Skepticism

Afternoon Inquisition 8.31

To bring this back to the spirited discussion that Sam started this series with, I’d like to ask a question that I posed in the comments:

Can a libertarian be a skeptic?*

OK, that’s a loaded question. What I really mean is how can skeptics, who look at the same evidence, come to so many different conclusions about politics?

My initial thoughts are below the fold.

*I personally think the libertarian position is ludicrous. I’m all for personal freedom, but I think corporations need to be controlled and nothing but a government has enough power to do that. I also think that many things, such as providing education and healthcare, building a national highway system, supporting the arts, and so forth require the cooperation of society and that cooperation is coordinated through government. Some things should belong to everyone and�privatizing�them takes them way from the public, to whom they should be long, and by whom they should be created and maintained collectively.

writerdd

Donna Druchunas is a freelance technical writer and editor and a knitwear designer. When she's not working, she blogs, studies Lithuanian, reads science and sci-fi books, mouths off on atheist forums, and checks her email every three minutes. (She does that when she's working, too.) Although she loves to chat, she can't keep an IM program open or she'd never get anything else done.

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272 Comments

  1. I think a good skeptic can be whatever political affiliation they want to be — mostly because what passes for politics these days is mostly based on emotions and opinions, two realms where logic need not apply. Additionally, a person can consider themselves affiliated with one party, and not actually hold the values of that party (or the supposed values, etc). In a way, the various parties are kind of false constructs from the get-go.

    Skeptics are still human, after all.

  2. Forgot to add — the trick is to be skeptical of whichever party you’re in, and skeptical of your own thought process. If EVERYone in EVERY party approached things that way, politics would steer a little bit away from the realm of the emotional gut reaction and the arbitrary opinion.

  3. The reason I think is that many political decisions involve value judgments. That makes them less amenable to rational argument.

    As an example, how would you defend having the government coerce me to fund the arts?

    Now this isn’t to say that coercion isn’t sometimes necessary. I would agree to funding health care in some cases is the responsible thing to do. We should certainly also provide for a common defense.

  4. While skeptics should use reason and evidence to inform their opinions, that doesn’t necessarily make their political affiliations a foregone conclusion. It’s certainly possible for reasonable, rational people to disagree on matters of value judgment.

    That said, I do find it interesting that skeptics are almost always either libertarian or liberal, and almost never conservative or authoritarian.

    Also, I predict that this thread is going to get very ugly, very fast. Perhaps in the time it took me to write this, it already has.

  5. I’m never sure exactly what the libertarian position is, but I think a strict defense of individual rights is about the most “skeptically compatible” position I can imagine. The difference between the libertarian position and a strict defense of individual rights may be why I’m a Democrat.

    On the other hand, this recap of the 1967 “Third Wave” Experiment, reminds me way too much of much of the state of conversations and dialogue that I see in so many political blogs. Name calling, ad hominem attack, speech and thought policing, ritual stonings. All very unskeptical behaviors.

    And since I mainly explore liberal blogs, I see way too much of this very unskeptical nonsense at our big liberal blogs.

  6. We all reach different conclusions about how we should live together because politics is not an exact science, and because different people have different morals and opinions. Ultimately, political opinions are just the projection of our morals.

    For example, communists argue that a society can only be just if all people are made equal. On the other hand, an anarchist will argue that only the complete absence of government is truly moral – because governments have to use force in order to achieve their goals, and they reject every sort of force as immoral.

    I don’t understand why you would think libertarianism and skepticism are incompatible. Being a libertarian means believing in a certain set of axioms, for example that every person is fully entitled to their body – therefore, they derive, it is wrong to outlaw drugs, because that would restrict the individual in what he can do with his body.

    A skeptic is someone who questions claims and subjects them to systematic investigation in order to prove or disprove them. But politics is not a matter of proof – you can’t argue that the libertarian point of view is wrong. You can only argue that you do not agree with it, because you do not think it is moral, or because you think it would lead to bad things.

    Like, for example, a conservative would argue that people are not fully entitled to their bodies, because they could harm themselves and need to be protected. And because, they argue, if we legalize drugs, it would ultimately lead to disaster.

    But, again, it’s all a matter of opinion. So yes, a libertarian can definitely be a skeptic, because politics are based on morals – and morals can not be proven or disproven.

  7. Do you mean “libertarian” or “Libertarian”? I’m a moderate lower-case-l libertarian because my initial bias for any activity is that individuals should be allowed to do it and governments should not be allowed to do it. If you want to restrict individuals, or expand government power, then you have a fairly high burden of proof.

    This is simply skepticism applied to attempts to limit individual freedom. (And anytime the government acts, there is necessarily some loss of freedom, even if the loss is only that people are _required_ to help fund that activity. So if you’re skeptical of limiting individual freedom, you are automatically obliged to be skeptical of all increases in government.)

    I’m a _moderate lower-case-l_ libertarian because I think there are many cases where that fairly high burden of proof is indeed met. (For example, I support many government environmental regulations enthusiastically because free markets don’t automatically include environmental costs in the purchase price of a product. Wise government regulation forces the free market to include that cost. Burden of proof met.) But I find the upper-case-L Libertarians laughably silly because they make that burden of proof almost infinitely high, not fairly high. It’s a radicalized and sometimes even cultish exaggeration of a philosophy that’s excellent if you keep it moderate.

    And as P.J. O’Rourke observed, if you attend a meeting of Libertarians, you get trapped in a corner for three hours by a junior-high math teacher speaking earnestly about his plan to privatize the sidewalks.

  8. “I’m all for personal freedom, but I think corporations need to be controlled and nothing but a government has enough power to do that.”

    Actually, government is the only way corporations EXIST. Without corporatism (a subtle form of fascism), you just have businesses who can only get your money by convincing you to give it to them voluntarily.

    According to the Non-Initiation Of Force principle (the basis of Libertarianism), the job of government is to protect people from force or fraud–whether it’s by other people or by businesses. Corporatism gives them protection from what would otherwise be illegal activity, and NOT permitted in a Libertarian society.

    “I also think that many things, such as providing education and healthcare,”

    We only started having problems in education and health care when government started interfering. I’d like someone to explain to me why you can take a problem created by government intervention and solve it with MORE government intervention!

    “building a national highway system,”

    More extreme Libertarians would privatize all of the highways (and there are plenty of examples of private highways working much better than government highways), but a Constitutional Libertarian recognizes that roads are a proper enumerated power of the Constitution.

    “supporting the arts,”

    The thing about the free market is, it gives people what they want. If people want the arts, we’ll have the arts. You don’t even need a big segment of the population to make it happen–but you DO with government, and there you also have the disadvantage of taking hard-earned money from people by force to pay for it.

    “and so forth require the cooperation of society and that cooperation is coordinated through government.”

    Here, I think people fall into the same mental trap as the creationists: they assume that a desired complex system must be imposed from the top-down, and cannot evolve from the bottom-up. But government is not cooperation; it is force, in every single thing it does. But the free market is true cooperation, from people who don’t even realize that they’re cooperating! To see why, Google the excellent essay “I, Pencil.”

    “Some things should belong to everyone”

    If they belong to everyone, they belong to no one, and disaster strikes. That’s the Tragedy of the Commons.

  9. I couldn’t disagree with this more. The idea that controlling through authority is the way to get people to behave is more than ludicrous – it’s dangerous. For example, evolution is not correct just because some important thinkers believe it is so, but because the evidence points to it. The same is true for everything from race relations to involvement in disputes between sovereign nations.

    I think this question stems largely from an ignorance into what libertarianism is. Libertarianism is not anarchy. For example, a libertarian would not have the government step in to legislate tobacco companies, homeopathy, etc. as long as they do not lie or hide important information. If a tobacco company says, “hey, this will probably give you cancer,” then a libertarian will not raise a stink. However, if the tobacco company says, “This will cure cancer,” then the libertarian believes the government needs to get involved. If they do not, they are not libertarian, but an anarchist who does not want any government involvement.

    Libertarianism is essentially the belief that the government’s job is to protect people from others, but not themselves.

  10. Cedric:

    “We all reach different conclusions about how we should live together because politics is not an exact science, and because different people have different morals and opinions. Ultimately, political opinions are just the projection of our morals.”

    Well, and also because the special interests gravitate towards the power. If you give the government the power to do something, no matter how noble and well-intentioned, the special interests will jump all over it and in very short order it won’t recognize what you were intending. As libertarian activist Michael Cloud said, “The problem is not the abuse of power, it’s the power to abuse.”

    “So yes, a libertarian can definitely be a skeptic, because politics are based on morals – and morals can not be proven or disproven.”

    But the effects of government CAN. By any objective measurement, Prohibition–including the War on Drugs–can be shown objectively to not even move in the direction of any of its goals while increasing crime, police corruption, and other serious problems:

    http://www.veoh.com/videos/v16971094YbS3bwy

  11. Wait… the problems with education only started when the government got involved? Because the system before that, where only the very wealthy had any education at all, is preferable?

    See, that’s the logical end state of a truly free-market. Sooner or later, pretty much everything stands in the hands of a very, very small minority. The free market is feudalism. All you have to do is start winning a little, then buy the pot every hand.

    The only way to stop it or rectify it is by force. Either the relatively small force of law, or the highly unpleasant force of a peasant uprising.

    I’m not a big fan of a powerful government in most arenas, but sometimes, it is required.

  12. ekimbrough:

    “For example, I support many government environmental regulations enthusiastically because free markets don’t automatically include environmental costs in the purchase price of a product.”

    Maybe not automatically, but if people are concerned about environmental factors they’ll make the decision in the products they purchase, forcing the businesses to cater to them. Dolphin-safe tuna is an excellent example.

    But if you look at, for example, the Clean Air Act, you just see more of the corporatism I mentioned above. The big corporations lobbied for the Clean Air Act because they knew they could absorb the cost of compliance better than their smaller competitors and start-ups (this is true of ALL regulations). Not only that, they managed to get a grandfather clause added. The result is, existing factories could be maintained still belching all their crap into the air while competition was stifled. Competition is one way of doing this, and of course newer factories will naturally be cleaner and more efficient. So any benefit from the Clean Air Act (which appears to be marginal at best) has to be weighed against these hidden costs; not to do so is a Broken Window Fallacy.

    “Wise government regulation forces the free market to include that cost.”

    WISE government regulation, maybe. But one thing government regulations tend NOT to be is wise. And if they are, they don’t stay that way for long.

    “But I find the upper-case-L Libertarians laughably silly because they make that burden of proof almost infinitely high, not fairly high.”

    No, we don’t; it’s the NIOF principle. A good and clear place to draw the line. You could even justify some environmental regulations this way, as polluting the air could be considered a form of force.

    “And as P.J. O’Rourke observed, if you attend a meeting of Libertarians, you get trapped in a corner for three hours by a junior-high math teacher speaking earnestly about his plan to privatize the sidewalks.”

    That is, if you’re lucky enough not to get cornered by a 9/11-truther first. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s far from the case that all Libertarians are rational. But you can find people like that among liberals and conservatives, too. But it’s a big tent, and there’s a large continuum between the ultimate anarchist and Bob Barr.

  13. “Because the system before that, where only the very wealthy had any education at all, is preferable?”

    Before government education, we had universal literacy among men and near-universal literacy among women. The only exception was the slave and former slave population.

    “See, that’s the logical end state of a truly free-market. Sooner or later, pretty much everything stands in the hands of a very, very small minority.”

    That is laughably ridiculous–history has confirmed that, if anything, the free market causes everything to be spread out BEYOND the small minority. It’s government, with its pandering to special interests, that creates the oligarchy. Whenever you find a concentration of power, you can be sure government’s involved somehow.

    “The free market is feudalism. All you have to do is start winning a little, then buy the pot every hand.”

    Uh, no, it’s not. You’re operating from the misconception that it’s a zero-sum game. In reality, EVERY economic transaction, if it’s voluntary, increases wealth for BOTH sides.

    “I’m not a big fan of a powerful government in most arenas, but sometimes, it is required.”

    Libertarianism != anarchism. Yes, government is required in cases of force or fraud. NIOF principle again.

  14. Maybe not automatically, but if people are concerned about environmental factors they’ll make the decision in the products they purchase, forcing the businesses to cater to them.

    …and if enough people just don’t care, the rest of us get boned.

  15. Shanek, I completely agree. As a libertarian myself, I think it is obvious that the War on Drugs needs to be stopped. But politics is not mainly based on our observations. I think if it were, more people would be libertarians ;-)

    My point was that I think by definition, our underlying morals cannot be incompatible with being a skeptic. Being a skeptic just changes how one judges various claims, not what one thinks is just or unjust.

  16. “Rystefn”

    “…and if enough people just don’t care, the rest of us get boned.”

    I really don’t know where you get this crap from. The market to caters to what people CARE for, and it doesn’t matter how many of the rest DON’T care for it.

    As long as there are some people who want breakfast cereal there will BE breakfast cereal regardless of how many people don’t care for it! You only need the tiniest minority to affect a change in the free market; it ain’t so easy with government.

  17. I would also argue that a certain amount of environmental protection is needed. For example, I would say that my right to clean air overrules other peoples rights to pollute the air. The question is how do we as a society decide which rights take precedence over others?

  18. Before government education, we had universal literacy among men and near-universal literacy among women. The only exception was the slave and former slave population.

    Really? Universal literacy? In the Dark Ages? No. During the Renaissance? No. During the Enlightenment? No. During the Classical Era? No. I call bullshit.

    That is laughably ridiculous–history has confirmed that, if anything, the free market causes everything to be spread out BEYOND the small minority.

    History does no such thing.

    Whenever you find a concentration of power, you can be sure government’s involved somehow.

    Tautology. Any concentration of power is, by definition, government.

    In reality, EVERY economic transaction, if it’s voluntary, increases wealth for BOTH sides.

    No. It doesn’t. Ideally, it would, but in reality, one side or the other usually has a better bargaining position. If that side is smart, it gets a better deal, which gives a better bargaining position for the next deal, allowing it to get an even better deal, which gives more leverage for the next deal… That’s the real world.

    Chasing a Utopian pipe-dream only allows for someone clever to take advantage and walk away with everything. Libertarianism work about as well as communism. It might look good on paper, but it just refuses to function in the real world.

  19. The market to caters to what people CARE for, and it doesn’t matter how many of the rest DON’T care for it.

    So you’re saying a tiny minority who wants, for example, green products, can save the world if everyone else wants cheap gas? No. If the majority don’t care about the long-term, then the people who do care don’t have enough buying power to affect major change, and the planet is reduced to an inhospitable wasteland.

  20. Rystefn:

    “Really? Universal literacy? In the Dark Ages? No. During the Renaissance? No…”

    Here we go, people, the BS starts, where he starts bringing in times which were in NO way Libertarian and which I NEVER mentioned.

    From the founding of our country and several decades beyond, the literacy rate was the highest it’s EVER been in the history of our country. When they say that the people read Common Sense, they MEAN the people read Common Sense!

    From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_education_in_the_United_States

    “Data from the indentured servant contracts of German immigrant children in Pennsylvania from 1771-1817 showed that the number of children receiving education increased from 33.3% in 1771-1773 to 69% in 1787-1804. Additionally, the same data showed that the ratio of school education versus home education rose from .25 in 1771-1773 to 1.68 in 1787-1804.[5] The increase in the number of children being educated, and the fact that more students were being educated in school rather than at home, could help explain how near-universal literacy was achieved by 1840.”

    “History does no such thing. ”

    Oh, really? Look on ANY shelf on ANY store; tell me how many people purchase ALL of those products?

    “Tautology. Any concentration of power is, by definition, government.”

    No, it isn’t. A criminal gang, for example, is a concentration of power. Or are you telling me the Mafia has no power?

    “Ideally, it would, but in reality, one side or the other usually has a better bargaining position.”

    Irrelevant to the point. If the transaction is voluntary, then even the side with the worse position STILL increases wealth, or else he wouldn’t engage in the transaction! It might not be as much as he would if things were reversed, but that hardly negates the point!

    Do you even THINK about things before you write them? So far, everything you say can be rebutted just by looking around and putting some basic thought into it!

    “Chasing a Utopian pipe-dream”

    Poisoning The Well Fallacy. No one’s saying it’s utopia. In fact, in many ways utopia is the antithesis of libertarianism!

    “It might look good on paper, but it just refuses to function in the real world.”

    Cite one real-world scenario to support this point.

    “So you’re saying a tiny minority who wants, for example, green products, can save the world if everyone else wants cheap gas?”

    Yes. Making things cheaper is no problem for the free market, and as long as you have the few greenies to be the “early adopters,” today’s expensive alternative will be tomorrow’s cheap standard.

    “and the planet is reduced to an inhospitable wasteland.”

    Argument from Adverse Consequences. You’re really racking up the fallacies, aren’t you? Why are libertarians being singled out as irrational?

  21. I’m a plain jane Democratic Capitalist, though if I were to improve the current system in any way I would enhance our system of meritocratic selection of gifted students and I would award collective share-based ownership of each state’s natural resources to the citizens of that state, to the end that if any corporation wishes to exploit those resources they must pay out a percentage of their profits to that state’s citizenry in the form of monthly stipends. This system is identical to the one currently in place in Alaska, and it goes a long way towards fighting poverty.

  22. Here we go, people, the BS starts, where he starts bringing in times which were in NO way Libertarian and which I NEVER mentioned.

    You said before. Before the government got involved. Are you denying the Dark Ages happened before 1771? If you want to talk about a specific era, then damned-well spell it out when you bring it up, don’t pretend I’m wrong I point out a gaping hole in your argument. Close it your own self, that’s not my responsibility. As far the no way libertarian – you’re wrong. The privatization of education has been one of the major points repeatedly brought up by libertarians, and specifically mentioned by you. During the Dark Ages, education was private, and only the very wealthy got any. In fact, the same can be said for pretty much the whole of history until very recently. As a historical generalization, privatized education correlates positively with education being solely in the hands of the elite.

    Oh, really? Look on ANY shelf on ANY store; tell me how many people purchase ALL of those products?

    Almost no one. However, I must find myself asking what the relevance of the question is here… How can the number of people who purchase “ALL of those products” possibly relate to historical proof that free markets distribute power broadly? Does having one bag of each of ten kinds of Doritos equate to power in your mind?

    No, it isn’t. A criminal gang, for example, is a concentration of power. Or are you telling me the Mafia has no power?

    Not remotely. I’m telling you that it’s a form of government.

    Irrelevant to the point. If the transaction is voluntary, then even the side with the worse position STILL increases wealth, or else he wouldn’t engage in the transaction!

    That’s a nice pipe-dream you’ve got there, but if the choice is decreasing welath of watching your children starve, which do you choose? Or maybe you’re going from a braoder definition fo wealth than I am… What definition of wealth are you applying here?

    So far, everything you say can be rebutted just by looking around and putting some basic thought into it!

    …and yet, none of your rebuttals hold water. Feel free to try again, though. Maybe if you type more words in all caps you can convince me.

    No one’s saying it’s utopia. In fact, in many ways utopia is the antithesis of libertarianism!

    OK, let’s try this again. I was using the word Utopian in the common parlance, not in the literary sense. Imagine I said “idealistic pipe-dream” and try again.

    Cite one real-world scenario to support this point.

    Of communism failing to work? Seriously?

    Making things cheaper is no problem for the free market, and as long as you have the few greenies to be the “early adopters,” today’s expensive alternative will be tomorrow’s cheap standard.

    Only if enough “greenies” are out there to make it profitable. Sure, they exist in the world we live in now (maybe), but we’re talking hypotheticals. We’re also working on a time-scale here. There have to be enough people who care; those people must be able to afford the more expensive alternatives; they must have enough money to throw around to inspire a global change in practice through market forces alone, and they have to it fast enough that we either manage to right the planet or get the Hell off of it before we’re boned.

    That’s a Hell of a lot of places for something to go wrong, and a Hell of a lot of lives lost if it does. Thanks, but no. I’ll take the properly applied use of force to protect everyone from the stupidity of the many… especially when the poor can’t afford the education required to know that things are even starting to go wrong in the first place.

    Argument from Adverse Consequences

    Only a fallacy if we’re talking about something other than the consequences. We’re not. There’s no other argument in all of politics, Pot.

    That’s right, I called you Pot. Call me black all you like, but it won’t change that the entirety of your opposition to the War on Drugs is Argument from Adverse Consequences, will it?

  23. It seemsto me that the problem with both Libertarianism and Communism is that supporters are unrealistic about actual human behavior – Libertarianism is great as long as everyone is righteous and capable, and communism SOUNDS nice until you factor in the part where most people are lazy and SOMEONE has to lead, so it is inherently unequal (kind of like how I am not equal to a retarded person or genius or bodybuilder or homeless shizoid).

    I think that “Idiocracy” kind of shows what might happen if Libertarianism were to kick in. I don’t know. I just don’t trust people enough to allow them as much freedom as Libertarians seem to want to grant to everyone. Would there be laws about age of consent? Animal abuse? Vandalism? Labeling food and drugs?

    I’m not saying the current government system is perfect, but it’s better than a lot of things that, well, I guess the things I’m thinking of are closer to Anarchy..

    Seem Denmark kinda has things figured out.

    anyway,

  24. Why are libertarians being singled out as irrational?

    Don’t know. Maybe because we find ourselves surrounded by otherwise reasonable people who sit around denying human nature.

    For me, it’s because I dislike being told “If you can’t afford healthcare, your child deserves to die.”

  25. “Making things cheaper is no problem for the free market, and as long as you have the few greenies to be the “early adopters,” today’s expensive alternative will be tomorrow’s cheap standard.”

    WHAT?!?!?

    Therehave been a “few ….early adopters” since the freaking ’60’s, and the only way that being green reached a critical mass was when it pinched significantly on our pocketbooks. It’s not about early adopters paving the way, it’s about people suddenly being strapped for cash. Most people are lazy, selfish schmucks who don’t think about anything (or time) farther than they themselves can see.

  26. @24, Rys, exactly. The first thing I think of when Libs start talking is “and what will become of the inner cities and rural backwoods when there is no such thing as welfare and CPS?” Not a pretty picture.

  27. Zamboro:

    “I would award collective share-based ownership of each state’s natural resources to the citizens of that state, to the end that if any corporation wishes to exploit those resources they must pay out a percentage of their profits to that state’s citizenry in the form of monthly stipends.”

    What do you mean by resources? If you mean things like air and water, not normally considered to be divisible into private property, then you’re describing something similar to what happens in the UK with the Angler’s Conservation Association: http://www.a-c-a.org

    They’re a non-profit organization which sues companies that pollute waterways on behalf of the property owners. Check it out–it seems like a system that works very well, and is similar to what I think you’re talking about.

  28. Rystefn:

    “You said before. Before the government got involved. Are you denying the Dark Ages happened before 1771? If you want to talk about a specific era, then damned-well spell it out when you bring it up,”

    YOU brought it up!!! YOU said “the system before that,” meaning the system before our current one. You didn’t say the “systems” (plural) before that, or everything before that. YOU said SPECIFICALLY the system we had in this country before government education. And THAT is what I was referring to.

    Maybe you should learn how to pay attention to the thread of a conversation.

    “During the Dark Ages, education was private,”

    Are you HIGH??? In the Dark Ages, information was REPRESSED by the government/church! They used FORCE to prevent people from gaining knowledge!

    “As a historical generalization, privatized education correlates positively with education being solely in the hands of the elite.”

    Really? That isn’t how it works out in Belgium, with their money-follows-the-child policy. It’s not solely private, they have government education, but it’s just as easy for anyone to send their children to private education. This opens up competition, busting the government monopoly and using market forces to improve education. The Libertarians are the ONLY ones in this country advocating such a policy; everyone else fights it tooth and nail–ESPECIALLY the liberals! Now, answer me that!

    “Almost no one. However, I must find myself asking what the relevance of the question is here… How can the number of people who purchase “ALL of those products” possibly relate to historical proof that free markets distribute power broadly?”

    THINK about it! If what you say were true, it would all be about the elite. But it’s not. Any given product on a shelf will only be purchased by a small minority of the population. There are so MANY products that cater to the needs of all sorts of minorities across our diverse population! How on EARTH could you call that a concentration of power???

    “Does having one bag of each of ten kinds of Doritos equate to power in your mind?”

    Having the CHOICE of all those Doritos, and Lays, and Pringle’s, etc., DOES give me power.

    “Not remotely. I’m telling you that it’s a form of government.”

    The Mafia’s a form of government??? Ohh-kay…if you’re going to redefine terms, you might at least clarify when you bring it up. I don’t know of ANYONE else who would consider the Mafia a government.

    “That’s a nice pipe-dream you’ve got there,”

    Poisoning the Well again. It’s not a pipe-dream–it’s pure logic!

    “but if the choice is decreasing welath of watching your children starve, which do you choose?”

    This very sentence shows how you aren’t thinking. Aren’t you wealthier if your children don’t starve, as opposed to if they do?

    “What definition of wealth are you applying here?”

    The one used by economics, duh.

    “…and yet, none of your rebuttals hold water.”

    Then how come you’re unable to refute them with real examples, and only use logical fallacies?

    “Of communism failing to work? Seriously?”

    YOU said, “Libertarianism work about as well as communism. It might look good on paper, but it just refuses to function in the real world.” LIBERTARIANISM is your subject. I want an example of LIBERTARIANISM failing to work.

    You really have trouble following the thread of a conversation, don’t you?

    “Only if enough “greenies” are out there to make it profitable.”

    Looks like there are plenty out there to me. If there’s enough to make a change in Washington, there’s MORE than enough to make a change in the free market!

    “There have to be enough people who care; those people must be able to afford the more expensive alternatives;”

    No, just SOME of them have to afford it. Progress will do the rest. Look at DVD players when they first came out: you had to be rich to own one, but now any poor person can get one. That’s NOT because of government subsidies!

    “Only a fallacy if we’re talking about something other than the consequences.”

    You’re using non-specific scare tactics, and making NO effort to link it to Libertarianism. You basically say, “Libertarianism means the sky is falling!” That’s Argument from Adverse Consequences.

    “Call me black all you like, but it won’t change that the entirety of your opposition to the War on Drugs is Argument from Adverse Consequences, will it?”

    No, it ISN’T. Did you WATCH the video I posted? I use logic and scientific data to make my point, as well as the real-world experiences of cops on the beat. I mention SPECIFIC consequences, and I show how the War on Drugs leads to them. That’s different from your Chicken Little garbage!

    Change the subject to terrorism and you’ll sound just like George W. Bush! Historically, scare tactics have ALWAYS been used as an excuse to grab power and reduce liberty.

    H.L. Mencken said, “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” The only thing he got wrong is that they don’t have to be imaginary, only the scope of the threat they pose.

  29. whitebird:

    “It seemsto me that the problem with both Libertarianism and Communism is that supporters are unrealistic about actual human behavior”

    Uh, no, in fact, we’re the only ones who actually DO have a realistic view of human behavior–especially when those humans get into power!

    “Would there be laws about age of consent?”

    We have problems with age of consent because it’s arbitrary and prone to abuse. There’s already the concept of “capacity” in the legal system; we can just apply that. If you want an age of consent, fine: let’s make it a presumption. Over 18 (or whatever), you’re presumed to have capacity unless shown otherwise (this is how it is now); under 18 you’re presumed not to have capacity unless shown otherwise (NOT the way it is now, with the exception of trying children as adults for the purpose of taking their liberty).

    “Animal abuse?”

    If you abuse someone else’s animal, they absolutely have cause to take legal action against you. If someone abuses their own animal, then rescue the animal. If they charge you with theft, tell the jury your story. If they accept that abuse took place, they’ll acquit you.

    “Vandalism?”

    Property damage. Perfectly actionable under Libertarianism.

    “Labeling food and drugs?

    Laws against wrongly labeling food and drugs, yes. Otherwise, free market. Preferably certification methods such as UL.

    This doesn’t have to be “get rid of the current system and hope;” the current FDA, USDA, and others can be converted to UL-like organizations. UL works incredibly well; why wouldn’t they?

    “Seem Denmark kinda has things figured out.”

    Denmark’s smaller, more homogeneous, and actually has a lot of problems of its own.

  30. Rystefn:

    “For me, it’s because I dislike being told “If you can’t afford healthcare, your child deserves to die.””

    Wow, hmm…Poisoning the Well, Argument from Adverse Consequences, Weasel Words, and possibly even libel!

    NO LIBERTARIAN SAYS THIS. In fact, the data show that it would be EASIER for your child to get medical attention with free market health care! Our health care system got worse and worse after the government started meddling in it. Example: everyone complains about HMOs, but seems to have forgotten that HMOs are a CREATION of government as a means of “fixing” health care!

    And in countries with socialized medicine, you have an average FOUR MONTH wait for surgery! That’s why a lot of Canadians are having to come HERE for life-saving procedures!

  31. “Therehave been a “few ….early adopters” since the freaking ’60’s,”

    Yeah, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we haven’t exactly had a free market since then. I love how people look at an area rife with problems from socialism and corporatism and call it a problem with libertarianism!

    “The first thing I think of when Libs start talking is “and what will become of the inner cities and rural backwoods when there is no such thing as welfare and CPS?” Not a pretty picture.”

    Why don’t you try ASKING A LIBERTARIAN before you start painting pictures with your own biases?

    The biggest problem facing the inner cities is the War on Drugs. You already know our policy on that.

    The ultimate solution, of course, is economy. Once crime goes down, you’ll automatically see more of this since the lower crime rate will begin to attract businesses. But that’s not really what they need.

    What they need is local economy and small businesses, which can happen automatically if you just get government out of the way. People go on and on about the benefits of licensing, but it’s just corporatism to keep out competition. There are tons of examples of poor, even homeless, blacks in inner cities setting up shop; bead-braiding seems to be a popular one. The minute they start to make money, the cops come in because they don’t have a license. They have to take 4,000 hours of lessons (which they can’t afford) to get a license, and won’t learn ANYTHING about African bead-braiding in the process (one young woman who actually managed to go through this ended up teaching it to her fellow students). So all these would-be entrepeneurs are shut down, and they can’t create wealth for themselves and for the community around them.

    You can read about a lot of things like this in the book “Healing Our World” by Dr. Mary Ruwart. The first edition is available on her website for free. Chapters 3 and 4 cover what I’m talking about:

    http://ruwart.com/Healing/chap3.html
    http://ruwart.com/Healing/chap4.html

  32. No. Especially if they believe the nonsense spouted by Libertarian Party “intellectuals” like Shanek and nutjobs Michael Badnarik.

    It looks like after only a few posts, Shanek is already on the verge of having one of his comical ALL CAPITALIZED HISSY FITS. Typical.

  33. YOU brought it up!!!

    I did!!one!eleven

    Never said that I didn’t. I also never said “SPECIFICALLY” the system we had in this country before government education. In fact, I didn’t say “SPECIFICALLY” anything at all at that point. I’m terribly sorry that your specific assumptions were incorrect, but declaring that I “SPECIFICALLY” said something I didn’t only makes you look like a douche.

    What I did say, however, was that you said before. Which you did. Do you deny it? I think you won’t. So the question remains – do you think the Dark Ages didn’t happen before 1771?

    Maybe you should learn how to pay attention to the thread of a conversation.

    Maybe you should learn that your assumptions and inferences are not necessarily facts.

    In the Dark Ages, information was REPRESSED by the government/church! They used FORCE to prevent people from gaining knowledge!

    Correct. Part of that force and oppression was monetary. Education could only be gained by handing over large sums of money to the people who had the information. If you couldn’t afford the price they wanted, you do without. If the people didn’t like that information was being destroyed instead of spread around, they should have applied economic pressures, right? I mean, if that’s what the people want, the market will provide, right?

    Really? That isn’t how it works out in Belgium

    What part of “as a historical generalization” did you fail to grasp? There will always be specific individual examples that fall outside the generalization. As a generalization, adult males in America fall between 5’6″ and 6′ in height. Is this false because I’m an adult male in America standing 6’4″? Not remotely.

    Now, answer me that!

    Answer what? Nowhere in that rant was a question.

    If what you say were true, it would all be about the elite.

    Since I’m talking about a nonexistent free-market, any counterexamples in the real world fail. They exist outside of the framework to which I refer. Regardless, I will go ahead and counter you postulate anyway.

    Any given product on a shelf will only be purchased by a small minority of the population.

    So only a small minority of the population purchases Coca-Cola? Going to have to call bullshit once again. A rather staggering majority of the products on the shelf are bought by substantial segments of the population…

    How on EARTH could you call that a concentration of power???

    Look higher up the chain. You’ll find that nearly all of those products are produced by the same few corporations.

    Having the CHOICE of all those Doritos, and Lays, and Pringle’s, etc., DOES give me power.

    The choice to give your money to PepsiCo, PepsiCo, or Proctor and Gamble. Which, precisely, of those megacorps doesn’t represent a global-scale concentration of power again?

    The Mafia’s a form of government???

    Absolutely. Do they govern? Yes, they do. In case you decide I’m trying to redefine terms, Mirriam-Webster happens to include “3 a: to control, direct, or strongly influence the actions and conduct of b: to exert a determining or guiding influence in or over c: to hold in check : restrain” in the definition of the word govern. I’m not redefining anything. I simply reject your narrow view. Someone or some group is always in charge. That group, by any other name, is still a government.

    Poisoning the Well again. It’s not a pipe-dream–it’s pure logic!

    What’s the name of this logical fallacy? Oh yeah – a lie. The only discipline that is “pure logic” is mathematics.

    This very sentence shows how you aren’t thinking. Aren’t you wealthier if your children don’t starve, as opposed to if they do?

    Well, that depends entirely on the answer to the question I posed in the following sentence, doesn’t it? Nice job of pretending that you’ve shown a flaw in my reasoning, but really only trying to slip in a personal attack.

    The one used by economics, duh.

    From wikipedia: “In economics, wealth refers to the value of assets owned minus the value of liabilities owed at a point in time.”

    Is a nonstarving child an asset owned? Only if you’re in a slave economy. Is a dead child a liability owed? Can’t figure out how. I guess, then, the answer to your question is no. No, your child not starving does not make you wealthier.

    Then how come you’re unable to refute them with real examples, and only use logical fallacies?

    Real examples like starving children and Classical-era education? Nice of you to pretend I’m using logical fallacies instead of recognizing that I’m sprinkling my points with literary devices to show my disdain for your position. It’s only a fallacy if my argument rests upon it. Try again, dick.

    See what I did there? That wasn’t the Ad Hominem fallacy because I didn’t say “your argument is wrong because you’re a dick.” I know it’s difficult, but try to keep up.

    LIBERTARIANISM is your subject. I want an example of LIBERTARIANISM failing to work

    Actually, you were responding to two sentences. The subject of one was Libertarianism. The subject of the other was Communism. See what I mean about your inferences and assumptions? It’s not making you look clever, it’s just making you look like an overly-excitable prick. Calm down, take a deep breath, and ask me again without shouting.

    Looks like there are plenty out there to me. If there’s enough to make a change in Washington, there’s MORE than enough to make a change in the free market!

    No, no… Remember how I explained that I was talking about a hypothetical scenario, not the real world? Remember that? Try again.

    No, just SOME of them have to afford it. Progress will do the rest. Look at DVD players when they first came out: you had to be rich to own one, but now any poor person can get one. That’s NOT because of government subsidies!

    Yes, “some.” How many is that “some?” Remember minidisks? Betamax? I can list failed technologies all day. Technologies that failed, not due to any problem with the tech itself, merely because the market wasn’t big enough for one reason or another. What happens if non-fossil fuels and eco-friendly manufacturing go the way of the DreamCast? The word you should be looking for is, I believe: Boned.

    You’re using non-specific scare tactics, and making NO effort to link it to Libertarianism

    You’re lying. I’m using very specific scare tactics, and I’m linking them to the principles at the core of Libertarianism.

    You basically say, “Libertarianism means the sky is falling!”

    No. I basically say that completely free-markets are extremely capable of boning the poor and the outnumbered. Have you ever heard the phrase “vote with your wallet”? It only works if other people are voting the same way you are and your wallet contains enough to matter, no matter how right or wrong you may be.

    No, it ISN’T.

    Yes, it is.

    Did you WATCH the video I posted?

    I did. I agree with almost everything you have to say therein.

    I mention SPECIFIC consequences,

    As do I.

    I show how the War on Drugs leads to them.

    As do I – only replace “War on Drugs” with “completely free-markets.”

    Historically, scare tactics have ALWAYS been used as an excuse to grab power and reduce liberty.

    I suppose that depends on how you mean that sentence. If you mean that those using an excuse to grab power and reduce liberty have always used scare tactics – well, I’ll call that a lie. Sometimes it’s just a strong-arm thing. Now, if you mean that all scare tactics are used as an excuse to grab power and reduce liberty, well, that’s a lie, too. Fear is a powerful motivator, and has been used to spur righteous revolutions as well as to secure the power of tyrants.

    Huh – I guess I was wrong. It doesn’t really depend on how you meant it. Well, maybe you were using hyperbole. Exaggerating to make a point. A perfectly valid literary device, but hardly “pure logic” by any stretch.

    I mean, if you’re trying to scare people away from those who use scare tactice… Well, I’m not going to start up on that. I think I’ve made my point.

    H.L. Mencken said, “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” The only thing he got wrong is that they don’t have to be imaginary, only the scope of the threat they pose.

    No… The threat need not be imaginary, either. Sometimes the barbarians really are at the gates, my friend.

    Uh, no, in fact, we’re the only ones who actually DO have a realistic view of human behavior–especially when those humans get into power!

    …except you seem to think that your system will prevent people from getting into power. the communists think the same thing. You’re wrong. The power is there. Someone will claim it.

    Wow, hmm…Poisoning the Well, Argument from Adverse Consequences, Weasel Words, and possibly even libel

    LoL… I can list some crap that doesn’t apply just as easily as you, but I won’t. I’ve got better things to do… Just watch that libel bit. False accusations can get bit you in the ass pretty hard.

    NO LIBERTARIAN SAYS THIS

    More caps? The bigger the letters, the more logical the argument, is it? I think not. How about let’s not go speaking in absolutes about which we cannot have certainty, shall we? Helps keep us from looking like dickheads who don’t know what we’re talking about.

    Now, to the meat of the argument – Do Libertarians say it in those words? Not if they’re thinking straight, but let’s walk right by that and get to the point. Say you have a purely market-driven medical system. Say, hypothetically, I’m broke as Hell. Say, in addition to this, I have a child who catches, let’s grab something not-so-random out of the sky… Pneumonia.

    Now, pneumonia is a lethal affliction. It kills people, and of this there can be no doubt. Yes, there are highly effective treatments for it, but in your purely market-driven medical system, they cost rather a lot of money.

    Untreated, pneumonia has a frighteningly high mortality rate, but in this hypothetical, I just don’t have the money to pay for treatment for my child.

    The way I see it, there are only two solutions here. Either the child dies because I couldn’t afford treatment, or some social system steps in to pay so that the child may live. I know, I know, you’re just chomping at the bit to call out “False Dichotomy,” but it’s not, and here’s why: I’m pretty damned sure there’s no other alternative. Either it’s a true dichotomy, or I’m just not creative enough to see another option. Tell you what – I’m open to suggestions. You suggest a solution.

    I’m pretty sure you can’t come up with one that’s not either “Oh well, you shouldn’t have been poor” or “socialized medicine is the only way the child survives.”

    Here’s a hint – putting your answer in caps won’t help.

  34. Writerdd,
    Based on your statements it appears you have insinuated some elements of anarchy into libertarianism thinking. I’d describe my self as having some libertarian leanings, liberal tendencies with distinctive “traditional” conservative notions about small government, fiscal responsibility and minimal government involvement in personal matters.

    I’ve often thought that a “skeptic” should have problems with both major political parties as so much of the rhetoric and positions they hold are not based on any factual evidence. As mentioned above much of politics is emotion, group psychology and what you had for breakfast.

  35. No. Especially if they believe the nonsense spouted by Libertarian Party “intellectuals” like Shanek and nutjobs Michael Badnarik.

    “It looks like after only a few posts, Shanek is already on the verge of having one of his comical ALL CAPITALIZED HISSY FITS. Typical.”

    There we are people! Do you see? See how quickly they resort to insults and personal attacks, abandoning all reasonable discourse? So why is it the Libertarians who are accused of being irrational above all others?

  36. In fairness – no one resorted to insults about the hissy fits until after you started pitching one. See, if you just walk away from someone trying to outshout you in an argument, they’ll think they’ve won, and that will encourage them to do it again in the next argument. If you try to debate with them, they often just keep shouting the same thing over and over until you walk away in disgust (see previous point). You really kind of have to make fun of them about it. Sure, it feeds a few persecution complexes and such… so there’s no perfect solution, really. Everyone tries the best we can.

    Why are Libertarians accused of being irrational above all others? You’re not. You just cry about it the most. When someone else wanders in here with an extreme political view, they’ll likely get the same treatment.

    See, while I’m an anarchist at heart, I know it’s not going to work. Sooner or later some organized group will show up, kick the Hell out of you, and take your stuff. Fair bet they’ll force you to join up or kill you in the process.

    The world is not a pretty place. If there’s a way for a person to get ahead, someone will figure it out and get ahead. It doesn’t matter if 99.999999% of people are kind and decent and play the game by the spirit – that still leaves sixty-seven people who are willing to exploit any weakness or loophole they find. Once they do that, the system is all shot to Hell. It becomes the system they want it to be, and that will be the system that puts them at the top. They’ll stay there until the next clever Billy comes along and finds a loophole in that system and climbs to the top or until the people at the bottom get so pissed-off they tear the whole damned thing down and start over.

    You may not like it – Hell, I don’t, but that’s the way it is. Someone’s going to get the power, and someone’s going to be stomped on in the process. Ignoring this fact only makes it easier to do.

  37. Rystefn:

    “Never said that I didn’t.”

    Um, excuse me? “You said before. Before the government got involved.” You clearly tried to pin it on me, when I was replying to what YOU said!

    Why do you argue so dishonestly?

    “I also never said “SPECIFICALLY” the system we had in this country before government education. In fact, I didn’t say “SPECIFICALLY” anything at all at that point.”

    You said THE system. As in the definite article. That is specific–that’s what the definite article’s for! The one and only system that preceded the system we have now. It’s not my fault if you misused it; honest people just clarify what they meant and go on. Since you insist on throwing the fault over to me, what does that say about your confidence in the rationality of your position?

    “Correct. Part of that force and oppression was monetary.”

    And? The government/church controlled all the money, too. That’s how it always works! Government can’t do what it does without money.

    “If the people didn’t like that information was being destroyed instead of spread around, they should have applied economic pressures, right? I mean, if that’s what the people want, the market will provide, right?”

    WHY do you insist on dishonestly calling the dark ages a free market? What market pressures could they possibly have applied?

    “There will always be specific individual examples that fall outside the generalization.”

    Fine; maybe you can cite one that falls within your generalization? Because so far, I’m the only one providing evidence and citing examples.

    “Answer what? Nowhere in that rant was a question.”

    The question is, why are the liberals fighting a money-follows-the-child system tooth and nail if they really care about the education of our children?

    “Since I’m talking about a nonexistent free-market, any counterexamples in the real world fail.”

    Except the examples you WANT to count. Products on store shelves are part of a free market system. The stuff you’ve mentioned isn’t. This is nothing more than dishonest weaseling.

    If you really had a leg to stand on, you’d have a proper logical response to all of these. And if you were a truly rational person who had no response, you’d simply say, “I don’t know.” But you don’t do that. You spew personal attacks against me, twist my words, put words into my mouth, and weasel out of every single logical challenge to your assertions.

    “So only a small minority of the population purchases Coca-Cola?”

    Yep. Many people don’t drink soda, and many who do drink Pepsi or Mountain Dew or something else.

    “Look higher up the chain. You’ll find that nearly all of those products are produced by the same few corporations.”

    You mean like, Coke, Pepsi, RC, Sam’s, Jones, Dr. Pepper, Big K, Sun Drop, Cheerwine, A&W, IBC, Dr. Brown’s, Jolt, Red Bull, and that’s all just off the top of my head? Same few companies? How many companies comprises a “few”?

    [numerous personal attacks, including despicable accusations of slavery, deleted]

    “Actually, you were responding to two sentences.”

    I QUOTED what I was responding to.

    “The subject of one was Libertarianism. The subject of the other was Communism.”

    Then you need to go back to English class. The subject of your first sentence was Libertarianism. The “it” in the second sentence refers back to the subject of the previous sentence, which, again, was Libertarianism.

    You’re weaseling again. Answer the question.

    “No, no… Remember how I explained that I was talking about a hypothetical scenario, not the real world? Remember that?”

    Well, you’re obviously not talking about the real world, but I am. I guess that’s the difference between us. Except you failed to SAY your scenario was hypothetical and set up the constructs of your hypothetical system, so I can only answer in terms of the real world. Which I did.

    “I can list failed technologies all day.”

    Which were replaced by other technologies. It’s not like people had to do without technology; it was just the specific implementations that won or lost.

    And THAT’S A GOOD THING.

    “No. I basically say that completely free-markets are extremely capable of boning the poor and the outnumbered.”

    Then explain how we conquered the problem of starvation during the time of the “robber barons,” decades before your precious welfare state? Explain why the poor are staying poor LONGER under the welfare state than they were before?

    “Have you ever heard the phrase “vote with your wallet”? It only works if other people are voting the same way you are and your wallet contains enough to matter, no matter how right or wrong you may be.”

    No, because again you’re a) assuming it’s a zero-sum game when it isn’t, and b) you’re assuming there will be only one choice. Sorry, but that’s government, not the free market.

    “As do I.”

    What’s specific about “boned”?

    “As do I – only replace “War on Drugs” with “completely free-markets.””

    Really? Then where are your real-world examples backing up what you say? Where’s the data and the sources? I’ve provided these; you haven’t. Until you do, you are in NO position to say you’ve provided any specifics.

    “No… The threat need not be imaginary, either. Sometimes the barbarians really are at the gates, my friend.”

    Name ONE time in the history of the United States after the Revolutionary War where that was true.

    (PLEASE say World War II, please say World War II, oh please oh please oh please…)

    “…except you seem to think that your system will prevent people from getting into power.”

    No; that depends on eternal vigilance.

    “The power is there. Someone will claim it.”

    So, there will always be tyrants, so we may as well go with YOUR tyrants?

    “Just watch that libel bit. False accusations can get bit you in the ass pretty hard.”

    You say, “He thinks your child deserves to die!” I sue you for libel. Your ONLY defense is that I actually said that. Did I? Where?

    “How about let’s not go speaking in absolutes about which we cannot have certainty, shall we?”

    I think it’s obvious that I have a LOT more experience with Libertarians than you. But go on: find me ONE Libertarian that says that children deserve to die. Go ahead. ONE.

    “Say you have a purely market-driven medical system. Say, hypothetically, I’m broke as Hell.”

    Then you can go to one of the numerous free clinics and charity hospitals, like what were around before government started meddling in health care.

    “The way I see it, there are only two solutions here. Either the child dies because I couldn’t afford treatment, or some social system steps in to pay so that the child may live.”

    False dichotomy.

    “I know, I know, you’re just chomping at the bit to call out “False Dichotomy,””

    You called it. ;^)

    “but it’s not,”

    Yes, it is, because I showed you two other options, and those options DID exist before government meddling drove them all out of business.

    “I’m pretty sure you can’t come up with one that’s not either “Oh well, you shouldn’t have been poor” or “socialized medicine is the only way the child survives.””

    You DIDN’T call it. :^P

  38. James Fox:

    “Based on your statements it appears you have insinuated some elements of anarchy into libertarianism thinking.”

    In fairness, I think we have to own some of the blame for this because we’ve welcomed anarchists into the mix. But the reason why is because we want to go in the same direction as them, just not quite to the same destination.

    And that’s the lesson: you don’t have to agree with EVERYTHING Libertarianism says. Just come with us for as long as you think is appropriate. You don’t have to support us any more after that. Really, no Libertarian is going to coerce you!

  39. I am a life long Republican. Proud of it. Just because a party has it’s share of idiots and kooks does not mean everyone is such, on BOTH sides. I don’t believe in Messiahs. Not from my party, and certainly not from others. But I hope I am a good skeptic. I believe government is an inherently evil undertaking, but as our good skepchick points out, often a necessary one. My goal in life if voting could accomplish that goal, is to see our government in the USA cut in half. IMO there is something wrong with a people that require the government to be the largest employer. And those people are, IMO, doomed if they continue to allow 100’s and 100’s of laws to be create to govern that freedom. To paraphrase, people who give up their rights and freedoms for safety and security, should have neither.

  40. Rystefn

    “no one resorted to insults about the hissy fits until after you started pitching one.”

    And where did I pitch one? You’re the one who started using words like “bullshit” and “Utopian pipe-dream” and comparing it to communism and accusing me of being stupid when your points didn’t work out like you’d hoped.

    You’ve also failed to respond to the evidence, like the data on universal literacy, choosing instead to keep making it look like I’ve got some kind of problem reading your brilliantly worded posts.

    “See, if you just walk away from someone trying to outshout you in an argument,”

    How have I done that? I’ve responded with EVIDENCE and DATA which you have IGNORED. If anyone’s walking away, it’s you!

    “Why are Libertarians accused of being irrational above all others? You’re not.”

    Really? Then were are all the blog posts here about the irrationality of liberals? (And to clarify, not wanting to give you more room to weasel, I mean leftist liberals, not classical liberals.)

    “See, while I’m an anarchist at heart, I know it’s not going to work.”

    Same here. That’s why I’m NOT an anarchist. So why do you keep bringing it up?

    “Sooner or later some organized group will show up, kick the Hell out of you, and take your stuff.”

    And that is where it is perfectly legitimate for government to step in. NIOF principle again.

    But that has NOTHING to do with the crap you’ve been posting!

  41. BTW: The original Skepchick question is

    “Can a libertarian be a skeptic?”

    She then goes on to give a political comment that has absolutely nothing to do with or to prove or disprove the hypothesis. That is not ‘skepticism’ at all. Please answer the question. Or more to the point and in keeping with critical thinking, “Why CAN’T a libertarian be a good skeptic?”

    I believe, since politics is an emotion laden human endeavor, i.e. “whose ideology do I believe in?”, science has little to offer. Therefore the question itself is non-sequitur design to give a forum for telling us what she thinks.

  42. “There we are people! Do you see? See how quickly they resort to insults and personal attacks, abandoning all reasonable discourse? So why is it the Libertarians who are accused of being irrational above all others?”

    You’re a LIAR!

  43. “how can skeptics, who look at the same evidence, come to so many different conclusions about politics?”

    I’d say because the evidence can be subjective and varied. Plus people’s priorities are different. Some people think that having a strong military is more important than education , or vice versa.

    For instance a lot of posts above seem to be about freedom vs. fairness. You have to make a value judgment on which is more important.

  44. Just a comment: I’ve never seen an online libertarian argue historically with reference to any country other than the United States, unless it’s to cherry pick individual problems in other countries and pretend that they show that socialised services all have those problems.

    This is the sort of thing I mean:

    In fact, the data show that it would be EASIER for your child to get medical attention with free market health care! Our health care system got worse and worse after the government started meddling in it.

    Maybe yours did; I don’t know. On behalf of pretty much every other industrialised country on the planet, let me point out that ours got better.

    No, ours is not the best health care system in the world. There is no perfect health care system, though that of France is pretty damn impressive, and so is the Netherlands.

  45. I’ve been thinking more about this question since my previous post, and I’ve come up with another answer. It doesn’t contradict my earlier answer, it just refines it a bit.

    I think it’s possible for a skeptic to be of any political persuasion except authoritarianism, which is all about absolute trust of authority, and therefore antithetical to skepticism. So, yeah, there’s room in the tent for liberals, libertarians, and maybe even Goldwater conservatives. The current generation of neoconservatives, however, skirts a little too close to authoritarianism, so I dunno. Maybe there is a logically defensible way to reconcile being a skeptic with being a neocon, but I can’t think of one.

    That said, there’s plenty of wackaloonery to go around among liberals, libertarians, and conservatives. All three would have a very hard time claiming to be “the party of skepticism” or whatever.

    As has been said before, it comes down to value judgments. We should of course use skeptical analysis to inform our political opinions, but that doesn’t mean we’ll all end up at the same place.

  46. Um, excuse me? “You said before. Before the government got involved.” You clearly tried to pin it on me, when I was replying to what YOU said!

    So you didn’t say that? I’m confused… Are you upset because I accurately described what you said? Or are you upset because you misunderstood me and refuse to just accept that you misunderstood me?

    Why do you argue so dishonestly?

    What did I say that was dishonest?

    You said THE system. As in the definite article. That is specific–that’s what the definite article’s for!

    Ah. I see what the problem is – you are trying to overspecify the English language when used by others again. “The” is indeed English’s definite pronoun. It’s also used in a plethora of other ways. Again, I’m going to reference you to Mirriam-Webster. Please note that the following list is far from exhaustive.

    -used as a function word before nouns that designate natural phenomena or points of the compass
    – used as a function word before the name of a branch of human endeavor or proficiency
    – used as a function word in prepositional phrases to indicate that the noun in the phrase serves as a basis for computation
    -used as a function word before a proper name
    – used as a function word before a proper name to indicate the distinctive characteristics of a person or thing
    – used as a function word to designate one of a class as the best, most typical, best known, or most worth singling out
    – used as a function word with a noun modified by an adjective or by an attributive noun to limit the application of the modified noun to that specified by the adjective or by the attributive noun
    used as a function word before a singular noun to indicate that the noun is to be understood generically

    You see? In using the word to indicate that I meant the singular noun “system” to be understood generically, I was using one of a plethora of recognized and readily understood usages of the common word “the.” A word which is sued to mean so much, than in reality, it means almost nothing. This is why many languages simply have no equivalent word at all. Any questions?

    The one and only system that preceded the system we have now.

    Wait… are you saying that only one system preceded the system we have now, and that therefore any system to which I may have referred must, by definition be included? Or are you saying that the Dark Ages didn’t precede the system now in place by virtue of some kind of time-twisting or something? I just don’t get what you’re trying to say here…

    It’s not my fault if you misused it; honest people just clarify what they meant and go on. Since you insist on throwing the fault over to me, what does that say about your confidence in the rationality of your position?

    Well, since I didn’t misuse it, and the fault does lie with you, it says very little about my confidence in the rationality of my position… Mostly only that I’m somewhat more well-versed than you are in the English language. If you get confused again, just let me know, and I’ll be glad to clarify.

    And? The government/church controlled all the money, too. That’s how it always works! Government can’t do what it does without money.

    And? How about this: …and therefore education was on a market economy, and once information was in the hands of the elite (please note that there has clearly been more than one “elite” in the world, and yet my usage of the word here is entirely correct), they simply raised the price as high as they felt like thereby gaining more money and power and trampling on the poor. This has often occurred in history.

    WHY do you insist on dishonestly calling the dark ages a free market?

    I never have. Why do you insist on dishonestly claiming that I’ve made statements I didn’t make?

    What market pressures could they possibly have applied?

    Thank you. That, sir, is precisely my point.

    Fine; maybe you can cite one that falls within your generalization? Because so far, I’m the only one providing evidence and citing examples.

    Another lie. I listed several examples wherein private education systems correlated positively with education lying solely in the hands of the elite. The Dark Ages in Europe, for example. The Mediterranean Classical Era, for another.

    The question is, why are the liberals fighting a money-follows-the-child system tooth and nail if they really care about the education of our children?

    How the Hell should I know why other people do the things they do. Contrary to popular belief, I am not psychic.

    Except the examples you WANT to count. Products on store shelves are part of a free market system. The stuff you’ve mentioned isn’t. This is nothing more than dishonest weaseling.

    Name one real-world example I tried to apply to my hypothetical imaginary world… Please. I beg you.

    See, I bet you think I wouldn’t notice what you’re doing here. You demand examples for situations where we are talking about the real world, then you say that I’m using examples and disallowing yours in a completely separate issue. I won’t fall for it. Examples from the real world go into the real-world part of the argument. In the hypothetical part, all you can say is “Yes I think that’s internally consistent,” or “Here’s where it is not.” Now, if you want to point a real-world completely free market, I’ll gladly start talking to you about specific examples within it, but since there is no such thing, and never has been, it’s not going to happen.

    If you really had a leg to stand on, you’d have a proper logical response to all of these.

    See above.

    And if you were a truly rational person who had no response, you’d simply say, “I don’t know.”

    Done, and done.

    But you don’t do that.

    Ummm… Yes I did. *points up* See all that, there?

    You spew personal attacks against me

    Yeah. I do that. Either grow some rhino hide or go home.

    twist my words

    Lie.

    put words into my mouth

    Projecting.

    weasel out of every single logical challenge to your assertions.

    Have you ever seen a weasel? I mean, when there’s a challenge to face? Mean bastards. Straight to the point. Big teeth+neck=end of challenge. I appreciate the comparison and consider it apt. Of course, I know you meant to use the term in the common usage, which has little bearing on the reality of the animal in question, but since I think the reality-based version is a more accurate description, I choose to deliberately misunderstand. :D

    Yep. Many people don’t drink soda, and many who do drink Pepsi or Mountain Dew or something else.

    You might want to check your statistics before you go calling the number of people who purchase Coca-Cola a small minority… Or are you using some new definition of the word “small” to which I’m not privy?

    You mean like, Coke, Pepsi, RC, Sam’s, Jones, Dr. Pepper, Big K, Sun Drop, Cheerwine, A&W, IBC, Dr. Brown’s, Jolt, Red Bull, and that’s all just off the top of my head? Same few companies? How many companies comprises a “few”?

    Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Cadbury Schweppes, Wal-Mart, Actually kind of small, Kroger, Cadbury Schweppes, locally unavailable in many markets, PepsiCo, Cadbury Schweppes, PepsiCo, Holy crap – another relatively small company, owner worth over $2.5bil

    See a trend here? See lots of repeated names? See names of multi-billion-dollar corporations? See the power an moeny being concentrated? See how you have to pay bloody twice as much or more for the honestly smaller corporation?How does this somehow become a counterexample in your head?

    [numerous personal attacks, including despicable accusations of slavery, deleted]

    You mean to say “the argument I cannot refute deleted under the pretense that I’m not the one who referred to a child as property,” right?

    I QUOTED what I was responding to.

    Oh, well I was giving you the benefit of the doubt there. Sorry. If you were responding only to the second sentence, then my initial response was correct.

    Then you need to go back to English class.

    This, from the fellow who doesn’t know what the word “the” means.

    The subject of your first sentence was Libertarianism.

    As I said.

    The “it” in the second sentence refers back to the subject of the previous sentence, which, again, was Libertarianism.

    No, it doesn’t. “It” refers back to communism, to which I was comparing Libertarianism.

    You’re weaseling again. Answer the question.

    Tell you what – when you go back through and answer all the questions you glossed over so far, make sure you master the use of modern English, or at least specify when you’re using an archaic or highly specific meaning as opposed to any of the other perfectly valid meanings, and address your assertion that children are property, then you can make demands of me. Until then, I think I’m going to ignore any sentence you type that ends with a question mark.

    I’ll also be ignoring any sentence with flagrant punctuation errors.

    Except you failed to SAY your scenario was hypothetical and set up the constructs of your hypothetical system, so I can only answer in terms of the real world. Which I did.

    Wait… I listed off a series of if-then statements, and you failed to grasp that I was setting up the parameters of a hypothetical scenario? Huh.. Well, I guess I can only apologize. I should have know better than to think my meaning was clear, given the number of wrong inferences and assumptions you’d made by that point. My bad, bro.

    Which were replaced by other technologies. It’s not like people had to do without technology; it was just the specific implementations that won or lost.

    Of course no has to do without technology. Hell, even chimps don’t have to do without technology. The point is that we do have to live without those specific technologies, many of which were demonstrably superior to the crap we got left with. Why? Because the market does not cause the best to succeed, nor does it weed out the crap.

    And THAT’S A GOOD THING.

    It’s a good thing that superior technologies often fail and brilliant innovators lose tons of money because the market is an unstable and unpredictable system which rewards, not merit, but marketing? I must disagree.

    Then explain how we conquered the problem of starvation during the time of the “robber barons,” decades before your precious welfare state?

    My precious what? Now, that’s not a word I throw around very often. I’d wager you’ve never seen me use it. I’m pretty sure you’ve also never seen me defend any such thing as a “welfare state.”

    I think I see where you’re coming from, now, though. You’re one of these people who are all angry about your taxes going to buy food and housing for people, aren’t you? Now, that’s your call, I’m not here to judge, but surely you see that you’re just shoring up your emotional response on a rickety platform of the logic that leads to the conclusion you like…

    For the record, I support the Roman system. Every citizen is provided with a home, food, and running water (a technological marvel at the time. Little of the world outside of Rome had access to it all, regardless of price). To that, I would add electricity and phone service in modern times. Welfare? Maybe. I guess you could call it that, since it is for the welfare of the people. Same as roads, police, and a defensive military force are for the welfare of the people. If you care to debate about the pros and cons fo such a system, I’ll gladly do so, but for now, I’m not going to expound much, since that’s tangential to the discussion at hand, at best.

    a) assuming it’s a zero-sum game when it isn’t

    No I’m not.

    b) you’re assuming there will be only one choice.

    No I’m not. Or are you saying that since we have five or ten kinds of chips to choose from, that I can keep one in production alone by buying it, even if I only buy one bag of chips a month, because I’m too poor to afford much in the way of luxury?

    “blockquote>What’s specific about “boned”?

    Question Mark.

    Really? Then where are your real-world examples backing up what you say? Where’s the data and the sources?

    Question Marks.

    I’ve provided these; you haven’t.

    So the Dark Ages didn’t happen in the real world?

    Until you do, you are in NO position to say you’ve provided any specifics.

    So a child dying of pneumonia isn’t specific enough for you? Or it doesn’t count as specific because it doesn’t fall into one of the categories you listed – a far from exhaustive list if you’re using any definition of the word “specific” I’ve ever heard of… But then, you’ve had trouble with this word before, so maybe I should just drop it instead of embarrassing you in front of your friends.

    Name ONE time in the history of the United States after the Revolutionary War where that was true.

    I’ll take this as tacit admission that it has been true in other times and places, and let my statement stand.

    (PLEASE say World War II, please say World War II, oh please oh please oh please…)

    Well, I wasn’t going to. I mean, war is always a complicated issue, and WWII was especially so, despite the fact that it is played out in such a black-and-white way in the minds of most people. Couple this with the fact that America was not itself threatened until we made ourselves a part of the war (even if we weren’t shooting people publicly just yet), and you get a tangled mess of a situation. Then you add in the fact that the Axis were not anything like barbarians, but were in fact quite civilized, and included some of the best technology in the world at the time…

    but you asked so nicely. I can tell you really want to say something on the subject, and I hate to leave you hanging like that, so here you go. World War II.

    No; that depends on eternal vigilance.

    Vigilance means nothing without power to back it up.

    So, there will always be tyrants, so we may as well go with YOUR tyrants?

    Not at all. As I said before, I’m actually an anarchist at heart. However, I am a realist enough to know that there will always be tyrants. The only system I can fathom working without the need for regular upheavals or resignation to tyranny would be one built around the concept of a cyclic restructuring of power.. No. That’s just regular upheavals. Sorry. I’m stumped. I’m open to suggestions, though. Don’t hold much hope, though. Life sucks, wear a helmet, right?

    Hell, that was a question mark. Oh well, I already typed all this out, no sense in deleting it.

    You say, “He thinks your child deserves to die!” I sue you for libel. Your ONLY defense is that I actually said that. Did I? Where?

    Hmmm… Did I say that? I didn’t. I was actually trying to show you that somewhere inside, there’s that naggling little socialist who wants to help the kid out. Of course, if you don’t believe me, feel free to bring suit. It’ll be an amusing diversion for a while, i think.

    I think it’s obvious that I have a LOT more experience with Libertarians than you.

    That’s likely true. I’m fairly certain that I have a LOT more experience with Texans than you. However if I said “No Texan would ever say the universe is a hollow toroidal non-euclidean 6-dimensional bunny with a nougat center” you’d be perfectly right to call me out for tossing around absolutes about which I cannot have certainty. I stand by my statement.

    Then you can go to one of the numerous free clinics and charity hospitals, like what were around before government started meddling in health care.

    “Some social system steps in to pay so that the child may live.” Option Two. Dichotomy stands. Care to try again?

    you don’t have to agree with EVERYTHING Libertarianism says. Just come with us for as long as you think is appropriate. You don’t have to support us any more after that.

    Precisely as I said so long ago… It’s the extremes of a purely free-market with which I disagree. In many ways, I would love to see it freer than it is. In a few ways, I’d like to see a bit less freedom to chase buck at all costs. In a huge stack of ways, I think we’re shooting ourselves in the foot trying to find a happy medium and creating a hybrid monster instead.

    And where did I pitch one?

    Question mark.

    You’re the one who started using words like “bullshit” and “Utopian pipe-dream” and comparing it to communism and accusing me of being stupid when your points didn’t work out like you’d hoped.

    Go back and read again. You’ll find that you were typing in all caps before I ever responded to this thread. You’ll also find that is was my third post where I first used the word bullshit, and it was in response to your statement that before government education, there was universal literacy – another absolute about which you cannot have certainty, by the way, and demonstrably false, since there were many times before then in which literacy was quite far from universal.

    As for drawing comparisons to communism – I fail to see how that can be construed as am attack of any kind. I was merely drawing a parallel in that I saw a similar failing in both systems. I think that’s a perfectly valid and reasonable way to discuss the merits and flaws of something, yes? I mean, if I had called you a “dirty commie” or something, you’d have a case here, but that particular point, at least, is without value.

    Further, I should like to see where I called you stupid. Misinformed, mistaken, ignorant on a particular point, failing to understand what I was trying to convey? True on all counts. But to equate any of those common failings to which we all prone from time to time with stupidity is your own judgment call, not mine.

    That said, I would like to take this moment to reiterate something of which I like to remind people from time to time: If you think you never suffer from temporary stupidity – you’re right… You’ve got the permanent kind.

    You’ve also failed to respond to the evidence, like the data on universal literacy choosing instead to keep making it look like I’ve got some kind of problem reading your brilliantly worded posts.

    No. I simply clarified my position. If you would like to argue against a position I do not hold, feel free, but I will not defend it tonight.

    How have I done that? I’ve responded with EVIDENCE and DATA which you have IGNORED. If anyone’s walking away, it’s you!

    See, you’ve misunderstood me again. I was using the general “you,” not the specific. You, specifically, are the one who was shouting.

    Really? Then were are all the blog posts here about the irrationality of liberals?

    Question Marks.

    Same here. That’s why I’m NOT an anarchist.

    Yet you hold to system which also will not work. At least I recognize my idealism for what it is.

    So why do you keep bringing it up?

    Question Mark.

    And that is where it is perfectly legitimate for government to step in.

    So you agree with me that some things must be socialized. That’s good. I find it’s much better to work from a starting point of agreement. I’m sure we also agree that many things should not be socialized (not much of a Libertarian otherwise, right?).

    All hostilities aside, it seems our only real disagreement is in where the line should be drawn. Does this sound like an accurate appraisal of the situation to you?

  47. Realizing this will get lost in the noise…

    The question was, how can skeptics, who look at the same evidence, come to so many different conclusions about politics? …And I think others hit on it, sort of: politics is a ruse. What really matters is not politics, but society. So you’re looking at a correlation, not a causation. Abortion is legal in America because Americans need it to be legal: however, there is public rejection of this ideal, so there is resistance to it. Policy is merely a reflection of the views of society, though some are more accurate than others. I think the biggest thing you can learn about American society by looking at American politics is “in the corporation, we trust”.

    As a card-carrying member of the Green party, I hope that (and find glimmers of evidence that it) is in the process of changing.

    I’ve actually given this a lot of thought lately… and mostly because of my overt oppositions of what seems to be the Libertarian stance of “every man for himself”. (No, Shanek, I will not be dragged into a fight about this. Reply if you care to, I will not rebut.) It’s not something I link to skepticism in either a positive or negative way: sociology doesn’t (yet) lend itself to objective scientific analysis: we have no evidence one way or another about what policy is “good” or “bad”. I think if more people pay attention to Derren Brown–especially skeptics–we would have a much better idea. (I’m telling you, this guy make Randi look like he’s not trying hard enough to make his point.) He shows us just how manipulation-prone people are.

    And, frankly, I think every (strong) political position is reached by manipulation. It’s all about whom you have been influenced by.

    ANYWAY, I will end by saying that the more I think about it, the more I agree with Bad Astronomy: I am becoming an elitist. I would like to see something closer to a meritocracy… where we listen to the experts in any given field, and act on their superior knowledge. We are a long, long, LONG way from a government run by science and evidence… but, for my money, that’s the proper path to walk. I don’t think such a thing would even have a concept of “Libertarian”, or “Republican”, or “Liberal”.

    Maybe someday. …Hey, it could happen.

  48. This is a public service announcment:

    Limited HTML tags are allowed on this forum.

    Therefore, when you wish to emphasize something, it is recommended that you surround the word or words with italics tags. Occasionally, bold tags are warranted.

    Please do not use all-caps. It’s considered “bad manners” on the internet. Unless you’re using a proper acronym, of course. : )

    For exmaple: to make a word italics simply put <i> tags </i> around it.

    It’s easy. It’s polite. It will keep people from thinking you are 13. (…Even if your icon makes you look 30).

    Thanks you.

  49. @24, Rys, exactly. The first thing I think of when Libs start talking is “and what will become of the inner cities and rural backwoods when there is no such thing as welfare and CPS?” Not a pretty picture.

    ————

    You mean, the inner cities that are a direct, measurable result of the war on drugs, which the libertarians oppose?

    The problem with government redistribution of wealth and control of public morals–from a skeptical point of view–is that it does not work well. It can’t obviously be made to work well.

    What Rystefn is not accounting for, and neither are you, is that the machine that is most responsible for creating the largest wealth gaps is not the market, it’s the government.

    For example, the government does this thing with farming, farm subsidies, the net result of which is to transfer wealth, using force, from my pocket to the coffers of a large agricultural corporation. It does help small farmers. But it helps big farmers more. And the small farmers would be better off, from a generational standpoint, either finding some niche food to grow, like organic tomatoes or something, or getting their families out of farming altogether.

    There is a huge amount of this corporate welfare going on. And when markets are artificially sustained or created and they inevitably crash–which they will, because they are too complex to be managed effectively–than there is either hell to pay or more money gets taken from the taxpayer to avoid the artificial crisis.

    Markets and societies are complex. Directly managing complex things, at that scale, is not possible. However, complex things do run themselves remarkably well, given the right environments.

  50. I’ve actually given this a lot of thought lately… and mostly because of my overt oppositions of what seems to be the Libertarian stance of “every man for himself”.

    ——————

    What page of the platform is that on again? I mean, since you’re using the big “L” and all.

    Sigh. You guys. Somehow, in a world where we are fighting against a growing tide of ignorance coming out of government funded schools, you still cling to the idea that government funded schools….

    Oh well. Anyway, I’ve been thinking about this the last few days. And it occurs to me, skepticism has a political dimension. It isn’t libertarianism, exactly, but it has one.

    Think about the constitution: “we the people, of the united states, in order to (accomplish goal) do hereby (suggest this methodology). [Modify as needed].

    Very skeptical, right? So what does skepticism require of us as political animals? I would say this:
    1. A statement of a goal.
    2. A justification for using government to accomplish that goal.
    3. A well reasoned plan for accomplishing the goal.
    4. Analysis of the effects of the plan.
    5. Willingness to reevaluate 1,2, and 3 in reaction to 4.

    Let me know if I’m leaving something out.

    And all of this has to take place with the best understanding of the real world that we can get, information from anthropolgy, criminal justice, urban planning, health care, everywhere.

    What I find is that most platforms, most parties, most people, really, are missing step 5. Most are also missing step 2, unless “because I said so” counts as a valid reason. And a lot are missing step 4 and 3. They don’t know, and they don’t care, they just want someone to do something about 1.

  51. What Rystefn is not accounting for, and neither are you, is that the machine that is most responsible for creating the largest wealth gaps is not the market, it’s the government.

    Now, now… That’s not quite accurate. My problem is not with the divide between rich and poor created by a free market system. There will always be a divide between rich and poor, and I freely admit that making many aspects of the market freer from direct control would probably help alleviate some of the problems.

    I don’t pretend to be an expert on that particular subject. It’s mind-bogglingly complex in ways that most of us just gloss over mentally so we can function inside the system as best we can. Added to this, the fact that we just can’t do good experiments on large-scale economics severely limits how much understanding it’s really even possible to have, expert or no.

    The problem I see is with how we handle the people stuck at the bottom (a social system for healthcare, education, law-enforcement, etc. really must step in, as I see it), and with issues on a larger scale than your average consumer bothers to care about (such as space exploration, many ecological issues, that sort of thing).

    Yes, it is entirely possible that the masses will produce enough pressure to push the market towards eco-friendly solutions and such. It has happened in certain cases before. Tell that to the Auk or the thylacine. Cold comfort to the dead, I think. The market is what killed the Great Auk, in fact. Could public activism have saved it? Maybe. We’ll never know. We’ll never know, because it didn’t even try.

    Do you know what could have saved it? Governmental protections. The heavy hand of the fucking fuzz patrolling those islands and sinking boats out from under poachers. Do I put the life of an animal above the life of a human? Not often. When the demand for pretty feathers for people’s hats threatens an entire species, I do say it’s time to raise the risk so far above the reward that people won’t kill an Auk for fifty grand. Your goddamned hat just isn’t that fucking important.

    [hypocrisy]On a related note, if anyone can get their hands on a Great Auk feather for my hat, I’ll gladly pay fifty grand for it. [/hypocrisy]

  52. So what does skepticism require of us as political animals? I would say this:
    1. A statement of a goal.
    2. A justification for using government to accomplish that goal.
    3. A well reasoned plan for accomplishing the goal.
    4. Analysis of the effects of the plan.
    5. Willingness to reevaluate 1,2, and 3 in reaction to 4.

    I think that may be perhaps the best way of phrasing it I’ve seen so far. While Step 1 is a value judgment, and therefore highly variable, I think we’d all be better off if more people applied Steps 2-5.

    Honestly, I find myself in a pretty constant state of 5 as regards 1. I’ve never yet found a political stance that looks both appealing and possible to me. Part of why I knock on other people’s all the time. I guess I’m hoping that sooner or later I’ll either hit on one that seems sound and attractive, or I’ll have enough sturdy bits from here and there that I can cobble together some kind of Franken-philosophy.

    Sadly, better minds than my own have dedicated their lives to the same pursuit and come up empty-handed. Being rather less than “dedicated” myself, I haven’t got much great hope on that front. Like most people, all I can really do is try to do the best I can with what’s already there, and hope for the best.

  53. Oooh, I remember one more point I wanted to make about Libertarianism, while we’re taking pot-shots. : )

    I have never met a Libertarian who understands privilege. …And I think that may be the single most important point to make about their ideology, when comparing it to liberalism. In fact, I think Libertarianism is completely incompatible with understanding privilege. I think that may have been underlying writerdd’s original comment.

    Whether it’s true or not, my personal impression of Libertarians has always been one of “I’m doing okay, therefore anyone else can ‘make it’, too.” And to suggest that they got where they are–even in part–because of their privilege will invariably get them red in the face and raise their volume. In my experience, they are the first to say women and blacks and gays and the handicapped have “an equal shot” in our society–that these problems were solved years ago.

    I would imagine the Skepchicks would have something to say about male privilege, for example. Perhaps Bug Girl would like to post a link or two. Here’s one in my bookmarks.

    Lastly, I should add the disclaimer that, for about three years, I worked for the gummint. Specifically, Veterans Affairs, in the clinical trials branch of it.

    Okay, I’m done. Really. ; )

  54. This is primarily directed to Shanek (with all respect of course!)

    What seems to have been missed in this thread is that libertarianism has existed in a spectrum: varying degrees of increased and decreased levels of government involvment (or ‘intervention’ depending on your standpoint).

    While I agree that a true libertarian society has never emerged (in much the same way that there has never been a true communist society), it is still worth mentioning the results in countries outside of the United States (I sincerely hope that didn’t sound to caustic) whenever government involvement is lessened:

    Typically, an increased government presence in a liberal society (with particular reference to public schools and health care) results in: a higher literacy rate, higher levels of students with university degrees, longer life expectancy, lower infant mortality, and fewer cases of diseases that could have been prevented by vaccines.

    The key here is the “liberal democracy” part. Liberal democracies such as Canada, Ireland and Iceland have high levels of government involvment in everyday life, but not so much as to make them “illiberal democracies”, like Russia, or Egypt for instance. (for a better explanation between the two, I highly recomend Fareed Zakaria’s “The Future of Freedom”).

    The United States (and increasingly, the United Kingdom), while still very clearly a liberal democracy, is far more libertarian than most other liberal democracies: the government is largely viewed as intrusive and unwelcome except in areas of safety. The resulting anti-government ideology, present since at least the days of the Founding Fathers (which is, in and of itself, ironic to the point of hypocritical),has brought widespread deregulation in nearly all areas of American life, from health-care, education, corporate law, civil law, and even defence (remember Blackwater? That’s one of the more examples of the dangers of government deregulation).

    Whenever the government has stepped out and deregulated, the powerful have swept in to act as a functional state-by-proxy….the government of the people is supplanted by a government of shareholders, defence contractors or pharmaceutical giants. 200 years ago it would have been the Church….today, its the wealthy that act as the state.

    I realize that this response has nothing to do with the original ‘inquisition’, but this is a bit of a hot-button issue with me. I did my hella-long-slit-my-friggin-throat-when-is-this-goddamned-paper-gonna-be-friggin-done-I-should-have-picked-a-different-topic-but-it’s-too-late-for-that-now-isn’t-it-Honours Thesis (in Political Science) on a paper whose subheading was titled, “The Failure of Libertarian Activism in Liberal Democracies”….and I’ve always noticed on this page that there seems to be labouring under a rather peculiar “either-or” understanding (or lack thereof) of libertarian theory.

    Again, this is meant with ALL respect…we’re all friends here! (And I have a bit of libertarian streak to me too….which has gotten me in trouble in “Peace, Order, Good Government-Canada!).

    Cheers

  55. And one more point, directed to sethmanapio (again, with respect!),

    When you mentioned the problem of creationism being taught in government schools, I hasten to say that that is an issue largley limited to the United States. We have a very successful (if flawed) government school system and whenever creationism rears its ugly head, it gets shot down hard.

    Ireland, Canada, Australia, Sweeden, Norway, Iceland, New Zealand, France, Italy, and yes, Cuba too: All countries with government school systems, high literacy rates, and almost completley absent from the creationism bug. With respect, your example doesn’t hold.

  56. What JRice said.

    I have always been bothered by the ‘I got mine, so screw everyone else’ attitude.

    Regarding the post Travis made early on about Common Defense: I am not sure it isn’t hypocritical to throw the Commons under the bus until you feel the need to coerce me to provide for a Defense that you feel should be Common, but I do not. What would the free market say to it?

    Disclaimer, this is Devil Advocating, I do not subscribe to Libertarianism. Also, above posted with respect – just trying to understand.

  57. To SomeCanadianSkeptic –

    Can i read your paper? Seriously. Sounds interesting.

    As an American, I resist the characterization : ‘the government is largely viewed as intrusive and unwelcome except in areas of safety.’

    I know that in recent history there has been one side of this that has been screaming alot louder than the other but I think you would find it a pretty even split.

    As for the Founding Fathers, I think there was some passionate debate between the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans that would fit very well on the talk shows of today.

  58. Some Canadian Skeptic:

    “This is primarily directed to Shanek (with all respect of course!)

    “What seems to have been missed in this thread is that libertarianism has existed in a spectrum”

    Um, I seem to recall saying exactly that above!

    “Typically, an increased government presence in a liberal society (with particular reference to public schools and health care) results in: a higher literacy rate, higher levels of students with university degrees, longer life expectancy, lower infant mortality, and fewer cases of diseases that could have been prevented by vaccines.”

    When compared to what? You yourself said that there were no libertarian societies to compare it to, so the only other option I can think of is right-authoritarian (fascism and corporatism) which libertarians are against, too.

    “The United States (and increasingly, the United Kingdom), while still very clearly a liberal democracy, is far more libertarian than most other liberal democracies: the government is largely viewed as intrusive and unwelcome except in areas of safety.”

    I don’t know WHAT country you’re thinking of, but it’s definitely NOT the USA!

    “remember Blackwater? That’s one of the more examples of the dangers of government deregulation”

    No, that’s corporatism. Most forms of so-called “deregulation” are really corporatism. Look at the California power crisis earlier this decade.

    Libertarians want to get rid of socialism AND corporatism. So it’s hardly a critique of libertarianism to look at problems that arise from corporatism!

  59. wytworm:

    “I am not sure it isn’t hypocritical to throw the Commons under the bus until you feel the need to coerce me to provide for a Defense that you feel should be Common, but I do not. What would the free market say to it?”

    The free market would say that if enough people want a national defense they’ll make it happen voluntarily. People are like that. You’re talking about the same race that built the pyramids, after all (and no, that was NOT slave labor!).

  60. wytworm: The paper is in the stage of massive revision at this point in order that I can get into some Master’s studies peripheral to this topic, so as it stands now, no…I’ve got some professors who suggest to me that I not unveil it to anyone until I’m ready for a defence. So maybe in 2 years it will be publically available (and better than the 4th year-level university it’s at now).

    As for the characterization, I admitedly meant it more out of generalization. I, and academics far greater than I have written at great length comparing the attitudes that Canadians and Americans have towards government, governance and the state, drawn principally from the two very divergent ethos to be found in the constitutions. Where as the American constitution proudly emblazons the creed, “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”, the Canadian Charter shyly espouses “Peace, Order, and Good Government”.

    I think this largley frames the general attitudes towards the two countries’ stance on government. Canadians are generally pleased with, and trusting of the government running areas of life such as the schools, hospitals, and defence. Whereas in general, Americans tend to proudly exclaim the belief that the individual knows what is best for him/herself, and just who does the government think he is, telling me how to teach my kids, and tell me that I can’t have an assault weapon to defend my family? (the whole self-determination thing is a bird that doesn’t fly as high in Canada). I find it particularly telling that even Lemocrats are fierce defendants of the 2nd amendment…..In Canada it’s generally the Liberals fighting the Conservatives to enforce stricter gun-laws (for example, handguns are outlawed for civillians, and the vast majority of Canadians are quite happy with that….Imagine an American senator propose a bill to ban handguns…then imagine that senator getting re-elected!).

    Anyway, I hope I offended no one here, but I have this wierd sense of proprietary whenever politics gets brought up….I cannot abide political misinformation. If I were to have an area of expertise, it surely is political science…which is a bit infuriating as its probably the least-amiable discipline to skepticism as there can be; except when post-modernism comes up….then I can blend my politics with my skepticism, but that is a self-satisfying rant for another day.

    And if the paper-o-mine ever gets published, believe me, I’ll be shouting it from the rooftops.

  61. To be honest, to me skepticism leads pretty naturally to libertarianism. I’m skeptical of the need to control corporations outside from the reasons people need to be controlled: when they are actively hurting people. Corporations are just groups of people who organize to better do something other people want done.

    I’m skeptical of the need to “fund the arts”. Why don’t the arts get funded by the people why want the art? People go see plays all the time, buy paintings, listen to music at clubs, etc. Who says the art that gets “funded” is any good, or is good for society?

    This is no place for a treatise, but whenever i talk to someone who wants “big government” it’s because they want people to do things they would not do of their own accord, and the government is the mechanism to force people to do what they don’t want. In general i am in favor of people’s actions being as voluntary as possible.

  62. “Really, all the libertarians here are just saying, “If you’re not rich, you get shit.” That is a really selfish and disgusting attitude.”

    Actually, not at all. The libertarian idea is, You should get to keep what you earn or make. The non libertarian is the disgusting and selfish “you should be forced to work, and i get to take it if i want.”

    How is letting people keep their own produce selfish? And remember, taking away people’s possessions is done by force. How is it not greedy to say if that person doesn’t do what i want with the fruits of their labor, we should send armed men into their house? Isn’t _that_ greedy and selfish?

  63. @Rys: “The problem I see is with how we handle the people stuck at the bottom (a social system for healthcare, education, law-enforcement, etc. really must step in, as I see it), and with issues on a larger scale than your average consumer bothers to care about (such as space exploration, many ecological issues, that sort of thing).”

    Yes, that’ the way I see it, too. I’m not really concerned with HOW the inner cities and rural backwoods may have gotten they way they are via the war on drugs and farm subsidies when the question is “will this way of doing things work, given that things are the way they presently are”.

    I abhor the war on drugs and bloated farm subsidies, also. I guess my main problem is that since I have not read extensively on the subject of capital “L” libertarianism, and all that I have heard from self-proclaimed Libertarians has to do with how paying taxes is unconstitutional and that there shouldn’t be welfare and the government should basically not exist…well, even Wikipedia’s entry is so confusing that I’m not sure that there even IS a “true” Libertarianism…is it kind of like Christianity, where everyone claims that their own interpretation is the “true” one?

    Regardless of how inner city USA got so fucked up (really – Just the war on drugs? Nothing to do with a dominantly former slave underclass dealing with systematic discrimination and segregation that remains in a de facto way after legal abolishment; internal cultural/social crisis – you’re saying that laws that sentence drug offenders heavily are what cause family violence, teen pregnancy, andanti-intellectualism?), the fact is that it is fucked up in a way that, if any of the Libertarians I’ve ever listened to had their way, it would turn into a mob-ruled warlord kind of situation.

  64. I am a little late, but I think that there are some really great Libertarians that are skeptics (e.g., Shermer). It is all a matter of degree. As the “libertarians” here demonstrate, they are a spectrum from what I would consider to be republicans that respect civil liberties to anarchists.

    Replace the word libertarian with any other political party, and ask the same question. You will find some self-identified members of a party to be very thoughtful about each issue, deciding the view to take for themselves individually. You will also find the pundits that drank the kool-aid, have a list of issues they have to take as a whole creed, and just rationalize each stance on an issue. Ironically, these pundits seem to be the ones most sure of themselves and the cockiest.

  65. @67 “I’m skeptical of the need to “fund the arts”. Why don’t the arts get funded by the people why want the art? People go see plays all the time, buy paintings, listen to music at clubs, etc. Who says the art that gets “funded” is any good, or is good for society?”

    One can of worms to be opened when I get back.

  66. @67 (sorry, above was supposed to be @65)”How is letting people keep their own produce selfish? And remember, taking away people’s possessions is done by force. How is it not greedy to say if that person doesn’t do what i want with the fruits of their labor, we should send armed men into their house? Isn’t _that_ greedy and selfish?”

    again, as a former wife of someone whose bank account is very, very full due to grandpa being smart about corn and a little company called ADM, I’ll discuss when I get back…

  67. writerdd:

    “Really, all the libertarians here are just saying, “If you’re not rich, you get shit.” That is a really selfish and disgusting attitude.”

    WHAT??? How on EARTH do you figure we’re saying that???

    I’ve talked about: stopping corporatism (and all of the tax breaks etc. that go with it), making it easier for the poor to start their own businesses, getting crime WAY down by eliminating the War on Drugs, continuing the same market forces that pulled the poor out of starvation and gave them cheap heating oil, getting rid of inflation which makes the poor poorer and the politicians and corporations richer, a follow-the-money policy which opens up educational options for poor children that the rich enjoy now, free clinics, charity hospitals, and lots of other things that would help out the poor a lot more than this stifling, oppressive system we have now which condemns the poor to a LONGER period of poverty than we had before the welfare state began.

    Also, I have provided evidence and data supporting all of this, and EVERY SINGLE BIT of it has been completely ignored.

    So, once again, I fail to see how WE’RE the ones who are being irrational here!

  68. Whitebird:

    Read Mary Ruwart’s book I linked to above for an excellent description, in detail, fully sourced, from start to finish, of what Libertarianism is and what its benefits are.

  69. Whitebird:

    “Yes, that’ the way I see it, too. I’m not really concerned with HOW the inner cities and rural backwoods may have gotten they way they are via the war on drugs and farm subsidies when the question is “will this way of doing things work, given that things are the way they presently are”.”

    Well, if you agree that the inner cities got that way because of the War on Drugs and farm subsidies, doesn’t it make sense to end the War on Drugs and farm subsidies? That’s kind of a no-brainer to me…

    “Regardless of how inner city USA got so fucked up (really – Just the war on drugs? Nothing to do with a dominantly former slave underclass…”

    After 150 years? I don’t see how. Could you even find someone alive today whose great-grandfather was enslaved?

    Ever heard of Farrah Gray?

  70. “After 150 years? ”

    no. I believe that Jim Crow was active into the 1960’s. And I said De Facto.

    Also, “I’ve talked about: stopping corporatism (and all of the tax breaks etc. that go with it),”?

    Ending tax breaks? I thought that Libertarians were against tax period – sounds like the ultimate tax break…

    I have an idea. Since it seems that nobody is too clear on what exactly “Libertarian” means, how about, Shanek, you clearly, tersely state the top ten points of Libertarianism that you feel confident that “true” Libertarians agree on. Because I really, really thought that no taxes were part of it, and I’m confused about who (you know, with minimal government) exactly is going to end corporatism.

    Also, say someone wants to set up a child brothel or whatever and they are heavily guarded. Are you saying that the citizenry in that town needs to get guns and form a mini-militia to take them out? I never understood the role of police and law enforcement as related to me by libertarians.

    For the record, (and like I said before) I am fully against the war on drugs and farm subsidies. Those are not things only derided by libertarians.
    (doi)

  71. Shanek, what strikes me as odd about Libertarianism is the amount of trust it actually places in its government. Why, when there are clear historical counterexamples, do you expect the government to remain only in its assigned role as this weird anti-force force?

    Let me clarify a bit. Libertarians want a government that only uses force in response to others’ use of force, yes? How, then, do we limit it from coercing people at other times? What stops it from, at some other moment, deciding to take up new duties?

    Please don’t say market forces, because that’s crap. That only works if the government is funded by donations, which in turn means that it can be bought for private interest, which gives it a concrete reason to accumulate power.

    So assuming taxation, what other concrete things can or can’t your hypothetical government do? Remember that it will tend to abuse any powers you give it.

    (Apologies if this wanders a bit, and all due respect accorded)

  72. donjx:

    “Yes it was. There was education in the dark ages — how do you suppose monks learned to read?”

    Um, they were taught by the Church? You know, the crowd that was in charge of both the government and education?

    Whitebird:

    “no. I believe that Jim Crow was active into the 1960’s. And I said De Facto.”

    Jim Crow referred to a set of laws. Blacks have to sit at the back of the bus, that kind of thing. Now, why do you think those laws were passed? Was it because everybody was racist and the free market was racist? No! If that had been the case, there would have been no need for laws!

    When the Jim Crow laws were first passed, they were completely ineffective. The bus companies, for instance, let people sit where they wanted. It just wasn’t worth it to them to instigate some arbitrary segregation thing when they had no profit motive to do so. They didn’t care about the color of your skin, only the color of your money (is it green?).

    This continued until the state governments that had passed these laws threatened to put policemen in every single bus and arrest bus drivers that failed to comply with the law. The bus driver that told Rosa Parks to move back did so because he feared being thrown in jail! That’s how oppression works.

    So, it wasn’t the free market that made blacks segregated; it was GOVERNMENT. The force of government acting on behalf of a racist minority.

    “Ending tax breaks? I thought that Libertarians were against tax period – sounds like the ultimate tax break…”

    Yes, but that’s for EVERYBODY. It’s not done as a special favor for some big corporation. Big businesses, small businesses, individuals, EVERYBODY gets to keep their hard-earned money to put to a much more beneficial use (yes, to society as a whole) than government.

    Tax breaks for corporations are bad because they undercut the competitive aspects of the free market. Those corporations now don’t have to work as hard to convince you to give up your money. And their competition has to work that much harder to keep up.

    “how about, Shanek, you clearly, tersely state the top ten points of Libertarianism”

    I only need one: The NIOF Principle. That sums it all up together.

    “I’m confused about who (you know, with minimal government) exactly is going to end corporatism.”

    Since government is the cause of corporatism, getting rid of those government programs will put an end to corporatism.

    “Also, say someone wants to set up a child brothel or whatever and they are heavily guarded. Are you saying that the citizenry in that town needs to get guns and form a mini-militia to take them out?”

    Well, that would certainly be an option, but remember that we’re NOT talking anarchy here. Since there’s clearly an initiation of force going on, this would be an appropriate use of government.

    Note that it would NOT be an appropriate use of government if it were an ADULT brothel (meaning, all of the prostitutes were consenting adults).

    “I never understood the role of police and law enforcement as related to me by libertarians.”

    Their proper role is to defend against initiations of force: murder, theft, kidnapping, etc. NOT things like prostitution and drug use.

    “For the record, (and like I said before) I am fully against the war on drugs and farm subsidies. Those are not things only derided by libertarians.”

    I understand, but no other politician seems to want to do anything about it. The only Congressman I know of who’s for ending the War on Drugs is a Republican (Ron Paul).

  73. ZachTP:

    “Shanek, what strikes me as odd about Libertarianism is the amount of trust it actually places in its government. Why, when there are clear historical counterexamples, do you expect the government to remain only in its assigned role as this weird anti-force force?”

    Um, we don’t. In fact, we expect it to take every opportunity it can to usurp whatever power it can grab–and this is why we oppose practically every new use of government power!

    “Libertarians want a government that only uses force in response to others’ use of force, yes? How, then, do we limit it from coercing people at other times? What stops it from, at some other moment, deciding to take up new duties?”

    Short answer: the people. And it’s done through things like, separation of powers, jury nullification, and, yes, the Second Amendment.

  74. writerdd:

    “shanek, frankly I think you and other “skeptic-libertarians” are delusional when it comes to politics.”

    Care to explain why?

  75. Shanek:
    Thank you for the quick response. One thing, though: you can’t reasonably expect “the people” to dislike government control all the time, and only accept it when necessary. Of the people I know, and I realize there is a sampling bias, most do not inherently dislike an active, somewhat intrusive government; quite the opposite. Many of them do, in fact, dislike certain specific things the current US government is/is not doing, and certain of the powers it now holds, but in general terms, many of them wish to reap the benefits of an involved, caring government (which certainly requires change to be created) rather than dismembering it.

  76. ZachTP:

    “One thing, though: you can’t reasonably expect “the people” to dislike government control all the time, and only accept it when necessary.”

    Oh, I know. That was the reason for making the Constitution so difficult to amend. The problem is, people on the left and the right are considering many parts of the Constitution negotiable. The right wants to take away the first and fourth amendments, the left the second and seventh, and BOTH of them the ninth and tenth. This is why we need to educate the people better as to why strict adherence to the Constitution is so important. Every single line, even the bad stuff. Because the bad stuff should only be changed by amendment.

    This thing seems to go in cycles: have a tyrant, overthrow him, celebrate your newfound freedom, then generations later when people have forgotten how bad tyranny can be, or become complacent and think it can’t happen to them, start setting it up all over again.

    As the man said: eternal vigilance.

  77. Wow. Serious pissing contest. To head back to the question, I think any position that elevates opinion above fact, as scarce as they are in sciences as fuzzy as politics, is problematic, and big-L Libertarianism certainly fits the bill, as do most -isms. A sensible look at the world reveals that most analogous structures to a body politic are ruled by diversity, redundancy, dynamic equilibrium, negative feedback mechanisms-in short, anything but hardlines.

    I would call myself a small-l libertarian insofar as the historical records, and our understanding of control, feedback, complexity, and the like suggest that most people make decent decisions for their own welfare and those connected to them when those decisions are left up to them. They’re in a tighter feedback loop with the problems they face, their motivation is higher, the diversity of approaches to diverse niches works for the same reason that evolution does, ala “The Pencil.”

    On the other hand, it doesn’t take much game theory, or examining of our evolved moral impulses, or parsing the emergence of multicellular organisms, or pack behavior, or the like, to realize that all fortunes, present and future, improve when people have a degree of interest in, and a degree of influence over, their fellows.

    Between these two, there is plenty of room for good government, driven by concern for the well-being of its constituents, past and future-concern to care for and police them, as well as leave them be to develop.

    I think David Brin has summed it up best-that if libertarianism is really about minimizing coercion, it needs to combat all forces that drive people away from free choices. A wiretapping government kills choice-so does a government that refuses to regulate corporations that lack the feedback mechanism of democratic representation, or one that allows its members to go hungry or fall ill. Titled aristocrats and robber barons are equally toxic to the freedom of their fellow citizens, and a person trapped in a cycle of poor education and poor health leading to ungainful employment is nearly as trapped as someone imprisoned for political beliefs.

  78. Really, all the libertarians here are just saying, “If you’re not rich, you get shit.” That is a really selfish and disgusting attitude.

    ———————-

    I guess I could be really selfless and demand some of your money.

  79. Do you know what could have saved it? Governmental protections. The heavy hand of the fucking fuzz patrolling those islands and sinking boats out from under poachers.
    ===========

    Quick, name the biggest single polluter in the US! Is it:

    A: Some oil company
    B: WalMart
    C: The Federal Government.

    Take your time. The thing is, Rys, saving big, charismatic megafauna is great an all that, and its a good PR move, but in the end, it doesn’t mean much.

  80. With respect, your example doesn’t hold.

    —————-

    Of course it does. It just isn’t obvious that government schools work well in the US. It might be true, but I remind people that these are the same schools that (in the US) are turning out a generation of illiterates, especially in the much bemoaned inner cities.

  81. you’re saying that laws that sentence drug offenders heavily are what cause family violence, teen pregnancy, andanti-intellectualism?

    ————

    Yes. The Harlem rennaissance, and modern movements like it that champion black intellectualism, hard work, and pride in achievement were and continue to be stomped flat by drug dealing gangs.

    The drug runners are heavily armed, well financed, and have a vested interest in keeping their neighborhoods dangerous and disconnected.

    I believe that the purpose of the war on drugs is precisely this, a means of destroying the growing black middle class and destroying black neighborhoods. At least, this is the only way that I can account for its existence, given that it has virtually no effect on drug use or availability.

    The war on drugs is also a primary factor in the immigration problem, because the corruption and violence from drug traffic makes it difficult to build a decent country in central America. It’s a major contributor to our difficulties in Afghanistan. The U.S. Government contributed to 911 by sending money to the Taliban to fight the drug war, freeing up other funds that the Taliban used to protect Osama Bin Laden.

    In other words, in my opinion, no single body of law causes as much damage to our reputation, intelligence gathering capacities, tax revenue, inner cities, backwoods, military power, and credibility as the War on Drugs.

    Although the War on Terror is running a close second.

  82. shanek, frankly I think you and other “skeptic-libertarians” are delusional when it comes to politics.

    ————

    Yes, but I haven’t seen any evidence that you understand my position or any other position, including your own. As far as I can tell, you’re a total knee jerk liberal, with nothing but reflexive, spiteful dislike for anyone with an opposing point of view.

    You haven’t presented any evidence, logic, or even comedy to support your assertions. You just say “I think you’re delusional,” which is great, but what I would say is: If you think that somehow, handing over more power and control over what you do with your body to the fracking Bush administration is a good idea, you are dangerously delusional. You can honestly look at the war on drugs, terror, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, the mess that Medicaid is in, the pyramid scheme that is social security (the only retirement plan on earth that gives negative return); you can look at all of these screw ups from the fed and say “oh, let’s hand them the entire health care system” and you think I’m delusional?

    Did I wake up in Bizzarro world this morning?

  83. There was education in the dark ages — how do you suppose monks learned to read?

    ———

    In government sponsored schools, paid for by tax levies. See, back then there was no separation of church and state, and governments collected money on behalf of the church. Church tithing was mandatory, and so was attendance.

  84. The problem is that libertarianism like most isms is unscientific and therefore not ultimately compatible with an evidence based commitment to life. Not only are we biologically communal creatures that catch each others moods and passions like we catch colds, we are memetic creatures.

    This staunch defense of individual “free” choice and liberty ignores most of what we understand about how humans operate as individuals and groups. Perhaps someday our memes of liberty and justice for all will be potent enough that we won’t need formal governmental or organizational intervention, but then won’t some claim that such a policeman in the head is but another infringement on choice.

    So for any libertarian, republican, democrat, or whatever out there that can show me how their approach best conforms to cognitive science, biology, and the other lines of scientific endeavour, I’m yours. Otherwise, skeptic first – ideology later.

  85. “Quick, name the biggest single polluter in the US!”

    The interesting thing is, the answer would still be C even if you break it down. The US military pollutes more than anyone else in the world, and even the EPA is among the top polluters!

  86. So for any libertarian, republican, democrat, or whatever out there that can show me how their approach best conforms to cognitive science, biology, and the other lines of scientific endeavour, I’m yours.

    ———————

    Two of a bunch:

    1. Economies are complex (in a formal sense). We don’t understand them, and we cannot predict the effects of our actions on them. In other observed complex systems, self organization, that is, individual parts of the system acting independently, work better than top-down control for maintaining such systems. Therefore, top down control is suboptimal for complex systems, thus, you should be a libertarian.

    2: As liberty has increased in human history (freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom to tinker, freedom to become independent) the ability of the human race to preserve our genome/memeplexes for deep time periods has increased. If your goal is avoiding human extinction, freedom has the best track record.

  87. Mark Mulkerin:

    “The problem is that libertarianism like most isms is unscientific and therefore not ultimately compatible with an evidence based commitment to life.”

    Right, unlike skepticism.

    …unlike skepticISM…

    Hmmm….

  88. Shanek, I’m tying to say this as politley as I can, But you’re being incredibly rude, defensive and aggressive. Maybe people would respond a little better to your points if you delivered them with a little more tact, and a lot less less caps, multiple exclamation points, and your unplesant mix of passive agdression and condesention. I, and others may be guilty of the same crimes, and if so, I sincerely apologize (for my part). But I really think you need to simmer down and stop yelling at people.

    I’m not responding your counterpoints for exactly these reasons. Not because you outwitted me, or I’m “a total knee jerk liberal, with nothing but reflexive, spiteful dislike for anyone with an opposing point of view. ” as another in this thread has accused someone else of being.

    I still think you’re a solid skeptic, and we can likely find more issues that we agree with than disagree. But your constant claims that those of us not in your libertarian camp are doing so not out of logic but some bizzarre ideological connection is just plain offensive, and I’m not playing anymore. I remember a recent thread involving libertarianism where you behaved much the same way, and I simply refuse to discuss with someone who talks down to me and others the way you have been doing.

    We can still agree that a)James Randi is supa-cool, b)Sylvia Browne is an evil, leathered thief, and that c) Homeopathy might be a refereshing treat on a hot summer’s day, but medicine it ain’t, but on this point we’re not going to see eye-to-eye, and it’s possible that both of us are attached to our positions with as much evidence and logic as ideology.

  89. you’re saying that laws that sentence drug offenders heavily are what cause family violence, teen pregnancy, andanti-intellectualism?

    I’m going to vote for “in part”.

    Actually what contributes to those problems is seeing drug abuse as primarily a law enforcement issue, rather than a public health issue. In that sense, the laws and sentencing is a symptom, not the central problem.

    In turn, the failure to take public health issues seriously is partly a symptom of the dysfunctional US public health system. A lot has been said about “health care” specifically, but actually the system needs to be understood as a whole, taking into account such things as sex education and food regulation.

  90. I’m going to skip over all the actual political discourse and quickly uncheck the notify box. Unlike other topics, every time I read political discussions on this blog, my faith in humanity dies a little.

    (And you there who are reading this and thinking that this is only caused by people with politics different from yours and couldn’t possibly be referring to you…No, it’s definitely you.)

    Politics is human interaction at all levels. It is complicated and messy. It is a chaos system, deterministic but seemingly random, highly resistant to modeling.

    Therefore, skepticism in politics is mostly in the eye of the beholder, and you really can’t have any political philosophy at all without ignoring some truths inconvenient to that philosophy.

    All you can really do is do your best to be introspective and question your own political beliefs from time to time. Different people manage this to different degrees, but it will never be perfect in anyone.

    But one thing is certain. If people who agree with you seem really, really smart and good-intentioned and compassionate while people who disagree with you seem like stupid, unthinking, mean-spirited poopy-heads, then you are probably doing a really suck-ass job at the whole introspection thing.

  91. Sylvia Browne is an evil, leathered thief […]

    Actually, I’m going to dissent on that.

    I’ve been thinking about Sylvia Browne on and off a bit recently. I can’t see why a fraud would let herself get caught in so many wrong predictions. If I were trying to convince the gullible that I was the real deal in order to separate them from their money, I would prefer simple trickery (like John Edward) or speaking in generalities with the odd lucky guess thrown in (like most astrologers). I would never make a single specific prediction that I could get caught out on later.

    So why does Sylvia do it?

    The only conclusion that I cam come up with is that she’s actually a well-meaning (if over-self-promoting), deluded individual who has managed to convince herself that she’s really got it. So far, I’ve seen no evidence to the contrary.

    (No, I don’t consider an unwillingness to subject yourself to testing as evidence of fraud; this is perfectly explainable by a highly inflated sense of self-importance.)

    If others would like to discuss this, it’d make an interesting Afternoon Inquisition.

  92. I’m “a total knee jerk liberal, with nothing but reflexive, spiteful dislike for anyone with an opposing point of view. ” as another in this thread has accused someone else of being.

    —————

    I stand by that statement. D has never, at any point, offered any political analysis of any kind. Nor has she ever articulated why she disagrees with any skeptic-libertarian, or what that disagreement might be about. Yet, she feels qualified and justified to describe me as holding the same positions as Shanek (which I do not) and of being delusional. To me, this is a knee jerk reaction, purely reflexive, with no sign of analysis, reason, or thought behind.

    I could be wrong, and look forward to the thoughtful, reasoned, and comprehensive rebuttal that explains why I am delusional and what I am delusional about.

  93. Pseudonym: Regarding Sylvia Browne, “If others would like to discuss this, it’d make an interesting Afternoon Inquisition.

    Good idea, I second that. I was about to respond, but this is not the forum.

    sethmanapio: I admit I took a bit of creative liscence. I have been mocked in such language, and it was a bit too convientient for me to not copy and paste. So that was not meant as a defence of writerdd, nor was it an attack on you….chaulk it up my laziness if anything.

  94. #56: While Step 1 is a value judgment, and therefore highly variable, I think we’d all be better off if more people applied Steps 2-5.

    —————————

    Absolutely, Step 1 (having a goal) is variable. But its important just for clarities sake. Goals come in many flavors. I have a goal that my blog will outlast the sun. I also have a goal that science literacy improves in the United States. And I think I can share both of those goals with a liberal or a conservative or a libertarian. Its just a different way of breaking down the venn diagram.

    SCS: Well… I can stand by the content of my message without standing by the phrasing. You are right when you say that mockery is not a bridge to understanding.

  95. Some Canadian Skeptic:

    No, you see what you WANT to see. You want to see rudeness, so you see it, and you find an excuse to validate it. The caps are for STRESS, not yelling. (As if people yell one word at a time!) In internet parlance, caps is only considered yelling if the WHOLE SENTENCE is capitalized. Capitalizing just a couple-three words for stress is a tradition in English going all the way back to the 1700s. Learn the language you’re speaking and get over yourself.

    Now, how about a response with some substance?

  96. Some Canadian Skeptic:

    Oh, and I just did a search through the comments: Only ONCE did I use multiple exclamation marks (three, which in fact is standard English to express a sudden surprise; again, learn the language) in response to someone who chided ME for talking about something HE brought up!

    I mean, if these are the things you look at to say, “I’m not responding your counterpoints for exactly these reasons,” then I really have to wonder if you’d be convinced at all by anything, because it really comes across as excuse-making.

    I have NOT been the one personalizing things. I’ve been defensive because I’VE BEEN ATTACKED. That’s how it works! I’ve been TRYING to keep this about the rational arguments and the data. But apparently, other people just don’t want to do that. Which is par for the course for these kinds of discussions…

  97. Capitalizing just a couple-three words for stress is a tradition in English going all the way back to the 1700s.

    ———————

    Yes. But in HTML/CSS, the standard for emphasis is the EM tag, and the standard for strong emphasis is the STRONG tag.

  98. sethmanapio:

    “Yes. But in HTML/CSS, the standard for emphasis is the EM tag, and the standard for strong emphasis is the STRONG tag.”

    I post a LOT of places. Only a few of them allow HTML. It’s impossible to remember what’s allowed where. Sometimes they put a list of allowed tags at the bottom of the input box, but this site doesn’t.

  99. @ Seth, above somewhere”

    “you’re saying that laws that sentence drug offenders heavily are what cause family violence, teen pregnancy, andanti-intellectualism?

    ————

    Yes. The Harlem rennaissance, and modern movements like it that champion black intellectualism, hard work, and pride in achievement were and continue to be stomped flat by drug dealing gangs.

    The drug runners are heavily armed, well financed, and have a vested interest in keeping their neighborhoods dangerous and disconnected.

    I believe that the purpose of the war on drugs is precisely this, a means of destroying the growing black middle class and destroying black neighborhoods. At least, this is the only way that I can account for its existence, given that it has virtually no effect on drug use or availability.”

    whaaaa? So you’re giving one example of a specifically black cultural era of cultural achievement (Harlem Renaissance era) and insinuating that this was somehow a) the dominant situation for blacks nationwide at the time and that b) if it weren’t derailed by the war on drugs, black folks today would have it just as equal as whites?

    And are you saying that the war on drugs is causing the drug dealers to be drug dealers ? I completely don’t understand your logic, and especially your last point. Also, the inner city here in L.A. is full of Latinos and sprinklings of whites and SE Asians…

    I’m just kind of baffled. Please explain.

  100. shanek, it’s your tone. I can understand the feeling of being attacked from all sides (having gone through it myself), but the bottom line is you’re talking down to people: You keep presenting a difference of opinion as a difference of fact, such as your recent claim that “No, you see what you WANT to see. You want to see rudeness, so you see it, and you find an excuse to validate it..”

    Don’t go pretending you’re taking the high road of intellectual discourse then throw out barbs like that….you’re smarter than that.

  101. Whitebird:

    “Also, didn’t the war on drugs start in the 80’s?”

    Early ’70s.

    Some Canadian Skeptic:

    “shanek, it’s your tone.”

    How can you have tone in a written medium? You’re saying, “Don’t type at me in that tone of voice!” That was an old joke during Usenet days. You’re being serious with it!

    “You keep presenting a difference of opinion as a difference of fact, such as your recent claim”

    If that claim is wrong, then respond to the arguments. If it’s wrong, you’ll do that; if I’m right, you won’t.

    “Do I need to find more examples?”

    Of what? Me giving not even a tenth of what I was given?

  102. Some Canadian Skeptic:

    I reread all of my posts before your rant in #96, and I can’t see ANYWHERE that I was rude to you! But you, on the other hand, turned around and started putting words into my mouth, ranted about caps and stuff, and refused to respond to any of my points.

    My ONLY post to you at that point was #62. Here are ALL of the places in that post where I used caps:

    “I don’t know WHAT country you’re thinking of, but it’s definitely NOT the USA!”

    “Libertarians want to get rid of socialism AND corporatism.”

    Now, how on EARTH can EITHER of those be considered rude, defensive, or aggressive???

  103. (By the way, before anyone bleats on about it, the three question marks in the sentence above denote confusion and incredulity. Again, in accordance with the rules of informal written English.)

  104. Also, didn’t the war on drugs start in the 80’s?

    —————-

    Prohibition of drugs started earlier, much earlier. More like the 30s or 40s. Read Bill Burroughs book “junkie” for some early drug war perspective.

    My point is that any movement in black culture that seeks to emphasize personal achievement or education, let alone integration into a larger society, runs up against the Drug War. The drug gangs recruit heavily and do not promote good schools or even school attendance in neighborhoods that they control. Furthermore, a large number of blacks (and latinos) end up in jail, far, far more than whites once you take the population disparity into account.

    The whole idea that someone who is well educated is “acting white”, or that learning to speak standard american english is “acting white” is a product of a heavily segregated society in which one group (blacks) are incarcerated and harrassed by the power structure at a much higher rate than another group (whites). This divide creates a culture in which more people get into the drug dealing industry, the gangs have money, guns, power, and they are always hiring.

    Because this business, which is financed by white america, is illegal, people often go to jail for small quantities, that is, while they are young. The gangs maintain employment for individuals while they are in jail, either dealing or enforcing. Also, leaving a gang can be very dangerous.

    All of these things are a result of drug prohibition. If you took away drug prohibition, you would completely change the relationship between inner city america and the larger society.

  105. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like it’s worth wasting your breath, huh?

    —————–

    No, it doesn’t. But I waste it anyway, because people who know you consider you a skeptic. So somewhere, under all the snide one liners, there must be some kind of reasoned thinking, right?

    See, it’s possible that you may be right. It could be that some of my core assumptions about top down control and personal choice are wrong. I’m ready to listen to you any time you care to “waste” some breath explaining why my point of view is selfish and disgusting.

  106. Greetings,

    It seems that some of the disagreement about libertarian ideas comes from merging the concepts of society and government.
    Someone says, “As a society, we must do something about problem X”.
    The libertarian says, “Government should not be involved in problem X”.
    These posisitions are only in conflict if the only way for a society to address an issue is through government action.
    The libertarian may personally believe both propositions.

    I think this confusion came into play earlier in this thread when Rystefn @37 said:

    Either the child dies because I couldn’t afford treatment, or some social system steps in to pay so that the child may live.

    shanek @41 responds:

    Then you can go to one of the numerous free clinics and charity hospitals…

    Followed by rystefn @50:

    “Some social system steps in to pay so that the child may live.” Option Two. Dichotomy stands.

    At first, it looks like these guys are agreeing. There should be some social system that helps the sick child.
    However, it appears that when Rystefn says “some social system”, he means the same thing as when he says “socialized medicine” (see post 37).

    shanek, on the other hand, does not equate “free clinics and charity hospitals” with “socialized medicine”, so he views the choice between “child dies” and “socialized medicine” as a false dichotomy. This looks like an example of a libertarian believing both, “As a society, we must do something about problem X”, and, “government should not be involved in problem X”. That is, I suspect shanek is in favor of social mechanisms to prevent a child with pneumonia from going without care due the lack of means of the parents, and he believes that government intervention is not the preferable mechanism.

    I suspect a lot of people dislike libertarian ideas (and libertarians) because of this simple misunderstanding.

    (note: This is not only my first post at Skepchick, but my first post on any blog. As such, I may get some etiquette wrong. I apologize ahead of time for this, and ask for your patience and assistance.)

    I am a Hedge.

  107. Sure. Another example.

    A friend of mine is very hostile to the ideas of libertarianism. He’s a socialist-liberal.

    One of the reasons he gives for being hostile to libertarianism is OSHA. He has said that businesses don’t care if they hurt their workers, so we need OSHA to force businesses to not endanger employees.

    I think this idea is bizarre. first of all, employees have the option to choose to not work for an employer who has no concern for their safety, refuse to do dangerous jobs, work for an employer who is safer, sue in the event of an accident.

    More to the point, the idea exposes bigoted thinking; that ’employers’ are some kind of non-human creatures who don’t care if they injure or kill normal people ‘like you and me.’ It derives, i think, from the same place as other ism-s such as racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.

    But aside from the fact that employers are human beings too, they have logical reasons to keep employees alive/uninjured, such as crippled/dead employees not being able to work.

    The core idea of libertarianism is that there should not be a person or group of people up top deciding what society should look like and using force to enforce their goals. Society should be shaped by the voluntary cooperation of its members and their individual wants, desires, and goals. If you want society to look like ‘x’, great. Campaign for it. Convince people that ‘x’ is good and they should behave that way. But getting a law passed to enforce ‘x’ means that people who don’t agree with your goal and resist it are going to go to jail.

    Really, where it all fits nicely into skepticism is that libertarianism recognizes that social structures arise from intendant action, in much the same way that structured living creatures arise from an evolutionary process. To believe that social structures can only arise from a plan/directive from the top seems to be the same category of logical error as believing that living things coulld only arise from a conscious creator.

  108. I think this idea is bizarre. first of all, employees have the option to choose to not work for an employer who has no concern for their safety, refuse to do dangerous jobs, work for an employer who is safer, sue in the event of an accident.

    What a load of crap. When you live paycheck to paycheck, you take whatever frakking job you can find and you are afraid to get fired because you will lose your house, not be able to feed your kids, you’ll lose your health insurance, and so forth.

    I haven’t read anything in this thread to change my mind about libertarians being selfish, rich (and that’s relative), pricks.

  109. Sorry, forgot to close the blockquote.

    Oh, and I guess all these libertarians never heard of kids working in factories, and all the other horrible things that these nice wonderful bosses did to their employees in the industrial revolution before the government got into the picture and slapped them into shape. I can’t believe how ignorant of history you all are.

  110. I can’t believe how ignorant of history you all are.

    —————

    Actually, you have no evidence that I’m ignorant of history at all, and I might argue that in the pre-liberty days, kids working all the time at no wages was par for the course, and that the recovery of leisure time is an invention of the prosperity created by libertarian principles. And then make some snarky comment about your incredible ignorance.

    I lost my job recently. My employers manipulated me into signing a letter of resignation by holding a severance bonus in front of me. I feel pretty hosed by this. On the other hand, I don’t know that the government needs to get involved. I don’t think it would necessarily help, since the reason that they did that was to avoid another government mandate, and it wasn’t explicit. I tend to think that government involvement has the burden of proof.

    For you to call libertarians selfish, rich, pricks is just absurd. You don’t know all libertarians. You don’t have any data about charitable giving rates among libertarians, or even whether libertarians are more or less likely to pick up a check. You don’t know what my income is relative to the national average. I am sort of a prick, but there’s no excuse for saddling all liberty minded people with my personality.

    And I love this, that you haven’t seen anything on this thread to change your preconcieved notion. Has it occurred to you that perhaps you should start by not having a preconceived prejudice on an entire group of people based on a ridiculously small sample size? Maybe you should.

  111. shanek, on the other hand, does not equate “free clinics and charity hospitals” with “socialized medicine”, so he views the choice between “child dies” and “socialized medicine” as a false dichotomy.

    —————-

    Exactly. We can share the goal “everyone should have access to affordable health care” without agreeing on the proposed plan.

  112. Side note: these employers were liberals. Every liberal I’ve ever worked for has been a greedy prick with no thought beyond how to get more hours for less money. During the 92 campaign, the coffee shop I worked at was a meeting ground for the Clinton campaign. I was paid 20 bucks per 12 hour shift with one meal included, as a dishwasher. This says nothing about liberals in general, unless you want to argue that somehow, being a liberal means you aren’t a greedy, selfish, self righteous, ignorant shit with the morals of a sociopathic shark.

  113. to believe that social structures can only arise from a plan/directive from the top seems to be the same category of logical error as believing that living things coulld only arise from a conscious creator.
    —————-
    Exactly.

  114. “I haven’t read anything in this thread to change my mind about libertarians being selfish, rich (and that’s relative), pricks.”

    Well, that’s nice. Instead of making an argument, just toss some fabrications and insults out there.

    FWIW, i’m not rich, none of the libertarians i know are, and when i picked up my libertarian ideas, i was a grad student making <$12K a year.

    The whole libertarian=rich/insensitive is just an ad-hominem and strawman attack that avoids any of the real issues.

  115. “Oh, and I guess all these libertarians never heard of kids working in factories, and all the other horrible things that these nice wonderful bosses did to their employees in the industrial revolution before the government got into the picture and slapped them into shape. I can’t believe how ignorant of history you all are.”

    Sorry, that’s nonsense. Kids worked in factories because at the time, there was overpopulation and not enough to go around. The choice was literally kids work in factories, ir people die and starve. The idea that if someone had just passed a law everything would have been better presupposes that food, clothing, and shelter could have been legislated into existence. Progress came when the industrialists figured out how to make the same product with less labor, people figured out how to have fewer than 10 kids, farmers figured out how to grow enough food for 100 people instead of 10, and so on. Human progress is a piecemeal and haphazard affair, and like evolution, if you don’t understand it, it’s easy to ascribe actions to conscious actors, and create gods and villians.

  116. Im a Hedge:

    “This looks like an example of a libertarian believing both”

    And so it is! I didn’t even notice the false dichotomy, it was so subtle. Thanks for pointing it out!

    “This is not only my first post at Skepchick, but my first post on any blog.”

    Then, welcome, and might I say: great name!

    “We are a hedge. Just move along.”

  117. “Oh, and I guess all these libertarians never heard of kids working in factories, and all the other horrible things that these nice wonderful bosses did to their employees in the industrial revolution before the government got into the picture and slapped them into shape”

    Um, child labor was phased out by the market TWO DECADES before the first child labor law was passed.

    And again, it’s something that we call reprehensible, because we look at it from the ivory tower the wealth of our economy has put us in. You also have to understand that children had ALWAYS worked throughout history! Before the factories, they worked on the farm. The factories were a LOT better. And then we built enough wealth where we didn’t need to do that anymore.

    That’s why all attempts to stop child labor in developing countries has failed miserably, and only resulted in continued impoverishment.

  118. That’s the thing; as a libertarian i’m as upset by child labor as anyone. But i have to ask, why are they working? I don’t think parents wan their kids to work, and i don’t think adults want kids to be doing their jobs. The issue is that in a lot of areas there is not enough to go around, and it takes a lot of hours of work to make enough food, clothing, shelter, etc. In such conditions, if you go in, people are going to starve.

    The idea that if there is no government prohibiting everything someone finds repugnant, everyone would be doing evil is the same as arguing that without god sending down the 10 commandments, everyone would be evil. There’s the same sort of assumption that without some authority to smack people around, no one will do the right thing. Part of my move to libertarianism was when i came to understand that those morals could be derived logically, and people could follow morals without threat of violence/hell.

  119. I have never met a Libertarian who understands privilege.
    ———-
    Well, you have now. How are you?

    I have been a homeless kid suffering from mental illness and drug problems. I was rescued from that situation because my parents are well educated and prosperous.

    My dad was raised on a farm. He was constantly told he wouldn’t go to college. He was an unpaid laborer for most of his childhood, working either in construction or farming for my grandfather.

    On the other hand, his parents were literate, and they wanted him to learn to read and speak english well. In South Louisiana, that sort of made him a child of privilege.

    I’m where I am because of where I came from. But what I fail to see is why that gives someone else the authority to redistribute my wealth. There isn’t a straight line from “You parents helped you get to where you are” to “You must give up 30% of your income to someone whose parents can’t help them.”

  120. sethmanapio, you mentioned, “I’m ready to listen to you any time you care to “waste” some breath explaining why my point of view is selfish and disgusting.

    I sincerely hope that I never came across as harbouring that view. I guess what I was trying to say to shanek was that we can disagree without being disagreeable. (sorry for the easy soundbite). I’d like to have discussions, even heated ones….but I refuse to be talked down to, and treated like my opinion is factually incorrect. (I’m certainly not accusing you here….I’ve found you to be quite civil and respectful…also, I like your poetry)

  121. There isn’t a straight line from “You parents helped you get to where you are” to “You must give up 30% of your income to someone whose parents can’t help them.”

    Yep. I come from a poor family too. And was discouraged from going to college.

    I’m for helping the disadvantaged and underprivileged. However, to be honest, i don’t think most government social programs do this. I have several friends who are social workers, and most of them are pretty cynical that what they are doing is helping people. For example, according to these social workers, many of their single moms had kids because this gets them welfare. It’s not usually some unfortunate woman who had a bright future, got raped, etc. Most of those people are not *trying* to make it. And a *huge* amount of the budget of these social welfare programs pays the salaries of the workers, administrators, etc.

    There are a lot of families out there with both parents working, paying for their own health care, putting away for their kid’s school, eschewing trips, spending extra to eat well, etc. I don’t think it’s responsible or ethical to tax them extra ( Hey, they managed to save money! Fascists! We deserve some of that! ) to benefit someone who is simply not trying to do these things. And remember, they aren’t being given the option. It’ being taken from them under threat of imprisonment. I’m practical enough to agree we need some taxation, but it think the proof of need needs to be very high in light of this simple fact.

  122. ctchrinthry:

    “I don’t think it’s responsible or ethical to tax them extra ( Hey, they managed to save money! Fascists! We deserve some of that! ) to benefit someone who is simply not trying to do these things.”

    What’s even worse is that a lot of their savings are taken anyway by the Inflation Tax. The Inflation Tax is the most regressive tax there is, directly hurting the poor and middle-class and eating away at their savings, benefiting politicians, big banks, and politically-connected corporations.

    Yet, the Libertarians are the ONLY ones who want to stop the Inflation Tax. Libertarians are the ONLY ones who want a sound money system that doesn’t cause inflation and devalue the dollar.

    The liberals DO NOT WANT TO DO THAT. They want inflation. If they’ve even glanced at a macroeconomics textbook, they’ll know it hurts the poor and takes their money, but they want it anyway.

    Don’t go telling me the Democrats want to help the poor and we don’t!

  123. I sincerely hope that I never came across as harbouring that view.

    also, I like your poetry
    ———-

    No, not at all! That was a direct dig at D, who has been peppering the thread with one line insults.

    Thank you!

  124. Well, to be fair, i don’t think the democrats *want* inflation. I think one has to be careful ascribing hurtful motives to one’s opponents. I think most people don’t understand what causes inflation in the first place, and even then many economists don’t know all the factors and what will and will not lead to inflation or deflation.

  125. ctchrinthry:

    “Well, to be fair, i don’t think the democrats *want* inflation.”

    From Obama’s web page:

    “And instead of waiting every ten years for Congress to fight over raising the minimum wage, I will finally make the minimum wage a living wage by permanently indexing it to inflation so that it actually pays the bills.”

    And what happened in Brazil when they tried that? HYPERinflation!

    Inflation is understood a LOT better than the politicians would have you think. The Democrats go on and on about high gas prices; what they DON’T tell you (and neither do the Republicans, save Ron Paul) is that most of that increase is due to inflation. If you use the price of gold as a metric, gas prices have been COMPLETELY FLAT since 2002!

    Here’s Henry Hazlitt (author of Economics in One Lesson, a must-read IMO) describing it in his essay, What You Should Know About Inflation, excerpted from his book:

    http://mises.org/story/2914

  126. And what happened in Brazil when they tried that? HYPERinflation!

    And what happened in France when they tried that? Actually, they’re still doing it, and there’s no sign of any hyper-inflation so far. For every cherry-picked example there is an equal and opposite cherry-picked example. (In this case, France is probably a fairer comparison since the EUR is of comparable strengh to the USD.)

    It would be the height of naivete to conclude that indexation was the only cause of Brazil’s inflation woes in the late 20th century. The simple reason was that the government had every reason to keep inflation going and no reason to stop it. High deficits and correção monetária ensured that the government and the middle class were always flush with money, so nobody who mattered (in a political sense) ever demanded that inflation be kept under control.

  127. Pseudonym:

    “And what happened in France when they tried that? Actually, they’re still doing it, and there’s no sign of any hyper-inflation so far.”

    Because France no longer has its own currency, silly!

    Oh, but what HAS been happening in France? Just what economics predicts–high unemployment! And it doesn’t seem to make much difference when the government tries to fix it with tax cuts, work programs, and mandatory contract lengths. Gee, I wonder why?

    “It would be the height of naivete to conclude that indexation was the only cause of Brazil’s inflation woes in the late 20th century.”

    Yeah, it’s just a coincidence that a) the inflation stopped as soon as indexing stopped, and b) it’s exactly what’s predicted by economic theory.

  128. I decided to check back on this thread. Not sure why! Train-wreck syndrome, I guess.

    I will restate this, just so it is very clear:

    Libertarians do not understand privilege. They have it, they are happy with it.

    That’s the long and the short of it. Show me a counter-example, and maybe I’ll take the time to learn more about libertarianism.

    I will say this: libertarians seem (to me) very well-educated and relatively well spoken (even if they insist on using all caps when *stars are the norm for non-HTML forums*–anyone who has “learned the language” would know that excessive use is to be avoided). Libs generally seem to know their shit. I’ve only met one or two that didn’t have a firm (if biased) grasp of economics, and at least a working knowledge of politics. They just ignore that one, all-important fact: privilege. And that’s why they seem off-putting and selfish to those of us who do.

    Penn Gillette is a perfect example of this. Watch any of his clips.

    At least, that’s how it seems to me.

    So: respect. You are intelligent people. But you’re also completely ignoring your privilege and the fact that others cannot (and should not have to) follow the same path to be successful.

    As for the “isn’t it selfish to take from the people who earned it”… This is the crux of misunderstanding privilege. When there are system biases in your favor, you haven’t earned (everything) that you think you have.

    But of course, it is a very, very, very rare few who are willing to even look into this. Biting the hand that feeds and all. But if any of you are willing to look into it, I’d be happy to help. It’s a very long path. …But it’s a path to better understanding the truth of society.

  129. You are intelligent people. But you’re also completely ignoring your privilege and the fact that others cannot (and should not have to) follow the same path to be successful.

    ———-

    No. I’m not. I’m saying that there is not a straight line from me benefitting from my upbringing to taking my wages and giving them to other people. And the “correct path to success” has zero to do with any of this, as far as I can see.

    Any you aren’t happy to help at all. I told you I understood privilege, and instead of explaining further how what I said was different than what you meant, you’re pulling some kind of moral high ground crap that reminds me of every exploiter of the masses I’ve ever come into contact with.

    And who the hell are you to decide how much of someone’s wages are “theirs” and how much are “societies” and how much should be redistributed to who? If our total failure to understand macro economics has taught us anything, it is that wealth redistribution schemes are not effective ways to accomplish the goals that they set out to accomplish. So why should yours be any different?

  130. I mean, seriously, if we followed this “privilege” line to its logical conclusion, I would be taxed at a higher rate than a person with similar income whose parents made less money. Should there be a “white tax”, so that white people can compensate for their privilege? How would you establish the means testing here. Lets say that I and a black coworker work the same job, for the same wages. I pay a white tax, of course, and a “family of means” tax, and a “genetically advantaged” tax cause I’m such an intelligent guy… but of course, I need to get a credit for being a depressive and a migrainer… he, on the other hand, gets a credit for being black, but pays higher taxes because his family is even wealthier than mine (but of course, they get points for being black so maybe they’d have to be way wealthier) and one of my coworkes has an uncle who was in the same frat as the hiring manager, so of course he needs to get an extra tax there…

    Seriously. Its ludicrous to try to monetize all of that. Can you imagine trying to do your taxes in that sort of a society? And yet, there are plenty of people who do more with less, or less with more, and unless you interview each individual person in the world you have no idea to what extend they’ve survived because of “privilege.”

  131. Now you all know why Shanek was laughed off the JREF forums.

    ——————-

    Because he isn’t as economical subtle as the average PhD economist? What. Look, the guy has a theory, point out where he’s wrong and move on.

  132. Gold prices – gas prices, flat? Could it be that increasingly well off Chinese and Indian consumers are getting in their new cars and driving to the local jewelry store? It is a hypothesis. An untested hypothesis.

    While we can argue over whether the values of libertarianism are better than conservatism or liberalism, their methods and approachs ought to be tested. We might find the road to libertarian Utopia can best be achieved through socialist policies. Who knows? Do we have any double blind studies to sort it out? I’d love to read them.

    Of course, this or that faction can make retroactive claims to suit the data which is why historical analysis seldom works. For example, societies progress towards freedom, so freedom is a scientifically proven human moral. Really? We’ve trended towards disposable diapers and reality television as well – does that validate them as a human good?

    With retroactive analysis, we can “prove” just about anything in support of any ideology … until we actually do the experiment.

    The other case that was made for the scientific validity with regards to my earlier post was that complex systems like economics work better when self-regulated (for full disclosure, my wife is a stock analyst so my perspective is informed by the utter mess with the credit crisis). While I certainly agree with Seth that a complete top down approach as one saw under Soviet Communism fails on most measures, the claim that strictly bottom up, self-regulation is the best way to go is questionable. Perhaps we could write off the tremendous loss of wealth, home foreclosures, etc. as self-regulation doing its job just like a mass extinction event in biology could just be regarded as reaching a new equilibrium. If I were going to hypothesize about the best societal course for long term human happiness and survival, I say judicious regulation would be the way to go. Just like in gardening, you mostly let the plants and insects and animals do what they will do until there is a problem and you need to water or put out a beer trap for snails or whatever. Work with nature as long as nature is working.

    But again, this is but a hypothesis. Unless or until various approaches to governance, education, and law have been double blinded and randomized, science and skepticism must be politically agnostic even when the scientist or skeptic is passionate political.

    PS Naturally, it was pointed out after my other post that skepticism is also an ism. True, but if probably pursued, it demands skepticism even of skepticism.

    PPS Seems like we have lots of skeptical poets … maybe we need a skepchick literary mag …

  133. Wow… It’s been a few days only, and look at all of this… The first thing I noticed reading through all this was that Shane, after all his demands for specific, real-world examples, completely and utterly failed to even pretend to address the Great Auk. Not even a glib witticism about the unimportance of “charismatic megafauna.”

    I know I posted a rather large comment, but it a rather large amount of information being demanded of me, and I am nothing if not a completist.

    Mostly, I’m disappointed to see that my last two paragraphs of said large comment were ignored. Even skimming by, you could have read the beginning and the end. Even when I try to set aside all hostilities and work from a mutually agreeable starting point, you’ll have none of it. If you wonder why you are perceived as an angry and unpleasant person, I think this might give you a small hint.

    Now, on to a few of the more pertinent comments from the gap-time.

    Shane:

    The free market would say that if enough people want a national defense they’ll make it happen voluntarily.

    …and if not enough people want it, the ones that did will be less dead when the invaders come? Somehow I doubt that.

    ctchrunthry

    I’m skeptical of the need to “fund the arts”.

    As an artist, I rabidly oppose it. Unless you’re talking about a general support, like putting art and music and theatre classes in the schools and such – then I’m kind of leery of the idea, since I’ve never taken an art class that wasn’t a crock of shit, but I’m aware my personal experience colors that.

    The non libertarian is the disgusting and selfish “you should be forced to work…”</blockquote

    Notice how I didn’t make accusations of libel? I choose instead to call you out on this. Who among the non-Libertarians is saying this? Only one so far to advocate slavery is shane.

    obligatory seth

    The thing is, Rys, saving big, charismatic megafauna is great an all that, and its a good PR move, but in the end, it doesn’t mean much.

    Dude, charismatic megafauna are the ones that get saved. I think your understanding of the word “charisma” is flawed. Charisma is one thing the poor Auk clearly lacked.

    As to the “doesn’t mean much” bit… millions of biologists facepalm in simultaneity. Every species means much, if only as an indicator of something else. If you wonder why people might see Libertarians as apathetic capitalists at their worst, this is why.

    Psuedonym:

    In turn, the failure to take public health issues seriously is partly a symptom of the dysfunctional US public health system.

    That, my friend, is a big-damned problem that will require quite a lot of untangling before it works smoothly.

    TheCzech:

    Therefore, skepticism in politics is mostly in the eye of the beholder, and you really can’t have any political philosophy at all without ignoring some truths inconvenient to that philosophy.

    Well said. Couldn’t agree more.

    seth again:blockquote>Absolutely, Step 1 (having a goal) is variable. But its important just for clarities sake.

    Absolutely. I think the real problem comes when, while looking at the whole sequence for several goals, it turns out they are incompatible. Prioritizing is a pain in the ass, and every time something comes up that makes you feel the need to reprioritize, the whole damned thing has to start over.

    That’s why I don’t throw in with any party or philosophy I’ve found so far. Even when I find one I mostly agree with, sooner or later it turns out I place too high a priority on something another at some time to be happy with what they say.

    back to shane:

    in response to someone who chided ME for talking about something HE brought up!

    This is a lie. I did no such thing.

    Hedge:

    I suspect a lot of people dislike libertarian ideas (and libertarians) because of this simple misunderstanding.

    My problem with Libertarians is not a misunderstanding. “The poor can hope that someone with money helps them,” is a far cry from “let’s make sure no child has to die of a treatable illness.”

    seth again:

    There isn’t a straight line from “You parents helped you get to where you are” to “You must give up 30% of your income to someone whose parents can’t help them.”

    So… who is to help the people who cannot be helped by their parents? Do we just shrug our shoulders and tell them to hope for the best?

    shane yet again:

    Libertarians are the ONLY ones who want a sound money system that doesn’t cause inflation and devalue the dollar.

    No you’re not. I do not want inflation nor to devalue the dollar. I would very much like to see a sound money system.

    If they’ve even glanced at a macroeconomics textbook, they’ll know it hurts the poor and takes their money, but they want it anyway.

    One thing I’ve learned in my life is that you should never attribute to malice that which can be explained by mere stupidity, ignorance, or apathy.

  134. So… who is to help the people who cannot be helped by their parents? Do we just shrug our shoulders and tell them to hope for the best?
    ——————-

    Your question creates, again, a false dichotomy. It is possible for organizations that are not the government to accomplish things, you know.

  135. As to the “doesn’t mean much” bit… millions of biologists facepalm in simultaneity.

    —————-

    No, they don’t. Saving charismatic megafauna is laudable, but if it isn’t part of a larger program of general conservation, consciousness raising, and environmental understanding, it doesn’t mean much. It is, in fact, a losing battle that gives 30 years or so of good PR with a final “heck, we tried.”

  136. shanek:

    Oh, but what HAS been happening in France? Just what economics predicts–high unemployment! And it doesn’t seem to make much difference when the government tries to fix it with tax cuts, work programs, and mandatory contract lengths. Gee, I wonder why?

    Don’t be silly. France has had high unemployment since the 1970s.

    There are a lot of reasons for it. Part of it his mathematical; as you no doubt know, unemployment statistics in most countries are lower than the “actual” values, because people who have given up seeking work are not counted. France, because of the way the system is set up, happens to count more people.

    Part of it is due to the huge influx of people from North Africa and Eastern Europe. A lot of it is that unemployment benefits are extremely high by most countries’ standards (especially European standards), to the point that it’s often better to stay unemployed than earn minimum wage. Any decent economist could probably identify half a dozen more reasons which have nothing to do with the minimum wage.

    Yeah, it’s just a coincidence that a) the inflation stopped as soon as indexing stopped, and b) it’s exactly what’s predicted by economic theory.

    In Brazil, everything was indexed by fiat, including prices, and even the amount of money in your bank account (the correção monetária). This isn’t even close to the same thing as indexing minimum wages only.

    Inflation stopped when the Plano Real was implemented. This included fixing indexing (of all kinds, not just minimum wages), but also included keeping government spending under control and creating a new temporary currency.

    The problem I have with what shanek has been saying is not lack of appreciation of “privilege”, but lack of appreciation that real-world systems, such as economic systems, are very complex. Simplistic answers really don’t help.

  137. “The poor can hope that someone with money helps them,” is a far cry from “let’s make sure no child has to die of a treatable illness.”

    ———–

    Not really. Any way you implement it, the poor have to hope that someone with money (a citizen, a government official) helps them.

    In other words, its a long way from “let’s make sure no child has to die of a treatable illness” to “let’s pay for that with tax money!”

    The first is a goal. The second is a policy. You are missing step 2, where you explain why it is that the government should be implementing your goal, and not a charitable organization.

    In fact, your questions basically all skip this step, if not also skipping step one and clarifying your goals.

  138. Your question creates, again, a false dichotomy.

    It did no such thing. I in no way implied that there were only two answers. I asked a question, then I asked if one option was the solution you would suggest.

    It is possible for organizations that are not the government to accomplish things, you know.

    Of course it is… but “you might possibly get help from someone who is not the government” is really just another way of telling them to hope for the best, isn’t it?

    Either answer the question or say you don’t know. If you think it’s unlikely there really is a good answer, say that. If you think people are inherently good enough in enough numbers that you think most people would do well with the “hope for the best” line, say that.

    Saving charismatic megafauna is laudable

    I already addressed your goofy “charismatic megafauna” crap. Get off it.

    if it isn’t part of a larger program of general conservation, consciousness raising, and environmental understanding, it doesn’t mean much.

    1) It goddamned well means much to fucking Auk, I’d venture to say. The fact that this means little or nothing to you speaks volumes to its lack of charisma yet again, doesn’t it?
    2) Did I ever say anything to lead you to believe I’m against general conservation and environmental understanding? I call Straw Man fallacy.
    3) Every species we wipe out is another nail in the coffin. I’m not saying this nail is more important than any other, I’m just pointing at one where your “solution” was demonstrably the fucking problem. You can’t gloss over that by pretending that one nail doesn’t matter very much.

    Any way you implement it, the poor have to hope that someone with money (a citizen, a government official) helps them.

    Beg to differ. One is a hope. What I want to implement is not hope, but a guarantee.

    You are missing step 2, where you explain why it is that the government should be implementing your goal, and not a charitable organization.

    No, no… Maybe you failed to grasp it, and maybe I failed to explain it well, or maybe you just missed where I expounded at greater length on the subject. A charitable organization is a crap-shoot. One too many people skips a donation this month, and little Timmy does without. One too many people decide their new Lambo is more important than the local shelter, and Penny sleeps in the rain tonight.

    Do you follow? You want to trust in the inherent good of the wealthy. It would be nice if you could, but I have no such faith in humanity. I want a guarantee for every person, not a hope for every person.

    You show me a nongovernmental guarantee like that, and I’ll concede this point.

  139. Beg to differ. One is a hope. What I want to implement is not hope, but a guarantee.

    ———

    You didn’t address my CM comment for shit. You danced around it. So get over it, you brought up a stupid example.

    A government program is a hope. A hope that the program works, that its accessible, that funding doesn’t get cut, etc. etc. etc. It is absolutely no different than philanthropy in that respect. Evidence is on my side in this one for two reasons:

    1. The red cross is very good at what they do. As an NGO, they are faster to respond, better capable, and more tactically sound than FEMA when it comes to emergency response. They guarantee help, and unless the government stops them (Katrina) they deliver it.

    2. Benefits get cut. Social security is bankrupt. Unemployment isn’t a guarantee, funding drops, funding moves, etc. Oh, and in hard economic times, there is less money anyway from lower tax revenue.

    3. Many endowments aren’t subject to the bullshit “Lambo” point you brought up. They are permanent, self sustaining, interest payment vehicles that will continue to fund whatever they are funding for as long as the currency is sound, and possibly longer.

    So government guarantees aren’t worth any more than private sector, and this can be demonstrated by viewing the track records of government programs versus private charities.

    In addition, there are private sector endowments like the Ford Foundation that actually don’t depend on extra kindness, they are already fully funded to carry out their mission.

    It isn’t that I’ve failed to grasp your point, its that you didn’t make a particularly good one.

    Furthermore, if you want to create a guarantee of everything for every person, you’re going to have to complete change economic reality so that scarcity of resources ceases to be an issue. Whereas if you want to create a guarantee of 10 bucks for each person, you just need a large endowment.

    Lobbying to get one by force from people who don’t like the idea is one way to accomplish that goal, seeking donations is another. Neither starts as a guarantee, and only one can be legally obligated to stick to the original mandate. So really, an endowment is a better guarantee of a goal than a government program.

  140. 3) Every species we wipe out is another nail in the coffin. I’m not saying this nail is more important than any other, I’m just pointing at one where your “solution” was demonstrably the fucking problem. You can’t gloss over that by pretending that one nail doesn’t matter very much.

    —————

    Bullshit. The problem was that no one owned the fucking Auk. If they had, there would be Auk today. No one worries about the extinction of Buffalo anymore. Not because of government action, but because private organizations have taken steps.

  141. You didn’t address my CM comment for shit. You danced around it. So get over it, you brought up a stupid example.

    You mean I showed that you’re a fucking idiot? That you’re a callous dipshit who doesn’t give a fuck if an animal is wiped off the face of the planet forever? Piss off. If I never hear from you again, I’ll die a happy man.

  142. I mean, seriously, if we followed this “privilege” line to its logical conclusion, I would be taxed at a higher rate…

    Wow, that explains a lot. The “logical conclusion” of privilege has nothing to do with taxation. It has to do with opportunity.

    there is not a straight line from me [benefiting] from my upbringing to taking my wages and giving them to other people.

    You’re missing the point: the society you envision excludes (to varying degrees) people who aren’t white/male/straight/non-poor/socially normative.

    And the “correct path to success” has zero to do with any of this, as far as I can see.

    Any[way] you aren’t happy to help at all. I told you I understood privilege, and instead of explaining further how what I said was different than what you meant

    Oh, sorry about that: I missed your post amongst the noise. Let’s go there, now:

    I have been a homeless kid suffering from mental illness and drug problems. I was rescued from that situation because my parents are well educated and prosperous.

    Yup, that’s certainly one form of privilege. I will stand corrected if you just explain to me why you think it’s okay for you to take advantage of that without any recourse for those who couldn’t.

    I’m where I am because of where I came from. But what I fail to see is why that gives someone else the authority to redistribute my wealth. There isn’t a straight line from “You parents helped you get to where you are” to “You must give up 30% of your income to someone whose parents can’t help them.”

    I’m sorry, but I’m having trouble understanding how this excludes you from the “selfish prick” accusations that have been flying. If you have an advantage over others, what’s to say that a decent human being would think it unfair that some of what you “earned” off the back of others shouldn’t go back to the people? Isn’t this part of what society should be about?

    But, to put it more bluntly: because, eventually, those people you are so happy to leave behind will grow sick of your shit and revolt. …That’s a pretty good reason why, in the long-term.

    I don’t see much long-term thinking from those of you who focus so much on the bottom line.

    you’re pulling some kind of moral high ground crap that reminds me of every exploiter of the masses I’ve ever come into contact with.

    Guilty as charged! This is moral high-ground. That is, in fact, my very point. Righteous indignation, as it were. : )

    It seems to me that every time one of us brings up a moral question, the reply from the libertarians screams (often in upper case) something about how money will be lost on trying to solve the problem.

    Yeah: that’s why we’re annoyed.

    And who the hell are you to decide how much of someone’s wages are “theirs” and how much are “societies” and how much should be redistributed to who?

    AINAE*. But I am a skeptic. This is something I’m willing to research and hash out over time.

    If our total failure to understand macro economics has taught us anything, it is that wealth redistribution schemes are not effective ways to accomplish the goals that they set out to accomplish. So why should yours be any different?

    I thought we were talking about libertarianism. And, so far, I see no compelling evidence that it is a viable system of governance. In fact, I see suggestions** that it would be disastrous: exploitative, at the very, very least. And society is exploitative enough already. In my humble: we really have to shift away from that end of the spectrum, not toward it.

    Here’s a problem I have with some libertarians that I’ve talked to: “people will do the right thing”, Milgram and Stanford and many, many others have taught us different. People need their freedoms, but large groups of them (in particular, corporations) tend toward sociopathic behavior. There must be clear control.

    And, dammit, not everything boils down to money. Another refrain that drives me nuts is the “people can vote with their dollar!” bullshit. (And I thank the people here for not yet saying it… but isn’t that the “logical conclusion” of where you’re headed?) There is a system that is biased to keep power in the hands of few.

    Since you guys seem undaunted by the hostile environment, I’d be happy to hear your counterpoints. I hope the people I’ve heard from on those topics thus far were just out of their minds.

    *I Am Not An Economist, of course.
    ** I admit: these are speculative. But in matters of politics and health, I see few alternatives to speculation.

  143. Here’s a question:

    Why is someone born into the “privilege” of a wealthier family any different than someone born with the “privilege” of having a better-than-normal intelligence, or musical ability, or athletic ability, or social ability, or anything else of the kind?

    If we have to take away the accumulated wealth of people who have managed to do a bit better for themselves, then do we have to break a musician’s fingers? Give a genius a lobotomy?

  144. Pseudonym:

    “Don’t be silly. France has had high unemployment since the 1970s.”

    Not THIS high!

    “In Brazil, everything was indexed by fiat, including prices,”

    That just isn’t true. Prices were the BASIS for the index. They couldn’t, therefore, logically be indexed.

    The point is, indexing causes inflation to rise. The Democrats’ solution to inflation is indexing, not stopping the inflation itself, which they could very easily do (yes, yes, except for short-term inflationary cycles; you know what I’m talking about).

  145. Hmmn. So, walking away from this for a bit has reminded me that the original question has been lost amidst my (and, I think, others) need to air a distaste for libertarianism.

    So, let me apologize for helping side-track things. I’m sorry. I came to the table with a bias. Sadly, I still have it… but I’m going to try to swing my comments back toward the topic:

    I think this “discussion” has suggested (to me, at least) that libertarians are a skeptical lot. I see plenty of evidence that libs are willing to question dogma, value evidence, and change their minds (namely, I doubt a single one of them was brought up lib).

    …I’ve learned a lot of other things too (most of them less than palatable), but I think I’m going to say: that’s my tentative conclusion on the topic.

    Assuming, then, that libertarians are perfectly valid skeptics, I submit for your approval that writerdd’s “initial thoughts” are mainly semantic. One group believes that “public domain” implies control through elected officials, the other claims “public domain” implies control through market pressure. I would also suggest that there is not a whole lot of “evidence” to argue in either direction: history by definition not reproducible, and we don’t have scientific evidence of what effect libertarian ideals would have on healthcare/schools/etc. (And, aside: I think we all agree that things are pretty fucked up as they are right now.) (And as another aside: I think both sides are loaded with a more-than-healthy dose of fear. For one, fear of government control, and for others, fear of bad choices by those market pressures. For example, I personally most fear America becoming more overtly a “Christian nation”, without stronger controls. Certainly the school systems: here in Albuquerque, ALL private schools are Christian schools. No exceptions! Fears are a pretty powerful human drive. It’s entirely plausible that fear clouds one’s ability to examine evidence–what there is of it–objectively.)

    Therefore*, there isn’t, as writerdd suggested, a whole lot of “looking at the same evidence”. (And if there is, there’s a whole lot of confirmation bias going on with both sides.) …Because there isn’t enough evidence to draw worthwhile conclusions. Certainly not enough to find consensus!

    I think my initial comment was unbiased… I just slipped quickly thereafter. : ) So I’ll repeat it: politics is largely a ruse… semantics. Society is what matters. The reality of the situation is that we have people who like a market-driven society, and people who believe in social welfare.

    I wonder if there is a “natural” mix in this equation… if there’s a biological bias toward some ratio of greed (if you’ll pardon the expression) and welfare.

    Regardless of the answer to that, I wonder if there is an effective balance between the two, in fact. Meaning: would society benefit from a mixture of those who would insist on keeping their wealth and those who insist on redistributing it?

    Can a society effectively exist without a single underlying political ideology? If so, how would it respect each party’s beliefs, while denying some of their demands?

    A complicated question. Hmmmn.

    * This conclusion is built, of course, on a layer of assumptions.

  146. sethmanapio:

    “No one worries about the extinction of Buffalo anymore. Not because of government action, but because private organizations have taken steps.”

    Another good example is the elephant. In African countries where the elephant is owned “by everyone” and “protected” from poachers by the government, their numbers are dwindling. But some African countries changed their policy; now, elephants in those countries are privately owned and can be hunted legally with a purchased license from the owner. Since they started implementing this policy, the elephant population in those countries stopped going down and started going UP, while elephants in the rest of the countries kept going DOWN!

    Private ownership trumps the Tragedy of the Commons every single time!

  147. Mark Mulkerin:

    “Gold prices – gas prices, flat? Could it be that increasingly well off Chinese and Indian consumers are getting in their new cars and driving to the local jewelry store?”

    [Sigh] No, that’s not how it works. Believe it or not, people buying jewelry does NOT effect the spot price for gold–especially in other countries!

    “It is a hypothesis. An untested hypothesis.”

    Pure economic ignorance. Pretty much any economist will be able to explain why gold responds to inflation. It’s actually the best metric we have since the Fed stopped publishing M3.

    “Of course, this or that faction can make retroactive claims to suit the data”

    A lot of these predictions were made by Ludwig von Mises 100 years ago! He predicted the Great Depression and why it would happen, he predicted why Communism would fall, all sorts of stuff!

    And yes, there are LOTS of peer-reviewed scientific studies showing things like the relationship between Minimum Wage an unemployment, and who’s affected the most negatively (mostly minorities).

    “Perhaps we could write off the tremendous loss of wealth, home foreclosures, etc. as self-regulation doing its job”

    Except it’s not. It’s caused by the Fed’s monetary bubbles. Another prediction of Mises.

  148. Because privilege is an important topic, I’ll field this comment:

    Why is someone born into the “privilege” of a wealthier family any different than someone born with the “privilege” of having a better-than-normal intelligence, or musical ability, or athletic ability, or social ability, or anything else of the kind?

    Ahh, padawan, you have much to learn! The irony here is that the privilege of which I speak has much more to do with your definition of intelligence, musical ability, and social ability than it does with the wealth of your forefathers.

    Privilege has to do with the biases of a subculture with power over the biases of a subculture without it.

    You’re white. You’re male. You probably speak English like a typical upper-middle-class American (this is, of course, a guess), you have a college education (again: guessing). These are all aspects that make success for you a matter of effort. You don’t have those additional hurdles to overcome. I’m not claiming you don’t have hurdles! I’m also not going to say that you don’t work for what you have! This is a very important distinction to make: it is valid that you have overcome those hurdles, valid that you put in your effort. Kudos to you. The point is, the exact same effort put in by, say, a woman: this would likely end in failure. Or by a black man. Or by someone who has, say, a lower-class accent. Or a gay man. Or–heavens portend!–a transsexual.

    The point is that opportunities are not equal, and that a moral society should recognize and help account for these discrepancies. In particular, those of us who have privilege (I’m a white, unaccented, straight male with adequate money) need to take up our duty of pointing out to the others of our ilk when they are abusing their privilege.

    An in the case of inherited (or, in many cases, earned) wealth, you are abusing it, if you don’t recognize the advantages you have taken getting where you are… or that you don’t owe some of that back to the society–upon whose backs you’ve climbed–that couldn’t benefit as you have.

    Or so it seems to me. I’m new to this privilege thing, myself, and–as I said–it takes years to fully understand. Humans are complex.

  149. JRice:

    “we don’t have scientific evidence of what effect libertarian ideals would have on healthcare/schools/etc.”

    We have some. And all of it points to the benefits of Libertarianism. Like the follow-the-money policy I mentioned: that’s not a purely libertarian policy, but it’s more libertarian than what we have now, and the evidence in the places it’s been tried is that it works better. So, there’s a prediction borne out.

    “I think we all agree that things are pretty fucked up as they are right now.”

    Yes, but apparently the other side doesn’t think we think that. They keep treating problems with the current system as problems with the free market, when it’s anything but!

    “Certainly the school systems: here in Albuquerque, ALL private schools are Christian schools.”

    Assuming you’re correct, you have to ask if that WOULD be the case without government schools. Otherwise, it’s a Broken Window Fallacy.

    “Can a society effectively exist without a single underlying political ideology? If so, how would it respect each party’s beliefs, while denying some of their demands?”

    Why would it have to deny some of their demands? The beauty of the free market is that, since transactions are voluntary, all beliefs are respected (well, except for the belief that you’re entitled to take someone else’s money or property by force), and all demands can be met because there isn’t an imposing force restricting them.

  150. JRice:

    “The point is, the exact same effort put in by, say, a woman: this would likely end in failure. Or by a black man. Or by someone who has, say, a lower-class accent. Or a gay man. Or–heavens portend!–a transsexual.”

    But there’s a self-fulfilling prophecy here. A young black person being told they’re disadvantaged because of their race will, when meeting the same hurdles everyone else does, tend to attribute them to the racism he’s been told about his whole life. He’ll then tend to despair and maybe not try as hard, and when he does get a job he’ll be less competitive because he feels he’s in a lesser position to bargain. This would be true even if he were experiencing no racism at all!

    I’ve already posted about how racism had to be implemented by force. There’s a lot of misinformation about racism and sexism in the market. People talk about the wage gap, but when other factors (such as educational background and work history) are controlled for, the wages flatten out.

    I’ve also mentioned how minorities are hindered by programs that are meant to help them, such as Minimum Wage.

    Even slavery only lasted as long as it did by ever-increasing government force protecting it (look at the history of the Fugutive Slave Acts, for example). Even during the Civil War, US Marshals were capturing runaway slaves and delivering them back to their owners!

  151. Again, this is important, so I’ll feed the troll on this one:

    This would be true even if he were experiencing no racism at all!

    Dude: racism isn’t an active thing. There is no such thing as “experiencing no racism at all” in a society where one race has predominant power.

    I’m hoping you’re introspective enough to keep trying to figure this stuff out, though.

  152. Shanek,

    I would first suggest that I believe it is the ethical thing to do to share mypersonal gifts as they may be with the larger community around me, but that may not be a moral imperative for others so it doesn’t make for a persuasive argument.

    Excluding moral arguments, I would suggest proportional taxation of wealth is not only good for the society, it is good for the wealthy. Given that my family is somewhat well off (towards the upper end of the tax brackets), we would frankly have a lot more to lose if social stability and physical infrastructure were seriously undermined. I suppose under such circumstances those who could afford it would confront a deterioration of social infrastructure with hired private security, gated communities, etc. (wait, we do that in some parts of the US already) that merely privatization the taxation of wealth.

    If you look through history, you certainly find many examples of the rich more directly buying the loyalty and acquiescence of poor through sponsoring art, festivals, hospitals, etc., but I wouldn’t want to live in those eras.

    So yes, the privilege of wealth is different. It is transferable. It has utility value. It is a social construct that relies on a social contract to maintain unless one wants to return to a more might equals wealth lifestyle. I don’t want that. If we have to pay taxes that provide educations and opportunities to people who couldn’t afford them otherwise so that my kids can be safer on the way to their school, so be it.

    We can argue about the details and amounts of wealth transfer, but I still assert that it is in the vested interest of the haves to maintain the social fabric even when that means sharing with the have nots.

    So why government and not personal patronage? Patronage, historically, led to competition between groups and eventual conflict – think Capulets and Montagues. I want people with less to lose by social upheaval to benefit from and support a system to protects me and mine. I want the pledge of allegiance and no parent with hungry children at home so desperate that they do something violent to my loved ones.

    After all, if money runs the system, why do you think the Congress isn’t filled with Libertarians?

  153. JRice:

    “There is no such thing as “experiencing no racism at all” in a society where one race has predominant power.”

    That’s the thing: I’m skeptical that one race has predominant power anymore. I think at least we’ve passed the tipping point where the effects of the self-fulfilling prophecy outweigh whatever racism might remain.

    “I’m hoping you’re introspective enough to keep trying to figure this stuff out, though.”

    Always!

    Mark Mulkerin:

    “I would first suggest that I believe it is the ethical thing to do to share mypersonal gifts as they may be with the larger community around me, but that may not be a moral imperative for others so it doesn’t make for a persuasive argument.”

    I agree with the sentiment. I think it’s a social sentiment as well as moral, though.

    “I would suggest proportional taxation of wealth is not only good for the society, it is good for the wealthy.”

    There are a couple of problems:

    1) Someone working more to get ahead suddenly finds himself in a higher tax bracket, making the same or perhaps even LESS money. So why bother with that extra work? He’ll just go back to what he was working before. That’s lost productivity for the economy, and lost opportunity for the individual in question.

    2) Someone who isn’t working any more gets a cost of living increase to try and keep up with inflation (wages always lag inflation; that’s another way they hurt the poor and middle-class). That increase puts him in a higher tax bracket. So, in REAL (inflation-adjusted) terms, he’s actually making LESS money, but since nominally he’s taking home more dollars he’s suddenly paying a greater percentage of his earnings in taxes.

    “If we have to pay taxes that provide educations and opportunities to people who couldn’t afford them otherwise so that my kids can be safer on the way to their school, so be it.”

    It’d be easier for me to accept that with a follow-the-money system, or some form of tax credits for people who send their children to private school or homeschool them. As it is, government schools have a monopoly (since you have to pay for them whether you use them or not) so there’s no incentive to be efficient or improve, and the poor do not have the opportunities for private education that the rich do.

    And somehow, I’M the one who hates the poor for wanting to fix that!

    It’d also be easier for me to accept if there were actual evidence that they are, in fact, safer…

    “Patronage, historically, led to competition between groups and eventual conflict – think Capulets and Montagues.”

    Um, you realize that was fiction, right? What about the Hatfields and McCoys? At least pick an example from the real world. So, how was the Hatfield/McCoy conflict the result of patronage?

    “After all, if money runs the system, why do you think the Congress isn’t filled with Libertarians?”

    I don’t understand how the question is meant to follow from the premise.

  154. “Because he isn’t as economical subtle as the average PhD economist? What. Look, the guy has a theory, point out where he’s wrong and move on.”

    LOL! There isn’t enough space on this server to do that!

    Ask him about his bizarre claim that all banks are forced to join the Federal Reserve.

  155. That’s the thing: I’m skeptical that one race has predominant power anymore. I think at least we’ve passed the tipping point where the effects of the self-fulfilling prophecy outweigh whatever racism might remain.

    Wow. Is that you, Shanek? I couldn’t tell with all that wool in the way… ; )

    Alright, let’s approach this (ignorance) in a skeptical way:

    Where does the burden of proof lie? One might argue “innocent until proven guilty”… but I think society has clearly been proven guilty in the past, so wouldn’t it shift to “guilty until proven rehabilitated?” I think the burden of proof is on us (whites). (…And I don’t think there’s enough evidence that things have been fixed. I mean, I think there’s loads of evidence it’s not… that it’s only just begun.)

    Besides which, root cause analysis doesn’t dodge the fact that there is still a disparity, and it’s up to those in power to fix it. You cannot tell them to just pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

    Besides-besides which, racism is only one that I mentioned. : ) There’s sexism and homophobia and classicism and… oh, a host of others I’m too tired to recall.

    Do women have the same opportunities men do?

    Does a trans-gendered man have the same opportunities you do?

  156. JRice:

    “Where does the burden of proof lie? One might argue “innocent until proven guilty”… but I think society has clearly been proven guilty in the past, so wouldn’t it shift to “guilty until proven rehabilitated?””

    Well, how do you prove THAT? First of all, “society” isn’t guilty of anything. The whole idea’s ludicrous! Only individuals can be guilty of racism. So how does one prove that he isn’t racist anymore? What, are you going to bring in psychics? If the evidence of racism is not in the actions that individuals are taking, then where is it?

    “Besides which, root cause analysis doesn’t dodge the fact that there is still a disparity, and it’s up to those in power to fix it.”

    Oh? And what do you suggest they do? Programs of handouts (which themselves are racist) which only serve to foster a victim and entitlement mentality and don’t actually do anything at all to stop any racism?

  157. Way to dodge the questions. ; ) …And way to abuse ad absurdum! : D

    Again, racism is not perpetrated by an individual. Racism is absolutely inherent in a society. What you’re thinking of is an act of discrimination. There are many such instances of them in a society that exhibits racism… and some of them are quite subtle.

    I’m asking that, before you decide our society is free of racism, you decide how to prove that a person of color has the same opportunities you do. Or a woman. Or any of these other sets of people.

    How would you measure it?

  158. Also: suggesting handouts are racist is also evidence of not understanding the issue.

    Racism (and the others in the family) are specifically an abuse of power: those with more power excluding or harming those without.

  159. “Ask him about his bizarre claim that all banks are forced to join the Federal Reserve.”

    I was going to let this pass, like the rest of the despicable attacks that have been made against my person here, but it occurs to me that this is a PERFECT example of how some people are willing to tell an outright LIE in order to avoid the fact that I’m actually right about something.

    The claim he’s talking about is something I posted to the James Randi board years ago. Look at this post in the thread:

    http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?postid=709550#post709550

    (I think there were earlier discussions on this, but they don’t show up in a search so it appears they were pruned.)

    Here’s Scrut, accusing me of “believing in” the “conspiracy theory” that all banks are forced to join the Federal Reserve.

    First of all, it’s all NATIONAL banks, as I pointed out in #201 of that thread, where I challenged them: “name ONE US national bank that is not a member of the Federal Reserve. (Not trusts or credit unions, they can be members of the Fed but don’t have to.) ONE US national bank that’s not a member of the Fed. ONE. That’s all you have to to.”

    Scrut replied: “Playing dodgeball again? How about if you first point us to the law that says all banks are “forced” to belong to the Federal Reserve? You made the original claim. Or would you care to finally admit you don’t know what you are talking about?”

    I then quoted USC 12 § 222: “Every national bank in any State shall, upon commencing business or within ninety days after admission into the Union of the State in which it is located, become a member bank of the Federal Reserve System by subscribing and paying for stock in the Federal Reserve bank of its district in accordance with the provisions of this chapter and shall thereupon be an insured bank under the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (12 U.S.C. 1811 et seq.), and failure to do so shall subject such bank to the penalty provided by section 501a of this title.”

    A few posts later, Scrut bleats: “Can you believe this loser? He is confronted with the direct evidence refuting his claim, and now he trys to weasel out of it!!! Those of us who are more intelligent than Shanek (which is everyone, except “American” and Winky Tinky Wussy), observed that he didn’t differentiate between national and state banks when he said ALL banks are “forced” to join the Federal Reserve.” After, of course, I’d said “national bank” way back in #201, and while I didn’t say it everywhere (how awkward would it be to put the word “national” in front of EVERY instance of the word bank when I’ve already made it clear what I’m talking about?), post #201 proves that I DID say “national bank” BEFORE the so-called “proof I was wrong” was posted.

    Now, Scrut is back AGAIN, with the SAME misrepresentation of what I’ve said, which he KNOWS to be a lie.

    But yeah, it’s the Libertarians that are “pricks.” I’ve been accused in this thread of advocating slavery and all sorts of horrible things. People come in from all over the place doing everything possible to try to discredit everything I say.

    Everything, that is, except actually trying to rebut my arguments…

  160. JRice:

    “Again, racism is not perpetrated by an individual. Racism is absolutely inherent in a society.”

    How can racism be inherent in a society without some individuals being racist?

    “before you decide our society is free of racism,”

    I HAVEN’T decided that yet. I’m just skeptical. All of a sudden, that’s a bad thing?

    “Racism (and the others in the family) are specifically an abuse of power: those with more power excluding or harming those without.”

    Then racism can only come from government. Because in a free market, no individual or business has power over you.

    Let’s say you have a racist store-owner who refuses to sell to black people. Does this mean he has power over them? No, they can just go elsewhere, to the many other stores all to willing to take his money; the racist store owner only hurts himself with his actions.

    Now, let’s have government step in and somehow try to fix this. The only way they could is to threaten some kind of force against the store owner. Whatever they do, he will only do the minimum he needs to comply and no more. And that will remove the incentive he previously had to stop being racist!

    The problem is, using government to fight racism is a form of thought control. Using the government to fight racist actions doesn’t stop racism, and just removes the incentives to serve everybody.

  161. You mean I showed that you’re a fucking idiot? That you’re a callous dipshit who doesn’t give a fuck if an animal is wiped off the face of the planet forever? Piss off. If I never hear from you again, I’ll die a happy man.

    —————-

    Wow. You do not take losing well, do you?

  162. writerdd’s initial question (version 2),

    how can skeptics, who look at the same evidence, come to so many different conclusions about politics?

    contains the questionable premise, “look at the same evidence”. One reason why we don’t come to the same conclusions is that we are not all looking at the same evidence. It is practically very difficult to investigate all relevant areas deeply enough to have well-informed opinions. I try to keep this in mind in order to avoid over-committing to a particular position. It’s possible that I am ignorant of some fact(s) that would make me view things differently.

    Another problem with the question is that political questions are not entirely evidence based. In researching libertarianism, I have encountered two general classes of arguments supporting it. These are Rights arguments and Utilitarian arguments.

    The Rights arguments tend to start with a presumption of self-ownership and proceed from there.

    The Utilitarian arguments posit a goal, and then discuss how libertarian solutions are most effective (or at least more effective) at meeting this goal.

    Utilitarian arguments seem to be more amenable to evidence-based arguments. If everyone agrees on the goal, we can in principle scientifically investigate methods of achieving the goal. When a Rights approach and a Utilitarian approach converge on a single solution, there is no conflict. When these approaches disagree we enter into value judgments, which are less amenable to evidence and reason.

    Most people are greatly affected at an emotional level by questions of rights and fairness. At some point, though, the overall cost-benefit ratio becomes so tilted that we agree to sacrifice some rights and tolerate some unfairness. Some examples to demonstrate what I mean (these are off-the-cuff, and may not withstand scrutiny. They are intended to clarify the meaning of my previous statement):
    The ardent supporter of the individual right to be armed will accept restrictions on nuclear arms, because the practical cost is so great. The committed communist will allow the farmer to keep a little surplus produce to motivate productivity, because the cost of famine is too high to bear.
    (Again, I’m not going to the wall for either of these examples, I just mean for them to clarify my earlier statement.)

    Where I see a problem is when the argument gets down to disagreements on these value judgments before establishing that there is a discrepancy between a utilitarian approach and a rights approach.

    As an aside, I am very interested in any books that rationally approach these questions from a non-libertarian perspective. (Especially audiobooks, as I have a long commute and little time for leisure reading). My goal here is to address the “look at the same evidence” problem. The closest I have come is “The Conscience of a Liberal” by Paul Krugman. I want to know the evidence and the best arguments from all sides. If anyone has recommendations, please provide them.

    Thank You,
    I am a Hedge

  163. Or so it seems to me. I’m new to this privilege thing, myself, and–as I said–it takes years to fully understand. Humans are complex.

    —————–

    Actually, it doesn’t take years to understand. It works like this: we don’t all have the same advantages. Some of these are due to our genetics (LeBron James), some to our social standing (Ted Kennedy, Jr.). We don’t all have the same disadvantages.

    Its possible to go from pretty much any point to any other point in our society. However, the amount of work is equal to the distance you want to travel and the direction you want to travel in. Some families do this in one generation (Bill Gates), others may take several centuries (mine).

    I’m a libertarian because I believe that people have the right to do their best for their children. Our current policies, Social Security, Medicaid, Welfare, and the War on Drugs, have created a permanent underclass of citizens who are being denied a road to privilege.

    Social Security and Medicaid rob the poor of their right to become rich. The payroll tax steals from those who cannot afford it to pay for programs that they do not qualify for, and “saves” their money in a bankrupt account that returns negative dollars.

    It is easy for a person who thinks they have privileges to decide to give to charity. And I applaud that, and I give whatever I can whenever I can. I like to donate. I should donate more.

    But that’s my choice, not yours. You don’t get to decide how hard I’ve had to work. You can’t measure the relative effort of one person versus another using some kind of statistical breakdown. You’re using an aggregate measure to establish penalties on individuals, and that’s not scientifically or ethically sound.

  164. You’re using an aggregate measure to establish penalties on individuals, and that’s not scientifically or ethically sound.

    Thanks for a reply that doesn’t raise my cackles.

    Now, on this point, could you explain to me how ignoring these negative externalities (i.e. those who benefit from their privilege never pay the full cost for status, discrimination ends up being one way they foist the costs on the society) is possible without leading to an eventual market failure?

    Can this not be economically measured an accounted for?

    (Disclaimer: I am trying to understand economics at the moment, and these are new concepts for me.)

  165. Wow. You do not take losing well, do you?

    If, by “losing,” you mean “finding out I’ve been arguing with a person far more callous and apathetic than I ever thought possible,” then yes.

    Your entire response is “I don’t give a fuck if it’s extinct.”

    Yeah, I knew the Libertarian stance is “we don’t give a fuck if you can’t afford it.” I just thought it was because you were too blind to give a fuck, not that you looked at the dead and literally said “it doesn’t matter.”

    As far as I’m concerned, you’re a subhuman abomination. The world would be a better place without you in it.

  166. Now, on this point, could you explain to me how ignoring these negative externalities (i.e. those who benefit from their privilege never pay the full cost for status, discrimination ends up being one way they foist the costs on the society) is possible without leading to an eventual market failure?

    —————-

    Well, IANAE either, so there’s trouble brewing there.

    But as a skeptic, I can’t see how putting more wealth under the control of our bloated, corrupt, inefficient, and privilege-riddled federal government is going to help.

    I guess I would start, much as we might with environmentalism, and ask whether there are mechanisms in place that hide those externalities from the market: that is, are there ways in which government policy makes this problem worse?

  167. As far as I’m concerned, you’re a subhuman abomination. The world would be a better place without you in it.

    ——————

    Wow. You really hate losing an argument! I mean, not only do you feel compelled to lie about what I said, and completely ignore every point I made, but you’ve now resorted to absurd insults.

    Dude, its okay to lose. Get over your big bad self, put some dry underwear on, and try to keep up with the conversation.

  168. Lie? Bullshit. You said – your words, not mine: that it doesn’t matter.

    If that somehow translates into me losing an argument in your head, then you’re also delusional, in addition to being an apathetic piece of shit. Go die in a fucking fire, so I can that the real problem was that no one owned you, so no one had an interest in keeping you alive.

  169. Go die in a fucking fire, so I can that the real problem was that no one owned you, so no one had an interest in keeping you alive.

    ———————

    Okay, so you admit I said at least two things, neither of which were “I don’t give a fuck.” So you lied when you described “the entirety” of my response as being something that I didn’t say, and you know I didn’t say, that wasn’t even the entirety of my response if I did say it.

    As for winning, look, I know that bringing in a real world example of how the private market can save a species (or an entire ecosystem, in the case of the Nature Conservacy) wasn’t really fair when I’m arguing against you, but… well, I can’t softball everything for your benefit. Sometimes I have to use facts.

    Wishing for my death won’t make you smarter or better informed.

  170. Here we see an example of disagreement about rights and fairness preventing a fruitful discussion of solving a problem.

    Problem: Extinction of species
    Goal: Prevent (or postpone) extinction of species.

    So far, I think we have agreement. Seth proposed that the goal can be achieved through private ownership of individual members of the species. Rystefn balks at this. This seems to violate either his sense of fairness or his understanding of rights (perhaps of the animals in question, or perhaps of other people whom he sees as being deprived of something if private ownership is allowed). (Rystefn, I am not trying to put words in your mouth, so please correct me if I get something wrong here). The discussion doesn’t get to the point of questioning the utility of Seth’s solution (i.e. would it prevent or postpone extinction?).

    The next step would seem to be dealing with the rights/fairness concerns. I fail to see the logical progression from this point to
    you’re a callous [bad person] who doesn’t [care] if an animal is wiped off the face of the planet forever (Rystefn @155)

    The important questions I would have are:
    Would this solution work, and is it feasible to implement?
    And, if so:
    Are anyone’s rights infringed by the solution to such an extent that it counteracts the benefits of achieving the goal?

    I am a Hedge

  171. Ryst, please tone it down a little. I mean, I think I called libertarians selfish pricks, but I didn’t say anything about dying. OK? Before Rebecca has to come and spank us. Oh wait, that’s not really a deterrent, is it?

  172. What part of your post was other than “I don’t give a fuck?” Trot it out.

    You said you didn’t give a fuck because it’s not important. You said you didn’t give a fuck because there are other issues. You said you don’t give a fuck because other species aren’t dead yet. That’s all “I don’t give a fuck.” I stand by it, and pretending that’s not what you said because you phrased it differently is dishonest, at best.

    Bringing an example of how the private market can save one species in no way lessens the fact that it fucking destroyed the Great Auk. You sit around and pretend that you made some great point by expanding on something I already stated in the very beginning, and explained why it doesn’t matter. Here – since you either missed it, or are pretending you did, I’ll repeat it.

    The market is what killed the Great Auk, in fact. Could public activism have saved it? Maybe. We’ll never know. We’ll never know, because it didn’t even try.

    Let’s review:
    I question the libertarian ideal’s ability to handle long-view problems, such as evironmentalism.
    A couple of Libertarians say the market is better at it than the government.
    I post a screaming example of the market not merely failing to save an animal from extinction, but actually being the force to wipe it out.
    You use the “I don’t care” defense. (and call it a “charismatic” species despite the fact that it clearly lacks charisma by any definition I’ve ever come across.)
    I call you a callous and uncaring dipshit who clearly doesn’t understand what the word “charisma” means.
    You use the “I don’t care defense,” and try to back it up with examples of other things not dying.

    What part of that makes you the victor? Oh, right… your imagination. Same as every time you declare yourself the victor.

    I know it’s hard for you to understand this, but when you are accused of being unfeeling, the “I don’t care” defense really works against you.

    So, in conclusion, let me make this abundantly clear – I don’t wish you dead because you won some argument. Hell, you didn’t win. You just said you don’t give a fuck. I wish you dead because you can looks at the wholesale slaughter of an entire species and say “it doesn’t matter.”

    I want to understand what I’m saying here. I want you to think back and try recall a time I’ve ever stated point-blank that I would like harm to befall someone in any fashion. How many of you self-appointed victories inspired such a statement? How many liars, cheats, frauds, swindlers, cultists, and horrible people of all stripes have been discussed on this site only to inspire from phrases like “That makes me want to vomit” or “words cannot express the anger.”

    Think about that, and understand the depth of loathing I hold for you. You can’t fall back on ignorance, like the people who let their children die because they were praying instead of going to the hospital. To me, you are so much than that as to qualify as a different type of being altogether. When I say that I consider you an inhuman abomination, I am not using hyperbole. When I say the world as whole would be a better place without you in it, I’m not merely speaking out rage. You, seth, are the absolute worst thing any human being could possibly become, and wish like no other time in my life that I was a religious person, so I could comfort myself with the knowledge that such depths of evil would punished in some Hell.

    I mean this in the most literal sense: I wish you were dead.

    While I will not, and would not, visit harm upon you personally over this, it would provide me with some amount of happiness to hear of something very, very painful happening to you, and I would be disappointed if you survived it.

    If this post is deleted, or even if it gets me banned, I am prepared to live with the consequences, but I have never been one to leave the things I feel important unsaid. This is me, this is how I feel, and I stand by it.

  173. Wow, this is totally reminding me of Atherton and Mal duking it out in Firefly: Mighty Fine Shindig.

    Anyway, ignoring that thread, I think you asked an interesting question:

    I can’t see how putting more wealth under the control of our bloated, corrupt, inefficient, and privilege-riddled federal government is going to help.

    Oh, c’mon, this one’s too easy. You had to know I would say “so putting more wealth under the control of bloated, corrupt, inefficient, and privilege-riddled corporations is an improvement?”

    : )

    I guess I would start, much as we might with environmentalism, and ask whether there are mechanisms in place that hide those externalities from the market: that is, are there ways in which government policy makes this problem worse?

    A somewhat loaded question. But the whole point of externalities, if I understand (which I may well not) is that it’s distinctly the role of government to handle them, because the market cannot. (By definition. The value of these resources is under- or over-compensated for in the free market.) It seems to me that, by definition*, these factors must be handled by an outside regulatory force. It’s a fascinating subject. I’ll have to read up on it more before contributing much of worth.

    That’s not to say that the current solutions in place with government are effective. …I think it’s moderately clear that things are better now than they were 40 years ago, but I cannot say what influence the government had on things.

    The key, I think, is judicious intervention by government. And a better system of accountability balanced with authority. I think there is ground there to find agreement.

    All this said, I think there’s really a long way to go before people even recognize privilege in a way that can be objectively balanced. There are an awful lot of Shanek’s in the world, who think racism is when police officers beat on a black man without provocation!

    * This article cites environmentalism as a specific example.

  174. What part of your post was other than “I don’t give a fuck?” Trot it out.

    ————–

    The problem was that no one owned the fucking Auk. If they had, there would be Auk today.

    Like I said, you’re just a liar. You know that. I know that. You’ve admitted as much. Especially considering that No part of my post was “I don’t give a fuck.”

    And you know that. And as your mistakes get pointed out, you just get angrier and angrier, and you appear to be assigning to me a lot of attitudes that more appropriately might be applied to you. “Callous” for example.

    Try to grasp this, Rystefn. There are people who love me, people you don’t know. People who may be your spiritual brothers and sisters. Me dying would not hurt me at all, but it would hurt them. Why do you want to hurt these people? What the hell is wrong with you?

    Anyway, I declare victory because you have stopped even pretending to address the issues and are now just raving mindlessly and brutally about how much you hate a man you barely know, don’t understand, haven’t met, and never listen to. To my mind, that’s you giving up on trying to have a rational discussion.

    I don’t wish any harm on you. But I do hope you get some psychological help, because you sorely need it.

  175. All I keep thinking is that “laissez faire economics” is an incredibly bad system and changing its name to “free market system” does not make it any better. It’s a system based on profit and greed and there’s no way around that. The bottom line of the market economy is making money, and that will never lead to morality or choices that are good for the poor. Even the Bible knows that the love of money is the root of all evil for Christ’s sake.

  176. It seems to me that, by definition*, these factors must be handled by an outside regulatory force.

    ———–

    Possibly. But it’s also the misapplication of market principles. Take the air, for example. There is no market force that can account for the damage that other people do to my air. But there are government subsidies and regulations that make it hard for me to sue people who pollute my air.

  177. Even the Bible knows that the love of money is the root of all evil for Christ’s sake.

    —————

    The bible also knows that we shouldn’t wear polyester, and that we should stone adulterers to death. Seriously.

    The free market is not based on profit and greed. It’s based on trade, which is the same thing that all economic systems are based on. Every economic system has some way of determining what a fair trade is. In the free market, a fair trade is one in which uncoerced parties are willing to participate. How is that based on profit and greed, rather than mutual benefit?

  178. In the free market, a fair trade is one in which uncoerced parties are willing to participate. How is that based on profit and greed, rather than mutual benefit?

    Oooh! Oooh! [raises hand] I just learned this one from a friend of mine, too!

    The answer is “information symmetry”. Both parties in the transaction have to have access to the same information about the effects of the purchase.

    My friend pointed me to an article about why buying used cars is almost always risky, for example.

    The opposite is true for, say, insurance: where I have more information that you. What my friend said was:

    Information asymmetry is also one reason why a free-market health insurance system cannot exist. it’s because the insurance consumer (us) will always know more about their own health risks than the insurance producer (the company) can. So when the company charges average premiums, the people who buy the insurance will largely be the ones who know that their risk is high and for whom therefore insurance will be a great deal. The ones who know their risk is low, but can’t prove it to the insurance company, will opt out, because for them it’s a loss to buy insurance — but of course then the insurance company must raise its premiums, so next the not-so-healthy people peel off and the more sick ones remain, etc. A death spiral. This is an insurance-specific market failure mode known as adverse selection.

    In addition to that, I would say that corporations are inherently geared toward “pathological” behavior (I’m echo-chambering here, paraphrasing a book that struck a chord with me). That is, (publicly-traded) corporations are legally obligated to do everything they can to earn a profit, even if this comes at the expense of liberties we take for granted (like public space, privacy, and the right to no spam). So when a company like GE can get away with dumping their shit in a river because it saves them $10,000,000 and the fine is only $500,000… that’s a problem. The point of the book–one I agree with–is that if a person were doing something like this–gaming the system–they would be slapped in cuffs and dragged away for decades.

    I don’t trust corporations. And I think I’m entitled to those fears. And those fears bleed over to talks of libertarian free markets.

    I’m not saying some changes in that direction would be all bad… but it’s a place that I yet fear to tread, for those reasons alone. According to my (economist) friend, however, there are also valid, “scientific*,” economical reasons to be wary of all that libertarianism preaches. …But I’m looking into the details, so I’m saying so somewhat prematurely.

    * Perhaps “academic” is a better word, until I see the peer-reviewed papers themselves…

  179. The problem was that no one owned the fucking Auk. If they had, there would be Auk today.

    Well, holy shit… I stand corrected. Two sentences. I stand by everything else I said. I change one statement to “Pretty much all you said was ‘I don’t give a fuck.'”

    Especially considering that No part of my post was “I don’t give a fuck.”

    Yes it was. You worded it differently, but that’s what it was.

    as your mistakes get pointed out, you just get angrier and angrier

    What mistakes? Did the market fail to kill the Auk? Can you bring me one? No? I thought not. Did government regulation kill it? Not remotely. Where was I wrong? What was the mistake? This a flagrant lie, and you know it. Say it with me now: “It’s wrong when you do it, too.”

    you appear to be assigning to me a lot of attitudes that more appropriately might be applied to you. “Callous” for example.

    I’m not the one who said “It doesn’t matter.”

    There are people who love me

    Says you. You’ve lied before.

    Me dying would not hurt me at all,

    Beg to differ. Have you ever died? By all reports, there are quite a lot of painful ways that can happen, and if look back, you’ll see that those are precisely the kind I wish upon you.

    Why do you want to hurt these people?

    Honestly, anyone who could see someone as evil as you and be hurt by the loss concerns me very little. See that? Now I get to use the “I don’t care” defense. By your logic, I just won that argument. At least I don’t care about the emotional pain of a small group of collaborators and sympathizers, as opposed to, say, not caring about wiping their entire species off of the face of the planet to decorate some rich person’s hat.

    What the hell is wrong with you?

    I’ve never claimed to be a good person. I have, in fact, explicitly stated the exact opposite on more than one occasion. Directly to you, as I recall… Maybe you thought I was being facetious, or something. I wasn’t.

    Anyway, I declare victory because you have stopped even pretending to address the issues

    I stopped addressing the issue that libertarianism is an apathetic philosophy that tramples all over the weak and poor? Funny, I thought that was the only issue I’ve been addressing at all here lately. Granted, I’m addressing a very specific case of an extremely abhorrent aspect of that disgusting little problem you’d like to sweep under the rug… At least shane had the decency to back away when I pointed out that he referred to children as property.

  180. I mean this in the most literal sense: I wish you were dead.

    ———————-

    I want to translate this for you, Rystefn. This is what you said:

    I want your son to never see you again, and not understand why.

    I want your mother to have to bury her own child.

    I want your wife to be a widow, to have to carry a pregnancy by herself and bring a fatherless child into the world.

    I want your brother to lose his best friend.

    I want your nieces to lose the closest thing to a father figure they have in their lives.

    Your friends should never get another excellent birthday Apple Pie.

    I don’t want Masala Skeptic to ever light up and say “Seth!” again.

    I could go on. It stuns me that you imagine that you can grab some sort of moral high ground by wishing to erase so much joy from other people’s worlds, simply because you imagine that I’m not overly concerned about the extinction of the Great Auk. Do you really think that your wounded sense of environmental justice outweighs the happiness of these people? That its funny or smart or even remotely not sick and horrible to hope for that much unhappiness, simply because you think that I need to adjust my attitude on a single topic?

    Doesn’t that strike you as maybe, just maybe, a tiny bit over the top?

    It bugs me that you have that much hate in you, that you might actually be that thoughtless and heartless. I honestly think, though, that despite your bluster, you are a human being underneath it all.

    It saddens me that you would write such a sociopathic and sickening post, and I really hope you take some time to reflect on what wishing someone dead really means.

  181. What mistakes?

    ————-

    Well, for one thing, I pointed out that market forces could have saved the Auk, and have been more effective than government in saving other species and ecosystems. But hey, don’t let reality intrude on your rant, man.

  182. Now I get to use the “I don’t care” defense. By your logic, I just won that argument.

    ————–

    Except that I’ve never used that defense. Do you ever stop lying?

  183. By all reports, there are quite a lot of painful ways that can happen, and if look back, you’ll see that those are precisely the kind I wish upon you.

    —————-

    Yes, but being dead doesn’t hurt. As far as we know.

  184. Granted, I’m addressing a very specific case of an extremely abhorrent aspect of that disgusting little problem you’d like to sweep under the rug

    ———————–

    No, you aren’t. You are failing to address it, and instead just heaping hatred on me for a position I don’t hold and never stated. You’re ignoring how markets can and have solved the problem you bring up.

  185. To all:

    If he follows form, Rystefn will now mention how many posts I’ve put up. I feel compelled to mention, in advance, that I post many posts because its easier to follow single posts then one long post. There’s a tendency to wander in longer posts with lots of little quotes, so I just hit one quote at a time.

  186. suggests this thread be locked from further comments.

    ————-

    No, no! Let’s let everybody see how cruel and callous we libertarians are compared to the compassionate and wonderful guys on the other side. Let’s see… D describes me as selfish and disgusting, while Rystefn wants me dead.

    Yeah, I’m handing over the moral high ground even as we speak.

  187. That is, (publicly-traded) corporations are legally obligated to do everything they can to earn a profit, even if this comes at the expense of liberties we take for granted (like public space, privacy, and the right to no spam).

    —————-

    I tend to agree, actually. There is something deeply broken in that system. I think that what that is, and how to fix it, is an open question. I’m leery of top down controls. However, we do know that the legal structure that creates this situation is a product of the government, not the market. So that’s a good first place to look to make changes.

  188. Do you really think that your wounded sense of environmental justice outweighs the happiness of these people?

    Now, now… Don’t go thinking this about the Auk. It used to be, but it’s not anymore. It’s about you. Do I really think that ridding the world of such a vile creature as yourself outweighs some lost happiness and some emotional trauma? Yes. I do. Please understand, I say this, not because I think the pain isn’t real, or that it has no effect, or even that I don’t care… I say it to illustrate just how evil I find your thought process.

    I don’t think you need to adjust your attitude on a single topic – I think that there is no way you could have such an attitude on that topic without having similar attitudes on others, and I highly doubt you could change it, even if you did see that it is a vile, wicked thing.

    I really hope you take some time to reflect on what wishing someone dead really means.

    I’m in a special position to understand the full meaning of this.

    Well, for one thing, I pointed out that market forces could have saved the Auk

    So did I. Before you did, in fact. I even went back and quoted it for you. Well, I conceded that maybe they could have. “Could have if…” carries little weight here, though, because regardless of what market forces could have done, the only real fact we have on this discussion is what market forces actually did. They actually killed the Great Auk. Oh, and not just that, either. We’re not just talking one species here. We’re talking about all of them. Every Auk of every species on the entire planet. Gone. This isn’t some isolated species with only a few thousand like the dodo living in some obscure part of the world, either. Millions upon uncounted millions. Large swaths of the planet. Multiple species.

    Fuck what the market can do. Babble all you like about what it might do. This is what it really did.

    …and you say “it doesn’t matter.”

    You have earned every ounce of hate I could ever pour onto you, and a great deal more besides.

  189. writerdd @192:

    The bottom line of the market economy is making money, and that will never lead to morality or choices that are good for the poor.

    This looks like a testable hypothesis. All we need is an example of a market economy leading to morality or choices that are good for the poor, and the hypothesis will be falsified.

    Anytime two or more companies get involved in a ‘price war’, this would seem to benefit the consumers. Depending on the product or service that is the subject of the price war, this could easily be good for the poor.

    Let’s go a little deeper and look at a case where a libertarian policy would remove government interference from the market. Suppose there were no subsidies for corn-based ethanol. This would lead to corn producers putting more of their product into the food market, and less into the fuel market. The increased supply would lower prices for corn, thereby helping the poor.

    I am a Hedge

  190. Except that I’ve never used that defense. Do you ever stop lying?

    I’m sorry… What part of “it doesn’t matter” and “it doesn’t mean anything” aren’t the “I don’t care defense?

    Yes, but being dead doesn’t hurt. As far as we know.

    Right. Which is precisely why I specified the kind that hurts first. Just in case.

    You’re ignoring how markets can and have solved the problem you bring up.

    They solved it? Oh damn… Well, I stand corrected. Kindly show me the living Auk the market created and I’ll take back everything I said and quietly go about my business….

    Let’s let everybody see how cruel and callous we libertarians are compared to the compassionate and wonderful guys on the other side.

    Straw Man. I defy you to show me a single case where I ever claimed to be compassionate… I beg you. Please do so. Tell you what – you find it, and I’ll ban myself from the site after declaring you publicly the winner of every argument, debate, and disagreement we’ve ever had and ever will have in perpetuity.

    Remember that part about how it’s wrong when you do it, too? It still is.

  191. …and you say “it doesn’t matter.”

    ——————-

    Actually, what I said was “it doesn’t mean much.” And the reason I said that, as I explained, was that absent a lot of other factors, government efforts aimed at megafauna are doomed to failure. You have to protect the entire ecosystem, like the Nature Conservacy, an NGO, is attempting to do with the prairie.

    You see, I’m not arguing about what the market “might” do. I’m arguing about what it “has” done.

    But again, don’t let reality stand in the way of your opinion of me.

    As for your callous disregard for the pain of other people, versus your ridiculous opinion of me….

    Wow. I think you may need real psychiatric help.

  192. I’m sorry… What part of “it doesn’t matter” and “it doesn’t mean anything” aren’t the “I don’t care defense?

    —————

    Well, it would help if I ever used those words. I’m not sure I did, though. And it would also help if you included the bit where I argued that ownership would have helped the Auk, because it has helped other species.

    Of course, you’re just ignoring that and continuing to spew mindless venom… which is, again, why I’m claiming victory. Anytime your opponent is reduced to ignoring and distorting your arguments and loudly calling for your death, I think its safe to say you’ve defeated their logical, reasonalbe arguments. I mean, you haven’t even made a case that I’m a danger to a living species, just that I might be ambivalent about an extinction event. Oh! The horror! I’m practically Hitler.

  193. And with that, Rystefn, you can fucking have Skepchick.org. My only hope for you is that one day, you reflect on what you said today, and the enormity of the level of asshole you really are hits you full in the face.

    When it does, don’t shoot yourself. Just because you’re an asshole, doesn’t mean you deserve to die.

  194. You see, I’m not arguing about what the market “might” do. I’m arguing about what it “has” done.

    What it has done is kill the Auk.

    Not every comment is about you.

    I agree, but when it has the word “Rystefn” in it, that’s a pretty good indicator that particular comment is. I’m sorry, maybe you were talking about some other Rystefn? I mean, I was pretty sure there’s not one, but I could be wrong, I suppose.

    And it would also help if you included the bit where I argued that ownership would have helped the Auk, because it has helped other species.

    No… See. you can’t argue what it would have done, only what it might have done. Since people did have ownership of thylacines, I suppose they were saved, right? Tell you what, show me the living thylacine that ownership on the free market saved, and I’ll concede that point.

    loudly calling for your death

    Now, now… You’re being dishonest again. I resent the implication that I was calling for your death. It is a complete fabrication and goes directly against my actual intent. What I’m doing is little different than praying for your death – a highly ineffectual practice with no real bearing on the real world.

    I mean, you haven’t even made a case that I’m a danger to a living species,

    Frankly, I don’t see how that’s pertinent. I never made the case because it’s irrelevant to my stance. I’m condemning you on the grounds of your morality, not the danger you present. Yes, I do think that such a morality is a potential danger, but that’s not the reason I think the world would be better without you in it. Potential dangers can often be dealt with in other ways…

    So, let’s make this clear, I am not advocating for anyone to kill. I am not advocating for a state execution or for laws which enforce against this kind of thing. That way madness lies. As I said before, I’m a realist, and I know precisely where that ends – I want nothing to do with any of it. All I’m saying is that, on a personal level, I would derive true happiness from knowing that you suffered a great deal and then stopped breathing forever and that I honestly believe the world would be a better place without you in it.

    My only hope for you is that one day, you reflect on what you said today, and the enormity of the level of asshole you really are hits you full in the face.

    As I said before, I am fully aware of what I am saying and the full scope of such a statement. I stand by it.

  195. JRice:

    “so putting more wealth under the control of bloated, corrupt, inefficient, and privilege-riddled corporations is an improvement?”

    No, but then, government does that, too!

    writerdd:

    “The bottom line of the market economy is making money, and that will never lead to morality or choices that are good for the poor.”

    Again, can you explain how the free market conquered the problem of the poor starving and even gave them affordable heating oil long before the Welfare State came along?

  196. JRice:

    “The answer is “information symmetry”. Both parties in the transaction have to have access to the same information about the effects of the purchase.”

    You’re taking something which is a known effect on an individual level and trying to apply it economy-wide. A classic misconception.

    While certain individuals might make bad deals, when lots of these individuals make their decisions, they converge on total information, and it’s all balanced out.

    This is confirmed by the jelly-bean experiment. Have you ever seen one of those “Guess how many jelly beans are in the jar” contests? Well, they’re not just running a contest–it’s a scientific experiment!

    What they do when the contest is over is take all of the guesses and average them out. If they get enough guesses (a few hundred or more, usually) then the average will be VERY close to the real answer. Get a lot more and they’ll converge on the correct answer itself!

    Certainly the average will be closer to the real number than any individual guess, unless someone is EXTREMELY lucky.

    The thing is, they’ve tried all sorts of things to bias the results, such as increasing the prize if the correct guess is a higher number. No dice; it still works. The only way anyone could do it is with outright cheating, say, by putting a large ball in the center so that it looks like there are more jelly beans than there are.

    But otherwise, just by looking, enough people will “know” how many jelly beans there are in the jar, without any individual having to know the correct answer.

    Information asymmetry just doesn’t exist economy-wide unless there’s some large-scale fraud going on, and that’s usually with the help of government.

  197. Sorry… but I can’t take this blowhard seriously anymore. What a whiny little bitch he becomes when his back is to the wall…

    “I want you deeeaaad. I hope you suffer and dieeeeeee…. Waaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh”

    What a little baby. How utterly immature and cruel can one human being be? Why am I wasting my time on this jackass? What the hell is wrong with me, that I’d line up for this sort of stupid abuse from a man with the mental capacity of a steel drum?

    Sheesh. Yeah, I’m with J. Lock this bitch and lets move on.

  198. sethmanapio:

    “You have to protect the entire ecosystem, like the Nature Conservacy, an NGO, is attempting to do with the prairie.”

    If you ask me, the Nature Conservancy is a complete contradiction to everything the enemies of the free market have said about it.

    “Well, it would help if I ever used those words. I’m not sure I did, though.”

    You didn’t. I searched the thread (FireFox has a nice search feature); at the point where he said, “Lie? Bullshit. You said – your words, not mine: that it doesn’t matter,” you had NEVER posted those three words together.

    After that, there were only two posts of yours that used that phrase, and they were in the parts where you quoted him.

    I’m still thinking ignoring him is the best course of action. He’s not here to debate honestly. If this were my blog or my YouTube channel, he’d have been blocked and his posts deleted by now–especially after he said he wanted you to die!

  199. What was that about not even arguing the point anymore? About walking away? By your logic, I’ve just won again.

    The free market killed the Great Auk, private ownership failed to save the thylacine, and your point about the market working it out and saving the animals failed utterly. If you can refute any of those points, feel free to try, but you know you can’t.

    Hey, why don’t you pretend the thylacine is a “charismatic megafauna” instead of a reviled creature while you’re at it? Maybe that will help your case.

    You can try to cover your retreat with cries of “you’re mean and I don’t like you,” but it doesn’t change the fact that you’re very, very wrong. So much your vaunted logic and 5 step process.

  200. Especially since I’ve already won

    LoL… And saying it makes it true if you repeat it enough, right? Free market saved the Great Auk and ownership saved the thylacine. Libertarianism is the only logical stance because the rich will always help the poor on their own recognizance and a small minority with little money can save the world from a bunch of rich, shortsighted people.

  201. Can’t be bothered to debate you, I’ve already won.

    Reread all the posts if you want, and you’ll be able to figure out where…or, you would if you didn’t have your head so deeply embedded in your fatuous ass.

    There is a young man named Rystefn
    Who in his own shit always steps in
    He chews up the crap
    smears it on his cap
    and his shit eating grin sets us retchin’

  202. Rystefn is really stylin’
    his hat and his glasses beguilin’
    to bad for the chicks
    that he’s such a dick
    he’ll fuck you over and then go home smilin’

  203. Rystefn’s a wussy sore loser
    he pretends that he’s a big strapping bruiser
    he once wished me dead
    ’cause I’m over his head
    I guess I’m too smart of a muser!

  204. Can’t be bothered to debate you, I’ve already won.

    There you go… if you say it three times, you must be right. All hail the great seth, so logical he can ignore the entire argument and still win by virtue of his own say-so! Hell of an accomplishment, that.

  205. @shanek:

    What they do when the contest is over is take all of the guesses and average them out. If they get enough guesses (a few hundred or more, usually) then the average will be VERY close to the real answer. Get a lot more and they’ll converge on the correct answer itself!

    I remember when they were talking about terrorism futures as a predictive tool. Apparently, something like it is already used to predict election results and Oscar nominees. Probably more things, the article is 5 years old.

  206. Sethmanapio makes limericks with ease
    It amuses, but does not appease
    His notorious fiend
    Is completely demeaned
    But can we now discuss the facts, please?

  207. Josh K:

    “Apparently, something like it is already used to predict election results and Oscar nominees.”

    I don’t know about Oscar nominees, but I’m skeptical of things predicting election results. I’ve heard of lots of things that have “predicted” 14 of the last 15 elections (or something like that) and they end up failing the very next time!

  208. “The link refers to the system as being slightly more accurate than final election polls.”

    Still not impressed. :^P

    (Episode 8 of Bogosity is on Election Polls. It’s in the editor; I just need to do a few tweaks and it’ll be ready.)

    Actually, I have been more impressed with the results of odds-makers than pollsters or anything else. Of course, odds-makers have an incentive to make sure their odds are as accurate as possible, lest they start losing lots and lots of money…

  209. Okay, what the hell is going on in here? I just got back from the dentist so I can’t feel half my face and the half I can feel doesn’t feel so great. So, starting now I’m going to moderate the living crap out of this thread and if it becomes too much of a hassle I’m going to shut it down.

    Dig? Now everybody kiss and make up and then continue the conversations without insults.

  210. I remember when they were talking about terrorism futures as a predictive tool. Apparently, something like it is already used to predict election results and Oscar nominees. Probably more things, the article is 5 years old.

    ———–

    Yes! There are several such futures markets. Try intrade.com for an example.

  211. Josh K:

    “I was offering it up as an example of jelly-beans-experiment-in-practice.”

    It could be. There’s not enough information in the article to say for sure one way or the other. It’s just one of those things I’m very leery about.

  212. OK, let me try to pick up a thread of conversation with the inflammation removed.

    I can’t see how putting more wealth under the control of our bloated, corrupt, inefficient, and privilege-riddled federal government is going to help.

    This is a theme that’s come up a few times. Rystefn pointed out that he wants a guarantee of certain basic things, such as avoiding extinction of species and providing basic health care, water and so on.

    Seth argued, in turn, that governments are no guarantees.

    It’s trivially correct that corporations can’t provide guarantees. Just look at the Exxon Valdez.

    It’s also trivially correct that governments can’t provide guarantees. Just look at Katrina.

    So the question is not who can provide a guarantee. Nobody can.

    So perhaps the real question is: Is it better to place our bets in bloated, corrupt, inefficient, privilege-riddled government, or in bloated, corrupt, inefficient, and privilege-riddled corporations?

    If we’ve learned nothing else over the last eight years, it’s that if a government is determined to avoid taking responsibility, it will temporarily succeed.

    One thing that government has over corporations is that you almost get a guarantee on accountability. One of the reasons why it costs more for government to do things is that they must be accountable to the people. Providing that accountability requires resources that corporations avoid spending.

    Better or worse than corporations? In the case of government, if they are determined not to be accountable, there are still ways to force it, such as via the courts and the ballot box. It takes time (up to four years in the case of the ballot box, possibly longer in the case of courts) and effort, but it can theoretically be done. With corporations, there is no ballot box.

    I do agree that merely putting things in the hand of the government does not absolve you from “eternal vigilence”. The problem that I have is that if it’s government misbehaving, I see a clear path to fixing it. If it’s a corporation misbehaving, the options are far more limited.

  213. Pseudonym:

    “One thing that government has over corporations is that you almost get a guarantee on accountability. One of the reasons why it costs more for government to do things is that they must be accountable to the people.”

    Huh? What government are you talking about? The government that had tons of information that the 9/11 attacks were coming and were still caught flatfooted by it, and then resisted the 9/11 commission’s investigation into who screwed up?

    The government that lied about weapons of mass destruction and terrorist training camps in Iraq in order to send American soldiers over there to die and never even was subject to an investigation?

    The government that pollutes more than every American corporation COMBINED and doesn’t suffer any of the legal consequences that the American corporations would?

    The police that raid the wrong home and shoot innocent people and never even have to come before a Grand Jury? Police that, in Goose Creek, SC, POINTED GUNS AT INNOCENT HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS and never suffered the slightest consequence?

    Government that has taken away the right to free elections with numerous laws that keep third parties at bay and give incumbents an unfair advantage over their competition, removing one of the few methods of accountability there is?

    When has the government EVER been accountable for the things it has done?

  214. Pseudonym:

    “[If the government is] determined not to be accountable, there are still ways to force it, such as via the courts and the ballot box.”

    Have you ever been involved with a court case? I have. I was part of a non-profit corporation that spent years raising the money and doing the legal stuff to take a case all the way to the Supreme Court–only to be lumped in with other plaintiffs, who were NOT arguing the same thing (to overturn the incumbent protection laws), and be denied the chance to make their points directly to the judges (only in briefs).

    Also, ask the people who lost their homes in New London, CT to the Pfizer corporation through illegal eminent domain how much the court system did for them. (Look up Kelo v. New London.)

    “With corporations, there is no ballot box.”

    They don’t need one: their bottom line is their ballot box. If you don’t like what a company is doing, take your business elsewhere–and let them know. It works!

    Remember years back when a Denny’s franchise was accused of racial discrimination in making black customers wait longer? Denny’s corporate office smacked down on them–not because of lawsuits, which took years and weren’t even against corporate anyway, but because of the negative publicity and the prospect of losing the business of blacks and anti-racists.

    You can change a corporation without spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees (only to have your day in court ultimately denied) or having to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars just to get on the ballot (only to have your position denied, like they’re doing to Bob Barr in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts).

  215. So perhaps the real question is: Is it better to place our bets in bloated, corrupt, inefficient, privilege-riddled government, or in bloated, corrupt, inefficient, and privilege-riddled corporations?

    ———————

    Actually, I specifically mentioned foundations, not corporations, as providing superior guarantees to governments.

  216. The problem that I have is that if it’s government misbehaving, I see a clear path to fixing it. If it’s a corporation misbehaving, the options are far more limited.

    ————–

    Think checks and balances: if a corporation misbehaves (outside the law), the government can be used to go after the corporation. When the government breaks the law, there is no recourse, no accountability, and only rarely is there even any punishment for specific offenders, and then only for those lowest in the pecking order.

  217. Huh? What government are you talking about?

    I’m obviously not talking about the Bush administration. I’m not even necessarily talking about any government extant in the USA. I don’t live in the USA and never have.

    Speaking as an outsider, I find it bizarre how much less efficient the US government is than pretty much every other government in the developed world. Anyway, when I say “government”, I may not be referring to any government that you’re familiar with.

    Remember years back when a Denny’s franchise was accused of racial discrimination in making black customers wait longer?

    Nope. I only remember things from the US that make international news.

    Seth:

    Think checks and balances: if a corporation misbehaves (outside the law), the government can be used to go after the corporation.

    If there are adequate laws in place for the corporation to be held accountable to, and adequate safeguards against corporatism, I’m okay with that. I think most people are.

    I don’t think anyone here has suggested that everything should be done by the government. There are many things which are currently government activities which could just as easily be handled by private organisations, if those organisations are appropriately regulated.

    There are some activities, such as safety standards (food safety, clean drinking water etc), for which accountability is more important than anything else.

    The fact that you can vote with your wallet is no comfort if you’re dead.

    When the government breaks the law, there is no recourse, no accountability, and only rarely is there even any punishment for specific offenders, and then only for those lowest in the pecking order.

    If punishment is the most important thing to you, I guess I can see how you’d say that. (The punitive nature of American culture is something that I’ve never entirely understood, BTW.)

    From my perspective, the most important thing is that a) any problems caused by the misbehaviour be fixed, and b) safeguards be put in place so that it (or something like it) doesn’t happen again. And yeah, that may mean passing more laws.

    If you can catch the people who did it and charge them with something, all the better.

  218. From my perspective, the most important thing is that a) any problems caused by the misbehaviour be fixed, and b) safeguards be put in place so that it (or something like it) doesn’t happen again.

    ———————

    Honestly, its so freakin’ rare for either a or b to be addressed that I can’t remember it ever happening. Think about the Bush justice department. Were the excesses of the Clinton justice department fixed? No. They got worse.

  219. Pseudonym:

    “There are some activities, such as safety standards (food safety, clean drinking water etc), for which accountability is more important than anything else.”

    And for that, we have certification bodies like UL. UL has worked for over 100 years. It’s worked because they are ACCOUNTABLE. If they certify a dangerous product, they’re liable because they underwrite every product they certify (hence the name, Underwriters’ Laboratories).

    Now, compare that with the FDA or the USDA. By independent reckonings, the FDA has killed more people than it’s saved. Are they accountable? Are they held responsible when they approve a dangerous drug? No!

    What about the USDA? They’re not held accountable, either. Example: Several years ago, they knew that meat they’d been testing from ConAgra was tainted with e. coli, and did nothing for MONTHS. Two months later, ConAgra discovered the problem on their own and issued the recall. ConAgra was held responsible and suffered negative consumer backlash, but do you think the USDA was held in any way accountable? Of course not!

    “If punishment is the most important thing to you, I guess I can see how you’d say that.”

    Disincentive is the most important thing. That’s what works economically.

  220. I am deeply offended by the leading question that starts of this topic. Writerdd, I do not think you are being fair in the way that you have presented this discussion topic. You acknowledge that skeptics, despite following a line of evidence in all matters (ideally at least), can have widely varying political ideologies. This seems to acknowledge the fact that political ideology does not hinge entirely on reason and evidence.

    However, you simultaneously hold that libertarianism does not make rational sense, on the basis of the fact that you have some reservations about it. You point out some theoretical problems with libertarianism, but they are not based in anything approaching useful evidence! This is not your fault; it is just an unfortunate reality that no governmental system can be “tested” in a controlled, scientific way. We can never know the absolute “effects” of an economic or governmental system, because real life implementations of such systems will always be prone to confounding variables.

    This topic has been covered on Skeptic’s Guide, and I agree with the rouge’s conclusions: governmental systems are not merely matters of evidence, but also a matter of values. Libertarians may value certain things more or less than you do. Evidence, rationality, skepticism cannot tell us what to value. It can not weigh in on what ideological center is correct, because none is purely correct.

    Evidence can answer more specific questions, for instance basic economic questions. Do tax cuts to the wealthy “trickle down” and promote prosperity of all? Does corporate welfare tend to help or hurt a country at large? Even then, however, economic analysis based on real-world phenomena are prone to myriad confounding variables and oodles of other research methodology problems.

    But it can, at least, be researched. An ideology as a whole, or a person’s own individual idea of a governmental utopia, cannot be “tested”, and so cannot be wrong/right. No econ or gov’t system is wrong or right. It’s a matter of what a person values. So naturally skeptics will disagree! Can you really say a libertarian system is irrational? What about a gift economy?

    There are some questions skepticism alone cannot answer. And throwing rocks at libertarians just because some libertarian premises rub you the wrong way is unfair, and offensive to those of us who are willing to consider unconventional economic systems.

    Full disclosure: my ideal, utopian economy would be a gift economy, but I think a libertarian one is more reasonable in a large population.

  221. Wow. I come from a very liberal family, work with mostly liberals, and though libertarian, have always felt the democrats were the lesser of two evils.

    I’m not longer so sure, and this thread is one more datapoint! I have never seen such vitriol against libertarians, even when i have argued with republicans that gays ought to be able to get married, church and state should be strictly separate, the war on iraq is for oil, the war on drugs just hurts the poor and minorities, etc. Certainly none of them have ever told me i don’t have the right to live, or been nearly so rude and condescending as several of the liberal commenters here have been.

    Maybe it’s a face-to-face versus internet difference. I hope it is.

  222. Nobody here said anyone else doesn’t have the right to live.

    Also I would thank you (and so would a great many liberals) not to lump me into that particular camp – though your wording on that was ambiguous enough that I may be misunderstanding your intent, and if so, I apologize for it.

  223. Our Rystefn is quite deluded
    That my death’s for the best he’s concluded
    yet at the same time
    he takes time out to whine
    that my right to keep breathing’s supported!

  224. Not your best. The slant-rhyme on the last line is a little jarring, especially sine it immediately follows another slant-rhyme… Maybe if you say it with a funny accent or something, but I can’t quite work out one that goes, you know?

    Try this:
    Our Rystefn is quite deluded
    That my death’s for the best he’s concluded,
    yet, at the same time,
    he takes time out to whine
    that my right to life’s not been precluded.

  225. Rystefn: “As far as I’m concerned, you’re a subhuman abomination. The world would be a better place without you in it.”

    Shades of fred phelps?

  226. Shades of fred phelps?

    Possibly, but I won’t be gathering a crowd to shout horrible things at someone else’s funeral in an attempt to draw press to my hatred, so at least there’s that.

  227. Rystefn’s hatred has reached quite a crowd
    but of this fact he seems not to be proud
    why else duck the fact
    that his lack of tact
    10’s of thousands of readers has wowed

  228. Yeah… no one’s ducking anything. The number of people who see it makes no difference whatsoever. The message is entirely for you.

    By the way, limericks are far too easy to impress anyone. Have you thought about sonnets? The subject matter doesn’t really lend itself to the form, of course, but isn’t that half the fun of a project of like that?

  229. His glasses have made him quite blind
    or my clock he’s still seeking to wind
    to critique my verse
    seems oddly perverse
    since my sonnet’s are simple to find!

  230. Really? I read the whole thread, and no sonnets… I mean putting them elsewhere doesn’t exactly make a whole lot of sense, does it? Or are you referring to some completely unrelated poetry that has nothing whatsoever to do with my comment? I’m going to guess the second.

  231. Our dishonest friend’s argument is quite week
    that the audience is an irrellevant leak
    to talk to me direct
    email he could select
    its clear that infamy is what he seeks

  232. I’m not one to suddenly change venues. You said it here, I responded to it here. We’ve had the discussion about dragging shit from one place to another before. I told you then it’s not my style, and I tell you the same now.

  233. This jackass seems utterly cross
    I must admit that I’m at quite a loss
    I’m not writing for him
    but for my skeptical kin
    whether he reads it, I don’t give a rat’s ass

  234. Yeah… there’s that jarring double slant-rhyme again. Seriously, guy, you should really work on that.

    Here, try this on for size:
    This jackass seems utterly cross.
    I admit that I’m at quite a loss.
    I’m not writing for him,
    but my skeptical kin.
    Whether he reads it, I don’t give a toss.

  235. You guys have taken a nasty tiff and turned it into something beautiful

    Everything I do turns out beautiful… It’s because I’m so pretty.

    …shut up and let me think that!

  236. To correct me is hardly a skill
    change a line, oh my heart, please be still
    I come up with ’em fast
    they don’t have to last
    I just use what I find fits the bill

  237. Yeah, I gathered you’re just too lazy to bother writing anything good. That’s why limericks in the first place. You just kind of suck at the last line, is all. Unsurprising, since it’s the only part that even pretends to require the smallest amount of effort.

  238. There once was a poet so fine
    With a talent for meter and rhyme
    But his one major flaw
    As everyone saw
    Was that he quite often would put way too many syllables into the last line

  239. Sigh. Things were looking a bit up and then Sethmanapio dragged it back down. Credit for working the insults into bad poetry, but not enough credit to overcome the fact that I’m bored of the negativity. I’ll just close the thread.

  240. Oh and one other thing just to clarify: I was going to set it so that all comments on this thread would go through modding before approval, but that doesn’t seem to be an option currently with the software. I was only just able to re-look at the thread because a post did pop up in moderation and the very first line was an insult. A shame, because it was a very long post that will not see the light of day because the first line violated the one rule I set down for this thread.

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