Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on August 19, 2011

in Civil Society, Seen and Unseen

… is from page 43 of my colleague Dan Klein’s 1998 monograph 3 Libertarian Essays:

Liberty and dignity complement one another.  Their mutual dependence helps to explain why the price of liberty is vigilance.  Encroach on liberty this morning and you cause an erosion of dignity this afternoon, which itself will generate a new encroachment on liberty tomorrow, and so on.  If we neglect this multiplier effect, we are apt to underestimate the hazards of coercion.

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vidyohs August 19, 2011 at 5:43 pm

To my poor and deficient knowledge, Eleanor Roosevelt only said one thing that I agree with.

“No one can diminish you without your permission.” ER

How does that jibe with the claim above that an erosion on liberty must diminish dignity.

Stone Glasgow August 19, 2011 at 5:52 pm

As Thomas Sowell said, “Those who don’t know the difference between the whip and the dollar should learn on their own hide.”

vidyohs August 19, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Cryptic, since I assume it was a reply to my comment. In other words I have a great big HUH splattered all over my face.

vidyohs August 19, 2011 at 7:30 pm

And speaking of politician dignity:


JS August 20, 2011 at 8:32 am

You shouldn’t have agreed with her on that either.

vidyohs August 20, 2011 at 9:08 am

Oh but I do. I have too many examples in history of people who chose to lose their life before giving up their dignity.

One thing I have come to know for sure, in modern America people have been enculturated to reach for the excuse so quickly and so easily.

Greg Webb August 20, 2011 at 11:46 am

Vid, I like Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote, but do not believe that it is entirely correct. Government does not ask your permission, or need it, before infringing on your liberty and that infringement diminishing your dignity. For example, a police officer who stops a citizen for speeding. The citizen objected to the federal government mandated 55 MPH Interstate Highway limit and so did not follow it. The officer is just doing his job. The citizen did not give his permission for the law or for the cop to publicly give him a ticket. Yet, the citizen is embarrassed and his dignity diminished because of the experience in having his liberty infringed upon.

vidyohs August 20, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Greg, no man, you’re not thinking it through. The speeder’s dignity isn’t diminished until he says it is or show it by acting undignified.

I freely admit, and did so above, a superior force can infringe or diminish one’s liberty. But, no one can diminish one’s dignity if one chooses to not let it happen. I can carry my dignity through any vile circumstance and it will be with me until I let it go. And that would be at my choice.

You can kill me but you can’t make me bow to you in deed or thought.

rbd August 19, 2011 at 7:58 pm

Need some help. Don did a post on why certain cancer drugs are becoming scare. Can anyone provide a link for me?


KD August 20, 2011 at 2:24 am
indianajim August 19, 2011 at 10:39 pm

The Kleinian Multiplier: [1/(1-L)] = D

Where L is the proportion of liberty and D is dignity. As L goes to one, D goes to infinity; conversely as L goes to negative infinity (that would be slavery in a Siberian labor camp; read “The Long Walk” if you don’t get this), D goes to zero.

Mesa Econoguy August 20, 2011 at 12:43 am

*like* ;)

kyle8 August 20, 2011 at 8:33 am

What eventually happens is that you get a situation like in London where there is an entire underclass who have never known anything but government being their mommy, daddy, and big brother. They then proceed to riot because they have no self value or dignity at all.

vidyohs August 20, 2011 at 9:03 am

Aren’t you saying that the London underclass began without either liberty or dignity, which would make them a poor example of what the q

vidyohs August 20, 2011 at 9:05 am

Darn clumsy fingers, I don’t know how I managed to submit that when my fingers weren’t near the button

………quote from Klein above was trying to say.

muirgeo August 20, 2011 at 11:47 am

“Encroach on liberty…”

Well that’s the key. Liberty is spoken as if it is some absolute. The libertarian not being 6 foot 10 inches tall wants to claim the 6 foot 10 inch tall person does not have the right to harm him or take his possession. How convenient to draw the line there.

But it is ok with the Libertarian if we replace the 6 foot 10 inch person with a corporation, a monopoly, an heired jackass, a paper pushing banker with access to the fed or treasury or some other person or entity with a relative hold or dominance over the economic lives of others. And some how the libertarian doesn’t see the economic indignity of the poverty class his definition creates liberty creates. In reality with a broader definition of liberty and a look to history the Libertarian does not promote liberty in general but liberty for the few at the expense of the many. He promotes the liberty of those who already have and does not concern himself with the liberty of those who never had… preferring to assume that they obviously deserve what they have and nothing more.

At least the 6 foot 10 person can claim to have some true right over his lessors if not based alone on his physical prowess alone. But the whimpy aristocratic inbreed dolt far to often holds power over much more useful and potential beings them himself as a mere result of chance of birth.

The problem for the libertarian is that he defines liberty almost exclusively in regards to economic liberty and that shortcoming makes the rest of his High Horse Moral Superiority a BIG STEAMING PILE of CONVENIENT BULLSHIT him not being 6 foot 10 himself.

Greg Webb August 20, 2011 at 12:06 pm

George, nice rant! But, you may need a vacation.

The reality is that libertarians want to expose, indict, convict, and send to prison corrupt politicians like Barney Frank, the protector of Fannie Mae, and their political cronies like James Johnson, the Democrat Party operative who transformed that sleepy quasi-public government agency into one that bankrolled the huge mal-investment in residential real estate. Mr. Johnson is a director of Goldman Sachs, a big investment bank that contributes heavily to the political elite that continues to push for bigger government. It is the progressive side that supports these crony capitalists and their enablers in the Congress and the Administration.

muirgeo August 20, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Boloney Greg, the democraric party has put forth all sorts of good legislation to reform our finance system only to be consistently rebuked by republican law makers who have done nothing but protect the wealthy banks.

Name ONEpiece of legislation the Republican House has put forth or even written to reign in our banking system. YOU CAN’T…. YOU WON’T. I’m not sure if you even care. I’m not convinved you are seeking truth but looking more for confirmation.

The banks are bigger and more powerful then ever. Libertarians and their beliefs are to the Wall Street Aristocracy what Chrisitians and Christ teachings are to right wing religious fanatics and their churchs. Useful idiots. The benefactors don’t practice what they claim to believe and they couldn’t care less about their useful follower stooges.

Have you seen the polls showing your Tea Party Wackos are now less popular than atheist and Muslims?

Greg Webb August 20, 2011 at 2:56 pm

George, your statist ideological views prevent you from accepting reality.

Representative Barney Frank and former-Senator Chris Dodd introduced and successfully passed legislation that protects their crony capitalist friends like Goldman Sachs (and Goldman protects its benefactors by making James Johnson, a former Democrat Party political operative) a director for his great service in defrauding the US taxpayer and facilitating the boom in lending to subprime (otherwise known as unable to repay) borrowers to buy houses. A real (non-political crony capitalist) banker would not have made loans to borrowers who do not generate sufficient income to repay those loans.

Republicans during the George Bush era tried to pass legislation to reign in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac But Barney Frank, in his now infamous video said at the House Financial Services Committee hearing on Sept. 25, 2003: “I do think I do not want the same kind of focus on safety and soundness that we have in OCC [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency] and OTS [Office of Thrift Supervision]. I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation towards subsidized housing.”

Well Barney Frank rolled the dice and it came up snake eyes. But, not for Barney and his crony capitalist friends at Fannie Mae and Goldman Sachs. They all played the corrupt, but highly profitable, game where the politicians and the political cronies win and the taxpayers lose — not just once but all of the time.

The banks do not need regulation. Rather, they need to compete without government intervention and be allowed to fail if they do not serve consumers well as opposed to being bailed out by taxpayers when their idiotic, politically inspired, and high risk games fail.

You said, “The banks are bigger and more powerful then ever.” Yes, because their friends in the Democrat Party keep bailing them out when they should be allowed to fail. Anna Schwartz, co-author with Milton Friedman in writing the book, “A Monetary History of the United States,” famously said, while all the big-government types were wailing how the investment banks had to be bailed out or the world would come to an end, that , “they should fail.”

Ms. Schwartz also said, “I’m opposed to the government bailing out firms that should be shut down because they are basically insolvent. A firm that’s insolvent should be encouraged to file for bankruptcy and rid the market of an institution that’s using resources that could be better used by productive firms.” That is exactly the libertarian view.

George, you also said, “Libertarians and their beliefs are to the Wall Street Aristocracy what Chrisitians and Christ teachings are to right wing religious fanatics and their churchs.” Your argument is incoherent and reveals that you manipulate facts and make stuff up to create the straw man argument, which only then can you knock down. I pointed out the reality (see above) that libertarians would have let the investment banks fail. It took “big-government stooges such as yourself to bail them out with taxpayer funds. This, as Vladimir Lenin so famously said, make you a “useful idiot” to the political elite like Barney Frank and their political cronies like James Johnson and Goldman Sachs, who all want bigger government to protect them from competition and bail them out when their high risk games fail.

Libertarians believe in letting businesses fail. You big-government types do not. Consequently, big-government advocates are always the useful idiots of corrupt politicians and their political cronies.

You said, “Have you seen the polls showing your Tea Party Wackos are now less popular than atheist and Muslims?” Ah, silly name calling, the other despicable and disingenuous debate tactic of the big-government advocate. The Tea Party is the name given to a political movement that advocates limiting federal government power and spending. Well, it should be expected since the Tea Party just came out of nowhere and is challenging the big government advocates in the Republican Party.

They are changing the political debate to one of enforcing the Constitutional limits on the federal government’s power and spending habits. Good for them…and that is good for the country.

It is bad, however, for corrupt politicians and their political cronies. So, smear on, my friend, because your feeble attempt to character assassinate a whole group of people reveals your fear that the era of big government is truly coming to an ignominious end. Allāhu Akbar!

muirgeo August 20, 2011 at 6:08 pm

“Rather, they need to compete without government intervention and be allowed to fail ….”

Did George Bush allow them to fail? Did his Treasury Secretary allow them to fail? Who was George Bush’s Treasury Secretary? Who did he work for prior to becoming treasury secretary?

“Libertarians believe in letting businesses fail.”

No they don’t the Koch brothers are supposed libertarians with the Cato Institute and they are seeking and getting all sorts of government favors and rent. Greg you are a Republican and not a libertarian anyway You don’t get to side with one party and then claim you area libertarian every time the ineptness of the party you vote for is revealed. If I did as you I could claim no responsibility for what the democrats have done as almost NONE of what they have achieved falls into what progressives would recommend we do to improve things.

That you think the global banking collapse was all the fault of Barney Frank who was in the minority party when he said the things you quoted him on is silly. To blame it all on Fannie ad Freddie which were PUBLICLY traded entities and then to ignore the role of Wall Streets private sector creations of financial derivatives traded outside of standard regulations is intellectually dishonest.

But to admit to the obvious role they played in dooming the global economy destroys the whole basis of your belief systems… so you have no choice but to deny reality… that’s very sad.

Again you are not seeking the truth but more interested in keeping your faith.

The Tea party people are religious wackos first and economic policy ignoramuses second. Almost ALL their initial bills dealt with them trying to shove their un-Christ like cult religious ways down everyone else’s throats. My calling them names is not despicable… THEY are despicable by their actions and beliefs.

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