Paving the Road to Hell

by Don Boudreaux on May 23, 2011

in History, Other People's Money

Dear Ms. __________:

Thanks for your e-mailed response to my blog-post in which I claim that compassion compelled by government isn’t true compassion.  Alleging that I “illegitimately privilege private morals over public morals,” you assert that a “private code of ethics gives incomplete guidance” for determining the contents and methods of sound public policy.

Omigosh, I couldn’t disagree more.

Where do the “public morals” that you so admire come from?  Isn’t it true that the very reason you support the welfare state is that your own private moral code tells you that helping needy people is the right thing to do?  I don’t see how you can casually cast aside one “private moral” (namely, that it’s wrong to take other people’s stuff just because you fancy that you’ve found better uses for it) in order to clear your way to justify the state acting to satisfy another of your private morals (namely, that it’s right for those of us who ‘have’ to give to people who ‘have not’).

I urge you to reflect on the following observation from Thomas Babington Macaulay’s History of England, where he explains how John Dalrymple could in good conscience advise King William III to massacre Scottish highlanders who were believed to support insurrection against William:

The most probable conjecture is that he was actuated by an inordinate, an unscrupulous, a remorseless zeal for what seemed to him to be the interest of the state.  This explanation may startle those who have not considered how large a proportion of the blackest crimes recorded in history is to be ascribed to ill regulated public spirit.  We daily see men do for their party, for their sect, for their country, for their favourite schemes of political and social reform, what they would not do to enrich or to avenge themselves.  At a temptation directly addressed to our private cupidity or to our private animosity, whatever virtue we have takes the alarm.  But virtue itself may contribute to the fall of him who imagines that it is in his power, by violating some general rule of morality, to confer an important benefit on a church, on a commonwealth, on mankind.  He silences the remonstrances of conscience, and hardens his heart against the most touching spectacles of misery, by repeating to himself that his interventions are pure, that his objects are noble, that he is doing a little evil for the sake of a great good.  By degrees he comes altogether to forget the turpitude of the means in the excellence of the end, and at length perpetrates without one internal twinge acts which would shock a buccaneer.*

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux

* Thomas Babington Macaulay, The History of England (1848-61), abridged edition, Hugh Trevor-Roper, editor (New York: Penguin Books, 1968), p. 418.

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{ 254 comments }

Nick May 23, 2011 at 1:48 pm

Since there is no such entity as “the public,” since the public is merely a number of individuals, any claimed or implied conflict of “the public interest” with private interests means that the interests of some men are to be sacrificed to the interests and wishes of others. Since the concept is so conveniently undefinable, its use rests only on any given gang’s ability to proclaim that “The public, c’est moi”—and to maintain the claim at the point of a gun.

– Ayn Rand, “The Monument Builders”

Mao_Dung May 23, 2011 at 5:30 pm

Please speak for yourself instead of channeling Ayn Rand, who most people find highly faulty. I want to hear what you have to say in your own words, so you can fall on your own sword. Thank you.

kyle8 May 23, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Please speak for yourself instead of channeling your left wing professor. Oh wait ! Nothing you say ever makes sense, so I guess it doesn’t matter who you quote, Carry on.

Mao_Dung May 23, 2011 at 6:37 pm

For someone who is behind the 8 ball mentally, you shouldn’t talk.

aldous May 23, 2011 at 11:16 pm

For someone making an ad hom attack, have an ad hom attack. Bitch.

Sam Grove May 23, 2011 at 8:47 pm

who most people find highly faulty

Bandwagon argument.

SheetWise May 23, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Does it bother you that Nick, if his argument fails, should choose to fall on Ayn Rand’s sword?

Dan May 24, 2011 at 1:28 am

Extremely faulted??? That’s correct…. As we are all fallible and none of us can be without faults. That does not mean she or others ,who have learned the wisdom of the impossibility of a benevolent govt. , are incorrect.

SaulOhio May 24, 2011 at 7:56 am

Name me ONE person, short of the mythical Jesus, who was not faulty in some way.

Argue about whether or not she was wrong on this particular point.

Einstein believed in socialism. I consider that a BIG fault. Doesn’t take one bit away from his genius in the fields of physics and mathematics. And even there he may have been wrong on some points. He was still a genius.

Ken May 24, 2011 at 8:47 am

Okay, then: Prove that “the public” is an entity capable of volition and action.

Nevada Doctor May 24, 2011 at 10:11 pm

It is worth remembering that every thing and idea that exists was created by an individual. Your use of subjects and predicates when you write was conceived of by Aristotle. The alphabet letter M was conceived by “Ug the first.” And so on.

Nick May 24, 2011 at 8:50 am

Mao,

If you find a specific fault with the quotation, let me know and I’ll be happy to address it. As far as I know, there is nothing wrong with quoting something you agree with. The position of Rand with regards to public charity is my position as well — and I’m happy to fall on it.

Ryan Vann May 23, 2011 at 1:58 pm

I wish this “the public” character would discontinue its elusiveness, go live on camera and set the record straight.

Ken Mueller May 23, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Those who argue for public over private morals I suspect are getting ideas mixed up having to do with the “tragedy of the commons.”

vidyohs May 23, 2011 at 2:10 pm

“I urge you to reflect on the following observation from Thomas Babington Macaulay’s History of England, where he explains how John Dalrymple could in good conscience advise King William III to massacre Scottish highlanders who were believed to support insurrection against William:”

The quote that followed that is powerful and it makes me think of another way the actions of John Dalrymple are demonstrated in even more recent events. I speak specifically of military commanders who lived and fought in my lifetime.

Consider a Commander in the army faced with an enemy heavily entrenched on high ground and preventing advancement. The commander crouched in cover at the bottom of the high ground will send his troops to what will be certain death in order to take the hill, even though he may personally know each and every one of his troops. The commander will reconcile his actions because of he sees as the “public” need.

In the same situation with the same commander who has only his sons and daughters to command he will likely respond that no “public” need will compel him to send his children into certain death.

I agree with whole heart, Don, that this quoting of “public” need as justification for the most vile of actions is most despicable.

Ken May 23, 2011 at 2:34 pm

vidyohs,

I’m not convinced that a commander wouldn’t send his own children during times of war up that hill. I’m willing to bet a good sum of money that just that happened thousands of times throughout history.

War, at all times, is a state of hell that should be avoided when possible. But sometimes it isn’t. Some decisions made during war, and even the decision to go to war, have been questioned, which they always should be, then easily condemned, which in many examples is absurd. The most obvious that I can think of is dropping two nuclear bombs on Japan. While terrible, this saved lives. Sometimes the decision really is choosing the lesser of two evils. There is no doubt that the incineration of 100,000 in an instant was evil; however, there is no doubt that the likely 1,000,000 killed in a full scale invasion of Japan would have been even more evil.

I wish I knew more about John Dalrymple to give a good opinion one way or another about his actions were the best or not, but I can say that I can easily imagine situations where his actions were indeed the best actions to take.

All that said, Macaulay’s statement should be read and understood well before we start talking about the greater good and what exactly is meant by the greater good. Terrible things have been done for the greater good, including killing over 100,000,000 people in the 20th century. For this reason alone, we should be careful about what we do when invoking the greater good in defense of terrible actions.

Regards,
Ken

Ryan Vann May 23, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Why do you imagine a full scale invasion of Japan would have been necessary? Anyway, I think the true point of dropping the H-bombs on Japan was to let the world (the Ruskies especially) know that “US number 1″, despite the Iron Sheik’s protest to the contrary.

Ken May 23, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Ryan,

Why do you imagine a full scale invasion of Japan would not have been necessary?

And the bit about dropping the bomb due to the Russians is a bit of revisionist history. I’ve been hearing this a lot lately, but it’s wrong. The primary purpose was to end WWII and stop Japan’s aggression.

Regards,
Ken

Captain Profit May 23, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Necessary or not, I have a good friend who was on a troop ship on his way to invade Japan, when the war ended.

carlsoane May 23, 2011 at 4:34 pm

“Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey’s opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.”

UNITED STATES STRATEGIC BOMBING SURVEY, SUMMARY REPORT (Pacific War)
WASHINGTON, D.C., 1 JULY 1946

http://www.anesi.com/ussbs01.htm#teotab

Methinks1776 May 23, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Carlsoane,

I’ve seen people advance this argument (that the bomb was unnecessary) before,based on an examination of what information was available to the Japanese leadership in Japan just before the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb.

I don’t find this compelling.

What’s important is not what was going on in Japan but what information about Japan the United States had and how it affected the U.S. calculations as it was deciding whether or not to drop the bomb. When judging decisions, what’s important is the information available to the decision maker at the the time the decision is made, not the information revealed later.

Frank33328 May 23, 2011 at 5:05 pm

I think history justified the bombs by the fact that it took 2 of them to get a Japanese surrender. If Japan had surrendered after the first, then a case could be made that it was “overkill” but given that it took a second bomb….

vidyohs May 23, 2011 at 5:15 pm

@Methinks,

And, I am always skeptical of what losers say about their plans, after they have lost. The Japanese were still very much in the hostile mode when the first bomb was dropped, it took two bombs, not one.

carlsoane May 23, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Methinks, Vidyohs: MacArthur, Eisenhower, Nimitz, Leahy and Clark (the officer in charge of intercepting cables from Japan) were all of the opinion at the time that the bombs were unnecessary.

Frank: Even if you accept the necessity of one bomb, three days hardly seemed enough time to be sure that a second bomb was necessary.

Methinks1776 May 23, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Carlsoane,

I’ve not heard that before – I’ve focused all of my attention on Europe and particularly the Eastern Front. This is more relevant than what the Japanese might have known at the time. Thanks.

Ryan Vann May 23, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Ken,

Why do you imagine a full scale invasion would have been necessary.

The bit about the nukes not being about brinksmanship aimed at Russia is just revisionist history. I’ve heard this a lot lately, but it is wrong. The primary purpose was to show off to the world

Regards,
Ryan.

aka: I think that because that is what various reports from the government have said. So I ask again, what makes you think the invasion would have been necessary. I don’t want to know that you think it was; you’ve established that, now explain why.

Ken May 23, 2011 at 7:42 pm

Ryan,

“what makes you think the invasion would have been necessary.”

There was not indication that Japan was going to cease its aggression. The warlords running Japan would rather have death than dishonor (losing the war was dishonorable). As Okinawa showed, as well as the entire eastern campaign, Japan was not going to stop unless brought to their knees. A full scale invasion was the only conventional way to make that happen. The US was preparing for a full scale invasion, particularly when Japan did nothing to stop their aggression after the first bomb was dropped. Thankfully, Japan did surrender unconditionally after the second bomb.

“I think that because that is what various reports from the government have said.”

The bomb being brinkmanship with the Soviets is definitely revisionist history. Truman and his advisors in all the documents showed that the dropping of the bomb was to end WWII. The fact that some document somewhere considered it a deterrent for the Soviet Union, particularly after the fact does nothing to mitigate the fact that Truman used it to end WWII. There is no such thing as backward causation. Can you produce a document showing Truman’s intention as a deterrent to the Soviet Union rather than ending the war? I’m betting not.

After the fact analysis imputing knowledge and beliefs to Truman that he did not have is why it is revisionist history.

Regards,
Ken

vidyohs May 23, 2011 at 8:08 pm

@carlsoane

Even in 1945 radio waves moved at the speed of light. Would it have taken 3 days for a radio signal from Tokyo, signalling intention to surrender, that long to reach Gen. McArthur where ever on the planet he might have been at the time?

vidyohs May 23, 2011 at 8:20 pm

@carlsoane

Most telling sentence from the link you provided in support of your argument:

“It is probable that most Japanese would have passively faced death in a continuation of the hopeless struggle, had the Emperor so ordered. “

Notice that the passively faced death is contradicted by the words “in continuation of the struggle”.

Which means to me that the Japanese would have acquiesced to the Emperor had he directed and submissively continued to fight. And yes, USA dominance of the air was a huge killer of morale to those that could be bombed, but move that conflict out of the plains and into the mountains and using WWII planes and bombs would be of little use in hindring the resistance capabilities of a fighting force dug in. Look at how long and at what cost it took to simply dig the Japanese out of Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima, one mountain, not an entire island chain of mountains.

We will never know for sure, because the bombs were used.

carlsoane May 23, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Vidyohs: I agree that we will never know for sure. And, I think Truman acted in good faith. I know, however, that reasonable and well-informed people do, and did at the time as well, believe that dropping the bombs was the wrong thing to do.

Chris O'Leary May 23, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Okinawa.

Chris O'Leary May 23, 2011 at 5:23 pm

Also, the SBS is a highly political document that reflects the growing power of the Air Force (and Curtis Lemay) and the emergence of the antiseptic war concept (which has since been disproven). Recent history (Libya most recently) has shown that you have to have boots on the ground and that means an invasion and Okinawa showed precisely how an invasion would go.

vidyohs May 23, 2011 at 4:44 pm

It is your right to disagree.Other than that are you just trying to make an argument where none exists?

I said that, “I do not believe that a commander would send his children against an enemy heavily entrenched on the top of a hill, and to their certain death……..for the public good.” Public good being the ambiguous concept that it is, I will stick with my belief.

I won’t argue that it has never happened, some people are just plain evil; but, fortunately they are very rare. I did not even address a situation where the commander may be looking at certain for his children either choice he makes, which of course changes everything.

What is not rare is the people who will do evil because of their socialist enculturation to believe that what they do in the name of “public good” is neither evil or unnecessary, but justified. As Don pointed out above, they are able to do this for the excellent reason the responsibility of the evil act will be sloughed off on the public and not condemn the doer. The second reason that they will do it is their conviction that they are smarter and more compassionate than you and therefore they are justified in compelling others to act as they define the “public” good. But, now I am just repeating what Don said above, which spoke exactly to the heart of what I also believe.

There you go, now make your new arguments, I am done.

vidyohs May 23, 2011 at 4:44 pm

Arrrgh, miss edit button.

Ken May 23, 2011 at 5:25 pm

vidyohs,

“I won’t argue that it has never happened, some people are just plain evil;”

This is what I disagree with. While I’m sure some who have sent their children into battle to die are evil, to condemn all such as evil isn’t correct. In a situation where doing this is the least of all other evil choices, it doesn’t make the chooser (commander or whatever) evil. Choosing this when there are alternatives that are less evil or even good is evil.

“There you go, now make your new arguments, I am done.”

No need to get pissy. You know as well as I that fighting battles and wars doesn’t condemn the fighters, commander, and declaratory of these wars as evil. There is a difference between Obama for sending SEALs (a mission that could have easily been suicidal) to kill Osama and Osama sending hijackers and planes into the World Trade Center. I am simply pointing this out, instead of making a blanket statement about commanders who send their subordinates into very dangerous even suicidal situations.

Regards,
Ken

vidyohs May 23, 2011 at 8:32 pm

“You know as well as I that fighting battles and wars doesn’t condemn the fighters, commander, and declaratory of these wars as evil.”

No, I don’t know that. Tammerlane took the city of Samerkand after the gates were closed to him and the city authorities did not surrender and submit. After he took the city, he caused 100,000 heads to be used to construct a pyramid of skulls outside the city as warning to others not to resist.

I submit that that is evil.

Or we could back in time to the Crusades when 10,000 Arabs prisoners were slaughtered outside of Jerusalem. That was evil.

Move up in time and the Japanese slaughter over 100,000 chinese in the city of Nanking when they took it. That was evil.

Or we could stop in Europe in 1939 and ask was the invasion of Poland at Hitler’s direction not a thing of evil…..yet in his eye still a thing meeting his interpretation of a “public good”?

Move up even closer in time and place and some commander ordered the actions taken by the ATF and FBI at the Mt. Caramel compound at Waco that resulted in the burning deaths of 84 innocent people. That was evil extraordinare!

Is it pissy of me to ask you which of those were done in the “private good”? Or, which was done in the interest of some one’s interpretation of the “public good”?

Ken May 23, 2011 at 9:16 pm

“No, I don’t know that.”

Don’t be obtuse. Of course you do. Are all warriors, commanders, and declarators of war evil? The answer is obviously no, as you know. The correct answer is “It depends.” The SEALs that killed Osama were probably not evil. The terrorists hijackers of 9/11 were.

Maybe you just misunderstand what I was saying. I was not saying that no one who participates in war isn’t evil, which of course is absurd. What I was saying is that simply participating in war does NOT make you evil.

Regards,
Ken

Sam Grove May 23, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Little known history is that the Japanese had sued for peace on condition that they keep their emperor. Demanding unconditional surrender, Truman rejected the offer, dropped the bombs, and let them keep their emperor anyway.

No invasion was necessary to end the war.

Gil May 24, 2011 at 12:50 am

Surrender means laying down your weapons and waving a white flag. Conditional surrender sounds like an oxymoron.

Sam Grove May 24, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Historically, insistence upon unconditional surrender is rare.

brotio May 24, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Historically, insistence upon unconditional surrender is rare.

Unless you’re French.

:D

brotio May 24, 2011 at 8:11 pm

Oops!

What I meant to do was quote Sam, and then write, “Unconditional surrender is rare unless you’re French.”

Gil May 25, 2011 at 12:54 am

Two armies can call upon a truce when neither side will win. However in this case Japan was definitely losing and as such the U.S. military felt no incentive to meet them halfway.

Sam Grove May 25, 2011 at 11:00 am

Gil,

That was not the army’s call. As commander in cheif, it was Truman’s call.

vidyohs May 23, 2011 at 5:10 pm

@Ryan Vann

I was stationed at U.S.NAVCOMMSTA, Guam – 1965 to 1967, from which I transferred to NSGA Kamiseya, Japan and served – 1967 to 1970. At that time there were still Japanese soldiers hiding in the jungles of both Guam and the Philippines who refused to believe the war was over and refused to surrender.

Go to Japan and take a look at the entire country. About 10% is flat enough to be arable and the rest is mountainous. If you think that Japanese soldiers were resolute in Guam and the P.I, without family and friends, think again about how likely they would be to surrender if they were forced to fight on their own homeland, and then imagine digging them out of those mountains with little loss of life to American soldiers…………I’ll come down on the side that believes it would have been a slaughter on both sides, far exceeding the loss of life to the demonstrated power of the A-bomb.

Clint Eastwood’s little two movie series on Iwo Jima presents that human side that can be found anywhere; but contrast that with what we know of the Rape of Nanking, the Bataan Death March after the fall of Corrigidor and Bataan, not to mention the concentration camps in S.E. Asia where the Japanese let their brutal side out on the “culturally inferior” yankees.

It is disingenuous now to suggest the only motivation to dropping the 2 A-bombs was to show the Russians that we had them, and would use them if pressed.

That little piece of disingenuous warping of history is sill really, by dropping the bombs the USA made an invasion and inch by inch taking of Japan unnecessary, and that the rest of the bad guys got the message was just incidental icing on the cake.

vidyohs May 23, 2011 at 7:04 pm

My apologies to the hosts, my comment that some people will do for what they consider the public good, things that they would never consider doing for the private good, seems to have become a debate on nukes and WWII, and all without rhyme or reason to justify that turn.

Shame on me for mentioning concepts like commanders and enemy held hills.

Ken May 23, 2011 at 7:48 pm

vidyohs,

Only on this thread are nukes primarily discussed. And debating the use of nuclear weapons is well within realm of public goods, particularly during wartime. War after all is sold as a public good, even when it isn’t. The Japanese warlords saw the bombing of Pearl Harbor as a public good, thus justifying the slaughter of over 1000 Americans.

The ending of Japanese belligerence is a good example of a public good. How best to stop that, then, including the use of nukes, is indeed relevant to Don’s post.

Regards,
Ken

Ryan Vann May 23, 2011 at 7:55 pm

Seems that might have been a result of being a lost tribe to me, but perhaps you have a point.

Anyway, this is sort of a distraction from the main point made. For the time being, I’ll just have to fall on the side that read that the Japan had already tried to sue for peace, and that the bombs didn’t drop until Russia started to advance into Manchuria.

vikingvista May 23, 2011 at 11:46 pm

Japan was simply out of resources. A truce wasn’t the issue. Japan’s ruling gang wanted favorable terms (like keeping power), and the US’s ruling gang wanted unconditional surrender. Unconditional surrender is a nice package for the victor, but it is a mistake to think someone doesn’t pay a premium for it.

vidyohs May 24, 2011 at 9:17 am

Wars are never a public good, necessary perhaps at times, but never a public good.

A public good regarding disagreement or potential conflict would be to find and remove the causes of the disagreement and potential conflict before they move to war.

I submit that such could have been done prior to either of the world wars, and every engagement the USA has been caught up in since.

SaulOhio May 24, 2011 at 9:30 am

There is a difference between choosing the death of thousands vs. millions, and killing thousands for some abstract idea, such as the good of “the public”.

In one case, you are choosing to save a larger number of individual people. In the second, even sacrificing one person for the good of this abstract “public” sets the precedent for taking even more lives.

Matt May 23, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Excellent quote.

muirgeo May 23, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Don should maybe reflect on the brutality of the time of which Thomas Babington Macaulay writes. It’s very easy to take for granted the safety of your home and of your country and then claim people are holding a gun to your head for your taxes.

When the poor were not well represented that crashed the gates, the robbed murdered and revolted… when property rights were never settled by a state blood flowed back and forth from kingdom to kingdom from day to day.

We have decided democracy offers a form a bloodless revolution. It offers the civilized society that you take for granted and yes it offers a certain degree of humility and hope for the least of us. Likewise it requires a certain degree of input and payback from the most fortunate of us. The thinking among us realize our protection and benefit comes from providing an equitable society and not allowing for a winner take all society of the privileged.

The society you desire would certainly set up conditions for insurrection by the rabble with you playing the part of Dalrymple and defending the wealth of King Llyod from the gun being pointed at his head.

Methinks1776 May 23, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Why not ask Don to reflect on what you pulled out of your cat’s litter box this weekend? It would be just as relevant.

brotio May 23, 2011 at 6:56 pm

LMAO!

Stop bullying poor Yasafi, you meanie!

Methinks1776 May 23, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Oh, wait….that’s what you’re doing already. Never mind.

Stone Glasgow May 23, 2011 at 6:20 pm

“It’s very easy to take for granted the safety of your home and of your country and then claim people are holding a gun to your head for your taxes.”

This is actually a good point, but libertarians realize the need for a government to provide military protection for the nation. Taxes would be required, taken at gunpoint, to pay for this.

vidyohs May 23, 2011 at 7:20 pm

No, it is more than just that SG, much more.

The muirhuahua knows full well, if for no other reason than people here have made it completely clear to him, that government does not and can not ensure you day to day, moment to moment, protection. It is no credit to him that he is too stupid or too stubbornly enculturated with his socialist scripture to see what is as plain as the nose on his face. As I sit here and type this I am 4 miles from the city police dept., and most assuredly there is no city police cruiser near enough to me to respond to an emergency call within less than 10 minutes.

Does the muirhuahua have any idea of how many rounds I can get off from my Bushmaster in 1 minute much less ten? No, he has no freaking clue. How many people can I kill, how much robbery can I commit, how many arsons can I commit, how many people can I pistol whip in ten minutes, and still effect a clean get-away?

Police rarely rarely ever arrive in time to prevent a damn thing, all they do is clean up, take notes, and hopefully their investigation turns something solid up.

For this we give up 45% to 50% of our fruits of labor?

Oh, government takes the money, but we get shit for safety and security in return, as 9/11, Waco, murders along the Mexican border, New Black Panthers intimidating voters, black preachers preaching death and destruction to America unchallenged, asset forfeiture, asinine imminent domain rulings, deadly home invasion by police SWAT Teams, and an abundance of idiots like the muirhuahua promoting the idea that we need more of the same rather than less, etc. etc. et. al.

Take any problem someone mentions and just say it like this:

We don’t have a …………..problem, we have a government problem and you’ll be dead on.

Stone Glasgow May 24, 2011 at 6:01 am

Vidyohs,
Do you feel that the United States could defend itself if there were no socialized military? I like the thought but can’t imagine that a nation with high tech military weaponry would have any trouble taking over the US and enslaving it once again.

vidyohs May 24, 2011 at 6:12 am

Where do they grow you guys and what do they feed you?

If by your use of the word socialized you mean you are advancing the theory that the military is structured as a socialist society, then demonstrate in exact detail how the military is “socialized”.

Gil May 24, 2011 at 7:20 am

Duh! Didn’t you watch the “Rambo” movies as well as “Commando”? Just become highly trained and you can take whole armies?

Stone Glasgow May 24, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Vidyohs,
I’m sorry if I was not clear. By “socialized military,” what I mean to say is that the cost of the military is “socialized,” meaning that all of us pay for it and all of us are entitled to the same amount of it.

I did not mean to comment on the structure of military. I only meant to say that the cost of military is shared, and is not purchased individually, like cars or homes or insurance.

vidyohs May 24, 2011 at 9:29 pm

:-) SG, don’t you see the oxymoron in your reply?

“I only meant to say that the cost of military is shared, and is not purchased individually, like cars or homes or insurance.”

Do you mean I pay taxes grouply and buy cars, homes, and insurance individually?

That is news to me.

Hooooow dat be woikin, mon?

Stone Glasgow May 25, 2011 at 7:03 am

If you mean to say that cars, homes and insurance are almost completely taken over by government and regulated to make them basically socialist businesses, I agree. But my point was regarding the ideal arrangement of military funding. I don’t see how military can be privatized.

Stone Glasgow May 23, 2011 at 6:24 pm

“When the poor were not well represented that crashed the gates, the robbed murdered and revolted… when property rights were never settled by a state blood flowed”

Also a good point, and this is why Libertarians want everyone, not just the elite or the rich, to have secure property rights. Revolutions and rebellions are caused, in large part, by a lack of property rights for the poor.

muirgeo May 23, 2011 at 8:13 pm

In a libertarian society I suspect most people would own NO property. Wealth would be accumulated, land monopolized and then when all the land is owned what do you call the people with no land? Yes Hayek called it The Road to Serfdom… a very good title for HIS book.

Sam Grove May 23, 2011 at 8:54 pm

What evidence do you have for that scenario?

muirgeo May 24, 2011 at 2:14 am

What evidence do I have? This thing called history.

Look into the history that Thomas Babington Macaulay writes about. All of that history is a struggle over property by the elites with power. Everyone else was caught in the middle rooting for the most noble of kings for which they could till the soil.

What evidence do you have that monopolization of property and of the mean of production WOULD NOT occur in you Libertopia?

Sam Grove May 24, 2011 at 11:47 am

History is subject to interpretation. Your comment provides no evidence whatsoever to support your assertion.

The history you refer to describes the origin of the state, the subjugation of many by a few who manage to raise armies of conquest.

I know you like to think the state can be subjugated by democracy, but all that has accomplished is to put sheep’s clothing on a wolf.

Ken May 23, 2011 at 9:27 pm

murigeo,

Land is NOT the source of wealth. Even a five year old can understand that. I own less than half an acre, yet and vastly more wealthy than my grandfather ever was. He owned almost 200 acres of land.

Regards,
Ken

Stone Glasgow May 23, 2011 at 11:08 pm

Why do you focus on land ownership? Land is only one form of wealth. It may have been of primary importance in the past, but today land ownership is a moot point. It is possible to be very wealthy and own no land at all in the modern world.

muirgeo May 24, 2011 at 2:19 am

Ken and Stone,

You both make good cases for keeping things as they are. You CAN be wealthy in OUR society and not own lots of land….. but would that hold in your society. What if some wealthy bastard buys ALL the land and roads that surround you?

And we are not just talking about monopolization of property but also of the means of production.

Stone Glasgow May 24, 2011 at 6:09 am

Muirgeo,

As a man tries to buy all the land in the world, or even all the land near me, the price of land goes up and up until it becomes so expensive that even he doesn’t want to buy it anymore.

Monopolies are not often possible without some kind of force (usually government) involved.

Methinks1776 May 24, 2011 at 8:52 am

Stone,

This tired old string has been put to bed a long time ago for everyone with an IQ higher than than their shoe size (which doesn’t include muirdouche). This is Marx’s claim. He predicted that as the final destination of Capitalism before it collapsed. The empirical evidence of just how wrong Marx was is all around us and the reason Marx was wrong is self-evident – people are creative, dynamic creatures.

Monopolies are possible, but the kinds of permanent monopolies that would consolidate all wealth into the hands of a a few are not (without government) and only the most economically illiterate and least observant among us can’t understand why that is. It’s not as if this fool hasn’t been hanging out here reading Russ and Don’s posts for 6 years. After six years, he has managed to learn absolutely nothing. Nothing at all. Not one thing. Forget agreement – it’s clear he doesn’t understand the arguments. Of either side, actually. I mean, Muirdiot is a rare idiot.

muirgeo May 24, 2011 at 9:15 am

Stone,

Note how methinks claims to have refuted my concern. But all she did was make a proclamation. She did not provide historical or logical evidence.

And you made something up about land values going up and up. I’m not sure what that is based on. I think the opposite might happen. When a Bill Gates moves in and monopolizes land others will be forced to sell for what they can get as their land becomes less useful.

Ken May 24, 2011 at 3:01 pm

muirgeo,

“What if some wealthy bastard buys ALL the land and roads that surround you?”

Who could afford it? Even if Bill Gates liquidated all his assets how much could he possibly buy? It would be a very large chunk of land based on what I can afford, but still would be very small compared to all the available land.

Also, why would people sell their land? Because it’s better for them to have the cash rather than the land.

Again, you demonstrate your complete non-knowledge of economics.

Regards,
Ken

Methinks1776 May 24, 2011 at 6:09 pm

but all she did was make a proclamation. She did not provide historical or logical evidence.

That would be a fine complaint if only mountains of evidence were not already provided and ignored by you over the past 6 years. Go back and read what Don has written about predatory pricing.

And you made something up about land values going up and up. I’m not sure what that is based on.

That’s based on supply and demand. When the quantity demanded rises the price of supply (land, in this case) also rises. When demand is low, the price of the supply must fall to meet demand or there is no transaction. You’ve already witnessed this in the housing market. Remember when everyone and their dog was buying houses? What happened to the price of houses? It rose. What happened when nobody wanted to buy more houses? The price fell.

For example: If you had 20 people wanting to buy houses in a particular region and you add one more buyer to that group, do you think the price of the houses should go up or down? Bidders compete with each other for houses by bidding higher. So, the addition of one more person bidding puts upward pressure on prices. Imagine if a Bill Gates were to try to buy all the land in America. He would have to outbid every single person who is also demanding land.

Now, imagine how much money that would require. An amount too large for one or a relatively small group of people to buy.

When a Bill Gates moves in and monopolizes land others will be forced to sell for what they can get as their land becomes less useful

Bill Gates can bid for other people’s property. His only ammo is money. He can make you an offer you just won’t be able to refuse (Ha! enough money so that I can quit work and live on the beech far away tornadoes!), but he can’t force you to sell your house to him. Only government can force you to sell your house. If the government decides you must sell your house, then sell it you will have to (think eminent domain). And that’s what we’ve been trying to tell you for years.

Stone Glasgow May 24, 2011 at 5:21 pm

“And you made something up about land values going up and up. I’m not sure what that is based on.”

This is one of the fundamental reasons you do not agree with anyone here. You don’t understand how supply and demand create market prices, and you seem to imagine that money can buy anything if you have enough of it. That simply isn’t the case.

Think of it this way. If I ask you to cut off your finger, you might ask for a lot, and if I then ask for another finger, you might double your price, and so on. When we get down to the last few fingers on your left hand, the price would be so high that even Bill gates would be unwilling to pay. The last fingers are worth more than the first.

And that is how free markets work with everything. As long as the owner of the fingers has the choice, and is free to choose his own price, the price rises until it becomes almost infinitely high as the supply of fingers goes down. As fingers are removed, they become exponentially more valuable to the owner.

In the same way, as land is purchased, its price rises until the last bits of land are impossible for anyone to purchase.

Methinks1776 May 24, 2011 at 6:11 pm

Oh, if I’d read your reply earlier I could have saved myself the trouble.

Stone Glasgow May 24, 2011 at 7:04 pm

I don’t think it is intelligence, per se, that stops anyone from learning or changing their mind. I think most people are simply religious about their beliefs, and one does not easily change from one religion to another.

Methinks1776 May 24, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Stone….we’re talking supply and demand here! Six years. We’ll see.

Stone Glasgow May 24, 2011 at 7:16 pm

Good reply above, by the way. I wonder why we keep banging our heads against brick walls.

Stone Glasgow May 24, 2011 at 7:20 pm

I’ve had a couple of Marxist leaning but otherwise intelligent people argue in good faith the validity of our understanding of supply and demand. It doesn’t fit with their religious worldview, so it must be questioned. The worldview stays through the magic of cognitive dissonance.

“I am right about my socialist ideas, and sometimes this pesky ‘supply and demand’ thing gets in the way, and seems to conflict with how right I am all the time. Hmm, I think supply and demand must be flawed. Yes, that’s it. The theory of supply and demand must be flawed. I’m still a genius.”

Methinks1776 May 24, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Yes, I have some of those in my own family. I know just what you mean. That ain’t what we’re dealing with in this case.

Stone Glasgow May 23, 2011 at 6:30 pm

“The society you desire would certainly set up conditions for insurrection by the rabble…”

A libertarian society would provide secure property rights to absolutely everyone, which would remove most of the reasons for the rebellions of the past. Insurrection happens when there is no possibility for the poor improve their lot in life, no matter how hard they work. In a Libertarian society, anyone with a pulse would have a real opportunity.

Chucklehead May 23, 2011 at 6:38 pm

A free society is a equitable society. There is no privilege in liberty.

vidyohs May 23, 2011 at 7:21 pm

well said, sir.

John V May 23, 2011 at 7:27 pm

“When the poor were not well represented that crashed the gates, the robbed murdered and revolted… when property rights were never settled by a state blood flowed back and forth from kingdom to kingdom from day to day.”

I love that you find this relevant to some point you think you are making.

It wasn’t when the poor were not well represented that they crashed gates and revolted. THAT was constant throughout most of history…from the Egyptians to Greeks and Romans through the Middle Ages and well after the enlightenment. Then the British began to change this somewhat with raising standards of living through some individual rights, and the beginnings of classical liberalism and true modern industry and functional markets.

What happened during most of history and outside England and a few areas of north Europe starting in 16th and 17th centuries is that the poor where really dirt poor and frustrated and unable to survive because of incredibly bad economics, a total absence of well functioning markets and some notion of individual liberty for all.

People were oppressed by a genuine totalitarian government that was brutal, greedy, incredibly self-serving and an enemy of any notion of economics that promoted genuine prosperity.

Areas that gained a respect for the backbone of property, rights which helped in the opening trade and freedom of commerce gained in quality of life while places mired in despotism and oppression against living and trading freely stayed poor while kings and the royal court lived in luxury from plunder.

Martin Brock May 23, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Should government ever take what you have and give it to others over your objections? I’m not sure.

Does government ever help you keep what you have from others, when it shouldn’t? I am sure it does.

Most of what you “have” is a matter of statutory entitlement, and much of it (including much of your bank account) is simply your claim on wealth confiscated from others by the state.

In fact, much of your money in the bank represents wealth not yet confiscated. Its value is the product of a widespread expectation that the state will confiscate wealth from others in the future and transfer the wealth to you.

So I’d be happy for the state to do much less than it does now, but I primarily expect the state to help you keep what you have much less than it does now, because that’s most of what it does.

Precisely how the state helps you conserve your established propriety depends a lot on who you are, how you acquire your wealth and the sort of wealth you’ve acquired, but regardless of who you are, if the state does less of what it now does, as I think it should, much of your bank account would vanish overnight. I won’t deny it, because much of my bank account would vanish too.

Ryan Vann May 23, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Is there some sort of code in all that because it read as needlessly circular and crytpic to me. What wealth in your bank account would vanish if the scope of government were to be diminished, and through what mechanism?

Kevin May 23, 2011 at 6:19 pm

Your account is a claim on the assets of the bank. Much of these assets would go away if the government were to stop taking in money and paying creditors. Your protection against this is the FDIC, another institution of state redistribution.

Martin’s using provocative language here but I don’t think the claim is particularly controversial.

vidyohs May 23, 2011 at 7:28 pm

Martin is doing a tad more than just using provocative language, for instance Re the last paragraph, think of the attitude of the state towards the Kennedy family and the Kehlo family. Which family had a member get away with manslaughter and go on to serve long term in the Senate, and which was screwed out of their property on an injustice that marches with any?

He is also telling you the truth about “statutory entitlement”. Where you think you actually own your home and car, in fact the state owns them, and you use them through privilege.

It is possible to own property, but most people have no clue as to how to go about it.

Gil May 24, 2011 at 12:55 am

By such reasoning you don’t own anything ever because someone else may rob it at any moment.

vidyohs May 24, 2011 at 6:14 am

“It is possible to own property, but most people have no clue as to how to go about it.”

Are you on the same planet with the rest of us, Gil?

Gil May 24, 2011 at 7:02 am

I know what I wrote.

“Where you think you actually own your home and car, in fact the state owns them, and you use them through privilege.”

Apparently you and Martin that once a thief steals your belongings then it actually belonged to the thief all along and he’s merely reclaiming it.

Martin Brock May 24, 2011 at 8:10 pm

Apparently you and Martin [believe] that once a thief steals your belongings then it actually belonged to the thief all along and he’s merely reclaiming it.

I have no idea how you read this sentiment into anything I’ve written.

I rather believe that a government promises to seize goods from my children and give the goods to you, and I believe that you pay the government to perform this service for you. The service is called a “Treasury security”.

I also believe that the government ought not to seize goods from my children and give the goods to you, regardless of the promise and regardless of your payment. If you’ve bought legal rights to produce seized from my children, I want the law changed. I want my children freed from this obligation to you forcibly imposed upon them, having received nothing of similar value from you.

If you’re unhappy with the broken promise, you may complain to the statesmen who made it to you. My children are not these statesmen. You might sue the statesmen for damages, but you’ll never get what they’ve promised to seize from my children until they’ve seized it from my children, because they don’t actually have what they’ve promised you themselves.

Ryan Vann May 23, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Are you essentially saying government defaults on treasuries would constitute asset deflation, and thus bank holdings. If so, what does this have to do with a shrinking government (which perceivably would be more able to repay debt instruments)? Maybe I missed something in going from A to Z, but I don’t see how a shrinkage in government necessitates my bank account being a claim on a no longer existent asset.

Martin Brock May 23, 2011 at 10:29 pm

I don’t want to shrink government to allow it to transfer to you more of the goods it confiscates from my children rather than providing my children any service. I want it to stop confiscating goods from my children, but short of that, I want it to provide services to my children commensurate with the rents it imposes on them for the benefit of its rent seeking cronies. I don’t exclude myself from the list of cronies. I’m too old for that now.

I don’t give a flip about what the government has promised your bank and thus you (and me), because I don’t at all believe that its past expenditures, financed by the notes promising your bank my children’s future produce, have anything to do with any good it has done my children. On the contrary, I believe that many of these expenditures have harmed my children’s prospects and continue to harm them. Default on the government’s debts is exactly what I advocate.

Gil May 24, 2011 at 7:23 am

Gee Martin why is it necessarily bad that you get government income from your childrens’ taxes? What’s wrong with your children assuming they can get government income their childrens’ income in kind?

Martin Brock May 24, 2011 at 5:44 pm

If I need income from my children, they’ll provide it, because I raised them well enough to earn their respect, so I don’t need the government to take money from them and give it to me.

On the other hand, if I want money from your children, having done little or nothing for them, the government can be a big help to me.

Martin Brock May 23, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Right. Thanks.

Martin Brock May 23, 2011 at 9:57 pm

What wealth in your bank account would vanish if the scope of government were to be diminished, and through what mechanism?

If the government could not tax to pay its creditors, the value of Treasury securities would vanish, and these securities back much of your bank account. I’m OK with that myself, but I won’t deny the consequences.

The FDIC wouldn’t guarantee deposits anymore either, and I’m OK with that too.

The Fed wouldn’t buy trillions of dollars worth of securities backed by mortgages backed by houses worth less than the principal and housing people already behind on their payments. I’m OK with that.

If Lockheed Martin owes your bank money, that’s another problem for your bank account.

I’m OK with all of that, but denying the reach of the leviathan doesn’t change it. You are not beyond the reach of its tentacles. If you were, we wouldn’t need to complain about it.

Kyle May 23, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Mr. Brock, I can assure you that the entirety of my bank account’s holdings is money that I have earned at my private sector job. Not a cent of it is “wealth not yet confiscated” nor do I hold the expectation that the government will transfer confiscated wealth to me.

I am with Mr. Vann on this one, in that I have no real idea of what you are trying to say.

kyle8 May 23, 2011 at 6:25 pm

He probably doesn’t either.

vidyohs May 23, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Kyle, do you use silver dollars exclusively? Are all your transactions electronic ones using debit and credit cards?

Do you carry Federal Reserve Notes (FRN) in your wallet?

Do you realize that the FRN is an instrument of debt and not real money as dictated by the Constitution? As an instrument of debt created by the Federal Reserve, a private banking cartel, use of the FRN is a compelled benefit, a prima facie contract between you and the government (on behalf of the Federal Reserve), which permits all this shit to go on? What you have in your bank account, good sir, is an assumed contract, an obligation, to do exactly what the U.S. Government dictates to you.

The biggest mistake people in this nation make is to believe that the government in D.C. is theirs and it does what they want.

Ken May 23, 2011 at 7:52 pm

vidyohs,

It’s unclear to me how a reserve not results in “an assumed contract, an obligation, to do exactly what the U.S. Government dictates to you.” Will you expand this a little more? I don’t really understand your reasoning here.

Regards,
Ken

vidyohs May 23, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Are you natural born to one of the several states constituting the states United? yes or no?

For instance I was born on the soil known as, and referred to, Texas.

Ken May 23, 2011 at 9:06 pm

I was born in DC, so no, I wasn’t born in one of the several states constituting the US. I’m not sure how that matters.

vidyohs May 23, 2011 at 10:14 pm

One more for tonight.

Oh, it matters very much.

At what point in your life did you agree to become a citizen of the corporate UNITED STATES OF AMERICA chartered under the corporate charter known as the Constitution of THE UNITED STATES,

vidyohs May 23, 2011 at 10:17 pm

One more for tonight.

Oh, it matters very much.

At what point in your life did you agree to become a citizen of the corporate UNITED STATES OF AMERICA chartered under the corporate charter known as the Constitution of THE UNITED STATES, and how was that agreement forged? Was it written? Did you negotiate an alliance and sign it? Maybe a treaty between sovereigns? Was it just a discussion then a handshake?

I’d be interested in hearing your version. C U in the A.M.

vidyohs May 23, 2011 at 10:18 pm

I must be tired, my poor fingers.

Gil May 24, 2011 at 12:58 am

The tired old argument of “I signed no stinking social contract”. X(

Ken May 24, 2011 at 1:03 am

I just don’t see what this has to do with a reserve note and how a reserve note creates a contract “to do exactly what the U.S. Government dictates to [me]“. How can having a dollar put an obligation on me to to “exactly” what the gov “dictates”?

vidyohs May 24, 2011 at 6:53 am

The reason you don’t understand is because you’ve lived your entire life running on enculturation reaction to your relationship with what you call your government, and not thinking any farther into the subject than just that surface reaction.

But, don’t feel bad, most people are like you.

Look at how your enculturation is revealed in the direct and implied contradictions of your written expressions here.

You’re free….but no wait……really an agreement (corporation known as UNITED STATES OF AMERICA) formed by men long dead has automatic claim on your allegiance and duty.

If mere presence is sufficient to bind, then why is there a binding process, including agreements, oaths, signings, and ceremony (the act of naturalization) for those born elsewhere and who have come and made their presence here known?

You, Ken sir, were not here, and then you were born. A new life, completely alien to that corporate government, yet no process or ceremony of naturalization was asked of you, or held for you.

If you’ve never been asked for binding life time commitment (we never are), then what mechanism gives the corporate government jurisdiction over you? What is the proverbial hook by which they hang you and use you as a resource, a perpetual lifetime cash reserve?

How do they get beyond the 13th Amendment to the constitution?

Hint, Ken sir, it all hinges on benefits, agreements, and a form of contract.

Are you beginning to suspect now where this all leads? If not, you need to do some more thinking before hitting reply.

Gil May 24, 2011 at 7:16 am

Or you could suppose you were lucky you were born to ancestors who went down a mostly Capitalist path with which you had a big head start of most of the children in the world at the time. Then as soon as you turned five years of age your parents probably told you had to earn your keep like any boarder and if you didn’t like they throw into the woods to fend for yourself.

Ken May 24, 2011 at 1:09 pm

V,

“The reason you don’t understand is because you’ve lived your entire life ”

Yes, I must be brainwashed. It couldn’t possibly be that you haven’t said anything to clarify your obviously wrong assertion.

“Ken sir”

Man when you go on incoherent rants you sound a lot like Keith Olbie. Nice.

“Are you beginning to suspect now where this all leads? If not, you need to do some more thinking before hitting reply.”

Translation: I’m trying to be clever, but have nothing coherent or logical to say, so I will insult you by claiming you’re dumb for not seeing how very specially smart I am.

And you call DK disingenuous.

Regards,
Ken

kyle8 May 23, 2011 at 11:02 pm

If there were no Federal reserve, there would be treasury notes which ALSO would not be backed up in gold, or there might be numerous private bank scripts which would probably also just be examples of fractional reserve banking.

So no, I am not apoplectic as you seem to be over the existence of the Federal Reserve. I am concerned that they have too much power to manipulate the money supply.

However, again, if there were no Federal Reserve, then there would have been created some other mechanism to do it.

What you seem not to understand is that the problem is not the Fed, or the Treasury, or any particular implement of the government, rather the problem is that the leaders and the people both EXPECT the government to meddle in monetary and fiscal affairs.

Until that expectation is changed then there are no real reforms possible.

vidyohs May 24, 2011 at 9:28 am

I am sorry, I just assumed that intelligent people would recognize that having our currency completely controlled by a private banking cartel, loyal only to the private banking cartel, is definitely not a minor sticking point in the operations of our country.

I made the same assumption about how the Federal Reserve allows the congress to completely slough off responsibility for fiscal sound policy, and allows them to borrow and spend like drunken politicians.

Did I make a mistake?

Ken May 24, 2011 at 3:04 pm

“Did I make a mistake?”

Yes.

vidyohs May 24, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Poor Ken,

Your Ken-ness has been impugned. Tsk Tsk. Being your teacher in an arena in which you are obviously lost is not being disingenuous, it is being cruel; but, that is the nature of some of us teachers. Since you only assert that I am wrong subjects that you exhibit no real knowledge of, I take the cruel tactic of trying to make you think. Evidently that is more challenge than you are ready to accept.

Like so many of enculturated Americans, knowing it all means to you not having to ask questions about what knowledge exists beyond your education, it appears that to you there is no knowledge others may have that you do not.

I don’t know it all, but I sure as hell know more about the reality of politics and government than you do.

Now asking you if you know the exact mechanism by which you, as a person born to the soil of one of the various states, become a citizen of the corporate UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and assume all obligations of citizenship, is not being disingenuous. It is a straight forward question asked to see if you even have a clue.

And, lo! Wonder of wonders, do you answer correctly? NO. You don’t answer at all. Though claiming to be a free man, you’ve never spent a nano-second pondering this thing called citizenship and how it is that you are obliged to part with up to 50% of the fruits of your labor to an organization that you have never consciously contracted with or formally agreed to join.

But, you’re right of course. I can say about you as Winston Churchill said about people, “Most will stumble over a truth, pick themselves up, dust off, and move on as if nothing had happened.”

What is the mechanism, Ken, sir? Tell me how you met with government representatives, discussed terms, and signed a formal lifelong commitment to finance every idiot idea they come up with.

Gil May 24, 2011 at 1:56 am

I don’t see how paper money is a “instrument of debt” any more than precious metals. What difference does it makes if you’re paying off debts and taxes in gold and silver bullion instead of paper and electronic money? Alternatively I believe the Constitution gives the government to right to regulate coinage but not a duty to make sure the currency is precious metal coinage. Instead the government has preferred the way of making money from paper and digital entries and regulates the value thereof.

Martin Brock May 23, 2011 at 10:02 pm

Mr. Brock, I can assure you that the entirety of my bank account’s holdings is money that I have earned at my private sector job.

This fact is irrelevant.

Not a cent of it is “wealth not yet confiscated” nor do I hold the expectation that the government will transfer confiscated wealth to me.

It is, and you do. If you have a bank account, you hold securities, directly or indirectly, backed by the government’s promise to confiscate wealth. That’s what every Treasury security is, and Treasury securities are a foundation of our monetary system.

Martin Brock May 23, 2011 at 10:11 pm

… I have earned at my private sector job.

The problem is that you didn’t exchange goods you produced in your private sector job for goods produced by someone else, in a free exchange at an agreeable price, or for the voluntary agreement of another to provide you goods of a specified value in the future.

Instead, you accepted the state’s currency for your goods, and you then exchanged this currency for the state’s promise to collect goods for you in the future involuntarily. This way, you needn’t be bothered with details like a scarcity of people willing to accept terms the state’s terms.

Maybe you don’t realize that you do this when you deposit money in a bank, but you do it.

Andrew_M_Garland May 23, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Frédéric Bastiat: Socialism confuses the distinction between government and society. Every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.

Socialists also confuse the role of government. Whenever government provides a service, Socialists proclaim that only government can provide that service, and we owe our souls to the government because it is kind enough to provide it rather than let us die.

– –
Bob: You put out the fire. I can’t thank you enough.
Official: Hand over the keys. We own that house now. It would have burned to the ground without us.
Bob: But, I already paid taxes for your help.
Official: I apologize. You have a point. Instead, pay us in tax half of what you produce. That is for our effort in providing all of our vital services.
– –

Even if someone protects you, you don’t owe them everything. You can usually arrange a better deal than that.

One human doesn’t own another one because he supplies an essential service. We aren’t each other’s slaves. Our obligations are satisfied when the transaction is complete. One or the other can’t come around the next day saying he wants more. You might as well base society on the gun; give me more or I will shoot you. And, that is a good deal, better than being dead.

Government usually has a formal monopoly on force. That doesn’t confer the right to make the population into slaves. From time to time, governments have asserted this right, and it always ends badly.

Your Dog Owns Your House
http://easyopinions.blogspot.com/2010/12/your-dog-owns-your-house.html

Methinks1776 May 23, 2011 at 4:54 pm

nice.

vidyohs May 23, 2011 at 7:50 pm

The truest and most valuable aspect of liberty, freedom, is in being free to decide to do without, to walk away, to live, do, act, and think at any level you choose.

The most horrifying thing about collectivism, socialism, statism is the taking away, the denying, of that aspect.

I think that people who are not asking for help, and show no visible signs of needing help, should be left alone to work, create, and prosper as they will.

The surest way to gain control over a free spirit is to acclimatize that free spirit to welfare. In support of that statement, think of the Grizzly Bears in National Parks. Grizzly Bears are well capable of taking care of themselves in the wild when left alone; but, let them hang around national parks and get freebies from the stupid campers to the point they no longer have to forge for their own, then you have a bear whose activities have come to resemble the actions of the unionists in Greece or Wisconsin, Which is “Give me my Damn goodies, or we tear this place to hell and gone. Maybe kill you in the process.”

vikingvista May 24, 2011 at 12:23 am

Still with that money-is-debt crap. Treasuries are a favorite purchase, because of the central bank, but Treasuries are sold for dollars because dollars have purchasing power. Without debt, there would still be dollars (albeit a lot fewer) and those dollars would still have purchasing power.

It is impossible to completely disentangle state action from free action, but the fact of FDIC, or bank bailouts, or even law enforcement does not mean all or even most of the wealth people hold in whatever form is a product of state action.

And state-enforced titles are certainly used, regardless of their merits, but many of the things people own is outside of practical title enforcement by the state. And of those things that are enforced, much is merely the state jumping in to do what people have already chosen to do for themselves–making it only nominally relevant.

Property is a fact of human societies. It requires no state action to create or define it.

vidyohs May 24, 2011 at 9:40 am

It sounds good VV, but you ignore that no one is claiming money is debt. Those of us who say anything at all say that the FRN is debt paper and we are 100% correct in that.

Yes property does exist and needs no state to create it; but, get around the fact that for most people they give debt paper to hold the privilege of renting the property(land), a privilege that they pay for each year in the form of taxes(rent). If you truly owned the land you would not be required to pay rent on it.

Same with your automobile. You only hold a “certificate” of title and the state holds the title(real ownership), and you pay rent(annual registration fees) on the privilege of using the auto. Here in Texas they have written a law into the books that prevents an autodealership from delivering the MSO(real Title of ownership) directly to the buyer even if he pays the entire price in cash. In that written law it specifically states that Texas is doing so in order to retain ownership and the right to charge you rent on the vehicle.

What is available for your use outside the control and ownership of the state are just minor things, consumables mostly.

vikingvista May 25, 2011 at 1:15 am

“Those of us who say anything at all say that the FRN is debt paper and we are 100% correct in that.”

I know that is what you say, and you are 100% wrong. Federal Reserve notes have not been debt instruments for decades. A Treasury is a promise to deliver a predetermined amount of something in the future. A check is a promise to deliver a predetermined amount upon future receipt. A FRN is a promise to…nothing. It is not a contract of any kind. I surely can in this market find people to trade for my gold or my dollars, or to borrow my gold or my dollars, but nobody has committed to do so. FRNs are no more debt than are gold coins. All debt is denominated in something else, and these fringe money-is-debt cranks metastasize their own confusion by conflating the two.

The state does interfere with property rights. If I were to hold title to a car, but someone else got to have full authority to customize it, use it, and sell it for profit, would you say that I completely own the car? Infringement on property rights is not the same as complete denial of them. The king demands tribute, and the king will do whatever he wants to do. But until he stops you, you have some measure of freedom to respect the rights of others, and they you.

Property precedes the state. At least YOU understand that. That state then comes along and infringes on people’s property rights. In most countries, the state does not, and cannot, come close to abolishing those rights for most people.

Don’t get caught up in the same sophomoric all-or-nothing fallacy that muirde repeatedly pukes regarding “libertopia”. Free actions and unfree actions always exist. Rights are both respected, and violated, all the time.

Chucklehead May 23, 2011 at 3:56 pm

“that it’s wrong to take other people’s stuff just because you fancy that you’ve found better uses for it.” Touché

Octahedron May 23, 2011 at 4:26 pm

I came across someone a few weeks ago who said we should be acting in the collective until we become a hivemind. Too much Borg adoration? Maybe, but as Bryan Caplan indirectly points out here:

http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2011/05/robots_of_the_f.html

people like who Don is referring simply see what we have now as a means to an end.

KD May 23, 2011 at 4:55 pm

There is no one named “Society”. -Thomas Sowell

vidyohs May 23, 2011 at 7:52 pm

And no baby is born clutching a contract, agreement, playbook, or an instruction manual in its tiny little hand. Vidyohs 1986

vikingvista May 24, 2011 at 12:26 am

Maybe you are too old to remember, but I am assured by some of my libertarian friends that upon entering this world, you carefully considered, and then signed, a social contract. I’m sure if you look around, you’ll see it laying around somewhere.

Gil May 24, 2011 at 1:06 am

I would say your existence and residence is your contract. Yes, the fact you were born within U.S. borders means your going to be part of the U.S. jurisdiction. Notice how you aren’t compelled to the social contracts of all the other nations. By the same token a child finds himself in a contract with his parents. The child finds himself doing chores in return for his keep.

vikingvista May 24, 2011 at 2:10 am

Neither existence nor residence meet the definition of “contract”.

Gil May 24, 2011 at 4:03 am

Babies aren’t born in International Waters and then choose which country they want to live in thus they’re initially stuck with the country they’re born in. After all, a child is pretty much stuck with his or her parents and “their roof, their rules” until around adulthood.

Methinks1776 May 24, 2011 at 9:01 am

But, your wife and I did sign a contract when we came to the United States. We actually signed a contract.

vidyohs May 24, 2011 at 9:45 am

@Methinks,

That is exactly right, m’lady.

The question to people is why the difference between how your arrival here is viewed differently from the arrival of a newborn. Neither of you existed here until your presentation.

You made the contract, others never have, yet they believe themselves bound as if by contract, without ever thinking of the fact that if the corporate government exists because of agreement, and in it the agreement specifically prohibits involuntary servitude and slavery, then it must follow that participation must also be by agreement.

Which brings us back to the mechanism that binds those who operate on neutral and never engage brain on the subject.

Methinks1776 May 24, 2011 at 9:56 am

Vidyohs,

What worries me more is that government continually violates the contract it has with its citizens (the constitution).

vidyohs May 24, 2011 at 11:45 am

@Methinks,

The constitution is not a contract, it is a corporate charter. It details how the corporation is formed and structured into three separate intertwining branches, how its officers are to be selected, describes the duties and obligations of those officers within each branch; all while never once specifically mentioning the individual free man and how he is connected to the corporate if he is at all.

But, by-the-by on that, obviously we know we both agree on the corruption of government and the many ways it oppresses while the public turns a blind eye out of fear.

Methinks1776 May 24, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Gotcha, Vid.

Doesn’t it include an operating agreement, though?

vidyohs May 24, 2011 at 9:40 pm

@Methinks

Any corporate operating agreement only effects those who are part of the corporation.

It is like the IRS Regs, they are not directives or instructions to you, they are directions and instructions to the IRS employees. No matter what they say, in how ambiguous the terms, IRS regs do not apply to anyone but IRS employees.

Keep that in mind if an IRS agent ever tells you that IRS reg such and such directs “you” to do such and such.

Further driving the point home: The NFL is a corporation and has its corporate charter, its rules and regulations. None of which effect you or I because we are not in anyway shape or form employed by the NFL.

Corporate USA/Corporate NFL, if you’re not one of them, their rules compel you to do nothing.

The first step is simply asking, “Which one am I”.

vikingvista May 25, 2011 at 1:39 am

Methinks–

The CotUS is not a contract. At least not for anyone alive today, save those who have taken the oath–who are pretty much the lowest forms of life in this country. Almost nobody is obliged to give a damn about it.

A true contract, requires the consideration and free explicit consent of all parties involved.

vikingvista May 25, 2011 at 1:50 am

Methinks–

For some reason, my long reply didn’t post, so let me just say this:

Those agents who restricted or put conditions upon your entry into this land had no proper right to do so. Just as they unilaterally imposed that authority on you and all in this country who would interact with you, we are justified in unilaterally ignoring or opposing their offense. You are right to do what the troll intruder demands, so that you can pass unharmed over the bridge, but you are wrong to believe you must adhere to agreements to the troll that you made under duress.

You make no offense in joining people here who want you. No third party thug therefore has a right to force conditions upon you.

vikingvista May 25, 2011 at 2:11 am

Gil–

Why do you assume the state owns this country?

The state has no just authority. You should obey its demands, because it will destroy you if you don’t. But you should resent having to do so, and you should never consider such a coerced agreement as morally binding upon you.

If you want to accept the terms of another peaceful person in exchange for terms of your own, then, and only then, proper authority has been established. Only then does honor come into play.

Gil May 25, 2011 at 7:20 am

Well, VV, I would put the burden of change on Libertarians. If I wake up one day find the White House on fire and Libertarians are cheering then I know what has happened.

vikingvista May 25, 2011 at 9:54 pm

Gil–

“I would put the burden of change on Libertarians”

I don’t know what you mean.

Sam Grove May 23, 2011 at 5:09 pm

The so-called “public morality” is merely popular sensibilities effected by law.

Morality is the internalization of behavioral strictures that allow people to live harmoniously.

To place “public morality” over individual morality is the path to the destruction of all morality, for the only thing that constrains the state is the willingness of individuals to oppose the maleficent exercise of political power.

Crawdad May 24, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Nice Sam. I was thinking the same thing.

The Conscience of Another Liberal May 23, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Don,
With regard to your congenial reply (the letter) above, and the comments in your blog in general, I take it you (and your blog buddies) vehemently oppose support of any kind of “welfare state;” though, I’m betting you have no problem with the many and various forms of corporate welfare that abound, or the state university systems which apparently provide for your education and career, or the Internet (still regulated by the GAC) which provides a very public platform for your right-wing ideology…and I could go on, but you get my point.

So haven’t you then, for most of your adult life, relied upon direct transfers of government funds to the public institutions that employ you and educate you in order to be skilled, educated, employed, and in good health (I’m assuming the state of Virginia provides wonderful health bennies); and doesn’t that same government play a role in providing the platform for you to freely and very publicly communicate and criticize the very mechanisms that have enabled you to prosper?

Hasn’t the government, after all, played a primary role in the protection and promotion of your economic and social well-being? Sounds a little like a welfare state, does it not?

Don Boudreaux May 23, 2011 at 5:16 pm

You’re new at this blog, I can tell.

I oppose ALL government programs, including support for higher education. (Yes, feel free to call me hypocritical for working at a state university. I don’t alone make society’s rules. I would end all government aid to education immediately.)

And, for the record, Russ Roberts and I oppose any and all forms of corporate welfare.

But, fyi, the state of Virginia has nothing to do with this blog; it supports this blog in no way.

The Conscience of Another Liberal May 23, 2011 at 6:21 pm

Don-
I won’t call you hypocritical, you already did; and yes, I am new to the blog. I found your blog by googling “best economics blogs” and I am impressed with the intellectual fervor here–but I’m a little leery of the distasteful and juvenile comments by your libertarian soldiers, and so I probably won’t stay long. They seem a little hostile, and they may be perpetuating the libertarian stereotype.

I admit I did not read enough initially to discern the wholly libertarian slant. The philosophy is certainly intriguing, but I’m not able to keep up with its many varied and seemingly far-reaching forms.

I do respect your opinions and your obvious intelligence, but I just can’t get past the fact that you espouse anti-welfare rhetoric when your healthcare, education and career have relied upon government funding and public ownership of the institutions where you work and learn.

I know the state of Virginia does not support your blog–I don’t believe I suggested that it did. But you might take a look at how the Internet was created, and how it is currently supported and regulated. I think you’d be surprised to learn just how much “welfare” seeps into most of your daily activities.

-ConLib

Sandre May 23, 2011 at 6:29 pm

ConLib,
Welcome.

So what should he do? Live on some flotilla in the ocean? Yes, it is impossible to conduct a decent life without using some form of collecive goods. I can’t speak for Don, but I wished government wasn’t involved in most of these things, but that clearly is not the case. Besides, even if I wanted to government will not leave me alone, and they will take large chunk of the fruits of my labor(I wish they hadn’t), and I want, at least, some of it back.

You are not the first one to accuse him of hypocrisy. You haven’t suddenly discovered something that others haven’t. Don has addressed these things before, and it can be found with a simple search. He doesn’t need to point this out to every new visitor.

The Conscience of Another Liberal May 23, 2011 at 8:03 pm

Sandre-
Thanks for the welcome. I did not mean to intrude with my freshman comments on what appears to be a close-knit and well-established blog group. But, in response to your post:

The mere fact that Don does not exercise his choice to attend private schools, or be employed by a private employer, or elect a private health provider, speaks to the blatant and indefensible hypocrisy that he failed to respond to in any convincing fashion. Saying, “I don’t alone make society’s rules” is not a justification for living a contradiction. A person of Don’s experience and talent has alternatives, because, it so happens that our government ensures such choices (another welfare component); and he therefore does not even have to think about living on an island.

My suggestion for all of you, and for anyone that wishes to influence change–as you self-described libertarians seem impassioned enough to be hoping for–is to NOT live a lie. Only then will your cause be credible and only then will your cause be successfully passed down to the masses by your opinion leaders (Don).

And so, I disagree, Don in fact DOES need to point this out to every new visitor; and this reveals one of the inherent qualities (like it or not) of the blog environment, a platform that your government so far has kept relatively public, not private.

ConLib

Sandre May 23, 2011 at 8:12 pm

Conlib,

The mere fact that Don does not exercise his choice to attend private schools, or be employed by a private employer, or elect a private health provider, speaks to the blatant and indefensible hypocrisy that he failed to respond to in any convincing fashion. Saying, “I don’t alone make society’s rules” is not a justification for living a contradiction. A person of Don’s experience and talent has alternatives, because, it so happens that our government ensures such choices (another welfare component); and he therefore does not even have to think about living on an island.

So you want Don to pay taxes without asking any questions, and receiving nothing at all in return?

Hypocrisy is Barack Obama sending his kids to Private schools in DC.

Completely detaching from public sphere is only going to marginalize libertarian ideas.
Don in fact DOES need to point this out to every new visitor

We’ll have to disagree. I don’t think that is the most valuable use of his time. He has put his thoughts on this matter in public.
http://www.thefreemanonline.org/columns/thoughts-on-freedom/looking-in-the-mirror/

Methinks1776 May 23, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Well said, Sandre.

Chucklehead May 23, 2011 at 9:35 pm

“Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. … We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting people to eat because we do not want the state to raise the grain.”
— Frédéric Bastiat

Ken May 23, 2011 at 9:47 pm

LibCon,

“The mere fact that Don does not exercise his choice to attend private schools, or be employed by a private employer, or elect a private health provider, speaks to the blatant and indefensible hypocrisy”

Horseshit. The schools in Don’s neighborhood may be good. Don has to pay for them regardless. Why pay twice for the same education? It’s full on stupid to say that libertarians shouldn’t be professors. Also, the health insurance he gets through work may be better, and probably is since the fed gov has set it up that compensation comes in the form of benefits rather than salary. If Don declines this insurance, he does not get a raise, so it’s leaving money on the table. It’s not hypocritical at all to accept a job making $X when you have another job offer for $(X+Y). Only an idiot would think so.

” Only then will your cause be credible and only then will your cause be successfully passed down to the masses by your opinion leaders ”

Standard lefty. Since you bow down and lick the boots of those you consider leaders, you think that others must do the same? Needing leaders is pretty much what libertarianims is not about.

“Don in fact DOES need to point this out to every new visitor;”

Spoken like an entitled brat, indicative of the standard left. The burden of understanding never lies with you does it? If you don’t understand or know something it’s someone else’s fault.

Grow up you infantile jacakss.

Regards,
Ken

Richard Stands May 23, 2011 at 10:12 pm

I find myself wondering how this ad hominem tu quoque invalidates the points made by Professor Boudreaux about private versus “public” morals.

Arguments to the point at hand might engender a more constructive dialog.

Gil May 24, 2011 at 1:09 am

If you’re working for a public employer then you’re not paying taxes but retuning some of it.

kyle8 May 23, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Sorry you think we “Soldiers” are a bit hostile, (notwithstanding that is a slam against us which hints that we do not think for ourselves). But if you see any of us being obnoxious you will quickly see that it is aimed at only two other posters. Muirgeo and Mao Dung.

And that is totally our fault because you see they are just trolls and they never fail to get a rise out of us, we just cannot help ourselves.

Methinks1776 May 23, 2011 at 9:02 pm

You know, Kyle8, I don’t feel any compulsion at all to fix other people’s prejudices. Can you imagine a liberal walking into a rapper’s house or a Muslim’s house and exclaiming “You’re such a stereotypical black man [or Muslim].”? I can’t see the rules of identity politics allowing for that, can you? Yet, it’s okay in liberalville to stereotype other groups.

If people nurse prejudices, then I see this as a personal failing of theirs. I don’t see others stereotyping me as my problem.

Of course, I stereotype as well. It’s just that as a bitchy libertarian, I don’t make disabusing me of my prejudice their burden to bear.

MWG May 23, 2011 at 7:25 pm

‘your libertarian soldiers’

Ha! You need to go see the comments section of Prof. Roberts’ post on Israel. We’re hardly a band soldiers marching in lockstep with Boudreaux’s and Roberts’ every decree.

In terms of the ‘hostile’ atmosphere, perhaps you’d feel more at home at the Daily Kos, Huffpo, or any of the numerous red team blogs.

“I think you’d be surprised to learn just how much “welfare” seeps into most of your daily activities.”

I think you’d be surprised to learn just how much both professors have commented on each of the things you listed above.

Ryan Vann May 23, 2011 at 7:50 pm

Libertarians are said to never allow the possible to get in the way of perfection. They don’t get that from being the most pragmatic and thus mobilizable bunch.

Methinks1776 May 23, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Libertarians are said to never allow the possible to get in the way of perfection.

Funny, since I always viewed markets in terms of what’s possible rather than what’s perfect. Maybe the problem isn’t libertarians after all.

Chucklehead May 24, 2011 at 2:24 am

Is this place the residence of libertarians, classical liberals, or Austrian economists?

Methinks1776 May 23, 2011 at 7:40 pm

I think you’d be surprised to learn just how much “welfare” seeps into most of your daily activities.

Is it your position that without the government none of the products government imposes on us (mail, public schools, roads, etc.) would exist? If so, what is your evidence for that?

I do hope asking you to clarify your position and support your assertions is not considered hostile in the world of liberals.

Ken May 23, 2011 at 7:56 pm

LibCon,

“I’m a little leery of the distasteful and juvenile comments by your libertarian soldiers”

OMG! Why the face! Please, please don’t go! I’m not sure we can do without your intellect!

And your blanket assumptions about Don’s motives and beliefs, as well as libertarians and the right, will be sorely missed. Plus, how will I get my daily kicks without your ignorant comments?

Regards,
Ken

robert_o May 23, 2011 at 8:16 pm

|> The mere fact that Don does not exercise his choice to attend private schools, [...] speaks to [...] hypocrisy that he failed to respond to in any convincing fashion.

I bet most commenters on this blog also use roads, even if indirectly. Oh the hypocrisy! I guess to avoid the silly name calling, we’ll all have to escape to some place with no government (Mars? Ocean flotilla?).

Your comments are nothing new, and the arguments have been addressed many times in the past.

I can only urge you to stick around. You might learn something.

Seth May 23, 2011 at 11:20 pm

Charging Don with hypocrisy is an ad hominem fallacy that has no bearing on whether his arguments are true or not.

Letting fallacy cloud your judgement is one form of a closed-mind.

Mark T May 24, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Welcome and kudos for the tone of your comments.

I suggest that it is wrong to conflate public goods and the commons with the transfer payments of a welfare state. Merely because they are both managed by governments does not mean they are both equally legitimate. There are theories that argue for their equality as “safety net” etc but there are theories that don’t as well.

I also suggest that one should avoid confusing a transaction with a government in which one provides services of value in exchange for payment, especially but not only where the government has substantial market power, with either public goods or transfer payments.

Last I think it is unsuportable to attribute much of a person’s individual accomplishment to the benefit of public goods. If public goods were so effective in causing success, more people would be successfule and inequality would be much lower.

Chucklehead May 25, 2011 at 7:42 pm

Brilliant

Dan May 24, 2011 at 10:23 pm

Not all Libertarians. But, I would rather closely associate with those who would recognize my property as ‘mine’ as opposed to the property I own belonging to the collective and that it must be surrendered in part or whole, given to another who’s only production has been to excrete wastes from his/her body.

crossofcrimson May 25, 2011 at 12:52 pm

“I won’t call you hypocritical, you already did”

If someone breaks into your house and steals some of your belongings (and you object to this), does it make you a hypocrite to reclaim any of the stolen goods should he offer them back to you?

Let’s say I oppose public roads; more concisely that I oppose being forced to pay for such services. Naturally, I’m ignored. Funds are forcibly extracted from me at several levels to pay for this involuntarily funded service that I did not ask for. Does it then make me a hypocrite to drive on the road I’m being forced to pay for, even though I’d rather pay private entities voluntarily to provide such a service?

MWG May 23, 2011 at 5:23 pm

What do they say about people who make too many assumptions?

Methinks1776 May 23, 2011 at 5:24 pm

I’m guessing you don’t read this blog very much. Based on Don and Russ’ numerous posts on the topic of corporate welfare, I can confidently say they are very much against it.

But in the bulk of your comment you wonder why Don doesn’t suffer from the same bad case of Stockholm Syndrome you do.

Ken May 23, 2011 at 5:34 pm

ConLib,

“I’m betting you have no problem with the many and various forms of corporate welfare that abound, or the state university systems which apparently provide for your education and career, or the Internet (still regulated by the GAC) which provides a very public platform for your right-wing ideology”

I’m betting you’re an ignorant dumbass for whom the above is the first post you’ve ever read by Don. Dumbasses are welcome, though; let me introduce you to muirgeo, who has a spectacularly dumbass comment above.

“So haven’t you then, for most of your adult life, relied upon direct transfers of government funds to the public institutions that employ you”

No. As pointed out in previous posts and comments the economics department at GMU would survive just fine without what little government support it currently gets.

“Hasn’t the government, after all, played a primary role in the protection and promotion of your economic and social well-being?”

Again, no.

Regards,
Ken

Sam Grove May 23, 2011 at 5:39 pm

I’m betting you have no problem with the many and various forms of corporate welfare that abound,
Why would you suppose such a thing? As a libertarian, I do oppose all forms of corporate welfare.

or the state university systems which apparently provide for your education and career, or the Internet (still regulated by the GAC) which provides a very public platform for your right-wing ideology

I think having government control education is a big mistake.
Whoever controls the money controls the product, and I prefer that consumers of education control the money instead of politicians.

John V May 23, 2011 at 7:30 pm

LOL.

Newbie is right. Your simplistic “Daily Kos” paradigm is so wrong and misplaced, it’s not even worth addressing any further.

Go back to oblivion.

vidyohs May 23, 2011 at 8:03 pm

Has muirduck been spawning again?

God the people who think on the level that anything dispensed by their beloved government has to equate to welfare.

:Let’s put that into perspective in a simple form:

Welfare – the receipt of subsistence level of support because of mere existence, being born and drawing air into the lungs. No action, no quid pro quo necessary, just stick your hand out.

Earning – the act of performing activities that produce wealth or profit for the self and for others. Schedules, commitments, measurable production, and results demonstrated all required.

Don, do you show up for work at your place of employment? Do you give value for the time spent there and the instruction to the students who are paying good money to attend your classes?

So tell us all again, COAL, under any circumstances, how can you be such a thumbsucking warped looney to suggest that what Don receives in the way of compensation, he receives strictly because his heart pumps and he breaths air?

God, you loonies are such a bunch of intellectual midget jackasses.

Gil May 24, 2011 at 1:11 am

So building bridges to nowhere isn’t welfare?

Martin Brock May 24, 2011 at 8:40 pm

ConLib,

My family has lived in the same community in North Carolina since the American Revolution. My uncle still lives in a house that once belonged to my deceased grandparents, on land that once house slave quarters. One of the quarters still stands on the property, restored for posterity.

The current house replaced a larger plantation house that burned nearly a century, when my family was wealthier. Their prospects had already declined considerably at this point, because they lost an even larger chunk of their wealth, also overnight, half a century earlier, when Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Arguably, the loss really occurred some time later, but you understand my point.

My ancestors enjoyed many benefits of their statutory entitlement to the labor of their slaves. The slaves increased their welfare a lot. The welfare state, as it existed then, served my ancestors well. It fed, housed and educated them. It kept them in good health. They were deeply religious people, and I like to think that they treated their servants well, by the standards of the time, but I’m sure that their slaves enjoyed benefits of the welfare state less than they.

My ancestors lost these statutory entitlements when the state changed, and because of my libertarian ideals, I don’t regret this loss. I even celebrate it, because although the welfare of my ancestors declined suddenly and precipitously, the liberty of their slaves increased simultaneously.

Some of the freed slaves fared better than others. Some presumably fared worse, by some standards, than they might have fared if they had grown old on the plantation and never been freed, but they all lived more freely for the balance of their lives, and in my libertarian way of thinking, that’s a blessing at any price.

Dan H May 23, 2011 at 5:38 pm

@The Conscience of Another Liberal

Welcome to libertarianism, where all your preconceived notions about the traditional right wing are shot down. We are the intellectual Right. Free minds, and free markets (to quote Reason Magazine).

Octahedron May 23, 2011 at 6:53 pm

ConLib,

That’s a very low move to attack someones character because society is organized in a way that they have very little control over.

DG Lesvic May 23, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Prof. Boudreaux,

Your morality misses the point of my economics, that taking from the rich to give to the poor doesn’t make the poor richer but poorer, and doesn’t even reduce but increases income inequality and social injustice.

If a policy doesn’t work, the morality of it isn’t an issue. So, by making an issue of it, you imply that it does work, that plunder pays, and freedom doesn’t.

I’m sure you don’t really believe that.

So, why say it?

I’m sure you know as well as I do that the redistributive policy is completely counterproductive, that it doesn’t make the poor richer but poorer.

So, why keep it a secret?

Don Boudreaux May 23, 2011 at 7:44 pm

I am quite sure that there are some people who, being the recipients of some of what government confiscates, are made better off.

Dan H May 23, 2011 at 7:47 pm

LOL… beautiful Don.

Even a thief is richer after pulling off the job.

W.E. Heasley May 23, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Excellent point! Confiscation must land somewhere.

Paving the road to hell. There exists a most excellent book, that is a grand discussion, on never paving the road in the first place: Anarchy, State, and Utopia by Robert Nozick.

SheetWise May 23, 2011 at 10:31 pm

“Excellent point! Confiscation must land somewhere.”

Some of it even lands on the books, and is accounted for!

vidyohs May 23, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Hah! The confiscators to be sure.

DG Lesvic May 23, 2011 at 9:43 pm

True, perhaps, but beside the point.

The fact that some of the poor may benefit at the expense of the rest of the poor doesn’t change the fact that the poor as a whole suffer.

That is the point that you are still missing.

It is the point that still needs to be made.

Before any other — bar none.

DG Lesvic May 23, 2011 at 9:44 pm

That comment of mine was in response to this by Prof. Boudreaux:

“I am quite sure that there are some people who, being the recipients of some of what government confiscates, are made better off.”

danphillips May 24, 2011 at 12:18 am

DG:

“The more one considers the matter, the clearer it becomes that redistribution is in effect far less a redistribution of free income from the richer to the poorer, as we imagined, than a redistribution of power from the individual to the state.”

This quote by Bertrand de Juvenel quite nicely sums up the libertarian attitude, and it strikes me as the point you seem to be missing.

DG Lesvic May 24, 2011 at 3:30 am

reply to dan phillips

Passing over Mr. de Juvenel’s unscientific and immaterial conclusion in favor of one that was scientific and essential was not “missing the point” but getting right to it.

The fact that he speaks of the redistribution of income and of power as two different things implies that he thinks of them as two different things. How then could he compare the magnitude of the one to that of the other? Only by means of judgment, upon which reasonable men may disagree. So, however well founded his conclusion, there was nothing scientific about it. It was just a matter of opinion — and of no material importance.

Even if everyone agreed with it, it would still leave the conclusion that there was at least some redistribution of income from rich to poor, that it made the poor richer, and that the benefit outweighed the cost.

The scientific conclusion, on the other hand, that the redistribution made the poor not richer but poorer obviated the necessity for any other, for, then, none other would matter.

The same thing can be said about all of the other libertarian arguments against redistribution. Friedman’s conclusion that it made society as a whole poorer missed the point that it made the poor themselves poorer. Rothbard’s conclusion, which is like de Juvenel’s, that the politicians wouldn’t allow the redistribution to proceed from rich to poor but only from everyone to themselves missed the point that, even if it did proceed from rich to poor, which is not impossible, it would still make the poor poorer. Even the conclusion that it made the poor poorer in absolute terms still left the conclusion that it made them richer in proportional terms, that it reduced inequality.

Only the conclusion that it didn’t reduce but increased it would wipe out everything else you could say for it, for, after that, nothing else mattered.

DG Lesvic May 24, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Dan, Don, and everybody,

After you’d said that taking from the poor didn’t reduce but increased inequality, what more could anyone say for redistribution, and what more would have to say against it.

If it doesn’t reduce but increases inequality, it is not only uneconomic, but immoral, and by the redistributionist’s own standard of morality. His standard is equality. By that standard, the redistribution, increasing it, is immoral.

So you don’t need any more lengthy dissertations by MacAuley or vague conjectures by de Juvenel.

For you will have what Mises called “the apodictic and incontestable argumentative power inherent in a praxeological demonstration.”

What more could you ask for?

That’s the ultimate agument not just against redistribution but the state altogether, and for freedom.

It is not “missing the point.”

Anything else is missing the point.

Libertarianism is missing the point, even after 30 years or more of it right before its nose.

would you have to say against the redistribution.

Having said that, you’ve just said not only that it was uneconomic but immoral

DG Lesvic May 24, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Sorry, misprint.

I wrote,

After you’d said that taking from the poor reduced inequality

I meant to say

After you’d said that taking from the rich to give to the poor didn’t reduce but increased inequality

DG Lesvic May 24, 2011 at 7:27 pm

I didn’t really do a very good job of responding to danphillips, so let me try again. Here, again, his post:

dan “’The more one considers the matter, the clearer it becomes that redistribution is in effect far less a redistribution of free income from the richer to the poorer, as we imagined, than a redistribution of power from the individual to the state.’

This quote by Bertrand de Juvenel quite nicely sums up the libertarian attitude, and it strikes me as the point you seem to be missing.”

dg The jist of de Juvenel’s proposition is that there was a negative as well as a positive effect, and that the negative outweighed the positive.

And that, supposedly, was the point I was missing.

This was the point I was making: there is no positive effect to be weighed against a negative. The policy doesn’t make the poor richer, but poorer. So there was nothing but negative effects.

So, which was better, de Juvenel’s ambiguous conclusion, or my unambiguous conclusion; and which of us was missing the more essential point?

I’d love to see dan’s answer, but I don’t expect to.

danphillips May 24, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Oh, DG, I’ll be happy to respond to you. You kinda lost me with your assertion that your point of view, being that it was ensconced in economics, was scientific, while de Juvenel, being a mere political philosopher, should be ignored. At least that’s how I interpreted your reply to me. It struck me that there was no point in our conversing, since you so readily seemed to discount philosophy, while I personally scoff at the idea that economics is in any way scientific.

I didn’t miss your point. In fact, for the most part I agreed with your point. I just thought you were being short-sighted in your seemingly total reliance on what you consider a scientific answer.

It strikes me that you are missing the point that redistribution of income is immoral, which was de Juvenel’s point, which is a philosophically libertarian point of view. A point that corresponds rather well with yours, coming from a different angle.

I hope this response finds the appropriate place in the Reply section. Sorry to be so late in replying to you. I live in Oklahoma City, and we’ve been dodging tornadoes until about 30 minutes ago!

DG Lesvic May 25, 2011 at 1:25 am

dan,

Hope you’re managing to dodge that hurricane.

Thanx to you, I have added this to my book.

“Supposedly my theory missed a greater point made by Bertrand de Jouvenel, that, for the increased income the poor gained through redistribution, they gave up freedom and power to the state, and that the cost outweighed the benefit.

But, in my narrative, there was no positive effect to be weighed against the negative. The poor gave up freedom and power not for a greater but a lesser income.

So which was the better argument, that there was a mixed, ambiguous effect or an unambiguously negative effect, and who was missing the greater point?”

Mises too looked upon the issue of redistribution, like de Jouvenel, as a matter of weighing a negative against a positive effect. The negative he referred to wasn’t political, it wasn’t the power given up to the state, but economic. While redistribution, as he saw it, increased the poors’ proportional share of the pie, it reduced the overall size of the pie. So, which was greater: the increase in their proportional share or decrease in the overall size, and, hence, would the poor be better off, in absolute terms with the larger share of the smaller pie gained through redistribution or smaller share of the larger pie they would have had without it? While Mises agreed with the conclusion that the size of the cake would go down more than the poors’ proportions of it would go up, he contended that it couldn’t be proven, that “it is not based on praxeological considerations and therefore lacks the apodictic and incontestable argumentative power inherent in a praxeological demonstration. It is based on a judgment of relevance, the quantitative appraisal of the difference between” society’s total net incomes with and without redistribution. “In the field of human action such quantitative cognition is obtained by understanding with regard to which full agreement between men cannot be reached. Praxeology, economics and catallactics are of no use for the settlement of such dissentions concerning quantitative issues.”

Human Action, P 678

Mr. de Jouvenel is faced with the same problem as Mises, weighing a positive against a negative effect, and, according to Mises, there was no scientific way of doing so. It was all a matter of judgment, upon which reasonable men could disagree.

My approach eliminates that problem. There is no greater proportional share for the poor, hence no more positive effect to be weighed against the negative, or negatives. The effects are all negative.

Without getting into an argument about what is scientific or not, don’t you think that the conclusion that there are nothing but negative effects is more powerful than the conclusion that there are positives to be weighed against the negatives?

As for morality, if the policy doesn’t reduce but increases inequality, isn’t it then immoral as well as uneconomic, by the Left’s own standards?

And isn’t a moral argument based on your adversary’s own moral values more powerful than one based on values contrary to his?

danphillips May 25, 2011 at 7:29 am

DG: You make a powerful argument. However, I don’t know that de Juvenel is claiming any positive effect for the poor in the quote I supplied. He was just saying that the real purpose – and the actual effect – of income redistribution is the growth of the state. I agree with this conclusion. It’s a different argument than the one you are making, but in my mind it is equally as powerful. There are some things you shouldn’t do – even if they provide a positive for you – because they are wrong.

DG Lesvic May 25, 2011 at 12:59 pm

dan

Here again de Jouvenel’s words, as you quoted them.

“The more one considers the matter, the clearer it becomes that redistribution is in effect far less a redistribution of free income from the richer to the poorer, as we imagined, than a redistribution of power from the individual to the state.”

He did not deny the redistribution of income from rich to poor, and, thereby, conceded it, but simply implied that it was of a lesser magnitude than that of power from the individual to the state. And, as Mises explained, that couldn’t be proven.

Even if it could be proven, what good does it do? You’re telling the poor man that the freedom and power he is losing is worth more than the income he is gaining. Libertarians have been telling the poor that for a long, long time. And what have the poor said about that? We don’t give a damn. We can’t eat freedom. We want bread period, and you libertarians can take your precious free market and you know what you can do with it.

And that’s as good as proving to him that he loses not only liberty but real income as well?

Of course not.

Do you really want to win the battle?

If so, hit the enemy not where it makes you feel good, but hurts him, right in the old bread-basket.

DG Lesvic May 25, 2011 at 1:09 pm

dan,

In other words,

“It’s the economy, stupid!”

DG Lesvic May 25, 2011 at 1:14 pm

dan,

And furthermore, I am not asking you to exclude de Jouvenel’s and libertarianism’s usual case for freedom. I make it myself, and will continue to do so. I am just asking that the economic case not be excluded, that there be at least some little place for it in the libertarian arsenal. At present, there is none for the most powerful aspect of it.

Is that alright with you?

yet another Dave May 25, 2011 at 7:31 pm

DG,
Your assertion that the moral argument against redistribution implies that it works is false. Applying the same reasoning to your position produces this: By repeatedly ignoring and/or rejecting the moral argument to make the “redistribution makes the poor poorer” assertion you are saying redistribution IS morally acceptable, but just doesn’t work.

Further, your assertionument is counter-intuitive and will not convince supporters of redistribution (it hasn’t even convinced all opponents of redistribution at this blog). This tells me your position is at best not argued well enough to be effective.

So I ask you: Why do you so vehemently reject the moral argument when it makes your position stronger? (As in, it doesn’t work, but even if it did it’s immoral.)

DG Lesvic May 25, 2011 at 8:57 pm

Dave,

I once referred to you as Just Another Idiot. I was kidding, of course. And your argument here is certainly anything but idiotic, just a bit imbecilic perhaps. Just kidding again. Really, it’s pretty sharp.

You accused me of saying that “redistribution IS morally acceptable, but just doesn’t work.”

I said it was completely counterproductive, not reducing but increasing income differentials and “social injustice,” and was therefore not just uneconomic but immoral by the redistributionist’s own standard of morality.

And wasn’t it better to demonstrate that it was immoral not just by your standard of it but by his as well?

You said my theory was counterintuitive and unconvincing.

I agree. But that is true of all economics on its face, beyond the level of basic axioms. It is not the science of “the man in the street” but the thoughtful person. The “man in the street” can be made to think. But you have to challenge him to do so. You can’t just concede his assumptions. You have to try to get him to think about them. That may not do any good. But we can’t just assume that. We have to at least try to save freedom. At least I do.

You said that my argument hasn’t even convinced all opponents of redistribution at this blog, which tells you that it wasn’t well argued enough to be effective.

May I suggest a corollary of Public Choice Theory, a Scientific Choice Theory, that scientists as well as public officials are apt to have personal agendas that supersede the Public or Scientific Good, and that we mustn’t assume that they are thinking only of Scientific any more than the Public Good.

Rather, we should harken back to Mises, to whom a scientist was “bound to reply to every censure” and “either unmask logical errors in the chain of deductions…or…acknowledge their…validity.”

The “experts” of the Austrian School and of this blog as well have long since acknowledged, tacitly, at least, the validity of this theory.

I submit that the problem is not with theory but the usual hostility to new ideas. As Schumpeter observed,
“It would seen that the scientific profession does not always absorb novelties with alacrity…professors are men who are constitutionallyh unable to conceive that the other fellow might be right. This hold for all times and places.

And, it almost seems, for all libertarians, that you can lead them to victory but not make the jackasses drink.

The neophobic, evenly rotating libertarians and Austrians who will not challenge the fundamental assumption of the Left concede it, and are not leaders in the fight for freedom but irrelevant to it, and, not just defaulting but actively resisting the effort, not true enemies of the Left but its loyal opposition and first line of defense

DG Lesvic May 25, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Misprint.

I meant Yet Another Idiot.

Sorry,Yet Another Dave.

DG Lesvic May 25, 2011 at 11:18 pm

And Yet Another Enemy of DG bites the dust.

DG Lesvic May 25, 2011 at 11:20 pm

I know. You’re not my enemy, which is alright.

With friends like that, who needs ‘em?

yet another Dave May 26, 2011 at 1:29 pm

You accused me of saying that “redistribution IS morally acceptable, but just doesn’t work.”

No I didn’t. You’re free to think me an idiot, but your aim looks backwards when you misunderstand what I said.

I was pointing out the flaw in your oft-repeated claim (that by making the moral argument one is acknowledging redistribution works) by applying the same reasoning to your other claim (that we should reject the moral argument and make only the economic argument).

The moral argument I’m referring to is the position that redistribution is morally wrong.

I asked you why you weaken your position by ignoring (rejecting?) the moral argument. You didn’t answer this question.

For (maybe not the best) example, consider the claim that murdering your competitors works to help you advance in your field. Would you argue in opposition by claiming it won’t work, or by claiming murder is morally wrong regardless, or both? Which line of opposition do you think would be most effective?

DG Lesvic May 26, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Yet Another Dave, aka Yet Another Enemy of DG about to go down in flames

Let’s grant that the democratic electorate is as serious and sincere about Morality as you are, that it isn’t just a rationalization for its actions.

What is the moral basis of its wish for redistribution? Isn’t it that it reduces inequality and social injustice? Isn’t the economic proposition then that it doesn’t reduce but increases it a moral as well as economic proposition, and the strongest possible?

So why would you resist it?

DG Lesvic May 26, 2011 at 4:45 pm

I meant to say

It was the strongest possible moral as well as economic argument against redistribution, so why resist it?

yet another Dave May 26, 2011 at 5:16 pm

DG,
Perhaps I’d misunderstood your argument previously, but please understand I’m not resisting the “it doesn’t work” argument so I’m not about to “go down in flames.” In my experience, arguments with multiple supporting points are more effective, so my question to you is why do you limit yourself?

DG Lesvic May 26, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Dave

You ask why am I limiting myself to the strongest possible moral as well as economic argument against redistribution?

I ask why you are limiting yourself to the weakest?

And in case you hadn’t noticed, I asure you that you just went down in flames.

DG Lesvic May 27, 2011 at 5:00 am

Dave,

You tried to turn my assertion around on me.

My assertion:

Telling the poor that plundering the rich was immoral rather than uneconomic was tantamount to telling them that it was economic.

By the same logic, you said, telling them that it was uneconomic rather than immoral was tantamount to telling them that it was moral.

Not at all, for it is a commentary not on the morality of the action but of the actor, not that the action is moral but that the actor is not.

You don’t tell a child that it’s naughty to touch a hot stove, for that’s tantamount to telling him that it feels good. You simply tell him that it feels bad. And that is not telling him that it’s good, not a commentary upon the morality of the action but only of the actor, upon the fact that he doesn’t care whether it’s good or not, but only whether it feels good or not.

And, likewise, unless you believe that the poor are saints, who would rather starve than violate moral law, and that they agree with your moral law, it makes no sense to tell them that it’s immoral to plunder the rich when you could tell them that it simply made them poorer.

Or do you believe that they are saints?

Anon May 23, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Is your argument that, because there’s one hole-to-be-poked in this argument, Don should not poke others?

DG Lesvic May 23, 2011 at 10:33 pm

Anon,

If you’re addressing that to me, I don’t get the point.

brotio May 23, 2011 at 10:50 pm

hole-to-be-poked…

Is Courtney Love here?

Dan H May 23, 2011 at 7:45 pm

@ConLib

Your views are – dare I say – collectivized? You have – based on learning only one of his opinions (opposition to the Welfare State) – grouped Don into your preconceived notion of what “right wingers” are. You have fit him into a “Right Wing Collective”. Your flawed logic concluded that “Since Don agrees with A, which is a neoconservative view, he must also agree with B, C, D, and so on”.

Perhaps the biggest flaw in your argument is that you actually subscribe to the premise that most conservatives (we are not conservatives though, we are libertarians… but for the sake of argument, I will play the role of conservative) actually like corporate welfare and corporate subsidies. I can’t speak for politicians (every politician, D or R, loves to bring pork home to the district), but as far as individual voters are concerned, I don’t know one Tea Party type isn’t straight up pissed about the bailouts, and other examples of chrony capitalism. I live in Cincinnati, and the local Tea Party was vocal in it’s opposition to John Boehner’s lobbying for GE to get a contract for the F-35 engine, which they diddn’t need at all because Rolls Royce was already granted a contract. It was chronyism at its finest, and conservatives spoke out vehemently against it. I don’t know where your views actually stem from, my dear.

Chris May 23, 2011 at 10:53 pm

I think you’re looking for the word “cronyism,” but speaking of chronyism, I really wish the government allowed the marijuana market to open up.

Tom May 24, 2011 at 12:37 am

Let’s just hope the Tea Party resists the ridiculousness of the “social” conservatives who can argue with a straight face that government is bad, expect to the extent it regulates what consenting adults do in their bedrooms.

vikingvista May 24, 2011 at 2:12 am

There is no shortage of libertarians who argue that government is both bad and necessary. I guess it all depends upon what one feels self righteous about forcing upon others.

danphillips May 24, 2011 at 8:40 pm

vikingvista, I hope to meet you some day!

vikingvista May 25, 2011 at 1:19 am

Thanks, dan. I enjoy your posts too. Our fellow travelers are certainly sparse enough that we could never hope to bump into each other on the street. I truly love the Internet.

SheetWise May 23, 2011 at 10:36 pm

How about being even more cynical? Works for me.

Another tried and true method for bending subjects to the State’s will is inducing guilt. Any increase in private well-being can be attacked as “unconscionable greed,” “materialism,” or “excessive affluence,” profit-making can be attacked as “exploitation” and “usury,” mutually beneficial exchanges denounced as “selfishness,” and somehow with the conclusion always being drawn that more resources should be siphoned from the private to the “public sector.” The induced guilt makes the public more ready to do just that. For while individual persons tend to indulge in “selfish greed,” the failure of the State’s rulers to engage in exchanges is supposed to signify their devotion to higher and nobler causes — parasitic predation being apparently morally and esthetically lofty as compared to peaceful and productive work.

Murray Rothbard, “The Anatomy of the State”

Makes my heart sing.

vikingvista May 24, 2011 at 12:32 am

Nice.

Chucklehead May 24, 2011 at 2:28 am

Perfect

Nevada Doctor May 24, 2011 at 8:25 am

Spot on, that Rothbard guy. There’s just that sort of handwringing and sniveling about 2 London Eye Ferris Wheels being built in Las Vegas at the same time.
“During this troubled time, is it moral to build 60 story ferris wheels when so many families are out of work?”
“Is it truly efficient to let them both be built simultaneously? Maybe we should allow it so the brave ironworkers can feed their families.”
“What of the winds at such a high altitude, what if it makes Al Qaeda angry and they blow them up and they roll down the strip?”
Its breathtaking, how real the Ayn Rand villians are, and the destructive effectiveness of the morons they are able to program.

WSmith May 24, 2011 at 6:09 am

Bertrand Russell makes a similar observation in “Power”.

Nevada Doctor May 24, 2011 at 7:58 am

To me, the “evil” here is the idea of paving the road. Hell is a good thing. In a concrete sense, Hell is historically a city in Germany, a place where the refuse was kept burning day or night. Whoever or whatever was to be discarded was taken and burned there to make room and keep pure the other nearby villages.
A micro-scientific view of Hell would be that it is within every person, in every cell. It’s the part of the cell that provides energy, and actually has its own DNA and is quite literally out of your purview as organism.
A macro-scientific view might be that most of our galaxy is a plasma “Hell” where we cannot exist. The solar fires and 74% of matter are confirmed to be visible plasma. The 25% dark matter plasma is most concentrated in the center of our own Milky Way and is an invisible Hell which compells our own bar-spiral galaxy suns to rotate and struggle in their quest to radiate and exist.
The life we take for granted is really quite rare, our wealth of solids, liquids, and gases are diamonds in a rough sea of plasmas. The most evil we could perpetrate is to construct uber-Hells such as concrete public roads, forced on us by hyper-colonozation minded super-insects.
Nature has no analogue, it would be as if all the termites built conveyances for all the locusts, and somehow ascended the throne over mammals in an insectual caliphate. The mosquitos could then prosecute their worldview over all species. in their diverse hives and squalors, they would mandate that all beings profess to believe that it is the malarial activity of mosquitos infecting our blood or refraining from infecting our blood which has provided all of our technology, prosperity, and progress.

Gordon Richens May 24, 2011 at 8:01 am

COAL, you are a hypocrite if you eat food produced by a private enterprise.

Mark Anthem May 24, 2011 at 8:13 am

Funny to bring up Hiroshima & Nagasaki, since that marks the point where we drove down the road we had historically paved, and ever since have been “in hell.” Dresden and other firebombings can also be added.
It seems most objectively likely, that Truman was tricked into authorizing these bombings, and only later under reflection realized he had literally murdered countless women, children, and other non-combatants, not at all the lessor amount of casualties sold to him by the war machine.
This escalation of force makes most sense when considered as a wealth acquisition strategy. Its hard to get a good war ending deal when vast sectors of your tribe have suddenly ceased to exist. Mentally take are disfunction after Katrina and 9-11 and multiply that by 100 more occurences and you’d have some idea.
Only a degenerate loony would see any of these killings as some kind of blessing and necessary public good.

Gil May 24, 2011 at 11:25 am

Murder, Schmurder, it was war, period. Boys who would become soldiers? Women who work in war factories and sire the next generation of the enemy? Girls who become tomorrow’s women? If anything women should be targeted as eggs are biological expensive while sperm is cheap. Plenty of women and children do their part for the war effort. Considering Libertarians are pro-child labour and children have historically worked hard alongside adults they can easily be part of the war effort from a very early age and thus become legitimate targets.

Mark Anthem May 24, 2011 at 10:02 pm

Are you like Leonard Reed, Ayn Rand, or Don Boudreaux who think market capitalism is our best chance for freedom? Or are you like Obama who loves the call to Muslim prayer. Who loves sports. Who loves organizing great painted mobs to do who knows what? Could you at least explain to the gatherers-of-men that if you saddle all the hunters incorrectly they become immobile and we all starve when there’s nothing to left to gather.

Marcus May 24, 2011 at 11:44 am

“This escalation of force makes most sense when considered as a wealth acquisition strategy. Its hard to get a good war ending deal when vast sectors of your tribe have suddenly ceased to exist.”

Oh, I thought you were talking about Japan’s invasion of China and operations like the Three Alls Policy (Kill All, Burn All, Loot All) that murdered 2.7 million Chinese civilians.

But I guess that was different.

Mark Anthem May 24, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Good point, let me try toflesh out what I meant to say. Gen. Tanaka Ryukichi initiated this 3KillPol in 1940. Props can be given to old honest Abe Lincoln for modernizing and reviving the 3KillPol in the Civil War.
Always, the looting and war spoils mainly benefit a cadre of powerful individuals. This is the Meiji version of what the Brits & Yanks elite have long been doing. When you hear the war drum beat, just remember that it’s not every Japanese or whatever citizen who picks up a sword to answer it.
You can’t work on your car by knowing what cars generally do. You can’t do economics by knowing what huge aggregates generally do either.

Gil May 25, 2011 at 1:01 am

The Japanese of the WW2 generation had an unquestioning devotion to the Emperor. This is quite different from the modern Japanese who have a Westernised view of Monarchs. Considering the Japanese leaders were training everyone to fight the U.S. invasion force means that all Japanese would have become military targets.

Ken May 24, 2011 at 8:55 am

Also sprach muirgeo:

What evidence do I have? This thing called history.

You will now demonstrate, with specific evidence that can be checked, where and how this has happened without the connivance of the state.

Big John May 24, 2011 at 10:00 am

“Illegitimately privilege private morals over public morals”
Don, the focus of your reply was on the difference between private and public morals when in fact it should have been on the word “illegitimately”. The writer’s choice of words betrays the progressive’s emphasis on and preference for the use of legal force and compulsion. The reason progressives always chose compulsion is their overpowering sense of condescension toward other people. This sense of condescension toward others ability to think or act in their own behalf requires the nanny state to act for them.
Prick a progressive and they will bleed condescension.

Ken May 24, 2011 at 11:34 am

Don’t forget misanthropy.

Mark T May 24, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Yes, the very word “illegitmately” assumes a “privilege” of the correspondent (or some subset of “the public” with which s/he is aligned} to define legitimacy. How arrogant.

I was wondering, when, if ever, the correspondent finds it “legitimate” to privilege private morals over public ones. Is s/he a dutiful servant who supports all decisions of all governments? How does s/he feel about Jim Crow? Slavery? Gay rights? Abortion? The occupation of Iraq? Vietnam?

Stephen A. Boyko May 24, 2011 at 10:14 am

We are a nation of laws. For legality to become morality requires the citizenry to voluntarily choose public proscriptions to become private prescriptions.

Dano May 24, 2011 at 12:45 pm
muirgeo May 25, 2011 at 10:19 am

Freidman is full of it. There is no force used to take the money. Their is a democratically arrived at contract and jerks like him think they are exempt. They think they should be allowed the freedoms and protections of our democracy with no need to pay into it. That’s the thinking of a jackass. he was free to leave to another country anytime he wanted or to be politically active to motivate people to think like him and to work towards getting people like him elected.

I suspect Milton would be angry with the rules of his country club and the fact that it uses force to maintain itself…. Yeah its the same thing . Don’t want to pay the dues then get the hell out crybaby. Ridiculous. He’s lame thinking has infected so many people and now we are paying for it. A nation filled with spoiled brats who think they deserve something for nothing and regularly take and take and take but complain that they might have to give back to maintain the system.

All the people who toiled to build the country paid their dues but now this jack ass was born into it he thinks he should be exempt from giving back. Pathetic!

crossofcrimson May 25, 2011 at 1:06 pm

“There is no force used to take the money. Their is a democratically arrived at contract and jerks like him think they are exempt. ”

So if you, I, and one other person are in a room and we vote (the other person and I) to take all that you have, then doing so against your will doesn’t constitute force? For all the derision you spill over what you see as mysterious “faith” espoused by libertarian believers you sure do seem to hold onto the transformative properties of the sacrament we know as democracy; robbing aggression of it’s forceful qualities makes turning water into wine look like child’s play.

muirgeo May 25, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Your analogy is a poor example of how democracy works. It’s irrelevent. But certainly democracy is not perfect. Besides if I was in that room I’d convince the other guy to take all YOUR money and I’d convince you too. So the vote would be unanimous. But again that wouldn’t be democracy.

The vote between 3 people might be yeah or nay …we all buy our own beer for 5 bucks a pint or we all pitch in 3 bucks for a 4 pint pitcher. The other guy in the room voted no but nbecausewe agreed prior to the vote we take his three dollars by force and give him 1.3 pints. Yeah I guess we held a gun to his head…

yet another Dave May 25, 2011 at 1:26 pm

So if you and I plus 8 other people went camping and we voted 9 to 1 to take all your money, and only your money, to buy beer, then did take all your money, you’d agree no force was used?

muirgeo May 25, 2011 at 5:17 pm

We don’t take all of one persons money. The rules and taxes are the same for all based on income.

Poor analogy… but yeah if you guys tried that I’d go Bruce Lee on all 9 of you and drink the beer myself.

yet another Dave May 25, 2011 at 7:37 pm

So if you and I plus 8 other people went camping and we voted 9 to 1 to take some of your money, but still only your money (after all, you’re the rich doctor who makes lots more than the rest of us), to buy beer, then we actually took your money, then you’d agree no force was used?

SheetWise May 25, 2011 at 10:18 pm

Don’t back down Dave — take it all!

yet another Dave May 26, 2011 at 1:39 pm

SW,
I wouldn’t back down, but the sight of our village idiot going “Bruce Lee” on the 9 of us might make me laugh so hard I’d spill the beer we bought with his money on him before he regained consciousness.

brotio May 27, 2011 at 12:07 pm

I’d go Bruce Lee…

I’ve seen your picture. You’d have had more credibility if you had threatened to go Akebono Taro on all nine.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akebono_Tar%C5%8D

Ken May 25, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Somewhere Protagoras is weeping, for I have found a worse sophist than even Markadelphia.

Nevada Doctor May 26, 2011 at 10:25 pm

That is the funniest d@mn thing I’ll never even begin to understand but heartily laughed at anyway.

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