Why Am I a Libertarian?

by Don Boudreaux on November 9, 2011

in Video

Yesterday I was interviewed by Libertarianism.org for this short video on the question “Why are you a libertarian?“  Had I just a few minutes more, I would have added that I had the great good fortune to have had superb economics professors at my undergraduate institution, Nicholls State University – including Michelle Francois (now Bailliet) (my very first econ professor) and, especially, Bill Field, who I will always revere as my first and finest mentor.

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{ 232 comments }

Jon Murphy November 9, 2011 at 7:28 pm

Well said, sir! Bravo!

Invisible Backhand November 9, 2011 at 7:35 pm

“video produced by Evan Banks”

Evan Banks was introduced to the ideas of liberty thanks to a few cantankerous professors and college friends and a voracious appetite for reading, critical thinking, questioning authority, and general ruckus-raising. After graduating from Geneva College with a degree in English Literature and Computer Science in 2009, Evan moved to Washington, D.C. where he interned for a year at the Competitive Enterprise Institute while earning his Master’s Degree in Journalism and Public Affairs at American University. He spent the summer of 2010 working in the New Media department at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University as a Koch Summer Fellow, and is now a Multimedia Editor and Videographer at the Cato Institute.

I wander what Diogenes would have thought of CafeHayek?

Invisible Backhand November 9, 2011 at 11:51 pm

I was introduced to the beautiful ideas of statism thanks to a few sociopathic professors and schizophrenic college roommates, as well as a voracious appetite for petty larceny, uncritical acceptance of mainstream media bias, and general passive-aggressiveness toward the world at large. After graduating from an elite 2-year community college with a double-major Associates Degree in Marxian Post-Neo-Futurism and Haight-Ashbury Studies, I fulfilled a long-time dream by moving to San Francisco to continue my research — “living the life of the mind”, as I used to say (before frying it completely on some really, really good drugs). I spent several summers interning in the Propaganda Department of the People’s Revolutionary Collective, shooting H, dropping Acid-25, snorting blow, and working alternate weekends bussing tables at a hip organic vegan restaurant called “The Yeast Infection.” It was groovy. Now I am a paid shill and informant for senior management in the cyber-stalking department of Anonymous, as well as a Professional Useful Idiot and Administrative Assistant for the Second Assistant to the Vice President Pro Tem for the southern district of MoveOn.org.

Thank you for listening, and welcome to my world.

vikingvista November 10, 2011 at 12:29 am

Now that was pretty funny.

g-dub November 10, 2011 at 1:26 am

Hilarious caricature. Fits IB like a glove!

Stone Glasgow November 10, 2011 at 1:56 am

Brilliant.

brotio November 10, 2011 at 2:13 am

HSIROTFLMAO!

:D :D

dsylexic November 10, 2011 at 3:13 am

oh wow.oh wow.oh wow. zzzzt

Invisible Backhand November 10, 2011 at 10:24 am

IB,

False. The sun does not ‘rise in the east’, it is an illusion created by the fact that the Earth, a sphere, is rotating and bringing the Sun into view. I’m sure you did not know it is a star in the center of our solar system.

Regards,
Ken

House of Cards & Economic Freedom November 10, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Imposter Backhand:

False. Since there’s no such thing as “absolute motion” and “absolute rest” in space, there’s no reason to think of one model as an illusion and the other, the literal truth. Heliocentrism was known about in antiquity and rejected because it violated observational evidence at the time. Geocentrism was discarded later when more observational evidence made it necessary to add an increasingly unwieldy number of ad hoc assumptions to the basic model. Heliocentrism, Newton’s laws of motion, and Newton’s hypothesis of Universal Gravitation, explained all of the observational phenomena so much more simply and elegantly — with few if any ad hoc assumptions — that it made geocentrism unnecessary.

Finally — and most importantly — geocentrism was also discarded because, since Aristotle, the universe had been divided into two basic realms: the “sub-lunary” realm (everything from the orbit of the moon down to the center of the earth), and the “heavenly realm” (everything from the orbit of the moon to the so-called fixed stars, thence outward from there to a placed called the Empyrean). Since antiquity, “astronomy” was the study of the laws of motion of this latter realm, while “physics” was understood to be the study of the more chaotic kinds of motion observed on earth (with the assumption that an earth-like environment persisted up until the orbit of the moon). It was Newton’s great insight to unify these two realms, asserting that “astronomy” and “physics” are both guided by the same basic laws of motion and gravitation, which pertain to a single realm. Thus, the new Newtonian ideas of mass, inertia, and gravity, made it necessary to make observations of astronomical events consistent with observations of terrestrial ones.

Just trying to nuance some of that rigid, knee-jerk reflex you display so often in your thinking about things.

El Diablo November 12, 2011 at 9:34 pm

That’s hilarious!

Jon Murphy November 9, 2011 at 7:36 pm

I am a Libertarian partially because of my upbringing (my parents always said if I wanted something I had to buy it myself). Also, part of it is my religion. I was raised (and still am) Congregationalist, where we believe all are divine; no one person has any more divinity or connection to God than another and that led to the groundwork of my individualism.

My introduction to economics furthered my Libertarian bent when we read Capitalism and Freedom in high school and furthered in college under the tutelage of some excellent professors.

vidyohs November 9, 2011 at 8:05 pm

“Never make excuses for your failing(s)”

I salute you and your parents. That is exactly what I have taught my children and the credo I live by.

The moment my grandchildren start into an excuse for something, I hold up my hand and tell them, “Stop. There are no excuses, much less any I want to listen to. I might listen to a reason for your failure so you can learn from it, but do not make an excuse.”

But, then making excuses is what we expect from people who have grown up in a world where left controlled television/entertainment programing, left controlled school systems, and a left leaning nanny state government teaches excuse and encourages the excuse as everyone is a victim of something.

If I were going to be anything but the radical I am, it would be libertarian.

Greg G November 10, 2011 at 7:03 am

vidyohs

Good to know. I look forward to the day when you stop using the government and the “looney left” as excuses for your failure to institute the policies you advocate.

vidyohs November 10, 2011 at 7:20 am

You create the mess and have the audacity to wonder when I am going to clean it up. Yep, that fits with the looney logic.

Greg G November 10, 2011 at 7:28 am

vidyohs

No, no. Not wondering when, wondering why you have so many excuses (TV, entertainment, schools, nanny state, immigrants, etc.).

vidyohs November 10, 2011 at 8:01 pm

With each passing comment you become more irrelevant and nonsensical in your words.

Do I use TV, other entertainment, schools, nanny state, immigrants, as excuses not to do what I can do? If that is your case, please show me where I have ever said such a thing.

But, then you can’t, I know it and you know it.

So, tell me how it is that I am responsible for cleaning up the mess you and your kind have made, and on your schedule using your approved techniques.

What makes you think you are important enough for me to discuss strategy and tactics with? You’re like a little pissant that gets into the sugar bowl, an irritant, not a problem.

Josh S November 10, 2011 at 8:59 am

Contrary to popular belief, Don isn’t King of the United States. He’s just an econ prof and has very little political power.

muirgeo November 10, 2011 at 11:28 am

Greg,

All you need to know about vidyohs is that he has a government pension and full government medical coverage. .. as he said… he’s a “radical”.

Greg Webb November 10, 2011 at 11:37 am

George, are you saying that the government should not honor its agreements with individuals just because of their political views? Only a cowardly conformist would change his political views for fear that the government might not honor its agreements and obligations. And, a government that makes agreements only to dishonor them is tyrannical.

Fred November 10, 2011 at 12:01 pm

He is saying that in order for vid to truly be a limited government guy, that he must give up all the benefits he receives as a veteran.

Anonymous November 10, 2011 at 12:58 pm

And that, Fred, is truly nonsense. It is the same as saying that you must conform your political beliefs in order to get the government to honor its previous commitments.

Fred November 10, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Of course it’s nonsense. It came from muir’s head.

Greg G November 10, 2011 at 3:53 pm

GW

Of course the government should honor its agreements with vidyohs and everyone else. The point is, he thinks it is outrageous that he has to pay taxes for other agreements that the government has made with individuals because he doesn’t approve of those agreements.

Well maybe some of us wouldn’t have approved of the agreement that the government made with vidyohs. But we have to pay tax to cover that agreement anyway. Why doesn’t that trouble him?

Josh S November 10, 2011 at 5:35 pm

The logic of hypocrisy charges from leftists works like this:

A) Government monopolizes or nearly takes over a sector of the economy.
B) Libertarians can’t really make do without this sector, so they continue to use the government-distorted version of it.
C) Leftists declare that if libertarians *truly* believed in liberty, they would quit driving on roads/going to public schools/collecting Social Security/using FDA-approved medicine/driving cars subject to CAFE standards/etc.
D) Basically, leftists demand that libertarians all move to Somalia before we are allowed to speak our opinions. Either that, or kill ourselves.

As with all morals they invent, leftists do not apply this to themselves. So although muirgeo believes in socialism, he doesn’t consider himself a hypocrite for taking advantage of products and services only offered on the private market.

vidyohs November 10, 2011 at 8:18 pm

@Greg G,
Like the lying muirhuahua, George Ballela, you have no idea of what you speak. None, zip, nada. All you know about me is that I know government for what it is, I know our society for what it is, and I am not afraid to say it like it is.

I’ll tell you just this once and after this you can piss down your leg all you want and I will ignore your dripping pants.

I object to government providing cradle to grave funding to people who do nothing to receive it, their only qualification to receive those funds that you pay for is that they managed to survive birth. That’s it. Sole qualification is breathing, and voting socialist in the elections.

I object to government giving your money and my money to ADM and the Popcorn Council of America hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for their advertising overseas, an item that those companies should be paying for out of their profits. I object to seeing our money given to bumbling fools who smear shit on a board, call themselves artists, and receive our money through the NEA.

I have no objection to expending public funds through legitimate contracting, except in that I know that government does not supervise those contracts in nearly as demanding a manner as any business man would, consequently enormous funds are lost due to lax control.

Got that Greg G. And, I am not in any way shy about saying I earned a military pension in some pretty hard places while you sat on your ass and made money under the cover I provided. And, I don’t give a rats ass that the money comes from taxes (ostensibly for services provided), the government offered the contract in full knowledge of what they were doing and they wrote the terms, so, in reality my pension come from the same source all pensions come from, public money, it doesn’t matter whether it is General Motors or the U.S.Military, all money coming into either comes from the public…….unless you really are stupid enough to believe that GMC, DUPONT, IBM etc. et. a., do have magic money making machines and sell nothing to the public.

I do suspect you are that stupid.

Greg G November 10, 2011 at 8:40 pm

vidyohs

I did not suggest that you use the excuses that I listed as a reason “not to do what you can do.” I suggested that you used them as excuses for your lack of success at returning us to the glorious state of freedom we enjoyed 150 years ago.

And, by the way, why do I not see on your list of government outrages all the unnecessary or bungled wars of the last 50 years.

Greg Webb November 10, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Greg G, Vidyohs was in the US military and is receiving a legitimate, earned pension from the US government. The US military is an expressly authorizedr under Article I Section 8 of the Constitution.

AIG, Goldman Sachs, Solyndra, etc. received bailouts or loans from the US government. The Constitution does not expressly authorize the federal government to do any of those things. They are not legitimate nor earned.

Why would you equate an earmed pension by a military veteran, which is a legitimate function of the US government, with unconstitutional pay offs to political cronies?

You should apologize to Vidyohs..

Greg Webb November 10, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Greg G, this blog is not big enough to hold a list of all the things the federal government unconstitutionally spend money on including all of the wars in the last 50 years that were not formally declared by Congress.

Greg G November 10, 2011 at 9:13 pm

GW

I was not suggesting that vidyohs pension is not legitimate. In fact, I think it is legitimate. My point is that his approval, or your approval, or my approval, as individuals, is not the thing that determines the legitimacy of that, or any other government expenditure.

I am, by now, very familiar with the ceaseless repetition of your conviction that you possess the one correct interpretation of the Constitution. And that if only you could get everyone else to see that (especially those pesky Supreme Court Justices) that the country could be saved.

Greg Webb November 10, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Greg G, I’m pleased to see that you are willing to vote to approve Vidyoh’s military pension as authorized under the Constitution. I wonder if we can get a majority of voters to approve it under your silly and disingenuous interpretation of the Constitution?

No wait! The Supreme Court got this one right. Well, at least, until the issue is brought before them again. Then, they will, of course, be able to change their mind like they did when they said it was constitutional for people to be property. It is just too bad that they did not READ the Constitution when they came up with that stupid decision. You ought to read it too.

And, you still need to apologize to Vidyohs.

Greg G November 10, 2011 at 9:53 pm

GW

Just when I thought there was nothing I cared less about than whether or not you approve of my views on the Constitution, I realized that was wrong. I care even less about whether or not you think I should apologize to vidyohs.

Greg Webb November 10, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Greg G, I knew that would be your response. I’ve noticed that you don’t care about the meaning of words, facts, evidence, common sense, other people’s feelings, etc. All that matters to statists like you are your feelings. And, you are willing to pay any price, except when it requires your money or time, to assuage your guilty feelings of not not helping others or doing what’s right.

Greg Webb November 10, 2011 at 10:35 pm

BTW, you still need to apologize to Vidyohs.

Randy November 11, 2011 at 8:56 am

Josh S nailed it.

Josh S November 10, 2011 at 5:29 pm

All we need to know about you is that you use a computer that was made by a private company.

See how easy this is?

muirgeo November 10, 2011 at 6:28 pm

I support private companies and the government research that lead to the microprocessors, the internet and many other scientific advances public and private that allow me to send you this post using my computer and the internet. We need both. I am not the extremist. You are the ones claiming this would have all happened if we had less government interference… which is a position against all evidence and reason.

muirgeo November 10, 2011 at 6:25 pm

Thanks Greg G for giving a great reply that underscores my position on vidyohs. I am consistent in that I support the contract he made with the government and all the other ones we’ve made with teachers and researchers and road builders…vidyohs would seem to be the one who suggest we not pay our $14 trillion dollars of debt.. Well maybe he would like to volunteer HIS pension for starters… but guess what? He won’t see it that way.

Greg Webb November 10, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Muirgeo, the Comstitution authorizes the US government to establish a military and pay pensions to veterans. It does not, however, authorize the US government to hire or pay teachers or researchers.

You need to apologize to Vidyohs!

muirgeo November 11, 2011 at 1:32 am

LOL… Greg’s feeling like a mother today with all these request for apologies. vidyohs is a total jagass and I am not responsible for that and thus no apology will be forth coming mother Greg. So what ? Am I grounded?

Greg Webb November 11, 2011 at 11:15 am

No, George, you are just stupid.

vidyohs November 10, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Muirhuahua, my little front porch chihuahua intellect, like all socialists you lie, and you lie knowingly, intentionally, willingly, and voluntarily. And here you are known for those lies as well as your pathetic broken brain. No more to be said about you, or to you.

Greg G November 11, 2011 at 7:31 am

GW

“Then, they (the Supreme Court) will, of course, be able to change their mind like they did when they said it was constitutional for people to be property. It’s just too bad that they did not READ the constitution when they came up with that stupid decision.”

All said without the dimmest glimmer of recognition that many of the people who wrote the Constitution WERE slaveholders.

All said without the dimmest glimmer of recognition that all of the people who wrote the Constitution did read it and DID intend for it to allow for the continuation of slavery.

All said without the dimmest glimmer of recognition that the views of the founders and of Supreme Court justices might count more on this matter than the opinions of Greg Webb.

Greg Webb November 11, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Greg G, you criticized my comment as follows:

“Then, they (the Supreme Court) will, of course, be able to change their mind like they did when they said it was constitutional for people to be property. It’s just too bad that they did not READ the constitution when they came up with that stupid decision.”

by your making 3 false, unsupported conclusory statements:

(1)All said without the dimmest glimmer of recognition that many of the people who wrote the Constitution WERE slaveholders.

With this false conclusory statement, you reveal that you have not read history nor understand historical context. Some Founding Fathers were slave owners while many were not. The Founding Fathers grew up with slavery, which was the norm prior to the American Revolution.

All of the Founding Fathers were normal flawed human beings. But, they had a great idea — that people are created as equals and could govern themselves!

But, like the society that raised them, some Founding Fathers could understand individual liberty only for themselves, and not if it meant that lesser people would now be their equals, especially if it disrupted their lives and living standards. And, that was the impasse that the Founding Fathers found themselves in when trying to get the proposed Constitution ratified. Many like John Adams wanted to abolish slavery but, in order to get a nation of all the States, they had to make a terrible compromise and hope that the ideas that they were advancing would ultimately win out.

Did you really expect the Founding Fathers would be able to perfect their ideas throughout the whole nation among over 4 million people with the simple ratification of the Constitution? Don’t you understand that people are resistant to change even though they may think it is a great idea? You are incredibly naive.

(2) “All said without the dimmest glimmer of recognition that all of the people who wrote the Constitution did read it and DID intend for it to allow for the continuation of slavery.”

False! You should start fact checking your silly false conclusory statements.

The Founders put slavery on the path to ultimate extinction. In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act threatened to bring about slavery’s resurgence by opening up new territories to slaveowning. In 1854, Lincoln made this argument in a series of speeches on behalf of candidates opposed to the Kansas-Nebraska Act. “In these addresses Lincoln set forth the themes that he would carry into the presidency six years later,” writes Princeton’s James M. McPherson in the Battle Cry of Freedom. McPherson summarizes Lincoln’s argument:

“‘The founding fathers’, said Lincoln, ‘had opposed slavery.’ They adopted a Declaration of Independence that pronounced all men created equal. They enacted the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 banning slavery from the vast Northwest Territory. To be sure, many of the founders owned slaves. But they asserted their hostility to slavery in principle while tolerating it temporarily (as they hoped) in practice. That was why they did not mention the words ‘slave’ or ‘slavery’ in the Constitution, but referred only to ‘persons held to service.’ ‘Thus, the thing is hid away, in the constitution,’ said Lincoln, ‘just as an afflicted man hides away a wen or a cancer, which he dares not cut out at once, lest he bleed to death; with the promise, nevertheless, that the cutting may begin at the end of a given time.’ The first step was to prevent the spread of this cancer, which the fathers took with the Northwest Ordinance, the prohibition of the African slave trade in 1807, and the Missouri Compromise restriction of 1820. The second was to begin a process of gradual emancipation, which the generation of the fathers had accomplished in the states north of Maryland.”

Here’s what Lincoln said of the Founding Fathers in his 1854 Peoria speech:

“The argument of ‘Necessity’ was the only argument they ever admitted in favor of slavery; and so far, and so far only as it carried them, did they ever go. They found the institution existing among us, which they could not help; and they cast blame upon the British King for having permitted its introduction. BEFORE the constitution, they prohibited its introduction into the north-western Territory—-the only country we owned, then free from it. AT the framing and adoption of the constitution, they forbore to so much as mention the word ‘slave’ or ‘slavery’ in the whole instrument. In the provision for the recovery of fugitives, the slave is spoken of as a ‘PERSON HELD TO SERVICE OR LABOR.’ In that prohibiting the abolition of the African slave trade for twenty years, that trade is spoken of as ‘The migration or importation of such persons as any of the States NOW EXISTING, shall think proper to admit,’ &c. These are the only provisions alluding to slavery. Thus, the thing is hid away, in the constitution, just as an afflicted man hides away a wen or a cancer, which he dares not cut out at once, lest he bleed to death; with the promise, nevertheless, that the cutting may begin at the end of a given time. Less than this our fathers COULD not do; and NOW [MORE?] they WOULD not do. Necessity drove them so far, and farther, they would not go. But this is not all. The earliest Congress, under the constitution, took the same view of slavery. They hedged and hemmed it in to the narrowest limits of necessity.

In 1794, they prohibited an out-going slave-trade—-that is, the taking of slaves FROM the United States to sell.

In 1798, they prohibited the bringing of slaves from Africa, INTO the Mississippi Territory—-this territory then comprising what are now the States of Mississippi and Alabama. This was TEN YEARS before they had the authority to do the same thing as to the States existing at the adoption of the constitution.

In 1800 they prohibited AMERICAN CITIZENS from trading in slaves between foreign countries—-as, for instance, from Africa to Brazil.

In 1803 they passed a law in aid of one or two State laws, in restraint of the internal slave trade.

In 1807, in apparent hot haste, they passed the law, nearly a year in advance to take effect the first day of 1808—-the very first day the constitution would permit—-prohibiting the African slave trade by heavy pecuniary and corporal penalties.

In 1820, finding these provisions ineffectual, they declared the trade piracy, and annexed to it, the extreme penalty of death. While all this was passing in the general government, five or six of the original slave States had adopted systems of gradual emancipation; and by which the institution was rapidly becoming extinct within these limits.

Thus we see, the plain unmistakable spirit of that age, towards slavery, was hostility to the PRINCIPLE, and toleration, ONLY BY NECESSITY.”

In Lincoln’s famous 1860 Cooper Union speech, he noted that of the 39 framers of the Constitution, 22 had voted on the question of banning slavery in the new territories. Twenty of the 22 voted to ban it, while another one of the Constitution’s framers—George Washington—signed into law legislation enforcing the Northwest Ordinance that banned slavery in the Northwest Territories. At Cooper Union, Lincoln also quoted Thomas Jefferson, who had argued in favor of Virginia emancipation: “It is still in our power to direct the process of emancipation, and deportation, peaceably, and in such slow degrees, as that the evil will wear off insensibly….”

So, Greg G, when you READ and UNDERSTAND history, you KNOW that the Founding Fathers were overwhelmingly antislavery.

(3)All said without the dimmest glimmer of recognition that the views of the founders and of Supreme Court justices might count more on this matter than the opinions of Greg Webb.

Nope. Please see comments above responding to your second false conclusory statement. When you READ the CONSTITUTION and UNDERSTAND HISTORY, anyone can properly interpret the Constitution to reach the correct conclusion — that people cannot be property. But, of course, silly people, like you, who don’t understand the meaning of plainly-written words and history pretend at knowledge by assuming that other imperfect human beings, merely by their office as Supreme Court Justices, correctly interpreted the Constitution when their decision OBVIOUSLY violates the purpose and policy reasons for creating the Constitution.

Greg G, please start reading and thinking instead of uselessly emoting about things that you do not understand.

Greg G November 11, 2011 at 1:11 pm

GW

I never argued that the founders should have been able to end slavery in one stroke. You are the one that argued that outlawing slavery was as simple as having the Supreme Court read the Constitution properly.

All the instances that you cited of the founders regulating slavery are evidence that they thought they had written a Constitution that permitted it. Along with the fact that many of them continued to personally own slaves. Evidence that they found it distasteful is not evidence they thought they had written a Constitution that made it illegal.

Therefore your notion that the Constitution made slavery illegal is an unsupported conclusory statement. I’m surprised you didn’t know that.

Greg Webb November 11, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Greg G, you said, “I never argued that the founders should have been able to end slavery in one stroke. You are the one that argued that outlawing slavery was as simple as having the Supreme Court read the Constitution properly.”

No, you did not argue that the Founding Fathers should not have been able to end slavery in one stoke. You never even got to that issue BECAUSE you clearly said that they “DID intend for it to allow for the continuation of slavery.” And, that silly statement is wrong given the historical record, including the quotes from President Abraham Lincoln noted in my previous comment.

I said that the Supreme Court got it wrong when they incorrectly interpreted the Constitution to allow people to be property. I never said that they could have corrected slavery overnight if they had gotten their interpretation right. All I said was that they SHOULD have gotten their decision right. You were arguing that they were infallible, which they have to be under your view of Constitutional interpretation.

You said,“All the instances that you cited of the founders regulating slavery are evidence that they thought they had written a Constitution that permitted it.”

Not according to President Abraham Lincoln. It was his list that I provided from his 1854 Peoria speech. And, Lincoln argued in his speech that the plain unmistakable spirit of the Founding Fathers, towards slavery, was hostility to the PRINCIPLE, and toleration, ONLY BY NECESSITY.”

You said, “Along with the fact that many of them continued to personally own slaves. Evidence that they found it distasteful is not evidence they thought they had written a Constitution that made it illegal.”

I, and President Lincoln, never said that the Founding Fathers thought that they were outlawing slavery overnight with the Constitution. Rather, as noted by President Lincoln, the Founding Fathers were hostile to the principle of slavery and tolerated it only by necessity. Then, they did things to reduce and gradually eliminate slavery.

You said, “Therefore your notion that the Constitution made slavery illegal is an unsupported conclusory statement.”

I see that you don’t understand the definition of “conclusory statement.” I supported my argument with evidence from a distinguished statesman who made my argument for me. That distinguished statesman is President Abraham Lincoln. But, according to Greg G, President Lincoln did not know what he was talking about. But, the accurate interpretation is that Greg G, as usual, does not know what he is talking about.

President Lincoln’s position is well supported with the facts that he listed from the historical record. You, on the other hand, made false conclusory statements and silly personal attacks.

You said, “I’m surprised you didn’t know that.

LOL! I know Greg G, both President Lincoln and I do not understand the historical record. LOL!

Greg G November 11, 2011 at 3:09 pm

GW

What the founders said AND DID is much better evidence of their intentions than what Lincoln thought several generations later.

You have argued yourself into a knot. First you maintained that we must never have a “living Constitution” whose meaning can change over time.

Then you argued that, even though many of the founders continued to own slaves (who forced them to do that?) they wrote a Constitution that made it illegal for them to do exactly what we know they continued to do without any trouble from the legal authorities. The fact that many of the founders DID continue to own slaves is the best possible proof that their own interpretation of what they wrote permitted it.

You can copy and paste the entire Federalist papers if you like and quote every president that came many decades later, but it will never get you out of that mess. Check and mate.

Greg Webb November 11, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Greg G, you said, “What the founders said AND DID is much better evidence of their intentions than what Lincoln thought several generations later.”

The Founding Fathers DID change world history by advocating for individual liberty and equality DESPITE conventional wisdom of the day. And, that was bold for that time or even this one where so many want an “enlightened” elite to take care of us.

I used President Lincoln’s quote because he supported his views with facts and EVIDENCE. Something that you failed (again) to do.

You falsely claimed, “You have argued yourself into a knot. First you maintained that we must never have a “living Constitution” whose meaning can change over time.”

Another unsupported conclusory statement, Greg G? Can’t you make a logical argument supported by evidence?

We do not have a “living” Constitution. We have a Constitution with written words that mean things. A Constitution is no more than a contract. Now, would you want someone to keep re-interpreting your employment agreement whenever they wanted?

You then said, “Then you argued that, even though many of the founders continued to own slaves (who forced them to do that?) they wrote a Constitution that made it illegal for them to do exactly what we know they continued to do without any trouble from the legal authorities.”

Apparently, the ability to read and comprehend escapes you. The Founding Fathers were hostile to the principle of slavery and tolerated it only by the necessity of including all of the States in the new nation. Then, they did things to reduce and gradually eliminate slavery. As any wise person would do when confronted by the silly statists. But, wisdom is not in you, nor the ability to see wisdom in others

You said,“The fact that many of the founders DID continue to own slaves is the best possible proof that their own interpretation of what they wrote permitted it.”

You are factually incorrect, again. Most of the Founding Fathers did not own slaves. Twenty voted to ban it, while another one of the Constitution’s framers—George Washington—signed into law legislation enforcing the Northwest Ordinance that banned slavery in the Northwest Territories. Also, Thomas Jefferson argued in favor of Virginia emancipation when he said, “It is still in our power to direct the process of emancipation, and deportation, peaceably, and in such slow degrees, as that the evil will wear off insensibly….”

You make another false conclusion when you said, “You can copy and paste the entire Federalist papers if you like and quote every president that came many decades later, but it will never get you out of that mess. Check and mate.

I quoted President Abraham Lincoln, not the Federalist Papers in my last comment. He presented his views, which were properly supported by the historical record and evidence.

You, on the other hand, made another silly unsupported conclusory statement. Then, you childishly claimed to have won a debate against President Lincoln’s well-reasoned and well-supported view.

And, that is standard operating procedure for libtards. As President Ronald Reagan said, “Liberals know so much that just isn’t so.” You are proof that he was right.

Epic fail!

Greg Webb November 13, 2011 at 11:57 am

“You can [present evidence from the] Federalist papers if you like and quote [a respected President like Abraham Lincoln, but it will never get you out of that mess. Check and mate.”

To stupid statists like Greg G the facts and the evidence never matter. All that matters is their stupid statist ideology.

A statist is unable to make a persuasive, logical argument supported by objective, verifiable evidence. So they resort to conclusory statements, personal attacks, straw man arguments, non sequiturs, and prevarications. Then, they falsely claim victory instead of seeing if they persuaded anyone to their cause.

Krishnan November 9, 2011 at 8:33 pm

I think there is more to it than upbringing/background – siblings for example do not necessarily share the same views even if they had the same background, parents – but yes, there is much that parents can do to set an example and for the kids to pick up … not being envious of other people’s success for example – being responsible for one’s self and one’s family – lessons that all kids do learn and seek to emulate

Becky Hargrove November 9, 2011 at 9:03 pm

I came to libertarianism slowly through decades of life experience. That’s basically the way my parents think even if more on an unconscious level.

Frequent reader November 9, 2011 at 9:16 pm

the government made me a libertarian

Methinks1776 November 9, 2011 at 10:00 pm

The very first words I ever put together when I learned to speak were “I’ll do it myself” and that’s pretty much how I’ve always lived my life. So, I’m pretty sure I was born a libertarian.

Don Boudreaux November 9, 2011 at 10:06 pm

I do believe that so very much of one’s ideology – or, perhaps, meta-ideology – is a product of personality and upbringing. The notion that strangers have some pre-REAL-contractual moral obligation to me – or me to them – beyond the mutual respect of each other’s person, stuff, and space, is utterly foreign to me. It always has been. And the same was true of my parents (and grandparents [all four of whom I knew well]). Genetics or culture? I don’t know.

But it sure wasn’t the case that my grandparents, parents, or myself – or my siblings (all three of whom largely share my views) – were paid by rich folk to think as we did and do!

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools November 9, 2011 at 10:44 pm

The notion that strangers have some pre-REAL-contractual moral obligation to me – or me to them – beyond the mutual respect of each other’s person, stuff, and space, is utterly foreign to me.

There are absolute obligations people have to others. Interesting that the proof came from another University, just this night.

muirgeo November 10, 2011 at 1:34 am

“The notion that strangers have some pre-REAL-contractual moral obligation to me….”

And yet so much of your success was a result of a pre-contractual obligation. Had you been born in 1960′s Harlem or modern North Korea or Haiti or 16th century England or 500 BC in Persia your ability to “do for yourself” would be very limited. This country and the modern democratic welfare states are the result of an ongoing advancement of civilization, cultural evolution and the blood fought for such things.

Now libertarians arrive on the scene and suddenly they are “doing it on their own”. Sorry but you are not. You stand on the shoulders of giants interconnected to a society interdependent on far more then just free economic exchange. There needs to be rules and libertarians have no corner on the market of ideas on how to arrange society. In fact, the rules libertarians might suggest to arrange society around exist no where in the natural world of societies and thus the only place you will ever find a person claiming to be a libertarian in in the modern democratic social welfare state. The obtuseness of this reality is never a matter of concern for them…. they just push on rugged self made individuals that they are…. driving down the public ways… It’s silly, it’s annoying and most dangerously its propaganda for the political class.

CalgaryGuy November 10, 2011 at 2:08 am

Come on now your muirgeo, you’ve been on this site long enough to know that Libertarians don’t reject society and voluntary co-operation, we oppose the use of force inherent in government. You are being intellectually dishonest (no shocker really) by portraying people on this site as such. I’m not sure if you are propagating this straw man to play to others or to reassure your self.

brotio November 10, 2011 at 2:17 am

You are being intellectually dishonest

You are one of the few people at this Cafe to ever compliment Yasafi. You accused him of having an intellect.

muirgeo November 10, 2011 at 7:57 am

People lead constitutional democracy IS voluntary co-operation IMO. But libertarians don’t like the decisions that are made by such groups unless the decisions made are decisions they support. Libertarians have some strict set of rules on how THEY think society should be ordered and if they aren’t followed then they are being oppressed. It’s ultimately very childish. Why should most people live by the libertarians rules when most people believe (and with good reason) such rules will benefit a minority and ultimately be far less efficient.

Libertarians have a right to believe whatever they want . They don’t have a right to force their positions on society because they think they are the ultimate purveyors of liberty…because they call themselves libertarians. They are NOT in any way the the ones who hold the keys or best ideas on how to maximize personal liberty no matter how much they think they are.

Fred November 10, 2011 at 8:15 am

Libertarians have some strict set of rules on how THEY think society should be ordered…

Er, no?

Libertarians believe that society is quite capable of ordering itself.

They don’t have a right to force their positions on society…

Libertarian positions involve not forcing positions on society.

I guess if all you understand is force, then a lack of force is still force, since force would be needed to stop you from using force.

Slappy McFee November 10, 2011 at 9:35 am

These two thoughts are why I love our dear doctor:

“People lead constitutional democracy IS voluntary co-operation IMO. But libertarians don’t like the decisions that are made by such groups unless the decisions made are decisions they support.”

Followed shortly by…

“They don’t have a right to force their positions on society because they think they are the ultimate purveyors of liberty”

I imagine his head would explode if “society” decided as a group to institute those crazy libertarian ideas of rule of law and property rights.

You see Muirgeo, a Constitutional Repubilic IS THE LIBERTARIAN solution to the problem of government. A very specific set of powers to be exercised to repel illegitimate force.

It is the will of the people, acting through voluntary association and exchange, that you seek to subvert for your own evil ends.

Daniel Kuehn November 10, 2011 at 10:48 am

re: “You see Muirgeo, a Constitutional Repubilic IS THE LIBERTARIAN solution to the problem of government. A very specific set of powers to be exercised to repel illegitimate force.”

It is the solution for many libertarians at least. It is also the solution for many, many non-libertarians.

For some reason a lot of libertarians forget this and seem to skip a step in their logic. Mark Pennington is often guilty of this. You’ll often see him provide a really great defense of constitutional republicanism, and then he skips to the idea that he’s demonstrated the value of libertarianism, as if the two are one and the same or as if there are no non-libertarian constitutional republicans.

If I offered a good defense of a constitutional republic, you all would not accept that as an argument for a non-libertarian liberalism.

muirgeo November 10, 2011 at 11:34 am

“I imagine his head would explode if “society” decided as a group to institute those crazy libertarian ideas of rule of law and property rights.”

No not at all. If you can convince enough people to democratically agree to arrange society in such a manner ..HAVE AT IT…in the meantime since the overwhelming majority have no interest in your positions stop complaining about FORCE and GUNS to your heads.

The will of most individuals is to decide in a democratic fashion via a constitutionally limited representative republic form of democracy NOT to institute libertarian policies. DEAL WITH IT!

Chris Bowyer November 10, 2011 at 12:38 pm

“I guess if all you understand is force, then a lack of force is still force, since force would be needed to stop you from using force.”

This. This is the whole ballgame.

Dan J November 10, 2011 at 1:21 pm

I am an individual. I am sovereign. My body is mine. Yet, thru threat of violence and imprisonment I am told I must purchase a private product and service that a small group of people have dictated as being supreme. That is not freedom, in any sense…….

cmprostreet November 10, 2011 at 2:55 pm

“No not at all. If you can convince enough people to democratically agree to arrange society in such a manner ..HAVE AT IT…in the meantime since the overwhelming majority have no interest in your positions stop complaining about FORCE and GUNS to your heads. ”

So… We are welcome to convince others of our views as long as we don’t explain the reasons behind those views? Thanks, how generous of you to allow us a little bit of free speech on the topics you approve.

muirgeo November 10, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Danj,

You either pay the dues and fools the rules or LEAVE the country club. You don’t get to play for free you selfish whiner. No one is forcing you to stay here and you came here of you own volition.

Greg Webb November 12, 2011 at 12:51 pm

“Danj, You either pay the dues and fools the rules or LEAVE the country club. You don’t get to play for free you selfish whiner. No one is forcing you to stay here and you came here of you own volition.”

LOL! The United States was founded on the principles of individual liberty and equality under the law. Muirgeo, with this silly and stupid rant, you prove that you would deny both of those principles to Dan J.

There is no other country that offers individual liberty and equality like the United States, while there are many countries that make economic slaves of some citizens to pay for the corrupt politicians and their political cronies. Thus, you should leave… or learn to love and respect the country for its founding principles.

Stone Glasgow November 10, 2011 at 1:59 am

I was raised as a flaming liberal and all my friends and classmates were as well. I agree; upbringing has little to do with adult politics.

Fred November 10, 2011 at 8:51 am

Growing up I traveled back and forth between a card carrying commie father and a religious fundamentalist conservative mother.

It was inevitable that I was to become a libertarian.

muirgeo November 10, 2011 at 11:36 am

Was your father REALLY a card carrying communist? Or maybe just some one who voted for the Democratic Party?

Fred November 10, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Yes.

vikingvista November 10, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Exposed to the worst of both worlds. Makes sense.

brotio November 10, 2011 at 11:51 pm

Was your father REALLY a card carrying communist? Or maybe just some one who voted for the Democratic Party?

Asked by a ducktor, who by words, deeds, and by his avatar, has established that he worships a politician who worshiped Uncle Joe Stalin.

muirgeo November 11, 2011 at 1:34 am

Fred November 10, 2011 at 12:00 pm
Yes.

Naw…no he wasn’t.

Dan J November 10, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Grew up in big union, big govt Detroit area, the epitome of democratic progressivism……… Family was big supporters of such govt acts…… Now, I am vehemently against most of the ideas, as the consequences have been put on display…. And, the numbers of those who oppose those ideas are growing exponentially.

vikingvista November 10, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Very nice. I envy you. In all my heretical years, I don’t think I’ve managed to affect a single opinion. But then I don’t trust people with that knowledge about me, so almost nobody I have ever known is even aware.

Stone Glasgow November 10, 2011 at 6:17 pm

Viking,

My entire immediate family (except one member, who remains an anarcho-communist), and many of my friends, have come to share my views over time.

Do you share your views with people who trust you?

Krishnan November 11, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Genetics AND culture, so it seems …

http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/you-cant-change-human-nature

Bryan Caplan may need to reexamine his theory/idea that parents do not have to be Tiger Parents to help make successful children

Greg Webb November 9, 2011 at 10:15 pm

My parents taught personal responsibility and accountability. Their teachings are the underpinnings for my libertarian beliefs.

muirgeo November 10, 2011 at 8:00 am

Yeah my parents taught me all that stuff too and I am a progressive democrat… I used to be a libertarian. Then I thought about it a bit more.

Anonymous November 10, 2011 at 8:31 am

Yep. You rejected your parents to become a self absorbed ignorant loudmouth who propagates a hateful statist ideology. Your parents must have been so proud. Thanks, Bernadine Dohrn.

Greg Webb November 10, 2011 at 8:41 am

George, keep (really start) thinking. When you finally decide to grow up, you will understand that your parents were right.

muirgeo November 10, 2011 at 11:37 am

I know they are right. They vote Democratic.

Greg Webb November 10, 2011 at 11:44 am

Then, your parents really did not teach personal responsibility and accountability.

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools November 10, 2011 at 12:06 pm

“progressive democrat” = Statist collectivist.

muirgeo November 10, 2011 at 6:35 pm

Yeah sure… I believe in some degree of statism and some degree of collectivism. You know just like the society YOU TOO agree to live in. Everything in moderation. Now libertarianism that IS extremism. A belief based on nothing that every existed except arguably in prior feudal societies.

Greg Webb November 11, 2011 at 12:06 am

George, the whole of human history has been the few — through force, coercion, intimidation, or subterfuge — ruling the many for the benefit of the few. The United States is The Great Experiment in individual liberty and limited government. And, libertarianism is a continuation of the dream for this country. Statism in all its various forms is a continuation of the centralized, all powerful governments of the Pharaohs, Caesars, Emperors, Kings, etc.

muirgeo November 11, 2011 at 1:38 am

No Greg the United States is a people lead government not a limited government. The only people insisting on your so-called limited government are the same FEW who have ruled the many through the ages.

Since Thatcher and Reagan and their roll back of government the few have regained the power over the many. Europe is clearly being man-handled by the bankers and financier none of which were elected.

Greg Webb November 11, 2011 at 11:16 pm

No, George. The US is not a “people-led government”, whatever the hell that means. Even Greg G agrees that it is a government with limited powers. And, he is exceptionally ignorant as to history, politics, economics, and government. So, I see that you are going for your normal first place in ignorance

vikingvista November 9, 2011 at 10:33 pm

I’m a libertarian because I despise bullies, particularly those with popular sanctimonious support.

Fred November 10, 2011 at 8:37 am

aye

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools November 9, 2011 at 10:48 pm

Why I’m not a libertarian:

The puritanical streak that says, if I don’t absolute agreement, I’ll ensure the worst possible outcome-rather than try to have incremental influence and live to fight another day.

http://shark-tank.net/2011/11/08/21629/

Rick Hull November 10, 2011 at 2:00 am

As a Ron Paul supporter, that link made me smile. It’s a pretty big deal what Ron Paul supporters will do.

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools November 10, 2011 at 11:54 am

There’s something very, very immature about realizing a small group of people would commit us to four years of Obama because their cult leader (and it is a cult) believes other candidates need to bow to his policy preferences.

Sort of like when I was four and threw a fit because my parents (the adults with the car and the wallet) decided not to go to McDonalds. Of course, I merely throw a fit, I didn’t grab the wheel and wreck the car.

Interesting, because its very POLITICAL, the very thing his followers think he’s so disinterested in-despite his apparent abandonment of medicine for a CAREER in politics and the apparent result of making it into a family business.

I agree with him about 70% of the time, but I don’t delude myself into thinking he has a halo.

Dan J November 10, 2011 at 1:27 pm

*like*

g-dub November 10, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Republicans have been lying about actually practicing “limited government” for way too long (just to scrap up the libertarian votes they need to win), and then not distinguish themselves substantially from the evil “progressives.” Threats must be credible, otherwise republicans will just continue on with their Democrat Lite policies. Why should a classical liberal or libertarian, or whatever you want to call them, vote for a republican?

After all, republicans losing to democrats exposes the democrats for who they are. It just happened 2008-2010. There shouldn’t be “compromises” with democrats. They are evil, and meeting them *most of the way* is just evil lite, simply a bit longer path to destruction.

A hypothetical example of a compromise I can go for isn’t whether the Dept of Ed gets a 10% increase (demos) or a 5% increase (repubs), and then “compromise” on 7.5%, it would be splitting a difference between present funding and total abolishment, with a trend toward total abolishment.

vikingvista November 10, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Look what the Republicans have put forth. In the debate last night, you have one candidate (Gingrich) proclaiming that not-yet-born Americans somehow owe me a retirement, another (Romney) conceding that he believes government agents should violently force peaceful citizens to buy health insurance products against their wills, and yet another (Bachmann), in what little time she was allotted, going on about having the government build a Great Wall of Mexico to allegedly protect us from crop pickers.

It’s gotten to the point where even their rhetoric is unpalatable. The decent into socialism has reciprocal cultural impacts that changes how people think. The extent of the impact is now such that I don’t expect to ever see much more from this country, under its current political structure.

Sam Grove November 10, 2011 at 11:26 am

Republicans are quite capable of handing the election to Obama without any assistance from Ron Paul.

They seem to be desrving of such a fate.

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools November 10, 2011 at 11:55 am

They seem to be desrving of such a fate.

But we aren’t.

yet another Dave November 10, 2011 at 7:18 pm

No doubt some RP supporters are out there, but the article you linked is not very good. For example, Manjarres quotes RP saying:

But if they believe on expanding the wars, if they don’t believe in looking at the Federal Reserve; if they don’t believe in real cuts, if they don’t believe in deregulation and better tax system, it would defy everything I believe in. And so, therefore, I would be reluctant to jump on board and tell all of the supporters that have given me trust and money that all of a sudden, I’d say, all we’ve done is for naught. So, let’s support anybody at all … even if they disagree with everything that we do.

…and inexplicably reaches this conclusion:

So there you have it- you either accept all of Paul’s neo-liberal, non-interventionist foreign policy nonsense, or you can shove it.

Sorry, but that’s not even slightly close to RP’s point. Evidently Manjarres doesn’t understand principles.

The article also misses the obvious message the GOP needs to get. A significant number of voters they need to win the election care deeply about some issues. If the repub nominee ignores those issues, or supports an opposing view, he’ll lose those votes. The lesson is whoever the candidate is needs to take the RP positions seriously and address those concerns. If the GOP is too stupid (or ?) to get that message, RP won’t be the one to blame.

yet another Dave November 10, 2011 at 7:21 pm

D’OH!

massive html tag fail – oh for an edit button

Greg G November 11, 2011 at 7:06 am

Regarding third party candidates, one of the great Onion headlines of all times from 2000:

“Nader Blames Bush and Gore for his Defeat”

W.E. Heasley November 10, 2011 at 1:27 am

Thomas Sowell, believe in the book The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy , stated that many, many people in recent generations, who are libertarian and/or conservative today, did not start with that mind set. That educational institutions create the reverse mindset. That later in life people discover that the world works completely opposite of what their educational instructors proposed.

Dan J November 10, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Sowell was once an ignorant commie jackass…. Now? Brilliant!!!

Economic Freedom November 10, 2011 at 1:30 am

later in life people discover that the world works completely opposite of what their educational instructors proposed.

Yep. That was certainly David Mamet’s discovery.

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools November 10, 2011 at 11:56 am

Indeed. (applies to libertarian economics professors as well.)

muirgeo November 10, 2011 at 1:36 am
CalgaryGuy November 10, 2011 at 1:59 am

Do you honestly believe that without government spending we wouldn’t have those things (roads, sidewalks, signs and electricity) in the picture?

Nikolai Luzhin, Eastern Promises November 10, 2011 at 7:48 am

CalgaryGuy

Go read about the Eire Canal, what it did for New York, and America, and report back

Go read about the fights to get eminent domain powers to utilities so that that could install electricity and gas

We started out with private roads—-it didn’t work, which is why we turned to public roads, but don’t take my word, go read and report back.

In fact, look into things like why there we no bridges to St. Louis (ferries had monopolies because they owned the entire Illinois riverbank).

Or, one could just live in the land of make believe inside you skull

muirgeo November 10, 2011 at 8:04 am

Show me where in the world they exist privately owned. WHERE? All roads USED to be privately owned… by Kings. Back in THOSE days we had true libertarianism. ALL property was privately held… in Kingdoms leaving the unpropertied…the vast majority people… as serfs. Do you wanna go back in time?

Anonymous November 10, 2011 at 8:39 am

You idiot! The King was the state and the government. So, the government in a monarchy owned the roads just like the government under your preferred socialism owns the roads. And, the is the opposite of libertarianism where individuals or groups of individuals own the roads.

Sam Grove November 10, 2011 at 11:27 am

George is a democratic monarchist.

muirgeo November 10, 2011 at 11:42 am

The King OWNED his property. Are you claiming they did not?

What in a full libertarian society would prevent the vast holders of wealth from buying up all the property and controlling ALL the means of production?

http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6044/6288110323_022671b892.jpg

Anonymous November 10, 2011 at 11:49 am

Muirgeo, the King was sovereign, which means he owned all land in his domain. As sovereign, he was the state and the government. He used force and coercion to keep these lands. And, monarchy is just the centralization of power in the hands of a few, at the expense of the many, which is like socialism without the propaganda.

Fred November 10, 2011 at 12:14 pm

What in a full libertarian society would prevent the vast holders of wealth from buying up all the property and controlling ALL the means of production?

For one thing there is no such thing as these “vast holders of wealth”, and even if there was there is the problem that wealth is not money.
In order for a “vast holder of wealth” to buy up property, they must first sell their wealth in order to have money with which to buy the property. As well as a willing seller.
Now someone else has that wealth and they have the property. In fact the seller of the property may take the money that they just received and use it to buy some of the wealth that was sold in order to generate the money with which to buy the property.
Take Bill Gates for example. If he wanted to buy up property and means of production, he would have to sell his stock in Microsoft. He can’t buy that stock back without selling the property and means of production.

Wealth is not money.

vikingvista November 10, 2011 at 3:34 pm

“What in a full libertarian society would prevent the vast holders of wealth from buying up all the property and controlling ALL the means of production?”

Basic economics.

Jon Murphy November 10, 2011 at 3:44 pm

And property rights.

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools November 10, 2011 at 11:59 am

Ooh my potholes and congestion. Perpetual “construction delays” with guys in high visibility vests mostly standing around. Corruption in procurement.

Are you sure you wan’t this to be the flagship benefit of statism?

Jon Murphy November 10, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Not to mention “crumbling” infrastructure. Talk about a great bit of politicking: “We didn’t spend enough the first time around, so give us more money!”

Jon Murphy November 10, 2011 at 7:17 am

Don’t forget, the first roads in America were built and run by private citizens.

We also have citizens so far off the gird, they have they own infrastructural support. How do you explain that?

Nikolai Luzhin, Eastern Promises November 10, 2011 at 7:51 am

so Jon, it that worked so well, why did we go public roads?

Could it be Jon that, from experience, people learned that private roads are any scale are simply will not get the job done.

Or, go to Chicago, today, and experience private parking on their public streets, the costs and inconvenience, and tell me how that works for you.You forget that Chicago “sold” their parking meters

Jon Murphy November 10, 2011 at 8:48 am

The statement was that, without government, there would be no infrastructure. The effectiveness of privately owned and operated infrastructure is a different matter (however, growing up in a part of town where all roads were privately owned, I have to say we did a hell of a job keeping our roads clean, clear and under control, but that is a different story).

Josh S November 10, 2011 at 9:02 am

People who think we wouldn’t have roads without the government also think PA is the only state in the union where you can buy alcohol.

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools November 10, 2011 at 12:02 pm

People who think we wouldn’t have roads without the government also think PA is the only state in the union where you can buy alcohol.

You forgot Utah.

Dan J November 10, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Chicago sold the meters, because the city was doing such a horrendous job as govt usually does a horrendous job.

Mike November 10, 2011 at 1:43 am

I came to libertarianism through Milton Friedman, this video to be exact: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfdRpyfEmBE

Stone Glasgow November 10, 2011 at 2:00 am

He is a great cult leader.

Dan J November 10, 2011 at 2:00 am

Not Libertarian. Only wish to see political discourse move toward a majority republican conservatives and libertarians as the ideological difference to hash out rather than progressive communism and non-socialists.

robert_o November 10, 2011 at 2:39 am

I was a “social-democrat”. Then I learned economics.

dsylexic November 10, 2011 at 3:17 am

from my adolescence to my 30s :i’ve been a hindu monk-wannabe,a warmongering clash-of-civilizations type, noam chomskyite,a fascist(without knowing it) and then small govt libertarian to full blown anarcho libertarian now. i am not going to say this is the end of my journey.

Randy November 10, 2011 at 3:52 am

I became a libertarian (for lack of a better word) after first developing an interest in history and mythology, and consequently becoming an atheist. I am opposed to all forms of socialism because I recognize a religion when I see one. I am also keenly interested in rooting out the myths of our times.

Josh S November 10, 2011 at 11:13 am

This slices both ways. I am religious, and once I noticed socialists see the state as an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent deity, I realized it’s merely a form of idolatry. This was confirmed for me when Paul Krugman claimed big government didn’t work under Bush because ol’ GWB just didn’t have enough faith in the power of government.

Randy November 10, 2011 at 11:38 am

Josh S,
Just speaking for me, nor do I have any antagonism towards religion itself. Separation of church and state was the issue that got me onto the path.

Daniel Kuehn November 10, 2011 at 8:28 am

I liked your video a lot – but what’s bugging me is that I think a lot of people share those influences (I could have repeated verbatim a lot of what you said for myself). Those things put people in the classical liberal tradition, but they don’t seem to consistently put people into the libertarian tradition.

What makes (with those same values and market insights) you a libertarian and me a somewhat-left-of-center neoliberal? I’m guessing it is much more specific life experiences and influences – a specific teacher, a specific reaction to particular event in your life (for example – you had the same reaction that many people did to the oil price hikes, but not everyone that had that reaction about government in that case ended up as a libertarian).

My thoughts here: http://factsandotherstubbornthings.blogspot.com/2011/11/i-think-its-something-else.html

Very nice video.

Jon Murphy November 10, 2011 at 8:45 am

You make a very good point, Dan.

Josh S November 10, 2011 at 9:06 am

I think a lot of people mean “classically liberal” when they say “libertarian.” The problem is that socialist totalitarians have co-opted the word “liberal” entirely in the USA by redefining “liberty” to mean “freedom from want,” not “freedom to choose.” I’m not an anarchist, so the mises.org wouldn’t consider me either a libertarian or a twu austwian poyson, so w/e.

I still say “libertarian” for lack of a better word.

Sam Grove November 10, 2011 at 11:30 am

and me a somewhat-left-of-center neoliberal?

Would you stay left of center if the center shifts to the left?

Daniel Kuehn November 10, 2011 at 11:40 am

I’m not sure what you mean – if you mean the population shifts to have a higher representation of what we currently call “left”, that wouldn’t change what I think.

If you mean what is defined as “left”, “right”, “center”, etc. shifts then obviously the words I would have to use to describe myself would have to shift too.

Sam Grove November 11, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Describe the “center” to me.

Sam Grove November 11, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Where is the center and how do you know you are to the left of it?
What makes you to the left of it?
Is the center homogenous and definable?

Jon Murphy November 10, 2011 at 8:43 am

I have a question for all the dissenters out there.

Libertarianism is about limiting the power of government. Looking at those who rules governments and abused their power, such as Nero (post fire), Hitler, Stalin, Ramses II, Alexander, Pope Boniface VII, the various Ceasers, etc., why is that such a scandal?

That’s not to say that private citizens do not commit crimes, they most certainly do, but the affects of their crimes are limited. Bernie Madoff, for example, harmed lots of people, yes, but imagine if he was Secretary of the Treasury. Whitey Bulger harmed many people, yes, but what if he was a head of state?

Why is it that cynicism and distrust of government is a problem, but cynicism and distrust of the individual ok?

I am looking for a serious discussion here from both sides. Please don’t waste time with name-calling, inflammatory comments, bullshit, or the Chewbacca Defense.

Fred November 10, 2011 at 8:48 am

I think that a lot of people believe that “we are government”, and as a result they take criticism of government personally.

Daniel Kuehn November 10, 2011 at 8:52 am

re: “Libertarianism is about limiting the power of government. Looking at those who rules governments and abused their power, such as Nero (post fire), Hitler, Stalin, Ramses II, Alexander, Pope Boniface VII, the various Ceasers, etc., why is that such a scandal?”

I’m not aware of any critics of libertarianism that are criticizing limiting government power. Almost all of we critics are in the classical liberal tradition. We are all for limited government. That’s not the criticism of libertarianism, and libertarianism is not unique in suggesting that government power ought to be limited.

Fred November 10, 2011 at 9:02 am

Come on. Critics of libertarianism quite often criticize libertarians for wanting to limit government’s ability to control the economy. If that is not “criticizing limiting government power”, I don’t know what is.

Daniel Kuehn November 10, 2011 at 9:26 am

See anarchist comment below.

If we don’t agree on exactly how to limit government power, the answer is NOT to conclude that critics are scandalized by government power or that it hasn’t dawned on them that Stalin and Hitler are bad guys. Give me a break Fred – if this is news to you you haven’t been paying close enough attention.

Daniel Kuehn November 10, 2011 at 9:32 am

***that critics are scandalized by LIMITING government power…

Fred November 10, 2011 at 9:33 am

I have yet to see any progressives articulate how government should be limited other than not wanting to give power to their political enemies.
I can only conclude that they place no limits on government power, as long as they are in charge.

Daniel Kuehn November 10, 2011 at 9:35 am

re: “I have yet to see any progressives articulate how government should be limited other than not wanting to give power to their political enemies.”

You should read my blog sometime.

Fred November 10, 2011 at 9:36 am

*mumbles something about Hell freezing over*

Jon Murphy November 10, 2011 at 11:55 am

C’mon Fred, Dan’s blog is really good.

I read 4 blogs over the course of the day: this one, Krugman’s blog, Mankiw’s blog and Dan’s blog.

Nikolai Luzhin, Eastern Promises November 11, 2011 at 11:50 pm

all the discussions here about gov’t power are shallow and at best daffy.

There is no point to limiting government power as a means of controlling gov’t. Since we do not know the future we do not know what power the gov’t will need in the future.

All the bs about limiting gov’t power interferes with what we should really be doing and that is concentrating on how to prevent and remedy abuses of gov’t power when they happen.

Democracy and transparency are far more effective at preventing an abuse than check lists of does and don’ts. The reason likely follows from the fact that it is easier to prove an injustice than to prove that justice was done

Randy November 10, 2011 at 9:07 am

Re; “We are all for limited government”

Simply not true. The whole point of the Progressive movement is to progressively remove the limits on the political organization in order to achieve a just society under their control. It began as an archaic religious movement, and has evolved into a “justice” movement (i.e., a modern religious movement).

Greg G November 10, 2011 at 9:15 am

Randy

Just because you and I disagree on exactly where the limit should be does not mean I favor unlimited government power and it does not make you an anarchist.

Randy November 10, 2011 at 9:29 am

Greg G,

I was responding to Daniel’s statement. It is possible that you personally are for limited political interference in people’s personal lives, but from our past conversations I have the impression that you would allow considerably more interference than I would, and I know from studying the Progressive movement that these people have no effective limits – that they want whatever power is necessary gathered to themselves in order to achieve their religious vision.

Randy November 10, 2011 at 9:43 am

P.S. From Hamilton in Federalist 23;

“Every view we may take of the subject, as candid inquirers after truth, will serve to convince us, that it is both unwise and dangerous to deny the federal government an unconfined authority, as to all those objects which are intrusted to its management.”

That’s Alexander Hamilton – a primary proponent of the Constitution which supposedly has something to do with limiting the power of the political organization. It did no such thing and it is my belief that is was never intended to do so. The Constitution was a political document to divide power among the political interests of the day – period. I do have an interest in limiting the power of politicians, but I have no interest in allowing politicians the right to decide for themselves how this would be done. I simply do not trust them.

Greg Webb November 10, 2011 at 11:12 am

James Madison, in Federalist Paper No. 39 clearly said that the new federal government’s jurisdiction was limited to the expressly enumerated powers listed in the Constitution:

“…the proposed government cannot be deemed a national one; since its jurisdiction extends to certain enumerated objects only, and leaves the several States a residuary and inviolable sovereignty over all other objects.”

Randy November 10, 2011 at 11:22 am

Gregg W,

It seems to me that Hamilton won. The folks who favored limits got a few choice items added to the document, but these have all been systematically rendered irrelevant over the years.

vikingvista November 10, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Randy,

Quite right. The CotUS was a centralization and concentration of state power that gave Americans no liberties that they did not already possess and take for granted, but rather began their progressive infringement. The only thing the CotUS attempted to limit, was that which it itself created. And even at that, it has failed.

Greg Webb November 10, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Randy, you said, It seems to me that Hamilton won.

I think that you mistakenly assume that Alexander Hamilton believed that the proposed federal government would have unlimited power. He didn’t.

In Federalist Paper No. 78, Alexander Hamilton said, ““There is no position which depends on clearer principles than that every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid.”

Mr. Hamilton also said, “…the laws of Congress are restricted to a certain sphere, and when they depart from this sphere, they are no longer supreme or binding. In the same manner the states have certain independent power, in which their laws are supreme.”

Also, in support of the position that the federal government’s power is limited, James Madison said, in Federalist Paper No. 48, that, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”

You said, “The folks who favored limits got a few choice items added to the document, but these have all been systematically rendered irrelevant over the years.”

No. The Constitution contains limits on the federal government’s power. In the 1930s, the regressives used the terrible problems of government-induced economic depression and world war to advance their political agenda, in violation of the Constitution. In much the same way as previous statists advanced their agenda that certain people could be property. It took a while to defeat the statists on that issue as it will with the progressive agenda. But, they have not won for all time.

Benjamin Franklin, when asked what the Constitutional Convention had given the country, he famously replied, “A Republic if you can keep it.” He knew, as all the Founding Fathers did, that you cannot change humans and those that fought against individual liberty back then would continue the fight under new names in the future. Those names include liberal, progressive, socialist, democratic socialist, national socialist, fascist, nazi, international socialist, communist, etc.

Randy November 10, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Greg W,

I have a better quote from Hamilton bookmarked at home. I found this one with a quick web search. I was confident that I could because I remember that he makes the case for an unlimited central government repeatedly throughout. I’ll get back to you.

Randy November 11, 2011 at 2:45 am

Greg W,
Found it. From Federalist 22 Hamilton:
“The necessity of unanimity in public bodies, or of something approaching towards it, has been founded upon a supposition that it would contribute to security. But its real operation is to embarrass the administration, to destroy the energy of the government, and to substitute the pleasure, caprice, or artifices of an insignificant, turbulent, or corrupt junto, to the regular deliberations and decisions of a respectable majority. In those emergencies of a nation, in which the goodness or badness, the weakness or strength of its government, is of the greatest importance, there is commonly a necessity for action. The public business must, in some way or other, go forward.”

Greg Webb November 11, 2011 at 11:12 am

Randy, I think that you have to consider the context in which Alexander Hamilton wrote Federalist Paper No. 22. He was criticizing the defects in the Articles of Confederation and focusing on the equal voting rights of the States. To get a better understanding of what he meant, I think you have to consider some of the preceding paragraphs, as follows:

“The right of equal suffrage among the States is another exceptionable part of the Confederation. Every idea of proportion and every rule of fair representation conspire to condemn a principle, which gives to Rhode Island an equal weight in the scale of power with Massachusetts, or Connecticut, or New York; and to Deleware an equal voice in the national deliberations with Pennsylvania, or Virginia, or North Carolina. Its operation contradicts the fundamental maxim of republican government, which requires that the sense of the majority should prevail. Sophistry may reply, that sovereigns are equal, and that a majority of the votes of the States will be a majority of confederated America. But this kind of logical legerdemain will never counteract the plain suggestions of justice and common-sense. It may happen that this majority of States is a small minority of the people of America3; and two thirds of the people of America could not long be persuaded, upon the credit of artificial distinctions and syllogistic subtleties, to submit their interests to the management and disposal of one third. The larger States would after a while revolt from the idea of receiving the law from the smaller. To acquiesce in such a privation of their due importance in the political scale, would be not merely to be insensible to the love of power, but even to sacrifice the desire of equality. It is neither rational to expect the first, nor just to require the last. The smaller States, considering how peculiarly their safety and welfare depend on union, ought readily to renounce a pretension which, if not relinquished, would prove fatal to its duration.

It may be objected to this, that not seven but nine States, or two thirds of the whole number, must consent to the most important resolutions; and it may be thence inferred that nine States would always comprehend a majority of the Union. But this does not obviate the impropriety of an equal vote between States of the most unequal dimensions and populousness; nor is the inference accurate in point of fact; for we can enumerate nine States which contain less than a majority of the people; and it is constitutionally possible that these nine may give the vote. Besides, there are matters of considerable moment determinable by a bare majority; and there are others, concerning which doubts have been entertained, which, if interpreted in favor of the sufficiency of a vote of seven States, would extend its operation to interests of the first magnitude. In addition to this, it is to be observed that there is a probability of an increase in the number of States, and no provision for a proportional augmentation of the ratio of votes.

But this is not all: what at first sight may seem a remedy, is, in reality, a poison. To give a minority a negative upon the majority (which is always the case where more than a majority is requisite to a decision), is, in its tendency, to subject the sense of the greater number to that of the lesser. Congress, from the nonattendance of a few States, have been frequently in the situation of a Polish diet, where a single VOTE has been sufficient to put a stop to all their movements. A sixtieth part of the Union, which is about the proportion of Delaware and Rhode Island, has several times been able to oppose an entire bar to its operations. This is one of those refinements which, in practice, has an effect the reverse of what is expected from it in theory. The necessity of unanimity in public bodies, or of something approaching towards it, has been founded upon a supposition that it would contribute to security. But its real operation is to embarrass the administration, to destroy the energy of the government, and to substitute the pleasure, caprice, or artifices of an insignificant, turbulent, or corrupt junto, to the regular deliberations and decisions of a respectable majority. In those emergencies of a nation, in which the goodness or badness, the weakness or strength of its government, is of the greatest importance, there is commonly a necessity for action. The public business must, in some way or other, go forward. If a pertinacious minority can control the opinion of a majority, respecting the best mode of conducting it, the majority, in order that something may be done, must conform to the views of the minority; and thus the sense of the smaller number will overrule that of the greater, and give a tone to the national proceedings. Hence, tedious delays; continual negotiation and intrigue; contemptible compromises of the public good. And yet, in such a system, it is even happy when such compromises can take place: for upon some occasions things will not admit of accommodation; and then the measures of government must be injuriously suspended, or fatally defeated. It is often, by the impracticability of obtaining the concurrence of the necessary number of votes, kept in a state of inaction. Its situation must always savor of weakness, sometimes border upon anarchy.”

I do not believe that the quote that you provided, once viewed in its fuller context, reveals that Alexander Hamilton wanted unlimited government power. He was making an argument against the un-republican nature of the Articles of Confederation, which could allow a minority of the population, through a majority of State votes, to impose its will on the majority of the population.

Randy November 11, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Greg W,

I did consider the specific context to which you refer, but I also consider a broader context from the rest of what Hamilton says. His basic idea is, “look we’ve got this huge continent to exploit and if we don’t form a strong central government we run the risk of losing out to competitors”. Within that context, the points I reference above and others show primarily his impatience with those who would in any way limit the power of the central government. While I expect that he was forced to compromise (i.e., the reference from 78), I think his bias comes through loud and clear. And, of course, history has supported his beliefs, as each of the so-called protections for states and individuals added to the document have been systematically reduced to insignificance. At this point, the central government has effectively unlimited power – and the only thing that prevents the unlimited use of that power is the practical problems of things like the Laffer curve.

Randy November 11, 2011 at 2:48 pm

P.S. I don’t think they gave the Articles of Confederation much of a chance. I am not a scholar on that period in history, but if I should actually get to retire some day I would like to get more acquainted with the ideas of the people that Hamilton railed against.

Greg Webb November 11, 2011 at 11:06 pm

Randy, I hope you get some time to read the Anti-federalist Papers. They should be read in conjunction with the Federalist Papers because the Federalist papers were the response to anti-federalist views published under the psyudonym Brutus, et al, which have been compiled as the Anti-federalist Papers. It shows the debate, and the anti-federalists made the federalists commit to a position of individual liberty that they may or may not have agreed with. Most historians think they did and the historical record supports that.

I disagree with your view of Alexander Hamilton. Given his many writings and the proper context of Federalist Paper No. 22, he supported the Constitution over the Articles of Confederation because a minority of the population in a majority is States could overrule the majority under the Articles, which violates republican principles.

The regressives, as usual, have twisted the plain meaning of the words of the Constitution to give cover to their goal of expanding the federal government’s to areas never intended by the Founding Fathers.

The problem with a written Constitution is that it only works if it has meaning to the people. If they come to disrespect its authors or to believe that its words to not mean anything, then a written Constitution is worthless. That’s why the statists argue that it effectively has no meaning and unfairly criticize the Founding Fathers. If they succeed in winning these arguments then individual liberty will die with the Constitution.

It is good to read and understand the Articles of Confederation. But, it is dead and cannot be resurrected. If the goal is to promote individual liberty and limited government, why would you argue for something that no longer exists as law in the United States?

Josh S November 10, 2011 at 11:15 am

You must not have heard of Paul Krugman, who is convinced that wanting to so much as limit the rate of growth of government spending and the government regulatory apparatus is a form of terrorism born out of a deep ill-will toward mankind as a whole.

Daniel Kuehn November 10, 2011 at 8:55 am

Think of it in these terms – why does a libertarian criticize anarchists? Why are many libertarians so quick to point out that they’re not advocating anarchy? Don’t those libertarians understand the example of Nero and Stalin? Why are they so scandalized by the idea that anarchists would want to limit government power?

If you answer that question – and realize how silly the whole premise of the question is – I think you’ve largely answered your question about the critics of libertarianism.

Sam Grove November 10, 2011 at 11:45 am

The problem with discussion of anarchy is that political regimes have succeeded in defining it as “chaos’.

I am philosophically anarchist, but I do not advocate chaos.

I think chaos is what governments produce when they break down, and that governments break down because they tend to displace the order of markets with the arbitrary order of political hierarchy.

Daniel Kuehn November 10, 2011 at 12:11 pm

I don’t know who thinks of anarchy as chaos, but I don’t (well… I think it would be problematically chaotic, just as socialism would – but that’s not how I define it).

The point is if you are an anarchist then libertarians disagree with you and many will protest loudly that they do not think the things that you think. And my point is that that difference of opinion between anarchists and libertarians is NOT because libertarians don’t appreciate the value of limiting government and anarchists do.

Likewise, the difference between non-libertarian liberals and libertarian liberals is not over their views on whether government should be limited or whether they find the idea of limiting government “scandalous”. Neither find it scandalous.

g-dub November 10, 2011 at 4:14 pm

I don’t know who thinks of anarchy as chaos,…

Al Gore for one. I heard him explicitly say it on TeeVee.

Most statists say that, if they get around to the topic.

Sam Grove November 11, 2011 at 12:33 pm

In the beliefs of most people, anarchy = chaos.

The Latin breakdown of anarchy is approximately “no ruler”.

I accept, as do most people, the need for rules. I do not, however, accept that we need a ruler.

Greg G November 10, 2011 at 8:58 am

Jon

The overwhelming majority of citizens are nothing like Madoff and Bulger. The overwhelming majority of those who seek office in a democracy are nothing like Nero, Hitler and Stalin.

Distrust of the institutions of government is healthy as long as you combine it with a healthy distrust of the institutions of the business world as well. Market prices are essential for communicating essential information throughout the economy. They are of much less help in dealing with externalities and principle agent conflicts.

The worst living conditions in history have been in those places that had too much concentrated government power (Hitler, Stalin) and too little (Somalia and central Africa today).

Randy November 10, 2011 at 9:11 am

“as long as you combine it with a healthy distrust of the institutions of the business world as well”

Says Gre G, as if the corporations were not an element of the political organization…

nailheadtom November 10, 2011 at 9:28 am

We keep hearing how bad government-free Somalia is today. Been there lately? We have a pretty good idea that life in totalitarian nations like North Korea isn’t nearly as pleasant as it could be but the same can’t be said about Somalia. People ASSUME that because there is no central government there, life must be horrible, at least for the lowest levels of society. Naturally, other factors in addition to government determine the congeniality of a place, climate, for instance. Miami is “nicer” than Bismarck. The fact that a civil war is taking place is also problematical.

Greg G November 10, 2011 at 9:57 am

nht

It is not a coincidence that they have a civil war and a lack of central government in Somalia. Civil war is what you usually get when central governments fall apart.

Josh S November 10, 2011 at 11:16 am

It is not a coincidence that the civil war orbits entirely around trying to wrest control of the central government that the UN insists on setting up.

vikingvista November 10, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Why some people consider the orderly and efficient terror, oppression, and slaughter by a powerful state to be necessarily better than the disorderly violent conflict between independent warring factions, I will never understand. But in the case of Somalia, even the UN disagrees with you. The lives of Somalians improved by many measures with the fall of their state.

Slappy McFee November 10, 2011 at 9:56 am

Government has 3 powers.

The power to confiscate property
The power to imprison
The power to kill

In order for Somalia to be living under “small government” there must be less of those actions being taken. Which on of those powers is not being exercised enough by the people of Somalia?

Greg G November 10, 2011 at 10:02 am

Slappy

This is a classic libertarian defense: define away the problem. I note that we are well on our way to solving the problems that market failure and crony capitalism present to libertarians by defining those terms out of existence within the blog.

Greg Webb November 10, 2011 at 10:18 am

Greg G, Somalia is not an example of a libertarian society or even one with a decentralized government. Rather, Somalia is a good example of what can happen when a communist government ruthlessly rules over a population with the normal divide and conquer strategy. Said Barre miscalculated and clans from both northern and southern Somalia overthrew the communists. And, those factions have been fighting ever since because they know that if one or a few factions come to power, then the new government will harshly crack down on and kill members of the opposing clans. Consequently, Somalia is not an example of anything but failed statism.

Greg G November 10, 2011 at 10:22 am

GW

I did not claim that Somalia was a libertarian society. I claimed it is an example of what you get when central government gets too weak: chaos and civil war.

Fred November 10, 2011 at 10:49 am

I can see how “market failure” can be defined out of existence, but not “crony capitalism”.

Well, kind of. I see crony capitalism as the result of the government trying to fix market failures.

Take away the government’s power to fix market failures, and crony capitalism will cease to exist.

Greg Webb November 10, 2011 at 11:21 am

claimed it is an example of what you get when central government gets too weak: chaos and civil war.

Somalia’s communist government under Siad Barre was not weak. It was highly centralized and dealt brutally with the Somali clans that had historically fought with his clan and its allies. That is what created clans that cannot trust one another so continue to fight. The more you centralize power in government, the more likely that minorities will be abused, and the more likely there will be civil war, which often leads to chaos.

Slappy McFee November 10, 2011 at 11:56 am

GG –

Define away the problem?

Your claim was that the powers of government are not being exercised by the people of Somalia.

I simply asked you for evidence of that.

When I look at Somalia, I see a lot of killing of people and destruction of private property. How can you claim that there is small government?

*but then again, I already know the answer. Like most, you attempt to differentiate the actions of individuals associated with favored institutions with the actions of the “unfavorable”. Like a rational individual, I see all actions the same.

A thug on the street is a thug on the street, regardless of the authority he/she claims.

Dan J November 10, 2011 at 1:42 pm

What is a market failure? And, what failures have occurred that does not have hands or fingers of govt at it’s impetus.

vikingvista November 10, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Greg G,

The more recent famine notwithstanding, the lives of Somalians substantially improved after their central government fell. It is irrational to compare Somalia today with Kansas today as the confounders dominate. The proper comparison is with Somalia yesterday.

Jon Murphy November 10, 2011 at 9:07 am

Dan and Greg G,

Thank you both for your comments. Dan, when I did your exercise, I got your point. Greg, I see and agree with your point about the extremes of government.

This is precisely what I was looking for. Thanks, you guys!

Randy November 10, 2011 at 8:52 am

Re; “Why is it that cynicism and distrust of government is a problem, but cynicism and distrust of the individual ok?”

Great question. The answer is that the political organization has spent trillions of dollars over the last century or so to discourage the former and promote the latter… a fact which, by the way, I find encouraging. Libertariansism is on the rise in spite of it. The truth finds a way.

Jon Murphy November 10, 2011 at 9:09 am

One thing I am finding from this conversation, and especially from the mouths of Don, Daniel Kuehn, and Greg G (but this isn’t to marginalize the contributions of the other posters) is that we all have the same beliefs and values. We are seeing the same problems with our country. We have the same goal, but our methods are different.

Daniel Kuehn November 10, 2011 at 9:29 am

If you think the problem is libertarians don’t care about poor people, you are not thinking clearly about the problem.

If you think the problem is non-libertarians don’t care about liberty, you are not thinking clearly about the problem.

Basically most human beings are not sociopaths. If your argument relies on assuming that most of the people you are disagreeing with are borderline sociopaths, there is an excellent chance that you are making a poor argument.

Randy November 10, 2011 at 9:49 am

I believe that political organizations are always borderline sociopathic. As evidence I cite a long history of taxation and war. I do not find the political organization of the United States to be an exception now or at any point in its history.

Daniel Kuehn November 10, 2011 at 9:55 am

I’m not sure it makes sense to diagnose non-human institutions with psychological maladies.

Randy November 10, 2011 at 10:04 am

Perhaps, but then, organizations are the sum of their parts. When you make an organization of politically minded persons, you will have an organization that settles on political solutions.

Daniel Kuehn November 10, 2011 at 10:13 am

Not so sure about that – but whatever. We were talking about people who are libertarians and non-libertarians, and I maintain that if your argument is based on the assumption that most of the people you are disagreeing with are sociopaths, you are likely very confused.

Greg Webb November 10, 2011 at 10:21 am

Daniel, there are few sociopaths, and they cannot be easily identified as they try to fit into society. It is only when they obtain power do these characteristics tend to become more obvious.

Randy November 10, 2011 at 10:22 am

You are close to right. I believe that those who look first to political solutions to problems are potentially sociopathic. As political solutions depend on the use of force to achieve their objectives, the person who looks for political solutions first shows a willingness to use force that is potentially sociopathic.

Randy November 10, 2011 at 10:23 am

My post directly above was for Daniel, and I think that Greg W makes an applicable point as well.

Greg Webb November 10, 2011 at 10:39 am

Randy, sociopaths have a tendency to seek power as well. The smartest ones know how to appeal to people’s baser instincts to get something for free by having someone else pay for it. But, once a sociopath has absolute power, then there is no need to pretend anymore and the real person comes out. Then, it is too late to prevent the great evils that can unfold from giving unlimited power to centralized government.

Sam Grove November 10, 2011 at 11:50 am

I have heard otherwise decent people claim that political leaders must exhibit some sociopathic tendencies so that they will be “tough” with other governments.

In fact, a reason people support political power is so they can socialize the risks associated with sociopathic behavior, thus invading small countries and accepting “collateral damage” can be effected without minimal moral consequence.

Sam Grove November 10, 2011 at 11:51 am

OOPS be effected without minimal moral consequence.

should be “be effected with minimal moral consequence.”

Fred November 10, 2011 at 10:46 am

I believe that political organizations are always borderline sociopathic.

Political organizations are organizations that wield force. They have the power to initiate violence and get away with it, because they are the ones you are supposed to go to for help when someone initiates violence against you. If it is the political organization that initiates violence then who do you go to for help?

I would say that political organizations attract sociopaths because such organizations can allow sociopaths to operate without consequence.

vikingvista November 10, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Absotively. Well said.

Economiser November 10, 2011 at 11:58 am

> [W]e all have the same beliefs and values. We are seeing the same problems with our country.

Couldn’t disagree more. Libertarianism, or classical liberalism, or whatever you want to call it, isn’t about pursuing a goal divorced from the methods. The methods are the goal.

Both sides may believe that their preferred policies would lead to superior economic progress. For me as a libertarian, the goal is liberty. The fact that I also believe that it leads to economic progress is a happy coincidence.

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools November 10, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Libertarianism, or classical liberalism, or whatever you want to call it, isn’t about pursuing a goal divorced from the methods. The methods are the goal.

Sorry, classical liberalism is indeed about process and procedure. Modern libertarianism, at least in its anarcho-branch is all about unlimited personal autonomy as a goal.

Economiser November 10, 2011 at 12:21 pm

I think we’re saying the same thing. I would view process and procedure as methods. That’s what I mean when I say the method is the goal. The “dissenters,” as Jon Murphy calls them, often argue for government intervention when the classical liberal methods appear insufficient. That, to me, is goal-oriented thinking. That’s what I disagree with.

Ken November 10, 2011 at 9:34 am

For me it started with a bilge pump. My folks (working class) bought an old wooden cruiser and I helped them take it from St. Joseph, MI to Fairport Harbor, OH up via Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake St. Clair, and Lake Erie.

Long story short — we developed a leak near the transom, and then the float switch for the aft DC bilge pump failed. We activated the pump manually a few miles off the Blue Water Bridge, but durn near sank alongside at the marina that night.

Next morning, Dad went looking for parts and put me in charge of fixing or replacing the pump. Electricity was not my strong suit (still isn’t), but I was able to trace the wiring for the float switch and found saltwater corrosion (the previous owner took the boat down Big Muddy, across the Caribbean to Bimini, and then up the ICW and St. Lawrence to the Great Lakes). I got the switch working, and we were able to complete the trip after some rather more important repairs than I made.

I probably could have thrown up my hands and had Dad take care of it when I ran into trouble at first, but reflecting on it later, it struck me that I wouldn’t have learned anything thereby. From there, it occurred to me that you don’t do people any favors by doing everything for ‘em. That got me thinking about the welfare state (this was during the welfare reform of the 1990s), and then I happened to read about the sorry history of the “assault” weapon ban in California in the context the Lungren campaign for governor (I’m an Ohioan, but I ran into it online). That raised a whole ‘nuther set of questions about the state, which I wrestled with until I read Economics in One Lesson. After that, it was a matter of realizing through time and reflection that the moral argument was inescapable and irrefutable.

Daniel Klein November 10, 2011 at 11:17 am

Loved it. My favorite all-time video of you.

Economiser November 10, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Great video, Don. Also a great question.

I don’t recall exactly when I came to be a libertarian. My parents are both Democrats, but once I started following politics the party’s views never sat well with me. In high school I assumed I was a Republican (if you’re not a Democrat you’re a Republican, right?), but I disagreed with them on too many issues as well. When I turned 18 I considered myself a disaffected independent and refused to register with either party.

Somehow I made it through an entire undergraduate education in economics without having formal exposure to libertarian ideals (scary, no?), and it wasn’t until late college when some of my friends directed me to Milton Friedman’s writings that the light clicked. Finally I saw the perpendicular axis of social liberalism and economic conservatism, and from that point there was no turning back.

My point is that outreach programs such as libertarianism.org and The World’s Smallest Political Quiz are so vital. If I was never introduced to the ideas informally, I might have spent my whole life as a disaffected independent without ever knowing why.

SmoledMan November 10, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Libertarians have no answers on how to deal with people who are losers in our capitalist system. Are they supposed to just die?

Jon Murphy November 10, 2011 at 4:59 pm

That depends. What do you mean by “losers?”

SmoledMan November 10, 2011 at 5:00 pm

People working min wage jobs, people with no upward mobility, people with disabilities, laid off union workers, etc…

Jon Murphy November 10, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Well, a Libertarian would argue that eliminating unions and minimum wage laws would increase employment in the country, helping everyone.

As for disabilities, the poor, the infirm, etc, Libertarians would suggest private charities. Those are what people should be turning to for extra aid, rather than the government.

I’ll need to give you a better answer another time. Late for a meeting

khodge November 10, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Libertarians most certainly would not eliminate unions. They would eliminate laws affording preferential treatment to unions.

vikingvista November 10, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Why this focus on “disabilities”. Do you realize how many ABILITIES most people labelled with disabilities have? And it is ABILITIES that the free market values. It is government regulations codifying disabilities that devalue those abilities in the market.

SmoledMan November 10, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Libertarianism works beautifully for 70% of the population, but if you don’t have answer for that other 30% you lose.

Randy November 10, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Why do I have to answer for them? I was once in that group you mention. I worked and studied my way up. My advice is that they do the same or seek charity. Advice is as far as I will go. They are not my responsibility, and the fact that I earn a pay check does not make them my responsibility.

SmoledMan November 10, 2011 at 5:26 pm

When charity isn’t enough for a minimally decent life, then what? The very reason massive welfare programs were invented in the 1930s was because the failure of private charity!

vikingvista November 10, 2011 at 5:31 pm

But the programs of the 1930s served only to worsen and prolong the poverty. Good intentions and a dime will get you a seat in a 1930′s matinee. For those who care about results, government poverty programs are an abomination.

Randy November 10, 2011 at 5:38 pm

I disagree. I think he reason that the politicians got involved in the welfare business is because there was a massive amount of profit in for them. Think about it. They’ve been taking in trillions of dollars (by mandate and they have eliminated competition) and have never paid back more than 90 cents on the dollar. Question for you; Considering that with the amount of money they take in they could solve poverty in a decade just by giving it all directly to the poor, but that they don’t, why should I take their condemnation of my beliefs seriously?

Stone Glasgow November 10, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Poverty doesn’t exist in the US; no one starves, no one is in danger. The poorest 10% here are very rich in most other nations.

Sam Grove November 11, 2011 at 12:37 pm

The very reason massive welfare programs were invented in the 1930s was because the failure of private charity!

The reason massive welfare programs were invented in the 1930′s was to forever secure their allegiance to the Democratic party and promote dependence on a progressive state.

Read up: Fabian Socialism

vikingvista November 10, 2011 at 5:11 pm

It is sad that you hold his common but quite mistaken belief about how free people peacefully deal with one another (i.e. how the free market works).

Stone Glasgow November 10, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Do you assume that I won’t help my neighbor if he is in need, even absent any government at all? Why can’t we all help each other as we see fit instead of a centralized violent group of idiots with guns doing it for us?

SmoledMan November 10, 2011 at 6:20 pm

We can’t gamble people’s lives on the off chance of their neighbor not willing to give charity. Government benefits are a 100% sure thing.

vikingvista November 10, 2011 at 6:24 pm

“Government benefits are a 100% sure thing.”

Are you being facetious?

SmoledMan November 10, 2011 at 6:58 pm

There’s a reason Libertarian candidates never win and it’s related to their inability to show compassion for the weaker members of society. Libertarians subscribe to a Nietzschean view of life, might makes right, only the strong survive.

vikingvista November 10, 2011 at 7:04 pm

“Libertarians subscribe to a Nietzschean view of life, might makes right, only the strong survive.”

Considering the availability of libertarian resources, this is peculiarly misinformed. You lack even a superficial understanding of libertarianism. Nietzsche too, for that matter. I recommend you investigate some of those resources before commenting about it again in public.

Randy November 10, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Its not misinformed. Its propaganda. They have an interest in asking such questions but no interest at all in the answers. They want to steal. They want to justify stealing. They want to keep on stealing until there is nothing left.

g-dub November 10, 2011 at 7:46 pm

They want to keep on stealing until there is nothing left.

The less vulgar “progressives” know they have to keep the host alive. There isn’t many of those.

g-dub November 10, 2011 at 7:43 pm

The reason I am a librarian is because I like books, of course!

Sam Grove November 11, 2011 at 12:39 pm

I am libertarian because I believe freedom allows people to promote human well being by harnessing self interest to the creation of human serving profitable enterprise.

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