And Which Part of Article I, Section 8 Authorizes Such Expenditures?

by Don Boudreaux on March 30, 2011

in Nanny State, Other People's Money

Here’s a letter to the New York Times:

My goal isn’t to be politically incorrect, but I must ask: why do you believe that government should fund “family planning” (“It Will Take More Than a Few Regrets,” March 29)?  Such planning requires virtually no expense.  Each couple makes its own decision whether or not to have children.  If the decision is ‘yes,’ nature in its splendor takes over and fulfills the plan.  If the decision is ‘no,’ the only expense is for a few low-priced pills or condoms.

Now if “family planning” is a euphemism for abortion, even many pro-choicers agree that, because today even the sexually voracious can easily and inexpensively avoid getting pregnant, taxpayers should not be used as a prophylactic to protect irresponsible persons from the consequences of their irresponsibility.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux

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{ 257 comments }

Steve_0 March 30, 2011 at 10:16 pm

I’ve made more plans than I can count over the course of my life so far. I’ve yet to be presented with a bill due, for all this planning I’ve done. My data point of one tell me planning is free- or at least comes at the marginal cost of my time.

Gil March 30, 2011 at 10:32 pm

If pro-lifers believe abortion is murder then they would believe it to be a capital offence and would not simply dicker over whether taxpayer money is going towards it or not.

Ken March 30, 2011 at 11:16 pm

Agreed. These women are killing the most helpless of us all and should be jailed along with the doctors.

But you’re sidestepping the issue, as usual. The point of the post is NOT to discuss the legality of abortion or any punishment as a result of that choice. The point of the post is that there is NO authorization in the constitution for the federal government to fund abortions. Additionally, calling abortions “planning” is an Orwellian term used as cover for actual abortion. As Don notes, planning costs no money and requires no funding from anyone much less the federal government.

It’s an insult to intelligent people to use such euphemisms. And galling for people like you to force me to pay for something so obviously wrong. I should not have to pay for the irresponsibility of others, including sexual irresponsibility.

vikingvista March 31, 2011 at 1:50 am

“force me to pay for something so obviously wrong. I should not have to pay for the irresponsibility of others”

What should you be forced to pay for? Is it okay if people gang up and rob you for the benefit of the obviously right, and for responsible others?

Anotherphil March 31, 2011 at 2:30 pm

What should you be forced to pay for?

public goods and public goods only.

Defense, constabulary, judiciary (although I must use the term good loosely there), legislature.

In the arena of public health, there are “public bads” in that there are for example externalities associated with contagious diseases.

Pregnancy is not a disease (assertions to the contrary codified in federal law not withstanding) and its not a disease.

“family planning” is a joke. The only people limiting there fecundity are those with above average IQ’s, who are forced to stop having kids to pay for others who do.

Anotherphil March 31, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Correction, pregnancy is not a disease and is not contagious.

vikingvista March 31, 2011 at 9:09 pm

If I don’t want to pay, what should happen to me?

Ken March 31, 2011 at 11:34 pm

VV,

You should be arrested and tried for tax evasion.

Regards,
Ken

vikingvista April 1, 2011 at 12:20 am

“You should be arrested”

If I don’t want to pay for your wasteful and stupid programs, then you think I should be kidnapped and thrown in a cage?

Ken April 1, 2011 at 1:13 am

VV,

Tell me which of the federal powers authorized by the constitution you think are wasteful and stupid. I can’t think of any. There are 17 enumerated powers in the section of the constitution Don refers to.

Yes, if you don’t pay your taxes arrested and prosecuted. Government overreach does NOT free you of this obligation. Yes, it is galling to have to pay taxes. Paying them for the powers listed in the constitution are crucial. It is also slap in the face to be forced to pay for planned parenthood. This is why it’s important for YOU to pay attention, be politically active, and fight, legally, to curb government overreach.

Anarchy, as you seem to be suggesting, is the fastest path to misery, pain, and depravation. Much of Africa is lawless anarchy and there is no place on earth more miserable than there.

Giving government authorities the power of arrest is one of the sacrifices we make to live in a lawful, civilized society.

Regards,
Ken

Methinks1776 April 1, 2011 at 8:09 am

uh…no, Ken. “Much of Africa” is not anarchy and that’s not the source of all that “misery”. Try strongmen, civil wars and brutal dictatorships – in other words, the direction we’re headed.

Ken April 1, 2011 at 11:51 am

VV,

“uh…no, Ken. “Much of Africa” is not anarchy and that’s not the source of all that “misery”. Try strongmen, civil wars and brutal dictatorships – in other words, the direction we’re headed.”

What do you think happens when governments collapse and anarchy reigns? Strongmen rise up; civil wars occur; and brutal thugs take over the military institutions the government no longer controls and installs themselves as dictators.

None of which is happening here in the US.

Regards,
Ken

yet another Dave April 1, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Giving government authorities the power of arrest is one of the sacrifices we make to live in a lawful, civilized society.

You have it backwards. Having a government with arrest powers is a sacrifice “we” make because we do not live in a civilized society.

Ken April 1, 2011 at 3:44 pm

YADave,

Nope. I don’t have it backwards.

Regards,
Ken

Methinks1776 April 1, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Oh, right, Ken. I forgot that brutality and civil war never happens in the presence of organized governments. Silly me.

Ken April 1, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Methinks,

Sure it does, but those things occur in anarchy as well. What you’re talking about is taking place in north Africa (primarily close to the middle east), the middle east, China, North Korea and a couple other places.

What I’m talking about is taking place is much of Africa, predominately sub-Saharan Africa.

Regards,
Ken

yet another Dave April 1, 2011 at 4:45 pm

@ Ken,
I said: “You have it backwards. Having a government with arrest powers is a sacrifice “we” make because we do not live in a civilized society.”
You said:

Nope. I don’t have it backwards.

Later, you said (to a different poster):

You should try to be more aware of just how narrowly you think about things and how it hinders your ability to think rigorously and thoroughly. Not recognizing that you even have blind spots is dangerous.

Oh, the irony…

Ken April 1, 2011 at 4:59 pm

YADave,

If it was ironic you would have pointed out how I was being narrow minded on the subject. In my case, I was simply making the correct observation that your claim was wrong.

You want to claim that the US is not civilized so give arrest authority government, saying that my claim is backwards. The reality is that uncivilized societies simply take matters into their own hands and we end up with a barbaric society in which people are whipped to death or lynched by a mob.

As a civilized people Americans recognize the fact that this is indeed barbaric and give arrest and prosecution authority to a third party (the government) in order to keep excess and barbarism in check, while at the same time ensuring justice is served.

Regards,
Ken

yet another Dave April 1, 2011 at 5:06 pm

ROTFLMAO!!

Ken April 1, 2011 at 5:10 pm

YADave,

See? You’ve got nothing to say because you know I’m right. And now that you’ve been shown to be wrong, you laugh as if that could not possibly be the case because the mere possibility of you being wrong is absurd.

But that is what happened. It isn’t ironic at all.

Regards,
Ken

yet another Dave April 1, 2011 at 5:25 pm

@Ken
Since you completely missed my (perhaps subtle) point: The irony is you’re thinking very narrowly about what a civilized society actually is, you were neither rigorous nor thorough in your analysis as you dismissed my point, and you’re evidently completely unaware of your blind spot on the subject.

Were we living in a truly civilized society we would have no need for a government with arrest authority since transgressors would be very rare indeed and could easily be dealt with under voluntary arrangements.

When you say this:

The reality is that uncivilized societies simply take matters into their own hands and we end up with a barbaric society in which people are whipped to death or lynched by a mob.

As a civilized people Americans recognize the fact that this is indeed barbaric and give arrest and prosecution authority to a third party (the government) in order to keep excess and barbarism in check, while at the same time ensuring justice is served.

You’re making the same point without even realizing it. That’s what I thought was so funny.

Ken April 1, 2011 at 5:37 pm

YADave,

Fair enough.

But by your definition of a “truly civilized” society, one could NEVER exist. People are flawed and many are just plain wicked. In some sort of abstract sense you are right, but this requires something other than humans. When confronting reality and human nature, your definition of “civilized” is stupid.

Regards,
Ken

yet another Dave April 1, 2011 at 6:55 pm

Ken,
First a question: I’m not sure what I did to inspire your derision; are you normally arrogant and condescending in person or is it something you reserve for blogs? Either way, you’re certainly quick to dismiss anything you don’t agree with or don’t understand, in this case calling it stupid. If anything in our exchange is stupid, it would be your chest-pounding 5:06 post that I missed before elaborating on my ROTFLMAO comment (commenting here isn’t all I do with my time). You shouldn’t be so quick to assume you understand everything.

I certainly do not share your ardor for imposing government force, but my initial point was simply a correction of your misuse of language, nothing more. Now that you (I think) understand my point, you respond by asserting that “by your definition of a “truly civilized” society, one could NEVER exist.” 3 responses come to mind:
- (1) It’s not my definition, that’s what the word means, and language is important.
- (2) So? Even if you are correct, it doesn’t even slightly weaken my point.
- (3) Never is a really long time – I’m sure 500 or so years ago many people would have predicted that our current level of civilization and freedom would NEVER happen and that to consider the possibility would be stupid. They would have been wrong.

Ken April 1, 2011 at 7:30 pm

YADave,

“First a question: I’m not sure what I did to inspire your derision;”

By being stupid, as I show your your own numbering:

1) It is indeed your very own definition. The use of the phrase “civilized society” has NEVER meant that EVERY person in that society is civilized, only the vast majority. Japan, Europe, and the US are examples of a civilized society.

2) If your case isn’t to be applied to human civilization, then sure, your case is not weakened.

3) I’m sure in 500 years, in fact I’m 100% positive that as long as the human race is not extinct, there will be humans raping and killing for pleasure, so by your definition that EVERYONE in society needs to be civilized, there will NEVER be a civilized human society. Ever. As I said humans are flawed and some are just plain wicked.

So, yeah, you are being stupid, hence deserving of my condescension.

Regards,
Ken

yet another Dave April 1, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Ken,
I see you’ve fully revealed yourself as a rude AND stupid @$$hole.

Very nice, your parents must be proud.

Ken April 1, 2011 at 9:01 pm

YADave,

Let me see if I can get this straight. You’re the one that redefines what civilized society means such that the phrase can never be applied to any human society. I point this out and say that you’re being stupid if you think this, which is true after all. And because I point out how stupid this is you call me stupid and a rude asshole? Perhaps you don’t know what supid or rude asshole means.

Like with “civilized society”, you’ve redifined “stupid” and “rude asshole” is someone who shows you how ignorant you can be and musters an argument you can’t refute. When you realize that you can’t refute it, that person must stupid and a rude asshole. Does that about cover it?

It’s more graceful to just admit you were wrong. That a society can be a civilized society despite have a few uncivilized members in it, like the US, Europe, and Japan. Instead, you get all pissed off and call me names.

You’re parents must be very ashamed that they’ve raised such an childish person.

Regards,
Ken

vikingvista April 2, 2011 at 4:26 am

“Tell me which of the federal powers authorized by the constitution you think are wasteful and stupid.”

Why? Argument is for persuasion, and persuasion implies choice. But your modus operandi, as you’ve made clear, is to force your will upon those who disagree. So what you are really asking me to do, is to waste my breath.

There are in your mind two classes of people: those who should be persuaded to support a cause (e.g., you), and those who should be forced to support it (everyone who disagrees with you). Welcome to the violently self-righteous club.

vikingvista April 2, 2011 at 3:45 pm

“What do you think happens when governments collapse and anarchy reigns?”

“Anarchy reigns”? Funny.

I can’t think of too many examples of longstanding anarchy (peaceful or otherwise) following government collapse. Mainly because governments don’t typically really collapse, they just get their established coercive institutions taken over by other statists.

Or maybe you misspoke. Maybe you meant “chaos”? Or “mayhem”? Or something that does NOT mean “anarchy”.

The closest real example to large scale anarchy that I can think of, is right here in the USA. Much more so 2 centuries ago. Of course the voluntary interactions in this country are diminishing more and more every year. Yep, your kind is diligently and successfully stomping out every trace of the voluntaryist spirit. Or so it seems. Americans may ultimately be more resistant to your boot than you think.

Ken March 31, 2011 at 2:52 pm

I abide by the constitution and recognize the federal government’s authorization to take, by force, money to pay for the federal powers authorized under the constitution.

While I disagree with parts of the constitution, like the 16th and 17th amendment, I still support government execution of those powers. At the same time, I work to over turn things I deem wrong.

vikingvista March 31, 2011 at 9:10 pm

“recognize the federal government’s authorization to take, by force, money to pay for the federal powers authorized under the constitution”

Why?

Ken March 31, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Because the first constitution (the Articles of Federation) failed due to the inability of the federal government to use force in situation where it should be able to do that. And because I believe in the rule of law, rather than anarchy or the rule of man (power used arbitrarily based on the whim of whomever is in power, rather than being limited to enumerated powers, written down and democratically agreed to, known to all).

The original country to emerge immediately after the revolution turned into a fractious group of states hostile towards each other with a federal government to weak to effect any sort of punishment or arbitrate disputes among the states. In other words, had the original constitution been allowed to stand and not replaced, the United States would have ended up more like an impoverished European country rather than the leader in everything.

The limited powers, though more generous than before, allowed for a federal government powerful enough to eliminate trade barriers between the states and powerful enough to arbitrate disputes among the states and if necessary hand out punishment.

vikingvista April 1, 2011 at 1:14 am

“And because I believe in the rule of law, rather than…the rule of man”

Congratulations. The CotUS sure accomplished that, didn’t it? LOL. Seriously though, I can really see the appeal of having an uninvited third wheel interfere with your voluntary agreements. Yeah. Truly.

Oh well, at least the laws are “known to all”. That’s why doing my taxes involves so much more certainty than a crap shoot. The only thing “known to all” is that if you talk to two IRS support personnel you will get two contradictory answers.

“The original country to emerge immediately after the revolution turned into a fractious group of states hostile towards each other with a federal government to weak to effect any sort of punishment or arbitrate disputes among the states.”

The only War between the States that I’m aware of occurred well after the Constitution was ratified. Seems the CotUS let you down again.

“In other words, had the original constitution been allowed to stand and not replaced, the United States would have ended up more like an impoverished European country rather than the leader in everything.”

Very considered opinion, I’m sure. I guess that explains the complete lack of influence of Ancient Greece, Dutch Republic, and Renaissance Italy. But I suppose if by “leader” you mean amassing a military might capable of establishing a world empire… Waaaaait a minute. How big was Great Britain again?

“The limited powers, though more generous than before, allowed for a federal government powerful enough to eliminate trade barriers between the states and powerful enough to arbitrate disputes among the states and if necessary hand out punishment.”

Because everyone knows that trade barriers simply cannot be eliminated between independent states, right? And when has anyone ever heard of disputes being arbitrated between independent states? Has neeeever happened.

I think you are on to something though. If only we could have a single one world government, we could finally eliminate trade barriers and arbitrate disputes on the grandest of scales. One world government–the means to worldwide prosperity and justice.

Ken April 1, 2011 at 2:37 am

VV,

“The CotUS sure accomplished that, didn’t it?”

It accomplished more than any other governmental framework in history because it codified the rule of law. While it’s nice of you to compare the chaotic state of the US government to the ideal in which you think it should work, maybe you should also think about how much better it is than most, if not all, current governments and better than any in history. I do understand that it is easier to just bitch about how bad things are compared to what they could be, rather than be grateful for how great things actually are compared to what it might be like without the constitution.

“That’s why doing my taxes involves so much more certainty than a crap shoot.”

I support a flat income tax or a consumption tax; anything that lessens the temptation of politicians to play favorites and write byzantine rules that they and their friends can game. However, we play the cards we’re given. If you choose to break the rules, that’s fine, but don’t act outraged when you get arrested, fined and jailed.

“The only War between the States that I’m aware of occurred well after the Constitution was ratified. Seems the CotUS let you down again.”

Nope, it didn’t let me down; or you. It gave us a governmental framework to deal with a problem that could have ended up splitting the country in two and ending up like 20th century Ireland. Split in two with terrorist factions on both sides of the border waging all sorts of violence and chaos.

“Very considered opinion, I’m sure”

Yes it is. Glad you recognize.

“But I suppose if by “leader” you mean amassing a military might capable of establishing a world empire”

Not just that. I also mean leader in economics, freedom, politics, technology, opportunity, etc. Also the US has been militarily capable of establishing a world empire for at least 60 years. The fact that we haven’t is a testiment to the contraints imposed by the constitution and the wisdom of Americans as the greatest western civilizatoin in history.

“Because everyone knows that trade barriers simply cannot be eliminated between independent states, right?”

Correct. Any time there is a border, politicians and bureaucrats will work overtime to wet their beaks and line their pockets by lying, cheating and stealing all in the name of protecting that border.

“I think you are on to something though. If only we could have a single one world government, we could finally eliminate trade barriers and arbitrate disputes on the grandest of scales.”

A one world government may be fine in the future after the rest of the world has been westernized and internalized western culture (which seems to be only a matter of time as anyone that tastes the liberty and self-governance of western culture will be addicted). Then yes your statement does make sense.

Until we’ve rid ourselves of the barbarians in the middle east, Africa and pockets of Asia, a one world government would look like the UN. That would only lead to a degradation of humanity.

Regards,
Ken

JohnK April 1, 2011 at 9:01 am

Ken – We do not have rule of law. We have rule of man. Rule of law means that legislation is limited by some supreme law or set of principles. Right now the only thing limiting legislation is the imagination of those who write it. There are no real limits. Give me a break.
Sure there is the occasional successful challenge to some law, but it’s just a show to get suckers to believe that there are limits to federal overreach. In reality there are no limitations at all and the CotUS might as well be used as toilet paper.

Ken April 1, 2011 at 12:19 pm

JohnK,

“We do not have rule of law.”

This makes me think of the saying: The perfect is the enemy of the good. In your strenuous objection that the government that has done the most good in the world and held most closely to the rule of law, all while doing its best to reject the rule of man (I’m talking about the US government, in case you were wondering), you would condemn it because it’s not as pure as you’d like it to be.

Did you ever wonder WHY libertarians are so ineffective politically? It’s because of sentiments like yours. Most Americans want a smaller government; one that costs less and does less. Almost all abhor the mostrosity it has morphed into over the last 100 years. Yet it keeps getting more and more cancerous even as the majority want it to get smaller. It’s because of people like you who insist on total political purity and cast out effective representatives capable of reducing spending and eliminating unwanted programs and agencies. The ones that are left couldn’t care less about your voice because so few people share your exact sentiments.

We have the opportunity with the disgraceful actions of the republicans under Bush’s leadership and the more disgraceful actions of democrats under Obama/Pelosi to cast a wide net, creating a big tent libertarian political block. But you’d rather keep that tent small and ineffective.

Congratulations. Because of your inability to deal with the world as it is and reject everyone who isn’t as rigidly libertarian or anarchist, whichever you are, you will have no political voice, except this little corner of the internet.

Regards,
Ken

JohnK April 1, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Holy cow Ken!
I had no idea you had access to my voting records.
Oh wait a minute… you don’t.
Yet you have constructed an elaborate argument based upon my voting preferences.

I’ll leave you with your straw man.

Ken April 1, 2011 at 1:52 pm

JohnK,

At no point did I discuss your voting record.

Nice try though.

Regards,
Ken

JohnK April 1, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Ken said:
“It’s because of people like you who insist on total political purity and cast out effective representatives capable of reducing spending and eliminating unwanted programs and agencies.”

That is not discussing my voting record?

You are telling me that I “cast out effective representative”.

How exactly do I do that? With my bare hands? Grrrrrrrr!
Or with … my … vote?

Then you detail how people who want small government are the reason we have big government. Nice.

On a more serious note, you and your straw man make a cute couple. I especially like the hat.

Toodles!

Ken April 1, 2011 at 3:53 pm

JohnK,

Do you really think that voting is the ONLY, or even the most important, way to affect politics? If you discourage people through criticism from ever even running for office, you’ve affected politics. Your insistence on political purity rather than a good approximation (you reject a 20% enemy rather than embrace an 80% friend) keeps people from even running for office.

Self selection for even running for office affects politics more than any other variable. Actually voting is the last step in the election process, i.e., the LAST filter for the politics. Whoever heard of the last filter in any process having the largest affect?

So no I was NOT talking about your voting record. You should try to be more aware of just how narrowly you think about things and how it hinders your ability to think rigorously and thoroughly. Not recognizing that you even have blind spots is dangerous.

Thanks for the compliment on my hat; although it is strange because I never wear hats.

Regards,
Ken

JohnK April 1, 2011 at 8:12 pm

“Your insistence on political purity rather than a good approximation (you reject a 20% enemy rather than embrace an 80% friend) keeps people from even running for office.”

I don’t know what you are talking about. Perhaps your straw man can tell me. I made a comment about rule of law vs rule of man. My point was that there was a time in the past when our leaders read the plain language of the CotUS to mean what it says, and when they government themselves. That’s rule of law.

Nowadays ask a politician for the constitutional justification for some piece of legislation and they’ll refer you to a team of lawyers whose job is to invent justification where it does not exist. That’s rule of man.

“Self selection for even running for office affects politics more than any other variable.”

I’m not sure where you get the idea that I influence potential candidates for office. Really, I don’t. Perhaps your straw man can tell me.

“You should try to be more aware of just how narrowly you think about things and how it hinders your ability to think rigorously and thoroughly.”

You know how I think? Really?

“Not recognizing that you even have blind spots is dangerous.”

Your straw man needs to explain that one to me as well.

“Thanks for the compliment on my hat; although it is strange because I never wear hats.”

It wasn’t a compliment on your hat. It was a compliment on your straw man’s hat.

You two do look cute together.

Ken April 1, 2011 at 9:12 pm

JohnK,

“Nowadays ask a politician for the constitutional justification for some piece of legislation and they’ll refer you to a team of lawyers whose job is to invent justification where it does not exist.”

Perhaps you are just completely unaware of the legal history of the US. The very people who drafted and ratified the first amendment created the Sedition Act of 1798. The way you praise previous congressmen and presidents as if today’s congressmen and presidents act any differently is laughable.

“I’m not sure where you get the idea that I influence potential candidates for office. Really, I don’t. Perhaps your straw man can tell me.”

YOU are a potential candidate for office. As are your friends and EVERYONE you meet. You influence merely by talking with them.

“You know how I think? Really?”

Yes.

“Your straw man needs to explain that one to me as well.”

I thought this was self evident. Everyone has blind spots. Yours is your inability to see how you influence others and how you close yourself off politically from those who disagree with you even slightly.

Also, I think you should look up what a straw man argument is. You keep using that phrase, but I do not think it means what you think it means.

Regards,
Ken

vikingvista April 1, 2011 at 10:06 pm

“It accomplished more than any other governmental framework in history because it codified the rule of law.”

It is not unique in that regard. Your history, here and elsewhere, is abysmal.

“While it’s nice of you to compare the chaotic state of the US government to the ideal in which you think it should work”

I don’t need to compare it to an ideal. I can compare it to how it was.

“I do understand that it is easier to just bitch about how bad things are compared to what they could be, rather than be grateful for how great things actually are”

Well, I suppose that is always true. I better not ever hear you complaining about anything.

“I support a flat income tax or a consumption tax; anything that lessens the temptation of politicians to play favorites and write byzantine rules that they and their friends can game.”

Clearly not “anything”. You do support violently imposing a centralized militarized monopoly to lord over everyone. Nothing could be more tempting to politicians than that.

“If you choose to break the rules, that’s fine, but don’t act outraged when you get arrested, fined and jailed.”

We are talking about taxes. Everyone breaks the rules. It can’t be helped. The rules are contradictory. That’s the system you advocate. That’s your “rule of law”.

“Nope, it didn’t let me down; or you. It gave us a governmental framework to deal with a problem that could have ended up splitting the country in two and ending up like 20th century Ireland. Split in two with terrorist factions on both sides of the border waging all sorts of violence and chaos.”

Ken, at least read a little history. You can’t break something up that was never put together. The whole tense lead up to the civil war was about Federal government representation (slave vs nonslave states). The outbreak of the war was a result of FEDERAL troops reinforcing a federal fort in an independent state. It is unlikely the independent state of Delaware would’ve been reinforcing one of its garrisons in the independent state of Carolina. The intent of the war was to force states back under constitutional hegemony. Without a CotUS, there simply would not have been a civil war.

“Very considered opinion, I’m sure”
“Yes it is. Glad you recognize.”

Better to give a glib response than to address my point about your woefully ignorant comments.

“I also mean leader in economics, freedom, politics, technology, opportunity, etc.”

Riiight. Unlike those uninfluential people in the fractured states of ancient Greece or Renaissance Italy. You’ve probably never heard of them, because people there were unable to achieve anything due to a lack of a single strong superior governing authority to lord over them all.

“Because everyone knows that trade barriers simply cannot be eliminated between independent states, right?”
“Correct.”

There’s a term for people who have fixed false beliefs impervious to overwhelming facts to the contrary. No, wait. You are right. That’s why it is so hard to buy Chinese products in this country, or sell US products in Europe. And those poor Europeans–if only they could form some sort of common trade union. But that’s impossible, as you say.

“A one world government may be fine in the future after the rest of the world has been westernized and internalized western culture (which seems to be only a matter of time as anyone that tastes the liberty and self-governance of western culture will be addicted). Then yes your statement does make sense.”

I suspected as much. Thank you for at least admitting it.

Ken April 1, 2011 at 10:47 pm

VV,

“The outbreak of the war was a result of FEDERAL troops reinforcing a federal fort in an independent state.”

The outbreak of war was a result of the continued abomination of slavery. You talk about me want to use the military to “lord” over people, but here you are defending the American south to keep slavery alive.

“Unlike those uninfluential people in the fractured states of ancient Greece or Renaissance Italy.”

Yes ANCIENT and RENAISSANCE are the key adjectives here. Both these countries are third rate compared to the US. Even in their hay day they are second rate compared to the US.

“That’s why it is so hard to buy Chinese products in this country, or sell US products in Europe.”

Are you really unaware of the trade barriers that have been erected by both the Us gov and these other country’s gov?

“I suspected as much. Thank you for at least admitting it.”

No problem. Western culture provides for the greatest freedom in governance and private affairs. Why don’t you want a western style government brought to the majority of people living under tyrannical rule?

Regards,
Ken

vikingvista April 2, 2011 at 3:04 am

“The outbreak of war was a result of the continued abomination of slavery.”

I beg you, for your own good, pick up a history book. Months went by after cessession began, without either bloodshed or mobilization. The nonbloody solution was to remove the imposition of the CotUS. Blood started to run once a new PotUS decided that the CotUS was not a choice for states afterall. This Lincolnesque view of yours that the CotUS must be violently imposed upon the unwilling was reason for 600,000+ dead countrymen. Hardly the view of the Founders for how to form a more perfect union.

“here you are defending the American south to keep slavery alive.”

Am I? How so? Tell me your logic. It amuses me to hear thug wannabes explain to me how I’m thuggish.

“Yes ANCIENT and RENAISSANCE are the key adjectives here. Both these countries are third rate compared to the US. Even in their hay day they are second rate compared to the US.”

Both these “countries”?! Dear God man, can you even spell “history”? And do you think, that maybe the future builds upon the past? If your future inescapable world-dominating fascistic dream regime were to come to existence, are you saying that the current US would necessarily be second rate to it? For surely, even that nightmare would make use of the past.

“Are you really unaware of the trade barriers that have been erected by both the Us gov and these other country’s gov?”

Nice try, Sophie. The point is, you are unaware of the trade barriers that have been knocked down–and quite effectively so. Indeed, it is your belief none could possibly be knocked down. Or, if you’d like another rent in your fantastic view of the world, maybe we should talk about the trade barriers that exist now between states of the union.

“No problem. Western culture provides for the greatest freedom in governance and private affairs. Why don’t you want a western style government brought to the majority of people living under tyrannical rule?”

The dangerous dream of one world government. Someone here recently quoted Lord Acton. How soon that person forgets. I would remind you, that Marxism is distinctly Western.

“Western culture provides for the greatest freedom”

Oh no, sir. It could be much greater. And if enough people struggle against those of you who arrogantly believe your views should be violently imposed upon people happily minding their own business, freedom will certainly grow.

JohnK April 2, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Ken,
I do know what straw man means. It is when you, Ken, set up a caricature of me and then make a great display of knocking it about.

When you say you know things about someone you’ve never met, and then argue against them, that is a straw man. Perhaps you are so arrogant that you truly believe that you know what and how I think, who I know, what I talk with them about, and so on and so forth. But you do not. I will not defend against your specific accusations because that would be playing into your game. I know your game. You put straw man arguments on display, knock them about, and then hope the person responds by refuting your assumptions. This gives you personal information that you can use in your ad hominem arguments. I know the drill. And I’m not playing.

The overalls are a nice touch. And the straw sticking out of the sleeves. Very nice.

JohnK April 2, 2011 at 5:49 pm

“Am I? How so? Tell me your logic.”

You and I know that secession was about slavery, but the war was about preserving the union. You and I know that Lincoln wrote in a letter that if he could preserve the union without abolishing slavery, that he would do so. The war was not about slavery.

Ken’s “logic” is that since the war abolished slavery, that that must have been it’s goal. Therefor anyone who makes a peep criticizing the Civil War is a dirty racist who wished those coloreds were sill in chains.
It’s a nice combination of straw man and ad hominem, almost guaranteed to get anger directed at the person it is used against.

Ken is a troll. We should stop feeding him.

vikingvista April 2, 2011 at 10:41 pm

JohnK,

Well said.

Gil March 31, 2011 at 2:56 am

But if the mother and abortion practitioner were arrested, put on trial, thrown into for the rest of their lives then you’ll be paying for it. So would that be okey or even worse?

John V March 31, 2011 at 9:45 am

Gil, your first two posts in this thread show that you have nothing useful to say. As a typical social democrat, you only have one of discussing this issue: pro-life vs. pro-choice against the social conservative position.

As evidenced by your reaction to Don’s argument , you don’t have anything to say on this matter when that your simplistic Left-Right philosophical argument on abortion itself isn’t the issue.

Gil March 31, 2011 at 10:18 pm

Nope. I stand by my assertion that pro-lifers haven’t based their oppostition solely on the notion that their taxpayers are funding abortion.

Ken April 1, 2011 at 1:24 am

Gil,

What opposition are you talking about? The opposition to abortion or the opposition to using taxpayer money to fund abortions?

Also, you have NOT made the assertion “that pro-lifers haven’t based their oppostition solely on the notion that their taxpayers are funding abortion” at any time in this thread before this comment.

My opposition to abortion is due to my recognition of the dignity of human life.

My opposition to using tax payer money to fund abortions follows from my opposition to abortion.

In other words, my opposition is not based “solely on the notion that their taxpayers are funding abortion.” It’s based on the fact that abortion is not just wrong, but a sin. It’s killing a human being. My opposition isn’t based at all, much less solely, on tax payer funding. Tax payer funded abortion should be stopped not only because the federal government has no authority to spend public funds this way, but also because abortion should be stopped.

You seem to be thinking that I think abortions should be stopped because public funds are used to pay for them. You clearly have no understanding of what I was saying and write vague comments that can be interpereted in at least two ways because what you believe is muddled in your own head.

Regards,
Ken

John V April 1, 2011 at 4:30 pm

“Nope”

Nope what? Who cares what pro-lifers think? This isn’t about what pro-lifers. I’m vehemently pro-choice and I think your argument is irrelevant.

Ken March 31, 2011 at 2:54 pm

I support throwing them in prison for the same reason I support throwing murderers in jail.

Some things are worth paying for. You seem to think libertarians don’t want the government to do anything, which is a nice little straw man for weak minded individuals like you to knock down, but the reality is that libertarians recognize the need for a government, a LIMITED government.

Please try to think before you comment. I’ve told you this before you fail to do so with alarming regularity.

Ryan Vann March 31, 2011 at 10:18 pm

Ever heard of Rothbardians? To say all libertarians support limited government is simply not true.

Gil March 31, 2011 at 10:20 pm

So you would take a pro-life position that would see you paying even more taxes?

Ken April 1, 2011 at 2:38 am

Gil,

What pro-life position increases taxes?

Regards,
Ken

Gil April 1, 2011 at 4:31 am

Having people inside prison for seeking/carrying out abortions.

Ken April 1, 2011 at 11:58 am

“Having people inside prison for seeking/carrying out abortions.”

Yes I support using taxpayer money to put criminals in jail.

And it’s not clear that making abortion illegal will raise taxes. Making abortion illegal will eliminate many governmental structures, like funding for Planned Parenthood, as well as reduce the number of abortions taking place, so the number of people arrested will likely be small. Additionally, the people killed by abortions will actually live and mostly grow to be productive members of society, i.e., taxpaying members of society. It seems that making abortion illegal has just as likely a chance to lower taxes as it does to raise them.

Regards,
Ken

Ken April 1, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Ryan,

Yes I’ve heard of Rothbardian anarchists. I don’t classify anarchists as libertarians, but it’s fine if you do. The taxonomy of the political spectrum isn’t as important to me as it sounds like it is for you. If it makes you feel better, I’ll qualify my statement, accepting anarchists as libertarians, as:

Only the anarchist subset of libertarians, of which I am not, support no government. As a non-anarchist libertarian, as I suspect most libertarians are, I support a limited government with enough power to enforce the rules it creates.

Do you feel better now?

Regards,
Ken

Gil April 1, 2011 at 11:52 pm

Gee Ken most Libertarians would argue Prohibition increases criminal behaviour.

vikingvista April 2, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Gil –

“most Libertarians would argue Prohibition increases criminal behaviour.”

Prohibition defines a behavior as criminal, so yes, it necessarily does. But it also tends to reduce the activity it prohibits, by increasing the costs of those activities. That is part of the problem. It reduces competition to those few who are capable and willing to work outside the law. Since the law, for all of its foibles, mostly herds good and peaceful people, those most willing and able to work outside the law tend to be the most antisocial and violent. Eliminating their peaceful competitors is a huge financial boon to them.

Prohibition concentrates the trade that it prohibits into and for the benefit of the most violent nongovernmental (usually) individuals.

dan March 31, 2011 at 3:06 am

The woman made a choice of free will to engage in intercourse. The woman made the free choice to forgo the protections available. The woman is making the free choice to engage in a practice of eliminating the very thing that is the purpose of that activity.
Am I to subsidize the cost of the place where the choice to engage in sexual activity took place, assuming it was not in the forest? Am I and others to subsidize the protections available? So why is it that I and others are to subsidize the results or the consequences of free choices of an activity whose main purpose is procreation?
If I am to pay and assume some of the responsibility, then I want authority to assume the role of taking on that responsibility. Meaning, I want the authority to prevent the actions that would cause me or others to pay for anothers choices. I want the authority to impose punitive measures on those for whom I am compulsed into bearing the weight of their choices and consequences.

S_M_V March 31, 2011 at 1:46 pm

I have to disagree with this point:

“The woman is making the free choice to engage in a practice of eliminating the very thing that is the purpose of that activity.”

The issue I am interested in is your uses of “purpose for the activity”. You are talking about a potential outcome of the activity. The “purpose” of this activity is defined by the participants.

The purpose of a car ride may be to get from point “A” to “B” or it may be to enjoy the ride, a combiniation of both or something I have not even thought of. You can no more independantly determine what someones purpose is than determine the “fair” price of something.

I do not support the government redistribution, but the government determining morality is just as problematic.

Anotherphil March 31, 2011 at 2:34 pm

“The “purpose” of this activity is defined by the participants.”

No, it’s biology. Sex is enjoyable so people do it and continue the species.

dan April 2, 2011 at 1:37 am

Whether you agree or disagree with that point, the pleasure part is a design for individuals to engage in the act of intercourse for pro-creation.
Nonetheless, all of the events are by choice. Any of the following events that take place are the participants problem and are to be rectified by themselves, not the rest of country.
Liberals or others want to be ‘pro-choice’. So do I. I choose to not pay for what you do.

Chrispy March 30, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Leaving aside the morality and constitutionality issues, I wonder if an economic case could be made for the government funding abortions. I don’t have any data, but I suspect that abortions are more frequent among lower income people. Given the large number of federal welfare programs, and the fact that low income earners pay little to no federal income tax, presumably many of the aborted fetuses would have eventually become people who are a net cost to the government. In those cases, an abortion might be the cheaper alternative for the government. I’m obviously still opposed to such a scheme, but I wonder if anyone’s done any actual math on this.

Damian March 31, 2011 at 12:00 am

read freakonomics – S. levitt looked at the isse of roe v wade and tried to isolate its effects on crime. He claims your point, but i hear his data and methods are suspect?

Slappy McPhee March 31, 2011 at 2:01 pm

John Lott disagrees with that conclusion, but as of yet, I have been unable to find why he does.

Matt March 31, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Those were my thoughts too. I’ve never read Freakonomics, but that makes sense. People in lower socioeconomic situations are the ones that use these services. The chances of these groups of people creating a contributing member of society is less likely than other groups.

The penal system is so expensive to our society, I’ve heard some statistics from private equity group studies that estimate an inmate to cost the taxpayers about 200k a year.

The other scenario is they have the child and live off of welfare (under the current system) at whatever the going rate is for having a crack baby is these days. I live in the city of Chicago, and you’d be amazed/sickened to see the number of ‘urban’ mothers that have a line of kids running behind them. I can’t imagine their getting by with the wages their receiving from working at the post office or someother useless position.

dan April 2, 2011 at 1:43 am

So we are to choose from teaching a poverty lifestyle as the parents create the cycle of poverty since they have little reason to work toward leaving poverty behind or that of a group self-imposing population control?
What we have is govt sponsoring population control of the less affluent. And to break it down more, The African-American segment of society is the larger group to have abortions. So, govt sponsors African-American population control by paying for abortions and entities that encourage it (planned parent-hood).

dan April 2, 2011 at 1:45 am

What is interesting………..Supreme Justice Ruth Ginsberg was quoted with the fear of this very thing. Abortion being used as a quotient for racism. And, it is not Conservative Republicans who support it, but White liberal Democrats.

Gil April 2, 2011 at 6:51 am

To abortion say is to cull the black population is nonsense as no women is forced to have an abortion. Conversing if black women are more likely to be content to be welfare mothers than other races then does that qualify as “dysgenics”?

Gil April 2, 2011 at 6:56 am

I also heard the anecdote that African-American women are less likely to use birth control. So if other women are using birth control and making sure the babies aren’t conceived in the first place (as evidenced by sub-replacement birth rates in part of the world) then is birth control eugenics too?

vikingvista March 31, 2011 at 1:47 am

“would have eventually become people who are a net cost to the government.”

How about just getting government out of the business of redistribution?

dan March 31, 2011 at 3:08 am

That is the very reason for elitists to defend the position of subsidizing abortion. The populace who supports it only see’s the free lunch and relief of accountability for their actions.

WhiskeyJim April 1, 2011 at 1:11 am

Closely reread this post. By the above logic, the government must refrain from virtually all maternal activity, for it will quickly attach dollar expenditures to life and living and begin legislating against it.

IOW, if it takes over health care, it will shun the old and decrepit. If it manages SS, it will eventually minimize its payouts as a self-preservative measure. If it..

Oh wait…

BTW, its popularity aside, Freakonomics is a good look into what is wrong with economics.

dan April 2, 2011 at 1:58 am

If an individual or a group wants to subsidize or pay for the any desires of another individual or group, then write checks. You are choosing to do so, and I choose not to. CHOICE. I will choose to donate where and to whom of my own liking and how much.
But liberals don’t like individual free choice.

Emerson White March 31, 2011 at 5:27 am

The costs of their irresponsibility tend to get shifted back on to society though, people are very good at making other people into externalities.

yet another Dave March 31, 2011 at 2:56 pm

What remedy do you suggest?

W.E. Heasley March 31, 2011 at 5:37 am

“And Which Part of Article I, Section 8 Authorizes Such Expenditures?” – Don Boudreaux

Ah ha! So you want the exact part that authorizes such expenditures?!? That can easily be found:

(1) please see made-up section entitled “We need to help you”,

(2) refer to sub-section 4 “You don’t know what is good for you but we do”,

(3) scroll down to paragraph (b): As soon as A observes something which seems to him to be wrong, from which X is suffering, A talks it over with B, and A and B then propose to get a law passed to remedy the evil and help X.

(4) paragraph (b) then requires immediate reference to sub-section U812 which specifies: always determine what C shall do for X or, in the better case, what A, B and C shall do for X.

(5) section 5 then specifies that C be sent the bill.

Note: several times over the years this specific made-up section entitled “We need to help you” has been challenged in the Court of Supreme Special Knowledge. It has been determined that if X is stupid, C is even stupider for paying the bill.

Note 2: in the most recent challenge in the Court of Supreme Special Knowledge, C has come forth and decided not to pay (Enlightenment vs. Schumer, 2011). The ruling was immediate and decisive. You see, C is merely an “extremist” for not wanting to pay for the supreme imaginary rule: “We need to help you”. The ruling found its basis in tax. That is, tax money is not the tax payers its merely “Schumer Bucks“. That in fact it should be self evident that any challenge to tax and spend -or- spend then tax is heresy as it is counter to the axiom “You don’t know what is good for you but we do”.

For more information please see: The Forgotten Man, William Graham Sumner, 1883.

http://oll.libertyfund.org/index.php?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Ftitle=1654&layout=html#chapter_108194

Next question?

vidyohs March 31, 2011 at 6:38 am

Be careful how you educate people to the Constitution, there are some who come here that might think you’re joking.

W.E. Heasley March 31, 2011 at 7:22 am

How true!

The Dweller Ysul March 31, 2011 at 10:50 am

Don’t hurt yourself, W.E. I realize that the actual wording of the Constitution is not the laissez fairie’s friend, what with the first paragraph of Article I, Section 8 broadly conferring upon Congress the “Power To lay and collect Taxes…to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.” But this contrived attempt of yours to locate a specific constitutional provision for the welfare state is basically a parody of itself. The reason that the federal goverment has assumed so much power in modern American society is not that the Constitution contains specific mandates to provide for the general welfare, but rather that it contains a broad grant to do so.

The better question to ask, pace Don, is where in the Constitution are federal family planning programs prohibited? I guess you could make something else up.

Seth March 31, 2011 at 12:26 pm

‘conferring upon Congress the “Power To lay and collect Taxes…to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.”’

In which case then the founders could have stopped there. There was no need for them to follow this up with the list of the specific powers to which they were authorized to do this with.

Rugby1 March 31, 2011 at 12:46 pm

“The reason that the federal government has assumed so much power in modern American society is not that the Constitution contains specific mandates to provide for the general welfare, but rather that it contains a broad grant to do so.”

Ahem, no.

The framers left very little power to the Federal Government, by design. Many of them were, very concerned about having a powerful Federal Government which is why they set up legislative bodies and a judicial system to protect against having a concentration of authority reside within any government body. Moreover many functions since taken over by the fed were originally handled by the states in deference to local desires.

The continuous growth of the federal government is something that would be put the framers to shame as there was never any plan for the government to be so involved in our day to day lives.

“The better question to ask, pace Don, is where in the Constitution are federal family planning programs prohibited?”

And one final comment, that is the most ridiculous question I have seen in a long time. It is impossible even for the brightest of men (and the framers were) to make a list specifically prohibiting things that were not in existence as of yet. Instead they tried to limit the power of government it’s too bad politicians of today no longer view the constitution with the same paradigm.

W.E. Heasley March 31, 2011 at 12:52 pm

The Dweller Ysul:

You are on the wrong blog. The blog you seek, “Got Your Undergarments in a Bunch”, is down two blocks to the left.

kyle8 March 31, 2011 at 1:22 pm

“The reason that the federal goverment has assumed so much power in modern American society is not that the Constitution contains specific mandates to provide for the general welfare, but rather that it contains a broad grant to do so”

Only if you are a liar. The reason that the federal government has assumed so much power is because from about 1933 on it has been hijacked by evil socialists like yourself. People who have conspired to totally ignore the second, fifth, ninth, and tenth amendments.

yet another Dave March 31, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Your first paragraph reveals the convenient misunderstanding of section 8 created and embraced by statists to rationalize their positions. You should read the entire section – it is clearly not a broad grant. Rather it is a short and specific list of enumerated powers, with the general welfare statement further restricting use of those powers to only things that benefit the entire nation.

Your “better question” reveals a totally backwards comprehension of the nature of the constitution. CotUS says the gov’t can do only what is specifically listed, so Don’s question is the correct one.

Anotherphil March 31, 2011 at 2:40 pm

That was awesome, just awesome. Made my day.

Spinner March 31, 2011 at 6:44 am

Can reproduction rate be looked at as a market signal? There are 15 million Jews in the world. (Jews ver. 1.0) The currently dominant judeo-christian culture that is posting here, is only reproducing at a breakeven 1.6 children per couple. (Jews ver. 2.0) The emerging dominant judeo-christian-muslim culture is reproducing at 8.1 children per couple. (Jews ver. 3.0) There are already more muslims than catholics right now. As we continue to destroy property and work rights, less & less women will want to have our babies, and classically liberal Christians as well as all other Christians will be soon be endangered species like the Jews are now.
Contrary to CIA propaganda, the only simple solution is a market in children which Western Democracies demonize as Child-Trafficking and thus legally solidify our already pending demise.

dan April 2, 2011 at 2:08 am

Just as Christianity can be broken down by sects, i.e. Catholics, as you have described, Islam is broken down into sects, i.e. Sunni and Shia, as the biggest break. But, they go further than just Sunni and Shia. A common cause can unite briefly. After the common cause, they will disband and continue their infighting, which is violent and spills blood. The Judeo-Christian splits do not degenerate into violence, except at best, to choice of words. Most within America, see themselves as brethern of region first before their desired religious splits. In Muslim dominated countries, they see their religious differences at first and foremost.
But, this intensifies the problem from the region as they are more willing to go to extreme measures to solidify their zealotry.

Daniel Kuehn March 31, 2011 at 7:42 am

Insofar as family planning is part of a broader set of health services, the first clause of Article 1 Section 8 authorizes it. I admit, it is a little funny to talk about family planning in isolation – but just as it would be funny to ask “tell me which part of the Constitution allows the government to buy a car”. Well there isn’t really one unless you think about it’s context. Buying a Humvee for the military, though, is authorized. Buying mail trucks for mail carriers is clearly authorized by the authority to establish a postal service. Buying a car for the Capitol Police is clearly authorized because it is “necessary and proper” for a smoothly running Congress. On its own you wouldn’t say “the government has the right to buy cars”, but in certain wider contexts it does. In the wider context of health services as universally required for a dignified modern life, Congress is not obligated, and perhaps they’re not even wise to provide family planning services, but it’s certainly within their Constitutional purview.

Gary March 31, 2011 at 8:29 am

Pregnancy is not an illness. A fetus is not a tumor. Abortion is not healthcare. Are you suggesting that the mother is sick? Explain how it is healthcare.

I am pro-choice, but abortion is not healthcare, in the same way that rhinoplasty is not healthcare–it’s an elective procedure in most cases.

Again, name the illness in question.

Methinks1776 March 31, 2011 at 8:52 am

I love how men think that pregnancy is like growing a beer belly and then taking a large dump.

Pregnancy and childbirth are very difficult and risky. There are something like 28,000 things that can go wrong with with pregnancy alone – not to mention childbirth. For some women, pregnancy is not recommended because they are already suffering from chronic, life-threatening conditions. For some, pregnancy causes life-threatening conditions. In such cases, pregnancy becomes an illness, and abortion is health care.

And just in case you think birth control methods are so foolproof, consider that the most effective is the pill. Turns out that for women weighing in excess of 160 pounds, it’s much less effective. A friend of mine got pregnant twice that way (with my godsons!).

That said, I don’t think government should have anything at all to do with health care. There’s very little worse than government provided anything.

Gary March 31, 2011 at 9:00 am

Which is why I wrote “…in most cases.”

What you are saying is that when there is a medical problem, then there is a medical problem. Well, yes. But if there is not a medical problem, then it’s just a pregnancy, which isn’t an illness.

If there are no complications (such as the ones you’ve mentioned), is pregnancy an illness? Are the women sick? If the mother’s life is in danger or pregnancy is contraindicated, well, then it’s healthcare. If not, tell me what the illness is.

Methinks1776 March 31, 2011 at 9:22 am

To be fair, Gary, you wrote that rhinoplasty is an elective procedure “in most cases”. I did find that odd because while there are certain procedures performed on the shnoz that may be medically necessary (correcting a severely deviated septum, for instance), rhinoplasty is not one of them. A deviated septum can be surgically corrected without altering the appearance of the nose :)

If you’re talking about pregnancy and not abortion (as you are in this comment), then it is absolutely a health care issue. As I said, pregnancy is extremely risky. Women died from pregnancy and childbirth related issues at high rates throughout history. In fact, pregnancy does put even a healthy woman’s life in danger. We risk our lives for you ungrateful bastards (well, other women)!

Still not a problem for government to solve with other people’s money, though.

W.E. Heasley March 31, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Methinks1776:

“I love how men think that pregnancy is like growing a beer belly and then taking a large dump”.

That must be the definition from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia!!

Daniel Kuehn March 31, 2011 at 10:15 am

Gary – I’m not advocating abortion on demand funded by the federal government. I think Methinks is right that it’s not as elective as a lot of people think – but to the extent that it is elective of course any federal program is going to treat it much like other elective surgeries, wouldn’t you think?

Family planning is very different – this is a health care issue, it’s something that couples discuss with their doctors and women discuss with the gynecologists. There’s nothing elective about reproductive health and providing a healthy, planned birth for your child.

Daniel Kuehn March 31, 2011 at 10:29 am

I should say “any federal program OUGHT TO treat it mcuh like other elective surgeries.”

What actually happens, of course, is more up in the air.

Methinks1776 March 31, 2011 at 10:31 am

Oh, Danny. In no way is it appropriate for the central authority to decide whether a procedure is elective or not. Do you really think they’d ever get it right? All a doctor has to do is code the patient in such a way as to make it “necessary”. The central authority will then have to take measures (read: spend more of our money) to counter this fraud. The doctors will find another way to evade, etc. Just look at how much fraud and abuse exists in medicare and medicaid.

Central planning doesn’t work.

Daniel Kuehn March 31, 2011 at 10:39 am

Right – central planning does not work. As I told you yesterday, I agree.

Methinks1776 March 31, 2011 at 10:45 am

Yes, Danny, but you don’t seem to recognize it when you see it.

Anotherphil April 1, 2011 at 8:50 am

Make an office visit.

Why do we need PP for that?

John V March 31, 2011 at 9:50 am

Yes, yes, yes, DK. The Constitution didn’t say anything about buying cars or planes for the president or computers to use in offices or anything that couldn’t be conceived of at the time of the writing.

That being said, it doesn’t take much of a philosophical argument to distinguish between the government buying supplies and tools to do its duty and the government taking it upon itself to legislate in areas where it’s not authorized.

Daniel Kuehn March 31, 2011 at 10:16 am

I agree. Government should absolutely not legislate in areas where it’s not authorized.

John V March 31, 2011 at 12:22 pm

cute

crossofcrimson March 31, 2011 at 9:59 am

“Insofar as family planning is part of a broader set of health services, the first clause of Article 1 Section 8 authorizes it.”

I’m curious – what exactly, if you hold this to be true, do you believe the first clause WOULDN’T authorize? And, tangentially, what purpose do/would you find in the following enumeration of powers following the taxing clause?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m generally in the Lysander Spooner camp when it comes to the Constitution, but it amazes me that people, over time, have managed to get an entire fist pushed through the Constitution starting with a finger through this clause, amongst others.

Daniel Kuehn March 31, 2011 at 10:26 am

Well, as Gary suggests above, elective surgery. This doesn’t seem to be general welfare to me it strikes me as a personal preference. Congress build public roads from the very beginning as public works projects and clearly considered that to be part of the general welfare, but they did not build buildings for the benefit of private parties. That’s two. Basic research has long been recognized as something that contributes to the general welfare, but a lot of applied research and certainly development clearly doesn’t fall under that. That’s three. The EPA has programs to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, because that promotes the general welfare, but they don’t do anything to clean up ponds on private estates. That’s four. DARPA funding to kick-start the internet supported the general welfare but with that up and running it doesn’t seem to me that it supports anything but private interests to subsidize specific firms that maintain search engines, etc. – that would not be the general welfare. That’s five. The Smithsonian and the National Gallery’s efforts to collect, preserve, and teach about art and natural history promote the general welfare and Congress supports them, but it would not promote the general welfare to contribute to a private individual’s taxonomical hobby or a private gallery’s art collection. That’s six. Establishing an agency in the USDA to disemminate agricultural researchers to all farmers – large and small – seems to promote the general welfare to me, but subsidizing individual farmers with ag subsidies only strikes me as promoting a specific firm or farmer’s welfare. That’s seven.

I’m getting tired. Will seven do?

I have no interest in stretching the Constitution. I have an interest in this country abiding by it and, within its limits, letting rationalism, experience, and the will of the people guide what actually gets done. Not a dogma that tries to rewrite the Constitution so that nothing but its own imperatives is legitimate.

Methinks1776 March 31, 2011 at 10:42 am

So, just a smattering of central planning, then? Just the amount that meets with your approval and that you consider necessary for what you perceive is the is the “general welfare”. That it all must be funded by people who may not value what the Smithsonian does or the research you think “we” just can’t live without is unimportant. They have to pay for it anyway and to do so they must forgo things they do want. Whether they like it or not.

Daniel Kuehn March 31, 2011 at 10:50 am

Does central planning just mean “doing things” to you???

Methinks1776 March 31, 2011 at 10:54 am

Yes, it means government “doing things” outside of the extremely limited number of things we can’t do for ourselves (things I can count on one hand).

What does central planning mean to you?

Daniel Kuehn March 31, 2011 at 11:07 am

I normally think of central planning as the complex of interrelated decisions about the allocation of our available resources. I wouldn’t normally think of the government acting as an agent in society as being “central planning” unless the government is directing and planning the allocation of resources.

JohnK March 31, 2011 at 11:25 am

I can think of reasons for government to react, but I can’t think of any reasons for it to act.

Methinks1776 March 31, 2011 at 11:27 am

The Smithsonian doesn’t require resources? Building highways does not require resources? Paying for abortions does not require resources? Deciding and enforcing who can buy securities when and and what price is not central planning?

An agency relationship is voluntary. I have to legally designate you to act as my agent in any private transaction, yet government decides when it will act as my agent. Is that acting as an agent or as a master?

Daniel Kuehn March 31, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Of course building the Smithsonian requires resources. Buying bricks is not the same as deciding how much bricks are to be produced, for what price, etc. etc. Again – like I said before – you need to distinguish between “doing stuff” and “planning”.

I can’t comment on securities regulation. Clearly I think they may be doing unconstitutional things there. Clearly they may be said to be “planning” limited parts of the securities market (although obviously they’re not dictating prices). The question is, do they have a constitutional reason for doing that? Standardizing reporting, etc. is regulating commerce and it seems like a legitimate (if minor) foray into planning. Not obligatory, but probably constitutional. Regardless – that’s just my impression, this is out of my expertise.

Methinks1776 March 31, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Well, we won’t discuss securities since you don’t have expertise and it’s not necessary. Suffice to say they are trying to affect price without directly setting the price and the scope of very intrusive regulation is by no means limited. It’s all-encompassing. Every single transaction must meet several regulatory requirements as a minimum. The latest rule has imposed an explicit price requirement on market makers in an effort to control prices. By delegating to regulators and Czars, politicians effectively circumvent the constitution. I do find it interesting that when you have no real knowledge of government intervention, your default assumption is that it must be “limited”.

Buying bricks is not the same as deciding how much bricks are to be produced, for what price, etc. etc.

No, but building and maintaining the Smithsonian is deciding how much and what art we are going to consume. Funding research is deciding what research will be done. I don’t find that to be significantly different from deciding how many bricks will be produced.

Methinks1776 March 31, 2011 at 1:05 pm

BTW, “doing things” is not in itself descriptive or necessarily innocuous.

Doing what things? To whom? Who pays for these things? What is the cost of these things?

You throw out “doing things” as though they are costless. Government does many things to us. It does it at the cost of us doing things for ourselves.

Daniel Kuehn March 31, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Methinks – I’m not implying that they are costless. All I’m saying is that they’re not of necessity “central planning”. Review the thread and how it came up.

On securities – yes, and don’t mistake my suggestion that some regulation may be appropriate as me saying that I support all the regulation that’s out there. I’m sure a lot of the regulation that you know more about than I do I would also find at least unwise and inappropriate, if not entirely lacking in constitutional basis.

On the Smithsonian, etc. – again, the government no more plans art consumption than a private gallery plans how much art we will consume. All they plan is the limited role and contribution they make. This isn’t “central planning” as, for example Hayek defines it (I quoted him without citation above). This is taking part in the market, to be sure – but it is not planning allocation of resources.

Methinks1776 March 31, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Danny,

It’s too bad you’re not familiar with securities regulation because the securities market is particularly rich ground for this discussion. Oh well.

The difference between a private gallery owner and the government is the private gallery commits the capital of the voluntary investors and the government commits mine.

When I choose to invest in a project, I am implicitly choosing not to invest my limited resources in other projects. When the government decides to invest in the Smithsonian, it must take the resources to do so from me. It makes (from a central location, if you will) that decision for me – and you and everyone else. Thus the more “stuff” the government decides to “do?, the less resources you and I have to do what we want to do. It’s central planning by a thousand cuts.

Daniel Kuehn March 31, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Yes, clearly there are differences and I always note the public choice issues involved. But in addition to public choice issues there are externality issues and while we didn’t have the language of externalities in the 1780s, they certainly talked about similar concerns in discussions about the general welfare, about investments in internal improvements, about investments in education, etc. They were thinking of precisely the same idea.

If you want to say taxation is theft, that’s another discussion entirely.

If you want to point out the public choice issues I say as always, I agree – but noting those problems doesn’t make other problems magically go away.

Methinks1776 March 31, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Incidentally, DK, I don’t mind the government participating in the market any more than I oppose private charities doing so – so long as the funds to do so are collected from the willing, from people who voluntarily make that trade-off. This is the beauty of the United States. This is why people come here – to have the freedom to direct their own resources, make their own decisions, live without interference (note that they are not coming here so much anymore).

I also don’t feel compelled to use Hayek’s definition of central planning. It’s fine to absorb and learn from Hayek and others but I must also think for myself. For instance, I don’t think there is such a think as “publicly owned”.

Methinks1776 March 31, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Danny,

I may be persuaded to think that primary school education (and only funding at that) is a general welfare issue, but never the Smithsonian or highways or DARPA or HUD or any of the other myriad of government intrusions and encroachments.

The world is naturally filled with externalities – the greatest of these are emitted by government action.

JohnK March 31, 2011 at 3:30 pm

“If you want to say taxation is theft, that’s another discussion entirely.”

10% is taxation.

20% is taxation.

40% is theft.

crossofcrimson March 31, 2011 at 2:40 pm

“This doesn’t seem to be general welfare to me”

Well, considering this comment roughly negated the rest of your outline, I’d say you should stop there yes – but pick back up with something more constructive if possible.

That’s nice that it doesn’t seem like it’s in the general welfare to you. But then again I guess I have doubts as to if the founding fathers had DK’s version of general welfare in mind when they penned the piece. So let’s try to move in the spirit with which I asked the question, and see what exactly are the boundaries of “general welfare” (not your subjective boundaries per se) if truly any – which this subjectivist interpretation is leading me in the direction of. And, at that point, maybe we could explore exactly what the purpose of the following enumerations are/were in light of the fact that they would all plausibly (at least more plausibly than anything else you personally contend government has business doing) be derivative of the first clause read the way you seem to want to read it.

Again, the first question I’ve asked, followed closely by the latter question in this response, I can never seem to get a straight answer on.

And, for the record, the discussion we’re having right now is exactly with the Constitution is practically worthless at this point.

Daniel Kuehn March 31, 2011 at 10:38 am

I should note – I bashed ag subsidies but I also support certain social welfare spending.

It’s all giving money to people, so what’s the difference?

Insuring that people have the minimum amount of resources to survive has, for a long time, been a moral imperative of human society. We promote everyone’s welfare when we guarantee – or at least do our best to make provisions against – the prospect that no one will sink below a certain point of desperation. We’ve never had that same sort of moral imperative for businesses. It’s not a moral imperative that businesses not fail. That’s a natural part of the market process. It’s unfortunate for them if specific farmers can’t make it, and we’re certainly entitled to sympathize with them but guaranteeing the incomes of a specific class of businessmen doesn’t promote welfare generally in anything like the way that guaranteeing a standard of human dignity does. If a farmer fails, they’re going to lose their farm… but they can still apply for different welfare benefits. Guaranteeing their human dignity seems – not obligatory for the federal government to do at all – but certainly constitutional for it to consider. Guaranteeing their income in the agricultural sector is neither obligatory nor constitutional.

JohnK March 31, 2011 at 10:50 am

Where’s the dignity in being a ward of the State?

Daniel Kuehn March 31, 2011 at 10:53 am

No dignity in being a ward of the state that I’m aware of. I’d say there’s considerably more dignity in getting temporary cash assistance when you run into trouble than there is in having to beg on the street.

And if you don’t need the assistance because of private charity, all the better.

Methinks1776 March 31, 2011 at 11:00 am

That’s not how it works, Danny. Not even close.

JohnK March 31, 2011 at 11:28 am

“I’d say there’s considerably more dignity in getting temporary cash assistance when you run into trouble than there is in having to beg on the street.”

We definitely have a problem when there is more dignity in receiving money that was taken by force than in receiving money that was given voluntarily.

Daniel Kuehn March 31, 2011 at 12:32 pm

“We definitely have a problem when there is more dignity in receiving money that was taken by force than in receiving money that was given voluntarily.”

Yes, definitely.

John V March 31, 2011 at 12:24 pm

“Insuring that people have the minimum amount of resources to survive has, for a long time, been a moral imperative of human society. We promote everyone’s welfare when we guarantee – or at least do our best to make provisions against – the prospect that no one will sink below a certain point of desperation.”

Yes. And I agree. But I don’t see that as the real issue here.

John V March 31, 2011 at 12:28 pm

BTW, DK:

You’re preaching to the choir about Ag Subsidies.

dan April 2, 2011 at 2:20 am

minimum resources to survive? Ramen noodles can be had for 25 cents and a cheap bottle of water for 30cents or less…….three meals a day……$1.65…..this should be the welfare payment……..times 7 days… $11.55 a week……times 4 weeks in a month…… $46.20 a month……times 12 months in a year…..$554.40
Then find a church, which I willingly donate to….. Charity cannot be that which is forcibly taken….. and ask for assistance. I understand that it is hard to look others in the eye and ask for help, but that is the best remedy to continue and make that situation a lifestyle.

yet another Dave March 31, 2011 at 12:44 pm

DK, you go wrong with your very first sentence. No sensible reading of section 8 can defend a federal government role in providing the “broader set of health services” you reference. So obviously, this lies completely outside their Constitutional purview.

Daniel Kuehn March 31, 2011 at 1:27 pm

The majority of sensible people would (and have) disagreed with you. But if this is what your argument boils down to – that other people aren’t being sensible, it seems we’ve reached an impasse.

yet another Dave March 31, 2011 at 2:45 pm

DK, I’w fully aware that the convenient distortion of section 8 invented and used by statists such as yourself to rationalize government actions that are clearly outside constitutional limits is widely believed. It is still wrong.

Perhaps sensible was the wrong word for me to choose – it is clearly in the self interest of statists to distort the clear meaning of section 8, so you’re being sensible in a way.

Since I’m very unlikely to convert to statism we have definitely reached an impasse.

dan April 2, 2011 at 2:22 am

There is little sense in compulsing my property into the hands of other individuals. And, even less sense in confiscating large amounts as to make me poor because of it.

dan April 2, 2011 at 2:13 am

The govt is not authorized to provide products and services beyond the Mail service and protection from foriegn invasions through military defense.
By liberals redefinitions of the Constitutional wording, I am entitled to a ‘bear’ arm……that would be Black bear, Brown bear, Panda bear, etc.,…..and govt is authorized or must do what is necessary and proper to provide me with that very thing…….so, Govt needs to go out and shoot a bear, or don’t shoot it, but cut off its arms and give me one……….

JohnK March 31, 2011 at 7:54 am

Constitution, Cliff Notes version:

“general welfare … regulate commerce … necessary and proper”

Those seven words authorize the federal government to do anything at all with no limits.

It makes one ask “What’s the point of a constitution if the federal government can do anything at all with no limits?”
The answer is “There is no point.”

vikingvista March 31, 2011 at 9:46 am

And the Founders knew it. At least the ones who lost the argument over the constitution.

John V March 31, 2011 at 9:55 am

Here’s the thing, JK:

If this ability was there since the beginning, why did it take so long for the government to start pushing to these seemingly limitless extremes?

You take many things that happen quite easily today and go back into the 19th century and the SCOTUS was probably not knock down most of it….assuming Congress even had the gumption to try and legislate such things in the first place.

JohnK March 31, 2011 at 10:19 am

“When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law.”
–Bastiat

When the Constitution was written most people had a moral sense.
Nowadays professing morality guarantees mockery.
Principles have been replaced with principals.
Rule of law has given way to rule of man.

nailheadtom March 31, 2011 at 11:08 am

A portion of Grover Cleveland’s speech on the occasion of his veto of the Texas Seed Bill in 1887: “I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the general government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power and duty should, I think, be steadfastly resisted, to the end that the lesson should be constantly enforced that, though the people support the government, the government should not support the people.”

dan April 2, 2011 at 2:27 am

Because they used terminology that was well defined in their era, which was not assumed to have been redefined many years later. Regulate commerce, should papers and notes be read from the signers and authors will tell the story of simply disallowing each state hinder commerce from one state to another with tariffs or bans on another states productivity. It is also to ban the setting up of 13 or more different currencies. TO REGULATE COMMERCE- TO MAKE COMMERCE REGULAR.

JohnK April 2, 2011 at 5:52 pm

“which was not assumed to have been redefined many years later.”

Funny how that happens. When you don’t like what something says, twist the meaning of some of the words until it is more to your liking.

ettubloge March 31, 2011 at 8:55 am

Yes, there “is no point” if you employ that improper reading of the Constitution. But since we try to make sense of the contract rather than nullify it by interpreting its parts “in a vacuum”, I read the restrictive nature of the document as restricting those phrases.

But then when my side is in power, my side would not be able to wield the power I want it to wield.

Steven March 31, 2011 at 9:37 am

Family planning is one of the most important personal decisions people make & its effect upon society is both great & long lasting. I feel the claims being made here with regard to prevalence of conscious choice in these decisions are disingenuous. Economics is the study of how people respond to incentives. The truth of the matter is that we have massive hormonal incentives driving people to sexual activity. Reproduction is the genetic function of sex but not the main drive when people engage in it. The overwhelming majority of this activity consists of people who do it alone, with others with whom they don’t wish to procreate, with others even if they or their partner are incapable of procreation because of age, similar sex, or biological deficiency. Thus sex is not FOR procreation and its not something people do once they’ve weighed whether or not they desire to procreate. I appreciate people’s desire to elevate responsibility & conscious choice. But economists must deal with empirical evidence that shows people perform many actions (you would call “make choices”) that they regret because they regularly miscalculate their expected utility over time. People gamble, overeat, have unsafe sex constantly because they satisfy a biological urge that overwhelms their conscious planning. Your neocortex (part of brain responsible for conscious thought) is literally a thin film over a seething mass of more primal brain activity. They do these actions to obtain seratonin in their brains & the real world consequences are unintended side effects. Most importantly THEY ARE NEGATIVE EXTERNALITIES on society. i.e. if a young couple has sex & unintentionally becomes pregnant, they may recognize that they don’t have the resources or commitment to successfully raise a child. A child raised with poor resources & uncommitted parents will be far less successful & a higher likelihood of being a suboptimal contributor to society. Therefore it makes perfect sense for society to invest in preventing these outcomes (as they are negative externalities on all of us) by providing comprehensive education, pregnancy prevention, & family planning. It needn’t be about “saving people from their bad choices” but merely saving myself the negative externalities. By the logic presented in other comments, People choose to cook in houses with poor fire safety or don’t take enough precautions, & there is no reason why we should have fire departments to prevent the spread of fire or stop a fire once it starts. People eat because its an inherent drive, & fires happen when people don’t take sufficient precaution. Society should educate and provide resources & organize to minimize the damage when fires occur. People have sex because its an inherent drive. Society should provide education (chief among which a sense of personal responsibility & understanding for the consequences), yet also provide pregnancy prevention & family planning resources to minimize the negative effects when unintended consequences and negative externalities occur.

Finally Mr. Boudreaux states that family planning comes with “virtually no expense” (because people just decide to have sex or not; or take precautions or not) so government shouldn’t save irresponsible people. I’ve already made my case that overt planning is not the main driver of this activity. Birth control could be quite expensive both in price and in availability in that its difficult to obtain, either from lack of availability or familial pressure to avoid seeking it out. The prevalence of unintentional pregnancies proves that one or the other is true. If people planned or if birth control were easy & cheap to obtain there wouldn’t exist so many unwanted pregnancies. Even if Mr. Boudreaux is correct, he asserts that prevention resources are inexpensive. Why not merely fund them then? If they are so inexpensive & the negative externality of unwanted children raised with poor resources can be avoided, what better public investment could we possible make!

Methinks1776 March 31, 2011 at 9:54 am

That sounds like a great marketing speech for your brand new private “family planning”charity.

Steven March 31, 2011 at 12:30 pm

I applaud private charities who provide these services. I also respect private organizations that respectfully argue an alternative course of action based in deeply held principals of valuing human life. However, a large portion (I dare say a majority) believe private charities have not & will not provide the necessary services. Many people find ad hoc cooperative solutions or charitable solutions insufficient as a total solution. For example, many people participate in neighborhood watch programs or even the “guardian angels” but few advocate eliminating the police.

BV March 31, 2011 at 1:15 pm

You mean they won’t provide the services that *YOU* deem as necessary?

Steven March 31, 2011 at 2:52 pm

No I mean they don’t provide services a MAJORITY of Americans deem necessary. In a poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in June of 2000, 87 percent of the survey participants said they thought it was important for federal officials to fund family planning services such as birth control counseling and services for low-income women. (http://www.region8familyplanning.org/titleXFamilyPlanning.htm)
My point was that charity can’t provide for ALL necessities therefore SOME state action is necessary. I gave my reasons for why I think this is one such situation and my second point was that a majority of Americans agree.

Methinks1776 March 31, 2011 at 3:03 pm

My dear, if you are looking for someone to provide you with everything you deem necessary, I suggest you slit your wrists. Such a thing is not for this world.

I am deeply unmoved by the agreement of the majority of Americans (if there is one, in fact). For most of human history, the majority of the world agreed that slavery was a fine and necessary institution and the majority Arabs agree that Jews are pigs and dogs. Neither morality nor reality is defined by majority agreement.

Steven March 31, 2011 at 3:55 pm

I appreciate our difference of opinion. I’m happy we can both maintain them. Yet here we stand, we still need to figure out how we will move forward in society together. We solve these problems democratically. You needn’t be changed by the majority of American opinion, nor does that alone make it universally just. But it is how we’ve agreed to manage our differences and organize ourselves. I’m not looking for someone to provide me with everything for free. But all of us depend on others for our lights, clothes, food, heat, etc etc. We have a great market system that provides many of our needs in this fashion and requires of us that we create something of value that others would be willing to trade to obtain them. But the market doesn’t (and so far no society has figured out how to) provide for EVERY service. In this sphere, a variety of prices are required from people in taxes and a variety of services are distributed. These are uneven and not market based. But we vote to have laws placed setting those taxes and providing those services. Its certainly imperfect. I’ll freely admit.

Methinks1776 March 31, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Steven, do you understand that we live in a Republic? I did not at any time and in any way agree to allow the majority to decide how I should run my life or which goods and services should be produced and how they should be allocated.

Democracy was the goal of the Communist Manifesto. It was not the goal of the founders of this country and it is not a goal of mine. There is nothing good and moral about the tyranny of the majority.

BV March 31, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Did the Kaiser survey ask the participants if the federal government should fund abortions?

Steven March 31, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Perhaps you could provide me an objective definition of each to determine where you detect the difference? If you google “define: republic” the first hit is:
“democracy: a political system in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who can elect people to represent them”

Regardless of your definition, if we have a government, it exists to do SOMETHING. That something is funded by some funding; whether compulsory, charitable or otherwise. Our government has the power to tax and spend from Article I Section 8 Clause 1. So at its very base I think we must agree that the government exists to perform some function. Whether you agree or not, it does have the power to tax and spend. So really our only difference is over whether or not this particular action should be included in that Something which government does. I completely respect your opinion. But we all have varying opinions on things and the way we figure out what the government will do is based on majority vote constrained by our individual Constitutional rights. It would seem the valid ways of changing this behavior is to successfully argue one of these rights is violated or changing the mind of a majority of Americans.

Gil March 31, 2011 at 10:28 pm

Yes I agree the U.S.A. is a Republic. I don’t remember any coronations in the U.S.A.

Methinks1776 March 31, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Steven,

A limited imagination is not a legitimate reason to apply force.

Private charity contributions have declined precipitously since the imposition of the income tax. After all, if I have to pay the government, I have less to give to charity, don’t I? To now proclaim that charities not only aren’t providing for the services you desire but are also incapable of providing them takes some chutzpah.

Steven March 31, 2011 at 3:14 pm

It actually might be a good reason to have state action. I disagree with the insinuation that charities or ad hoc groups could provide a service like a police force if we only brought some more imagination to the table. I’ve stated my reasons for why I think concerted action for family planning is a good idea. As stated above a majority of Americans agree. Even assuming your argument that bringing more imagination to these problems might solve them, it has so far not materialized. I doubt most of America wants to wait on the hope of an imaginative charitable solution as an alternative to taking some pro-active action.
It is inevitable that we can’t all agree 100% of the time on everything and at some point people will be required to contribute at all or some amount to an objective with which they disagree. That is regrettable.
I don’t have data on me to support or refute charitable giving declines with income tax appearance. However it doesn’t make it causative & doesn’t make it a bad thing. If I would’ve given $1 to a family planning charity but the govt forces my contribution in tax and then spends $1 on family planning services (aside from enforcement costs) there’s no net difference. But the proof is even with this forced contribution funding doesn’t meet the entire need. So unless we’re prepared to argue that if I were to be freed of the X dollars the govt takes in income tax from me for family planning services then I would be so elated that I would be induced to give even more than X dollars to a family planning charity then this situation provides the most funding to a purpose that charities didn’t cure and govt action only adequately addresses.

Methinks1776 March 31, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Well, Steven, I see you only understood about a third of what I said.

“If I would’ve given $1 to a family planning charity but the govt forces my contribution in tax and then spends $1 on family planning services (aside from enforcement costs) there’s no net difference. ”

Sure there is. I get to choose which charity I give it to and I choose charities with low operating costs so that $0.90 of every $1 goes to the intended function of the charity. Charities compete for my $1.00, so they have every incentive to reduce operating costs. The government spends about $0.10 of every one of the $1 it collects from on the intended purpose – the rest is shredded in the administrative and fraud machine. So, charities can do the same job more efficiently and we can waste fewer resources pursuing the very same end. Plus, we can stop forcing pro-lifers paying for something they vehemently disagree with on moral grounds.

…with this forced contribution funding doesn’t meet the entire need.

Have you ever taken an economics class? If you have, then you will realize the silliness of this statement.

Steven March 31, 2011 at 4:21 pm

I have taken an economics class, I majored in it, graduated at the top of my class and participated at Foundation for Economic Education (fee.org) (rooted in the Austrian Economics tradition of which Hayek is a bulwark and for whom I have great respect).

I’ll concede the difference between a state provided $1 of family planning and a charity competing for my $1 to lower operating costs. There is a difference in provision, conceded. But it was based on the presumption that I would’ve given the $1 in the first place.

There exists demand for which the demander doesn’t possess sufficient value or circumstance to execute a trade. Someone starving in Rwanda may demand food but either has nothing of value or doesn’t have a trading partner willing to trade or supply via charity. Millions of people die from malnutrition every year. Charity private or otherwise didn’t save them. That was the point of my statement. Even with forced contributions, supply does not meet that demand.

You might not be willing to supply tax for national defense, police, the IRS, etc. There is inevitable variation in ever person. However, democratically we elect representatives to come to a resolution about how to proceed. Prices (taxes) are levied unevenly and services are distributed unevenly also. No society has yet discovered how to operate successfully without some amount of this type of activity. A majority of us believe family planning is one of these activities.

Methinks1776 March 31, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Well, I’m very happy to know that you’ve taken an econ class. Then, I expect you know all about supply and demand curves and that when the price to the consumer is zero there will suddenly appear a lot of demand. Hence “but… even with this forced contribution funding doesn’t meet the entire need” is hardly a surprise, no?

Yet, turns out the suppliers are not as willing to provide this service as you imply.

What matters is not what people say they want in surveys. Talk is cheap and that’s not their real vote. They vote with their dollars.

If, as you claim, this vast majority of Americans are so eager to provide these “family planning” services at their expense, then we would expect them to flood private charities with money. Yet, you claim that wouldn’t happen.

Odd.

Methinks1776 March 31, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Yet, turns out the suppliers are not as willing to provide this service as you imply.

By “imply” I, of course, mean “aggressively assert” based on a flimsy survey.

Steven March 31, 2011 at 5:04 pm

What matters IS what they say in votes. Their dollars are inconsequential. The government is not a market based solution from which dollars are traded for services. You retain your vote regardless of your contribution in taxes.

This is prime example of the free rider problem. You point out individually one would choose to not pay his or her share of taxes, which help pay for public goods that all citizens benefit from, such as: roads, police, and allowing people to make educated, resourced, optimal control decisions over their reproduction thus preventing unwanted children raised with uncommitted under resourced parents. These services have prices in compulsory taxes unevenly appropriated & also provided unevenly. The manner this is augmented is through the democratic process not market based action. No society has determined how to do without some of this activity; ours has decided this qualifies. Given the huge costs and ramification this activity has on our society and the inability for private action to thus far abate it, I think the majority’s opinion is justified in this instance.

Methinks1776 March 31, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Well, now you’re just babbling.

Steven March 31, 2011 at 6:15 pm

You’re certainly entitled to your opinion. I have appreciated our discussion thus far. I think you had mentioned is a separate post elsewhere that you do believe government has some proper functions (that you can count on one hand) I was curious if you could tell me what those were & how you would respond to someone who didn’t want to contribute to those activities or believed a difference course was warranted?

Steven March 31, 2011 at 6:17 pm

Lord that last post had typos. I meant ….you had mentioned IN a separate post….

and ……or believed a DIFFERENT course…..

Methinks1776 March 31, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Steven,

Yes, it is my opinion – hence “Methinks” rather than “Meknows”.

The limited functions of government are: providing for the common defense, maintaining a court system, maintaining Rule of Law, caring for those who are unable to care for themselves (abandoned and abused children and the insane), and (I say this cautiously) ensuring that the truly indigent are provided for.

That is what I thought when I was younger and it’s still a position I argue from today. As I moved toward middle age, my blinders were slowly burned off by the march of government into every dark, dusty crevice of private life. I have slowly come to the realization that statists eagerly expand each of these legitimate roles of government to usurp more power from the individual. So, I have been moving more toward a desire for no government because those in government cannot be trusted to limit their own power.

Methinks1776 March 31, 2011 at 7:23 pm

forgot the funding issue.

For the few legitimate functions of government, taxation is the proper way to fund. However, it is not proper (as you would advocate with your love of democracy) for 51% of the population to vote for the remaining 49% of the population to pay for those things. Nor is it right to force the most productive members to foot a hugely disproportionate amount for these services – talk about a freerider problem!

Steven April 1, 2011 at 9:26 am

Thanks for sharing your viewpoints on these issues. I think the functions you outlined are truly the core functions with which nearly every person would agree though some people tend to add to them.
Regarding funding, I’ve had similar misgivings with majority based progressive income taxes. Hypothetically, in a group of 100 people, its easy to suggest to 51 of them to make the other 49 pay the entire burden and you’d always get those 51 votes. Of course, the 49 could obtain a few more voters by making the same argument against the original majority. Its a challenge because if one is opposed to discrimination its difficult to support discriminating against someone merely because they are rich.

However, there are some practical problems & analogies with positions you’ve already supported might help. Presuming we want to avoid oppressing the wealthy with progressive taxes, we find ourselves curiously stuck with only the lowest common denominator that everyone can afford. If X rich person isn’t to pay any more than Y average person, then the most govt services we can supply are ones that Y can afford. This might not even be optimal for X. For instance, if I’m X I might want a more robust national defense to prevent a neighbor nation coming and stealing my wealth. Y might not have so much to lose, nor be able to afford the robust level of defense X might prefer. Further, you’ve already stated that you believe govt should support the “truly indigent”. I imagine nearly everyone has at least some threshold for which they believe the govt should provide for indigent people. If that’s the case then we can’t fully implement a uniform solution. Some are indigent and the other “capable” people pay for them. This already proves you support that contribution to govt must at least in SOME way be based on ability to contribute. By the same logic why wouldn’t someone with a supernormal ability to contribute be expected to do so (especially because their wealth stands a lot more to gain or lose by having a robust national defense, just court system, police forces etc)?

I still have problems with the progressive concept because I experience its effect. Whether right or wrong, the Supreme Court has determined income level isn’t a “suspect classification” that calls for more strict scrutiny when a law disproportionately effects one group of people. Wealth and income level are currently only due a “rational basis” test. This allows for broad discretion as long as the aim of the law isn’t a prohibited govt action.

Methinks1776 April 1, 2011 at 10:40 am

If “X” wants a more robust national defense, he can pay for it. Nothing in the constitution prevents him from either hiring private security or donating fighter jets to the U.S. military.

It is precisely because people like you can’t differentiate between keeping people from simply starving to death and “from each according to his ability to each according to his need” that makes anarcho-capitalism so appealing.

Steven April 1, 2011 at 12:56 pm

X won’t contribute more for national defense because of the free rider problem. X will see an infinitesimal increase in security from his sole additional contribution yet bear all the additional costs. Because there is only one dispensation of “national defense” everyone recognizes the need but attempts to reduce his individual contribution to maximize his proportional welfare.

This is a common observation when the thing being purchased in this case “national defense” isn’t conducive to individual free trading activity but requires a single action representative of many different people.

Its also seen in situations in which a demand exists for which the demander cannot execute a trade and this creates negative consequences for others. If someone is starving because of fate, circumstance, addiction, or even just plain laziness and indifference, he may be induced to try to rob your house. You can contribute to keeping him from starving or you can pay security to stop him. Either way you had to outlay resources to prevent a negative consequence upon you. It may not be “fair” or “ideal” that someone else’s misfortune or even laziness has an effect on you that requires your contribution but the point is it was required either way. I think we’d both support spreading the idea that everyone should be responsible for their own well-being, we’d apparently both support keeping someone from starving even if they failed in that personal responsibility. I think there are other areas which govt action would actually decrease the overall negative consequences that would be visited upon us without action.

One such example is family planning. People have a huge sex drive. You can either contribute to helping prevent the negative consequences now by education, pregnancy prevention resources & family planning or bear the brunt of the next generation full of people the product of uncommitted under resourced parents which would leave our whole country with drastically less valuable levels of human capital (and possibly higher crime if you believe Levitt’s assertions in Freakonomics). Either way you’ll be effected. We are not islands unto ourselves. The majority of us think we ought to invest in this prevention.

There assuredly are differences between preventing starvation and market-less Marxist idea. I don’t advocate the latter yet you keep trying to pin me to this concept and we both apparently agree the former is a good idea. The point is while we agree about govt action for national defense, starvation prevention and we probably disagree about other government activity; just because I might advocate an activity you wouldn’t or to a degree you might prefer lessened doesn’t align me with Marx. We both agree with government action, we just differ over degree.

So far you’ve questioned my education, told me to slit my wrists, and referred to one comment as “babbling”. None of these seem to be particular conducive towards healthy communication about honestly held differences of opinion.

Methinks1776 April 1, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Oh, I love how you immediately assume that if someone is poor, he must be a thief. I also love how you think that if someone is poor that nobody will voluntarily help him, yet we are all somehow voluntarily willing to help when a gun is pointed at our heads.

You seem to have never met a supply and demand curve or heard of revealed preferences, incentives and scarcity.

If you’re so bothered by abortions, go fund them from your own pocket and the pockets of the willing. Don’t pretend you’re doing me a favour by robbing me at gunpoint.

Steven April 1, 2011 at 1:39 pm

I didn’t say poor, I said starving. I don’t presume they must become thieves but that starvation might induce him to such action. Charity exists but it doesn’t save the millions of people who die from starvation. I’m not saying you’ll magically be willing to contribute through mandatory taxes. You don’t purchase these goods through individual trade any more than you purchase your own national defense. The expenditures for national defense are set by representatives for whom we all vote and the funds for them are collected via mandatory tax regardless of individual willingness.

The point is you’re not entitled to be insulated from these interactions. The government taxes and spends for things you agree with, like national defense and courts, and apparently also some things you disagree with. Throwing out some accusation that I’m not familiar with basic economics concepts doesn’t address the issues we’re discussing. If you dislike the way the majority of us have voted, you can continue to vote for change, exercise your free speech right to convince us of the propriety of your outlook, or you can market your potential citizenship to other nations, though it’d be interesting to see whether someone with such an aversion toward contribution would see much demand in the open market.

Methinks1776 April 1, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Oh, I see where you’re going with this.

You don’t think it’s such a great idea for you and your assorted girlfriends to reproduce because your offspring might be so unbelievably stupid that the only activity that will occur to him to feed himself is violent force instead of something like…I dunno…getting a job or just asking. Makes sense. Given the parentage and his inability to consider any alternative besides violent force.

Okay. You’ve convinced me. However, it’s ever so much more efficient if I just pay to have you all sterilized so that we don’t have to worry about the same problem every couple of months.

I’ll meet you at the clinic on Wednesday at 9 am.

This permanent solution to your problem will give you ample time to teach the millions of morbidly obese Americans starving to death how to obtain food through violence.

Steven April 1, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Methinks, its difficult to respond to a lot of your last post because so much of it contains so many untrue wild statements. If I understand you correctly, You refer to some mythical “assorted girlfriends” when I’m happily married to someone I’ve known since I was 15. And that I’m afraid children you’ve made up from thin air which I’ve had with these non-existent girlfriends would be so stupid that they might resort to violence to obtain food. Question my parenting ability or my genetic makeup. Then you sarcastically claim your convinced, that you’ll graciously offer to pay to sterilize all of us on Wednesday and in that time I should go about teaching millions of obese Americans not to resort to violence to obtain food.

I beg your pardon but I really just don’t see how this advances your position. If you don’t want to discuss the topics that’s fine. I appreciated our time and maybe we’ll converse elsewhere again. Presuming your a US citizen like I am, we have a lot of challenges ahead of us and I think intelligent debate can really help secure individual freedoms while providing those services the majority of us want. In the end, we’ll still be countrymen.

Methinks1776 April 1, 2011 at 6:31 pm

I don’t know what to tell you, Steven. We’ve all taken a vote. You live in a democracy. We voted to sterilize you. If you don’t like it you can move.

Steven April 1, 2011 at 6:53 pm

I do know what to tell you. No such vote took place. The Supreme Court has also recognized the fundamental right to procreate as part of the 14th Amendment. So if you wanted to pass a law requiring it you’d have an interesting equal protection case on your hands.

Methinks1776 April 1, 2011 at 8:06 pm

The Constitution? You’re relying on SCOTUS to protect your liberty? LOL.

Don’t worry about the constitution. We in government have been getting around the constitution for over two hundred years. We’ll call it a tax on you and your ilk and it’ll go through like butter.

Better yet, we’ll create a new Czar or regulatory body to get rid of any externalities emanating from you and then we can skip the constitution altogether.

For the common good and all – you understand.

Steven April 1, 2011 at 8:50 pm

The amount of sarcasm you shroud your comments in really makes it very difficult to determine whether there is any salient point underneath.

I do rely on the Constitution, the government and SCOTUS being part of it to secure those rights. In the founding document of our country it says “…in order to secure those rights, governments are instituted among men.” So yes, both the original reason and fundamental belief the founders had (and I share) was that governments are created in order to, and are the mechanism that, secures our rights.

Then your argument is that someone in the government will call your proposed sterilization of myself and my mythical multiple girlfriends a tax so that it will be upheld? Regardless of what kind of law it is, whether a tax, prohibition, or otherwise still must meet Constitutional scrutiny. The Supreme Court has recognized that procreation decisions are a fundamental right and any law removing that right must meet strict Constitutional scrutiny.

I know there are reasonable arguments that bolster positions you seem to hold, it just seems counterproductive to resort to these sarcastic oblique comments.

Methinks1776 April 1, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Steven,

I can’t believe you are so incredibly dense that you haven’t figured out that I have given up on you long ago.

The sheer stupidity of what you say is too much.

Consider just this nugget (I’m letting the completely idiotic assertion that millions of people in America are croaking from malnutrition slide):

You claim that Y is totally cool with the amount of national defense he’s getting. X wants more defense than Y but won’t pay more (as I said he should if he wants it) because of the free rider problem.

Your idiotic solution is to force X to pay more for national defense you assume but have no proof that he wants.

How the hell does this solve the free rider problem if X is the one you presume wants more national defense, Y is going to benefit (hint: he’s the free rider), but you’re making X pay for it? How is that different from letting X pay for it if he wants it (except the lack of violence by you against X, I mean)? You haven’t in any way solved the free rider problem. You’ve created another problem – you’ve decided for X how much national defense he’s going to consume and forced him at gunpoint to do what I suggested he should be left to do voluntarily. You never allowed X to reveal his preference for more defense by purchasing additional defense if he wants. Plus, you’ve foisted additional, presumably unwanted, national defense on Y and called it a free rider “problem”. The only problem in this scenario is the one you created!!!

This is but one example of the mess that has spilled from your noggin over the last 24 hours. I can’t take this crap seriously from someone who claims to have graduated with an economics degree with honours. I mean, what school gave you honours for such sloppy thinking?

Steven April 1, 2011 at 11:03 pm

Methinks,

We’re having a frank discussion. This neither requires that your “stick it out” for me or “give up on me”. If you’re not interested in discussing any further you don’t have to. But I don’t call your comments stupid & resorting to things that like doesn’t make your argument any more persuasive.

I never stated millions of people in America die from malnutrition. In what is currently comment 153 I stated “charity doesn’t prevent millions from dying of starvation”. I never limited it to the US but this is a misunderstand we can easily fix here. I was referring to global starvation and that the ability for people to freely give to charity still doesn’t prevent them from dying.

I didn’t say Y (he’s the average person) was cool with the amount of national defense. Rather if you limit progressive disproportionate taxation, then everyone must pay an equal share. This reduces funding to that which Y can afford. So Y may want more national defense but merely can’t pay for it. X (the rich one) may certainly want more national defense but he’s has a free rider lack of incentive to do so because he will bear all the cost but will only receive marginal benefit because the benefit will be dispersed to Y and everyone else in their country.

You’ve pointed out Y would benefit from more national defense despite not paying an equal share. This is true. But I’d like to point out two things.
1) He may only receive a disproportionately lower increase in benefit as national defense protects life and property. X and Y each have one life but because X is very rich he has far more property to lose and thus greater national defense disproportionately benefits him. So making him pay more might be justified on that basis alone.
2) I don’t believe Y qualifies as a classic free rider. Free riders typically are individuals who are incentivized to avoid paying for something and benefit from contributions of others. This presumes they had the ability to do so in the first place and the incentive caused them to refrain. Here, Y may desire more national defense but is simply unable to pay. You’ve already said you support government action for national defense and helping the indigent. Indigents are people who lack the resources to freely obtain the services you’re willing to let government step in and provide. Here, a level of national defense may be optimal that, limited to an equal tax burden upon society may be impossible for each member to contribute. Therefore disproportionate means are necessary.

Methinks1776 April 2, 2011 at 9:50 am

Steven,

Do you not understand the sheer stupidity of saying that charity doesn’t prevent millions of people from starving to death when we’re specifically talking about the United States? Have you any idea why people in other parts of the world are starving? Charity can’t fix things like civil war and governments that prevent people from feeding themselves. Do you ever take the trouble to think before you speak?

Y might not have so much to lose, nor be able to afford the robust level of defense X might prefer.

What does the above mean to you? Not only can he not afford it, but he hasn’t much to lose, so he doesn’t care either.

A free rider is one who benefits but does not pay or does not pay the full cost. Ability has nothing to do with it. Your final paragraph ends in Marxist idiocy and a complete lack of critical thinking. If indigents are not responsible for paying, then everyone will become indigent. Nobody is willing to work for the government to confiscate the product of their labour for the benefit of strangers.

X will simply reduce the amount of wealth he creates (exchange work for precious leisure time) so that you go back to Y’s level of funding. You can’t tax wealth until it is created. You do not – despite your redefinition of “free rider” – EVER get rid of the free rider issue unless you get Y AND X to the same amount for national defense. In your scenario where you apply violent force to X, he has no incentive to pay more and he won’t. If he doesn’t pay for it voluntarily, then you have to think that he can take care of his own defense or it’s not that important to him. You see, I prefer an 80 foot yacht. But, I can’t justify the cost, so I stick to my 22-foot dingy. Not getting everything you want is a fact of life – it’s a fact of economics.

Did they ever teach you what economics is in that school of yours? It’s the study of human behaviour in the presence of unlimited wants and needs and limited resources. What does that mean? That means that not all of your wants and needs will be met. So, the fact that Y may have champagne tastes on a beer budget is not X’s problem and – more importantly – you can’t make it his problem without impoverishing both X and Y. Incentives matter.

Not only do you not understand what a free rider is but you don’t understand what an indigent is either. I’ll give you a hint: it’s not someone who can’t afford a yacht or his preferred level of national defense. It’s someone who cannot clothe and feed himself and all I ever said is that I USED to be willing to allow government to ONLY clothe and feed them until they got back on their feet. However, because (as your comments plainly show) the world is full of nitwits like you who don’t understand the difference between basic support and the more general “from each according to his ability to each according to his need”, I no longer support even the feeding of indigents by government.

Steven April 3, 2011 at 12:41 pm

I’m sorry if you think its stupid to refer to global starvation or if there was a misunderstanding from what was meant but I believe its germane to our discussion. My original support for family planning funding caused your retort that “it sounds like a job for my own private charity.” My counter was that private charity, while positive, has never shown to be an adequate solution by itself. Contributing causes of global starvation, like poor governance, civil wars etc are all worthy of study and effort to fix. However, that doesn’t make charity or government action to mitigate human tragedies in the interim a bad idea. My point was that so far simply relying on “my new private charity” or charity in general like you suggested is insufficient to solve the problem.

I respect your counter with regard to the definition of a free rider but I’ll offer some evidence to support my claim. You intimate that taxing X to a larger degree is futile because he will simply decide to be less productive to avoid the tax, and we end up with X and Y with the same amount to contribute for national defense and we’re all worse off because we’re less productive than we could’ve been. If the government took literally ALL of X’s wealth gains in taxes after passing Y’s wealth level, he would surely have no incentive to produce. However, I’m not advocating taking all but merely an increase. Empirical evidence has born out that supernormal productive people will still continue to produce even with elevated tax rates provided government doesn’t take the entirety. Countries such as Germany, Finland, Australia etc with very high productivity, GDP per capita, and high standards of living all have marginal tax rates of 50-60% compared to 36% in the US. Even in the US back during the baby boom generation, one of largest wealth increases and productive eras of our country, had the highest marginal tax rates. They were always above 75% and even as high as 94%. These high rates were perfectly commensurate with huge gains in productivity and growth for the US. So while I’ll concede the theoretical economic model predicts higher taxes will discourage production, at least in the marginal tax rates we’ve seen historically in our own country and elsewhere today, the evidence does not support what you suggest.

An indigent person is someone who is unable to acquire the necessities of life. Your definition restricts this to clothing and feeding oneself but, I don’t see these as the only necessities. A democracy functions on the ability of its citizens to effectively choose their own future. Therefore each citizen has a vested interest not just in keeping an indigent (by your definition) person from dying but also in him being a productive member of society.

Mandatory schooling is an example that shifted our society from getting small immediate gains in using child labor in agrarian and industrial uses to developing our human capital that made our country immeasurably wealthier than if we hadn’t done so. Providing family planning resources allows unwilling and under-resourced people to prevent bearing children they know they can’t raise effectively. More importantly it prevents you and me from having to bear the cost of a society with drastically lower human capital resources because the unwitting parents stunted their own development as well as beget an under resourced next generation of Americans.

Regardless on an individual’s ability to pay, it is in everyone’s interest to ensure someone has access to and knows how to use family planning resources. Just like its in everyone’s interest to ensure we have a national defense. The point is your quality of life is based less on your intellect, wise decisions, and individual utility-maximizing behavior and more on the fact that you were born into a country that has been steadily investing in national defense, courts, road, utilities, and an educated populace. Even a feckless average US citizen will on average enjoy a far better standard of living than a go-getting, intelligent, resourceful, Somalian in a lawless society today or a Soviet citizen in a centrally planned domineering society of days gone by. Your well-being is intimately tied to the decisions and wellbeing of your neighbors and the countrymen that came before you.

Its really unfortunate a third-person’s opinion like mine could alter your support for helping feed indigents. I really believe that type of activity is nearly universally supported by any compassionate free person. I would hope core values like that wouldn’t be shaken by a mere conversation with another person.

Again, calling me a nitwit or other derogatory names is counter-productive and doesn’t support your arguments. If your arguments were so persuasive you wouldn’t feel the need to resort to them.

nailheadtom March 31, 2011 at 10:04 am

I’ll have to remember to refer to my two daughters as “negative externalities”.

Steven March 31, 2011 at 12:33 pm

I don’t mean any disrespect to your daughters. You may have fully considered your actions before and even if not many people find unintended pregnancies to be the best thing that ever happened to them.

Methinks1776 March 31, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Tom, I’m going to take an educated guess that your daughters are probably a positive externality. Muirdiot’s two offspring, on the other hand…..

nailheadtom March 31, 2011 at 10:13 am

” Society should provide education (chief among which a sense of personal responsibility & understanding for the consequences). . . .”
——————————
Does education necessarily lead to a specific morality, of which personal responsibility is an example? Couldn’t two individuals that have received identical educations have very different senses of personal responsibility and grasp of consequences? Isn’t it possible that one Harvard grad could be an amoral spendthrift and another the POTUS?

Steven March 31, 2011 at 12:58 pm

I think that’s a great question. I think two individuals receiving identical educations could have different senses of personal responsibility or different levels of concern for it. But the truth is we are a very interdependent social species all performing actions individually. So I applaud many here who exalt the idea that we should all be free to make individual choices that make us happy. But people take actions with poor information & driven by impulses that can cloud their ability to calculate what makes them happiest overall. If one did encounter someone given all the education but still possessed a morality of indifference to its consequences, all the more reason to minimize the impact of his irresponsibility upon the rest of society. That’s the problem, writing them off on the front end still leaves them there on the back end.
Some time ago I was talking with a friend’s younger brother (18 senior in high school with well educated parents in a very well funded private school) who somehow accepted the idea that he couldn’t get an STD or someone pregnant from unprotected sex because he didn’t have sex with the person multiple times rapidly. Not less likely, but literally not possible as long as the intervals were spaced sufficiently. (I’m not for a second suggesting the school taught him this). This is the type of toolkit young hormone driven people are left to fend for their futures with. And it behooves us to ensure the next generation of our country was created by people sufficiently educated to make the decisions that they decide are best for themselves.

To educate them about the risks of engaging in the activity every hormone in their body is driving them to perform, to help mitigate the risks if they decide to act upon it, and help mitigate the negative consequences on everyone if they decide they can’t provide the resources and commitment necessary to raise a child is a good investment I think a majority of us would be willing to make. Mr. Boudreaux also seems to think it would be inexpensive.

vidyohs March 31, 2011 at 10:24 am

Steven, a lot of what you say has some degree of merit, especially about primal urges. There are other areas we could do some minor quibbling about and I just don’t have the time today, you probably don’t either.

There is one point worth addressing: “If people planned or if birth control were easy & cheap to obtain there wouldn’t exist so many unwanted pregnancies.”</i? Obviously there is also another factor involved, and that is the "don't give a shit" factor that comes from socialist enculturation in the population to simply not recognize or care about the consequences of actions…..after all, the state will take care of the mess, and "God knows!" a couple of horny people can't be expected to think of anything before, during, or after, they are just animals with no reason, and they did not consult the dictates of the central planners.

But, you dismiss the main point in what Don wrote, the "who pays for it" factor, and "the why should I pay for it" factor. Don supports his point with the observation that (even ignoring the legality of it) there is no evidence that government would be most cost effective at the task. All evidence points to the fact that government will/has vastly inflated the cost of providing the service.

As a retired military man, I have had vast experience in observing government squander money on levels that stagger the imagination. But, you don't have to have that experience, just back to this Energetically Political post a couple of days ago and look at the link I provided on arguments to the budget. Read that shit, please.

The government is perfectly capable of ignoring an ability to buy a piece of electronics necessary to operations at a price of $1,000 and available for instant pick-up; and converting the acquisition of that piece of equipment into a $10,000 cost with a delay of delivery of over 6 months.

As always, it is not necessarily that money could be well spent on something; what is important is who is doing the spending.

vidyohs March 31, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Damn vidyohs,
you meant to say

“What is important is who is doing the spending and where they are getting the money.”

Steven March 31, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Thank you for the credit you extend to me. I’d like to do the same for you and say that there’s no doubt govt can be an inefficient provider of services. I’ll try to address the “who pays for it and Why should that be me” and “socialist abdication of personal responsibility” aspect.
First you stated that socialist inculcation might lead individuals to not take care for their decisions because they know the govt will fix them. While I suppose its possible, France has a lower abortion rate per capita than the US and they have complete nationalized health care. Personally I believe that the emotional desire to avoid making an abortion decision is more than sufficient to overcome what having a “free service” might cause in overconsumption. The truth is portions of these services aren’t regular goods that people desire to consume. Given a fixed need they might partake more when free than otherwise. But the whole point is that comprehensive family planning services might increase the number of people receiving low cost prevention services it reduces the number of people demanding high cost (and politically controversial/unpleasant) abortion services.

The government might not be the lowest cost provider of this service. It might be that simply taking the budget for this service and having competing firms in regional area vie for providing service might make sense. But the main point is that charity has never sufficiently met this need and the costs upon society are too great to ignore and dump the consequences upon the next generation who aren’t here to protest. The US budget is about 3.5 trillion and there are 309 million citizens so (extremely generally speaking) if I don’t pay at lest $11,000 in federal tax I’m a net drain on the federal govt. Its inevitable that there are variances in income, talent, agreement in how much and what services govt should perform. We resolve these differences through the democratic process and as stated above: In a poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in June of 2000, 87 percent of the survey participants said they thought it was important for federal officials to fund family planning services such as birth control counseling and services for low-income women.

I absolutely respect the differences of opinion of everyone here.

BV March 31, 2011 at 5:28 pm

I’ll take your word about France’s abortion rate. Does it account for race and/or income level?

Did the Kaiser survey ask participants if they thought the federal government should fund abortions?

Steven March 31, 2011 at 6:07 pm

I didn’t see any information about how or whether it tried to hold steady the income/racial differences. I know that our GDP per capita is higher though I imagine the income disparity is less pronounced.

The information I read did not single out abortions. The quote I had was merely ” it was important for federal officials to fund family planning services such as birth control counseling and services for low-income women.”

vidyohs March 31, 2011 at 10:20 pm

http://www.theblaze.com/blog/2011/03/31/pentagon-spends-600000-on-a-frog-statue/

I personally think government, across the board, should be forced to hold bake sales to raise capital on which to operate. The link above is an example of the government attitude towards my money.

This egregious example of squander passed my past example of the $100,000 metal lattice work baseball bat erected in front of the SSA offices in Chicago (circa 1975) during a winter when old folks on SS who could not afford fuel oil were freezing to death across the midwest during the coldest winter in years. It also blows away my next example of 1 year later when the same outfit, SSA, purchased a sculpture that depicted a section Chicago’s “El” (elevated trains) tracks at a cost of $200,000 during a winter that repeated the one previous.

Isn’t that just exciting artsy shit, Steven? The government agency SSA can flip the bird to old people who were promised aid but were left to freeze to death, but by God, they got their exhilarating artsy sculptures……oh jeez I bet the ones who were responsible just peed down their legs with excitement. Screw those old people.

No Steven, anyone who lets a government employee (President to federal dog catcher) near a public dollar should have the shit beat out him until he is crippled for life.

BTW, I said socialist enculturation, not inculcation. There is a real difference.

Steven April 1, 2011 at 9:52 am

Enculturation merely means teaching social norms, inculcation means indoctrination. I’m sorry for using a stronger word than you chose, it was the one that seemed to fit as I was writing my response. It wasn’t intentional.
You have some great examples of what many would consider inefficient government spending. But your argument seems to oppose this spending not fundamentally but because you believe it causes “screwing old people…who were promised aid”. It doesn’t seem like you oppose providing the “aid promised to old people” but perhaps you do. If you support “aiding old people who were promised aid” then you don’t oppose government expenditure but you just don’t think they do it well. If so, then it either needs improvement or somehow public officials are incapable of spending reasonably and “aid promised to old people” can’t be supplied. Corruption and poor management effects all governments to some degree. Governments with low corruption tend to have active engaged populace holding them to account to spend wisely not advocate “beating them ’till they are crippled”. Neither violence nor disengagement have proven successful examples in any country I’m aware of.
As a side note at least with regards to the Pentagon, many people have assumed that these institutions must show an increase in their accounting expenditures for these innocuous items to mask spending on items for which national security precludes placing it on regular expenditures. Obviously the Pentagon also has a clandestine budget but this may play some factor in this particular instance.
Also art has at least some value. Like anything, people have differing utilities for these goods/services, and while I don’t defend the examples you provide as reasonable expenditures I would state that some expenditure is reasonable.

vidyohs April 1, 2011 at 6:16 am

While I could extend some mild degree of merit to the post I responded to, this one I can not. It is full of irrelevant and disingenuous statements and thoughts.

“I absolutely respect the differences of opinion of everyone here.”I’ll be blunt, I do not respect the opinions of anyone whose entire focus seems to be elevation of the state and funding that state through the act of theft.

Collectivism, no matter what name or label it carries, has had a 100% track record of failure. Failure that brings universal misery and poverty of finances and of spirit, and then ultimately collapse into an undisguised dictatorship.

No intelligent creature can respect fools that want to bring that to people in the face of the historical track record. I don’t care that you are not a rabid foaming at the mouth communist, the fact that you believe the things you say you believe and that you promote the same conditions that the foaming at the mouth radical communist does, is sufficient reason for me to disrespect what you say and the intent behind your saying it.

That is the only reason I bother to write in opposition, to establish and share the common knowledge that your hopes and dreams for humanity are opposed, and that I for one will always fight having them imposed on me.

Steven April 1, 2011 at 10:10 am

I appreciate your honest and quite passionate response and your estimate of my contribution to the discussion so far. If your philosophy carries half as much logic as it does fervor I’m sure you won’t have any problem convincing your fellow citizens of the correctness of them and my position will be at a total loss for persuasiveness.
The failures of truly collectivist activity are extremely well documented and drastic upon human happiness. The Great Leap Forward in China saw somewhere between 35-45 million people die needlessly.
However, just as collectivist governments that persisted for decades causing unnecessary deaths were ultimately unsustainable, we have no record of any large society of people who have existed for any appreciable time without some government. We act individually but are all a social and interdependent species. I support private property and a healthy market system. I also believe the there exists SOME role of proper government. If you agree that government must exist in SOME form then it must be funded by some combination of our varying contributions. It seems we have a disagreement over what those functions are and the amount and origin of those contributions. To suggest that I support a collectivist scheme is really unfortunate because I don’t and I think it detracts from what otherwise could be a really intellectually stimulating conversation.

vidyohs April 1, 2011 at 11:11 am

Steven, your consistent themes mock your denials.

It is difficult to have a objective intellectual discussion with someone who is stuck in conventional wisdom ruts and can’t be, or won’t be (regressives), bumped out.

Government is necessary to a limited degree, as my vehicle is necessary to a limited degree. Both are tools, no more and no less. Both are artificial constructs created by men to perform a specific function for the men who create them. Neither are worthy of worship, admiration, or devotion. I make the free and voluntary decision as to how much vehicle I want and willing to pay for. It is my firm and dedicated belief that I also make the free and voluntary decision as to how much government I want and am willing to pay for.

Contract is a proper medium by which I can purchase my vehicle and my government. No theft necessary when contracts are made and honored.

Only a fool elevates his tools to a position where the tool can use him, instead of him using the tool.

So how do the smart use a tool. When it is needed they go get it, use it, clean it, and put it away for the next use, and they they go about their business secure in the knowledge the tool is not going to use subterfuge to come after them and take control of their lives.

How do we pay for a tool? One makes a voluntary purchase, and then makes voluntary personal contributions to the maintenance of the tool.

What do we do with a broken tool? We junk it and get a new one, maybe even one of the same make and model….but certainly one that functions as it is intended to.

Do we ever let a tool take control of the job? Maybe a fool would, but no intelligent person would.

Do smart people get wrapped up in the idiocy of breast beating and proclamation that, “My tool is better than your tool, my tool is the best in the world”. A smart man who thinks for himself and treasures his independence does not need the psychological crutch of having, or belonging to, something that can be claimed to be superior, he knows his own life lived in his own way is superior to any other. (This man is a complete anathema to the loony left.)

If you are incapable of looking at the politics of this nation as they have developed since its creation and seeing the insanity of falling into worship of the tool, then we have no common ground from which to discuss things.

JohnK April 1, 2011 at 11:47 am

vid – I like your using government and cars in the same thought.
It reminds me that it is possible to cook dinner on an engine block. It probably isn’t the most efficient use of fuel, nor is it likely that the food will be very good, but it can be done.

Using government for things that it is not intended for is like cooking dinner on an engine block.

Steven April 1, 2011 at 1:16 pm

I’m glad we both agree that government is necessary. I believe we both agree it has proper functions though we might disagree over the extent or makeup of it. However I really have to disagree with the concept that you “purchase your government” like you “purchase your truck”. Governments are tools but not individual tools. They are structures for organizing a group of people. It isn’t a singular good that you get to choose the amount of which you receive. So you don’t get the only say in what government we have. You get one vote.

If you dislike the way the majority of us have voted, you can continue to vote for change, exercise your free speech right to convince us of the propriety of your outlook, or you can market your potential citizenship to other nations, though it’d be interesting to see whether someone with such an aversion toward contribution would see much demand in the open market.

vidyohs April 1, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Steven,
Again you drive my point home that your consistent themes mock your denial about being a statist aka socialist at core.

“Governments are tools but not individual tools. They are structures for organizing a group of people. “ You are wrong in the first sentence, there is no such thing as a group without recognizing that it is just individuals gathered in one place or who consider themselves joined in some way. You are disingenuously incomplete in the second sentence: Governments are structures created by agreeing individuals. Morally and legally a government is illegitimate to anyone who does not agree to it.

“If you dislike the way the majority of us have voted, you can continue to vote for change, exercise your free speech right to convince us of the propriety of your outlook, or you can market your potential citizenship to other nations,” As I said, your enculturated conventional wisdom makes it impossible for you to see the other two options. First option, leave the disagreeing ones alone if they are not committing any crime in natural law, deal with them on a commercial basis. Second option, a version of the first, deal with the disagreeing one in a more blanket mode by executing contracts with them that includes negotiated (not dictated) payment for services desired and rendered.

To one born on the native soil, such as Texas, the corporate government has no legal or moral claim, as it did not create the land, did not create the child, and capture and claim of free individuals is prohibited to those who act under the color of the Constitution.

You’re relatively new to the Cafe, so I’ll ask a question I have asked here before, a question to which no one knew the answer.

Remember the 13th amendment to the Constitution, remember that it is a fact of law that one man/woman can not contract for another man/woman or child, remember that government did not create either the land or the people born to it, and remember that if you are native born to this soil that you were born free.

With that in mind, what is the mechanism by which a native born free man becomes a citizen of the corporate UNITED STATES OF AMERICA?

Methinks1776 April 1, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Oh, I see where you’re going with this.

You don’t think it’s such a great idea for you and your assorted girlfriends to reproduce because your offspring might be so unbelievably stupid that the only activity that will occur to him to feed himself is violent force instead of something like…I dunno…getting a job or just asking. Makes sense. Given the parentage and his inability to consider any alternative besides violent force.

Okay. You’ve convinced me. However, it’s ever so much more efficient if I just pay to have you all sterilized so that we don’t have to worry about the same problem every couple of months.

I’ll meet you at the clinic on Wednesday at 9 am.

This permanent solution to your problem will give you ample time to teach the millions of morbidly obese Americans starving to death how to obtain food through violence.

Methinks1776 April 1, 2011 at 4:25 pm

posted in wrong spot.

Steven April 1, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Governments are instituted among agreeing individuals. Ours was formed on July 4th 1776. I recognize you weren’t present to agree at that moment. I’ll deal with that below.

You’re right, you do have the option of not advocating your opinion or actively participating in civil society and government. However, you do reside within its borders, and partake of its provisions (in national defense, roads, courts, utilities, police etc). Because its nearly impossible to excise you from these benefits to allow you to exist in some perfectly isolated state and allow you to only contract for those things that you want (a right the rest of us are not obligated to provide to you) you’ll be required to accede to duly passed laws some of which require your contribution. You could attempt to move to another place where no organized government exists to avoid having to accede to its laws. Somalia or Sudan might have a couple areas where little central government exists but they don’t seem very popular destinations. Truly, nearly every place where people have existed for any appreciable time, they instituted some government. Its a very popular organizational structure people regularly choose to institute.

You then mention Natural Law. A concept that purports some laws are so universally cognizable, they exist outside of whether men recognize it. The founders of this country believed in those “inalienable rights”. But the very next sentence was “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men…” Many would agree natural rights exist. The founders believed that government SECURED them. You might assert to have them in isolation all you want, but the method whereby society has decided to secure them is via government.
Your direct question was: “what is the mechanism by which a native born free man becomes a citizen of the corporate UNITED STATES OF AMERICA?”

The people of the US instituted a government amongst themselves in the Articles of Confederation, later the Constitution, and in the case of Texas, that republic actively sought to be annexed by the US from 1837 and was successful in 1845. Section 1 of the 14th Amendment states: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

When you were born, you weren’t aware of anything, your surroundings, that you had limbs, language and were totally helpless and couldn’t contract for anything. Your parents brought you into this world on land subject to the rule of law of the United States and by its laws you became a citizen upon birth. The citizenship you retain “jus soli” is not an overt contract made between two adult assenting parties. You received it before you drew your first breath. The thirteenth Amendment is inconsequential in this conversation as citizenship isn’t an involuntary servitude. You are free to renounce your citizenship and attempt to find another country who will accept you at any time of your choosing. The Supreme Court has held, in Butler v. Perry, 240 U.S. 328 (1916), that the Thirteenth Amendment does not prohibit “enforcement of those duties which individuals owe to the state, such as services in the army, militia, on the jury, etc.”

For reference:
The thirteenth amendment states:
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.[2]

yet another Dave March 31, 2011 at 2:52 pm

So a reasonable translation of your badly run-on paragraph of assertions is taxpayers should be forced to pay for what you think is needed to protect other people from the consequences of their bad choices?

Steven March 31, 2011 at 6:10 pm

I think a better translation would be a majority of Americans believe government funding should be used to educate people about the consequences of sexual activity, aid them in controlling if and when they procreate to reduce the number of unwanted births to uncommitted under resourced parents & reduce the negative impact the same would have on us all.

Methinks1776 March 31, 2011 at 7:16 pm

Steven, there is no such thing as “government funding”.

Steven April 1, 2011 at 10:19 am

I presume you’re referring to the fact that all government funds come from taxes and thus citizens. That’s accurate and I don’t believe the term government funding confuses that fact. You’ve already stated you support government funded “national defense” and since the government is the purchaser and purchases only one “national defense” for the whole nation it makes sense to describe it as a government funding. Its totally conceded that the money that makes up that purchase comes from varying sources, from different taxes unevenly on people to debt we incur and thus burden our non-present descendants with. But its true that a majority of people support the use of the money collected by the government be used for the purpose of these services.

WhiskeyJim April 1, 2011 at 1:45 am

This is an interesting bit of logic. By simple extension, if you accept tax subsidy to live, then your ‘maternal’ government should place you in a boarding house under constant supervision (sociological and psychological ‘treatment’ once a week has always been a complete failure) in order screen your activity and guard against further calamity and higher tax cost until you prove able to govern yourself.

Hey, that isn’t a bad idea.

Steven April 1, 2011 at 10:26 am

I’m sorry. I’d love to respond to this more fully but I don’t know if I follow the “simple extension” you’re making. Obviously there’s some sarcasm towards the end but I honestly would love to understand your position better so we could discuss it. My original point was that nearly everyone agrees SOME govt is required. That govt performs SOME action and gets funding from various forced contributions from citizens etc and that a majority of Americans agree that family planning services ought to be funded by these contributions. Thus the previous assertion that this opinion was limited to what I think and not what a majority thinks was false.

dan April 3, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Here’s the big crux or the matter. Ideas or govt funded programs such as family planning is not the job of federal govt. I will absolutely agree that a state can choose to provide for such an institution. But, the federal govt creation of programs is not within their jurisdiction. The only purpose of federal govt intervening is implement programs nation wide and to spread the costs. Should ,say California, wish to partake in social guidance activities, than California can. But, if Colorado citizenry object, than their state will remain absent of those programs. Citizenry can than choose which region best suits their needs. Should either state no longer be able to afford their activities, than they will be forced financially to adhere to the policies that have been successful, elsewhere.

Again, I would like to restate that state programs should not federally supported or prohibited.
‘Family planning’ is a state issue, and federal govt has no business intervening.

Steven April 3, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Dan, I’m glad you feel this issue should remain with the states. Perhaps they would be more effective but I haven’t seen any evidence to suggest this. If the “purpose of federal govt intervening is implement programs nations wide and to spread the costs” then this meets that purpose. Article I Sec 8 Clause 1 and the Supreme Court cases that deal with it from US v Butler on have almost universally upheld the federal government in this activity.

dan April 3, 2011 at 6:35 pm

That clause has been preverted from its intended purpose. The founding Fathers have stated clearly in Federalist Papers, John Madisons rebukes as president, John Adams and Thomas Jeffersons letters, that govt being able to do anything it wants and relating it to matters of commerce or welfare, through means of taxation and spending, that they had not intented on federal govt intervention to the degree we see today and over the last 100 yrs.
In the same sense, a skillful lawyer could pervert the 2nd amendment to require govt shoot a grizzly bear and hand it over to me, so as to the right to ‘bear arms’.

Steven April 4, 2011 at 12:03 pm

I can respect your different opinion about what the founders might have meant. Perhaps we’d even be better off with a different ruling. But so far the branch of government Constitutionally mandated to determine that intent have decided otherwise. It certainly doesn’t make them right. Just what we live with.

yet another Dave April 1, 2011 at 5:00 pm

OK, incorporating your comments, the translation of your badly run-on paragraph of assertions is:

Taxpayers should be forced to pay for what you think is needed to protect other people from the consequences of their bad choices. Taxpayers should be so forced because you and a majority of Americans think it will reduce the number of unwanted births to uncommitted under resourced parents & reduce the negative impact the same would have on us all.

How eugenic of you. You should have stuck with my first translation.

Steven April 1, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Government eugenics is the forcible restriction/alteration of procreation to alter the genetic composition of a people. This program has no genetic composition purpose. It is designed to give education & resources to allow individuals to intelligently make their own decisions about how and when to procreate. It also has the added benefit of reducing the negative impact The majority of Americans believes this is the worthwhile use of the government funding.

For the record, my previous comment isn’t a run-on sentence. It contains one idea with three subordinate clauses. That American support the funding to achieve three purposes 1) education 2) empowering to reduce unwanted births and 3) reduce negative impact upon others. Moreover I have no doubt an intelligent individual such as yourself was more than capable of comprehending it. However, continually accusing me of using run-on sentences is really rather distracting from the point at issue. I’m sure you the merits of your position needn’t rely upon these Red Herrings.

Steven April 1, 2011 at 6:49 pm

….the negative impact activity absent this funding would force upon others.*…

yet another Dave April 1, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Your first paragraph is all well and good, but are you a government? Since you’re obviously not, I think you missed my point. I noticed a disturbing parallel and commented on it. I do not believe currently existing government funded family planning is eugenics – but your defense sounded eerily similar.

For the record I didn’t even once accuse you of (or even refer to) a run-on sentence. I twice mentioned your badly run-on paragraph. (As in an extremely long paragraph that makes reading it rather difficult, rather than a sequence of shorter paragraphs that make your point more clear.) The second was just a copy/paste of the first.

(FWIW, I was able to get through it, but it would have been easier and clearer with some space here and there.)

I understand your argument, but I am not one of the Americans who support such funding.
- First, that is clearly not an appropriate role for government.
- Second, I am convinced that government control (inevitable with funding) of such an effort would create new and exaggerate existing problems while miserably failing to accomplish your stated goals.

It is downright cruel to subject anybody in need to government “help.”

Steven April 1, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Perhaps there has been some misunderstanding based on word usage or comment structure in our respective comments.

FWIW, your only mention of eugenics was when you stated “How eugenic of you”. I think its fairly reasonable to construe that as directed at me. Despite this, I responded by stating the requirements of eugenics and stating the program didn’t meet that requirement. I didn’t apply it to myself.

Second, when I stated “my previous comment isn’t a run-on sentence” I was referring to my immediately previous comment to you, comment 175, which is a single sentence. I see that you were referring to an amalgam of both comment 175 and a previous comment. Because 175 was my counter to your original translation it is that to which I had believed you referred. Notwithstanding I appreciate grammatical or stylistic constructive criticism generally. Personally the small text box and the manner in which these comments indent make it rather difficult to respond effectively.

I appreciate our differences of opinion. I appreciate forums like this and our freedom to engage in them to discover new positions that might challenge or bolster the support our own.

Gil April 2, 2011 at 7:33 am

What’s wrong with eugenics per se? The marketplace is eugenic too.

dan April 2, 2011 at 2:46 am

Sounds like people cannot be expected to behave in a responsible manner, often, and the rest of society should pick up their pieces, even though, the result of whisking away accountability for decisions made begets more irresponsibility and teaching henceforth others that they should not be held to any accountability for their actions.

It’s not my fault, God created me this way. With the above logic, a pedophile is not responsible for his/her actions and the rest of society should be accountable and pay the penance for his/her actions. It is a semi-unconscious choice to engage in ‘sexual activity’ by their ‘massive hormonal incentive’.
‘ primal brain activity’ – What is more primal than seeking sexual activity with the most likely to activate their ‘biological urge that overwhelms their conscious planning’.
You have just made a great case for why sex with underage/younger (much younger) (amongst other behaviors) cannot have any prejudged or accountable measures held against the individual.

Just as the man who kills the ‘lover’ of his spouse is given repreive for acting out on a primal instinct, the ‘pedophile’ is acting out on a primal instinct that is common place in all of nature.

NO ACCOUNTABILITY FOR ONE’S ACTIONS.

YOUR ABOVE STATEMENTS ARE A LITIGATIONS LAWYERS WET DREAM.

Great!!! where is my govt money for any of my actions that require an exchange of goods to compensate those that are picking up my endtrails as I leave them where I may.

dan April 2, 2011 at 2:48 am

great, according to Steven, pedophilia is an urge and should not have the individuals engaging in this action be held accountable.

Steven April 3, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Concerted protective measures upfront doesn’t not lead to a complete lack of accountability. Family planning resources help people control when and if they reproduce. Again, sex is not FOR reproduction; most of the time you engage it in alone, with someone when you don’t want to procreate, or with someone even if its impossible to procreate because you’re too old, the same gender, or one of you is sterile. Sex is by and large done for social and personal pleasure reasons; not to reproduce. Therefore reproduction is sometimes an unintended side effect of sex.

I’m not familiar with pedophiles or their motivations. But it is important to note that we do end up paying for their actions. Whether they “choose” to engage in that behavior or have some unconscious urge to do so, we still are forced to protect ourselves, by protecting our children, trying to stop them from succeeding in their aim, and incarcerating them when we catch them. Whether its their choices or their urges, WE ARE STILL FORCED TO PAY. It would be great if we could just say, “everyone behave in a personally responsible manner” and everyone would do so. But that just isn’t the case.

Its also important to note that pedophiles and unintended pregnancies are hugely different not only in the nature of their acts but that pedophiles seek the outcome of abusing children, unintended pregnancies do not seek the outcome of becoming pregnant. In the example of unplanned pregnancy that we’re talking about; these people aren’t looking for this outcome, they simply lack the education and resources to avoid it. Therefore these resources are a protective measure to prevent the unwanted outcome. We can either support protective measures now or be forced to pay for the drastically lower human capital development when the next generation has more high school dropout parents with under resourced kids. As with the pedophile example we are forced to pay either way; and it would be great in a perfect world if simply demanding they stop doing what they do would solve the problem. In family planning, these people don’t want the outcome of an unintended pregnancy; and its far better to fund protective measures rather than bear the costs afterward.

Providing these resources doesn’t beget more irresponsibility and teach they aren’t accountable for their actions. If you give a bicyclist a helmet, he may feel (and actually be safer) riding around but it doesn’t mean he now goes looking for a tree or car to run into.

dan April 3, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Moral hazard

Steven April 3, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Moral hazard occurs when a party insulated from risk causes more negative outcomes than it would behave if it were fully exposed to the risk. A U.S. review, “Emerging Answers”, by the National Campaign To Prevent Teenage Pregnancy examined 250 studies of sex education programs. The conclusion of this review was that “the overwhelming weight of evidence shows that sex education that discusses contraception does not increase sexual activity”.
The evidence shows that people who are educated on safe sex practices & have the resources to do not increase sexual activity (which is neither good nor bad) but certainly decreases unwanted reproduction. There is very little evidence to suggest the moral hazard argument carries much weight in this instance.

dan April 3, 2011 at 2:36 pm

What’s interesting, is that I am going to assume that you speak from an intellectual or economical point of view, aka ‘book thoughts’.
But, I speak of first had witness. I speak of experience. The ‘family planning’, which does more with the planning of relieving oneself of the responsibility of sex, than does about planning a family, is akin to the safety net. Just as young adults are not as concerned with their finances, as they can hit up mom and dad for their shortages, many use the family planning centers as their ‘get out of jail free’ card.
The nanny state of America is alive and well. Family planning is just another ones of those institutions that has put in place to allow for little or not personal repsonsibility or accountability for individuals.
What forces more people to ‘behave resonsibly’ is to not have every one of their decisions to be without consequence. Drop out of high school? Who cares…..go on govt assistance programs. No college? Don’t worry…..govt assistance programs. Promiscuous acitivities? not to worry…..govt assistance programs.
Moral hazard.
Build a home on the ocean beach in a hurricane prone area? Not worried…….when insurance cannot cover, govt will and I will be reimbursed.
Risky behavior is less prevalent, as the individual realizes the consequences will not subsidized.

Steven April 3, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Moral hazard occurs when a party insulated from risk causes more negative outcomes than it would behave if it were fully exposed to the risk. A U.S. review, “Emerging Answers”, by the National Campaign To Prevent Teenage Pregnancy examined 250 studies of sex education programs. The conclusion of this review was that “the overwhelming weight of evidence shows that sex education that discusses contraception does not increase sexual activity”.
The evidence shows that people who are educated on safe sex practices & have the resources to do not increase sexual activity (which is neither good nor bad) but certainly decreases unwanted reproduction. There is very little evidence to suggest the moral hazard argument carries much weight in this instance.

dan April 3, 2011 at 2:58 pm

‘The evidence shows that people who are educated on safe sex practices & have the resources to do not increase sexual activity (which is neither good nor bad) but certainly decreases unwanted reproduction. ‘- please restate

dan April 3, 2011 at 3:02 pm

I respectfully disagree. Has the review been subject to scrutiny?
Again, why is federal govt intervening? This is a state matter. Federal govt is not needed nor warranted.

dan April 3, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Moral hazard carries weight. Ever seen the look in the eyes of a girl who just realized she might be pregnant? There is instant relief upon realization of an ‘out’. I vividly, recall the accounts in high school of individuals who engaged in sexual activities knowing that they had an ‘out’, should the consequence of sex occur.

Steven April 3, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Dan, you’re free to do as you like but, I just want to observe its difficult to respond effectively when you have 6 separate interrelated replies to my last message. So I’ll respond here in reference to the 6 responses you made since my April 3, 2:53pm response.

You wanted me to restate a comment I made. I advocated providing family planning resources. You argued the moral hazard would cause increased promiscuity etc. I stated that evidence from the study referenced (please see link below) showed that sex education and family planning resources didn’t increase sexual activity. Moreover, amount of sexual activity isn’t what we’re trying to reduce. Its unwanted child birth. So even if you were right (and evidence suggests you aren’t) and people were more promiscuous, the goal of family planning resources is to educate and empower people to engage in safe sex and control when and if they reproduce not prevent them from having sex. The U.S. has the highest teen birth rate and one of the highest rates of STIs among teens in the industrialized world. Other countries that provide the resources I advocate have far lower pregnancy and STI rates.

You respectfully disagreed (I think with my recitation of the study’s findings) and asked about its review. Please see the link below if you’d like to review it directly.

Re: state vs. federal action. The original post questioned federal legality in taking this action. US v. Butler 297 US 1 and many cases since have upheld a broad discretionary power of the federal government to tax and spend as it deems appropriate. This may be an issue better handled by the states. I haven’t seen any evidence to suggest states would do any better at solving this problem but perhaps you have some.

http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=ED456171&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=ED456171

dan April 3, 2011 at 4:53 pm

I agree with you that the federal govt has been able to ‘do whatever it wants’ thru the powers of ‘tax and spend as it deems appropriate’. God willing, this will be changed, and a SCOTUS ruling in some due time will negate the federal govts ability ‘to do whatever it wants’ under the auspices of ‘deeming it appropriate.’ And, as for the reportings of foriegn govts on their statistics, it should be highly evident to you and others, as we have discussed here before, that the statistics provided by govts are based on their own reporting methods, of which few use the same standards. So, they are highly suspect.
Again, I submit that the federal govt has no business in these matters. The federal govts job is outlined in the Constitution. Matters such as these, amongst thousands of others, have been a perversion of the language of the Constitution for purposed of intervening.
That being said, I want the federal govt out. And, contrary to your position, I believe that a majority of Americans are pullilng to my position of limited federal govt.
Of course, if you ask those on the recieving end, they will ask for more ‘free’ services and products.
When a govt robs Peter to pay paul, Paul will always support that govt.

Steven April 3, 2011 at 5:47 pm

I respect your honestly held opinion regarding proper spheres for state and federal activity. I’m also glad you agree current law allows this behavior. The current SCOTUS may change this but I’d point out that courts since Butler (1936), both liberal and conservative, have upheld these actions on nearly every occasion.

dan April 3, 2011 at 2:55 pm

‘Family planning’ and welfare are incentives to allude accountability. ‘

dan April 3, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Great!!! Funding can be cut off for those over the age of 20. The review is in regards to teenagers.

dan April 3, 2011 at 3:10 pm

My recollections and experiences are witnessed, not personally felt.

dan April 3, 2011 at 4:55 pm

I would prefer that I was ‘free’ to do as I like. But, I am not. I would ask that a govt program, such as ‘family planning’ was relegated to states and/or donations of the supporters. Instead, I am not ‘free’ to remain in my choice of domain and not support institutions like those.

Sam Grove March 31, 2011 at 11:13 am

Bah. The only interpretation I have is that we get the government that the people will put up with which is why education should never have been allowed to fall under the auspices of government, or should now be withdrawn from control of the government.

vikingvista March 31, 2011 at 9:14 pm

Yes, but isn’t it natural that government would come to dominate education? Isn’t a monopoly like a black hole? The star collapsed in 1787 and has been sucking in all the mass around it ever since.

WhiskeyJim April 1, 2011 at 1:40 am

Love the analogy. I shall speak of monopoly in those terms from now on:)

vikingvista April 2, 2011 at 3:13 am

Or you can think of it as a ratcheting effect. It can only be set back part way, because it cannot fail. But it can grow without foreseeable bound. So over the long run, it will grow–until it outstrips its blood supply and necroses catastrophically.

purplefox March 31, 2011 at 4:53 pm

I keep seeing all of these, “I stand with Planned Parenthood” and other statements along the lines of, “keep you laws off my body!” Very well, no laws about any abortion, and no federal funding for it either.

Methinks1776 March 31, 2011 at 7:16 pm

“like”

MWG March 31, 2011 at 10:33 pm

Prof. Boudreaux,

I know I’m late to the debate and I may be opening a huge can of worms with this question, but I’d be interested to know your opinion on the issue of abortion. Libertarians are obviously against government funding of it (and almost any other procedure for that matter), but there is generally a lot of debate amongst libertarians on whether the practice should even be legal. I’d be interested to know which side you come down on particularly as an agnostic (or atheist… I can’t remember).

Jim Hlavac March 31, 2011 at 11:53 pm

Ay, the government should not be involved in family planning. Ay, but it is. It’s called DOMA. Though the families in question will never lead to abortion, and will not produce abandoned kids, nor beaten and divorced wives. While most gay men don’t think in terms of abortion, and are mostly out of the equation, those of us who do think about it are quite opposed to it — they’re aborting future gay kids.

Meanwhile, DOMA is unfair in simply disregarding a certain type of family, all taxpayers, that most people don’t care about, don’t know, and don’t want to even know about — but some are adamant in stopping in the name of their liberty, a denigration of ours, and a theocracy aimed at gay folks. Quite a spectacle to behold. Broke state after broke state consumed with days and weeks of “debate” over sissy smooching, with the bizarre idea that if they bury their heads in the sand, pass a law, and say “lalalalala” it will all go away. Alas, our answer to the culture war is “Nuts!” You all are waterboarding yourselves. We’ll never go away, until we’re accepted as the misfits we are, and left alone. When will rational people step up and say enough is enough? And get back to the real troubles of this nation? Including abortion, which kills more in every four or five years than there are even gay folks alive in this country. And we’re a threat to family? As children are slaughtered? Weird, just weird.

BV April 1, 2011 at 12:13 pm

The solution to government involvement in male-female marriage is not to extend this further, but to get out of it completely.

Not THAT is a policy I would stand behind.

dan April 2, 2011 at 2:52 am

Govt imposed itself into the matter of marriage which had always been a matter of the church. Marriage is and always had been a compact with two individuals and God. But, Govt not wanting to be superseded by God, decided it was their duty to oversee and regulate it…….I know that most of it comes down to the division of property and that is where Govt came in…….
WE don’t need no piece of paper from the city, no, keeping us tried and true…………..its a song……….who knows it?

Stone April 1, 2011 at 12:57 am

Methinks, do you have a blog? Your commentary is pure genius.

Methinks1776 April 1, 2011 at 11:03 am

So, obviously, you are now suddenly my favourite person in the whole world :)

Thank you. That’s a very nice thing to say. No, I don’t have a blog. I had one very briefly and for a specific purpose and from the moment I started writing it I couldn’t wait to stop. You have to endlessly find interesting things to say and check your grammar and spelling! The horror.

BV April 1, 2011 at 12:14 pm

*like*

yet another Dave April 1, 2011 at 5:46 pm

I concur strongly – Methinks is definitely a top-shelf poster here at the Cafe.

vikingvista April 2, 2011 at 8:40 am

I heartily 4th that.

WhiskeyJim April 1, 2011 at 1:39 am

Unfortunately, arguing constitutionality will not advance the discussion.

The culture long ago adopted the feminist meme that women are trod on and unfairly treated, that their role of mother should be a profit making opportunity. That it is now fashionable to be proud of their lame paws makes it impossible to have a discussion about it. They long ago successfully socialized their physical exposure.

For it is wrong to believe that women pay these costs. They have not paid for them for decades. It is the men that have been paying by way of legislation, which by now is onerous by any cursory inspection.

And the proposal has little to do with class action. The poor can get abortion through welfare; to not believe so is naive. It is the prime goal of Planned Parenthood. That most women with babies are poor is at least partly due to the perverse incentives of welfare law.

No, the proposal is almost assuredly a continuing harangue to finally and totally free women from the vestiges and responsibilities of their bodies. And for that, the feminists will never forgive the male of the species.

So how does one argue against reversal of a socialized ‘loss?’ which has in the aggregate already been accomplished? It appears not even impending state bankruptcy makes a dent.

Gil April 2, 2011 at 4:52 am

Shouldn’t women be able to take the Rothbardian view and abandom their babies?

Gil April 2, 2011 at 7:39 am

Maybe the solution to abortion is fourth trimester abortions – let the kids be born but since unwanted children to irresponisble parents are more likely to be criminals then most willl be shot dead when they jump the fences into private property and the handful of those who don’t can grow up to be lawyers, doctors, engineers, etc.

PrometheeFeu April 5, 2011 at 4:43 pm

“If the decision is ‘no,’ the only expense is for a few low-priced pills or condoms.”

First, that “low-price” is not necessarily THAT low. Also, because the birth-control pill is a prescription medication, you also need to pay a doctor to get said pill which can be quite a difficult burden when you have very low income. Also, from a purely selfish point of view, when my wife and I were unemployed, we were quite happy that she could get all-around reproductive care at planned parenthood.

“Now if “family planning” is a euphemism for abortion, even many pro-choicers agree that, because today even the sexually voracious can easily and inexpensively avoid getting pregnant, taxpayers should not be used as a prophylactic to protect irresponsible persons from the consequences of their irresponsibility.”

Hm… You forget that in birth, you have 2 people who must live with the circumstances: the mother AND the baby. It seems cruel and unfair to let the baby be born to indigent and irresponsible parents who don’t even want him/her. Not to mention the cases when the pregnancy was the result of rape or a failure in the contraceptive. (condoms break for instance)

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