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Dec 20 2012

The total cultural solution

I told you that this problem of mass shootings was amenable to skeptical analysis, and that it would take a comparative analysis to work out exactly why America was so violent. But of course, someone has already done this; this is what sociology is all about. So here’s one interesting explanation that I didn’t think of.

Mass shooters in any nation tend to be loners with not much social support who strike out at their communities, schools and families, says Peter Squires of the University of Brighton in the United Kingdom, who has studied mass shootings in his own country, the United States and Europe.

Many other countries where gun ownership is high, such as Norway, Finland, Switzerland and Israel, however, tend to have more tight-knit societies where a strong social bond supports people through crises, and mass killings are fewer, Squires said.

“What stops crime above all is informal social controls,” he says. “Close-knit societies where people are supported, where their mood swings are appreciated, where if someone starts to go off the rails it’s noted, where you tend to intervene, where there’s more support.”

What, a better social support network would reduce violent outbreaks? You know, that’s the very same solution that also breaks the dependency on religion. Atheists should be entirely behind building stronger government support for everyone: it weakens religion, it reduces violence, and it reduces economic disparities, giving everyone an equal opportunity to develop and grow. It’s the best and greatest solution ever!

Too bad it’s the antithesis of Republican (and conservative Democrat) policies.

148 comments

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  1. 1
    md

    strong social bonds /= strong government bonds

  2. 2
    mythbri

    You’re right, md, but a better quality of life and increased average happiness would also go a long way toward creating strong social bonds, I think.

    There’s more room for happiness when you don’t have to wonder how you’ll feed your kids, how you’ll get your meds, and if you’ll ever find a job.

  3. 3
    doubtthat

    Just to battle against one sneaky right-wing myth, gun ownership in Switzerland and Israel is 1) tightly regulated and 2) dropping rapidly.

    Switzerland, for instance, requires people to be part of what are essentially militias to own guns. They used to let those members keep their guns at home, but now they’re moving to a system of keeping all firearms in a local armory.

    Israel, too, has been ratcheting up the regulations surrounding gun ownership. It’s essentially a military system and individual ownership – what would be somewhat similar to US style, cold-dead-hand ownership – doesn’t really exist.

    Haven’t read much about Norway and Finland, but if the Right is using them as an example, I would bet a large sum of money that they’ve concocted a series of vapid, self-serving lies.

    As an example, after this recent shooting, the gun nuts around me kept going on and on about this mass-stabbing at a school in China. See, guns aren’t the only way to kill large numbers of people. I had never heard of this event, so I had little to say about it specifically – though I did manage to point out that if knives were so fucking great, why don’t we save the government some money and just give our soldiers knives. Then I read about the event in China and…turns out no one fucking died. NO ONE:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2248054/China-stabbing-22-children-elderly-woman-stabbed-outside-primary-school-Chinese-knifeman.html

    That’s sort of a big difference. So again, never ever ever ever even believe the most simple sounding of facts coming from the Right. Before I’m willing to accept that sociological premise, I would want to know much more about those four countries. Two of them don’t allow gun ownership like we do.

  4. 4
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    strong social bonds /= strong government bonds

    Spoken like a true liberturd/rethuglican. Idiotlogical statement where one shouldn’t have been made.

  5. 5
    lurker in a strange land

    I agree with md. Strong social bonds does not equate to government support.

  6. 6
    doubtthat

    That’s not to say I disagree with better social services, but access to guns is a major, major issue, and I’m always suspicious of arguments that attempt to minimize, however indirectly, that fact. There are multiple necessary conditions in these events.

  7. 7
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Strong social bonds does not equate to government support.

    Citation needed. Social support (charity, welfare) has to be provided by somebody. If it isn’t the church, who? Government is the only logical answer.

  8. 8
    lurker in a strange land

    ‘Social support (charity, welfare) has to be provided by somebody’

    How does this create a close knit society?

  9. 9
    Matt Penfold

    I agree with md. Strong social bonds does not equate to government support.

    The evidence would seem to suggest you are wrong. Look at those countries that have the best social cohesion, and at a list of countries that provide good state funded healthcare, welfare payments, education etc. You will find that there are many countries common to the top of both lists.

  10. 10
    opposablethumbs

    It’s often argued that one of the things religion is especially good at is providing strong social bonds – that this is one of the reasons that some people find it hard to leave, because they think they’ll miss the social support network their church offers them.

    This suggests that in addition to being factually untrue, religion isn’t even much good at fulfilling a social-glue role. If religion really was good at offering strong social bonds, the US presumably wouldn’t be such an outlier on the violent crime statistics.

  11. 11
    Amphiox

    Strong social bonds does not equate to government support.

    It is the reverse that is true. Government support properly applies produces strong social bonds.

    Government is a tool that society creates for the purpose of promoting social welfare and protection. How well that tool functions is in society’s power to modify. This is the fundamental truth about government that Libertarians always ignore.

    Small Government = Big Anarchy.

  12. 12
    Matt Penfold

    How does this create a close knit society?

    Because the provision of support to the less fortunate in society is part of what makes a close-knit society.

    Why ask such a stupid question when unless you are an total idiot, you already knew the answer ?

  13. 13
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    How does this create a close knit society?

    By making sure that everybody has a social net where they aren’t starving poor, have access to medical care despite lack of income, and support of help organizations. But then, what else is there? You haven’t presented anything, just made assertions, compared to data looking at the countries with close knit societies.

  14. 14
    lurker in a strange land

    Thank you for a reasoned answer Matt. You have a point to be considered. The first thing I read from Nerd was ‘Spoken like a true liberturd/rethuglican’. Name calling? Really?

  15. 15
    PZ Myers

    What Matt said. Look at the data. There are many countries on this planet, and we can actually examine each one to see what works in producing that better social cohesion. Jingo, sabre-rattling, and fear work great, that’s true, but only if you want to be like North Korea — they have side-effects.

    Providing social support and smoothing out inequities are exactly what government is for. Americans seem to have forgotten that, thinking instead that government is solely for supporting armies.

  16. 16
    Matt Penfold

    This suggests that in addition to being factually untrue, religion isn’t even much good at fulfilling a social-glue role. If religion really was good at offering strong social bonds, the US presumably wouldn’t be such an outlier on the violent crime statistics.

    The problem is also that religion tends to only want to support those it sees as deserving. Which is why the Salvation Army discriminates against same-sex couples, refusing to provide them with support it will provide a straight couple. All too often attempts by the religious to promote social cohesion ended up doing the opposite. Even the Church of England, which is many respects has a good record on social justice issues, is divisive in that it does not regard women, or gays, as having the same rights as men.

  17. 17
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    The first thing I read from Nerd was ‘Spoken like a true liberturd/rethuglican’. Name calling? Really?

    MD is a liberturd troll. Besides, why didn’t you think it through before agreeing with MD?

  18. 18
    Amphiox

    There is also the question of how do you create strong social bonds when there aren’t any? How do you change how social bonds work in your society if you want to?

    If you want to effect a planned, directed transformation, you need to have an organization with lots of resources, a big bully pulpit for persuasion, and the ability to offer both enticements and deterrents to the kinds of behaviors you want to alter, hinder or promote, and the power to enforce them.

    There are only a few options on the table that fit that bill. Government is one of them.

  19. 19
    md

    Small Government /= Big Anarchy

    Switzerland has strong social bonds, a government system that allows so much local canton control, American Federalists don’t dare to dream for, widepsread gun ownership, and no anarchy.

    Strong social bonds are the trust between citizens which allow for strong government. When most everyone has much the same interests, people feel less threatened by who runs the country, and thus, the powers afforded to the government. That is not the case in the U.S.

    Create the strong social bonds first, then the government will follow. Culture makes law, not vice versa.

  20. 20
    lurker in a strange land

    ‘MD is a liberturd troll.’

    Did not know this as I usually don’t read comments.

    ‘Besides, why didn’t you think it through before agreeing with MD?’

    Because I couldn’t see a connection at first. Sometimes conclusions can be wrong and I’ll admit that I jumped the gun.

  21. 21
    Kevin

    Yeah, I’m not sure I buy the “big government” solution, either. And I’m a liberal Democrat who believes in the value of government. We’ve got a pretty darn big government now. What in the world would you make larger as part of the government that would induce informal social ties? Mental health services, maybe? OK, but boy oh boy I’d hate to put all my eggs in that basket.

    The expert said “informal” social ties. Government is about imposing formal social ties. Different things.

    The countries mentioned have other commonalities. With the exception of Israel, they’re quite homogenous. Not a lot of immigrants in Finland (2.7% of the population as of 2011). Norway is 13%, but the total is 655,000 — which means about the size of El Paso.

    And Israel is homogenous in a different way — unireligious (or at least theocratically oriented around a single religion).

    The very long historical/cultural ties in the Scandinavian countries seem to me to be much more important. Although governmental policies like universal health care, worker protection and the like go hand-in-hand and can augment what’s already in place.

    I think the social fragmentation we see in US society is built on a number of factors unrelated to the size of government.

    Now, I grant you that much progress could be made if we could get people to start thinking critically about the needs of the individual within society, and not the individual’s needs against society. But just building a bigger government? That doesn’t fly. We’re talking about changing the hearts and minds of people. Big government can’t do that.

  22. 22
    md

    —Did not know this as I usually don’t read comments.

    you thought an unapproved thought, lurker. Shame on you. Best apologize one more time to Nerd, lest he question your fealty.

  23. 23
    lurker in a strange land

    ‘you thought an unapproved thought, lurker. Shame on you. Best apologize one more time to Nerd, lest he question your fealty’

    Wow, you are a troll!

  24. 24
    Amphiox

    Providing social support and smoothing out inequities are exactly what government is for.

    If your country is small enough and uniform enough, private charities, most often run by religious institutions in the past, have done this.

    But once your country gets to a certain size and level of diversity, such private organizations are no longer big enough, influential enough, or have enough resources, to do the job. And only government has demonstrated the ability to do it.

  25. 25
    tim rowledge, Ersatz Haderach

    MD – do you really not understand that the canton’s are government? And talk to someone from Switzerland sometime, they’re pretty intrusive from what many of my neighbours tell me. Little things like your canton/local neighbours voting if you’re going to be allowed to live there, inspecting your house (white glove) when you want to sell it and so on. Sure, federalists just dream of that level of government control. Idiot.

  26. 26
    michaeld

    Hmm… Probably helps that I think all of those countries tend to be less culturally and religiously diverse then the states.

  27. 27
    Amphiox

    Switzerland has strong social bonds, a government system that allows so much local canton control

    Local cantons = GOVERNMENT, you moron.

    Local government is government too.

  28. 28
    Kevin

    md: You mistake local GOVERNMENT for no government. There’s plenty of government there. More than you could possibly imagine.

  29. 29
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Create the strong social bonds first, then the government will follow. Culture makes law, not vice versa.

    Gee, I don’t see that from what you presented.

  30. 30
    Matt Penfold

    I am the treasurer of our village hall. The hall is used by a wide range of local groups. You could say the hall is not run by Government, and you would be right, but I can assure you the Government has an important role to play in running the hall.

    First, because we are a non-profit organisation that is considered to contribute to the public good we do not have to pay any rates on the hall. That alone saves us over £500 a year. To give some idea of how big a help that it is, our annual turnover is normally around the £4000 mark.

    We also get support from Government funded bodies. A local not-for-profit runs a website that promotes halls such as ours. They also offer free courses on book-keeping, fund-raising etc as well as being able to offer advice on specific issues. If they cannot help, they can put us in touch with people who can, at minimal or zero cost to ourselves. This local not-for-profit is funded by the local council, Welsh Government, UK Government and EU.

    We have also benefited from public funds to improve the hall.

    So whilst it is true to say the Government does not run the hall, in that they do not get involved on a day to day basis, it is also true the hall would not be open were it not for Government support.

    So, please, those who say stupid things about “big government”, engage your brains before typing.

  31. 31
    Amphiox

    Little things like your canton/local neighbours voting if you’re going to be allowed to live there, inspecting your house (white glove) when you want to sell it and so on.

    The Swiss cantons are just about the biggest of big governments out there, in democratic systems, in terms of the amount of power they have over the people they govern. (And that is the ONLY measure of government size that counts, incidentally.)

    It is utterly hilarious to watch md try to fob that off as an example of “small” government. As usual the libertarian does not even know of what he speaks.

  32. 32
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    But just building a bigger government? That doesn’t fly. We’re talking about changing the hearts and minds of people. Big government can’t do that.

    Gee, I see nothing that would help here. Just more of “it won’t work” with no alternative suggested.

  33. 33
    mythbri

    Create the strong social bonds first, then the government will follow. Culture makes law, not vice versa.

    I disagree completely. Sometimes the law makes the culture.

    Slavery was outlawed. Black people became black citizens. The Civil Rights Act was passed. Black citizens became enfranchised more than they ever had been before. Brown v. Board of Education was decided. Black children began to attend school with white children, and now (except for the South) it’s so much more of a non-issue.

    Culture drives changes in the law, and law drives changes in the culture. You cannot have one without the other.

  34. 34
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    How does one create strong social bonds when struggling to put food on the table?
    Who is interested in social cohesion when unable to pursue higher education?
    If one needs a necessary medical procedure, but cannot afford healthcare, where do these strong social bonds come from?
    md-I do not think you have thought this through. Take your Privilege Goggles off and see the struggles of others.

  35. 35
    Matt Penfold

    If your country is small enough and uniform enough, private charities, most often run by religious institutions in the past, have done this.

    We used to do that in the UK. Until it turned out that without the Government becoming involved provision tended to be arbitrary, uneven and dependent upon where you lived. Which is why the state in the UK became involved. The same situation occurred elsewhere in Europe and pretty much every country in Europe, at least in Western Europe, has Government involvement (including Switzerland).

    The US is notable for being backward in this regard.

  36. 36
    johnwoodford

    Setting aside the question of whether government support necessarily leads to stronger informal support networks, it seems clear that the pursuit of policies that reinforce individualism and demonize collective action of any sort will lead to weaker informal support networks–at the very least by making them smaller (“I will only trust the people I know.”).

  37. 37
    Amphiox

    Create the strong social bonds first, then the government will follow.

    Only works with small nations. You can apply this argument to the new Mars colony, not to an established large nation like the USA.

    Culture makes law, not vice versa.

    Law IS culture. They each can influence the other. It is a two way street.

  38. 38
    Maureen Brian

    Remember Gettysburg? Remember government of the people, by the people, for the people?

    If your only experience is of government by vested interest – the USA today – then are you really equipped to judge what a government on Lincoln’s model might be capable of?

  39. 39
    Maureen Brian

    Can I have a “like” button for johnwoodford, please?

  40. 40
    md

    —do you really not understand that the canton’s are government?

    Rowledge, I’ll explain it slow. Cantons are local government. American Federalists want to devolve power from the Federal government to state and local governments. Spot the parallel.

    What they would do with that local power is another matter. The point is to oppose uniformity and a one-size fits all approach to government. Perhaps they would not have waited so long to give women the vote, like they did in a few cantons in Switzerland.

  41. 41
    Matt Penfold

    Another thing about networks of social support is that once religion ceases to become so important people find other ways of helping each other. Such networks tended to have the advantages of people being involved in more than one of them, and them being more inclusive.

  42. 42
    Matt Penfold

    Rowledge, I’ll explain it slow. Cantons are local government. American Federalists want to devolve power from the Federal government to state and local governments. Spot the parallel.

    What do American Federalists have to do with this ?

    I note you cannot bring yourself to admit your error and apoligise. Can you explain this absence of manners ?

  43. 43
    postman

    Kevin, biggest military in the world != strong government support.

  44. 44
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    The point is to oppose uniformity and a one-size fits all approach to government.

    Gee, more idiotological bullet points without solid evidence to support your theology. All without evidence to show it works for the greatest good for all people…

  45. 45
    md

    —The Swiss cantons are just about the biggest of big governments out there, in democratic systems, in terms of the amount of power they have over the people they govern.

    I didnt say it believed it was ideal or perfect, amphiox, just superior to a strong, centralized government. I believe that because I have more say and relatively more power at a PTA or town hall meeting, than at a press conference for the President.

    Sure, local governments can oppress. And if I find my county government oppressive and inflexible, I can move to another county. Leaving a country is a much more difficult matter, as is changing national policy.

  46. 46
    Matt Penfold

    I didnt say it believed it was ideal or perfect, amphiox, just superior to a strong, centralized government. I believe that because I have more say and relatively more power at a PTA or town hall meeting, than at a press conference for the President.

    And so what ? The discussion was about the merits of centralised or local government, and in any case the way you phrased suggests you though Swiss Cantons were not a form of government. If you are lousy at making yourself understand then either stop bothering to comment (best choice) or admit when you fuck up and apologise (which you do, then stop commenting).

  47. 47
    Barklikeadog

    This is the fundamental truth about government that Libertarians always ignore.

    Small Government = Big Anarchy.

    I always thougt the libertarians were advocating anarchy.

  48. 48
    tomfrog

    md, #40

    The point is to oppose uniformity and a one-size fits all approach to government.

    Different approches are possible. A big thing we have in France is that the laws must be the same for all citizens, wherever they live (mainland, Caribbean, South America, Pacific, Indian Ocean, …). Now, it’s not always exactly the case but still : the idea is that is provides cohesion and égalité.
    What would be absolutely unthinkable here is if education were to differ from place to place for example.

    Anyway, not saying it works perfectly —as obviously it doesn’t—, but that’s one option.

  49. 49
    tomfrog

    Re my #48 above: I should have said, “wherever they live in the Republic”, not if they’re French living abroad obviously. The parenthesis made my phrasing look weird, sorry.

  50. 50
    didgen

    It seems to me, that if you count on private/religious groups for charity or social assists for people then anyone that doesn’t fit that groups favorite “type.” Is going to be underserved. I worked at a large state hospital for many years until the “people” tired of that expense. No group stepped up to help those people, I know that government assistance and support is essential. At the very least to make sure that subsistence level health, education, food, and shelter is available. It is to easy for someones appearance or demeanor to identify them as “other” and allow us to ignore their suffering.

  51. 51
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    [rhetorical]
    Why do liberturds think we are so stupid as to fall for their theology? It hasn’t been to shown to work in real life, ergo they must presuppose it works and repeat slogans ad nauseum. Just like the communists did…
    [/rhetorical]

  52. 52
    doubtthat

    Can anyone provide an example that separates this “small government” approach from, “I don’t want my money going to those people?” With “those people” representing some discrete group sought to be denied benefits?

    We know that for basic services it really often is the bigger the better. Medicare, for example, is significantly more efficient than smaller private providers, they can use their size (except when artificially hamstrung by anti-government zealots) to bargain for lower prices, and no one has to make a decision about who is “worthy” of coverage.

    Where is the evidence, then, that some smaller entity would be better at generating a framework that allows these social ties to thrive?

    Then, of course, there are governmental programs that represent alliances between local and federal entities. FEMA, for example, mostly operates in response to local needs. The budget and ability to coordinate efforts across state lines are essential, but necessity is determined by folks on the ground.

    It seems like we have a whole lot of nonsensical theorizing about “government” and “services” and endless undefined concepts. For all the glibertarians, lets see some concrete examples of how you want this to go.

  53. 53
    Nick Gotts

    When most everyone has much the same interests, people feel less threatened by who runs the country, and thus, the powers afforded to the government. That is not the case in the U.S.

    Create the strong social bonds first, then the government will follow. Culture makes law, not vice versa.

    The usual simplistic glibertarian bilge – law is part of culture, and its relationships with other aspects of culture are multifarious and multidirectional. One important factor that undermines social bonds is socioeconomic inequality: see for example here. The USA is a highly unequal society, far more so than the others mentioned in the OP.

    However, of those countries mentioned, Switzerland and Finland do have relatively high gun death rates for rich countries – as does Canada, another country often put forward as a supposed example of lots of guns and few gun deaths – while Norway and Finland, with rather small populations, both have recent examples of mass murders with guns.

    With the exception of Israel, they’re quite homogenous. Not a lot of immigrants in Finland (2.7% of the population as of 2011). Norway is 13%, but the total is 655,000 – kevin

    WTF does the total have to do with it? When measuring homogeneity, it’s the proportions that count, so no, Norway is not “quite homogeneous”.

  54. 54
    Nick Gotts

    Sorry, borked link. The gun death numbers link is here.

  55. 55
    md

    —any case the way you phrased suggests you though Swiss Cantons were not a form of government

    Penfold, I dont know how you get ‘not a form of government’ out of ‘so much local canton control’ along with a link documenting one instance of canton government policy.

    Its you with the comprehension problem.

  56. 56
    SallyStrange

    And if I find my county government oppressive and inflexible, I can move to another county.

    Yeah, and if you didn’t want to have an oppressive, inflexible government, you shouldn’t have been born poor in the wrong canton or province or state or nation! Suck it, poor people!

    /libertarian

  57. 57
    Gregory in Seattle

    Unfortunately, the counter to that is “Churches and religion provide a generally close-knit community. Secular society has worked to destroy this closeness. So the way to prevent gun violence is more church influence in public policy.”

  58. 58
    Matt Penfold

    Penfold, I dont know how you get ‘not a form of government’ out of ‘so much local canton control’ along with a link documenting one instance of canton government policy.

    Nah, you do know, and you know it is because I read what you wrote. Given you knew that, why ask ?

    Some advice, we are not as stupid as you, so do not assume we are.

  59. 59
    tomfrog

    Gregory in Seattle, #57:

    “Churches and religion provide a generally close-knit community

    As long as everyone has *exactly* the same type of religion.

    Secular society faces the fact that this never happens and tries to harmonize everyone so they can live together.

  60. 60
    ibbica

    Providing social support and smoothing out inequities are exactly what government is for. Americans seem to have forgotten that, thinking instead that government is solely for supporting armies.

    I recently got this same response (“government is solely for supporting armies”) from a friend of mine while I was trying to argue that governments have a responsibility to take care of their citizens – i.e. that any society has a responsibility to care for all the individuals within it and make sure their basic needs are met, and that on large scales governmental organizations are required to make sure that happens. Got shot down with “it’s up to each individual to care for their friends, not government. Private charities pick up any slack.”

    (1) An attitude of “me and mine” stopped working for me a few decades ago. Thinking of (and treating) other people as people, regardless of whether you personally like them, should be kind of a big deal.

    (2) Private charities don’t pick up the slack. They try, of course… but I would argue they simply CAN’T pick up all the slack. People simply don’t voluntary offer enough funding to adequately support others. OTOH, take half the US military budget and funnel it into reducing the costs of health care (including mental health care) – how much slack would be left? (Don’t worry, that’d still leave lots of cash for the US military – still more than twice as much as the next biggest military spender.)

    (3) Have these people seen what “governments that do nothing but run the military” actually look like?

  61. 61
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    Kevin

    We’ve got a pretty darn big government now.

    Compared to what? Big in what sense? Our government actually spends a much lower percentage of the GDP than most European governments. Also keep in mind that a good third of what the US government does spend is on the military, which only encourages a very particular type of social bonding.

    What in the world would you make larger as part of the government that would induce informal social ties?

    Quite a lot of things, actually. Raise the minimum wage considerably and start seriously enforcing worker protection laws of various sorts; people who aren’t being massively overworked to make enough money to barely survive will have a lot more time and energy to go out and join clubs, book groups, etc., also known as informal social ties. Similarly and for the same reasons, institute single payer healthcare and a significant increase in welfare payments and availability. That’s the obvious and simple parts of it. Then there’s urban planning, of course. How an area is designed has a lot of effect on how much or how little people socialize, and even in what general ways, and that’s entirely within the purveiw of zoning laws, road(and sidewalk, bike path, rail etc.) construction and placement, park easements and so forth. That’s not even discussing the possibilities for actual government funds being available for activities like those I mentioned first, governement buildings being usable for meeting spaces, and even paid facilitators to help people learn how to organize themselves. That just scratches the surface, and I need to get ready for work, but does that give you some ideas?

    With the exception of Israel, they’re quite homogenous

    Bull and shit. The only reason that matters is when racist assholes block needed reforms because they’ll help brown people too. Fuck that noise.
    Amphiox

    , such private organizations are no longer big enough, influential enough, or have enough resources, to do the job.

    Or often willing, as with ‘deserving’ recipients of charity, etc.

  62. 62
    roland

    One could argue that less government support would create strong social bonds. If there is no safety net, you depend more on family, friends, neighbors etc. More dependence on one another creates stronger bonds.

  63. 63
    la tricoteuse

    Roland @62, No it doesn’t. It creates people who view others not in their immediate family/social group as competitors for every scrap.

  64. 64
    Nick Gotts

    One could argue that less government support would create strong social bonds. – roland

    One could, but all the evidence indicates that one would be wrong.

  65. 65
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Its you with the comprehension problem.

    Actually its you MD. You and reality are divorced. Liberturds ignore reality as it has a liberal bias…

  66. 66
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    One could argue that less government support would create strong social bonds.

    Well, care to back that up with evidence? Otherwise, you have no argument. Reality, it gets in the way of libertud theology.

  67. 67
    tim rowledge, Ersatz Haderach

    Government is government – local or regional or national or empire-wide, it’s all government. It’s possible to have strong or weak, intrusive or laissez-faire, democratic or fascistic, populist or authoritarian, etc at any level. What matters to individuals is the net result that impacts them and their fellow citizens.

    I’ve never understood the screams of the little-englanders and state’s-rights shrieking; why is one level good and another bad? If it’s good for England to be a single government, why is it bad for the EU to be one? If it’s bad for the US federal govt to exist, why is it good for an individual state govt.? Why no break it down to districts within states? Or towns within districts? Or localities within towns? Or streets within localities? OR households within streets? Or individual people within households (you are not the boss of me!)? Or individual limbs? Or individual cells? Or individual molecules?

    The best I can come up with is that its a form of tribalism mapped poorly onto geography. A belief that only people near me can be like me and therefore part of my tribe. Or maybe just general fuckwittedness.

  68. 68
    viggen111

    “tend to have more tight-knit societies where a strong social bond supports people through crises”

    Atheists should be entirely behind building stronger government support for everyone

    Wow, you just twisted that right off the rails into socialist welfare land, didn’t you. This is not about government or government intervention, it is about the basic attitudes of people toward one another. Building a stronger government is not going to change the cliquish attitudes that leads to the exclusivism that socially isolates people. This is not about haves and have-nots considering that people who are socially isolated (like the kid who shot up the school) are not necessarily have-nots… they are people who are excluded by virtue of not being “like” everybody else. “Like” is fundamental. Read the word “Asperger’s” and try to comprehend what that actually means. You could give everybody everything they need for free and these people would still be excluded because people can still choose not to be their friends and therefore strip them of the “social support” the sociologist is actually referring to. The problem that he was referring to is not one that can be legislated away unless you want a police force that governs how people interact with one another and if you want that, I don’t want the fascist nightmare that you are espousing. Bang, you chose not to reach out to the strange quiet kid, here’s your $100 fine! From what you’ve written, it’s clear you have no idea what “isolation” in sense the sociologist is actually talking about means! Married to your high school sweetheart, you’ve never faced it… at best, you’ve seen it in passing in others and you’ve probably overlooked it while running from one cause to the next.

    I spend my life around educated, fight-the-system liberals every day and I know that that general mentality is not the solution to this particular problem. The isolation that sociologist is talking about is rife in this community, bursting out of the seams even. The shooters at Columbine came from a very similar community, as did the batman shooter in Arvada this summer and all of it was based on isolation that has nothing at all to do with what you’re attributing it to. I don’t think the source of the problem is even on the table in the “government” discussion. What is needed is more fundamental in how people in this country expect to treat one another and what is causing it has more to do with how personal lines of communication have been changing in our society in last twenty years. Maybe if people weren’t so cliquish and adversarial now (of which I would say you are a prime facilitator: do not try to pretend that you aren’t all about polarizing the lines!), people would be able to cross social lines more easily and be more tolerant of those who are different from themselves. That you read that article and automatically said “more government is needed to police those that have too much and give to those that don’t have enough” shows a breathtaking confirmation bias.

  69. 69
    ibbica

    viggen, you do realize that some governments use public funds for things like counselling, community centres, and support groups, right?

    I haven’t seen anyone here advocating legislating thoughts, or having government ‘police those that have too much’.

    Maybe I missed it, but what are your specific recommendations?

  70. 70
    Amphiox

    We’ve got a pretty darn big government now.

    We as in the US?

    Bwahahahaha…..

    The US federal government is one of the smallest, weakest federal governments in the democratic world, in the entire history of the democratic world. In terms if its ability to affect its citizen’s lives, direct and regulate their activities, its spheres of influence relative to the lower levels of government below it, and its ability to raise revenue to get things done, compared to all other democratic governments with a federal structure, it is puny and impotent. Right now it barely has in theory (and does not in practice) have the power to so much as fix a broken bridge.

  71. 71
    Nick Gotts

    viggen111@68,

    That’s a fine example of ignoring the evidence that’s right in front of your eyes. The USA, far more than any other rich country, is one where anti-welfare ideology is strong, and is among those where government support is weakest. Moreover, these tendencies have intensified in the last few decades. Is it just coincidence that the isolation you point to is also strongest in the USA, and, by your own account, has become more so in those decades?

  72. 72
    ibbica

    Hm, on re-reading this thread I’m getting this weird impression that some folks think “number of people employed by a government”, “amount of money spent by a government”, “actual impact of a government on people’s lives”, and “governmental autonomy” are synonymous. Or that ‘big’ and ‘strong’ and ‘useful’ are all the same. Or something.

    Sorry, carry on…

  73. 73
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    of which I would say you are a prime facilitator: do not try to pretend that you aren’t all about polarizing the lines!

    Gee, what about the teabaggers, RWA fuckwits, and liberturds? They have been the ones separating their followers from the overall society for years, causing the present polarization, not the liberals.

  74. 74
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    Viggen won’t provide any. They just came to spew stupid libertarian cant all over the place and denigrate us as evil statist authoritarian monsters, as thoug the authoritarian parts of government weren’t the only ones viggen, md and their ilk want to keep. The only solution idiotarians ever offer is ‘the magic of the free market will take care of it as soon as regulations and taxes are out of the way’ or ‘it’s not really a problem so shut up.’

  75. 75
    Maureen Brian

    You are also completely ignoring, viggen111, the capacity of government to act against and undermine the groups for mutual support and social bonding which in many places – North Korea excepted – form naturally in response to mutual interest and to need.

    Think only of the major cancer charities, a significant proportion of the hospitals, Planned Parenthood and the trades unions in the US, all of which began as mutual aid, which government at the state level seems determined to destroy. Spot anything which makes them anathema to certain States? Yes, however big they get they still have a purpose which they put before maximisation of personal wealth.

    How inconsiderate of them to act altruistically and challenge the libertarian model!

  76. 76
    Grumps

    @viggen111

    So suppose that a boy with ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) went to a school when he was 5 that had good medical, psychological and and psychiatric input. So good that a correct diagnosis was made. Then suppose that government funded, well qualified and appropriate support for him, his school and family was provided. That many local, government funded, community centres, youth clubs, libraries and sports centres existed to enable him and his family to socialise in a variety of contexts with others from the local community. Would that not have a good chance of making a difference.

    It’s what governments do that’s important. Not their size. And if what they do is good then the bigger the better.

  77. 77
    alektorophile

    Switzerland was mentioned a few times in the comments above, so I thought I should perhaps clarify a few points.

    -It was suggested (21) that Switzerland is a rather homogenous country. Far from it. We have of course 4 national languages and largely different cultural areas within the countries, but even besides that almost 35% of the population has a recent immigrant background, and about 22% are foreign nationals. You’ll find that is a rather higher percentage than most other countries.

    -Government is found at three levels: the commune level (town or village), cantonal level, and federal level. To suggest that cantonal-level government is not government or “big” government (to use an expression dear to the US right) is of course laughable. Tasks and powers are divided among the three, but the federal level trumps all others if needed. It is interesting to note that the 1874 constitution was in part inspired by the US system of government. One main difference between the two countries is of course that the constitution in Switzerland is not seen as a sacred, bible-like document which can not be changed. The latest complete overhaul of it happened in 1999.

    As for gun ownership, yes it has traditionally been high, mainly because of the militia army system. I myself was forced after basic army training to keep my weapon with plenty of ammunition at home like everybody else (I eventually was able to hand it in, as I was planning to move out of the country for a while). And we had our fair share of domestic and other violence involving guns, suicides, and even the rare mass shooting. One main difference with the US is that all this has prompted increasingly stricter gun laws and changes in military policy (as 3 has noted).

  78. 78
    marksletten

    Atheists should be entirely behind building stronger government support for everyone: it weakens religion, it reduces violence, and it reduces economic disparities, giving everyone an equal opportunity to develop and grow. It’s the best and greatest solution ever!

    C’mon PZ. Some of the most oppressive and least successful societies in human history were built around the ideals of perfect economic equality and a government that can solve all problems. Since I am not wedded to the belief that “society” and “social support” cannot exist without government, I didn’t view the writer’s thesis as having anything to do with government.

    Be that as it may, let’s examine some efforts by OUR government in the area of social support. The US government has been conducting a “War on Poverty” for coming up on 50 years. How has all that government support affected poverty rates and social ties between individuals and groups, especially among minorities? The US Government has been conducting a “War on Drugs,” also aimed at “helping” the poor, and which really heated up over the past few decades. How has that effort affected social ties between individuals and groups among the poor, especially poor minorities?

    Liberals are convinced Libertarian ideas are impractical, yet remain blind to the reality that American government will never be run by a single political party. Power given to the government will always–at one point or another, and for varying lengths of time–end up under the control of your ideological opposites and used in ways you find repulsive. When that happens, it’s never government that’s the problem, it’s always the other party.

  79. 79
    Rich Woods

    @viggen111 #68:

    Your use of both ‘socialist’ and ‘fascist’ in the same comment entertains me. Thank you.

  80. 80
    dianne

    I’m partially threadrupt so apologies if I’m repeating things already said, but…

    MD and other libertarians wouldn’t last five minutes in Switzerland. Taxes (and services) are high, health care universal (and good…but expensive), and the militias really are well regulated. They don’t just let people buy guns at random.

    Also, number of guns per 100 population (2007): US 88.8, Switzerland 45.7, Norway 31.3, Finland 32, Israel 7.3. No matter how you look at it, the US has a lot more weapons per capita than any other wealthy country, and, in fact, appears to be highest in the world. By a fair amount. If guns were evenly distributed, then nearly 9 people in 10 would own one in the US.

    It’s also worth nothing that for a first world country, Switzerland’s firearms death rate is high: 3.2 per 100,000. Only the US and Canada (which suffers spillover violence from the US) have higher among wealthy countries.

  81. 81
    unclefrogy

    I think the wedge issue / phrase that is promoted by conservative anti government politics is the idea that it is government vs the people as if the government is not the people. Government is a cultural tool used by the people to help manage their lives and “to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence,[note 1] promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, ”
    at least that is what I thought we were trying to do.
    The problem as I see it is that the system that we have today and any system I hear advocated by the conservatives is far from perfect and misses some number of individuals. It would seem that it is these individuals who are systematically missed and do not get the social support needed that are the problem that is demonstrated by this latest mass killing.
    As was quoted above ““What stops crime above all is informal social controls,” he says. “Close-knit societies where people are supported, where their mood swings are appreciated, where if someone starts to go off the rails it’s noted, where you tend to intervene, where there’s more support.”

    we are the society, we are the government, we are the culture we all of us it is not the culture is some foreign body some where else, we are all there is there is. we are all in this together. it is not the government is some entity divorced from us it is us!
    if we do not embrace that idea and continue to pursue the “rugged individual” “I made this myself” ideas of the individual vs government we will get the results we have been getting.
    “If we do not all hang together we will all hang separately”

    uncle frogy

  82. 82
    brucegee1962

    The last thing I’d want to do is associate myself with libertarians. I see the value of a strong government social support network as much as anyone.

    But I’m not so quick to discuss md’s “stong government bonds /= strong social bonds” statement out of hand. When I think of societies with strong social bonds, sometimes I think that the worse the government, the stronger the social bonds may be. Dictatorships can produce very tight social networks as people struggle to get by — or not. There just doesn’t seem to be much of a correlation.

    There’s an article in the NYT about a Russian who writes books about what Americans are like: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/11/world/europe/book-gives-russians-close-up-of-american-minutiae.html
    One of the points he makes is that American grandparents seem remarkably uninvolved from a Russian standpoint — people in their 50s and 60s are living their own lives, not helping with the grandkids. He also says that, in America, it just isn’t done to show up at a friend’s house at 1 in the morning with a bottle of vodka to hash out all your problems.

    I think both of these observations are correct, both cultural trends might have helped some of our recent shooters, and neither phenomenon would have been helped any by a bigger government safety net. In fact, more government programs to help people in trouble might mean less community support.

  83. 83
    md

    —Liberals are convinced Libertarian ideas are impractical, yet remain blind to the reality that American government will never be run by a single political party

    You mean to say that now the Dem’s have won two in a row and four out of the last six Presidential elections, im still gonna have to wait before we reach utopia. I thought the way it worked was we elect enough perfect people to write perfectly calibrated law and all societies (mans) evil and woe will disappear. Next election, promise.

    Libertarian ideas are impractical, ha! Which Libertarian idea would that be? Eliminating poverty…drugs…bringing democracy to the world…energy independence…affordable housing (in fairness, the failure of that program did bring us some affordable housing via the long route). Take your pick.

    So, we’re gonna create strong social bonds via government. Is anyone mildly bothered by the creepy title of this post “Total Cultural Solution”? Man that phase sounds familiar… Total Cultural Revolution… Total Information Awareness…Totally Great Leap Forward. If Pat Robertson said he was gonna bring the U.S. a Total Cultural Solution via the U.S. government this blog would freak. And Id freak with you.

    The only real difference between you and I, is that I don’t want to be coerced to participate in your good intentions. I might volunteer, might not. In my ideal political system, you could all live as collectively as you choose in peace, and Id wish you well. But in your ideal, I must participate.

  84. 84
    RFW

    This ties in with a belief of mine that in the US, the fundamental social contract has broken down. No more “we’re all in this together”, and definitely no “that homeless, addicted, HIV-infected black dude over there is a fellow citizen.”

    Ergo, loners.

  85. 85
    Rich Woods

    @md #83:

    The only real difference between you and I, is that I don’t want to be coerced to participate in your good intentions. I might volunteer, might not. In my ideal political system, you could all live as collectively as you choose in peace, and Id wish you well. But in your ideal, I must participate.

    In my ideal system you don’t have to participate, but equally you don’t get to impose your ideas on anyone via any advantage such as having an excessive amount of money or owning a means of production. And before you dive in, I recognise that that’s an ideal: the best is often the enemy of the good, so for now I’ll work for the promotion of the good.

  86. 86
    Argle Bargle

    You mean to say that now the Dem’s have won two in a row and four out of the last six Presidential elections, im still gonna have to wait before we reach utopia.

    Only religious fanatics and political ideologues have utopian fantasies. The rest of us want to muddle along as best we can.

    Libertarian ideas are impractical, ha! Which Libertarian idea would that be?

    All of the above. The idea that each person is a rugged individualist who can and will make the best possible decisions without intervention from outside parties. The idea that the social contract doesn’t exist. The idea that government is evil. The idea that taxes are theft instead of payment for services. The idea that Ayn Rand was a credible philosopher and readable novelist. The idea that people would be wealthier if there weren’t taxes. And the absolutely ludicrous idea that libertarians are defenders of freedom.

  87. 87
    doubtthat

    I’m shocked, SHOCKED, I tell you, that this entire debate is happening in the glibertarian fantasy realm.

    Let’s have some examples of preferable small government policies that foster community tightness.

    I’ll show you what I mean: a decade and a half ago Kansas decided to privatize its entire child welfare system. Private companies bid for the rights to provide the necessary services.

    Anyone care to guess how the yearly reviews have been going? The good news is that most of the kids in the system have food most of the time…

  88. 88
    marksletten

    Rodney@86 said:

    All of the above.

    Talk about strawmen!
     

    The idea that each person is a rugged individualist who can and will make the best possible decisions without intervention from outside parties.

    Nope, don’t believe that. I have any number of friends and family I rely on to help me make good decisions. What I do believe is that I am much better able to make decisions that are right for me than a group of centralized government bureaucrats, and that a society of free individuals making decisions they consider right for themselves will be happier and more responsive to the needs of themselves, their friends and their neighbors than a group of centralized government bureaucrats.
     

    The idea that the social contract doesn’t exist.

    Nope, never said that. I do, however, suspect my definition of the term differs markedly from yours.
     

    The idea that government is evil.

    Wrong again. I don’t think government is evil, I think people forcing other people to do things they wouldn’t choose to do is evil. Don’t you think it’s evil to be forced to financially support extralegal drone attacks so Obama can mark names off his kill list? How about being forced to financially support the teaching of ID in public schools?
     

    The idea that taxes are theft instead of payment for services.

    I’m perfectly willing to pay taxes for services rendered, but I should be free to withhold what I pay in taxes and purchase services from another provider if I believe I can get more value for my money.
     

    The idea that Ayn Rand was a credible philosopher and readable novelist.

    Can’t argue with opinion or taste…
     

    The idea that people would be wealthier if there weren’t taxes.

    You will have to better define your meaning on this before I can comment. I think it’s unarguable that some people would be wealthier if they didn’t pay INCOME taxes, and certainly some people who are dependent on government subsidies would be poorer absent them. But whether or not society as a whole would be wealthier or poorer depends on your definitions and what you value.
     

    And the absolutely ludicrous idea that libertarians are defenders of freedom.

    I suspect this is another case of definitions and values. I served 20 years in the US military; can I claim to be a defender of freedom?

  89. 89
    Krasnaya Koshka

    Mass shooters in any nation tend to be loners with not much social support who strike out at their communities, schools and families

    Well, that sounds like me. I’ve always been a loner without social support because I’m gay. My only social support has been my gf and fellow gays. But I’ve never harmed anyone. In fact that sounds like most gays and trans* people and anyone in an “other” group. People of color? Yeah, they have a humongous social support in every country, amirite?

    But we don’t commit mass shootings. (Okay, maybe a one off but not the majority.)

    Hmmm, who does? Perhaps people who feel they’re entitled to everything and yet it doesn’t land on their doorstep?

    I’m so fucking sick of talking about white men and their fucking problems. Blechh. My whole life has been white men books, white men history, white men politics, white men fee fees.

    I live in Russia. I’m American but I’ve lived here for the last three years. Russians are very close to each other. I know all about my neighbors because they often come over. I also can bang on their door and tell them to shut the fuck up, if I want. No harm, no foul.

    I’ve been privy to three neighbors going “off the rails” and neighbors dropped in to stop them. Russia also has free ambulances so you dial “01″ and then the Urgent Medical Care ambulance shows up and takes them away. There’s no horrific payment due the sufferer since everyone has free healthcare (even mental healthcare). Even I have this service (though I do have to pay the ghastly fee of $132 a year).

  90. 90
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Liberals are convinced Libertarian ideas are impractical

    That’s because you can’t historically evidence that they work. They don’t. Otherwise, you would lead with the evidence, not presupposed slogans and posturing. History, like the rest of reality, has a liberal bias.

  91. 91
    brucegee1962

    Krasnaya, would you agree with the author in the link I put in #82 above? Just curious.

  92. 92
    Matt Penfold

    I suspect this is another case of definitions and values. I served 20 years in the US military; can I claim to be a defender of freedom?

    Unless you served before 1945, no. Why the fuck would you think you could ?

  93. 93
    alanuk

    Difficult one this. If you have strong social cohesion, then, almost by definition, anyone who is outside of whatever group is providing the cohesion, is going to be very much alienated. The bigger and stronger the social group, the more extreme it becomes.

    The purpose of many strong social groups is actually to exclude outsiders or to make them feel inferior. Pharyngulaists will be thinking of the same groups as me.

    In the US the whole population seems to be alienated from the one thing that truly unites them – their government. Views vary from, ‘taxes are theft’ to ‘taxes are a payment for services’. Nobody says that this is our government, elected by us, and this is the way that we have chosen to spend our money.

  94. 94
    Matt Penfold

    Liberals are convinced Libertarian ideas are impractical

    Not so much as impractical as ideas that we have already tried and rejected because they didn’t work. So more that libertarians are ignorant of history.

  95. 95
    jefrir

    Libertarian ideas are impractical, ha! Which Libertarian idea would that be? Eliminating poverty…drugs…bringing democracy to the world…energy independence…affordable housing (in fairness, the failure of that program did bring us some affordable housing via the long route). Take your pick.

    Even if we accept that those are in fact the things that Libertarians are aiming for, the criticism wasn’t that their aims were the wrong ones, but that their methods are impractical. These are different things. The problem is less where the Libertarians want to go (although that is often also problematic) and more the fact that their proposed way of getting us there is usually stupid and sometimes evil.

    An example to illustrate the difference: you mention affordable housing as a good aim, but if I proposed building mansions with government money and then selling them to the poor for $10, you woul undoubtedly object. The aim is good, but the method is stupid.

  96. 96
    Argle Bargle

    marksletten #88

    Thank you for evidence that Mike Huben is right.

    [T]he two major flavors are anarcho-capitalists (who want to eliminate political governments) and minarchists (who want to minimize government.) There are many more subtle flavorings, such as Austrian and Chicago economic schools, gold-bug, space cadets, Old-Right, paleo-libertarians, classical liberals, hard money, the Libertarian Party, influences from Ayn Rand, and others. An interesting survey is in chapter 36 of Marshall’s “Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism”, “The New Right and Anarcho-capitalism.”

    This diversity of libertarian viewpoints can make it quite difficult to have a coherent discussion with them, because an argument that is valid for or against one type of libertarianism may not apply to other types. This is a cause of much argument in alt.politics.libertarian: non-libertarians may feel that they have rebutted some libertarian point, but some other flavor libertarian may feel that his “one true libertarianism” doesn’t have that flaw. These sorts of arguments can go on forever because both sides think they are winning. Thus, if you want to try to reduce the crosstalk, you’re going to have to specify what flavor of libertarianism or which particular point of libertarianism you are arguing against.

  97. 97
    Krasnaya Koshka

    brucegee1962 @ 91 – Yes, after having read the article, I would agree with the general sentiment. I teach English here, usually private lessons (sometimes corporate classes) so my gateway to students is usually grandmothers. Yes, it is true that grandmothers here would never allow teenagers to babysit kids. I have had several students (I think maybe ten) between 14 and 18 with much younger siblings and they have never babysat their own younger siblings. Grandma comes in.

    Being Russian, babushki (grandmas) often engage me in very personal conversation. I’ve let slip that I was on my own when I was 17 and they’re shocked. “How can your parents do that to you?” “You were too young. Please, have some tea.”

    It’s not unusual here for “kids” to live with their parents until they’re at least 30. Even after they get married and have children.

  98. 98
    md

    —Even if we accept that those are in fact the things that Libertarians are aiming for

    Jefrir, my sarcasm powers are not what they should be, apparently. None of those things are Libertarian ideas. They’ve all been championed by D’s and R’s and often both in the past couple decades, and they’ve all failed.

  99. 99
    silomowbray, sans frottage pour la douche

    The idea that each person is a rugged individualist [...]

    Yeah, about that…where does the “rugged” come in to it? I’ve had some libertarian friends froth at me about that very term, and for the life of me I don’t understand what’s “rugged” about any of their “individualism.” One of them, perhaps the most likely to be, um, “rugged”, goes camping in a 30′ RV with a DVD player and TV, hot showers, and cooks steaks on a propane grill. He also brings his sporting rifles, but I can’t think of a time he’s ever been hunting.

    Perhaps I’m misunderstanding something, but I don’t think most American libertarians have been “rugged” since the days of the Wild Fucking West.

  100. 100
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Oh so we have No True Libertarians in the thread…

  101. 101
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    efrir, my sarcasm powers are not what they should be, apparently. None of those things are Libertarian ideas. They’ve all been championed by D’s and R’s and often both in the past couple decades, and they’ve all failed.

    Is the fuckwitteed idjit ever going to shut the fuck up and actually present any evidence it isn’t a delusional fool with no basis in reality? Put up or shut the fuck up. Because if you can’t/won’t put up evidence, and can’t/won’t shut the fuck up, tell us you have nothing but bullshit to offer to the world…

  102. 102
    DLC

    Let’s not conflate comprehensive government-provided services with authoritarian control. We’re talking UK, Sweden, Norway or something like that, not North Korea.

  103. 103
    vaiyt

    @md

    None of those things are Libertarian ideas. They’ve all been championed by D’s and R’s and often both in the past couple decades, and they’ve all failed.

    Your sarcasm fails because you confused ideas with methods.

    I’ll give you a small credit, though, for being honest about wanting the world to be unjust. Too often I’ve had to endure glibertarians sustaining that their stupid un-policies actually reduce poverty or help solve systemic inequalities.

  104. 104
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    DLC
    But if they didn’t act like every action by any government whatsoever was the first stage of creeping Stalinism, idiotarians wouldn’t have any arguments at all.

  105. 105
    johnmarley

    @brucegee1962 (82)

    …and neither phenomenon would have been helped any by a bigger government safety net. In fact, more government programs to help people in trouble might mean less community support.

    Do you think government programs are staffed by aliens? The government is part of the community. The community is part of the government.

  106. 106
    evilisgood

    Read the word “Asperger’s” and try to comprehend what that actually means.

    Viggen, do you have evidence that any of the recent shooters had Asperger’s?

  107. 107
    Argle Bargle

    One major problem with libertarianism is it’s completely utopian. There has never been a libertarian society. What’s more, those parts of libertarianism which have been tried, like laissez faire markets and reliance on private charities, have been unworkable. Laissez faire markets are good if you’re at the top but they’re hell on those on the bottom. Government welfare systems began because private charities were unable to provide an adequate safety net in times of recession and depression.

  108. 108
    Kagehi

    The best I can come up with is that its a form of tribalism mapped poorly onto geography. A belief that only people near me can be like me and therefore part of my tribe.

    ‘Snow Crash’

  109. 109
    brucegee1962

    Johnmarley (105):

    Do you think government programs are staffed by aliens? The government is part of the community. The community is part of the government.

    Going all the way back to the original argument by Squires:

    We’ve all been asking (for decades, really) why these mss killings by deranged loners seem to have become more common in our society. Maybe the reason is the media, or the “culture of violence.” But Squires makes an intresting argument that the biggest problem is our social fragmentation. I can see a lot of truth in that. There have been many books like “Bowling Alone” written about how lots of the social and family ties that used to keep us bound to our neighbors (grandparents who lived nearby, tradesmen and doctors and lawyers who we would hang out with after work as well as patronize, pubs down the street where neighbors would socialize). How many of your friends from grade shool or high school are you still in touch with? How often do you seeyour aunts and uncles? Without all the social networks that our ancestors, and many people still in other countries, possessed, even those of us who don’t go off the rails often feel isolated and lonely.

    My point was simply that we could have the best government safety net programs in the world — fabulous schools, job training, Skandinavian-style safety net, enough social workers to visit every single troubled person twice a week — and it would still be a piss-poor substitute for our lost social network. There might be lots of other great reasons to invest in all of these things, but in terms of getting at the root of what makes people take guns and do terrible things, I think any government-based approach is very far off the mark.

    PZ brought in a thought-provoking idea, but then immediately sidetracked it by suggesting the problem could be addressed by a governmental fix, rather than a social shift. I suppose a good argument for that could be made by saying the government is a lot easier to change than the culture. But just because changing the culture is hard doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

  110. 110
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    But just because changing the culture is hard doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

    Again, an idea without a method of implementation, making it worthless. Criticism is easy. Building what you claim works can be hard/impossible. So, how would you go about it in dirty details that can be refuted/falsified?

  111. 111
    laurentweppe

    Small Government = Big Anarchy.

    Not even close: small government => rule of the biggest bully in town. You lose all the advantage of an efficient government and keep all the vices of an arbitrary one.

    ***

    Can anyone provide an example that separates this “small government” approach from, “I don’t want my money going to those people?” With “those people” representing some discrete group sought to be denied benefits?

    An exemple? They’re aren’t any: at its core, the “small government” argument is a rhetorical trick:
    I don’t want to share the Nation’s wealth with people from another social and/or ethnic subgroup than me” is open, sincere douchebaggery and therefore socially unacceptable, as no one wants to trust someone who’s only this close from gutting his neighbours in their sleep.
    Small government is Good government” is often mistaken for an misguided ideological argument or a for sincere critic of a wasteful government, because certified douches learned a loooong time ago that it’s easier to get what you want when the people around you believe that you’re stupid and harmless than when they realize that you’re evil and dangerous.

    ***

    One could argue that less government support would create strong social bonds. If there is no safety net, you depend more on family, friends, neighbors etc. More dependence on one another creates stronger bonds.

    Well, there’s also the idea defended by a subset of marxists (among whom Trotsky) that until the proletarian revolution happens, no effort should be done to encourage government support of the poor in order to increase class consciousness: basically, the logic is that without anything to curb its worst instinct the bourgeoisie would become so corrupt, so inept, so decadant, so incapable of hiding its own rot that it would make the lower class so pissed that the idea of genociding the upper class would become irresistible, thus making the overthrown of the old order that much easier.

    In both case, the idea is to induce a wanted behavior by manipulating people through their suffering, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t even care whether this kind of ideas can work or not: they are repulsive, end of story.

    ***

    I’ve never understood the screams of the little-englanders and state’s-rights shrieking; why is one level good and another bad? If it’s good for England to be a single government, why is it bad for the EU to be one?

    Because it means they will have to openly aknowledge that the Glorious British Empire is dead and burried and that the UK has become little more than an insignifiant principality on its own which needs to share its soverainty with its insignifiant neighbours to build a power that maters. Better be the lone lord or a tiny barony than the simple citizen of a superpower.

    ***

    C’mon PZ. Some of the most oppressive and least successful societies in human history were built around the ideals of perfect economic equality and a government that can solve all problems.

    These society were also built around the idea that power should be concentrated in the hands of a benevolant self-procliamed intellectual elite. Sometimes the self-proclaimed Very Smart and Very Benevolant people defend the idea of an all-powerful government -under their control-, and sometimes the very same self-proclaimed Very Smart and Very Benevolant people defend the idea of an impotant government giving as much freedom and authority to corporations -also under their control-

  112. 112
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    brucegee:
    I think thre idea is that an effective government safety net program would open the door to reclaimingthe lost social network you speak of. Think of how the quality of life would improve with access to affordable healthcare and a living wage (even just those two would have an impact on many people).

  113. 113
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    brucegee1962
    Please go back upthread and read comment #61. Or actually read Bowling Alone, and/or Beatley’sNative to Nowhere, and Kunstler’s The Geography of Nowhere. Add a bit of context with Jane Jacob’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities . Then come back and talk about alienation and the fragmentation of society and how there’s nothing government can do about it. The situation you’re describing didn’t just happen, it is an inevitable side effect of decisions that were made by both government at various levels and large corporate interests (some of the government decisions being to let them). I’m happy to clarify things if you have specific questions, but I don’t feel like reposting all that stuff, and I’d like to have a basis to keep talking.

  114. 114
    Paul K

    Tony, at 112:

    Think of how the quality of life would improve with access to affordable healthcare and a living wage (even just those two would have an impact on many people).

    Think of how much less I* would despise the disgustingly rich if more of their sickening wealth was re-distributed to the other 90% of the society that provided them with what disgusts me.

    *I didn’t want to speak for anyone other than myself, though I think others would agree.

  115. 115
    brucegee1962

    Thanks for the link back to 61, Dalillama. Those are all excellent points — very thought provoking. I was thinking more about the traditional, American way of going about doing things — Programs for All Seasons! — but I can see how your suggestions there would help.

  116. 116
    marksletten

    Rodney@96, why do you need to label someone before you can have a discussion?

  117. 117
    tomfrog

    marksletten: “Go libertarianism!!”
    Rodney: “Which kind?”
    marksletten: “why do you need to label someone before you can have a discussion?”

    Jebus, you’re dense, aren’t you?

  118. 118
    marksletten

    Matt@94, yeah, I guess you’re right. What was I thinking? The world would’ve been safe from the USSR if we had not manned those nuclear loaded jets all those years. I’m sure Saddam Hussein would’ve realized what an idiot he was being and ended the military occupation of Kuwait all on his own if I hadn’t flown some 50 combat mission in and around Iraq in support of Desert Storm. Slobadon Milosevic would’ve spontaneously realized the immorality of killing all those people in Bosnia and Kosovo and just stopped if I hadn’t flown some 50 combat missions as part of the NATO coalition conducting Operation Allied Force.

    I’m sure you’re support of and commitment to freedom is much more genuine and comprehensive than mine.

  119. 119
    marksletten

    tomfrog, if you need to call me a libertarian to be comfortable, by all means, have at it. So far I’ve read a lot of attacks on ideology, but few responses to my actual comments.

    I find myself in agreement with many libertarian ideas, which is another way of saying I agree with many traditional liberal ideas as well as many traditional conservative ideas. I try not to think in terms of partisan ideology; partisans are all too willing to “live with” parts of their ideology the that makes them uncomfortable. I’d rather think for myself. You should try it sometime; it’s positively liberating!

  120. 120
    consciousness razor

    I’m sure you’re [sic] support of and commitment to freedom is much more genuine and comprehensive than mine.

    I’m sure you’re being genuine about your “commitment to freedom,”* but your comments here so far have been nothing but bullshit. Perhaps you can improve on your ideas by fighting in some more wars, to prove how right you are. I hear that is how it is done. Come back when you have something useful to say. Or don’t. I don’t give a fuck either way, honestly.

    *”Freedom,” my ass — freedom to fuck other people over, I guess, but that’s hardly worth mentioning.

  121. 121
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    You should try it sometime; it’s positively liberating!

    I did, and discarded liberturdism after 5 minutes as a morally bankrupt ideology/theology. Try thinking with evidence, not slogans.

  122. 122
    Nick Gotts

    I try not to think – marksletten

    And you succeed.

  123. 123
    Nick Gotts

    Oh, gosh, marksletten, I hadn’t realised you were a former member of the US military and thus necessarily right about everything. Please do forgive me.

  124. 124
    Matt Penfold

    I’m sure you’re support of and commitment to freedom is much more genuine and comprehensive than mine.

    You really are an arrogant arsehole ain’t you ?

    However I am concerned your service has made your forgetful, since you did not mention Vietnam, Iraq, Granada, Panama and a number of other small wars.

    What is your excuse for failing to mention them ?

  125. 125
    Matt Penfold

    tomfrog, if you need to call me a libertarian to be comfortable, by all means, have at it. So far I’ve read a lot of attacks on ideology, but few responses to my actual comments.

    It has been pointed out to time and time again the faults with libertarianism. It is not credible you can have forgotten them since you last got schooled about your ignorance, so you are not being honest. Were you allowed to dishonest in the military, or is lying something you have taken too since you left ?

  126. 126
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I see MSLetten is playing the fuckwitted “you haven’t refuted me” canard. Sorry fool, in a scientific blog you are the one to provide the evidence to back your claims. You are full of assertions, extremely short on evidence. As Christopher Hitchens stated, “that which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” Liberturdism is *POOF* dismissed due to lack of evidence.

  127. 127
    Matt Penfold

    I see MSLetten is playing the fuckwitted “you haven’t refuted me” canard. Sorry fool, in a scientific blog you are the one to provide the evidence to back your claims. You are full of assertions, extremely short on evidence. As Christopher Hitchens stated, “that which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” Liberturdism is *POOF* dismissed due to lack of evidence.

    It is not as though he claims have not been refuted. He just seems unable (or more likely unwilling) to remember. He seems to have a problem remembering things, except how he must be right because he served in the US military. Pity they failed to teach him any decent values.

  128. 128
    Nick Gotts

    I served 20 years in the US military; can I claim to be a defender of freedom? – marksletten

    Let’s suppose for a moment that serving in the US military actually did make you a defender of freedom, rather than a defender of US elite interests (which sometimes happen to benefit other people… and sometimes the opposite). That would not support the claim that as a libertarian you are a defender of freedom – unless it would also support a claim by a Nazi, Stalinist, or dominionist who had served in the US military that Nazis, Stalinists or dominionists are defenders of freedom.

    Really, you libertarians aren’t very bright, are you? Still, that’s your only excuse.

  129. 129
    SallyStrange

    Sick burn, Nick.

  130. 130
    Nick Gotts

    Thanks Sally!
    I had to look up “sick burn” in Urban Dictionary – shows my age I suppose.

  131. 131
    Kagehi

    Ugh.. Ok, lets get something straight, these are the *two* principle concepts of libertarianism, using food as an example:

    1. Social – I should be allowed to eat what I want.
    2. Economic – I should also, to make sure I can eat what I want, be able to force you to also eat what I want, and call it, “market dynamics”.

    See, the problem is, the second one is called “monopoly”, or, “greed”, or, “screw the little guy, because I have all the money”. It has jack all to do with anyone’s freedom other than the one doing it.

    Now, its not just food, but just about every other bloody thing imaginable which get tagged with these two ideas. And, when ever someone points out that #2 conflicts, often drastically, with #1, you get them whining, like a fraking Christian, about “persecution”, and how they, “the ones with most of the money and power”, are going to be destroyed by all those damn people who don’t understand their religion and are, in fact, out to destroy it.

    And, like Christians, the variety of things they believe, want, think should exist, or be protected, etc., shows absolutely no cohesion or coherence. A Christian may be for gays, or against them. A Libertarian may be “for” not serving gays in their store, or against it. Both will *try* to argue that its not, somehow, evil, to tell such a person, “Just look for a store that will serve you, or move some place where they exist.” Because, after all, its about “their” freedom, or make “their” choices.

    Its hardly a surprise that when Libertarianism married itself to religion, we got the Tea Party, they just lumped together two identical, self serving, “We should have the right to screw over people we don’t like, trust, or find worthy of help.”, systems of thought, into one super-religion.

  132. 132
    Argle Bargle

    marksletten #116

    Rodney@96, why do you need to label someone before you can have a discussion?

    I quoted Huben who explained there are many different types of libertarianism and therefore a rebuttal of one type is not applicable to another type. You “rebutted” my comments about libertarianism by saying none of my comments pertained to you. They probably don’t because you don’t happen to fit into any of the specific types of libertarian I was describing.

    Why do you need to complain about being labeled?

  133. 133
    marksletten

    Nerd@126, I never made any claims based on libertarianism per se; that label has been applied by others. I did offer proof with my original post in opposition to PZ’s thesis; to wit, that decades of government “support” of the poorest in America has done little to engender the kind of community described by the writer of the article PZ quoted. I pointed out that many of the liberals who post frequently here never blame government when government fucks things up, rather they just pine for the right kind of government. I note that no one has responded to those observations.

    Regarding those with the reading comprehension problems; please point out the post where I claimed my military service lent any credence to my arguments. I didn’t mention Vietnam (or any of the other campaigns listed) because I didn’t serve during the them. My response to the original claim that libertarians don’t defend freedom was intended as sarcasm. Perhaps I was a bit too subtle. My response to Penfold was to refute his implication that military service after WWII cannot support a claim of having defending freedom.

    Nick@128, I took an oath to uphold and defend the US Constitution, which includes the Bill of Rights. That’s what I believed I was doing. To me, the rights described there apply to ALL humans, not just Americans. It’s true that some of the operations I was involved with were about US interests, and but I believe strongly had I been ordered to do something I believed conflicted with my oath as it applied to all people I would’ve refused. In the event, and I was never faced with that dilemma. You can take my word for it or not, I really don’t give a fuck.

    Regarding the disparagement of my morals and motivations, demonization (and dehumanization) of political opponents is a hallmark of partisanship. It’s really rather similar to the way different religions relate to one another, don’t you think?

  134. 134
    marksletten

    Rodney@132, because labels make it easy to dismiss arguments rather than responding to them. See my post above.

  135. 135
    marksletten

    Nick, see also Kagehi@131. He has written a screed condemning libertarianism which completely ignores the observations made in my original post. BTW, if that’s what you all believe libertarians are then you should stop calling me one–it’s way off the mark.

  136. 136
    Maureen Brian

    Marksletten,

    You are not making an argument: you are merely waving your arms about.
    The fact that you believe this gives you some locus to tell kagehi or anyone one else what they are allowed to say encourages me to add my voice to the chorus – do, please, allow those with properly formed ideas to continue the discussion.

    I will not be able to join in as – joyfully – I am off to a Happy-Birthday/Merry-Christmas/celebrate-the-Chinese-restaurant’s-re-opening-after-the-summer-floods-party. At it I will find two varieties of communist, most shades of opinion within the Labour Party and one or more recently defected Liberals.

    Strangely enough, we will be able to discuss things political and almost certainly will without rancour. Why? Because each of us has taken the trouble to work out what we think and to find out how the others think.

    We none of us claims the authority to tell others what they are permitted to think. You do and that is what pisses people off.

  137. 137
    SallyStrange

    Marksletten,

    The only argument you’ve made here is that libertarianism is a thing that only you know what it is, and all those other libertarians don’t. And pretty much every libertarian says that, which in my book is a major strike against it as a coherent ideology. If none of the people who call themselves libertarians agree on what it is, how the fuck do you expect anyone else to take it seriously?

  138. 138
    Nick Gotts

    Marksletten@133

    None of the babble apparently addressed to me has much relevance to my #128. It’s of no interest or importance what you happened to believe you were doing in the US military, because it has no relevance to the facts about what US military power is used for.

    The US government has been conducting a “War on Poverty” for coming up on 50 years. How has all that government support affected poverty rates and social ties between individuals and groups, especially among minorities? The US Government has been conducting a “War on Drugs,” also aimed at “helping” the poor, and which really heated up over the past few decades. – Marksletten@78

    If you look here, and particularly at tables F and G, you will see that despite the rhetoric of a “War on Poverty”, the US government makes considerably less effort to alleviate poverty than those of most other rich countries, and poverty is indeed considerably worse than in comparable countries. As for the “War on Drugs”, that has had the effects of disenfranchising millions of black people, and ensuring huge profits for the private prison industry – and since it has continued so long, it seems reasonable to assume that those were the intended effects. The problem is, both main parties in the USA are dominated by corporate money, and therefore largely serve corporate interests. Now the usual glibertarian response to this being pointed out is to say “See – we should weaken the government”, but of course, that would simply leave the power of the corporations unmediated by even the weak democratic influence the general public has over government policy. The real solution is to weaken the power of corporations over government, most obviously by campaign finance reform.

  139. 139
    md

    —and since it has continued so long, it seems reasonable to assume that those were the intended effects

    Nick, you posts are always quality and typically well documented, but as someone who (I think) agrees w/ you about the War on Drugs, this conclusion really seems like a stretch.

    The inertia of private prisons benefiting from the situation and contributing to the political feedback loop to keep it going, sure. But drug laws intended from the get go to make private prison corporations rich?

    Private prisons boomed in the 1990′s. Drug laws have been around much longer than that.

    Same w disenfranchising blacks. What anti-drug laws are, like so many types of laws, are a form of othering. “I” don’t approve of what “They” are doing with their free time.

  140. 140
    Argle Bargle

    marksletten #134

    Rodney@132, because labels make it easy to dismiss arguments rather than responding to them.

    Labels aren’t the only way to dismiss arguments rather than responding to them. See your post #88.

    For that matter you haven’t responded to my post #132 where I talked about how you could dismiss my arguments because they didn’t apply to your personal flavor of libertarianism.

  141. 141
    Nick Gotts

    md@139,

    Yes, good point, that’s reasonable w.r.t. the origin of drug laws.

  142. 142
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    Yes, good point, that’s reasonable w.r.t. the origin of drug laws.

    Reasonable, but wrong, like so many libertarian talking points. The Drug war was sold from the beginning as a way to lock up more blacks and hispanics. Major propaganda was issued about the dangers of ‘marihuana-crazed negroes’ who were allegedly going on rampages of raping and murdering white women under the influence of weed (or sometimes cocaine).

  143. 143
    vaiyt

    @marksletten

    The world would’ve been safe from the USSR if we had not manned those nuclear loaded jets all those years.

    Oh, tell me more about how you “saved” my country from communism by plunging it into 20 years of dictatorship, asshole. You can take your jets and your missions and stuff them down your throat until you poop gasoline.

  144. 144
    brucegee1962

    Dalillama, 142:

    I don’t see why either version of the war on drugs is necessarily libertarian, or why it should be a big point of contention — I always thought liberals and libertarians were pretty much in agreement that the War on Drugs was a big stupid tragic waste of money and lives.

    As for why it started — like many such programs, there were a bunch of reasons, and it’s silly to argue about which was the most important. We should all be able to agree that the government in general and Repuglicans in particular have found it convenient to use the the WoD to “otherize” and persecute a large swath of the country for almost a century, including but not limited to negroes. There weren’t any black characters in Reefer Madness that I can remmber, anyway. There’s no point in calling each other names when the only differences are a matter of emphasis.

  145. 145
    Kagehi

    The inertia of private prisons benefiting from the situation and contributing to the political feedback loop to keep it going, sure. But drug laws intended from the get go to make private prison corporations rich?

    Actually, in point of fact, there is some documentation, though I don’t remember where I saw the details on it, which strongly suggests that, what ever the original intent may have been, in some place, the people lobbying for harsher laws, increases of sentencing, and a reduction in the minimum amounts of drugs needed on your person to be classed as a “seller”, are almost all driven by.. 3.. 2.. 1.. lobbying groups for the private owned prison system.

    This is what annoys me about government, when whole groups in that government are in it only for themselves, not for the well being of the nation. No matter what action you take to improve something, or to help people, someone else, either 1. doesn’t believe in providing the help, or 2. doesn’t like how much is being given, or 3. thinks the money should be spent some place else, or 4. worst of all, sees a means to profit from altering the rules, so that said help comes from their state, business interests, or some other special interest they will get money/support from, will be doing everything they can to break the system. When you, in the case of say.. rehabilitation, or schools, or the drug problem, etc., are on one side, and there are 8 other interested parties, all of them in the other 4 categories (who either don’t want it to happen, or see a way to make money from it, at the expense of actually fixing the problems), its pretty hard to actually produce a positive result.

    But, the worst one, as I said, is the “category 4″ types. Why? Because they have, by definition, and vested interest in “not” solving the problems, or making them worse, or, at the very least, not solving them *quickly*, or efficiently, or using the best solutions (which might not come from whom ever its making money for).

    Its hardly a surprise, when it really is happening, that people think it might be happening with all of these things. And, of course, Libertarian solutions would imply, by definition, some sort of solution where “profit” is not, “improvement of the situation”, but, “money for someone”.

  146. 146
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    or sometimes cocaine

    See sentencing disparities between crack (free base) cocaine and the normal salt cocaine. Guess which is used more in the PoC communities….

  147. 147
    Kagehi

    Ok, maybe my description of libertarianism was a “bit” over the top. But, I am referencing “results”, not “intent”. The intent is competition. The problem is, well… Walmart type cases. You have a diverse range of businesses. Some change a lot, some charge less, many start paying low, but you quickly gain more. Then, Walmart shows up. They pay cheap, they sell cheap, etc., and they carry nearly everything all those diverse systems once had. Libertarianism doesn’t recognize this as a problem. But, its a mono-culture. Its a mold, growing over everything in a forest, until there isn’t any more forest. While it starts out creating some new jobs, in the short run, in the long run, it kills as many, or more, of them, because all of the complex systems that once supported the towns economic ecosystem can’t compete with this huge mass of single organism growth that is over running it. What ever “free market” there was is gone, because you can’t have a free market, if the only “market” is one single company, and a few outliers, who somehow manage to cling to their lives, in spite of everything else being engulfed.

    I am sure some would argue, “Nope, that sort of thing should probably be regulated, somehow.”, but, sorry, the same people are also saying, “This is perfectly normal, and the system will, somehow, correct itself.” How exactly, a different mono-culture organism will nibble the edges of the dominant one?

    No, the one thing perfectly clear is, **every** person that has ever come here, claiming to be libertarian, has eventually shown a total disconnect between the reality of how a “completely, or nearly completely, free market”, does work, and how they really badly wish such a thing did.

  148. 148
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    brucegees1962
    From the testimony of Harry Anslinger to Congress immediately prior to the passage of the Marihuana Tax act of 1937:

    I wish I could show you what a small marihuana cigaret can do to one of our degenerate Spanish-speaking residents. That’s why our problem is so great; the greatest percentage of our population is composed of Spanish-speaking persons, most of who are low mentally, because of social and racial conditions.

    I’m not saying that the Drug War is Libertarian policy, just that libertarian rhetoric deliberately elides some of the important reasons behind it, largely because a lot of libertarians are actually neo-Confederates in a poor disguise. This isn’t to say that the reasons libertarians usually cite aren’t also correct, but they’re wrong about the cause and the solution for those reasons. To wit, the other major factor leading to the prohibition of cannabis was a coalition of large corporations who had interests in timber, wood-pulp paper, and nylon and other synthetic textiles, who played up racism and other traditional values to eliminate the competition (industrial hemp). Libertarians point to this and say that the government needs to be too weak to be used to eliminate the competition through regulation, ignoring the multitudinous side effects. Essentially, their solution to type 4s is to hand everything to them directly, rather than reducing corruption enough to make their shenanigans impossible.
    nerd
    Yes, but crack came much later, I was talking about the origins of the Drug war there.

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