Pharyngula

Shame on Minnesota

My state is practicing anti-democratic, anti-liberty tyranny right now.

Protesters here in Minneapolis have been targeted by a series of highly intimidating, sweeping police raids across the city, involving teams of 25-30 officers in riot gear, with semi-automatic weapons drawn, entering homes of those suspected of planning protests, handcuffing and forcing them to lay on the floor, while law enforcement officers searched the homes, seizing computers, journals, and political pamphlets. Last night, members of the St. Paul police department and the Ramsey County sheriff’s department handcuffed, photographed and detained dozens of people meeting at a public venue to plan a demonstration, charging them with no crime other than “fire code violations,” and early this morning, the Sheriff’s department sent teams of officers into at least four Minneapolis area homes where suspected protesters were staying.

This is a disgrace. I’d like to think this kind of political thuggery would come to an end if Obama were elected, but of course this is being done to ‘protect’ the Republican National Convention, and the tactics were just as bad in Denver.

Comments

  1. #1 Kobra
    August 30, 2008

    How absolutely insane! This is fascism manifest.

  2. #2 me
    August 30, 2008

    This is to ‘protect’ the Republican National Convention. That isn’t to say that the same fascist tactics weren’t used in Denver.

  3. #3 atg
    August 30, 2008

    I think they’re doing it for the Republican convention (soon to be held in the twin cities), not the Democratic convention (already finished and was in Denver).

  4. #4 Patrick Quigley
    August 30, 2008

    “I’d like to think this kind of political thuggery would come to an end if Obama were elected, but of course this is being done to ‘protect’ the Democratic National Convention.”

    This is being done to ‘protect’ the Republican National Convention. The Democratic National Convention was held earlier this week in Colorado. I don’t recall any similar events occurring there.

  5. #5 Joshu
    August 30, 2008

    This is bloody ridiculous… PZ, this latest post and the one before it are doing nothing for my blood pressure- not to mention driving home how important this election is going to be.

  6. #6 Geral
    August 30, 2008

    They’re trying to protect the RNC from the hordes of atheists desecrating crackers!

  7. #7 The Chemist
    August 30, 2008

    I think the only appropriate thing to say to Minnesotans is:

    What are you going to do about it?

  8. #8 Capital Dan
    August 30, 2008

    What the flying fuck?!?

    How can law-enforcement officers, in good conscience, even agree to do this?

    Seriously. Are cops in Minnesota that gutless and stupid?

  9. #9 catskill
    August 30, 2008

    “As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we must be most aware of change in the air – however slight – lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.”
    Justice William O. Douglas

  10. #10 Wowbagger
    August 30, 2008

    This is the sort of thing you have to remember when it’s local and state election time – make it a huge issue and run the thug enablers out of office.

  11. #11 Tim
    August 30, 2008

    So, McCain didn’t have to hire his own brownshirts.

  12. #12 Samantha Vimes
    August 30, 2008

    What happened in Denver?

  13. #13 Eamon Knight
    August 30, 2008

    My reading (admittedly limited) is that the Denver harrassment was, at least, only on the street, at the time — ie. one can plausibly argue (though the devil is in the details) that it was legitimate security and crowd control. But this — preemptive raids on private homes?! Because someone *might* do something? Bogus and irrelevant charges?

    We have spare beds for refugees (and the weather isn’t that much worse in Ottawa than in MN).

  14. #14 Patrick Quigley
    August 30, 2008

    Why didn’t they just pray that the potential protesters would stay home? I take this use of force as an admission that they have no faith in the existence of the 2000 year old, flying zombie they claim to worship.

    “…[V]erily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”

    Matthew 17:20 (KJV)

  15. #15 Capital Dan
    August 30, 2008

    The only thing they had in Denver were the garden-variety, yet embarrassingly unconstitutional, “Free-Speech Zones.”

    What they’re doing in Minnesota is like a Mugabe rally. And, I have a feeling things are going to get out of hand pretty fucking fast the more they trample on the rights of honest Americans.

    Try not to get shot, Gophers!

  16. #16 hje
    August 30, 2008

    Compliments of Blackwater USA, the official security force for Bush/Cheney.

  17. #18 chris
    August 30, 2008

    Hmm… attempting to influence someone’s actions by causing them to feel terror… There ought to be a word for that.

  18. #19 SC
    August 30, 2008

    Nestor indicated that only 2 or 3 of the 50 individuals who were handcuffed this morning at the 2 houses were actually arrested and charged with a crime, and the crime they were charged with is ‘conspiracy to commit riot’.

    Echoes of WWI.

    Thank you so much for posting this.

    Stay tuned to DN! and Indymedia for developments.

    (In other news, wafers are transported under heavy guard…)

  19. #20 toomanytribbles
    August 30, 2008

    what?? what country is this happening in?

  20. #21 Charlie Jackson
    August 30, 2008

    Texans for Peace stands in solidarity today with all those who were illegally harassed and detained.

    We call on all organizations who believe in peace and social justice to decry the RNC raids and to stand beside their fellow Americans.

    Charlie Jackson
    Texans for Peace

  21. #22 Anxious German
    August 30, 2008

    Holy SHIT! What the FUCK ist going on in your country?!

  22. #24 Steven Dunlap
    August 30, 2008

    Not that we grade police state tactics on a sliding scale, but I do not recall any reports of this conduct in Denver. As commenters above have noted, the Denver police committed the usual street level crowd intimidation tactics. Were there “Palmer” type raids in Denver as described in PZ’s and news reports? Also, can anyone give a citation for news reports of “free speech zones” in Denver, please?

    BTW, I sent a friend of mine in NYC a link to the Pharyngula post about the Denver police. He responded that compared to NYC in 2004 (Republican convention) that the Denver police were mild by comparison. They penned up thousands of people in makeshift detention centers in NYC in 2004.

  23. #25 SteveC
    August 30, 2008

    @ #4: “This is being done to ‘protect’ the Republican National Convention. The Democratic National Convention was held earlier this week in Colorado. I don’t recall any similar events occurring there.”

    http://drunkatdnc.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2008-08-27T23%3A18%3A00-07%3A00&max-results=7

  24. #26 Jared
    August 30, 2008

    It would be nice to live in a country where dissenting and being critical of the government are the highest forms of patriotism. Oh well, there goes freedom of assembly…

  25. #27 JStein
    August 30, 2008

    Heaven forbid those politicians have to listen to someone who doesn’t agree with them.

    What a bunch of bullsh*t. I hope these guys are taken to court over this, and some serious fallout rains down.

  26. #28 Ghost of Minnesota
    August 30, 2008

    I will be there, covering the protests as a journalist, adopting a low-profile, participant-observer strategy. The police-state antics both disgust and excite me. Battlefield journalism is my dream job. This might be a taste of things to come later in my career.

    Seriously, I can’t wait. Wish me luck. I’ll probably need it.

  27. #29 JoJo
    August 30, 2008

    If someone had some money to pay for a good lawyer, the local police could pay some big bucks for this type of harassment.

  28. #30 Patrick Quigley
    August 30, 2008

    @Capital Dan (#15)

    Yeah, those “free speech zones.” The first amendment was supposed to establish the entire nation as a “free speech zone.” I would have hoped that a Constitutional Law Professor like Obama would have insisted on the eradication of the “no free speech zones.” But after his vote on FISA, I’m not all that surprised that he didn’t.

  29. #31 mayhempix
    August 30, 2008

    Last century it was “Better Dead Than Red”.

    This century it’s “Better Dead Than Well-Read”.

  30. #32 frozen_midwest
    August 30, 2008

    So sheriffs from Ramsey county (St. Paul) arrested people in Hennepin county (Minneapolis)? WTF? Does the phrase ‘not your jurisdiction’ ring a bell?

  31. #33 Caveat
    August 30, 2008

    Welcome to the brave new world, comrades.

  32. #34 DrClown
    August 30, 2008

    Please see comment #17.

  33. #35 SC
    August 30, 2008

    If someone had some money to pay for a good lawyer, the local police could pay some big bucks for this type of harassment.

    http://gothamist.com/2008/08/20/city_settles_protestors_lawsuit_for.php

  34. #36 paleotn
    August 30, 2008

    #8 “What the flying fuck?!? How can law-enforcement officers, in good conscience, even agree to do this? Seriously. Are cops in Minnesota that gutless and stupid?”

    Not necessarily gutless or stupid, just Fox watching Fascists who get their kicks from roughing up those who would actually exercise their first amendment rights. Seems we’ve had some of the same problems with uniformed thugs here in uber-liberal Asheville NC.

    http://www.mountainx.com/news/2007/activist_arrested_after_displaying_impeach_bush_cheney_sign_on_overpass

    #9 On the money, catskill. One has to wonder if our rights as American citizens are long gone and we just haven’t yet fully discovered that fact.

  35. #37 Henry Harrison
    August 30, 2008

    PZ,

    You’re just being a crazy, kooky “libertarian.” After all, the government is just an expression of our collective will. And surely we can trust the politicians to make the right decisions concerning who is and isn’t a threat. And what’s a little discomfort for some scofflaws; if they’re really innocent they have nothing to hide (the same goes for you).

    This disgusting display of power is the other side of the “big government” coin. The abuse of power is the very reason we libertarians don’t want to cede power to government in the first place (or, at least, more power than is necessary to protect negative rights). Is it any surprise that, when you turn over to government the right to make decision after decision for everyone, the petty tyrants will abuse that power in the name of the public good, public safety, security, etc.?

    For someone as committed to evidence as you are generally, you are sadly quick to bury your head in the sand when it comes to the potential for abuse by government. The belief that government will not abuse its powers is as naive as the belief in a sacred cracker. Faith in government is as irrational as faith in God; it’s political creationism.

  36. #38 Roy Latham
    August 30, 2008

    To get a search warrant, the police had to establish probable cause with a judge. Perhaps the judge erred, but the police actually found “a gas mask, bolt cutters, axes, slingshots, homemade “caltrops” for disabling buses, even buckets of urine” http://www.startribune.com/politics/27695244.html?elr=KArksLckD8EQDUoaEyqyP4O:DW3ckUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aULPQL7PQLanchO7DiUs
    Those arrested described themselves as anarchists. Someone pointed out that there is a certain pholosophical inconsistency in anarchists having planning meetings, but the courts will have to decide if the evidence of conspiracy was sufficient. Possibly the buckets of urine were for some social use.

  37. #39 Toddahhhh
    August 30, 2008

    Next stop… thought crime legislation and jackboots…sigh

  38. #40 none
    August 30, 2008

    I’d like to think this kind of political thuggery would come to an end if Obama were elected,

    You can’t possibly be that goddamn naive, can you?

    The crimes and abuses of government, which have been happening since two bipeds got together to exert their will over a third, will all magically disappear if we get this one guy in?

    That’s a form of faith that baffles me as much as a hardcore Evangelicals.

  39. #41 SC
    August 30, 2008

    Please see comment #17.

    OH NOEZ!!! DISRUPTION!!! No place whatsoever in American history! Definitely justifies the violation of basic civil rights!

  40. #42 Azkyroth
    August 30, 2008

    For someone as committed to evidence as you are generally, you are sadly quick to bury your head in the sand when it comes to the potential for abuse by government. The belief that government will not abuse its powers is as naive as the belief in a sacred cracker. Faith in government is as irrational as faith in God; it’s political creationism.

    For someone mocking someone else for having their head in the sand, you sure have yours up your ass when it comes to responding to arguments that your target has actually made.

  41. #43 steven Dunlap
    August 30, 2008

    The Nornc group (RNC Welcoming committee) is only one of about a half dozen targeted. The other targets include journalists and observers.

    blog reports from the I-Witness group who did the videos of protests and arrests in NYC in 2004.

    Lindsay Beyerstein reports on the raid which pinned down observers from Legal-watch without warrants or formal arrests. People who ask to see warrants are immediately detained.

    Glenn Greenwald’s blog on salon.com has videos of the raids along with interviews and links.

  42. #44 SC
    August 30, 2008

    Someone pointed out that there is a certain pholosophical inconsistency in anarchists having planning meetings,

    Someone is a moron. Someone else can’t write.

  43. #45 Henry Harrison
    August 30, 2008

    PZ has never been shy about attacking libertarians, who are the most committed political group in the country opposed to this kind of nonsense. My point was simply that the opposition to libertarianism and PZ’s acceptance of big government generally tends to generate outcomes like this. Do you disagree that PZ is generally a run-of-the-mill, big government liberal?

  44. #46 Ichthyic
    August 30, 2008

    opposition to libertarianism produces a police state?

    you’re a fucking moron.

  45. #47 Henry Harrison
    August 30, 2008

    Once the camel’s nose is in the tent, Ich …

    Isn’t that the argument we (rightly) use against allowing ANY creationist nonsense into science classrooms? Similarly, unless we are “eternally vigilant” about strictly delimiting the scope of government power, we can expect to see this kind of thing happen. There’s obviously a correlation between big government and police states. Whether there’s a strict causal connection is unclear, but surely a police state is impossible in a libertarian society (by definition).

  46. #48 Azkyroth
    August 30, 2008

    Once the camel’s nose is in the tent, Ich …

    Isn’t that the argument we (rightly) use against allowing ANY creationist nonsense into science classrooms?

    Unlike government, no level of creationism is known to produce beneficial results.

  47. #49 Henry Harrison
    August 30, 2008

    Just because some distinctions can be drawn doesn’t mean there aren’t other relevant similarities. Aren’t you the guy who attacks others for poorly structured arguments and bad logic?

    Nah, you couldn’t be that guy.

  48. #50 Alan Kellogg
    August 30, 2008

    Assertion, “Democrats don’t do this kind of thing!”

    They don’t?

  49. #51 Ichthyic
    August 30, 2008

    Isn’t that the argument we (rightly) use against allowing ANY creationist nonsense into science classrooms?

    why that’s a great argument.

    perhaps it IS time we start approaching self-proclaimed “libertarians” the same way we do creationists.

    Is that not what you meant?

    I rather think PZ set the right tone in the old Ron Paul thread.

    the insane thing is not that you think government can abuse powers (duh), it’s that you think criticizing libertarians LEADS to government abuse of powers.

    that’s why you’re a moron.

  50. #52 Robert N. Lee
    August 30, 2008

    The Nornc group (RNC Welcoming committee) is only one of about a half dozen targeted.

    Are they any of these groups? Because these are the groups that signed on for this strategy, according to the Unconventional Action site:

    strategy endorsed by

    ACTIVATE (Grand Rapids, MI Students for a Democratic Society – SDS) ? Anarchist Black Cross Para-Legal Services (twitchon@hotmail.com) ? Animas SDS (Colorado) ? Anti-Authoritarians Anonymous (Milwaukee) ? Asheville Rising Tide ? Athens, OH SDS ? Attentat Collective ? Bash Back! ? Brainerd Anarchists (georgewchrist@hushmail.com) ? Chicago Anarchist Black Cross (PO Box 1544, Chicago, IL 60690) ? CrimethInc. Far East ? Delaware SDS ? End to Apathy ? Frederick Progressive Action Coalition ? Friendly Fire Collective (San Francisco, CA) ? HammerHard MediaWorks ? Industrial Workers of the World – NYC GMB Branch ? International Solidarity Movement – Chicago Chapter ? Iowa Organizing Against the RNC ? MKE to RNC ? Milwaukee Anarchist Black Cross ? Milwaukee Anti-Racist Action ? NC State SDS ? Northeast Anarchist Network ? Northwest Indiana Anarchist Black Cross (PO Box 1511, Portage, IN 46368) ? People’s Networking Convention Organizing Committee ? Potomac Earth First! ? Queer Action Network ? Rising Tide North America ? RNC Welcoming Committee ? Rolling Thunder magazine ? Sabot Infosquat ? Shepherdstown Progressive Action Committee ? Tacoma SDS – UPS Chapte ? Talking Tree Infoshop ? Tuscarora High SDS ? UA Central NC ? UA in the Bay ? UCLA SDS ? Unconventional Denver

  51. #53 Felicia
    August 30, 2008

    One of my friend’s houses ended up raided because of this stupid crap. It’s terrible, it really is. I’m in with the RNC Welcoming Committee group, but a lot of my friends who are in Socialist Alternative are (not a socialist lol).

    I was reading their website, though, and a lot of their stuff sounded… vague and borderline terroristic so I can sort of see why the police saw them as a potential problem. Not right at all, but poor wording of your ideals… can cause a problem on your end.

  52. #54 The Chemist
    August 30, 2008

    “When the camel’s nose is in the tent…”

    Is it going to jump on in and pee on you? I’ve never heard that analogy before.

    Analogies aside, the idea that being a liberal as opposed to a libertarian is the cause of these things is ridiculous. As is the question, “Do you disagree that PZ is generally a run-of-the-mill, big government liberal?”

    What’s your next question? “Do you hate your mother, or do you just want to murder her?” What kind of a stupid fucking loaded question was that?

  53. #55 SC
    August 30, 2008

    but surely a police state is impossible in a libertarian society (by definition).

    Define “libertarian society.” The government created and sustains corporations and their copyrights. States have been behind the theft of land and resources around the world since at least the enclosures. Will they dissolve or withdraw and let the people reclaim their goods, through strikes or insurrections? I’m for that.

    http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/anarchist_archives/kropotkin/conquest/toc.html

    Otherwise, STFU – you’re for a police state.

  54. #56 spgreenlaw
    August 30, 2008

    @#47

    Isn’t that the argument we (rightly) use against allowing ANY creationist nonsense into science classrooms?

    Well, I’m not sure what argument you use, but I argue against allowing creationist nonsense into science classrooms on account of it being crappy, half-baked science.

    Just like I argue against libertarians gaining footholds in the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government on account of them being crappy, half-baked politicians.

  55. #57 Henry Harrison
    August 30, 2008

    Of course merely criticizing libertarians doesn’t lead to a police state. I wasn’t saying that criticizing libertarian philosophy in blog posts led to police states. I was saying that advocacy – and, by extension, the implementation – of big government creates the danger of a police state. After all – and again – by definition, in a libertarian society a police state is impossible.

    And for the record, Ron Paul ain’t my kind of libertarian (and on a host of issues (e.g., trade, immigration, abortion) he isn’t a libertarian at all). He is representative of a small band of racist, collectivist cranks at the “Mises Institute” in Auburn, AL. The folks at Cato and Reason magazine are mroe representative of mainstream libertarianism. Google, for instance, “Radley Balko” and ask whether the police state has a more tireless opponent.

  56. #58 Don O'Treply
    August 30, 2008

    I’m mildly surprised that the SS (er, Ramsey County sheriff) hasn’t sent a SWAT team across the state to bust down your door, PZ. You do know 6A, right?

    6A – All Atheists Are Anti-American Anarchists

    Who learned from who – the Bush regime, or the Chinese Olympic police? (I’ll leave Vlad Putin out of this for the moment, although I’ll acknowledge his expertise in the field)

  57. #59 mayhempix
    August 30, 2008

    Libertarianism is just a different form of dogmatic fundamentalism.

    One size fits all idiocy.

  58. #60 Quiet Desperation
    August 30, 2008

    Seriously. Are cops in Minnesota that gutless and stupid?

    No. They *enjoy* it.

    I have a couple friends who used to be cops, but quit after just a couple years because they were surrounded by thugs who got off on this stuff.

    This has been going on in the War On Drugs for years. Bush or Obama or whoever have nothing to do with it.

    Local police are becoming paramilitary organizations well equipped with military hand-me-downs. There’s case after case where police raid a home without even announcing themselves, and the homeowner, thinking it’s a robbery, arms himself and gets slaughtered for it.

    There’s a number of cases where the police showed up AT THE WRONG HOUSE and *KILLED* someone there. An entirely innocent person minding their own business is now dead because some over aroused beefwit cop couldn’t read an address and fiddle with his erection at the same time. Think about that. This stuff happens all over. One of these mistargeted raids could happen to any of us.

    Sometimes the warrant is issued based on ONE tip from a drug criminal looking to make a deal, so they just offer up anyone.

    Here’s some links:

    http://www.leap.cc/cms/index.php

    http://www.reason.com/news/show/124055.html

  59. #61 Ichthyic
    August 30, 2008

    I was reading their website, though, and a lot of their stuff sounded… vague and borderline terroristic so I can sort of see why the police saw them as a potential problem. Not right at all, but poor wording of your ideals… can cause a problem on your end.

    having to get a warrant is SUPPOSED to help prevent abuses based on “poor communication.”

    that it didn’t should concern everyone.

    even if the police saw them as a “potential problem”, the actions taken bypass the constitution by any measure.

  60. #62 Henry Harrison
    August 30, 2008

    @59: Except, “one size fits all” is pretty much the opposite of libertarianism.

  61. #63 SC
    August 30, 2008

    Henry Harrison,

    What is your fucking point?

  62. #64 Ichthyic
    August 30, 2008

    I was saying that advocacy – and, by extension, the implementation – of big government creates the danger of a police state.

    *ahem*

    My point was simply that the opposition to libertarianism…

    what was your point, again?
    or do you plan to keep changing it with each new post?

    Libertarianism is just a different form of dogmatic fundamentalism.
    One size fits all idiocy.

    from the things I’ve seen, most self-proclaimed libertarians are grossly ignorant of history, and the benefits they themselves gain from living in a republic.

    the one’s who HAVE thought about it and really are conversant in history really turn out not to be libertarians, they just choose the label to be mavericks.

    Myself, I’ve had this particular discussion so many times I’m fucking sick to death of it.

    The worst thing PZ ever did for Pharyngula was post that thread decrying Ron Paul supporters and the “new” libertarianism, even though he was dead on right.

    The libertarians that visited that thread never went away, and any time a political thread comes up, inevitably derail it with their inanity.

    a particular nasty form of troll, IMO.

    and with that, I have nothing to say to any more self-proclaimed libertarians on this thread.

    you’ve been killfiled.

  63. #65 none
    August 30, 2008

    Ichthyic:opposition to libertarianism produces a police state?

    No, that isn’t what he said.

    you’re a fucking moron.

    Oh, well, that’s a completely convincing argument. You win!

    Sheesh. Who let the little kid in?

  64. #66 spgreenlaw
    August 30, 2008

    SC,

    Whenever I see anyone mention Peter Kropotkin I get all warm and fuzzy inside. The guy was brilliant and The Conquest of Bread. So, basically, thanks for making me feel warm and fuzzy?

  65. #67 spgreenlaw
    August 30, 2008

    Uh, that (#66) should read “The Conquest of Bread is a must read.” Why do I insist on commenting when I got three hours of sleep the night before?

  66. #68 An iPhone
    August 30, 2008

    Ichthyic, can I have the shit in your head? I have 40 aces to fertilize. You’re the perfect example of a true ideologue, and there isn’t a force in the ‘verse that can break through the smog that has choked your brain to death. But keep killfiling away. Eventually you might avoid any an all ideas and thruths that alarm you, and you can live in warm, fuzzy rosy hued oblivion. And, one day, you’ll die, and the world will be a better place for it.

  67. #69 SC
    August 30, 2008

    Whenever I see anyone mention Peter Kropotkin I get all warm and fuzzy inside. The guy was brilliant and The Conquest of Bread. So, basically, thanks for making me feel warm and fuzzy?

    Yay! You’re most welcome! He’s a personal hero of mine. I have criticisms of TCOB, but it rocks, like everything he wrote.

  68. #70 Richard3
    August 30, 2008

    Ichthyic: I have nothing to say to any more

    If only that were true. The average IQ of this thread would go up 50 points.

  69. #71 JasonTD
    August 30, 2008

    Regarding the group Robert N. Lee points out in #17,

    Disrupting someone else’s attempt at exercising 1st Amendment rights isn’t in any way protected by the constitution. If they want to call it civil disobedience, that’s fine. But police ‘protecting’ either the Democratic or Republican conventions from being physically disrupted are simply doing their job.

    That said, I’m sure that there are better ways of handling it than storming in with automatic weapons drawn.

  70. #72 mayhempix
    August 30, 2008

    @#62

    Please explain how no government regulation of capitalism isn’t “one size fits all”.
    True libertarianism is just another utopian fantasy that has little to do with the reality of how complex societies and economies function.

    While I can appreciate and agree with the view that the government has absolutely no business controlling our private lives as long as it isn’t at the risk of someone else’s, the idea that the government should not regulate commerce is just plain stupid. Socialism and capitalism should be seen as tools to be mixed and used depending on the goal and desired results and not as closed systems to be worshipped as the “The Answer”. Libertarianism isn’t even a tool and it certainly isn’t “The Answer”. Most people outgrow it. I hope someday you do the same.

  71. #73 SC
    August 30, 2008

    But police ‘protecting’ either the Democratic or Republican conventions from being physically disrupted are simply doing their job.

    See you in jail. :)

  72. #74 Phaedrus
    August 30, 2008

    We’ve had two years of Dem majority in congress- nothing has changed in a Iraq, we still torture, rendition, Guantanamo, telecomms got immunity, and there have been no investigations as to what this administration is actually doing. Obama’s latest action was to vote for telecomm immunity and to violate the constitution and curtail our fourth amendment right to privacy.
    I can see no reason why anyone is excited about Obama. Bush has set the bar so low that anyone who can put two sentences together is a messiah.

  73. #75 craig
    August 30, 2008

    News flash. Many (most?) cops are overgrown boys who like to dress up, play with guns and bully people around.

  74. #76 Quiet Desperation
    August 30, 2008

    That said, I’m sure that there are better ways of handling it than storming in with automatic weapons drawn.

    There is, but you’re thinking like a smart person. You need to think like a thug who get aroused at hurting others under the color of authority.

    Here’s a map of botched paramilitary police raids.

    http://www.cato.org/raidmap/

    Yeah, I know “cato” in the link will instantly shut down some people’s minds like an armadillo rolling up into a ball but, well, what can you do?

  75. #77 SC
    August 30, 2008

    Uh, that (#66) should read “The Conquest of Bread is a must read.”

    I knew what you meant…and agree wholeheartedly. :)

  76. #78 Sioux Laris
    August 31, 2008

    Most police officers learn that they are there to serve th interests of the “Department,” which has little to do with defending the public or disinterestedly, reasonably enforcing the law. And those with higher positions in the police are ever ready to offer favors for the promise of later back-scratching – they are politicians with little interest in anything but indulging themselves.
    There are good police officers – lots! But when police are in a group, the mentality sinks as low and as brutal as is possible, and in far more contemptible a way than soldiers. And far too many officers have flawed characters that enjoy abusing their power and authority, whenever possible. (If they weren’t shits, they almost always would have gotten a different job, after all.)

    We can only reign in the cynical monsters who use such potentially redeemable, valuable human beings as their attack dogs.

  77. #79 Nibien
    August 31, 2008

    None at #40:

    That’s a form of faith that baffles me as much as a hardcore Evangelicals.

    I’m not sure if you’re honestly that ignorant, or you actually ARE a fundie, because your quote mining sure seems to be dead-on for one.

    It’s pretty obvious he never said Obama would magically make things better, he in fact stated it wouldn’t do much if anything. You making a comment on it like that only glorifies your ignorance and quite frankly makes me look upon you with disdain, as you’re either a mediocre troll or a first class simpleton.

  78. #80 Quiet Desperation
    August 31, 2008

    True libertarianism is just another utopian fantasy

    Pretty much all ideologies are. They are frameworks or tools to try and solve problems. What too many people forget is the pure application of those frameworks do not work in the real world, and many times in many cases they are the wrong tool. But try telling that to any self described “liberal” or “conseravtive” or “libertarian” or “whatever”.

    Socialism and capitalism should be seen as tools to be mixed and used depending on the goal and desired results and not as closed systems to be worshipped as the “The Answer”.

    (swoon) Please tell me you are female and single. :)

  79. #81 craig
    August 31, 2008

    “There are good police officers – lots!”

    Someone once made the observation that since virtually ALL cops are aware of cases of people’s rights being violated, but virtually NO cops ever come to the defense of these citizens by reporting their colleagues, they really AREN’T good police officers.

    There are the cops that abuse their authority, and there are the cops that look the other way when their colleagues abuse their authority. Neither is a “good” cop.

  80. #82 Henry Harrison
    August 31, 2008

    @72

    I’m too tired to launch into a full-throated defense of libertarianism. But in a nutshell, most of us don’t accept the idea that central planners have enough knowledge to just pick and choose the “good parts” of “socialism” and “capitalism” to find the “just right mix” of the two. Rather, we prefer to leave all creative energies unfettered, and to protect all “capitalist acts between consenting adults.” In short, if what you’re doing is peaceful, it should be legal. That’s all libertarianism is.

    The reason our philosophy isn’t “one size fits all” is because we leave everyone free to choose how to live one’s life. We don’t impose any conception of the good on any non-consenting party. If a group of people would like to live communally (even a large group, or a REALLY large group), no libertarian would object, as long as everyone consented and the group was peaceful. And though we’re often caricatured as mindless acolytes of Murray Rothbard or some other anarchist twit, many libertarians (myself included) don’t object to government regulations per se. Will Wilkinson of Cato is a great example of the more “moderate” libertarian.

    Anyway, if you’re interested, check out Hayek’s “The Use of Knowledge in Society” or his Nobel lecture “Economics and Knowledge” for a bit more on why central planners can’t hope to rationally organize an economy. On libertarianism generally, I’d recommend Boaz’s introductory books.

  81. #83 none
    August 31, 2008

    It’s pretty obvious he never said Obama would magically make things better,

    And I didn’t say he did, little thing. The PZ quote was “I’d like to think this kind of political thuggery would come to an end if Obama were elected,”

    PZ would like to think that an Obama presidency would bring an end to this sort of thuggery. That’s magical thinking. Can you understand that, or I need to use phonics, little thing?

    You making a comment on it like that only glorifies your ignorance and quite frankly makes me look upon you with disdain, [snipped rest of lameness]

    Oh no, a self important little nothing who has demonstrated the mental prowess of a virus looks upon me with disdain. However will I sleep tonight? LOL! Get over yourself, you puffed up bag of gas.

  82. #84 Henry Harrison
    August 31, 2008

    My mistake: Hayek’s Nobel lecture was titled “The Pretence of Knowledge.” “Economics and Knowledge” was a separate, earlier lecture.

  83. #85 craig
    August 31, 2008

    um, no. “would like to think, but” is not magical thinking.

    “I think” is magical thinking. “I would like to think but…” is an admission that you’re not able to think magically.

    I’d like to think that I live in a just, fair, civilized country… but I can’t, because I don’t.

  84. #86 mayhempix
    August 31, 2008

    @QD #80

    Sorry to disappoint but I’m 100% testosterone. But thanks for the compliment anyways.

    Most libertarians I have known were young white males in their 20′s who sidestepped Scientology on their quest for “The Answer” and fell in love with Ayn Rand instead.

  85. #87 SC
    August 31, 2008

    many libertarians (myself included) don’t object to government regulations per se.

    Claro que no. Thanks – that was my libertarian laugh of the day.

  86. #88 Henry Harrison
    August 31, 2008

    @86: See, that’s the kind of caricature to which I was referring earlier. There are vanishingly few hardcore Rand fans in the mainstream libertarian movement. Some of us even despise her.

    @87: I don’t get it. You don’t think there are any libertarians who don’t oppose government regulations per se? Hayek is a famous example (See section 3 of his “The Constitution of Liberty”; I think you’d be surprised). I guess Hayek was more of a “classical liberal,” but there’s not much distinction between those anymore.

  87. #89 craig
    August 31, 2008

    Oddly enough, I’ve never talked to a so-called libertarian who didn’t support the idea of so-called “intellectual property.” I’ve never heard a libertarian call for the elimination of copyrights, patents, trademarks, etc.

    Also I’ve never heard any “free market” fanatics oppose them either, which is perhaps even more incongruous.

  88. #90 Henry Harrison
    August 31, 2008

    One more thing and then I’m off to bed.

    I don’t understand this idea that libertarianism is “utopian” or that it’s “the answer” for us libertarians. In fact, I’m not sure that any critique could be further from the truth. Most libertarians believe what they believe because they are convinced that utopias are impossible. And it’s precisely the fact that we don’t think humans are capable of finding “the answer” that we’re opposed to all attempts at coercing anyone into acting in ways inconsistent with a subjective conception of the good.

    In short, we’re not looking for “the answer”; we support a system of peace and mutual respect that allows millions of “answers” to spontaneously create a complex system of order that (we think) would leave everyone better off than they would be under any alternative system.

  89. #91 SC
    August 31, 2008

    @87: I don’t get it.

    Indeed, you do not. See my comment @ #55. Beyond that, I have no wish to debate political abstractions – I’m interested in action on the ground.

  90. #92 Henry Harrison
    August 31, 2008

    Every time I think I’m out, they pull me back in.

    Craig: The huge majority of libertarians oppose patents, and many of us oppose copyrights (at least oppressive copyright regimes (e.g., retroactive extension)). Go to tomgpalmer.com and scroll down to find a couple of good libertarian papers on IP. Cato also has a book called “Copyfights” that lays out various (and often competing) libertarian takes on IP.

    I don’t know the consensus on trademarks and trade secrets. I think they’re worthwhile.

    But if you haven’t met a libertarian opposed to IP, you haven’t met many libertarians. Rothbard was against patents (but saw a free-market case for weak copyrights), and Hayek questioned patents as well (can’t say his view on copyrights. Either way, I’m sure the huge majority of libertarians would prefer market solutions (e.g., contracts) where they would work, and common law rules (rather than arbitrary statutes) where markets won’t do the job.

  91. #93 SC
    August 31, 2008

    Shorter Henry Harrison @ #90:

    blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah

  92. #94 SC
    August 31, 2008

    Shorter Henry Harrison @ #92:

    blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah

  93. #95 Kimpatsu
    August 31, 2008

    The real problem isn’t in the political philosophies, be they liberal or libertarian; the problem is the quality of the individual. If people of poor character have power, they abuse it because of the Dunning-Kreuger effect; i.e., they seriously overestimate their own benificence. We saw that with Tony Blair in the UK.
    Further, psychological testing of police has shown that, no matter where in the world the police are, they are incapable of distinguishing between legitimate protest and a riot. (That’s why police in Toronto had to be warned off baton charges during the 1996 “culture jam” street party.) Criminologist L. Craig Parker, Jr., describes it simply: “To the police, all antigovernment acitivity is de facto subversive”. As the police is an authority-based hierarchy, police officers tend to view protest activity through the lens of hierarchical power, and conclude that authority is intrinsically good, and thus that all protest is against the public interest. If Dubya declared, “L’Útat, c’est moi“, the majority of officers would back his notion. The real problem, consequently, becomes how to educate the police to understand that peaceful protest poses no threat to either public order or the security of the state… which is easier said than done, unfortunately.

    And this is the longest post I’ve ever made to one of these threads.

  94. #96 mayhempix
    August 31, 2008

    “In short, if what you’re doing is peaceful, it should be legal. That’s all libertarianism is.”

    Oh please. Dogmatic libertarians believe there should be no taxation except for feeding the military industrial complex, no public education, no public financing of infrastructure, no universal healthcare, etc. Using the term “central planners” is just meant to reinforce old and tired Red Scare Pavlovian responses. Government is not a perfect institution and never will be… it is run by humans. But to leave everythyng up to “Buyer Beware” and the “Ownership Society” is both morally and intellectually bankrupt. Pragmatism and balance is a never ending responsibility that takes constant work and the abilty to reassess and change along with circumstances. Trying to apply an overarching ideology as a solution to solve societies needs and problems is a recipe for failure.

    History shows that one size fits all ideologies only produce one size fits all body bags.

  95. #97 darek
    August 31, 2008

    What an awful story. But what creeps me out most is I just finished reading ‘Fahrenheit 451′ for the first time recently – a great read for those who are not familiar with it – the parallels are concerning…

  96. #98 mayhempix
    August 31, 2008

    Posted by: Henry Harrison #90

    “I don’t understand this idea that libertarianism is “utopian” or that it’s “the answer” for us libertarians.”

    and then…

    “…we support a system of peace and mutual respect that allows millions of “answers” to spontaneously create a complex system of order that (we think) would leave everyone better off than they would be under any alternative system.”

    I rest my case.

  97. #99 Henry Harrison
    August 31, 2008

    @96 What aren’t you getting about libertarianism NOT being a “one size fits all” ideology?

    You’re right that libertarians oppose government school monopolies (but not “public education”). I don’t know any libertarians who oppose “public financing of infrastructure.” Nearly every one of us opposes the “military industrial complex,” and I don’t think there’s a more consistently anti-war, pro-peace “ideology” than libertarianism. We do oppose “universal health care.”

    However, none of these views is necessarily the product of “dogmatism” any more than support for all of them is simply “dogmatism.” Couldn’t it be that your views are the product of rational reflection and thought, and so are mine, and that we simply disagree?

  98. #100 SC
    August 31, 2008

    I recommend following Ichthyic’s lead @ #64.

  99. #101 John C. Randolph
    August 31, 2008

    BTW, I was living in NYC the last time that the democrats held their convention there. The big show of force that time was the NYPD running all of the homeless out of the subways lest the delegates see them and get a bad impression of New York.

    -jcr

  100. #102 Henry Harrison
    August 31, 2008

    @98

    That’s a pretty weak case. I would hope that the standard for any public policy is leaving people better off rather than worse off. That doesn’t seem controversial. What that isn’t, of course, is “utopian” if by that we mean “leaving people as well off as they could be in principle.”

    Everyone who has beliefs about how society should work believes that whatever combination of beliefs they hold at any given time is the “right” combination. What separates libertarians from the rest of the pack is that we recognize that our conception of the good may not be yours, and that, because any one conception of the good isn’t special, you should be free to pursue your conception as you see fit.

    Of course, whatever system that emerges based on those few simple principles is what libertarians would support. That isn’t – in any way – utopian.

  101. #103 John C. Randolph
    August 31, 2008

    I’ve never talked to a so-called libertarian who didn’t support the idea of so-called “intellectual property.” I’ve never heard a libertarian call for the elimination of copyrights, patents, trademarks, etc.

    Then you haven’t met very many Libertarians. The topic of whether and how people would be compensated for creative works absent the intervention of the state is one that is frequently debated in Libertarian circles. One thing that nearly all Libertarians would agree on though, is that copyrights and patents should be for limited periods, not held in de facto perpetuity because Disney manages to buy favorable legislation.

    -jcr

  102. #104 Toddahhhh
    August 31, 2008

    All this talk of paramilitary organizations and jackbooted police raids have gotten me down, any chance of a Sunday Cephalopod to break the monotony?

  103. #105 aleph1=c
    August 31, 2008

    I’ve been reading and commenting on this blog for two months now. I enjoyed the camaraderie , especially during the whole cracker thing, and I’ve been right there with you good folks. Frankly, I’m puzzled at the vehemence and ubiquity of the anti libertarian comments. It’s as if we’ve lost sight of what’s important. I shall no longer post comments on or view this blog. I suspect I will be called a fucktard or something like that, but I’ll never know.

  104. #106 John C. Randolph
    August 31, 2008

    Dogmatic libertarians believe there should be no taxation except for feeding the military industrial complex,

    That, my friend, is a bald-faced lie.

    Libertarians are at the forefront of opposing the expansive and unconstitutional use of our military beyond the legitimate purpose of defense of the united states.

    -jcr

  105. #107 SC
    August 31, 2008

    I shall no longer post comments on or view this blog. I suspect I will be called a fucktard or something like that, but I’ll never know.

    Fucktard (or something like that).

  106. #108 John C. Randolph
    August 31, 2008

    Henry,

    The way I usually describe Libertarianism is as the position that freedom requires no justification. When someone proposes to infringe on our freedom, the burden of proof of the necessity or benefit of doing so is theirs.

    Anyone asking “why should we let people…” had better be able to show that the thing they want to put a stop to is infringing on other people’s rights.

    -jcr

  107. #109 John C. Randolph
    August 31, 2008

    I’d like to think this kind of political thuggery would come to an end if Obama were elected,

    Dream on, PZ. Obama’s just another politician, albeit with a bit more than the usual level of charisma.

    When he’s in office, he’ll be bombing other countries just like Clinton did. Maybe less than McCain would, maybe more.

    -jcr

  108. #110 Scott from Oregon
    August 31, 2008

    “Pragmatism and balance is a never ending responsibility that takes constant work and the abilty to reassess and change along with circumstances. Trying to apply an overarching ideology as a solution to solve societies needs and problems is a recipe for failure”.

    The problem isn’t the philosophy it is the strict adherances to a philosophy. I see dogmatic advocates for “liberalism” “Socialism” and “collectivism” all the time.

    In spite OF ALL the evidence from around the world that these all lead to shortages and lines and an abusive central power…

    here in America we still have those who believe in those Utopian ideals.

    Henry Harrison– There are a lot of dogmatic, misinformed “democrats” who congregate here. Pointing out the dirt behind the ears of the DNC will corkscrew a few of them into angry yard signs…

    It’s kind of amusing to watch.

    For example, watching people grant the federal government more and more power and then watching it all used on the granting individuals… now THAT’S amusing.

    The sad thing is, they’re lemming like and they’ll keep doing it. Finding Obamas to worship, finding McCains to loathe…

    But it was all proven in a Ron Paul thread, wasn’t it?

    When the Athiest are this moronic, the US is in deep doo doo.

  109. #111 CalGeorge
    August 31, 2008

    May have been a raid in Denver as well:

    Convergence Center Being Raided by Denver Police

    The Convergence Center for activist coordination and planning, etc. is about to be raided by the Denver Police Department.

    Two people have been arrested, another is being detained, reports from the inside say that the police are attempting to get a warrant to raid the entire location and carry out more arrests.

    http://colorado.indymedia.org/node/1042

    Also here:
    http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/08/27/18530377.php

  110. #112 John C. Randolph
    August 31, 2008

    most self-proclaimed libertarians are grossly ignorant of history, and the benefits they themselves gain from living in a republic.

    If you think we’re still living in a republic, then you don’t have a leg to stand on when you accuse anyone else of ignorance of history.

    -jcr

  111. #113 Dahan
    August 31, 2008

    As I march peacefully tomorrow and Monday with my fellow Veterans for Peace (and tens of thousands of others) I will be going over in my mind my tear gas training in the Marines. I’ll have a wet towel with me and lots of water. I’ve also gone over my CPR training again, should that be necessary to employ.

    I’ve already had one friend tear-gassed and slightly injured this year at a local protest in Minneapolis, even though she wasn’t doing anything illegal, didn’t resist the officers and agreed to do what they said. The Police can get pretty excited in these situations and see threats where there are none. The courts always give them the benefit of the doubt.

    I have the right to peacefully assemble and the right to speak my mind. I will exercise both those rights in the coming days. Wish us all luck. Even if you don’t agree with our views, you too will regret the loss of those rights should they ever be taken from us.

    Peace

  112. #114 GK4
    August 31, 2008

    Kimpatsu @95

    Thanks for making those points and those references. I’ll have to look them up and read further.

    You wrote that better training is necessary. I agree, but would add that the nature of police-work and its organization also needs to change. We really need to quash the idea that investigators and official state’s witnesses ought to also hand out punishments. (See the recent anti-bicycle knockdown in NYC for one example.) It will take a long time to change such institutions, if it is possible at all.

    Others in this thread have pointed out the militarization of local police forces. That needs to be reversed.

    We also have to stop reinventing ways to make local and national law enforcement into *political police*. In the U.S., we’ve been doing this since the Pinkertons were formed.

    The police tactics we’ve seen during the last day or two in Minnesota are similar to those during earlier major meetings over the last decade or more. In fact, the record shows that these crackdowns precede the 9/11 reaction. Look up the similar raids just before the RNC in 2000, or the raids in Washington D.C. during the same year’s April IMF/World Bank meeting. The examples that PZ wrote about in the original post here are nothing new. They just have more legal protection than they did eight years ago thanks to Bush and all four of his Congresses (not that legal formalities are ever an obstacle when suppressing dissent).

  113. #115 Eric Paulsen
    August 31, 2008

    That’s how easily our rights are lost and getting them back will be a bloody fight…if anybody actually cares enough to bother.

  114. #116 SC
    August 31, 2008

    Best of luck to you, Dahan.

  115. #117 Strakh
    August 31, 2008

    At what point did you people miss that you are no longer living in a ‘democracy’?
    The fact that anyone is shocked by what is happening here is the real surprise…
    Pay attention…
    Another surprise is that any of the protesters (peaceful or otherwise) are naive enough to think they will make even one iota of difference…
    Apparently none of them have been paying attention since Bush and his slimy entourage infected this country.

  116. #118 mayhempix
    August 31, 2008

    - Posted by: John C. Randolph | August 31, 2008 1:19 AM
    - “Libertarians are at the forefront of opposing the expansive and unconstitutional use of our military beyond the legitimate purpose of defense of the united states.”

    The military industrial complex exists because of the need for national defense. The idea that should be the only reason for federal taxation because of the inevitable fact that some will abuse or game the system for money is inane. I agree that we must oppose expansive and unconstitutional use, but that same concept applies to all ventures and responsibilities a society needs to invest in for it’s well being and continued existence.
    Roads, education, healthcare, clean water and preservation of natural resources are just as vital to our national security as the military is. Water is the oil of the 21st century and if we don’t take responsibility and make sure it is a public resource for all and not privatized for personal and corporate profit, we will be just as vulnerable as we would be by not maintaining a viable national military defense.

  117. #119 John C. Randolph
    August 31, 2008

    The military industrial complex exists because of the need for national defense.

    Really?

    I’m sure that will come as an enormous surprise to the Swiss, to name one obvious counter-example. It would also come as a surprise to any historian familiar with the way that the United Stated de-mobilized after every war before World War Two.

    Since you’re one whom I would assume opposes the military-industrial complex, I’m rather surprised that you bought their propaganda line.

    -jcr

  118. #120 Katharine
    August 31, 2008

    Honestly, my problems with libertarianism are mostly from its general selfishness and its general misunderstanding of how an economy actually does work as opposed to how it should work. I think free trade should be tightly regulated to prevent abuse of those in lower levels of organization (you can make as much money as you want to make, but don’t hurt people in the process). Libertarianism, I think, stems from a certain idealized state where everyone has enough resources and is competent and does not harm another individual’s right to choose things for themselves; since that is not the case, however, government needs to exist to keep idiots in check. (Unfortunately, this can be subverted if the government is idiots.)

  119. #121 mayhempix
    August 31, 2008

    - Posted by: Scott from Oregon | August 31, 2008 1:33 AM
    - “The problem isn’t the philosophy it is the strict adherances to a philosophy. I see dogmatic advocates for “liberalism” “Socialism” and “collectivism” all the time.”

    Ummm… were you literally repeating in your own words what I wrote because you agree, or did you completely miss the point of my post?

    - “In spite OF ALL the evidence from around the world that these all lead to shortages and lines and an abusive central power…”

    Oh yeah… Western Europe is a terrible place full of abuse because some aspects of socialism such as universal healthcare have been incorporated into their systems. Those Finns… what a horrible life… having one of the highest tax rates and the highest standard of livings in the world is just a lucky accident I guess.

  120. #122 Alan Chapman
    August 31, 2008

    Creationists often commit the god of the gaps fallacy. When unable to comprehend how something occurs undirected in nature, or because they fear uncertainty, they fill the gap with a god. They are often chided for this line of faulty reasoning, and rightly so in my opinion.

    However, the people who do the chiding often commit a similar fallacy which I call the government of the gaps fallacy. When unable to comprehend how something occurs undirected in the marketplace, or because they fear uncertainty, they fill the gap with state central-planners.

    Somehow the irony is lost on them. It would seem that some people have replaced god worship with state worship.

  121. #123 Tony Sidaway
    August 31, 2008

    I don’t understand. What crime are these people suspected of committing or planning? Is there credible evidence of a conspiracy to disrupt the Convention?

  122. #124 darek
    August 31, 2008

    Anyone asking “why should we let people…” had better be able to show that the thing they want to put a stop to is infringing on other people’s rights.

    The fundamental flaw with libertarianism, in my opinion, is that ultimately, everything seems to cancel eachother out, leading to no direction, no improvement. Why should we let people teach creationism in public science classrooms? We know the answer to this – yet, we are (according to Libertarianism, perhaps strict libertarianism) trampling on peoples (albeit a few) freedoms with decisions like the the Dover trial. Even our constitution limits the freedoms of those who wish to install creationist curriculum in their public schools…

    Libertarianism does not allow for the improvement of a society – so as long as anyone’s rights or freedoms are preserved and, I suppose, so as long as that society is far, far advanced as the one we have today.

    There is freedom, which is a good thing, being looked after by libertarians – but I wonder if what they are really protecting is inanity.

  123. #125 Tony Sidaway
    August 31, 2008

    Henry Harrison | August 30, 2008 11:27 PM, #57

    I think you’re setting up a false dichotomy between an ideal libertarianism and a police state. The existence of a police force that is used to maintain public order need not unduly infringe upon freedom of expression.

  124. #126 John C. Randolph
    August 31, 2008

    my problems with libertarianism are mostly from its general selfishness

    What could possibly be more selfish than taking what someone else earns to pursue your own goals? That’s precisely what you’re doing whenever you vote for the government to provide any service beyond those powers granted to it in the constitution.

    I think free trade should be tightly regulated to prevent abuse of those in lower levels of organization (you can make as much money as you want to make, but don’t hurt people in the process).

    That’s what competition, and when necessary, what tort law is for. The problem is that our present system of government makes it very easy for larger businesses to exclude their competition.

    Libertarianism, I think, stems from a certain idealized state

    Nope, that’s Utopianism. Libertarianism makes no assumptions that people are ideal, only that people are entitled to live without interference until and unless they commit fraud or aggression against someone else.

    government needs to exist to keep idiots in check

    No, government needs to exist to keep criminals in check. We are not harmed in any way by someone doing idiotic things. I see people doing stupid things any time I’m out in public, but that’s their business, not mine, not yours, and not the government’s.

    this can be subverted if the government is idiots.

    There are many idiots in government, and this will not change as long as bureaucracies reward their employees for the size of their empire rather than their efficiency in carrying out their duties. Likewise, politics tends to attract egotists and power-seekers, because we’ve let the government gather far too much power.

    -jcr

  125. #127 John C. Randolph
    August 31, 2008

    What crime are these people suspected of committing or planning?

    Crime? Who needs a crime to lock up troublemakers? If we can have preemptive war, what’s the big deal about preemptive incarceration?

    The sad fact is, that for generations now, Americans have tolerated abuses of power by officials at all levels of government. There are some glimmers of hope in this election cycle, but it takes time for most of the people to realize that there’s a problem, much less to figure out what to do about it.

    -jcr

  126. #128 mayhempix
    August 31, 2008

    @John C. Randolf #119

    You completely missed the point of my post… but that doesn’t surprise me.

    One of the reasons libertarians and the right are opposed to government run programs is because of the inevitable bureaucracies, waste and corruption that eventully creep in. But the truth is that same problems compounded exist in private enterprise but with much less oversight and increased institutionalized corruption. The granting of insanely excessive CEO pay by inbred corporate boards packed with cronies is a classic example.

    The same problems apply to the funding of national defense. As long as we fund a national defense there will be some form of military industrial complex. The goal is to control and contain it as much as possible.

    To leave education, healthcare, water rights, etc. strictly to market forces and private ownership is a form of national suicide.

  127. #129 John C. Randolph
    August 31, 2008

    Libertarianism does not allow for the improvement of a society

    ???

    How in the world do you infer that?

    Freedom brings prosperity, and prosperity allows us to care about things beyond subsistence. There’s a reason why the Wright Brothers, Thomas Edison, and Steve Wozniak were able to pursue their personal interests, and incidentally vastly improve the lives of millions of other people.

    -jcr

  128. #130 John C. Randolph
    August 31, 2008

    mayhempix,

    same problems compounded exist in private enterprise

    Let me point something out to you about private industry: when the management of a private organization is incompetent, it can go out of business (except when government interferes and bails them out, but that’s a separate problem.)

    As long as we fund a national defense there will be some form of military industrial complex.

    Sorry, I don’t take quite as bleak a view as you do. It does not follow that because a certain situation exists today, that it always did, or that it always will. We can end the military-industrial complex, and we should.

    -jcr

  129. #131 Alan Chapman
    August 31, 2008

    It’s extremely difficult to persuade people with an entitlement mentality that less government and more freedom are in their best interest. Freedom comes with enormous responsibility which people tend to avoid. Responsibility means effort and planning. It’s easier to simply abdicate these things to the state and throw these burdens on the shoulders of others. Over 50% of Americans receive income from government programs and that is inexcusable.

  130. #132 mayhempix
    August 31, 2008

    - Posted by: John C. Randolph | August 31, 2008 2:49 AM
    “Let me point something out to you about private industry: when the management of a private organization is incompetent, it can go out of business.”

    Really? Oh my god!!!! Thanks for pointing that out. I’ll remember that the next time I launch another successful small private business (2 so far).

    To deny that private business can be just as bad and often worse than government run programs is par for the course for most libertarians and rightwingers. To deny that a society needs to invest in, own and/or administer essential public needs like education, healthcare, etc is irresponsible.

  131. #133 darek
    August 31, 2008

    Freedom brings prosperity, and prosperity allows us to care about things beyond subsistence. There’s a reason why the Wright Brothers, Thomas Edison, and Steve Wozniak were able to pursue their personal interests, and incidentally vastly improve the lives of millions of other people.

    I understand what you’re saying, but freedom does not necessarily bring prosperity… does it? At least I think that is a flaw in your statement. There are people on this world which have freedom (especially from any strong or even weak type of government) and yet they do not ‘prosper’ (depending, of course, on what you mean by prosper, and given that you give example of achievements, I think I understand).

    Lets take people of the US and compare them to current tribes in Africa or Indonesia… do they not have freedom?

    I think this is where this ‘idealistic approach’ which libertarians often get accused of stems from – they tend to think from the most ideal point of view.

  132. #134 Shirakawasuna
    August 31, 2008

    Roy Latham said: “
    To get a search warrant, the police had to establish probable cause with a judge. Perhaps the judge erred, but the police actually found “a gas mask, bolt cutters, axes, slingshots, homemade “caltrops” for disabling buses, even buckets of urine” http://www.startribune.com/politics/27695244.html?elr=KArksLckD8EQDUoaEyqyP4O:DW3ckUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aULPQL7PQLanchO7DiUs
    Those arrested described themselves as anarchists. Someone pointed out that there is a certain pholosophical inconsistency in anarchists having planning meetings, but the courts will have to decide if the evidence of conspiracy was sufficient. Possibly the buckets of urine were for some social use.”

    I know one of the people who lived at one of the communal houses (she’s way into being an active follower in non-mainstream groups and I tend to think her decisions are… hilariously bad) and could tell you that the buckets of urine could easily have been…. wait for it…. a convenient port-o-potty. I’ve heard stories of the house’s general sanitation (and general lack of plumbing) and that would fit in just fine.

    The other stuff sounds like typical ‘disruption’ stuff, although I’m not sure why caltrops would be specifically used on buses. At the same time, ‘axes’ is a bit vague and again not terribly surprising for the general technological level I’ve come to expect from that place.

    There were people there planning on disrupting the RNC, there is no doubt about that. I suppose the real question here is whether the warrants were obtained in good faith (doubt it), to what extent the law prohibits planning and organizing such things, and what evidence has been used to charge/harass each individual.

  133. #135 mayhempix
    August 31, 2008

    @Alan Chapman #131
    -”It would seem that some people have replaced god worship with state worship.
    -”It’s easier to simply abdicate these things to the state and throw these burdens on the shoulders of others.”

    It would appear that some people have replaced pragmatic real world reason with irrelevant John Birch cliche worship.

    Hello to Tony Sidaway
    and good night all.

  134. #136 John C. Randolph
    August 31, 2008

    To deny that private business can be just as bad and often worse than government run programs is par for the course for most libertarians and rightwingers.

    And putting words in other people’s mouths is par for the course for lefties, hmm?

    I made no such denial. The difference between public and private incompetence, is that there’s a limit to how much reward incompetence can get in the private sector.

    -jcr

  135. #137 Shirakawasuna
    August 31, 2008

    What the? How did this become a `libertarians vs. everyone else` thread? Go find a nice forum or something ;).

  136. #138 scooter
    August 31, 2008

    I LIKE Libertarins

    Libertarians meet the left on the reach-a-round, however, the Libertarian party has no agenda, and those whom have risen to the top, are pathetic neo Republicans, Goldwater would be embarrassed.

    Libertarians want an end to the drug war, reversal of idiotic gun laws, the end of taxing the masses for corporate welfare, the end of Welfare and in cases like kook Libertarian Atheists, such as Penn Gillette, the end of public sewer systems, road building, and all public services be on a profit base only.

    I’ll demure at this point to Henry Harrison, and why the Libertarian movement is vital to American thinking, and go from there.

  137. #139 John C. Randolph
    August 31, 2008

    Lets take people of the US and compare them to current tribes in Africa or Indonesia… do they not have freedom?

    Indonesia, like many of the African countries, is ruled by a kleptocracy. Indonesians have been improving their standard of living to a considerable extent since I lived there in the 1970′s, mostly because the crooks running Indonesia understand that they have to show some restraint when it comes to looting, lest they kill the goose (so to speak.)

    For the most part, they skim oil revenues and public works projects and leave other businesses enough of their earnings that they don’t drive them out of the country. They are aware of the dismal condition that Burma is in, and they won’t go that far.

    In Africa, there’s one horrendous example of a kleptocracy with no restraint right now, and that’s Mugabe’s dictatorship in Zimbabwe. I hope that the people of Zimbabwe kill that son of a bitch before they starve to death.

    -jcr

  138. #140 darek
    August 31, 2008

    I wasn’t talking about the people you are referring to – people who make up a nation. I used the term ‘tribes’ (as opposed to nations) for a reason – in reference to indigenous people – who, in parts of Africa, Indonesia, Australia and South America, remain relatively disconnected from modernity.

  139. #141 Rick R
    August 31, 2008

    #137- “What the? How did this become a `libertarians vs. everyone else` thread? Go find a nice forum or something ;).”

    I know. They’ll swarm in on any thread. Libertarians are the new Jehohvah’s Witnesses.

  140. #142 John C. Randolph
    August 31, 2008

    Oh, so you’re asking whether I consider people living in primitive conditions to be free or not?

    I’d have to consider that on a case-by-case basis. Many familial bands make decisions by consensus, and others obey their elders, or the strongest guy in the group, or whoever acts as their religious figure. I really couldn’t make a blanket statement as to whether an individual in any such group is free or not.

    -jcr

  141. #143 Matt Penfold
    August 31, 2008

    John C. Randolph is such a libertarian that when PZ was away he decided he was the moral arbiter of what should and should not be posted by PZ’s minions. Even when PZ stated that he had no problems with anything the guest bloggers had done Randolph still could not bring himself to apologise to MAJeff.

  142. #144 Gordon S
    August 31, 2008

    Obama will not be elected for the simple reason that people have not forced the issue of secure, counted, monitored ballots in the wake of the 2000 and 2004 elections.

    I hate bringing it up because it makes me look like a desperate conspiracy theorist to a lot of people, but wtf ever. If you’re black in America, you are 9 times more likely to not have your vote counted. If you’re native, 20 times. That was in 2004.

    So I’ll make some predictions, we’ll see if they bear out.

    This is dependent on the race being close, within 5%.

    1) McCain will win despite exit polls showing Obama with an advantage.

    2) Black, Native, and Latino voters will be disenfranchised in huge numbers.

    3) The media will call people who question the results conspiracy theorists or bitter Obama fans, just as they did to people who said this in 2000 and 2004.

    So yeah, those are my predictions.

    Does anyone remember that Paul Krugman column about DFH’s and the Iraq War? It’s kinda the same thing, except about voting. Just watch…

  143. #145 John C. Randolph
    August 31, 2008

    Libertarians are the new Jehohvah’s Witnesses.

    Gosh, that was clever. You’ve convinced me. I’ll support the welfare state, the draft, and the war on drugs now.

    -jcr

  144. #146 John C. Randolph
    August 31, 2008

    Penfold,

    I took Jeff to task for imposing a risk on someone else, rather than assuming it himself. I owe him no apology.

    -jcr

  145. #147 Cerberus
    August 31, 2008

    Oi, this won’t aid the Paulbot infestation, but I can’t take this anymore.

    No, you stupid libertarian fucks. You are not.

    You do not support government limitation of excesses, because you don’t support government and if you did then the last 8 years has been a fulfillment of the very mix of loss of government and still having a government that you so desired. The protection agencies (the choke chain on capitalism) were lifted and all we have gotten is that we can’t trust our food, our water, our infrastructure is collapsing, private security and private military is beginning to overlap, prison has become a business, and a city has drowned without aid because it was directly against the rich’s interests to save it.

    The gap between rich and poor has increased dramatically and the middle class has disappeared while many have gone homeless from the lending systems. These are the fulfillment of libertarian desires. The deisire to see private solutions remove public ones and the dissolution of the effectiveness of public solutions for those private solutions. At any level, no matter what weasel terminology you use, you support that or you are not libertarian, you’re marxist or anarchist, but not libertarian.

    And the end result of libertarianism comes with that. If all public systems are replaced with private systems, then police will be one of the UNREGULATED systems (because regulation IS Big Government, that’s what is being referred to whenever that boogeyman is invoked). Thus police brutality will only get worse because the only thing they listen to will be their employer’s wishes. Just look at Blackwater’s professional demeanor and their new military and police training center for proof of that.

    So please shut up and die you dishonest, idiotic, Bush-supporting twats. You got your dream world. We’re living in it. Trying to pin the blame on us is novel, but a libertarian is supposed to take personal responsibility for everything. And this one actually is your fault.

  146. #148 John C. Randolph
    August 31, 2008

    Wow Cerberus, that was one of the most ill-informed, yet fervent rants I’ve read since the last time PZ posted some of the hate mail he gets from the fundies.

    Spend a couple of minutes perusing LewRockwell.com to disabuse yourself of the notion that libertarians support Bush.

    -jcr

  147. #149 Matt Penfold
    August 31, 2008

    I took Jeff to task for imposing a risk on someone else, rather than assuming it himself. I owe him no apology.

    Pretty despicable. I never had the much respect for you in the first place. The way you treated MAJeff means I know have none at all. You are not even decent enough to admit you were wrong.

    I think others can also see you for what you are. A vain man with an inflated ego who cannot admit his mistakes. You also seem to be devoid of compassion since you would deny the poor healthcare and other support.

  148. #150 Cerberus
    August 31, 2008

    Hey, selective reading to protect an idiotic worldview, where is that behavior most seen.

    Here, I’ll make it simple for your lizard brain:

    The stated libertarian goals have been furthered during the last 8 years. The society you want is here. We are living in it. This is a society shifting into libertarian rule by corporations, these are the natural results of that victory.

    Blackwater is the libertarian police structure.
    Petty tyrants are the natural result of a loss of Regulatory systems.
    Untrustworthy food, water, bridges, etc are the natural result of libertarian desire to remove “Big Government”
    They are libertarian victories.

    It doesn’t matter if you are mot supporting Bush to cover your ass or don’t want to believe that your world looks like this. But tough titties. This is your dream world, you helped make it. Now sit down and deal like an adult instead of whining that more of the same will somehow fix what is wrong with people listening to you in the first place.

  149. #151 Lynn David
    August 31, 2008

    This is not the country I was promised in my Catholic schools 40 years or so ago.

    I want my country back.

  150. #152 John C. Randolph
    August 31, 2008

    The gap between rich and poor has increased dramatically and the middle class has disappeared while many have gone homeless from the lending systems.

    Yes it has, and guess whose fault that is? (Your first guess was wrong, by the way.)

    These are the fulfillment of libertarian desires.

    What utter crap. Nobody’s happy about people losing their homes, and the cause of the mortgage bubble is plain to see: it’s where the bulk of Greenspan’s inflation went for last three decades.

    It was two government-created organizations, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, that made it possible for banks to be insulated from the risk of the loans they made, coupled with the availability of unlimited funds to borrow and lend out at a higher rate, that drove the prices of housing up until the bubble burst. Ron Paul, Peter Schiff, and just about everyone at the Mises Institute have been warning that this would happen for many years.

    But did politicians care about fiscal realities? No, they wanted to brag about how many people were able to buy houses during the boom years, and they didn’t want to hear about risk.

    -jcr

  151. #153 Strakh
    August 31, 2008

    Alan Chapman at #131:
    “Over 50% of Americans receive income from government programs and that is inexcusable.”
    That is a simply astonishing statistic. I’m serious. Please, by all means, give me the source of that information.
    I’m not snarking you, I really want to know where you found that percentage.
    I will check back…

  152. #154 John C. Randolph
    August 31, 2008

    I’ll make it simple for your lizard brain:

    Never fails. Whenever you’re wrong and I point it out to you, you get snotty.

    The stated libertarian goals have been furthered during the last 8 years.

    I wish you were right, but you’re not.

    Libertarians certainly didn’t call for the institution of another massive entitlement program that will cost us trillions of dollars (the prescription drug benefit), or a war that reduces our liberty and safety while costing us another trillion dollars, or the complete disregard for the rule of law (especially the fourth and fifth amendments) that we have today. Don’t kid yourself, the democrats were 100% complicit in that power-grab, because they’re hoping to be the ones in charge next time around.

    In the last eight years, government’s take of the GNP has increased, just like it did in every other administration since Eisenhower.

    The goal of Libertarians is to reduce the power of governments, whether they outsource the footsoldiers or not.

    -jcr

  153. #155 Tony Sidaway
    August 31, 2008

    Alan Chapman | August 31, 2008 2:56 AM, #131

    Over 50% of Americans receive income from government programs and that is inexcusable.

    Could you explain your reasoning? As far as I’m aware nearly 100% of British people receive income of one kind of another from government programs. Every single one of us gets health care free at the point of need and people with children get child benefit. People with disabilities receive an adequat allowance to enable them to live a reasonably comfortable life and participate as fully as they can in our society.

    After the countless centuries when the tyranny of grinding poverty left people choosing between starving and paying a doctor, what’s bad about these wonderful and civilizing things?

  154. #156 Matt Penfold
    August 31, 2008

    I think in the case of libertarians it is because they have to be paid for, and why should they help the poor by paying taxes ? The poor are their to be ground under their heels, and left to die when they become sick. Helping them just allows them to breed more.

  155. #157 John C. Randolph
    August 31, 2008

    The poor are their to be ground under their heels

    Project much?

    Any businessman knows that Henry Ford was right, we all benefit when we all prosper. I want to see poor people working and improving their lives just like my family did in the generations before me. You lefties pretend to care about the poor, but you consistently push them into dependency and hopelessness.

    -jcr

  156. #158 Nibien
    August 31, 2008

    “Any businessman knows that Henry Ford was right, we all benefit when we all prosper. I want to see poor people working and improving their lives just like my family did in the generations before me, but only if it benefits me and doesn’t make my pay any more taxes. Otherwise, screw ‘em.”

    Fixed that for you.

  157. #159 Matt Penfold
    August 31, 2008

    Any businessman knows that Henry Ford was right, we all benefit when we all prosper. I want to see poor people working and improving their lives just like my family did in the generations before me. You lefties pretend to care about the poor, but you consistently push them into dependency and hopelessness.

    Yeah, because that has really worked. When Britain was the richest country in the world the poor really did well. There were no slums, healthcare and dental care was free, and hardly anyone died during childbirth.

    Oh wait. It took the Post-War Labour Government to fix those things.

  158. #160 Alan Chapman
    August 31, 2008

    mayhempix:

    One size fits all idiocy.

    Like government education and health-care.

    Socialism and capitalism should be seen as tools to be mixed and used depending on the goal and desired results and not as closed systems to be worshipped as the “The Answer”.

    Markets can’t be planned in advance, nor organized from the top down. Socialism and capitalism aren’t “tools.” You’re talking nonsense.

    “History shows that one size fits all ideologies only produce one size fits all body bags.

    That’s right. So, why do you support one-size-fits-all government programs like government education and health-care?

    I agree that we must oppose expansive and unconstitutional use…

    Except, of course, the government programs you support. Those you try to rationalize away with phrases like “essential needs” to avoid looking like a hypocrite.

    To deny that a society needs to invest in, own and/or administer essential public needs like education, healthcare, etc is irresponsible.

    Straw man.

    Your so-called “pragmatic real world reason” is invariably the rationalization given when government malfeasance ensues, like the police raids reported in the news story at the top of this thread.

    It’s ironic (albeit unintentional) that you make your own worst case for government education.

  159. #161 maureen
    August 31, 2008

    PZ, my love, I’m normally against censorship but Mr John C Randolph is so repetitive, so boring and so gets in the way of intelligent discussion on almost any subject that he might just be asking for a spell in the dungeon.

    What do you think?

  160. #162 Alan Chapman
    August 31, 2008

    Somebody was asking for a sourced link:

    As US tax rates drop, government’s reach grows – Slightly over half of all Americans – 52.6 percent – now receive significant income from government programs…

  161. #163 Gordon S
    August 31, 2008

    Wow, I totally didn’t read the rest of the thread before I made my prediction post about the election… I didn’t realized this had turned into a hilarious libertarian cumswap festival.

    It’s really just so fucking sad to see people who are so right about social values (do whatever you want unless it impacts other people’s personal desires) become completely clueless when it comes to balance of powers in economic situations.

    Cerberus is correct. GWB is pushing a very libertarian economic structure onto US society. Granted, there are clear cases of cronyism, even endemic, but that’s just barely a deflection.

    Libertarians want to break down government involvement in regulation. They believe some ad hoc system of protests and boycotts is going to magically compete against corporate branding and lobbying. They simply do not understand that the primary lobby for the people is the government itself. As an example, this is the reason that the corruption of the FDA is so powerful — the FDA is the lobby of the people for healthy food and pharmaceuticals. No boycott or consumer advocacy group will ever replace the FDA.

    I actually kind of feel sorry for Libertarians. They’re a product of American government. Having never lived in a country where federal institutions actually work, they rebel against them in a fit of false recognition. It’s quite like watching a teenager punch a wall cause their mother won’t let them watch the television.

  162. #164 Matt Penfold
    August 31, 2008

    PZ, my love, I’m normally against censorship but Mr John C Randolph is so repetitive, so boring and so gets in the way of intelligent discussion on almost any subject that he might just be asking for a spell in the dungeon.

    What do you think?

    Maureen,

    You forget that when PZ was away Randolph appointed himself in charge of what is and is not acceptable on this blog. PZ it seems does not have say anymore.

  163. #165 ice weasel
    August 31, 2008

    libertarianism is many things. It’s practitioners are some of the most tedious people on the net. RIght along with small government republicans, they stand for “gimme mine now”. That some libertarian organs may be on the right side of this issue is as much as coincidence as anything else.

  164. #166 Doug
    August 31, 2008

    The cops are needed because without them Democracy could break out at the Republican convention. We need to keep the virgin eyes of the Bush regime safe from any views from the people.

  165. #167 The Swede
    August 31, 2008

    #126

    The big problem is that people doing idiotic but non-criminal things IS harming others, including you and me. As a trivial example, the people refusing to give vaccine to their children are destroying herd immunity, giving the lethal diseases a possibility to get a new hold and mutate into strains which can bypass the vaccine protection. By libertarian standards, this is nothing the people who will die from such an event have anything to do with.

    The same with so many other things; all the regulations on what is and is not allowed in food, medicine, car and house manufacture and the like did not get there because someone arbitrarily decided to limit free trade. It came to be because people died or got seriously injured. All of this would have to go if libertarians get their way, and those who die from food additives, broken car safety and unsafe medicine should just have been smarter and it’s their own fault.

    This is the basic fatal flaw of libertarianism. It requires everyone to be able to make informed decisions about every aspect of their lives, or have the resources to buy the advice and protection they need if they can’t, for their own money. Or to try to create a new organization which takes the job the government does now, only it would have to start from scratch, be called something else but “government”, and somehow magically be a lot better. Except it wouldn’t be, since people are people, and we’d be back where we started, at best.

  166. #168 maureen
    August 31, 2008

    Matt Penfold,

    You’re right of course. We only have to watch the man dismiss as invalid all the questions, both theoretical and practical, which are raised to confirm what many of us already knew – that libertarianism has all the intellectual content of a red-faced three year old jumping up and down shouting, “I want! I want! I want!”

    As an aside, I wish that brokenSoldier were around this week to tell us what a military run on libertarian lines might look like!

    As you indicate we can only judge the validity of his case by observing how he behaves. And what does he do? He happens upon a well established blog with a regular readership almost all of whom are mature enough to disagree vigorously without feeling the need to beat eachother into submission and – for fuck’s sake – he tells us what we are allowed to discuss! Never mind that the author of the post is well known to us, trusted by the owner and better qualified than most to introduce the topic! Never mind that many of us found it sufficiently interesting to stick around and read every post!

    Believe me, no-one has successfully told me what I’m allowed to discuss since the mid-1950s and Mr John C Randolph is not going to be the exception!

    So what does he do next? He muscles in on threads where what he has to say is barely relevant and repeats himself in an attempt to shut down discussion. Because he has access to a computer he claims to have every right …….

    And there you have it, libertarianism in a nutshell ……..

    “Because I can, I will. And bugger the rest of you!” With a side order of pretended moral superiority, of course.

  167. #169 Strakh
    August 31, 2008

    Thank you for the link, Alan Chapman.

    You’ll note that a significant amount of those in the tally are *workers* and *their dependents*.
    So what?!
    These are, again I emphasize, ***workers***. By even wikipedia standards, workers are people who ****work****. They are not welfare leeches, etc.
    Once the tally gets rid of productive members of society (and don’t even think of insulting people who work for the government as not productive)out of the tally, the world really doesn’t seem to be falling into the toilet.
    Focusing on numbers with the wrong emphasis can really stymie some people, but look deeper at the doom sayers. Some numbers reveal wishful thinking, personal/political agendas, or just plain stupdity on the part of the ‘researchers.’

    Again, thank you for the source. You’re really the first person to respond with the source when I’ve asked. This makes for much more reasoned debate, no matter which side of the fence one makes their camp…

    As for welfare, one of my bosses used welfare when she left her abusive husband. She earned a degree, got off the welfare and now earns more money than me, thus giving back to the system. This is how it’s supposed to work…
    Alternatively, I care for patients for whom welfare is a way of life…
    How to fix that? I’ve heard every political party’s agenda, and frankly, they are all based on the idea that people will accept responsibility for their own actions. Good luck with that idea!

  168. #170 John C. Randolph
    August 31, 2008

    I wish that brokenSoldier were around this week to tell us what a military run on libertarian lines might look like!

    Well, for a start, it wouldn’t be able to mount invasions of foreign countries that pose no danger to us. You may not agree, but I’d call that a good thing.

    -jcr

  169. #171 Alan Kellogg
    August 31, 2008

    I would like to second the proposal to have John C. “How Dare You Use Facts” Randolph provided housing in the dungeon.

    I know about BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome) and ODS (Obama Derangement Syndrome), but PCDS (Pharyngula Commenter Derangement Syndrome) is something I’ve just noticed. (Somethings it takes me a while to pick up on things. :) )

  170. #172 Henry Harrison
    August 31, 2008

    A few points.

    @147: Are you really saying that in the last 8 years we’ve experiences a “loss of government”? George W. Bush is the first president in history to propose a $2 trillion budget. He’s also the first president to propose a $3 trillion budget.

    And the “protection agencies were lifted”? What the hell does that even mean? Did I miss it when we we abolished the FDA?

    As far as private military groups and the prison industrial complex, you won’t find any more deeply committed opponents of either o those things than libertarians. What better way to end the absurd and evil prison system than to legalize consensual crimes?

    And libertarians don’t want to “replace all public systems with private ones,” or whatever. We don’t want to privatize the police, or the military or courts. Well, a very small minority of anarchist-libertarians do, but judging the whole movement based on a few kooks would be like painting all left-wingers as 9/11 Truthers.

    The idea that we live in a libertarian dream-world is so backwards and confused that I’m not sure really how to respond. One counterexample should suffice: in a libertarian dream world, the federal government would not conduct paramilitary style raids on cancer patients who want to use marijuana as medicine.

    @148: Please, please do not send people to LewRockwell.com as a proxy for libertarian thought. They do not represent most libertarians, as most libertarians are not xenophobic, racist, collectivist nut jobs who hate Lincoln and want a new movement for Southern secession. Those people are not libertarians (I think they self-describe as “paleo-libertarian,” which I gather is some sort of mix between libertarianism and conservative cultural values; one of them, Gary North, is even a Dominionist freak who wants to stone homosexuals). Let’s leave them be, please.

    Generally:

    I think we have a whole bunch of red herrings and caricatures on this thread, instead of cool, calm thought about really complex issues. To the degree that a libertarian reflexively dismisses any possibility that government might improve market outcomes, then that person is being dogmatic and ignoring evidence (e.g., some public goods, externalities, equity vs. efficiency). And to the degree that some of you who seem to reflexively hate libertarianism refuse to recognize that open markets really are – most of the time – a superior way to allocate resources, and that too often government merely becomes a tool for the privileged and powerful, you, too are being dogmatic and ignoring evidence.

    It’s simply the case, e.g., that price controls yield shortages, subsidies yield surpluses, and corporations engage in rent-seeking to further their private interests at public expense. These are all government acts that make most people worse off. Some government acts make people better off. The question is: which programs help, and which hurt? We want to keep the ones that help, and eliminate those that hurt. I would imagine everyone does.

    The only distinction between libertarians and others is that, as Aaron Director put it, libertarians think that “every extension of state activity should be viewed under a presumption or error.” Maybe you disagree. That’s fine. But that doesn’t make the rest of us Snidely Whiplash.

  171. #173 Tony Sidaway
    August 31, 2008

    I think the complaints that welfare creates dependency are misplaced. We’re already vastly overproducing and overconsuming. Ideally there should be more subsidized dependency and far less production, far less work for work’s sake. Who needs 50 brands of margarine? 120 flavors of ice cream?

  172. #174 John C. Randolph
    August 31, 2008

    he tells us what we are allowed to discuss!

    That is a lie.

    I criticized jeff, not for what he posted, but for the fact that he did so from the cover of a pseudonym, leaving it to PZ to take whatever heat may have resulted.

    If you don’t know the difference between criticism and censorship, then your education is sorely lacking.

    -jcr

  173. #175 Tony Sidaway
    August 31, 2008

    John C. Randolph

    This looks like one of those “one size fits all” utopias. Seriously, John, some of us are old enough to remember our parents’ stories of the grim poverty of the laissez-faire days. We’ve just climbed as a society of that slime pit, why would we want to take a dive back in?

  174. #176 Henry Harrison
    August 31, 2008

    @173

    Surely you aren’t arrogant enough to think you should decide what is produced.

    Incidentally, it just occurred to me why I thought of Snidely Whiplash. A libertarian blogger once wrote a piece called “I Am Not Snidely Whiplash,” about the folly of ascribing evil motives to libertarians (or to anyone who doesn’t share your politics). I can’t find it online, but I remember it being a good article. In any event, that reference isn’t original to me, and I don’t want to pretend it is.

  175. #177 John C. Randolph
    August 31, 2008

    Some government acts make people better off.

    Of course. That’s why we instituted governments in the first place. We’re all better off when the government puts a killer behind bars, for example.

    The question is: which programs help, and which hurt?

    Easy: the beneficial role that government serves in the market is adjudication of disputes, enforcement of contracts, and deterrence and punishment of theft and fraud.

    Programs that hurt would be foreign military adventures, the drug war, and trying to pick and choose winners and losers in the market. The ethanol debacle, for example.

    -jcr

  176. #178 Henry Harrison
    August 31, 2008

    I’d add, among the government programs that can help, those that help take care of externalities, and those that provide a minimum safety net for the disadvantaged (without interfering with the price system).

  177. #179 John C. Randolph
    August 31, 2008

    Tony,

    The grim poverty that my parents and yours lived through was the Great Depression, which was caused by the shock of inflation and deflation by the Federal Reserve. There were booms and busts before that, but they tended to correct themselves fairly quickly.

    Surprisingly, Ben Bernanke has actually admitted that the federal reserve was responsible for the great depression.

    The laissez-faire period before that was a time of rapid economic expansion, with millions of people moving from subsistence farming to factory work, and then into the middle class.

    -jcr

  178. #180 negentropyeater
    August 31, 2008

    When intervewed by Rick Warren on Aug.16, McCain gave as his best example of public funds being wasted, $2 million for studying the DNA of bears.
    He didn’t give an example based on the war or the money wasted on providing increased security for the RNC.

  179. #181 maureen
    August 31, 2008

    Thread: This is my body ….. take ……….
    Date: August 10 2008
    Time: 6.33 A M
    First phrase: “MAJeff here ….”

    First post and first complaint by you-know-who at 6.58 A M

    For the very few who have difficulty keeping up, “PZMinion” was a code, organised by the good Professor Myers himself and used by all the guest bloggers.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me I have some knitting to finish by Tuesday. Yes, really.

  180. #182 SC
    August 31, 2008

    Fortunately, there are always other threads to provide respite from the blithertarians. Unfortunately, it’s often too short.

  181. #183 John C. Randolph
    August 31, 2008

    $2 million for studying the DNA of bears.

    That kind of reminds me of Proxmire’s “Golden Fleece” awards. They were usually trivial examples like that, never programs like the dairy subsidies he always voted for, which pay our tax dollars to farmers to reduce the supply and push up the prices of the food we buy.

    -jcr

  182. #184 Tony Sidaway
    August 31, 2008

    Henry Harrison | August 31, 2008 8:05 AM

    Surely you aren’t arrogant enough to think you should decide what is produced.

    If we don’t do it for ourselves, our ancient enemy Want will do it for us by and by. Yes, of course I think we need to take the foot off the throttle earlier rather than later.

  183. #185 negentropyeater
    August 31, 2008

    O/T

    BTW I don’t know how PZ could miss this, McCain’s best idea of public funds being wasted is biological research :

    And my friend, it was not taxes that mattered in America in the last several years. It was spending. Spending got completely out of control. We spent money in a way that mortgaged our kids’ futures. My friends, we spent $3 million of your money to study the DNA of bears in Montana. Now I don’t know if that was a paternity issue or a criminal issue, but the point is — but the point is it was 3 million of your money. It was your money. And you know, we laugh about it, but we cry — and we should cry because the Congress is supposed to be careful stewards of your tax dollars.

    http://www.theliberaloc.com/2008/08/20/remember-the-bear-dna-study-mccain-brought-up-at-saddleback/

  184. #186 kevinj
    August 31, 2008

    Well, for a start, it wouldn’t be able to mount invasions of foreign countries that pose no danger to us. You may not agree, but I’d call that a good thing.

    you might want to look up the various East India companies at some point.

  185. #187 Matt Penfold
    August 31, 2008

    I criticized jeff, not for what he posted, but for the fact that he did so from the cover of a pseudonym, leaving it to PZ to take whatever heat may have resulted.

    Given that PZ had no objection to what Jeff posted, why did you think it was your place to decide otherwise ? As for the heat caused, there seemed to be only two people who complained in that post. One was a homophobe objecting to the content, and the other was you. You were not that concerned either, as you did not bother to contact PZ’s daughter, who has been left in charge. Someone with real concerns would have gone direct to her since she was the person with the ability to remove the post. If PZ had wanted you to look after his interests on the blog in his absent I sure he would have put you in charge. That he did not tells us something, and should have told you something.

    Let’s be honest here. You decided to try and stir up some trouble for Jeff since his political views are totally at odds with yours. I also suspect you were rather pissed off that PZ had not asked you to be a guest blogger. Jealously and animus are not pretty things. Once it became clear PZ had no objection to what Jeff had written you then lacked the decency to apologise.

  186. #188 e-sabbath
    August 31, 2008

    And this is without warrants. Why are the police allowed in these buildings? There is an issue in America with police.

    This kind of stuff happens every day in small towns, there is no respect for the law… on the side of the police. They just do what they want and lie about it later.

  187. #189 negentropyeater
    August 31, 2008

    So remember this if you’re a biologist, you’re still McCain’s “friend”.
    But if your research isn’t useful for criminal investigation or other legal cases, it’s a waste of public funds.

  188. #190 Tony Sidaway
    August 31, 2008

    John C. Randolph | August 31, 2008 8:21 AM

    I’m British. What Federal Reserve?

    Don’t play parish pump politics with me.

  189. #191 Dutch Delight
    August 31, 2008

    Prepare for China to open up diplomatic talks about the human rights and free speech situation in the US.

    I would love to read how the press will differentiate between the two situations.

  190. #192 negentropyeater
    August 31, 2008

    I would love to read how the press will differentiate between the two situations.

    China’s not part of the “free” world.
    Remember, the American mainstream media refers to this election as the one for “the leader of the free world”.

  191. #193 Amandali
    August 31, 2008

    I am a longtime lurker of this site, and have enjoyed following most of the comment threads to their conclusion. However, this blog’s comment section was different, and it prompted me to respond.
    Here’s the thing: I identify as being a libertarian. Primarily because I want a smaller government, and because I want the government to play a smaller role in my life, giving me more choice, and therefore, more freedom. Please correct me if I am wrong, but unless I’ve misread all of the information I’ve received about political parties or ideologies (whatever you want to call it) that is the main tenet of the libertarian movement. There are many , many debates as to what else it means, and should mean, about the specific roles of government in education, defense, infrastructure, etc. So please refrain from labeling “you libertarians” responsible for getting the society “we” wanted (I’m looking at you, Cerberus). I think its fair to say that the society libertarians want is one where the government has less power. Which of course, is precisely the opposite of what’s happened these last 8 years. Maybe the reason why there are many libertarians chiming in on this particular thread is, well, yeah, we are abhorred at this flaming flagrant giant power trip of the government. Forgive me for coming in with what I know is beginner-level discourse, but it seemed like a good time to re-air the basics.
    Phew! Broke my comment cherry!

  192. #194 Aaron
    August 31, 2008

    I’d like to think this kind of political thuggery would come to an end if Obama were elected, but of course this is being done to ‘protect’ the Republican National Convention, and the tactics were just as bad in Denver.

    So what you’re saying is that the Democratic Party is just as bad as the Republican Party (in this sense)

    So why are you voting Democrat again?

    Because you are afraid of what will happen if McCain won?

    Isn’t that basically PASCAL’S WAGER, applied to politics?

    “It’s better to vote for the likely lesser of two evils and win, than to vote for a clearly better candidate and lose.”

    In other words — you’re letting them (the media) use fear to manipulate you into voting Democrat.

    I really admire you, PZ — but this sort of irrational thinking (“I don’t like Obama, but I’m going to vote for him anyways.”) seems really uncharacteristic of your rational self.

    You don’t let the fear of eternal Damnation cloud your judgement, so why do you let the fear of 4 years of an idiot and his trophy-veep cloud it?

  193. #195 Antiweapon
    August 31, 2008

    There’s nothing to worry about. The 2nd amendment gives you the right to carry guns to protect yourselves against tyranny. It will be interesting to see you use that right.

    *Gets some popcorn*

  194. #196 P.C.Chapman
    August 31, 2008

    More to the point ,what judge in his right mind would sign a warrant with such a large “net’?
    Specificity is required when requesting a judge to approve a warrant. I can’t walk into chambers and ask a judge “oh , how about everything inside all the houses on the even side of 10th Street” On appeal this whole episode will be thrown out.

  195. #197 Matt Penfold
    August 31, 2008

    Amandali,

    A problem I have with libertarians is that they are long on rhetoric and short on specifics.

    For example on another post Randolph made it clear he opposed government intervention in healthcare provision. When he was asked what those too poor to pay for healthcare should do if they became sick he failed to answer.

    The conclusion I drew from that failure, and I am sure others drew the same conclusion, is that he did not much care. If the person happens to die then that is just the free market at work is the impression I got.

    Well I like to think my values are slightly better than that. Social Darwinism is not attractive, and we should be honest and admit that libertarianism is a form of social Darwinism since it does not seem to care about those on the margins of society and those too poor to fully engage with it.

    I notice you failed to explain how having less government will ensure people get decent healthcare, education and do not become homeless simply because they loose their job. Not once in history as the market ever managed to provided these things. Why do you think it will be any different in the future ? The simple fact is that in any society there will be those who are marginalised. Many of us want to ensure such people get the help and support they need, even if that means we have to pay for it. Others, like you, simply do not give a toss about them.

  196. #198 debaser71
    August 31, 2008

    Just as bad as in Denver? I hate false comparisions.

  197. #199 Sleeping at the Console
    August 31, 2008

    Remember, the American mainstream media refers to this election as the one for “the leader of the free world”.

    As a citizen of the free world but not of the USA, I really wish they wouldn’t.

  198. #200 Pete Rooke
    August 31, 2008

    It seems perfectly predictable, and to an extent correct, that an anarchist group would be forcibly opposed and combated by our police departments.

    The line between the harmless vagabonds that frequent these communals and the hardcore anti-establishment types is difficult to discern and perhaps, in this instance, it is a case of “better safe than sorry.”

  199. #201 Sleeping at the Console
    August 31, 2008

    #197 Matt Penfold

    I agree with you. But the market can provide lots of things, it’s just not that good at distributing it to everyone. To me it’s beyond question that a wealthy, advanced society should have some sort of UHC system. We have that in my country, and most people want it that way… for reasons that should be obvious!

  200. #202 SC
    August 31, 2008

    And now Pete Rooke. Perfect.

    Fuck off, Rooke, you authoritarian lunatic.

  201. #203 Matt Penfold
    August 31, 2008

    And now Pete Rooke. Perfect.

    Fuck off, Rooke, you authoritarian lunatic.

    Do you think PZ is hosting some sort of fuckwits’ convention and failed to tell the rest of us ?

  202. #204 SC
    August 31, 2008

    Do you think PZ is hosting some sort of fuckwits’ convention and failed to tell the rest of us ?

    I’m just waiting for Brenda to show up.

  203. #205 Henry Harrison
    August 31, 2008

    @197

    Sigh. Libertarianism isn’t a form of social Darwinism. And libertarians do care about the poor and disadvantaged. We think they’d be better off under our system than in the status quo. That you don’t think they would be doesn’t mean we don’t care about them. Again, isn’t it possible that your political opponents are not motivated by evil motives?

    Once some of you actually learn some of the basics of libertarianism you’ll be in a better position to judge it. As it stands, you’re all knocking down straw men.

  204. #206 Matt Penfold
    August 31, 2008

    Sigh. Libertarianism isn’t a form of social Darwinism. And libertarians do care about the poor and disadvantaged. We think they’d be better off under our system than in the status quo. That you don’t think they would be doesn’t mean we don’t care about them. Again, isn’t it possible that your political opponents are not motivated by evil motives?

    How is not having access to healthcare because you cannot afford it better than having healthcare paid for by the government ? Does not sound much like caring to me.

    Why not bother addressing issues like that, explaining how people who cannot afford something can get it without help.

  205. #207 Amandali
    August 31, 2008

    To Matt Penfold #197,
    I understand your complaint about libertarians being long on rhetoric. But part of libertarianism, as I understand it, is to be open to an individual’s ideas on how to solve certain problems creatively, and that may be the reason why you find libertarians short on specifics. I can’t resolve your complaint. But I can assure you that I, like most people, don’t want poor people to suffer, and I don’t want someone to end up homeless because they lost their job. Its precisely this reason that I find no cause for concern for those less fortunate in a libertarian society. Not because i think the free market will take care of it, or fuck ‘em.
    You stated:

    The simple fact is that in any society there will be those who are marginalised. Many of us want to ensure such people get the help and support they need, even if that means we have to pay for it.
    I agree, and I bet many of us will still pay for it, from our pocket, if the government didn’t make us! because of our values–that made us care about their plight in the first place.
    Wait, I guess I am saying the free market will take care of it, with the intercession of a bit of humanitarianism.

  206. #208 Matt Penfold
    August 31, 2008

    If she does I am writing to Seed to complain.

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    I wish to complain ……

  207. #209 Nerd of Redhead
    August 31, 2008

    When I first heard of libertarians, I was a bit intrigued. But, after some study, I came to the conclusion that it was a morally bankrupt system. Nothing I have heard of since, including the above posts, has come close to changing my earlier conclusion. The fault is in the premises, not the logic.
    This does not mean I can’t see the need to get government out of certain areas, like peoples bedrooms, legalizing drugs so dependency is a medical rather than a criminal problem, and similar areas where religion oversteps its authority through government.

  208. #210 SC
    August 31, 2008

    But I can assure you that I, like most people, don’t want poor people to suffer, and I don’t want someone to end up homeless because they lost their job. Its precisely this reason that I find no cause for concern for those less fortunate in a libertarian society.

    Wow, that’s idiotic.

  209. #211 Matt Penfold
    August 31, 2008

    Wait, I guess I am saying the free market will take care of it, with the intercession of a bit of humanitarianism.

    It never has though. Which is why countries have established welfare systems and universal healthcare that does not restrict access based on ability to pay.

    I live in the UK, and was because the market had failed to ensure everyone had access to decent healthcare, that they had decent housing, and that there was access to education at all levels regardless of finances that the welfare state was introduced.

    So if the market works in providing these things, why has it never managed to do so ?

  210. #212 Henry Harrison
    August 31, 2008

    @206.

    First, if, during a period of unprecedented government intervention in health care markets, quite a few people don’t have health insurance (which is, of course, conceptually separate from health care), then that cannot be an indictment of health care under free markets. Couldn’t it be the very interventions that drive up the cost of health insurance, thereby pricing marginal consumers out of the market? Point is, it isn’t libertarianism that’s caused the health care crisis, because we don’t have (and haven’t had, for a very long time, if ever) libertarian health care markets.

    Of course people who can’t afford something can’t get it without help. The relevant question is which public policies make people more likely to be able to afford health insurance, and which make it more difficult. I think health care interventionism makes it more difficult for people to afford health insurance, and as such I’m against most of it. That said, I think there are other, better ways to lift people out of poverty without tinkering with markets. Minimum incomes or a negative income tax (supported by libertarians F.A. Hayek and Milton Friedman, respectively) are two such ways. With those schemes, people have the resources and can then choose whether or not to buy health insurance (I don’t have health insurance because I prefer to spend my money on other things; I’m still included in the “45 million w/o health insurance,” though, as if I’m a victim). Under a scheme of universal, compulsory insurance, I simply wouldn’t have the freedom to make that cost-benefit decision for myself. Thanks, but no thanks.

    And, of course, if all else fails, there are mutual aid societies, churches and other civil society programs available as well (and there were far more of these before government began paying for them instead). Mormons are crazy, of course, but their relief network is an excellent model on voluntary social insurance.

  211. #213 Renee
    August 31, 2008

    This kind of thing did occur at the DNC. Denver also rounded up the homeless and tried to “hide” them. Instead of trying to deal with the problem the city thought it was better to shove them into temporary shelters to make themselves look better.

  212. #214 negentropyeater
    August 31, 2008

    As a citizen of the free world but not of the USA, I really wish they wouldn’t.

    I’m also one of those, but if the American mainstream media says it, it must be that so many Americans are flattered by it. And they seem to delight in the fact that the rest of the free world can’t vote. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be any doubt as to who the next “leader of the free world” would be.
    Obama would get more than 75% of the votes of the rest of the free world.

  213. #215 Matt Penfold
    August 31, 2008

    First, if, during a period of unprecedented government intervention in health care markets, quite a few people don’t have health insurance (which is, of course, conceptually separate from health care), then that cannot be an indictment of health care under free markets

    The example I have been using is the UK. Pre second world war there was very little Government intervention in healthcare. The market still left millions either with inadequate healthcare, or reliant on the charity of others. At the time the UK was one of the richest countries in the world, so it was not simply a case of cost.

    You really do need to explain how people who cannot afford healthcare pay for it when there is no support from the state. I have asked you more than once now, and you keep failing to answer.

    And, of course, if all else fails, there are mutual aid societies, churches and other civil society programs available as well (and there were far more of these before government began paying for them instead). Mormons are crazy, of course, but their relief network is an excellent model on voluntary social insurance.

    Ah, yes. Make the poor ask for charities to help them. They tried that in pre-war Britain as well. It did not work. There is a still a difference in average life expectancy correlated to income, but it is far less since the NHS came into being than it was. Why would there be that improvement if the market was working so well ?

    Healthcare is a right. I am not willing to rely on charities to ensure everyone gets the access to healthcare they deserve.

  214. #216 Henry Harrison
    August 31, 2008

    For a reasonable take on what health care would look like in libertarian land, go here:

    http://www.willwilkinson.net/flybottle/2006/03/19/health-care-fantasia/

  215. #217 The Swede
    August 31, 2008

    #216

    Basically, that article states that people who are not qualified to operate in the medical field will step up and offer cheap health care.

    Excellent solution, that. Thanks, but no thanks. I’m VERY happy that I live in a country where I get health care when I get sick without having to pay through my nose for insurance. In the US, I paid a lot more for health insurance than my tax portion going to medical care is here, and I get more for my money here. Such a failure it is, state health care!

    So far the responses to how people without enough money to pay health care will afford it when they get sick sum up to; tough shit, increased minimum wages (however that will be enough), inferior medical institutions offering cheaper alternatives and charities. Yay libertarians! And they wonder why they’re a laughing stock.

  216. #218 Nick Gotts
    August 31, 2008

    One thing that’s clear from this thread, where the propertarians (calling themselves “libertarians”) are out in force, is that the different factions despise each other as much as they do everyone else. Could anyone announcing themselves as a “libertarian” in future please give us some idea what, if anything, you believe to be legitimate government activities – and whether the fact that a majority disagrees with you in a particular case makes a difference (e.g., in Europe most people support universal health care systems – is taxation to support these systems still “robbery”?)

    One of the “libertarians’” favourite pieces of claptrap is that you should be able to do what you want unless it’s violent/aggressive or fraudulent. The implication is that nothing that doesn’t fall under these headings can be harmful to other people. This is, of course, crap. Suppose in an agricultural river basin farmers upstream use all the water in a very dry year? They are not being violent to those downstream, or fraudulent – but they sure as hell are harming them. Suppose, as a curious scientist, I decide I want to see if I can produce a disease organism that would be rapidly spreading, 100% fatal to humans, and untreatable. I don’t intend to release it, so I’m not being violent, or fraudulent – so on libertarian principles, no-one should interfere. Suppose individuals and corporations in total are producing more greenhouse gases, or ozone-destroying chemicals, than the environment can cope with? None of them are (in that act) being violent or fraudulent, but if they carry on, we’re all stuffed. I could go on for some time, but I’ll focus on the ozone-destroying case, since that’s one where a solution has been found: an agreement (the Montreal Protocol 1989) negotiated by governments to coerce individuals and corporations to stop producing CFCs and other ozone-destroyers by threatening them with legal penalties if they don’t. OH NOES! TYRANNY! Now – and I’m particularly looking at you, John C. Randolph – are the laws brought in as a result of the Montreal Protocol tyrannical infringements on your freedom? After all, there’s a market for these chemicals. If you got your way, would the USA tear up the Montreal Protocol, and leave it to “the market” to decide whether the ozone layer is destroyed?

  217. #219 Nick Gotts
    August 31, 2008

    What could possibly be more selfish than taking what someone else earns to pursue your own goals? – John C. Randolph

    Leaving aside the equivocal meaning of “earns” (do you mean “deserves”, or “has managed to get”?), that depends what your goals are. If they are to help those in desperate need, and the person you’re taking from has plenty and to spare, it’s not selfish at all.

  218. #220 Henry Harrison
    August 31, 2008

    @218 I really don’t see anything wrong with government intervention in any of the areas you outlined.

    @217 You’re being disingenuous in your “summary” of Wilkinson’s health care fantasy. Let’s leave the false summaries to the Discovery Institute folks. For the rest, don’t take @217′s word for it. Go see for yourself. http://www.willwilkinson.net/flybottle/2006/03/19/health-care-fantasia/

  219. #221 ice9
    August 31, 2008

    Dialectics. puhh. It’s problematic for me–Twin Cities guy with children–that angry folks are publicly and proudly planning something involving caltrops and buckets of piss. Regardless of who they intend their attentions upon, that’s a problem your philosophy can’t handle, Horatio. That’s today’s problem, and I for one am glad we have cops, even overzealous ones, who are willing on short wages to take that chance. 99 years out of 100 a cop’s job is to make it possible for you to read your Bakunin (Bokonon?) late into the night over a cup of chamomile tea, and they routinely take risks you don’t even know about to do that job.
    Those protesters’ first amendment rights are tomorrow’s problem, and yesterday’s. When people condemn all cops, all judges, or all politicians, I know I’m listening to someone unqualified to any of those jobs. Claim credit when you decline the government’s largesse, or propose a way to solve today’s problem that doesn’t saddle the cops and teachers and hospitals with the people who are dragging yesterday’s problems around. Until then, keep studying, nerdwads.

    PS has anyone noticed that an overread Libertarian troll putsch is the perfect wedge strategy to disable and distract Pharyngulites? I believe these people are mercenary freelance eggheads hired and sent by AIG.

    ice

  220. #222 Nick Gotts
    August 31, 2008

    Will Wilkinson’s second sentence:
    Without recourse to any actual data, I believe that the state’s grant of monopoly privelege to certain official certifying agencies has a lot do do with the high cost of health care.” [my italics]

    Need one say more?

  221. #223 Matt Penfold
    August 31, 2008

    Henry,

    You do not seem to know what reasonable means.

    The author of that article is an idiot. One only has to read how he thinks the body is a just a bunch of separate parts that do not impact on each other.

    Sure you could go to Manny to get stitched up, but Manny only knows how to stitch. What if you cut your head ? Can Manny assess if you may be bleeding into your brain ? No, because Manny has not had the training for that. Thus people die, because no doctor will simply stitch a head would without assessing for brain injury. Any injury that cut your head has the potential to do other damage as well.

    Knee replacement surgery ? You knee has been playing up ? It could be you need a new knee. It could be you need to loose weight. It could be you have bone cancer. Someone needs to explore WHY there is knee pain. The knee replacement guy will not do that, he just replaces knees. How does the patient know they need a knee replacement ? They will know their knee hurts but they lack the skills to know why. The knee replacement person will just want to do a replacement, even if one is not required as that means he gets paid. Meanwhile the patient actually has bone cancer in the leg, and dies.

    What if the person who needs surgery also has other health complications, such as heart disease. How does the knee replacement person deal with that ?

    Most medicine is straightforward. When it is not doctors need that breadth of knowledge in order to decide how to proceed. The system suggested will do away with that.

    I have taken a look at your vision, and it will kill people.

  222. #224 The Swede
    August 31, 2008

    #220

    I’m curious how I am “disingenuous”, when the first and major thing criticized in the article is regulation of health care professionals, painted as an artificial monopoly situation.

    Maybe you and the article writer don’t care if the person setting your broken bones and prescribing your medication has shown that they are capable of doing these things without harming you, but I do.

    But I forget. Libertarians expect all individuals to become experts in everything so they can by themselves judge whether a doctor actually is qualified to take care of them.

  223. #225 Nick Gotts
    August 31, 2008

    Wilkinson is also plain dishonest – what a surprise:
    “It is “too important” to be “left to the market.” So important that we leave it to a system sure to fail instead.”

    So all those countries which have state run or supported health systems, and better outcomes at less cost than the USA – are imaginary. Actually, he may not be dishonest – just a bad case of OWHITUSAC syndrome, to which “libertarians” are particularly prone.

  224. #226 Matt Penfold
    August 31, 2008

    Maybe you and the article writer don’t care if the person setting your broken bones and prescribing your medication has shown that they are capable of doing these things without harming you, but I do.

    As importantly is looking at WHY the bone is broken. Is there an indication of an underlying condition that means the bones are more likely to get broken ? If so, what is the best treatment for that condition ? Broken bones often require more than just setting in plaster and leaving for a few weeks. Broken bones can damage nerves and blood vessels, so the person setting bones needs to know how to assess, and correct, those problems. Some broken bones, such as femur or pelvis, can easily kill people if not treated properly due to blood loss. How about telling if their actually is a fracture or not ? X-Rays can be hard to read, and even orthopods will consult radiologists if they have a doubt.

    There is a lot more to dealing with a broken bone than just putting a plaster cast on it but this libertarian vision of healthcare seems to ignore that.

  225. #227 Nick Gotts
    August 31, 2008

    I have taken a look at your vision, and it will kill people. – Matt Penfold

    Of course, but only poor people – the rich will go to proper doctors!

  226. #228 Matt Penfold
    August 31, 2008

    OWHITUSAC syndrome ?

    I am not familiar with that one.

  227. #229 SC
    August 31, 2008

    In Wilkinson’s defense:

    This isn’t my area, but I’ve given it some thoughts. They are not necessarily sane or feasible. But I think it is interesting to compare your inuition of what would work well in a better world with the menu of policies that actually get offered. So here’s my crazy (not Cato-approved!) plan.

    Posted by: ice9 | August 31, 2008 12:06 PM

    First they came for the anarchists…

  228. #230 SC
    August 31, 2008

    OWHITUSAC syndrome ?

    Only what happens in the USA counts.

  229. #231 Matt Penfold
    August 31, 2008

    OWHITUSAC syndrome ?

    Only what happens in the USA counts.

    Thank you.

    Yes, libertarians do tend suffer from that. In fact I would consider it a defining characteristic since even those libertarians who are not American look to the US for how things should be done.

  230. #232 Scott from Oregon
    August 31, 2008

    “”””I think in the case of libertarians it is because they have to be paid for, and why should they help the poor by paying taxes ? The poor are their to be ground under their heels, and left to die when they become sick. Helping them just allows them to breed more”. “””

    I am amused by the Poor argument.

    50 years of liberal welfare and the poor are still poor. Hmmm. Go figure.

    There should be no homeless and no poor, actually, because America is chockerblock full of well-meaning liberals with bleeding hearts that take them all in, put them on their insurance plans, and drive them to appointments to have their teeth fixed and their renal failings looked at…

    The grand “I care” proclamation of most liberals is an illusion. The truth is, YOU DON’T CARE. If half the country is liberalish, and five percent of thepopulation is destitute, then there are plenty of good libral folks out there to take care of all of the sick and the poor.

    Also, since half the country want UHC, then there are 150 million or so people who could easily pool their resources and have a “Liberal healthcare system” already in place. You pay into it, you get its service… Done.

    The fact that none of this happens tells me something about the underlying motivation of big government liberalism. It isn’t about what others need, it is about what a liberal wants for him/herself, FROM OTHERS.

    I just thought I’d point that out to all you well meaning folks with empty beds in your houses that could take in quite a few of the poor, educate their kids for them, all in between your Obama rallies where you proclaim that you can…

  231. #233 Caveat
    August 31, 2008

    What leads to a police state, in my humble opinion, is the abdication of more and more responsibility for one’s life to the government through laziness or complacency.

    When you have events such as 911 coupled with a corrupt government, you have the recipe for erosion of civil rights. The use of red herrings and deliberate fear-mongering heightens the public’s feeling of insecurity, causing it to focus on the trees, rather than the forest.

    By allowing the government to do ‘whatever it takes’ to protect them from terrorism/threats/attacks/drugs/’pit bulls’, etc, the public buys into the foundation of a police state. It then becomes fearful of exercising its remaining democractic rights because the watchdog has become an attack dog, cheered on by the slow-witted majority from the sidelines. Keep your head down and maybe they won’t notice you.

    It’s like biting your own ass, hard, to give the government that kind of power.

    It hasn’t much to do with politics but has a lot to do with irrational responses to propaganda campaigns by those with a vested interest in promoting social uncertainty.

    You have to be watchful, because democracy is not guaranteed forever, or even from generation to generation. You have to stand up for what’s right every bloody time, or the lazy, the corrupt and the evil will steal your freedom to suit their own ends.

  232. #234 GK4
    August 31, 2008

    Has anyone here looked at the warrant in Saturday’s house raid at 3240 17th Avenue South? How many of you have the dangerous items listed sitting in your house, or basement, or car right now? Ask yourself how easy it would be for YOU to be tied up in court for years — or put out of public participation for a few specific days — because of what’s there.

    Is it really probable cause that the possession of the listed property constitutes a crime? And if I’m reading the crossed-out sections correctly, it seems the police wanted to raid the house unannounced at night. At least that didn’t get approved.

    The police list what they took, including $670 and someone’s checkbook. How long will it be before the residents get this back?

    http://twincities.indymedia.org/2008/aug/tc-imc-exclusive-complete-search-warrant-minneapolis-raid-today

  233. #235 Nick Gotts
    August 31, 2008

    Scott from Oregon,
    You’re another OWHITUSAC sufferer. Have a look at countries with proper welfare systems – Scandinavia supplies the best examples. Poverty is at very low levels. Even in the UK, seeing a beggar on the street was a rarity until Thatcher got in and started dismantling the welfare state. Now they line the main street of any sizeable town.

  234. #236 scooter
    August 31, 2008

    Libertarianism and Atheism are very similar. They are denial mindsets.

    Libertarianism rejects the dogma of the political ideologies, as Atheism rejects the dogmas of sky fairy ideologies, but keep in mind that BOTH are man-made inventions.

    Neither Atheism nor Libertarianism are ideological by nature, as they both boil down to a simple statement “Everything you are saying is bullshit”.

    Libertarians and Atheists suffer from the maladies inherent in the mindset, which is lack of ideology by nature and it is difficult to build a political platform when the members agree that the idea of planks is flawed.

    When challenged by Carpenters, who ask, “If we have no planks, what shall we use instead?”, both the Atheist and Libertarian have the same answer.

    “How about nothing?”

    It is difficult to organize around a null set, and that’s why hucksters like Hitchens can rise to speak for Atheists, and Bob Barr can call himself the Libertarian Party Candidate.

    My conversations with libertarians always boil down to a timeline for dismantling the gov’t. If you start by eliminating all the fat, and dead end pork barreling with no return on investment, the only honest reply is to first dismantle the standing army, as recommended by George Washington and suggested by Dwight Eisenhower.

    Eliminate federal spending on all weapons programs, and immediately retire all military personnel with a decent GI Bill so they can make an honest living.

    Then repeal all drug laws, eliminate the FBI, which is nothing but a domestic political spying operations, and couldn’t catch a kidnapper if they were hiding in their own basement.

    and so on down the line.

    By the time we arrive at eliminating welfare programs, and health care, we will have so much money on hand, that liberals and libertarians can have an honest debate on whether these programs have a reasonable return on the collective investment.

    That’s why I like the Libertarian impulse, it can be seriously addressed, as opposed to the endless effluviance of flag waving Nationalist fucktard propaganda oozing from the two party septic tanks of American sheephood, which is stoopider and more dangerous than Presbyterians, Catholics or Muslims, whom we all gleefully lampoon, but they are just too easy.

  235. #237 The Swede
    August 31, 2008

    Libertarianism rejects the dogma of the political ideologies, as Atheism rejects the dogmas of sky fairy ideologies

    Not so. Libertarianism is a political ideology and dogmatic. Atheism is the absence of belief and of dogma. They have almost nothing in common. To say otherwise is to say that Islam is the same as atheism as it rejects Hinduism.

  236. #238 Scott from Oregon
    August 31, 2008

    “You’re another OWHITUSAC sufferer”.

    Actually, on a thread about the excesses of power by the US government, I would say I was trying to stay on topic…

    Why were there homeless in the UK if there were liberals there? Why were they not all cared for lovingly by the kind and concerned hands of heart wrenchingly concerned liberals?

    You say it’s Margaret Thatcher’s fault?

    I see…

  237. #239 Nick Gotts
    August 31, 2008

    Scott from Oregon@232,

    You assume that those wanting collective provision are simply suckers. Not so. What we want is a system of collective provision to which everyone contributes according to their ability. Your suggestion – which I realise is just a debating tactic, not intended as practical – would simply give an overwhelming advantage to the selfish. They would have the time and resources to grab more and more for themselves, as they have been doing for some decades.

  238. #240 Matt Penfold
    August 31, 2008

    You’re another OWHITUSAC sufferer. Have a look at countries with proper welfare systems – Scandinavia supplies the best examples. Poverty is at very low levels. Even in the UK, seeing a beggar on the street was a rarity until Thatcher got in and started dismantling the welfare state. Now they line the main street of any sizeable town.

    Of course there is another characteristic that differentiates those countries that have decent welfare systems from those that do not (*) and that is the differential between the richest and poorest in society.

    The US has one of the greatest differences, Sweden the least. Of course it is still possible to have more personal wealth in Sweden than you could ever spend in your lifetime so the difference does not seem to matter that much. The difference is that in Sweden if you happen to be poor and sick, or old, you will not have to decide whether food or heating is more important and go without the other.

    (*) The UK is somewhere between the US and Sweden. We have the largest gap between rich and poor in Western Europe, but it is nothing like that found in the US.

  239. #241 Scott from Oregon
    August 31, 2008

    “to which everyone contributes according to their ability.”

    I understand the impulse, because I fall on the liberal side of the libertarian thought process and get lost in the folds between the two.

    But there is always the flipside of WANTING, and that is in the process of TAKING.

    I dated a very special lady about ten years ago who died of a brain infarction of some kind, caused by hypertension caused by the IRS running roughshod over her on a dispute which lasted years and turned out to be entirely their mistake.

    I watch as the borderline poor become poor as the pric of bread doubles around here, because knuckleheads in Washington think they can control the economy with an unelected group called the fed.

    The libertarian impulse is a good one for the US at this time, because it is a necessary corrective impulse.

    American resources are being skimmed from Americans and sent overseas in all manners of deleterious schemes, none of which help those who you claim to wish to help.

    The US needs a shift in focus, and the libertarian direction seems most able to deal with the 9.6 trillion dollar debt that stands current…

  240. #242 Nick Gotts
    August 31, 2008

    Scott from Oregon@238,

    Actually, on a thread about the excesses of power by the US government, I would say I was trying to stay on topic

    When you claim, falsely, that welfare systems don’t help the poor, it is surely relevant to point ot cases where they clearly have done so.

    Why were there homeless in the UK if there were liberals there?
    See my #239.

    Actually there were relatively few homeless – although not none – pre-Thatcher, mostly because post-WWII the state (via local authorities – “council housing” as it is called) took responsibility to build housing which was rented cheaply to people who would otherwise have lived in slums – and indeed, did, in my childhood. Another decade or two of this would have ended homelessness in the UK. Thatcher stopped it, and sold off much of the council housing. So yes, it was indeed her fault.

  241. #243 scooter
    August 31, 2008

    The Libertarian Party has an ideology. But libertarians, as I know them, do not support the Libertarian Party, and do not have an ideology.

    If they do, please explain that political ideology so that a stoopid whiteBoy from Texas can understand it, and leave your idiotic attempt at polemics

    To say otherwise is to say that Islam is the same as atheism as it rejects Hinduism.

    in you man-bra

    That attempt at metaphor rivals biblical Parable fluff.

  242. #244 The Swede
    August 31, 2008

    #241

    How about putting someone who doesn’t unilaterally start frivolous, costly wars in the driver’s seat? Why does it have to be a libertarian, when they’re likely to make matters worse before they get better? Sure, not the debt, as they’d just disband the power structure, but the actual state of the nation. Look at other nations where the government is weakened, and see what happens there. Is that what you want the US to go through?

  243. #245 negentropyeater
    August 31, 2008

    Even in the UK, seeing a beggar on the street was a rarity until Thatcher got in and started dismantling the welfare state.

    I thank the FSM for the USA and the UK and this most abject form of ultra-capitalism. Now that our president Sarkozy wants to do the same thing in France, there is enough evidence of its damage to society and a majority of people to counter him.

  244. #246 Matt Penfold
    August 31, 2008

    Why were there homeless in the UK if there were liberals there? Why were they not all cared for lovingly by the kind and concerned hands of heart wrenchingly concerned liberals?

    You say it’s Margaret Thatcher’s fault?

    Maybe because Thatcher was in power, and decided to sell off much of the public housing and prevent the proceeds of such sales being used to build more housing

    How were the local authorities supposed to house people when they no longer had enough houses to do so and were denied funds to build more ? Simple answer, they could not. Which is why we ended up with families being housed in totally unsuitable accommodation, often involving local authorities paying huge rents to private landlords. Totally inefficient use of money but local authorities were denied the ability to borrow funds for new build but did have access to funding for “temporary” housing in bed and breakfast style hotels. A whole family living and sleeping one one room, having to cook using an electric heater tipped on its side. That was the reality of Thatcher’s Britain and I never want to see it again.

  245. #247 Nick Gotts
    August 31, 2008

    American resources are being skimmed from Americans – Scott from Oregon

    Certainly, but they are going to support the lifestyle and global power of other Americans, and their rich allies and puppets overseas. The USA has for years been importing vast amounts of goods which it can only pay for because its elite largely controls the world economy, and so has always been able to sell dollar bonds. In earlier times, a system which produced such an unbalanced flow of goods would have been called levying tribute. An ordinary American, neither particularly rich nor particularly poor, benefits materially from living in the heart of the empire as surely as an inhabitant of Rome did 2000 years ago.

  246. #248 Scott from Oregon
    August 31, 2008

    “How about putting someone who doesn’t unilaterally start frivolous, costly wars in the driver’s seat?”

    Ummm, GWB ran on No nation building in 2000. He changed, and dragged the Democrats with him, after 911.

    How does that go? Power corrupts… yadda yadda…

    Sweden has the power of less than a third of California. Think about that the next time you want to put all the power in one basket…

    Gotta go visit Mum in hospital. Bye y’all…

  247. #249 The Swede
    August 31, 2008

    #243

    I have yet to see a single libertarian disagree with that they hold to the ideology of a minimal (some even say nonexistent) government and laissez-faire capitalism being the best for the people. Does that fit your criteria?

    In addition there are plenty of other things which libertarians tend to hold to, but there is (luckily) little agreement between them about those. Still, a political ideology is an ideology, while lack of belief in higher powers is not a belief.

    Thus, libertarianism and atheism are not even remotely comparable. When you remove all political ideology, you do not end up with libertarianism – you end up with something akin to sociopathic nihilistic anarchy. But unlike higher powers, social structures are very real and have a very real effect on our lives. Therefore holding ideologies related to them are not like holding beliefs in higher powers.

  248. #250 Matt Penfold
    August 31, 2008

    Another contribution to homelessness in the UK came when Thatcher closed a large number of mental hospitals to be replaced by “care in the community”.

    In itself the idea is not a bad one, providing it is does with the intention of improving care. Thatcher did it with the intention of saving money and as result the savings made from closing the hospitals were not put into providing the care needed to support those who would otherwise have been hospitalised. Result ?: A significant number of mentally people put back into society with no support and little chance of successfully integrating back into society.

  249. #251 scooter
    August 31, 2008

    Nick

    Certainly, but they are going to support the lifestyle and global power of other Americans, and their rich allies and puppets overseas

    Right, but US militarism and the projection of private capital by force outside the borders does NOT, nor has it ever benefited the population of the US, it only benefits elites, less than 1%.

    Unless one buys into the idea that 50 dollar VCRs, and badly made Wal-Mart clothing prices increase the standard of living , at the cost of jobs.

    I doubt anyone on this list is that fucking stoopid, but we’ll find out.

  250. #252 The Swede
    August 31, 2008

    #248

    No idea what you mean by “power” here, nor what you expect me to “think about”. Do you mean number of poor and homeless people are a lot fewer in Sweden? Indeed, that is so. Fewer prison inmates per capita? Do you mean unemployment numbers? Deficit per capita? Absolute deficit? Murders per capita? I don’t really know what you’re going for. I would suspect Sweden has a much larger military at its disposal than California does, and does much more UN work.

    Frankly, I fail to see the point you’re making. Are you arguing that no matter who is president in the US they will do what they like, since they have much power?

  251. #253 Tabby Lavalamp
    August 31, 2008

    Is a liberal state more likely than a libertarian to become a police state? Sure.
    Is a libertarian state more likely to erupt into a bloody revolution as the poor, who will greatly outnumber the rich and middle class, rise up in anger? Probably. Unless they are too incapacitated thanks to the lack of environmental and workplace regulations.
    Of course, with so many (but not all) liberarians at the forefront of climate change denial, the good news for those with money in a libertarian state is that they can enjoy it all now without having to worry about providing for their children.

  252. #254 Sleeping at the Console
    August 31, 2008

    Oh great cosmos. I don’t understand why people keep telling us that UHC would never work. Especially puzzling is it when they say so to people who live in countries where it does work.

    It provides healthcare to everyone, rich and poor. Can an entirely privatised system do that? I’m not asking if it could possibly in some hypothetical utopia manage to do it, but in the real world. Has it worked so far?

  253. #255 Alan Chapman
    August 31, 2008

    Scott from Oregon: you make some very astute observations. Advocating welfare-statism is like praying. It lets people feel like they’re helping others without actually doing anything. As you rightly pointed out, everyone is free to help those less fortunate, but they simply want to enjoy the gratification of helping others without any of the inconvenience and financial burden it confers. Simply demand “free” health-care for all and look like you care. It’s self-aggrandizement. Furthermore, they seem to be wholly unconcerned that the inflationary monetary policy which finances all of these “free” government programs disproportionately hurts the poor they claim to want to help.

  254. #256 truth machine, OM
    August 31, 2008

    Advocating welfare-statism is like praying. It lets people feel like they’re helping others without actually doing anything.

    No more so than your gibbering. But in both cases, it’s actually possible to politically implement what is advocated, whereas there’s no implementation component corresponding to praying. So, like libertarians generally, you’re full of shit.

  255. #257 Matt Penfold
    August 31, 2008

    It provides healthcare to everyone, rich and poor. Can an entirely privatised system do that? I’m not asking if it could possibly in some hypothetical utopia manage to do it, but in the real world. Has it worked so far?

    Well we have two sample groups we can look to.

    The first is those countries that now have universal healthcare systems. We can compare health outcomes with income both before and after the introduction of UHC. If the market was working as well, or better, than UHC then we would see no decrease in comparative outcomes. That is to say there would not be change, or would be an increase, in how well the rich did compared with the poor.

    I am not aware of any data that shows worse health outcomes after the introduction of UNC.

    The other sample group is those countries that do not have UHC, but would be considered wealthy. The US is the prime example. Are the poor in the US better off under their healthcare system.

    Well the data says not. The US has worse health outcomes than a good number of countries with UHC.

    The data simply does not support the contention that leaving it to the market will result in everyone getting better healthcare.

  256. #258 Matt Penfold
    August 31, 2008

    Advocating welfare-statism is like praying. It lets people feel like they’re helping others without actually doing anything. As you rightly pointed out, everyone is free to help those less fortunate, but they simply want to enjoy the gratification of helping others without any of the inconvenience and financial burden it confers. Simply demand “free” health-care for all and look like you care. It’s self-aggrandizement. Furthermore, they seem to be wholly unconcerned that the inflationary monetary policy which finances all of these “free” government programs disproportionately hurts the poor they claim to want to help.

    Given the amount spent on healthcare in the US, which is more per capita than anywhere else can you explain why the US does so poorly in health outcomes ?

    State provision will not explain the difference as countries with better health outcomes than the US have far more stare provision.

    Why does state provision lead to better healthcare than the free market ? The data is clear, it does. So explain why.

  257. #259 scooter
    August 31, 2008

    Alan Chapman
    Scott from Oregon: you make some very astute observations. Advocating welfare-statism is like praying. It lets people feel like they’re helping others without actually doing anything.

    If you see above, you are agreeing with me about the US miltary services being welfare bums, finally somebody else does not support the troops on this list.

  258. #260 Tabby Lavalamp
    August 31, 2008

    Advocating welfare-statism is like praying. It lets people feel like they’re helping others without actually doing anything. As you rightly pointed out, everyone is free to help those less fortunate, but they simply want to enjoy the gratification of helping others without any of the inconvenience and financial burden it confers. Simply demand “free” health-care for all and look like you care. It’s self-aggrandizement. Furthermore, they seem to be wholly unconcerned that the inflationary monetary policy which finances all of these “free” government programs disproportionately hurts the poor they claim to want to help.

    Now I’m confused. Liberals want to help the poor without the financial burden it confers, you say. But then you talk about inflationary monetary policy. Isn’t that a financial burden? What about the taxes that libertarians loathe? I thought they feel those are a burden too.
    So you can see my confusion. Are taxes and inflation a burden or not?
    Personally, I’m fine with paying taxes. I’m Canadian, and they go toward our health care system and, prior to conservative governments provincially and federally making cuts to programs that helped the poor, aided the disadvantaged.

    Or my confusion just may be coming from you wanting to belittle liberalism without actually thinking about what you’re saying.

  259. #261 zaardvark
    August 31, 2008

    suspected protesters

    Anyone else amazed that those two words could be seen together, in this context? Suspected protesters. Ponder that.

  260. #262 Nick Gotts
    August 31, 2008

    As you rightly pointed out, everyone is free to help those less fortunate, but they simply want to enjoy the gratification of helping others without any of the inconvenience and financial burden it confers. – Alan Chapman

    The bare-faced lie at the heart of the “libertarian” case. I, like many advocates of proper welfare systems, pay considerably more in tax than I would pay under a minimal state system; and considerably more than I am on average likely to receive, on a lifetime basis. I’m quite prepared to do this, provided others also pay a fair share.

  261. #263 Sili
    August 31, 2008

    Land of the Free.

  262. #264 Quiet Desperation
    August 31, 2008

    Most libertarians I have known were young white males in their 20′s who sidestepped Scientology on their quest for “The Answer” and fell in love with Ayn Rand instead.

    Er… didn’t Ayn Rand hate Libertarians? Objectivism always struck me as Libertarianism on acid. Libertarianism has moderate forms. I’ve never seen a moderate Objectivist.

    How about Larry Elder? He’s a Black radio talk show host who is a Libertarian (of some sort).

  263. #265 Henry Harrison
    August 31, 2008

    @262 Why the caveat “provided others also pay their fair share”? Couldn’t you donate a hefty portion of your salary now? And if you do it, rather than the government, you can choose the recipient you think is most worthwhile (rather than having the government do it for you). Either way, your marginal contribution will be the same whether others pay or not. So, what’s stopping you from donating all but the bare necessities to others less fortunate?

    Isn’t every Xmas gift you buy for your relatives; every luxury you buy for yourself; every restaurant meal you consume a moral crime, since those resources could be spent on the less fortunate?

  264. #266 Quiet Desperation
    August 31, 2008

    Not so. Libertarianism is a political ideology and dogmatic. Atheism is the absence of belief and of dogma. They have almost nothing in common.

    I agree with The Swede here. I have come from a carefully non-ideological point of view for years now. It’s simply the acceptance that every problem has a unique solution, and the same problem, even in two adjacent neighborhoods, might require radically different solutions. It’s fine to pick and choose various tools and approaches from the myriad ideologies, but too many folks get stuck inside one toolbox.

    It’s like being in MATLAB type environmenty, and trying to do Chemistry problems with the Physics Toolbox. You might solve it, but not very efficiently and not nearly to enough significant digits.

    Maybe I need to come up with a catchy *-ism name. :-)

  265. #267 Nick Gotts
    August 31, 2008

    Henry Harrison@265,
    This claim of “Oh, you haven’t sold everything and given all to the poor, so you have no right to advocate progressive taxation” is fundamentally dishonest. I do make monthly charitable donations, but I’m a democratic socialist, not a saint – like everyone else, I act from mixed motives: self-interest, care for family and friends, and concern for the general good. The point of democratic socialism is to devise and implement institutions that mean no-one has to depend on individuals’ charity. If I were to live in poverty for the rest of my life while everyone else carried on as they are, it would make an infinitesimal difference to levels of poverty and suffering. Only institutionalised welfare systems have ever come near to abolishing poverty in any society; private charity never has: anyone who is willing to look at the evidence can see this.

  266. #268 Quiet Desperation
    August 31, 2008

    I’m quite prepared to do this, provided others also pay a fair share.

    I just want to see *ANY* politician recognize that there’s different cost of livings in the country. A “rich” salary in one area is not a “rich” salary in another. For example, here in Southern California, you can make $200K and definitely not feel rich. You won’t feel poor, but you’ll get a little upset at some vastly richer politician saying you need to pay even more. California is already #1 in six different tax areas.

    Most of us don’t mind paying our fair share, but we see news stories day after day after day about corruption, waste, fraud and endless millions simply disappearing who knows where. I almost never see anyone, in either the liberal or conservative camps, complain about this stuff beyond simple lip service.

    There isn’t the sense of a government of the people coming to collect a fair tax to help those who need it for whatever reason. It feels more like the largest organized crime entity ever created coming back to roll us for more protection money. You call a representative’s office to complain, and you get treated like shit by the staff.

    That what amazes me about the skeptical community on average. Where is the skepticism toward government?

  267. #269 scooter
    August 31, 2008

    Seems like Harrison is another limp biscuit Libertarian, capital ‘L’.

    There’s a stegosaurus in the garage, US militarism and Imperialism, which is where all the money goes, and he wants to talk about health care and banking systems.

    The most prominent libertarian, small ‘l’, homeboy Ron Paul pointed this out with stark clarity at the Circus, which is where he fused with ultra liberal Dennis Kucinich .

    In the clusterFuck of American politics, the libertarian vs liberal debate is the only arena of intelligent debate that I know of.

    Unfortunately, libertarians have been poorly represented on this list to date.

    Liberalism, in some form, is the way to go, but we need libertarians to keep them in check. All the sheep in between have been in charge too long.

    It’s a systemic disorder, we need a Constitutional Convention to fix it.

  268. #270 The Chemist
    August 31, 2008

    I’m glad to see the original point of this post, abuse of police power, was so sufficiently hijacked by ideologues to discuss the relative merits of libertarianism.

  269. #271 Kagehi
    August 31, 2008

    Let me point something out to you about private industry: when the management of a private organization is incompetent, it can go out of business (except when government interferes and bails them out, but that’s a separate problem.)

    Ok. Can’t let this one pass without comment. Let **me** point out to you that while there are *some* exceptions, for most businesses the prevailing perception of “competence” refers not to social justice/responsibility, true improvements of technology of the sort that the average consumer would consider reasonable, or with a vision of a better future, save ***in the context*** of if the company, its board, and those near its top, have the same or better *economic* success in the future. Many companies where, prior to government anti-trust, **successful** in the sense of their own perception, and even, to a fair extent, those not directly effected by them.

    There is no level of business in which 90% of the owners, operators, or boards of directors are not interested in their “own” good, even *more* disconnected from what the real effect of their actions are than government agencies, which are at least required to make “some” attempt to figure out what the hell their actions do to people, and totally focused on the insane idea that if “they” are well off, everything else in the world is doing just dandy.

    Put simply, unless the person running a private industry screws up really badly, they probably won’t get fired, and even if the *business* manages to lie, cheat, steal or kill people, there is no absolute certainty, even *with* regulation that they will cease to exist. The only certainty of that happening is if they screw up so badly that money stops coming it. SCO, last I looked, may have that happen to them, but they are still clinging by fingernails, despite the fact that they don’t even have a business any more, having lost in court all claims to ownership of *anything* they claimed they had to sell. Airborne on the other hand.. They where found to have lied about who created the product, lied about the existence of the lab that “tested” it, lied about its effectiveness, and lied about what anything in it did. They where fined a drop in the bucket and, “where allowed to sell off the remainder of their warehoused product”. Presumably this means they can just relabel their garbage and sell it without the lies on it. Which shouldn’t be a problem, since even Safeway, Walgreens and other places are now selling similar BS on their shelves, as generic alternatives to Airborne’s useless crap.

    Companies can lie, by omission, exaggeration, consumer ignorance, etc., as long as nothing ends up on paper, the customer has no clue they have been screwed, no one is *hurt* in a way that can be traced directly to their product, and **even with** regulations and government interference, if you can prove anything, there is no certainty, in the company lobbied government we have, that they won’t be slapped on the wrist, some CEO *maybe* fired, but the board remaining intact, their strategies changing only enough to pretend embarrassment, their company intact, and their perception of “social well being” still being, ***purely***, “We made more money this quarter than the last one.”

    If you can’t imagine why some of us think the, “Reduce regulation, whether its working or not, don’t hold companies more accountable, but less, and assume that they all think about and seek progress, when not even required to *pretend* to know what the effects of their actions are globally.”, view is a bit naive at best, if not completely insane in its more extreme examples.

    Companies often don’t know what their own customers are really thinking, beyond what they “sometimes” run polls or tests for, never mind what some guy that some place that was indirectly harmed by them is thinking, or what the company did to them. Government is supposed to figure that out, and when it works, it does. But, here is a clue… The nimrods getting into government are almost all business oriented people, who perceive the world in those terms, and this look at their committees as “boards of directors”, their leaders like CEOs, and they pet projects like company projects to get them the things “they” want. The irony is, your right, big government doesn’t work well. The problem is, you fail to grasp the fact that the reason it often doesn’t work is precisely why corporation, who don’t have to even pretend to care about anything outside their own companies, are **worse**.

  270. #272 SC
    August 31, 2008

    I’m glad to see the original point of this post, abuse of police power, was so sufficiently hijacked by ideologues to discuss the relative merits of libertarianism.

    It’s become all too common. (And you know what, “libertarians”? We want the name back. You stole it, it’s inaccurate in your case, and we want it back. You can take “propertarians,” as Nick Gotts suggested.)

    I just read, and appreciated, “Feminism vs. Me.” So you’ll do better next time. Don’t beat yourself up.

  271. #273 Henry Harrison
    August 31, 2008

    Eh, “propertarian” wouldn’t be so bad, but I prefer “classical liberal.” Tell you what: give us BACK “liberal,” and you can take “libertarian.”

  272. #274 SC
    August 31, 2008

    Tell you what: give us BACK “liberal,” and you can take “libertarian.”

    I’m an anarchist. “Libertarian” is ours – not yours to give. Y’all can fight amongst yourselves for “liberal.”

  273. #275 Bronze Dog
    August 31, 2008

    Oy. Came here to read more details about the police state, and get caught in yet another spat of people calling themselves “libertarians,” whatever that means this week.

  274. #276 SC
    August 31, 2008

    Oy. Came here to read more details about the police state, and get caught in yet another spat of people calling themselves “libertarians,” whatever that means this week.

    Well, why don’t you read the entire thread? I and several others linked to sources above.

  275. #277 Scott from Oregon
    August 31, 2008

    “Given the amount spent on healthcare in the US, which is more per capita than anywhere else can you explain why the US does so poorly in health outcomes ?”

    And I thought this group were all scientist?

    Even I can answer this one, and I be merely a woodwhacker…

    Americans are sedentary, bad food eating obese people.

    Of course they aren’t healthy and spend more trying to be so. It ain’t the system, it’s the participants, silly.

    “There’s a stegosaurus in the garage, US militarism and Imperialism, which is where all the money goes, and he wants to talk about health care and banking systems.”

    It’s all related. I won’t advocate for a national health care because the national government thinks of itself as the world’s moral traffic cop. Giving it more money just means more power. Power to cause more mischief and protect more corporations using taxpayer money.

    Smaller, state run systems are the way to go. Fifty different systems will jostle around and produce some pretty nifty solutions to the problems. Allowing these systems to compete with private medicine will fuel the RandD that comes out of the US (and the UHC systems all benefit from without even much of a hat tip to capitalism fueling medical progress)…

    Everyone is talking about “the fed” now which is good. A reexamination of the value and usefulness of the fed (weighed against its plainly visible mistakes)is apropos these days considering the financial and economic position Americans are now in…

    And yes, the US populace needs to constrict the flow of capital to Washington, so Washington will stop trying to be the world’s overlord.

    One “decider” per history of the US, please… No mas! No mas!

  276. #278 David Marjanovi?, OM
    August 31, 2008

    This disgusting display of power is the other side of the “big government” coin. The abuse of power is the very reason we libertarians don’t want to cede power to government in the first place (or, at least, more power than is necessary to protect negative rights). Is it any surprise that, when you turn over to government the right to make decision after decision for everyone, the petty tyrants will abuse that power in the name of the public good, public safety, security, etc.?

    For someone as committed to evidence as you are generally, you are sadly quick to bury your head in the sand when it comes to the potential for abuse by government. The belief that government will not abuse its powers is as naive as the belief in a sacred cracker. Faith in government is as irrational as faith in God; it’s political creationism.

    Then why doesn’t such shit constantly happen in Europe (Belarus and Russia obviously excluded)? And why doesn’t the kind of shit described in comment 60 ever happen over here?

    In short, if what you’re doing is peaceful, it should be legal.

    So forming a cartel, and getting a monopoly or near-monopoly that way, should be legal?

    Couldn’t it be that your views are the product of rational reflection and thought, and so are mine, and that we simply disagree?

    Scientists have a problem with that. You see, when there are n hypotheses on something, this means that at least n – 1 of them are wrong.

    It is entirely possible that two people form two different hypotheses that they both base on rational reflection and thought, but this requires that they don’t start from the same data. In other words, at least one of them is making an argument from ignorance.

    If you think we’re still living in a republic, then you don’t have a leg to stand on when you accuse anyone else of ignorance of history.

    Well, it isn’t a monarchy, so, by definition, it is a republic.

    If you actually mean (as Strakh does, and says) it’s no longer a democracy (but rather an oiligarchy or MORONARCHY), you do have a point — except you are the one who refuses to take into account how incredibly easy it is to steal an American election!

    Any businessman knows that Henry Ford was right, we all benefit when we all prosper. I want to see poor people working and improving their lives just like my family did in the generations before me. You lefties pretend to care about the poor, but you consistently push them into dependency and hopelessness.

    You act as if well-paying jobs grew on fucking trees.

    And this in America, the Land of the Working Poor, the country where people can have two or even three jobs and STILL be poor because the minimum wage is so ridiculously low!

    What have you smoked, and can I get it legally in the Netherlands?

    Easy: the beneficial role that government serves in the market is adjudication of disputes, enforcement of contracts, and deterrence and punishment of theft and fraud.

    You forgot keeping competition alive by preventing the formation of monopolies. Capitalism must be constantly protected from itself in order not to commit instant suicide — competition is selected against! The biggest force for capitalism in the world today is the Competition Commissioner of the EU.

    Because the latter danger is real! Fucking moron.

    I agree, and I bet many of us will still pay for it, from our pocket, if the government didn’t make us! because of our values–that made us care about their plight in the first place.

    Wait, I guess I am saying the free market will take care of it, with the intercession of a bit of humanitarianism.

    I prefer to think of healthcare as a human right rather than something that depends on mercy. Think of the implications.

    If you don’t like human rights (ZOMG entitlement!!!1! Oh noes!), then think of it as an investment instead. People who are sick can’t work for your company.

    And besides, relying on charity has never worked before. There have never been enough people who gave enough. Comment 211 bears repeating.

    Couldn’t it be the very interventions that drive up the cost of health insurance, thereby pricing marginal consumers out of the market?

    What utter bullshit. Health insurance companies are, I repeat, companies that want to make money. They are for-profit. Insuring sick, old, or poor people is not conducive to that goal, so such companies will try to avoid it the best they can. And that’s what we see in the USA. Over here, health insurance is not for profit. I think you’ll understand why I think that’s a good thing.

    Obama would get more than 75% of the votes of the rest of the free world.

    What, only?

    e.g., in Europe most people support universal health care systems – is taxation to support these systems still “robbery”?

    I’m under the impression that, because almost all libertarians are estadounidenses, they believe taxation is robbery, period, because, after all, all taxes go to King George III across the ocean. Am I wrong about that?

    50 years of liberal welfare and the poor are still poor. Hmmm. Go figure.

    Yeah, indeed. Why are there still so many of them in the USA, when that’s not the case in western Europe? And why are there so many fewer of them in the USA than 50 years ago?

    I watch as the borderline poor become poor as the pric of bread doubles around here, because knuckleheads in Washington think they can control the economy with an unelected group called the fed.

    Food is becoming more expensive all over the world currently. Must have to do with the price of oil. Just because you can only see it in the USA doesn’t mean it’s only happening there!

    BTW, it’s really ironic (as well as mind-boggling) that the Federal Reserve is a private corporation.

    It provides healthcare to everyone, rich and poor. Can an entirely privatised system do that?

    Of course it could. It just wouldn’t make money in the process. Therefore it would never do that.

  277. #279 David Marjanovi?, OM
    August 31, 2008

    Only institutionalised welfare systems have ever come near to abolishing poverty in any society; private charity never has: anyone who is willing to look at the evidence can see this.

    China tried to achieve equality by abolishing the bourgeoisie. Sweden tried to achieve equality by abolishing the proletariat. Compare and discuss.

    And I thought this group were all scientist?

    Even I can answer this one, and I be merely a woodwhacker…

    Americans are sedentary, bad food eating obese people.

    Of course they aren’t healthy and spend more trying to be so. It ain’t the system, it’s the participants, silly.

    Show me that this effect is as big as you imply. With numbers. You have fallen among the scientists — you can’t simply assert stuff without quantifying it.

  278. #280 Scott from Oregon
    August 31, 2008

    “Show me that this effect is as big as you imply. With numbers. You have fallen among the scientists — you can’t simply assert stuff without quantifying it.”

    Nahhh. Not until the position I refuted (that the US spends on health and doesn’t have it because of the system) is quantified with numbers.

    I can just tell you from opening my eyes that the US population is unhealthy as a group, and no amount of medical intervention will eradicate these health issues, skewing the numbers used to disavow the system of health the US uses.

  279. #281 SC
    August 31, 2008

    There is no level of business in which 90% of the owners, operators, or boards of directors are not interested in their “own” good, even *more* disconnected from what the real effect of their actions are than government agencies, which are at least required to make “some” attempt to figure out what the hell their actions do to people, and totally focused on the insane idea that if “they” are well off, everything else in the world is doing just dandy.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pin8fbdGV9Y

    Health insurance companies are, I repeat, companies that want to make money. They are for-profit.

    Yeah. Several years ago, I interviewed HMO employees. I also lived near these company executives for years. Everything you can imagine, and worse.

    I watch as the borderline poor become poor as the pric of bread doubles around here,

    See Mike Davis’ Late Victorian Holocausts. Google “Vandana Shiva.”

  280. #282 Quiet Desperation
    August 31, 2008

    Smaller, state run systems are the way to go. Fifty different systems will jostle around and produce some pretty nifty solutions to the problems.

    I’m gonna take a shot here and guess you don’t live in California. :)

    I wouldn’t trust the current California state legislature to run a game of SimCity.

  281. #283 Quiet Desperation
    August 31, 2008

    And, yes, that was a joke about being from California, but being in Oregon you must get some news.

    You could put the California state legislature in a solid brick building with nothing but child safe scissors, nontoxic paste and construction paper, and within the hour they will have poisoned themselves, accidentally slit their own throats, burned down the building and gone through eight billion dollars in expenses.

  282. #284 Scott from Oregon
    August 31, 2008

    “I’m gonna take a shot here and guess you don’t live in California. :)

    I wouldn’t trust the current California state legislature to run a game of SimCity”.

    “current” is the keyword. What I discovered along the way, is that national politics gets so much attention people stop paying that close attention to who gets elected at home. You end up with bad state governments becaue people stop paying attention, knowing that most things “important” are now federally controlled.

    I wrote this about Sacramento politics not too long ago–

    “What Do Ron Jeremy And Ron Paul Have In Common?

    http://www.nolanchart.com/article363.html

  283. #285 negentropyeater
    August 31, 2008

    Why does state provision lead to better healthcare than the free market ? The data is clear, it does.

    Well, it’s simple really : American tend to want to be reassured that they’re always the best in everything they do ? Well, in health care, they’re clearly not. They’re number 37 and spend double the amount per capita than the number 1, France.
    France has one of the highest % of spending that is done through government and paid for by taxes (>85%) with UHC for everyone. USA one of the lowest.

    That means basically that everyone in France is given a mimimum level of healthcare services (medical, hospital, and dental) which is higher than what most Americans get when they pay a very expensive private insurance. That’s the basic, regardless of income. With additonal mutual fund contributions for those who can afford it you can get a deluxe coverage that would cost at least 3 times as much in the USA to get the equivallent level of service for an average middle class American. Now the top few % richest end up paying as much as their American counterparts, but that’s not the problem. Still, on average, we spend half as much. And that amount includes the deficit.

    Now don’t tell me that the US government can’t manage this more efficently than free markets, if they really wanted to think about it and do it. And don’t tell me that the French have a huge deficit for it’s UHC medical services within the social security. That’s true but that cost/capita comparison includes that deficit. And please don’t tell me that the American government should give any lessons about managing deficit. The American govt. defict/capita is far higher than the french one. Then it’s just a question of priorites.

    And I can tell you that if in the future Americans have the ambition to be #1, and require spending to be more and more efficent it’s not going to happen by staying the way they are now.

    So not only govt managed UHC can provide to all a very required baseline high level warranty, but also it can do it more efficiently, at much lesser cost to all, and still provide the option of deluxe coverage for those who can afford it.

    Now some of them might not care, and be selfless careless pigs who consider that as long as they’ve got the money and are well treated, this all doesn’t matter to them, but that’s another question alltogether.

  284. #286 Matt H
    August 31, 2008

    I think that the response that a political theory suggests to a given social problem provides a good look at the implications of that theory.

    A liberal sees a problem (infectious diseases, for example) and puts together a program, funded by the gov’t, to address it in a not-for-profit fashion with the goal of establishing herd immunity paramount.

    A libertarian – or the neoconservatives whose values they share – sees the same situation and sees an opportunity for profit – they can supply a solution and if people buy it, great; if not, ‘the market doesn’t want it.’ The profit is more important than actually achieving the goal of (for example) herd immunity.

    One of these two leads to a diminution of infectious diseases; the other, to more virulent strains and a much greater probability of population collapse. One has as its goal actually doing a task not necessarily related to making money; the other sees the task as incidental to making money, and sees any unfortunate side effects (virulent strains, lack of herd immunity, et cetera) as outside the scope of their profit motive.

    That’s why I’m not and never will be a libertarian. I believe that we need to address problems directly, not use problems as a pretext for profitable activity.

    My two cents.

  285. #287 Henry Harrison
    August 31, 2008

    Why would an insurance company write a policy for someone who is sick or old? Would a car insurance company write a policy for a car that’s already wrecked? Would flood insurance write a policy after the water starts rising? Fire insurance after the match is lit? Lamenting that insurance companies don’t write policies for the already sick or dying reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of insurance markets.

  286. #288 Henry Harrison
    August 31, 2008

    @286. Ok. “libertarians – or neoconservatives whose values they share …”

    What in all hell are you TALKING ABOUT? Either you are completely ignorant of what neoconservatism is, or you’re completely ignorant of what libertarianism is, or both.

    And you have to be really, really dense to think we value profit for profit’s sake. Rather, we think profits are a useful tool for coordinating lots of different people’s distributed knowledge, and for providing incentives for making things that make people’s lives better. After all, without the help of government, you can’t make a profit without serving someone else’s interests before your own.

  287. #289 The Swede
    September 1, 2008

    Lamenting that insurance companies don’t write policies for the already sick or dying reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of insurance markets. [...] And you have to be really, really dense to think we value profit for profit’s sake.

    Dense. Really now.

  288. #290 Thursday
    September 1, 2008

    Why would an insurance company write a policy for someone who is sick or old? Would a car insurance company write a policy for a car that’s already wrecked? Would flood insurance write a policy after the water starts rising? Fire insurance after the match is lit?

    Humans, like all animals, can heal. They need to stop getting worse before thy can do so. Medical coverage can do this. Universal medical coverage benefits most those who use it as a preventative, ie. come in for regular check-ups. This benefits everyone else by detecting outbreaks of disease, noting illnesses earlier at more preventable stages, correcting poor choices the patient may be making (not knowing they are allergic to something, for instance) etc.

    Pretty simple stuff, really.

  289. #291 darek
    September 1, 2008

    Wow. Anyone can now use this thread of comments as evidence from now on that the libertarian position is really flawed.

    At least that much is vilified looking through all these posts and participating, even if only to be ignored selectively.

  290. #292 Kagehi
    September 1, 2008

    The problem is that what you get when you use profit as the prime mover is a lot of people trying to find the least they can spend, to get the result. This produces crap products (like the XBox 360 I am sending in for repair from one of the two most common *known* “design flaw” issues, a cheap GPU), crap medical care, crap environmental solutions, etc. Its the sort of thinking that gets you something that costs $100 less, not because they made huge leaps in the technology, but because they concluded they couldn’t sell enough of product X at $100 more, so cut out features g, p, q, t, and z, used less stable parts and then just hoped that the number they had to fix/repair in the time frame wasn’t more than the profit margin.

    Mind, its also the sort of thinking that gets together 50 people to make a $200 clean water system for some third world country, which works at 99.999% efficiency, until a 10 cent part fails, which can only be bought 1,000 miles away, where it costs $50, because its so obscure they don’t keep them in stock and have to ship it special, in about a week.. As apposed to someone who thinks finding the “right” solution makes more damn sense, builds a product that only works at 90% efficiency, but you can run the water through twice to be 98.9% efficiency, and uses a part that the local tribe’s carpenter can make in five minutes with a knife. ((The precise details of this are maybe exaggerated, but the result is as stated. One women and her college students produced a pump that was easily repaired, used local materials and was “good enough”, where 50 people trying to find a “for profit, but not so much we bankrupt the poor people we sell them to” solution managed to produce something that became unrepairable, completely useless, and they never bothered to come back to fix, within 6 months of installation.

    I don’t agree with the idea that liberals are never greedy, or that the committees they come up with can’t screw up just as bad. But, I do agree that looking at the solutions to some problems from the perspective of business sense will give you poor solutions, predicated of assumptions that are not valid (such as ease of replacement/repair) and where the final result isn’t what was intended. Take the $100 laptop as an example. Bad execution in terms of the OS on it, since the people doing the project where not so great at that, but instead of finding someone that *was*, they brought in people with a “libertarian” mind set. It now costs almost as much as an EEE PC, isn’t providing *any* of the things it promised, and some idiot thought the solution to this was to take an OS that can run, with a bit of a stretch, on a 486 (Linux), and replace it with a version of MS Windows that is so stripped down it barely works at all, even if it had gigs of extra memory and HD space that the $100 laptop doesn’t come with, and which hasn’t been “capable” of running on those low resources since Win 95, and that ran about as well as molasses in winter.

    Other examples are myriad and glaring. The moment someone starts thinking about, “How much money can we make while helping society?”, as their “main” point of focus, you can screw any prospect of it actually producing the result intended, regardless of the apparent competence of those involved otherwise (and it only gets worse if the people that start the project had a bit of questionable competence or flawed ideas to start with).

  291. #293 ReverendRob
    September 1, 2008

    Anyway, To be on topic:

    The same tactics they’re using in St. Paul were used here in Philadelphia when we hosted the RNC in 2000. It definitely crosses party lines, as it was coordinated by our Democrat DA, Lynne Abraham, who almost spoke with glee as she would describe the efforts. We also still had now-Miami police commissioner John Timmoney, who learned at the feet of Rudy Giuliani’s commish, Bernie Kerik. Doesn’t matter what party you’re in: Once you’re in power, you’ll find ways of getting those who dissent.

  292. #294 Herny Harrison
    September 1, 2008

    @292 I love my Xbox 360. I’ve never had a problem with it. But other things I’ve owned have broken. I took them back to the store (which gladly accepted them; I wonder why they weren’t just out to SCREW me), and I won’t buy those products again. That’s what happens when you consistently put bad products on the market. Eventually that business goes under (which is the prime value of profits: they act as signals for producers), and new market participants will satisfy the most urgent needs of consumers instead. Admittedly, one problem of markets is the lag between the time when a product is known to be defective, and the time when competitors can alternatively satisfy consumers. However, it’s not a problem unique to markets, and – other than minimum safety requirements – government can’t do much good there. Torts is about the only mechanism for punishing shoddy products (well, that and “voting with one’s dollar”).

    If it were the case that markets were simplya “race to the bottom,” we wouldn’t have all the cool stuff we have now. Why are there blu-ray players and plasma TV’s and Mac laptops and high speed Internet and iPods and iPhones and all the things that make our lives significantly more comfortable, if all of these people were just out to make a quick buck by exploiting the ignorance of the consumer? It just doesn’t add up. There will always be hucksters, but they aren’t the ones who get rich in the market.

    Again: the only way to get rich and stay rich is to satisfy the most urgent needs of consumers in the cheapest possible way. And isn’t that exactly what we want in a system “designed” to allocate scarce resources?

    (I put quotes around “designed” because no one designed markets; they are simply the spontaneous outcome of the interaction of millions of people, none of whom intend the final outcome. Or, as others have put it, markets are “the result of human action but not of human design.” In that sense, there is a strong parallel between markets and natural selection, incidentally).

  293. #295 SC
    September 1, 2008

    Henry Harrison,

    Your stupidest post yet, and that’s saying something. Bunch of throw-pillow propositions stuffed with fail.

    (I put quotes around “designed” because no one designed markets; they are simply the spontaneous outcome of the interaction of millions of people, none of whom intend the final outcome. Or, as others have put it, markets are “the result of human action but not of human design.” In that sense, there is a strong parallel between markets and natural selection, incidentally).

    Tell it to Karl Polanyi.* Tell it to Mike Davis (work cited above). Your “free” markets have been created through the organized theft of land and resources from communities that has gone on for centuries. “Labor markets” and those for key social resources have been made and maintained through extraordinary violence on the part of businesses and states. The modern corporation was created, and its legal obligations defined, by the government (film cited above). You can read how spontaneous the emergence of “free markets” around the world has been in recent years in Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

    *Link to any supposed rebuttals you wish. People can read for themselves and make up their own minds.

    And yeah, iPhones are among the most urgent needs of “consumers.” Unlike, say, nutritious food, clean water and air, health care,…

  294. #296 The Swede
    September 1, 2008

    Again: the only way to get rich and stay rich is to satisfy the most urgent needs of consumers in the cheapest possible way. And isn’t that exactly what we want in a system “designed” to allocate scarce resources?

    No. It’s not. What we want is a system which rewards long term thinking and sustainability, not satisfaction of “urgent needs”.

    And indeed, such a system needs to be designed. It will not spontaneously appear if short term thinking is rewarded.

  295. #297 SC
    September 1, 2008

    By the way, here’s a talk by Naomi Klein about her book:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ka3Pb_StJn4

  296. #298 Matt Penfold
    September 1, 2008

    Americans are sedentary, bad food eating obese people.

    Of course they aren’t healthy and spend more trying to be so. It ain’t the system, it’s the participants, silly.

    This is just evidence of how broken healthcare is in the US.

    Part of healthcare is preventing poor health in first place. Is is true obesity and inactivity are factors that negatively effect the health of populations. Which is why in UHC systems efforts are made to reduce obesity levels, and encourage people to take exercise. Yes, the populations of countries like France and Sweden are heathier than that of the US, but that is becuase it is public policy to ensure that they are, and funds are provided to do just that.

    This is all just a long winded way of saying that issues such as increasing obesity are a symptoms of a failing healthcare system.

  297. #299 SC
    September 1, 2008

    Americans are…bad food eating obese people.

    Thanks, agribusiness and fast-food corporations!

  298. #300 Henry Harrison
    September 1, 2008

    @295. First, Naomi Klein. Even the left has realized how worthless the “Shock Doctrine” is: http://www.tnr.com/story_print.html?id=69067f1c-d089-474b-a8a0-945d1deb420b

    But a better “rebuttal” (a better word would be “thrashing”) is here: http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=9384

    That ought to be enough to dispose of Ms. Klein (who argues that Milton Friedman pushed the Iraq War to help spread free markets; Friedman, however (like nearly all libertarians), opposed the war).

    Now, there’s no question that the state has mucked things up with respect to land and resources. Unfortunately (and this is a BIG “unfortunately”) these are all “sunk costs.” We just can’t plausibly go back. I wouldn’t be opposed to some system of reparations if a reasonably just system could be worked out, but there’s simply no way to untangle everything at this point. That’s just how it is, just or unjust.

    The only relevant question – given sunk costs – is what’s the best way forward. I’m on the fence about whether to support the corporate business entity; I could be swayed against it if I saw evidence that even the entity itself amounted to a rent-extraction at the expense of consumers. On the whole I think limited liability is probably a net benefit for production (and, by extension, consumption and wealth) but, if I saw the right evidence, I could definitely be swayed on that point (and, really, any other point if the right evidence was there).

    Of course, I never said iPhones were the “most urgent need” of consumers. You see, consumers rank their preferences, and satisfy the most urgent among them first. But many of us can afford food, water, and the rest and still have money left over for other things. At some point on the rank-order, iPhones appear (for some, like me, they’ll rank higher than for others, like my mother). For those who buy them, then – by definition – the phones represent the “most urgent need” relative to all the things that could have been purchased, but weren’t.

    This really isn’t too hard. Instead of watching Naomi Klein videos, go check out a Microeconomics text; it’s all in there, I swear.

  299. #301 Henry Harrison
    September 1, 2008

    For more on the parallels between spontaneous order in the social realm, and natural selection, go here: http://cafehayek.typepad.com/hayek/2004/12/more_on_bluesta.html

  300. #302 SC
    September 1, 2008

    An article from the New Republic represents “the Left”? That’s a laugh.

    That ought to be enough to dispose of Ms. Klein

    Yeah, sure.

    (who argues that Milton Friedman pushed the Iraq War to help spread free markets; Friedman, however (like nearly all libertarians), opposed the war).

    Not that such an error would be devastating to her argument, but I’m not finding it.

    Now, there’s no question that the state [at the behest of capital] has mucked things up with respect to land and resources [read: stolen and sold them off, or aided capitalist theft].

    My point was that this history of violence, theft, and coercion is the history of “free markets.” Your claim of spontaneity was ludicrous.

    Unfortunately (and this is a BIG “unfortunately”) these are all “sunk costs.” We just can’t plausibly go back.

    Says you. People around the world are reclaiming their resources and power. What’s stopping them are capitalist goons. As I said well above on this thread, if you’re really against state power then you should be against using it to suppress strikes and insurrections, to install authoritarian governments,… You say “unfortunately,” but it isn’t unfortunate for market fundamentalists at all. In fact, it’s the whole basis of your social-engineering projects.

    You see, consumers rank their preferences, and satisfy the most urgent among them first. But many of us [the beneficiaries of empire, and the number is shrinking due to neoliberal policies] can afford food, water, and the rest and still have money left over for other things.

    At some point on the rank-order, iPhones appear (for some, like me, they’ll rank higher than for others, like my mother). For those who buy them, then – by definition – the phones represent the “most urgent need” relative to all the things that could have been purchased, but weren’t.

    Aren’t you the fool who doesn’t have health insurance because you think you have better things to spend your money on? Ever hear of created wants? Here’s a hint: the things I listed aren’t among them. Your point has been that a “libertarian” system would satisfy basic human needs. You’ve done nothing to show anyone that that is the case. Indeed, your posts about health care were a joke.

    And now I must get back to preparing my syllabus. I’ve had with you and the other “libertarian” ideologues anyway. You never have any concrete point to make about the topic of the thread; you just want to spout your empty rhetoric. Why don’t you go infest some other blog?

  301. #303 Henry Harrison
    September 1, 2008

    “If you’re really against state power then you should be against using it to suppress strikes and insurrections, to install authoritarian governments …”

    Well, in fact I AM against using the state for those things. I’m also against using state power for pro-union purposes as well (e.g., minimum wage laws).

  302. #304 Henry Harrison
    September 1, 2008

    If I’d paid for health insurance for the last 5 years, I’d have lost thousands of dollars for zero benefit, because I’m young, healthy, and I don’t ever need the doctor. I pay for the dentist out of pocket, and all in all I think I’m much better off than I would have been paying insurance premiums for 5 years. Sure, I could have been seriously injured somehow, or come down with a catastrophic illness, but I liked my odds and it’s paid off so far. As I grow older, and I start a family, that cost-benefit analysis will undoubtedly change and I’ll reduce my consumption in some areas so I can make room for health insurance, life insurance, etc. Do you always call people “fools” if their consumption patterns don’t match yours?

    I do absolutely believe that markets will and can satisfy basic human needs. Look at the correlation between robust markets, several property, and trade with economic prosperity. Look at North vs. South Korea; East vs. West Germany; the “Asian Tigers” vs. Sub-Saharan Africa; the U.S. vs. the USSR. The evidence is overwhelming: the freer the economy, the more prosperous the people.

    Of course, there will always be some who can’t take care of themselves or who, after losing a job, need some extra help. I have no problem using the government to provide minimum incomes (not a minimum hourly wage), or provide a negative income tax or some other social safety net that doesn’t interfere with the market’s allocative functions.

    Incidentally, my original point was simply, like Acton said, “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The more power we give government (over health care, education, what we can or can’t do with our bodies), the more we can expect them to a) abuse the power they have, and b) use that power to get even more. Doing so makes it more likely that we’ll have incidents like this one in MN (even though there is no strict causal connection between them).

    I’m not even sure why that last point is controversial.

    Incidentally, let me say: to the degree that any business uses the power of the state to further its own interests (beyond those that are consistent with everyone’s interests, e.g., protection of basic property rights, enforcement of K’s)), then that isn’t free market capitalism. That’s some kind of neo-mercantilist, crony capitalism that zero – zero – libertarians support.

  303. #305 The Swede
    September 1, 2008

    Incidentally, my counterpoint is simply, like Acton said, “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The more power we give corporations (over health care, education, what we can or can’t do with our bodies), because this is what happens when they start aquiring cartels and monopolies, the more we can expect them to a) abuse the power they have, and b) use that power to get even more.

    What is it that makes unaccountable corporations inherently better than accountable governments? Because that is what your point boils down to, and to me that seems insane.

  304. #306 Henry Harrison
    September 1, 2008

    When’s the last time Wal-Mart raided your house, Swede? When’s the last time Best Buy handcuffed you and put you in a cage?

    Corporations are always accountable: to consumers. Unless they make what we want, and make it more cheaply than the next guy, they lose. Consumers can “exit” easily, by choosing a different vendor. Governments, on the other hand, are never accountable, because the cost of exit is so high.

    If Target raises its prices, you go to Wal-Mart. If the government raises your taxes, what do you do?

  305. #307 The Swede
    September 1, 2008

    Noone has raided my house, handcuffed me or put me in a cage, because I and my fellow citizens have worked hard to get a government which does not do these things without plenty of supporting evidence of wrongdoing.

    Corporations are only accountable to consumers when there is a choice. The only reason there is a choice is government interference with cartels and monopolies. Thus, governments are the reason corporations are accountable.

    If the government raises my taxes and I do not like the service increase I get, I vote them out of office. If a monopolizing company raises its prices, what do you do? Answer; you ask the government for help, because you can’t do anything.

    Seriously, I don’t believe the garbage I’m reading here. “Governments are never accountable”, that’s the worst crock of shit I heard in years. Your arguments are such an utter failure it’s pathetic.

  306. #309 Kagehi
    September 1, 2008

    Henry, I never said that it was a race to the bottom. What it is though is a race to the “good enough”. Why build a car that can last for 20 years if you will be out of business in 5, because no one **need** to buy more cars from you? Why spend 3 years making an i-whatever that is 99% bugless, doesn’t lock up randomly, and works, if the *risk* of doing so is that someone else will come out with one that is 80% bugless, does everything yours does, costs less and only locks up randomly in 5% of the units shipped? Better to put out what is an “improvement” over the prior technology, but which is, at the same time, crap compared to what you *could have made*. The only products sold today that are the “best possible” tend to be those that **must** be stable to work at all, are specially tested, and cost 90% of the entire price of what ever you buy them in. The rest, is “just good enough”. Problem is, sometimes, especially in the case of medical, safety, environmental protection, and a myriad of other application, “good enough” is almost 100% of the time, ****never**** what is needed to get the job done, and having people who think in the terms that businesses do when selling merchandise that is intentionally released early, with intentional known problems, and at an intentionally reduced price that doing so gives them, is “not” a sane or rational way to handle things that require the **best** results, instead of simply the **acceptable** ones.

    There isn’t a company that sells *anything* that doesn’t make stuff that isn’t just “good enough”, unless your willing to spend 5-10 times as much on the product, and even then, the components in them are almost certainly, while maybe tested a bit more, never the less made by some company that *is* producing the “just good enough” parts. Mostly, this isn’t a problem, since a) people are willing to put up with it, b) they learned long ago that “not” replacing them will lose them more business, and c) its impossible to make something that lasts forever in most industries without putting yourself out of business in the process. Its understandable, and fine for things people don’t really “need”. Its completely unacceptable thinking for things they absolutely *must* have.

  307. #310 Henry Harrison
    September 1, 2008

    I don’t want to get into the argument about whether antitrust laws are necessary (I don’t think they are in most cases), but I will point out that just because you come a conclusion and write “thus” before it, doesn’t mean it’s the correct one, a reasonable one, or one that conforms to the evidence at all.

    I think (and I think a lot of economic theory and evidence backs me up here) that the market can handle antitrust and monopolies just fine most of the time (again, though, there is the question of the time lag for which, perhaps, some interference might be temporarily justified).

    But even if we grant that the government has an interest in preventing concentration (of course sometimes their efforts are counterproductive and amount to protecting competing interests; cf. Wisconsin’s “minimum price” law), it certainly doesn’t mean government interference is justified EVERYWHERE ELSE.

    I’m glad you have a government that doesn’t abuse its powers (although at least one Swede, Johan Norberg, disagrees with you about Sweden’s successes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbTEzhaXZ3w). So even that claim isn’t above rebuttal. Unfortunately, the U.S. government does abuse its powers. Libertarians want such abuses to end; why is that controversial?

  308. #311 Kagehi
    September 1, 2008

    I don’t think its controversial at all, but having one thing we agree on doesn’t mean there are not aspects that we don’t. Lets put it this way. I think building a new police station near the beach in my city, then posting BS about it now being illegal for women to wear pasties or people to use fowl language **is** an abuse of power. I tend to suspect that 80% of the people in the city would agree, including the ones that made the mess worse by bitching about women being topless, which I think is a damn stupid thing to worry about as well. However, I might be a tad uncertain about the prospect of someone who is “known” to run a porn site showing up to “defend” the right of women to go topless, given that the *real* start of the whole BS was “ironically” a refusal of the city to provide sufficient police to patrol key boating areas for drug use and people filming porn flicks on their boats.

    Yes, I want abuses to stop. I am not so sure I agree in 100% of all cases what that *means*. And I think I, and others, have stated sufficiently why we consider your view of what is abuses, and why, to be out of sync in a number of key respects with our perceptions of the situation. And just as I would welcome a guy running an internet porn site to help defend against the stupidity I am seeing where I live, ***with the caveat*** that he doesn’t push for something more absurd, we are in agreement that *some* of the abuses we both recognize need to be redressed, as long as, from my perspective, certain lines don’t get crossed, resulting in a worse situation than the existing abuses already result in.

  309. #312 The Swede
    September 1, 2008

    Henry, when you have an explanation for how the oil company monopoly of the early 20th century and the Microsoft monopoly would have solved themselves by pure market pressure, you have a point. Until then you’re just blowing hot air. Sure, most monopoly or cartel situations are less extreme, but they’re all the more common, and do you really think the government is stupid enough to dump shitloads of money into enforcing legislation which is completely unnecessary? It seems you think that, which is rather sad.

    As for that you consider one youtube post to be “rebuttal” of a country’s entire political standing, that kind of sums up why it’s hopeless to try to hold a reasonable debate with you. Good day to you, and to your black and white childlike world view.

  310. #313 Henry Harrison
    September 1, 2008

    Swede,

    Standard Oil’s market share in refined oil was 4% in 1870. By 1880 it had risen to 85%. According to your theory, prices should have risen along with the concentration. However, the price of refined oil dropped from around 30 cents in 1869 to 10 cents in 1874, and 8 cents in 1885. Firms simply can’t charge monopoly prices (for long). If they do, then other firms will enter the market and charge less, stealing consumers from the “monopolist.” Either way, the consumer benefits. The data simply don’t match your theory. What do we do around here when that happens?

    You ask why the government would spend a bunch of money on something that yields no benefits. First, I offer our 30-year long drug war as a counterpoint (I’m sure other readers can come up with their own counterexamples to what is, by far, your worst argument). Second, antitrust laws do benefit politically connected firms at the expense of other, less politically connected firms. It’s no different than a tariff or a subsidy in that way. Some win, some lose. Unlike in the market, that’s how government works.

    As to Norberg’s video, of course I wasn’t using that as the ENTIRE argument. Rather, I just wanted you to see that at least one Swede disagrees with you (for the longer version of Norberg’s argument, check out his “In Defense of Global Capitalism”).

    As for my “childlike” view, I think I’m firmly within the reality-based worldview on these issues. Where, then, does that leave you?

  311. #314 The Swede
    September 1, 2008

    You do not know “my theory” very well. According to “my theory” the price will be artificially inflated, yes. That does not mean it will not become lower. It often will. However, it will remain much higher than it would be in an open market when viewed over time. In this case, you’re conflating cause and effect; the reason for the lower prices was that Standard Oil wanted market share. Same as Microsoft’s previously low prices. Market share, then you can ram’em where it makes you money. That’s my theory, and that’s also what the data says.

    Drugs kill people. Getting drugs off the street most certainly yields benefits. Got any other lame ducks?

    And yes, of course politically connected firms benefit better than others in a political environment. That’s cost of doing business, and a small price to pay to avoid cartels and monopolies, which you still haven’t explained how the market will magically make toothless. Magical thinking again.

    You were using that video as the ENTIRE argument, actually. Now you’re amending it, but that scarcely matters. There are people who disagree with everything, but that doesn’t make a “rebuttal”, it only makes disagreement.

    Let me see where I’m left. In a society where I get affordable health care, good benefits, don’t have to run into drug users all over, not have to pay for my education (actually, I get paid to study), where monopolies get squashed, where there are almost no homeless or poor people at all, where I do not have to worry about walking in the dark in any part of town, and where the government is larger per capita than yours. So, the logical conclusion is – you need a larger government!

    You think a damn lot for someone who knows so little about politics. You should get a firmer grip on how things actually work. As it is, I’m explaining such utter basics to you that it’s not even amusing, and you’re still not able to grasp what it means.

    I’m done with this thread. It’s a waste of effort. Come back when you know what “nuance” means.

  312. #315 Henry Harrison
    September 1, 2008

    Ok, so the theory of monopoly now is, it doesn’t matter that a 20 fold increase in market share yielded an almost 75% reduction in the price, because that’s not as low as it “could have gone.” You know, because “the Swede” on this board magically knows what the price of refined oil should have been in 1885. Right. But you say the data support your theory. Let’s have some, then. Oh, right, you’re “done with this thread.”

    Even if the Swede is right and the reason for the lower prices was increased market share, who cares?? I’d rather have lower prices and one firm in an industry than higher prices and ten.

    The Swede – still, I guess, gazing into his crystal ball – can not only tell us how wonderful his welfare state is, but also how wonderful the American drug war is. He must not be aware that drug use has remained pretty much constant per capita since Nixon in most areas, and in some it’s actually risen. Also, the street price has increased for many drugs, as has the potency. With those latter effects come increased street crime, 2 million in prison, the rise of gangs and ghettos, etc. But fear not, the Swede is confident it’s working, so it must be, like a charm. Any other view lacks “nuance.”

  313. #316 Aquaria
    September 2, 2008

    I’ve been on both sides of the justice system. My personal dealings with police have been, overall, exceptionally good. They have been fairer to me than most lawyers! But I’m a white female, which means I may get better treatment off the bat to begin with. Bad as this is for me to admit, I seem to have this beacon over my head that says, “Cops, ask me out.” Because a lot of them have done it. Eventually, some of them convinced me to say yes, and none of them ended with bad feelings on either side. So that tends to make me see them in a better light that a lot of people.

    But I’ve also known them to harass and bully and more. You can’t have lived in Los Angeles and not have come away with something akin to horror at what police are capable of, even though there were a lot of good cops there, too.

    A lot of the problems with cops in this country is that everyone wants the police to protect them…but they don’t want to see how they do it (or can get away with doing it) in a society as racist, divisive and just plain mean as America’s. Cops are a reflection of America and its system. Nothing more. How can anyone expect our cops (or politicians or anyone else) to be smart, competent and fair, when the average American is anything but? Where do we think these people come from? Mars?

  314. #317 Nick Gotts
    September 3, 2008

    Henry Harrison,
    You ask why the government would spend a bunch of money on something that yields no benefits. First, I offer our 30-year long drug war as a counterpoint
    The drug war has been extremely profitable for companies running prisons and benefiting from cheap prison labour. It has been very helpful to the US elite in preventing a lot of black people from voting, and in justifying foreign intervention.

    Supposing your “free markets” / “natural selection” comparison to be valid (which of course it isn’t, as SC pointed out), consider that rabies, malaria, guinea worm and cancer are examples of the outcomes of natural selection. I guess you support them all.

    Your basic problem is that your “libertarian” society is a figment of the imagination, which could never exist, and has nothing to do with how capitalism actually works and has worked for centuries – collusion between large-scale capitalists and the state being a key feature. Your “Oh dear, nothing we can do about it now” with regard to the brutal injustices which (among other things) made the existence of the USA possible is literally nauseating. You, like me and most if not all participants in this blog, are in the fortunate material positions we are because of the Great European Land Grab, which began in the 15th century and is still going on (and yes, the USA is a European state, constructed on land almost wholly obtained by violence and/or fraud). If you don’t see that this creates collective responsibilities to the descendants of those dispossessed, enslaved or exploited, you have my unbounded contempt.

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