Libertarian History/Philosophy

Do Libertarians Really "Want a World Without Moral Judgments"?


On March 15 in The New York Times, liberal journalist and author Richard Reeves wrote an op-ed about the new plan in New York City to dramatize the many negative effects of teen pregnancy on girls who give birth before graduating high school and outside of a stable two-parent unit. Billboards and other advertisements around the city, for instance, point out that unwed teen mothers are twice as likely to not finish high school as girls who don't give birth before graduating.

With many smart qualifications, Reeves makes a case for shaming regarding teen pregnancy and other behaviors, and he does it from a liberal POV:

A society purged of shame might sound good in theory. But it would be terrible in practice. We need a sense of shame to live well together. For those with liberal instincts, this is necessarily hard. But it is also necessary.

My issue is less with Reeves' views on public shaming per se and more on an aside he makes about libertarians:

Libertarians might want a world without moral judgments, in which teen pregnancy carries no stigma at all. And paternalists might want the state to enshrine judgments in law — perhaps by raising the age of sexual consent or mandating contraception. True liberals, though, believe we can hold one another to moral account without coercion. We must not shy away from shame.

I submit to you that few statements are more wrong than saying "libertarians might want a world without moral judgments." From my vantage point, one of the things to which libertarianism is dedicated is the proliferation of moral judgments by freeing people up to the greatest degree possible to create their own ways of being in the world. To conflate the live and let live ethos at the heart of the classical liberal and libertarian project with an essentially nihilistic dismissal of pluralism and tolerance is a gigantic error. It's like saying that because religious dissenters want to abolish a single state church that they are anti-god.

As the anthropologist Grant McCracken argued in a 1998 Reason story called "The Politics of Plenitude," our world is characterized by a "quickening speciation" of social types and sub-cultures, a liberating reality that is typically mistaken for the end of the world and the end of all morality. McCracken notes that plenitude particularly aggrieves conservatives, because they mistake an urge to escape "a morality" for an attempt to abolish "all morality." He explains:

The right acts as if the many groups thrown off by plenitude harbor an anarchic tendency, that people have become gays, feminists, or Deadheads in order to escape morality. This is not the logic of plenitude. These people have reinvented themselves merely to escape a morality, not all morality. New communities set to work immediately in the creation of new moralities. Chaos does not ensue; convention, even orthodoxy, returns. Liminality is the slingshot that allows new groups to free themselves from the gravitational field of the old moralities they must escape. But liminality is almost never the condition that prevails once this liberation has been accomplished.

courtesy PBS

Reeves is no conservative. He's a devotee of John Stuart Mill and, I rush to add, has said many positive things about Reason over the yearsBut his characterization of libertarians as uninterested in moral judgments proceeds from a very conservative—and very profound—misunderstanding of what I think we are all about. This sort of thinking typically emanates from the right—how many of us have had conversations with conservatives who equate ending drug prohibition with a case not simply for occasional use of currently illegal drugs but for an absolute embrace of never-ending intoxication and stupefaction?—but apparently it harbors a home on the left as well. (Go here to read part of a debate I had with Jonah Goldberg a decade ago on the same basic topic).

Shame is certainly not the first thing that most libertarians I know reach for in high-minded policy discussions or less serious conversations. On the narrow question of reducing teen pregnancy—which has in any case reached historic lows over the past decades—it's far from clear the role the sort of public shaming enivisioned by New York authorities will play compared to, say, frank discussions of the harshly reduced opportunities faced by young mothers. Certainly, it may make certain policymakers and politicians feel good, but that is hardly any ground by which to analyze the efficacy of a given policy (to his credit, Reeves calls for a cost-benefit analysis himself).

But it's time to start swatting away random accusations of libertarians as nihilists simply because we don't sign on to every given moralistic agenda that is proposed or enacted in the name of the greater good. No less a buttoned-down character than Friedrich Hayek once wrote that "to live and work successfully with others requires more than faithfulness to one's concrete aims. It requires an intellectual commitment to a type of order in which, even on issues which to one are fundamental, others are allowed to pursue different ends." The libertarian commitment to true pluralism and tolerance is not easy to maintain, but it remains exactly the sort of gesture that allows for differing moralities to flourish and, one hopes, new and better ways of living to emerge.

Reeves' official website is here.

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  1. libertarians might want a world without moral judgments from the government

    Is it really so hard to understand the difference that those three words make?

    1. This.

      1. The thread’s pretty much over in one comment, isn’t it?

        1. Mike Tyson is impress.

    2. That’s exactly right. While personally tolerant to some extent, I have high moral standards and do judge people who don’t, even if I don’t call (or want to call) the cops to beat them out of their behavior.

      1. Some of the people I knew in college got really pissed off because I held them to high moral standards. But even though I think you’re stupid to smoke pot 24/7 or are unworthy of respect for sleeping with someone with a girlfriend I still think you shouldn’t suffer any consequences from the government.

        1. Standard progressives line: “Who are you to tell me what to do!?!?!”

          To which my response has always been: “I’m NOT telling you to do anything! Do not assume that my disapproval of your flamboyantly dissipative lifestyle means that I have the political power and will to coerce you.”

          Simply put, most progressives are unable to imagine disapproving something without wanting to ban it as well. They are unable to imagine NOT legislating morality.

          1. There’s a difference between “I don’t approve” and “Stop, or I’ll put you in jail, fine you, kill you, or all three.”

          2. Both sides do. The religious whackos also want their ‘morality’ imposed by law. Abortion, drugs, prostitution, etc., etc.

            1. Often there is a confluence of “morality” with “protection of rights,” but the trap many liberals and libertarians fall into is the assumption that any position one cases upon “morality” must, by source of inspiration, be invalid. One may very well support “thou shalt not kill” simply based upon the fact it is in the Bible, but very few would say it is an invalid principle based upon this fact.

              WRT abortion, IMHO the logical libertarian position is to provide greater deference to the right to life of the soon-to-be fully human over the right to convenience of the temporarily pregnant, especially as the soon-to-be element approaches zero. I think all who reflexively wave their pro-choice bona fides as evidence of their freedom from religious influence should follow closely the trial of Dr. Gosnell to see this ideal of personal freedom in practice.

              1. That is an excellent answer, submandave.


    3. Not true. We want OBJECTIVE moral judgements from the government, but not SUBJECTIVE moral judgments.

      1. What is an “objective” or “subjective” moral judgment?

        Morality is either objective — having meaning despite your or my views on it — or it has no real meaning at all.

    4. This assertion reveals the Total State mindset:

      “Nothing outside the state, everything for the state, nothing against the state.”

      Because we don’t want the state involved in moral judgments, we must not want anyone engaging in moral judgment.

      Thanks for self-identifying as a fascist/totalitarian, Richard.

  2. Shaming people is a libertarian alternative to government coercion.

    1. You’ve got it all wrong. When individuals shame people, it’s a hate crime. When the government imprisons people for doing the same thing, it’s an act of societal love.

      1. I love you man. Now kiss your husband goodbye, you’re going to jail.

    2. “Shaming people is a libertarian alternative to government coercion.”
      Don’t harsh Reeve’s mellow!

    3. I agree with what you’re saying, but to play devil’s advocate, what about life on a fundamentalist cult compound? In theory, the children who grow up there are free to leave, but in reality many (if not most) of them are unprepared for life outside the bubble.

      Now, if shaming and ostracization means an effective death sentence, what is the libertarian answer to that? That these children who have been taught through years of psychological torture to be dependent on the hive should somehow learn to be self-sufficient?

      1. That happens now with our bloated government.

        1. Yeah, why is it non libertarians think that libertarian ideas should not be implemented until a perfect world where no one is born in to harm can be shown to be achieved by those ideas? If only they applied one thousanth of that standard on to the actual system that they do on a libertarian alternative.

      2. We should send social workers in there who will take the children out of those homes and put them into a foster care system where physical coercion, sexual abuse and the skills to be petty criminals are taught never, ever, ever occur. Except for the fact those three conditions are the norm of the public system and not the exception.

        1. Your child is 100 times more likely to be molested by their school teacher than by their priest, but the teachers unions squash any reporting on that fact.

      3. it’s not a death sentence, they can just start by flipping burgers, maybe get some help in the form of a cheap room to stay.

        If anything, staying in the mormon cults is a death sentence, as half the male boys are doomed to be kicked out to keep sex ratios appropriate to have multiple wives. That’s a social death sentence, who the hell wants to go their whole lives without marriage and raising a family?

    4. Starving to death is a natural alternative to government coercion.

      As is not being able to afford living in a manner one is accustomed due to the choices previously made.

      Consequence is important. Moral judgement will most likely serve irrational ends when it is tied to ideas that are not bound by consequence first and foremost.

  3. Wow. A NYT op-ed grossly (and probably intentionally) mischaracterizes libertarianism. Well spank my ass and call me Sally!

    1. Shut up Sally.

    2. Mmmmm… dat ass.

    3. Well spank my ass and call me Sally!

      You should be ashamed of yourself. Pervert.

      1. There should be some sort of law.

    4. Well spank my ass and call me Sally!

      You’re dating being gamed by Virginian?

    5. Well glaze my nipples and call me Rita!

  4. On March 15 in The New York Times, liberal journalist and author Richard Reeves wrote an op-ed about the new plan in New York City to dramatize the many negative effects of teen pregnancy on girls who give birth before graduating high school and outside of a stable two-parent unit. Billboards and other advertisements around the city, for instance, point out that unwed teen mothers are twice as likely to not finish high school as girls who don’t give birth before graduating.

    I remember Dan Quayle being mocked out of the running for making exactly that point.

    But, of course, he was Team Red.

    1. He was mocked because he used Murphy Brown as a metaphor. Lots of people are too dense to comprehend a metaphor, and his opponents exploited that fact.

      1. Yeah, using a fictional character who is highly successful as an example was a bad move. And in any case, it’s not something the president should officially give a fuck about.

  5. I judge people all the time. I just don’t expect anyone to legislate my judgements.

    1. I’m judging you right now.

      1. Watching. Waiting. Judging.

      2. I just assume your judgements conclude that I’m the perfect woman.

        1. Despite your your obvious love for extraneous e’s in judgment?

          1. My version is the correct version! I’m calling my Senator right now to legislate the spelling of the word “judgEment”!!

            1. One of my Senators is Ted Cruz, so he will patronize and humiliate your Senator until the bill dies in committee.

              1. One of my Senators is Mark Warner. Oh. Well, the other one is Tim Motherfuckin’ Kaine. Oh. Damn. You win.

                1. I left Va several years ago, and man do I STILL hate that pencil neck Warner, and his pet lackey Kaine.

          2. It’s the Oxford “e”.

          3. “your your”

            Isn’t there a law about that?

            1. Not a law-law.

        2. Provided you’re typing from the kitchen.

          1. Nope. Childless unmarried middle aged woman with a career, here. In other words, John’s worst nightmare.

    2. Shut up Sally.

  6. He just misspelled “libertine.” Typical Times-quality proofreading.

    1. I was thinking someone just needs to explain to him the difference between a libertarian and a libertine.

  7. Judge and prepare to be judged.

  8. Do Libertarians Really “Want a World Without Moral Judgments”?

    Yes, where moral judgements are intrusions into private behavior that doesn’t affect anyone else.

    1. No, moral judgments are quite in keeping with the libertarian way of thinking.

      Every thinking person makes moral judgments. The libertarian is unique in that he does not wish to use the State to enforce his judgements.

      1. The libertarian is unique in that he does not wish to use the State to enforce his judgements.

        Anarchists disagree about the uniqueness.

        1. Most species of “anarchist” out there think they have a right to use force to enforce their moral judgments.

          1. But not state force.

            1. You haven’t met too many left leaning anarchists then. They may not wish to use traditionally hierarchical state force, but they are very willing to use institutionalized coercion to further their own moral judgments.

          2. So do all libertarians.

      2. Libertarians do want to use the State to enforce its moral judgment against using the State to enforce moral judgments. So you see, we’re the real monsters!

      3. Can you imagine such a thing as a libertarian believing that it is morally wrong to initiate the use of force against others? I’m sure anybody suggesting such a thing would be laughed right out of the libertarian party.

    2. Still no. I don’t care if you hate teh ghey more than murder itself, you are free to yell “God Hates Fags” all you want. And I’ll judge you for that. Just no govt coercion anywhere in the process.

      1. Thanks Voltaire!

  9. Only teen matrimony can rid New York of the scourge of gay pregnancy.

    1. I blame it on super-size sodas.

    2. Only POC polyamory can end the cisexist scourge of white privilege!

  10. Who gives a fuck what the shoe bomber thinks about libertarians?

    1. I know I could not care less what dead Superman thinks!

  11. True liberals, though, believe we can hold one another to moral account without coercion. We must not shy away from shame.


    1. True liberals as in classical liberals, yes. Today’s liberals? That’s more doublespeak bullshit.

    2. I really miss those “true liberals.” Where did they all go?

      1. I think 80% of them are in the chatroom right now.

  12. Good thing I ordered coffee and libertarian naval gazing for breakfast.

    1. Hello, sailor!

    2. Sure, I’m flattered, maybe even a little curious, but no peeking at my naval, Tony.

    3. Tony| 3.21.13 @ 10:51AM |#
      “libertarian naval gazing”
      You claim to be an editor, shithead.
      Is your employer the esteemed “10th Ave Dog Walker’s Newsletter”?

      1. I think Tony is my boss – he just sent me an performance review document with some pretty elementary misspellings.

        1. Elementary like “an performance?”

          1. That’s a typo, not a misspelling. It originally said “annual” instead of performance.

            1. That’s a typo, not a misspelling. It originally said “annual” instead of performance.

              Are you sure it wasn’t “anal”?

      2. Maybe Tony likes ships. Big, powerful naval ships full of sweaty, muscular, manly men.
        I think he also loves rum, sodomy and the lash.

        1. Don’t forget hairy, those swabbies must be hairy!

  13. We need a sense of shame to live well together. For those with liberal instincts, this is necessarily hard. But it is also necessary.

    I’m glad that he thinks it’s hard to threaten people with imprisonment and death for being insufficiently charitable.

  14. A not so thinly veiled attack at Libertarianism with lies and mischaracterizations. As the liberty movement gains more inertia as it apparently is, expect more of these lambasts.
    I of course am very moral about how I lead my life. I teach and pass that morality onto my children. They have great manners, respect for others and know that accountability and responsibility are yours to foster and invest in.
    I absolutely make moral judgments all the time. I do not force them on others because it really is a futile gesture and not worth the investment. Hopefully those around me can gain from my setting an example instead of a decree.
    And if they don’t, FUCK EM!

    1. liberty movement gains more inertia

      Err…I hope this is not the case!

      1. I’m morally opposed to momentum.

        1. I’m morally opposed to momentum.

          Zombie Isaac Newton will come for you.

          1. The laws of physics are next on the chopping block once we get rid of those pesky laws of economics.

      2. I’m morally opposed to momentum.

        Don’t worry. I think it’s just angular momentum, because we don’t seem to be getting anywhere.

        1. Actually it is centrifugal I believe. We do get somewhere until we end up right back where we started.

          1. Big wheel keep on turnin’
            Proud Murray(Rothbard)keep on burnin’

      3. Depends on your frame of reference.

  15. Bastiat on Richard Reeves’ nonsense: “Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.”

    1. Was true then and is true now.

    2. Since libertarians do not want to legislate morality, then they obviously want no morality at all.

      1. And I dont even buy the first part.

        All legislation should be based on morality.

        Laws against murder? Morality.
        Laws against rape? Morality.
        Laws against theft? Morality.

        I just want a limited set of morality that is based on harming others legislated.

        1. You are aware that the word “morality” is wrapped with several meanings. In the sarcasmic uses the word, he refers to legislation against vice. A distinctive characteristic of libertarian thinking is that it rationally distinguishes between vice and crime.

          Lysander Spooner on the distinction between crimes and vices:

          The title is “Vices Are Not Crimes: A Vindication of Moral Liberty”.

          1. morality covers both vice and crime.

            If he meant merely vice, he should have used the word vice.

            1. You are, of course, technically correct. But comments are usually written spontaneously without much reflection on the selection of a precise word.

              I’m pretty sure you know that he meant vice as distinct from crime.

            2. When people say “legislated morality” it is commonly understood to mean things that are not necessarily crimes.

              1. Many times the way things are “commonly understood” is wrong.

        2. All legislation should be based on morality.

          Who’s morality? And how do you define what is moral and what is not?

        3. I’d say that morality is (or ought to be) necessary for a law, but never sufficient reason to make a law. The law must also have practical value in preventing harm to others and enforceability.

      2. AND we hate the chidrunz!

    3. One of his best paragraphs, and there are many to choose from.

    4. I’ll see your Bastiat and raise you a Thomas Paine.

      SOME writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher. Thomas Paine

      1. The one encourages intercourse

        Awwwwww yeah!

        1. the last a punisher

          bow chicka wow wow

      2. Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might expect in a country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer. Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise.

  16. My libertarianism is based on moral judgements.

    What a fucktard.

    1. Not just yours.

      Libertarianism is a framework built on moral judgment. The NAP is a moral judgment.

      Even Bill Maher’s idiotic libertarianism is based upon moral judgments.

      1. You can’t blame the progressives for assuming that every moral framework is as ad hoc as theirs. Some of them even think of that as a strength of progressivism, as I’ve been told many a time that libertarianism and the axiom of self-ownership are too “inflexible” and “rigid” to produce a workable society.

        Which, if you’re the type who wants to steal from people via the law and occasionally send dissenters to concentration/re-education camps, I guess they are.

        1. workable society

          Point them to the stuff above, as Bastiat and Paine have a smackdown waiting for them.

  17. Reeves should reflect that it’s *the government itself* which has undermined moral values – in this context, by subsidizing illegitimacy. (Although why we should exclusively worry about *teen* pregnancy I don’t know – or, rather, I *do* know, because voters want to be reassured that the illegitimacy problem is limited to those skanky irresponsible teenagers).

    1. If we didn’t help support women and their bastard children, we would have fewer bastards.

  18. I choose to judge those who blame all there problems on teen moms.

    I wonder how humanity survived as long as it did. Humans have given birth primarily in their late teens and 20s for their entire history.

    I know a fair share of teen moms and trust me they’re plenty motivated to pick a better dad next time and improve their life and that of their child.

    Methinks Bloomberg is mad he didn’t get to knock a teen up. Perhaps his mommy never let him drink a full sized beverage as well, and gave him a spanking when he made a toy gun out of Duplos.

    1. The problem is unwed moms not necessarily teen moms. The explosion of bastard children is the problem not teen moms in particular. In fact, women would probably be better off if they married in their teens, had children and then were free to pursue their careers in their 30s after their children were grown that what they do now. Now, they put off having children making it more risky to their health and also making children interfere with their careers right as they are starting to take off.

      1. This. My parents were married in their teens, and had their first child (me) more than a year later. Were they too young? Damn straight. But they tried to do things the right way.

        1. I would rather be raised by a married couple in their teens than some narcissistic career obsessed single mom who had me made in a lab in her quest for meaning.

          1. But honestly, John. It really wasn’t a good thing for my mother, who I think spent the rest of her life secretly (or so she thought) wishing she could have done more with her life. And I don’t blame her a bit, even though I would think that giving birth to, and rearing, one of the wonders of creation should have been enough for anyone.

            1. My mother did the same thing. But of course my father had a pretty successful career and considers my mother’s accomplishment to be far greater than his.

              But my point is that if women had their kids young, they could spend their 20s raising their kids, then have a career in their 30s and beyond. If you had a couple of kids as say 18 and 20, by the time you are 30, they are off at school. Then you can go to college and have a career much easier and not have to interrupt it later when you have kids.

              1. Then you can go to college and have a career much easier and not have to interrupt it later when you have kids.

                Um, it’s not exactly easy to interrupt your career to go to college. My wife and I had our daughter when we were 21. There are many things that we missed out on because we decided to be responsible parents. Sure, we’ll still be relatively young when the kids are out, but we won’t have the same opportunities as we would have when we were younger.

                1. Um, it’s not exactly easy to interrupt your career to go to college

                  That is my point. The women would stay at home and raise her kids and then go to college and start her career. You reverse it from what we do today. And having your kids at 21 will probably turn out to be better for your wife’s career. While other women have to leave the work force or work fewer hours right when their careers are taking off, you wife won’t have to because her kids will be raised.

                  1. The women would stay at home and raise her kids and then go to college and start her career.

                    Maybe in Fantasyland that might work. Neither of us had the option to stay home and raise the kids, we had to work. Believe me, it’s not as easy as you try to make it sound.

                    1. Of course not. Of course it would be a lot easier if the government didn’t fuck you via taxes. Most women work to pay their husband’s taxes.

                    2. It would also be easier if every career did not require a college degree.

                    3. they dont. Narrow minded hiring managers require a degree.

                    4. they dont. Narrow minded hiring managers require a degree.

                      This drives me absolutely nuts. There’s a large local company that won’t even talk to you unless you have a degree. I’ve been fixing computers for 20+ years and have no college education but have held multiple sys admin positions. They wouldn’t give me the time of day. Meanwhile, a guy I worked with briefly (before he got fired for gross incompetence) has a bachelors of arts and works a nicely paying job in their IT department. He has a degree, so obviously he knows more about computers than a guy who’s been fixing computers since before he was born… makes perfect sense.

                    5. THANK YOU

                      glad somebody said it

                    6. I’ve been fixing computers for 20+ years and have no college education but have held multiple sys admin positions.

                      While I’m only at 17 years, I’m in the exact same boat.

                    7. Yeah, now I have the choice of staying in small business and making less than people 10+ years younger than me or going to college and racking up $50k in debt to get a piece of paper that says some academic agrees that I know what the hell I’m talking about.

                    8. We’re comparing having kids early v. having them late. Presumably, you will be working while raising them either way, so that nets out.

                      I’ve always thought that you should have kid before you know better. But what do I know; I’m childless. Except, of course, for my inner child. Don’t you judge me.

                    9. I wouldn’t judge you. My wife and I are childless by choice.

      2. As much as society adores youth culture I don’t believe this group is largely capable of raising intellectually-astute young. A mature and balanced parenting operation is far more beneficial to the minds and well-being of offspring.

        The negative affects of immaturity on child-rearing are responsible for many unfortunate social ills.

        1. I would disagree. First, parents have much less effect on their children than we think. Second, having kids young would force an end to our 30 year adolescence and make people grow up.

          1. First, parents have much less effect on their children than we think.

            As long as it’s non-zero, it’s still far more beneficial.

            I doubt it was just luck that even when my kids were young they behaved well in restaurants and stores when other kids their age, or older, were running around being fuckwits.

            1. That just made your kids tolerable to be around. But even the fuckwit kids eventually grow up.

              1. And into what kind of adult does a fuckwitted kid with no boundaries or discipline grow?

                Besides which, making kids tolerable is having an effect on them, isn’t it?

                1. Sure, just not a long term one.

                  1. I think you are expanding studies beyond their bounds.

                    Do you have any cites that support the idea that parenting has a minimal influence on how kids turn out?

                  2. I wish I knew what it was that caused adults with no children to believe they had all the answers when it comes to parenting.

                    1. Well, at least in my case, I worked for a couple of years at a home for troubled children, I have 3 nephews who appear to be turning out well, and I know a lot of fucking idiots who have kids who are turning out…less well. So I base my parenting expertise on training, observation and experience.

          2. parents have much less effect on their children than we think.

            Strongly disagree, and the multi-generational welfare families I know of would tend to disagree as well.

            having kids young would force an end to our 30 year adolescence and make people grow up.

            Not with the current welfare/medicaid/food stamp/tax credit/housing assistance regime, it wouldn’t. My sister in law is 19 and gestating her second one because the first was so easy thanks to all the “free” programs she was able to take advantage of. She got a job at Subway and quit after a month because being an unemployed single mom pays better.

            1. Yes, we would have to get rid of the free shit brigade.

              1. But then you’re just a heartless monster instead of a nihilistic enabler.

      3. The problem is unwed moms not necessarily teen moms.

        I’d personally sponsor someone who made it his life’s mission to shout this from the rooftops. Borrowing from Molyneux’s most recent interview with Warren Farrell, the environments most conducive to non-violent, functional children are, in order, 1) intact family 2) divorced parents who live nearby and share custody 3) father has kids and 4) mom has kids.

        And that’s why the welfare state becomes such a disaster so quickly: under the banner of compassion, the state steals from A to provide perverse economic incentives for B that lead to kids being reared in single-parent homes that discourage their development into productive, well-socialized human beings.

      4. It’s none of my business and not my problem. People can have kids however they want.

        Of course I have a problem with the welfare programs that provide incentives to have kids and not work. But that’s the only part of it that is any of my business or concern.

  19. Popular culture on Reeves incredible ignorance regarding libertarianism:

  20. But it’s time to start swatting away random accusations of libertarians as nihilists simply because we don’t sign on to every given moralistic agenda that is proposed or enacted in the name of the greater good.

    Perhaps, for him and people of his ilk, the true test of the sincerity of your moral judgement is whether or not you are willing to lock those you disapprove of in cages.

  21. Shame is one of the few clever behavior-modification tactics that can be utilized freely by elites largely because shaming is guaranteed to be perceived as, ultimately, humanitarian and caring by a populace given to sacrifice and obedience.

    1. Shame is the catalyst for guilt in the shamed. Guilt is one of the most powerful conduits of behavioral modification as are most negative emotions. First instill guilt, then modify the behavior, remove the guilt through the new learned behavior and Bam! Joy Joy feelings for everyone. Normalization and compliance complete.
      See: Global Warming
      Fatty Foods
      ad nauseum.

  22. The rodent part of my brain is demanding more weed, sex and cheese.

    1. So if we held hands with our father and he with his father and so forth we’d eventually be holding hands with a bowl of soup. What does the morality of a bowl of soup look like?

  23. What, nihilists can’t make moral judgments now? Why didn’t anyone tell me?!?

    1. Say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, Shiny. At least it’s a ethos.

    2. Why would you care?

      1. Kind of funny to write a whole post about how “X label isn’t this, it’s that” and then…do the same thing yourself.

        1. I guess I missed a tag or something to let you know that I was asking a nihilist why she would care. Maybe I need to include the little rimshot link or something.

  24. Somebody define moral for me please.

    1. I think it’s an edible mushroom, at least the way Tony spells it.

      1. Sounds delicious. I want some morals.

    2. Objective or subjective?

  25. Libertarians might want a world without moral judgments, in which teen pregnancy carries no stigma at all. And paternalists might want the state to enshrine judgments in law ? perhaps by raising the age of sexual consent or mandating contraception. True liberals, though, believe we can hold one another to moral account without coercion. We must not shy away from shame.

    So instead of arguing for moral judgment and shame, the author lies about libertarians (or creates a grotesque strawma – take your pick) in order to contrast his own self-righteousness from those of his fellow statists. There are birds that cross the swamp without a stain in their plumage and – by God! if his plumage is not going to be one like that (*).

    Liberal logic 101: Lie through your teeth.

    (*) Paraphrasing the poet Salvador D?as Mir?n: “There are those birds that cross the swamp with nary a blotch in their plumage; my plumage is as those.”

  26. First comment hit it on the head; liberals and conservatives alike confuse moral judgement with legal judgement.

    Just because I say you should be allow to do a line off a hooker’s ass while she’s blowing your 5 year old son doesn’t mean I approve.

  27. I am a Conservative and I don’t want to legislate morality. The old ways of social stigma for stupid behavior worked fine. And of course don’t reward it with government handouts. I don’t see many Libertarians defending moral values except when someone accuses them of not doing so.

    Do Libertarians pontificate on the importance of having kids within a stable marriage? No, hardly ever. They do talk about legalizing recreational drugs every day of the week though. Libertarians like open borders too, allowing the 3rd world to dump their poor people on the US seems like a great idea to them.

    Even when many of those people are uneducated and have a high propensity of having children outside marriage, which makes them prime candidates for the welfare state. Only a moral populace can remain free, the framers understood this very well.

    The fantasy that Libertarians have is they can be “cool” with whatever lifestyle people want to have but somehow believe we can restrain the state from intervening in the inevitable social disaster that results. Their open borders policies ensure the complete demise of the Libertarian project as the new arrivals prefer a larger government safety net by vast majorities.

    This makes Libertarians politically naive and useless pretty much. You crave policies that will be your undoing.

    1. It’s mostly a matter of focus. To me, the most effective “shaming” is at the familial level. That might be the only effective such shaming.

      Nobody really gives a shit what some scold says on TV, certainly not a youngster. “Pontificating” is exactly the right word–in its negative connotation.

      For me, my family’s well-being is my business, not yours. And your family’s well-being is not my business, either. I guess it’s my Wyoming roots showing themselves, but Mind Your Own Business is my guiding philosophy.

    2. I think you misunderstand. Me expressing my disdain for an anonymous asshole’s esoteric behaviour has zero impact in making said asshole feel shame, guilt, or whatever. Said asshole’s behaviour does not affect me (until the Government decides to grant them welfare).

      When you imprison said assholes for drug related crimes, that same asshole is now hitting my wallet, and I start to give a shit.

    3. Any retards like you that don’t understand why pot decriminalization is so important can take a long walk off a short pier.

      Fuck off.

    4. Do Libertarians pontificate on the importance of having kids within a stable marriage? No, hardly ever.

      Why should we? That market is saturated.

      They do talk about legalizing recreational drugs every day of the week though.

      Yeah, silly us. Massive violations of rights, enormous human costs, a creeping police state, meh. Amirite?

      Libertarians like open borders too,

      Depending on what you mean by “open” borders, some do, some don’t.

    5. this is poor, Mathusian reasoning. I believe in an Open Society bound together by a strong moral and community fabric. I see coercion as being hostile to that moral and communitarian fabric; fear and tribalism (what I hear you expressing) are likewise hostile. You present a false dichotomy whereby openness and strength are in contradiction, but the history of this nation at its best proves otherwise.

    6. allowing the 3rd world to dump their poor people on the US seems like a great idea to them.

      Statue of Liberty has a sad. tear.

      your entire argument is basically, “libertarians are bullshit because of mexicans and fags”
      You should run for office.

  28. Old-school social disapproval works, particularly with people who are too young or simply too dumb to understand complicated cost-benefit-analysis arguments. If libertarians have a flaw in social thinking, it’s in thinking that everyone has an economist-level understanding of all things “rational”. If you’re a 14 year old girl from a bad neighborhood and attending a poorly-run school whose primary purpose is as a money pool for the political machine, you probably aren’t going to read a long pamphlet about how your life will suck if you let your boyfriend knock you up. Old-school shaming and religious teachings have a far better chance of working.

    That said, these sorts of things should be done by non-government entities and not “the State”.

    1. Unwed teenagers have been getting pregnant throughout history. The most important shaming happened afterward–the kids got married whether they wanted to or not. The boy who skipped out on his obligations had no place in the community. And, of course, sometimes it went well beyond shaming into actual threats.

      There are no practical consequences to teen motherhood in the ghetto, other than a new source of income. Not hard to understand why there’s no shaming involved.

  29. hmm

    1. How very pensive of you.

  30. First of all morality deals solely with actions, thoughts and feelings are amoral. Secondly there are two types of morality, objective and subjective. Objective deals with actions between individuals and is within the purview of the government. Subjective deals with actions that only effect the individual and should be outside the purview of the government. Anyone who talks about morality without making these distinctions is wasting your time.

    1. Explain how morality can be objective?

      Protip: All morals are subjective.

      1. You need to read better. Objective morality deals with actions between two or more individuals, as I said. Basically actions involving the initiatory use of force, threats of force or fraud are objectively immoral. Free trade is objectively moral.

  31. This libertarian wants a world without moral judgments.

  32. Do Libertarians Really “Want a World Without Moral Judgments”?

    Of course not. Libertarians want a world with libertarian moral judgements.

    Though after reading Tyler Cowens latest article on the urgent moral necessity of opening the US borders in order to redistribute American wealth to the worlds poor, I’m a bit befuddled about what the phrase “libertarian moral judgements” actually means. What next, the libertarian argument for confiscating the wealth of the rich and redistributing it among the poor because that would be the moral thing to do??

    1. I’m sure our utilitarian brethren will be along shortly to show that would be exactly the right thing to do. On net.

  33. Well, I am late to this part so no one will read this. But two things. Charles Murray, a libertarian if ever there was one, has spoken with great power about the necessity of shame. Those who are unable to care for themselves or their children and show little to no willingness to do so should be shamed. They are what Murray calls “trash.” Second, see Harry Clor for a good argument for public morality. Richard Rorty once said he was a freeloading atheist, meaning he could be an atheist only because Christendom had been so successful in creating civilized and decent world. Libertarians think that public order is easy to create when in fact they are freeloading on centuries of a firm moral order which is now breaking down.

    1. Jon, you might benefit from Googling “deep libertarianism”.

    2. How very Eurocentric of you. Fuck China and India and their 4,000 year history of civilization.

  34. The belief that everyone should have the right to do whatever they want to do unless it causes physical harm to another person is a statement of moral belief. The desire for a world in which such a belief is the ruling belief is a desire for a certain type of morality. There is nothing even slightly “objective” or “scientific” about any of this.

  35. This all seems very straightforward until someone asks the question, “Should adultery be grounds for divorce?”

    Let me know how you arrive at that answer without allowing Government to make a moral judgment.

    1. Yes, adultery should be grounds for divorce. I arrived at that answer without allowing the government to make a moral judgement because the government shouldn’t have any say as to whom I can marry or why I can divorce.

      When I enter into a mutually beneficial contract (marriage), there are certain rules established by that contract. Part of that agreement is that I won’t cheat on my wife. If I break that rule, I’ve broken the contract and she’s free to divorce me. See, no government involvement necessary.

      1. If all marital contracts were signed in a lawyer’s office rather than vocally-agreed to in a pleasant and high moment surrounded by jesus, friends, and family human commitment romance would likely be turned on its head.

        That being said, I find it rather odd that people who work very hard and put years into establishing a working long-term relationships should be so easily disturbed by adultery or a contractual obligation slip-up when one considers the natural propensities of human nature.

  36. Babies just happen and shaming has never stopped that. It’s just going to encourage abortion.

  37. Liberals can’t make up their minds. 10 years ago, teen pregnancy was all the fault of dysfunctional families, poverty, whatever. Never the teens’ fault. Now they say they should be shamed. Hmmmm….what changed?

    Ditto for obesity. 10 years ago it was all genetic and nothing you could do about it. Now, it’s because they can’t resist the temptation of a Big Gulp.

  38. i very much want a world full of moral judgements

    i just dont want them enforced by an endlessly expanding bureaucracy of Our Betters

    i also want a world full of cheap sluts. i work tirelessly to achieve this dream

    1. “i also want a world full of cheap sluts. i work tirelessly to achieve this dream”

      I suggest starting with the Man In The Mirror…

  39. You have to distinguish between an ideology and its adherents. The former may be quite clear, but the latter may be full of emotional baggage and not ideologically up to speed. Like multicultural progressives, many libertarians have a gut-level reaction against authority of any kind (“Ain’t nobody’s business if you do”), not just governmental. Reeves may have encountered such libertarians; his mistake is to assume that they are somehow representative.

    To conservatives who say that legalizing an activity is “sending a message that it is OK”, I ask why then do we need churches?

  40. Would that moral judgements were so easily disposed of!
    What libertarians want is for moral judgements to not be the basis for legislation. Beyond certain universal moral infractions – murder, theft, slavery, child abuse, assault – the moral behavior of others is their own concern. By the same token the consequences of others’ moral choices is their own concern, and society as a whole should not be forced to pay the freight for poor decisions made by its individual members. Having to accept total individual responsibility the consequences of one’s actions is the fundamental basis of morality; ironically, when the state arrogates for itself the power to make moral decisions for its citizens, they become less moral.

  41. Libertarians talk about shame without defining it. Shame, in one definition is merely a verbal tsk, tsk or the hand gesture of swiping one index finger with the other. These are ludicrous tools. Real shaming requires one to be ostracized by the society. Kicked out. Socially and economically isolated. Would Libertarians embrace that definition? I highly doubt it. In other words as long as shaming is ineffecfive we might find Libertarians all for it. Give shaming some real bite and Libertarians become exposed for their real goal; acceptance of all licentuousness.

    The single mother, the drug addict, the chronically unemployed would/should suffer and eventually die in a real Libertarian worldview. Those are the real Libertarian consequences of licentuous behavior. Don’t hold your breath waiting for Libertarians to publicly embrace that.

    Since we live in a welfare/socialist state the Libertarian worldview is either unobtainable or a lever for socialists to justify more wealth transfers to Libertarians who are immune from tsk, tsk and hand gestures.

  42. just as Betty answered I can’t believe that any one can profit $7390 in 1 month on the computer. did you see this link

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