Asset Forfeiture

"Asset forfeiture, drug legalization, and the mainstreaming of libertarian ideas"

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The "Libertarian Moment" proceeds apace, writes Ilya Somin at The Washington Post's Volokh Conspiracy blog, as asset forfeiture takes center stage in policy debates:

As in the case of drug legalization, asset forfeiture reform is a cause long-championed by libertarians, which has recently hit the mainstream. The Institute for Justice, a prominent libertarian public interest law firm, has highlighted the issue for years, and is currently spearheading both legal and legislative challenges to the system. Similarly, libertarians have for decades advocated abolishing the War on Drugs; at times, they were almost the only ones doing so, with the exception of a few on the far left. But only recently has this idea begun to attract widespread mainstream public and elite support.

Somin, who teaches law at George Mason University, occasionally contributes to Reason, and is regularly cited in our pages, sagely notes:

…libertarians have successfully helped put these issues on the political agenda, it remains to be seen whether they and their new allies on the left and right will be able to push through effective reforms. In both cases, there is a danger that newfound public interest in the issue will be quiesced by merely cosmetic changes that only marginally improve the situation. And, obviously, the majority of non-libertarians do not – so far – fully endorse the libertarian approach to these issues, which calls for the complete abolition of both civil asset forfeiture and the War on Drugs. Still, the two cases are dramatic examples of previously marginalized libertarian ideas becoming a part of mainstream political discourse.

Read the full thing.

He's right to fret that real reform will be difficult to achieve (often a pessimist, he remains a skeptic of whether state-level eminent-domain reforms have worked).

But his larger point about libertarian ideas being mainstreamed is inarguable and cause for optimism. It's essential to recognize that what we at Reason.com call the Libertarian Moment (or Era) is not fundamentally about politics but about larger currents in American and society that will ultimately inform politics and policy.

Growing out a huge set of massive and inter-connected social, demographic, economic, and technological changes, the Libertarian Moment is about power being spread throughout the system and end-users making more and more decisions about how they want to live. When Matt Welch and I first started yapping about the Libertarian Moment back in December 2008, we were in the throes of the financial panic. George W. Bush was launching TARP and auto bailouts, both of which came only after endless incursions on choice and freedom in the political arena. Barack Obama had just won the White House (giving the Democrats full legislative control of the federal government) on the promise of massive stimulus spending and a national health system. The point isn't that there are not endless examples of expansive government. It's that

folks are still getting on with their lives regardless, asking less permission and figuring out workarounds to live the lives they prefer (this is the large point of my and Matt Welch's Declaration of Independents). And if you don't understand that such attitudes are growing and flourishing in every aspect of contemporary America—in churches, in business, in education, in entertainment, you name it—you'll never understand that it's coming soon to politics too.

This is where we are, even as a largely unreconstructed GOP is poised to capture the Senate. Libertarian issues and sentiments are popping up all over the place in spite of attempts by pols and partys and vested interests to maintain the status quo. Such issues and sentiments have already swept through virtually all aspects of American life: work, love, family, culture, you name it—all are more varied, expressive, and accommodating of difference and choice than ever before. Politics is the endgame and it's already underway.

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  1. Libertarians want to impose liberty onto the masses! They’re tyrants!

    /Tony

    1. However, a great many of them don’t want it.

      1. “More free shit” trumps liberty every fucking time.

        1. Only to a certain point. People will eventually realize “free shit” isn’t free when they find themselves being prodded at gunpoint or rotting in the gulag.

          1. Sure, they may finally realize it when it’s too fucking late.

    2. If 50.001% of people decide that brown sugar cinnamon is their favorite flavor of Pop-Tart, then that’s what everyone should have! That’s democracy! Why do you hate democracy so much?

      1. In my local elections, it’s more like 8% of people deciding.

        1. It’s a mandate!

          1. At least my HOA has a quorum requirement. We’ve failed to meet it at 3 different elections. It makes me smile.

      2. Well, it is the best flavor.

  2. It’s essential to recognize that what we at Reason.com call the Libertarian Moment (or Era)…

    (or Future)

    1. Kind of like the old, weathered sign at the minor league ballpark I go to “Dippin’ Dots – the Ice Cream of the Future!”

  3. First, the best you can say about asset forfeiture is that it is at least not getting worse and has started to get better in a few areas. I would like to think the tide has turned but it is just as likely that the public’s attention will move onto something else before any major success is achieved.

    Second, stopping asset forfeiture is hardly a “libertarian” issue. You don’t have to a libertarian to believe in the due process of law. It is a government abuse issue that Libertarians have helped to bring attention to. It is an example of Libertarians hopefully helping to stop an egregious abuse of government power. It is not, however, an example of a Libertarian policy being implemented.

    1. The point is that libertarians were the only people talking about the issue for a long time.

      1. Sure. But that just means they brought attention to an obvious government abuse of power that a lot of people object to. That doesn’t mean the country is becoming more Libertarian.

        1. But that just means they brought attention to an obvious government abuse of power that a lot of people object to. That doesn’t mean the country is becoming more Libertarian.

          Certainly does. The country was much more libertarian in the past, when we more closely adhered to the Constitution. The Constitution, as written, is a VERY libertarian document.

          It’s only since the two parties started completely ignoring it (1933) and lawyers have twisted it into meaning the exact opposite (in certain circumstances) of what it means that we’ve slipped from being a primarily libertarian society and into the asshole of statism.

          While not libertopia, I’d be extremely satisfied with simply adhering to the original intent of the Constitution.

          1. It is certainly possible that it would cause people to question government in a broader context. I hope you are right. It is not however certain.

            It is also possible and probably likely that people will see it as an isolated abuse that needs to be ended. Indeed, there is nothing to say that just because someone sees asset forfeiture as being wrong they think the Lockner view of the commerce clause is correct. You only see the two issues as connected because your ideology connects them. Someone who doesn’t share your ideology won’t see it that way. They will see it as two separate issues.

            1. Someone who doesn’t share your ideology won’t see it that way. They will see it as two separate issues.

              Hence, the goal is to educate the masses about the ideology. Which is exactly what organizations like Reason and the Pauls are attempting to do.

              And you cannot say it isn’t happening. There are mainstream politicos and media outlets attacking libertarianism on a regular basis. When has that ever happened before?

              Like it or not, the word is spreading. Change is coming. It may happen too slowly for some (I’ll likely never see libertopia) but the seed is growing.

              1. I don’t see it happening. I see people of various ideologies rightfully objecting to a clear injustice. That is a good thing for sure. It is not, however, indicative of any larger movement towards Libertarian thinking. It is just indicative that people don’t like injustice.

                1. Yeah, John. For the last 30 years it’s been common for the media and prominent politicians to attack libertarianism. Happened all the time.

              2. the goal is to educate the masses about the ideology.

                No. Ideology is for the few who are interested in it, like any specialized thinking. Educating the masses is never how any regime takes hold. It’s not the way liberty took hold. Liberty took hold because of simple, pragmatic choices like, “Maybe if I nice to Og, he no hit me on head with rock.”

    2. Second, stopping asset forfeiture is hardly a “libertarian” issue. You don’t have to a libertarian to believe in the due process of law.

      Really? Because my impressions are that most people on the right and left have a utilitarian view on government. They only oppose government overreach when the outcomes offend their sensibilities, not because they have some reasoned viewpoint on the powers of government versus individual rights.

      Ted Cruz would eliminate due process to strip “terrorists” of citizenship. Nancy Pelosi thinks free speech is a right granted by the government.

      1. Your impression is wrong. There is nothing Libertarian about due process of law. And if you don’t like Ted Cruz, good for you. That just says whatever it does about Ted Cruz. It doesn’t say anything about whether there is anything particularly libertarian about objecting to asset forfeiture.

        Further, lots of mainstream conservative publication like NRO, Forbes and the Washington Times have come out for doing something about asset forfeiture. Are those places now libertarian? I don’t think so.

        Shockingly enough, Libertarians do not have a complete monopoly on all puppies and rainbows.

        1. Further, lots of mainstream conservative publication like NRO, Forbes and the Washington Times have come out for doing something about asset forfeiture. Are those places now libertarian? I don’t think so.

          Like I said, it’s offended their sensibilities. When it was just the dirty rotten drug dealers on the receiving end, it was A-OK.

          1. Bullshit. People on the right have been talking about asset forfeiture for years. Beyond that, even the ones who hadn’t should have been. It is not a Libertarian issue. It is a government abuse issue that every person of good conscience should want to stop. The fact that people might finally be waking up to it doesn’t make it a “libertarian moment” because they are not waking up to anything uniquely libertarian.

            1. I’m not calling it a libertarian moment because I don’t believe for a moment that those on the right or the left truly buy into a truly limited government.

              I merely suggest that the practice of civil asset forfeiture has expanded into such wide and abusive practice that they can no longer ignore what was always unjust and not in accordance with limited government.

              1. And I don’t disagree with that.

        2. Which comes back to the definition of “libertarian.” If there’s a central core to libertarianism that one could point to as a majority view of the political philosophy, it likely is the limited government envisioned by the Founders. If that’s true, then due process is a libertarian value.

          1. It is all in the definitions I guess. I wouldn’t call the government of 1789 “Libertarian”. I would call it classical liberal.

            1. I’m not sure I see those terms being used differently, though I would say that “libertarian” today is a much bigger tent than “liberal” was in the late 18th century.

              1. One somewhat on-topic thing to note:

                Classical liberals in the 18th century were the statists. The anti-federalists found the Constitution rather appalling, but were on the losing side of a wave of populism against the articles of confederation.

                1. Well, not exactly. In the sense that there were anarchists and other people who viewed the Constitution as too much government, yes, of course they existed. But let’s not forget that the kind of government embodied in the Constitution was a radical departure from everything the rest of the world was doing at the time, even granted that much of our revolution was an evolution from the British system.

                  In other words, it was liberals vs. liberals.

      2. Y’all are arguing over labels. It isn’t that complicated.

        The fifth amendment is clear on the matter. Asset forfeiture as it exists today is wildly unconstitutional. It is a fucking crime.

        Those on the right who support it garble something something something cognitive dissonance.

        Those on the left, what we call progressives, support it because they do not support rule of law or limited power. After all, how can you make progress if your power is limited?

        It is a simple matter of being intellectually honest and reading the plain text of the fifth amendment.

        1. Exactly. You don’t have to be a Libertarian to understand why it is wrong.

        2. I do think it’s more complicated than that. Sure, there’s overlap and areas of agreement now. There certainly wasn’t any when during the 80’s when modern asset forfeiture laws were implemented.

          What has happened is that the laws were applied to everyone, not just to the “bad guys”. The backlash on the right is not growing out of some sudden affection for individual rights. It’s growing because the wrong people got caught up in it.

          For this reason I question whether you can say libertarian ideas are being “mainstreamed”. Sure, they may agree with you on certain issues, and it would be foolish not to take advantage of that. But libertarian ideas are more than that. They’re a philosophical framework.

          1. That is exactly what I am saying. Just because someone thinks t he police effectively robbing people should be stopped doesn’t mean they are going to sign on to legalizing drugs or ending welfare or anything else.

    3. stopping asset forfeiture is hardly a “libertarian” issue. You don’t have to a libertarian to believe in the due process of law.

      Don’t think of “libertarian” so narrowly. Everyone is somewhat libertarian. Wanting people to have due process of law is libertarian. You don’t have to be a radical libertarian to be libertarian.

  4. It is somewhat entertaining watching progressives and authoritarians squirm while they attempt to find a philosophical underpinning for why a particular governmental policy they initially supported doesn’t work. Unfortunately they always resort to utilitarianism and moral badgering.

    1. Unfortunately, they can often get away with the big lie: American schools are underfunded, government-sponsored development has turned Baltimore into paradise on earth, etc.

  5. Yeah, sure.

    “Poker players? They’re criminals.”

  6. Some guy running for state representative came to the house doing his campaign schtick, and I asked him what he would undo. He looked at me like I had three heads. I clarified by asking what laws he would work to repeal. After a minute or so he said the Patriot Act, though as a state representative he wouldn’t have the power.

    The whole idea of undoing is totally foreign to people who seek power. They’re not there to repeal law, they’re law makers!

    1. There must always be more laws, never fewer. I think there’s some sort of law of government thermodynamics that says so.

    2. It’s the hoarder mentality, we can’t get rid of it because we might need it one day.

    3. People are becoming aware that government is the problem (slowly).

      I was thinking, the other day, that the time is getting close to where a candidate could run on a platform of repealing legislation rather than creating it. If it was the right guy and he did it carefully, it would be such a refreshing change that the notion might just catch on and spread. Start with the laws that everyone hates and move on from their. Attach legislation repeal to shit like defense bills…

  7. The point is that libertarians were the only people talking about the issue for a long time.

    Oh, come on- we all know how outraged the Law and Order Republicans are by government abuses.

  8. folks are still getting on with their lives regardless, asking less permission and figuring out workarounds to live the lives they prefer (this is the large point of my and Matt Welch’s Declaration of Independents). And if you don’t understand that such attitudes are growing and flourishing in every aspect of contemporary America?in churches, in business, in education, in entertainment, you name it?you’ll never understand that it’s coming soon to politics too.

    That is one of the dumbest things Reason has ever printed. People always get on with their lives and figure out workarounds to government policies. If they didn’t, central planning might work. You could say exactly the same thing about Russia in 1927. Sure, Lenin and the Bolsheviks took over and tried to impose a cashless socialist Utopia, but people are getting on about their lives.

    The last six years have been a fucking disaster. All of the abuses of the George Bush administration became worse and bi partisan. We got a massive expansion of government into health care that Reason thinks will never be repealed. And we also had six years of government secrecy, relentless prosecution of leakers and outright thugish intimidation of the media. And you know what? No one, not even the media who were the victims of it, seem to care.

    But hey, we got heavily regulated legalized pot in a couple of states and gays can now get married. So everything is just fucking wonderful I guess.

    1. You know, I tend to agree that we can’t celebrate much when the government is veering closer and closer to a totally unrestrained central power. With a totalitarian government, freedom moves underground and/or becomes strictly about privileges granted–and withheld–by the government.

      Freedom stems from the individual and is not a privilege granted by government.

      1. We fight about various bullshit like abortion and gays and immigration and such. Meanwhile the criminal justice system in this country is utterly out of control and functions at a level of brutality that would shock us if we saw it happening in another country.

        Worse both parties seem to try and compete with each other over who can be more appalling in their support of it. The only people I know that you can even have a rational conversation about the issue with are people who are directly connected with it. Everyone else is just hopeless.

        I will believe we are having a libertarian moment when Nancy Grace can no longer get a job. Until then, I am skeptical.

      2. With a totalitarian government, freedom moves underground and/or becomes strictly about privileges granted–and withheld–by the government.

        Or it gets taken back and the oppressors are tarred, feathered and run out on a rail…or worse.

        1. Do we have the numbers to do that? I don’t think so.

            1. What we need is a massive eugenics program, aimed at breeding large numbers of libertarians.

                  1. Exactly. Ordered disorder can be yours.

  9. Off topic, but I was out for the morning links:
    http://www.foxnews.com/politic…..computers/

    Not only were Sharyl Attkisson’s personal and work computers hacked and remote access enabled, but there is this little tidbit: “And an inspection revealed that an extra fiber-optics line had been installed in Attkisson’s home without her knowledge.”

    This administration is 10 times worse that Nixon’s.

    1. We are having a libertarian moment here playa. Don’t bother us with all of your negative waves.

    2. “And an inspection revealed that an extra fiber-optics line had been installed in Attkisson’s home without her knowledge.”

      Ho-lee fucking shitballs. That they would be so brazen says volumes about the most transparent administration EVAR!

    3. So the NSA or CIA is operating against Americans now?

      1. Now?

        Who does the tyrant fear the most; foreign powers or the people under his boot?

      2. Probably the FBI

    4. I actually wouldn’t mind some extra fiber if the NSA paid for it and didn’t throttle my bandwidth.

    5. What would be the U.S. equivalent of our old Yakov Smirnov jokes? Because that seems to be about where we’re at, now.

    6. Similar stuff here. Jesus nipplebiting Christ. If the Republicans have any balls whatsoever there’ll be hundreds of prosecutions, up to and including our disgusting president, over this. They don’t, of course.

      1. Just wait until Obama reads about this in the paper! He will be shocked!

  10. I had the limited edition pumpkin-pie pop-tarts this morning. Kind of a letdown. I might walk down to the cafeteria and try toasting them tomorrow.

    1. They’re limited edition for a reason.

      You’re supposed to wash them down with pumpkin beer.

    2. My wife picked up some Chobani limited edition pumpkin pie yoghurt and encouraged me to try one. It was pretty good.

      1. You make her eat the low fat Chobani, right?

  11. So the Libertarian moment is just around the corner?

    Wealth is Liberty. It gives you options, frees you from dependence. I suspect the 50,000 Trillion dollar debt might put a damper on the Libertarian moment.

    1. That and the real unemployment rate being 13% or whatever it is.

      But like I said, gays can get married and a few people are smoking pot legally in Oregon and Washington. What is a a debt over 100% of GDP when compared to that?

        1. If married gays does something to prevent national bankruptcy, sure. Since gay marriage is a matter of religious faith among socialists, I am seeing how that is so.

          1. lol yeah, but you’ve got to start somewhere. And you have to admit that SSM have provided an opening for a discussion about the government’s role in our lives, with people asking questions like “why does government have the power to approve any relationship?”.

            It’s going to be a long process turning back the tide any which way. Remember that today’s conservatives came from the same cauldron of turds today’s progressives came from.

  12. Note the Republican amongst us, frantically attempting to throw cold water on the notion that libertarianism is the future.

    1. Where?!? Did Bo spot him first?

    2. Maybe it is. But the last six years have hardly been the start of that, unless you think it might be the darkness before the dawn.

      How are you doing yourselves any good by blowing smoke up one another’s asses? You are the ones who claim the Republicans are just as bad or worse than the Dems. Okay, so if they are bad and the Dems are not getting better and they don’t’ seem to be, how exactly are we arriving at a Libertarian moment?

      The last really 20 years are what they are. If seeing them for what they are makes one a “Republican”, then I guess being a “Libertarian” requires one to be delusional.

      1. When does change occur John? Does it happen when things are going well for everyone or when things are absolute shit?

        You republicans and democrats just keep doing what you’ve been doing. You are our biggest ally in the march of liberty.

        1. When does change occur? I don’t know. But whenever it occurs, it won’t occur because people sat around and believed bullshit. It will occur because people were level headed and realistic about how to make that change happen.

          1. It will occur because people were level headed and realistic about how to make that change happen.

            From what I’ve seen, change happens when people get all emotional and frantic and pass things like the Patriot Act and the Unaffordable Care Act.

            1. That is part of it. It also comes from the fact that Progs have brought forth a culture that is totally risk adverse and values dependence over independence. If you don’t have a culture that values risk taking, independence and hard work, the progs are going to win every single argument.

              1. The left’s Gramscian long march through the institutions is basically complete.

              2. No, it doesn’t value dependence over independence. Other things equal, it values independence & disvalues dependence. However, other things it values have dependence as an unwanted but tolerated side effect.

        2. You republicans and democrats just keep doing what you’ve been doing. You are our biggest ally in the march of liberty.

          Wow. Your quite the optimist.

        3. I fear the stork-king is going to eat us all. The problem with the let-things-get-worse strategy is that the “fix” will likely be total dictatorship.

        4. I hope to god you are correct Francisco, but I am too much of a cynic to believe it.

          I see a creeping fascism that gets worse on what now seems like a daily basis. I look at other places to see how much of that kind of shit people will put up with before throwing off the yoke and I am not encouraged.

          The IRS publicly announced that it can take your property for any or no reason if they decide to and there is nothing you can do about it. My God, why are there not a thousand pitchforks in front of the capitol demanding repeal or hangings? Because everyone thinks it will never happen to them, thats why. Until it does. That is how far it has to go.

          1. “First they came for the…
            Ah, fuck it.

    3. I wish I could believe that libertarianism was the future. But signs seem to indicate otherwise. Reason has been saying “look how libertarian we really are” for a long time now, but it seems to me that we’re whistling past the graveyard.

      I don’t feel freer just because more people can get stoned and get married, not when the government is growing totally beyond control. As recently as ten years ago, I’d have expected a government to topple here for the NSA, IRS, or even the Benghazi scandals alone. Just one of those.

      1. The population either doesn’t believe the abuses matter or it doesn’t believe it can do anything about it. The media being a wholly owned subsidiary of the government is a relatively new thing. Without that, we might see a government collapse over any of the breathtaking abuses and crimes we’ve seen.

        1. I would say the education system is important too. That’s been a wholly owned subsidiary of the government for 40 years, and it shows.

          1. That’s an interesting point. It’s a relatively new thing for the public schools to be completely controlled by the Marxist left, isn’t it?

            1. Yes, but only technically. They were owned and controlled by the socon (the called Progressive party) left at first. those dirty Italian catholics were spreading their dawned Catholic drivel in their dawned Catholic schools, and we can’t have their inbred damn Catholic spawn running around with the stupid Catholic heads full of stupid Catholic heresy.

              (have I made clear that the Progressives instituted public schools because they were protestant and hated the catholics?)

              1. Damned*

              2. I like Catholic Schools.

            2. Also, toppling the administration of the First Black President would be very racist. The left was right, the country isn’t ready for a black President, just not for the reasons they assumed.

              1. That’s a huge factor. We screwed the black man all that time, so now for 8 years we must let the black man screw all of us; then we’ll be even & can live life normally again.

        2. it doesn’t believe it can do anything about it.

          This seems to be the most common answer. People have become so wealthy in this nation they believe that they have too much to lose. The way I see it the only way real change is going to occur is when we default on our debts which is inevitable. And if there is one constant throughout history is that more times than not a economic collapse leads to a gov. that has even less liberty than the one that preceded it.

        3. or it doesn’t believe it can do anything about it.

          This is definitely a part of it. When the police have armored vehicles, you don’t want to be the person in their crosshairs. It’s one thing to get the water Cannon turned on you. It’s an entirely other thing to have a cop shoot you from inside his battlefield ready APC.

          Further, a true insurrection would be such a bloodbath for the populace, what with automated drones, briefcase nukes, and stockpiles of nerve gas. Even if only 1% of the military stayed on to fight for the tyrannical government against an insurrection, they would have the firepower to kill tens of millions.

          1. Even if only 1% of the military stayed on to fight for the tyrannical government against an insurrection, they would have the firepower to kill tens of millions.

            They wouldn’t have enough people to get anything working, maintained, armed, fixed or fueled. I rather think the Guard and Reserve would be aghast at doing anything against their own families, communities, etc. Cops, sure…

            1. Even if only 1% of the military stayed on to fight for the tyrannical government against an insurrection,

              Absent use of WMDs, they wouldn’t last a week against the 99% fighting for the citizens.

              1. That’s why it won’t be them, it’ll be a tiny cadre sitting in a hole & nuking the country, or the world. They won’t feel safe until there’s nobody left alive on the outside, which is going to take some time & doing.

      2. I think things can and will get better. I think that because nothing goes on forever and I believe in the collective wisdom of people. Society doesn’t go on forever doing idiotic things and does over time correct itself.

        That said, society will never be completely libertarian any more than it will ever be completely anything. Things are never going to be ideal and there will always be injustice associated with the government. It is just the human condition.

        Everyone talks about going back to the older, smaller, government. Well, that was great but it still gave us things like the Adams’ Alien and Sedition Acts. So even small governments can do awful things.

        1. even small governments can do awful things.

          I would say the only difference between small gov and large gov is the scale in which they are able to do awful things. As long as people are in charge they will always seek to lord over others it’s in our nature.

        2. A society that doesn’t correct itself still gets corrected, one way or the other.

        3. Things only change when there’s a reason for them to change. Right now, the reason is that at some point in the future we’ll run out of money. Well, that’s not really much of a reason, is it?

          1. Yes. People were happy to vote on birth control and “I always wanted to vote for a black man for President” and other bullshit when they were personally doing well and their choices didn’t really seem to affect them.

            Now that things are worse, that sort of crap doesn’t work anymore. They are going to demand something more. Right now that is bad news for the Democrats. But it will quickly be bad news for the Republicans if they don’t do any better. People are waking up and they will sort this shit out and things will get better I think. There just will not be some great Libertarian moment. Nick is blowing smoke up his own ass here.

            1. I just wonder what the response will be when we have a real currency collapse, which is inevitable at this point, given the way the powers that be treat the dollar. I suspect we’ll see an explicitly communist movement, and that’s never good news.

              1. We will see legit, no holds barred civil war.

              2. No, they’ll just use something else for money. There’ll be a brief period of complete deflation during which people settle on what to use, then they’ll use it. In the long run there’ll always be money. It’s not like people are going to forget about it.

        4. Society doesn’t go on forever doing idiotic things and does over time correct itself.

          Unfortunately, the cost of “correcting” a fascistic/authoritarian regime is paid in rivers of blood.

          All over the world, there are horrible regimes in countries that used to be much more (old-school) liberal. Even in the Mid-East, but also in Latin America (Venezuela, anyone?). It is vanishingly rare for an authoritarian central government to go away peacefully.

          Your only real choices seem to be (a) Fight or (b) Bend your neck to your masters.

          Voting honestly doesn’t seem to do the trick. Examples of an authoritarian government that quietly cedes power to a more liberal government would be welcome. I can’t think of any.

          1. The Iron Curtain fell very peacefully.

            1. That was so recent & so big, how could you have forgotten it?

    4. Libertarians have a Marxist view of history now? Wow.

    5. Really? The only realm you could possibly say that economic freedom has expanded in this country is black markets have become easier than ever to access. Thats it. We have seen massive regressions in freedom across the board.

  13. “It’s essential to recognize that what we at Reason.com call the Libertarian Moment (or Era) is not…about politics but about larger currents in American and society…”

    (insert slogan of the Millenial Generation)
    Here’s the problem with that

    The existing political parties eventually come to recognize libertarian issues which resonate with the general public, and latch onto them, jumping in front of the nascent parade and redefining the core ‘dilemma’ in terms that are more-consistent with the ideological Brand that they pretend to represent.

    See the Tea Party: what was originally a narrow-focused rebellion against the status quo in favor of ‘fiscal sanity’ quickly became an opportunity for Social Conservatives to give themselves a make-over. Insert Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck. The word ‘fiscal’ vanished.

    When not marginalizing libertarian ideas as ‘extremist’, the entrenched interests are co-opting them and transforming them in order to eliminate the *core threat* to their power base.

    Its not simply ‘asset forfeiture’ that is the problem – its violations of constitutional rights. Its the presumption of unlimited government authority. That part will instantly be dumped in favor of ‘better regulations’, more ‘oversight’, and libertarians will be left wondering WTF happened. Call me cynical, but i already see it happening.

    1. Bingo

    2. The problem is that you won’t have many “currents” of libertarianism running through society if you don’t have a culture that is conducive to them.

      If you have a self absorbed, risk adverse, self indulgent society, you are not going to have many libertarian currents running around. That is what Reason doesn’t get. And as a result they have a terrible habit of framing issues in ways that supports that culture rather than creating a new one more conducive to freedom.

      Reason sells Libertarianism as “you should be able to do whatever you want” libertineism. They are right that people should be able to do what they want but framing issues in that way doesn’t create the right kind of culture. If I should be able to do what I want, then why shouldn’t the government pay for it or take active efforts to keep mean people form stopping me? That is where that king of thinking always leads. Reason should be framing issues as “you are not responsible for what other people do”. It effectively means people are free but it advocates for that in a way that supports independence rather than indulgence and dependence.

      1. “Reason sells Libertarianism as “you should be able to do whatever you want” libertineism.”

        I don’t think that’s the case at all, and would like to see you actually provide an example

        if you can do it without mentioning ‘gay’, you get bonus points.

        1. The drug war mostly. It is always let pot smokers smoke not, why is it anyone’s problem or business of they do. Porn is another one. All of the cultural issues are framed in the leftist language of personal right to do this or that not as a question of privacy and personal responsibility. And buying into that mindset comes back to bite them when it comes to economic freedom.

          1. mmm.

            Maybe i see something to the first part.

            I have argued that the whole ‘weed legalization’ thing is small-beer in the context of the million + people still in jail for drug crimes. I get upset that the weed topic appears in mainstream venues but rarely does anyone bother to note the costs that the Drug War has had on people’s lives. It, as you say, is mostly sold as ‘more freedoms’, which isn’t really true at all.

            I don’t see how ‘that mindset comes back to bite them’, however. Mainly because i don’t think those things – drugs, porn, etc. – are as overblown here as you make out. The magazine maintains a pretty diverse focus, and is not quite the endless-parade of ‘Mexicans, Dope and Ass-Sex’ as the joke goes.

            I do see what you mean about the ‘framing’ at times, though. I’ve been frustrated that they sometimes seem to accommodate some pretty-bullshit mainstream narratives (e.g. “Rape Culture”?) in an effort to seem to be ‘relevant’.

            1. It comes back to bite them because once you start talking in the language of rights instead of responsibility, it becomes very difficult to argue for economic freedom. Economic freedom by its nature means responsibility for yourself and risk. I may be free to live in a big house or have a nice job but nothing says I will get to do that. But if it’s my right to do what I want, why shouldn’t I be able to get paid the wages I want? This is how people sadly think. And it is the language of everything being a right they are entitled to do helps make it that way.

            2. Reason constantly uses the Left’s language of a right to do this or that thing. When you speak of rights in that manner you reduce rights to mere interests and you feed into the Left’s perversions of political rights into positive rights. Generally governments are created to protect your rights. So if you have the right to do something and can’t do it for whatever reason, the government should step in and fix that. This is how we get from birth control should be legal to birth control has to be free and paid for by the government.

              The Reason Libertarian will say things like “people have a right to put anything they want in their bodies”. No they don’t. They have no more a right to that than I have a right to own a Ferrari 250GTO. Nothing in natural law or the Constitution guarantees them anything like that. What they have is the right to personal autonomy and privacy and to pursue happiness however they see fit, provided it doesn’t harm others, be that owning old Ferraris or shooting heroin or taking birth control. The “freedom” such as it is, is the freedom to pursue their individual happiness without the government interfering.

              If that is the argument, then you not only win the social issues like drugs, you also win the economic issues because the assumption is that no one is entitled to anything in particular. They are just entitled to pursue their happiness, obtaining it is not a right nor any concern of the government.

            3. The joke used to be ferrets & food trucks. The bloggers get on a certain beat, they have a reservoir of research & cx, so they’re going to tap the same subject for a long time.

        2. And libertarians are setting themselves up for failure if they don’t emphasize personal responsibility for drugs. If prohibition ends some people will go out and kill themselves on drugs. If libertarians haven’t won because that is not the governments problem and instead won on “let drug users use” the prohibitionists will use those cases to justify new prohibition

      2. No, do-what-you-want framing doesn’t always lead the way you project, John. Sometimes, yes. But repealing liquor prohib’n has not led to tax-funded provision of liquor; it isn’t even eligible to be bought w food stamps, although it is food. Abolishing slavery didn’t lead to tax-funded supply of machines to replace slave labor or to provide sustenance to former slaves. Both allowing liquor & disallowing slavery were primarily promoted as do-what-you-want ideas; in the case of slavery, it was practically entirely an issue of do-what-you-want, nobody-else-commands-you-otherwise.

    3. What’s your alternative? Construct a movement that appeals to nobody else? Have people compromise with somebody else, meeting them part way instead of you?

      Are you the type who thinks better rx of slaves is no advance,, because they’re still slaves? I’ve got news for you: Better rx of slaves is a step toward recognizing them a equals, which eventually leads to the end of slavery. It may take millennia, but that’s the direction it goes in. And even if it never gets there, you get better treated slaves rather than worse. Better is better, worse is worse.

  14. JESUS FUCKING CHRIST ON THE FUCKING CROSS!!!!

    Listen to you guys.

    *said in best Doug and Wendy Whiner voice*

    “Nuthing can ever get better…no matter what we do the world will always suck and we’ll all be resigned to wallow in statist misery, dying in anguish and despair. Our lot in life is to suffer.”

    If there is one thing that will defeat libertarianism is that we’re made up of such a large percentage of self-defeatist cynics.

    Winners always want the ball.- Jimmy McGinty

    1. Pain heals, chicks dig scars and glory lasts forever. -Shane Falco

      1. “Shift to the left, shift to the right! Pop up, push down, byte, byte, byte!” – MIT Cheerleaders

      2. “Sweep the Leg” – Kreese

        1. “domo arigat… *blaaaaargh*”
          -George H. W. Bush

    2. I don’t think my particular POV is ‘self-defeatist’ so much as hyper-realist

      I plan on a long, very ugly fight, and I plan to win.

      and by ‘win’, i don’t mean cheerleading some minor bullshit like “legalization” of weed… which in its practical effect mostly means the enlargement of the regulatory state.

      I want for more people to change their POV on what the natural relation between the individual and the state should be.

      I’m dismayed by many of the things Reason sees as ‘minor victories’ because i see them being ultimately used as pacifiers to sell people on Ubiquitous, Omnipotent, SugarDaddy Government.

      i’m more interested in a broad change in perspective. i see some nascent signs that some younger people ‘get it’, but i wouldn’t go anywhere near to celebrating the ‘libertarian era’

      1. Cheerleading? Did you actually read the article?

        But his larger point about libertarian ideas being mainstreamed is inarguable and cause for optimism.

        “Cause for optimism” is cheerleading? No one is saying shit’s going to be solved by Friday, next week. It’s going to be a long battle for hearts and minds. It’s just that the beginning stage of such a movement will look like what we’re seeing now. So, yes, it’s cause for optimism.

        1. Francisco d’Anconia|10.28.14 @ 1:06PM|#

          Cheerleading? Did you actually read the article?

          (looks around)

          Is there going to be a quiz?

          I got to around the pop-tart, and the idea that ‘libertarian ideas are being “mainstreamed”, when I wrote my first note saying, “no, they’re not = they’re being Co-opted and we’re being marginalized”

          1. As I said to John above, the mainstreaming of libertarianism is undeniable.

            When have the media and prominent politicians EVER taken the time to attack libertarianism in a public forum? When? They do so now because they, rightly, see it as a threat to their power/agendas.

            You can’t dispute the fact that libertarianism (mentioned by name, I might add) has never been more mainstream than it is right now.

            1. “You can’t dispute the fact that libertarianism (mentioned by name, I might add) has never been more mainstream than it is right now”

              ‘mainstream’, as in = “people in the mainstream media openly deriding ‘libertarian extremists'”, where in the past they didn’t even acknowledge their existence?

              I don’t see that as ‘progress’ as much as you do.

              Maybe i get more out of noting that many of the people in the #Gamergate crowd are openly renouncing their Liberalism because they can’t !(*$@!# believe how absolutely bone-deep-retarded the Radical Feminist Left are in their insistence that their culture needs to be ‘controlled and regulated’ in politically-correct ways.

              Its sort of that thing about how most people are ‘leftists’ until the government finally fucks with *them*? In this case it was more the over-reach of the online SJW crowd.

              regardless; I’m still cautiously pessimistic. Which could be neatly summed up in the word, “Hillary”

              1. I’ll bet you a beer and give you six to one odds that Hillary isn’t even the Democratic nominee.

                1. I’ll take that. and even odds, and make it a case of any beer you choose.

                  (i like Blackened Voodoo. so stock up)

                  Out of curiosity, who do you actually think will get the nom, if not her?

                  1. Out of curiosity, who do you actually think will get the nom, if not her?

                    Likely, someone no one has even considered.

                    1. She was supposed to be the shoe in last time around. Didn’t work out that way, did it?

            2. In the late 1990s, NYC radio talker Jay Diamond started railing against the “extreme libertarians”, who in his view had taken over the world. True, he was no longer on WOR or WABC, and instead was on the new WEVD (old WHN), but he was saying it on a 50 kw station in the biggest market in the nation.

  15. There is one big opportunity right now. Obama failed at everything he has tried and has left the prog left discredited with most of the country. The profs cannotbe allowed to forget Obama’s failures or blame them on him personally or anything other than the ideology. That would seem to be a pretty important task going forward. Owning the history of the past six years.

    1. Your optimism is really great sometimes.

      1. I didn’t say they would do it. I just said it needs to be done and is really important not that it would be easy.

  16. There is one other great opportunity right now, blacks. Blacks seem to finally be losing faith in the Democratic Party. If blacks ever stood up and stopping being doormats and voting 95?m no matter what, the politics of things like the drug war and education would change dramatically for the better.

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