Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on December 14, 2011

in Hubris and humility, Man of System, Other People's Money

… is from page 64 of the third edition of Paul Hollander’s remarkable book Political Pilgrims; here, Hollander identifies

another characteristic form the elitism of intellectuals may take, namely, their tendency to dismiss the needs of ordinary people for certain freedoms on the assumption that such requirements are the luxury of the few while the masses should rightfully concern themselves with satisfying their more immediate material needs.

This quotation reminds me of one of my all-time favorites.

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{ 181 comments }

Greg G December 14, 2011 at 8:59 am

Do you mean to apply this principle to the voting rights of “ordinary people”?

Greg G December 14, 2011 at 10:48 am

Guess not. OK then. Time for one of our regular posts on how appalling the common man’s understanding of economics is and what an outrage it is that we use democratic elections to choose our leaders.

Some of the “ordinary people” should be happy to trade their freedom to vote in political elections for a broader selection of light bulbs and toilets.

JWH December 14, 2011 at 11:08 am

This ordinary person is going to vote for the politician who is least likely to have goal of managing my light bulbs and toilets, IF I can find one.

muirgeo December 14, 2011 at 11:15 am

Very good. LOL. When they say ordinary man they mean cheap labor. They are good enough to decide the price of their wage and the price of their food but not worthy of helping decide politics and rules. When we let them vote they steal from the good people… that’s why the good people call them the ordinary people…see below.

Greg G December 14, 2011 at 11:42 am

muirgeo

I assume you were trying to support my position there but I’m not quite sure how. “They” decide the price of their food???

You have a certain stubborn courage to keep coming here and taking the abuse you get. I do enjoy it when you occasionally score on someone here but, more often than not, I think that – if they didn’t have you – they would have to invent you. Come to think of it that process is well underway with all the impersonations.

They use your half baked arguments to train the young and slow ones on. And even some of the more skilled debaters here would need to find a new hobby if they didn’t have you pushing their buttons.

Making fewer, more closely reasoned and proofread comments would strengthen your position a lot.

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools December 14, 2011 at 2:31 pm

You have a certain stubborn courage to keep coming here and taking the abuse you get.

He’s not being abused. Abuse is directed at the undeserving and the powerless. Muirbot is neither. Muibot is ridiculed. Don’t feed the victomology of the troll.

muirge0 December 14, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Greg,

They decide the price of their food… meaning markets are supposed to be infallible because individuals will always vote for their own best wage and vote for their own lowest cost ( of food or whatever). But if individuals try to vote for political rules all of sudden they are shiftless moron socialist people holding guns to heads and stealing from libertarians. Just me… poorly trying to point out another logical inconsistency in their positions… and trying to portray what it really is they are saying in their own not so covert code.

Jon Murphy December 14, 2011 at 2:56 pm

I realize this is a waste of breath, but:

“They decide the price of their food… meaning markets are supposed to be infallible because individuals will always vote for their own best wage and vote for their own lowest cost ( of food or whatever). But if individuals try to vote for political rules all of sudden they are shiftless moron socialist people holding guns to heads and stealing from libertarians.”

Can you not see that they are not the same? When you go to the grocery store and buy your meat and potatoes, that is a decision that occurs between you and the grocery store. No one else is affected by that. You chose those particular items at the grocery store based upon how you value them and the cost.

The ballot box is different. I did not choose Mr. Obama as President, but I must live with him for 4-8 years. The choices of others is directly affecting me. Not only me, but the millions of others who did not/can not vote.

When one uses the political process to pass some sort of rule or regulation s/he is forcing their views on others who do not share that view. When Prohibition was passed, that took the opinion of some people and forced it upon many.

But it is different at the individual level. I choose not to buy steak because it is unhealthy. I prefer buffalo. No one is affected by that and the next person who comes along can buy steak if he so chooses.

However, if I pass a law banning steak in favor of buffalo because it is healthier, that is wrong. I have denied people the right to choose.

That’s what all this is about: the right to choose. That is the one common thread throughout this entire blog: every post, every comment, every action. It’s about the right to choose. It is not about making money, fuck money. It is about the right to live as I so choose, free from harassment from my neighbors, government, or outside influence. That is all we are asking. Leave us alone to live as we so choose and we’ll do the same for you. If I want to drink vodka and play violent video games ’til 2AM, what do you care?

All we want is one simple thing: the freedom to live. I know you don’t see that. But I hope someday you can. I hope someday you can look past your own wallet and look into the eyes of humanity.

Libertarians believe no man has the right to tell another how he should live. You have no more right to tell me how to live than I do to you. Can’t you see that what’s right for you is not right for me?

I beg you, Muirgeo, and all the others out there, to look into your hearts. Think about what I’ve said. Just think about it.

muirge0 December 14, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Jon,

“Libertarians believe no man has the right to tell another how he should live. ”

So if a libertarian owns a 500,000 acre of land do I have a right to walk on it?

If 1% libertarians owned all the land do the other 99% have a right to walk on any land anywhere in the whole country?

To quote this one guy I know, “Think about what I’ve said. Just think about it.”

Jon Murphy December 14, 2011 at 3:35 pm

I am sorry that you cannot see. Hopefully, someday you will.

Greg Webb December 14, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Jon, muirgeo does not support the principles of individual liberty or equality. He only supports theft of other people’s property.

Jon Murphy December 14, 2011 at 3:51 pm

I know, Greg. It wasn’t written so much for him, but for others. Libertarians are such an oft-slandered group. Despised on the Left for supposedly being in favor of Big Business. Despised on the Right for being socially liberal.

When we express our views, we are told we are inhumane, uncaring, profit-seekers.

We are told we are not “correct,” that we are not “right.” But no one understands that it’s not about being right. It’s about doing right.

We beg for humility and we are called elitist.

We beg for freedom and we are called slavists.

We beg for equality and we are called racists.

It is a tough stance to take: often ridiculed while the Big Boys win the game by stealing.

Maybe that’s why I’m a Red Sox fan.

But still, someone’s gotta do it. At the end of the day, someone’s got to pick that tired old banner off the ground, hold it high, and say “Once more into the breach, dear friends.” For freedom only dies when those who love her stop fighting.

muirge0 December 14, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Jon,

“That’s what all this is about: the right to choose.”

What can’t you choose? Did some one tell you you can’t eat buffalo?

and

“All we want is one simple thing: the freedom to live.”

And what does this mean? I AM thinking about it like you asked? Have you thought about it? Are there any rules to this “freedom to live”? Is it just a proclamation you want to make and you expect every one to adhere to?

OK Jon has declared he wants the freedom to live. So then what? What happens when the 6′ 10″ guy well armed with lots of other 6′ 10″ guys comes to your house also well armed and says he wants the freedom to take your stuff… what do you do? Do you tell him you are a rugged individualist who simply demands the freedom to live expecting he will say, “Oh…if you put it THAT way then never mind… me and my boys will move on?” Is THAT what you mean? Cause if not what happens in the oh so unlikely scenario he smacks you across the room and takes your stuff. What do you want to do about that? How should we prevent that? Who are you going to appeal to? Are you going to demand that some one protect you from this guy? How are you going to pay for the protection? Put a gun to all the anarchist who don’t think like you and force them to protect you? Humm…. think about it.

Jon Murphy December 14, 2011 at 4:45 pm

“What can’t you choose? Did some one tell you you can’t eat buffalo?”

Someone told me I can’t smoke pot. Someone told me I can’t travel to Cuba. Someone told me I can’t travel to Iran. Someone told me I can’t drink Four Loko (banned in Massachusetts). You don’t want me to buy Chinese goods. All these and millions of others are violations of my right to choose.

As to your scenario to a home invasion, I will do what every man has the right to do: protect his property. I’d pull out my Glock, give them one warning shot. Those who think my stuff is worth their life will soon find out.

You are not thinking about what I am saying. You’re being petty and foolish. There is no need to respond to what I am saying. Just think. That’s all just think. If you are as old as you claim to be, you can surely come up with better responses than this middle/high school stuff you constantly hurl (which is closer to your actual age, I suspect, but that’s a different matter).

Look, please, just think about what freedom is. Think about what freedom means to you. When you have done that, ask yourself the follow-up question “does this apply to all people? Does this apply to rich, poor, black, while, Chinese, Japanese?” If the answer is “no,”, then your definition of freedom needs to be reworked until the answer is “unconditionally yes.” That’s all I ask. Think, man.

muirge0 December 14, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Actually, Jon you are the one being petty and foolish. I AM showing you what freedom is…. and as they say freedom is not free. You assumed, even though I know you know better, that if everyone carries a Glock then the whole freedom thing just works out. But really that was just your way of avoiding the obvious implications of my scenario… so again….YOU think about it a little more and get back to me after you are done oversimplifying things.

muirge0 December 14, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Someone told me I can’t smoke pot. Someone told me I can’t travel to Cuba. Someone told me I can’t travel to Iran.

People smoke pot all the time and people go to Cuba and Iran… is that all that’s griping you? Your a freedom ovine guy and all you want to do is go to communist countries and trade with communist China… hmmm weird.

Greg Webb December 14, 2011 at 7:42 pm

“Libertarians are such an oft-slandered group.”

Yes. I get tired of it too. Mostly because the slanderers are prevaricating or, like muirgeo, do not understand much about the real world. BTW, I haven’t see much of the trolls on the right lately. Do you know of any?

“It is a tough stance to take: often ridiculed while the Big Boys win the game by stealing.”

Yep. The leftists steal from us to assuage their guilty consciences in not doing anything to help anyone else but themselves. The rightists steal from us to deal with their insecurities about foreigners. And, they all violate the principles of the country’s founding to pretend that their actions are “legal” when they are merely illegal assumptions of power.

“Maybe that’s why I’m a Red Sox fan.”

I like the Red Sox too.

“But still, someone’s gotta do it. At the end of the day, someone’s got to pick that tired old banner off the ground, hold it high, and say ‘Once more into the breach, dear friends.’ For freedom only dies when those who love her stop fighting.”

Agreed! Never stop fighting until the fight is done. And, Benjamin Franklin knew the fight for freedom would never be done when he said, “A Republic if you can keep it.” So, my friend, once more into the breech for this fight is not done.

Jon Murphy December 14, 2011 at 8:35 pm

The worst ones, Greg, are the false prophets. The ones with one hand on the Bible and the other on the gun. Those who say “let him live in freedom if he lives like me.” Those are the ones who are most dangerous. They say all the right things and then turn their backs on what they preach. Those people only like the idea of freedom. They don’t support it.

Dances with Wolves December 14, 2011 at 8:59 pm

I agree. Thomas Paine called those kinds of people “summer soldiers and sunshine patriots.” They say they are for individual liberty, but turn their backs at the first chance, whether due to the difficulty of the task or the opportunity presented in joining the other side.

Greg Webb December 14, 2011 at 11:30 am

GG, I see that you are being disingenuous again. Every citizen is entitled to vote in elections, but government is not empowered to steal the property of certain citizens to redistribute as political payoffs to others. Minority rights are an important concept that obviously escapes you.

Also, you have this funny way of arguing for government by the people, yet rule by an elite of technocrats and high priests. How ironic! Or perhaps just merely disingenuous.

Greg G December 14, 2011 at 11:49 am

GW

You are a proponent of the Rudy Guiliani school of debating. Except that for you it’s a noun, a verb and “disingenuous”.

Try changing it up by saying “conclusory” once in a while.

Greg Webb December 14, 2011 at 3:46 pm

How about debating the issue instead of avoiding it? Unless, of course, you can’t make a good argument in support of the redistribution of wealth, also known as theft.

Greg Webb December 14, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Apparently, your argument in favor of the redistribution of wealth is conclusory. How about that!

Greg Webb December 14, 2011 at 12:50 pm

GG, you must have stopped at disingenuous. Every citizen is entitled to vote in elections, but government is not empowered to steal the property of certain citizens to redistribute as political payoffs to others. Minority rights and equality under the law are principles from the Constitution that you leftist thugs and thieves do not want to recognize because they thwart your theft.

All leftist disingenuously talk about democracy and government by the people, then switch to advocating for rule by an elite that merely comprises corrupt politicians and their political cronies. Nice job, GG. You really are a useful idiot to corruption.

Greg G December 14, 2011 at 1:04 pm

GW

At least you changed it up a little there by also using it as an adverb. Many cafe patrons can write a comment defending libertarianism without using the word “disingenuous.” It will be hard at first but it will get easier in time. Watch and learn.

Methinks1776 December 14, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Identifying you as disingenuous is not a defense of libertarianism, genius. It is a description of you and the blather passing for argument that you emit.

I disagree with that assessment of you, btw. I don’t think you’re disingenuous at all. Someone who is disingenuous must first have some awareness of reality and it’s entirely too clear that you’re hopelessly clueless.

Greg G December 14, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Hello Methinks. You have already weighed in on this as favoring apportioning voting influence by tax bracket. Thank you for that. Your views on ordinary people are out there for all to see.

Do you recommend a Constitutional Amendment or simply a Pinochet like figure to effect this change?

Methinks1776 December 14, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Yes, I do favour a voting system that provides no reward for theft by dumb little would-be thugs like you.

Greg G December 14, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Be careful what you wish for Methinks, I pay a lot in taxes. Better also add a requirement that voters agree with your views.

Methinks1776 December 14, 2011 at 2:59 pm

I don’t give a crap about your “views”.

I do doubt, however, that the rest of the population would favour a 90% tax rate for themselves just to give more weight to their vote or a 90% tax rate for you because it would give your vote more weight. Why am I not surprised you couldn’t work that out on your own?

muirge0 December 14, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Of course this country was built on a 90% upper marginal tax rate when methinks family decided to come here… but that’s different.

Greg Webb December 14, 2011 at 3:35 pm

GG, I see that you carefully avoided my argument. But, of course, you cannot explain how you can logically argue for more democracy and advocate for an elite ruling the country. How disingenuous of you to avoid arguments that you cannot reconcile. In other words, you leftist troll, I am saying that you are lying about your support of democracy. You merely want to legalize your theft of other people’s money.

Greg Webb December 14, 2011 at 3:38 pm

GG, let’s now hear your argument in favor of redistribution of wealth. This ought to be fun. Tell us all why stealing from some to give to others is just. Also explain how someone who says he makes so much money, though he is retired, isn’t spending that money to help others instead of trolling Cafe Hayek.

Greg G December 14, 2011 at 3:53 pm

GW

OK. Down to only one “disingenuous” there. This is progress.

I didn’t “carefully avoid” your argument. I didn’t even see an argument from you. I owned a business for 35 years and payed considerably more in taxes than I consumed in government services.

And I didn’t whine about it either. I felt lucky to be able to enjoy the opportunities that this country has to offer. You can read my reply to Sam below if you want to see my views on how the rights of the minority should be protected.

Jon Murphy December 14, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Sorry to derail this train to nowhere, but can we please find a different word other than “disingenuous”? It’s been used by so many people on this blog that it’s lost all meaning.

http://thesaurus.com/browse/disingenuous

Greg Webb December 14, 2011 at 4:01 pm

GG, quit being disingenuous and I will not be able to use the word.

I read your response to Sam, and it was the same nonsense that you have said before. Basically, you think that minority rights are protected by the high priests of the Supreme Court. That did not work out so well for Dred Scott. So how can minority rights really be protected given that the Court is so highly politicized?

Also, your view reveals a reliance of government by high priests on the Supreme Court rather than the democracy that you also espouse. How do you reconcile democracy with rule by a small elite of technocrats?

Methinks1776 December 14, 2011 at 4:01 pm

No, you reserved your whining for Cafe Hayek.

What business were you in for 35 years?

Greg Webb December 14, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Okay, Jon. Instead of disingenuous, how about liar, charlatan, prevaricator, douche bag, schmuck, ass, fool, or clown? You pick.

Greg Webb December 14, 2011 at 4:14 pm

I doubt GG will answer your question, Methinks1776. My guess is that he is an SEIU official.

Jon Murphy December 14, 2011 at 4:14 pm

How about insidious? It rolls off the tongue and has a hit of evil about it.

You must forgive me, Greg, for going a little off the handlebars, but that word has just all meaning through overuse.

Greg G December 14, 2011 at 4:17 pm

@John
“can’t we please find a different word?” It’s beyond his control.

@GW
Are you pretending at knowledge of how much I spend to help others?

@Methinks
Retailing. And I’m not whining about the cafe. I love it just the way it is. Don’t ever change. If you change the things you think I am whining about you will be more persuasive to others. I don’t want that.

muirge0 December 14, 2011 at 4:36 pm

If there ever is a case of trolling it comes from doing something like stealing anthers screen name. This seems to be something coming mostly from some frustrated libertarians…

Greg Webb December 14, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Jon, insidious is a nice word that would correctly imply that GG is deceitful. You know, deceitful is the best word that fits GG’s misleading argumentation style. Or even misleading would be good. Any others?

GG, what kind of retail business?

Methinks1776, I would like to Cafe to change. I am tired of all these deceitful leftists trying to argument that it is “legal” for government to steal from some to give to political cronies.

Greg Webb December 14, 2011 at 5:09 pm

GG, being deceitful is not persuasive to anyone but muirgeo and, you know, he has that brain eating disease from eating North American Elk. BTW, sorry to hear about the AIDS.

See how much fun being deceitful is. Now, I am like you GG. Misapplying certain facts that you and muirgeo mentioned recently to give false impressions to anyone reading this comment. That is what you do. Let me know how persuasive it is.

Sam Grove December 14, 2011 at 11:44 am

Greg G

The question to discuss is what we are to vote on.

I will assume you don’t believe in unlimited majority rule.
Should we vote on what people eat, drink, buy, drive, where they may go, etc.?

Should we vote to hand these decisions over to “representatives”?

Just which decisions should be left in the hands of individuals and which should be left in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats?

Greg G December 14, 2011 at 11:59 am

Sam

You are right that I don’t believe in unlimited majority rule. We have a Constitution to guide us. And that Constitution gives us a process for settling disputes on how to interpret it. Thank God for that because there is no chance we will all agree on exactly what it means.

I don’t agree with all the decisions made by the Supreme Court. But I do regard them as law until they can be overturned by the process that the Constitution provides. You guys are more focused on the outcome. I am more focused on the process.

The process, while always messy, tends toward self repair and better outcomes in my opinion.

Economiser December 14, 2011 at 2:18 pm

The Supreme Court is infallible. Not because it’s always right, but because it cannot be appealed.

They are often wrong. See, e.g., Plessy v. Ferguson.

Jon Murphy December 14, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Well, the Supreme Court can be appealed. But you usually have to wait for new justices to come along. PvF took a long time to get over-turned (nearly 100 years!).

muirge0 December 14, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Greg,

What you will see as you debate here is that these people have all sorts of complaints about how things are but try to pin one of them down on how exactly things should be and they will have no coherent answer and all of their answers will differ.

carlsoane December 14, 2011 at 3:00 pm

The process, while always messy, tends toward self repair and better outcomes in my opinion.

Do you say the believe the same about the economic sphere as the political sphere?

Sam Grove December 14, 2011 at 4:36 pm

What you will see as you debate here is that these people have all sorts of complaints about how things are but try to pin one of them down on how exactly things should be and they will have no coherent answer and all of their answers will differ.

EVERYONE has complaints about how things are run and many have ideas on how things should be run.
My question for you, before I can answer, is: What do you mean by “How things should be run?”

Libertarians think the government should be run within very limited parameters, to act as an expression of everyone’s right to defend themselves against aggression and otherwise leave them alone to act as they will as long as they don’t violate the equal rights of others.

You, on the other hand, think the government should run just about everything.

Greg Webb December 14, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Sam, that is exactly right.

Greg Webb December 14, 2011 at 9:15 am

Don, this is an excellent choice for the quote of the day!

Newt Represents The GOP Best December 14, 2011 at 9:29 am

And, Don, exactly what freedoms are the elite attempting to take from the masses today?

I thought we were at battle stations today, again defending the 1% from a tax increase.

andy December 14, 2011 at 10:09 am

Smoking in restaurants..for example?

Newt Represents The GOP Best December 14, 2011 at 10:21 am

laws banning smoking is restaurants: (1) apply to everyone, not just the elites who eat in restaurants; and (2) work and are universally very popular with the public.

Fred December 14, 2011 at 10:52 am

I once worked for a restaurant that was non-smoking before the law dictated that all restaurants should be non-smoking. One summer the city passed an ordinance making it a crime to smoke in a restaurant (first offense $100 fine, third offense $1000 fine and jail time, meanwhile marijuana remained a $50 ticket, figure that out) so my employer’s customers could now go anywhere and be smoke free. Within a month my employer shut its doors for lack of business.

A law banning smoking in restaurants cost me my job.

Jon Murphy December 14, 2011 at 11:02 am

Half the bars in the town I grew up in had to close when the state passed a no smoking law.

Greg G December 14, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Fred

Hayek taught us that the market sends much valuable information through variations in pricing and supply and demand. The market was telling your old employer his food wasn’t very good. The other restaurants that picked up his business probably added employees.

Greg Webb December 14, 2011 at 7:51 pm

Fred, Hayek would say that’s what happens when overly-controlling busybodies who want to mind other people’s business are given too much power.

Rick Caird December 14, 2011 at 10:25 am

After Holder’s speech in Austin, it is clear the elite are trying to offset valid and legal votes with invalid and illegal votes

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools December 14, 2011 at 11:11 am

I’ve never quite understood why lighting a match indoors was a pyromaniac risking a catastrophe, but holding it to a cigarette was a right.

I know “Newt” is a troll, but anti-smoking ordinances aren’t “the needs of ordinary people for certain freedoms on the assumption that such requirements are the luxury of the few”.

Methinks1776 December 14, 2011 at 11:19 am

Luxury of the few to restrict the freedoms of ordinary people is what an anit-smoking ordinance is.

Look, I don’t smoke and I don’t like being around smokers (eating in, say, Paris in winter can be pretty gross). However, I’m not forced to eat in an establishment that won’t accommodate my non-smoking preference, Anti-smoking ordinances ensure that smokers can’t patronize an establishment that will accommodate their preference.

brotio December 14, 2011 at 7:07 pm

*like*

Dan Phillips December 14, 2011 at 1:10 pm

The point is: either the property owner owns the property, or he doesn’t. If he truly owns the property (a restaurant, for example) then he is the one who decides what takes place within the premises. He can choose to allow smoking (and risk running off all the non-smokers, like me), or he can ban smoking altogether (and risk losing the smoking crowd), or he could divide the building into smoking/non-smoking sections. Or he could choose a myriad of other options, since he owns the property. He gets to choose because he owns it. That’s the basis of ownership.

Now if an outside source (say the government) claims the right to make his choices for him, and has the armed might to force its decisions on him, then the outside source is the de facto owner of the property.

As soon as the outside source scores such a victory then for all practical purposes private ownership of property ceases to exist. The camel’s nose is under the tent, as they say. It’s only a matter of time before the outside source controls everything. That’s why the outside source should be opposed tooth and nail at every attempt it makes.

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools December 14, 2011 at 3:27 pm

point is: either the property owner owns the property, or he doesn’t. If he truly owns the property (a restaurant, for example) then he is the one who decides what takes place within the premises.

There are a myriad of restrictions on the use of property imposed by local and state governments (statement of fact, not endorsement)

Some of these restrictions include reasonable (legal term, not my endorsement) use, such as nose ordinances, safety and building codes, etc. And then there’s property taxes-which are far worse impositions on my right of ownership. I’ve seen plenty of forfeitures for failure to remit property taxes and none for violating smoking ordinances.

So, in the grand scheme of things, as a matter of marginal benefit-I have limited time to attemp to corral government excess. I’m going to lend time and money to movements to repeal property taxes because they are a greater threat to my ownership. In my state, I DON’T own my home, I have all the responsibilities of ownership, and have possesssion, attenuated use and exclusion rights-but only as long as I pay rent (taxes) to the local schoolboard

As a matter of principal, most people have no problem with smoking-as long as it doesn’t bother me or interfere with my rights-so go ahead smoke, but don’t impose your exhaust or offensive odor on me. When a smoker and a nonsmoker are in an enclosed space and pusuing mutual exclusive goals-respiration trumps addiction or whatever other motivation there is to smoke.

If you want to waste your time attempting to advance the idea smoking ordinances are the most grievance attachment by government against individual property rights-have at it-part of individual liberty is the right to pusue lost or foolish causes. Just please do it quietly so as to not drive vast swaths of the indifferent into the hands of statists.

Gil December 14, 2011 at 6:59 pm

If a property owner truly owned his property he should be able to murder someone and the government can’t do anything about it.

kyle8 December 14, 2011 at 6:42 pm

I can see both sides to this, While I admit that most anti-smoking ordinances are draconian and take away freedoms, I also think that they were necessary to get people to be able to eat really smoke free.

Before the ordinances, sure there was a non-smoking section in each restaurant but you usually had to walk right through the smoking section to get to it. The problem was that since non smoking places were so very rare, then there was no downside for an establishment to accommodate smokers at the expense of non-smokers. Since the non-smokers had no where to go.

But the ordinances were way too restrictive and should have all allowed places to open up as smoking only restaurants.

Probably now they can all be done away with, since they created a whole nation of non smoking restaurants , it is not likely that a majority of places would go back to having smoking areas, but some would.

Hal December 14, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Carrying a gun: elites regularly deny ordinary citizens the right to concealed and open carry, but go everywhere with armed guards,

The freedom of speech: elites at every turn attempt to regulate what counts as protected speech despite the first amendment clearly saying “congress shall make no law”.

The freedom of educational choice: the public school system is one of the greatest failures, if not the greatest, of elites thinking they know what other people should learn; however, when given the opportunity (due to graft and the ability to simply tax themselves into a larger income) they send their own kids to private schools.

The most important: economic freedom. Elites regularly abuse the citizens by depriving them of ever less of their own earned income so that the elites can spend that money on the things that they want, ignoring the wants and needs of the people who actually earned that wealth.

Congressmen and legislators and political favorites regularly exempt themselves form legislation they don’t want to be subject to. How many federal and state employees, due to the public sector unions kicking back union dues to buy politicians, have exempted themselves from paying social security taxes and forced a guaranteed income to themselves which is taken from actual wealth producers?

Josh S December 14, 2011 at 4:29 pm

1) The freedom to save money at a positive real rate of interest.

2) The freedom to not invest my scarce savings in born-to-fail companies like Solyndra

3) The freedom to not invest my scarce savings in bailing out the Euro

4) The freedom to buy oil from Canada

5) The freedom to open a drilling rig in the Gulf

6) The freedom to drill for energy where it’s found

7) The freedom to buy goods from the person who can provide them to me the most cheaply.

8) The freedom to be able to go to work without worrying about whether or not a mob of unwashed hippies will shut the place down.

Etc.

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools December 14, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Like!

Methinks1776 December 14, 2011 at 8:28 pm

applause

Invisible Backhand December 14, 2011 at 10:12 am

Another characteristic of neoliberals is to dismiss the immediate material needs of the ordinary people who lose out from globalization. They cannot concern themselves that deregulation, privatization and fiscal austerity that redistribute wealth from the poor to the rich is not in the best interest of the ordinary citizen.

Randy December 14, 2011 at 10:25 am

Trade doesn’t redistribute at all. It simply creates wealth. Only political behavior redistributes. So if you”re looking for handouts, look to politicians. They take in several trillion dollars every year, after all, and if they’re not giving any of it to you then you should ask them why not.

Hector December 14, 2011 at 10:39 am

Randy, trade doesn’t redistribute? The main effect of trade is that it changes relative prices and incomes. This changes determine how much I can earn given my endowments and what/how much I can buy with my income. Looks very much like an (indirect) redistribution to me…

Jon Murphy December 14, 2011 at 10:42 am

You just described wealth creation, not redistribution. It is not taking wealth from one person to another (as is distribution). It is creating wealth (you can now buy more given your endowments).

Hector December 14, 2011 at 10:58 am

It not that obvious. Go back to Econ01: Three agents, A, B, C and two goods, apples and bananas. A only has 1 banana but only likes apples. B only has 1 apple but only likes bananas. C has 10 bananas and only likes apples. As long as only A and B trade, B gets one apple. B is happy. If we allow A, B and C to trade, C gets the apple because he offers B 10 bananas instead of one. B is not happy that C can also trade.

I completely agree that trade creates wealth and is pareto superior to non-trade. But it is not the case that allowing for (more) trade makes everyone better off if you do not redistribute the gains from trade. Just imagine your only endowment is labor and wages in your economy fall due to trade.

Greg Webb December 14, 2011 at 11:04 am

We can all agree that the redistribution of wealth is a good thing. I just inherited 1,000,000 from my dear old dad, who kicked the bucket after a battle with cancer. I got it tax free because the death tax didn’t kick in. I am now an instant millionaire as a result. I LOVE wealth redistribution (to me). Oh yeah, that reminds me; I gotta check my lottery ticket. I might become an instant millionaire again. You gotta love the lottery; wealth is distributed from a bunch of suckers to one lucky sob. Lotteries are very popular. Most people, including libertarians, love wealth redistribution . So shut up about it.

Jon Murphy December 14, 2011 at 11:04 am

Wages fall, but so do prices. Your wealth is not reduced.

That’s the argument for protecting American jobs from outside manufacturers. But it simply is not the case. There is no empirical evidence to suggest that.

Randy December 14, 2011 at 11:05 am

Hector,

A specific trade makes the participants to it better off. Not everyone participates in every trade, and some don’t participate in trade at all. But that isn’t a problem with trade, and in my mind it isn’t really a problem at all. Politicians are in the redistribution business and like to make it out that the unfulfilled desires of some are a “problem”, but that doesn’t make it so.

Invisible Backhand December 14, 2011 at 11:07 am

You guys are all discombobulated because the subject is globalization, which is never talked about here except in the most simplistic terms. Free trade always good, for everyone at all times.

Here’s a magic trick. Look over to the right hand side of the page, maybe scroll up a bit, and look for a picture of a butterfly. That’s a book called Globalization written by Don Boudreaux.

You’ve been powned by Don Boudreaux. He’s paid to convert followers to his corporate masters’ agenda and you all have clipped the dog leash on willingly.

Jon Murphy December 14, 2011 at 11:07 am

My opening sentence should read that relative prices fall (price per hour worked).

Economic Freedom December 14, 2011 at 11:09 am

Hector,

Jon Murphy is ignorant about economics except in the most superficial way. He is a troll, nothing more. Please ignore him in the future. Don’t feed the troll. Greg Webb is a troll as well, but I agree that inheritance and the lottery are classic examples of wealth redistribution.

Hector December 14, 2011 at 11:11 am

Honestly, I do not know if trade made american workers better off or worse (from what I remember it is quite difficult to settle this question definitely). I just wanted to make the point that in generally, opening up for free trade creates both winners and losers (maybe the loser is an american monopolist, so I do not say trade is a bad thing). But to me this is like redistribution.

Randy December 14, 2011 at 11:16 am

Hector,

What you’re talking about is the effect of a change in a trade relationship. For example, I was trading with Joe but now I trade with Chang. I don’t consider Joe a loser, because he was winning while I was trading with him. Now Chang is a winner because I trade with him, but that doesn’t make Joe a loser, it just makes him a past winner. Joe has no right to forever trade with me just because we traded once.

Economic Freedom December 14, 2011 at 11:18 am

Randy,
You are incorrect and a brainwashed troll.

Randy December 14, 2011 at 11:21 am

Seriously EF? That’s the best you’ve got?

Jon Murphy December 14, 2011 at 11:23 am

” I just wanted to make the point that in generally, opening up for free trade creates both winners and losers (maybe the loser is an american monopolist, so I do not say trade is a bad thing).”

Ah, I see your point, now Hector. Yes, trade does create winners and losers in that respect. I am still a little hesitant to call that redistribution, but I see where you are coming from.

Greg Webb December 14, 2011 at 11:31 am

Pretender, you are wrong again. Wealth redistribution is stealing. Try having a hamburger for lunch. They are delicious!

Economic Freedom December 14, 2011 at 11:41 am

Trade can be a good thing, but you must consider externalities. If I trade a nuclear warhead for a pack of cigarettes, we may be made better off temporarily. I get the cigarettes and later get lung cancer. You, the fanatical fundamentalist terrorist get the warhead to use to blow up Manhattan. What fool would argue that this free trade is a good thing? So, you must look at the nature of the trade and who is doing it and benefiting by it. If a Russian oligarch billionaire is making hand over fist while the majority of the Russian population continues in grinding poverty, why are his trades overall good for the peasantry? They aren’t and his ill-gotten wealth must be clawed back by the government and redistributed in a fair and sensible way, such as by reestablishing the preeminent higher educational system of the former Soviet Union.

Fred December 14, 2011 at 11:55 am

If I trade a nuclear warhead for a pack of cigarettes

That must be one of the dumbest things I have ever read.

Invisible Backhand December 14, 2011 at 12:02 pm

I’m pretty sure Economic Freedom is Regards, Ken. His style looks familiar and Regards, Ken has been MIA for awhile.

Dances with Wolves December 14, 2011 at 12:05 pm

I have no love for hicks, Hoosiers, and rednecks. They drink beer and watch football and listen to hard rock.a They are uncouth and uncultured. When they are not watching football and voting the Koch brothers’ Tea Party fascist line of bull, they head out to the backwoods for hunting and trapping to kill innocent wild animals for fun, sadism or profit. Some have filmed their sadistic, bestial murderous activities on Youtube. These hunter/trapper peasants do not deserve more freedom they should be sterilized and put in a labor camp. These murderous, inhuman killers must be stopped. They are a scourge and a plague on the planet. They deserve no quarter. If an elite chooses to hunt, such as Scalia or Cheney, they should be given the death penalty, which they favor. They should be setting an example for others instead of legitimizing hunting and trapping. They deserve no mercy for their killings; they are the true beasts.

Randy December 14, 2011 at 2:19 pm

EF,

Your thought on externalities is off topic. It isn’t an externality when someone wants to be part of a deal but isn’t. Its just business.

vidyohs December 14, 2011 at 4:35 pm

@Hector
“Hector December 14, 2011 at 11:11 am

Honestly, I do not know if trade made american workers better off or worse (from what I remember it is quite difficult to settle this question definitely). I just wanted to make the point that in generally, opening up for free trade creates both winners and losers (maybe the loser is an american monopolist, so I do not say trade is a bad thing). But to me this is like redistribution.”

I sure the hell hope you were writing tongue-in-cheek, because if you were serious, that just might be as dumb as anything muirduck has ever written; and, I would hope you know just how dumb that is.

Not sure if trade made American workers better off……..sheesh, yeah they got rich making stuff and sticking it in their garages as storage……God forbid they might sell the stuff they make.

No one gets rich making stuff. One only gets rich when that stuff is sold (trade, ya know).

“opening up for free trade creates both winners and losers”…..how the hell can you believe that “free trade” creates winners and losers? Barring criminal fraud which every trader/shopper should personally and individually be alert to, free trade can only create winners on both sides of the trade.

Who the hell educates people like you?

Sam Grove December 14, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Honestly, I do not know if trade made american workers better off or worse

What about just Americans?

Josh S December 14, 2011 at 11:29 pm

Trade doesn’t redistribute because without trade, the wealth to be traded doesn’t get created in the first place. The reason, for example, that so much grain is grown in Kansas is that Kansans can trade the grain for other goods and services. Without trade, not only would Kansas produce less grain, but Kansans would simply go without a wide variety of manufactured goods, as would many of the people they trade with, since those folks would have to grow their own food rather than making cars, computers, and cell phones.

Josh S December 14, 2011 at 4:30 pm

The fact that IB posts generate more than zero comments shows you guys aren’t learning. Don’t feed the trolls.

Jon Murphy December 14, 2011 at 4:34 pm

I dunno, Josh. The discussion between Hector and I has some value to it. But you are right; that discussion would have happened either way.

JWH December 14, 2011 at 10:30 am

Good quote. I am most irritated by their smugness, even when they realize they deprive us of freedoms, they let us know our freedom is diddly squat when compared to their grand schemes for the perfection of the human race.

Randy December 14, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Yep. But the good news is that they are really easy to piss off.

Jon Murphy December 14, 2011 at 10:46 am

This quote (and the subsequent link) remind me of another South Park episode, Butt Out (Season 7).

*Here Be Spoilers*

In the episode, the boys are caught smoking, so the town brings in Rob Reiner to teach them a lesson. He, in turn, blames the evil cigarette companies for brainwashing the boys into making them want to smoke and moves to get them shut down. Eventually, the plan emerges for Reiner to kill one of the boys and blame it on the company. Long story short, the boys eventually flip out and explain to the townfolks that it was their fault for smoking, not the company’s and all their laws did was encourage smoking.

Check it out.

Greg Webb December 14, 2011 at 7:54 pm

The creators of South Park do a great job of making fun of the busybodies who want to mind other people’s business.

muirgeo December 14, 2011 at 11:10 am

Intellectual elitism = BAD
Monetary and wealth elitism = GOOD

Just be sure to frame it so it appears that the enemy of the “ordinary people” is the inconvenient intellectual NOT the monetary elitist who the intellectuals REALLY threaten. Also, make it look like you care about the “ordinary people” as more then just the cheap labor you see them for.

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools December 14, 2011 at 11:25 am

Dimbulb, do you understand what elitism is?

Hint: If there’s “Monetary and wealth elitism”, its practiced by the government. Take a look at Obummer’s “job’s” council – Jeff Imelt-big time CEO.

Dances with Wolves December 14, 2011 at 12:11 pm

I inadvertently added this comment to the wrong thread:

I have no love for hicks, Hoosiers, and rednecks. They drink beer and watch football and listen to hard rock.a They are uncouth and uncultured. When they are not watching football and voting the Koch brothers’ Tea Party fascist line of bull, they head out to the backwoods for hunting and trapping to kill innocent wild animals for fun, sadism or profit. Some have filmed their sadistic, bestial murderous activities on Youtube. These hunter/trapper peasants do not deserve more freedom they should be sterilized and put in a labor camp. These murderous, inhuman killers must be stopped. They are a scourge and a plague on the planet. They deserve no quarter. If an elite chooses to hunt, such as Scalia or Cheney, they should be given the death penalty, which they favor. They should be setting an example for others instead of legitimizing hunting and trapping. They deserve no mercy for their killings; they are the true beasts.

Dances with Wolves December 14, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Yes, but I love a good hamburger! And, there is no contradiction in that.

GiT December 14, 2011 at 1:49 pm

What should one say about the characteristic form of intellectual elitism which tends to dismiss the political demands of ordinary people for satisfaction of some of their immediate needs by telling them what they should rightfully concern themselves with is lowering taxes on the wealthy?

Methinks1776 December 14, 2011 at 2:02 pm

What should one say about the characteristic form of intellectual argument that tends to dismiss the political demands of some ordinary people to satisfy their immediate needs by robbing certain other ordinary people as immoral, irresponsible and counterproductive?

One should say that it is correct and it is moral.

GiT December 14, 2011 at 2:29 pm

“One should say that it is correct and it is moral.”

How elitist.

GiT December 14, 2011 at 2:36 pm

‘What Methinks wants is correct and moral’

‘What the masses want is not, because Methinks says so.’

Methinks1776 December 14, 2011 at 2:52 pm

If the masses wanted you drawn and quartered because that would serve their desire to see your blood and guts flow in the street, would you consider that correct and moral?

GiT December 14, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Try to think a little harder Methinks. I know it’s difficult for you but perhaps one day you’ll be able to grasp the mind-numbingly simple points I attempt to make here.

Regardless of whether or not it is correct or moral, if I think that the masses should not draw and quarter me even if that is what they want to do, I am privileging the opinion of the few (myself) over the many (the masses).

That is a form of elitism. Pointing out that there are many varieties of intellectual elitism does not mean I’m a populist, it just means I’m not a hypocrite who tries to cover up my own elitist opinions by saying that they’re what’s ‘really’ what the majority wants, they just don’t know it because they’ve been duped by those other elitists over there.

Hal December 14, 2011 at 2:28 pm

What kind of elitism is it to think that anyone should use government coercion to take from others and give to themselves, then call it “satisfaction of some of their immediate needs”?

GiT December 14, 2011 at 2:38 pm

What kind of elitism is it to think that you know what’s coercive and others don’t, to think that your idea of what justice is, is right, and what others think, is wrong?

What kind of elitism is it to say that taxation is exploitatitve coercion when millions say it isn’t?

What kind of elitism is it to say that the economic relationships are never coercive, when millions say they are?

In other words, what kind of elitist are you?

Methinks1776 December 14, 2011 at 3:04 pm

What kind of elitism is it to say that taxation is exploitatitve coercion when millions say it isn’t?

Would these be the same millions who demand tax cuts for themselves and tax increases for anyone richer than themselves?

Sweet Lord, you’re an idiot.

GiT December 14, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Yet again the only idiot is you.

We’re not talking about what is right or wrong, we’re talking about what’s elitist.

Your attempt to disqualify the opinion of millions because of the substance of their opinion is elitist, by definition.

Elitism may very well be right. If it is, why are you so afraid to admit you’re an elitist?

It’s quite hilarious to see you scrambling to defend yourself from a charge of elitism when you ostensibly believe in a classical liberal tradition which has drawn upon elitist concerns with democratic law making for millennia.

Methinks1776 December 14, 2011 at 4:11 pm

No, you dumb Bolshevik, there are no “millions” who agree with any of the drivel in your post.

The Bolshevik playbook is played out and it turns out you’re just brutal Mensheviks.

GiT December 14, 2011 at 5:29 pm

A final note – If you think attempting to provide me with a single, coherent answer to all those questions solves the problem, you’ve missed the point entirely.

GiT December 14, 2011 at 5:30 pm

Really? Millions of people don’t think taxation is legitimate and don’t consider a violation of their rights and liberties?

Yet again, Methinks, you are the only idiot around.

The post immediately above this was supposed to go to another thread. Apologies.

GiT December 14, 2011 at 6:19 pm

In case you’re still unsure of your idiocy, I suggest you google ‘public opinion and the welfare state.’

Let me know if you find any evidence demonstrating that it is not the case that hundreds of millions of people are in favor of the government intervening in questions of human welfare.

Josh S December 14, 2011 at 11:33 pm

Elitist = Thinking you’re entitled to direct other people’s lives because you’re just so darn smart.

Populist = Thinking you’re entitled to direct other people’s lives because you’re just so darn popular.

Elitism and populism are two sides fo the same coin: Collectivist tyranny.

GiT December 14, 2011 at 11:39 pm

And then we have individualism, the belief that you’re entitled to tell other people what to do because you’re just so damn special.

Hal December 14, 2011 at 3:18 pm

“What kind of elitism is it to think that you know what’s coercive and others don’t, to think that your idea of what justice is, is right, and what others think, is wrong?

What kind of elitism is it to say that taxation is exploitatitve coercion when millions say it isn’t?”

It’s easy to know what’s coercive. The definition is very clear: use of force or intimidation to obtain compliance. I’m sure most, if not all, those millions you’re talking about know it’s coercive, but since it benefits them at the expense of others they don’t know or like, they’re fine with it.

It’s coercive to vote in politicians you know will used force and intimidation to take from others and give to you as a reward for voting for them.

“What kind of elitism is it to say that the economic relationships are never coercive, when millions say they are?”

Voluntary transactions are never coercive. My employer doesn’t force me to work here. I can quit any time I want. I can force my employer to keep me employed. He can fire me at any time. I wasn’t forced to buy a car, a house, or any other the other thousands of items I bought from non-government entities.

“In other words, what kind of elitist are you?”

I am an elitist who believes in self reliance and cooperative efforts rather than giving in to my baser desires of using force against those I don’t like or don’t care about. In other words, I’m a decent human being.

GiT December 14, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Well, you’ve shown me you aren’t actually working with a coherent definition of coercion, which is nice, but frankly I don’t care about that.

Yes, you are an elitist, because you believe that those who, according to you, ‘give in to their baser desires,’ aren’t fit to speak about what is coercive and what isn’t, or what is violent and what isn’t.

Perish the thought that anyone could come to an opinion you disagree with about property rights and theories of the state for rational reasons, rather than base desires.

And perish the thought that no base desires motivate what you claim is purely motivated by your reason.

No, you are a decent human being and everyone who disagrees with you is a violent thug.

Hal December 14, 2011 at 4:11 pm

“Well, you’ve shown me you aren’t actually working with a coherent definition of coercion, which is nice, but frankly I don’t care about that.”

Really?

“Yes, you are an elitist, because you believe that those who, according to you, ‘give in to their baser desires,’ aren’t fit to speak about what is coercive and what isn’t, or what is violent and what isn’t.”

You’re right. I do insist people use words as they are properly defined. I’m funny that way. The terms violent and coercion have actual definitions with real meanings. They are also clearly defined such that it is easy to objectively determine whether or not an action is violent or coercive.

“No, you are a decent human being and everyone who disagrees with you is a violent thug.”

Not everyone. Just those who seek to use force to obtain my compliance.

Hal December 14, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Looks like the link I made in my above comment isn’t working. Here is the URL:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/coercion

According to you the very first definition of coercion provided in the dictionary is incoherent.

GiT December 14, 2011 at 5:21 pm

I should have been more specific. Your application of the definition of coercion is incoherent. This would derive from the constituent elements of your definition not being capable of an unambiguous application.

Coercion, force, and intimidation do not have unambiguous meanings and uses, let alone ideas of legitimate coercion, force, and intimidation.

Are natural forces force? If they are, is natural force coercive? If we want to eliminate coercion or force tout court, why is eliminating intentional human sources of coercion more important than natural ones?

What about institutional forces, which are neither natural nor attributable to individual humans. I live in a high traffic area, yet I like to ride my bike. Does the design of the transportation system and the extent of traffic at certain times coerce me into taking the bus instead, because my bike would be too dangerous? I’m certainly afraid for my life, having been hit by cars twice before.

Intimidation is just that which produces fear. Must it necessarily be intentional? If you unintentionally intimidate me, are you being coercive? In fact, what are the limits to intimidation?

Intimidation is something which induces anxiety and fear. But what degree of anxiety and fear counts as coercive? And if anxiety and fear inducing speech counts as force, why not other varieties of motivating speech?

Are only threats coercive? What about lies? What about rhetorical persuasion? What about misinformation? Let’s take it further, what about sins of omission? If lying to me about something to get me to do something is coercive, is not telling me something that might inhibit me doing something you’d like me to do coercive?

But let’s go further. How can we get rid of coercion? If coercion is bad, presumably we should try to prevent it. But how do we prevent coercion? With more coercion? How do we distinguish justified coercion from unjustified coercion?

Why is my taking apples from that tree over there coercive, while my neighbor tackling me to the ground and taking what he says are ‘his’ apples legitimate? Because he has property rights? Where did he get those? When did I agree that my neighbor could tell me where I could and couldn’t go and what I could and couldn’t touch? Isn’t that coercive?

If it isn’t, why not? How is ordering me what to do with the threat of violence not coercion? If it is coercion, why is it justified if I never agreed to it?

And etc, and etc., and etc.

Greg G December 14, 2011 at 5:28 pm

GiT

You are making this way too complicated. Let me translate into Libertarian:

coercive = government requiring you to do anything you don’t want to do

GiT December 14, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Ah, but my only goal here is to make things more complex than Libertarians think them to be. Funny how those who obsess over the complexity of markets, as institutions based on human intentions, think that language and morality are such simple things.

Hal December 14, 2011 at 6:03 pm

“Your application of the definition of coercion is incoherent.”

Using the government to take from one group of people to give to yourself is unambiguously coercive. It’s theft using a middle man.

“Are natural forces force?”

What are you talking about?

“why is eliminating intentional human sources of coercion more important than natural ones? ”

Again, what are you talking about?

“Does the design of the transportation system and the extent of traffic at certain times coerce me into taking the bus instead, because my bike would be too dangerous?”

Not any more than a cliff coerces you into not climbing it. So no.

“Must it necessarily be intentional?”

Yes.

“If you unintentionally intimidate me, are you being coercive?”

No.

“Are only threats coercive? What about lies? What about rhetorical persuasion? What about misinformation? ”

Lies and fraud are not coercive. Lying and fraud, by themselves aren’t using force or intimidation.

“How can we get rid of coercion?”

You can’t. The same as you can’t get rid of any of the bad things in human nature. But you can minimize it.

“If coercion is bad, presumably we should try to prevent it. But how do we prevent coercion? With more coercion? How do we distinguish justified coercion from unjustified coercion? ”

Property rights and the protection of your person.

“Why is my taking apples from that tree over there coercive, while my neighbor tackling me to the ground and taking what he says are ‘his’ apples legitimate? ”

Because this is the protection of property rights.

“When did I agree that my neighbor could tell me where I could and couldn’t go and what I could and couldn’t touch?”

When you decide that what’s yours is yours or do you believe that it’s all right for others to come and forcibly strip you of all your property and to use your body as they see fit?

I can see that you like to tie yourself into knots by confusing the protection of oneself and property and coercing others into giving up their property rights and body. The primary difference is that using force for protection is far different from using force for simple aggression. You seem to be wanting to say that if something is all right in some situations, it must be okay in all situations. Even you can see that this is incorrect.

GiT December 14, 2011 at 6:17 pm

So your definition of coercion is built upon a distinction between intentional and non-intentional varieties of force and fear that are not actually contained in the dictionary definition.

Now then, how do we distinguish intentional from non-intentional uses of force?

And why aren’t lies and fraud coercive? They motivate people to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do, to their own disadvantage, just like threats and intimidation. Is it because they aren’t linked explicitly to the use of physical force? But an act of intimidation can be nothing more than a lie, in which case it is not, in fact, linked to force and is, in fact, just like any other lie.

And, further, your application of the term coercion so as to divide human activity into legitimately and illegitimately coercive depends upon a theory of property rights.

But how do we define your theory of property rights?

I assume, for you, property is as easily definable as ‘legitimate coercion.’

Which is good for you, since your definition of ‘legitimate coercion’ depends upon your definition of property (too bad that isn’t contained in the dictionary definition, yes?)

But I’m afraid I’m not going to find the elements of your theory of property in a dictionary either.

Hal December 14, 2011 at 6:47 pm

“Now then, how do we distinguish intentional from non-intentional uses of force?”

The same way you distinguish between all other intentional and non-intentional actions. For example, it’s easy to believe that you know the policies you claim to not be coercive are, but claim they are not because you directly benefit in some way from it. But it’s just as likely that you are simply ignorant of the coercive elements of your favorite policies. I have no way of knowing. If it’s the former, then nothing I say will get you to concede the point. If it’s the latter, then not explaining to you the coercive nature of the policies you favor will only lead you to do even more harm. If I believed the former, I wouldn’t comment to you at all, for the same reason I don’t respond to some others. But I give you the benefit of the doubt and try to explain things to you.

However, if I begin to read your comments regularly, I can determine whether or not you post here in good faith.

“And why aren’t lies and fraud coercive?”

I explained to you why: they don’t by themselves use force or intimidation. It is of course possible to use coercive means in addition to lies and fraud.

“But an act of intimidation can be nothing more than a lie”

A person with a gun who isn’t willing to use it is committing a lie as well, but if you challenge this person and get shot, you find out very quickly the intimidation was no mere lie.

“But how do we define your theory of property rights?”

How do you? Or do you believe all things are communal to be used by whomever whenever? Do I have the right to enter your home, drive your car, eat your food, use your clothes, etc at any time and any manner in which I please? Do I have a right to any of those things for some times and some manners? Or do I need your explicit permission to do all of these things?

You seem to think that property rights are some esoteric, hard to understand concept, when in fact it is pretty straight forward. However, if you were to acknowledge this as straightforward, then you would have a harder time arguing in favor of your pet policies that depend on coercion and the disrespect of propert rights.

brotio December 14, 2011 at 7:20 pm

coercive = government requiring you to do anything you don’t want to do

Sam Grove writes very concisely, and has explained the libertarian view of government, and posted it numerous times here at the Cafe. Just in case you missed it, here’s one example that was posted upstream on this thread:

Libertarians think the government should be run within very limited parameters, to act as an expression of everyone’s right to defend themselves against aggression and otherwise leave them alone to act as they will as long as they don’t violate the equal rights of others. – Sam Grove, December 14, 2011 at 4:36 pm

GiT December 14, 2011 at 10:37 pm

Brotio – that’s very nice, but what counts as aggression, and what defines what our equal rights are?

Hal – I believe that there is no natural basis for claiming ownership in anything, and as such that any theory of property is necessarily conventional.

Those who think defining property rights and legitimating claims to ownership is unproblematic and straightforward, generally think so in order to argue for the protection of their own position and so as to deny the claims on resources made by others who face violent, forceful, and intimidating effects from orders to which they never consented and in which they are not allowed to participate.

Josh S December 14, 2011 at 11:39 pm

No, GiT, defending your property isn’t “aggression.” It’s “defense.” The same principle behind why you can’t force your neighbor to have sex with you is the same principle behind why you can’t force her to give her the apples she cultivated.

Despite your insistence that property is really complicated to the point of being meaningless, I don’t think you *actually* believe that, to wit, I suspect that if a thief smashed your windows and stole your first edition copy of Das Kapital, you’d have a very good sense of what was rightfully yours and not the thief’s.

Josh S December 14, 2011 at 11:44 pm

Also, GiT, forcing someone to obey your will by backing up your words with the threat to kill him (which is what the government does) is definitely coercion. The fact that there are things that are arguably coercive or not does (e.g., fraud) not nullify that.

It is not our responsibility to find an airtight definition of coercion, because ordinary conversation isn’t mathematics. It’s your responsibility to prove that it’s not within the normal usage of “coercion” to threaten to lock up or kill someone who doesn’t do what you say.

Sam Grove December 15, 2011 at 12:58 am

Those who think defining property rights and legitimating claims to ownership is unproblematic and straightforward

Do you disagree that you own your body and your life?
How about the fruit of your labor?

In any case, the confinement of government to defending individuals against force and fraud also includes a means for defining same, hence libertarians support courts for the purpose of adjudication.

Sam Grove December 15, 2011 at 1:07 am

Notice that I made no mention of property.

GiT December 15, 2011 at 3:11 am

1. Yes, there is a difference between defense and aggression, but that difference depends upon what is and is not legitimately my property, and as I could explain I do not think such a distinction is simple and transparent.

2. Yes, I believe property exists and is meaningful, but I do not believe it exists as an absolute, inviolable right, because there is no basis for grounding such a right

3. As to coercion, I do not recognize an easy and simple distinction between someone calling on government to use force against me to ‘protect their property,’ and government, as conducted by its magistrates, making the claim on behalf of itself, of of the people, or of anyone else.

Government was instituted to defend the property rights of the powerful. It is only relatively recently that it has taken on the actually liberatory function of acting democratically. Attempts to limit government to the defense of property are nothing other than attempts to limit government to its coercive, feudalist-aristocratic functions, grounded in the practice of slave-owning Greek and Roman aristocrats and violent feudal barons (with their own serfs and villeins and peons), who have never liked it when the hoi polloi seemed to suggest that their claims to ownership were bunk.

This is not to say that defense of property is not important, though it is to suggest that the defense of property of the elite is not in itself important (though it may be useful, on the balance, for purposes that have nothing to do with the natural, inviolable rights of the rich to their money.)

GiT December 15, 2011 at 3:17 am

Sam – I do not own my body and my life; I am my body and my life. I don’t see the usefulness of considering my person as personal property.

As to the fruits of my labor, no, I do not believe my labor is a useful criterion for establishing ownership. On the one hand, I don’t think my labor establishes an inviolable right to anything, and on the other hand, I do not think my labor is capable of establishing ownership rights in everything to which I have a material interest in claiming rights (nor, further, is the integrity of my person).

Josh S December 15, 2011 at 8:57 am

The fact that you consider self-ownership a useless concept explains a lot. Suffice it to say, most of us find the concept quite useful, which is why we find your universal slave society to be quite repugnant–or rather, your theory that the greatest liberty comes when we’re all slaves to be quite idiotic.

GiT December 15, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Josh – I don’t think ownership of oneself is an appropriate way to talk about the rights a person has. That doesn’t mean I don’t think people have rights. It means I don’t think their rights proceed from a principle of self-ownership. This is because, as in other cases, ownership is conventional, and conventions proceed from agreements. It may be useful to establish a convention of self-ownership, but I do not own myself by right of nature. I don’t own anything by right of nature.

You need to understand that disagreement with the principles upon which you establish rights does not mean I necessarily disagree with the rights you establish. I can agree with rights you establish while disagreeing with the reasons for which you claim such rights exist.

Hal December 15, 2011 at 2:40 pm

“I believe that there is no natural basis for claiming ownership in anything, and as such that any theory of property is necessarily conventional.”

Not wanting a criminal to bend you over and use your body for his personal pleasure is simply a “convention”, with “no natural basis for claiming ownership”?

GiT December 15, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Yes. I’m not sure why you’re so wary of something being a convention. Is it so horrible to have to argue for and justify your beliefs and their consequences rather than blindly appealing to their natural, intuitive truth?

It is simply an empirical fact that what has been believed to be true by nature about the rights of people has changed over time. There is no easy, simple, natural correspondence between ‘natural’ kinds and moral kinds, and there is no natural content to distinctions in moral status. Personhood is not a natural category, and it never has been and never will be.

The only right we have by nature is the right to do whatever it is in our power to do. To our credit it is in our power to create moral conventions, like those of property and self-ownership – but it is not in our power to find them in nature, because they simply do not exist there.

Every other ‘right’ proceeds from our natural power, and is nothing other than an expression of power.

That does not mean there are not good and bad uses of power.
It does mean that our qualification of uses of power as good or bad is itself a use of power – and a good one at that.

Hal December 15, 2011 at 3:59 pm

“I’m not sure why you’re so wary of something being a convention.”

Really? Have you never read a history book? Are you unaware of the atrocities that have occurred because people weren’t afforded natural rights, but thought of in conventional ways, disposable in some circumstances, because a person could be killed or violated or enslaved simply out of convention, not left in peace due to natural rights to life and liberty.

“The only right we have by nature is the right to do whatever it is in our power to do.”

You do not know what “right” means if you believe this. Rights are not the ability to do something, but the obligations we owe others. Saying someone has the right to life isn’t saying that person was born alive, but obliging others to refrain from killing that person. Rights can only be denied through extraordinary circumstances, namely violating the rights of others.

The idea of natural rights is that there are immutable truths and moral obligations, with our duty being to discover and adhere to these truths. Conventions are a set of accepted practices or attitudes, like fads or fashions.

Jon Murphy December 15, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Wow…Hal…that was beautiful.

GiT December 15, 2011 at 5:05 pm

I have no problem recognizing the atrocities that were committed because people were not afforded their rights.

I have no idea what you mean when you ask me to recognize the atrocities which were committed because people were not afforded their ‘natural’ rights.

As to my understanding of rights, I’m afraid the one lacking in knowledge here is not me. Rights entail obligations, but they are not just obligations. Obligations correspond to claims. A claim asserts an obligation and an obligation implies that a claim can be asserted. When we try to consider the duties that issue from claims, a whole network of concepts emerge, including powers and privileges.

It is in virtue of our powers and privileges that we are able to make claims (have the right to make claims), and it is in virtue of the claims that we make that others hold obligations or duties.

As such, when I say that our only natural right is a power, I am saying that the obligations we have only issue from our power to make, acknowledge, and accept claims, and as such to create obligations to one another. Without the ability to do this, there are quite simply no obligations. To think otherwise is to believe in revealed Truth, which is fitting for a Church, not political and economic society.

Now, to this:

“The idea of natural rights is that there are immutable truths and moral obligations, with our duty being to discover and adhere to these truths. Conventions are a set of accepted practices or attitudes, like fads or fashions.”

Yes, that’s very poetic, but it is quite simply wrong. There are no immutable moral truths and obligations. Our duty is to create and adhere to the moral truths which we make. It is impossible to find them. You cannot find the moral world in the real world, you can only find the moral world in the reasons and arguments men give to one another.

I can no more find my obligation to another man in nature than a squirrel can find his natural obligation to a mouse or a wolf to a sheep or a man to a tree or rock or cow.. To think otherwise is to believe in utter nonsense and to base one’s theory on blind faith in what is essentially quasi-religious dogma. I find my obligations in my creative interactions with other human beings, both to those other humans and all the other elements of the world in which we live.

That you think conventions are simply fads or fashions represents not something inadequate about conventions, but something lacking in your understanding of them. Fads and fashions are kinds of conventions, but not all conventions are faddish or merely fashionable. The Constitution is a convention. Economic contracts are conventions. Marriage is a convention. Their being conventional in no way prejudices their worth or their durability.

To attempt to deny the tremendous creativity, ingenuity, and effort which has gone in to mutually creating a moral world in favor of private opinions and dogmas about what is ‘naturally self-evident and immutable,’ and to represent one’s personal dogma as the unambiguous truth, is to repeat the exact same elitist and oppressive defenses of personal privilege conducted by masters, lords, kings, and clergy.

Hal December 15, 2011 at 5:39 pm

“I have no idea what you mean when you ask me to recognize the atrocities which were committed because people were not afforded their ‘natural’ rights.”

Slavery is the first thing that pops into my head. The next is the Holocaust and pogroms. And of course one the most despicable phrases in history “You have to break a few eggs to make an omelet”.

“Obligations correspond to claims.”

What claims? Please give an example. You speak in such generality that it’s simply platitudes (pretty but meaningless statments). What claims of power do I have with the right to life? What claims of power do I have with the right to liberty? Be specific. Claiming an ability to do something is not a “right”, but merely a statment of fact. The fact that I could track someone and kill them is a claim to power I have a free thinking person, but I certainly do not have the right to do that.

“To think otherwise is to believe in revealed Truth, which is fitting for a Church, not political and economic society.”

You don’t really believe this. What is your belief that power is the only right, other than a “revealed truth”?

“There are no immutable moral truths and obligations.”

“Our duty is to create and adhere to the moral truths which we make.”

Do you not see the irony of the second statement, which was written just after the first? The “duty to create” as stated the way you stated (a statement that I agree with) is an immutable truth and obligation.

“The Constitution is a convention.”

The constitution is a convention with which to oblige American citizens the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I don’t see conventions as inadequate. They are the means, but they are not the end. Natural rights are the end and conventions are the means to those ends.

“Economic contracts are conventions.”

Economic contracts are conventions as a means for the natural right of liberty and property.

“Marriage is a convention.”

Marriage is the convention used as a means to strengthen the natural rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

“Their being conventional in no way prejudices their worth or their durability.”

I don’t disparage conventions as worthless or weak. Conventions change to better suit the ends. Again, they are a means to an end. Marriage in particular is an incredibly valuable and durable convention with we use to secure natrual rights.

“the exact same elitist and oppressive defenses of personal privilege conducted by masters, lords, kings, and clergy.”

Please show me a king, lord, master, or any oppressor who speaks for the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all, not just themsleves. Natural rights have the universal application of rights for all built into them because they naturally apply to all.

In fact you will find that thinking of others in a conventional sense, valuing life based on social, economic, or whatever particular convention arises in a particular place and time, is a conventional the way that kings, lords, masters, and oppressors think.

Sam Grove December 15, 2011 at 5:50 pm

I differ with Hal over the meaning of “natural” rights.
In a society of accumulated conventions, some of the conventions we have conceived are: morality, property, rights, etc.

My view is that natural rights are those that must be accorded to individuals due to their nature as self directed biological beings with the goal of fostering social harmony and prosperity.

The problem with political management of resources, seemingly unacknowledged by the progressive left, is that, because people vary, collective control of resources and people incites jealousy and fear among people, fear that some will use the political apparatus in ways that oppose their own interests. We witness this in attack ads where candidates use this fear to garner support for themselves.

Contrast this with the market and civil society where the variations among people are accommodated and different desires are met without obstructing the efforts of others to satisfy their own desires.

The history of political organization is rife with discord, oppression, injustice, and even genocide.

On the other hand, the market and civil society are hallmarked by evolving progress toward finer sensibility and greater tolerance. All social progress has found its origins in civil society and when the sentiment for advancement reaches a sufficient level, that is when the political institutions usually follow suit.

GiT December 15, 2011 at 6:52 pm

“Slavery is the first thing that pops into my head….”

All those atrocities are equally atrocious whether they are violations of so-called natural rights or conventional rights.

“What claims? Please give an example.”

Let’s take an obligation. I have an obligation not to touch your mug. Why do I have this? Because you have a claim on the privilege to use that mug. That privilege entails that I do not have a claim to the use of the mug – I have a duty not to use the mug. Replace mug with life and the basic analytical relationship remains identical.

Your right to life is contained in the privilege you have with respect to making claims regarding your own life, which entails the obligations other’s have not to make a claim on your life.

One man’s obligation is another man’s privilege, and one man’s privilege is other men’s obligation, always.

“You don’t really believe this. What is your belief that power is the only right, other than a “revealed truth”?”

I said power is the only natural right. I said this because it is the only revealed truth – the statement that we have the right (privilege) to do what it is in our power (ability) to do is a simple tautology.

The statement that we have the right (privilege) to live is not a tautology, it is an assertion – notably, it is an assertion which we only respect when it comes from certain things (we don’t, for example, respect it when animals assert their right to life by resisting our privileged claim to kill them).

“Do you not see the irony of the second statement, which was written just after the first? The “duty to create” as stated the way you stated (a statement that I agree with) is an immutable truth and obligation.”

You are failing to make the distinction between rights and natural rights. I have a conventional obligation to create and adhere to moral truths which I make. I do not have a natural obligation to do so, because I have no natural obligations. Or, rather, the only obligations I have by nature are obligations to obey the laws of physics.

“The constitution is a convention with which to oblige American citizens the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

There is no right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness separate from the conventions which instantiate them. Children are humans yet have no equal right to liberty. Animals are conscious and exercise rudimentary reason, and yet they have no right to life. Why? Because God granted Adam stewardship over the earth and paternal right over his children? Sorry, that’s an argument of absolutist kings predicated on theological nonsense, just like all claims to ‘natural rights.’

“Conventions change to better suit the ends.”

Our ends are themselves conventional.

“Please show me a king, lord, master, or any oppressor who speaks for the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all, not just themsleves.”

Please show me any successful government which, when established, gave such rights to all. The Glorious revolution didn’t. The American revolution didn’t. The French revolution didn’t.

In each case, each founding moment was predicated on the exclusion of the vast majority of the population from equal political and economic rights, and such rights have only been won by (violent, property threatening) struggle. In each case the governments were created for and controlled by those who owned the most, whether that be feudal barons, absolutist kings, or wealthy burghers.

“Natural rights have the universal application of rights for all built into them because they naturally apply to all.

That’s an assertion, not a demonstration. Conventional rights have the universal application of rights for all if we build them for all. “Natural’ rights don’t ‘naturally’ apply to anything.

We can meaningfully distinguish between universal and particular rights, but such a distinction does not map onto a distinction between natural and conventional. Conventions can be universal, and natural things are not often universal.

“In fact you will find that thinking of others in a conventional sense, valuing life based on social, economic, or whatever particular convention arises in a particular place and time, is a conventional the way that kings, lords, masters, and oppressors think.”

Actually, I find that thinking in terms of convention, is how everyone thinks, including those who claim to think in terms only of what is ‘natural,’ a dodge used to do nothing other than cloak one’s own personal prejudices and conventions in the splendor of universal authority.

As such I appeal to better forming our conventions in democratic debate, not attempting to dodge substantive disagreement with my position by claiming that *my* position is *natural* and everyone else’s is in some sense *fake* and as such *naturally wrong.*

GiT December 15, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Sam -

In defining the goal that self-directed beings are supposed to have in order to be afforded rights, you open the door to denying people rights because you don’t agree with their goals. In fact, if you interpret people’s goals as detrimental to harmony and prosperity, then you would seem to have grounds to deny that they possess rights. So who gets to judge?

As to the distinction between the state and civil society, you are defining what needs to be proved. According to you, the state only incites jealousy and fear, while the market does not obstruct others desires.

Yet for many, government does not obstruct, but rather enables, their desires, while civil society obstructs and threatens them. Both evaluations are correct, as civil society and governments both obstruct and enable.

Sam Grove December 15, 2011 at 11:10 pm

GiT

What is the purpose of the state?

I think most people prefer harmony rather than conflict. Do you think otherwise?

I do have the impression that a lot of people subscribe to government management to maintain order (a kind of harmony).

Yet for many, government does not obstruct, but rather enables, their desires, while civil society obstructs and threatens them.

How does government do this? What is the tool of the state to fulfill people’s desire vs how does the market do this?

How does civil society obstruct people’s desires?

GiT December 16, 2011 at 12:51 am

There are overly simplistic and cute answers to each question, and in fact what states and civil societies do are more complex than can be explained in a sentence, but if I were to try to boil things down to essentials…

The state empowers by obstructing the scope with which others can interfere with each other, as such freeing individuals from the obstruction of others.

It obstructs us physically by empowering us legally (to claim a right to use violence).

Civil society obstructs the scope of action of individuals by virtue of the state empowering them to create and exchange privileged, private access to things through distribution of a right to violence.

This takes a world of things by right not exactly held in common, but rather held by no one at all; and turns it into a world of conventional legal boundaries which define and delimit the scope of physical human action so as to expand the scope of legal human action.

It obstructs us legally by empowering us physically (to create a legal relationship with an object by engaging in a physical relationship with it).

As to how these things happen, both in states and markets – well, that’s historically variable.

As it stands markets tend to operate on the basis of the private agreements of legally empowered individuals, while states tend to operate on on the basis of the public agreements of all individuals who are legally empowered.

The latter lets public authority determine when individuals have a right to exclude everyone, the former lets individuals create and exchange rights to exclude everyone .

Sam Grove December 16, 2011 at 11:53 am

Yet for many, government does not obstruct, but rather enables, their desires, while civil society obstructs and threatens them.

This is how the state foments conflict among citizens. The ability to use political power to advantage some at the expense of others divides citizens as they form into groups to vie with one another to be the ones to determine how that force will be used.

In essence, the state enables people to violate others with minimal direct consequence to themselves.

Examples abound, but one particularly notorious example is the fugitive slave act which socialized the cost of returning slaves to their legal owners.

I don’t disagree with you comments about the functioning of the state, though I do note that you cite the problem with civil society is that it uses the state to obstruct people from fulfilling their desires. My intent was to distinguish the two whereas you have conflated the two.
I claim that civil society (where it does not use the state) allows people to pursue their own goals independently without requiring that others must share those particular goals (so long as they allow others equal right to do the same).

When I asked how civil society obstructs people. you then went to the state as the means by which that is done, thus avoiding the intent of my argument.

GiT December 16, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Sam – But that’s my point.

Civil society cannot enable anything without utilizing some sort of mechanism of violence, whether that is a a state proper or it is one’s own conduct of vigilante violence or the establishment of some ‘private’ security force that can forcibly detain people, because there can be no effective claim to private property without these things, and no common criteria for what gives someone private property in a thing without these things.

There is no civil society without a right to the legitimate use of force, and civil society is only capable of functioning because it has a right to the legitimate use of force. In fact, the more effectively and efficiently people can deploy legal force against others, the more effective and efficient a system built upon the exchange of property is. Paradoxically, civil society increases in efficiency as the reliability of its access to the use of violent force increases.

Sam Grove December 17, 2011 at 11:42 am

GiT

I’m supposing one of your many premises is that everyone believes that the ends justifies the means, but this is not the case.

A comprehensive review of libertarian thought should include the realization that the means produces the ends, that good ends require good means.

This means, for example, that a libertarian coup to impose a libertarian regime to an unwilling populace will fail, and thus, such a means is not a part of the libertarian arsenal.

This is completely at variance with the strategy of the left, the proponents of which find any means that may plausibly get them in power are acceptable.

GiT December 17, 2011 at 3:25 pm

The relation between means and the achievement of ends is an empirical question. The left and the right disagree on what means are most successful in leading to common ends. If some means is more efficient than another at achieving an end, then that means is better for achieving the given end for left and right alike. Caricaturing the left as thinking the ends justify any means no matter the costs is ridiculous.

In fact, I have often seen posters here explicitly argue that the end of liberty would justifiably supervene over any arrangement that would, in fact, better serve the desires and interests of everyone involved – which is an argument that the end (liberty) justifies any means, even if this would lead to an inferior outcome for all involved.

Sam Grove December 17, 2011 at 5:43 pm

In fact, I have often seen posters here explicitly argue that the end of liberty would justifiably supervene over any arrangement that would, in fact, better serve the desires and interests of everyone involved – which is an argument that the end (liberty) justifies any means, even if this would lead to an inferior outcome for all involved.

I’d like to see that. They are, however, mistaken that they can impose radical change on an unwilling populace.

Liberty will not flourish if not embraced by the people.

Josh S December 15, 2011 at 8:54 am

No, individualism is the belief you don’t have the right to order people around. The fact that you cannot imagine the possibility of not wanting to run other people’s lives says far more about you than us.

GiT December 15, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Claiming a property right in something, is ordering someone around, period.

A property right is nothing other than the claim that I have the authority to tell you what to do on penalty of government violence.

That’s coercion.

So, the fact that you cannot imagine the possibility of not wanting to run other people’s lives, and yet are incapable of understanding the simple fact that you do indeed want to do so, says far more about you than it does about me.

I admit that the claims I make, to my property, to my rights, and to everything else, are claims for the authority to coerce others. Unlike you, I believe that such claims are justified only by mutual agreement, while you seem to believe they proceed from some magical set of rights which comes from God or Nature or who knows what (actually, what it comes from is your own opinion.)

Methinks1776 December 15, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Ah, yes….the sniveling little git believes that any woman who asserts her property rights over her own body by not allowing him access to it is “ordering him around”. She’s coercing him. Threatening government violence. Running his life.

If he rapes her or murders her, he is simply breaking free of the bondage of coercion. Of government violence against him.

This is interesting.

So, did the jury buy that defense or are you wearing an orange jumpsuit right now, git?

GiT December 15, 2011 at 5:26 pm

Take your rape fantasies elsewhere, Methinks.

There’s nothing of use in your childish hyperbole.

Women and men have every right to resist rape. They have that right because it was won, through untold and unending struggle, against those who were not willing to grant such a right. For centuries no such right existed, and it did not exist because there is nothing natural about it. But that something is not unnatural is neither a merit, or a demerit, to it. Most of the best things in the world are the products of human artifice, from our possessions to our rights to our social relations to our knowledge, skills, and abilities.

To argue that you have your rights because they are natural is to fall into the exact same style of argument of the religious dogmatists who sanctified the natural suburdination of women to men.

Change occurred not because we discovered we had actually gotten the ‘nature’ of our rights wrong (a ridiculous notion through and through, as if rights were like atoms or chemical elements, just waiting to be found with the invention of a better microscope), but because people fought for, and won, the creation of a more expansive set of rights.

Methinks1776 December 15, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Oh, right, that fantasy historical period when people – excuse me – gits did not naturally feel they had a right to their own bodies. When rape was not a violation. Young children are naturally protective of their belongings without being taught that it is a violation of their property rights to steal it. I mean, not human children, but we’re talking about the fantasy world of Gits.

And, of course, since everything is a human construct – even humans themselves – we can remake humanity into the perfection that Marx imagined.

Forward! To the victory of Communism! Utopia is right around the corner.

Do the other prisoners buy into this?

GiT December 15, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Yes, humans are ‘naturally’ desirous of their own possessions, just as they are ‘naturally’ desirous of the possessions of others. The naturalness of these desires tells me nothing about whether they are right or wrong.

Humans are sometimes argued to be ‘naturally’ sympathetic to the suffering of others, both animal and human. And yet such ‘natural’ sympathy in no way grounds either an obligation to help other humans or an obligation to refrain from harming animals.

Indeed, in some cultures such sympathy has been taken as grounds for an obligation not to harm animals, or, alternatively, as an obligation to help others. And yet it has also been deemed ‘natural’ that our sympathy does not ground any obligation to help others, while many people see no ‘natural’ duty to refrain from harming animals.

Nature is not instructive.

And, indeed, humans are a construct.

Apparently, humans have natural rights. And yet those natural rights are limited if those humans are not yet human enough to have those natural rights (like when they’re too young.) Apparently that puts them in a state of stewardship, even though such stewardship is a violation of their rights. So they are human, but not human.

And those qualities which supposedly guarantee their rights, and which are achieved in their maturation, (consciousness, rationality, sensation, etc.) are also possessed by other creatures, some of them genetically quite similar, and yet those qualities, which grant humans rights, grant no such rights to those creatures.

So when is a human not fully a human? And why does a human get rights which other, similar creatures don’t?

Because of conventions.

Methinks1776 December 15, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Humans may be naturally desirous of the possessions of others, but humans also naturally feel that acting on that desire is wrong.

No, natural sympathy does not create an obligation to help. The ability to help requires resources and not everyone has what they consider enough to spare. Humans naturally understand the morality in helping each other, but they also understand that obliging someone to help at the point of a gun is little more than theft – which they naturally understand to be a violation of the right to one’s property.

As for animals, I don’t know what you mean. It is natural to be repulsed by torture – the reason that there are religious restrictions on how animals may be killed for food. I know of no culture and no normal person who finds torture of any living creature acceptable.

Even the very young have natural rights. They have the right to make demands on the people who chose to bring them into the world. A parent has a natural obligation to feed, clothe and otherwise care for a child. A child has a natural right to his parents’ property. A child is naturally understood to be a human being who has the right not to be violated by the parent or anyone else. We do not believe child abuse is wrong because it is illegal. It is illegal because we naturally understand it is wrong. It violates the child’s natural right to live free of violence.

Greg G December 15, 2011 at 6:23 pm

“I know of no culture and no normal person who finds torture of any living creature acceptable.”

Dick Cheney. Oops. You did say normal person.

GiT December 15, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Now we are devolving into meaningless anthropological debate about what humans ‘naturally’ do or do not do.

I’m no anthropologist, but I know enough about modern anthropology to know that the supposed desires, emotions, and conventions you think are everywhere and anywhere the same are not.

Which is besides the point, because what people ‘naturally’ do is no evidence of what they ‘should’ or what they have a ‘right’ to do.

GiT December 15, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Methinks – I recommend a look at this great essay by Plutarch. I’ll note that I myself am not a vegetarian, but the piece is nonetheless illustrative of the point I hope to make. Here is how it starts:

http://www.animal-rights-library.com/texts-c/plutarch01.htm

“You ask of me then for what reason it was that Pythagoras abstained from eating of flesh. I for my part do much admire in what humor, with what soul or reason, the first man with his mouth touched slaughter, and reached to his lips the flesh of a dead animal, and having set before people courses of ghastly corpses and ghosts, could give those parts the names of meat and victuals, that but a little before lowed, cried, moved, and saw; how his sight could endure the blood of the slaughtered, flayed, and mangled bodies; how his smell could bear their scent; and how the very nastiness happened not to offend the taste, while it chewed the sores of others, and participated of the sap and juices of deadly wounds.”

Josh S December 16, 2011 at 10:35 am

GiT, by your logic, any woman who gets raped didn’t have the right to not be raped, since she clearly lost that 1 vs 1 power struggle. It just so happens that in some societies, rapists don’t have the right to remain free, and in some, they do.

Your views are just a systematization of “might makes right.” There’s no morality, no right or wrong, merely the ability to kill.

We have absolutely nothing in common. There’s no grounds from which to argue with any of us, since you don’t share any of the same language or assumptions as us. But you’ve provided us a great service. You have shown very clearly why people like you absolutely cannot be allowed to have political power. Your thinking about morality is the same as all the Marxist and fascist dictators of the 20th century–”right” and “wrong” stems from the ability of the Strong Man to impose his will on others.

But now I wonder how many on the political left think like you–that the only reason it’s wrong to herd people up and kill them by the million is that it’s currently very hard to do it and get away with it.

GiT December 16, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Josh – Your failure of interpretation is telling.

My position is that the only NATURAL criteria of right is power and force and that NATURALLY the only thing which is permitted or not permitted has to do with physical force.

By the laws of nature, a woman clearly had no ‘natural right’ to resist her rapist because she was physically unable to, and nature is nothing other than physics.

Your confusion stems from your insistence on (ridiculously) locating human right and human law in natural law. Natural laws are physical laws – there are no moral laws written by God into the supposed ‘laws’ of human nature, and what people are naturally able to do tells us nothing about what it is morally right for them to do.

I do not at any point advocate living in the state of nature, regulated only by natural law. I advocate living in human society, which is necessarily political society, where forces operate in accordance with human agreements and human laws, not physical laws, which brook no agreement.

A woman can only have an effective right against her rapist if society supports her in that right. Without social cohesion and social convention in support of that right, any supposed moral right of resistance she has is worthless opinion and her pursuit of what she deems to be justice is limited to what she herself is able to do. It is only when moral rights are given real force by social convention and social agreement that those rights actually exist.

We cannot rely on some scripture, whether that be a holy book or a ridiculous philosophical treatise about the ‘natural dictates’ of human reason, to tell us what those rights are. We cannot read moral rights out of physical facts, we can only fashion them out of human interaction.

Accordingly, it is only by our political interactions becoming more inclusive by individuals demanding and forcing their inclusion in the process of politics that our moral and legal rights have made any progress.

The reason women were treated as property for hundreds and thousands of years was not because people didn’t have a big enough microscope to discover ‘natural moral laws’ written into the fabric of the universe, it was because women were excluded from political decision making for hundreds of years. Only when they fought for and won inclusion, both through physical demonstration and sacrifice and moral argument and persuasion, did the world change for the better.

Nature and natural law were and are entirely ambivalent to the moral rights of individuals.

But you show your true nature in thinking you can tell people what their rights are by relying upon your own dogmatic opinion of what morality is natural and what morality is unnatural.

I don’t need to pretend that I hold to ‘natural’ moral laws. All manifestations of moral law are unnatural. I’ll take my honest admission that rights are only the product of hard fought physical and intellectual struggle over your dogmatic appeals to what is naturally right any day of the week.

Enjoy your company with defenders of divine right, inequality of the sexes, natural slavery, and racial hierarchy in your reactionary appeals to the naturalness of your views. Anyone who argues that human conventions are natural is just trying to cement their privilege and authority.

Josh S December 17, 2011 at 12:21 pm

If the woman actually gets raped, the social structure clearly didn’t protect her. By your logic, then, the only women who have the right not to get raped are the ones who didn’t actually get raped.

And if you can’t use reason to figure out what is right and wrong and why it’s right and wrong, why are you writing so many words about rights? The problem is you have no reason for why the struggle should go one way rather than another way. You haven’t established why women should have any rights at all; you’ve simply stated historically, how it has come to pass that they have the ability to exercise rights. But you have, within the system you’ve laid out, no grounds to say why that ought to continue to be the case. If men should embark upon the struggle to deprive them of those rights again and win, all your philosophy can say is, “That is the thing that has happened.”

In short, you have deprived yourself of the ability to say, with any meaning:

“Only when they fought for and won inclusion, both through physical demonstration and sacrifice and moral argument and persuasion, did the world change for the better.”

Better? There is no “good” and “bad” in your philosophy, only what is.

GiT December 17, 2011 at 3:18 pm

You’re finally getting close to hitting upon the point, Josh.

The only way we have to determine what is good or bad IS reason. Reason is not natural. If reason were natural, nature, that is to say history and facts, would measure up to reason. But reason outstrips and goes beyond what is natural and historical.

In my philosophy the only things that are good or bad are what we say is good or bad.

The only person depriving anyone of the ability to speak is those who would argue that ‘nature’ speaks for us and that I should shut up about what I think is good or bad in the face of what is ‘naturally’ self evident.

Jon Murphy December 14, 2011 at 2:02 pm

When everyone is up front and they’re not playing tricks
When you don’t have no freeloaders out to get their kicks
When it’s nobody’s business the way that you wanna live
I just have to remember there’ll be days like this

Greg Webb December 14, 2011 at 7:57 pm

Nicely written!

Jon Murphy December 14, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Can’t say it’s mine, though. Van Morrison song :-P

Jon Murphy December 14, 2011 at 2:23 pm

I’ve an idea:

Cigarettes have a proven relaxing aspect to them: they force you to inhale deeply, helping to relax the body. Let’s pass a law requiring every person age 12 and up to smoke at least one cigarette a day. The resulting calming effects should reduce stress-induced issues.

Troll Watch December 14, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Troll.

Greg Webb December 14, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Swing and a miss!

Jon Murphy December 14, 2011 at 3:10 pm

My point here is simple: some people find benefits in an action. Not everyone finds the same benefit. To pass a law encouraging the action because of the benefit, but ignoring the other people who find the action distasteful, is inherently wasteful.

von Mises December 14, 2011 at 3:51 pm

The intellectual leaders of the peoples have produced and propagated the fallacies which are on the point of destroying liberty and Western civilization.
They coined most of the slogans that guided the butcheries of Bolshevism, Fascism, and Nazism. Intellectuals extolling the delights of murder, writers advocating censorship, philosophers judging the merits of thinkers and authors, not according to the value of their contributions but according to their achievements on battlefields, are the spiritual leaders of our age of perpetual strife.
There are people to whom monetary calculation is repul- sive. They do not want to be roused from their daydreams by the voice of critical reason. Reality sickens them, they long for a realm of unlimited opportunity. They are disgusted by the meanness of a social order in which everything is nicely reck- oned in dollars and pennies.

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