Ron Paul on sexual harassment

From Joe My God:

“Employee rights are said to be valid when employers pressure employees into sexual activity. Why don’t they quit once the so-called harassment starts? Obviously the morals of the harasser cannot be defended, but how can the harassee escape some responsibility for the problem? Seeking protection under civil rights legislation is hardly acceptable.” -Ron Paul, from his 1987 book, Freedom Under Siege.

I thought it would be pretty straight forward that this sort of victim blaming is dispicable. I mean, it’s so easily to instantly find a job, you should be the one who quits when someone else does something wrong, right?! But then I got this comment on facebook:

“The next sentence from the book was “If force was clearly used, that is another story…”. The analogy I’d draw is that if a guy says to you “if I take you out to dinner I expect you to sleep with me”, then you’re welcome to decline the offer. Likewise, for employment, “if you want this job, I expect you to sleep with me”. It comes from a background belief that the right to own and use one’s property (the capital of the employer) as one sees fit is foundational to a free and productive society. You can’t take this one bit and graft it onto a socialistic/liberal world view and expect it to jive in that context. I believe that in a completely free market, this type of sexual harassment would be extremely rare, because it hurts the bottom line to hire based on sex favors rather than on job performance, a.), and b.) in the absence of government civil rights, people would take such issues into their own hands, ie., boycotts, sit-ins, etc.”

Sexual harassment is sexual harassment, whether violent force is used or not, and whether you have the ability to decline or not. My vagina doesn’t become your property because you’re my employer. And the idea that a free market will magically get rid of sexual harassment is probably the most fucking moronic thing I’ve ever heard. Do people recognize how much better the workplace is for woman now that we can actually do something about sexual harassment? Ask a secretary from the 1950s how comfortable she felt in her workplace.

And the idea that the government shouldn’t support civil rights is just fucking terrifying. You know the term “minority”? It generally means there are less of you, and you’re less powerful. No one would give a diddly if you organized a sit-in when your numbers are insignificant to them.

The idea that “hurting the bottom line” is more of a concern than violating human rights is why I hate libertarians.


  1. says

    Libertarianism is the idea that those with power will execute their power in their own best interest if they have no oversight. That’s why it utterly fails to deal with the problem of any minority group. Power brokers attempt to keep power and not share that power.

    The only time Ron Paul’s ideas work is if there is a shortage of workers. Of course, he believes that will happen, because:

    1. Remove government regulation on commerce.
    2. MAGIC!
    3. Everyone has a job and therefore companies have to behave better to attract workers rather than choosing from a large pool of unemployed. Therefore women workers get social power through their ability to control their labour.

    Like everything in Ron Paul’s theories, we should call this the “Magic Version of Women’s Rights”. If libertarians run things, it’ll be magically better.

  2. J. J. Ramsey says

    Why don’t they quit once the so-called harassment starts?

    Um, because they need to, you know, eat, pay the rent/mortgage, maybe support a family? Quitting a job is not something one does lightly unless one is flush with cash.

    This isn’t just victim blaming. This is getting into “Let them eat cake” territory.

  3. Andy Groves says

    Businesses have a legal obligation to prevent harassment in the workplace wherever it comes from – whether it is a manager harassing an employee, an employee harassing a manager, employees harassing each other or even someone from outside the business harassing an employee (like a delivery person). What would Paul do in that last case? Tell the person to quit? Sue the company employing the delivery guy?

    Oh, and I love the reference to “so-called” harassment. The guy is an odious person.

  4. jeremyyoder says

    Criminy. Name me one nation-wide corporation that has changed its harassment policies because of a customer boycott.

    More basically, if a guy offers to buy me dinner provided I sleep with him afterward, I can turn it down at the expense of … one dinner. If, after I’ve become established in a job, it suddenly emerges that my boss expects me to sleep with him, I say “no” at the expense of my job.

    Sexual harassers hardly ever announce that they expect sex in response for employment at the interview stage (Herman Cain being a notable exception)—later on, the power dynamic is significantly different. And even in some situations, such as a period of high unemployment and economic uncertainty, the person offering a job has considerable leverage over the person seeking one.

    Failure to understand this sort of basic economic power dynamic is what makes libertarians such idiots.

  5. Just a guy says

    Rape is using power to force another person (female or male – yes, men can be raped, although it’s much rarer) into an unwilling sexual episode. It might be physical power, but any kind of power will do – for example, fiscal power.

    While I’m in favor of decriminalizing prostitution (along with drugs, even though I don’t partake in either nor do I have any desire to) I think it’s very important to draw a line between a job that involves selling oneself sexually and a nonsexual job where one is required to provide sexual favors to maintain it. Heck, a sex worker shouldn’t be required to provide free services to his or her managers just to maintain their position…

  6. rbray18 says

    well that’s the problem with ron boy.he and his supporters think that lawsuits will mean anything when there’s no regulation and no government forcing them to pay.hell on that matter with no or reduced government how is there supposed to be a judge or jury to even hear or try the cases.i mean that’s the ultimate goal as i understand it of libertarians. to have no government or regulation and expect people to correct things themselves.

  7. PHS Philip says

    The idea that “hurting the bottom line” is more of a concern than violating human rights is why I hate libertarians.

    That’s rather unfortunate. There are so many valid reasons to criticize libertarians, and you choose something that is wrong with a completely different kind of political ideology Saying libertarians don’t care about human rights is like saying communists don’t care about the workers: true in that some “communists” are not really ideologically communist at all, but false by definition if you apply it to people who actually believe in communism.

    Libertarianism says that government exists to prevent exactly that sort of thing: your rights extend right up until you violate someone else’s, and as soon as you do, it’s the government’s job to stop you.

  8. PHS Philip says

    That isn’t to say that a libertarian government would actually work (it would fail catastrophically) but at least criticize the ideology for its actual flaws

  9. John Swindle says

    If he wrote that book in 1987, he’s had plenty of time to rethink all of that. Maybe he has adjusted his ignorance since then, but I hope someone asks Paul about this in public. I’d love to see him try to explain why he is against civil rights.

  10. julian says

    Libertarianism says that government exists to prevent exactly that sort of thing

    Which is about as valid as saying a true Christian government would see to the needs of the poor.

  11. JHGRedekop says

    “in the absence of government civil rights, people would take such issues into their own hands, ie., boycotts, sit-ins, etc.”

    And they did. It was called the “Civil Rights Movement”. Where does the commenter think that “government civil rights” came from?

  12. penn says

    I don’t think the fact he wrote that 24 years ago really gets him off the hook. He was 52 at the time. He can’t really claim it was some folly of youth. He may have changed his mind, but it definitely seems consistent with his current ideology and policy recommendations.

    I truly don’t understand how people can have such naive views on the magic of the free market. As Jen pointed out, 60 years ago there was almost no protection from sexual harassment and it happened all the god damned time. It wasn’t shunned by the free market; it was an expectation of women employees by the male controlled majority of employers.

    The same is true for people who argue that we don’t need to force businesses to hire or serve minorities because it’s bad for the bottom line to not hire the most qualified person or to not serve groups of people. Unfortunately, the actual data shows the exact opposite. Serving/hiring blacks could be very bad for business because it was often a great way to runoff the white majority. That’s why civil rights legislation was necessary in the first place.

    The libertarian worldview seems to assume that civil rights laws either always existed or were implemented willy-nilly for no reason. A quick look at history proves a lot of their claims to be utterly wrong.

  13. PHS Philip says

    Not really. Again, would you say someone who thinks the working class can go screw itself is really a communist? Of course not, because that contradicts the defining characteristics of a communist. The same applies here. Libertarianism is an ideology devoted to the rights of the individual. Unfortunately, very few libertarians are particularly good at discerning those rights, but if we could persuade them that protection from sexual harassment is a right (it is, but few of them accept that), they would be some of our most ardent allies.

  14. says

    PHS Philip:

    Libertarianism says that government exists to prevent exactly that sort of thing: your rights extend right up until you violate someone else’s, and as soon as you do, it’s the government’s job to stop you.


    The problem is in the definition of “what infringes another’s rights.” I have had it earnestly explained to me that government is immoral because it relies on implied physical force for non-compliance. The only immoral action is the use of physical force against another. And that is the only way one person can infringe the rights of another person.

    That viewpoint is entirely contrary to reality, in which “force” comes in many packages. Any time there is a power differential, there is force. This often comes in non-physical forms, which many (most?) libertarians do not regard as immoral.

    So, if I say a person should have the right to work in a safe place, a libertarian will disagree with me. They will claim it is the duty of a person to select their workplace, and so it is their fault if they end up in one that is not safe from sexual harassement.

    In the end, I think Jen has it right. The fundamental nature of libertarianism is flawed with respect to judging a person’s rights (as you have noted), the nature of a worthwhile society, and the placing of the self above others, even when you are at the top of a power gradient. In fact, the utter philosophical failure of libertarianism to account for power disparity is one of its defining characteristics.

  15. ericblair says

    One of the problems with Ron Paul (and most other libertarians that I’ve come into contact with, or at least read about) is that they seem to be firm believers in the rights of individuals, but once two or more individuals band together for a common interest, those rights immediately go out the window.

    Today, Crooks And Liars ran a piece with a list of seventy of Paul’s positions on issues, a list on which almost anyone is bound to find at least one stand that is at least distasteful and at worst dangerous.

  16. InvincibleIronyMan says

    Don’t you know Ron Paul is infallible? At least he is according to Popehat ( Apparently people who don’t support Ron Paul are “fucktards”. Not a word of balance, nothing to suggest that Ron Paul is anything less than perfect.

    I have posted a reply, which I will post here and elsewhere if it doesn’t make it past moderation. I have no reason to think it won’t, apart from the fact that there is strangely no dissent from anyone in the comments so far, and after the latest drama involving Rebecca Watson I am sick of hypocrisy from this so-called “community” of freethinkers and people who supposedly appreciate skepticism and critical thinking.

    BTW, this is not the only thing by far that Ron Paul has done that is anti-women. Here are a few facts that I have gathered and collated so far:

    Ron Paul has a 0% by NARAL (National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws), meaning he votes 100% against abortion rights.

    Ron Paul voted yes on the Stupak Amendment to prevent health insurance companies from offering abortion coverage.

    Ron Paul voted to prevent funding from going to schools that make the morning after pill available.

    Ron Paul voted to provide funding for abstinence only sex-education.

    Ron Paul cosponsored the ‘Sanctity of Life Act’ to ban abortion.

  17. HeavyG says

    “… the ultimate goal as i understand it of libertarians. to have no government or regulation and expect people to correct things themselves.”

    Obviously you don’t really understand the ideas of libertarianism.

  18. WRG says

    I hesitate to bring this up, but the best libertarian argument that this liberal has heard about sexual harassment is that it is a subjective idea with unequal application and unequal punishment. (I call it a libertarian argument because I’ve only heard libertarians make it.)

    The basic idea behind a law or code of conduct is that a certain action = a certain punishment. For the most part employers are fair and equal in applying that. You embezzle funds, you get fired and/or go to prison. Sexual harassment isn’t always so clear-cut. If Andy Rooney repeatedly hit on a bunch of female coworkers, most of them would probably consider it sexual harassment. Yet if Clive Owen (or whatever celebrity people fancy these days) said the same words to the same women, probably a much smaller proportion of the women would consider it sexual harassment. That’s the issue–sexual harassment isn’t only a matter of actions, it’s a matter of who commits them.

    *end partisan speculation*

    But for the most part I think that SH policies are fair. I’ve had a few subordinates who were fresh out of high school and clearly never had a girlfriend confuse “I’m not interested in you” with “I’m being coy” and bother some female coworkers with extra attention and repeated requests for dates. Those guys just need to be pulled aside and set straight. I’ve also had one or two subordinates who clearly had a problem with women and started getting aggressive with them. Those guys you bring the full force of your employer’s SH policies down on. The proper implementation of SH is really driven by the front-line supervisors, and as long as they’re trained properly the office is a nice safe place for everybody to work.

  19. rbray18 says

    i’ll admit maybe i don’t,but from what i see that’s what it seems to’s all about the person but not what they should have like basic rights but what they can take.if i am wrong please correct me.though evidence would be nice sense i offer only my feelings and observations i guess i can’t ask for anything more.

  20. Upright Ape says

    Hm. Maybe I can express the idea of libertarianism more eloquently. See, I have my business. I run it damn as I please. I may discriminate on the basis of race. I may harass my employees. And I won’t allow them to unionize. I don’t provide any accomodation for anyone with a disability. And if the state and/or my customers or employees dare say a word, I’ll cry out “socialism”.

  21. Upright Ape says

    That is a load of crap. Rand Paul said in an interview that he was uncomfortable with the Civil Rights act, because it is not the position of the government to tell a private business whether or not they can let minorities in. They think if you violate someone’s rights it is the governments job to stop you?
    They have a funny way of showing it.

  22. says

    To be fair, libertarians aren’t especially sexist. They feel that the employers own your WHOLE self, not just your genitalia. They seem to believe that sexual harassment/assault is just a subset of the general abuse of employees that an employer is entitled to, including unsafe work environments, less-than-subsistence wages, lack of benefits, etc.

  23. penn says

    WRG (@15), I think that libertarian argument on sexual harassment is pretty silly. The problem is unwanted words and actions, which is similar to a lot of crimes. Is it really a travesty of justice to consider the reasonable desires, thoughts and intentions of the victim of a crime?

    The example is also naively simplistic. People aren’t getting hauled off for making a single unwanted pass at a co-worker. That’ll go nowhere in court.

  24. says


    “they seem to be firm believers in the rights of individuals, but once two or more individuals band together for a common interest, those rights immediately go out the window.”

    …as long as those two or more individuals are owners, and not part of the working class. Paul and his idiot followers are against labor unions, but have no problem with collusion among the wealthy towards a common goal.

  25. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    The problem with looneytarianism (to give it its proper name) is it’s amorphous. It’s hard to describe a philosophy based purely on selfishness and disdain for anyone who isn’t you. As soon as a non-looneytarian ascribes a specific characteristic to looneytarianism then some looneytarian will deny their particular brand of looneytarianism incorporates that idea.

    Mike Huben discusses this problem:

    It’s hard to clearly define libertarianism. “It’s a dessert topping!” “No, it’s a floor wax!” “Wait– it’s both!” It’s a mixture of social philosophy, economic philosophy, a political party, and more. It would be unjust for me to try to characterize libertarianism too exactly: libertarians should be allowed to represent their own positions. At least two FAQs have been created by libertarians to introduce their positions. But the 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.

    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…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.

  26. PHS Philip says

    The problem is they have a shitty idea of what rights people actually have. They have to be convinced that these are in fact rights.

  27. penn says

    “collusion among the wealthy towards a common goal” would never happen because of the free market, duh.

  28. michaelstone-richard says

    In an ideal country (in an ideal world)…

    Libertarianism would work.

    However, we don’t live in an ideal country (in an ideal world). We live in a country where it is necessary for government to ensure the rights of, and protect — through legislation — people of color, women, LGBTs, immigrants, children, etc. The same goes for providing health care, food programs, etc.

    The burden of proof (of why we need such legislation) does not rest on the shoulders of those who support it. The facts of our country’s history clearly lays out the need to protect certain groups of people.

    It is those who say civil rights legislation isn’t needed who must provide the proof that what they say is true.

  29. Dan says

    Paul reprinted this book in 2007, and left the pro-harassment stuff in, so he hasn’t distanced himself from it yet. I’d be shocked if his campaign hadn’t re-screened it before the reprint.

    He’ll probably say he didn’t write the book with his own name on it, which may be true. Lew Rockwell has been rumored to have written most of Paul’s books and the offensive newsletters. Of course Rockwell is still a good friend and influential supporter of Paul’s and Paul conveniently doesn’t know who wrote his own newsletters.

  30. PHS Philip says

    I think one problem is that, because most (nearly all, probably) libertarians are fundamentally very conservative, they have extremely narrow definitions of “individual rights.” If you applied libertarian philosophy with a broader set of rights, it would still fail horribly, but it would lose the callousness most libertarians show. It seems to me that libertarianism is generally a selfish ideology mostly because the average libertarian’s idea of rights is narrow and self serving, rather than because libertarianism has that among its inherent flaws

  31. Dan says

    Well, according to your definition Ron Paul isn’t a Libertarian then. He doesn’t really stand up for individual rights (I know he says he does), but he stands up for state rights. He wants the Bill of Rights to only apply to the Federal government, not the state. Which means under Paul’s system states would have the right to torture citizens, deny free speech, outlaw certain religions (or atheists), quarter troops in private homes, and deny fair trials. Paul seems to be a neo-Conferderate, and his view of the world would limit the civil liberties of just about everyone in America.

  32. PHS Philip says

    I’m not convinced that libertarianism has to be conservative, though. It almost always is, because its adherents are pretty much all conservatives, but nothing about the underlying philosophy is conservative. I think it can just as easily be bent the other way if one wants, and it was just by chance that it became so conservative dominated.

    Yes, I find their definition of rights repugnant. But I think that is a failing of their morals/values/whatever rather than of libertarianism. I think where it actually fails most badly is that it has no good way to determine what trumps what when people’s rights conflict.

  33. says

    In an ideal country (in an ideal world)…

    Libertarianism would work.

    So would communism, if only people were perfect.

    Of the two worlds, I’d prefer the communist ideal over the libertarian ideal. The communist ideal: we’re all in this together. The Libertarian ideal: we’re all in this for me.

    Neither works, of course, for the same sorts of reasons you outline, plus the basic fact: selfish people are the reason we can’t have nice things.

  34. PHS Philip says

    I think the core is just the idea that you have the right to do what you wish right up until you violate the rights of someone else. This doesn’t work very well in the real world because things get complicated very quickly (“I want to build a big building on my property, and I have the right to use my property as i wish, but that puts your property in a constant shadow through no fault of your own. You have the right not to have your property hurt by mine. So whose right wins?” as one example, but pretty much any interaction of people causes the same sort of thing)

  35. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. -Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, London: W. Strahan & T. Cadell. 1776.

  36. says

    Yep. It definitely seems we are talking about the same things.

    I have a definite libertarian streak. Not in the thing that most defines them on the political stage today, their religious adherence to the unfettered free market. But in the idea that we should maximize individual liberty. The only difference is, I know this must be balanced with the needs of society. I know I must pay taxes, as it’s the only way for the government to do one of its two major functions: provide common infrastructure. (The other is, of course, to provide protection.)

    But that comes back to what I was saying: libertarianism tends to be conservative because it meshes with conservative ideology. If you were to re-cast the ideology such that it recognized power disparity and attempted to compensate, you’d no longer have libertarianism. You’d have liberalism.

    In any case, I think you and I are essentially agreeing. I mean, except for your initial point in which you were berating Jen. I still think you are wrong in that, as the majority of libertarians eschew social equality for the personal liberty to pursue wealth. But It really seems that’s merely a semantic difference, not an ideological one. It’s the difference between what libertarianism might have been, versus what it has become.

    That’s how I see it, anyway.

    In any case, I have to go play Ico. Well, I don’t have to. It’s not like there’s a PS3 god somewhere that dictates I must get in 8 hours of worship a week. It’s just that I want to.

    Take care. It’s been good debating with you, even though I think we’re in essential congruence. Those are sometimes the most interesting discussions, as you learn where nuance matters.

  37. michaelstone-richard says

    I agree. I used to use the example of “in an ideal world, communism would be the ideal form of government” when I argued with my brother (still a right-wingnut) and his fiancée during the Vietnam War.

  38. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    The major hit on libertarians isn’t that they’re racist or selfish. (Though some of them are those things, and their beliefs encourage both bad behaviors, even if accidentally.) It’s that they’re thoroughly out of touch with reality. It’s a worldview that prospers only so long as nobody tries it, and is too unreflective and self-absorbed to realize this. In other words, it’s the philosophy of spoiled six year olds.

    For instance, many libertarians have the weird idea that private charity is more efficient than government welfare. What they don’t know (being historical illiterates) is the reason why governments started welfare. During the Great Depression there was a genuine concern about people starving. Private charities couldn’t handle the load, so governments (local, state and federal) got into the charity business, except it was called welfare. Incidentally, while few if any people starved during the 1930s, during World War II thousands of men were medically disqualified from military service because of the effects of malnutrition.

  39. ericblair says

    Yeah, that really worked in the past. Up until the Sherman Antitrust Act. Corporatists always screw the people unless they’re forced not to and the market can go fuck itself.

  40. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    I think the core is just the idea tI think the core is just the idea that you have the right to do what you wish right up until you violate the rights of someone else.

    This doesn’t come even vaguely close to what any libertarian i’ve ever encountered has said.

    What they actually say is THEY have the right to do what THEY wish right up until someone else wants a slice of the pie, then they cry foul.

    Its a “fuck you, i’ve got mine” religion. nothing more.

    Anyone link to the study showing how libertarians are less empathic and love less yet?

  41. says

    It’s taken a long time for the people of the internet to figure out that Ron Paul is a professional right-wing nutjub. Given their long and ongoing love affair with him, it’s likely to die hard.

  42. says

    My vagina doesn’t become your property because you’re my employer.

    Which has nothing to do with what Ron Paul—or any other libertarian—has said/is saying.

    What they’re saying is that your employers property does not automatically become yours forever more just because you got a job.

    Basically that the capital owned/controlled by your employer is his just as your body is yours, and just as you can decide not to show up, not to sleep with your employer, et cetera, he can decide to simply not hire/continue to employ you.

    It’s not really complicated. To deny this is to deny that your employer actually owns the capital with which he is employing you — i.e. it’s basically committing theft by saying that when someone hires another person, they basically forfeit all their assets to continue to pay that person until such time as arbitrary powers that be deem that they may stop such payments.

  43. martin says

    I consider myself a libertarian. Like Ron Paul, I am imperfect.

    The most common libertarian principle that I am aware of, and that I think is pretty darn good, is the non-aggression principle. This principle has a number of phrasings, and is a cousin of the golden-rule.
    One such phrasing might be like this: it is morally wrong to initiate force or commit fraud against innocents or their property.

    This is similar to the posters above when they speak of having the right to do what one likes so long as they don’t infringe upon the rights of others but is a tad more explicit in what our “rights” are. It’s hard to summarize a philosophy in just one line or a single principle.

    The non-aggression principle, if followed by a society’s members, allows us to live in peace and attempt to resolve conflicts without force. The effort to follow the principle of non-aggression does not eliminate conflict or provide a solution to all the possible problems that might come up, it just gives us relative peace and security in that we ought not have to fear aggression.

    I find that very often people who criticize libertarian-ism prefer to attack the people rather than the principle. I appreciate that some people here seemed to be making an honest effort at describing the principles and exploring the consequences and I’m not surprised that much of the talk here was just attacks against libertarians as people.

    It is my opinion that one ought not feel comfortable trying to negate the idea of the non-aggression principle. Such attempts have always seemed untenable to me. Do you really want to take the position that it is OK to initiate force against innocents?

    Some people do seem to want to take the position that the initiation of force against other people is sometimes justified, but it’s been my experience that these people are more differing on what the meaning of “property” or “innocent” is.

    Innocent in this context, is often said to include people of sound mind who have not harmed, or threatened to harm against other people. Harm in this sense always includes physical harm to people and damages to property. A shorter way of saying this might be that people who have not initiated force against others are “innocent.” Innocence and harm can become fuzzy. I have little doubt that if you try you can construct cases where it isn’t clear who started it or what the damages were. It isn’t that libertarians can claim to have all the answers on what to do in any very specific case, rather it is the case that the effort of trying to follow the principle has good results from both a subjective and objective point of view.

    The problem of property is perhaps the biggest hurdle to overcome. Unlike the idea of not harming innocents, which it is relatively easy to get near consensus on, there is a huge spectrum of ideas on what constitutes property. Who ought to have exclusivity over something and why?

    Even among libertarians there is discussion on this matter, even though we are often portrayed as being dogmatic in our worship of “private property” and “free markets.”

    The libertarians and Paul supporters that I know and converse with would be happy to address what is illegitimate property and what isn’t. Most would say that the fruits of one’s labor ought to be completely owned by the individual. Who “owns” a particular section of dirt, forest, or other natural resource is another matter entirely. All too often governments at all levels do a horrible job dealing with land and resource allocation and typically the rules are written by the rich to favor the rich. The rich, including giant corporations, do not pay the rest of society well for the exclusivity that we collectively grant them over our shared land and resources. This is wrong.

    There are many ways we could better handle this allocation of resources. I think you’d find that more libertarians are open to discussing in inequities created by government and giant corporations than you might think.


  44. Azkyroth says

    Random internet libertwits, sure. But when it comes to people like Paul, what could possibly give you the idea that they don’t understand it?

  45. Azkyroth says

    Of course, libertwits then gerrymander their ideas of what “your rights” are and what counts as “violating someone else’s rights” so shamelessly that this dictate is worse than hollow.

  46. Happiestsadist says

    Um, no. Conventionally attractive men are accused of sexual harassment all the damn time. It’s not a missed signal or some kind of club used to beat poor unattractive dudes. Sexually threatening is sexually threatening behaviour.

  47. Azkyroth says

    If Andy Rooney repeatedly hit on a bunch of female coworkers, most of them would probably consider it sexual harassment. Yet if Clive Owen (or whatever celebrity people fancy these days) said the same words to the same women, probably a much smaller proportion of the women would consider it sexual harassment. That’s the issue–sexual harassment isn’t only a matter of actions, it’s a matter of who commits them.

    You don’t seriously believe that, do you?

  48. says

    Remember guys and gals: under libertarians you have a right to put drugs like marijuana into your body, and a right to not put vaccines into your body. No questions asked, no one can blame you and no one can harass you about it.

    But, your boss still has a right to put his penis into you, and you have no recourse other than to give up your career. Perfectly consistent, because a penis isn’t a drug and belongs to a superior, and therefore can be forced into you with no repercussions at all towards the owner of said penis… because while you have no right to refuse him, he has absolute right to your body. Or at least he has absolute right to never surrender money or freedom because he violated your body.

  49. eigenperson says

    I find that very often people who criticize libertarian-ism prefer to attack the people rather than the principle.

    Oh, for chrissakes, why should I waste my time attacking the principles that libertarians claim to uphold, when they clearly don’t?

    Ron Paul thinks it is okay for you to fire someone (i.e. to prevent someone from purchasing food, water, etc.) because she rejects your sexual advances. This is not in accordance with your proposed principle.

  50. Azkyroth says

    In theory, Libertarianism reduces to a sacred oath not to recognize the fact that abuse of unequal economic power to promote one’s own gain at the expense of the reasonable interests of others qualifies as “initiating force” by any sane definition.

  51. Azkyroth says

    Think of it this way.

    Agreeing to employ a person is a contract.

    A contract generally includes conditions under which it may be canceled, and conditions under which it is required to be honored.

    One party has far more bargaining power than the other in deciding the terms of that contract.

    Therefore, the aggregate class of “other parties” have banded together to pool their bargaining power and impose upon those contracts certain terms which reasonably protect the interests of any one of those “other parties” (in theory). One of those terms is that the contract may not be terminated by the more power party simply because the particular “other party” in question doesn’t put out.

    I thought Libertwits were all for freedom of contract.

  52. WRG says

    Perhaps it’s a difference of the definition of SH…many employers consider any unwanted sexual advances to be SH, even those that don’t rise to the level of being “threatening.” Maybe that’s just a matter of semantics though.

  53. martin says

    eigenperson —

    I uphold my principles as well as I can. I’d appreciate not being insulted when trying to have an honest and civil discussion.

    Firing someone is not the same as using force to prevent them from purchasing water, food, etc. That’s nonsense.

    For one thing, we don’t have a libertarian world right now, so there still exist programs such as unemployment and food stamps, not to mention many charities and the fact that nobody stripped our theoretical employee of friends, family, savings, or credit.

    Having an ass that would fire you because you won’t sleep with him is unfortunate but it isn’t force in a libertarian sense…just a person being a royal ass.

    I understand why people get upset over this. I understand what a horrible position it could put some women in.

    I don’t however see why this particular asshole behavior deserves special treatment under the law. Your boss could fire you for something you said, something you wore, because they don’t like the sports team you favor, in order to replace you with a more attractive employee or many arbitrary reasons. Other theoretical employees might also want to leave a job because they are clearly given the crappiest work, they are talked down to, they are yelled at and belittled, or they witness constant favoritism to others. Those theoretical employees who lost their jobs face the same problem of being jobless due to having an ass for a boss.

    Addressing the property problem and making it easier for individuals to acquire property and resources and start businesses helps alleviate this problem of asshole behavior.
    It ought to be easy to leave a job and do something else such that the fear of assholes need not be dealt with by the government. The problem of access to resources is related to the problem of finding new jobs. The problem of poor resource allocation and the resulting lack of jobs magnifies the problem of asshole bosses. When it isn’t easy to leave your job I understand why this makes the asshole in charge a bigger deal than he ought to be.

  54. WRG says

    For the most part I think it’s bunk…although I do think there’s theoretical wiggle room for a proponent depending on what the employer’s definition of SH is. If SH is an objective measure of behavior (he says X/Y/Z, touches her, etc), then that’s completely out of the question. However a lot of employers define SH as anything that is “unwanted” attention, leaving the victim to determine what is wanted or unwanted. In that situation I think it’s possible (although not likely) that such a thing could happen.

  55. rabbitambulance says

    LIbertarians are like communists. Their vision of how society is really great, except humans don’t fundamentally don’t work the way that is the whole basis for their little utopia. It’s like someone saying “If people just stop shitting, we can use all this money from sewage treatment to feed the poor. It’ll be brilliant!” – “It sure would be brilliant, Todd, but that’s not how humans work.” – “SHUT UP YOU JUST WANT POOR PEOPLE TO STARVE!”

  56. eigenperson says

    First of all, I wouldn’t dream of suggesting that YOU don’t follow the principles you articulated. All I’m suggesting is that Ron Paul, as well as other well-known libertarians, don’t follow those principles. Perhaps they are not “libertarians” in your opinion, but they call themselves libertarians and are widely perceived to be libertarians. If you are wondering why individual people are being attacked, rather than some special principle, this is the reason: just because one is known as a libertarian does not mean that that person follows any particular principles, so any question about those principles is not pertinent unless the person actually follows them.

    But as to your substantive point, let me put it another way.

    Question: Is the person who sexually harasses his or her employee harming that employee?

    If the principle says “No,” then the principle is not worth following.

    If the principle says “Yes,” then Ron Paul does not follow the principle, since he considers it to be unacceptable to punish someone who harms others in that particular way.

    I wouldn’t dare to pronounce on the question of what the principle actually says.

  57. martin says

    Azkyroth —

    I assume you just misunderstood me, called me insane, or both.

    …abuse of unequal economic power to promote one’s own gain at the expense of the reasonable interests of others qualifies as “initiating force”

    When I see that, I agree that abuse is a bad thing, but I question why it is there is “unequal economic power” to be abused and what abuse means.

    If we would address the problem of unequal economic power better, then the potential for “abuse” of this power drops. The better we can do at addressing the property problem, the better off we all can be (excepting for those who are currently abusing their property and economic power).

  58. martin says

    Question: Is the person who sexually harasses his or her employee harming that employee?

    The question you pose is over-simplified.

    It is harmful when force is used to unjustly exclude people from the shared resources. This is the problem of property I’ve mentioned several times now. This is the fundamental problem that we ought to be addressing.

    Any harm caused by sexual harassment is harm because the “owner” is using the force of resource exclusion to coerce sexual favors.

    Workplace sexual harassment ought not be considered more harmful than someone saying something unpleasant or mean but non-sexual. An ill-tempered or abusive but non-sexual boss is also undesirable.

    Unfortunately our very poor manner of dealing with the property problem leads people to call on the government to create a patchwork of laws to protect from abuses of the property problem and people often don’t make the connection to what the fundamental problem is.

    If a worker could freely leave their job and easily find another job or access resources to work on then we wouldn’t need to send men with guns to deal with people who say sexual things or mean things or make suggestive hand motions or whatever.

    So, when you ask your question of the non-aggression principle, I say that when a person is excluded from shared property, not paid for this exclusion, and then coerced to have sex in exchange for access to the ability to work the resources, then the answer is yes, the person is harmed.

    The reason the harassment is causing harm is because force has been initiated against the worker when the state is excluding them from resources unjustly. This is the force being exploited by an abusive boss.

    In a better world, where we have addressed the more fundamental property problem better and there were legitimate options for the worker, the my answer is no, the worker is not harmed and ought to explore the legitimate options they have.

    I agree with the blog post above when it talks about the owner of property can use it as they wish and make up arbitrary rules…even distasteful rules about who gets to be on or work on their property. What ought to be addressed is not what distasteful behaviors or rules people have on their own property, but why do a very few rich assholes control so much of the property?

    I also just wanted to say that I also liked the comment above that talked abut contracts, though I disagree with the conclusion. It really should be easier for individuals to make clear contracts that would prohibit this type of thing, for unions to do so, for co-operative property owners to do so, for corporate share-holders to do so.

    I know the post above scoffs at the idea that the market can or would handle the problem of sexual harassment well but I think the author is wrong to compare today’s world with the 1950’s and with the type of world libertarians would like to see. Technology and women’s liberation have changed quite a bit in the last 60 years. I recall this very blogger pointing out how a small community of skeptics and atheists were able to change a gelato business’s behavior and have the owner kissing butt in short order.

  59. eigenperson says

    Well, I agree with you that if the underlying problem (essentially, of friction in the labor market) can be solved, then workplace sexual harassment will no longer cause the particular kind of harm that results from the threat of economic loss. (It will still cause the same harms that sexual harassment causes in other contexts, of course.)

    So let’s make a deal. The libertarians (who are the ones proposing a system that cannot function in an non-frictionless labor market) should start by making the labor market frictionless. After that, they can implement their system that only functions in a frictionless labor market.

    These steps must not occur in the opposite order. To eliminate anti-harassment policies before eliminating friction is to descend to the bottom of the ocean and then arrange for the submarine to meet you there.

    As of this time, I have not heard a single proposal by any libertarian (in particular, not by Ron Paul) as to how to make the labor market frictionless. I am curious as to whether you have on.

  60. SADunlap says

    Failure to understand this sort of basic economic power dynamic is what makes libertarians such idiots.

    “The law, in its majestic wisdom, punishes the rich and the poor equally for the crime of sleeping under a bridge.” — Anatoly France.

    Actually, it’s a massive failure to recognize the existence of any uneven power dynamic of any kind. Richard Epstein, a saner libertarian than Ron Paul, once used the phrase “Brain-dead to the underlying realities of how this world actually works.”

  61. SADunlap says

    If Andy Rooney repeatedly hit on a bunch of female coworkers, most of them would probably consider it sexual harassment.

    Do you know that Andy Rooney died? If he hit on a bunch of female coworkers I would say that sexual harassment was the least of their problems.

  62. Eric RoM says

    shorter: “If libertarianism wasn’t what it is, it wouldn’t have the obvious problems it has.”

    Gee, thanks.

  63. Susan says

    Have you ever taken a Sexual Harassment class? We’re required to, every two years and I just had my most recent training last week. Everything is actually well-defined and the lines are clearly drawn. The courts have handled these issues and the case law is well-established. It’s really pretty clear-cut what’s acceptable and what’s not now; the lawyers who taught our class had no problem answering any questions about what behavior you could be fired, otherwise disciplined and/or successfully sued for.

  64. says

    And the idea that a free market will magically get rid of sexual harassment is probably the most fucking moronic thing I’ve ever heard.

    …except for every other fucking moronic thing libertarians believe about the magical free market.

  65. InvincibleIronyMan says

    Patrick is very funny, I like him! I am sorry for insinuating that my comment wouldn’t make it past moderation, because it did in very short order, and he left a reply too.

    And what a reply it was: something about Snickers-eating, Big Country, Lord of the Dance Dr. Frankensteins, ISTR. I suggested he write a whole book in that style because I would buy it, and I wasn’t lying.

    Is Patrick a Libertarian, do you happen to know? I held off on the whole “Ron Paul doesn’t believe in free markets” schtick, because it would be all too easy to get bogged-down in a debate on the merits or woes of Libertarianism. Not that I would normally shy away from such an argument, but one doesn’t even need to go there to criticize this demented lionization of Ron Paul.

  66. InvincibleIronyMan says

    What really spooks me is how people I respect like Michael Shermer and Penn Jilette are actual, honest-to-goodness Libertarians. How can this be? I’m damned if I can make sense of it, although I will say that if everyone were as nice a guy as Penn seems to be, then maybe Libertarianism would have a shot at working. Otherwise, yeah, “MAGIC”, pretty much.

    I am normally quite good at getting a grasp of things. If I don’t understand something and I feel it’s important, then I go back and try again, maybe with a different approach, or I try to find a better explanation of whatever that thing is. Normally this works for me. But I can honestly say that I have never seen an explanation of Libertarian market principles that doesn’t: (a) seem to rely on some idealized vision of people and society that doesn’t exist; and/or (b) rely on a whacking great portion of FAITH to think that it will work.

    Anybody want to give it a shot and tell me how I’m wrong, or refer me to an easily digestible explanation of Libertarianism that actually makes sense?

  67. Robert says

    If the labor market is frictionless, wouldn’t the problem be reversed?

    Now employers have a large labor pool to choose from, thus they can choose the ‘best’ employees. This is what gives them power, since they can define ‘best’ as ‘willing to have sex’ or something like that.

    On the other hand, if there were a large pool of employers to choose from, employees can choose the ‘best’ employers where ‘best’ might mean ‘pretty boss willing to have sex with me’.

    Sexual harassment can cut both ways.

    Furthermore, a frictionless labor market doesn’t seem very good to the economy to me. Nobody would start a business if they knew they would be at the risk of all their employees leaving at a whim, while working for someone else has such large benefits.

  68. Peter says

    Boycotts, sit-ins, marches and so forth were disruptive enough that they caused the federal government to protect the rights that the marchers and sitters-in were demanding. Politely begging for respect and fairness has never had a perceptible effect. A system that depended on sit-ins, boycotts, and similar disruption to enforce good behavior on corporations would degenerate into either a feudal system in which a small number of very wealthy people provided some degree of protection in exchange for services, or REAL class warfare (not trivially increasing taxes on billionaires) that would shut down society entirely. Giving some degree of protection to the individual is beneficial to business because it keeps the anger level tolerable for most people most of the time, at the cost of forcing some sleazy types to find an honest sex worker instead of coercing a low-paid but attractive employee.

  69. Svlad Cjelli says

    Don’t be silly. It’s exactly the same as any other kind of job.

    Indeed, massage and prostitution can’t be separated without high-resolution details.

  70. WRG says

    We receive annual training on SH, and while I think it’s good info I’ve never come away with the impression that SH is a an entirely clear-cut and objective measure (as implemented by my company). It results from my employer’s definition of SH as unwanted attention of a sexual nature. Your employer may have different standards that may be more objective.

  71. Svlad Cjelli says

    The problem is that you extrapolated too far.

    The same action is acceptable from a subject who has the object’s permission, that is to say from a person who is actually wanted.

    You stretch that “actual wantedness” into a vague notion of “statistically based potential wantability”.

  72. Svlad Cjelli says

    Own me? How silly. I am a merchant, and I own your money because I paid for it in sweat, as previously agreed.

  73. Svlad Cjelli says

    This isn’t fully speculative. There are already “star” employees with that power. The situation would simply be that either only these “stars” were available, or that all employees were “stars”.

  74. says

    That depends entirely on a marginal cost/benefit analysis performed by the glorious free market.

    If casting Robin Williams would be more profitable, that means it’s the Right Thing To Do.

  75. raymoscow says

    Let’s cut to the chase. In a completely ‘free’ society, the harassed employee is free to take matters into her own hands and shoot the offending boss and appropriate his (it’s usually a he) shit as compensation. And why bother working if you can do that?

    Just why should we be forced to accept the government’s definition of ‘murder’, anyway?

    [For those who don’t know me, this is sarcasm. I think laws against discrimination and harassment work better than seeking compensation ‘directly’.]

  76. Azkyroth says

    If you actually consider unequal economic power to be a problem and one that should be addressed, then your philosophy is a radical departure from that of every other self-described libertarian I’ve ever encountered (except the “CIVIL libertarians” who refuse to acknowledge that the broader label “libertarian” has basically been hijacked by narcisso-capitalist types), and my criticisms, as noted upthread, may well not apply to your formulation.

  77. Art says

    The way my local resident libertarian explains a lot of this is that ‘In a libertarian system people are free to enter into contracts and those contracts may limit or curtail one or both parties established rights’.

    This idea is, evidently, that if a boss comes up to a woman and gives her the choice ‘give me a blowjob or get fired’ it is a private negotiation of a contract between parties and not subject to government intervention. Being within the ‘business relationship’ he rejects any claim that there is any violence or threat of violence involved. Evidently being fired, going broke, being homeless, and starving to death are not considered violent because economic negotiations are bloodless.

    Interestingly, he claims that if the woman kneed the guy in the testicles, as he so richly deserves, that the state would be obliged to intervene because violence was committed.

    The more I look into this hypothetical libertarian paradise the less I like it.

  78. Eric RoM says

    “Sexual harassment can cut both ways.”

    YEAH, that’s a HUGE problem. /sarcasm

    Damn those sexy underlings PRESSURING their bosses into having sex with them. It’s scandalous. —-IN BIZARRO WORLD.

    3…2…1.. cue the anecdote ‘proving’ it happens.

    Huh, the sarcasm never turned off.

  79. mouthyb says

    I just finished the yearly training, and I find it hard to believe that sexual harassment laws are so obtuse: do not talk about sex at work, don’t make jokes predicated on how stupid gender, ethnic or sexual preference groups are, don’t bring sexualized images to work and don’t discuss your sex life. We are sophisticated human beings in all other respects; in terms of communication, in terms of meaning, in terms of social behaviors. Why should sexual harassment elicit sudden confusion*?

    My beef, as it were, with Libertarians (other than the previously mentioned beefs, which are very important to me), is that Libertarian philosophy implies the need for a working class which does not benefit from the freedoms experienced in the system by the person advocating it. The way the labor market is currently set up (and the way capitalism works) utilizes underpriced labor to set up the foundational goods and services of the system (in this case, imported products using very cheap labor.) It would be virtually impossible to establish a trade, goods and currency system which does not have ranked labor and does not have ranked labor based on social forces outside the market– like gender, ethnicity, sexual preference and conformity to normalized and/or idealized standards for behavior. All a lack of regulation would do, as many people have pointed out, would enshrine those problems and continue to create an unacknowledged class. The form of the market is entirely dependent on the society that market is embedded in, and the refusal to acknowledge this makes Libertarianism dangerous and, in my opinion, popular among those who don’t have reason to understand power discrepancies (eg middle class white men.)

    And that is a bit terrifying.

    *I know the answer, but I think it’s a good question.

  80. satan augustine says

    But “a completely free market” would cure all possible societal ills, dontcha know? I love that the facebooker stated they “believe” in a completely free market. Completely free market = god to Libertarians, which is why I can never accept them as skeptics any more than I can accept UFO “abductees” as skeptics. Some may be atheists, but fiscal Libertarianism is a faith position with with evidence that it works equal to the evidence for any god, i.e., none whatsoever.

  81. Eric RoM says

    It’s like libertarians don’t realize that the state takes the place of all the associations we’d HAVE to form, WOULD form, and would join to protect our rights. We’d form unions, and all those employment contracts they love so much would be thru the unions. You want an employee? You go thru the union. We’d form other associations for other rights, like being safe in our homes and property.

    Governments are just shorthand for all that crap. If they think they got paperwork now, wait til they see all the paperwork when the state withers away.

  82. says

    I wouldn’t say Paul would necessarily be the least evil.

    Paul has convictions that he’d try to stick to. Fucked up, nasty, dangerous convictions.
    Someone like Romney, whose only values seem to be “get elected,” could actually end up being less destructive.

  83. smrnda says

    Yeah, libertarians believe that, effectively, the right to property is absolute because it doesn’t involve coercion – they nicely and neatly define “good” and “bad” so that any government intervention is “bad” because the relationships that we enter into outside or those are “voluntary.”

    The problem is – I can have a say in government, but NO SAY in what my employer does. I wouldn’t want to chance it without sexual harassment, and if this infringes on the “rights” of an employer, I just think that political power should be used to leverage against economic power.

    Libertarianism would effectively replicate feudalism – the wealthy would be like feudal lords, the upper-middle class would be vassals, and everybody else would be a serf and a few folks might be artisans. The problem is that the system doesn’t provide a means for anyone to increase their market value since investing in worker potential isn’t in the interest of the wealthy, who would want to make sure that nobody had much of a chance to get property. They can talk about “voluntary contracts and cooperation” but if people are unequal economically, one side is clearly *more equal* than the other. All libertarianism does is to make property rights absolute, which then means that only people with property have meaningful rights, and since you can’t get property without agreeing to the conditions of a person with property, we have just the same plutocracy we have right now.

  84. smrnda says

    i meant chance it “without sexual harassment laws” – i would like to not have sexual harassment . oops there. typo

  85. smrnda says

    the world changed from the 1950s, but lots of men who have money would love to turn it back into the 1950s if they could, and they would start by reclaiming their “right” as “property owners” and “business owners” to create hostile and unwelcoming environments for female employees.

  86. smrnda says

    I’m not sure if this is the reason you are looking for, but it might be that many men are actually quite sexist and misogynistic, and they feel very threatened by women in the workplace since they are not required to *use some manners* and would like to make sexual harassment legislation seem like some terrible oppression so they can get back to talking about which one of their co-workers or subordinates they would like to *fill in the blank* with while on the clock.

  87. ericblair says

    Whenever I worked for a male boss, I was treated like property or worse. Whenever I eorked for a female boss, I was treated like dirt because all of the female supervisers figured they has something to prove to assert authority over all those males under her high heels. You may call this observation misogynistic if you like, but it’s what happened. If I had a thousand dollars for every time I heard a supervisor preface a proclamantion with the phrase, “It’s not easy being a woman in my position…”, I’d be in that one percent.

  88. Dalillama says

    @eigenperson; 25 and subclauses
    Although I don’t consider myself a Libertarian, I do have a proposal for a near-frictionless labor market. It would be composed of four parts. The first is a single payer healthcare system, and the second is free higher education and trade schooling to the extent of individual need and ability. Both of these exist in most(arguably all) first world countries to some degree and I think don’t need any further elaboration here. The third is a guaranteed minimum income, tied to inflation, probably paid for by a , ensuring that no one was without enough to meet basic needs plus a little (I’d provisionally say somewhere around $25,000 annually in todays money, assuming some mechanism to reduce housing speculation, which is another discussion). The fourth is a principle espoused by Muhammed Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank and family of social businesses, which is that credit(or access to capital) should be considered a human right. In application, I would propose that every adult citizen should have access to a set amount of capital, as a simple grant, to be used to start a small business or pooled with others to start a larger business, and access to greater amounts of capital at nominal interest if the business requires a very large startup input (some kinds of manufacturing, for instance). In combination, that would guarantee that no one who quit their job would be out on the streets, and they could potentially even start their own business if they wanted to. All that being said, I am heartily in favor of sexual harassment laws, and see no reason why they should be removed even if the above scheme were implemented (which I think that it should be).

  89. rjohnston says

    Libertarianism is an ideology devoted to the rights of the individual.

    Libertarians are people devoted to claiming that their ideology is about the rights of the individual. That doesn’t mean their claims are true.

    Libertarianism is about rationalizing greed and bigotry through claims of a nonsensical view of rights based in the patently ridiculous notion that rights can only be violated by the federal government.

  90. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    To equate massage therapists with is to class highly skilled and trained professionals with exploited and desperate women. Go and get an education.

  91. Blue Duck says

    Sexual harrassers know EXACTLY what they’re doing. It is an ugly little power game to the harrasser to boost his (or her) ego by belittling, intimidating and exercising power over their victims. It is rarely the result of some socially clueless noob just looking for a date.

  92. Blue Duck says

    ericblair, you must’ve worked in some pretty craptastic industries and/or regions of the country. I’ve always lived on the west coast of the US, in a variety of jobs (fisheries, financial services, tribal government) and I’ve worked for both men and women – I’ve never been treated as property and only one instance treated as dirt (and there were some complicated politics behind that instance). Granted, various bosses had their own individual quirks, and occasionally witnessed personality frictions between coworkers, but all in all I’ve never had a really unpleasant working environment. For the record, I’m a Native American female.

    However, I have never worked for a major corporation – and maybe mega corporate world is different. I cannot say, never having worked in that setting.

  93. M Groesbeck says

    I’m still not entirely clear on how the Libertarian model of private property doesn’t involve coercion. As far as I can tell, it relies on arguing from wildly ahistorical “state of nature” scenarios and a weird fetishized metaphysical model of what “ownership” means. The earlier libertarian crowd (what now mostly gets called the libertarian-socialist crowd, since it was the anti-authoritarian tendency within socialism) seemed to get this — they recognized that “property” is the set of agreements between people about who gets to use what under what conditions, and like any other social practice it can become abusive and need to be changed.

  94. M Groesbeck says

    …and, in terms of actual coercion — well, that’s the whole point of private property, isn’t it? The force of the state is placed behind an individual’s sole claim to an object or bit of land, meaning that people who would otherwise be inclined to use that object/land are coerced to choose a different course of action.

  95. Azkyroth says

    Are you seriously asserting that all sex workers are “exploited and desperate women?”

    I have been reliably informed of the existence of a number of sex workers to whom none of those three terms apply.

  96. smrnda says

    Um, wouldn’t the paperwork that replaces the government effectively just become the new government?

  97. WRG says

    I’m not disagreeing with you, but based on my experience in a supervisory role I have seen a few instances where it genuinely was a case of “noobness.” 18 year old kid, home-schooled until high school, never had a girlfriend. When he started working for me he tried awkwardly asking a few girls in the office out, and didn’t realize that they were not interested and that they were declining in a very polite and face-saving manner. I took him aside and explained things to him. He learned and the bad behavior stopped. Not every person who does something that could be considered SH is a power tripping monster.

  98. KG says

    I have a simple answer to your problem: stop respecting Michael Shermer and Penn Jillette. FFS – they’re glibertarians!

  99. KG says

    “Libertarian” did not always have a right-wing connotation within my political memory. In the UK, (left) anarchists often described themselves as “libertarian socialists” or even just “libertarians” in the 1970s and maybe later. But a faction of the American right has stolen the word, and it now, probably irrevocably, designates a right-wing position that cannot be made non-right-wing by persuading its advocates that some extra things are rights. This is because it is key to the position that any degree of inequality is acceptable provided it arises from voluntary interactions.

  100. KG says

    Actually, we’ve had real class warfare over the past three decades or so – by the ruling class (the large-scale owners of capital and the system’s senior functionaries) against everyone else. It’s been a highly successful war, too.

  101. WRG says

    I agree that no one’s going to court for a single incident, but I think the intent of the argument was to say that non-legal SH punishments from an employer could be applied unevenly…which seems like a very un-libertarian thing to say. I could see them making a point about the legal system, but usually they’re pretty firmly in the corner of a business’s right to practice however they want.

  102. KG says

    Firing someone is not the same as using force to prevent them from purchasing water, food, etc. That’s nonsense.

    Typical glibertarian claptrap. In many situations, the effect is the same: to deprive a person, and their dependants if any, of a livelihood; so it is not nonsense at all. In the same way, I’ve seen a number of glibertarians defend the right of grain merchants to hoard in times of famine, to push prices up further. No force there, either, in the narrow glibertarian sense of that word; but any decent person would support the right of the hungry to eat over the right of the grain merchant to increased profit.

  103. says

    I think it’s OK to respect someone who is wrong. I have a lot of religious friends who I respect, and they’re good people however deluded.

  104. Yoav says

    Some of Ron Paul’s polices are likely to lead to worker shortage in the long run.
    1. Eliminate all safety and environmental regulations.
    2. Acting in their best financial interest companies slush safety gear and dump their toxic waste into the local waterways.
    3. Increased sickness rate due to pollution and since healthcare availability is also cut, increased death. This effect the middle and lower class more then the rich since
    a. The rich are not stupid enough to dump toxic waste where they live.
    b. The rich can afford healthcare.
    4. increased number of accidents due to lack of safety equipment produce job openings that are competed over by a constantly decreasing number of survivors.

  105. smurfy says

    You made his point.

    A big part of late teens and early 20’s is figuring out not just how to relate to the opposite sex but how you relate to the opposite sex.

  106. JM says

    Dan is right; he should have rethought sexual harassment by 2007. But, in 1987, support for fighting sexual harassment in the workplace was still just getting started. I remember dealing with a case in ~1989 with the help of my rather progressive department head. And there really wasn’t much awareness before the 1980s except for feminists and their friends.

  107. amhovgaard says

    I’m Norwegian. We have your 1.-3.* but not access to credit for everyone. I wouldn’t say we have a completely frictionless labor market, but compared to the US it’s pretty close. I don’t know if that’s the reason, but sexual harassment does not seem to be as much of a problem here as in the US. There are cases, but not many – and it’s not normally something women worry about unless they are in certain extremely male-dominated jobs e.g. the military.

    *Comparing the social safety net in Norway and the US is a bit like comparing the US with… Somalia. Or Haiti maybe. Sorry. And there is very little unemployment. If you are healthy and have 1. a minimum of social skills and 2. the necessary cognitive ability to finish high school or learn a trade, you’ll get a job – and if you are fired, you are unlikely to stay unemployed for long. And if you do, you still won’t starve.

  108. Patrick says

    Libertarianism is the idea that those with power will execute their power in their own best interest if they have no oversight.

    Please find me one Libertarian who agrees with this characterization.

    Then realize you can’t, and that if you can’t find a way of characterising your opponent that both you and your opponent agree is accurate, then you have fundamentally misrepresented their argument.

    Well, because who doesn’t like to do that.

    I mean, like anti-abortion people who like to say pro-choice people don’t care about murdering babies. Or like pro-choice people who say anti-abortion people just want to control women.

    You know, find the way to characterize your opponents so you can reduce them to crass caricatures that aren’t even worthy of serious debate (but who may just be worthy of mild derision and ridicule so you can assure yourself of your intellectual superiority and value as a human being).

    That way you don’t ever have to properly challenge your own beliefs. I mean they’re so obviously correct, what would be the point?

  109. Patrick says

    The problem is – I can have a say in government, but NO SAY in what my employer does. I wouldn’t want to chance it without sexual harassment, and if this infringes on the “rights” of an employer, I just think that political power should be used to leverage against economic power.

    You don’t need a say in what your employer does (as long as they’re not hurting anyone), just like your local church doesn’t need a say in how you run your atheist meet up (as long as you’re not hurting anyone else), just like you don’t need a say in how your local church is run (as long as they’re not hurting anyone else.

    That is the libertarian ideal. Non Aggression principle. You don’t force other people to do things they don’t want and they don’t force you to do things you don’t want.

    There are of course issues in how this is put into practise based on what is consider “hurting” someone else. Many progressives taking the approach that if you need money then all bets are off when it comes to consent, which is a complex issue which requires a lot of discussion to drill into with any depth. However it seems most people in this thread have seem to taken the tact of ignoring these issues and rather than trying to view beliefs different to their own with detail and subtlety, simply reduce them to the worst possible assumed motives, and that rather than Libertarians having different ideas of what should be rights and what are harms, that they just don’t care about those rights and don’t care about harming people.

    Though as a hateful, greedy, self centred libertarian, I may be confused on this point, since when I look at my Libertarians Guidebook there seems to be only two points. 1. Fuck poor people. 2. Fuck anyone else who isn’t me.

    Well, that clears things up. It will certainly be a lot easier to insultingly dismiss that political philosophy now that I’m assured its based solely on the most base personal interests possible. I guess that would be almost as intellectually brazen as if I suggested that all socialists only believed in welfare simply because they were greedy and lazy and wanted to make sure they could get paid without having to work.

    When you see a thread full of Republicans/Christians telling each other what progressives/Atheists believe, remember the blatant mis-characterizations they make, and the clumsy caricaturing and attacks on character, and then imagine what it might feel like as a Libertarian to see a thread full of progressives telling each other what Libertarians believe and how callous and hateful and greedy and selfish those people are. Though I’m sure its only every person with a political philosophy different to yours that is capable of making such mischaracterizations.

  110. E.A. Blair says

    That is the libertarian ideal. Non Aggression principle. You don’t force other people to do things they don’t want and they don’t force you to do things you don’t want.

    So tell me – how does a bunch of nicety-nice Libertarians enforce “Non Agression”? How do you deal with people who, individually or in groups, want to force other people to do what they don’t want? How, for instance, would you control a theocrat with power such as a (Ceiling Cat forbid) President Santorum? Every argument I hear or read in favor of Libertatianism always depends on more altruism than humanity has demonstrated a capacity for. Can you show that it will work without the rose-colored glasses?

  111. says

    Along with the whole thing that seems to be developing throughout this particular area, all your perspectives tend to be very exciting. On the other hand, I beg your pardon, but I do not subscribe to your entire idea, all be it exhilarating none the less. It looks to everyone that your comments are generally not totally validated and in reality you are yourself not really thoroughly confident of the point. In any event I did enjoy reading it.

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