the common environment.

                    RATIONAL ADULT: “… ummmmmmm… but even most basic food staples common today don’t simply exist, ready-to-munch, ‘in the common environment,’ obviously. They require effort on the part of others to plant/grow/harvest/bake/ferment/whatever, and so you can’t simply — ”

                    SELF-CONFESSED ILLITERATE: “QED: S.N.A.P. and W.I.C are…

                    …THEEEFFFFTTT!!!!
                    MOOOCHERRRRRS!!!!
                    ARRRRGGGGGGHHHH!!!!”

                    Defense of “readily available in common environment” babble: nil. Nada. Nuttin’. (Exactly as before, He Snickered, Shaking His Head Ruefully.)

                    RATIONAL ADULT: “Can you, by means of this argument, walk into any grocery store of my choosing — or, failing that, of the choosing of a mutually agreed-upon third party — and ‘rightfully’ help yourself to a full cart’s worth of meats and vegetables, sans payment? If not, then why not?

                    SELF-CONFESSED ILLITERATE: [::crickets::]
                    [::crickets::]
                    [::crickets::]

                    Again: exactly as before.

                    Little helpful advice, kiddo: you’ll need to start volleying towards the net, if you’re genuinely intent upon scoring any actual, real world points between now and the delayed onset of puberty.

                    Just helping, is all. I give. I’m a giver.

                    1. JoJo: you know that there was food before farms, right?

                      Food was not “invented.”

                      Food pre-existed fenced agricultural operations.

                    2. 1. The “right to eat” inheres in nature, where food is naturally available from the common environment.

                      2. Taking food from that environment impinges upon the rights of others to that same food.

                      3. So give me your lunch already.

                    3. RATIONAL ADULT: “… ummmmmmm… but even most basic food staples common today don’t simply exist, ready-to-munch, ‘in the common environment,’ obviously. They require effort on the part of others to plant/grow/harvest/bake/ferment/whatever, and so you can’t simply — ”

                      HAPLESS ONLINE BONOBO: “Food was not ‘invented.'”

                      Miraculously — or perhaps not quite so, really, come to think — that manages to avoid coming anywhere within five hundred rhetorical yards of my repeatedly stated point, helpfully pasted (once again) directly above. Funny, that.

                      Bored now, moppet. Dutifully cutting your steak into progressively teenier and tinier pieces for you to nibble on has long since lost whatever marginal allure it might have once held. Either respond forthrightly, like an intellectually honest (and capable) adult… or fuck off and watch cartoons in the den. I sleep just as soundly tonight, either way.

                    4. You’re going to have to cut the steak even smaller, Dumbledore.

                      I know that cheese does not grow on trees.

                      I know that apples do.

                      You see something of transcendent importance in these prosaic facts — something too obvious to state; something so self-evident it is ineffable.

                      What is it?

                      Apples can be on W.I.C., but cheese can’t?

                      Paleo S.N.A.P.?

                      No wine if you can’t pay your way (but help yourself to the blueberries, at least when they’re in season)?

                      Or is the notion that everybody born into the world now lives subject to the sufferance of agribusiness, so stop complaining?

                      Nobody loves you, by the way.
                      You are unworthy of love.

                    5. You’re going to have to

                      I’d respond with a meaningful and heartfelt “fuck you,” but there’s no need for your mother to come running in here from the kitchen, again.

                      All I “have to” do, Winky, is point out (once again) that you were given three chances to sit up and debate the simplest of points, here at the adult’s table… and that three times, in response, you energetically jammed both hands down the front of your coveralls and started conducting Mahler’s Symphony No. 8. The exchange stands, as is; all can see it (and the maladroit weaseling on your part manifestly evident, therein); and either you’ll actually know a little bit better, next time out… or you won’t.

                      I’m betting on the “won’t,” frankly.

                      You go ahead and chitter the last word, now… and: better luck next time.

                      Heh.

                    6. “Your momma?” “Your momma?”

                      That’s what you are reduced to?

                      You forget what you were even trying to say, and you try to cover it by going the full “Richard Pryor”?

                      No wonder Sugar Free is your only friend.

                    7. “Your momma?” “Your momma?

                      This is a libertarian board, not a liberal one.

                      In that spirit: you only receive what you’ve managed to earn.

                      Derp.

                    8. Bedtime (mercifully) enforced at last, and only the grownups left chatting throughout the room.

                      Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.

                    9. Another punk.
                      Another cop-out.
                      Another notch on my belt.

                    10. Two more notches, and that belt is gonna be a pair of fishnets. 😉

      3. Wow, so we got to “all property is theft” faster than I thought we would.

        1. It’s always right there, central to their entire silly, self-negating “philosophy,” acknowledged or otherwise.

          1. Not all property…

            1. Another punk.
              Another cop-out.
              Another notch on my belt.

            2. What property wouldn’t be? Your syllogism is:

              1. Land as real estate is theft
              2. Anything that is produced as a result of that theft is the product of theft
              3. Therefore, in order to right the wrong of these thefts, we must force people to pay for the “right” to eat.

              1. No that’s not my syllogism.

                It’s theft if you take it unilaterally and without an offset. If you take it under a mutually-agreed system, and if you provide for those disadvantaged by the shrinking of the ‘common’ or ‘public’ environment, then it’s not theft.

                1. Another punk.
                  Another cop-out.
                  Another notch on my belt.

                  1. He’ll scamper like a scaled spaniel puppy when you corner him. It’s fun. 😉

                    1. I thought I was a kitten?

                      There’s a follow-up from “the corner,” supra, punk. Get your candy a** crackin’.

                    2. You’ll admit that was a grade-A smackdown, JoJo.

                    3. There’s a follow-up

                      That? Your bold, crackling “follow-up?” That — ?!?

                      Heh.

                      A-heh-heh-heh-heh.

                      BWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH -hah-ha-ha-haaaaaaaaa — !!!

                    4. Another punk.
                      Another cop-out.
                      Another notch on my belt.

    2. The right not to be murdered requires forcing others to pay for police. Your position breaks down when you consider that civilization sometimes requires compulsion in order for anyone to have any liberties at all.

      1. The right not to be murdered requires forcing others to pay for police.

        Exactly. Otherwise one would be forced to postulate some kind of magical power of “self-defense”.

        1. With no police to arbitrate the matter, why do you have a right to kill a would-be murderer, but they don’t have a right to kill you in the first place? Because God says so? What is it? You’re just describing anarchy and there’s good reason it doesn’t appeal to people.

          1. Because I got together with the would-be murderer and we voted on it. (Of course, she changed her mind later.) Where else would rights come from?

            1. Where else would rights come from?

              Why… the grand and glorious State, of course. Where else would you expect…?

              [::tongue actually beginning to forcibly poke it’s way through cheek::]

              1. Political Science 101:

                Assume a State run by Top Men, and then start inventing things you could do with it.

            2. It’s a good thing would-be murderers are in the minority. If they weren’t, I fail to see why the freedom from murder would prevail any better in your system.

              1. It’s a good thing everyone doesn’t spontaneously burst into flame. If they did, I fail to see how your system would even function.

        2. A regime of self-help and self-defense is, of necessity, one species or another of ‘anarchy’. (Not saying it’s a bad thing.)

          Tony’s larger point stands. There is no “core function” of government, and no bright line between “negative” and “positive” rights, that resolves these debates. Paying for cops or fire dept. or vouchers for school kids is not metaphysically different that paying for health care or food. It’s just politics and preferences.

          1. Another punk.
            Another cop-out.
            Another notch on my belt.

          2. Now I got PWNED. It’s going to need a bigger belt.

          3. Paying for cops or fire dept. or vouchers for school kids is not metaphysically different that paying for health care or food. It’s just politics and preferences.

            Well, if it’s just politics and preferences, then it’s absurd for Tony to claim that his preferences are more moral than the preferences of others.

      2. Re: Tony,

        The right not to be murdered requires forcing others to pay for police.

        That’s a non sequitur.

        Oh, that means “it does not follow,” Tony dear. The right not to be murdered means the responsibility not to murder someone falls on each of us, not on paying the police.

        1. What world do you live in? Yeah, if everyone were an angel, we might not need government. But what’s the point of talking about a fantasy world?

          1. Re: Tony,

            Yeah, if everyone were an angel, we might not need government.

            That’s an absurd statement, as government can only be populated by the same non-angels it purports to govern over.

            Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

            1. That’s why we invented such things as voting, checks and balances, and separated powers.

              1. But I thought those things all interfered with the Glorious Democratic Rule of the Proletariat, and were non-mutual interferences with the Essential Identity of The People and The State?

          2. The fantasy world is the one inhabited by those who think that by having an entity with a monopoly over money, law and violence everything will be nice.

            1. Sure as hell beats the alternative. Without a monopoly on law, there is no law except that of the jungle.

              1. The law of the jungle beats monopoly, every time.

                Tony, I really do think that you are sincere. That’s why I feel particularly bad for chaps like you when the the state abuses you and sends you to the slaughterhouse.

                1. How does it beat a monopoly on legitimate force? There was a reason such a thing was invented.

                2. Tony|7.12.11 @ 1:18PM|#
                  Much appreciated. What I often fail to acknowledge is that often I’m merely playing devil’s advocate. I try not to have too many deeply held beliefs, if I can help it.

      3. The right not to be murdered requires forcing others to pay for police.

        The police exist to prevent murders? I don’t think so.

  26. The right not to be murdered requires forcing killing some others to pay for police to recognize the glory and majesty of the government that I bestow upon you.. Your position breaks down when you consider that civilization sometimes requires compulsion in order for anyone to have any liberties at all.

    When did you plan to burn that village in order to save it?

  27. The smell of smug was bound to be strong on this thread.

    It is interesting that “progressives” seem to be the most natural enemy of the libertarian despite the statist tendencies of conservatives.

    1. I’ll try, Neu. Possibly because the concepts of negative rights and individual autonomy are often shared by many libertarians and conservatives, while progressives held, and still hold, a very dim view of autonomy as a guiding principle or philosophical underpinning in their policies. They’ve always held a social interest/competing interest balancing test view of things. In other words, there’s at least a starting point between libertarians and conservatives.

      That said, every standard nuance or disclaimer you can think of would probably fit right here…

      1. I was thinking along the same lines with the “negative rights” thing. Conservatives want to police your autonomy, but they don’t want anyone to police theirs, but they don’t think people have a right to things, for the most part.

        1. I’d have to write an essay to respond, so if I might just limit it to the intellectual tradition of rights and autonomy, you’d probably have your starting point.

          Whether the modern conservative movement values autonomy is another discussion entirely. In addition to that, once you’ve accounted for the trend in modern progressive movements to value some forms of autonomy over communitarianism, you’ve really got two movements that are involved in a hybridism, and there’s really an unspoken dialectic going on between them. Think of the faith-based initiatives under GWB being an almost exact historical replica of progressive means and goals at the beginning of the twentieth century, down to state-sanctioned religious intervention into publicly administered charitable affairs. Add in the results-based view that Americans have (de Tocqueville and his claim about how Americans are all Cartesians and low-level individual relativists who learn their ethics from experience and reaffirmation rather than from abstractions) with respect to their understanding of the good life, and you’re sure to find huge exceptions to the abstractions when studying actual practice.

          1. Well, of course, the categories “progressive” and “conservative” are not well defined in the first place, so you expect to get a wide variety of people/practices labeled (often inappropriately) using those labels. The prototypical version of each that we all carry around in our head is much less common than the real world examples that vary from that model significantly. Indeed, most people are probably more issue oriented politically in this country than ideology oriented.

            1. Perhaps it is the ideology oriented progressives that are the natural enemies of the libertarian, since libertarians are, by and large, more ideology oriented.

              1. Two very good posts, NM.

              2. I’d agree with that. I got all verbose because sodomy, decriminalization of marijuana (for the most part it is a blue state/progressive thing), general privacy rights w/r/t law enforcement, crime and punishment, and euthanasia are policy issues where today’s progressives seem to be worlds ahead of today’s average conservative if one is taking into account self-determination and autonomy.

    2. I hate to have to be obvious here, but progressives are pretty damned statist enough, NM. They can hold their own against any statism dished out by conservatives – just in different (for the most part) ways.

      Conservatives are patriarchal. They want to be the daddies of the nation, and treat grown adults like toddlers.

      Liberals are matriarchal, and want to mommy the nation until it behaves according to their whims.

      Both sides view even the most competent grown-up as barely more capable of self-determination than a three-year-old.

      Why should anyone want that?

  28. There’s only individuals – only individuals act and ONLY INDIVIDUALS act rationally.

    Not true.

    A thought experiment. An Amish farmer is raising his barn with the help of his neighbors. Some of the individuals think he is building it too large, and let him know, but the group talks it over and decides to follow his plans. Even those that voiced an opinion against the plans help out.

    Did the group make a decision?
    Did the group act?

    Or was the barn built through emergent order?

    If you answer with “emergent order” your homework assignment is to do some reading on the topic and write a concise definition of the term.

    1. And yes, to get it out of the way, I am more smug than you or your friends.

      1. Now, that’s smug.

        1. I know, huh.

    2. Did the group make a decision? No, although that’s a commonly-used metaphor.

      Did the group act? No, although that’s a commonly-used metaphor.

      Was the barn built through emergent order? I’ll go out on a limb and say the barn was built through individuals coordinating their actions.

      This isn’t some metaphysical conundrum. I’m willing to stipulate that I missed your point, though.

      1. Coordinated actions of individuals = actions of a group.

        Mexican’s premise that groups don’t act is flawed at a very basic level. As, by the way, are your answers to the first two questions. The group made a decision…it is not metaphorical, they did it. And the group acted…it is not metaphorical, they did it. An individual can not perform the act alone. The act requires coordinated action at the group level and coordinated decision making.

        1. You’re begging the question by labeling the outcome of a bunch of actual decisions “a decision”, and labeling the creation of the barn “an act”. It’s just more metaphor–the result is like one person decided to build the barn in a certain way and then did it.

          the group talks it over and decides to follow his plans.

          Metaphorically. But what actually happened is that each individual in the group decided to follow his plan, rather than their own, because they preferred to have the barn built than not built.

          Even those that voiced an opinion against the plans help out.

          Again, because each of them preferred to have the barn built than not built. If some had decided against the plan, and left, would the group be both deciding to build the barn and not deciding to build the barn? I’m sure you’d say it’s two groups making two different decisions. But the only way you can even identify two groups in that case is by differentiating the decision and actions of the individuals, because that’s all there is.

          So a bunch of individuals made decisions, resulting in many different actions by individuals, the result of which was a barn. It’s not mysterious.

          It’s telling that the experiences of acting or deciding “alone”, or as a member of a group, aren’t fundamentally different. In each case, it feels just like me making a decision and acting in some context. The world could have been different in this way. We could become transformed, turn into a hive-mind temporarily, speak and act as if one, and then somehow return to our separateness. But the world is not like that.

          1. Trespassers W|7.26.11 @ 10:45PM|#

            You’re begging the question by labeling the outcome of a bunch of actual decisions “a decision”, and labeling the creation of the barn “an act”.

            I would say you are begging the question by claiming they are not acts or decisions, but metaphorical approximations of acts and decisions. What I am doing is using the common definitions of the words.

            It’s just more metaphor–the result is like one person decided to build the barn in a certain way and then did it.

            It is not like that at all. You just want to view it that way. In fact the actions that occur require the coordinated actions of the group to get done. Without acting as a group, the barn doesn’t get built. Individual sub-acts occur that include individual decisions, but many of the sub-acts require coordinated effort to get done (raising the main joist which is too heavy and cumbersome for any individual to lift, e.g.)

            the group talks it over and decides to follow his plans.

            Metaphorically. But what actually happened is that each individual in the group decided to follow his plan, rather than their own, because they preferred to have the barn built than not built.

            No, what happened is each individual in the group decided to coordinate efforts with the other members to that the group could carry out the group decision.

            Even those that voiced an opinion against the plans help out.

            Again, because each of them preferred to have the barn built than not built.

            And so decided to coordinate their efforts to that the group decision could be carried out.

            If some had decided against the plan, and left, would the group be both deciding to build the barn and not deciding to build the barn?

            No, the composition of the group would have been different.

            I’m sure you’d say it’s two groups making two different decisions. But the only way you can even identify two groups in that case is by differentiating the decision and actions of the individuals, because that’s all there is.

            Nope. The one group that acted in a coordinated fashion would have acted as a group. Some individuals would have decided to leave the group. They would cease to be part of the group. There is no need to consider them a coherent group.

            So a bunch of individuals made decisions, resulting in many different actions by individuals, the result of which was a barn. It’s not mysterious.

            You ignore the central feature of the act…the coordination of effort to act in unison as a group.

            It’s telling that the experiences of acting or deciding “alone”, or as a member of a group, aren’t fundamentally different.

            But they are fundamentally different.

            In each case, it feels just like me making a decision and acting in some context.

            Nope. The coordinated joint attention and coordinated joint actions are qualitatively different than acts involving no other agents.

            The world could have been different in this way. We could become transformed, turn into a hive-mind temporarily, speak and act as if one, and then somehow return to our separateness. But the world is not like that.

            False dilemma.

  29. I just went through this with a friend. Both are the natural enemy. Conservatives talk a good game, but always fail in the end. Their statist concerns lie more in the bedroom and what you do with your body. They at least try to promote ‘freedom’ as we do, but ignore gays and drugs in that freedom. Progressives want to control EVERYTHING, for the children of course.

    1. that was supposed to go under Neu’s post at 3:58.

      fucking threaded comments, how do they work?

    2. Nipple,

      Progressives don’t want to control everything, imho. The drugs, bedroom, books, etc… exclusion to the need to control deserves acknowledgement.

      1. If we don’t want to control everything (or eat brains, etc.) then there’s no excuse for people to ally with sex-obsessed theocrats because they like low taxes.

        1. “Sex-obsessed.” Oh, like violently forcing yourself upon unwilling high school girls, you mean? That sort of “sex-obsessed”…?

          Pffffftt. Bitch, please.

      2. The drugs, bedroom, books, etc… exclusion to the need to control deserves acknowledgement.

        Who in particular would I acknowledge?

        1. The analogue to “sex-obsessed theocrats” would be… Team Blue.

          Why trust either extreme?

    3. There is the fact that the economic freedom is the one that leads to the wealth of nations and the whole rise of the west out of the cesspool of history. So to me that makes the comparison of who is worse a bit lopsided.

      Not to mention there’s a school of thought on the left that sees the west as evil incarnate, and would like nothing better than to roll back economic progress.

  30. Great points. The answer to why they all accept activist government is in the Long Road Home article at whenaisa.blogspot.com

  31. Great points. The answer to why they all accept activist government is in the Long Road Home article at whenaisa.blogspot.com

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