NSA

Another Day, Another Panic About 'Paranoid Libertarians'

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At Slate, University of Chicago law professor Eric Posner adds his voice to the growing chorus of disapproval directed at so-called "paranoid libertarians," the group who allegedly "distrusts the government to an unreasonable extent." According to Posner, paranoid libertarians pose a genuine risk to the social order, since their incessant harping on government misdeeds threatens to undermine the functioning of the American state. "If people trust the government, they may accept its assurances that flying or nuclear power is safe. They may absorb the messages of its educational programs. If they don't trust the government, then no go," Posner writes.

We've seen this claim before. And once again, the response is that there's nothing dangerous or unusual about what Posner or his predecessors are lamenting. In fact, bedrock American jurisprudence requires our courts to do precisely what is described above. Criminal suspects, for example, are presumed to be innocent, meaning that cops and prosecutors are not taken at their word and are instead required to shoulder the burden of proof. By the same token, regulations that touch on free speech or religion are presumed to be unconstitutional, thus forcing lawmakers to provide a compelling justification for their actions that can survive strict scrutiny by the courts. We don't even trust Congress to be alone in the same room with the First Amendment.

So either "paranoid libertarianism" is a meaningless term or America is already a nation of paranoid libertarians. Either way, there's nothing to freak out about.

NEXT: Feds Make More Than $100 Billion in Improper Welfare Payments, Each Year

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  1. “distrusts the government to an unreasonable extent.”

    They keep using that word like there is some agreed upon baseline.

    1. Given the rent seeking, corruption, and violence the government visits upon us daily, I think Posner is being unreasonably credulous about the benevolence of state administered programs.

      1. But you don’t understand the difference. Posner is looking at this from a totally different perspective than you. That’s because he’s one of the good guys, an you are not.

    2. Beat me to it.

    3. If you don’t give them everything they want, you’re unreasonable. Pretty simple and definite.

    4. Reasonable: Distrust when an (R) is Pres.

      Unreasonable: Distrust when a (D) is Pres.

    5. What he really means by “unreasonable extent” is “any extent.” There is no reason to distrust the government in any matter.

      1. Government is us, right? Don’t you trust yourself?

        “Start trusting yourself! Start trusting yourself! Start trusting yourself!”

      2. You’re not familiar with Richard Posner, are you? Try reading the article for a start.

        1. Too late i realized it was Eric.

    6. Unserious. Unreasonable. Too extreme.

      Meaningless phrases intended to other your opponent with the low IQ voter set.

  2. My conclusion is that anyone who trusts this government, when said government has proven again and again, beyond any reasonable doubt, that they cannot be trusted, is a fool.

    1. You’re paranoid if you don’t fall in line and do what you’re told. Besides, republicans did it too and if you’re against democrats then you’re a republican so you’re just a hypocrite and I don’t have to listen to you. Idiot.

      /slate commentor

    2. So you listen to NOAA’s weather forecasts, and infer the opposite? When you see the green light, you infer your local DOT is fucking with you, and you stop, because you believe the light is green the other way? On the ballot, you figure they reverse the votes, so you vote for the other guy? You address your letters to across the street from where you intend to send them, because you’re sure the mailman switches the sides to mess with your head?

  3. The heretics are making it difficult for the almighty state to do what it wants.

    1. Yeah, this country is going to hell.

      There is even a growing trend, no doubt stirred up by crazed libertarians such as those on this blog, to distrust our very own shining heroes in blue.

      That is clearly unreasonable, as the cops have proven very trustworthy. You can totally trust them to beat you senseless at the slightest provocation and to KOS your pets.

  4. “If people trust the government, they may accept its assurances that if you like your health plan, you can keep it, period. If they don’t trust the government, then no go.”

  5. You’re not paranoid if there are actually people out to get you.

    1. Exactly!

  6. They may absorb the messages of its educational programs

    This is bullshit on at least two levels. First, government educational messages can change (e.g. food pyramid). Second, who the hell thinks they have any efficacy? I always laughed at the PSAs about wife-beating. Does anyone seriously think that someone who consistently beats his wife, who happens to hear a PSA will suddenly realize he is wrong and stop doing it?

    1. Wait; it’s wrong to beat your wife?

      1. It’s wrong to beat my wife — your bitch, OTOH …

        /kidding

      1. I still have Big Lizard on cassette.

        never knew they ‘got funky’. I think it might have given me an aneurism at the time.

        1. I believe that song was in response to James Brown allegedly beating up his wife. That’s why it’s so funky.

          1. Ah. That makes sense.

            I do remember the tune “smoking banana peels” making the rounds. Fugazi was also popular that year.

    2. Does it occur to Eric Posner (a shame to the Posner name) that it isn’t the government’s job to reassure the public about the safety of air travel or nuclear power? That that job belongs properly to the airlines and the utility companies, respectively?

      The goverment’s job is merely to ensure these industries arent committing fraud. Other than that, I think free speech and freedom of association can handle it.

      1. That that job belongs properly to the airlines and the utility companies, respectively?

        I attribute the dearth of planes nose down in my backyard to the interests of the industry not the fuckwits in government. If the heavy hand of the Soviet government gave the world the Chernobyl disaster perhaps a little paranoia is in order.

        1. …”If the heavy hand of the Soviet government gave the world the Chernobyl disaster”…

          And Aeroflot!

    3. There are PSAs about wife beating? Are they sponsored by a gov’t entity? What do they say, don’t beat your wife? Or, have you stopped beating your wife?

  7. “”‘paranoid libertarians,” the group who allegedly “distrusts the government to an unreasonable extent.”””

    Allegedly?

    “these libertoids doth protest too much, methinks'”

    And they say this as

    a) NSA routinely collects “everything” and shares with other federal agencies, who are then instructed to *lie* about the sources of their information…

    http://www.reuters.com/article…..9R20130805

    b) and we can be murdered by flying robots *because the presidents says so*…

    http://edition.cnn.com/2014/02…..th-drones/

    c) and… well, fuck….the IRS. It still sucks donkey dick. (that doesn’t need a link)

    d) do I really even need a D??

    yeah, its not *you* honey, its ME.

    Whats most pathetic? We don’t even complain *that much*. I mean, aren’t we supposed to be the lunatic fringe who no one takes seriously? Why all the moaning *now*?….

    As far as I can tell, the only reason they’re bitching is an attempt at pre-emptive discrediting of any legitimate opposition in the face of impending elections. They’re doing it because they KNOW exactly how fucked up things are, and need to throw a head fake at something else to “change the framing”, as they do.

    They really are *that* slimy.

  8. Ah yes, the old “why is there evil in the world?” argument. God/Government is good, and all powerful, yet there is evil. Why? Uncooperative individuals. Sin is brought into the world by individuals as individuals and their failure to act/think/believe alike as commanded by God/Government. That is how G/G is all good and all powerful yet evil still exists.

    In this case, it is the failure of individuals to trust God/Government, not the untrustworthy behavior of same, that is the cause of evil.

    1. I think that if you look at population which trusts God, you’ll see proportionately fewer people who trust in government than in a population which doesn’t trust God.

      1. “Put not your trust in princes…” Psalm 146:3 (KJV)

        1. Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle[c] and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.” — 1 Samuel 8:10-18

          1. A tenth? If only.

            1. Kings arent as bad as Congress.

          2. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers.

            So he’s a job creator!

            1. I actually laughed out loud at this one. It was pure gold.

    2. As soon as humans became conscious. Satan stepped up and made a bunch of rules and convinced everybody that he was God. And he’s been harvesting souls ever since. God’s Body (our bodies) spend 3,000,000 years evolving self-sufficient, self-repairing beings that would be suitable for occupation by the Spirit of Love, but Spirit claims it knows better how Body should live than the way Body created naturally, i.e., seek pleasure, and avoid that which causes pain.

      ANY rule is an abomination in the face of the Divine Will, which is Free Will.

  9. the group who allegedly “distrusts the government to an unreasonable extent.”

    If you don’t, you should be paying closer attention.

  10. Why do I read the comments at Slate? I need a browser extension that shocks me whenever I try to turn off the extension that blocks the comments. So much stupid, it hurts.

    1. Clearly, this is irrational behavior which the govt must regulate to protect you from yourself.

  11. If people trust the government, they may accept its assurances that flying or nuclear power is safe. They may absorb the messages of its educational programs. If they don’t trust the government, then no go

    But whether or not I believe that flying or nuclear power is safe has nothing to do with whether I trust the government.

    This is just a veiled, and incredibly weird, argument from authority.

    1. Right.

      If I want to find out if nuclear power or flying is safe, why would it even occur to me to ask the government?

      I would ask people who might be able to actually give me some worthwhile information about one or both of these topics.

      I’d ask fucking Wikipedia before I’d ask the government.

      1. Chernobyl Operator: Comrade Gorbachev, are these reactor maneuvers safe?

        Party Member: Do not question The Party! Do as you are told or face the ultimate consequences!

      2. It’s quite simple. Politicians and bureaucrats make decisions that are heavily biased by politics and often by corruption. It is irrational to trust people who are proven unreliable.

        1. Politicians and bureaucrats make decisions that are heavily biased by politics and often by corruption.

          Or politicians and bureaucrats are selfless angels of mercy who truly find fulfillment in serving the public, acting altruisticallly for the common good.

          Of course, we all know that there are some paranoid libertarians who like to throw around that silly quote of one of the head nutbags – “It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”

  12. Govt just needs a hug.

    1. It’s too fat to get our arms around, it needs to slim down first.

  13. Paranoid statists display an unreasonable and unjustifiable faith in the competence and good intentions of government. When will they come to their senses? When will they open their eyes to reality?

  14. It’s a government of, by, and for the people!

    Government is us!

    How can you not trust government?

    We are government!

    /progderp

    1. Oddly, that is similar to an argument made by one of the pro-constitutionalists in 1787/8 against a bill of rights. He argued that a bill of rights had been needed in England against the king but that a bill of rights under the US Constitution was redundant since it would be designed to “protect us against ourselves.”

      1. I recall the argument being that the Constitution spells out what the government can do.

        So there’s no need for a bill of rights since nothing in the Constitution gives the government the power to violate those rights.

        If a bill of rights is put into the constitution, then before long instead of being a government of limited enumerated powers, it will become an unlimited government only restrained by the bill of rights.

        Alas that prediction proved to be correct.

        1. The more I look at it, the more I realize that it may be impossible to have written it in a way that slimy pols and Judges wouldn’t figure out a way around.

          We have essay upon essay written by the founders pointing out what the intent of the constitution was, yet the government continues to approach a tyrannical state.

          The problem is the people. If people don’t care, no written document will contain the growth of the state. If enough people just shrug and continue on with their lives, the people in power will continue to circumvent any laws restraining their power.

          1. The more I look at it, the more I realize that it may be impossible to have written it in a way that slimy pols and Judges wouldn’t figure out a way around.

            I believe Heinlein may have nailed in in one of his books. Basically he proposed a bicameral legislature where one house needs two thirds to pass legislation, and the other only needs one third to repeal it.

            1. Easier repeal only requiring a minority is something I am very interested in. It may not completely fix the problem but it would help to slow the states growth to a snail crawl.

              1. Jefferson suggested that every law sunset after 20 years unless explicitly renewed.

                1. Did Jefferson ever meet the Omnibus Reauthorization Act? Which, with the help of technology these days, can be easily generated to expressly renew everything already on the books without the legislature even bothering to read any of them.

                  1. Several states have Constitutional restrictions that limit a bill to one statutory section.

                  2. Several months ago, I was thinking of a procedure for it that “prevents” the Omnibus Reauthorization.

                    1. At the first session of each year, congress must, after seating new members* and validating pres/veep election results* and/or voting for pres/veep* (*if necessary), but before any other action, vote on a reauthorization of each law expiring that year individually, in the order that they were passed.

                    2. With a 2/3rds majority in each house, the law is reauthorized for another 20 years, no presidential signature necessary.

                    3. If it fails to get 2/3rds in either house, the law expires at the end of the year.

                    4. For those that fail, they could be repassed in an omnibus bill, but that requires both houses and presidential signature. But that is just normal legislative action. Hence the “prevents” in quotes above.

                    1. So they just enact a new one by simple majorities that differs from the old by a single word, such as for instance the year of enactment.

                    2. Not only that, but the need to re-enact popular legislation presents enormous opp’ties for legislators to hold out for goodies to be added.

        2. There were a couple of arguments against the B/R. I think Madison made the one I mentioned. Pretty sure Hamilton made the one you are referring to. Of course, Hamilton’s argument against a B/R because he was concerned about not being able to list all the rights people had is put into context several years later when he basically argues that the government can do anything which the constitution does not specifically prohibit.

          1. He explained that this was a loophole that would be exploited, so when he got power he knew exactly how he could get more.

        3. If a bill of rights is put into the constitution, then before long instead of being a government of limited enumerated powers, it will become an unlimited government only restrained by the bill of rights.

          Alas that prediction proved to be correct.

          That “If” assumes causation. Without the BoR, the government would have no constrainsts at all.

          The problem isn’t that the BoR doesn’t contain zero clauses = the problem is that the BoR needs to have about 10,000 clauses describing in minute detail all the things the government can’t do.

  15. “According to Posner, paranoid libertarians pose a genuine risk to the social order…”

    That’s the greatest compliment I could ever hope to receive from a statist shitbag.

    1. Social order probably having something to do with making sure that there is government there to pay for his job at the University of Chicago

      Plus who besides government is going to enforce the no bankruptcy clause on his students college loans

      1. U of C is private – which makes this even more galling.

        1. “Private”. The gov’t has it’s tentacles wrapped around every person, business, and civic institution. Sadly, there is nothing private anymore.

        2. They are a private university, but they sure take a lot of federal money through research grants & federally insured student loans. Like a privately-owned corporation that sucks mightily at the government teat (Solyndra? GM?), the line between public and private is thoroughly blurred.

    2. By social order he means order imposed by government force.

      Emergent order, as in liberty, is a threat to imposed order.

      Thus liberty, and all of those libertarians who support it, must be eliminated.

  16. So we should trust a government when the people who founded that government mistrusted it so much that they put numerous restrictions on its actions.

    While at the same time the people who run the government now are openly trying to get around the restrictions that were put in place.

  17. If you fail to complement the emperor on his fine raiments, then you are clearly a fool of the highest order and an unwashed anarchist to boot.

  18. “Sunstein borrowed the term [“paranoid libertarian”] from a controversial essay by the historian Sean Wilentz, who accused Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, and Julian Assange of being paranoid libertarians who hate liberalism. Wilentz argued that liberals should not cheer on these characters because their skepticism about the motives of government officials betrays a lack of trust in government, and without trust in government liberalism is impossible.”

    If you’re a liberal you shouldn’t support Snowden, et. al. And I suppose you shouldn’t support Daniel Ellsberg either. I’ve had progs tell me that Ellsberg was a total hero and Snowden is a bad guy. (Ellsberg himself supports Snowden).

    1. Well, I guess liberalism is impossible then. Because those guys sure as shit demonstrated that government is not trustworthy.

  19. So, basically, Posner is arguing that we should accept the government as an article of faith. At one time, Posner had some interesting things to say. Talk about jumping the shark.

    1. Posner is the guy who wrote an article after Benghazi saying we need to limit and restrict the First Amendment like Canada and the rest of Europe because we overvalue free speech.

      1. Cripes. I just realized I confused Posner with his father. If the country is going into hopeless statist mode, can we at least pass a law mandating the idiot children of better minds be relegated to obscurity?

        1. Ach! I too was assuming Richard, didn’t see “Eric”! Take that into acc’t when reading my comments w earlier time stamps.

      2. Censoring the video would be a statesmanlike act on the order of fighting Jim Crow:

        “So symbolic attachment to uneasy, historically contingent compromises, and a half-century of judicial decisions addressing domestic political dissent and countercultural pressures, prevent the U.S. government from restricting the distribution of a video that causes violence abroad and damages America’s reputation. And this is a video that, by the admission of all sides, has no value whatsoever.

        “Americans have not always been so paralyzed by constitutional symbolism. During the Cold War, the U.S. foreign policy establishment urged civil rights reform in order to counter Soviet propagandists’ gleeful reports that Americans fire-hosed black protesters and state police arrested African diplomats who violated Jim Crow laws. Rather than tell the rest of the world to respect states’ rights?an ideal as sacred in its day as free speech is now?the national government assured foreigners that it sought to correct a serious but deeply entrenched problem. It is useful if discomfiting to consider that many people around the world may see America’s official indifference to Muslim (or any religious) sensibilities as similar to its indifference to racial discrimination before the civil rights era.”

        http://www.slate.com/articles/…..ingle.html

        1. Okay, okay. Like I said, I confused the guy with his father. My bad.

          1. I wasn’t knocking you, just linking to the article the Grand Moff cited.

            1. Sorry. Just a little…paranoid.

  20. “Paranoid libertarians are like nervous-Nellie air travelers except that they fear the government rather than airplanes. Neglecting their fears can lead to the same perverse results. For example, if the government disregards gun owners’ irrational fear of confiscation and imposes modest background checks, then gun owners might buy and hoard more guns, which could be found by children or eventually make their way to criminals. And then the result is more deaths.”

    In short, it’s irrational to take seriously the avowed aims of many in the gun-control crowd, or the history of gun control in other countries.

    1. I thought background checks go back for years. Apparently EP refers to *additional* checks in top of what we have now.

    2. How on earth is the fear of confiscation “irrational”, when there are people clamoring for exactly that, right now, in Connecticut?

      1. You see, the only reason they want to *confiscate* those guns is that the owners didn’t *register* them. So this proves they’re paranoid – if they’d only registered them, we wouldn’t have to confiscate them!

      2. They’re not confiscating all guns. Just the scary looking ones.

        Remember that the left marches with the goalposts held high.

        That way they can never lose.

  21. “If people trust the government, they may accept its assurances that flying or nuclear power is safe….”

    I wonder about the trust the Russians had in the Soviet Union during Chernobyl. Is this the trust he is promoting?

    How can you trust a body that is not held accountable when it screws up? No one other than the operators were held accountable for the Chernobyl accident. The higher ups who ordered the ridiculous tests and made a climate of do what you are told and don’t ask questions were not held accountable. This, apparently, is the government Posner wants.

    Please tell me how this is better than a company who needs to maintain profit (so don’t want to lose an expensive asset) and can be held criminally liable when things go bad?

  22. Scrutiny is only proper and civil when it’s partisan sniping and opposition rabblerousing. When it’s scrutiny of the very institutional framework, it’s dangerous illiberal anarchism.

  23. wonder what Posner would think of Colorado? Not only that state voted in favor of self-ownership by making it legal for people to put certain things into their own bodies, they also recalled gun-grabbing lawmakers. Seems that normally Red and normally Blue voters believe the line of “reasonable” distrust was breached long ago.

  24. From the Slate piece: Harvard Law School professor Cass Sunstein…

    No mention of “Former Obama administration official,” just “Harvard Law School professor Cass Sunstein.” Who is totally an objective, unbiased source.

  25. To Posner’s limited credit, he also points out how batshit insane the left gets about business and rich people like the Koch Brothers.

    It was pretty funny reading the Slate liberals trying to justify calling libertarians paranoid but taking umbrage at being called paranoid for their hatred and fear of the wealthy.

    1. I don’t know for sure, but the attack on paranoid liberals may have been the main point of his article. But to show he isn’t a right-wing shill, he balances it out with an attack on paranoid libertarians. “Guys, I’m on your side – I mean, look at those paranoid libertarians, right? But lefty class warfare rhetoric is just as bad as libertarianism, and us reasonable liberals* in the middle are getting assailed from both extremes.”

      *Us reasonable liberals who want to censor YouTube videos based on phony claims that they incite riots.

  26. If people trust the government, they may accept its assurances that flying or nuclear power is safe.

    What a bizarre set of examples to use. If any political group in the US is more gung-ho about nuclear energy than libertarians, I have yet to find it. (Certainly they are more enthusiastic than the leftists who have strangled nuclear power in Germany, Japan and the US.)

    Ditto flying: most libertarians’ problems with air travel has to do only with TSA interference.

    In short: what the hell is Posner talking about?

    1. I guess you don’t remember 35 yrs. ago when the libertarian activist getting the most att’n on the issue of nuclear energy was Milton Mueller, and he was anti. His argument was that nuclear energy was just a byproduct of the nuclear weapons program, and that if not for market distortions cause by gov’t, most prominently limitation of liability and taxpayer underwriting of the remainder, plus gov’t provision for nuclear waste disposal, nuclear electricity generation wouldn’t exist even in those countries where mostly-free enterprise provided electricity. Since nuclear power was very much on the table in terms of policy discussion in those days, he said libertarians should be part of the “no” side. We see those situations a lot, where to affect an issue we have to get on a side that’s not entirely pulling our way?for instance, opposing an Ikea’s being built because the proposal includes a taking of private property, even though the weight on the “no” side of the scale led to the development’s being precluded even without the eminent domain.

      Then again, some suspected Milton’s real motiv’n was “left”-appeal. He did say it would help libertarian cred with “liberals”.

  27. USA! USA! USA! 1-0

    1. Go Latvia Go!

    1. I’m not reading that shit. Why wouldn’t Christianity be compatible with Libertarianism?

    2. To live his life in his own way, to call his house his castle, to enjoy the fruits of his own labour, to educate his children as his conscience directs, to save for their prosperity after his death — these are wishes deeply ingrained in civilised man. Their realization is almost as necessary to our virtues as to our happiness. From their total frustration disastrous results both moral and psychological might follow. — CS Lewis

      That is 5 too (I didnt click on the link). Ive always said if I ever run for office, the bolded part is my campaign platform.

    3. We’ll all get along just fine until someone brings up the A-word…

      1. Austin?
        Avarice?
        Accreditation?
        Antipasto?

  28. Of course the so called libertarians are really nothing new in U.S. History. There has always been a strong undercurrent of “anti-governmentism” among a large segment of the populace since 1776 if not before.

    1. This may be the most pointless comment in Reason history.

  29. “paranoid libertarians,” the group individuals who allegedly “distrust the government various violent protection rackets with good PR to an unreasonable extent.”

    When you use accurate language, their arguments sound absurd.

  30. A lack of trust in government is obviously a mental illness. You’re suffering from “paranoia”. You need to be seen by an Obamacare physician and prescribed the appropriate medication. If you’re not able to locate a doctor who accepts OC or schedule an appointment and become “angry” you should just kill yourself already.

  31. I thought for sure the article would acknowledge that the government brings much of this on itself by regularly engaging in untrustworthy behavior. Nope.

  32. I thought for sure the article would acknowledge that the government brings much of this on itself by regularly engaging in untrustworthy behavior.

    Me too, until I saw the word “Slate.”

  33. We don’t even trust Congress to be alone in the same room with the First Amendment.

    Nice.

  34. Where is my Paranoid Libertarian T-Shirt?

    1. Why do you want to know?

      1. And who is this person, really, who’s asking the question?

  35. I RTFA and it turns out its emphasis & tone are completely different from what Mr. Root is responding to. I recommend it. Not stunning, but interesting.

    But even re what Mr. Root wrote, would you not agree that whatever one’s reasonable level of suspicion is, it is possible to go beyond that, and that going beyond that is bad? When you get to the point that when whoever you distrust says it’s daytime you then infer it’s night, does that not blind you?

  36. We’re comin for their wimminz!

  37. ” libertarians pose a genuine risk to the social order”

    Exactly! That’s our reason for being!

  38. I have never had a libertarian step me through what exactly it is they believe in a rational pragmatic method relevant to the real world in which we live in. It’s a bit paranoid and a bit overly simple-minded as best s I can tell. I’m surprised reasoned thinkers ever except its premises as a serious position to hold. I’m not convinced many of them have thought through any detail of what it is they believe in when they say they are libertarians.

  39. It is very ironic that Eric Posner is the son of Federal Judge Richard Posner, whom many libertarians, paranoid or not, admire. Judge Posner self-identifies with classical liberalism.

    “If people trust the government, they may accept its assurances that flying or nuclear power is safe. They may absorb the messages of its educational programs.”
    Here Eric is being weirdly paternalistic and patronising. We are not children, and the Federal govt. is not our loving parent. The government should certify the safety of aircraft, airport design, and possibly that of pilot training courses. Nuclear reactors whose designs do not conform with certain standard should not be protected from lawsuits under the Price-Anderson Act. But individuals should remain free to draw their own conclusions about the safety of commercial aviation or nuclear power.

  40. Personally, I think all this recent ranting about “paranoid libertarians” is terrific news. It means that, not only are we being noticed, but we’re actually having an effect. As Gandhi famously noted, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” We’ve reached Stage 3. So thank you, Profesor Posner fils. You statist fool.

  41. One lesson learned from this: never attend law school in Chicago, judging by their two well-known law professors.

    Thanks, Slate!

  42. TL;DR Posner – “Obey, dammit!!

  43. “… harping on government misdeeds threatens to undermine the functioning of the American state.?” What if government did not engage in “misdeeds?” Whatever government does has some malevolent repercussion.

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