Libertarian History/Philosophy

The Inherently Humble Libertarian

Libertarianism has humility baked in at the most fundamental level.

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You would think that the advocates of a philosophy of political economy that embraces spontaneous social order, bottom-up rule-making based on peaceful voluntary exchange, and even competing polycentric law at least at some level would be safe from the charge of conceit. How conceited can someone be who forswears compelling other people to live in certain ways, expressing a willingness — no, an eagerness — to leave that to peaceful cooperation among free individuals? Making the "knowledge problem" a centerpiece of one's worldview is hardly the mark of arrogance. Quite the contrary.

Yet critics of the libertarian philosophy throw the charge of know-it-allness at its exponents all the time. (A sample is here.) It's the go-to criticism. When counterarguments fail, accuse the libertarian of hubris.

I'm talking about substance, not style. Regrettably, someone could display arrogance while insisting that neither he nor anyone else could possibly know enough to plan other people's lives. However off-putting that style, it does not change the fact that the position embodies a fundamental humility. There are inherent limits to any individual's knowledge, and therefore government social engineering, which requires the use of aggressive force, must fail.

To put it succinctly, libertarianism has humility baked in at the most fundamental level.

Humility is not to be conflated with radical doubt, however. One can be humble while also believing it is possible to know things. And some things, including the nature and market implications of human action, can be known conceptually. One can know, for example, that intelligently planning an economy or even a particular market is beyond anyone's, including one's own, capacities. The same can be said of more modest schemes to modify market outcomes through government intervention. One can acknowledge the limits of reason à la Hayek without being a skeptic or rejecting reason as impotent. (Don't all skeptics make covert knowledge claims?) After all, it is reason that discovers its own limits.

Some libertarians and classical liberals have tried to defend liberty on the grounds that we can't really know anything, but this is a nonstarter. For example, Milton Friedman, in his 1991 Libertyarticle, "Say 'No' to Intolerance" (PDF), wrote,

I have no right to coerce someone else, because I cannot be sure that I am right and he is wrong. If we see someone doing something wrong, someone starting to sin (to use a theological term) let alone just make a simple mistake, how do we justify not initiating coercion? Are we not sinning if we don't stop him?… How do I justify letting him sin? I believe that the … answer is, can I be sure he's sinning? Can I be sure that I am right and he is wrong? That I know what sin is?

Strangely, this implies that if we could know right from wrong, we would be justified in interfering with people's nonaggressive conduct. Only ignorance protects freedom. Yet am I not allowed to stop a murderer because "I cannot be sure that I am right [about the nature of murder] and he is wrong"? Skepticism, in other words, cannot get us to the nonaggression obligation. (On Friedman's dubious argument that conceptual certainty breeds intolerance and conflict, seeRoderick Long's lecture video.)

We can know things, important things, that do get us to the nonaggression obligation. Among the things we can know is that no individual or group of individuals can successfully plan an economy or society in the interests of all, or intelligently alter the outcomes of free social cooperation, because in principle they cannot have access to all that is now known or will be discovered by the people they intend to move about like so many chess pieces. That, of course, is an allusion to Adam Smith's insight about the "man of system" in The Theory of Moral Sentiments:

The man of system, on the contrary, is apt to be very wise in his own conceit; and is often so enamoured with the supposed beauty of his own ideal plan of government, that he cannot suffer the smallest deviation from any part of it. He goes on to establish it completely and in all its parts, without any regard either to the great interests, or to the strong prejudices which may oppose it. He seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-board. He does not consider that the pieces upon the chess-board have no other principle of motion besides that which the hand impresses upon them; but that, in the great chess-board of human society, every single piece has a principle of motion of its own, altogether different from that which the legislature might chuse to impress upon it. If those two principles coincide and act in the same direction, the game of human society will go on easily and harmoniously, and is very likely to be happy and successful. If they are opposite or different, the game will go on miserably, and the society must be at all times in the highest degree of disorder.

So who, at the deepest level, is full of conceit? Those who respect individual liberty, understanding that free association, like the justice on which it is based, has good consequences, or those who call on the state to interfere violently with free association because they presume to know which outcomes are superior to those they imagine will emerge through peaceful cooperation.

This article originally appeared at the Future of Freedom Foundation.

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  1. OT : Maureen Dowd goes hard in the paint against… Hillary.

    http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015…..-dogs.html

    1. Jesus, that’s what Brock looks like now-a-days? What a fucking asshole-looking lunatic.

      1. Anyone who combs their hair like that does have a healthy ego, I must say.

    2. It’s more of a hit piece on David Brock and his monocle. Sounds like she’s taking sides in an inner-circle war. She wants Brook’s group out because she thinks they will hurt the cause in the long run. Better to get this stuff cleared out before things get rolling.

      Just a guess.

      1. However, she is reminding everyone of what a bunch of sleazy characters the Clintons keep around them. That is a general turnoff. It’s not just about David Brocks.

    3. The silver-haired 52-year-old, who sports colorful designer suits and once wore a monocle

      My grandmother once wore a monocle…

      ….ONCE.

    4. CATFIGHT!

      1. Paging barfman

    5. Baked in the tactics of the right, Brock will never believe that negative coverage results from legitimate shortcomings. Instead, it’s all personal, all false, and all a war.

      Exactly, because only the right behaves like that!

    6. She likem Squaw.

    7. I think a lot of D’s secretly know that Hillary doesn’t stand a chance in the general election.

      A) She’s an elderly white woman, with as much appeal to the Black and Hispanic vote as a Belle and Sebastian album.

      B) Nobody likes a sure thing. Nobody. People like underdogs. Hillary is anything but an underdog.

      C) Even the white people are going to be so fucking bored of her by the time the election rolls around that they won’t want to watch another 4 years of her.

    8. my co-worker’s mother makes $85 every hour on the laptop . She has been fired for nine months but last month her check was $14492 just working on the laptop for a few hours. try this web-site
      .. http://www.jobs-check.com

  2. Pop quiz: can you name this free-market jurisdiction in the Western hemisphere?
    Here are some of its attributes:

    Personal income tax: NONE

    Corporate income tax: NONE

    Capital gains tax: NONE

    Taxation of dividends: NONE

    Taxation of interest: NONE

    Withholding taxes: NONE

    Payroll tax: NONE

    Social Security tax: NONE

    Wealth tax: NONE

    Inheritance/estate tax: NONE

    Property taxes: NONE

    answer

    1. Somalia

    2. Western Antarctica.

    3. This is some kind of trick question, right? Is the answer going to be some lesson about how freedom means much more than just low taxes, like maybe the Confederate States of America ( which at first had only taxes on imports/exports but if course also held a big chunk of their population in total slavery)?

      1. Whatever turns you on.

      2. The link is to some of the Caribbean tax havens. Not a bad way of arranging affairs, really.

        1. Oh, didn’t see the link there. Thanks

    4. Dune,desert planet?

      1. -1 Arrakis-in-the-middle

      2. Psh, you’d be paying a spice tax to the emperor.

    5. The White House?

  3. This makes no sense. Libertarianism is as much a “system” as any other political philosophy, and is not merely a matter of letting the chessmen go where they want.

    If my child has a debilitating disease and needs medicine, but the person/group who has the medicine refuses to give it to me without extracting an exorbitant price, your libertarianism would simply state that tough luck, you don’t get the medicine. And if I try to take the medicine from them without paying the asked price, your libertarianism would forcibly intervene to stop me, or at least punish me after the fact. You do absolutely have your fingers on my chessman.

    This isn’t a critique of libertarianism; while respecting property rights does lead to uncomfortable implications such as I describe, it also encourages production and innovation. Without property rights respect, it’s unlikely the medicine would have been available in the first place. I get that. But let’s not pretend that it’s a simple matter of letting people do as they please and everything works out.

    1. In the case your using,it’s most likely the cost is so high due to government interference in the market. My beliefs are due to that fact I do not have all the answers for every one.That’s what I believe you should be free to make your own choices.Using medical care is a terrible example due to all the rent seeking.Look many other industries,prices have when down over time. Things only the rich could afford are now common place for even the poor like cars,tech,food is cheap and abundant,clothes and shoes. When you limit markets with things like certificates off need and such you raise costs.

      1. In the case your using,it’s most likely the cost is so high due to government interference in the market.

        Not necessarily. Those situations arose long before govt intervention in medical markets. People starved due to being unable to pay for food.

        You can’t blame the government bogeyman for everything.

        1. I want your daughter’s pussy. You won’t sell it to me at a price I want, so you would use force to stop me. In other words. You are an idiot.

          1. And if you’re stronger than me, then it wouldn’t matter whether I used force or not (assuming we’re just letting the chessmen move themselves).

            1. You really are dense. I don’t have a right to your property anymore than you have a right to “medicine”. Just because you want something doesn’t give you a right to it. The real world example as opposed to your retard situation is, a drug company has a drug they want to sell, I want to buy it, but the government prevents it. Real people die because of the FDA and its ridiculous policies on bringing a new drug to market.

            2. The Devil Uno|2.15.15 @ 9:38AM|#
              “And if you’re stronger than me, “…

              Hey, idiot! I’m still waiting for the cite on Abigail Adams.
              Did you hope no one would remember your idiocy?

          2. I want your daughter’s pussy.

            No, you don’t. He’s put all kinds of strange stuff in there.

            Don’t feed trolls.

            1. You gotta wait until she turns 21, only then will it be troll free.

        2. And now thanks to the market food can more freely and safely from one place to another.I just bought fresh produce at the store today and it’s 6 degrees out.You don’t have to live on what you grow and raise anymore. There’s more food do to better storage,transportation and the green revolution.Government had nothing to do with that.

          1. But government made the ROADZ upon which that produce traveled!

        3. Not necessarily. Those situations arose long before govt intervention in medical markets. People starved due to being unable to pay for food.

          Google which countries had the most people starving from lack of food, and then ask yourself where on the scale from complete libertarianism to complete tyranny said countries fell.

          You wanting to rob some company to obtain drugs (or food, or whatever) because you don’t want to pay the prices they are obtaining from other willing consumers is understandable, but actually having a system that legally allows you to loot them turns out badly — see Venezuela for a recent example.

          1. Govt intervention can (and usually does) screw things up worse than they were already.

            That doesn’t contradict my point about libertarianism being more than just letting people do as they wish.

            1. Yes, we’re not anarchists. Is that what you’re getting at? If Richman had said instead that libertarians put much, much less rules on the chessmen than other systems would that solve your dispute with what he’s saying?

              1. Yes, we’re not anarchists.

                Speak for yourself. Some of us are anarchists, but I don’t think it’s fair to even call you a libertarian Bo.

    2. The role of government in your example is still one of a neutral arbiter. Yes, the government is stopping you from bullying the doctor into providing your child medicine. But, it’s also stopping the doctor from responding to your attempt at bullying by feeding your child strychnine or killing her under the auspice of care. In effect, it’s simply taking on the role of agent in protecting both your and the doctor’s rights. That’s a long cry from treating you or the doctor as chess pieces.

      1. Not quite. Libertarianism is stating what my rights are and what the medicine owner’s rights are.

        A socialist could just as easily say that my child has a right to medical care, and defend the forcible transfer of the medicine to me, by claiming to just be protecting rights.

        1. Except one requires theft and slavery and the other doesn’t.

        2. And how does the socialist propose stopping the doctor from giving your child strychnine? Do they know if that’s the wrong prescription? What if the doctor just plum forgets what the right way to treat your child is?

          Can’t speak for anyone else, but the last thing I’d want is a slave to be managing my health.

        3. And how exactly did this “medicine” come into existence? Your assertion is that it is as natural a thing as air – not that it is the output of a complex process of production (supported by property rights and free trade from concept to pharmacy).

          You want the true state-of-nature answer to your question – your kid fucking dies and you make another.

          1. If you’d read my comment you would have seen that I agree with you about the ultimate correctness of respecting property rights.

            But don’t pretend it’s simple and just a matter of letting people do as they want.

            1. Consider it the default social setting: liberty to do what I see is best for me (as long as I don’t take from you).

              Isn’t the only rule, nor does it account for everything. It’s a good starting point.

            2. But don’t pretend it’s simple and just a matter of letting people do as they want.

              stop with the bullshit Obama tactic of attacking points no one is making. The notion of “letting people do as they want” is not, has not been, and will not be a premise of libertarianism.

              1. Awww, ease up Wareagle! He just wants to have a civil discourse about social engineering!

                Why can’t we all just give him what he wants, always, without any argument? We’re a bunch of right jerks, us.

        4. And of course Devil Uno doesn’t understand the distinction between positive and negative rights and the utter inconsistency in a ‘right to medical care’ in any society that allows basic human autonomy.

          1. I do understand the distinction, but I don’t see how that makes the socialist’s POV invalid. Why should only negative rights be allowed ipso facto?

            1. No, you don’t understand the distinction. Negative rights are about allowing people to engage in activities freely, while positive rights are the expectation or demands for goods or services. They’re not ‘rights’ at all, they’re privileges that demand the negation of negative rights and basic human autonomy. The socialist’s claim of a ‘right to medical care’ is not a right, it’s a demand for forced redistribution of goods. Just because you call something a ‘right’ does not suddenly make it so or justify your point of view.

              1. I think you’re missing his point John.

                His argument seems to be that every system has some idea of rights, and every system’s adherents think there’s is the only correct one. And you’re answering with ‘well, our idea of rights IS the only right one!’

                1. Yeah, but as John T said, just because you call something a right doesn’t mean it is. Socialists are wrong when they talk about positive ‘rights’. Period. And there is little point in trying to make a nuanced argument for negative rights and against positive rights on a message board with someone as dense as devil uno.

                  1. But uno’s point is that you will say they are wrong and they, of course will say you are wrong. Everyone has an idea of rights.

                    Remember he’s talking in the context of Richman’s claim that libertarians are different from other systems because we don’t push the chesspeices around, and he’s saying ‘sure you do, you do it for the rights you think are important just as every other ideology would. You just disagree about what the rights are.’ To just re-register that we do disagree and think they are wrong kind of proves his point.

                    I think the better answer is, well, yes, we also have rules for the chesspieces, but we have far less.

                    1. You just disagree about what the rights are.’ To just re-register that we do disagree and think they are wrong kind of proves his point.

                      God forbid I highlight the arbitrary and inconsistent nature of what certain groups constitute as ‘rights’. I should just accept their premises rather than challenge their abuse of a word.

                      ‘Everyone having an idea of rights’ does not immediately validate their concept of rights. It’s not a matter of ‘thinking they are the wrong kind’ it’s pointing out ‘and how are these rights, exactly?’

                    2. Libertarians basically have insist upon one rule: the NAP. The NAP is pretty well expressed by “each person has the right to make his or her own choices in life so long as they do not involve the initiation of aggression, defined as the initiation of force or fraud, against others”.

                      American liberals, progressives, socialists, conservatives, neo-conservatives and middle-of-the-roaders recognize that numerous exceptions must be made to the NAP to further their interests. This requires a multitude of rules to permit such aggression and adminstration by a regulatory regime by the right sort of persons. Since the interests of the various parties conflict, the rules are insanely complex and often incoherent, and the administration is arbitrary and capricious. Such a system is also inherently expensive to its subjects and burdensome to those who must deal with it.

                    3. The distinction is really simple. Rights are defined as things that you can have, without taking anything from anyone else. So the concept of positive rights is inherently false because they violate the basic definition of rights.

                      Now, if you grant that everyone is owned by government and rights are things promised to all by the government, you are redefining what rights are. Essentially, you are defining rights to be the same as privileges.

                      You always have rights, even if no other person is around.

                2. ‘well, our idea of rights IS the only right one!’

                  Actually I’m answering with ‘here’s why that ‘right’ is not a right at all due to the basic inconsistency of the position’. Entitlements and privileges are not rights. If your supposed ‘right’ negates human autonomy for the sake of some demand, how is that a ‘right’ when it requires the exploitation of others to fulfill it?

                  1. I.E. I have a ‘right to medical care’. Ok, but what if no one wishes to give medical care? The only option to fulfill that right is to enslave someone else to provide it for me. How and why should my ‘right to medical care’ trump that person’s basic autonomy? Why is it a ‘right’ to exploit a fellow human being?

                    1. A socialist would say ‘how can someone have the ‘right’ to hold onto and therefore deprive the dying child? The child has a right to live that trumps your right to property.’ And they wouldn’t care that this imposes on you the drug owner, they’d just reply that your alternative ‘imposes’ on the parent and child (the child dies). We’d then talk about how inaction can be imposing, but that gets us nowhere in this debate, because they don’t buy that distinction.

                      Richman’s point is our system allows the least rules out of humility. I think he’s right, but not so much because our rules are right and theirs are wrong. We actually literally have less.

                    2. And that ‘right to life’ immediately undercuts other people’s rights in order to exist. Again, a right that can only exist by undermining other people’s rights is not a right at all. It’s an entitlement or privilege. Not to mention that a ‘right to life’ broadly applied in such a way is negated by basic reality.

                      they’d just reply that your alternative ‘imposes’ on the parent and child

                      And that completely undermines the concept of ‘imposition’. Again, just because someone believes something does not mean we have to accept their illogical premises.

                    3. “We’d then talk about how inaction can be imposing, but that gets us nowhere in this debate, because they don’t buy that distinction.”

                      It doesn’t matter whether they buy it or not. It is a physical fact regardless of what they believe. Imposition requires exertion of physical force or the threat thereof on another.

                      Refraining from voluntarily agreeing to comply with an affirmative demand from another to give them something does not qualify as “imposing”.

                    4. You (and the socialist) are redefining rights to make your “but how could you!” argument work.

                      A classic dishonest argument where you redefine the word to make the argument seem plausible.

                      Rights are valid when they are inherent, do not require others to exist, and do not require binding another to your service.

                      Socialists believe that all people are government owned and in a true sense there are no individual rights, only privileges granted by the government.

                      Equating government granted privileges as rights is a slick trick of retoric, not a valid argument.

                  2. John Titor: I understand, and agree with, your definition of rights.

                    Unfortunately, the corruption of language is an indispensible and high effective tool of politics. Most Americans do not share our understanding of the distinction between rights, privileges, and entitlements. Just ask any geezer on social security, or anyone who uses an EBT card at your local grocery story. They’ll tell you.

              2. Negative rights are about allowing people to engage in activities freely, while positive rights are the expectation or demands for goods or services.

                That’s not exactly the distinction as I understand it. At a fundamental level it is that

                Negative rights are rights to the absence of something.
                Positive rights are rights to the presence of something.

                The distinction does get kind of fuzzy sometimes — for example, the right to life is usually seen as a negative right, but in practice it’s a right to defense of your life, either by protecting you from a potential murderer or punishing the murderer after the fact. So it could be considered a positive right to some extent.

                1. No, it’s a negative right because it’s fundamentally about the inaction of others towards your person. If that inaction is violated by someone your ‘right to defense’ only exists because they have negated your negative right to it.

                  If you instead argue that your ‘right to life’ requires other people to provide you with resources to continue that life, that’s a positive right.

                2. Yes, you “understand” rights in a manner that makes dishonest rhetoric easier. What a surprise.

            2. Positive rights don’t “work” because (a) resources are finite, and (b) someone else has to come up with the “stuff” that the right is to. Someone has to be coerced to provide that stuff.

              Regarding the first reason, suppose everyone has a right to an apple, but the number of apples in existence is less than the number of people. What do you do them? Well, you have to define some other system to devide up the apples and decide who has a right to one, or what fraction of a right to one there is.

              Same thing with healthcare. There is a finite supply, there are only so many doctors and nurses and hours in a day, only a finite supply of drugs and blood and operating rooms. So lets say the supply of healthcare is insufficient to meet everyone’s “right” to healthcare. What do you do? You come up with some other system to decide who gets healthcare. Which means you never really had a right ot healthcare at all. You only have a right to whatever the board decides you get out of the finite supply.

              1. To get back to the original post. Libertarian rights are not arbitrary. They are defined based on more basic premises such as self-ownership and non-coercion.

                By comparison, many other system seem to arbitrarily pluck rights out of the air. Let’s have a right to healthcare! Let’s have a right to free education! With zero consideration about that that right is to provided for or how those rights come into conflict with one another in a world of scarce resources. Maybe there isn’t enough money for both healthcare and free education.

                These sorts of arbitrary invented rights tend to devolve into a pure political conflict where the strongest politically simply vote for what they want. Your rights end up being determined by the whims of the majority instead of grounded in moral principle.

                By comparison, the libertarian rights project is really an extension of a very long term philosophical project. An effort to derive a set of universal and consistent rights from basic philosophical principles, which allow humans to live peacefully together without their rights conflicting.

                So called positive rights are inconsistent with that project because they always come into conflict with each other and therefore resolve nothing.

              2. Positive rights don’t “work” because (a) resources are finite, and (b) someone else has to come up with the “stuff” that the right is to. Someone has to be coerced to provide that stuff.

                That doesn’t imply that positive rights don’t work. Some people are fine with coercion.

                Regarding the first reason, suppose everyone has a right to an apple, but the number of apples in existence is less than the number of people.

                Which isn’t the case for any of the things socialists typically claim as a positive right.

                1. The nature of rights is that they are universal.

                  If someone has a right to something “free” then so does everyone else to exactly the same degree.

                  And by free I mean in the true economic sense of being free – no accounting shell games where some are taxed to finance some program while others are not but all are proclaimed to have received that programs services “free”.

                  As there is no such thing as a free lunch, positive rights to receive something cannot exist. It is economically impossible for everyone to receive something free and have no one pay for it.

                  1. So the right to an attorney means millionaires and impoverished people should both get the same public defenders provided for free?

                    1. So the right to an attorney means millionaires and impoverished people should both get the same public defenders provided for free?

                      pedantics gonna pedant.

                      The right to an attorney is a basic one afforded to citizens, to the point that the state will give you one at public expense so that you are not unrepresented in court.

                      The right says nothing about equality of outcome or equality of resources. That’s why the clause “if you cannot afford one” comes right after “you have the right to an attorney.”

                    2. The right to any attorney is not a freestanding right.

                      It is a mechanism to check the power of government to lock somebody up or execute them for an alleged crime.

                      It only comes into play when someone is charged with a crime by the government.

                      So yes, if a millionaire wanted to rely on a public defender to represent him in criminal court for some reason instead of paying for his own lawyer to do it, he would have just as much right to one as somebody who was flat broke.

                      By the way NO ONE has a right to a free attorney in civil court.

                    3. An excellent observation, I am impressed. The “right” to an attorney is not a right it is a privilege provided at other’s expense.

                2. That doesn’t imply that positive rights don’t work. Some people are fine with coercion.

                  Except that coercion immediately negates it as a right and turns it into a forced obligation or entitlement.

                  1. Except that coercion immediately negates it as a right and turns it into a forced obligation or entitlement.

                    Yes, which is why it often makes more sense to speak of positive duties instead of rights.

                    Do we have a positive DUTY to provide medical care to others? That is the more valid framing of the question.

                    1. It’s sort of like in the classic drowning-child problem. Do you argue that the child has a right to be rescued, or do you argue that the bystander has a duty to rescue?

                      (The answer is there is a duty to rescue but it is not legally enforceable. You can’t punish not-rescuing as murder unless the bystander acted to push the child into the water. In which case he’s not a bystander.

                      Similarly in trolley cases – most people argue it is morally permissible, maybe even obligatory to pull the switch – but they wouldn’t punish people for not pulling it. )

                    2. If it’s not enforced it’s irrelevant. Regardless of what words you use for it, it’s angels raving on pinheads.

                      If it is enforced, there isn’t much difference between right and duty.

                  2. That doesn’t imply that positive rights don’t work. Some people are fine with coercion.

                    You understand, right, that in a Libertarian society, people are free to be coerced as much as they like?

                    Why do idiot philosophers always think like this? Is this Tupla, or Mary, or just another anonymous thread-shitter?

                3. Which isn’t the case for any of the things socialists typically claim as a positive right.

                  Yes it is. It is the case for everything socialists claim is a positive right. There are finite numbers of doctors. Sure you can train more, but not an infinite number more. There are technological limits to medicine. There is a finite speed at which you can build buildings and supply beds.

                  There is, and always will be a finite supply of medical care, which is not the same thing as a fixed supply. And since human beings are mortal the horizon for potential medical care expenses and treatments is effectively infinite. There will always be less medical care to go around than people need to stay alive.

                  1. It is the case for everything socialists claim is a positive right. There are finite numbers of doctors.

                    There are finite numbers of oxygen atoms in the universe. That doesn’t imply there’s a problem allowing people to have as much as they want.

                    There are plenty of doctors, and plenty of food, for everyone to have what they need. Ditto for all the things socialists say should be positive rights.

                    1. There are plenty of doctors… for everyone to have what they need.

                      Really? Are you utterly unaware of the waiting lists in Canadia and England? or the VA?

                    2. As someone who has dealt with the glorious ‘free’ healthcare system of Canada for his entire life, there is certainly not ‘plenty of doctors’ for ‘everyone to have what they need’.

                    3. You have to be literally insane to think there are plenty of doctors to provide everyone with all the heath care they could possibly need.

                    4. “There are plenty of doctors, and plenty of food, for everyone to have what they need. Ditto for all the things socialists say should be positive rights.” – I was willing to entertain your point of view until you said this. You are arguing from factually incorrect premises; as a result your results will always be unsound. Correct your premises through study, then come back for further debate.

                    5. You did not seem this stupid before. Are you just making stupid arguments because you losing? or are you actually becoming stupid?

                4. “Some people are fine with coercion.”

                  No, they are only “fine with coercion” when it is other people being coerced.

                  If they were fine with being coerced themselves, it would not be coercion.

                  1. The argument that positive rights don’t work because they require coercion is a non sequitur… because coercion works just fine.

                    1. Positive rights don’t work because they conflict with other, more basic, rights, and with each other.

                      I already demonstrated how they cannot function in a world of scarcity, which is the real world, as much as you’d like to pretend that there is an infinite amount of everything to share.

                  2. Wrong wording. Correct analysis.

                5. That doesn’t imply that positive rights don’t work. Some people are fine with coercion.

                  Just ’cause someone is “fine” with something doesn’t mean it is right, proper, ethical, moral, or virtuous.

                6. Hmmm, so your position is that coercion is fine. Soooo, I can resolve your desire to take my stuff for fulfilment of your “rights” by tying a rope around your neck and hanging you from a tree?

                  Or is it fine only if coercion is used to get you want YOU want?

                  Better think this through, “might makes right” can turn on you pretty quickly.

            3. I do understand the distinction, but I don’t see how that makes the socialist’s POV invalid. Why should only negative rights be allowed ipso facto?

              Uh… ’cause positive rights, by necessity, deny self-ownership . . .

        5. False. Many libertarians acknowledge rights come from “nature and nature’s God”.

          They are stated by that. Of course, not all libertarians believe in natural law.

          1. Socialists, enviro-whackos, social Darwinists, and nearly every other philosophy also think their philosophy comes from nature. Nature and its god doesn’t seem inclined to speak up to clear up the confusion.

            1. But only one is right.

              1. To be more precise, at most one is right.

                I tend to lean toward it not being one.

            2. There is no confusion. Man’s nature is that he survives by the use of his mind. Any action (initiatory use of force) that denies man the free use of his mind is immoral.

              1. This. And why continue?

    3. I suppose that the enforcement of property rights is a system. It’s a fair point. As long as there is a government, there is a system of laws and enforcement. Some libertarians sort of drift into An-cap territory sometimes and forget about that aspect of it.
      But I don’t think it is quite right to say that someone still has their fingers on the chessmen. In chess, pices can only make certain moves. A libertarian/minarchist system enforces rules, but those are the rules of the game. To extend the chess metaphor, no one is messing with the game when they use force to enforce property rights. That’s just making sure that you are actually playing chess.

      In pure, principled libertarianism, yes you must accept that uncomfortable consequences like you describe. But most libertarians also believe that that degree of freedom will also lead to the best outcomes overall.

    4. You should start a kickstarter for your sick kid. Send a link.

      1. No shit. Where’s the local churches and businesses? I put up at least one flyer a week in my store for a charitable event being held for a sick or injured person in my area.

        People care. People want to help. People that care and want to help are less likely to do so at gunpoint.

    5. There is no freedom to violate another’s freedom. Stopping you from that violation is not making you commit that violation.

  4. And also, very few proponents of even the most hardcore statism are asserting that they personally should have the power to decide the laws and regulations that people would have to live by. They assume that some dynamic (democracy, proletarian solidarity, Marxist dialectic, Great Men, God, whatever) will allow the State to arrive at the right (or at least best) set of rules for all of us to follow.

    If believing that a system will work properly because of some unseen force makes one conceited, then yeah, libertarians are conceited too, because we believe in the free market.

    1. Really,the EPA and the greens would disagree.All laws should be based in harm to others only.If I want to drink raw milk,no of your concern,same with many other things. Top men are a bane of the people.

      1. Right. Libertarianism allows those who are concerned about drinking raw milk total freedom to not buy and consume it. The difference is it also doesn’t allow them to force that on those who don’t share their concerns.

        1. Libertarianism allows those who are concerned about drinking raw milk total freedom to not buy and consume it.

          Unless they’re minors and their parents want them to drink potentially pathogen-infested milk that has absolutely no health benefit over pasteurized milk.

          1. So it’s not really different than socialism because parents make decisions for three year olds?

            1. Bo, if you don’t leave your infant to raise his or herself you aren’t a real libertarian. I’m on like baby 54 because I keep leaving them in the forest and they’re just too dumb to survive.

              1. You just leave yours in the forest? I sell mine on the baby market of course.

              2. If you don’t leave them outside how will you know if they are fit to survive?

                obligatory

              3. So your kids are all named Kenny?

            2. Where did I say that?

              Just pointing out that the stock libertarian dismissal “if you don’t like it, don’t buy it” doesn’t always hold water.

              1. I don’t see how it’s more of a ‘system’ because it doesn’t propose to interfere in the parents raising of children.

                If we lived in a state of nature there’d be all kinds of ways some people would be worse off, would that make a state of nature a system?

          2. I wouldn’t give it an infant, but raw milk is pretty safe. We have these amazing things now called refrigeration and sanitation.

            The status of the rights of children is a bit of a tricky area for libertarians. For practical reasons, you have to allow parents a lot of free reign. Yes, parents can sometimes violate their children’s rights. The proper balance of individual rights of children and parental rights to raise their children as they see fit really isn’t obvious.

            1. The proper balance of individual rights of children and parental rights to raise their children as they see fit really isn’t obvious.

              Personally, I’ve always found the most useful framework for thinking about this to be the agency model. That is, we properly recognize the parents as the agents of the child in decision-making until maturity. That leaves a fairly broad range of decision-making open to parents while still recognizing potential violations.

              1. That’s a good way to think about it. Myself, I think of it as a trustee relationship. The trustee doesn’t really ‘own’ the things they are entrusted to oversee, but they have ownership like powers entrusted for the good of the ultimate owner. And it only makes sense to have as the presumed rule that people naturally invested in their beneficiary’s well being are doing the better job.

                Rand Paul got a lot of flak when, during the vaccine debate, he said parents, not the government, own children. I think it was a cheap, pedantic hit on him, but it would have been better for him to have clarified that the ownership is something like a trust.

                1. I think it was a cheap, pedantic hit on him, but it would have been better for him to have clarified that the ownership is something like a trust.

                  Don’t think it would much have mattered. First, they got a chance to make Paul out to be whacky, which is something the media is going to do any chance they get. Second, the attack on the phrasing struck me as a lot more motivated by trying to undermine the choice argument than the phrasing of the point.

                  1. I agree they’ll be out to get him every step of the way. Both sides are pretty scared by Paul, because he challenges the rigid polarization each side thrives off. He’s pro-life and against SSM, but he also is the biggest voice out there today on criminal justice reform and privacy protection.

                    The left is going to take every shot they can about the domestic consequences of his libertarian stands: we’ll hear how he will gut the civil rights movement and destroy our precious social security. The right is going to cast him as too dovish, an enemy of Israel, and not ‘serious’ in the war on terror.

                    But, he can always make it harder for them by being more precise.

                    1. He’s…against SSM

                      Incorrect. He is against the federal government being involved in deciding the SSM issue.

                    2. But, he can always make it harder for them by being more precise.

                      That isn’t at all clear to me. How much of the attack on Paul that was actually made was over this unfortunate turn of phrasing and how much was “he doesn’t want kids to get vaccinated!”?

                      Yes, the latter was transparently idiotic. But, idiotic can carry the day a lot more often than a sufficiently nuanced argument.

              2. Personally, I’ve always found the most useful framework for thinking about this to be the agency model. That is, we properly recognize the parents as the agents of the child in decision-making until maturity.

                That doesn’t actually clarify anything though. You have to define which types of decisions parents are free to make on behalf of their children and which they are not.

                1. That doesn’t actually clarify anything though.

                  It actually does, though (Maybe not to your liking, but that’s beside the point). There are clear standards with regard to failure on the part of an agent. Failure does not entail “decisions we don’t like”. Rather, it entails decisions that can’t reasonably be justified by the agent. And the scope of that decision-making is that which would be afforded the minor.

                  1. Rather, it entails decisions that can’t reasonably be justified by the agent.

                    Who determines whether the justification is reasonable? How is this known in advance by the parent? Is every parenting decision that leads to poor results for the kid potential grounds for state intervention? If Johnny gets fat because his mom buys him too many candy bars, can the state step in and take him away to foster care?

                    You’re not going to be able to fit a legal structure designed for adults dealing with financial and occupational matters to the parent-child relationship.

                    1. Who determines whether the justification is reasonable? How is this known in advance by the parent?

                      I think you’re missing my point. An agency relationship gives the benefit of the doubt to the agent. Bad results from good faith decisions on the part of the agent are recognized to be just unfortunate outcomes. The onus is on the person seeking to invalidate the principle-agent relationship to show that the decision was made in bad faith.

                    2. Who determines whether a decision was made in good or bad faith?

                      The social justice warriors at DCFS would be licking their chops to have a system like you’re proposing.

                    3. Part of the problem with Child services is they have very poor oversight and almost no accountability back to the public to make fair judgements. There are no jury trials for parents, a judge just makes a decision, and that decision is always decided by “the best interest of the child” standard. Which pretty much favors taking any child in the system if the parents are slightly less than ideal and the state thinks that a nice white upper-middle-class family would be willing to adopt.
                      Basically a lot of the problem is because the law governing family court is screwed up.

                      If there were jury trials in child custody cases, it might be a lot harder to claim the parents acted in bad faith.

            2. About 80% of American kids have had raw milk in the diet. The CDC even encourages it, even though it could have some pathogens.

              CDC on pediatric raw milk consumption rate

              1. Link doesn’t work. I’m really curious to see that one.

          3. Raw milk may have health benefits because it contains pro-biotics (beneficial bacteria), which are killed during pasteruization.

            Its the same reason people eat yogurt. Yogurt contains active cultures of bacteria that are good for your gut’s microbiome. Raw milk contains similar healthy bacteria.

            1. Myth and junk science. Next you’ll regale me about the “enzymes” that get destroyed during pasteurization.

              There is absolutely no scientific evidence of probiotics having health benefits. Unless you’re an infant, your gut flora is what it is and, barring Crohn’s disease or severe diarrhea, will be for the rest of your life. Seriously, that’s what your gut flora is supposed to do — keep bacteria in your food from getting a foothold.

              People eat yogurt for other reasons.

              1. to avoid you accusing me of cherry picking evidence, do a google search with the string “enzymes destroyed by pasteurization.”

                There are some self-interested groups but there is not a partisan consensus over this. The bulk of the evidence says that at least some enzymes ARE destroyed when raw milk is pasteurized.

                1. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are enzymes destroyed, but it’s irrelevant. Your body doesn’t use enzymes that preexist in food, they just get digested along with everything else.

                  First thing that happens after you drink milk, it goes into an acid bath. Bye bye enzymes.

                  1. by your reckoning, the acid bath would kill everything else, too.

                  2. Wow. Just wow.

                    You are one poorly informed idiot.

                    1. Regale us on the scientific studies proving the benefits of raw milk, o learned one.

              2. Well, my doctor is always telling me to eat pro-biotics whenever I have to take anti-biotics. So I don’t know that it is junk science.

                I am not a raw milk consumer, but I can see perfectly scientific rationale for thinking it might be good for you.

          4. Wow, you need to step back, your started out seeming intelligent but perhaps misguided, now you are careening toward stupid.

            Perhaps a nice nap?

  5. This thread is gonna suck. Sigh. Have a nice Sunday reasonoids.

    1. Light a candle don’t curse the darkness.

      1. ^This is why it’s gonna suck.

        1. It’s the Tulpa fellow, isn’t it?

          1. Devil Uno, “even you’re name is a dime store joke. ”

            Know the reference and you’ll know what I’m saying.

            1. You’re just jealous b/c you didn’t think of it first.

  6. Is it arrogance to KNOW that human beings require, by their nature, the freedom to think and the freedom to act upon their thinking in order to survive and ultimately thrive? Demanding freedom is a matter of self-defense and is not something to be humble in doing. Screw false humility and humble pie. Besides foreign policy, add philosophy to issues Reason’s contributors often get wrong.

  7. One of my facebook friends posted a cartoon with a mother and child with the child saying “Mommy, when I grow up I want to be a Libertarian!” and the mom saying “Well, honey, which is it?” and it had a handful of likes and no comments.

    I didn’t want to leave a post that started screaming about how the true sign of maturity was asking other people to take care of you and then going full nutzo. Probably because I was sober.

    It still irritated the hell out of me, though.

    1. Grow up so you can stop working and be a full-time prog agitator.

    2. Yes, that is always puzzling and irritating. Somhow these people think that wanting people to take responsibility for themselves is the “childish” position. Real grown-ups need a nanny.

      1. Well put.

    3. I only became a libertarian after I grew up and understood that the state exacts a huge amount of taxes from me for “services” that are worse than useless.

  8. That’s always the first thing I notice about comment threads on Reason: the humility!

    1. Well, how much can *you* squat?

  9. ” who, at the deepest level, is full of conceit? Those who respect individual liberty, understanding that free association, like the justice on which it is based, has good consequences, or those who call on the state to interfere violently with free association because they presume to know which outcomes are superior?”

    Problem with the argument on the basis of ‘consequences’ =

    treating ‘liberty’ as a ‘means to an end’ concedes the debate to those who’d use tools of compulsion to achieve whatever ends they fancy; and the appeal of ‘control’ will always trump assurances that free people are better off when left to themselves.

    Because unless you argue that individual liberty is the most desirable ‘end’ in itself – even at the cost of ‘greater near-term social well-being’ – and that the additional ‘broader social outcomes/consequences’ that derive from it are ‘nice to have, but insufficient on their own’… those who prefer State compulsion will always have the advantage of being able to claim to deliver specific outcomes (aka ‘Free Shit’) via direct control in the immediate term.

    Never mind that one of the most beneficial consequences of liberty – ‘Free Choice’ – is increasingly described as a social problem.

    1. follow on from that last point =

      most of the greatest benefits of liberty are too often taken for granted as a natural byproduct of ‘Western Civilization’ writ-large, and few seem to credit the success of the American Experiment to its emphasis on individual liberties.

      In fact, the vibrancy of American commercial and popular culture is far too often described as its worst characteristic = “look at all the horrible stuff these ignorant people consume!”

      To people like the Millenial Communist = We’d all be so much better off if ‘artists’ were freed from the ‘shackles of competition’ and allowed *real freedom* to express themselves without the being ‘crowded out’ by the undeservedly-popular…

      …and forget trying to sell people on the notion that “Free Speech” has been a net-benefit to our society, relative to our global peers. “Do you hear them complaining??”

      In short = most people fail to recognize that any of the real ‘beneficial consequences’ of liberty really qualify as ‘benefits’; or if they do rate them highly, seem to think they are naturally derived from our latent, untapped ‘natural human goodness’… which would thrive equally in a system of rigid social-control and economic redistribution. How could it not? *why are you people so cynical*?

    2. Right. Too many so called defenders of liberty concede the altruist argument in their argument for it: individual rights is best for the collective good–whatever the hell that is–that’s why liberty is good. Then all the collectivist have to do is give one counter argument where individualism supposedly hurts their made-up idea of the collective. Then the so called defender of liberty has lost. It is likely the primary reason we are where we are.

      The sooner the liberty lovers give up utilitarianism and other collectivists arguments, the sooner they start to win the debate.

      1. If you give up the utilitarian argument, then you have to convince people that they need to change their values to match yours. You need to convince them to value liberty (an abstraction) even if doing so leaves them, and everybody else, worse off.

        So much for that humility thing.

        1. No. You have to convince people that their own life is valuable and they should enjoy it and stop advocating ideas that hurt that. If they hate life which many collectivist do, often this fact starts to show itself as you present your arguments for the right of the individual to live his life. Others who love their life will start backing away from them–that’s how you win.

          1. You have to convince people that their own life is valuable and they should enjoy it and stop advocating ideas that hurt that.

            How do you do that while abandoning utilitarian arguments?

            There are a lot of individuals who are going to be worse off under libertarianism than they were under statism. How do you convince them?

            1. Who is going to be worse off? People who don’t take responsibility for their life, that’s who. Those are the same people that hate their own life. They have never taken responsibility, they want others to take care of them. They are like children. Free societies are good for everyone that knows they are responsible for their life that they own their life. It is not a matter of opinion, it is a matter of reality. Others that don’t think they own their life are pitiful creatures. They advocate ideas that destroy those who want to own their life. Once other’s around them understand this, no one will want to be a party to this creepy idea.

              1. “People who don’t take responsibility for their life, that’s who.”

                Well, there can be a lot of these!

                I’d also add the possibility that some other people might be worse off: people with some really bad luck, people with few talents and skills (or perhaps actual disabilities), while I honestly think a truly free society would help such people via voluntary charity it is possible that some of them might have more secure lives in a less free environment.

                1. People who have bad luck or make bad decisions are still better off in a society in which they are able to respond to the bad luck and figure out how to make things better.

                  If you are talking about the small minority of human beings that are completely unable to take care of themselves because of accidents, then it is better to be honest about it and say they are dependents and will need the charity of others to survive. People who are free are always willing to help those so unfortunate in their midst when they are able to do so. No one wants to see suffering that is not the fault of the sufferer in your midst. But you must still have freedom even to be able to help someone you know about that can’t take care of themselves.

                  The bottom line still is that each of us owns our life.

                  1. “People who have bad luck or make bad decisions are still better off in a society in which they are able to respond to the bad luck and figure out how to make things better.”

                    I’m not so sure of that. A fellow who gets sick out of the blue and who gets some kind of government coverage that he might not have gotten on a market is probably going to be better off there. And someone who gets a cushy government job or benefit but who, in a free market, would lack the talent and wherewithal to get a similar one is probably going to be also.

                    The answer seems to me, yes, some of those people might be better off, but they will be so at the expense of other people whom they have no right to live off via coercion. Those people who would be better off, we can’t deny they’ll exist, rather we have to either appeal to their sense of fairness to overcome their self-interest (this actually happens with people quite a lot) or just overcome them.

                    1. If someone says they are better off to have government jobs or government health care paid for by others is saying that they cannot exist without other’s help. They are saying they are dependent upon the person who provides those things. They are saying that they should have the right to enslave that others. They are advocating against the very thing that was necessary for the value to be produced in the first place. Health care comes from doctors and an industry that must be free to produce the values that person says they have to have provided for them. The people paying taxes do productive jobs that are a result of a free society where people are able to produce things of value. When they advocate forcing people, in principle they are taking away the freedom that provided the value to begin with. It’s the contradiction that liberty advocates have to point out.

                    2. A fellow who gets sick out of the blue and who gets some kind of government coverage that he might not have gotten on a market is probably going to be better off there.

                      If government wasn’t such a drain on the economy through taxes and regulation, there would be a lot more charity and other opportunity (experimental drugs for example) for that person to get care.

                      Government coverage is seen. The opportunity cost of creating that government coverage is not.

                    3. If government wasn’t such a drain on the economy through taxes and regulation, there would be a lot more charity and other opportunity (experimental drugs for example) for that person to get care.

                      “Private charity” seems to be the libertarian equivalent of “the right people in charge” — a very questionable deus ex machina to paper over the weaknesses in their philosophy.

                      You can’t trumpet individualism all day and then assume collectivism will step in and solve the problems created by it.

                    4. “Private charity” seems to be the libertarian equivalent of “the right people in charge” — a very questionable deus ex machina to paper over the weaknesses in their philosophy.

                      Yet you were just trumpeting how collectivists are so virtuous in their voluntary contributions to charity. Now you’re saying that there would be no charity without coercion?

                    5. You know, has it never occured to you that, freed from the federal yoke, some states might actually keep the systems they have now?

                      I live in Illinois. No matter what the fedgov decides to do, Illinois will always be a communist paradise. But if Libertarian values suddenly became the norm in the White House, and North Dakota (for example) decided to follow suit, I’d be willing to bet a huge chunk of your population, businesses included, would just up and fucking leave for North Dakota.

                      The thing is, state law will always rule. And in my Libertarian world, the states would have to compete for population. I’d cackle with glee as I watched the Illinois legislature try and reconcile nearly every major business just up and leaving the state. We’d be Greece within a month.

                    6. Some comments fail to grasp the difference between rights and privileges.

                      Other comments fail to grasp the difference between libertarianism and radical individualism.

                      A libertarian society would welcome an association of individuals, even a communistic one, as long as it remains voluntary. The Amish have absolutely nothing to fear from libertarianism, neither would the Catholic charities.

                    7. Those people who would be better off, we can’t deny they’ll exist, rather we have to either appeal to their sense of fairness to overcome their self-interest (this actually happens with people quite a lot) or just overcome them.

                      Which is why the utilitarian argument for libertarianism fails so often. The benefits of coercion are concentrated while the costs are disbursed. And people can never really fail to find any number of reasons to rationalize away something that’s wrong but benefits them.

                    8. The benefits of coercion are concentrated while the costs are disbursed.

                      And with free markets you have both concentrated and disbursed benefits. Someone who provides goods and services to voluntary customers sees concentrated benefits, while the benefits to the people whose lives are improved by that person’s goods and services are disbursed. Collectivists cannot understand that concept. All they see is someone getting rich, and then emotions take over. All rational thought stops, and the urge to use force against that rich person becomes all consuming.

                    9. And with free markets you have both concentrated and disbursed benefits.

                      Well, yeah. The distinction is win-win (free markets) versus win-lose (coercion). The thing is politics is ultimately about coercion. If you’re the person benefiting from coercion, you won’t tolerate much interference with that benefit. And if you’re one of the people negatively effected, you have less incentive to press for change.

                    10. If you’re the person benefiting from coercion, you won’t tolerate much interference with that benefit.

                      Thus not taking is giving and not giving is taking.

                    11. dispersed !=! disbursed

                      /pendant

              2. “Who is going to be worse off?”

                Geezers who won’t get their social security, Medicare, and tax breaks.

                Most geezers don’t hate life, and love their monthly checks.

            2. “There are a lot of individuals who are going to be worse off under libertarianism than they were under statism. How do you convince them?”

              The case for freedom from coercion is a moral one. I don’t give two shits how much better off someone will be because they want the state to use violence against me, and I don’t have to convince them that they would be better off not using violence against me. The possibility of others initiating violence against me is not up for debate.

              1. The case for freedom from coercion is a moral one.

                Collectivists see coercion as a virtue. Nothing makes them happier than seeing people forced to do things that they do not want to do. That’s why libertarians and collectivists will never agree. On anything.

                1. I have had some luck with honest liberals using the logic of freedom starting with the first principle: mankind needs to be free to think of ideas for how best to live and the freedom to act upon it. Force by other supercedes this ability. In principle force keeps human beings from being about to survive. You have to be ready with particulars, but its not a bad place to start. Not all liberals are completely unable to be persuaded. Especially these days. Many, many liberals are very uneasy with the consequences of programs they have advocated their who lives. The blight of terrible urban schools run by the state is very distressful for many in education, for instance. I know this first hand.

                  1. I’ve had some luck with persuading leftists of the benefits of liberty, only to find that they completely forget the conversation once they go back to the hive.

    3. from the linked article:

      What this ignores is that successful paternalistic laws are done on the basis of a cost-benefit analysis: if it’s too painful, it’s not a good law.

      Holy fuck, the arrogance and stupidity of that author burns, starting with the oxymoron “successful paternalistic laws”

    4. So you’re against consequence driven arguments for liberty, but you go on quite a lot about how libertarians need a less deontological more pragmatic foriegn policy stance…

      1. So what? That you’re too stupid to have ever grokked the distinction to date is entirely your fault.

    5. Bit of a problem since free association, spontaneous order, property rights, and contract law create this giant organic, hyper networked computer that ends up of solving all sorts of problems. So there is this very beneficial second order effect of personal liberty. Which is a great thing imo.

      By doing the right thing in terms of how you treat the individual, you get all these great second order benefits…cheap food, 700 hp Challengers, this porn conduit…err computer I’m typing on, etc.

    6. Well, except abortion.

      1. Hey, HEY. This isn’t that kind of thread.

    7. I’ve made $64,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student. I’m using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money. It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it. Heres what I’ve been doing,
      …. http://www.wixjob.com

  10. But, but, but liberty is tyranny! Who will stop those who currently use force to get what that want? That’s right! People using force! So to have liberty, you must first force those who initiate force on people to stop initiating force on people, which is an initiation of force! Thus liberty is tyranny!

    /Tony

    1. All I understood from that was that I should use the Force.

      I’ll take my free X-Wing, now.

    2. Except the type of force used to stop those who initiate force is retaliatory force.

  11. OT:

    When the New York Times runs an article like this, this is very bad news for the ACA:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02……html?_r=0

    1. Or when CNN runs a story like this:

      I have to pay back my ObamaCare subsidy

      “I was blindsided that the subsidy has to be paid back,” said Riddle, adding she didn’t even use the coverage …
      Early data is in from some tax preparers. Some 53% of Jackson Hewitt clients who received subsidies have to repay part or all of it, with the largest being $12,000

  12. Thing about so-called collectivists is that they really don’t support collective action. If they did then they’ll applaud the work done by churches, corporations, and other groups of people voluntarily acting in a collective manner. What they support is coercion. That’s why they form community action groups to lobby government.

    This is why collectivists and libertarians will never agree. They see coercion as the height of virtue. So they naturally despise liberty and libertarians.

    1. I think there is a lot of this, but also a lot of rubes who have been duped to believe that there exists only the individual and the government, with no intermediary social structures. People engage in VOLUNTARY collective action all the time and achieve great things, but progs can’t admit that clubs, charities, fraternal organizations, churches, families, etc. can achieve the same ends as government but without coercion and much more effectively. If they did they would have to admit that government isn’t always the answer. The true believers absolutely see coercion as virtue, their fellow travelers, I suspect, don’t know there is an alternative.

      1. Emergent order is counter intuitive. When we say we do not want something to be done by government, people who lack imagination demand to know how that something will be centrally planned and delivered. Then when libertarians try to explain markets, these people roll their eyes and stop listening.

      2. That’s why you never see leftists working in soup kitchens, food pantries, homeless shelters, free job training programs, public defenders offices, etc.

        Puhleeze.

        1. How many of those things you mention are funded by government coercion?

          1. I thought private charity could fund all those things?

            Well, other than public defenders, who get paid peanuts compared to what they could make as prosecutors or in private practice.

            1. My point was that I doubt collectivists would be so happy to volunteer if those things weren’t provided by coercion.

        2. //That’s why you never see leftists working in soup kitchens, food pantries, homeless shelters, free job training programs, public defenders offices, etc.

          uhhh… yeah, actually, you don’t.
          Think of the scene where Quagmire is describing how he hates Brian. Most leftists are full of shit and never actually help any one or any community, they just have gay little dinner parties where they drink wine and complain about everyone else.

        3. There can be charitable people with leftists beliefs. That doesn’t mean they understand the implications of the existence of the charities they volunteer at. But, most of the TRUE leftists I know, not moderates, are truly despicable people who are incredibly self-centered.

      3. That’s why the coercionists work to destroy such structures and the memory of such structures.

    2. Oh come on. A lot of the same people who vote for statism are working in and donating to soup kitchens and homeless shelters and other voluntary charitable organizations.

      Yes, they also want to use coercion for those ends, but painting sincere but misguided people as moral monsters is not helpful to the libertarian cause, however emotionally satisfying it may be.

      1. Oh, sure. Some of them step up. But the whole time they are advocating for government to do more and more and more, because voluntary collective action just isn’t enough. It must be coerced to be effective.

        Show me a collectivist in a soup kitchen, and I’ll show you someone who despises Walmart with a white-hot passion, despite (or because of) all the jobs and cheap goods that the company provides for society.

        1. They hate Walmart because the jobs it provides are shit (correct), they exploit third world workers (correct), they price-dump to kill off local businesses (correct), and they shake down state and local governments for tax breaks and subsidies and other corporate welfare (correct).

          You might argue that WM is a net positive, and that’s probably right, but it’s not obvious, and there are a lot of very visible negative effects.

          You need to understand the people you’re working on, not condemn them and write them off as hopeless.

          1. They hate Walmart because the jobs it provides are shit (correct)

            and better than no job, also correct. I’ve spoken with plenty of Walmart employees, and surprisingly enough they were happy to have a job.

            they exploit third world workers (correct)

            again, third world workers who are voluntarily working at that job because it is better than the alternative

            , they price-dump to kill off local businesses (correct)

            which benefits consumers in the end by giving them more money with which to buy other things

            , and they shake down state and local governments for tax breaks and subsidies and other corporate welfare (correct)

            which means they work within their environment. In Libertopia the government wouldn’t have so much power and there would be no need to shake it down.

            1. Excellent arguments, but not at all obvious.

              Do you see now that you shouldn’t condemn people who haven’t thought things through as thoroughly as you have?

              1. I will continue to condemn them as long as they feel that way. If they decide to think then I’ll welcome them with open arms.

                1. Okay. Pause.

                  Wal-Mart’s goods are cheap crap. I wouldn’t buy meat from them on a dare.

                  While I have no intention of performing statistically challengeable nationwide studies and taking my show on the road to convert the heathens, I suspect their price model is a false economy, and shop elsewhere.

                  If I’d known Sarcasmic’s affections were part of the model, I’d have factored that in. This changes everything. Still not buying meat from WalMart, but I’ll now confess to having a sad that you won’t be my friend.

          2. Calling all WalMart jobs shit jobs is pretty naive.

            Before you shut down a sweat shop, ask the workers if they are ok with you depriving them of what is likely their best economic opportunity.

            Corporate welfare is how you have to play the game now, so calling out WalMart for behavior that is in their best interest is hardly a discriminator of any sort. Just empty hyperbole. The incentives are the problem.

            1. Corporate welfare is how you have to play the game now, so calling out WalMart for behavior that is in their best interest

              Getting pork barrel spending for your district/state is how you have to play the game in Congress, as is working for the benefit of your campaign donors. Does that mean we should forgive the congresscreatures who do these heinous things?

              It’s not like Walmart is in a fierce competitive environment where they’d go under if they acted honorably, either.

              1. Merely stating fact. The incentives are what they are. Until they change, corporations would be foolish and out of business if they didn’t invest in the political side.

                Your last statement is pure conjecture…and self serving.

              2. How the fuck long would Wal-Mart last if nobody was willing to work for them?

                How the fuck long would Wal-Mart last if nobody was willing to shop there?

                Why the fuck do you (and other progs I happen to know personally) seem to think that places like Wal-Mart are required to do anything at all for anybody anywhere?

                It’s a fucking business. They’ll change their business model when the current one stops being profitable.

              3. It’s not like Walmart is in a fierce competitive environment where they’d go under if they acted honorably, either.

                so retail is now non-competitive? Okay then.

      2. You know, I remember seeing a chart once of the charitable donations of members of congress divided up by partisan lines.

        Care to guess which side had the biggest bar?

  13. This article is the problem? Libertarians are on philosophically solid ground but the tone is the problem.

    Most people find libertarians off-putting and either immature or arrogant, largely because they are.

    The message of liberty is a philosophically solid but politically immature.

    The “humility” of libertarianism, if it exists, is strictly academic. The reality is that the message is one of constant corrections of everyone else? why they’re wrong, why their foolish.

    Libertarianism needs to grow up and change its tone. Ultimately, the problem with libertarianism is libertarians.

    1. Any other political ideologies that might apply to?

    2. I’m interested in hearing more about this position of yours. What would constitute ‘libertarianism growing up and changing its tone’?

      Most people find libertarians off-putting and either immature or arrogant, largely because they are.

      Same characteristics are overwhelming common in statists, but they seem to get by fine. Why is it that libertarians’ immaturity and arrogance negates their popularity while it allows statism to thrive?

      1. Because smug statists are smug.

      2. The statist ideologues who come off as immature or arrogant don’t typically do well either (except when they’re in a job for life, e.g. Nancy Pelosi).

        The successful statists are the ones who appeal to platitudes and lie a lot, not the ones who discuss political philosophy and ideology in detail.

        1. And the appeal to platitudes and lying doesn’t also constitute immaturity and arrogance?

          1. I wouldn’t call it immaturity or arrogance, though obviously they are not good things to do. More to the point, platitudes and telling people what they want to hear play well with most people, regardless of the morality of doing so.

        2. The Devil Uno|2.15.15 @ 12:23PM|#
          “The statist ideologues who come off as immature or arrogant”…

          Hey, dipshit! Where’s the cite on Abigail Adams?

      3. Libertarianism is politically immature.

        The major parties are successful because they understand what people respond to: moral outrage and life-style partisanship.

        Libertarianism is academic? you start with a good point and five seconds later you’re arguing that people should be able to sell their kidneys. No. Bad libertarian!

        Should people be able to? Sure. Should that be the second thing on the list? No.

        Libertarianism is a political ideology but it’s a failure because it doesn’t compete.

        You don’t need to convince everyone to believe everything you believe. You need to convince them to vote for you, and that’s a very, very different behavior.

        Libertarians don’t know how to win? heck, they don’t even know how to play the game. That’s why so many take pride in not voting.

        You got to get your hands dirty.

    3. Libertarians are no more off-putting than statits.

      The “tone” of suggestiong that people who don’t agree with gun confiscation want children to die is somehow a reasonable tone?

      “Of you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide?” That’s reasonable tone?

      Neither Peter King nor Charles Schumer have a reasonable tone, but we’ve got a Beltway media that claims a priori that their tone is reasonable.

      1. The gun grabbers weren’t successful at all either. And very few of them who openly talked about confiscation were allowed to see the light of day.

        As someone who disagrees with him on almost everything, I have to admit Schumer has a very reasonable-sounding tone. He is everything that B.O. was supposed to be in the charisma and oratory arena, and then some. We are very lucky he is apparently content to have carved out a fiefdom for himself in the Senate.

        1. The gun grabbers weren’t successful at all either

          Is that so? I issue a challenge, then.

          Go buy a gun. Stop typing and go buy a gun from a store right now. Bring it home with you, today.

          What’s that? You can’t? What’s that? There’s a mountain of paperwork? What’s that? You have to register the gun with the proper authorities and they have to give you their mother fucking permission to own the gun?

          Huh.

          And here I thought you said the gun grabbers weren’t successful. Silly me.

          1. The states where your unfortunate situation prevails have been that way for many years. It’s not a recent victory by the gun grabbers.

            Where I live I could buy a gun at a dealer in 15 minutes if I wanted to (including the background check).

            1. It’s not a recent victory by the gun grabbers.

              maybe not, but it is a victory that emboldens the grabbers in other states and it totally shits on the second amendment. And the states where this situation exists are the states where your hero Chuckie exists.

          2. Easy for me to get almost any fire arm, including a Barrett 50 cal in about 15 minutes after I arrive at the gun store.

    4. To paraphrase Churchill, Libertarianism is the most immature and arrogant political philosophy, except for all of the other political philosophies.

      If you want politeness and decency it’s best to avoid politics as much as possible. That said, some people are better at avoiding politics than others. The people who are worst at it are not libertarians.

      1. You can say a lot about libertarians’ more assholish qualities, but in the end they’re not the ones writing out primers and pushing for their followers to defend Obamacare during Thanksgiving dinner.

        1. If Ron Paul were president, would libertarians be urging each other to voice support for ending the Fed when visiting for Thanksgiving? I sure hope so.

          1. You can construct all the fantasy scenarios you wish, but that doesn’t make them a substantial argument as to what’s going on in reality.

          2. Proselytizing at family gatherings is incredibly douche-y regardless of how right you are.

            1. Basically, it reflects your values and priorities. If you think that politics is more important than personal relationships than you will be the type of person nobody wants to be around except for those who hate people as much as you do.

            2. Have you ever tried it?

              I talked about the stupid law allowing trannies to piss and poop wherever they want last year at Thanksgiving, and it worked out fine. There was plenty of turnkey for me because nobody else seemed hungry.

              1. The Devil Uno|2.15.15 @ 1:41PM|#
                “Have you ever tried it?”

                Hey, dipshit! Ever tried to cite evidence for your clams?

              2. You’ve really convinced me that you’re not a douche.

              3. And thus you’ve solidified your position as a douche.

            3. You know what would go well with this turkey?

              Politics.

          3. Libertarians are innately terrible at sticking to a single script, as we don’t believe in social solidarity in the first place.

            1. Hey guys, what’s your opinions on mandatory vaccinations, abortion, body armour and deep dish pizza?

              *Incoherent white noise as a dozen people say a dozen different things*

              1. Body armor. I had actually managed to forget that thread.

                Thanks-a-fucking-lot for reminding me of that derptastic day.

          4. The Devil Uno|2.15.15 @ 1:07PM|#
            “If Ron Paul were president, would libertarians be urging each other to voice support for ending the Fed when visiting for Thanksgiving? I sure hope so.”

            Hey, dipshit! If Abigail Adams were beaten by her husband, would you ever be able to cite evidence for your claims?

            1. This strange obsession is not making you look good.

              1. Neither is your inability to understand even the simplest of rudimentary concepts.

                Your entire thread dump seems to consist of things I hashed out in my own head when I was sixteen. I have a hard time believing you’re not just trolling us, Devil.

              2. The Devil Uno|2.15.15 @ 2:03PM|#
                “This strange obsession is not making you look good.”

                That would be your obsession toward making stupid claims? And then failing to back them up?
                Pretty sure the term for someone like that is “fucking ignoramus”, am I correct?

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    5. It’s not arrogance your detecting. It’s anger.

      Libertarians are justifiably pissed off because they have been so right for so long and so ignored and derided and mocked by the left-liberal media.

      1. I mean, seriously, it only took, what, 30 years for the mainstream media to notice civil forfeiture abuse?

        We’ve only been bitching about that subject for DECADES. Thanks for finally noticing there was a problem!

        1. Lest anyone think Ms. Meade is exaggerating, here’s a 1993 FEE article:

          The Government’s War on Property
          http://fee.org/freeman/detail/…..n-property

          Not quite 30 years, but I am sure that there were articles written by libertarians before then.

      2. And you’ve made it easy.

        1. That’s no excuse.

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  15. Libertarians are expected to know it all. That’s why we get asked so many “what about ______?” questions.

    What would a truly free society look like?
    They expect a detailed answer, they don’t like “Nobody can know that.”

  16. Did MNG get his lifeboat out of dry dock?

    1. I’m leaning more toward Tulpa; stupid claims, but not enough sophistry for MNG.

  17. Two things which libertarians constantly fail to differentiate. First, there are are two kinds of liberty, positive and negative. Second, there are two types of morality, objective and subjective. As a political position libertarianism concerns itself with negative liberty and objective morality. Not making that clear is what causes so many of the misunderstandings.

  18. I’m leaning more toward Tulpa

    I think you’re probably right. I just saw the “Muh baybee needz YUR medicinez!” opening gambit, and immediately was reminded of MNG’s Greatest Hits.

    Or, it just could be some random asshole who stumbled through the portal. I didn’t read the whole thread. I’m not that stupid.

    1. Last night was amusing. The ignoramus was trying to equate western treatment of women with the treatment they get under Islam.

      1. well, of course. Coeds getting black out drunk or slightly less drunk and winding up in bed with Joe Frat at a university they were not only given entry to, but likely subsidized by the rest of us to attend, is just like clitorectomies, burqas, and the rest. No. Difference. At. All.

      2. Better an ignoramus than a misrepresenter, which is what you’re doing here.

        1. The Devil Uno|2.15.15 @ 3:02PM|#
          “Better an ignoramus than a misrepresenter, which is what you’re doing here.”

          Hmm, look here:
          Sevo|2.15.15 @ 12:35AM|#
          […]
          I cannot BELIEVE that asshole somehow presumes that the treatment of women by the west, even 2- or 300 years ago, approximates the treatment women get under Islam today!
          It takes an ignorance borne of willful stupidity to make such a claim. An ignorance approximating the stupidity of our newest troll.

          The Devil Uno|2.15.15 @ 12:53AM|#
          “You took an entire continent and centuries of history and came up with a couple of measly examples (most of whom are women who inherited a throne because there were no male heirs available).”

          Hmm, strange you did not object to that characterization when you were posting on the issue, isn’t it?
          So you a fucking ignoramus and an outright liar.
          Fuck off.

  19. I have no right to coerce someone else, because I cannot be sure that I am right and he is wrong.

    Strangely, this implies that if we could know right from wrong, we would be justified in interfering with people’s nonaggressive conduct.

    Nope, sorry, logic fail. A implies B does not imply that not A implies not B. Being a dog implies having four legs; not being a dog does not imply not having four legs. I had to stop reading at this point.

    1. But if you did know better than they did, you would be justified in interfering, because they’d thank you later. Or, if they sued you for the hell of it, their damages would be 0.

  20. Good article Sheldon. Is it past the jingo-banditos bedtime or something? Usually each Sheldon article has at least 100 posts along the lines of “Fck Sheldon; I luv AMURKA; derpderpderp”.

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  22. “What most people regard as modernity’s advances against prejudice, the brutalists regard as imposed exceptions from the long history of humanity’s tribalist and religiously based instincts.
    Of course the brutalist as I’ve described him is an ideal type, probably not fully personified in any particular thinker. But the brutalist impulse is everywhere in evidence, especially on social media. It is a tendency of thought with predictable positions and biases. It is a main source for racist, sexist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic strains within the libertarian world?at once denying that this sentence is true while asserting with equal passion the rights of individuals to hold and act on such views. After all, say the brutalists, what is human liberty without the right to behave in ways that put our most precious sensibilities, and even civilization itself, to the test?”

    Against Libertarian Brutalism
    by Jefferey A. Tucker

    Thanks for the article Sheldon, I was beginning to think I was uncharacteristically inept in recognizing a Libertarian. This particular group thinks we gave them a springboard to pervert an ideology so far removed from our principles.

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  25. It is important to distinguish between what makes an ideology humble and what makes a person who professes that ideology humble.

    No doubt, it is true that libertarianism takes a very humble model of human intelligence. But, that doesn’t mean that libertarians are humble. How humble an individual is is a product of how rigidly they adhere to the idea that their beliefs are superior to somebody else’s. One can arrogantly believe that humans are stupid just as easily as one can arrogantly believe that humans are smart. A person who expresses their view of the world who couches it as “this is my personal belief” is humble. A person who couches their personal view of the world as some kind of irrefutable fact is arrogant. Libertarians tend to fall in the latter camp in my experience (although obviously not all do).

    Libertarianism likes to present itself as being superior to all other ideologies because it is based on rationality. But, IMO, that is really just a thin veneer over a set of personal preferences. For example, libertarianism fundamentally starts with an assertion that A, B and C are “rights” and reasons that D, E and F are not rights because they clash with A, B or C. But, if you started instead with the assertion that D, E and F were “rights”, or with a different concept of what a “right” is, you would reach different conclusions. IMO, libertarians would do well to keep a bit of perspective in that regard.

    1. A: I have the right to do as I please on my property, within the NAP.
      B: I have the right to demand others do as I please on my property, including demand that they leave my property, again within the NAP.
      C: Others have the same rights as I do.

      Now, out of curiosity, what are your rights D, E, and F?

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