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Laugh at the Libertarian

There’s a reason I really despise Libertarianism…but still find them hilariously twisted. Here’s a case of a columnist defending the science of Rick Perry. You know that evolution stuff? It’s not that important. Creationism is a waste of time and it makes Perry look “unsophisticated”…but so what? There’s a real problem here, and it is all those liberals who’ve fallen for the junk science of “global warming”.

It is interesting watching the nation’s defenders of reason, empirical evidence, and science fail to display a hint of skepticism over the transparently political “science” of global warming. Rarely are scientists so certain in predicting the future. Yet this is a special case. It is also curious that these supposed champions of Darwin don’t believe that human beings—or nature—have the ability to adapt to changing climate.

Like 99 percent of pundits and politicians, though, I have no business chiming in on the science of climate change—though my kids’ teachers sure are experts. Needless to say, there is a spectacular array of viewpoints on this issue. The answers are far from settled. There are debates over how much humans contribute. There are debates over how much warming we’re seeing. There are debates over many things.

But even if one believed the most terrifying projections of global warming alarmist “science,” it certainly doesn’t mean one has to support the anti-capitalist technocracy to fix it. And try as some may to conflate the two, global warming policy is not “science.” The left sees civilization’s salvation in a massive Luddite undertaking that inhibits technological growth by turning back the clock, undoing footprints, forcing technology that doesn’t exist, banning products that do, and badgering consumers who have not adhered to the plan through all kinds of punishment. Yet there is no real science that has shown that any of it makes a whit of difference.

It’s perfect: the author is trying to set himself up as a defender of good science, but he does it by 1) trivializing the importance of the most fundamental concept in biology, and 2) being a denialist about climate change. Scientists are certain (to a reasonable degree) about predicting the future in this case because all the data points in this direction — you have to willfully reject the evidence in order to disagree. Maybe if he were a little less blasé about evolution he’d also realize that this isn’t an issue of capacity to adapt — trust me, you don’t want to live under an intense selection regime that changes the population’s mean physiology in a few generations — but of a common sense recognition that rapid climate change will be disruptive and have a severe economic cost.

And the answers are settled. Ongoing climate change is a fact. Pretending there is a serious debate about it is what the creationists do.

I suppose one solution would be to blow up all the factories and return to a 15th century lifestyle…if we didn’t mind killing a few billion people in the process, and wanted to live lives of hard labor in squalor. I don’t see anyone on the left advocating that, though. Instead, I see advocacy for sustainable energy policies and a demand that industry factor in all of the invisible, long-term costs that they’ve been hiding — which is, of course, anathema to Libertarians who believe in giving corporations a free ride at the expense of human beings.

(Also on Sb)

Comments

  1. Somite says

    Unless ia solution doesn’t involve plunder libertarians are not interested. Plundertarian has a nice ring to it.

  2. Bernard Bumner says

    Well, the Libertarians will all be dead and buried before they need to worry about lazy poor people dying for want of boat-building skills…

  3. Svetogorsk says

    And the answers are settled. Ongoing climate change is a fact.

    This is the crucial point that denialists are constantly trying to blur. Whereas there is still considerable debate about whether climate change is truly man-made, there is overwhelming evidence to suggest that climate change itself is occurring, in some cases at terrifying speed.

    The denialist position seems to be “well, if you can’t prove that man was responsible, then why the hell should we do anything about it?”, which is missing the point entirely. It’s perfectly possible to make a sane, rational and compelling case for sustainable energy policies without tackling the issue of AGW at all, since it’s an undoubted fact that the oil will run out at some point, as will other finite natural resources.

    All this should be stating the obvious. That it isn’t is somewhat worrying.

  4. Niblick says

    Some libertarians are as contemptuous of this claptrap as you are.

    I can’t guess what drives it, since I haven’t done (or read) any empirical studies, but some of it seems to be driven by wishful thinking: libertarians don’t approve of authoritarian solutions to problems generally, but the argument is greatly simplified if you can just dismiss the problem out of hand. Libertarianism also seems to entail a cynical streak: authoritarians constantly promise imaginary benefits and gin up imaginary threats, and a prerequisite to libertarianism is a high resistance to false hopes and false fears. But often it seems to come with a general tendency to disbelieve others’ claims.

    Their inclination to blind disbelief is contemptible, but no less or more so than neocons’ blind belief that turrists and crypto-marxists are going to get ‘em, or liberals’ blind belief that the solution to life’s problems is to trust Big Brother to end them by decrees enforced with guns.

  5. Gus Snarp says

    There’s another reason scientists are willing to be confident of global warming predictions: because they needn’t be precise. I doubt anyone is particularly confident about the specific numbers of any one model, that’s why there are many models out there, and they all have somewhat different results. There’s a range of possible futures – and they’re all bad. We can confidently predict that the Earth will continue to warm, that sea levels will rise, that weather will become more extreme, that the majority of the Earth’s population that lives in coastal areas will have to move, resulting in economic upheaval, and that there will be significant changes required in how we feed ourselves. It doesn’t matter exactly how many centimeters the seas rise, or how many degrees temperatures go up – it will be enough to impact directly on our lives and our economy.

  6. says

    liberals’ blind belief that the solution to life’s problems is to trust Big Brother to end them by decrees enforced with guns.

    how contemptible and vile. I’m a liberal, and I can tell you that liberals believe no such thing. Utterly asinine statement, unworthy of rebuttal.

  7. says

    It’s typical denialism, the demand for absolute certainty.

    Of course there are uncertainties about global warming, but we don’t even have to “prove” it beyond a reasonable doubt.

    We have only to be certain that maintaining our CO2 output, let alone increasing it, puts us at unacceptable risk.

    We’ve passed that threshold long ago.

    Glen Davidson

  8. says

    Yes, liberals are all Luddites. Because we all know solar power, geothermal, tidal, and wind energy, electric cars, high-capacity battery technology, smart grids, fluorescent and LED lighting are all just so low-tech.

  9. Gord O'Mitey says

    …a massive Luddite undertaking that inhibits technological growth by turning back the clock, undoing footprints, forcing technology that doesn’t exist…

    That’s a non-sequitur; the Luddites opposed new technology, & didn’t try to invent it & force its adoption.

  10. says

    From the linked column:

    “Now, I have no interest in watching my kids waste their time with creationism, but unlike progressives, I have no interest in dictating what other kids should learn. Remember that these folks, bothered by the very thought of their offspring’s hearing a God-infused concept in school, have no problem forcing millions of parents to accept bureaucrat-written curricula at government-run school monopolies.”

    I don’t think these libertarians realize how condescending they can be. It does not bother this guy when children in their community are learning things as fact that he would never teach his own children? Like so much libertarian ideology, this view amounts to selfish relativism.

  11. foodmetaphors says

    If scarequoteglobal warming/scarequote is happening, why are there still monkeys? Explain that, Professor, with all your scarequotescience/scarequote.

  12. says

    I also note that the guy doesn’t even try to make an argument about how he thinks the “invisible hand” of the free market is going to solve this problem.

  13. AlexD says

    To be fair, there is nothing really in the libertarian philosophy that requires one to also be a climate skeptic. In fact, the author’s professed commitment to “reason” should lead him to the opposite conclusion, as was suggested. But, the question of public policy is still certainly up for debate. What is the proper role of government? The evidence is still out on what sort of policies are effective. Maybe some libertarians would say “do nothing,” but I think that may be a bit of a strawman. Many libertarian intellectuals would prefer what FA Hayek calls “bottom up” planning, rather than “top down” government planning. I don’t know the answer, but I think libertarian (intellectuals at least) should have a role in the discussion. (Assuming that most can accept the science)

  14. Ramsey Lawrence says

    Hello professor Myers. I have a couple of questions. Though global warming and climate change are backed up by hard data, has the score been settled on whether these are anthropogenic? Can it be stated, beyond any reasonable doubt, that global warming and climate change have accelerated due to human activities? If this is the case, can you point out to any publications on the matter? Thanks!

    Regards,
    Ramsey Lawrence
    Santiago de Chile

  15. harold says

    “There’s a reason I really despise Libertarianism…but still find them hilariously twisted.”

    I feel the same way, except for the ‘hilariously’ part.

    Not only is the column absurd on its own – reality denying on a number of levels – but it apparently signals the beginning of ‘libertarians’ making excuses to support Rick Perry.

  16. Rey Fox says

    There are debates over how much humans contribute. There are debates over how much warming we’re seeing. There are debates over many things.

    It’s too hard, so I can’t be bothered to learn anything about it or change anything I do or think.

    Prediction: Those debates won’t be considered settled until Miami is underwater. Then the libertarians will blame everyone else for it.

    But even if one believed the most terrifying projections of global warming alarmist “science,” it certainly doesn’t mean one has to support the anti-capitalist technocracy to fix it.

    Translation: If I don’t think that there’s money to be made in it, then it shouldn’t even be considered. The Economy is the bedrock on which everything is built. In the beginning, God said “Let there be free* market”, and it was good.

    * Not really

    forcing technology that doesn’t exist

    And here I thought that the salvation of the world was in our brilliant entrepreneurs.

    banning products that do, and badgering consumers who have not adhered to the plan through all kinds of punishment.

    WON’T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE CONSUMERS?! AND THE PRODUCTS, THE POOR PRODUCTS!

    And remember that every advancement that the human race has ever made has only been made when we’ve gotten everyone to agree on it first.

    I suppose one solution would be to blow up all the factories and return to a 15th century lifestyle

    That seems like it would release an awful lot of carbon.

  17. keepscienceintexas says

    Of coarse he doesn’t address the overwhelming concensus amoung scientist about man made global warming, because if he did then he would have to explain the conspiracy theory. The science of global warming has been around long before politicians got involved and made it a dabate between republican and democrat, though these ass clowns never bring up the fact that it was republicans that began the push for climate regulations such as cap and trade.

  18. says

    I meet reasonable-seeming libertarians at about a rate of one every few years, though it’s possible I just didn’t bump into a topic that invoked their crazy talk. Blatantly unreasonable ones make much more noise, and much more often.

    Funny thing: I’ve run into a LOT of alties who make libertarian-sounding talking points, for example, trusting in the invisible hand of the market to sort out which medical treatments work and which ones don’t. Of course, anyone who pays attention to human nature knows that scams can be very successful in the marketplace, even without a useful product.

  19. says

    Are these the same people behind Reason TV and that wonderful Matt Damon interview? After doing a search on that site I am fairly certain it is. Somehow, after seeing the stupidity contained in that, the moronic “reasoning” and inability to have contrary information sink in, I am not surprised they would publish something so stupid.

  20. Niblick says

    how contemptible and vile. I’m a liberal, and I can tell you that liberals believe no such thing. Utterly asinine statement, unworthy of rebuttal.

    A “social program” is by definition a decree, “You shall do X,” along with penalties for failure to do X, enforced by police with guns. Funding for X is obtained by decreeing, “You shall pay Y,” with penalties for failure to pay Y, enforced by police, with guns. If you believe in social programs, then you believe in a decree, enforced by men with guns. QED.

    I was not setting up the straw man that you believe “social programs” are a complete or perfect solution. Merely that you reach for solutions that take the form of a decree, enforced by men with guns.

    Libertarians object to this on moral and utilitarian grounds. And yes, I realize that you would argue that refusal to do X or pay Y is itself immoral, and hence the libertarian’s moral objection is in some way hypocritical or defective. I point out that it’s the liberal, not the libertarian, who supports the enforcement of X and collection of Y upon pain of enforcement by armed police. It’s somewhat comical for the one with the gun to be claiming the moral high ground.

  21. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Can it be stated, beyond any reasonable doubt, that global warming and climate change have accelerated due to human activities? If this is the case, can you point out to any publications on the matter?

    A very authorative paper:

    http://www.ipcc.ch/

    Yes, the data is there. Only the blind can’t see.

  22. harold says

    Ramsey Lawrence –

    Though global warming and climate change are backed up by hard data, has the score been settled on whether these are anthropogenic? Can it be stated, beyond any reasonable doubt, that global warming and climate change have accelerated due to human activities?

    I would personally say “yes”, but that depends on one’s view of what is “reasonable”.

    But why is this relevant?

    If you decide to smoke three packs of cigarettes every day, can it be stated beyond reasonable doubt that you will get a smoking-related disease?

    If you decide to get drunk and drive 100 miles per hour on a dangerous road, can it be stated beyond reasonable doubt that you will be killed or injured?

    Why do you adopt the standard that a risk factor cannot be recognized except if it is “beyond reasonable doubt”?

    (Prediction – this person’s next output will be a false dichotomy, exactly analogous to the one that PZ Myers already discredited, essentially claiming that either current energy policy or economic devastation are the only two choices.)

  23. stevarious says

    “Now, I have no interest in watching my kids waste their time with creationism, but unlike progressives, I have no interest in dictating what other kids should learn. Remember that these folks, bothered by the very thought of their offspring’s hearing a God-infused concept in school, have no problem forcing millions of parents to accept bureaucrat-written curricula at government-run school monopolies.”

    In short – “No way are my children going to be taught mythology as fact in school… But how dare anyone decree that no one should be taught mythology as fact in school!”

    How far a leap is it to think that he might actually support the crippling of other children’s education so that his own have an advantage later in life? Because that would be the outcome of his stance.

  24. Rey Fox says

    Now, I have no interest in watching my kids waste their time with creationism, but unlike progressives, I have no interest in dictating what other kids should learn.

    Right. There’s absolutely no larger societal interest that everybody in a cohort gets a fairly consistent education of expert-consensus-driven education.

    The more they open their mouths, the more I’m convinced that libertarians care for nothing beyond the walls of their comfortable white middle-class houses. They have plenty of company in that regard, so I wish they would do what the rest of them do and just not engage with politics at all.

    To be fair, there is nothing really in the libertarian philosophy that requires one to also be a climate skeptic.

    Selfishness, laziness, and pointless contrarianism? Maybe they’re not required, but they sure do help.

  25. says

    Niblick:

    I point out that it’s the liberal, not the libertarian, who supports the enforcement of X and collection of Y upon pain of enforcement by armed police. It’s somewhat comical for the one with the gun to be claiming the moral high ground.

    It’s even more comical that the one who wishes to benefit from society, but not contribute to the maintenance of society, claiming the moral high ground.

  26. thelastholdout says

    The problem I find with you declaring your hatred for libertarians, OZ, is that “libertarian” in today’s society covers such a wide variety of people with very diverse beliefs. For instance, there are many libertarians who would agree that global warming is happening and that human practices are probably a contributing factor, BUT do NOT think that government laws will solve the problem. Many “libertarians” who are in fact anarchists or minarchists simply define their system of beliefs as one in which they try to find solutions using voluntarism as their guiding principle; after all, I think most people can agree that it’s preferable to gain voluntary cooperation than to gain the same or less cooperation by force. And make no mistake, the government IS an agency guided and dominated by the principle of initiation of force.

    Yes, there are too many crazies who self identify or are identified by others as libertarians, and the jerk you discuss here is one of them. But please, please don’t use examples like him to summarily mock and dismiss libertarians as a whole. Could I get your voluntary agreement on this point? :)

  27. Bernard Bumner says

    There seems to be an assumption underlying the technology-related arguments of the denialists that all green industrial technology is simply being developed in order to reduce/prevent global warming.

    The denialists completely neglect the other driving forces for change which just happen to coincide with climate change, for example: resource depletion, pollution reduction, waste minimisation, process re-engineering, the biotechnology boom, microtechnology, nanotechnology, materials technology, automation, computerisation, the population explosion.

    Climate change makes a good headline, but it is far from being the only environmental factor which is changing industry and technology.

    There is a real risk that the old economies using dirty technologies will miss out on the various benefits of new technologies (economic, social, and environmental) by resisting change on the basis of global warming denial. We know that climate change denial is a political movement, and in no small part is organised and funded by the beneficiaries of dirty industry. It is those invested in the old ways who are the real Luddites.

    Climate change denial is merely a direct manifestation of the politics of greed and selfishness.

  28. harold says

    Niblick –

    A “social program” is by definition a decree, “You shall do X,” along with penalties for failure to do X, enforced by police with guns. Funding for X is obtained by decreeing, “You shall pay Y,” with penalties for failure to pay Y, enforced by police, with guns. If you believe in social programs, then you believe in a decree, enforced by men with guns. QED.

    That’s a description of a “law”.

    I was not setting up the straw man that you believe “social programs” are a complete or perfect solution. Merely that you reach for solutions that take the form of a decree, enforced by men with guns. Libertarians object to this on moral and utilitarian grounds.

    You’re very confused. You are not even making libertarian arguments, much as I would disagree with them if you did. You’re making some kind of hyper-anarchist argument against all laws. (Of course, I realize that you’ll just start playing “No True Scotsman” games about the definition of libertarianism now. Nevertheless, your argument condemns all law, not merely “social programs”.)

    One odd thing I notice about libertarians is that they all seem to consider themselves very clever, and some have compartmentalized high academic ability in narrow areas (and others don’t even have that).

    Yet they all make lame, over-simplified arguments like this. Maybe not always as bad as this, of course, but close.

  29. Scott says

    It is also curious that these supposed champions of Darwin don’t believe that human beings—or nature—have the ability to adapt to changing climate.

    Well, we’re trying to adapt, but someone keeps saying that to do so would go against their oh-so-precious free market mythology.

    Nature will be fine. Homo sapiens will probably be fine. Western industrialized society… probably not so fine. Remember also, when a species adapts, a whole hell of a lot of individuals die.

  30. theophontes says

    There seems to be some conflation on this thread between what is understood by liberalism and libertarianism. (And also between a European vs American context of the terms.)

  31. Kieran says

    There are contrarian hypothesis to antropogenic sources. Lindzen and Svensmark are two examples, there will be a paper published tomorrow which is being hailed as proof that it is not manmade but cosmic rays. This isn’t the focus of the paper and this has already been discussed in 2006 on this blog http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/10/taking-cosmic-rays-for-a-spin/
    For information on climate change without going to the literature I’d go here http://www.skepticalscience.com/

    There is this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zORv8wwiadQ
    Outlining worst and best case scenario.

    I research carbon loss from different land uses and land use change.

    My argument is as follows
    We are running out of Oil at present we are extracting oil at a genral cost of 5 barrels for ever 1 barrel used in the extraction.
    We use Oil for food production, producing fertilizers, pesticides,fungicides and of course in just normal farm activity. The green revolution would have been impossible without this oil based industry. Yes organic farming doesn’t use these artifical chemicals but you still use oil for production unless you want to go back to the mule.
    We use oil for the porduciton of medicine and pretty much every aspect of modern life.
    It’s running out, we have to change our consumption patterns to make sure we still have oil for really important chemistry(medicine,food produciton) instead of the wasteful burn(transport) and get some water + carbon dioxide.
    Without climate change at all we are facing a huge problem, but some of the same solutions that work for climate change also work for running out of Oil. Research into alternative engery source, energy security and food security. Why this is ignored in the debate I don’t know?

  32. Niblick says

    I didn’t realize Libertarians were for gun control.

    They’re for non-initiation of aggression. It might have been clearer if I’d said, “…when the man threatening others with a gun claims the moral high ground.”

    The liberal, in advocating that the government should issue a decree, avoids thinking about what happens if anyone chooses–for whatever reason–not to obey the decree. He must avoid thinking about it, because he would never personally point a gun at someone and say, “Do X or I shoot.” The fact is that refusal to obey X decree results in a citation, which if ignored results in a bench warrant, which if ignored results in a visit by armed men, which if ignored will use force, and if resisted will use deadly force.

    One leaves that out of his calculations by assuming that most everyone will obey, and violators will almost always answer the citation, and anyone who ignores the citation and then resists the cops, deserved to be TASERed or peppered or shot. The more so because X is good and beneficent, so anyone declining to do X is evil anyway. All this elaborate rationalizing to avoid admitting frankly to oneself, “I think we should force everyone to do X, and if anyone refuses, I think all necessary force should be deployed to make him comply.”

  33. says

    thelastholdout:

    …I think most people can agree that it’s preferable to gain voluntary cooperation than to gain the same or less cooperation by force.

    That’d be just peachy-keen if it actually worked that way.

    Society takes a certain amount of effort to hold together. It requires everyone to contribute to keep it fair. Libertarianism would allow people to benefit from society, but not contribute back. That’s the problem.

    Here’s an experiment you can do that demonstrates why Libertarianism simply doesn’t work, and why government, including enforced regulations, are required. Ready?

    Go downtown to any city in the United States. Remove all the traffic signs and signals during rush hour.

    That’s Libertarianism.

  34. harold says

    thelastholdout said –

    Yes, there are too many crazies who self identify or are identified by others as libertarians, and the jerk you discuss here is one of them.

    That’s another thing I notice about libertarians – it’s fairly common for self-identified libertarians to remark that many or most other libertarians are crazy or nasty, but that they’re one of the “good ones”.

    My experience is that the article quoted here is highly characteristic. They claim a philosophy that combines callousness and selfishness with a pristine regard for basic human rights and sovereign nations. But then Rick Perry comes along and the pristine regard for human rights and sovereign nations suddenly doesn’t seem to matter.

    If that doesn’t describe you, maybe you should unsubscribe from an ideology that leads so many other people in that direction.

  35. Niblick says

    A “social program” is by definition a decree, “You shall do X,” along with penalties for failure to do X, enforced by police with guns. Funding for X is obtained by decreeing, “You shall pay Y,” with penalties for failure to pay Y, enforced by police, with guns. If you believe in social programs, then you believe in a decree, enforced by men with guns. QED.

    That’s a description of a “law”.

    Yes, yes it is. That’s precisely why George Washington said, “Government is not reason. It is not eloquence. Government is force; like fire it is a dangerous servant — and a fearful master.” When you advocate “law,” you’re advocating “force,” as now you apparently admit.

    Now everyone, libertarian and otherwise, advocates “force” against rapists, murderers, assaulters, armed robbers, and other such miscreants. So everyone advocates “law” or “government” to be enacted against murder, rape, etc. What sets you liberals apart, precisely as I said, is that you advocate “law,” meaning “force,” to solve other of life’s problems such as allocating scarce resources. Right-wing Christians, on the other hand, advocate “law,” meaning “force,” to halt social behavior they disapprove of like boys kissing boys.

    Libertarians oppose “force,” call it “law” if you will, for any use except to respond to force initiated by another. They consider other uses of force to be immoral. They generally also argue that other uses of force will either fail in their stated intent, or else achieve their aims less efficiently and well than other, non-forcible solutions.

  36. pinkboi says

    There’s a lot of stupidity at reason.tv. When I first read this article, well, I couldn’t finish it. I felt like they were about to make a good point but instead it degraded to AGW-denial. I do like Jesse Walker, but there’s a lot of doublethink going on among most of the rest of the writers.

    Libertarians who believe in giving corporations a free ride at the expense of human beings.

    No, libertarians are among the few groups who don’t believe in giving corporations a free ride. You might dislike libertarians’ solutions to the problem of rent-seeking, but it’s hard to say with a straight face that they don’t see it as an issue or the issue if you’ve actually read what they have to say. Maybe liberals don’t realize that many (probably most) libertarians oppose corporate personhood? (This goes doubly-so for left-libertarians – see Kevin Carson’s Corporations are People? So Was Hitler)

  37. jack lecou says

    …or liberals’ [well-deliberated conclusion] that [a usually partial or imperfect but better-than-nothing] solution to [some of society's] problems [will involve constant and vigilant participation in democracy in order to craft regulations and policy approaches which can most efficiently be implemented through collective action organized by] ["]Big Brother["] [and] enforced [by men and women with typewriters].

    There. Fixed your ridiculous strawman for you.

  38. says

    Niblick:

    They generally also argue that other uses of force will either fail in their stated intent, or else achieve their aims less efficiently and well than other, non-forcible solutions.

    Here’s the rub: Libertarians don’t offer other viable solutions that aren’t biased towards those with wealth (meaning, power).

    Coercion happens, whether with guns, or through control of resources. What Libertarians suggest is to put the control of the resources into the hands of individuals, giving those individuals coercive power over those without resources.

    In the end, the use of selfish coercion (with or without guns) is far less moral that coercion through consensus.

  39. Lynxreign says

    I suppose one solution would be to blow up all the factories and return to a 15th century lifestyle…if we didn’t mind killing a few billion people in the process, and wanted to live lives of hard labor in squalor. I don’t see anyone on the left advocating that, though.

    Unfortunately, Sharon Astyk who writes “Casaubon’s Book” over at Science Blogs has advocated exactly that. One of her early posts suggested the solution was “deindustrialization”. That’s why I stopped reading her.

  40. Brain Hertz says

    It is also curious that these supposed champions of Darwin don’t believe that human beings—or nature—have the ability to adapt to changing climate.

    Not that I want to speak for all of the “champions of Darwin” whatever that means, but I’m actually fairly confident in the “ability” of “human beings” or “nature” to adapt to a major change in the environment.

    Unfortunately, the mechanism for this adaptation would typically be that the humans all die and are replaced by a more suitable species. I think that’s the part I’m having a bit of a fucking problem with.

  41. Reginald Selkirk says

    It is also curious that these supposed champions of Darwin don’t believe that human beings—or nature—have the ability to adapt to changing climate.

    Evolution via natural selection – aka Darwinism – requires multiple generations. And it involves a lot of death for those who get selected out. Humans do have a sizable amount of plasticity to adapt with their lifetimes, but this is a different concept than evolutionary adaptation.

  42. says

    Niblick, I suppose you aren’t doing too badly for an obsolete golf club with a head made of cheap ferrous material, but

    A “social program” is by definition a decree

    is nonsense. Social programs cover a considerable range of welfare activities, many of which are not run by a state and are not obligatory.
    Please go and do some research and don’t let your stupid selfish views get you rusty on facts.

  43. Rey Fox says

    You’re making some kind of hyper-anarchist argument against all laws.

    It may seem that way, but scratch a little more and I’m sure you’ll find that he’s merely against using force to enforce laws that he doesn’t like.

  44. required says

    Big business wants to halt technology, not environmentalists. New technologies is what will reduce our impact; old, antiquated technologies are what’s causing the problem.

  45. pinkboi says

    I don’t think pure anarchism would work either, but here’s a bad argument for this position:

    Go downtown to any city in the United States. Remove all the traffic signs and signals during rush hour.

    That’s Libertarianism.

    If the government wasn’t in the transportation business, all roads would be private and the owner would therefore be liable for accidents that happen on his or her property. There would also be competition between private roads and people would of course choose those that are safer. This would also benefit the environment since it would always cost that much more money to drive, giving people more of an incentive to ride the bus. I don’t necessarily think the government shouldn’t make roads but the argument that we need stop signs is a bad argument against libertarianism.

  46. Brother Ogvorbis, Fully Defenestrated Emperor of Steam, Fire and Absurdity says

    Libertarians oppose “force,” call it “law” if you will, for any use except to respond to force initiated by another.

    Does the use of fossil fuels, and the dumping of billions of tonnes of carbon (and other greenhouse gasses) into the atmosphere, which is causing global climate change, count as ‘force initiated by another’? Unchecked Anthropogenic Global Warming, or even partially checked AGW, will kill millions, or hundreds of millions through starvation and wars started to either protect the high ground or get the high ground. This is force, violent force, initiated by a group of individuals and companies against every human on earth.

    So why is it okay to for the state to use force against a murderer who kills one person, but not against a group of companies and individuals who will, if their actions remain unchecked, kill millions?

  47. Alverant says

    AlexD #13
    I disagree. Part of libertarian philosophy is the free market, a market that is free of government regulation. Human caused climate change is due to what humans want. There are people who want gas guzzling cars and products that produce a lot of pollution and the free market provides it. To combat climate change these products would have to be restricted thus the market is regulated.

    Another part of that philosophy is letting businesses do what they want to make profit. Since cleaning up your own mess (ie controlling the pollution output of your factories) will cut into the profit, then demands that you do so is “oppression” of free enterprise. Worse, it limits new markets like flavored pure air and gas masks and air filters and other things people will need to continue to breathe in the future.

  48. Niblick says

    Society takes a certain amount of effort to hold together.

    Absolutely! For example, it requires forcibly restraining those who would murder, rob, rape, assault, or otherwise prey on their fellows.

    It requires everyone to contribute to keep it fair.

    “Fair” is a subjective notion; I’ve never met anyone whose definition of “fairness” wasn’t biased to be self-serving. For example, I’ve known lots and lots of liberals to advocate expropriating the “haves” to benefit the “have nots.” But I notice that the definition of “haves” is always, in effect, “people with more money than me.” I’ve worked with single mothers on welfare in Massachusetts, who considered folks making over $30K to be “haves.” I’ve studied with students at Brown University, who considered folks making over $200K to be “haves.” (I was there on a full scholarship, by the way, and my parents made less than $30K.) I’ve known liberal doctors who don’t consider themselves to be “haves,” but rather point the finger at folks making more than $500K, or more than $1,000,000, as the ones to go after.

    I’ve even heard Warren Buffett, long the second-richest private individual in the Universe, advocate expropriating the “haves.” He did include himself, miraculously, but fascinatingly he did not open his checkbook and expropriate himself. Rather, he begged the government to come and take his money, as if he’s powerless to give except under duress. I see that as the usual self-serving stuff: “I’ll gladly give millions, or billions, for the good of my fellows–but only later when X is true, not now.

    With that for context, observe that you’re advocating for an agent of force to issue a “fairness decree,” to be enforced by men with guns. Forgive me if I’m dubious of this agent’s ability to come up with a proper definition of “fair,” and reluctant to trust this agent to impose that definition at gunpoint. Please also forgive me if I doubt that this will tend to “hold society together,” when the public square is devoted to debating who gets to take from who at gunpoint in the name of “fairness.”

    Among other things, you’ll be unsurprised if I mention that the “haves” will certainly buy off the arbiter, as well as using their considerable resources to evade such redistribution as gets enacted. Humorously, the very richest will be praised by liberals for evading redistribution, by creating “charitable foundations” to which their descendants will coincidentally be named trustees in perpetuity (*cough* Rockefeller *cough*).

  49. Brother Ogvorbis, Fully Defenestrated Emperor of Steam, Fire and Absurdity says

    There would also be competition between private roads and people would of course choose those that are safer.

    Bullshit. People would choose whatever was cheapest. Which is why product safety laws are a really good idea.

  50. says

    pinkboi:

    If the government wasn’t in the transportation business, all roads would be private and the owner would therefore be liable for accidents that happen on his or her property. There would also be competition between private roads and people would of course choose those that are safer. This would also benefit the environment since it would always cost that much more money to drive, giving people more of an incentive to ride the bus. I don’t necessarily think the government shouldn’t make roads but the argument that we need stop signs is a bad argument against libertarianism.

    You miss the point of the analogy. It’s not about accidents and safety. It’s about gridlock. It’s about movement. It’s about the demonstrable selfishness of people affecting not just themselves, but those around them.

    Even with traffic signals, gridlock happens. Selfish people block intersections all the time, worsening the condition.

    That’s what Libertarianism would be like. Not just for roads, but for all of society. Libertarianism suffers from the exact same thing that plagues all ideological political positions: it fails to account for human selfishness, and the willingness of some to fuck over other people for their own gain.

    Communism would be perfect, if only we weren’t people.

    Same is true of Libertarianism.

  51. stevarious says

    Libertarians oppose “force,” call it “law” if you will, for any use except to respond to force initiated by another. They consider other uses of force to be immoral. They generally also argue that other uses of force will either fail in their stated intent, or else achieve their aims less efficiently and well than other, non-forcible solutions.

    This highlights the absurdity of the libertarian position. You have apparently stated that the only crime that you believe should be prevented or punished are violent crime. Let me ask you – If I dump arsenic into a water supply, have I ‘used force’ to murder the hundreds of people this will kill? What if I dump something less dangerous, but still harmful. Have I ‘used force’ to cause all those birth defects and cancers? What if the only thing that’s harmed is all the trees in the local park? No people are directly harmed, but the harm to the environment and public lands are obvious. If I dump some poison that kills one millionth of the trees in the world, have I committed a crime? What if a million people do this thing, and all the trees are dead? According to you, no crime has been committed – but as almost all human life dies out from lack of oxygen, that will not be much consolation. At what point does it start being a crime to harm other people indirectly?

    I would argue that no one can say that I am ‘using force’ to cause thousands of birth defects and wipe out acres of forest, but ‘force’ should most certainly be used to stop me. Do you disagree?

  52. Zenferno says

    I was always under the impression that libertarianism came with a strong belief in the separation of church and state. How than is Rick Perry a libertarian? I think the Tea Party has thoroughly wrecked libertarianism.

  53. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    If the government wasn’t in the transportation business, all roads would be private and the owner would therefore be liable for accidents that happen on his or her property.

    And you thought the currently level of bureaucratic and legal institutions were slow to get shit done now…

  54. harold says

    Niblick –

    Now everyone, libertarian and otherwise, advocates “force” against rapists, murderers, assaulters, armed robbers, and other such miscreants. So everyone advocates “law” or “government” to be enacted against murder, rape, etc.

    So you concede my earlier point and correct your error.

    What sets you liberals apart, precisely as I said, is that you advocate “law,” meaning “force,” to solve other of life’s problems such as allocating scarce resources.

    When straw man arguments are so tempting, consider the possibility that your position may be indefensible by means of accurate arguments.

    “Law” does not mean “force”. Law enforcement requires at least access to force, yes. Nevertheless, it is very, very silly to pretend that they mean exactly the same thing.

    I do indeed advocate “law” to “solve other of life’s problems, such as allocating scarce resources”. Specifically, I advocate laws that are passed through the democratic mechanism of representative government, which do not violate the set of rights that I consider to be inalienable human rights, and which are enforced by trained professionals acting in a manner that respects law and human rights (by no means do I claim that US laws and law enforcement always meet these standards).

    I do not, of course, advocate “force”, undefined. Your implication that I do is yet another dishonest straw man misrepresentation of the “liberal” perspective. Piling up, aren’t they?

    Why do you think it is that I can accurately state your position and argue against it, yet that whenever you try to argue against my position, you feel compelled to argue against a straw man instead?

    Right-wing Christians, on the other hand, advocate “law,” meaning “force,” to halt social behavior they disapprove of like boys kissing boys.

    So how do you feel about the article PZ Myers has provided, in which a self-described libertarian, in addition to making errors about science, seems to arguing for support of Rick Perry, a right wing Christian?

    Libertarians oppose “force,” call it “law” if you will, for any use except to respond to force initiated by another.

    We both agree that libertarians support only these kinds of laws, yes.

    They consider other uses of force to be immoral.

    There you go again, falsely equating enforcement of laws passed by a representative government, with all other types of “force”.

    They generally also argue that other uses of force will either fail in their stated intent, or else achieve their aims less efficiently and well than other, non-forcible solutions.

    Then they would certainly seem to argue against empirical reality, wouldn’t they? After all, laws to alleviate malnutrition, provide universal basic education, maintain public health, provide telephone and electricity services to all areas, provide incomes to vulnerable, destitute elderly people, reduce environmental pollution, etc, etc, etc, have been very successful, and no approach except such laws has ever achieved such results.

    (Are you sure you argue that you really oppose such laws on the grounds that you give above? Or could it really be the success of the laws that you oppose? Isn’t it really that you’d rather see impoverished elderly people starve to death and children born to poor parents suffer malnutrition and grow up illiterate, because you think that this might be to your advantage? Note – I’m just asking.)

  55. says

    Niblick:

    “Fair” is a subjective notion; I’ve never met anyone whose definition of “fairness” wasn’t biased to be self-serving.

    Right. So fuck fairness. There’s no point in having it at all, if it can’t be perfect.

    I don’t think most liberals say we should take all the money from the rich. We just ask they pay their fair share to support the society that provided the infrastructure that allowed them to acquire wealth in the first place.

  56. Niblick says

    Here’s the rub: Libertarians don’t offer other viable solutions that aren’t biased towards those with wealth (meaning, power).

    In any possible universe, the wealthy have more options; that’s kind of the definition of “wealthy.” Liberals fantasize a world where that’s not true, but it’s pure fantasy. The current system is biased toward the wealthy and powerful–in fact more so than a libertarian society would be, because this society gives government expanded powers which, in turn, are made available to the wealthy and powerful. Even if you eliminate every conceivable form of corruption, a perfected version of the current system is biassed toward the wealthy and powerful. It can’t help being: the wealthy can afford to publicize, for example.

    If you banned wealth outright and instituted a regime in which the wealthy were imprisoned and all their wealth divvied up, you’d have something reminiscent of Soviet Russia, but within it you would merely have redefined “wealth,” and the system would remain biased toward the inner party members.

    When you ask for a societal arrangement in which there’s no such thing as the wealthy or powerful, you’re describing an impossibility. That sort of egalitarianism can only be achieved with enforcement, in which case the enforcers become the new “wealthy and powerful.” If conversely you ask for a society in which the wealthy exist, but have no more options than the poor, you’re describing a contradiction in terms.

    Libertarians are willing to settle for a society in which the wealthy are not allowed to impose their will on anyone by force; where rich and poor alike are defended against all physical threats to their persons and property.

  57. fastlane says

    I’m curious, for Niblick, or any other libertarians who want to chime in.

    What, precisely, is the difference between your consistently overstretched metaphor of ‘taking by force’ with the gun, and the libertarian ideal of taking by force simply because (you think) you have more money?

    And don’t try to cop out by going the simple way of comparing a holdup to buying groceries at the supermarket. I mean, on a real, fundamental, level where it comes to being able to feed/clothe oneself and/or one’s family.

    In libertopia, does one pay by the mile to support the public streets? What if one doesn’t want to pay for roads and decides instead to purchase an M1-Abrams to get everywhere? Then everyone else is forced to do the same, or pay for that persons damage to the roads that they have already paid for?

    Face it, you are a social (well, hypothetically) ape. You live in a society, and you enjoy the benefits of society. There are certain minimum costs the group must pay (even in a society without actual money) in order to maintain that society.

    You don’t want to pay any taxes, move somewhere else. I hear Somalia’s nice this time of year…..

  58. Brain Hertz says

    Hello professor Myers. I have a couple of questions. Though global warming and climate change are backed up by hard data, has the score been settled on whether these are anthropogenic? Can it be stated, beyond any reasonable doubt, that global warming and climate change have accelerated due to human activities? If this is the case, can you point out to any publications on the matter? Thanks!

    An earlier reply pointed you to the IPCC website, which contains mountains of data (including assessment of such things as variations in solar output, variations in volcanic activity, variations in albedo due to cloud cover changes and so on, which you’ll hear denialists repeatedly swear blind that “the experts haven’t taken into account”).

    If you want something more concise, consider this:

    1) We know very well how much carbon is dumped into the atmosphere due to fossil fuel burning, since coal, oil and gas are globally traded commodities that are very closely tracked. From this, we know that humans dump an additional 9 Gigatonnes or so of carbon into the atmosphere every year.

    http://cdiac.ornl.gov/ftp/ndp030/global.1751_2008.ems

    2) We also know the total mass of the atmosphere and it’s composition. We know the current mass of carbon dioxide and the current concentration of carbon dioxide. This has been tracked for many years, and is increasing at a rate which is substantially less than our emission rate. That is to say, we can see that only about half of the carbon dioxide we pump into the atmosphere actually stays there; the rest is being absorbed by carbon sinks such as the oceans (and that’s a separate story). From this, we know for certain that our burning of fossil fuels has substantially altered the chemical composition of the atmosphere and continues to do so.

    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/aggi/

    3) We know that carbon dioxide has a direct effect on the earths overall energy balance, because we can measure it directly, and have known about this effect since the 19th century. Take a look at this:

    http://tes.asu.edu/TESNEWS/6_VOL/1NO/earth.html

    The jagged line is the actual measured spectrum of thermal radiation from the Earth, ie light in the infrared range, as measured some time ago (there is much more data than this, but this is presented in an easily accessible format). If the Earth had no atmosphere, you’d see a black body curve (like one of the smooth lines). Each of the notches out of the curve corresponds to something in the atmosphere absorbing some of that energy and trapping it in the atmosphere. See the big notch marked “CO2″? That’s what the carbon dioxide does. That is a direct measurement of the greenhouse effect. What do you think will happen if we double the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?

    This is a direct, quantifiable measurement of the greenhouse effect, and this has been directly observed from space as it changes over time.

    Put all of these three facts together: we know exactly what we’re doing, and we can directly measure what it does in terms of the energy balance. There really cannot be any argument as to these underlying facts. You have to be willfully blind not to see it.

    All the rest of the argument? That’s about the details. Exactly what this change in energy balance will do to our climate is very difficult to analyze, but it is simply not in doubt that global warming is occurring.

    Hope that helps.

  59. says

    “@41 – What sets you liberals apart, precisely as I said, is that you advocate “law,” meaning “force,” to solve other of life’s problecms such as allocating scarce resources.”

    So then what other axiomatic features of human society are you against? Certainly you would also be against the (un)free-market that is prevalent in our societies today? So how do you allocate scarce resources, some sort of social-darwinistic nightmare perhaps?

    We have society, nay civilization, precisely because we have the intelligence and ethical aptitude that can formulate rational functional axioms and laws that make life better for everyone.

    “Libertarians oppose “force,” call it “law” if you will, for any use except to respond to force initiated by another. They consider other uses of force to be immoral.

    So how do you structure a society around that? I’m curious now because most existing capitalist structures are inherently violent toward at least one faction of society, usually the exploited labour. So do you advocate worker control of industry and production to combat the violence perpetrated against them?

    How do you distribute goods and services without “force” in place?

    It would seem that libertarian base premises have little explicative power.

    What I have seen libertarian premisses effectively promote is a slippery rhetorical kludge to hang your big narcissistic hats on while preaching the “greed is good” and “frack you I’ve got mine” gospel to others.

  60. jp schlegel says

    Is one of the reasons to dislike libertarians that they honestly believe they would prosper in that case where humans adapt within a few generations to a new climate?

  61. Randomfactor says

    Y’know, in every criminal case ever tried there is a “spectacular array” of opinion on the guilt of the defendant all the way from “we find the defendant guilty as charged” to “I’m innocent, I tell you.” Certainly the defendant maintains the prosecution is wrong, and he was there at the time of the crime. Just because the evidence presented has swayed the jury doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t let him go free. HE certainly disagrees with it, as do many of his friends and family.

  62. says

    Niblick:

    When you ask for a societal arrangement in which there’s no such thing as the wealthy or powerful, you’re describing an impossibility. That sort of egalitarianism can only be achieved with enforcement, in which case the enforcers become the new “wealthy and powerful.” If conversely you ask for a society in which the wealthy exist, but have no more options than the poor, you’re describing a contradiction in terms.

    That is a complete strawman. There’s not even a hint of the position I’ve advocated here. You seem to believe I really do want communism.

    Please, at least argument against my position.

    Libertarians are willing to settle for a society in which the wealthy are not allowed to impose their will on anyone by force; where rich and poor alike are defended against all physical threats to their persons and property.

    Coercion is not limited to physical force. You seem to be more than willing to allow coercion by non-forceful means, such as denial of resources, non-violent harassment, and so on.

    This is effectively “might makes right.” Coercion is coercion, whether force is used or not.

  63. says

    Niblick:

    Libertarians are willing to settle for a society in which the wealthy are not allowed to impose their will on anyone by force; where rich and poor alike are defended against all physical threats to their persons and property.

    One question: how do you propose to do this?

  64. raven says

    Now, I have no interest in watching my kids waste their time with creationism, but unlike progressives, I have no interest in dictating what other kids should learn.

    He is actually flat out lying here.

    You can be sure that there are lots of things, that if they were taught in public schools, would send him on a verbal frothing at the mouth rampage.

    And “progressives” have an interest in kids learning real science and not weird religious cult dogma in science classes. But that only applies to public schools.

    Private schools can teach whatever lies and nonsense they want and it is all perfectly legal. The Invisible Hand of the Market works just fine. Fundies set their kids up to fail and end up in lower than average socioeconomic classes.

  65. Matt Penfold says

    If the government wasn’t in the transportation business, all roads would be private and the owner would therefore be liable for accidents that happen on his or her property. There would also be competition between private roads and people would of course choose those that are safer. This would also benefit the environment since it would always cost that much more money to drive, giving people more of an incentive to ride the bus. I don’t necessarily think the government shouldn’t make roads but the argument that we need stop signs is a bad argument against libertarianism.

    For their to be competition there would have to be multiple roads connecting towns and cities. Each road would have to have more capacity that it would actually carry, otherwise there cannot be true competition.

    So how would it be good for the environment to build multiple roads connecting the same places, and for those roads to be wider than they need be ?

  66. Rey Fox says

    Libertarians are willing to settle for a society in which the wealthy are not allowed to impose their will on anyone by force

    Or else…?

    where rich and poor alike</blockquote

    Can eat cake. Er, sorry, carry on…

    where rich and poor alike are defended against all physical threats

    By who and with what?

    to their persons and property.

    And completely by coincidence, of course, everything becomes the property of the super-rich and thus to be defended. By…happiness rays, I guess.

  67. Alverant says

    If the government wasn’t in the transportation business, all roads would be private and the owner would therefore be liable for accidents that happen on his or her property.

    No there wouldn’t. They would put “not responsible for damages” signs up like in mall parking lots and blame the drivers for any damages.

    There would also be competition between private roads and people would of course choose those that are safer.

    There would also be competition for who had the highest speed limits and loosest enforcement. The people living along the road would be SOL if the road owner decided to have drag races every Saturday night.

    This would also benefit the environment since it would always cost that much more money to drive, giving people more of an incentive to ride the bus.

    Which would be countered by more people having to move because the road owners (who have a monopoly on the street outside your home) decided not to let you use it because they don’t like you for some silly reason.

    The removal of street signs argument is valid because it describes the dark heart of libertarianism, “I can do what I want and FUCK YOU if you get in my way!”

  68. Rey Fox says

    Libertarians are willing to settle for a society in which the wealthy are not allowed to impose their will on anyone by force

    Or else…?

    where rich and poor alike

    Can eat cake. Er, sorry, carry on…

    where rich and poor alike are defended against all physical threats

    By who and with what?

    to their persons and property.

    And completely by coincidence, of course, everything becomes the property of the super-rich and thus to be defended. By…happiness rays, I guess.

  69. jack lecou says

    If you believe in social programs, then you believe in a decree, enforced by men with guns. QED.

    This is the typical libertarian two-step.

    The words “gun” or “violence” or “force” are trotted out at every opportunity as if this gives some kind of moral authority to the twisted libertarian world-frame.

    But of course, this is ridiculous on a number of levels.

    First of all, it is obviously the case that almost no-one interacts with the government at the point of a gun or under threat of force. Most people’s interactions with “government” laws and regulations revolve around the fact that they are more or less well-adjusted, non-sociopathic members of society who understand their responsibilities to their fellow citizens and value their relationship to the community. Acts of civil disobedience to injustice, racial oppression, executive overreach, or extra-judicial brutality notwithstanding (and note that liberals are on the front lines in such fights), the possession of “guns” by the state is essentially academic. Bottom line: the laser-like focus of predominantly middle-class, white libertarians – i.e., people who are not in any way victims of state oppression, or likely to fall afoul of it unless they begin to engage in flagrant violations of society’s laws – on the academic existence of “guns” is completely loony.

    But that brings me to the second problem (of many) with this: libertarians/anarchists/minarchists are not, AFAICT, actually opposed to guns or violence in principle. Not that any of these are outlooks known for incorporating an especially realistic view of human nature, but even so, I think all of them would recognize that the use of force would be justified in at least some circumstances. For example, to defend against offenses to life or property. And they would all, I think, concede that it might be appropriate to deploy involuntary imprisonment or other forceful measures to punish/rehabilitate offenders or to protect society from them.

    We could just as easily say, “If you believe in [private property rights], then you believe in a decree, enforced by men with guns. QED.”

    In other words, the blind invocation “oh noez, guns” is meaningless. The use of force against criminals or other threats to social order are clearly justified in at least some circumstances. The only questions are (1) what, exactly, falls under that heading, (2) whether or not you call the wielder(s) of force officials of a “state”, and (3) whether or not the social arrangements dictated by those first two answers actually result, as a practical matter, in a world anyone would want to live in.

  70. says

    Something pinkboi said has got me thinking:

    If the government wasn’t in the transportation business, all roads would be private…

    Here’s a hypothetical situation.

    I live in Libertopia. I own a small trucking business, and I have agreements with all the private roads to the destinations I service. I’m making a decent living delivering goods to people who need them. Central to my business is my warehouse, which is my primary investment.

    Now, let’s say Randomfactor takes a dislike to me because of something I said. Randomfactor is a rich fucker. He buys up all the private roads surrounding my warehouse, and refuses to renew my contracts, effectively destroying my business.

    What recourse would I have in Libertopia?

  71. Niblick says

    Now everyone, libertarian and otherwise, advocates “force” against rapists, murderers, assaulters, armed robbers, and other such miscreants. So everyone advocates “law” or “government” to be enacted against murder, rape, etc.

    So you concede my earlier point and correct your error.

    No, you’re confused. Libertarians oppose initiated aggression, always and everywhere, by anyone. They support defensive force, always and everywhere, by anyone. This is called various names, such as the “non-aggression principle.”

    Laws against murder, rape, etc., are merely special cases of the non-aggression principle. Your attempt to kill me, rape me, punch my nose in, etc., are initiations of physical aggression, which is forbidden by the non-aggression principle. If you do those things, the non-aggression principle permits me to repel you with all necessary force, including deadly force if necessary. The distinction between “government” and “non-government” isn’t actually meaningful, because the “government” can use force against my killer, but then again so can I. The government is merely acting as my agent, exercising my right of self-defense on my behalf–a right I can delegate, but also retain personally. The government may not justly initiate aggression; it cannot murder, rape, kidnap, etc., and it cannot threaten to do those things in retaliation against non-aggressive acts such as gay marriage, prostitution, growing plants and smoking them, distilling one’s own bourbon, cutting hair without a license, etc., etc.

    Non-libertarians do not make a category distinction between aggressive and defensive force. They do not see a sharp demarcation between a law against murder, and a law against mutually-consensual prostitution, or a law mandating that bakers give away their bread for free. To a non-libertarian, the “law” can dictate pretty much anything; the only interesting question is how to enact the laws they prefer. So a Christian right-winger will advocate laws threatening force against homosexuality, prostitution, drunkenness, being Mexican, etc. Liberals will advocate laws threatening force against charging high prices, or failing to comply with various mandates. Neither sees any distinction between one type of law and another.

    So everyone happens to agree that murder is bad, and laws against murder are good. The libertarian has a very sharp and precise meaning here, though: murder is bad because it’s initiated aggression; laws against it, though forcible, are good because they are defensive force.

    Liberals and Conservatives take a much looser definition of “bad” here, and are equally willing to enact laws forcibly imposing things they like, and forcibly banning things they don’t like. They see no sharp difference in kind between a law prohibiting murder, and a law prohibiting rap music.

  72. Chris from Europe says

    Libertarians are willing to settle for a society in which poor people simply die because of hunger or food poisioning.

    Most of the laws liberals accept don’t necessarily need such excessive force. Taxation virtually never needs to be actually enforced by a gun. That’s an anarchist phantasy. At the time it needs to be enforced by a gun, it’s well-deserved. And even then it only needs to be enforced by a gun, if you don’t comply.

    Warren Buffett, unlike you, understands that his voluntary spending would achieve what’s currently necessary. It might even be offset by other spending reductions of other wealthy people.

    So you don’t like the social safety nets. But I oppose having my taxes spent on catching poor people who have done something “immoral” to survive. I think it’s acceptable for them to use force for this task, as long as there’s no adequate social safety net. Government could even give them guns and the home addresses of the opponents of social safety nets; I would acquit.

    In reality, social safety nets contribute to public safety, health and welfare. It’s hard to account for these benefits, but in the case of deadly violence caused by mass impoverishment, working social safety nets are without reasonable doubt the better option.

    And pinkboi, I think we can tell that these kind of solutions don’t work well. The private actors that get to do public tasks don’t like to be regulated and manage to prevent appropriate regulation. It’s also questionable that in such situations there will be a free and fair market that provides for viable alternatives.

  73. Anri says

    #52:

    If the government wasn’t in the transportation business, all roads would be private and the owner would therefore be liable for accidents that happen on his or her property.

    With the best protection, presumably, being to close the road to all but your own personal traffic. Or, better still, to not build the road in the first place, right?
    (I’m letting alone the obvious issues with somehow enforcing the notion of determining level of liability without enforcable transportation standards in existence, or the question of who’d be doing the enforcement of liability.)

    There would also be competition between private roads and people would of course choose those that are safer.

    Has it been your experience that, given free choice in an unregulated market, the safest product sells best?

    This would also benefit the environment since it would always cost that much more money to drive, giving people more of an incentive to ride the bus.

    What bus?
    Surely not the heavily government-subsidized city/county/state bussing systems, I assume.
    You mean taxicabs, right? Only without fare restrictions, or anti-trust regulation, or safety inspections, or driver’s licences, or seatbelts, or, or, or…
    Sounds highly safe to me. Right?

    I don’t necessarily think the government shouldn’t make roads but the argument that we need stop signs is a bad argument against libertarianism.

    Until you start to, you know, actually think about it.

  74. Rey Fox says

    We could just as easily say, “If you believe in [private property rights], then you believe in a decree, enforced by men with guns. QED.”

    Well, as long as the guys with the guns are corporate thugs rather than government thugs, everything’s peachy.

  75. fastlane says

    raven:

    You can be sure that there are lots of things, that if they were taught in public schools, would send him on a verbal frothing at the mouth rampage.

    You mean like, if we taught his kids the truth about libertarian thought? ;-)

  76. harold says

    Niblick –

    In any possible universe, the wealthy have more options; that’s kind of the definition of “wealthy.” Liberals fantasize a world where that’s not true, but it’s pure fantasy

    I’m asking you again, although this will be the last time I bother with your deeply dishonest ass, why do you think it is that you can’t critique “liberals” without creating absurd, obnoxious, childish straw men to attack?

    Why do you think it is that you can’t honestly state what others actually support?

  77. Niblick says

    Libertarians are willing to settle for a society in which the wealthy are not allowed to impose their will on anyone by force

    Or else…?

    What do you mean, “or else”? Or else they will be resisted with all necessary force.

    The difference between that hypothetical society, and our society, is that our society deems it OK to impose our will on others by force. If government decrees it, it can ban gay marriage, or doing business on Sunday; it can set a minimum wage of $100/hr; it can ban rap music, or mandate that everyone join their town’s choir. It can forbid hair-cutting without a license, or selling cakes shaped like human silhouettes, or mandate boxers, or ban incandescent light bulbs. It can mandate vegetarianism or ban the kiwi fruit.

    A libertarian society is not a lawless one. More properly, it’s a society with exactly one law: keep your hands to yourself. For convenience that might be spelled out in multiple laws against murder, rape, assault, non-consensual touching, child-molestation, burglary, trespassing, vandalism, arson, etc. But those are all special cases of one overarching law. If someone is not initiating (or threatening to initiate) physical force against another’s person or property, then no crime has been committed. If someone IS initiating force, a crime has been committed, and can be repelled with all necessary force.

  78. raven says

    Libertarians are willing to settle for a society in which the wealthy are not allowed to impose their will on anyone by force; where rich and poor alike are defended against all physical threats to their persons and property.

    This is just a fantasy lie. You don’t need to use physical force to destroy a society. Ask George Bush about that. He didn’t an extraordinary amount of damage to the US economy in 8 years. It will take us ca. a decade to get out of it and we may never recover.

    Libertarian societies exist and have for a long time. They are always failures.

    1. The current gibbertarian star is Somalia. No government and you can get as rich as you want to. Leading occupations are “pirate” and “warlord” and average lifespan is 44 years and falling.

    2. A lot of third world countries are libertarian, few regulations and weak governments. They are stagnant societies economically dominated by oligarchies. There are a few fabulously wealthy families and a lot of very poor people.

    3. The heyday of laissez faire capitalism wasn’t all that great. Monopolies and oligarchies inevitably resulted as well as a lot of fraud and frequent economic depressions.

  79. thelastholdout says

    I find the non libertarians to be just as guilty of strawmen and ridiculous arguments as they claim the libertarians are.

    For the record, I’m an anarchist. I’m called a libertarian often, so there you go.

    I don’t have time right now to sift through the bullshit, and it’s clear to me that arguing on here isn’t going to change anyone’s minds, but suffice it to say that while it would require extensive work (and a marked lack of bullying and child abuse when rearing children) an anarchic society is something which could be attempted, whereas a system relying on the state has clearly and hilariously failed us on almost all levels.

  80. fastlane says

    Niblet:

    A libertarian society is not a lawless one. More properly, it’s a society with exactly one law: keep your hands to yourself. For convenience that might be spelled out in multiple laws against murder, rape, assault, non-consensual touching, child-molestation, burglary, trespassing, vandalism, arson, etc. But those are all special cases of one overarching law. If someone is not initiating (or threatening to initiate) physical force against another’s person or property, then no crime has been committed. If someone IS initiating force, a crime has been committed, and can be repelled with all necessary force.

    And you had the nerve to call the liberal worldview (which, admittedly, according to you, was a huge strawman) a fantasy?

    Glad I left my irony meter in the bunker….

  81. harold says

    Niblick –

    Oops I didn’t see this display of cherry-picking and outright lying, which demands a response –

    So you concede my earlier point and correct your error.

    No, you’re confused. Libertarians oppose initiated aggression, always and everywhere, by anyone. They support defensive force, always and everywhere, by anyone. This is called various names, such as the “non-aggression principle.”

    1) Why lie about what’s in the thread that everyone can see? You made an error, I pointed it out, you conceded it.

    2) I’m not at all confused about the basic tenets of libertarianism; in fact, I seem to be less confused about them than you are.

    One thing that amazes me about libertarians is the intense dishonesty of almost anyone who self-describes as such.

    Incidentally, I know that you will now use the dodge of claiming that since you were insulted, your position must be the correct one.

    However, your dishonesty is too intense not to be commented on.

  82. Matt Penfold says

    Niblick said:

    What do you mean, “or else”? Or else they will be resisted with all necessary force.

    He also said this:

    The difference between that hypothetical society, and our society, is that our society deems it OK to impose our will on others by force.

    The the second quote follows directly after the first.

    Apparently Niblick failed to notice.

  83. Niblick says

    The words “gun” or “violence” or “force” are trotted out at every opportunity as if this gives some kind of moral authority to the twisted libertarian world-frame.

    But of course, this is ridiculous on a number of levels.

    First of all, it is obviously the case that almost no-one interacts with the government at the point of a gun or under threat of force…

    Funnily enough, the neighbors’ child violated a rule against smoking on high-school property recently. She was issued a citation, but she ignored it any any correspondence from the court. I happened to be present when a deputy walked onto her porch, wearing a gun, and informed her that she must now either (1) pay him $250 on the spot, or (2) be dragged in handcuffs before a judge. She opted to pay the $250, which she had to scrounge up, because she didn’t want to be cuffed and stuffed. She never even considered fleeing, knowing full well that the very least she could expect in that case was to be tackled and manhandled.

    More “sensible” people pay their citations promptly, because they don’t want to meet a deputy with a bench warrant. The deputy is usually unseen, therefore–but he is critical to the whole process. If there were no risk that the deputy would appear, ready to exercise all necessary force, only fools would pay their fines.

    That “almost no-one interacts… at the point of a gun” is irrelevant. The gun has served its purpose every time someone pays their fine other than out of the goodness of their hearts.

  84. Chris from Europe says

    It’s telling that one equates “conservative” ideas of law that shouldn’t be acceptable under any reasonable standard to “liberal” laws that even many conservatives (except the fringe) supports. The kind of balance you invent makes clear what kind of person you are.

    In nearly all cases taxation isn’t enforced violently. Most people accept all kind of taxes as long as they deem them reasonable and fair. The kind of force you envoke is nothing but a last resort. Your argument is thus deeply dishonest. It’s time you get dumped into the dungeon.

  85. Niblick says

    This is just a fantasy lie. You don’t need to use physical force to destroy a society. Ask George Bush about that. He didn’t an extraordinary amount of damage to the US economy in 8 years….

    …by means of decrees enforced at gunpoint.

  86. Niblick says

    In nearly all cases taxation isn’t enforced violently…

    See post #92. If the IRS sent a letter each year saying, “Please pay your taxes. Or don’t, it’s really up to you–if you don’t nothing will actually happen,” I invite you to conjecture as to the result.

  87. says

    Niblick:

    It can forbid hair-cutting without a license, or selling cakes shaped like human silhouettes, or mandate boxers, or ban incandescent light bulbs. It can mandate vegetarianism or ban the kiwi fruit.

    But it doesn’t, does it?

    In Libertopia, any of these things can also be banned. All it takes is someone with necessary resources to demand this be part of your contract. Not Christian? Can’t drive on my road. Homosexual? You can’t purchase anything from any of my stores (and I own all of them). Eat meat? Sorry, you can’t have any water from my water service (the only one in town).

    I don’t think your system solves all the problems you think it solves.

  88. fastlane says

    Thelastholdout:

    I don’t have time right now to sift through the bullshit, and it’s clear to me that arguing on here isn’t going to change anyone’s minds, but suffice it to say that while it would require extensive work (and a marked lack of bullying and child abuse when rearing children) an anarchic society is something which could be attempted, whereas a system relying on the state has clearly and hilariously failed us on almost all levels.

    Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others that we’ve tried.

    Sound familiar? ‘The state’ is just the extension of the tribal elders, writ large. Even small, tribal communities have a government of some sort.

    I really wish we could get the UN to set aside a country somewhere, say the east African coast, maybe; offer anyone who wants out of that country a VISA to the civlized country of their choice; then let all the anarchist/libertarian/etc go live there and see how well it works for them.

  89. hotshoe says

    Libertarians are willing to settle for a society in which the wealthy are not allowed to impose their will on anyone by force; where rich and poor alike are defended against all physical threats to their persons and property.

    defended by whom ? You blithering idiot, defended by the government which we have generally agreed to pay for and to provide weapons for them to defend us so that I, personally, don’t have to purchase larger weapons than you and train myself better in the use of those weapons than you in order to prevent you from making a “physical threat” to myself or my property.

    If greenhouse gases are a “physical threat” – and they are, make no mistake – then who is to defend rich and poor alike from this physical threat ?

    You’re deluded if you think any free-market solution to the question exists. The free market is why we have this particular problem to begin with. (Profits must be maximized and costs externalized so that the factory owners can have more money to defend themselves against threats, right?)

    And you’re a callous bastard if you think the poor should just suffer the ill effects of global warming because you think collective government has no right to use preemptive “aggression” against polluters, in the form of “social programs” to force power plants to sequester CO2.

  90. stevarious says

    A libertarian society is not a lawless one. More properly, it’s a society with exactly one law: keep your hands to yourself. For convenience that might be spelled out in multiple laws against murder, rape, assault, non-consensual touching, child-molestation, burglary, trespassing, vandalism, arson, etc. But those are all special cases of one overarching law. If someone is not initiating (or threatening to initiate) physical force against another’s person or property, then no crime has been committed. If someone IS initiating force, a crime has been committed, and can be repelled with all necessary force.

    In this society, where these are the only rules, I will get away with murder every day. There is no law here that bars me from buying up, then poisoning public water supplies, and then start charging residents whatever amount of money for this poison – after all, once I’ve paid for it, it’s MY water that I can do with what I want! The invisible hand of market says that after the first couple thousand people die from drinking tap water, people will just go find a different source of water! And it’s not MY fault that they bought poison – it’s their responsibility as consumers to be educated about their water purchasing options. Of course, it’s also their responsibility to find an alternate water supply now, and pay to have the new water piped to their homes – at which point I can buy up the new water supply and start selling more poison.

    Your libertarian fantasy would be the end of the civilized world – it is literally a land where wealth makes right.

  91. Anri says

    No, you’re confused. Libertarians oppose initiated aggression, always and everywhere, by anyone. They support defensive force, always and everywhere, by anyone. This is called various names, such as the “non-aggression principle.”

    So, if someone assaults you, you presumably fight back.

    If you come across two people fighting, and you can’t identify which one initiatied the aggression, you presumably try to subdue them both, yes?

    If you come across one person attacking two other people, both of whom are wounded, you presumably try to stop the third party, yes?

    One problem with libertarian self-defense fantasies is that people don’t come with MMORPG-style enemy/friendly color coding. And people, quite frankly, are lousy at picking out who’s right during a fight they’re involved in.
    That’s why we invented the justice system – imperfect as it is – in the first place.

    To put it another way:
    Which one of your neighbors would you confidently trust to intervene in any dispute you might find yourself in?
    If the answer isn’t “all of them”, then you have some inkling as to why a self-enforced justice system sucks.

  92. raven says

    I’ve personally experienced some pretty horrible violence from the libertarians in the last 10 years. So have tens of millions of Americans.

    A month ago, I came home to find my 401(K) plan flopping around on the floor and whimpering. Again. The stock market crash and a stalled economic recovery sent it back to a 201(K) plan and into the ICU. And I’m one of tens of millions.

    The US economy has barely moved in 10 years of libertarian influenced GOP/Tea Party economic mismanagement. It’s clearly very sick and there is no indication that it will get better in less than many years. And a lot that it could just crash again.

    Libertarianism is just an unworkable fantasy like communism was. And like communism, it’s been tried before and failed spectacularly. It’s saving grace is that only simplistic thinkers with the mentality of children living in Mom’s basement take it seriously.

  93. fastlane says

    I notice Niblet is ignoring most of the replies except those he can make into strawmen or invent out of whole cloth.

    one more try:

    Funnily enough, the neighbors’ child violated a rule against smoking on high-school property recently. She was issued a citation, but she ignored it any any correspondence from the court. I happened to be present when a deputy walked onto her porch, wearing a gun, and informed her that she must now either (1) pay him $250 on the spot, or (2) be dragged in handcuffs before a judge. She opted to pay the $250, which she had to scrounge up, because she didn’t want to be cuffed and stuffed. She never even considered fleeing, knowing full well that the very least she could expect in that case was to be tackled and manhandled.

    And what, pray tell, would happen to that person in libertopia, where she smoked on someone’s private school where the school had imposed a law about not smoking on school property?

    There are a few choices:
    1) Nothing. Not likely, and cheap out for the libertarian apologist.
    2) Kicked out of school. Maybe, but that smoking theoretically did some ‘damage’ to the school property that they would likely want to somehow be reimbursed for. Even if only because it may have encouraged other kids to flout that (private) law.
    3) Exactly the same thing, only the guard would be private, and probably paid less, and have less oversight.
    4) Others?

  94. Niblick says

    Niblick said:

    What do you mean, “or else”? Or else they will be resisted with all necessary force.

    He also said this:

    The difference between that hypothetical society, and our society, is that our society deems it OK to impose our will on others by force.

    The the second quote follows directly after the first. Apparently Niblick failed to notice.

    Not at all. What you’re missing is the distinction between aggressive and defensive force. If I attempt to behead you with a rusty knife, that’s aggression; it’s bad, and a crime. If you respond by shooting me dead, that’s self-defense; it’s good, and not a crime.

    This is truly a libertarian FAQ, because nobody is accustomed to thinking of this distinction. Our society allows many forms of aggression, and disallows some forms of self-defense, so the distinction between licit and illicit force is extremely convoluted. By contrast, the libertarian regards initiated aggression as always a crime, and defensive force as never a crime.

    The next FAQ is to thoroughly explain “aggression,” since people aren’t accustomed to thinking of that in libertarian terms either. Evolution wired us with a concept of “aggression” that makes it seem natural to assault someone for hitting on our girlfriend, for example. In libertarian terms, “your” girlfriend is in no way “yours” at all, and if she and some other bloke mutually consent to a flirtatious conversation, and you take a swing at the other bloke, you’re a criminal. The law today happens to agree, in that case, but the point is that most humans believe, deep down, that making time with “your” girlfriend is an act of aggression meriting a violent response. The popular understanding of “aggression” is heavily freighted with misconceptions of that sort.

  95. Rambling T. Wreck says

    I don’t see the “invisible hand of the market” making things work any better than the even-more-popular “invisible man in the sky” seems to be making things work. Both of them strike me more as naive fairy tales than anything else.

  96. MudPuddles says

    @ Svetogorsk, #3

    Oh wow, I’m surprised that comment went unchallenged on a science-based blog for this long:

    …there is still considerable debate about whether climate change is truly man-made…

    Sorry, but no, there isn’t. There’s the science, which is accepted by 97-98% of the scientists working in the relevant fields of expertise, and then there’s the anti-global warming horse-shite. In the middle is the non-committal attitude of certain industry-led organisations.

    Just like with the issue of evolution, there is no debate. Its a scientific certainty as much as any science can be certain. I suggest anyone who believes the libertarian crapola look at just a few of the references on this Wikipedia page.

    As for the libertarian mantra that environmentalists are luddites, they willfully ignore the fact that not one of the major environmental, development-aid or ecological organisations promoting policy measures for climate change mitigation takes anything close to a luddite view. IUCN, WWF, Conservation International, WRI, UNEP, UNDP, UNESCO, UNICEF, Nature Conservancy, COHAB, BirdLife, WCS…. all promote more advanced technology, better and more efficient industry and new economic approaches, not less technology, not less business, not less scientific progress. But a vocal number of libertarian cretins have no qualms with intellectual dishonesty, because the truth doesn’t suit their particularly warped view of the world.

  97. Chris from Europe says

    In the end, you would need much more money for “keeping the peace”. People would likely reject your system (as most do if you tell them about it) and it would come down in a violent revolution.

  98. Niblick says

    So, if someone assaults you, you presumably fight back.

    Within the limits of self-defense, yes. For example, if your assailant flees and you continue fighting, you have become the aggressor.

    If you come across two people fighting, and you can’t identify which one initiatied the aggression, you presumably try to subdue them both, yes?

    That’s a tricky situation in any hypothetical universe, including the present one: many times a policeman has happened upon such situations, acted as he thought best, and then learned that he “rescued” the assailant from his victim. In some cases the victim was actually killed in the process, and in some cases the one killed turned out to be a cop. This happened not long ago in New York, where an off-duty cop defended himself with a firearm, and an on-duty cop happened upon the scene and shot the off-duty cop dead.

    Your question isn’t amenable to a simple answer like, “I’d try to subdue them both.” Your hypothetical has left out way too many variables.

    One problem with libertarian self-defense fantasies is that people don’t come with MMORPG-style enemy/friendly color coding.

    Libertarians don’t fantasize any such thing. In fact you’re failing to recognize that your observation is an inherent property of the universe, and is every bit as big a problem right here and now, as it would be in a libertarian society. You can’t criticize libertarianism for failing to solve an inherently unsolvable problem that also happens to be a serious issue in the society you advocate, as well as in the present society.

  99. Matt Penfold says

    Not at all. What you’re missing is the distinction between aggressive and defensive force. If I attempt to behead you with a rusty knife, that’s aggression; it’s bad, and a crime. If you respond by shooting me dead, that’s self-defense; it’s good, and not a crime.

    That is the not the distinction you made. And it any case it is not relevant. People who do not pay their way in society damage those who do. There is harm done, and so even using your piss-poor analogy, the use of force if no other means has worked is allowed.

    Why not be honest. Just admit you do not give a fuck about others, and are a selfish arsehole. We still would not like you, but we might have a little more respect for you.

  100. Gaebolga says

    Niblick wrote:

    Not at all. What you’re missing is the distinction between aggressive and defensive force. If I attempt to behead you with a rusty knife, that’s aggression; it’s bad, and a crime. If you respond by shooting me dead, that’s self-defense; it’s good, and not a crime.

    And the Libertarian position on that issue is different from our current laws…how, exactly?

  101. Snoof says

    A libertarian society is not a lawless one. More properly, it’s a society with exactly one law: keep your hands to yourself.

    Right, then. A scenario:

    Person A, being a kind individual, has a home for chronic asthma sufferers on their property. Due to the fact that they are operating a charity with a limited income, this home lacks in-building air-filtration systems and is forced to keep leave windows open during hot weather in order to prevent suffocation.

    Person B, having a bunch of rubbish to get rid of, decides to build a large bonfire on their property. Unfortunately, Person A’s property is a short-distance downwind of Person B’s bonfire, and as a result, there are a number of severe smoke-induced asthma attacks, some resulting in permanent lung damage.

    Has Person B initated force? What recourse do those injured have?

    Let’s make it a little more abstract.

    Person B kindly decides to burn their rubbish when the wind is blowing in another direction. So do several thousand of Person B’s neighbours, who we will call Town C. This releases large amounts of sulfates into the atmosphere, which cause acid rain. This kills crops and makes the water undrinkable in Town D.

    Has Person B personally initiated force? Has Town C collectively initiated force? What recourse do those injured have?

  102. Niblick says

    And what, pray tell, would happen to that person in libertopia, where she smoked on someone’s private school where the school had imposed a law about not smoking on school property?

    By “law” I assume you mean “rule”? The term “law” is highly problematic in this context. To answer your question, though, “Libertopia” has a particularly excellent solution to this particular problem: the school’s authorities have full power to evict the smoker from school grounds and/or expel her. End of story.

    The school can issue a “citation,” and even demand a “fine,” if they want to, but they have no power to collect said “fine” at gunpoint. All they can do is suspend her from school until the “fine” is paid, for example.

    Still other libertarian enforcement mechanisms exist as well. The school can require a deposit at the start of the school year as a condition of enrollment, and can deduct “fines” from the deposit. This is technically known as a “performance bond,” and it’s a useful and flexible solution to many tricky problems that today are treated as summary legal offenses.

    Note that they can’t use physical force to collect a “fine,” nor can they use physical force to imprison her on school grounds, or, say, horsewhip her. They can, if necessary, use physical force to evict her, or to stop her assaulting someone, vandalizing, etc. Those latter are examples of defensive force. The boundaries where force can and can’t be used are well-defined.

  103. Niblick says

    Person A, being a kind individual, has a home for chronic asthma sufferers on their property. Due to the fact that they are operating a charity with a limited income, this home lacks in-building air-filtration systems and is forced to keep leave windows open during hot weather in order to prevent suffocation.

    Person B, having a bunch of rubbish to get rid of, decides to build a large bonfire on their property. Unfortunately, Person A’s property is a short-distance downwind of Person B’s bonfire, and as a result, there are a number of severe smoke-induced asthma attacks, some resulting in permanent lung damage.

    Has Person B initated force? What recourse do those injured have?

    When B’s smoke left B’s property and entered A’s property, he has initiated force and is guilty of trespassing (and, if his smoke damages A’s property, of vandalism). A can demand that B abate the smoke, and can personally or through agents can forcibly put out the rubbish fire. A can also hold B liable for any costs from damage to A’s property. A’s patients can hold B responsible for damages to their health. In practice, A would assume the task of pursuing his patients’ claims–and in fact would not litigate them personally, but would put in an insurance claim and have them pursue damages.

  104. Mr. Fire says

    Why Libertarians Are Bad People 101:

    There have been a lot of reductions in personal freedoms in the United States. On this, libertarians, left-liberals, greens, progressives, and socialists agree. Some of the libertarians have a kind of zealotry that makes them very single-minded about getting their message out, and it is in general a simplistic message so it’s easy to communicate. So there’s a generation coming of age on the internet who don’t have strong views on economics but who know that they don’t feel free, and the libertarian message is the loudest one that resonates with this feeling.

    The problem with libertarianism is that economic inequality is not conducive to freedom.

    This much is recognized by the undeniably capitalist Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy magazine, who jointly publish the Failed States Index, which counts uneven economic development along group lines as one of the indicators of dangerous instability. On this particular measure, by the way, the United States scores more than half as bad as Zimbabwe.

    There’s more detail from the Equality Trust on how economic equality buys us all the kind of society that is conducive to freedom.

    Right-wing economic policies, though, tend to favor the consolidation of wealth, at the expense of other freedoms.

    This is short-sighted. In the long run it’s not even safe for the rich, because highly unequal societies eventually collapse into violence. Tim Wise gives a good description of how privilege ultimately hurts those who have it; he’s talking about white privilege but you can easily see the parallels to class privilege.

    Conservatives are famously short-sighted, wouldn’t you agree? Isn’t that one of the reasons libertarians don’t want to be identified with them? Being tough on crime and tough on terror and tough on any foreign country that looks funny is short-sighted. Yet libertarian economic policies, in line with other right-wingers’ economic policies, are similarly self-destructive.

    Nobody is really free in the chaos and violence of a failed state. But even in a relatively stable state, the poor live under threat of violence and coercion.

    And so today in the United States, even if we could get immediately rid of the PATRIOT Act and the war on drugs and the border walls and the cameras and the high-tech police cruisers and all the other obvious manifestations of the police state, and the corporate lobbying and the military-industrial complex and the military bases around the world and the constant state of undeclared war—and we should get rid of all these things immediately, but even if we did—life in the United States, for a substantial portion of the citizens, would still be more about violence and fear than freedom and opportunity.

    And there is no laissez-faire policy that will address this reality.

  105. Fred X. Quimby says

    Greetings! I am a Libertarian that believes in global warming, evolution, and Keynesian economics. I also support gun ownership AND I recognize the same gun ownership as a massive public heath issue.

    I am very lonely. And I get lots of headaches.

    I do believe an advanced society could be Libertarian and establish enough private organizations to support the poor and bring massive pressure on other misbehaving organizations.

    I am also rational enough to understand that to get _there_ from _here_ would involve massive disruption and hardship. Therefore It Ain’t Gonna Happen Anytime Soon.

    The truth is we have to use the tools at hand to make life better for all American. Some tools are capitalism, socialism, and many sociopolitical flavors in between.

    And the one tiny bright spot I see today is that *true* Libertarians and Progressives agree: War is Stupid (for differing reasons, but I’m not going to pick at that scab).

  106. fastlane says

    Why not be honest. Just admit you do not give a fuck about others, and are a selfish arsehole. We still would not like you, but we might have a little more respect for you.

    And Matt Penfold wins the thread.

    One sniny internets for you!

  107. El Cid says

    foodmetaphors: ‘If scarequoteglobal warming/scarequote is happening, why are there still monkeys? Explain that, Professor, with all your scarequotescience/scarequote.’

    This is so awesome I can’t describe it.

  108. Gaebolga says

    nigelTheBold, Pure as the Driven Snow wrote:

    Help! Randomfactor has used his wealth to purchase the roads around my house. Now I can’t even drive to the store, as my car is stuck in my garage. Also, he demands I put on a tu-tu and do the chicken dance if I cross his street on foot!

    Serves you right for being poor and lazy.

    And if you set one tire on his roads without his permission, that right there is aggressive force – which we all know is a crime – and he will be well within his Libertarian rights to shoot you, which is obviously a reasonable application of defensive force.

    So Niblick, if Randomfactor shoots to kill rather than wound, is that excessive force? Does that count as a crime or not?

    And if so, who decides what counts as “excessive” in any situation?

    And if not, what level of force does count as excessive? And again, who decides that?

  109. Anri says

    That’s a tricky situation in any hypothetical universe, including the present one: many times a policeman has happened upon such situations, acted as he thought best, and then learned that he “rescued” the assailant from his victim. In some cases the victim was actually killed in the process, and in some cases the one killed turned out to be a cop. This happened not long ago in New York, where an off-duty cop defended himself with a firearm, and an on-duty cop happened upon the scene and shot the off-duty cop dead.

    And – you’ll pardon me – but I have failed to see how having untrained people making this determination rather than trained and specially-equipped people doing so will improve the situation.

    Let me suggest that the complexities of such situations call for greater oversight of the people attempting to resolve them, rather than less.

    Presumably, if we were to remove outside (top-down) authority from a given area, it would spontaneously become peaceful, as the threat of outside violence was removed.
    Does this happen in the real world?
    Do cities get substantially more peaceful during police strikes? Do you believe that more people have their rights respected during such events?

    If not – why not?

  110. Fred X. Quimby says

    @Mr. Fire – exactly, unless there is income equality a nascent Libertarian state could not get off the ground. Also, massive education is required so that everyone comprehends the extent of their civil rights and has the social tools to organize on issues they care about.

    At least we now have the global communications structure that allows us to seek like-minded people. That’s a Very Good Thing.

    But honestly, it would take something like the discovery of Free Non-polluting energy to give a Libertarian society the stability to survive more than a few meager generations.

  111. jack lecou says

    and it cannot threaten to do those things in retaliation against non-aggressive acts such as gay marriage, prostitution, growing plants and smoking them, distilling one’s own bourbon, cutting hair without a license, etc., etc.

    The rub, of course, is what you define as an “aggressive act”.

    If someone is not initiating (or threatening to initiate) physical force against another’s person or property, then no crime has been committed.

    And this is what makes libertarianism impractical and immoral, if not laughable.

    By so narrowly defining what constitutes personally and socially destructive actions, and further arbitrarily narrowing the definition of aggression to direct “physical force”, libertarianism sweeps away as “immoral” all of our basic notions of fair play and plunge us into dystopia.

    Libertarianism has no defense against things like child labor, company towns, precarious and dystopian concentrations of wealth, tainted meat, well-dispersed pollution, or outrageous business practices like the example offered by nigelTheBold upthread. Assuming no one has violated a contract (which, I guess, could in theory be handled by some kind of court or private arbitration system, albeit likely very inequitably and at far greater expense than the regulatory state), libertarianism has NO solution for these problems, because, unless someone is carrying a gun and a badge while they do it, these are not “problems”.

    Of course, there’s no “natural” reason to so narrowly define the scope of valid state action. And there’s no obvious reason to pick “inviolability of property” – someone’s “right” to not have others walk over land they nominally hold title to – as a fundamental right over something else like “inviolability of free passage” – someone’s “right” to take a harmless walk without having an “owner” run up and wave a deed in their face. Or to choose the “right” to accumulate money and possessions over the “right” to a full stomach and individual dignity. Libertarians tendency to make arbitrary distinctions between “positive” and “negative” rights is rather problematic.

    I think a lot of libertarians have a misguided notion that choosing these axioms somehow result in “logical closure” of the system somehow. As if logical self consistency, rather than practicality, efficiency, or ability to address actual human suffering was a better measure of the morality of a political philosophy. And of course, in the end it’s not really consistent anyway.

  112. says

    @nigelTheBold

    That’s what Libertarianism would be like. Not just for roads, but for all of society. Libertarianism suffers from the exact same thing that plagues all ideological political positions: it fails to account for human selfishness, and the willingness of some to fuck over other people for their own gain.

    Communism would be perfect, if only we weren’t people.

    Same is true of Libertarianism.

    Fair enough. I took your analogy literally. Libertarians don’t think that market failure and gridlock don’t happen (never say never; all movements have nit-wits) but instead recognize that it also happens in government. Take voting for example. Since each individual represents such a tiny proportion of the electorate and since one is only given a choice between a few candidates, it really isn’t in anyone’s self-interest to be an educated voter though we would be better off if everyone did educate themselves and did vote. A well-informed person may well come to the same conclusion as someone who votes on party or even randomly (google “rational ignorance” for more about the subject). This is market failure. But it’s in the democratic process, which is suppose to steer government, which is in turn supposed to correct market failure.

    Furthermore, there are non-forceful ways of dealing with market failure (e.g., open source software may be a solution to the hold-up problem). It’s really a question of if those things are sufficient or not. But that people, while being basically good, put more thought and resources into their own narrow interests is at least as much a count against non-libertarian viewpoints as it is against libertarianism. After all, we’re expecting these creatures to act in broader, more global interests when we elect them to be politicians.

  113. Naked Bunny with a Whip says

    he demands I put on a tu-tu and do the chicken dance if I cross his street on foot!

    Yeah, yeah. Just keep blaming Randomfactor for that, Nigel. I have photos that say otherwise, and since I didn’t use violent force to get them, you can’t do shit about it.

  114. Anteprepro says

    “When B’s smoke left B’s property and entered A’s property, he has initiated force and is guilty of trespassing (and, if his smoke damages A’s property, of vandalism).”

    Hilarious, Niblick. You claim smoke drifting on someone else’s property is considered an initiation of force, but you also presented a case of the evil government fining someone for smoking on school grounds! So, in what way is it okay to send the men with guns after the people upwind from a house of asthmatics and not okay to send men with guns after someone emitting carcinogenic smoke on someone else’s physical property? And in what way is government regulation of things like air pollution considered an evil by you if you consider it be an initiation of force?

  115. fastlane says

    Niblick@116

    The school can issue a “citation,” and even demand a “fine,” if they want to, but they have no power to collect said “fine” at gunpoint. All they can do is suspend her from school until the “fine” is paid, for example.

    Niblick@117

    When B’s smoke left B’s property and entered A’s property, he has initiated force and is guilty of trespassing (and, if his smoke damages A’s property, of vandalism). A can demand that B abate the smoke, and can personally or through agents can forcibly put out the rubbish fire. A can also hold B liable for any costs from damage to A’s property. A’s patients can hold B responsible for damages to their health. In practice, A would assume the task of pursuing his patients’ claims–and in fact would not litigate them personally, but would put in an insurance claim and have them pursue damages.

    Is it me, or is there a massive disconnect here?

    Once Person B has to go onto person A’s land, then they are the ones trespassing. Also, you said, as noted in the post exactly one before that the school would have no means of enforcing a fine or citation. How exactly would B hold A liable for damages if there’s no way of enforcing it once they are off B’s property.

    Methinks liberturds haven’t really thought through their positions very well. With only a minor variance in the hypothetical, the answer is reversed almost 180. Whereas with our evil society where we allow, through mostly mutual agreement, the government to set the laws and most people agree to abide by them, the reaction for either scenario generally follows the same principle, and the reaction by the authority in these cases would be similar, if not nearly identical.

  116. Rey Fox says

    I really wish we could get the UN to set aside a country somewhere, say the east African coast, maybe; offer anyone who wants out of that country a VISA to the civlized country of their choice; then let all the anarchist/libertarian/etc go live there and see how well it works for them.

    I’d rather not wish any more horrors on Africa. Let’s just wait until they get one of their libertarian islands up and running. Funny how those always end up as take-the-money-and-run schemes.

  117. Brother Ogvorbis, Fully Defenestrated Emperor of Steam, Fire and Absurdity says

    Niblick:

    Please explain to me (because I am obviously one of those evil stupid progressives who is not quite bright enough to see the obvious as you do)why it is okay for the state to use force against a murderer who kills one person, but not against a group of companies and individuals who will, if their actions remain unchecked, kill millions through AGW?

  118. Anri says

    In practice, A would assume the task of pursuing his patients’ claims–and in fact would not litigate them personally, but would put in an insurance claim and have them pursue damages.

    Right up to the moment that B purchased the insurance company and disbanded it.

    Oh, well, too bad so sad.

  119. stevarious says

    The ultimate libertarian fantasy is to be the guy who gets to buy up all the roads.

    Then all you have to do is stand in front of someone’s house with a gun. If the try to leave (that is, walk or drive on YOUR road!) you get to ‘expel them with all necessary force’. You can then dictate the terms by which the homeowner is allowed to leave his house – he has to give you the deed to the house! He doesn’t HAVE to sell you his home, he is more than welcome to stay inside until he starves to death, and it was HIS choice, you didn’t initiate any force against him! Of course, if he would rather live and gives you the deed, you can immediately evict him and his family at gunpoint. If they ask nicely, you might then deign to rent the house back to them – but only after you’ve had a chance to pick through all of ‘your’ new possessions for anything valuable.

    Rinse and repeat. The valuables you pick up from each house, and the rent you collect from your new tenants (to which you have no responsibilities, by the way) allows you to buy more roads and bigger guns. Eventually you will be able to hire armies to police the roads you own, and expel, at gunpoint, any outsider who DARES trespass on your city without paying the tolls!

    And since you own it all, legally, you are completely within the right. Shoot, you can even stipulate that as long as women want to live in YOUR city, you have to be allowed to have sex with any woman you want! Why not? If they don’t like it, they can leave! Oh, and by the way, in the contract you signed to live here, you forfeit all possessions if you leave. Have a nice day!

  120. Aquaria says

    I do believe an advanced society could be Libertarian and establish enough private organizations to support the poor and bring massive pressure on other misbehaving organizations.

    We had that. It was called “before the 20th century”. And it sucked for everybody except the rich. There was precious little charity, and even less innovation.

    There were always private charities, but they weren’t enough. Private charity has never been enough, and never will be.

    Are liberals the only people who have read Dickens? Or Upton Sinclair? I know both are fiction, but they’re mostly accurate descriptions of what it was like to live in a libertarian douchebag state. Everyone for themselves, fuck you I got mine, glaring poverty for most people, filth, quack medicine, vermin-riddled food, not-even-subsistence wages, no safe work places–that’s what a libertarian society looks like.

    There’s a reason my grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ generation fought so hard for government to get off its lazy ass and do something for people. They were fucking sick and tired of the status quo, and you libertardian shit stains want to drag us back to what they got us away from?

    Fuck you.

    Every single one of you.

  121. Niblick says

    Person B kindly decides to burn their rubbish when the wind is blowing in another direction. So do several thousand of Person B’s neighbours, who we will call Town C. This releases large amounts of sulfates into the atmosphere, which cause acid rain. This kills crops and makes the water undrinkable in Town D.

    Has Person B personally initiated force? Has Town C collectively initiated force? What recourse do those injured have?

    As above, force was initiated against the people of town D. They have the right to enjoin any further pollution, and to collect the full cost of damages from the polluters in town C. I’d shy away from the word “collectively,” since it whitewashes the very real problem that damages must be allocated among the individual polluters–there isn’t a libertarian equivalent of “joint and several liability” by which we could, for example, collect the damages from the deep-pocketed manufacturer of town C’s incinerators.

    There’s a stand-in for joint liability, though, that often works in practice. Namely, the many households in town C will generally have a small number of homeowners’ insurance providers between them. Liabilities like you describe will usually be covered, so the residents of town D will go to the insurers for relief, who will assign blame to their various customers and jack up their policies accordingly. The insurer will also handle the injunction process. Basically, folks in town D will tell the insurers that they’re going to be putting in claims against town C’s policies, and the insurers will issue injunctions in order to limit the payouts. In this context “injunction” means “notice that if they don’t quit immediately, their coverage will be dropped and they’ll be on their own when the next claim/disaster/whatever comes.”

  122. Naked Bunny with a Whip says

    When B’s smoke left B’s property and entered A’s property, he has initiated force

    This is the reasoning that underpins environmental laws, so what in hell is the problem with them?

  123. jack lecou says

    Hilarious, Niblick. You claim smoke drifting on someone else’s property is considered an initiation of force, but you also presented a case of the evil government fining someone for smoking on school grounds!

    Yeah. That was pretty awesome.

    But obviously it’s only bad if the “state” does it! If a private school sent a band of mercenaries to the girl’s home in response to her “initiation of force”, it’s all good!

  124. Brownian says

    I really wish we could get the UN to set aside a country somewhere, say the east African coast, maybe; offer anyone who wants out of that country a VISA to the civlized country of their choice; then let all the anarchist/libertarian/etc go live there and see how well it works for them.

    I’d rather not wish any more horrors on Africa. Let’s just wait until they get one of their libertarian islands up and running. Funny how those always end up as take-the-money-and-run schemes.

    No worries: they’re building their own island.

    Anybody interested in under bidding on the construction for the project? The low-low price they’ll surely jump on will of course incentivise you to innovate, rather than say, skimping out on the bolts, right?

  125. says

    @NigelTheBold:

    Don’t worry, I’ve actually bought the road in front of your home from RandomFactor. You have to, however, pay me forty dollars for every foot you travel along that road to whatever destination you are headed for. That’s fair, isn’t it?

    Oh, and the pink tutu. You have to wear that too :3

  126. Niblick says

    Right up to the moment that B purchased the insurance company and disbanded it. Oh, well, too bad so sad.

    That would fail: performance of (properly constructed) contracts is enforceable. Under the insurance contract, as it would be structured in a libertarian society, failure to pay just claims would constitute theft, which is an act of aggression, and the stolen assets are recoverable by force. So B, by buying up the insurance company, merely doubles his obligation to pay any and all damages to A: in addition to the obligation he incurred by causing the casualty in the first place, he is now contractually obligated to A as well.

  127. iLarynx says

    Anthropogenic? WTF difference does it make?* The “anthropogenic” argument is just another silly canard to cast doubt on climate change.

    Let’s say you’re sitting at home watching TV when you drop your cigarette and set the couch on fire. The natural reaction is to jump up and stamp it out, pour water on it, whatever it takes to keep the fire from destroying your home. Right?

    Now, let’s say you’re sitting at home watching TV when a bolt of lightning sets the couch on fire. Do you just sit there and watch it burn since it was merely the result of an anthropogenic event? Do Libertarians ponder how the glorious invisible hand will extinguish the flames as they themselves are engulfed in the conflagration?

    Most non-comatose people will get up and act as quickly as they can to reduce the chances that this threat to their home, even though it was not a man-made threat, is abated.

    Libertarians are truly a breed apart (e.g. Cro-mags and Neanderthals).

    *Granted that knowing the source of the increase can help in constructing a solution, but all the ones I’ve heard taking the “non-anthropogenic” stance do so as an excuse to avoid any action at all.

  128. says

    Now, let’s say Randomfactor takes a dislike to me because of something I said. Randomfactor is a rich fucker. He buys up all the private roads surrounding my warehouse, and refuses to renew my contracts, effectively destroying my business.

    This rich fucker would have to use all of his own money to do this so it wouldn’t be in his own interest unless he really values your sorrow more than his own wealth. The church of scientology has used state courts to fuck with people and even they eventually found it too expensive and had to slow down. His ability to screw with you would be limited the more competing roads exist (presumably, these would have to be large businesses and expensive to buy out). Ultimately, he stands to lose business. Not just your business, but business from people who realize that the owner is unstable and fear signing contracts with him. There are no assurances that this can’t happen but it would take a cartoon villain level of spitefulness and some more unrealistic conditions for it to ever happen.

  129. Brother Ogvorbis, Fully Defenestrated Emperor of Steam, Fire and Absurdity says

    That would fail: performance of (properly constructed) contracts is enforceable.

    Enforceable by whom? You have already objected, rather vociferously, to the idea that the government use force, so who enforces the law which states that contracts are enforceable?

    And, while you’re at it, please explain to me (because I am obviously one of those evil stupid progressives who is not quite bright enough to see the obvious as you do)why it is okay for the state to use force against a murderer who kills one person, but not against a group of companies and individuals who will, if their actions remain unchecked, kill millions through AGW?

  130. says

    pinkboi:

    But that people, while being basically good, put more thought and resources into their own narrow interests is at least as much a count against non-libertarian viewpoints as it is against libertarianism. After all, we’re expecting these creatures to act in broader, more global interests when we elect them to be politicians.

    That’s very true, and that is definitely a problem with representational government.

    The difference is, voters have recourse once every four (or two) years. Also, there are laws against specific kinds of self-indulgence lawmakers might try, such as bribery. Further, there are internal regulations for handling conflict of interest cases. There’s no such recourse in a fully Libertarian society.

    I’m under no delusion that our current system is perfect, or even necessarily the best of all possible options. My dread of someone like Bachmann or Perry getting elected is proof of that. But I’m not convinced Libertarianism holds the answer. In fact, it seems more susceptible to low-level corruption and collusion among those with wealth. There seems to be nothing at all to help balance the power.

    Not that I think the wealthy don’t already have too much power. Some days our system seems more of a plutocracy than a representational democracy.

    While I definitely sympathize with the aims of Libertarianism (maximize personal liberty), I don’t think it’s worth sacrificing society to get there.

  131. Rambling T. Wreck says

    That would fail: performance of (properly constructed) contracts is enforceable.

    By who?

    Under the insurance contract, as it would be structured in a libertarian society, failure to pay just claims would constitute theft, which is an act of aggression, and the stolen assets are recoverable by force.

    By who?

  132. Gaebolga says

    Suppose I’m Bill Gates, living in Libertopia, and I really, really like Niblick’s house.

    And I really, really don’t like Niblick.

    Using just a tiny fraction of my vast wealth, I buy up all of the land surrounding Niblick’s house and then put up a large fence around the edge of his property with signs that read “Trespassers will be flayed alive and fed to a pack of starving wolverines.” I then tell Niblick that I will kindly buy his house for $1, and that said offer will stand for as long as necessary until Niblick sells me his house.

    Would this count as theft in Libertopia?

  133. fastlane says

    I’m surprised your head doesn’t explode from all the cognitive dissonance, Nibleck, but I guess that would require being self aware enough to notice….

    That would fail: performance of (properly constructed) contracts is enforceable. Under the insurance contract, as it would be structured in a libertarian society, failure to pay just claims would constitute theft, which is an act of aggression, and the stolen assets are recoverable by force.

    How? You’ve stated previously that transgressing on someone else’s property, even to collect fines, is aggressive force. (Your words.) and that person is entirely within their rights to use defensive force (again, your words) to keep them off.

    So B, by buying up the insurance company, merely doubles his obligation to pay any and all damages to A: in addition to the obligation he incurred by causing the casualty in the first place, he is now contractually obligated to A as well.

    Maybe, but see above. Your stances are very inconsistent.

  134. Niblick says

    Please explain to me (because I am obviously one of those evil stupid progressives who is not quite bright enough to see the obvious as you do)why it is okay for the state to use force against a murderer who kills one person, but not against a group of companies and individuals who will, if their actions remain unchecked, kill millions through AGW?

    I never said it wasn’t. Aggression may always be stopped by force.

    The only difference between the AGW saga as played out in a libertarian society, and the same saga today, is that in a libertarian society the aggressors must be proven guilty, and harm properly allocated among them, in order to exact damages. Today, it’s not only possible but probable that the ones causing the lion’s share of AGW will escape liability, and others bearing only negligible responsibility will be heavily regulated and/or fined.

    Further, this will occur without establishing the magnitude of anthropogeneity, let alone the parties’ contribution to it–both of which are necessary to establish actual liability. Instead, random storm X will occur, and random companies Y and Z will be forced to pay for storm damage, without any idea what the anthropogenic component of storm X might be, nor whether Y or Z actually contributed any of that effect.

    As an aside, that’s basically my concern about things like Kyoto. By exempting third-world countries, it’s unclear that net AGW will be affected at all, but in addition there isn’t currently an empirical basis for knowing whether Kyoto is too restrictive, or not nearly restrictive enough, and whether we can expect AGW to be reversed, halted, slowed, or not affected at all. Climate change is proven, yes. There’s evidence for anthropogeneity, yes, though more would be nice. But to go from that to a policy proposal requires more: it requires some sort of empirical basis for knowing what results we can expect from taking a given measure. Simply “doing something,” for the sake of doing something, is rather pointless; for all we know, we need to do twice as much something in order to have a beneficial impact.

  135. says

    pinkboi:

    This rich fucker would have to use all of his own money to do this so it wouldn’t be in his own interest unless he really values your sorrow more than his own wealth.

    There are already people in our society who could afford to do just this from their petty cash.

    There are no assurances that this can’t happen but it would take a cartoon villain level of spitefulness and some more unrealistic conditions for it to ever happen.

    I don’t agree with either of these statements.

    Sure, for a personal vendetta like this, it might be a bit cartoonish. But say he refused to sign a contract with gays. There are more than enough people who would support such a move. Or how about atheists? He’s rich, he has a substantial percentage of the population supporting his decision, and he thinks it would be evil to provide a service to gays and atheists.

    Don’t think this couldn’t happen. Hell, I bet it would happen. It already happens to a certain extent in our society today.

  136. Gaebolga says

    …oh and Niblick?

    I hope for your sake that you stipulated that you had the right of passage though my (Bill Gates’) property to exit your house, or my wolverines will eat well once you sell your house….

  137. says

    Oh, for major blockquote fail! My HTML-fu is fucking terrible today!

    This rich fucker would have to use all of his own money to do this so it wouldn’t be in his own interest unless he really values your sorrow more than his own wealth.

    There are already people in our society who could afford to do just this from their petty cash.

    There are no assurances that this can’t happen but it would take a cartoon villain level of spitefulness and some more unrealistic conditions for it to ever happen.

    I don’t agree with either of these statements.

    Sure, for a personal vendetta like this, it might be a bit cartoonish. But say he refused to sign a contract with gays. There are more than enough people who would support such a move. Or how about atheists? He’s rich, he has a substantial percentage of the population supporting his decision, and he thinks it would be evil to provide a service to gays and atheists.

    Don’t think this couldn’t happen. Hell, I bet it would happen. It already happens to a certain extent in our society today.

  138. says

    @Pinkboi:

    You forget. He’s a Rich Fucker. Buying a small number of roads (say, for this exercise, four that surround the warehouse – probably not likely) would be a pittance for him. NigelTheBold’s business is still fucked. But the Rich Fucker isn’t causing any problems with the other business owners, they’re free to run on the roads – and in fact the Rich Fucker is perfectly willing to let them do so without worrying about overhead.

    Wow, Rich Fucker is such a kind individual!

  139. Niblick says

    Hilarious, Niblick. You claim smoke drifting on someone else’s property is considered an initiation of force, but you also presented a case of the evil government fining someone for smoking on school grounds!

    You’re still confused: who are you claiming that smoking at school aggresses against? In the hypothetical example given, A was the victim: he owns a piece of property onto which smoke was projected without his consent. What made A the victim wasn’t merely that he disliked the smoke; if he were a tenant on B’s land, for example, he would have no recourse but to move. Or if he were a tenant on C’s land, but C and B were friends and C consented to B’s smoke on his property, again A would have no recourse but to move.

    This is back to the second FAQ: clarifying the meaning of aggression. “Aggression” is a libertarian term of art that doesn’t line up exactly with your relatively vague and generalized notion of the word.

  140. says

    Katherine Lorraine:

    That’s fair, isn’t it?

    As it’s part of our contract, of course it’s fair.

    But Libertopia isn’t concerned with fairness. Niblick said so.

    Oh, and the pink tutu. You have to wear that too :3

    *blush*

    Anything for you.

  141. Niblick says

    I hope for your sake that you stipulated that you had the right of passage though my (Bill Gates’) property to exit your house, or my wolverines will eat well once you sell your house….

    Yet another FAQ. You’re inventing hypotheticals which reveal weaknesses in your understanding of “aggression” as a libertarian term of art, rather than revealing weaknesses in libertarian legal theory itself.

    It gets old, which is sort of the definition of “FAQ,” but it’s particularly curious coming from someone who purports to be rational: attempting to counter an argument you haven’t understood, using terms you aren’t familiar with, is hardly rational discourse. You need to learn the basic definitions before you can comprehend, let alone dispute, the basic propositions–and you need to understand the basic propositions before you can understand, let alone dispute, the theorems based on them.

  142. says

    Niblick:

    You’re inventing hypotheticals which reveal weaknesses in your understanding of “aggression” as a libertarian term of art, rather than revealing weaknesses in libertarian legal theory itself.

    And you’re refusing to address hypotheticals that are perfectly reasonable but reveal weaknesses in the libertarian legal theory itself.

  143. Rey Fox says

    By who?

    In Libertopia, everyone has their guns pointed at everyone else at all times. Naturally, it’s a polite society.

  144. Fred X. Quimby says

    @Aquaria it does not appear you read my entire post. Also you were mean with your generalization and it hurt my feelings.

    The 19th century world was in large part so horrible because workers were not allowed to organize effectively (and still are). Also, income inequality and poor communication networks.

    I freely admit I was engaging in utopist fantasies. I’m sorry my wool-gathering offended you so greatly. Please forgive me.

  145. Anteprepro says

    Niblick, the fuckwitted libertarian, doesn’t understand what carcinogenic smoke is? Color me surprised.

    You know what smoke on school property aggresses against? Anyone breathing on school property! Fucking moron.

  146. Anri says

    That would fail: performance of (properly constructed) contracts is enforceable. Under the insurance contract, as it would be structured in a libertarian society, failure to pay just claims would constitute theft, which is an act of aggression, and the stolen assets are recoverable by force. So B, by buying up the insurance company, merely doubles his obligation to pay any and all damages to A: in addition to the obligation he incurred by causing the casualty in the first place, he is now contractually obligated to A as well.

    Nah, the contract that B and the Insurance Co owners (call them C?) signed on sale voided all pre-existing obligations.

    C knew it was crappy, but hey, money’s money, right?

    – or –

    B appoints himself claim adjustor (no qualifications required, due to lack of regulation) and assignes this claim to himself and rules damages of $1.

    .

    I like this game, only because it’s not happening to real people, though.

  147. Chris from Europe says

    @nigelTheBold
    I think the problem with US-style representative democracy is simply that it’s not very representative (the use of plurality voting with low number of districts plus gerrymandering … and the completely ridiculous Senate).

    On the other hand, I don’t see direct democracy as an improvement, as it leads directly to a tyranny of the majority (just look at California with Prop 8 and death penalty and Switzerland with various xenophobic initiatives). This could be corrected by constitutional restrictions and requiring more than 50 percent and no quorum to change the constitution, of course. /endrant

  148. Niblick says

    School property being damaged by the smoke and people who don’t wish to have to worry about second-hand smoke for two.

    Whether you “wish to have second-hand smoke” is not quite a red herring: substitute “anthrax spores” for “secondhand smoke” and we’d have a clear case of aggression meriting deadly force in self-defense. To the extent therefore that secondhand smoke causes harm, it is a tort. The degree of the tort is proportional to actual harm, however, not to your wishes. Substitute instead “cheap perfume” for “secondhand smoke,” and we have a case in which there’s absolutely no harm and no grounds for any use of force whatsoever. So you need to clearly distinguish “harm” from “wishes” in order to discuss that matter coherently. Your wishes, per se, are a red herring.

    The school, on the other hand, does not need to prove any harm at all: they can set any conditions they like on access to their property. They can forbid smoking, forbid tee shirts, require everyone to wear a tutu, and require you to sing “Mary had a little lamb” at the entrance. You’re free to refuse, in which case they’re free to bar you entry to their property. Therefore they can evict the smoker. If the smoker refuses to comply, she is now trespassing, and trespassing is a crime of aggression that can be repelled forcibly.

    Once again, this is libertarian 101. That you think it’s a conundrum illustrates your unfamiliarity with the concepts, not any contradiction in the theory itself.

  149. Anteprepro says

    Libertarian Solutions to the NigeltheBold/Randomfactor Dispute:

    1. Build a new road of your own. Somehow.
    2. Hire “police” who have a more liberal definition of “initiation of force” than even Niblick.
    3. Switch shipments from trucks to helicopters.
    4. Systematically temporarily hire an endless stream of people Randomfactor doesn’t know to do deliveries for you.
    5. Bombard him with frivolous lawsuits until Randomfactor finally gives in. (What the legal system is in Niblick’s alternate reality, and how it even manages to exist, is left as to the imagination).
    6. Or, best of all: buy a tank and drive on the road anyway. DARE Randomfactor to try to retaliate against you for trespassing. Because, when it comes down to it, with the FREEDOM to buy whatever weapons you want, without a government and their pesky “men with guns”, the man with the most firepower IS the law. Really, who would want elected representatives vowing to uphold written laws to mandate the law rather than just a random person who decides to stock up on weapons and sycophants?

    If you don’t have enough money to do any of the above, you are basically fucked. But that’s just because the rich have more options. This is only natural, and damn you liberals for trying to deny it! It’s not as if the libertarian ideal society is one where you need to have money to do virtually everything, and where money is power and power is money.

  150. Gaebolga says

    Niblick wrote:

    Yet another FAQ. You’re inventing hypotheticals which reveal weaknesses in your understanding of “aggression” as a libertarian term of art, rather than revealing weaknesses in libertarian legal theory itself.

    So either trespassing doesn’t count as “aggression” under Libertarian thought, or there are levels of “defensive” force that count as unreasonable?

    Or is there some other reason that a slightly-less-hyperbolic version of the scenario I outlined isn’t perfectly acceptable in a truly Libertarian society?

  151. Brother Ogvorbis, Fully Defenestrated Emperor of Steam, Fire and Absurdity says

    is that in a libertarian society the aggressors must be proven guilty, and harm properly allocated among them, in order to exact damages.

    And this is a huge problem with libertarianism: preventing harm in the first place is not possible. Once the sea level has risen two metres, Bangladesh will be able to sue those producing massive amounts of carbon. Too bad we can’t do something about the carbon before Bangladesh (and parts of Florida) drown. But doing something before hand would be force, right? And force is always wrong. Even when force could save millions of lives. What a sick, sad, and selfish set of policies.

  152. says

    Anteprepro:

    Libertarian Solutions to the NigeltheBold/Randomfactor Dispute:

    Now we’re getting somewhere.

    6. Or, best of all: buy a tank and drive on the road anyway.

    Heh-heh. Randomfactor won’t know what hit him. Try to use deadly force against me while I’m in my tank.

  153. Jay B. says

    But suffice it to say that while it would require extensive work (and a marked lack of bullying and child abuse when rearing children) an anarchic society is something which could be attempted, whereas a system relying on the state has clearly and hilariously failed us on almost all levels.

    So in perfect conditions, including better child-rearing and the end of bullying, we could attempt anarchy! How do you propose to get there, champ? Spontaneous decency? You say “it would require extensive work”, no kidding? Well GET ON IT ALREADY. Who on Earth is stopping you? Certainly not the state.

    That, or you could continue to construct these laughable precise fantasies about the perfect world and smugly dismiss the failed state that’s given you the opportunity to muse to your heart’s content about it.

  154. Brother Ogvorbis, Fully Defenestrated Emperor of Steam, Fire and Absurdity says

    Heh-heh. Randomfactor won’t know what hit him. Try to use deadly force against me while I’m in my tank.

    Heh, heh. A parachute-stabilized shaped charge weapon dropped onto the engine deck should work nicely.

  155. Niblick says

    And you’re refusing to address hypotheticals that are perfectly reasonable but reveal weaknesses in the libertarian legal theory itself.

    Um, what am I refusing to address? I’m addressing the living hell out of every question I see (though I admit to skimming the thread, because it’s now quite long).

    Your hypothetical example with the wolverines fails because it assumes I wake up one morning and discover that all the property around my house is now turned into a wolverine preserve. This is in practice impossible, since you must complete a large number of transactions in secret, and then erect lots of fences overnight, to avoid committing crimes yourself in the form of predation by escaped wolverines. You’re assuming more than vast wealth: you’re assuming actual magic. The answer is that when my neighbor’s moving van arrives, I’ll hitch a ride in it, and then do whatever I’m going to do while safely on the other side of your wolverine preserve.

    If you remove the wolverines, and ask only about what recourse I have when someone devalues my property by buying up all the neighboring properties and converting them into a pig farm, say, the answer is: not much. However, I don’t have much recourse today if that happens. I can enjoin any pollution of my property by smells, or pig shit, or marauding pigs, though. Sending stinks or shit or pigs onto my land is trespassing.

  156. jack lecou says

    We had that. It was called “before the 20th century”. And it sucked for everybody except the rich. There was precious little charity, and even less innovation.

    What’s really hilarious is the fact that a lot of these libertarian – or really, “propertarian” in at least Niblick’s case – dystopias can “devolve” into essentially modern liberal democracy over, say, a century or three given a fairly plausible sequence of economic pressures and “contract” negotiations.

    There were a couple threads on Crooked Timber a while back on the subject.

    Basically, you imagine “libertarian world”, reset somehow to whatever it is they imagine that looks like. Then you imagine that one successful guy buys up a lot of contiguous land. A country in itself, as it were. And all perfectly legal according to libertarian principles. And then it evolves.

    Perhaps the landlord and the tenants on his property negotiate various contracts. He provides use of his land, protection, judicial services and so forth in exchange for rent, labor, and agreement to abide by the terms of the “state”. Let’s not call it “feudalism”. Over generations, these agreements take on an institutional character. But things change over time, and in a sequence analogous to the rise of the modern state, the balance of power eventually shifts in favor of the tenants, who wring concessions from the landlord. Progressively, the tenants sign onto a formalized and unified tenant contract, win the right to select representatives from among themselves to supervise the policies of the land and to participate in future negotiations, etc.

    Eventually, the importance of the landlord wanes, and the duly and libertarian-lawfully contractually authorized authority (lets not call them “government”) of the tenants (who aren’t by any means “citizens”) find it sensible and convenient to implement various schemes in which “rent” is used to fund “social programs” and “food safety regulations” and “building codes”.

    But, you know, it’s okay. Because that would totally still be libertarianism.

  157. says

    niblick still not answering the very basic question that has been asked over and over and over again…

    The school, on the other hand, does not need to prove any harm at all: they can set any conditions they like on access to their property.

    Prove to who? Is there a court involved here? How is that arranged? And what power does such a court possess to enforce its rulings?

    Niblet… your hole… it’s getting deeper… might I suggest you stop digging?

  158. Anteprepro says

    Niblick: “You need to learn the basic definitions before you can comprehend, let alone dispute, the basic propositions–”

    And you’re going to clearly define these totally different, Libertarian definitions for commonplace words? No? You’re just going handwave and condescend to us because we just so obviously don’t understand that you’re using idiosyncratic definitions for the terms in your otherwise inane, simplistic treatises on how society should work? Oh, well then, that’ll show us.

  159. says

    But the Rich Fucker isn’t causing any problems with the other business owners, they’re free to run on the roads – and in fact the Rich Fucker is perfectly willing to let them do so without worrying about overhead.

    If I was running a business that needed to do shipping and I was aware that the owners of one of the roads was spitefully excluding someone from using his roads, I would route my shipping so as to not use those roads. It’s not just the moral dimension – boycotting someone who would go on a wild vendetta campaign – but also out of self-interest. Someone who would do that is unstable and doing business with such a person, therefore, is risky (how am I to know I won’t accidentally hit Random Factor’s buttons and suffer a similar fate?) I think you’re underestimating the effect of bad PR and execs’ distaste for unstable weirdos (出る杭は打たれる – the sticking out nail gets pounded down).

    But Nigel is right – currently, some people do have enough money to do something awful like that. So what’s stopping them?

  160. says

    Niblick:

    Um, what am I refusing to address? I’m addressing the living hell out of every question I see (though I admit to skimming the thread, because it’s now quite long).

    The hypothetical I presented about an extremely wealthy person who purchases roads for the purpose of destroying my business.

    Try this: someone owns all the roads in a town who refuses to allow gays or atheists to use them. What are the options?

  161. Niblick says

    is that in a libertarian society the aggressors must be proven guilty, and harm properly allocated among them, in order to exact damages.

    And this is a huge problem with libertarianism: preventing harm in the first place is not possible.

    Why do you say it’s not possible? It’s entirely possible. It’s not only possible, but it works similarly to the way it works today: anything good that government accomplishes has an analogue that uses no non-defensive force.

    To give only one example, industry requires massive amounts of insurance. Insurers do up-front assessment of risks in order to underwrite them. They also outline requirements, either to be insured at all, or to lower premiums. These requirements today subsume government regulations by means of clauses that deny coverage to non-compliant companies. In a libertarian society, such of those policies that impact liability, risks, costs, etc., will simply be made explicit by the insurers. The net result is the same; only the details of enforcement have changed. The ultimate deterrent is also unchanged: the threat of massive consequences after the fact if harm results. That’s also the ultimate deterrent today.

    That’s not the only mechanism of preventing harm, but it is a fairly important and the most obvious one.

  162. Dan L. says

    @Niblick:
    Climate change is proven, yes. There’s evidence for anthropogeneity, yes, though more would be nice. But to go from that to a policy proposal requires more: it requires some sort of empirical basis for knowing what results we can expect from taking a given measure. Simply “doing something,” for the sake of doing something, is rather pointless; for all we know, we need to do twice as much something in order to have a beneficial impact
    .

    Bollocks. Both of these points are common memes of the more coy sort of AGW denier, the “delayist”, and are rooted in the “We don’t know everything, so we know nothing” meme. It’s sheer FUDsterism.

    First, there is plenty of evidence for anthropogeneity: the physics that tell us humans are radically changing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere–and that that change must alter the climate–are known.

    Second, halting the increase of CO2 is a risk avoidance strategy, not a guaranteed outcome strategy. Knowing what has happened to the planet in the past when the temperature changed 3C, we cannot rationally continue behavior which risks inflicting such conditions on human civilization in the geological blink of an eye.

  163. says

    Your hypothetical example with the wolverines fails because it assumes I wake up one morning and discover that all the property around my house is now turned into a wolverine preserve.

    Huh? Who said that? Nobody stated this would happen overnight. A sufficiently wealthy person could, however, make such arrangements in a matter of weeks, no doubt. And even in that case, how would you prevent it? What recourse would you have in Liberturdia?

    This is in practice impossible, since you must complete a large number of transactions in secret, and then erect lots of fences overnight…

    again, says you… you can redefine the scenario all you want, but you’re the one saying it would need to happen overnight. I submit that it could be done in weeks, and in Liberturdia, it would be as if it happened overnight, as your possible recourse would be the same. Not a thing you could do about it, without resorting to aggression.

    If you remove the wolverines, and ask only about what recourse I have when someone devalues my property by buying up all the neighboring properties and converting them into a pig farm, say, the answer is: not much. However, I don’t have much recourse today if that happens.

    And there you go again redifining the example… remember that the initial problem wasn’t simply putting up unsightly fences around your property… it was buying up all property around your home, effectively cutting off your ability to move beyond your own property… that of course isn’t possible today because (most) roads are not privately owned. Try to argue against the examples you were given, not the ones you conveniently re-define.

  164. says

    @pinkboi:

    Why would you complain? Why would you go to seek out another road? You’re a business owner – business is about one thing: lower costs, raise profits. So what if the owner of that street that leads up to your warehouse is a jackass, you don’t have to worry about paying to use his road! Your costs are therefore lowered. Are you going to instead possibly pay a whole lot more to get your trucks (a LOT of trucks) to use a different person’s roads? If you are, you’re a really dumb business owner.

  165. Brother Ogvorbis, Fully Defenestrated Emperor of Steam, Fire and Absurdity says

    I would route my shipping so as to not use those roads.

    But wouldn’t that be an act of force to be met with violence (in libertopia)?

  166. Niblick says

    And you’re going to clearly define these totally different, Libertarian definitions for commonplace words? No?

    I’ve sketched the definitions of several, in enough detail that, together with folks’ counterexamples and my replies, you should be able to get the general idea. Giving complete and rigorous definitions would require writing a book. It would be shirking on my part to allude to definitions without ever supplying any, but I haven’t done that. It would be ridiculous on your part to demand that I summarize a large and complex volume of literature in a few words on a blog comment.

    To get you started, I would refer you here: http://mises.org/rothbard/ethics/ethics.asp

  167. says

    But Nigel is right – currently, some people do have enough money to do something awful like that. So what’s stopping them?

    In some cases, government regulation… they can’t, legally.

  168. Niblick says

    The hypothetical I presented about an extremely wealthy person who purchases roads for the purpose of destroying my business.

    A version of the same dilemma exists in every conceivable human society. You can’t advance it as a particular flaw of libertarian society.

    My sister worked for a Greek fellow in Massachusetts. He and all his brothers each owned a pizza place (cliché, but true). They had one sister, who married an American and gave him the family pizza recipe. They hated the husband, and resented even more his inclusion in the family business, so when he opened a pizza place in Brattleboro VT, one of the brothers opened a pizza place directly across the street from him. He operated it at a loss of about a million dollars, solely to drive the brother-in-law out of business. After a bit more than a year, he succeeded.

  169. eyelessgame says

    yes, yes, yes, government is force, we get it.

    Climate change is also force.

    Poverty is force. Hunger is force. Illness is force. Debility is force. Economic force is force. Aging is force. Death is force.

    Bigotry is force. Irrationality is force.

    Asphyxiation is force – you are forced, under immediate threat of death, to breathe. You must labor, over and over, endlessly, or you will be killed. You have no choice.

    Lots of things are forces, in that they produce effects in reality, that will have their way unless countered by some opposing force.

    You are forced into a lot of actions by a lot of things.

    The distinction, however, is that a responsive government (made responsive through the vote, i.e. consent, of the governed) can choose to apply its force such that it functions as a net *counter* to other less desirable forces.

    Thus a government can prevent the crude application of physical violence of one person upon another. That’s elementary, and a start.

    But then we find government can also prevent people from starving to death – at the cost of some money moved from people not in danger of starvation or death. The net effect is positive, in that a deadly force is averted via a less deadly one – without the government’s action, people die; with government action, those deaths are averted, and no others are caused. Net win.

    A thousand other cases appear as well, where the net effect – in the opinion of the citizenry – is positive. You are free to disagree in some instances; I do, we all do, and that’s why we have political debates and votes.

    And in every government action, yes, force is applied. It is applied because – in the opinion of those whom the government represents – the force is opposing a less desirable force.

  170. Gaebolga says

    Niblick wrote:

    Your hypothetical example with the wolverines fails because it assumes I wake up one morning and discover that all the property around my house is now turned into a wolverine preserve. This is in practice impossible, since you must complete a large number of transactions in secret, and then erect lots of fences overnight, to avoid committing crimes yourself in the form of predation by escaped wolverines. You’re assuming more than vast wealth: you’re assuming actual magic. The answer is that when my neighbor’s moving van arrives, I’ll hitch a ride in it, and then do whatever I’m going to do while safely on the other side of your wolverine preserve.

    Who said anything about converting the neighboring property into a wolverine preserve? I’ve got those fuckers in my basement, which is where I’ll be feeding you to them.

    The point of my scenario is that I’ve bought up all the property around your house including any possible means of leaving your property. Once I own the property, your ass is toast, because setting foot off of yours would be trespassing. Eventually, you’ll starve, unless you live on a farm that is entirely self-sufficient at the moment that I buy up all the property.

    Or are you going to tell me what property I can and cannot buy, or that I can’t deny someone the right to walk across my property?

    As for hitching a ride in the neighbor’s moving van, if she’s actually willing to let you trespass on her property; great. Now you are unable to get back into your house, on pain of skinning and wolverine consumption (or something less cartoonish, though no less effective).

    Now sell me your house for $1; after all, what good is it to you now?

    But this isn’t theft. It’s not even wrong.

    It’s Libertopia®!

  171. Niblick says

    I would route my shipping so as to not use those roads.

    But wouldn’t that be an act of force to be met with violence (in libertopia)?

    How in the world is “not buying from supplier X” an act of aggression? Is “not eating at McDonalds” an act of aggression, punishable by McDonalds agents handcuffing you and dragging you to a McDonalds?

    Once again, there seems to be confusion about the definition of “aggression.” I can’t help it that it comes off a bit condescending to keep pointing it out, but rest assured that “not eating at McDonalds” is NOT a crime of aggression against McDonalds. “Not marring you” is not a crime of aggression either, and can’t be punished by forcible marriage. Also, dating your wife is NOT a crime of aggression against you, assuming your wife is consenting. Telling everyone in town that you’re a big doody face is also not a crime of aggression against you; if you punch me out for doing so, it’s a crime of aggression against me.

  172. says

    Niblick,

    Last time I checked I saw corporations making much use of guns to enforce their will.

    They use it as the border to enforce their intellectual property and seize private assets.

    They use it against unions, in this case Verizon hiring Xe to corral and intimidate strikers.

    They oil companies used it against Tim DeChristopher, whom used non-violent civil disobedience. In turn the oil companies had their men with guns put Tim DeChristopher in federal prison for the next two years.

    So where’s that moral high ground again? All you’ve done is exchanged one master, that could be regulated and voted in and out, for another master who only answers to profit, and has no problems crushing citizens to obtain that profit. Good job.

  173. stevarious says

    We are still waiting for you to respond. What is your recourse when I buy the land around your home and threaten to kill you if you step on my property? What can you do possibly do, except sell your home for a dollar, or starve? I have already explained that this is not the actions of a cartoon villain, but a perfectly legal, workable business plan in Libertopia. What is your recourse?

  174. says

    A version of the same dilemma exists in every conceivable human society. You can’t advance it as a particular flaw of libertarian society.

    My sister worked for a Greek fellow in Massachusetts…. etc, etc…

    Again… you’re re-defining the issue. Nobody here is claiming that the wealthy and powerful don’t use their wealth and power in insidious ways in today’s society. However, there are at least SOME things that even the wealthiest are prevented from doing… for example, the rival Pizza store owner couldn’t also buy the road your sister’s employer’s shop was on and then refuse to allow deliveries to his business. In Liberturdia, he could. it’s not a matter of defining the perfect solution, it’s a question of identifying all the ways in which your libertarian ideologies are worse, when considered in real-world and practical scenarios.

  175. Anteprepro says

    Pinkboi: ” I would route my shipping so as to not use those roads. It’s not just the moral dimension – boycotting someone who would go on a wild vendetta campaign – but also out of self-interest. Someone who would do that is unstable and doing business with such a person, therefore, is risky (how am I to know I won’t accidentally hit Random Factor’s buttons and suffer a similar fate?)”

    But what if this wildly impractical? Given the fact that there is only so much land that roads can possibly be built on, the amount of roads that can exist that can conceivably “compete” with another road are limited. For instance, I live in a cul de sac. It is virtually impossible for there to be a new road on which I can leave my house that doesn’t intersect with the road that already exists around my house. If someone were to buy this road in Libertopia, I would have no recourse but to either drive on it or be trapped in my driveway.

    In urban centers, there are no places to build alternate city streets because the roads are packed tightly between the actual lines of buildings. There is no place for a new road to be built to compete with Main Street. Those with businesses on the street, or those who want to go to those businesses, are at the mercy of whoever owns that road.

    The only place where roads can actually compete are if they are rural or highways, and even then, things like marshes prove as effective barriers to where roads can be built and things like forests, mountains, and rivers can accrue large additional costs and cause environmental damage, making such new routes impractical to build. To say nothing of needing to purchase tracts of land to build the land on, where some of the land needed may be farms.

    The point: the situations where you can actually boycott roads are few and far between. And far too much of our collective resources and land would be wasted on extra roads in cases where that wasn’t true and people tried to compete.

  176. says

    Niblick,

    Last time I checked I saw corporations making much use of guns to enforce their will.

    They use it at the border to enforce their intellectual property and seize private assets.

    They use it against unions, in this case Verizon hiring Xe to corral and intimidate strikers.

    The oil companies used it against Tim DeChristopher, whom used non-violent civil disobedience. In turn the oil companies had their men with guns put Tim DeChristopher in federal prison for the next two years.

    So where’s that moral high ground again? All you’ve done is exchanged one master, that could be regulated and voted in and out, for another master who only answers to profit, and has no problems crushing citizens to obtain that profit. Good job.

  177. Niblick says

    The point of my scenario is that I’ve bought up all the property around your house including any possible means of leaving your property. Once I own the property, your ass is toast, because setting foot off of yours would be trespassing.

    Yes, I got that. I replied that acquiring all my means of egress, before I can learn of your evil plan and escape first, is a practical impossibility. Your hypothetical example involves magic. And if you can use magic to enclose me instantly and without warning, I will simply use magic as well and apparate away from my property. QED.

    By the way, you can’t feed trespassers to wolverines in your basement. You can evict trespassers. Arguably you can have vicious guard dogs, and whatever they might do to me when I trespass would be my own fault. But you can’t kidnap me and drag me to your basement to be devoured–you can only evict me. If I resist eviction you can use force, up to and including hand grenades if necessary, but all your actions must take the form of efforts to evict me. Chaining trespassers in the basement for use as sex slaves is a crime of aggression, and your victims can resist you with deadly force. Afterward, they will be charged with trespassing and you will be charged with kidnapping and attempted rape.

  178. stevarious says

    Yes, I got that. I replied that acquiring all my means of egress, before I can learn of your evil plan and escape first, is a practical impossibility. Your hypothetical example involves magic. And if you can use magic to enclose me instantly and without warning, I will simply use magic as well and apparate away from my property. QED

    But how do you get your house back? How do you even get back in to your house? How do you stop me from owning all the land around your house?

  179. pj says

    @Niblick,

    I haz a confuze.

    Your posts #92 and #164 are contradicting each other. OTOH you say at #164 that in the libertarian world (I won’t deign to call it a society) a school can make whatever rules it likes, e.g. non-smoking policy, and enforce them too. But you have previously at #92 presented the enforcing of a non-smoking rule of a high school in our current society as an example of that horrible gun-point aggression.

    Is it because a) a deputy was involved; b) a gun was visible; c) it involved a fine of MONEY; d) the rule was a law made by the gummint; e) something else that the actual real-life case was a bad but the libertarian hypothetical is a good?

    Man, this libertarian 101 is hard…

  180. Brother Ogvorbis, Fully Defenestrated Emperor of Steam, Fire and Absurdity says

    Niblick:

    You have zero sense of humour.

    And a few Faux News personalities, some years ago, when individuals were advocating pressuring companies to stop advertising on Glen Beck’s show, and to boycott the companies that continued to advertise on his show, declared the threat of a boycott to be an attack, a threat of force, an assault, on their First Ammendment rights of free speech. You may not consider a boycott to be violence or force, but there are people who consider it to be just that — economic violence against a company.

  181. Rambling T. Wreck says

    Am I imagining it, or does this hypothetical libertarian society work pretty much the same way international relations do right now?

  182. says

    Niblick:

    A version of the same dilemma exists in every conceivable human society. You can’t advance it as a particular flaw of libertarian society.

    Absolutely. I don’t deny the flaw is non-existent in our current society. Starbucks used a similar technique when driving out local coffeeshops.

    What I do claim is Libertarianism exacerbates the problem. It gives businesses the ability to discriminate against hated minorities, for instance. In our society, it is currently harder to do that.

    I do like how you chose the personal hypothetical over the broader, far more likely hypothetical of a big business discriminating against a minority.

  183. Brother Ogvorbis, Fully Defenestrated Emperor of Steam, Fire and Absurdity says

    But you can’t kidnap me and drag me to your basement to be devoured–you can only evict me.

    And who would use force to enforce the rule or law about that?

  184. says

    stevarious:

    But how do you get your house back? How do you even get back in to your house? How do you stop me from owning all the land around your house?

    But you could own all the land around his house in any society!

    Therefore, libertarianism handles it better.

    I mean, Libertarianism is better at handling all societal faults.*

     

    * Not intended to be a factual statement

  185. says

    @Katherine –

    You’re oversimplifying how businesses operate. If a business only takes into account cost, it will fail. There are many places I could build warehouses and it would be a bad idea to build any that are only serviced by Random Factor’s roads. I might even, as a precautionary step, move facilities that are only serviced by his roads elsewhere. It would be dangerous to not do so, given Random Factor’s instability.

    This all sounds like a board game. I should make a simple web-based game to simulate commerce in an anarcho-capitalist society (disclaimer: I’m not an anarcho-capitalist but I think it’s interesting to consider things like this). I know many social scientists do, indeed, run software simulations but I think an MMO might be a good way to simulate this, particularly due to the competitive nature of business (and games).

  186. Brother Ogvorbis, Fully Defenestrated Emperor of Steam, Fire and Absurdity says

    Shit. Hit submit prematurely.

    But you can’t kidnap me and drag me to your basement to be devoured–you can only evict me.

    And who would use force to enforce the rule or law about that? It certainly wouldn’t be you as you would already be in the basement up to your scrotum in wolverine maw. Would it be your relatives initiating a never-ending revenge cycle a la Afghanistan or Kentucky (of course, that would be too late for you, but your relatives could get their blood money, right?)?

  187. Alverant says

    Niblick your claims about how taxes are “collected at gunpoint” missed one obvious flaws.

    First if you don’t want to pay taxes: MOVE. That’s right, if you don’t want to pay for what the government provides (police, fire fighters, military, law and order, etc) then cut all your financial ties to this country and leave. But as long as your living here, you’ve accepted a contract to be a law-abiding citizen and that includes paying taxes. You talked a lot about contracts, so why ignore this one?

    That seems to be the libertarian way of things, accepting all the benefits and denying all the costs.

  188. Niblick says

    Again… you’re re-defining the issue. Nobody here is claiming that the wealthy and powerful don’t use their wealth and power in insidious ways in today’s society. However, there are at least SOME things that even the wealthiest are prevented from doing…

    Big whoop. There are “at least SOME things” that even the wealthiest are prevented from doing in Libertopistan, that they can get away with today. Today, for example, wealthy business interests can (through their political connections) prohibit people making their own vodka, upon pain of imprisonment. That’s impossible in a libertarian society.

    …for example, the rival Pizza store owner couldn’t also buy the road your sister’s employer’s shop was on and then refuse to allow deliveries to his business.

    He could, however, buy the local dairy supplier and effectively deny him any access to cheese (except super-expensive cheese shipped from far away using UPS). Strangling the competitor is possible in any society; you’re niggling the details of how the strangulation is done.

    HOWEVER, you’re actually incorrect. In a libertarian society, people (not being stupid) will be aware of the risks of things like lost road access, and will make contractual provision. Businesses along main street will have contractual arrangements with the road provider stipulating, for example, that service can’t be denied except for non-payment, and that payment can’t be refused. It will include other stipulations as well, such as one allowing ambulance access regardless of payment status, so that medical emergencies aren’t hindered by contract disputes. These stipulations will be structured as easements, rather than as negotiable contract terms, precisely so that future owners can’t renege on the basic contractual guarantees.

    There will also be road insurance, covering casualties like water-main breakage, washouts, gas-line explosions, frost heaves, downed trees, and intentional stoppages as by vandals or protesters. Additional coverage will be possible for business losses due to stoppages, with the effect that an insurer with relatively deep pockets will assume responsibility for litigating cases like the pizza-parlor war in order to limit its own payouts.

  189. says

    Yes, I got that. I replied that acquiring all my means of egress, before I can learn of your evil plan and escape first, is a practical impossibility. Your hypothetical example involves magic.

    How is that, niblick? How does your knowledge of my evil plan, at any point, change the outcome in any way, shape or form in Liberturdia? Unless you possess enough wealth, that is…

  190. says

    Niblick:

    In a libertarian society, people (not being stupid) will be aware of the risks of things like lost road access, and will make contractual provision.

    First, that “not being stupid” is a huge misjudgment.

    Second, many people will support businesses that actively discriminate against specific minorities. If one of those businesses happens to be a in a monopoly position (say, in control of all the roads), they’ll have no problem actively discriminating against some, with the full support of a large portion of the populace.

    How does Libertarianism address this?

  191. Gaebolga says

    Niblick wrote:

    A version of the same dilemma exists in every conceivable human society. You can’t advance it as a particular flaw of libertarian society.

    For the business-related example, you may have a point (not being a lawyer, I won’t venture an opinion on whether or not such a situation could be considered illegal), but not for the example involving your house.

    Public roads ensure that there is no legal way for you to prevent me from going to the store to buy some food.

    But you still haven’t addressed the notion of excessive force; if I have the right to use “defensive” force against you for trespassing, are there limits to the scope of the force I’m allowed to use? After all, in my “wolverine” scenario, if you’re stuck in your house, you will either trespass on my property or starve to death. And since I engineered the situation you find yourself in, I have essentially provoked you into trespassing.

    Under Libertarian rule, what culpability do I have for either your action of trespassing or your death by starvation?

    And if I do have any culpability, why? All I did was buy some property and enforce a strict “No Trespassing” rule.

  192. says

    @Niblick:

    Even given the “magic” in the scenario, you’re assuming something that is at the heart of the problem with libertarian thinking:

    You have the means to leave your home.

    I would honestly love to move out of the country and live in some foreign country where I’m free to exercise my rights as a transgendered person and not suffer employment consequences because of it (I admittedly am fortunate enough to work for an employer who recognizes gender identity as an EEO problem and holds accountable supervisors who discriminate due to it.)

    The problem is that I have neither a social structure in place in another country – no friends, no job, no home – nor the money that is necessary to get to this country.

    A person in a libertarian society may not be able to freely do anything. You argue that if they don’t like their living conditions, they can move! To a house that costs money, using a moving truck that costs money, after closing out their current house, to maybe another town, county, or state away which requires a lot of paperwork and financing and such.

    It’s not feasible for a very large number of people. Libertarianism would take Section 8 type living and expand it to entire communities! You know what happens very often in Section 8 housing? Irresponsible, negligent landlords more or less hold their tenants for ransom. Don’t like your current living conditions? Well too fucking bad! You can’t move anywhere else!

  193. Alverant says

    Niblick #196
    Since you think moving is so easy, why don’t you move to a country where there are no taxes or ebil gumnent to take your money at gunpoint? Somalia and Ethiopia come to mind.

  194. Anteprepro says

    Oh, Niblick. Thank you for sending me in the “right” direction, but what the fuck was so complicated that you needed to send me off to read the entirety of a book by von Mises when he gives the necessary definition in three sentences?
    ” What such aggressive violence means is that one man invades the property of another without the victim’s consent. The invasion may be against a man’s property in his person (as in the case of bodily assault), or against his property in tangible goods (as in robbery or trespass). In either case, the aggressor imposes his will over the natural property of another-he deprives the other man of his freedom of action and of the full exercise of his natural self-ownership”

    So, I ask: why is exposing others to the carcinogens in cigarette smoke not considered aggression, under this definition of aggression? Your libertarian definition of “aggression” focuses damage to property, but it also considers the body someone’s property, and thus includes the possible physical harm dealt by environmental hazards and not just damages to property.

    With that, I ask again: Why is punishing the smoker on school grounds bad, but punishing someone who let their smoke blow onto your property good?

  195. says

    Today, for example, wealthy business interests can (through their political connections) prohibit people making their own vodka, upon pain of imprisonment. That’s impossible in a libertarian society.

    The only part of that scenario that would even remotely be “impossible” in Liberturdia is the “pain of imprisonment” part… which really isn’t the important part… it’s not the “making their own vodka” part that matters… no business would care if some asshole is making his own vodka… but if he tries to SELL it… then it becomes direct competition, and it’s that ability to prevent competition that is key, which you have not demonstrated to me is impossible in Liberturdia by any practical means. A sufficiently wealthy corporation could easily wipe out any and all competition in a libertarian society.

  196. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    It will include other stipulations as well, such as one allowing ambulance access regardless of payment status, so that medical emergencies aren’t hindered by contract disputes.

    But ambulance is private too, right? I foresee a problem when the road owner does not have a contract with the same medical service that is called and a lot of bureaucracy while someone is slowly dieing.

    Imagining a libertarian utopia is fun. You just have to make shit up with the premise “Everyone is a selfish asshole”. Got that right?

  197. says

    @Anteprepro –

    I think what you’re saying is that roads would be somewhat oligopolistic or monopolistic in the local context. It is true that unlike the government, private actors can’t use eminent domain (and I think that’s a good thing) to make new roads where people live and want to stay where they are. One way to look at roads is that they are a liability. If you make it inhospitable to live where your roads are built (or, for that matter, you fail to keep it a nice place to live), people move to other places and your road stops making money. You can’t simply pick up your road and move it elsewhere.

    I personally am for land taxes in proportion to the unimproved value of the land, which would further increase the liability (since it would be expensive to own a road that isn’t making money). Really, you aren’t going to just hold on to something important like a road without the blessing of willing customers. Historically, before the government got into the business of funding railroads, private railroads were built mostly in urban areas and new tracks would be laid parallel to existing track so as to take their customers. I imagine private roads would work similarly. Although I must reemphasize that I’m not for abolishing the government and it could well be the case that it’s better for the government to provide roads. Even in that case, however, I think it’s harmful that it’s not paid for by use fees in the same way private roads would be. I don’t think it’s fair that someone who doesn’t drive must still contribute so I can drive use-fee free. It might be fair to subsidize the use of roads (public or private) for poor people, but not for everyone else.

  198. says

    Anteprepro (quoting von Mises):

    “In either case, the aggressor imposes his will over the natural property of another-he deprives the other man of his freedom of action and of the full exercise of his natural self-ownership”

    I see where the problem is.

  199. says

    HOWEVER, you’re actually incorrect. In a libertarian society, people (not being stupid) will be aware of the risks of things like lost road access, and will make contractual provision. Businesses along main street will have contractual arrangements with the road provider stipulating, for example, that service can’t be denied except for non-payment, and that payment can’t be refused. It will include other stipulations as well, such as one allowing ambulance access regardless of payment status, so that medical emergencies aren’t hindered by contract disputes. These stipulations will be structured as easements, rather than as negotiable contract terms, precisely so that future owners can’t renege on the basic contractual guarantees.

    And who enforces this compliance?

    Last time I checked businesses had no problems refusing payments that weren’t in their format and to their liking and that’s WITH oppressive government oversight.

  200. stevarious says

    Chaining trespassers in the basement for use as sex slaves is a crime of aggression, and your victims can resist you with deadly force. Afterward, they will be charged with trespassing and you will be charged with kidnapping and attempted rape.

    But what if she doesn’t have enough force to resist? It’s not like your neighbors can free her – they would have to trespass on your property to find out she was there, at which point you can legally murder them! All you have to do to get away with such a crime is overpower someone and get them onto your sovereign property, at which point, as long as they lack the ability to overpower YOU, they become part of your property.

  201. Niblick says

    What I do claim is Libertarianism exacerbates the problem. It gives businesses the ability to discriminate against hated minorities, for instance. In our society, it is currently harder to do that.

    There’s a measure of truth in that. I point out, though, that forcible integration is not an unmixed success: in racist towns, forced integration inflamed racists into lynch mobs, which often went “unsolved” due to sympathies among local law enforcement. Ultimately if you’re the only Latvian in a town of rabid Latvian haters, you might want to consider relocation as preferable to the ongoing risks of life in that town–risks which anti-discrimination laws don’t actually mitigate.

    In any case, it’s quite true that libertarianism allows a person to decide who comes on his property, without regard to his reasons. If a store owner wants to ban Latvians from entering his property, the law is not allowed to forcibly intervene and send Latvians onto his property with armed escorts. Note that the law on this subject is inconsistent: laws of this type use the reasoning that a store is not “private property,” but rather a “place of public accommodation.” It leads to contradictions in other areas where the “public” and “private” qualities of business property clash. It has also been used in areas other than discrimination, in ways that force business owners to do things that don’t make sense, while leaving them holding the bag for any resulting liabilities.

    But while it’s true that libertarian law doesn’t authorize force against discriminatory businesses, there remain many options for combatting discrimination. Boycotts are an obvious one, but that includes boycotts not only by customers but by businesses: ironically, the same law that forbids a “Latinos only” restaurant, also forbids latino-owned restaurants from denying service to skinheads. In a libertarian society, a KKK member might operate a discriminatory lunch counter, but the other businesses in town are equally free to refuse any custom to KKK members.

    I’d never claim that this solution is perfect; far from it. But to compare the libertarian approach with the authoritarian approach requires a full comparison of all the outcomes. One must consider not only the outcome of forcible desegregation itself, but also side effects such as increased hate-group activity, intimidation, lynchings, etc. Today, decades later, we’ve forgotten most of those things and remember it as if Uncle Sam said, “Hey, cut it out!” and the racists replied, “Oh, OK then!” Neither solution is perfect.

  202. says

    But ambulance is private too, right? I foresee a problem when the road owner does not have a contract with the same medical service that is called and a lot of bureaucracy while someone is slowly dieing.

    This is a perfect example of exactly where the libertarian ideology and fantasy simply falls apart. In theory, some of the ideas would be great, if we weren’t all human beings… in practicality, they simply don’t work… because scenarios such as Beatrice posits are all too likely in such a society. Shit like that happens even now, with avenues to success being actively blocked in the name of self interest… such behavior can not be allowed when it comes to public safety, availability of resources, and the overall health and welfare of a common society. Name me a time and place where that has ever been shown to not be the case…

  203. stevarious says

    Businesses along main street will have contractual arrangements with the road provider stipulating, for example, that service can’t be denied except for non-payment, and that payment can’t be refused.

    What exactly compels the road owner to agree to such a one-sided, unfair agreement.

    It might be fair to subsidize the use of roads (public or private) for poor people, but not for everyone else.

    And where does the money for the subsidy come from? The government. And where does the government get the money? Taxes. And how does the government collect taxes? At the point of a gun, right? We’ve come full circle!

  204. says

    Holy hell it’s noon. Back to work! It’s a shame, because I’m seeing better arguments from both sides this time around (probably since people aren’t wasting their time with the asinine no true Scotsman argument this time around).

  205. Gaebolga says

    Niblick wrote:

    By the way, you can’t feed trespassers to wolverines in your basement. You can evict trespassers. Arguably you can have vicious guard dogs, and whatever they might do to me when I trespass would be my own fault. But you can’t kidnap me and drag me to your basement to be devoured–you can only evict me. If I resist eviction you can use force, up to and including hand grenades if necessary, but all your actions must take the form of efforts to evict me. Chaining trespassers in the basement for use as sex slaves is a crime of aggression, and your victims can resist you with deadly force. Afterward, they will be charged with trespassing and you will be charged with kidnapping and attempted rape.

    So if you leave your house I can use any level of force – including hand grenades – to force you back into your house to starve to death. But I can’t take you somewhere else to kill you.

    Well, okay; it’s a start, and at least it’s consistent.

    But back to the “excessive force” issue: is there a level of force I can’t use to get you to retreat back into your house to starve to death? Sure, nuking is out because it would affect other people besides you, but what about an acid gun? Can I use a flamethrower on you? If the collected surrounding property is large enough to prevent anyone else from being affected, can I use mustard gas?

    And also, back to the culpability issue: since I engineered this scenario where you (presuming that you’re sane) sold me your house for $1, what if any recourse do you have?

    Does this count as theft in Libertopia?

  206. says

    @Niblick:

    Again you come out with the problem with libertarian thinking:

    In a libertarian society, a KKK member might operate a discriminatory lunch counter, but the other businesses in town are equally free to refuse any custom to KKK members.

    And if the KKK member owns a monopoly (possible) and buys up all the lunch counters in the town, then the black family is fucked unless they move out of town. If the black family is unable to relocate, then they’re doubly fucked. Do you see the problem?

  207. says

    I think it’s harmful that it’s not paid for by use fees in the same way private roads would be. I don’t think it’s fair that someone who doesn’t drive must still contribute so I can drive use-fee free. It might be fair to subsidize the use of roads (public or private) for poor people, but not for everyone else.

    How would you impose or enforce this, practically? Isn’t it far more practical and efficient to simply levy “use-fee” into a tax that covers all infrastructure facilities that a property owner in a particular municipality might likely use? And isn’t the upkeep and maintenance of that road of benefit to you, in terms of property value, whether you use the road or not?

  208. says

    Don’t we already have a game in which business is conducted on Libertarian principles? “Monopoly” or something like that?

    Has anyone designed a community with two sets of competing roads, arranged so that each and every piece of property has practical access to both sets? I wonder what it would look like.

  209. says

    Niblick:

    I’d never claim that this solution is perfect; far from it. But to compare the libertarian approach with the authoritarian approach requires a full comparison of all the outcomes.

    The problem is that you define everything not Libertarian as authoritarian. You seem to exclude modes of government that require individuals to contribute back to the society that protects them and allows them to flourish as unacceptable.

    This ignores the fact that there are differing levels of authoritarianism in government. Even Libertarianism has a mesure of authoritarianism to it: the very fact force may be used while protecting any property assumes a state in which authority exists.

    The question isn’t one of whether or not a society is “authoritarian.” The question is, “How much authority is required for a good and equitable society?”

    Today, decades later, we’ve forgotten most of those things and remember it as if Uncle Sam said, “Hey, cut it out!” and the racists replied, “Oh, OK then!”

    So the final outcome resulted in the desired societal goal?

    That sounds like success to me, though purchased at a price.

    Neither solution is perfect.

    Yes, but that certainly doesn’t make them equally non-ideal.

  210. Niblick says

    But ambulance is private too, right? I foresee a problem when the road owner does not have a contract with the same medical service that is called and a lot of bureaucracy while someone is slowly dieing.

    Similar bureaucratic screwups occur today, resulting on death: notably, cases in which ambulances carry patients to one hospital after another, being turned away due to contractual or insurance considerations.

    Conversely, the problem of private ambulances is easily enough solved, and folks (not wanting to die and all) will quickly adopt solutions. For example, ambulances are likely to contract through a third-party dispatcher, to avoid lost business from people who don’t have the correct phone number and because it’s efficient to subcontract dispatching. This dispatcher can confirm that an ambulance is on its way, and send the correct one.

    Another solution involves ambulances billing each other. Today, a very efficient system exists for railroads to bill each other for the use of railroad cars: you may or may not realize that a given area is likely to be run by a single railroad, but that railroad cars are constantly crisscrossing the country, handed off from one railroad to another. There’s a central (private) registry of rail cars that railroads can use to determine the correct owner of every car in service today (I used to have a copy of the then-current database); railroads borrow cars that are handy but belong to another railroad; customers are billed if they receive a delivery and fail to return the car timely; etc. The cars find their way back to their owners, the ones using the cars pay the owners for that service, and it all works out nicely.

    It’s a much less complex problem for two ambulance companies to bill each other when, for whatever reason, one company’s bus picks up another company’s patient. They would see the sense in doing this, because a dead patient won’t keep up his subscription payments, and an ambulance that sat in the driveway while someone died would likely go bankrupt in a storm of negative media coverage.

    Other business models are possible, of course.

  211. says

    myeck waters:

    Has anyone designed a community with two sets of competing roads, arranged so that each and every piece of property has practical access to both sets? I wonder what it would look like.

    It’d have a lot of bridges as one set of roads crossed over another set.

    So I’d say, “Ugly and expensive.”

  212. Niblick says

    So the final outcome resulted in the desired societal goal? That sounds like success to me, though purchased at a price.

    Uh, you can’t just say, “All’s well that ends well!” Maybe things worked out as well as they could have, maybe not. For comparison, America ended slavery partly through a war that killed 600,000 Americans, economically harmed the South for another century, and arguably led directly to the “Jim Crow” laws. Should we really say, “All’s well that ends well”? England ended slavery without bloodshed, as did the rest of Europe. Was a bloodless solution really impossible in the US? Should we really discount 600,000 dead because it all worked out in the end?

  213. Erulóra (formerly KOPD) says

    To be fair, there is nothing really in the libertarian philosophy

    I agree.

  214. says

    Similar bureaucratic screwups occur today, resulting on death: notably, cases in which ambulances carry patients to one hospital after another, being turned away due to contractual or insurance considerations.

    Now you’re just lying… today our government makes it illegal for patients to be turned away in an emergency situation regardless of insurance or any other consideration.

    If you’re not going to be honest… maybe you should just stop altogether.

  215. Gaebolga says

    Niblick wrote:

    Uh, you can’t just say, “All’s well that ends well!” Maybe things worked out as well as they could have, maybe not. For comparison, America ended slavery partly through a war that killed 600,000 Americans, economically harmed the South for another century, and arguably led directly to the “Jim Crow” laws. Should we really say, “All’s well that ends well”? England ended slavery without bloodshed, as did the rest of Europe. Was a bloodless solution really impossible in the US? Should we really discount 600,000 dead because it all worked out in the end?

    But weren’t the wealthy Southerners simply using defensive force to prevent the nasty ol’ gummint from using agressive force to take away their property?

    There’s a reason folks around here call it “The War of Northern Aggression”….

  216. Niblick says

    Has anyone designed a community with two sets of competing roads, arranged so that each and every piece of property has practical access to both sets? I wonder what it would look like.

    You’re referring to the argument that roads are a “natural monopoly,” because “you can’t have N competing roads between all possible destinations.” There are papers out there, by Walter Block for example, that examine this assertion. To sum up, competition is possible; it’s just not the naïve competition of building 20 parallel roads between all possible destinations.

    One form of competition involves less profitable owners selling out to more profitable owners. I.e., your road from A to B “competes” with my road from C to D in that you lose money on your road, and I make money on mine, and I buy you out. Our respective management strategies are in competition, although our roads do not compete directly. They also compete in the inverse sense that if travel conditions between C and D are sufficiently better than travel conditions between A and B, then residents of A will move to C or switch from their job in B to a new job in D. Of course roads between cities, say, might compete directly with other roads, but also might compete with railroads and airlines.

  217. Brother Ogvorbis, Fully Defenestrated Emperor of Steam, Fire and Absurdity says

    notably, cases in which ambulances carry patients to one hospital after another, being turned away due to contractual or insurance considerations.

    Hospitals in the USA have posted, in the emergency room, a statement which says that, by law, they have to treat you under any financial circumstance but, once your are stabilized, they have the right to move you. So could I have a citation on the above, please?

    And your simplistic analogy using railroads, and avoiding all mention of government regulation of said railroads, is duly noted. Going back to the idea of multiple private lines between two points, keep in mind that the federal government stepped in to regulate railroads for two reasons — first, to stop rate wars which were routinely bankrupting railroads in an (effectively) libertarian economy and, second, to protect captive shippers from the wolverine scenario discussed above. Demurrage, the system you discuss above, was heavily regulated by the federal government from the late 1800s until 1980 when the Stagger’s Act made demurrage rates more flexible. The reason the federal government had to step in was because of predatory demurrage (charging different demurrage rates to different companies based on monopolistic trends). To imply that the current system arose purely out of market forces is a gross misreading of United States industrial history.

  218. Scott says

    I don’t need to spend months and millions buying up all the property. I just need to take half an hour go to all your neighbors while you’re at work and sign contracts with them that effective midnight, they won’t allow you on their property in return for me paying them $1000/month.

  219. Niblick says

    But weren’t the wealthy Southerners simply using defensive force to prevent the nasty ol’ gummint from using agressive force to take away their property?

    We’re back to libertarian FAQ #2 again: people are never property. Cracking a whip over a black man is a crime of aggression, and he can defend himself, with deadly force if necessary. Coming to the black man’s aid is defensive force, not aggressive. You can’t redefine terms like that and still have a coherent conversation.

  220. ike says

    Any regime of property rights is based on force. Any system of property rights entails that these rights are enforced. Thus libertarianism is ultimately as dependent on “men with guns” as all the alternatives to it. Musing about “non-aggression” principles is meaningless unless there is a shared understanding about what rights people have. If I believe people have a right to some minimal standard of living, it’s pointless to whine about the “aggression” that occurs when a rich man with a hundred loaves of bread is forcibly made to redistribute 50 of these to the starving poor; from my point of view it’s the rich man who has engaged in aggression by depriving other people of what they have a right to.

    Furthermore, for all their purported skepticism, libertarians tend to be surprisingly dogmatic about their own principles when building their utopian ideals. How many times have you seen a plan for a libertarian society that includes any kind of democratic or semi-democratic law-making organ, included just in case some of the laws implemented may need a bit of adjusting (or in case new laws need to be made)? It’s as if they’ve discovered the one true and eternal set of principles that, once implemented, will faultlessly guide any human society forever. They’d also like to impose these principles on the rest of us who don’t agree with them, without giving us any say in the process. What I see as missing is any mechanism for dealing with the possibility that, maybe, libertarianism is wrong. I suppose this is typical of most utopias, but, then again, most utopias aren’t exactly claimed to be “realistic” in the same way libertarian ones are.

  221. Ms. Daisy Cutter says

    Niblick, #106:

    Evolution wired us with a concept of “aggression” that makes it seem natural to assault someone for hitting on our girlfriend, for example.

    Niblick, #189:

    Also, dating your wife is NOT a crime of aggression against you, assuming your wife is consenting.

    Default het-male POV and ev-psy bullshit, both highly typical of libertoonians, noted.

    What Stevarious said at #220 also with the ASS-umption that kidnapping and rape victims are necessarily going to be able to fight back. Oh, wait, I forgot, the “solution” to rape in Liberturdia is that all women just get a gun. The culture that blames women for fighting back? Changing that would impinge upon your free-dumb. Not physically capable of wielding a firearm because you’re a child, or old, or disabled? Morally opposed to wielding a firearm? Tough noogies.

  222. Anteprepro says

    “Has anyone designed a community with two sets of competing roads, arranged so that each and every piece of property has practical access to both sets? I wonder what it would look like.”

    I have two ideas:

    -Two roads parallel to one another, with a row of houses in between. Each house has two driveways, allowing them to truly choose which road to use. Also, a toll booth at the end of each driveway. If built, would win the Guiness book for World’s Most Linear Town.

    -Each house has a driveway leading to the surface road, as well as a tunnel entrance leading to a subterranean road. There is a toll booth at the entrance of both. Would win title in yearbook of “Most Likely to Collapse in on Itself”.

  223. Brother Ogvorbis, Fully Defenestrated Emperor of Steam, Fire and Absurdity says

    you lose money on your road, and I make money on mine, and I buy you out.

    Why would a profitable road willingly purchase an unprofitable road? Answer? They don’t. Take a close look at all of the plans to rationalize United States railroads between 1900 and the present. Note that every plan fell apart because no strong railroad wanted to take over a weak railroad. Roads such as the O&W, Western Maryland, CNJ, L&NE, L&HR, and others derailed more planned mergers than you can shake a stick at. The only reason that the nascent Penn Central included the NYNH&H was because it was a condition of approving the merger.

    If the ICC had not forced the inclusion of orphan roads in mergers, the United States would have ended up with two or three very profitable roads controlling the areas with the most profitable traffic, and a whole slew of bankrupt, abandoned, or marginal roads left as debris scattered across the landscape.

    Private roads (in this case railroads (which is analagous to the private roadway in discussion)) are in service to make money for their stock holders. They do not exist to run trains, provide a service, or serve the public (except where forced to by common carrier law (enforced by guess who)). They exist to make money, as would your putative private auto roads. And they would behave the same way.

  224. Anteprepro says

    “We’re back to libertarian FAQ #2 again: people are never anyone else’s property. (But we still call people their own “property” because it means we can have simplistic rules of morals/ethics/laws!)

    Fixed that for ya.

  225. Rambling T. Wreck says

    “Would win title in yearbook of “Most Likely to Collapse in on Itself”.

    Sounds like an apt description of the system under discussion.

  226. Redshift says

    Niblick: “in racist towns, forced integration inflamed racists into lynch mobs”

    Just like a battered wife’s whining “inflames” an abusive husband into beating her!

    The level of ignorance of history required to ignore actual conditions in all previous societies that come closer to the libertarian ideal and brush them off anything inconvenient as due entirely to the non-libertarian elements is breathtaking.

    Do you honestly believe there was no widespread violence against blacks in “racist towns” until they were “inflamed” by “forced integration?” Are you so uneducated and incapable of doing the tiny amount of research that would tell you that the first major efforts at a federal anti-lynching law were in the 1920s, decades before “forced integration,” or are you just disinclined to learn anything that might contradict your perfectly-constructed fantasy of how the world ought to work?

  227. Niblick says

  228. Gaebolga says

    Niblick wrote:

    We’re back to libertarian FAQ #2 again: people are never property. Cracking a whip over a black man is a crime of aggression, and he can defend himself, with deadly force if necessary. Coming to the black man’s aid is defensive force, not aggressive. You can’t redefine terms like that and still have a coherent conversation.

    So if the Yankees were using defensive force to “come to the [collective] black man’s aid,” then why do you have some sort of problem with 600,000 dead? It was defensive force all the way, and the Southerners who dies really just brought it on themselves.

    Or does it count as “trust[-ing] Big Brother to end [it] by decrees enforced with guns” for some reason, which would make it bad?

    And since we’re talking about alternate scenarios, what “Libertarian-approved” scenario would have effected the end of slavery with less upheaval and bloodshed? Serious question, and I’m not at all sure there weren’t ways to do it that wouldn’t have been far better, but I always find it instructive to see what others constitute as “better” and “less disruptive.”

    As a side note, England ending slavery was much, much simpler, since there wasn’t a large portion of the local economy that depended on slavery. Sure, some of the trading houses lost a few revenue streams, but there was nothing comparable in English society to the slave plantations in the antebellum American South.

  229. Niblick says

    Why would a profitable [business] willingly purchase an unprofitable [business]? Answer? They don’t.

    Profitable businesses buy out unprofitable businesses all the time. Generally, they do it because they believe the other business was unprofitable due to mismanagement, and that they can manage it better and turn a profit.

    Your statement suggests shocking ignorance. Are you just saying random stuff for fun? Or do you actually believe what you’re saying? If so, perhaps you’re so completely ignorant of business that the Dunning Kruger effect applies?

  230. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    So, Niblick, your conclusion is that in today’s society screw-ups happen, but in your ideal libertarian society they wouldn’t… Even though most screw-ups are results of bureaucracy, you would make even more complicated paperwork (because having lots of contractors and subcontractors all having some kind of contract with everyone else makes a lot of paperwork and bureaucracy), but that would somehow lead to a simpler instead of a more complicated system. Yeah, that doesn’t sound very convincing.

  231. Anteprepro says

    Wow, Niblick. Ambulance Diversion, in the first link:
    “Ambulance diversion happens when a hospital’s ER cannot care for more patients. The ER goes “on diversion” and ambulances are redirected to another hospital or medical facility. ”

    Being turned away is not the same as “being turned away due to contractual or insurance considerations.” But that’s just grand that you scored a point because the person you brought this up against said they couldn’t be turned away for “any other consideration”. Kudos to you, for pointing that “ER is full” counts as a “consideration”. Not that it helps your original point AT ALL.

  232. says

    Niblick:

    England ended slavery without bloodshed, as did the rest of Europe. Was a bloodless solution really impossible in the US? Should we really discount 600,000 dead because it all worked out in the end?

    False equivalence. The US Civil War was fought over economic turmoil and the growing wealth of the industrial north vs. the disintegrating economy of the agrarian south. Lincoln was reluctant to include emancipation as a goal of the war until it became politically necessary to do so. There’s a good argument that slavery would’ve disappeared on its own within a couple of generations simply because it was becoming too expensive to keep slaves.

    Despite common wisdom, the civil war was not primarily about slavery. At least, not at the onset of war.

    Notice I did not say the ends justify the means. Here, the “means” were simple laws requiring people stop treating certain groups of people poorly, to stop active interference with members of that group. The fact that violence grew from that was not the fault of the laws, but the people themselves, all because they were told to treat humans like humans.

    I can’t see the wrong in those laws.

  233. Anteprepro says

    Niblick sez: “Your statement suggests shocking ignorance. Are you just saying random stuff for fun? Or do you actually believe what you’re saying? If so, perhaps you’re so completely ignorant of business that the Dunning Kruger effect applies?”

    Iiiirony.

    Still care to educate us about how carcinogens are totally not harmful and/or totally not in cigarette smoke? Or how being turned away from the E.R. for the E.R. being full TOTALLY proves your point about people not getting emergency care due to lack of insurance?

  234. Redshift says

    Gaebolga:

    As a side note, England ending slavery was much, much simpler, since there wasn’t a large portion of the local economy that depended on slavery.

    Not to mention that it was ended by government action, first by ending the slave trade and then by outlawing it entirely. I wonder why exactly action “enforced with guns” is cited approvingly in this case, other than as a straw man to illustrate that because one country abolished slavery without war, it must be possible for it to have occurred here, and therefore generations more of African-Americans living in degradation, violence, and premature death while waiting for it to happen is obviously preferable to 600,000 mostly white people being killed in a war because libertarianism says state violence is a bad thing.

    And my, how terrible it was that an economy built on the theft of labor from an entire class of people should be “harmed” by ending that system!

  235. says

    niblick is still lying…

    in your statement, you said that “Similar bureaucratic screwups occur today, resulting on death: notably, cases in which ambulances carry patients to one hospital after another, being turned away due to contractual or insurance considerations.”

    your cherry-picked examples contain instances of over-occupancy (there was simply no place to put the patients, no way to accomodate them), one case of mistaken over-occupancy, one case of a sensationalized headline where a power-outage crippled their check-in system where no-one died, and one case of a disputed claim of availability of proper care facilities where the patient didn’t actually die.

    So… in the context of your original defense against PRIVATE ambulance companies being turned away by PRIVATE hospitals because of contractual obligations, your examples have no bearing whatsoever… they say nothing about insurance considerations, nor about contractual obligations.

    Stop. Lying.

    Your arguments are bad enough without resorting to outright lies.

  236. Gaebolga says

    Niblick wrote:

    You’re stating how you imagine things are, not how they are:

    Uh, you do realize that most of the links you provide are describing ambulance diversions because the ERs at the hospitals in question were full, not “due to contractual or insurance considerations,” right?

    And wouldn’t Libertopia be a place where ambulances were regularly turned away for “contractual and insurance considerations,” rather than as instances of an aberrant and abhorrent failure?

    Or would ambulances never be turned away, because they’d never bother to pick up anyone who didn’t already have a suitable contract with both the ambulance service and the hospital in question?

  237. Niblick says

    So if the Yankees were using defensive force to “come to the [collective] black man’s aid,” then why do you have some sort of problem with 600,000 dead?

    They weren’t coming to the black man’s aid, but lets just suppose they were.

    First, you seem to believe that “self-defense” justifies any and all force? Even though I’ve said, dozens of times now, “all necessary force”? In my younger days I imagined that “cowboy libertarians” would gun people down with automatic weapons for spitting on their grass–since after all, that’s trespassing, ain’t it? There are several reasons that isn’t true: there is a libertarian doctrine of proportionality, and it begins with the question, “Was the force used, necessary to end the aggression committed?” Which is precisely what I asked. I asked, “Was 600,000 deaths actually necessary to end slavery? Was no bloodless option available?”

    Second, and perhaps more importantly, you seem to think that if YOU come at me with a bazooka, then I’m justified in shooting willy-nilly in your direction, and can’t be blamed if I kill a few BYSTANDERS in the process. If you think that, where did you ever get the idea? I certainly never said anything like that, and carefully avoided saying anything that might be misconstrued to imply it. If A attacks B, then B can repel A with force. Any harm he does to C, D or E in the process, however, is a crime of aggression.

    Specifically, if a taskmaster cracks a whip over a black man’s back, I can shoot the taskmaster and bundle the black man off to safety. If anyone tries to stop us, I can shoot them too. But can I detour past the plantation house, shoot the taskmaster’s wife, rape his daughter, set his house on fire, and ride off in his stolen horse and carriage? To ask is to answer: of course not. But that’s precisely what the Union Army did. Sherman in particular burned, raped and pillaged his way across the South. Assuming he did it for no reason but to rescue slaves, the fact remains that he is responsible for all the innocents he killed in the process.

    Now please re-evaluate your question.

  238. Niblick says

    Still care to educate us about how carcinogens are totally not harmful and/or totally not in cigarette smoke?

    “Sill”? I never said any such thing in the first place. Straw men do not become rationalists. And I warn you: the smoke of burning straw is particularly irritating to lung tissue.

  239. Anri says

    But while it’s true that libertarian law doesn’t authorize force against discriminatory businesses, there remain many options for combatting discrimination. Boycotts are an obvious one, but that includes boycotts not only by customers but by businesses: ironically, the same law that forbids a “Latinos only” restaurant, also forbids latino-owned restaurants from denying service to skinheads. In a libertarian society, a KKK member might operate a discriminatory lunch counter, but the other businesses in town are equally free to refuse any custom to KKK members.

    So – and I want to ask this to make certain I’m not misrepresenting you – a reasonably self-sufficient community excluding whatever ethnic/minority/etc group they desired would be perfectly acceptable under libertarian ideals?

    Or, alternately, if a corperation were to secure an near-total monolopy on an essential commodity (which, given the lack of anti-trust laws would be pretty much just a matter of time), they could enforce whatever strictures they desired on anu person of business requiring their commodity?
    If (let’s say) Universal Oil demanded that all shipping companies hire only avowed Christians, and there were no other oil companies capable of meeting the needs of these comapnies, they’d just have to shug a fire all their Jews.
    If the single corperation that procured human hearts for transplanting was run by the KKK, the situation would be: turn WASP or die.
    Am I correct?
    And this is perfectly in keeping with a properly-run libertarian society?

  240. says

    niblick, your ability to follow this gem:

    Profitable businesses buy out unprofitable businesses all the time. Generally, they do it because they believe the other business was unprofitable due to mismanagement, and that they can manage it better and turn a profit.

    immediately with this:

    perhaps you’re so completely ignorant of business that the Dunning Kruger effect applies?

    was pure comedy gold!

    You really believe that’s why profitable businesses generally buy out unprofitable ones? Who told you that? C’mon… you can tell us…

  241. Max Grant says

    To be fair, there is nothing really in the libertarian philosophy that requires one to also be a climate skeptic

    To be fair, there is nothing really in the libertarian philosophy that entitles them to be so arrogant and dismissive of the clear facts on global warming. Of course, I’m fairly intolerant of libertarians anyway because they have this staggering claim of intellectual infallibility with almost no track record to back it up.

    In short, libertarians can rest on their movement’s laurels when they HAVE SOME LAURELS upon which to REST. Until then, it’s on them to prove every single one of their outlandish theories, and so far the real world has failed to provide that proof over, and over, and over again.

  242. Brother Ogvorbis, Fully Defenestrated Emperor of Steam, Fire and Absurdity says

    Profitable businesses buy out unprofitable businesses all the time. Generally, they do it because they believe the other business was unprofitable due to mismanagement, and that they can manage it better and turn a profit

    You’re the one who brought railroads into the discussion and I was referring to this in terms of railroads. Did the Penn Central want the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad? Did they think that better management would erase commuter deficits? Did they think they could magically erase years of deferred maintenance and make a profit? No, they did not. But the NYNH&H was going to go under, was going to go completely bankrupt, which would have created major problems for the New York City area. Same for the DL&W’s commuter deficits. Ditto the CNJ and Erie’s. Some railroads lost money because they were poorly managed. Others lost money because they were subjected to market forces (free market, you may have heard of it) which made profit impossible. Others were driven into bankruptcy pre-ICC by predatory pricing. The railroads which were percieved as potentially profitable were grabbed up. Others were flat out abandoned (NYO&W). Others were forcefully included in other mergers in order to preserve competition or to prevent even worse results.

    You brought up railroads and I responded with specific reference to railroads, your selective editing of my comment aside. Railroads, using transportation to create a profit were operated in an unsafe manner (until forced to do otherwise), were built with massive redundancy, and engaged in predatory pricing practices which drove solvent roads into bankruptcy making the unregulated environment ripe for monopolies. The idea of private auto roads for an entire country would, in a libertarian environment, lead to similar excess as the invisible hand of the free market only helps to maximize profits, not to make things safer or more egalitarian. In the early days of railroading, they operated in a libertarian economic environment in which profit maximization was the only goal — safety and public service were considered only to the point that it was required. Shoddy civil engineering, horrific train wrecks, and the routine death of railroaders was all part and parcel to the business.

    I will gladly admit to my ignorance in some matters of economics. You bring railroads into it, and that part I know. And the original of my quote, with reference to private companies owning the right-of-way, still stands.

  243. jack lecou says

    So if the Yankees were using defensive force to “come to the [collective] black man’s aid,” then why do you have some sort of problem with 600,000 dead? It was defensive force all the way, and the Southerners who dies really just brought it on themselves.

    Or does it count as “trust[-ing] Big Brother to end [it] by decrees enforced with guns” for some reason, which would make it bad?

    This is an excellent question.

    Libertarian-wise, the Northern “aggression” in the civil war appears to be an entirely justified use of force. There was no “government decree” involved, only a decision to start enforcement of the “natural” libertarian rules. The death toll is obviously a tragedy, likewise the economic devastation. But I don’t see how Niblick gets to count it as a black mark against liberalism. In fact, the libertarian approach to systematic lynching in the South should have been similarly drastic. Ostensibly the libertarian response would not have involved forced integration, but it WOULD involve employment of a lot of — fully justified — force to crack down and defend lawfully resident black people from violence. Which is brutish, but at least it is defending the downtrodden in this case.

    I have another question though.

    How do we decide what is property?

    I mean, of course Niblick believes that black people should never be property. That’s obvious. At least to most people. Here in the 21st century. (Though it still happens in practice.)

    But what if we go back and ask a libertarian in 1811? Or 1711? Or 11 BCE?

    Who wants to lay odds that a fair number of THOSE libertarians are going to say, well of course women/”negroes”/foreigners/people captured-in-the-raid-on-the-next-village can be slaves and property. They’re not really people after all. More like animals. It’s for their own good. Etc. Etc.

    If Libertopia had been founded in N hundred years ago, would we all be perfectly justified in owning slaves? Beating wives and children? Casually murdering serfs?

    Is there a provision on libertarianism for revising the (oh-ever-so “obvious” and “natural”) definition of property as moral sense evolves? If it happens somehow, do disagreeable “property” owners get to complain about this aggressive use of force or the “confiscation” their property?

  244. 4theist4narchist says

    It really irks me to see these pro-State laissez-faire capitalists referring to themselves as libertarians. This kind of thing only happens in America, where right is left and up is down. They can’t even think of an original name, they have to steal their labels from other philosophies. Go to Spain or Greece and tell a philosopher or politically involved person that these people are libertarians, you’ll get more laughs than the legendary Bill Hicks. Only in the US are there “Statist Libertarians.” Idiots.

  245. Anteprepro says

    Niblick, failing to comprehend: “S[t]ill”? I never said any such thing in the first place. Straw men do not become rationalists. And I warn you: the smoke of burning straw is particularly irritating to lung tissue.”

    Amazing, then, that you have to address the fact that you find smoking on school property to not be an act of aggression but letting normal smoke onto someone else’s property is. What possible, logical conclusion to have to go by other than the fact than you think that cigarette smoke is harmless? Aside from that you are a dishonest fuckwit ignoring the fact that you contradicted your own position? I will resume assuming the latter, if you prefer it so much.

  246. Niblick says

    False equivalence. The US Civil War was fought over economic turmoil and the growing wealth of the industrial north vs. the disintegrating economy of the agrarian south.

    Yes, I know it; and given that fact, the war between the states was a purely criminal act of oppression by the North–despite the fact that the South was guilty of crimes, including slavery, in its own right. But my question about slavery remains a valid hypothetical, whether or not the premise is true that the war was “about” slavery. Would it be correct reasoning to discount 600,000 deaths because, “Hey, out of it came the end of slavery, and all’s well that ends well?”

    Here, the “means” were simple laws requiring people stop treating certain groups of people poorly, to stop active interference with members of that group.

    This subject is as fraught as the Civil War, because the same people who ran lunch counters also beat up black men, raped black women and girls, and committed arson and lynching. All of which would be completely illegal in a libertarian society. So the discussion is confined to a purely hypothetical version of the 1950’s South, in which people ran “whites only” lunch counters but never molested black people, in their persons or property, under any circumstances.

    In that purely hypothetical version of the South, blacks were “treated poorly” by being excluded from some business establishments. They were not “actively interfered with,” however: no overt act was committed against them in this hypothetical South. Overt acts such as assault, murder, lynching, arson, or even trespassing to burn a cross, are illegal in this hypothetical South (and were also illegal in the actual South, but it wasn’t enforced). So the question is whether it’s appropriate to outlaw discrimination, stipulating that it’s completely appropriate to outlaw assault, lynching and all the rest of it?

    The libertarian answer is that a person’s business is his property as much as his home. Forcing him to allow patrons against his will in his business is on par with forcing him to allow guests in his home against his will. The same man with the “whites only” lunch counter, after all, also refuses to invite blacks to his backyard barbecues. Isn’t that poor treatment as well? Doesn’t it make him an asshole, at least? Isn’t the right thing to do to invite his black neighbors as well as his white ones? Yes to all counts: it’s poor treatment; he’s an asshole; and he should. But he may not be induced to at gunpoint, and neither should he be induced to do business at gunpoint, asshole though he is.

    Instead, libertarianism proposes a different means of dealing with racist assholes like this; I sketched some of them above. Referring only to his discrimination, of course: if he comes on someone’s lawn to burn a cross, they can evict him by force, including deadly force if necessary.

    The fact that violence grew from that was not the fault of the laws, but the people themselves…

    Now we’re into the utilitarian side of things. We should remember that the primary motivation of the libertarian position isn’t utilitarian: even if force “worked” better, the argument is that forcing people to associate at gunpoint is at least as great a wrong as the original refusal to associate. That’s the moral side of the argument. In discussing side-effects, like increased lynchings, we’re not talking about the moral side but the utilitarian side: does force actually “work” better after all?

    Your rejoinder, that it’s the lynchers’ fault, not the fault of the lawmakers, is absolutely true. The lawmakers who passed desegregation laws are in no way liable or responsible for what the racists did in reaction to it. Even if we supposed that such laws were a violation of the store-owners’ rights, they would still only be guilty of that–not of anything the store-owners did next.

    But you’re answering a utilitarian question with a moral response: they’re not responsible for any lynchings that resulted, but that wasn’t the question. The question was whether forcible desegregation works better than libertarian approaches to desegregation. Force presumably works faster, but it also yields a backlash. How much faster, and how much backlash? I don’t know either. But to compare the effectiveness of the two approaches, this sort of thing must also be taken into account. I don’t actually know which turns out to be more effective, by the way–I’m just countering the assumption that force is of course more effective.

  247. Niblick says

    Libertarian-wise, the Northern “aggression” in the civil war appears to be an entirely justified use of force. There was no “government decree” involved, only a decision to start enforcement of the “natural” libertarian rules.

    Heh–you’re joking, right? There were lots of causes behind the civil war, but if you want to put the whole thing in a nutshell, it would be along the lines that the South insisted on operating a relative free-trade zone, with low tariffs on foreign imports, and DC, at the instigation of the North, insisted that they collect high tariffs and remit them to Washington. The South seceded, among other things to escape these high tariffs, and the North invaded, principally to force them to submit to Washington once again and pony up the tariff money. High tariffs were good for the industrialized North, but damaging to the agrarian South, which was forced thereby to pay more for manufactured goods, and to buy them from Northern manufacturers.

    There’s no way in hell to construe that as “enforcement of natural libertarian rules.”

  248. SallyStrange says

    Person A, being a kind individual, has a home for chronic asthma sufferers on their property. Due to the fact that they are operating a charity with a limited income, this home lacks in-building air-filtration systems and is forced to keep leave windows open during hot weather in order to prevent suffocation.

    Person B, having a bunch of rubbish to get rid of, decides to build a large bonfire on their property. Unfortunately, Person A’s property is a short-distance downwind of Person B’s bonfire, and as a result, there are a number of severe smoke-induced asthma attacks, some resulting in permanent lung damage.

    Has Person B initated force? What recourse do those injured have?

    When B’s smoke left B’s property and entered A’s property, he has initiated force and is guilty of trespassing (and, if his smoke damages A’s property, of vandalism). A can demand that B abate the smoke, and can personally or through agents can forcibly put out the rubbish fire. A can also hold B liable for any costs from damage to A’s property. A’s patients can hold B responsible for damages to their health. In practice, A would assume the task of pursuing his patients’ claims–and in fact would not litigate them personally, but would put in an insurance claim and have them pursue damages.

    In reality, both person A and person B have voted for a representative government and paid their taxes. The representatives then use the taxes to hire experts in human health, air pollution, and suchlike things. These experts analyze the situation and make zoning laws that prevent rubbish burning facilities from being sited within a certain distance of medical facilities that house asthma sufferers. Or, better yet, they mandate that rubbish burning facilities filter and clean their emissions so that the problem doesn’t even happen at all. They do this because they’ve studied case histories of similar situations where human health and the environment were severely damaged in the absence of such restrictions.

    Is restricting the activity of the rubbish burner in advance of his causing damage to his neighbors and his environment “aggressive force” under libertarian philosophy?

    If yes, then libertarianism is stupid.

    If no, then libertarianism is indistinguishable from the system we currently have and is therefore useless for proposing alternative systems.

  249. Gaebolga says

    Niblick wrote:

    First, you seem to believe that “self-defense” justifies any and all force?

    No, actually, I don’t believe that, and I’m not sure where in my writing you could have gotten that impression.

    Unless you’re mistaking the fact that I keep asking you what constitutes “excessive” force under Libertarian philosophy as some sort of code meaning that I think I can do anything I want in self-defense.

    What I actually think is that you think that you can use any level of force you want in self-defense or defense of your property, and I think that in no small part because you have consistently and conspicuously avoided defining what constitutes “excessive” force.

    Ditto with my whole line of questioning regarding culpability.

    Niblick wrote:

    Even though I’ve said, dozens of times now, “all necessary force”?

    Yeah, you’ve said it. But for someone who strives to be so precise in defining the distinction between aggressive force and defensive force, you’ve been remarkably silent on what necessary force means.

    Now why is that, do you suppose?

  250. Brother Ogvorbis, Fully Defenestrated Emperor of Steam, Fire and Absurdity says

    Niblick:

    If the Civil War was only about Tariffs, why did the Constitution of the Confederate States of America specifically, and in multiple places, state that the government can not, in any way, shape or form, regulate, abolish, or in any other way legislate anything to do with slavery? Yes, there were other economic forces at work. Slavery was not the only cause, but it was a big one. Slavery was the only one that was completely and totally intractable. In fact, in the first United States Congress, when citizens petitioned congress regarding slavery, one southern senator declared that even debating slavery would lead to the dissolution of the United States.

  251. says

    niblick:

    The question was whether forcible desegregation works better than libertarian approaches to desegregation. Force presumably works faster, but it also yields a backlash. How much faster, and how much backlash? I don’t know either. But to compare the effectiveness of the two approaches, this sort of thing must also be taken into account. I don’t actually know which turns out to be more effective, by the way–I’m just countering the assumption that force is of course more effective.

    Before you can even speculate on whether or not the “libertarian approach to desegregation” would be “more effective”, you first have to demonstrate that it would work at all. Which you have yet to do in any meaningful way.

  252. jack lecou says

    There’s no way in hell to construe that as “enforcement of natural libertarian rules.”

    I’m not saying that was the actual motivation. I couldn’t even say that Lincoln, for example, ever even heard of libertarians (lucky him).

    But there is nevertheless a conundrum here. You are stuck in a triangle between defending a huge military campaign to free slaves (which certainly would have involved substantial “collateral damage” even if we are very careful and do not resort to the tactics of Sherman); shrugging your shoulders and saying that we’ll just have to live with an imperfect libertopia in which millions of men and women are bought and sold as property; or giving up on Libertopia because enough people with guns have gotten together to disagree with your version of it.

  253. pliny says

    He’s not even right about the science teachers being experts. My uncle, a high school science teacher, accused me of not reading enough conservative websites when I casually mentioned something about climate change. Then he explained that AGW a conspiracy designed to make money from trading carbon credits.

  254. Niblick says

    Amazing, then, that you have to address the fact that you find smoking on school property to not be an act of aggression but letting normal smoke onto someone else’s property is.

    That’s not what I said at all. Your misrepresentations are getting quite tiresome. I SAID that the school can evict smokers unconditionally, because it’s their property; whether or not smoking is “aggression” is completely irrelevant. If, however, the school decided to ALLOW smoking, then smoking is in no way “aggression,” any more than it’s “aggression” to participate in a bare-knuckle fight club.

    Aggression, as a libertarian term of art, means non-consensual physical contact, or threat of same. Harmless contact IS aggression, if not consensual; harmful contact, if consensual, IS NOT aggression. “Aggression” is not about harm or non-harm at all. It’s about consent or non-consent.

    If I’m a sado-masochist and ask you to beat me half to death, it’s not aggression. If, on the other hand, you give me a gentle back rub without my consent, it’s aggression. If you burn my house down, with my consent, it’s not aggression. If you repair my roof, without my consent, it’s aggression. And so on.

    The only place harm comes into it is in determining damages. If I sue you for giving me a gentle back rub without my consent, and win, the next question is what damages I can demand. The damages are essentially what it takes to fix the damage you’ve done me. I’ll have the damndest time proving any damages at all, other than the cost of suing you, so in this case I’ll win my court costs and that’s about it. Perhaps if I reacted to your back-rub by spilling hot coffee on myself, I can also force you to replace my shirt and pay my doctor bill. But that’s still about it.

    In the case of second-hand smoke, non-consent is what makes it aggression. The damages to which you’re entitled are a function of the actual harm done, which must therefore be quantified. I pointed that out, many posts ago, but did not say that the harm in question is a lot or a little. I said it was more harmful than cheap perfume, and less harmful than anthrax, but that certainly doesn’t narrow it down.

    Note that in practice, though, you will know whether you’re entering a place where smoking is allowed or not. The smoking policy would be decided by the owner. By entering a smoking establishment, you are consenting to his policy and waiving the right to claim damages. Similarly, if you decide to patronize “Patrick Swayze’s Roadhouse,” you must first consent to a policy allowing fist fights between patrons, and waive the right to sue for simple assault. That’s not true today, at least not quite; US law works slightly differently than libertarian law in this regard. It limits owners’ authority to make certain rules, such as smoking policies, and conversely limits patrons’ rights via “implied consent” and other laws.

  255. Gaebolga says

    Okay, gotta go.

    It’s been fun, but class beckons. I’ll check back in to see if you answer my questions about excessive force and culpability, Niblick, but it won’t be until tomorrow.

    And in all seriousness, Niblick, thank you for not being a total raving asshole; many of the libertarians I’ve dealt with degenerate to that pretty quickly.

    I appreciate your courtesy.

  256. Niblick says

    …theft, which is an act of aggression, and the stolen assets are recoverable by force.

    How? You’ve stated previously that transgressing on someone else’s property, even to collect fines, is aggressive force. (Your words.)

    I’m being perfectly consistent: there’s an assumption tripping you up. Namely, the failure to see a difference between “collecting fines” in general, and “recovering stolen property” in particular.

    Libertarian law only recognizes the prohibition of aggression. Any other type of “law” is invalid on its face. Enforcing a “law” which mandates some performance, or forbids some non-aggressive act, is ITSELF an act of aggression, and hence invalid under libertarian law. A “law” which prohibits consensual sex for money, for example, is invalid: “violating” that “law” involves no act of aggression, and is therefore by definition legal. Attempting to enforce that “law” would itself be an act of aggression. If the “penalty” is a fine, then entering someone’s property to collect the fine would be trespassing. “Arresting” someone for non-payment of said fine would be kidnapping. Resisting arrest would be mere self-defense, while use of lethal force in effecting the arrest would be murder. That’s a case where “even collecting fines” is aggressive force.

    Libertarian law permits defensive force, however, which includes such force as is necessary to repel aggression or recover stolen property and/or damages. This is limited by principles of proportionality and due process, both of which may be derived directly from the prohibition of aggression and allowance of self-defense, but which would take lengthy explanation. The key word “necessary” is the starting point for most of that.

    So putting the two together, what looks like inconsistency to you results from failure to see the bright line between aggression and defense. Enforcing victimless crime laws, for example, is aggression: I may not enter your property for that purpose, not “even to collect a fine.” Recovering stolen property, however, is defensive force. If you borrow my prize bull, and then put him in your barn and refuse to give him back, I can come and take him by force. That force is defensive, because your act of theft was the initial aggression–not my recovery effort.

  257. Anteprepro says

    Niblick, from your 92: “Funnily enough, the neighbors’ child violated a rule against smoking on high-school property recently. She was issued a citation, but she ignored it any any correspondence from the court. I happened to be present when a deputy walked onto her porch, wearing a gun, and informed her that she must now either (1) pay him $250 on the spot, or (2) be dragged in handcuffs before a judge. She opted to pay the $250, which she had to scrounge up, because she didn’t want to be cuffed and stuffed. She never even considered fleeing, knowing full well that the very least she could expect in that case was to be tackled and manhandled.”

    And yet you now pretend that the only discussion about smoking that you had was one in which you said schools have the right to ban it. You brought up this smoking example in 92 to whine about “men with guns,” and that they will come for you if you flagrantly and consistently disobey the law. It is clear that in the case that you brought up, the school DID forbid second-hand smoke, so it WAS aggression that WAS NOT consensual, according to you. The fact that “it is up to the school” is great, but doesn’t deal with the issue that you brought up the fact that law enforcement was involved as if it were an initiation of force, rather than what you would consider a justified response to aggression. Perhaps I have read it wrong.

    So, what was the point of that example in 92, Niblick? Were you not, in fact, implying that the example given was unjust?

  258. SallyStrange says

    So putting the two together, what looks like inconsistency to you results from failure to see the bright line between aggression and defense.

    This bright line exists entirely in your imagination. As has been pointed out to you over and over again, there are many situations where aggression can be accomplished by non-forceful means. Indeed, people can harm each other in complete ignorance of the harm being inflicted, and the harm may only become apparent by the gathering and analysis of aggregate data, an activity whose profit-making capabilities are uncertain at best, and is thus unlikely to be carried out by private, profit-making institutions.

    A better standard to use would be infliction of harm. Discrimination against minorities harms both the minorities and the community at large. Private property rights are not a compelling counterweight to the harm inflicted, just as private property rights/consumption choices are not a compelling counterweight to the harm inflict by AGW.

  259. Niblick says

    Libertarianism sounds very cultish.

    Agreed, to some extent. I think the “cultish” aspect is that the absolute conviction that aggression is always wrong, is akin to a religious conviction.

    Even so I don’t apologize for it; liberals’ conviction that everyone is entitled unconditionally to “food, shelter, medical care and a living wage,” is equally a religious-type conviction. There’s no way to empirically verify this “ought.” It just IS. It’s just RIGHT. If you don’t agree, it’s because you’re just STUPID or EVIL (and you like watching babies die, etc., etc.).

    There are some moral principles that seem self-evidently right to most humans. They aren’t universal, though: clearly some sociopaths disagree even with the ones about murder and rape, say. They aren’t derivable empirically, since the “ought” is an abstraction invented by humans. We can argue for our respective morals, but the arguments are all indirect, such as the positive benefits of cooperation, or appeals to others’ general sense of “fairness” (which fail, again, with sociopaths). But ethics aren’t ultimately provable, in the empirical or mathematical sense. In the end we appeal to our personal convictions.

    Libertarianism is the radical application of non-aggression to every human interaction. So it’s based on an innate conviction and inherently fanatical in character. How can it not appear cultish?

    Liberals and conservatives are no less driven by innate convictions, though. They seem pretty cultish to me, actually. They probably seem much more “normal,” though, partly because they’re less universal in their application of principle, and partly because, well, you’re used to it. In precisely the same way that a middle-American finds Catholics and Methodists “normal,” but finds Hindus or atheists profoundly disturbing.

  260. SallyStrange says

    Small correction:

    Private property rights are not a compelling counterweight to the harm inflicted, just as private property rights/consumption choices are not a compelling counterweight to the harm inflicted by AGW.

  261. Brother Ogvorbis says

    Attempting to enforce that “law” would itself be an act of aggression. If the “penalty” is a fine, then entering someone’s property to collect the fine would be trespassing.

    Making all laws unenforceable so why have them? Seriously, why? A victim of aggressive force can respond with defensive force (to what limit? and if there is a limit, how would said limit be enforced?). But any attempt to enact defensive force would be, by definition, aggressive force and thus illegal and subject to defensive force or an unenforceable fine, the act of enforcing the judgement, though, would be aggresive force and one could then use defensive force and . . . .

    You’ve got to be kidding me. What you are describing is the clan warfare of some parts of the Balkans from the 1400s to today. Or the constant, tit-for-tat clan warfare of Afghanistan. Or Somalia. Or any other third-world hell hole in which the government does not have the power to enforce the law of the land (even the minimalist law of non-aggression). If the government is unable or unwilling to enforce the law, it becomes the moral obligation of the family or clan to enforce the judgement and, since both sides see any effort to enforce a judgement, or a fine, or an arrest, as aggressive force, the cycle would continue. And if corporations are allowed the same (why yes, I polluted that river and poisoned fifty thousand people, but if you attempt to fine my company, my private army will fight against aggressive force!) An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

    Thank you, Niblick. You have convinced me, beyond any reasonable doubt, that libertarianism is the greatest threat to social cohesion and civilization extant in the world today.

  262. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Agreed, to some extent. I think the “cultish” aspect is that the absolute conviction that aggression is always wrong, is akin to a religious conviction.

    Oh it’s more than just that. The unbridled, unwavering faith in the market to fill holes where lack of government creates is hilarious.

    We’ll not even get into equal access to these previously filled holes.

    The only thing the invisible hand will give to the disenfranchised is a hard backslap.

  263. Anri says

    Libertarian law only recognizes the prohibition of aggression. Any other type of “law” is invalid on its face.

    Is false advertising aggression?
    Should it be legal?

    Howabout running a Ponzi scheme?

    And I still haven’t seen anything about my post at #261. Of course, you’ve been busy, and I might have missed it, but just in case…

  264. tuckerch says

    And make no mistake, the government IS an agency guided and dominated by the principle of initiation of force.

    Yep! It sure is!

    I suppose, therefore, you feel equally strongly about “men with guns(and how sexist of you!)” enforcing government laws concerning rape, robbery, kidnapping, dumping industrial wastes into rivers/onto private/public property/into the air, etc etc etc equally onerous and worthy of opprobrium?

    And of course, what laughfest at the expense of libertarians would be complete without this gem, comparing public libraries to soviet breadlines:

    “The Scourge of Public LIbraries” at the laughably mis-named “Rebirth of Reason” website.

  265. Niblick says

    And yet you now pretend that the only discussion about smoking that you had was one in which you said schools have the right to ban it. You brought up this smoking example in 92 to whine about “men with guns,” and that they will come for you if you flagrantly and consistently disobey the law.

    This is yet another iteration of libertarian FAQs 1 & 2, I’m afraid. The word “ban” here is part of the problem, because “bans” are not created equal:

    1) If I forbid you smoking on my property and you enter anyway, I can eject you. I CAN NOT show up at your house, armed, and demand $250. My power is sharply limited, and stops cold at my property line.

    2) If the town council forbids you smoking on a property, they can eject you. They can THEN, however, declare that you owe them $250, and can send armed men to collect it by force. Their power extends far beyond defense, allowing them to take the money by force, or jail you in lieu of fine; the deputy can also kick your door down, and use any force, including deadly force, as he deems necessary.

    If the owner wants to ALLOW smoking, then the government has committed a crime of aggression from beginning to end, for exercising force against a non-aggressor. If the owner wants to FORBID smoking, then government has artificially augmented his powers so that he may not only eject you, but also (by proxy) expropriate you of $250, using all necessary force; this is a crime of aggression against the smoker, committed by government on behalf of the owner.

    See, libertarian law empowers owners–a fact that liberals rail against–but it also sharply LIMITS power: the owner can eject you, yes; but once you’re off his property, he can’t touch you. Government disempowers owners by making rules for their property, penalizing the owner by force if he doesn’t cooperate; it then assumes additional powers against the other party by imposing fines, or even lengthy prison sentences, on “violators.” Substitute prostitution for smoking, or any victimless crime you like, and the story is the same.

  266. SallyStrange says

    Even so I don’t apologize for it; liberals’ conviction that everyone is entitled unconditionally to “food, shelter, medical care and a living wage,” is equally a religious-type conviction. There’s no way to empirically verify this “ought.” It just IS. It’s just RIGHT. If you don’t agree, it’s because you’re just STUPID or EVIL (and you like watching babies die, etc., etc.).

    There are some moral principles that seem self-evidently right to most humans. They aren’t universal, though: clearly some sociopaths disagree even with the ones about murder and rape, say. They aren’t derivable empirically, since the “ought” is an abstraction invented by humans. We can argue for our respective morals, but the arguments are all indirect, such as the positive benefits of cooperation, or appeals to others’ general sense of “fairness” (which fail, again, with sociopaths). But ethics aren’t ultimately provable, in the empirical or mathematical sense. In the end we appeal to our personal convictions.

    If you want to conflate being evil and stupid with being a sociopath or having sociopathic tendencies, then go right ahead. It’s not the language I would have chosen. But, as Strange Gods pointed out previously, it’s worth noting that empirical studies have demonstrated that libertarians are, on average, less capable of empathy than the general population. And, of course, on of the defining characteristics of a sociopath is the utter inability to experience empathy. So it does all fit together: like many libertarians, you do not feel as much empathy as most people, so most people’s concern for the welfare of their fellow humans strikes you as nonsensical.

    Libertarianism is the radical application of non-aggression to every human interaction.

    This really isn’t true. It’s merely the radical application of non-aggression to some human interactions, to the exclusion of many others. And which interactions qualify differs wildly from libertarian to libertarian. The final arbiter of which interactions qualify seems to be merely the self-interest of the individual libertarian. Which, again, fits with the whole “lacks empathy” thing.

    So it’s based on an innate conviction and inherently fanatical in character. How can it not appear cultish?

    Good question.

    Liberals and conservatives are no less driven by innate convictions, though. They seem pretty cultish to me, actually.

    Of course, because you really don’t understand why some people would want to take preemptive action to prevent their fellow human beings from suffering needlessly, even if that inconveniences the private property rights of some individuals. Which is fine, but really that’s your problem, not society’s.

    They probably seem much more “normal,” though, partly because they’re less universal in their application of principle, and partly because, well, you’re used to it. In precisely the same way that a middle-American finds Catholics and Methodists “normal,” but finds Hindus or atheists profoundly disturbing.

    Mmm, no. What you have is a lack of empathy. What the middle-Americans you are describing have is ethnocentrism. They are distinct phenomena. They could possibly be related, in that ethnocentrism makes it more difficult for people to feel empathy for people from other cultures, but that’s a question of familiarity and in-group/out-group distinctions. They have the capacity for empathy, they just have trouble applying it to unfamiliar out-groups. Libertarians just don’t have that much capacity for empathy to begin with.

  267. tuckerch says

    because he would never personally point a gun at someone and say, “Do X or I shoot.”

    “Aw, shit! I got a gun, but, you know, if I point it at that guy who is about to rape that woman and tell him to stop, why, I am no better than any federal state or local government lackey.”

    So what if it’s a CORPORATION that has initiated an aggressive action towards me, such as dumping a few hundred thousand gallons of pig excrement onto my land? Can I then shoot ADM in the face?

  268. Niblick says

    Is false advertising aggression? Should it be legal?

    False advertising is one form of fraud. Fraud is theft. If you sell people jelly beans as a cancer cure, then what you actually did is sell them a cancer cure, accepting payment, but delivering jelly beans instead of a cancer cure. They are now in possession of jelly beans; you are in possession of payment-for-a-cancer-cure. The jelly beans are a red herring, actually. What matters is that you possess the payment-for-a-cancer-cure, but they do not possess the cancer-cure. You can interpret that either as having stolen their money outright, or having stolen their cancer cure after selling it to them. You owe them a cancer cure, or else their money back, and the rightful owner can recover the stolen property by force.

    Since there is no cancer cure in the first place, of course, you owe them their money back, plus any relevant costs including collection costs, and medical costs associated with their use of your bogus cure.

  269. Niblick says

    So it does all fit together: like many libertarians, you do not feel as much empathy as most people, so most people’s concern for the welfare of their fellow humans strikes you as nonsensical.

    Or maybe, just maybe, I have as much empathy as you, and only disagree as to the means? You smoothly assumed just what I said–that disagreement about the means makes me evil, stupid or sociopathic–and then smoothly worked in the ad hominem that I am in fact sociopathic, leaving no room for any sort of discourse or questioning of your assumptions. If that sounds familiar, that’s because it is: congratulations! You’re a fundie.

    The difference between us is that I recognize that non-aggression is an axiom of mine. I recognize that it can’t be justified with a mathematical or empirical proof. I realize that it’s simply a conviction I have. And I realize that gives it a “religious” character. You do not recognize the religious character of your own convictions, and are apparently unable to distinguish your conviction from objective truth. So once again, as I said, you’re a fundie. Just not a christian fundie.

  270. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    False advertising is one form of fraud. Fraud is theft. If you sell people jelly beans as a cancer cure, then what you actually did is sell them a cancer cure, accepting payment, but delivering jelly beans instead of a cancer cure. They are now in possession of jelly beans; you are in possession of payment-for-a-cancer-cure. The jelly beans are a red herring, actually. What matters is that you possess the payment-for-a-cancer-cure, but they do not possess the cancer-cure. You can interpret that either as having stolen their money outright, or having stolen their cancer cure after selling it to them. You owe them a cancer cure, or else their money back, and the rightful owner can recover the stolen property by force.

    But you’d prefer this transaction took place at the risk of the person thinking they are getting a cancer cure and possibly dying instead of regulations to eliminate or reduce the frequency of these transactions?

    sums it up.

  271. SallyStrange says

    False advertising is one form of fraud. Fraud is theft. If you sell people jelly beans as a cancer cure, then what you actually did is sell them a cancer cure, accepting payment, but delivering jelly beans instead of a cancer cure. They are now in possession of jelly beans; you are in possession of payment-for-a-cancer-cure. The jelly beans are a red herring, actually. What matters is that you possess the payment-for-a-cancer-cure, but they do not possess the cancer-cure. You can interpret that either as having stolen their money outright, or having stolen their cancer cure after selling it to them. You owe them a cancer cure, or else their money back, and the rightful owner can recover the stolen property by force.

    As with the example with the rubbish burning person who pollutes the air and thereby causes asthma sufferers damage, there is an obvious solution to the problem here that libertarianism eschews, which is preemptive action. In reality, there are laws against both theft and false advertising.

    Is passing a law against false advertising an example of aggressive force against the Niblick’s Red Jelly Bean Cancer Cures? Or is the government obliged to wait until after Niblick’s Red Jelly Bean Cancer Cures have already caused several people to die needlessly before they can act against him, with “legitimate force” on behalf of cancer patients? And, once they have acted to prevent Niblick from defrauding cancer patients, can they pass a law prohibiting other people from marketing jelly beans, or any other non-cancer-curing item, as a cure for cancer?

    As I said before, if the answer is no, then libertarianism is stupid.

    If the answer is yes, then it’s really no different from our current system and therefore pointless.

  272. says

    @Niblick:

    What about the have-nots!?

    What does your wonderful libertarian society do with the black family turned away from every lunch counter in the town when the KKK owns all of them?

    What does your wonderful libertarian society do to prevent Section 8 type living in a community?

    Libertarian society = “Fuck you I have mine.”

  273. Anteprepro says

    Niblick: So, you mean to say that you aren’t allowed to trespass and violate the terms of being someone else’s property, but if you do and then retreat to your own property, they do fuck all about it? You can do something that possibly does damage to someone else’s health on their property, but they can’t send cops after you for it if you are no longer on their property? And yet, in the case of the asthmatics and the smoke from upwind, you proposed that the “victim” in that case can, due to the fact that it was an act of “aggression”, go on that person’s property, trespassing in the process, and put the fire out. Fuck me, you are dense. You propose a world where you are immune to the law as long as you are on your “own” “property” in 293. You realize that, right?

    And you also realize that you called smoking a victimless crime, even though earlier you cried hysterically “STRAW MAN!” when I dared suggest that you thought that second-hand smoke was harmless. Which I did tongue-in-cheek, but it’s apparently true! Fantastic.

    I’m done bothering myself with you, because you don’t care about being consistent or truthful. You’re obviously just here to preach, and don’t care about facts, and you don’t mind using dishonest tactics to pretend that you addressing counter-arguments. Just another godbot, but without a god.

  274. tuckerch says

    Just LOOK at what those horrible men with guns are doing!

    Image Here.

    Forcing the innocent children of good, decent Christian Little Rock taxpayers to share the same school with shiftless, lazy freeloading Negroes!

    Damn that commie Eisenhower!

  275. Niblick says

    So what if it’s a CORPORATION that has initiated an aggressive action towards me, such as dumping a few hundred thousand gallons of pig excrement onto my land? Can I then shoot ADM in the face?

    “Corporation,” like “government,” is an abstraction we apply to groups of people acting in concert. Both have the sucky quality that they disperse liability: even if the government began committing genocide, for example, it’s hard to decide who to shoot. The janitor is certainly not guilty of genocide–but neither is any specific president or prime minister. If someone assassinated Hitler after the Holocaust began, would the Holocaust end, or would the bureaucracy chug along undeterred? The same considerations apply to Archer Daniels Midland. Shooting the janitor isn’t going to help, but neither is shooting the CEO most likely. You can’t shoot “ADM,” any more than you can shoot “the Third Reich” in the face.

    You can physically resist the guy driving the pigshit truck, just like the Jews in Warsaw could resist the soldiers rounding them up. That’s certainly true.

    You can also sue the company, or more precisely have your insurance company sue them to recover the cost of removing the pig shit. Institutions like courts exist in a libertarian society, just as they do today, albeit with some differences. A crucial difference is that if ADM dumps pigshit on your land today, they probably first got the government to declare your neighborhood “blighted” and exercised eminent domain. Or maybe they lobbied Congress to pass liability caps on pigshit disposal. Congress is ADM’s ally, not their opponent.

  276. McWaffle says

    An honest question:

    What if I own property and forbid smoking on it. Moreover, I post a big sign that says, “by entering my property you agree to a $250 fine if you smoke”. If, after seeing that sign and entering my property, a person smokes, do I have the right under a Libertarian legal code to pursue that person once they leave my property and use all reasonable methods of defensive force to obtain the $250?

    Also, what would constitute an acceptable way of recovering debt in general? If I were to loan somebody a large sum of money and they refused to pay it back, how would I coerce them to pay? I assume forcibly seizing assets to cover the debt? Or, I guess I just wouldn’t enter into a lending agreement without including some third-party enforcement-and-propety-vaulation body in the contract?

    I’m not going for a gotcha here. Just wondering.

  277. Niblick says

    Niblick: So, you mean to say that you aren’t allowed to trespass and violate the terms of being someone else’s property, but if you do and then retreat to your own property, they do fuck all about it?

    If your crime was stepping onto my land, and I’ve induced you to step back off, what exactly do you want me to do about it? The problem is resolved. If, however, you stepped on my prize begonias, doing $500 in damage, then I can recover the damages from you, by force if necessary.

    Is this really that hard to understand?

  278. SallyStrange says

    Hey Niblick, you’re seeming illiterate and/or dishonest with this last post:

    The difference between us is that I recognize that non-aggression is an axiom of mine. I recognize that it can’t be justified with a mathematical or empirical proof. I realize that it’s simply a conviction I have. And I realize that gives it a “religious” character.

    Not true. I also recognize that concern for human welfare is an axiom that can’t be empirically justified.

    You do not recognize the religious character of your own convictions, and are apparently unable to distinguish your conviction from objective truth. So once again, as I said, you’re a fundie. Just not a christian fundie.

    I don’t agree that recognizing that certain values I hold are axiomatic gives them a religious character. The thing that gives libertarianism its religious flavor is not the axiomatic insistence on non-aggression, but its failure to recognize the true nature of aggression in reality, and its failure to acknowledge that libertarian approaches have been tried in the past, and failed.

    Calling me a fundie? You must be desperate.

  279. says

    @Niblick:

    You can also sue the company, or more precisely have your insurance company sue them to recover the cost of removing the pig shit.

    Assumes the person can afford to sue a corporation or has an insurance company that can get what is needed.

  280. Audley Z. Darkheart OM (OS), purveyor of candy and lies says

    pinkboi:

    This rich fucker would have to use all of his own money to do this so it wouldn’t be in his own interest unless he really values your sorrow more than his own wealth.

    Oh, HA!

    As a smoker, let me tell you that people will do all sorts of ridiculous shit with their own money just because they can, even if it goes against their own interest.

    Is smoking in my best interest? Even if you take out the health impacts, I pay over $10 a pack, so I would say “no”.

    But you go on livin’ in your dream world. I get a kick out of stupid people.

  281. imnotandrei says

    If, however, you stepped on my prize begonias, doing $500 in damage, then I can recover the damages from you, by force if necessary.

    And if I feel that I stepped on some worthless flowers, but am, out of the kindness of my heart and a bit of a sense of guilt, willing to pay $1.50 for seeds, and maybe $25 to make up for lost time?

    And resist your (excessive) force with my (reasonable, since defensive, and balanced against your (excessive)) force?

    Someone ends up getting shot over begonias.

    Karl Marx once observed “Between equal rights, force decides”. Mao, IIRC, came up with “Power grows out of the barrel of a gun”.

    Your model does not change these facts. It merely changes who holds the gun. The fact that this gun is likely, in a libertarian model, to be heavily biased towards the Person With The Most Money does not, in fact, incline me towards preferring it over one where, in theory, the person has taken an oath to uphold laws that apply equally to everyone, and knows they are responsible to other People With Guns for potential misbehavior.

    No, the current system has a lot of broken places*; but its foundation is far sounder than the one you propose.

    *Well, what else is an anarcho-socialist (of sorts) to say? ;)

  282. SallyStrange says

    This rich fucker would have to use all of his own money to do this so it wouldn’t be in his own interest unless he really values your sorrow more than his own wealth.

    Another example of libertarians’ religious-style faith in things that have repeatedly been shown to be false: belief in the Myth of the Rationally Self-Interested Actor.

  283. says

    This rich fucker would have to use all of his own money to do this so it wouldn’t be in his own interest unless he really values your sorrow more than his own wealth.

    Rich people do shit that are against their own interest all the time. Are you really that naive?

  284. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I just love how arrogant and ignorant liberturds like Niblick think we haven’t heard his jingos for years, going back to about six months before Obama was elected. And in that time we have heard his jingos ad nauseum, and they are why we think liberturds are close to sociopaths. For example, they, like Niblick, preach, but they don’t discuss, because in a discussion, they might be wrong. Liberturd arrogance requires them to always be right, always try to get in the last word, and never, ever, show weakness. But the weakness keeps coming out in their words, their lack of evidence for their theology working for at least thirty years post WWII in a first world country. Essentially they have squat, in third world countries where graft, corruption, and oligarchies rules. And they must bore us to tears with their jingos in hopes of convincing themselves they that they are right. But they fail.

  285. Niblick says

    What does your wonderful libertarian society do with the black family turned away from every lunch counter in the town when the KKK owns all of them?

    Your hypothetical is that everyone in town is a racist. At least I assume that’s what you mean, since there are other places to get food than lunch counters, so I assume you mean that their plight is compounded by whites-only grocery stores, dollar stores, Walmarts, etc. So this family can’t shop anywhere in town whatsoever, and is in some danger of starving to death. This can, of course, hypothetically happen: you could theoretically have a town consisting entirely of racists, every one of whom refuses to do business with the lone minority family.

    The problem you describe is unchanged today, however, if everyone in town is a racist–and this isn’t hypothetical, since there have been towns in the South that more or less meet that description. Since everyone in town is racist, restaurants will be “fresh out” of whatever they want to eat; their credit-card machine will be “on the fritz” when they want to pay; fuel-oil deliveries will come a week late in midwinter “because of a clerical error,” their tires would be unusually prone to going flat, and the local garage would never have tires in the right size. The Sheriff “would love to he’p you, boah, but you got to have evidence.”

  286. Geoffrey Brent says

    Niblick:

    I’ve even heard Warren Buffett, long the second-richest private individual in the Universe, advocate expropriating the “haves.” He did include himself, miraculously, but fascinatingly he did not open his checkbook and expropriate himself. Rather, he begged the government to come and take his money, as if he’s powerless to give except under duress. I see that as the usual self-serving stuff: “I’ll gladly give millions, or billions, for the good of my fellows–but only later when X is true, not now.”

    …somebody didn’t do their homework. Wikipedia says:

    “In June 2006, [Buffett] announced a plan to give away his fortune to charity, with 83% of it going to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He pledged about the equivalent of 10 million Berkshire Hathaway Class B shares to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (worth approximately US$30.7 billion as of June 23, 2006), making it the largest charitable donation in history… The foundation will receive 5% of the total donation on an annualised basis each July, beginning in 2006″

  287. Niblick says

    So – and I want to ask this to make certain I’m not misrepresenting you – a reasonably self-sufficient community excluding whatever ethnic/minority/etc group they desired would be perfectly acceptable under libertarian ideals?

    I believe I made it clear that it would be utterly UNacceptable. Your choice of that particular word suggests that you’re attempting to poison the well. I did say, however, that it would be legal for businesses to refuse service if they so chose. I mentioned several methods that would be used to attack such practices, none of which involved aggression.

    But lets turn the questioning around, since I’ve been grilled to death for hours and hours by all comers here. So–and I want to make certain that I’m not misrepresenting you–an organization like the KKK purchasing major national newspapers and changing their banner-line to “Down With Mud People,” publishing articles about how God created nice, white Adam and Eve, while the “colored races” descended from monkeys, would be perfectly acceptable under First-Amendment ideals?

  288. Niblick says

    Someone ends up getting shot over begonias….

    I remarked that there are libertarian doctrines of proportional force and due process, which are derivable from the non-aggression principle. You’re inventing a hypothetical which amounts to asking, “Well, hah! There’s no due process in a libertarian society, is there? Because you’re all, like, cowboys ‘n shit?” The answer is that there is indeed due process, and you’re asking libertarian FAQ #3. Perhaps you shouldn’t assume that the first thing to pop into your head, minutes after hearing about a subject you know nothing of, is likely to be something nobody has ever thought of before?

  289. Niblick says

    …somebody didn’t do their homework. Wikipedia says:

    “In June 2006, [Buffett] announced a plan to give away his fortune to charity, with 83% of it going to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation…”

    WHAT? You mean he didn’t give it to the federal government? Why the hell not? He’s not begging the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to tax the rich; nor is he begging the Feds to tax the rich in order to donate the proceeds to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This action of his makes no sense in light of his statements about taxation.

  290. Mr. Fire says

    The difference between us is that I recognize that non-aggression is an axiom of mine.

    Personally, I give no two shits what your axioms are. What I do give two shits about is what the consequences of those axioms are in the real world.

  291. imnotandrei says

    So–and I want to make certain that I’m not misrepresenting you–an organization like the KKK purchasing major national newspapers and changing their banner-line to “Down With Mud People,” publishing articles about how God created nice, white Adam and Eve, while the “colored races” descended from monkeys, would be perfectly acceptable under First-Amendment ideals?

    Under an absolutist view of the First Amendment, which I tend to hold, the answer is it would be legal. At least, until they started advocating direct violence, or refused to hire someone because of their skin color, or the like. Then they’d be hung out to dry, under law.

    Now, it’s not *ideal*, and calling it “acceptable” is only appropriate in terms of “acceptable collateral damage” for my own freedom of speech, but that’s a risk I’m willing to accept.

    And you know what? With the exception of that banner line, I bet I could find the rest of that text on the opinion/etc. pages of Southern (and, heck, some Northern) newspapers in the 40’s-50’s-perhaps-60’s, and not just on the letter-page either.

  292. says

    @Niblick:

    You’re saying it should be legal for businesses to discriminate on the basis of race? Can I suppose you’re white for a moment, because that’s bullshit.

    In addition I bet you’d be okay with businesses discriminating against GLBT people, or women, or whatnot. Can you see the problem yet?

    Libertarian society puts all public stuff in the hands of private individuals – public works, roads, critical infrastructure, emergency services. See the problem yet?

    Lemme help you – better become a WASP if you want fucking electricity in your home! Better become a WASP if you want to be able to survive that heart attack. Better become a WASP if you want plumbing.

    A libertarian society is Section 8! Fuck. You’re an idiot if you can’t see this. Libertarian society is the wealthy shitting all over the less wealthy. It’s landlords fucking with their tenants because their tenants can’t get better treatment anywhere else or are unable to get better treatment because they haven’t the means to go anywhere else.

    I’ve been shat upon by my cable company for the past five months. I can’t do jack shit about it cause my only other option for high-speed Internet in the area isn’t allowed to be piped through the apartment building I live in. I could go with DSL, but fuck that option.

    What’ll the people who are worse off than I am have in recourse for people treating them like shit? Nothing! Fucking privileged wanker.

  293. SallyStrange says

    But lets turn the questioning around, since I’ve been grilled to death for hours and hours by all comers here. So–and I want to make certain that I’m not misrepresenting you–an organization like the KKK purchasing major national newspapers and changing their banner-line to “Down With Mud People,” publishing articles about how God created nice, white Adam and Eve, while the “colored races” descended from monkeys, would be perfectly acceptable under First-Amendment ideals?

    Uh, seriously? You really think this is some kind of zinger or something? That you’re “grilling” us by asking this question?

    There are two issues here: first, that of free speech. The KKK’s free speech should not be abridged, as per the 1st amendment. With restrictions, of course: they should not be allowed to openly advocate for violence against people of color.

    The second issue involves monopolies. Shall we get into discussing the structure of media ownership in this country and how the media markets are really much too concentrated, and should be broken up if we are really going to have true competition in the media marketplace? Of course, these conglomerates arose after government deregulation of the media, and are thus a result of libertarian-style free market machinations, and libertarians must therefore oppose any intervention into the market to ensure that competing viewpoints have a chance to be heard by the population. This does, after all, involve recognizing that there is a collective benefit to having media that deliver accurate news to their readers/viewers/listeners. And libertarians are contractually obligated to ignore such concepts as collective benefit, from what I can tell. I think that media ownership is much too concentrated and that the government should probably break up some of those really monopolized media markets where one company owns more than 90% of the media outlets in a particular area. But that really doesn’t have anything to do with the KKK.

    This is a complete non sequitur to the previous analogy, because you have completely erased the experience of an individual black person or black family from the picture. In the previous scenario, they were suffering concrete harm thanks to the racist attitudes of the other residents of the town in which they lived. In reality, they have legal recourse thanks to civil rights legislation. Even if the Sheriff is a racist, federal legislation can override his disinclination to defend the legal rights of the citizen of his town who aren’t white. In Libertarianville, this wouldn’t even be an option. So, as Katherine correctly observed, you take a situation that currently sucks, and note that it sucks, but also fail to propose a concrete solution for making it better, while also advocating for policies that would make it worse, and to top it all off, you refuse to recognize that your policies would make it worse, and have failed to engage convincingly with those who have pointed out the specific ways in which your policies would make it worse.

  294. Niblick says

    Assumes the person can afford to sue a corporation or has an insurance company that can get what is needed.

    The same considerations are applicable today, with the additional factor that the poor can’t afford as qualified lobbyists as the big corporations can, and make smaller campaign donations. This may help explain why politicians make lots of speeches about “sticking up for the little guy,” but then reliably pass legislation that benefits the big corporations instead.

  295. imnotandrei says

    I’m amused here. I’m amused because of the missing words:

    The answer is that there is indeed due process, and you’re asking libertarian FAQ #3.

    You see, under normal circumstances, the next two words after due process are “of law”, and it’s this little problem that’s being elided in all of these discussions, and that I was pointing to.

    (As a side note on rhetoric: you picked, not unsurprisingly, the one bit of humorous quasi-exaggeration in my whole post and zeroed in on it. I am unsurprised, but do not intend to let it go.)

    To quote a bit from the previous post that you ignored:

    Karl Marx once observed “Between equal rights, force decides”. Mao, IIRC, came up with “Power grows out of the barrel of a gun”.

    Your model does not change these facts. It merely changes who holds the gun.

    I repeat the above point; unless you have, in effect, a unified court system, with enforcement powers (which amounts to, more or less, a skeletal State, either through common-law, constitution, or code-law), you run the drastic risk of two people’s different notions of “proportional” force resulting in an escalation. Indeed, even *with* those things, we get those escalations in every-day life.

    Perhaps you shouldn’t assume that the first thing to pop into your head, minutes after hearing about a subject you know nothing of, is likely to be something nobody has ever thought of before?

    Did you chance to look at my footnote? Do you honestly believe that someone who self-identifies as an anarchist of whatever type has never heard, or spent much thought, on libertarian structures, or, far more importantly, the limitations of non-coercive judicial/punishment/enforcement systems?

    A quick clue: Not everyone who disagrees with you is ill-informed, or stupid.

    I suggest you look at a point made repeatedly above: the network of complicated contracts with required easements/clauses/understandings, and the complicated structures to determine proportionality/appropriateness/etc. look an awful lot like a State of Lawyers, in which instead of an executive you have a Supreme Judge. Ironic, isn’t it?

  296. Audley Z. Darkheart OM (OS), purveyor of candy and lies says

    You mean he didn’t give it to the federal government? Why the hell not?

    Uh, maybe ‘cos the federal government would give it right back. Why do you think that Buffett has been advocating for higher taxes on the super wealthy?

    Derp.

  297. says

    @Niblick:

    The same considerations are applicable today, with the additional factor that the poor can’t afford as qualified lobbyists as the big corporations can, and make smaller campaign donations. This may help explain why politicians make lots of speeches about “sticking up for the little guy,” but then reliably pass legislation that benefits the big corporations instead.

    And how the fuck does a libertarian society improve the situation?!

  298. Niblick says

    Uh, seriously? You really think this is some kind of zinger or something? That you’re “grilling” us by asking this question?

    No, I said YOU’VE been grilling ME for hours and hours. Learn to read.

    There are two issues here: first, that of free speech. The KKK’s free speech should not be abridged, as per the 1st amendment.

    Thank you. So if I used the same rhetorical tricks on you, that Anri attempted to use on me, I would conclude that “It’s perfectly acceptable to you for the KKK to print all the racist propaganda they wish.” Yes, I realize that would be a ridiculous distortion of anything anyone actually said on this thread. Um, that’s my point. Our current legal system permits all manner of racist (non-inciting) speech, as it should, not because such speech is acceptable, but because government should not be empowered to censor speech.

    The same statement may be made about, e.g., property owners’ right to decide who to allow on their property, without implying any endorsement of segregation or racism. My point is merely that.

    This is a complete non sequitur to the previous analogy, because you have completely erased the experience of an individual black person or black family from the picture.

    Uh, a sign that says “whites only” is not targeted at a specific black person, any more than a KKK pamphlet is targeted at a specific black person. In the hypothetical, there happened to be only one black family in town, but we can go ahead and suppose that the KKK newspaper’s readership includes exactly one black man as well, to establish ceteris paribus.

  299. SallyStrange says

    So – and I want to ask this to make certain I’m not misrepresenting you – a reasonably self-sufficient community excluding whatever ethnic/minority/etc group they desired would be perfectly acceptable under libertarian ideals?

    I believe I made it clear that it would be utterly UNacceptable. Your choice of that particular word suggests that you’re attempting to poison the well. I did say, however, that it would be legal for businesses to refuse service if they so chose. I mentioned several methods that would be used to attack such practices, none of which involved aggression.

    And I’m still wondering: if the situation is truly so unacceptable, why is it not okay for the government to take measures to prevent it from arising in the first place?

    The list of examples of your inconsistency and illogic is growing.

    1. Air pollution. You say it’s acceptable for an individual to enlist the help of the government to collect damages from a person polluting the air AFTER the fact. If that’s true, then what’s so terrible about enlisting the help of the government to prevent air pollution from occurring in the first place?

    2. False advertising. You acknowledge that marketing jelly beans as a cure for cancer amounts to theft, and therefore it’s acceptable to enlist the help of the government in recouping damages AFTER people have died as a result of consuming jelly beans that they think will cure their cancer. If that’s true, then why is it not okay to enlist the help of the government to prevent people from selling jelly beans as a cure for cancer in the first place?

    3. Discrimination against minorities. You acknowledge that this is a “totally UNacceptable” situation, and offer solutions for addressing this unacceptable situation AFTER the fact. It’s not clear how you would do this, but I imagine it would involve enforcement of contractual obligations, which again involves using the force of the government, those dreaded men with guns, to make it happen. Once again, we’re left wondering why, if it’s okay to address the situation after the fact, is it so terribly oppressive to take measures to prevent the situation from arising to begin with?

  300. imnotandrei says

    And how the fuck does a libertarian society improve the situation?!

    Oh, you hadn’t realized that Mr. Niblick is following the Creationist Logical Model?

    There are problems in XYZ, therefore Jesus?

    or, in this case,

    There are problems in XYZ, therefore Libertarianism?

  301. SallyStrange says

    Uh, seriously? You really think this is some kind of zinger or something? That you’re “grilling” us by asking this question?

    No, I said YOU’VE been grilling ME for hours and hours. Learn to read.

    Oh man, this is dumb. I understand that you said that you’ve been being grilled. You said:

    But lets turn the questioning around, since I’ve been grilled to death for hours and hours by all comers here. So-[follows a long non sequitur about the KKK's right to own media/exercise their free speech]

    The clear implication is that you would like to return some of that grilling. You failed, of course, but that’s beside the point.

    If that’s not what you meant to imply then I suggest the fault is with your communication skills, not my reading skills.

  302. Niblick says

    And how the fuck does a libertarian society improve the situation?!

    You seem to be under the misapprehension that someone claims liberty is a magic bullet for curing all humanity’s ills, but I missed the part where anyone claimed any such thing. It may not improve that situation–but arguably, even so, non-aggression is still the Right Thing to Do™.

    Within a libertarian society, much can (and I believe would) be done to improve the situation; you seem also to be under the misapprehension that without resorting to force, no action is possible. That’s simply false. Libertarianism isn’t pacifism, but MLK and Ghandi could certainly offer some suggestions for improving the situation without resorting to aggression.

    Finally, it’s unclear whether you recognize the (utilitarian) drawbacks to the present system. I cited backlash in the form of lynchings, etc., already. Non-aggression would certainly not promote such a backlash. I did already stipulate that force may work quicker, and that sufficient data doesn’t exist to argue with any kind of certainty which approach works “better.” By the same token, the data doesn’t support your speculation that it would be so much worse, either.

  303. SallyStrange says

    This is a complete non sequitur to the previous analogy, because you have completely erased the experience of an individual black person or black family from the picture.

    Uh, a sign that says “whites only” is not targeted at a specific black person, any more than a KKK pamphlet is targeted at a specific black person. In the hypothetical, there happened to be only one black family in town, but we can go ahead and suppose that the KKK newspaper’s readership includes exactly one black man as well, to establish ceteris paribus.

    A sign that says “whites only” is targeted at whichever specific black person is reading the sign. It means that that black person will be denied service.

    What services will be denied to which black people as a result of the KKK owning media and exercising their free speech? If the media market is sufficiently diverse, no black people will be denied services. If the media market is monopolized by the KKK, black people will be denied the opportunity to be served by a media company that reflects their interests and views. That’s why I brought up media market concentration.

    Do try to keep up.

  304. imnotandrei says

    @Katherine Lorraine, Chaton de la Mort

    Jesus fuck are all libertarians this dense?

    No; I’m told some of them can float.

  305. says

    @Niblick:

    Lynchings that are by law illegal. Hate crimes that libertarians are willing to drop again because they interfere with a business owner’s right to be an asshole.

    When private businesses are allowed to discriminate, then how the FUCK do gay couples get their electricity, water, and medical help from homophobic utility companies and hospitals? And don’t you FUCKING say “they can move” because I’ve already explained why that’s unfeasible.

  306. Niblick says

    And I’m still wondering: if the situation is truly so unacceptable, why is it not okay for the government to take measures to prevent it from arising in the first place?

    For the same reason that Jehovah’s Witnesses’ doorknocking is unacceptable, yet people should not be allowed to shoot Jehohah’s Witnesses on their doorsteps.

    The same reason that adultery is unacceptable, but husbands should not be able to slit the throats of their estranged wives and their suspected lovers (who might actually be waiters returning lost glasses after all).

    The same reason racism is unacceptable, but it should still be a crime to assault people in “Black Power” or “White Power” T-shirts.

    The same reason body odor is unacceptable, but people should not be allowed to use water cannons on the offenders.

    Where would you ever get the idea that “unacceptable” means “it’s OK to respond with force”?

  307. SallyStrange says

    I cited backlash in the form of lynchings, etc., already.

    It’s really idiotic, not to mention revealing of a racist mindset, to imply that “lynchings, etc.” are a “backlash” to government intervention against discrimination. As if the civil rights movement arose in a vacuum. “Lynchings, etc.” are the reason that government intervention became necessary in the first place.

  308. tekelsey says

    None of the scenarios used to challenge the fucking hellhole the libtards would unwittingly foist upon all of us are hypothetical, simply metaphorical. All of them in some form or another were used in the great state of Wyoming during the cattle wars. The rich often bought all the land around you or bought the land up river from you and dammed the river. The weren’t libtards apparently because they didn’t limit themselves to the non forceful nature of starving you out, they would send in the goons if it came to that. Libertopia existed and worked so well that the most independent group of people in America, small farmers and small ranchers, banded together and called for some good old fashioned government control. If they hadn’t there would never have been any towns in Wyoming that the cattle barons didn’t approve of. No fences, no roads, no fucking people messing up the place for their cattle. If you think there was a way these small people could do anything to the private armies the barons used, by “contract” or “insurance”, you really are deluded. Only the federal government had the power, the state government had been purchased by the barons. Now, there is some argument as to whether or not a cows-only Wyoming would be an improvement or not, but libertopias everywhere have the same endgame; The guy with the most money can ensure that he owns or controls everything in the “society”. I see no other logical conclusion, he may have to kill or co-opt some fellow rich guys, but in the end the society and the market serves the whims of one ruler. And another thing, where the fuck does somebody who would allow the starvation of the poor and elderly (to ensure a pure market), get off talking about the morality of anything? And don’t pretend that that would not be the result. It was the result until the social safety nets were set up.

  309. SallyStrange says

    For the same reason that Jehovah’s Witnesses’ doorknocking is unacceptable, yet people should not be allowed to shoot Jehohah’s Witnesses on their doorsteps.

    The same reason that adultery is unacceptable, but husbands should not be able to slit the throats of their estranged wives and their suspected lovers (who might actually be waiters returning lost glasses after all).

    The same reason racism is unacceptable, but it should still be a crime to assault people in “Black Power” or “White Power” T-shirts.

    The same reason body odor is unacceptable, but people should not be allowed to use water cannons on the offenders.

    Where would you ever get the idea that “unacceptable” means “it’s OK to respond with force”?

    So…

    adultery, wearing a “white power” t-shirt, and B.O. are “unacceptable,” in the same sense that denying people essential services on the basis of skin color, defrauding cancer patients, making asthma patients sicker than they already are, and polluting the environment are “unacceptable.”

    Lack of empathy.

    ‘Nuff said.

  310. Niblick says

    A sign that says “whites only” is targeted at whichever specific black person is reading the sign. It means that that black person will be denied service.

    In the same way that a pamphlet saying, “Blacks are inferior” is targeted at whichever specific black person reads the pamphlet. It means, “You. YOU are inferior.”

    You’re really reaching here, and your logic is poor. Within the US legal system, a policy, such as “no shoes, no service”, is not deemed to be targeted at any particular individual who happens to come within its scope, such as a specific barefoot person standing outside the store reading the sign. In order to conclude that the individual is targeted, it’s necessary to show that, for example, other barefoot persons were given service around the same time that one particular barefoot person was denied service.

    Similarly, a company dress code that says, “Women shall wear skirts” is indeed sexist, but is not deemed to be targeted at one particular woman employee, unless it can be shown that the dress code was selectively enforced. If at some future date the company happens to have only one woman employee, she may well feel singled out, but the policy is not deemed to be targeted at her.

  311. jack lecou says

    Another nice libertarian-brain-melting thought experiment:

    First, note that we have already established upthread, apparently with the Niblick seal of approval, that acts such as refusing to do business with someone, refusing them use of a road, or even refusing to sell them food are NOT acts of “aggression.

    Now let’s imagine a society very much like our own. It is relatively prosperous. There is an at-least-nominally representative government which establishes laws and regulations and levies taxes. There is, like in our society, a vigorous debate about what laws and how much taxes, but, aside from a few fringe cranks, there is little question about the government’s basic legitimacy, or the need to levy at least some taxes.

    There are, in fact, just two major differences between this society and our own:

    The first difference is that violations of the law are not met with aggression of any kind. While there is a police force, and they are armed as necessary, they are only called upon to intervene and break up crimes in progress. And then only the minimal amount necessary to halt the crime. There is no prison. No threat of arrest. No forceful extraction of fines. No violence. Those charged with crimes are given a fair trial — which they may attend if they please — and if found guilty, of, say, tax evasion, a sentence period is determined. The only acts then taken by the state are to publish the conviction and length of sentence, and to monitor the convict for the period of the sentence as necessary to prevent further crimes. The convicted individual retains title to all their property, and remains entirely free to do as they please.

    The second difference is that there is a law — and strong social norm — which defines more than the most incidental interaction with a convicted criminal, during their sentence, as a crime itself. This is, in fact, a very special and serious crime, carrying a “lifetime” sentence. Thus, anyone engaging in any business transaction with a convict is committing a crime. Anyone who employs a convict will themselves be a criminal. Anyone who sells anything, even food or water, to a convict engages in a crime. Accepting rent or mortgage payments from a convict is a crime. Even engaging a convict in extended conversation is labelled a crime. And convicted criminals are openly, but unintrusively, monitored, and any interactions noted or recorded. But absolutely no acts of aggression or force are taken against a convict (except perhaps, the absolute minimum necessary to intervene if they become violent or aggressive themselves – one of the primary reasons for the monitoring).

    This system is largely perceived as legitimate. In fact, for historical reasons of some kind or another, it’s perceived as kind of a touchstone of the culture. As with anything, enforcement is not perfect, but there is very little cheating.

    Many convicts end up starving to death or dying of exposure well before the end of their sentence. Often after only a couple of weeks.

    For the “radical nonaggressionists” in the audience: is there anything objectionable about this? What exactly?

  312. SallyStrange says

    A person can put on shoes and a shirt.

    A person cannot change the color of his or her skin.

    You are an idiot.

  313. Niblick says

    It’s really idiotic, not to mention revealing of a racist mindset, to imply that “lynchings, etc.” are a “backlash” to government intervention against discrimination.

    LEARN TO READ. START WITH POST 221. NOTE THE WORD “INCREASED.” LOOK IT UP.

    At no point did I claim that all lynchings are backlash against civil rights legislation. That would be a particularly absurd claim, given that civil rights legislation dates to the 1960’s, and lynchings were prevalent in the South since before the Civil War. If I were claiming what you said, I would also be claiming that the first lynchings were in the 1960’s. Hopefully the absurdity of that is obvious even to the literacy-challenged like yourself.

    What I DID say was that some racists reacted to civil rights gains with a backlash of INCREASED hate-group activity. “Increased” means “more,” by the way, so what I mean is that there were more cross burnings, more swastikas painted on things, more assaults, and yes, more lynchings.

    How many more? How many lynchings would have happened anyway, and how many could be considered “backlash”? I haven’t the foggiest. If you were literate, you’d have read the post in which I remarked that comparing forcible and non-forcible desegregation would require this effect to be factored in, and conceded that actually doing so would be extremely difficult.

  314. SallyStrange says

    Jesus fuck “no shirt no shoes” is not nearly the same as “no blacks.” Are you truly equating racism with wanting to make sure people don’t walk into your store in a bathing suit?

    Yes he is. Which is why Niblick is a racist. Who cares what Niblick thinks in his heart of hearts about black people? In the final wash, Niblick cares more about his private property rights than he does about ensuring equal access to all essential services to people of color. In practice, he is a racist, just like Rand Paul.

  315. Niblick says

    Lynchings that are by law illegal. Hate crimes that libertarians are willing to drop again because they interfere with a business owner’s right to be an asshole.

    You just said that I advocate making lynching legal. I’ve not only never said that, but said the opposite enough times, that there’s no excuse for your statement above. Was it lack of reading comprehension? An intentional lie? What?

  316. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    Libertarians oppose the initiation of force. How noble. And I’m sure that in a real libertarian society, everybody would hold to this morality as much as Christians turn the other cheek. [ :-( For the sarcasm-impaired.]

    “Initiation of force” is another libertarian newspeak term that does not mean what the uninitiated might think. Libertarians except defense of property and prosecution of fraud, and call them retaliatory force. But retaliation can be the initiation of force: I don’t need force to commit theft or fraud. This is a bit of rhetorical sleight of hand that libertarians like to play so that they can pretend they are different than government. You know: break a law (like not paying your taxes) and MEN WITH GUNS initiate force. Sorry, but you’ve gotta play fair: it can’t be initiation for government and retaliation for you.

    Like most other non-pacifistic belief systems, libertarians want to initiate force for what they identify as their interests and call it righteous retaliation, and use the big lie technique to define everything else as evil “initiation of force.” They support the initial force that has already taken place in the formation of the system of property, and wish to continue to use force to perpetuate it and make it more rigid.

    The Libertarian Party membership form has “the pledge” on it: “I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political or social goals.” It’s quite amusing to hear how much libertarians disagree over what it means: whether it is or isn’t okay to overthrow the US because it has “initiated force” and they would be “retaliating”.

  317. says

    @Niblick:

    No, it’s just being fucking annoyed with you that got rid of an entire sentence when I was editing.

    Lynchings are illegal by law. They are hate crimes along with discrimination. Hate crimes that libertarians are willing to drop again because they interfere with a business owner’s right to be an asshole.

  318. chigau (™) says

    Can Libertarian societies start from scratch or must they parasite on a real, existing society?

  319. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Ooh, don’t you just love how the arrogant and ignorant Niblick keeps trying to get in the last jingo, and keeps digging a deeper and deeper hole with its idiocy? Liberturds never heard of the first rule of holes (must consider it guvmnt intervention), which is, when in over your head, stop digging. For Niblick, that would have been around noon, give or take an hour.

  320. SallyStrange says

    What I DID say was that some racists reacted to civil rights gains with a backlash of INCREASED hate-group activity. “Increased” means “more,” by the way, so what I mean is that there were more cross burnings, more swastikas painted on things, more assaults, and yes, more lynchings.

    Yes, and you also implied that this should somehow mean that taking government action against said lynchings would be a bad idea. Which is either idiotic, or racist, or both.

  321. Niblick says

    Jesus fuck “no shirt no shoes” is not nearly the same as “no blacks.” Are you truly equating racism with wanting to make sure people don’t walk into your store in a bathing suit?

    Hrm–I just asked what you were thinking, and now it’s obvious: you weren’t. You couldn’t possibly make this idiotic statement otherwise. At what point did I suggest that “no shoes” is “nearly the same” as “no blacks”? When did I suggest that the two were morally comparable? When did I say anything that you seem to think I said? What the fuck is wrong with you?

    The two have one thing, and one thing ONLY, in common. What do they have in common? They have in common that they are both examples of prohibitions. “No soliciting” is also a prohibition, as is “no smoking,” as is “no hoodies” or “no guns” or “no bazookas” or “no rappers” or “no long hair” or “no Christians.” Are they all morally equal? NO. Do they have other things in common? Nothing obvious, and nothing I care about. They have ONE THING IN COMMON: they are all prohibitions.

    Now let me tell you (again) a little fact about prohibitions. Whether they’re good or bad, legal or illegal, no matter WHAT ELSE you may thing about them, they have one thing in common: the law does not regard them as targeted at a specific individual. The law takes this distinction pretty seriously, because various types of criminal and civil decisions can depend on it, such as harassment law suits. And the law has established doctrine on the subject. And that doctrine is, THE LAW DOES NOT REGARD THEM AS TARGETED AT AN INDIVIDUAL.

    SallyStrange, ignorant of this, said, “A sign that says ‘whites only’ is targeted at whichever specific black person is reading the sign. It means that that black person will be denied service.” Perhaps she is confused because she is using the word “targeted” in a different sense: the sense that whoever happens to read it can implicitly add the words, “This means you.” Whatever the nature of her confusion, she is certainly confused. With respect to being “targeted,” a KKK pamphlet and a “no blacks” sign are exactly equal. If one is “targeted,” then so is the other. If one is not, then neither is the other. Any distinction between the two with respect to “targetedness” is purely the product of SallyStrange’s fevered imagination.

    As for her conclusion that I endorse segregation, or am a racist, I think my copious comments on the subject stand by themselves. Her accusation is, like her reading comprehension, sorely lacking.

  322. Niblick says

    Libertarians oppose the initiation of force. How noble. And I’m sure that in a real libertarian society, everybody would hold to this morality as much as Christians turn the other cheek.

    If that were the case, there’d be no need for a libertarian legal theory (see above for some definitions and links). All we’d need is cotton candy and lollipops.

    Instead there is a libertarian legal theory, complete with libertarian law enforcement (which is similar to what you know, but also different), and libertarian due process of law. You’re basically invoking FAQs over and over again by asserting that these basic concepts don’t exist, that their need hasn’t been considered, and that libertarians assume that people are all really just unicorns that shit rainbows.

  323. says

    @Niblick:

    You advocate it should be legal for business owners to discriminate.

    Fill-in-the-blanks you care jack shit about equality. You’re a fucking privileged wanker, and I’m through with you because I can’t fucking take your idiocy anymore. Shove a fucking rusty metal porcupine up your ass and fucking grow up.

  324. SallyStrange says

    Niblick, the thing that you’re missing here is that an individual black person, upon seeing a “whites only” sign, can rest assured that he or she will not be able to purchase whatever goods or services that business is selling.

    If that business is selling an essential good or service, such as clean water, food, sewage treatment, education, or whatever, then you have a situation that a rational person would define as “aggression” against the black person.

    Only looneytarians could have the gall to insist that the black person is aggressing against the business owner by insisting on giving him money in return for access to an item or service that is necessary for that black person’s survival. Or that the government is aggressing against the business owner for insisting that the business owner accept doing business with people he doesn’t like as a price of being allowed to participate in civilized society.

  325. tekelsey says

    This is a feeding frenzy upon a carcass that had very little meat to begin with and what little there was went down the throats of those who bit first. Anyone who cannot see the flaws of one’s own argument after they have been exposed so completely will never see them.

  326. SallyStrange says

    In other words, there is a significant distinction between volunteering to set up a business that provides essential services to your community, then refusing to serve all members of your community, and publishing an offensive pamphlet. The difference consists in the harm done to the individual people who are denied services, and your consistent refusal to recognize that it’s worthwhile and important to prevent that harm from occurring is definitely supporting our already well-supported thesis that libertarianism is just a complicated exercise in justifying selfishness and lack of empathy.

  327. Kagehi says

    Though global warming and climate change are backed up by hard data, has the score been settled on whether these are anthropogenic?

    But, sir, we can’t decide how best to, which equipment to use, or even if we should buy any, to put out the fire burning your house down, **until** we know with certainty if it was natural, accidental, such as the cat knocking over a candle, or intentional arson. Until you can “prove” which one it is, we are just going to stand here and do nothing about it (never mind the risk to neighboring houses, or the presumption of innocence on your part, of not having started it intentionally). We just have to **know** first!

  328. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    Niblick isn’t racist, he doesn’t actually care if Blacks or any other group is discriminated against. It would restrict the freedom of business owners to force them not to discriminate and if some people suffer because of the business owners’ discrimination, that’s too bad. Blacks should have picked their parents better.

  329. SallyStrange says

    Niblick isn’t racist, he doesn’t actually care if Blacks or any other group is discriminated against.

    It’s a distinction without a difference. The end result is the same: black people get systematically shit on.

  330. Niblick says

    “Initiation of force” is another libertarian newspeak term that does not mean what the uninitiated might think. Libertarians except defense of property and prosecution of fraud, and call them retaliatory force. But retaliation can be the initiation of force: I don’t need force to commit theft or fraud.

    Excellent! You’re right, at least partly. Folks are equivocating all over the place because they keep using terms like “aggression”, “force”, etc., in the conventional (and not well defined) sense. Which is understandable, except they keep doing it even after the problem is pointed out.

    “Initiation of force” is indeed sometimes used to refer to “initiation of aggression,” which is also sometimes shortened to “aggression.” I prefer “aggression” over “force,” precisely because, as you say, theft doesn’t require anyone to physically assault anyone. Theft IS aggression; as a term of art it IS force. If a burglar enters without breaking, takes stuff without being discovered, and never gets into any physical altercations, he’s still the aggressor, and the stolen property may still be recovered “by force”–which also doesn’t mean force, if I can persuade him to return it, or sneak into his apartment and steal it back, etc.

    It’s not fair to call it “newspeak,” though. Every philosophy, and every legal system, is forced to implement its own terminology. There’s no choice: if there’s a philosophy made up entirely of well-defined concepts already present in the ambient culture, I haven’t heard of it. One can’t discuss without terminology. That’s not the same thing as attempting mind control by co-opting the language, as Newspeak does.

    Like most other non-pacifistic belief systems, libertarians want to initiate force for what they identify as their interests and call it righteous retaliation, and use the big lie technique to define everything else as evil “initiation of force.”

    Considerable effort goes into defining “aggression” and “defense” carefully. That’s also a must, since a legal theory must define its terms carefully; otherwise things mushily become crimes or not-crimes depending on a particular person’s hazy notion of what the words mean.

    You suggest that this is an exercise in disguising self-interest by redefining aggression that benefits me as either “non-aggression” or “defense,” and presumably redefining good things that conflict with my interests to be “aggression.” That’s always a risk; I’ve already mentioned on this thread the potential to define one’s morality in self-serving terms, such as defining the “haves” as “people richer than me,” and the “have nots” as, “well, me, for instance.” Rationalizing self-interest is what people do best.

    Nevertheless, simply alleging that doesn’t really advance the discussion at all. It would be much more useful if you actually cited an example and demonstrated that it was an example of non-aggression redefined as aggression, or vice versa. You’ve already mentioned the hurdle of vocabulary, but that’s easily overcome by selecting, for the purposes of discussion, whatever terminology you like. We just need terms for libertarian aggression and non-aggression, on the one hand, the same notions according to common usage, on the other, and whatever alternative might be needed to express your argument.

  331. Niblick says

    Niblick isn’t racist, he doesn’t actually care if Blacks or any other group is discriminated against.

    You say I “don’t care,” I say I “care passionately, but advocate the path of non-aggression.” Your statement is unfalsifiable, since there’s no objective measure of “caring,” which hints that you’re doing religion rather than rational discourse, as I described in #285. Since your unfalsifiable claim is put forward as a reason for dismissing what I say, it’s an example of an ad hominem attack: “Don’t listen to him–he doesn’t care about black people.”

    We’ve already established, though, that several others on this thread endorse the right of the KKK to publish its views, untrammeled by government censorship. I could equally say, “Don’t listen to them–they’re KKK supporters.” It would be equally false, equally ad hominem, and equally reprehensible.

    However, there’s nothing to be done about it. You have a religious conviction which forces you to conclude that I “don’t care if Blacks are discriminated against.” What argument is there against a religious conviction? How does one dislodge blind faith? it’s clearly pointless for me to argue the point at all. What’s especially sad about it, though, is that you imagine yourself to be a rational person. You will probably never gain any benefit from the experience of running into the boundary of your rationality and finding, on the other side, blind faith in your personal conviction. Not so much as the admission that you have at least one belief that is not subject to rational examination.

  332. SallyStrange says

    We just need terms for libertarian aggression and non-aggression

    Libertarian “aggression”: The government assesses a fine against your business for discriminating against people of color.

    Libertarian “non-aggression”: You shoot someone for trespassing on your property.

  333. stevarious says

    Of course, all these namby pamby rules about free speech and liberty are meaningless once I buy my own city. Since property laws trump everything, I can buy a city and do as I please in it. And everyone who wants to live there has to sign away all their property rights to move in. At first, it will be a paradise – free food and luxurious accommodations. But once I’m done building that great big wall, I can remind everyone in the city that according to the contract they signed, I own everything in the city down to the clothes on their backs. If I don’t like you, I can discriminate against you all I want – no food, no shelter, nothing. You are, of course, free to leave – imprisonment would be aggression – but I own the doors and my grenade teams will be right there waiting if you dare try to cross my property.
    No one HAS to work in my slave factories, of course. But people who don’t work, don’t eat. I’m not forcing them to work though. As the business owner of all the sources of food in the city, I’m simply free to discriminate against you and not sell you anything. Oh, and I own the streets, so more grenade teams will be there to get you if you walk on any street except the one I allow you to walk on, which is of course the one that leads to your 16 hour shift at the factory.
    I’m not outlawing free speech – that would be wrong – I’m just denying services, as is my right as a business owner, to people I choose not to serve. Like people who speak against me or seem a threat to me.
    I’m not raping women – that would be wrong – I’m just denying services, as is my right as a business owner, to people I choose not to serve. Like women who won’t have sex with me.
    I’m not murdering people – that would be wrong – I’m just defending my property against trespassers. That’s my right. It’s not MY fault that these people are not physically capable of going somewhere that ISN’T my property.
    After all, anyone dumb enough to sign away their rights to their property deserves to be exploited, amiright?

    Please tell me what’s wrong with this scenario in Libertaristan?

  334. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    It’s not fair to call [initiation of force or aggression] “newspeak,” though. Every philosophy, and every legal system, is forced to implement its own terminology. There’s no choice: if there’s a philosophy made up entirely of well-defined concepts already present in the ambient culture, I haven’t heard of it. One can’t discuss without terminology. That’s not the same thing as attempting mind control by co-opting the language, as Newspeak does.

    It is “newspeak” if you use initiation for anything done to you and retaliation when it’s force that you did, even if you did it first. You looneytarians (let’s use the correct term) pretend the big bad gummint always initiates force and the poor looneytarians always just retaliate. You don’t pay your taxes, which is violation of contract, and the government retaliates by sending you a letter telling you to pay your taxes (the men with guns show up a great deal later in this scenario). Yet you looneytarians whine the government has initiated force by sending you the letter and you’re just retaliating by shooting the letter carrier for trespassing on your property.

    I’ve spent too much time arguing with looneytarians not to know how initiation and retaliation work in libertopia.

  335. SallyStrange says

    Niblick isn’t racist, he doesn’t actually care if Blacks or any other group is discriminated against.

    You say I “don’t care,” I say I “care passionately, but advocate the path of non-aggression.”

    Demonstrably untrue. You endorse the path of aggression, so long as the aggression is perpetrated by a business owner against individuals.

    Your statement is unfalsifiable, since there’s no objective measure of “caring,”

    Also untrue. There are objective measures of “caring.” Does this individual protest when witnessing acts of discrimination? Does this individual vote for politicians who promise to continue policies that support discrimination, or for politicians who oppose discrimination? Does this individual support the right of discriminated minorities to get equal access to all the riches of civilized society, or does this individual prefer to support the ability of private business owners to inflict damage on certain portions of the communities they purport to serve?

    which hints that you’re doing religion rather than rational discourse, as I described in #285.

    You described, and failed to justify.

    Since your unfalsifiable claim is put forward as a reason for dismissing what I say, it’s an example of an ad hominem attack: “Don’t listen to him–he doesn’t care about black people.”

    It’s not an ad hominem if it’s an accurate description of your position. And it is accurate: although you may claim, in words, to care about black people, the policies you support contradict that claim to caring. The outcome of putting those policies into effect would be, among other things, and increase in discrimination against minorities. You don’t disagree, you just think it’s more important that business owners aren’t inconvenienced by having to accept money from people they irrationally despise. Therefore I conclude that you don’t care about black people–at least, not enough to actually make an effort to alleviate the suffering they experience simply because of the hue of their skin. I submit that not caring enough to help someone is morally equivalent to not caring at all.

  336. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    You say I “don’t care,” I say I “care passionately, but advocate the path of non-aggression.”

    You keep saying this but have been shown repeatedly that you ignore aggression when it suits your argument.

  337. Niblick says

    If that business is selling an essential good or service, such as clean water, food, sewage treatment, education, or whatever, then you have a situation that a rational person would define as “aggression” against the black person.

    That’s a different definition of “aggression.” I’m evolved the same as you: when someone like Nerd of a Redhead repeatedly calls me “arrogant, ignorant, racist Liberturd,” I certainly perceive hostility; it reads to me as “aggression,” and activates my limbic system. I can almost hear her screaming and imagine her swinging at me. YET NONE OF THAT IS “AGGRESSION” in the libertarian sense. It’s just free speech. I’m in no way empowered to stop her, or censor her, or “defend myself” with any sort of force. I could call her names back, if I wanted.

    Her words aren’t aggression, and her anger, if there’s anger behind them, is also not aggression; even her hate, if she happens to hate me, is not aggression. If she’s selling a used medical device on Craigslist, and I’m stuck in her town needing one of those and call her up, and she says, “Niblick? That’s you? Well fuck you, Liberturd! I wouldn’t sell you my used gizmo if you were dying at my feet!” and hung up, it still wouldn’t be aggression in the libertarian sense. One litmus test of aggression is to ask, “Does this merit a violent response?” If I went to her house and took her used gizmo by force, I’D BE THE CRIMINAL. Ergo, not aggression.

    If Nerd were my neighbor, and she told all my other neighbors that I was a “racist Libertard,” and they all stopped speaking to me, it would still not be aggression in the libertarian sense. I can’t stop her bad-mouthing by force; ergo, not aggression. She’s free to speak her mind, and the neighbors are free to make of it what they will. I would certainly feel like she was “stealing” or “vandalizing,” um, “my” reputation–but “my” reputation is nothing but other people’s opinions of me. I don’t own their opinions; I have no rights to control what’s in their heads. So she hasn’t stolen anything of mine. I sure as hell would feel like it was, though. I’d probably be so upset, it’d give me palpitations. Nevertheless, not aggression. I can’t react with force, nor can anyone else react with force on my behalf.

    If she convinced my wife to leave me because I’m such an “arrogant, ignorant, racist Libertard,” my entire world would turn upside down. If anything ever made a person feel like getting violent, I’m sure that would do it for me. BUT IT’S STILL NOT AGGRESSION IN THE LIBERTARIAN SENSE. She’s allowed to converse with my wife; I certainly can’t stop her with violence, nor can I legitimately ask the court to stop her with violence on my behalf. My wife is allowed to talk to her; I certainly can’t forcibly make her talk only to people who like me. And my wife is allowed to think whatever she wants; I can’t control her brain by force. Finally, she’s allowed to leave anytime she wants. If I tried to restrain her, I’d be a kidnapper. Millions of years of evolution would be screaming, “There goes my chance at reproduction! AAAAK! My mate! My mate!” Nevertheless, not aggression.

    Yet if she punched me in the nose, and cocked her fist to do it again, I could hit her. That’s aggression. She can talk my wife into leaving me, convince the neighbors to shun me, and leave me a pathetic, lonely hulk, and I can’t lift a finger. (I can say lots and lots, and buy people flowers, and generally try to outflank her, but I can’t lift a finger.)

    Like I said, people simply don’t understand “aggression” in the libertarian sense. We’re evolutionarily wired to react violently when someone says awful things to us, or steals our mate, or takes the last banana, none of which actually justify a violent response. We have a greatly over-broad concept of what merits a violent–or at least a limbic–response. At least when someone else does it to us. We are similarly too narrow in our conception of wrongdoing, when we’re doing it to the other guy.

  338. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    Let’s consider freedom. Looneytarians rightly concede that one’s freedom must end at the point at which it starts to impinge upon another person’s, but they radically underestimate how easily this happens. So even if the looneytarian principle of “an it harm none, do as thou wilt,” is true, it does not license the behavior libertarians claim. As SallyStrange explains in #370, a looneytarian business owner can legitimately discriminate against people xe doesn’t like, regardless of the harm it does to those people.

    Looneytarians need to be asked some hard questions. What if a free society needed to draft its citizens in order to remain free? What if it needed to limit oil imports to protect the economic freedom of its citizens from unfriendly foreigners? What if it needed to force its citizens to become sufficiently educated to sustain a free society? What if it needed to deprive landowners of the freedom to refuse to sell their property as a precondition for giving everyone freedom of movement on highways?

    In each of these cases, less freedom today is the price of more tomorrow. Total freedom today would just be a way of running down accumulated social capital and storing up problems for the future. So even if looneytarianism is true in some ultimate sense, this does not prove that the looneytarian policy choice is the right one today on any particular question.

    Furthermore, if limiting freedom today may prolong it tomorrow, then limiting freedom tomorrow may prolong it the day after and so on, so the right amount of freedom may in fact be limited freedom in perpetuity. But if limited freedom is the right choice, then looneytarianism, which makes freedom an absolute, is simply wrong. If all we want is limited freedom, then mere liberalism will do. There is no need to embrace outright looneytarianism just because we want a healthy portion of freedom, and the alternative to libertarianism is not the USSR, it’s the Western World’s traditional liberties.

    Looneytarianism’s abstract and absolutist view of freedom leads to bizarre conclusions. By signing a contract, it would be possible for people to sell themselves into servitude. Looneytarianism degenerates into outright idiocy when confronted with the problem of children, whom it treats like adults, supporting the abolition of compulsory education and all child-specific laws, like those against child labor and child sex. It likewise cannot handle the insane and the senile.

    Looneytarians argue that radical permissiveness, like legalizing drugs, would not shred a looneytarian society because drug users who caused trouble would be disciplined by the threat of losing their jobs or homes if current laws that make it difficult to fire or evict people were abolished. They claim a “natural order” of reasonable behavior would emerge. But there is no actual empirical proof that this would happen. Furthermore, this means looneytarianism is an all-or-nothing proposition: if society continues to protect people from the consequences of their actions in any way, looneytarianism regarding specific freedoms is illegitimate. And since society does so protect people, looneytarianism is an illegitimate moral position until the Great Looneytarian Revolution has occurred.

    And is society really wrong to protect people against the negative consequences of some of their free choices? While it is obviously fair to let people enjoy the benefits of their wise choices and suffer the costs of their stupid ones, decent societies set limits on both these outcomes. People are allowed to become millionaires, but they are taxed. They are allowed to go broke, but they are not then forced to starve. They are deprived of the most extreme benefits of freedom in order to spare us the most extreme costs. The libertopian alternative would be perhaps a more glittering society, but also a crueler one.

    Empirically, most people don’t actually want absolute freedom, which is why democracies don’t elect looneytarian governments. Irony of ironies, people don’t choose absolute freedom. But this refutes looneytarianism by its own premise, as looneytarianism defines the good as the freely chosen, yet people do not choose it. Paradoxically, people exercise their freedom not to be looneytarians.

  339. Niblick says

    It’s not an ad hominem if it’s an accurate description of your position. And it is accurate: although you may claim, in words, to care about black people, the policies you support contradict that claim to caring.

    By your standard Ghandi didn’t care about Indians, because he advocated non-violence. Ditto Martin Luther King, who obviously didn’t care about blacks. He specifically encouraged them to get beaten and arrested by cops, for example. Your evidence that I “don’t care about black people” is flawed if it works equally well when applied to MLK and Ghandi.

    To which you will reply, perhaps in different words, “They’re different,” or perhaps, “Now look who thinks he’s Ghandi! *sneer*,” or something else equally invalid. All of which speaks to the fact that you have a conviction which cannot be falsified.

    Or, to reverse the question, you could tell me: exactly what evidence would convince you that I do, in fact, care about black people, despite disagreeing with you as to the best means of combatting racism? If the answer is, “No evidence: you can’t disagree with me and also care about black people,” then you’ve answered your own question, and admitted you’re a fundie.

  340. Niblick says

    You keep saying this but have been shown repeatedly that you ignore aggression when it suits your argument.

    What “aggression” do I ignore? Or will it turn out that, despite repeated definitions of the term, you insist on using some random other definition of “aggression”? Specifically, can you give an example in which someone initiates non-consensual physical contact, and yet I “ignore” it?

    If instead you’re taking “aggression” in the colloquial sense, and saying that there are cases in which a hater hates without me shooting him, then I refer you back to the first amendment: upholding the first amendment means allowing haters to publish their hate without being in any way censured or molested by the law. So, do you support this? If so, you “ignore aggression when it suits your argument,” and you “support the KKK,” to boot. If not, then of course you’re an enemy of free speech.

  341. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    So it’s only aggression when you get to define it as aggression not when other people see it as aggression.

    Fits in nicely.

  342. Alverant says

    Ever notice how Niblick never really explains how things will be enforced in Libertarianland? If a company lies to you and causes the death of your pet (say through selling you food they claimed was safe but wasn’t). What recourse do you have? Well you sue. But where do you sue? What happens if you win and the company refuses to pay? How do you enforce the court’s verdict without “gubment men with guns”? The libertarian fantasy involves everyone being honest and accepting responsibility for their actions.

  343. Niblick says

    Looneytarians argue that radical permissiveness, like legalizing drugs, would not shred a looneytarian society because drug users who caused trouble would be disciplined by the threat of losing their jobs or homes if current laws that make it difficult to fire or evict people were abolished.

    If I ignore ALL the fallacies in that one short passage, and grant ALL your unspoken assumptions–that in a libertarian society, addicts would live in alleys and commit crimes to support their addictions–then you’re still wrong: they would not be disciplined by the threat of losing their jobs or homes. After all, the ravages of addiction have already turned them into homeless, jobless, mindless criminals, willing to stop at nothing for their next fix.

    One thing that will limit their harm to society, however, is that the alley’s owner would evict them–and being mindless criminals intent only on the next fix, they would resist any and all efforts to evict them, until deadly force was used. Their corpses, if unclaimed by relatives, would then be sold for soylent green or fertilizer, whichever was selling higher on the day’s spot market.

    I mean jeebus! If you’re going to parody libertarianism, can’t you at least come up with something consistent (at least superficially) with the most basic libertarian principles? You know, just to prove you did your homework and at least skimmed the reading material?

  344. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Specifically, can you give an example in which someone initiates non-consensual physical contact, and yet I “ignore” it?

    Aggression isn’t only about physical contact between people.

    But continue to ignore that so that it suits your zealotry.

  345. DLC says

    It’s funny. the guy bleats about “leftist education monopoly”, but then patently ignores the existence of private schools.
    He also patently ignores the by now blatant fact that Creationism comes out of the same political factory as Climate Denialism. What, we weren’t supposed to notice ?
    The idea (it doesn’t deserve being labelled as a theory) that some magic man poofed the earth into existence is out there to help people get over that whole “thinking” thing. Sure, the global average temperature has been increasing over the last 2 centuries — but don’t worry, God will fix everything!

  346. Super Shala says

    Holy shit, Niblick is actually succeeding at making the word “aggression” just as annoying to hear as the words “epic” and “hipster”.

  347. Niblick says

    So it’s only aggression when you get to define it as aggression not when other people see it as aggression.

    Try to keep up. The topic is libertarians. Libertarians believe that physically touching another’s person or property, without their consent, or threatening to do so, should always and everywhere be illegal. This is referred to as “aggression.” If someone commits this act, namely touching or threatening to touch another’s person or property without their consent, then the one so touched or threatened may put a halt to that “aggression,” even if it means touching the “aggressor’s” person or property without his consent, and may recover whatever is lost through aggression by the same means.

    That’s what libertarians believe. There’s no “redefining aggression”: the word always, consistently, every time, means just what I said above. Further clarification is possible in order to identify clearly what is “property,” but we’re not writing a frickin’ book here.

    If you want to discuss what libertarians believe, then you have to know what libertarians believe, first of all. My first paragraph above is a decent nutshell summary. If you then want to claim that “libertarians ignore aggression when it suits them,” you must either stick with the definition of “aggression” given above, or else define what you mean by “aggression,” or (preferably) use another term when you have another definition of “aggression” in mind.

    There are additional matters, such as the libertarian concepts of proportionality and due process. Proportionality is nestled in the above definition: you may repel aggression with force, and recover damages with force, but that’s it. If you push a trespasser off your land, that’s “repelling aggression,” in a way that happens to involve non-consensual touching. If you tie him up and feed him slowly into a wood-chipper, feet first, you are clearly not “repelling aggression.” Since you’re not “repelling aggression,” your non-consensual touching is itself “aggression.” Somewhere in between the shove and the wood chipper there is a boundary between what is and isn’t “repelling aggression,” and that boundary defines what we could call “proportional force.”

  348. Therrin says

    Two things from upthread that Niblick didn’t follow up on, I’m bringing up again because it’d be cool if he would:

    1) EMTALA. Emergency rooms/departments are required to give stabilizing treatment to all regardless of ability to pay. If an ER is full, they will be put on divert status so dispatch will send ambulances to one with available beds. A patient may be triaged, but they must always be assessed, regardless of their ability to pay.

    Niblick listed a bunch of news articles allegedly supporting his view that EMTALA was not being followed. Others refuted those links by pointing out that their outcomes were not due to lack of ability to pay, which was Niblick’s point. A further response from the arguee would be appreciated.

    2) Enforcement. Contract performance is enforceable by some agent/firm/party. Who does this? How is it agreed upon that these persons are the best for that job? How are they kept neutral to either side’s interest?

  349. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Ah, the arrogant and ignorant liberturd, still talking in jingos, and preaching. It can never, ever be wrong, even when (and especially when), the dogma contradicts itself. All the while showing the theology is morally bankrupt, which means any intelligent person with empathy, i.e. those who regularly post and lurk here, will think is anything other than bullshit.

  350. SallyStrange says

    Niblick the liar thinks that I labeled him as a person who doesn’t care about black people because he espouses non-aggression. That’s a blatant lie; I specifically laid out the reasons I consider him to be a person who doesn’t care about black people. Honest readers can scroll up to read the original post in question.

    Proportionality is nestled in the above definition: you may repel aggression with force, and recover damages with force, but that’s it.

    But apparently preventing aggression that’s easily forseeable falls under the rubric of “initiation of force”; the government must wait until after people have died to act. Even then, the government can only act to recover damages. If other people then go on to enact the same predatory scheme to defraud cancer patients, the government must similarly wait until after cancer patients have needlessly died to shut down the con artists. There can be no blanket prohibition against defrauding cancer patients; that would amount to “initiation of aggression” by the government against private business owners.

    This seems like a reasonable explanation of libertarianism to me. After all, if laws aimed at preventing said fraudulent schemes were permissible in the libertarian view, there would be no way of differentiating libertarianism from mainstream liberalism.

    Is that right Niblick? Because if it’s not, then you’re a terrible communicator.

  351. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    Libertarians believe that physically touching another’s person or property, without their consent, or threatening to do so, should always and everywhere be illegal. This is referred to as “aggression.”

    So a Black going into a looneytarian racist’s store is being aggressive and it’s only retaliation for the racist to lynch him.

  352. Niblick says

    Ever notice how Niblick never really explains how things will be enforced in Libertarianland?

    Nothing to see here. I HAVE answered that question, in fact: I said, multiple times, that each and every individual is empowered to use physical force, only to repel aggression or recover damages; and secondly that anyone may authorize another to act as his agent in the matter.

    In extremely poor, high-crime neighborhoods today, there is virtually no law enforcement: cops stay out of such neighborhoods. In a particularly bad neighborhood of Chicago (I think it was Chicago), for example, there are surveillance cameras and loudspeakers; a friend who got off the wrong exit once heard a voice saying, “This is the Chicago police department. We can not guarantee your safety in this neighborhood. Please re-enter the highway and continue on your way.” Creepy but true (though I’m not positive as to the specific city). Similarly, in a libertarian society, there will be areas that are essentially not policeable. There, as today, individuals will protect themselves as best they can. Folks commonly suppose this is the norm in a libertarian society, but it is not: it’s both a fringe case, and one that exists today as a fringe case.

    At the opposite extreme, the very rich will have gated communities and security guards. No different than today.

    In between, there will be multiple overlapping models in place. It’s practically guaranteed that the deterrent or peacekeeping function will be separate from the investigative or punitive function; that much can be said with some confidence. Likely the commonest model will be that security agencies will exist on the local level to patrol and respond to disturbances, paid possibly through direct subscription but more likely through homeowners or mortgage insurance providers. They will dress similar to police today, will probably be armed, and will probably be referred to as “police.” They will have all the same powers any other person does: namely, to repel aggression or recover damages, using force if necessary. They will lack several powers that police have today, however, such as forcible entry of homes upon reasonable suspicion of victimless crimes. The powers I’m describing, by the way, are precisely the powers of deputies and/or constables in many states today: as distinct from police, those offices do not have modern police superpowers of search and seizure, nor power to enforce victimless crime laws, but only “breaches of the peace” and crimes threatening persons and property. Also unlike police today, the insurance company can hire a different police department if they choose, and police departments can have overlapping jurisdictions. Since they lack superpowers, “jurisdiction” isn’t a problem, as it merely refers to one’s bailiwick.

    After a crime is committed, homeowner’s insurance will generally recompense the victim immediately, after which they will give the case to an investigative agency, not unlike insurance investigators today. They will attempt to identify the guilty party for purposes of seeking reimbursement, which can in principle be forcibly extracted but will usually take the form of a transaction between the parties’ insurers, after which the guilty party’s insurer will bill them, upon pain of losing all insurance (and, among other things, reimbursement and investigation if one of his criminal buddies robs him.

    Needless to say, there is also a libertarian due process involved, whereby the accuser must prove his accusation, and there is a libertarian legal system within which for this to take place. All function similarly, albeit without initiated aggression, to their counterparts today. There is in fact a rich literature on this subject, which I can also summarize, but the book I keep refusing to right is now partially written in this thread, so I hope not to. Hopefully this reply is sufficient to illustrate that, contrary to the knee-jerk assumptions of many, much careful thought has gone into these basic FAQs, and one should not assume that there is no answer, or that my failure to answer every question proves a lack of answers–otherwise we’re doomed to an infinite regress of the “now there are TWO missing links!” variety.

    And yes, it HAS occurred to us that police departments might decide to set themselves up as warlords and fight for supremacy in a hot war across America, thanks for asking. And we have an answer to that question, too.

  353. Niblick says

    So a Black going into a looneytarian racist’s store is being aggressive and it’s only retaliation for the racist to lynch him.

    It is not legal, under libertarian law, to lynch trespassers. I actually already said that, more than once. Did you miss it due to the length of the thread? Or did you read it but forget? Or do you have a reading comprehension problem?

  354. SallyStrange says

    You’re losing your ability to be succinct, Niblick. Your posts started out at a reasonable length and are getting longer and longer.

    Why is that, do you think?

    Post #387 is just another installment in “There are problems with X, therefore libertarianism.”

  355. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Try to keep up. The topic is libertarians. Libertarians believe that physically touching another’s person or property, without their consent, or threatening to do so, should always and everywhere be illegal. This is referred to as “aggression.” If someone commits this act, namely touching or threatening to touch another’s person or property without their consent, then the one so touched or threatened may put a halt to that “aggression,” even if it means touching the “aggressor’s” person or property without his consent, and may recover whatever is lost through aggression by the same means.

    That’s what libertarians believe. There’s no “redefining aggression”

    Yes there is. By you only defining aggression one way you are redefining it.

    Do try and keep up.

  356. Therrin says

    Likely the commonest model will be that security agencies will exist on the local level to patrol and respond to disturbances, paid possibly through direct subscription but more likely through homeowners or mortgage insurance providers.

    TAX?!

    Also unlike police today, the insurance company can hire a different police department if they choose

    Seems insurance companies are pretty damn powerful in this society, they keep coming up as the means to whatever end is desired.

    All function similarly, albeit without initiated aggression, to their counterparts today.

    All funded by insurance companies. Of course, if the insurance company doesn’t like the enforcement being provided to a given legal system, they can just stop paying into it and go with Uncle Joe’s Justice, Cuz it Aint Just if it Aint Joe’s. That’s fair, right? We’re all allowed to create competing enforcement agencies. And I’m sure these insurance companies never get into disputes with each other, because every claim is quite clear as to who is at fault.

  357. Niblick says

    But apparently preventing aggression that’s easily forseeable falls under the rubric of “initiation of force”; the government must wait until after people have died to act.

    No. And I’ve answered all of the (several!) misrepresentations in your statement more than once now. So is there any more point in carrying on with you?

    Preventing “foreseeable” aggression by force is a dangerous concept: it’s “foreseeable” that children meeting various actuarial tests are disproportionately likely to grow up to commit crimes; any forcible action against them during childhood, however, would be a monstrous crime. Some NON-forcible action would be awesome, such as offering educational opportunities, or sports, or whatever you think my help them beat the odds. I highly recommend that.

    If by “foreseeable” you mean “imminent,” however, then that’s a different kettle of fish. Self-defense is a somewhat involved subject, and there’s not only libertarian literature out there, but also literature concerning self-defense under current US law. One reference is here, for example. Suffice it to say, self-defense does NOT require you to wait until you’re killed before responding to the threat.

    In the case of foreseeable aggression in the form of harm through negligent business practices, I’ve carefully outlined at least one of the ways that can be prevented without the use of aggression; see post 179 above. By this point I’ve written a damn book, so at the very least you could show the courtesy of not twisting or ignoring those points that I have already made at length.

  358. Niblick says

    Yes there is. By you only defining aggression one way you are redefining it.

    WE’RE TALKING ABOUT WHAT LIBERTARIANS BELIEVE. That requires definitions, and it requires you to be conversant with them. If the word “aggression” is your hangup, lets call it “smuji” instead. Libertarians believe in non-smuji. Feel free to critique non-smuji, or to argue why you think that libertarians hypocritically claim to be for non-smuji, while overlooking smuji when it suits them. Or whatever the hell your point is.

    If you don’t want to talk about what libertarians believe, then you don’t need to know anything about smuji. In that case, however, some of your posts give the confusing impression that you are talking about what libertarians believe.

  359. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    If instead you’re taking “aggression” in the colloquial sense, and saying that there are cases in which a hater hates without me shooting him, then I refer you back to the first amendment: upholding the first amendment means allowing haters to publish their hate without being in any way censured or molested by the law. So, do you support this? If so, you “ignore aggression when it suits your argument,” and you “support the KKK,” to boot. If not, then of course you’re an enemy of free speech.

    One, that wouldn’t be “supporting the KKK”.

    Second, I’m not the one making the claim

    You say I “don’t care,” I say I “care passionately, but advocate the path of non-aggression.”

    When you clearly are not by narrowly defining the word aggression to suit your argument and ignoring the other examples of aggression that have been presented.

    But keep deflecting, you’d make an excellent goalie.

  360. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Preventing “foreseeable” aggression by force is a dangerous concept:

    Is regulation force?

  361. stevarious says

    I would like a clear answer then – In libertaristan, we can’t prevent people from selling fake cancer cures? We can only collect damages afterward, correct?

  362. SallyStrange says

    No, you really haven’t answered my questions, Niblick. I’ve yet to hear a straight answer as to whether you consider it “aggression” for the government to decide to prevent fraud, air pollution, etc., by simply passing laws against them, rather than waiting until the fraud or air pollution happens and then attempting to recoup damages from the fraudsters or polluters after the fact. Of course, in practice, passing laws against such things and enforcing them boils down to publicizing the laws, then attempting to recoup damages, after a fashion, from those who have broken the law.

    Again, I’m left wondering: is libertarianism just dumb? Waiting until air pollution has happened to recoup damages is super inefficient compared to preventing it from happening in the first place. Or, in its more reasonable incarnations, is libertarianism indistinguishable from most mainstream political ideologies?

  363. Niblick says

    Likely the commonest model will be that security agencies will exist on the local level to patrol and respond to disturbances, paid possibly through direct subscription but more likely through homeowners or mortgage insurance providers.

    TAX?!

    Well lets see. What happens when you don’t pay your premium? Does someone show up with a gun to let you know that you will now pay your premium, or else come along quietly? Nope, don’t think so. Or does a letter come in the mail that says, “You are now uninsured. If your house falls down, don’t come crying to us”? Why yes, I think that’s it!

    So no. not tax.

    The confusion here is back to libertarian FAQ #1, by the way. A tax and a premium are both checks you send out once a year, so (apparently) to you they are indistinguishable. To a libertarian they are separated by a bright, fiery line: one will be taken by force if you decline to pay it; the other will merely result in loss of service. Consensual; non-consensual. Non-consensual things are what we call “aggression,” or in Newspeak “smuji,” and those things are strictly prohibited. Consensual things are allowed. Yay, consensual!

    See?

  364. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Jingo, jingo, and jingo. Non-cogent posts from the liberturd which require thinking outside of their self-imposed illogical and ideological/theological box. Not happening. Making our points for us, not its, which is typical. Holes, first rule of.

  365. SallyStrange says

    WE’RE TALKING ABOUT WHAT LIBERTARIANS BELIEVE. That requires definitions, and it requires you to be conversant with them. If the word “aggression” is your hangup, lets call it “smuji” instead. Libertarians believe in non-smuji. Feel free to critique non-smuji, or to argue why you think that libertarians hypocritically claim to be for non-smuji, while overlooking smuji when it suits them. Or whatever the hell your point is.

    Okay, Humpty-dumpty.

  366. chigau (™) says

    Niblick

    …a friend who got off the wrong exit once heard a voice saying, “This is the Chicago police department. We can not guarantee your safety in this neighborhood. Please re-enter the highway and continue on your way.” Creepy but true (though I’m not positive as to the specific city).

    I think that was Blade Runner though I’m not positive as to the specific movie.

  367. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    Again, I’m left wondering: is libertarianism just dumb?

    Looneytarianism is a response to government “coercion.” It’s similar to the coercion parents give their six year old child to get her to eat spinach.

    The typical looneytarian mantra: “And when I’m all grown up I’ll eat pizza for every meal and I’ll go to bed when I want to and I’ll never wash my hair so I won’t get soap in my eyes.” It’s the bratty response to being told “no.”

  368. Niblick says

    I would like a clear answer then – In libertaristan, we can’t prevent people from selling fake cancer cures? We can only collect damages afterward, correct?

    Not weaseling, here: the situation is non-trivial. A false claim in and of itself is not actionable, since it involves no non-consensual touching of persons or property. You can claim you know a cancer cure, or that your penis is 20″ long, or that you killed seven giants in one blow, and there’s not much anyone can do about it. Just like today, by the way: those damn chiropractic radio shows on weekends promise cures for cancer and every other damn thing, and they avoid any regulatory issues by making the legally-mandated disclaimers, couching their claims in weasel words, etc.

    Obviously your fraud is actionable as soon as money changes hands on false pretenses.

    However, just like today, there are other options. Today the FDA certifies “drugs,” but not “food supplements.” People would be reasonably advised to go with FDA-approved drugs, rather than with food supplements advertised on Christian radio stations. In a libertarian society, likewise, agencies will exist as clearing houses for studies of efficacy, etc.; think Consumer Reports meets the FDA. Reputable pharmaceutical companies will be reputable precisely because they seek certification of these independent agencies. And people will have the choice whether to go with treatments endorsed by such an agency, or with quack cures endorsed by Deepak Chopra and Richard Simmons.

    Just like today, in all important respects.

  369. Therrin says

    Niblick,

    You seem to have missed one of my posts. The latter part of it you somewhat addressed, so I will only repeat the first:

    1) EMTALA. Emergency rooms/departments are required to give stabilizing treatment to all regardless of ability to pay. If an ER is full, they will be put on divert status so dispatch will send ambulances to one with available beds. A patient may be triaged, but they must always be assessed, regardless of their ability to pay.

    Niblick listed a bunch of news articles allegedly supporting his view that EMTALA was not being followed. Others refuted those links by pointing out that their outcomes were not due to lack of ability to pay, which was Niblick’s point. A further response from the arguee would be appreciated.

  370. Niblick says

    Jingo, jingo, and jingo. Non-cogent posts…

    Not that it matters in this slightest–this is only a blog comments thread, after all–but you’ve contributed nothing to the discussion but high-octane ad hominems. Self affirming for you I’m sure, and amusing for you and whoever finds it amusing. Sad, however, that you probably imagine yourself holding the rational high ground while posting on pure emotion and logical fallacies.

  371. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    WE’RE TALKING ABOUT WHAT LIBERTARIANS BELIEVE. That requires definitions, and it requires you to be conversant with them. If the word “aggression” is your hangup, lets call it “smuji” instead. Libertarians believe in non-smuji. Feel free to critique non-smuji, or to argue why you think that libertarians hypocritically claim to be for non-smuji, while overlooking smuji when it suits them. Or whatever the hell your point is.

    Yes I understand. I fully get it and have.

    You are just ignoring my point that by only thinking that aggression means hands on, you get to conveniently ignore other actual harmful non-smuji aggression. Libertarians narrowly using only hands on harm as harm is fucking ridiculous and self serving to the i’ve got mine fuck you mantra of Libertarians. There is other harm cause by people’s actions that don’t involve me kicking your ass that is devastating. Handwaving that away because you have chest puffed your way into thinking that saying Libertarians believe that aggression is only hands on harm is so incredibly convenient bullshit it’s laughable.

    Smuji or not its the same outcome. You are redefining what it means to cause harm by saying aggression then getting your butt in a knot because you’ve been called on that ridiculous nonsense.

  372. Therrin says

    In a libertarian society, likewise, agencies will exist as clearing houses for studies of efficacy, etc.; think Consumer Reports meets the FDA.

    Um, I for one don’t trust Consumer Reports. They get quite a bit wrong.

    Can I run the clearing house? I’d be ever so good at it.

  373. SallyStrange says

    Not weaseling, here: the situation is non-trivial. A false claim in and of itself is not actionable, since it involves no non-consensual touching of persons or property. You can claim you know a cancer cure, or that your penis is 20″ long, or that you killed seven giants in one blow, and there’s not much anyone can do about it. Just like today, by the way: those damn chiropractic radio shows on weekends promise cures for cancer and every other damn thing, and they avoid any regulatory issues by making the legally-mandated disclaimers, couching their claims in weasel words, etc.

    Obviously your fraud is actionable as soon as money changes hands on false pretenses.

    So, false advertising is permissible, but actually selling the product you’re advertising is against the law.

    You’re still not helping me clear up whether libertarianism is stupidity and narcissism packaged as a political ideology, or whether it’s functionally indistinguishable from liberalism.

  374. Niblick says

    Niblick listed a bunch of news articles allegedly supporting his view that EMTALA was not being followed. Others refuted those links by pointing out that their outcomes were not due to lack of ability to pay, which was Niblick’s point. A further response from the arguee would be appreciated.

    I partially recant. I claimed that patients today also fail to receive prompt medical care when transported by ambulance; specifically, by being turned away from the hospital. I mentioned in a vague sort of way lack of insurance, paperwork errors, etc. I said that with full awareness that it’s illegal to turn away patients without insurance, but confident that it happens anyway despite the law, and I said it only partly caring about the specifics of the deficiencies in the system whereby patients aren’t delivered directly to a specific hospital and treated.

    My vagueness bit me: I still believe that indigents and others are turned away; I have some non-specific memory that an example in recent years involved ambulances coming from certain (poor) neighborhoods were told the ER wasn’t accepting patients, while other ambulances from other (less poor) neighborhoods were not turned away. However, after spending more time googling than I should have, I failed to turn it up. Therefore I concede that this claim of mine is certainly not proven.

    It’s true that most of the other examples were ambulance diversion, and that this is neither discrimination nor a mixup, but a symptom of an overloaded system. So I concede that while fitting my description of “patients turned away,” AND RESULTING IN DEATHS, this is not due to the causes I vaguely alluded to.

    My intent was to counter Beatrice’s speculation in #216 that confusion between ambulance companies might cause snafus in delivery of care, by pointing out that (stipulating in advance that it could happen in a libertarian society), the same class of problem is exhibited by our present system. If I’d researched before replying, I would have specifically cited ambulance diversion as an example of a systemic problem causing deaths through delays, but alas, I did not, and must now eat crow.

  375. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Not that it matters in this slightest–

    Sorry fuckwitted jingoist idjit. This is scientific blog, where evidence, not demagoguery like you present, rules. You present absolutely no evidence. Ergo, all we have is your lying and bullshitting word, which is utterly and totally meaningless. Not anywhere near close enough, compare to the folks refuting you left and right, who have presented said evidence in the past. You are too busy preaching your idiocy to consider you are absolutely and totally refuted. But you are.

  376. stevarious says

    I’m pretty sure that the libertarians actually endorsed getting rid of the FDA completely. Ah, here it is. Down at the bottom.

    “We should replace harmful government agencies like the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) with more agile, free-market alternatives.”

    (http://www.lp.org/issues/healthcare)

    So who is going to pay for these agencies? There can’t possibly be any money in chasing down frauds – any such ‘free market’ company is going to go out of business in no time because there’s no money in it. Without the force of law behind such an organization, the fraudulent companies (who are making oodles of money because unlike the legitimate drug companies they have almost no production costs for their sugar pills) are free to spend as much as they need to to obstruct the investigations of any private agency that tries to investigate fraudulent claims. Not only that, but there’s probably plenty of money in making a fake agency that endorses fake medicines. What’s to stop dozens of these from springing up? How could the average consumer possibly know which for-profit company is legit? How do you prove that you’ve been ripped off on a cancer cure and seek damages if the jelly beans were endorsed by a dozen (fake) companies?

  377. Niblick says

    You are just ignoring my point that by only thinking that aggression means hands on, you get to conveniently ignore other actual harmful non-smuji aggression.

    OK. It would help if you were clearer in your assertion before, but OK. You need to give examples to support your assertion; I will reply with reasons that responding to non-smuji with smuji is problematic.

    There is other harm cause by people’s actions that don’t involve me kicking your ass that is devastating.

    Um, I gave examples of such: if Nerd of a Redhead convinced my wife to leave me, and oh, tell all the neighbors about my tiny penis, and drive by daily to flaunt her new girlfriend and her new girlfriend’s Ferrari, I would sure as hell find it devastating. I’d be tempted to violence. My limbic system would certainly go crazy, my blood pressure would explode, and I’d quite possibly stroke out right on the spot and fall down dead.

    The question is, IS IT OK TO RESPOND WITH SMUIJ? Can I kill my wife for leaving me, or kill the person who talked her into leaving, or kill her new girlfriend? Can I imprison her so she won’t leave? Can I at least give everyone concerned a nice fat lip and bloody nose?

    NO. I can’t. It’s the fucking end of my fucking life as I fucking know it, I want to fucking die (or maybe fucking kill someone), and there isn’t a fucking thing I can do about it.

    Your turn. What you got?

  378. Niblick says

    I’m pretty sure that the libertarians actually endorsed getting rid of the FDA completely. Ah, here it is. Down at the bottom.

    Sigh. KEEP UP. The FDA is a non-consensual agency. They can and do block the release of efficacious drugs that are available in Europe, for example, to patients who desperately need them over here. Their funding is not consensual. Their power to shut down Amish dairy farmers for consensual sale of raw milk, is not consensual. They are not consensual. Not consensual bad. We now call it “smuji.” Smuji bad.

    Endorsing efficacious drugs, and warning against worthless or risky drugs, good. The FDA happens to do this good thing, along with lots and lots of smuji. In a libertarian society, the smuji would be illegal, but the good thing, of endorsing efficacious drugs and warning against worthless drugs, would be legal and very, very valuable. If you don’t like Consumer Reports, think Underwriters Laboratories (and yes, I know that their funding includes government funds, though they’re a private organization).

    So in a libertarian society, there would exist at least one, probably a couple, of agencies that endorse efficacious drugs and warn against worthless or risky drugs. It would be funded by a combination of sources, including the pharmaceutical companies who need their endorsement to satisfy discriminating customers, health insurance companies that will refuse to pay for non-attested drugs, the pharma companies’ liability insurers who will want evidence that the pharma companies were acting in good faith, etc.

    All the benefits, without the non-consensual aspects.

  379. says

    why is anyone arguing with niblick? this is the person who:

    1)is a deontological libertarian who, in their own words, admitted to standing by their position regardless of whether it would cause more harm than good;

    2)is so ignorant as to have in at least one instance used an example of a functioning anarcho-syndicalist system as an example of a libertarian system

    3)actually said that Sweden would be better off if it were more libertarian.

    It’s all ideology, no reason.

  380. says

    Libertarians believe that physically touching another’s person or property, without their consent, or threatening to do so, should always and everywhere be illegal. This is referred to as “aggression.” If someone commits this act, namely touching or threatening to touch another’s person or property without their consent, then the one so touched or threatened may put a halt to that “aggression,” even if it means touching the “aggressor’s” person or property without his consent, and may recover whatever is lost through aggression by the same means.

    That’s what libertarians believe.

    I see. You appear to have mistaken “The Road Warrior” for a documentary.

  381. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    You need to give examples to support your assertion; I will reply with reasons that responding to non-smuji with smuji is problematic.

    African Genesis, MSWLetten, etc. (probably 25 or more). Liars, jingoists, and bullshitters all. Just like you. Nothing cogent, just jingoist bullshit.

  382. says

    niblick –

    I claimed that patients today also fail to receive prompt medical care when transported by ambulance;

    You did? Where? I don’t remember any of these little details that you now claim you clarified.

    I still believe that indigents and others are turned away; I have some non-specific memory that an example in recent years involved ambulances coming from certain (poor) neighborhoods were told the ER wasn’t accepting patients, while other ambulances from other (less poor) neighborhoods were not turned away. However, after spending more time googling than I should have, I failed to turn it up. Therefore I concede that this claim of mine is certainly not proven.

    Really not the point. There are also murders and robberies and rapes that the law specifically prohibits, but they still happen. So it may be that somewhere a patient is turned away because of these reasons… but at least in this society it is specifically prohibited and there is defined and available recourse, thus mainly preventing such behavior. And this is a good thing. In Liberturdia, there would be no such regulation, no such legal prevention. If a private hospital does not have a contract with a private ambulance, they can refuse admittance. Period. This is a bad thing. A very bad thing… and only a person with a total lack of empathy wouldn’t realize the folly of this and countless other examples that as libertarian utopia would provide.

  383. stevarious says

    Endorsing efficacious drugs, and warning against worthless or risky drugs, good. The FDA happens to do this good thing

    But if I’m a company that makes a ‘risky drug’, I’m not going to ‘consent’ to some regulatory company that’s just gonna call me a quack. Therefore, it’s automatically non-consensual.

  384. 'smee says

    Niblick says

    in a libertarian society, there would exist at least one, probably a couple, of agencies that endorse efficacious drugs and warn against worthless or risky drugs. It would be funded by a combination of sources, including the pharmaceutical companies who need their endorsement to satisfy discriminating customers, health insurance companies that will refuse to pay for non-attested drugs, the pharma companies’ liability insurers who will want evidence that the pharma companies were acting in good faith, etc.

    Why?

    Why would a wealthy pharma want to seek endorsement from a self-serving presumably profit-seeking agency. Why not simply strike the requisite deals with the insurance companies – or indeed, eliminate the middleman altogether – and simply arrange for ‘payment plans’ for end users of their products.

    How, in such a fabulous libertarian future would any such agency ever gain ground? (and if you mention S&P, or Moody’s or similar, as analogy to financial markets you need to demonstrate where the non regulatory environment exists that forces those agencies to ‘play fair’)

    Frankly I think your argument is as watertight as the colander I presume you wear on your head.

  385. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Oh, and Niblick the fuckwitted jingoist, you are making claims your theology/ideology is good. Back it up with citations from here. After all, you are making claims right and left that your idiocy works in real life, and that you aren’t a delusional fool. Or, shut the fuck up. You opinion is utter and total bullshit, and everybody both responding and lurking knows that. We are LAUGHING AT YOU, as the thread header says.

  386. says

    If a private hospital does not have a contract with a private ambulance, they can refuse admittance. Period. This is a bad thing. A very bad thing… and only a person with a total lack of empathy wouldn’t realize the folly of this and countless other examples that as libertarian utopia would provide.

    ….which would result in a scene remarkably reminiscent of the French revolution, with the ci-devant wealthy seated in the tumbrils while Madame Guillotine re-balanced society.

    One of the big flaws with corporatism/libertarianism is that it ignores the fact that eventually the disenfranchised masses will stop taking “fuck you I’ve got mine!” as an answer. And there will be nobody for them to turn to for help.

    I’m not saying that I approve of bloodbath revolutions, but rather that they are inevitable if the upper classes allow the gap between them and the disenfranchised to get too large. The Bourbons or the Romanovs or Charles I or any of the other crowned heads that have rolled in the dust stand mute witness to what happens when the greedy excuse themselves from all restraint.

  387. Niblick says

    1) is a deontological libertarian who, in their own words, admitted to standing by their position regardless of whether it would cause more harm than good;

    That’s not clearly an indictment; I’ve pointed out that others are deontological liberals, some of whom illustrated my point by saying exactly what I predicted they would–namely, that my disagreement with them on certain cherished points can only conceivably mean that I am evil, or stupid, or both, plus a sociopath. As for yourself, do you have no moral principles that you consider absolutely non-negotiable, even if adhering to your principles means lives will be lost?

    2) is so ignorant as to have in at least one instance used an example of a functioning anarcho-syndicalist system as an example of a libertarian system

    To what do you refer?

    3) actually said that Sweden would be better off if it were more libertarian.

    I think you have me confused with someone else.

  388. Niblick says

    But if I’m a company that makes a ‘risky drug’, I’m not going to ‘consent’ to some regulatory company that’s just gonna call me a quack.

    Correct. And people of any intelligence will refuse to buy your crap as a result. Just as today, you can market your “risky drug” as a “food supplement” or a “homeopathic medicine” and dodge the FDA, thereby limiting your target market to the (admittedly too numerous) gullible.

    Why would a wealthy pharma want to seek endorsement from a self-serving presumably profit-seeking agency.

    Whether they start out with that intention or note, they ultimately are forced to:

    First, because nobody needs their permission to collect the published studies, perform studies of their own, etc., in the interest of consumer protection or simply marketing their results; as soon as such a “consumer protection” agency emerges, the only rational countermove is to find a venue for endorsement, either the same agency or another, and now the genie is out of the bottle.

    Second, because at least one pharmaceutical company will see the marketing potential in such endorsements and find, or create, such an agency. It must at least appear independent in order to have the desired effect, and once again the genie is out.

    Third, because discerning customers will demand some sort of evidence of eficacy, as will their doctors. Whatever mechanism is emplaced to gather and disseminate that information will evolve quickly into such an agency.

    Fourth, because insurers will subcontract the necessary testing, to UL or someone else, and once again the wheels are set in motion that inevitably result in the development of such an agency.

    Remember, the market tends to be sticky in the sense that as soon as anyone comes up with a good idea, others are forced to adopt it or come up with something better. That’s false in a lawless society, because the relevant guild would simply put out a hit on the competitor, and it’s relatively false in the public sphere because the competitors will lobby for law or regulation suppressing it.

  389. jack lecou says

    Niblick-

    I’d really be curious about your response to my #341.

    The TL:DR version:

    Imagine a society and [quasi-]state almost exactly like our own, except WITHOUT any state-sponsored “smuji“. Compliance with official rules is enforced solely through the mechanism of universal shunning of violators while under sentence.

    This obviously tends to have fairly dire effects for the “untouchables”, but is, to the best that I can tell, entirely clean of any of your prohibited smuji-type aggression, as you have defined it above.

    Questions:

    1. Is there somehow some smuji hidden in there that I’m not seeing? Where?

    2. Do you have any other principled objections to this social organization?

  390. Niblick says

    If a private hospital does not have a contract with a private ambulance, they can refuse admittance. Period.

    In principle, a hospital can refuse admittance to anyone for any reason. And again yes, I realize that in principle this calls to mind the specter of hospitals in the 1950s, and Dr. Charles Drew dying on the steps of a hospital, refused life-saving plasma after years as a researcher in blood transfusions. If “libertarian” society were adopted in the 1940s, Dr. Drew might still have died because of some racist asshole at a private hospital.

    In practice, however, I believe such things would not happen in a libertarian society for multiple reasons.

    First, you’d have to be one hell of a fucking bigot to accept not only the loss of income from one patient, but the massive consequences of widespread reporting of what you did, not to mention living with yourself after letting a man die on your steps.

    Second, and quite possibly most significantly, health insurers will certainly refuse to do business with hospitals that might reject their customers; they will require certain guarantees in this regard or else will refuse to refer any patients to the hospital.

    Third, I believe hospitals’ that insurers will insist on some basic standards as a condition of providing coverage.

    Fourth, the ambulance companies would negotiate through professional associations to avoid that sort of thing; any loss due to competition would be offset by the gain in having the widest possible access to hospitals.

    Remember that libertarianism isn’t about eliminating all the rules, NOR is it a quest to regress to some prior age of mankind, be it the 1950’s, the 1850’s, or any other era. It depends critically on modern innovations such as risk pooling (which you may have noticed comes up A LOT), contract law, including things like easements and performance bonds, etc. It also depends on modern technology: many of the libertarian solutions to different social problems, free-rider problems, etc., would be impossible without modern technology. It freely posits the replacement of lighthouses with GPS, say, in order to solve the problems cited by economists like Coase.

  391. 'smee says

    Niblick

    You keep referring to People of Intelligence™. Where can I find these people? When I look around I see a fuckton of sheeple, willing to follow whatever nostrum promises them fame, freedom from worry, fat-reduction without effort, or financial security in three easy steps (just sign here)!

    You suffer from the same, blind-to-reality perspective that fucks up all simplistic modelling and modellers – agents are not rational! People may, individually, be capable of rationality – but en masse seem to be about as smart as a package of ramen.

  392. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    ‘smee #421

    (and if you mention S&P, or Moody’s or similar, as analogy to financial markets you need to demonstrate where the non regulatory environment exists that forces those agencies to ‘play fair’)

    I’m rerunning something I posted last June:

    Libertarian ideals are bad for the economy. Never, and I mean never, has there been capitalist enterprise that wasn’t ultimately underwritten by the state. This is true at an obvious level that even most libertarians would concede (though maybe not some of the Austrian School economists). For the system to work, there needs to be some kind of bare bones apparatus for enforcing contracts and protecting property. But it’s also true in a more profound, historical sense. To summarize very briefly a long and complicated history, we got capitalism in the first place through a complex process of flirtation between governments on the one hand, and bankers and merchants on the other, culminating in the Industrial Revolution. What libertarians revere as an eternal, holy truth is in fact, in the grand scheme of human history, quite young. And if they’d just stop worshiping for a minute, they’d notice the parents hovering in the background.

    Think about the New Deal. Although libertarian ingrates will never admit it, without the reforms of the 1930s, there might not be private property left for them to complain about the government infringing on. Not many capitalist democracies could survive 25% unemployment, and it doesn’t just happen by good luck. Or take a more recent example: savvy health insurance executives were quite aware that a couple of years ago, if reform failed again, skyrocketing prices were likely to doom the whole scheme of private insurance (itself a freak accident of federal policy) and bring on single-payer.

    Here’s a fun sci-fi one: Imagine the moment in, say, twenty years, when the evidence of climate change has become undeniable, and there’s an urgent crackdown on carbon-intensive industries. Then coal companies and agribusiness will be wishing they’d gotten on board with the mild, slow-moving reform that is cap-and-trade.

    The government didn’t just help make the “free market” in the first place, although it did do that. It’s also constantly busy trimming around the edges, maintaining the thing, keeping it healthy. The state can think ahead and balance competing interests in a way that no single company can.

    The libertarian who insists that the state has no place beyond basic night-watchman duties is like a teenager who, having been given a car, promptly starts demanding the right to stay out all night. Sometimes, someone else really is looking out for your best interests by saying no. This isn’t to say the state is looking out for the best interests of everybody, or even most people. The point is just that, however Glenn Beck might hyperventilate, the government doesn’t want to destroy the market. It wants to preserve it, and it does this job better than the market can on its own.

    And that’s why the best rap on libertarians isn’t that they’re racist, or selfish. (Though some of them are those things, and their beliefs encourage both bad behaviors, even if accidentally.) It’s that they’re thoroughly out of touch with reality. It’s a worldview that prospers only so long as nobody tries it, and is too unreflective and self-absorbed to realize this. There is a reason why most libertarians are historical and economic illiterates.

  393. says

    While I don’t agree with many of Niblick’s conclusions, it has to be said that he is absolutely right about one thing: all laws and all state interventions are, ultimately, based on the threat of force. The state claims a monopoly of the legitimate use of force, and it relies, ultimately, upon the threat of force – “men with guns”, if you want to put it that way – to enforce its decrees. It’s important to be honest about this point, rather than denying it. When we call for something to be mandated or prohibited by the law, we are, ultimately, calling for that mandate or prohibition to be enforced by the use or threat of physical violence.

    Of course, it’s equally important to acknowledge that the same analysis applies to private property rights. After all, when we speak of a “property right”, we are, ultimately, referring to a decree of the state which gives X exclusive control over a resource (whether physical or intellectual), and which relies ultimately upon force or the threat of force to exclude anyone other than X from using that resource.

    Deontological libertarians assert that there is a right to use force to “defend one’s person and property”, as though one’s property were an extension of one’s person; some talk about a “natural right” to property, and place this in the same category as the “natural right” to bodily autonomy. But this analysis is unrealistic: there are no such things as “natural rights”. The concept of a “natural right” to property is wholly incoherent. Rather, private property rights – like all other legal rights and obligations – are created and defined by the state, and enforced by the state through the use or threat of physical violence.

    And, of course, private property rights create inequalities of bargaining power; if X is a wealthy business-owner and Y is a penniless labourer, then Y is going to be at a relative disadvantage in negotiating with X. This makes the libertarian notion of “freedom of contract” essentially incoherent. Y might “freely” enter into a contract to sell his labour to X, but his choice is hardly “free” if he is faced with a choice between working for X or starving; and he is faced with that choice because the state has granted X the privilege of wealth, backed up with the use or threat of force to defend X’s property rights, while Y does not have this privilege.

    In short, while Niblick is right that social programmes are coercive, it must be observed that private property rights are coercive too; and, since capitalism rests on the assumption that private property rights exist and that they will be enforced, it is hard to justify the claim that capitalism is less coercive than other economic systems, or that individuals living in a more-capitalist society are automatically or intrinsically more “free” than those living in a less-capitalist society. My point here is not to argue that capitalism or property rights are bad; rather, my point is to establish that all economic systems rely ultimately on coercive violence, and that libertarians cannot take an automatic moral high ground on this question.

    With this in mind, I don’t think deontological principles, like the libertarian “non-aggression principle”, are very useful in actually deciding how society should be governed. They are, after all, essentially arbitrary: the “non-aggression principle” rests on the assumption that property rights are sacred and inviolable, that taking another’s property by force is always wrong (even to feed a starving child), and that the use of force is justified to prevent others taking one’s property, even if those others need it more than one does. There is no obvious or self-evident reason why this should be so. It’s simply an assertion, based on a particular highly-contestable view of morality.

    Rather, I favour a largely utilitarian view of state policy. A policy is good if it contributes, on balance, to human wellbeing, and bad if, on balance, it harms human wellbeing. Coercive violence is inevitable: while it is, in itself, a bad thing, this has to be weighed against the good effects that a particular act of coercive violence may have in a particular case. To take an uncontroversial example, most of us would agree that shooting a gunman in order to stop him rampaging through a school and killing children is morally justified: the harm to the gunman is outweighed by the good of saving the putative victims’ lives. So, too, coercive social programmes should be judged by their practical results in the real world. Taxing A in order to support a publicly-funded hospital is a burden on A, for instance – but if the hospital saves the lives of B, C and D, who would otherwise have died for lack of medical treatment, then the harm done to A is outweighed by the good done to B, C and D. As such, all public policies should be judged on a case-by-case basis; rather than relying on abstract principles, a policy should be judged on its actual effects on human lives and human wellbeing.

    (Meh. Sorry for rambling.)

  394. Bureaucratus Minimis says

    Go downtown to any city in the United States. Remove all the traffic signs and signals during rush hour.

    That’s Libertarianism.

    -Nigel… @10:27 AM

    Which is exactly what happened in multiple intersections here in Richmond, VA this week following the hurricane. I drove through these intersections multiple times during rush hour and never saw an accident or overtly reckless behavior. The few clueless drivers were yielded to by the rest. And nothing else happened.

    And no, this isn’t libertarianism, except perhaps as imagined by communitarians.

  395. Niblick says

    jack lecou:

    The TL:DR version:

    Imagine a society and [quasi-]state almost exactly like our own, except WITHOUT any state-sponsored “smuji“. Compliance with official rules is enforced solely through the mechanism of universal shunning of violators while under sentence.

    This obviously tends to have fairly dire effects for the “untouchables”, but is, to the best that I can tell, entirely clean of any of your prohibited smuji-type aggression, as you have defined it above.

    Questions:

    1. Is there somehow some smuji hidden in there that I’m not seeing? Where?

    2. Do you have any other principled objections to this social organization?

    Thanks for that! You definitely made me stop and think, because your idea here is far reaching, but I think it’s also extremely insightful. The devil no doubt lurks in the details, but you’re absolutely right that “shunning” doesn’t involve any “smuji,” assuming that defectors who refuse to shun aren’t subjected to physical sanctions (they can certainly be shunned as well, though). It can’t be “smuji” because all you’re doing is deciding not to talk to me, and obviously if you don’t want to talk to me, I can’t make you do it by force. You’re completely within your rights to shun me.

    You’re also right that it can be pretty dire. I’ve actually been shunned, by a former fiancée’s friends who comprised my entire social circle in a foreign country, and in a short span it nearly drove me mad. Without actually googling for examples, I think I remember of cases where the shunnee decided to end it all. I can at least imagine people who’d beg for a fine, or some jail time, or a nice horsewhipping, rather than shunning. And by the way, shunning is my own personal favorite recommendation for dealing with racist asshole types. Shun ‘em till they hang themselves, as far as I’m concerned.

    So if you replaced the existing punishment with shunning, for every victimless crime or other law that criminalizes non-smuji or mandates smuji, you’d be left with a smuji-free system that would be fully libertarian-compliant. It would have to be tweaked a little to support things like publishing the day’s list of shunnees, or whatever. You’d also need a critical mass of buy-in for the shunnings to work, I think.

    (As an aside to Jadehawk, if I did in fact “give an example of a functioning anarcho-syndicalist system as an example of a libertarian system,” it should be born in mind that a wide range of specific societal structures are libertarian-compliant. If they ban smuji in all forms, and hence do not ban non-smuji, then they are libertarian societies. The details can be structured along broadly socialistic, democratic, monarchist, anarchist, or almost any other lines and remain libertarian compliant. jack lecou has given a hypothetical way to reconstruct the American republic to be libertarian compliant. I’ve come up with very different hypothetical ways before as well, though never thought of Jack’s suggestion.)

  396. says

    niblick #427 –

    your entire argument rests on a series of assertions that are based entirely in your imagination and do not reflect any part of reality that does or ever has existed.

    So forgive me if i don’t just accept your word for it.

  397. Niblick says

    You keep referring to People of Intelligence™. Where can I find these people?…

    Why, here reading Pharyngula, of course!

    By nature I’m at least as elitist as you; I have a PhD of my own, and am nothing if not an intellectual snob at heart. When I see a family of NASCAR-watching mouth-breathers bowleg their way into Walmart in cowboy boots and jeans, I wonder how their brain manages to operate their lungs, let alone ambulate them about. I’m not sure I necessarily consider them sentient, let alone “rational.”

    Nevertheless, I’m forced to admit that just like all the rest of Darwin’s creatures, they fill an ecological niche very effectively. Their wants in life are few, beyond food and sex, or maybe beer and sex: good times watching NASCAR with their good buddies; a good chaw maybe. They pursue those wants using effective means, though. They get themselves a job, albeit a job I wouldn’t want, and they earn themselves a living–some less than me, but some, especially the plumbers and electricians among them, a fair bit more than me. They manage to marry, reproduce, live in relative contentment, and die.

    The Tenth Doctor Who likes to pop in on such families, enthuse about their corn roasts, and blubber how “they’re the real heroes.” He’s actually got a point. They may be pretty alien to me (though not as alien as I like to pretend, coming from a poor blue-collar family myself), but they are rational insofar as they pursue effective means toward their chosen ends. Libertarianism says that as long as they keep their hands to themselves, they don’t need dictated to; just freed to pursue those pursuits of theirs. Most of the elitists appallment at every aspect of their lifestyle seems to be rooted in bigotry more than any need they may have to be made to conform to our wishes.

    You suffer from the same, blind-to-reality perspective that fucks up all simplistic modelling and modellers – agents are not rational!

    No they’re not, insofar as their priorities, choices, or anything else reflect my views of what’s right, sensible or praiseworthy. The economic “rational actor” though isn’t someone who makes optimal decisions, or has optimal knowledge, or anything like that; that’s a myth. The “rational actor” is one who, given their chosen ends, and given what they know or believe at the time, chooses means that are well-adapted to achieving those ends. The “rational man” of economics is justified in going to witch doctors if he (1) wishes to be healthy, and (2) believes himself to know that witch doctors can make him healthy.

    They’re not rationalist in the sense of the average Pharyngulite. They don’t dedicate themselves to pursuing only what may be known empirically (with occasional timeouts, like Nerd of a Redhead’s, to go on a bender of pure emotional excess). Their stock of empirical knowledge may be low relative to their stock of old wives’ tales. Their tastes may be deplorable and their wants contemptible.

    But they are rational in that they know, “If I keep digging these here ditches, come Friday I can afford beer,” and they keep digging them ditches, and come Friday they do have beer. They succeed so well that a new generation rises up to watch NASCAR after them. And lo, Darwin saw that it was good.

  398. Niblick says

    niblick #427 – your entire argument rests on a series of assertions that are based entirely in your imagination and do not reflect any part of reality that does or ever has existed.

    Du-fucking-uh! The question was about how medical care would work, if libertarian law were ever enacted. You ask a hypothetical question, what the fuck do you expect but a hypothetical answer?

  399. pinkboi says

    Don’t we already have a game in which business is conducted on Libertarian principles? “Monopoly” or something like that?

    Monopoly is very similar to an earlier game called “The Landlord’s Game” which was actually designed by a Geoist/Georgist to show how land owners impoverish tenants. Whether Monopoly itself is based on it, I don’t know. But it’s interesting that your snark is almost based on reality.

  400. says

    The question was about how medical care would work, if libertarian law were ever enacted.

    .

    Ummm… no it wasn’t. You decided to turn it into that to defend your ideology. I presented the reality of libertarian ideology: that in such a world, private hospitals could and likely would negotiate exclusivity contracts with private ambulance services, and thus could turn away patients transported by those not contracted. I said that this was an inherently bad thing, because it is. Whatever mental contortions you decide to go through to provide a scenario in which that might not happen is your own issue. I did not ask you to do so. I don’t accept those assertions as factual or even likely because I’ve seen no evidence in any system where that is the case.

    Duh-fucking-uh.

    You ask a hypothetical question

    The fuck I did…

  401. ad hominum salvator ॐ sg says

    Maybe liberals don’t realize that many (probably most) libertarians oppose corporate personhood?

    For some value of “oppose” which includes doing nothing about it.

    (This goes doubly-so for left-libertarians – see Kevin Carson’s Corporations are People? So Was Hitler)

    What a disappointment you are once again, pinkboi. You got me excited at the prospect of having a good grumble about left-libertarians—whose hapless political associations ensure their own demise—only to find that your idiotic notion of left-libertarianism equates to market anarchism.

    A hint: anyone to the right of Adam Smith is a right-wing extremist, not a leftist in any sense. Your usage could hardly even be defended on similar grounds as calling Lenin a right-wing communist—relatively on the right wing of communism—since left-libertarian has some widely-understood meanings, but they do not include C4SS’s capitalism without government.

  402. pinkboi says

    @Walton –

    I mostly agree with your post (including how land itself is coercive), but here is one point I take issue with-

    Rather, I favour a largely utilitarian view of state policy. A policy is good if it contributes, on balance, to human wellbeing, and bad if, on balance, it harms human wellbeing. Coercive violence is inevitable: while it is, in itself, a bad thing, this has to be weighed against the good effects that a particular act of coercive violence may have in a particular case.

    I think it is too haphazard to only evaluate policy decisions on a case-by-case basis. There are strong utilitarian reasons to respect autonomy. An individual is going to be magnitudes more aware of his or her own needs and wants than distant bureaucrats with their imperfect information. If a series of laws that, themselves passing basic scrutiny, together lead to a situation where people have much less autonomy or where there is less experimentation in society, then maybe those laws weren’t so great after all.

    I suppose you could say I want to see more rule utilitarianism in scrutiny of laws, rather than mere act utilitarianism.

  403. says

    I think it is too haphazard to only evaluate policy decisions on a case-by-case basis. There are strong utilitarian reasons to respect autonomy. An individual is going to be magnitudes more aware of his or her own needs and wants than distant bureaucrats with their imperfect information. If a series of laws that, themselves passing basic scrutiny, together lead to a situation where people have much less autonomy or where there is less experimentation in society, then maybe those laws weren’t so great after all.

    I suppose you could say I want to see more rule utilitarianism in scrutiny of laws, rather than mere act utilitarianism.

    Yep – I agree with all of that, and I was oversimplifying the ethical calculus somewhat. In a society governed by the rule of law, it is, indeed, necessary for a legislator to analyze the general effects of a rule when applied consistently, rather than the specific effects of applying that rule to the facts of a particular case. I also agree that, in general, individual autonomy should be favoured over coercion wherever possible.

    For instance, I favour strong constitutional protections for freedom of speech, which should apply even where a particular exercise of free speech is harmful to society; because I consider that, on balance, society benefits from a rule which leaves citizens free to express their opinions freely. So, too, I categorically oppose the death penalty in all cases, because I’d argue that the inherent harm of giving the state the power to kill its citizens at will vastly outweighs any supposed effect that the death penalty might have in reducing crime rates (especially since such effect is empirically unproven).

    I find this kind of utilitarian libertarianism – based on the well-founded empirical claim that individuals benefit, on balance, from living in a society which accords them broad autonomy in making decisions about their own lives – much more convincing than the kind of deontological libertarianism that I was critiquing earlier. My basic point is that we can’t provide satisfactory answers to questions of public policy simply by mechanically applying a deontological rule, like the “non-aggression principle”. Rather, satisfactory public policies have to be grounded in an empirical assessment of their consequences for human wellbeing in the real world. That’s why I deviate from libertarian views in a number of areas – in particular, I support a universal healthcare system, because I consider that, on balance (and despite its drawbacks), the evidence suggests that such a system is better for the wellbeing of most people in society than any of the alternatives.

  404. Niblick says

    I presented the reality of libertarian ideology: that in such a world, private hospitals could and likely would negotiate exclusivity contracts with private ambulance services, and thus could turn away patients transported by those not contracted. I said that this was an inherently bad thing, because it is…

    The converse is that you can force a doctor to treat someone against his will, at gunpoint. It is possible to point out that this is also an inherently bad thing, without implying any endorsement of Japanese doctors refusing to treat Koreans, or men refusing to treat women, etc.

    It’s likely that you recognize such a use of force as in general a bad thing, because you would most likely (as soon as I pose this example) agree that forcing doctors to perform cosmetic surgery against their will, free of charge, would be a bad thing. You would likely argue that it’s only a good thing in the case of life-saving surgery, not every type of surgery, and then only because in choosing between that and “letting someone die,” it is the lesser of two evils.

    If I reply that I would prefer a system in which physical force were not used, bit instead other means were adopted for addressing problems of this type–and I sketched some of the means I would endorse–you would no doubt reply that it’s a facade to hide my real intent, which is to euthanize the poor and minorities through neglect. Or some such nonsense.

    You WERE being hypothetical, however, when you said, “private hospitals could and likely would negotiate exclusivity contracts with private ambulance services…” The fact is that you have absolutely no idea what anyone “likely would” do. I don’t think it likely (and can offer economic arguments why); I think it much likelier that ambulance contracts will be arrange by health insurers, and hospitals won’t care whether you arrive by ambulance, private car, pogo stick or stork. They want to make money, and turning away patients isn’t the way to make money. Conversely they don’t give a fuck whether the ambulance company makes money, and so have no motivation whatsoever to sign a contract that benefits the ambulance company at their own expense. But you’re free to casually assume that your speculation is better than mine. Everyone usually does prefer his own speculation. Hopefully one has the presence of mind to recognize it for what it is, and not mistake it for fact.

  405. ad hominum salvator ॐ sg says

    all laws and all state interventions are, ultimately, based on the threat of force. The state claims a monopoly of the legitimate use of force, and it relies, ultimately, upon the threat of force – “men with guns”, if you want to put it that way – to enforce its decrees. It’s important to be honest about this point, rather than denying it.

    Those who deny it are typically honest in their understanding. They do not experience most laws as involving the threat of violence, and even the most common method of extracting payment from the unwilling—wage garnishment—is not accomplished at gunpoint, since it involves collaboration between employer and government before the subject has any holding to physically defend.

    When we call for something to be mandated or prohibited by the law, we are, ultimately, calling for that mandate or prohibition to be enforced by the use or threat of physical violence.

    That’s certainly what I mean by it.

    But realistically, this seems not quite accurate; no rich person is ever going to get shot by the police of a neoliberal state for violating pollution laws. Capital has an understanding by which certain matters are settled through negotiation, and I’m not sure it’s even hypothetically true that such a crime could end in violence. There really does seem to be an arrangment, what once might have been called a gentlemen’s agreement, such that some other accomodation will invariably be made for a person of great means.

  406. Niblick says

    Niblick 434
    Truly repulsive.

    Sure; elitism is the dark underbelly of one’s psyche. On the other hand, I recognize my shadow side and do not yield to its impulses to dominate what isn’t to my taste, nor to justify such domination with paternalism.

    When a right-wing Christian vows to fix these people by banning all their sinful ways and funneling them into church, THAT’S repulsive. And when a liberal infantilizes them with the supposition that they can’t possibly survive without big brother “teaching them how to make healthy food choices,” or otherwise saving them from themselves, THAT’S repulsive.

    I believe in helping people, whether I can relate to them or not, be they rednecks, zoroastrians, or transgendered venusians, without imposing my will through preconditions or strings, decrees or anything else. Way too many on the left and right infuse their helpfulness with the will to dominate, or change what is foreign to them. I find it repulsive.

    ‘smee in #428 wasn’t being repulsive, exactly, but he was implying elitism where I came right out and expressed elitism. Characterizing the masses as idiots is a popular game. College kids do it for mental masturbation. Politicians do it to justify their paternalism, behind which hides their thirst for power. I replied, ultimately, that the masses are NOT idiots: they’re highly skilled at surviving and reproducing, which is all the next generation needs of us; calling them “idiots” denigrates them for not knowing calculus, or otherwise showing the markers that we elitists respect. And ultimately that IS repulsive. Who gives a fuck if they know calculus, or literature, or biology? All nice to have, and somebody’s gotta do it, but they’re plenty successful living their lives–and who the fuck are you to say that isn’t enough?

  407. pinkboi says

    @ad hominum –

    If you think that only anarcho-communists and anarcho-syndicalists deserve being called left-libertarian, then it is you who deviate from the widely understood meaning of left-libertarian. It is true that academics don’t tend to think of Agorists and “left”-Rothbardians as being true leftists (and I don’t either; I consider it to be the descendant of the “anarchism without adjectives” movement), but C4SS also represents neo-mutualists who take a page straight from Proudhon (like Kevin Carson) I dare you to suggest that Proudhon wasn’t a left-winger. Also note Proudhon’s followers Benjamin Tucker and Lyssander Spooner and the Ricardian socialist movement. Being a left-winger might entail some things, but it needn’t entail a rejection of a free market economy (and if it does, then liberals are right-wingers).

    I’m not an anarchist. I come more from the Henry George and Steiner-Vallentyne strain of thought, which is widely regarded in academia as being left-libertarian. Though I have plenty of respect for Kropotkin, Proudhon and Spooner, I’m not an anarchist, which makes Agorists think of me as a right-wing fascist by definition. And that brings me to my last point – fuck semantics.

  408. Niblick says

    But realistically, this seems not quite accurate; no rich person is ever going to get shot by the police of a neoliberal state for violating pollution laws.

    Because they’re not suicidal. Their rational self-interest kicks in long before the guns leave their holsters. Despite the assertion of some that people aren’t rationally self-interested, most individuals comply before ever meeting the man with the gun; of the rest, most comply upon seeing the armed man and his holstered gun-butt; of the rest, most comply very quickly when the right hand moves to position one[1]; a vanishingly small percentage continue resisting after seeing the muzzle pointed at them.

    [1] position one: support hand moves toward the chest; strong hand assumes a firing grip and breaks all holster retention devices. Firearm remains in the holster.

  409. SallyStrange says

    Recognizing that people operate according to certain cognitive biases that tend to prevent them from acting in a purely rational manner is hardly condescending elitism. It’s dealing with reality as it is, something that libertarians always seem to fail at.

  410. ad hominum salvator ॐ sg says

    Point of order! (Not really, but I like that phrase.)

    There is a reason why global warming denialists (and neo-Confederates, and all the other sick fucks who congregate around the fusionist movement) are so widely accepted within libertarianism as to be published at Reason.com, while the global warming denialists of the left, the LaRouchies, are thoroughly scorned and not given a platform by any other leftists.

  411. SallyStrange says

    The Walton is quite correct to recognize that state mandates are indeed enforced by violence. The problem with libertarianism is that it doesn’t solve the problem it purports to be concerned with but only replaces them with other, more difficult problems to get around.

    Also, his concern with human well-being is just as axiomatic as Niblick’s concern with non-aggression, but much more easily justifiable. Well-being is also easier to quantify than non-aggression.

    Niblick’s premise is begging the question: why is non-aggression desirable? The main source of objections to his self-admittedly fanatical devotion to the principle of non-aggression stem from easily imaginable instances when harm to human well-being results from apparently non-aggressive acts.

  412. jack lecou says

    The devil no doubt lurks in the details, but you’re absolutely right that “shunning” doesn’t involve any “smuji,” assuming that defectors who refuse to shun aren’t subjected to physical sanctions (they can certainly be shunned as well, though).

    I appreciate the response.

    I do want to make certain that it is understood that this is somewhat more than merely social shunning. That would certainly be harsh, but this also includes complete ostracism from the economic system as well, which is much harsher. And I want to make sure the implications of that are fully understood.

    “Untouchables” would have access to their own property. And we could perhaps be generous and permit them continued access to public thoroughfares, as well as continue to enjoin others from committing violence against them. But they will be cut off from literally everything else. For the duration of their sentence, which may easily be years, they will not be allowed to purchase food, water, electricity, sewer service, clothing, rent or purchase accommodation not already fully owned, or anything else. Nor could most people afford any of that in any case, as they would be utterly unemployable.

    Almost no one in any modern society would be able to remain self sufficient in such a manner for any length of time. Even quite self sufficient land holders would be hard pressed to last for very long without purchasing seeds, or medicine, or a spare part for a tractor or flour mill.

    Many people have no property to their name at all, and would have to sleep in the open. Even homeowners would find life difficult without basic utilities. All would have to attempt to subsist either on refuse or forage in the wilderness. It’s a situation even worse than what many of our own society’s homeless face — after all, as bad as that situation is, an “ordinary” homeless person is still able to attempt to panhandle for spare change, score a shelter meal or warm bed once in a while, receive occasional handouts of food and clothing, or visit a hospital emergency room if they get seriously sick or injured.

    I posit that for many people, such shunning might well be FATAL in relatively short order as they succumb to exposure, hunger or illness. Even if their sentence is finite, and they survive, their health, both mental and physical, will probably be seriously and permanently impacted. As such, I think there is also of course zero possibility of “rehabilitation”. Despite the harshness of the penalty, recidivism would probably be very high. Which means the crime rate would probably be higher as well. (The monitoring would either be fantastically expensive, not entirely sufficient to prevent sentence servers from committing additional crimes, or, very possibly, both.)

    Although entirely smuji-free, it’s almost certainly a punishment which would be judged “cruel and unusual” by the standards of our own society.

    In other words: it’s a society which is exactly like ours, except substantially uglier and crueler thanks to the restrictions mandated by your brand of libertarianism.

  413. ad hominum salvator ॐ sg says

    And when a liberal infantilizes them with the supposition that they can’t possibly survive without big brother “teaching them how to make healthy food choices,” or otherwise saving them from themselves, THAT’S repulsive.

    Why, do you suppose that people are born with an innate understanding of the science of nutrition?

    Of all the accomplishments of the twentieth century, one unlikely to have occurred without government might be the increases in longevity which have been aided by the standardization and dissemination of nutritional recommendations.

    The food pyramid I was taught in state school was imperfect, but it did help me understand the importance of a more diverse diet than—if my stoned cravings are any indication—I might otherwise find myself accustomed to. Probably the physical habits imposed by school lunches had a larger impact, but I’ll thank the state for that and the fact that my parents grew up with similar USDA guidance.

  414. ad hominum salvator ॐ sg says

    If you think that only anarcho-communists and anarcho-syndicalists deserve being called left-libertarian, then it is you who deviate from the widely understood meaning of left-libertarian.

    No, and I don’t think one has to be anarcho-anything to be libertarian.

    But left does mean something, and capitalism-without-government just ain’t it.

    but C4SS also represents neo-mutualists who take a page straight from Proudhon (like Kevin Carson) I dare you to suggest that Proudhon wasn’t a left-winger.

    Generic fallacy is fallacious. Chomsky takes plenty of pages from Adam Smith; it doesn’t make him a right-winger.

    I’m not an anarchist. I come more from the Henry blah blah blah

    I couldn’t possible give less of a shit about your self-descriptions, pinkboi. They’re tiresome. I try to remember to save mine until someone asks, and I recommend you do the same.

  415. says

    jack lecou @450:

    I do want to make certain that it is understood that this is somewhat more than merely social shunning. That would certainly be harsh, but this also includes complete ostracism from the economic system as well, which is much harsher. And I want to make sure the implications of that are fully understood.
    [...]
    Although entirely smuji-free, it’s almost certainly a punishment which would be judged “cruel and unusual” by the standards of our own society.

    In other words: it’s a society which is exactly like ours, except substantially uglier and crueler thanks to the restrictions mandated by your brand of libertarianism.

    “It’s a world much like our own, yet much unlike it. A twisted mirror of reality, in which a man can find himself cast out, made invisible by public acclamation, belonging no longer to society, but only to the gray reaches…of the Twilight Zone.”

    To See the Invisible Man
    Video on Youtube

    The rather silly “crime” is a setup for the story, but the punishment is essentially as described.

  416. ad hominum salvator ॐ sg says

    Being a left-winger might entail some things, but it needn’t entail a rejection of a free market economy (and if it does, then liberals are right-wingers).

    C4SS claims that liberals and all other non-anarchists are definitionally opposed to free markets, so this line of argument—where “free market” means one thing when you use it and another thing when C4SS uses it—won’t do to help you defend them.

    +++++
    Your goal, anyway, was to insert another of your “there are almost a dozen good libertarians! don’t hate all libertarians!” pleas into this thread. Nothing more complicated than that. I just think it’s amusing that you failed so spectacularly at gauging what your audience would regard as tolerable.

  417. ad hominum salvator ॐ sg says

    Because they’re not suicidal. Their rational self-interest kicks in long before the guns leave their holsters.

    It’s just dogmadogmadogma all day long with you, isn’t it?

    As it happens, some rich people are suicidal.

    It’s not as though no rich person would ever commit suicide-by-cop; middle-class people have done it, so it’s not simply a matter of economic stress. I would not at all be surprised if some rich people have done it too. My suggestion is not that the police of a neoliberal state would never shoot a rich person—they would if the crime was right—but that there are certain crimes the handling of which the state would not allow to escalate to violence if committed by a rich person; it’s just better for “everyone” if polluters are accomodated at the negotiation table, and the state will go to great lengths to make this palatable.

  418. ad hominum salvator ॐ sg says

    Is it time?

    It’s been almost ten days since I posted this last! I think it’s time.

    +++++
    Did you folks hear that they’ve recently studied the psychology of 10566 libertarians? It turns out libertarians experience less love; they even love their own families less than non-libertarians love theirs.
    http://keenetrial.com/blog/2010/11/17/whosthelibertarian/

    Libertarians tend to be male. And they score lowest of any group on measures of empathy.

    “They are therefore likely to be less responsive than liberals to moral appeals from groups who claim to be victimized, oppressed, or treated unfairly.”
    “…libertarians look somewhat like liberals, but assign lower importance to values related to the welfare or suffering of others.”
    “…libertarian independence from others is associated with weaker loving feelings toward friends, family, romantic partners, and generic others… Libertarians were the outliers.”
    “Self-Direction was the most strongly endorsed value for all three groups, but for libertarians the difference was quite large. If libertarians have indeed elevated self-direction as their foremost guiding principle, then it makes sense that they see the needs and claims of others, whether based on liberal or conservative principles, as a threat to their primary value.”

    The part I’ve bolded is of interest because libertarians often claim that they are just as loving, just as caring, full of just as much empathy as anyone else.
    It turns out that this is demonstrably, empirically false.
    (This is not to say that they’re deliberately lying about it. Everyone’s ultimately alone in their own heads, right? And since they are lacking in empathy, they have a harder time understanding other people than the rest of us do, and so they have a harder time understanding that others really do feel more empathy, more care, more love.)

    +++++
    Full text free at http://ssrn.com/abstract=1665934

  419. jack lecou says

    If they ban smuji in all forms, and hence do not ban non-smuji, then they are libertarian societies. The details can be structured along broadly socialistic, democratic, monarchist, anarchist, or almost any other lines and remain libertarian compliant.

    Just to follow up more on 432, 450 etc.:

    I think the implications here have to seriously challenge even a sincerely held deontological position.

    After all, one does not adopt a deontological structure solely for the fuck of it. It’s not arbitrary.

    Even religions do not go around saying, “How about you believe this shit, ’cause, hey? Why not?”

    No, even a deontological belief system has to have some kind of justification. One has to have reason to believe that the deontological rules will result in — at least generally — better outcomes. Or one has to have some basis for believing that the rules are “natural” in some way. That they are a logical consequence of simple and fundamental facts about the nature of the universe. (This is the basis for most religions – their “facts” are certainly flawed, but if you grant them, the rest of the self-contradictory edifice is at least marginally more stable.)

    But AFAICT, anti-smuji libertarianism has neither:

    Given the wide range of outcomes apparently possible with this brand of libertarianism – and the easily demonstrable ugly facets inherent to them – there certainly does not appear to be any reason to believe that this moral system will have any tendency to result in a systematically better world, at least for ordinary values of the word “better”.

    And, as Walton said at #430,

    There is no obvious or self-evident reason why this [propertarianism/smuji-ism] should be so. It’s simply an assertion, based on a particular highly-contestable view of morality.

    A point I have tried to get at in a couple of posts as well.

    There is nothing even to justify the particular definition of property apparently under discussion. Why is it more “natural” to assert a positive right to enforcement of rights to land holdings one is not physically occupying, for example? It would in fact seem far more natural to limit the scope of ownership to only whatever one can literally possess – i.e., whatever one is actually holding, wearing, carrying, or sitting in or on, with perhaps a little bit of buffer for personal space. At most, perhaps we might allow items that are in one’s sight and shouting distance, or that one can, at least in principle, defend for oneself.

    Anything more is a purely social construction. (Some of which are certainly in some ways convenient and desirable for a variety of practical — utilitarian — reasons, to be sure. But of course selecting rules based on their outcomes or practical utility is not thread I think a libertarian would want to begin pulling on…)

    So, the big question: why should anyone care about smuji more than the hundreds of other “bads” our fellow human beings and the world can present us with? What possible justification could one have for defining state-sponsored smuji as the solitary and overriding concern of a moral philosophy?

  420. theophontes , flambeau du communisme says

    Go downtown to any city in the United States. Remove all the traffic signs and signals during rush hour.

    That’s Libertarianism.

    I wouldn’t call that libertarianism.

    Rather, motor vehicles are simply mechanical devices for ordaining their users with an inflated sense of their own relative worth. Removing the signs means they are no longer taking their cues from the signs but are forced to read the built environment and acknowledge other road users (particularly pedestrians) directly. The psychology changes from a sense of entitlement (“my road”, “the light sez I can go”) to a constant negotiation and anticipation of rights of way. If anything this is a humanist position – traffic decisions are governed by constant human interaction.

    It is worth looking into the work of (inter alia) Hans Monderman in The Netherlands. Removing traffic signals and signs actually improves traffic flow as people are forced to interact with other users in their use of road space.

    … individuals’ behaviour in traffic is more positively affected by the built environment of the public space than it is by conventional traffic control devices and regulations.

    User behaviour becomes influenced and controlled by natural human interactions rather than by artificial regulation.

    Read also about work in the UK. (Link: Naked Streets.)
    Above quotes from the Pffft. (Link: Shared space.)

  421. jack lecou says

    And in regards to #434:

    I think that embarrassing descent into unabashed and condescending elitism was, in the end, quite unnecessary.

    I can’t speak to exactly what ‘smee may have been saying, but it is certainly not justified to equate the fact that people are not, in most cases, rational actors — either individually or in the aggregrate — with elitism.

    I would guess that human irrationality and blind spots are much the same whether one drinks beer and watches NASCAR, has a PhD and sips lattes, or all of the above. They might vary a bit from individual, and specific education in the nature of irrationality might allow one to be on guard against some specific frailties, but that’s not quite the same as being more rational. And elitism has got nothing to do with it. (I’d hazard that even an expert on irrationality, like Dan Ariely, would be the first to admit that they are not somehow more rational than everyone else.)

    It’s not, I think, even the case that most of here believe we are more rational by dint of being atheists, skeptical, or evidence-oriented. Certainly I’d say I, and others here, have probably given a bit more careful thought to certain matters than some of our neighbors. And many here have delved deep into arcane and complicated fields of study. But that’s not the same as being Mr. Spock. Is anyone arrogant enough to think that’s likely to make us more “rational” when it comes to our response to, say, a delicious kitten, a tub of Haagen Dazs, or an argument with a partner? Not really.

  422. Kagehi says

    Since each individual represents such a tiny proportion of the electorate and since one is only given a choice between a few candidates, it really isn’t in anyone’s self-interest to be an educated voter though we would be better off if everyone did educate themselves and did vote. A well-informed person may well come to the same conclusion as someone who votes on party or even randomly (google “rational ignorance” for more about the subject). This is market failure.

    Unfortunately, its a common failure in ***all*** markets. The average person does not have the time, the access, or the interest, even if “well educated” to make reasoned judgements on *all* subjects. We have tried, in many cases, to curtail this, with things like the old “fairness doctrine”. A standard of conduct that, while it didn’t make it a certainty that the best people where chosen to explain both sides of an argument, there would at least be an *attempt* to inform people that more than one side existed, and what that was. This was deemed to be, “violating free speech.” Who wants to bet on which group sided with this idea? The result is that the market is free and open, for people to give only their own side of every argument, and, if they have the money, to buy up as many information sources as legally possible (since there are monopoly laws), or, alternatively, to join in with others in buying such things up, without any direct connection between them, and *only* present one side. AM radio, as I understand it, was found, back in like 2004 or so, to have 99% right wing political talk radio. Even in the most liberal places in the entire US, 100% of all talk radio in the city was right wing politics. Why? Because no one else wanted AM radio, so it got bought up by people with one specific political view, and they opted to all, collectively, buy the same radio shows, from the same assholes. If all you had was an AM radio, all you would here is shit that is worse than Fox News. If you have FM.. You won’t find more than a dozen talk radio shows, of any kind, *on* FM, in the entire country. And, many of those would be the same nonsense being aired on AM.

    One single decision, that you can present one, and only one, side, and as many ways as you want, without even acknowledging a different view, led to one political view buying out an entire source of information. The same thing was “attempted” in the UK recently, by Rupert Murdock. The only thing that prevented that from happening wasn’t the “hand of the market”, or some such nonsense, but criminal charges scaring off the people that where going to sell him, over 63% (I think it was) of the news sources in the UK, which he didn’t already have. Basically, the same exact “hypothetical” situation you land in with someone buying up every private road between your business and your warehouse.

    A whole hell of a lot of laws we have are targeted “specifically” at preventing bad actors from using the market, to intentionally screw other people. Its almost universally these very rules we get told, by Libertarians, that we, “Don’t need, never mind that they where all created to address ***real*** cases of people doing precisely what you claim won’t happen, if they didn’t exist.”

  423. Kagehi says

    False equivalence. The US Civil War was fought over economic turmoil and the growing wealth of the industrial north vs. the disintegrating economy of the agrarian south.

    Virtually the **entire** economy of the South was based on slaves, slave plantations, slave workers, and slave sales. Thus the assertion that the disintegrating economy of the South didn’t have a single thing to do with slavery makes no damn sense at all. The major irony is that, at around the same time, the cotton gin was invented, so.. *eventually* there might have been a shift to the conditions of England, where slavery was less optimal to produce anything the South needed. The double irony being, that would have caused an even **faster** economic collapse, resulting from the need to house, feed, etc., a bunch of ex-workers, who no longer had ***any*** value to them.

    In any case, the revisionist argument that slavery had nothing at all to do with it makes about as much sense as claiming that oil stocks have nothing to do with opposition to AGW, by people, including scientists, which **work for oil and energy companies**, or think tanks that get the majority of their funding from the same, to produce “studies” that benefit the oil and energy companies. Oddly, nearly every single source of denial, including the biggest name in the whole damn thing, have a long, long, long list of “research” they have done, all of which including, if not exclusively, then at least in a *far larger* contribution, oil companies, energy companies, and environmental polluters. Its terribly strange, much as a collapsing economy, based on slave ownership, having something to do with slaves, might have anything at all to do with a war that ended up involving slavery.

    Next week, nigel will explain to us how WWII had nothing to do, in Europe, with hating Jews, or with Japan’s economic problems, and a desire, on their part, to acquire land with resources they didn’t have, from people they thought would be easy to scare, and too weak to fight back. Because, you know, gas chambers and Kamikaze where just mere coincidences..

  424. puppygod says

    This thread was very informative for me. My opinion about libertarianism until now were somewhere around “naive and misguided, but with good intentions”. Now, after reading the above discussion, I changed my opinion, and it is for much worse.

    Libertarianism seems to be an institutionalised Dunning-Kruger. It’s based around assumption that all actors are rational and fully informed. Sadly, this is demonstrably untrue, and whole ideology collapses under it’s own weight. The most worrying part is that apparently libertarians deem themselves to be fully informed – in all possible areas, nonetheless! – and fully rational, which coupled with the idea that they for some reason assume that in their ideal system they will be among the “haves” and not “have nots” smells very badly of thinly veiled elitism.

    Libertarianism – at least as presented in this thread – is dogmatic and based on false assumptions. That’s barely step above fundamentalism.

  425. hotshoe says

    There is nothing even to justify the particular definition of property apparently under discussion. Why is it more “natural” to assert a positive right to enforcement of rights to land holdings one is not physically occupying, for example? It would in fact seem far more natural to limit the scope of ownership to only whatever one can literally possess – i.e., whatever one is actually holding, wearing, carrying, or sitting in or on, with perhaps a little bit of buffer for personal space. At most, perhaps we might allow items that are in one’s sight and shouting distance, or that one can, at least in principle, defend for oneself.

    Anything more is a purely social construction. (Some of which are certainly in some ways convenient and desirable for a variety of practical — utilitarian — reasons, to be sure. But of course selecting rules based on their outcomes or practical utility is not thread I think a libertarian would want to begin pulling on…)

    So, the big question: why should anyone care about smuji more than the hundreds of other “bads” our fellow human beings and the world can present us with? What possible justification could one have for defining state-sponsored smuji as the solitary and overriding concern of a moral philosophy?

    What ? I’ve got mine, buddy, fuck you. That’s the sole justification for libertarianism.

    Also known as The Golden Rule: He who has the gold, rules.

    There’s not any moral aspect to libertarianism at all. The pretend moral aspect of “non-aggression” is invented as a teeny sop to the teeny-weeny consciences of libertarian recruits.

    They’re lying to us when they pretend that merely NOT striking first is sufficient to earn one’s place in the human family.

    Here is a story which illustrates how the libertarian should behave to count his “non-aggression” as a moral success:

    The great Zen Master Hakuin lived in a small hut outside a village where he was greatly respected. One day a village girl became pregnant. The father of the baby left town and she was alone and frightened. She did not know what else to do and told the entire village that Master Hakuin was the father.

    All the townspeople shocked. They stopped bringing food and offerings. Instead of praising Haikuin now they blamed him.
    “You are the worst of all beings,” they said.
    “Is that so?” replied Hakuin.
    {When} The baby was born the village girl brought the child to Hakuin to be cared for.
    “This baby is yours,” she said.
    “Is that so?” Hakuin said and took the baby gladly.
    Hakuin cared for the baby lovingly for several years. Babies, presumably, do not make for uninterrupted zazen. Diaper cleaning is not traditionally conducing to satori. Yet Hakuin fed, clothed and cared for the child.
    Then, one day, the father of the baby returned to the village to marry the mother and take back the baby. The new couple told everybody the truth about what happened.

    The people were astonished. They all began to praise Master Hakuin and return to his hut with offerings.
    “Is that so?” said Master Hakuin. Soon after that the couple returned for the baby. “Is that so?” Master Hakuin murmured and gave them their child lovingly.

  426. frankboyd says

    The proud priest at his work, cheering on his God called State, contemptuous of the heretic and the pagan.

    Pathetic doesn’t even begin to describe this.

  427. frankboyd says

    @puppygod,

    Question: would you judge evolution just by what was written about it by creationists? Would you judge what was written about liberals by what said on FoxNews?

    So, then, why don’t you try reading, say, Ludwig von Mises or Isabell Paterson and take a look at the arguments for the other side?

    And if you wonder why you should bother, ask yourself why there has never been an anti-capitalist revolution in history – not one – that has not ended in bloodshed, slavery, starvation.

  428. iLarynx says

    @ Katherine Lorraine, Chaton de la Mort, #142

    Actually “anthropogenic” means caused by humans, so the cigarette would be “anthropogenic” burning, but the lightning would not.

    That was exactly the point I intended to make, but fumble-finger failed. Thanks for the catch. What I meant to say was:

    Anthropogenic? WTF difference does it make?* The “anthropogenic” argument is just another silly canard to cast doubt on climate change.

    Let’s say you’re sitting at home watching TV when you drop your cigarette and set the couch on fire. The natural reaction is to jump up and stamp it out, pour water on it, whatever it takes to keep the fire from destroying your home. Right?

    Now, let’s say you’re sitting at home watching TV when a bolt of lightning sets the couch on fire. Do you just sit there and watch it burn since it was not the result of an anthropogenic event? Do Libertarians ponder how the glorious invisible hand will extinguish the flames as they themselves are engulfed in the conflagration?

    Most non-comatose people will get up and act as quickly as they can to reduce the chances that this threat to their home, even though it was not a man-made threat, is abated.

    Libertarians are truly a breed apart (e.g. Cro-mags and Neanderthals).

    *Granted that knowing the source of the increase can help in constructing a solution, but all the ones I’ve heard taking the “non-anthropogenic” stance do so as an excuse to avoid any action at all.

  429. ad hominum salvator ॐ sg says

    And by the way, shunning is my own personal favorite recommendation for dealing with racist asshole types. Shun ‘em till they hang themselves, as far as I’m concerned.

    Except.

    Plenty of people already agree with this—nearly all the genuinely anti-racist people who could be convinced to shun are already shunning—and it isn’t doing what you hoped.

    If this was a viable solution to racism, the news would be reporting multiple suicides by racists every day.

    (Note that state propaganda and even censorship would be more humane than your suggestion. This is just to say that your suggestion is completely ineffective.)

  430. 'smee says

    jack lecou@460:

    Exactly what I meant, in counterpoint to Miblick’s continued assertion that people will act rationally. This is demonstrably false (Tea Party voters, anyone?).

    One’s level of education is entirely irrelevant to that desire or ability to act and decide rationally (Shrub was a classic counter-example of a demonstrably and self-admitted non-rational actor with a rather exalted education).

    I think puppygod @ 463 stated it well:

    Libertarianism seems to be an institutionalised Dunning-Kruger. It’s based around assumption that all actors are rational and fully informed. Sadly, this is demonstrably untrue, and whole ideology collapses under it’s own weight. The most worrying part is that apparently libertarians deem themselves to be fully informed – in all possible areas, nonetheless! – and fully rational, which coupled with the idea that they for some reason assume that in their ideal system they will be among the “haves” and not “have nots” smells very badly of thinly veiled elitism.

    Niblick’s almost joyful descent into an attack @ 434 on my repulsive post @ 428 is perhaps a classic demonstration of Libertarian as elitist asshole. During Niblick’s entire post, all I could hear was Marie-Antoionette saying “Then let them eat cake!”

  431. ad hominum salvator ॐ sg says

    Question: would you judge evolution just by what was written about it by creationists? Would you judge what was written about liberals by what said on FoxNews?

    Wrong play, frankboyd.

    The dogmatist in question here was Niblick.

    You were supposed to play No True Libertarian at this point.

    Back to the reeducation camp for you.

  432. Therrin says

    The proud priest at his work, cheering on his God called State, contemptuous of the heretic and the pagan.

    That’s some righteous non-smuji you’re sporting.

  433. puppygod says

    @ frankboyd

    Question: would you judge evolution just by what was written about it by creationists? Would you judge what was written about liberals by what said on FoxNews?

    Your point being? Because I based my change of opinion on posts of self-descripted libertarians in this thread. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to base my opinions on creationist movement on what creationist write on internet forums.

    So, then, why don’t you try reading, say, Ludwig von Mises or Isabell Paterson and take a look at the arguments for the other side?

    I will in the free time. In the meantime, why don’t you educate me and tell what is libertarian solution to the problem of making rational decision with imperfect information?

    And if you wonder why you should bother, ask yourself why there has never been an anti-capitalist revolution in history – not one – that has not ended in bloodshed, slavery, starvation.

    Again, your point? Because I don’t know whether you’re arguing for or against libertarianism.

  434. says

    So I’ve seen this kind of “argument” before:

    “Not at all. What you’re missing is the distinction between aggressive and defensive force. If I attempt to behead you with a rusty knife, that’s aggression; it’s bad, and a crime. If you respond by shooting me dead, that’s self-defense; it’s good, and not a crime.”

    And it’s a funny thing, it seems that the guy who starts these things always has the knife and the guy he comes at always has the gun. That wraps everything up so tidily: Bad guy does bad thing; good guy kills him with bigger and better weapon; justice is triumphant, everybody goes home happy (well, everybody but bad, knife-wielding aggressive non-libertarian).

    Does it never pop into your mind that maybe the guy who starts this fight might have the gun and the victim might only have the knife? What then? The bad guy wins. The stronger guy wins. That, to me, is the big flaw with libertarianism: the big guy always wins. Sure, you can trot out some tale about how the invisible hand might give him a spanking, or that some self-appointed band of vigilantes will come and dole out some justice to him, but I’d much rather have a thoroughly organized, if admittedly flawed, system of government.

  435. ad hominum salvator ॐ sg says

    http://thesituationist.wordpress.com/2009/01/09/mispredicting-our-reactions-to-racism/

    «Students were led into a room and seated in a preselected chair thinking they were waiting for an experiment to begin. They were followed into the room by two males posing as participants: one black and one white.

    Shortly after, the black male remarks that he has left his cellphone in the hallway, and on his way out to retrieve it gently bumps the white male’s leg with his foot.

    Once the black person has left, the white male who’s part of the experiment makes a remark that is either classified as an extreme racist comment, a moderate racist comment or he says nothing at all. The extreme comment used was “clumsy [n*****]” and the moderate racist comment was “typical, I hate it when black people do that.”

    Participants were asked to complete a questionnaire to rate their feelings in the moment and then asked to select a partner to complete a task.

    Those who read about or watched the scenario were asked to predict how someone seeing this happen would feel, and whether they would select the white male or black male as a partner.

    This group of observers [...] believed people who heard the slurs would be very upset and more likely to pick the black person over the white person.

    But in reality, the racist remarks didn’t affect those who heard them first-hand [...] and they were more likely (63 per cent) to select the white person as their lab partner.»

    +++++
    Abstract:

    «Contemporary race relations are marked by an apparent paradox: Overt prejudice is strongly condemned, yet acts of blatant racism still frequently occur. We propose that one reason for this inconsistency is that people misunderstand how they would feel and behave after witnessing racism. The present research demonstrates that although people predicted that they would be very upset by a racist act, when people actually experienced this event they showed relatively little emotional distress. Furthermore, people overestimated the degree to which a racist comment would provoke social rejection of the racist. These findings suggest that racism may persevere in part because people who anticipate feeling upset and believe that they will take action may actually respond with indifference when faced with an act of racism.»

    http://www.yale.edu/intergroup/kawakami%20science.pdf

  436. says

    Libertarianism seems to be an institutionalised Dunning-Kruger. It’s based around assumption that all actors are rational and fully informed.

    No, it’s not. That’s something of a strawman. In my experience, most libertarians wouldn’t claim that everyone in society is “rational and fully informed”. Rather, pragmatic libertarians would make the claim that the state is no more intrinsically rational or well-meaning than individual people are, and that, in general, it’s better for individual people to make decisions about their own individual lives rather than to have the state make those decisions for them. While private citizens aren’t always rational or sensible, the state isn’t always rational or sensible either (to put it mildly), and the consequences of an irrational state policy can be much more catastrophic than the consequences of an irrational individual choice. (And in a democracy, the very same people who you are identifying as insufficiently “rational and fully informed” are the people who, through voting, get to make decisions about state policy.)

    This kind of pragmatic libertarianism can be countered in some cases by evidence, though. For example, I’d argue that the evidence suggests that, on balance, a publicly-funded healthcare system produces better results for the majority of people than a private market-based healthcare system. (I’m oversimplifying, and of course there are far more than just two options, but I think the general point stands.) That’s why I’m no longer a die-hard libertarian, and haven’t been for quite a while. I agree with libertarians that individual autonomy is a good thing, but I think there are some cases in which the evidence suggests that state intervention does more good than harm.

    I’d also say that pragmatic libertarianism should be distinguished from deontological libertarianism. Deontological libertarians hold to the “non-aggression principle” and argue that using force against another’s person or property, except in self-defence, is a priori wrong, irrespective of its practical consequences in the real world. That position, I think, is largely unsustainable – simply because there’s no obvious reason why the axiom on which deontological libertarianism is based should be accepted. Why is non-aggression inherently more important than all other values, irrespective of the context and the circumstances? And why is private property assumed to be an inherent sacrosanct right, rather than (as it actually is) a social institution created and enforced by state power? I take the view that deontological libertarianism, of the sort espoused by Rand and Rothbard, is rather useless in the real world.

  437. Niblick says

    And it’s a funny thing, it seems that the guy who starts these things always has the knife and the guy he comes at always has the gun…

    Of course the stronger usually wins. That’s why bad men not only make a point of having guns rather than rusty knives, but also why the high-functioning bad men band together to form mafias or armed gangs, or seek positions of power like political offices.

    At the extreme you have Bush-Bama, who are generally regarded as the “most powerful men in the universe,” who secured wealth and power for themselves at the expense of tens or hundreds of thousands of innocent lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as crusades of vengeance against whistleblowers, detention and torture of American citizens without charges, and the shredding of civil rights. In your analogy, Bush-Bama is the equivalent of the thug with a tactical nuke, confronting you with your fingernails. And yes, if you piss off the wrong people, like Julian Assange or José Padilla, or you happen to be an innocent Afghan at a wedding party, there’s absolutely nothing you can do to defend yourself.

  438. Niblick says

    Niblick’s almost joyful descent into an attack @ 434 on my repulsive post @ 428 is perhaps a classic demonstration of Libertarian as elitist asshole. During Niblick’s entire post, all I could hear was Marie-Antoionette saying “Then let them eat cake!”

    Lack of introspection. Many liberals, including many on this thread, are every bit as elitist as my (not entirely fictional) self-parody and more. They simply don’t see their own elitism, like a fish doesn’t see water. Viewing PeopleOfWalmart and sneering at the yokels, paternalistic belief that people can’t survive without being told what to do, given what they need, and “educated” on basic life skills, etc., is completely disgusting. Folks, probably including yourself, however, partly deny they’re doing it, and partly deny that what they’re doing is elitist.

    Everyone who has ever uttered the pejorative “redneck” is an elitist, and that’s almost everyone; it’s at least as ubiquitous as subtle racism and subtle sexism. Your finger-pointing at others merely suggests, as I said, a lack of self-awareness on your part.

  439. says

    Of course the stronger usually wins. That’s why bad men not only make a point of having guns rather than rusty knives, but also why the high-functioning bad men band together to form mafias or armed gangs, or seek positions of power like political offices.

    At the extreme you have Bush-Bama, who are generally regarded as the “most powerful men in the universe,” who secured wealth and power for themselves at the expense of tens or hundreds of thousands of innocent lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as crusades of vengeance against whistleblowers, detention and torture of American citizens without charges, and the shredding of civil rights. In your analogy, Bush-Bama is the equivalent of the thug with a tactical nuke, confronting you with your fingernails. And yes, if you piss off the wrong people, like Julian Assange or José Padilla, or you happen to be an innocent Afghan at a wedding party, there’s absolutely nothing you can do to defend yourself.

    Yeah… depressingly, there’s a lot of truth to that.

    Whatever our disagreements elsewhere, liberals and libertarians are very much on the same side when it comes to war, civil liberties, and so on.

  440. Niblick says

    One’s level of education is entirely irrelevant to that desire or ability to act and decide rationally (Shrub was a classic counter-example of a demonstrably and self-admitted non-rational actor with a rather exalted education).

    ‘smee, I’ve pointed out that “rational actor” is a term of art in economics, mainly rational choice theory, and it doesn’t mean what you think it means. You’re using “rational” in the sense of “sane,” or “clear-headed” or “thoughtful,” or perhaps “correct” or at least “based on correct information,” but the term “rational actor” means none of those things.

    It means, basically, “adopting effective means to pursue one’s desired ends, given the available tools and what he knows or believes he knows to be true.” This definition of “rationality” is used in economics and choice theory as a proxy for assumptions like: a person will not buy more of something at a higher price than a lower price. I specifically gave the example of visiting a Shaman, which is rational in the rational actor sense if your goal is to recover from illness, and you believe you know that Shaman can heal diseases.

    There’s an analogous concept in evolution, though I’m unaware of its use in any literature: any living creature can be termed a “rational biological actor” if it follows behaviors that comport with reproductive success. It’s not necessarily useful in the study of evolution, which is a statistical shift in genome frequencies, via natural selection, which is a sieving process; the term would pick out an individual and call it “rational” if it’s pursuing the reproductive strategy coded in its genes, and thereby successfully reproducing. For most species it’s tautological: a bacterium has no choice but be “rational,” since it’s just a blob of chemicals doing what it was coded to do. It’s more interesting for “higher” creatures: an ape who gets knocked on the head and develops a phobia of mating, and homicidal urges toward its offspring, would be an “irrational actor.”

    I mention it because both apply to our hypothetical representative of the vast herd of humanity that you dismissed as a bunch of drooly idiots, who bumbles through life failing to behave in a way that you consider “rational.” Perhaps he regularly gets into bar fights, can’t hold down a job, bickers with his wife constantly, has no interesting hobbies or intellectual pursuits, lets his house fall into disrepair, neglects his health, and thinks he talks to ghosts. He’s a mess. He’s not “thoughtful and clear-headed,” he doesn’t seem to be “correct or acting on correct information,” he doesn’t seem “sensible,” he doesn’t even seem quite “sane.” He’s the millions of people out there that you are convinced would either die, or else tear society down in a Hobbesian war, if it weren’t for Government guiding and controlling him. (And I’m the elitist! Sheesh!)

    That guy is a “rational actor,” however. He’s a “biological rational actor,” my neologism, because he has lived to adulthood and reproduced. He feeds himself, for example; he doesn’t irrationally decide to shove food up his ass instead, until he starves to death. He found himself a mate; he didn’t irrationally drive her away with frightening displays of insanity and coprophagy. He nurtures his kids, he doesn’t kill and eat them. He may well be one of the individuals today who, in 10,000 years, is a common ancestor of all humankind, while you may well be one of the individuals who have no surviving descendants 10,000 years hence. (Simulations suggest that, absent reproductive isolation, everyone either becomes a universal ancestor or else represents an extinct line.)

    He’s also a “rational actor” in the economic sense. If he wants beer he buys beer; he doesn’t hit himself over the head with a brick saying, “Beer! Beer! Beer!” If he has little money and wants much beer, he buys Budweiser in a can; he doesn’t buy two bottles of Dog Fish Head and attempt to breed them. If he’s hungry he puts food in his mouth, not up his ass. If he wants sex he puts his penis in his hand, or his wife if she’s willing; he doesn’t stick it in the food processor and turn it on. If he wants to watch NASCAR he turns on the TV, he doesn’t go out on the front porch and scream, “Where the fuck are the race cars!?” Given his ends, he adopts effective means of pursuing them.

    As for his frequent job-changing, habitual drunkenness, lack of intellectual curiosity, tendency to fight, etc., these are probably not irrational in the economic sense. You assume, perhaps, that he wishes he could hold one job until retirement, and just can’t figure out, “Huh! If I want to keep my job, I need to show up on time and not fight with my boss! Uh hyuck! Uh hyuck! Gawrsh!” You might suppose that he really needs someone to funnel him into job training so someone can say, “Novel idea! Show up on time and don’t argue with your boss!” Maybe, but I’m betting he knows all this. I’m betting his wife points it all out every time he loses a job. What you’re doing is committing the fallacy of comparing HIS means to YOUR ends. He’s following ineffective means to achieve YOUR ends. But your ends are not his ends. His ends apparently include not following a rigid schedule, and not keeping shtum when he thinks the boss is wrong about something. As to why those are his ends, I can’t say; that’s the province of psychology. Why does he seem to value “being right” over keeping his job? Why does he value arriving when he feels like it above keeping his job? Beats the hell out of me. But the point is that given his particular ends, he adopts productive means for following them. He is, in the economic sense, “rational.”

    When you call the average American “irrational,” you’re really just being elitist. You’re either condemning his ends, because they’re not what you would choose, or else you’re criticizing him for adopting means that don’t conduce to YOUR ends.

  441. jack lecou says

    Niblick @478:

    You are conflating two very different things. And attacking a strawman in the process.

    Yes, there is some liberal elitism. Or at least some flabbergasted grumbling along the lines of, “OMG. What kind of an idiot do you have to be to vote for [X]?” And in bad moments, you can certainly find some people making cracks about Walmart, or “rednecks”. Or a little bit of kidding on the square about maybe putting up a border fence between us and [state Y that has been in the news lately for being utterly backwards and stupid].

    But DON’T confuse any of that with a serious policy position.

    A liberal’s opinion on something like, say, government regulation of food safety, is NOT based on an irrational snobbyness toward NASCAR watchers. It’s based on the fact that human rationality — even our own — is bounded. Tightly bounded. Darn near strangled, in fact. So we have plenty of solid reasons to believe that leaving something like food safety up to poorly informed, irrational market forces is going to lead to really nasty outcomes. And that a leavening of government regulation – even if imperfectly implemented – will do a lot more good than harm.

    That is NOT the same as a “paternalistic belief that people can’t survive without being told what to do, given what they need, and “educated” on basic life skills, etc.” It’s just pragmatically dealing with the world as it is, rather than a fantasy world populated by homo economicus.

    There’s a big difference.

  442. jack lecou says

    It means, basically, “adopting effective means to pursue one’s desired ends, given the available tools and what he knows or believes he knows to be true.” This definition of “rationality” is used in economics and choice theory as a proxy for assumptions like: a person will not buy more of something at a higher price than a lower price.

    I, for one, am quite aware of what you’re talking about here.

    The problem with that, and with libertarianism, is that “rational choice theory” is effectively falsified. Many of the foundational assumptions of classical microeconomics are flatly inconsistent with the actual observed behavior of real human beings (and, for that matter, the observed behavior of firms). People do not make rational choices.

    I think ‘smee might have muddied the waters a bit by only mentioning tea party voters and shrub, but I want to make it perfectly clear that this applies to everyone. I am irrational (procrastinati